Anatomy of Evil?…

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We commenced our survey of St Michael and St George,

many months ago now, by querying the notion that,

according to a number of well-known esotericists, in 1879

a great victory of light over darkness had been achieved.

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One of these eminent esotericist even went as far as to suggest

that the age of the ‘Kali Yuga’ had ended in this year.

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Notwithstanding the inadvisability of mixing

eastern and western esoteric traditions in this way,

not to mention, cosmic and historical time frames,

subsequent historical events tend to contradict this assertion,

and perhaps even suggest the complete opposite.

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Visions, dreams, and icons are always, and for all time,

open to interpretation, and re-interpretation,

or at least, in a free democracy, they always should be.

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Toeing a particular party line may seem expedient

at one time or another

but is usually antithetical to any notions of ultimate truth.

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So, what do we do when we are accosted by a vision

of St Michael in the form of a stained glass window

in Skipton Church?

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We head off to Cornwall, of course…

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The genesis and development of this theme is covered

in a series of nine of our books which commences with, The Initiate…

 

The Laidley Wyrm…

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I weird you a Laidly Worm,

Until the end-of-days,

And freed ne’er shall you be,

Until the king’s successor,

Approach the Heugh,

And give you kisses three…

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Before a legend ‘goes national’ it will first have been local.

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There are lots of ‘merlins’ and ‘arthurs’ in the land of Britain,

although not all of them are known by those names or titles.

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There are too, lots of dragon slayers,

few of which are called George.

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Before George became our Patron Saint,

our Patron Saint was called Edmund.

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Edmund was shot full of arrows then decapitated,

and his decapitated head was stolen, by a wolf…

Which is, perhaps, not very heroic.

Not heroic enough for some, certainly.

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Before George became our Patron Saint

there was a ‘dragon slayer’ in Northumbria,

here is his tale…

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“And so to Bamburgh castle, the king a new wife did bring.

But his queen took an instant dislike to her husband’s daughter, Margaret,

And transformed her into a Laidly Wyrm which coiled itself about a Great Stone,

And laid waste the land for seven miles around.

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Daily, the milk of seven cows was brought the Wyrm but all to no avail,

For the enchantment could only be lifted by Childy Wynd,

Margaret’s brother, but he lived far away over the sea.

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Word of the dark doings in his homeland eventually reached Childy,

Who built a ship with a rowan-tree mast and silken sails,

And set out to rid Bamburgh of its blight.

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The queen, she spied the ship and sent out ‘witch-wives’ to sink it,

But they were powerless ‘gainst the magical mast.

As the ship came into land, the Wyrm leapt up,

The Wyrm leapt down, and plaiting ’round the stane,

Banged it out to sea again.

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Undaunted, Childy put in on Budle Sand and waded ashore.

Finally encountering the Wyrm, Childy laid his sword upon its head,

Yet gave it kisses three,

And though it crept back into its hole a Wyrm,

It stepped out, a Lady.

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Together, brother and sister returned to Bamburgh,

To be greeted by their joyful father, the king.

The queen was transformed, by Childy, into a toad,

Which to this day spits venom on young girls out walking.”

Duncan Frasier  AD 1270

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Freezing Brass Castles…

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Nuremberg_chronicles_f_124v_2.jpg

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‘A fleet hoofed horse

moves swift as quick wit’

Old English Proverb

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…’ After spiriting George away from his mother’s side,

Kalyb, the fell enchantress tended to him as the apple of her eye,

and appointed twelve Satyrs to attend his every whim.’

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Twelve of anything usually refers to months of the year.

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‘When he was fourteen years old George

demanded to know who were his parents.

Kalyb told him and showed him a castle of burnished brass

wherein she held captive the six bravest Knights of Christendom’…

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The seven champions are the planetary bodies again.

George would naturally have to be the Sun,

which if they are given in correct order makes Mars

Spain which for this period in history works rather well!

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There is also a salient point here, though.

The energies of what the Hebrews used to call the Elohim

are ordinarily shut up, or banked, in the subconscious,

and can only be ‘set free’ by the Id at which point

they emerge to form a natural component of the Identity.

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The Subconscious Mind could even be regarded,

for most people, as an Unseen Presence.

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‘Kalyb promised that if only George stayed with her

she would equip him as a knight

and make him the leader of those in the castle.’

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‘George tricked his knightly accoutrements from Kalyb,

tricked her into her own rock-hewn dungeon,

and freed the knights to go dragon slaying’…

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Which pretty much means that George,

the Patron Saint of England, is a Trickster!

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‘Hearing of a foul beast terrorising the country of Egypt,

George set his will, and charger, in that direction’…

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Egypt, presumably, because ‘she’ is

the Old World exemplar for Christianity.

 

Seven Champions?…

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Nuremberg_chronicles_f_124v_2.jpg

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The story of St George which we have been following is by

all accounts strange.

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It was committed to writing in the late sixteenth century

and was penned by Richard Johnson,

a fabulist possibly most famous for writing the ‘Fairy Stories’

Tom Thumb and Dick Whittington’s Cat.

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In it St George takes his place amongst six other

‘Champions of Christendom’, to wit,

St Denis, St James, St Anthony, St Andrew,

St Patrick and St David,

who are the patron saints of France, Spain, Italy,

Scotland, Ireland and Wales respectivley.

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Johnson’s ‘history’ makes knights errant of the christian saints

and given that it was written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I

clearly seeks to set the new Anglicanism on equal footing with Catholicism.

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St George seems also to be cast in a distinctly ‘Arthurian Light’.

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But leaving the politics to one side this ‘famous history’

of St George is also pertinent for

more salient psychological reasons….

 

Black Forest…

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Nuremberg_chronicles_f_124v_2.jpg

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… “My most dear and beloved Lady, what art, or learning can perform,

with all due speed shall be accomplished,

for never shall rest take hold of my heart,

nor sleep close the lids of my eyes,

until I grasp the meaning of your wearisome dreams.”

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Leaving his Lady in her Chamber, Sir Albert

set out for the solitary haunts of Kalyb-the-Wise,

Enchantress of the Woods, without any company,

save for one other Knight that bore under his arm a white lamb

which the two of them intended to offer up to the reputed enchantress.

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After two days, they came to a thicket beset with old, withered, hollowed out trees,

and were greeted from within by such a dismal croaking of Night Ravens,

that it seemed rather a wilderness of furies than any worldly habitation.

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By this sign they knew it to be the enchanted vale of Kalyb, the Lady of the Woods.

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Moving into the middle of the thicket, they came to a cave,

with across it an iron gate and on the gate hung a brass horn

for them to blow and so alert the sorceress to their presence.

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After first offering their lamb with great humility before the postern of the cave,

they blew on the brass horn, the sound of which seemed to shake the foundation of the earth,

and after which, they heard a loud and hollow voice, that uttered these words;

Sir Knight, from whence you came, return,
You have a son most strangely born:
A Dragon that shall split in twain
Your Ladies womb with extreme pain
A champion bold, from there shall spring,
And practise many a wondrous thing.
Return therefore, make no delay,
For it is true what I here say.
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The mysterious oracle, being repeated twice more,

the two Knights were satisfied with this as an end to their quest…

Dragon Spawn…

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Nuremberg_chronicles_f_124v_2.jpg

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… And so the Blessed Isle of Britain flourished

with sumptuous buildings and courageous and valiant Knights.

The land was replenished with cities, and divided into shires and counties…

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The City of Coventry was the place where the first English Christian was born,

and the first that ever sought for foreign adventures,

whose name to this day all of Europe holds in high regard:

 The valiant Knight, St George of England,

whose golden garter is not only worn by nobles,

but by kings, and in memory of his victories

the Kings of England still fight under his banner.

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When Nature created him in his mother’s womb,

she dreamed she was to be conceived of a dragon,

which dream she long concealed and kept secret,

until her burden grew so heavy that her womb was scarce able to endure it.

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So, at last finding opportunity to confide in her husband,

Sir Albert, High-Steward of England, she said:

“My Lord, by birth I am the King of England’s daughter,

and for twenty one years I have been your true and lawful wife.

Yet never was I in hope of a child until now.

Therefore, I entreat you by the dear and natural love you bear the infant

conceived in my womb, that by art, wisdom, or other inspiration,

you interpret my troublesome dreams, and tell me what they signify.

For thirty nights past, my slumbers have been beset by grievous dreams;

and night by night, no sooner did sweet-sleep take possession of my senses,

but I thought myself conceived with a dreadful dragon,

destined to be the cause of its parents death.”

An Unseen Presence…

File:Jacob and the Angel, by Gustave Moreau, detail, 1874-1878 ...

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There are other sections in the Book of Genesis

which may be pertinent to our survey of St Michael…

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… ‘Left alone at night, Jacob was attacked by an unseen presence

which wrestled with him until day-break, whereupon his adversary cried,

“Desist, for the dawn is here!”

“Are you then a bandit, that you fear the dawn?” asked Jacob.

“At this time, we angels must sing dawn’s praises!”

“I will not desist until you bless me,” said Jacob.

“What is your name?” asked the angel and when Jacob answered, he continued,

“From this time on you shall be called Israel, for you have struggled

against me without succumbing and fire should guard fire.”‘

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Candidates for Jacob’s adversary include Michael, Gabriel and Samael,

although Gabriel’s water associations might count against him.

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Traditionally, Michael is associated with fire, but it is not

altogether clear why, unless he was originally conceived as

one of the ‘Cherubim with whirling limbs of flame’ which guards Eden?

It is difficult to shake the notion that this phrase

is a ‘poetic-kenning’ for the sun.

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Eden, in this mythology, is envisioned as a heavenly realm

filled with brightly jewelled trees which could easily be

indicative of a ‘solar interior’?

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In magical tradition, Michael is Regent of the South Quarter

 in some temples and when there he represents the Cardinal Point of fire,

which is, in all probability, another veiled reference to the sun.

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If Samael can be equated with Lucifer, head of the Seraphim,

he too would qualify, albeit his fire

consists in white flames not yellow, orange, or red,

which points to astral rather than solar origins,

‘the star behind the sun?’

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Precise angelic attributions are a source of continual contention,

and the ninefold ‘Hierarchy of Angels’ provided by

Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite

does little, if anything, to alleviate such debates.

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Hebrew scholars regarded Lucifer, as Cherub and Archangel

and made him a ‘son of the dawn’!

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Jacob’s new, angelically given, name, Israel, means

‘the gods strive against those who oppose you.’

 

Tobias and the Angel…

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/Francesco_Botticini_-_I_tre_Arcangeli_e_Tobias.jpg

(Francesco Botticini)

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The story of Tobias is told in the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament.

The book of Tobit is part of the Catholic Old Testament but is considered apocryphal by Protestants and does not form part of the Jewish canon.

It is an ancient writing and Aramaic and Hebrew fragments of the tale where found in Cave IV in Qumran in 1955.

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Tobias was the only child of a blind, holy man, named Tobit, and his wife, Anna.

Tobit sent his young son Tobias on an errand to a distant land to collect monies that were owed to him.

As he started on his journey Tobias was met by the angel, Raphael, disguised as a man named, Azarias.

Tobias and the angel started on their way accompanied by Tobias’ dog…

They stopped the first night by the River Tigris and as Tobias went to wash his feet a monstrous fish came up and tried to devour him.

Tobias wrestled with the fish and managed to haul it out onto the dry land.

The angel told Tobias to cut out the heart, gall and liver of the fish and preserve them.

Tobias and the angel arrived at the house of a kinsman named Raguel who had a daughter named Sara, his only child.

Sara had been married seven times and all seven husbands had been killed by the demon of lust, Asmodeus, before any of the marriages were consummated.

The angel Raphael told Tobias that he should marry Sara.

On their wedding night Raphael instructed Tobias to place the heart of the fish over the hot coals of the fire which he did.

The smoke from the fish drove the demon away.

Raphael followed in pursuit of the fleeing demon, and upon catching him, bound him…

Tobias and Sara, along with Tobias’ dog, returned to Tobit and Anna.

Tobias anointed his father’s eyes with the gall of the fish and Tobit’s sight was restored.

Tobit and Tobias discussed what wages to give Azarias.

When Tobit and Tobais approached Azarias to tell him that they wanted to give him half of all they possessed Azarias revealed himself as the angel, Raphael, and explained that he had been sent to help because Tobit was such a holy man.

Tobit lived to one hundred and two years.

After his death, Tobias and Sara and their seven sons returned to the house of Sara’s parents.

“Tobias and the Angel” was a popular theme in art from the early Renaissance.

In paintings from this time, Tobias is generally depicted carrying a fish and accompanied by his small dog and the angel, Raphael.

This depiction gradually developed into the image of the “Guardian Angel”.

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Workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio. Tobias and the Angel. 33x26cm. 1470-75. NG London.jpg

(Andrea del Verocchio’s workshop)

First Matter?

The origins of the Grail Legend?

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‘The alchemists disagreed on just about every aspect of the Great Work, except one: that it is impossible to succeed without the secret.’
– Patrick Harpur.

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I am reminded of ‘The Riddle of the Elements.’
The Ancient Greek Philosophers would each in turn trumpet the virtues of a particular Element claiming that it alone was primary and the source of the others, all the time, knowing full well that the solution to the riddle lay in sourcing the Four from a Fifth Element of an entirely different and more spiritual realm known as the Quintessence.

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The Alchemists appear to be engaged in a similar process, describing the First Matter in terms of three ‘Spirituous Essences’, though the solution this time may be of a different order –
One in Three rather than Four from One.
They also seem to be describing the various products of a process at each stage of its operation simultaneously, thus for e.g. they might have described the process of evaporating sea-water as… Water… and… Salt… as well as its catalyst…Heat or… Fire…

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Why would they do this?
To widen the scope of a mind mired in linear time?
Possibly, certainly, when one realises that the Fruit is in the Seed and not vice versa, or that the Body is in the Mind… a perspective is instilled, which opens up wide vistas to the Imagination.
Indeed, this technique only seems strange to a mind which habitually regards its own reality as an actuality.

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As magicians for e.g. we might ask, in Tarot,
How is the ‘High Priestess’ ‘The Empress’?
Or, how is ‘The Fool’ ‘The Magus’?
Or indeed, in the case of ‘The Fool’, how does this key equate with any of the other major keys?
But here the equivalencies seem at the very least, much easier to accept, if not actually natural, simply because we work with these energies in an ‘Imaginal Realm’.

What the Alchemists are really doing is describing the lower in terms of the higher and in some cases what we are reading is, as it were, a Fourth Dimensional description of a Three Dimensional event.

The event itself appears to be an internal unification or better; a re-unification of polarised energies or ‘opposites’, or even, as the Alchemists would have it, a marriage, or wedding but what is the product of that wedding?

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THE STONE OF MERCURIOUS

Moon’s Flux
Sun’s Seed
Earth’s Crux
Fire in the Sea
Blood from a Tree