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

*

…’ 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’…

*

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!

*

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.

*

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!

*

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

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

*

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.

*

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.

*

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.

*

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’.

*

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

of St George is also pertinent for

more salient psychological reasons….

 

Whispering Woods…

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

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… Back in Coventry, Sir Albert’s Lady,

overcome with extreme pain, was forced to choose between

the spoil of her infant, or an end to her life.

*

Placing the preservation of her child,

and benefit of her country over her own safety,

she committed her womb to be opened,

that her infant might be taken from her alive.

*

This most noble Lady was cast into a dead sleep,

her womb cut up with sharp knives,

and the infant taken from the bed of its creation.

*

Upon his breast nature had drawn the form of a dragon,

on his right hand a blood-red cross,

and on his left leg a golden garter.

He was assigned three wet nurses, who named him George.

*

Shortly after his nativity, the fell enchantress Kalyb,

by charms and witchcrafts, stole the infant,

George, from his careless nurses.

*

On Sir Albert’s return in good hope

to hear of the succesful delivery of his Lady,

and the comfort of a child,

 his wished for joy was turned to sorrow.

He found his Lady dead from her dismembered womb,

and his young son abducted.

*

 Such a woeful state banished his wits:

“O Heavens!  Why cover you not the earth with everlasting night?

Why do these accursed eyes behold the sun?

O that the waves of Oceanus might end my days,

or like an outcast, give me joy in exile,

where I may warble my sorrows to the whispering woods.

*

What monster has stolen my child?

O that the wind would be a messenger and bring me happy news of his abode.

If he be drenched in the deepest sea, I will dive to fetch him up.

If he be hidden in the caverns of the earth, I will dig to find him.

*

Why do I thunder forth my loss in vain,

when neither earth nor sea, nor any thing under the sun

will grant me comfort but the recovery of my child.”

*

Leaving his native country, Sir Albert, wandered from place to place,

in search of his son until the hairs of his head were grown white as silver,

and the beard on his chin like the thistle-down…

*

  He ended his days in Bohemia,

where, from age, and excessive grief, he laid himself down

under a ruined monastery wall and died.

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.”

*

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.

*

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.

*

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

*

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.

*

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.
*

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

*

… 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…

*

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.

*

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.

*

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.”

Tobias and the Angel: A dog called Toby…

Domingos Sequeira – Tobias heals the blindness of his father

*

…  If Tobias walks a recognised Pilgrimage route when carrying out his Father’s instructions it would certainly go some way to explaining the presence of the two other Archangels in some of the paintings even though there is no mention of them in the story.

Tobias’ destination is just given as a ‘far distant land’ in the version we have but it,

maybe, cannot be too far distant if Tobit is related to the family Tobias stays with, which he is.

Curiously, all the angels look decidely feminine.

Michael could at a push be described as Androgenous,

Raphael and Gabriel are definitely Gyandros.

Gabriel’s ‘lily’ is orthodox…

Raphael’s ‘vial’ presumably holds eye ‘salve’ for Tobit…

The fish by this stage is purely symbolic…

But what of Michael’s golden apple?

An allusion to the Garden of the Hesperides, guarded by the many-headed dragon.

*

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

*

Ninevah and ‘large fish’ appear to be related and that is what originally excited us.

We were following the Johannine link, Jonah swallowed by the ‘Whale of God’ et al.

‘Make straight the way of the Lord!’

*

And the dog?

The dog in some of the depictions seems almost transparent.

Like a Phantom Dog!

Whatever, we shall call him Toby for he has to do with threes,

and is the right provenance and time,

and tradition for the link with the theatrical puppet-play to be sustained.

We were quite right about the word play on that one, all those years ago.

‘To be or not to be…’

*

It may even be that our Guardian Angel is three-fold.

*

Threes, in this tale certainly play their part.

Not least in the age of Tobit when he dies,

but I am not altogether sure whether a fish actually posseses

the attributed organs, which in itself maybe suggestive,

but if Sara ‘gets’ the ‘heart’ and Tobit gets the ‘gall’, who gets the ‘liver’?

*

The dog!

*

Whether or not ‘Toby’ gets the liver, he always gets the sausages…

Tobias and the Angel: Grateful Dead…

William-Adolphe Bouguerea

*

… If a story is canonical in one tradition and uncanonical in another

it immediately raises two questions.

What makes it ‘canonical’ for one tradition?

What makes it ‘uncanonical’ for the other?

*

In this case it might have been supposed that it would have been more likely

to be canonical for the Hebrews, considering its age and subject matter?

Not so!

*

Many years ago when I and a fellow writer, and friend,

first became aware of Apocryphal Bible stories,

we got very excited about this tale when we heard about it,

especially in view of the fish connection.

We immediately procured a copy of said Apocrypha,

at no little expense, and looked at this story first,

fully expecting to be accosted with highly significant arcane knowledge.

But drew a blank!

*

And now?

Well now, I strongly suspect that there is highly significant arcane knowledge within it.

The trouble with arcane knowledge; it is very difficult,

if not impossible, to transmit in mundane terms.

An attempt, though, has to be at least made…

*

Perhaps the first clue to the importance of this story

is to realise that it is a Grateful Dead tale…

*

Before Tobit sends his son, Tobias, on the ‘errand’ there is a long introduction to the tale which establishes Tobit in, for wont of a better term, ‘righteousness’. He lives in Ninevah, a place which does not recognise his religion, and yet he continues to practice that religion despite persecution from the ‘local authorities’. As part of this practice he comes across a dead man who has been flung out into the street and his body left to rot. Tobit, an old man, single handedly buries the body and performs the funeral rites of his religion but then falls asleep by the side of the grave in exhaustion. As he sleeps, sparrows fly over him and their droppings land in his eyes so that when he wakes up, he is blind.

*

…At this stage it does not appear that the ‘dead’ were overly ‘grateful’.

But all good things come to those who wait.

It is at this point in the tale that Tobit, now having lost his sight,

and the means to a livelihood, decides to send out his son

on an errand to bring in what he is owed.

*

Now, although, ‘errand’ is an interesting enough term

for Tobias’ journey, in and of itself,

what if we were to deem it a ‘pilgrimage’, instead? …

*

Tobias and the Angel, Davide Ghirlandaio (David Bigordi) (Italian, Florence 1452–1525 Florence), Tempera and gold on wood

David Ghirlandaio  circ. 1479

Tobias and the Angel…

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

(Francesco Botticini)

*

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.

*

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)

Devil in the Detail…

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St Dunstan, so the story goes,

once pulled the devil by the nose,

with red-hot tongs,

which made him roar,

that he was heard three miles or more…

*

Another story relates how Dunstan nailed a horseshoe to the Devil’s foot when he was asked to re-shoe the Devil’s cloven hoof.

This caused the Devil great pain, and Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil after he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is over the door.

*

Have you ever wondered about the nature of truth and its relation to story-telling,

or about the true nature of time and its ability to foreshadow eternity?

Join us in April as we embark upon the Quest of Quests…

*

Quest for a Quest: The Initiate’s Story

Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

17-19 April 2020

A Living Lore Workshop.

Contact us at Rivingtide@gmail.com for more details. Click below to
Download our Events Booking Form – pdf