Freezing Brass Castles…

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

*

‘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.’

*

Twelve of anything usually refers to months of the year.

*

‘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.

*

‘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.’

*

‘George tricked his knightly accoutrements from Kalyb,

tricked her into her own rock-hewn dungeon,

and freed the knights to go dragon slaying’…

*

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

*

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.

*

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

*

… 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

*

… “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…

Gorgeous Georgius…

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

St George ‘cradling’ or ‘choking’ a baby dragon?

(Nuremberg Chronicle 1493)

*

… Like Michael, the St George we know today is something of a construct.

*

Historically, George appears to have been a third century greek conscript in the Roman army,

who, having converted to Christianity, was martyred, that is, put to death for his religious beliefs.

His execution, by decapitation, reputedly took place outside Nicodemia’s city wall

sometime between 290 and 305 AD, on the 23rd day of April,

which subsequently became his Christian Feast Day.

*

It does seem odd how the day of this event is clearly

and accurately recorded for posterity yet the year is not!

*

St George’s cult initially developed in the Eastern Mediterranean.

There is a shrine dedicated to him in Abyssinia

and another in the village of Al-Khudr in Palestine.

Al-Khidr, after whom the village is named, is also venerated there.

The Mohammedans identify Al-Khidr as the Bilblical Elijah

whilst Christians regard him as an ‘avatar’ of St George.

*

Al-Kidhr’s Feast Day of 26th April is known as

‘The Feast of Spring which makes everything green’.

Al-Khidr means the green, or verdant, one, or alternatively,

‘the-ever-living-one’.

*

The multifarious carvings of leaf disgorging heads

which, to this day, adorn many a church, and cathedral column or cranny

in ecclesiastical buildings the length and breadth of the British Isles,

are believed by some to be representations of Al-Khidr, the green one.

*

Here, then, is one, if not two candidates,

for the mantle of that mysterious Green Man

so beloved of the pagan fraternity worldwide.

There are, though, lots of others…

*

In Mediaeval times, tales of St George the dragon slayer began to circulate.

*

According to some of these stories George was born in Coventry

even though many of his exploits took place in the east.

*

His first encounter with a dragon occurred in Egypt…

 

 

An Unseen Presence…

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

*

There are other sections in the Book of Genesis

which may be pertinent to our survey of St Michael…

*

… ‘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.”‘

*

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

although Gabriel’s water associations might count against him.

*

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.

*

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

filled with brightly jewelled trees which could easily be

indicative of a ‘solar interior’?

*

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.

*

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?’

*

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.

*

Hebrew scholars regarded Lucifer, as Cherub and Archangel

and made him a ‘son of the dawn’!

*

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

‘the gods strive against those who oppose you.’

 

Considering Heaven and Earth…

*

First a formless mass of light,

then the firmament of stars,

then sun and moon,

then sea and land,

then reptiles, and birds,

then beasts, and man,

and then, contemplation…

*

If the ‘candlestick vision’ which opens the Book of Revelation,

is an allusion to the Menorah,

then the central figure of that vision

stands for the earth-sphere and all of those who dwell in that realm.

*

Genesis posits two earthly creation models, the first is based

on the Babylonian planetary scheme which the Hebrews

reformulated as the Elohim and symbolised by the Menorah.

This takes seven days, or one week and occurs in Spring.

*

The second is based on a Canaanite model in which

darkness gradually assimilates light, and takes one day,

or twenty-four hours, and occurs in Autumn.

*

There is nothing at all primitive about creation models

which recognise a world established by

days, weeks, seasons, and years, which are natural rythmns,

quite the contrary.

*

The Old Dispensation grants Heaven

to Lucifer and Earth to Adam,

but afer the Fall, Man and Fallen-Angel

vie for ascendancy of the earth-sphere,

until Noah and the Flood when the

earth-sphere is redeemed for all time.

*

The New Dispensation

projects the contention for the earth-sphere

into eternity but substitutes ‘Eve’ for Adam.

*

If we detect in the above an over-plus of polarity,

then we might wish to attend to that.

*

A contemplation:

The formless mass of light lasts from 12am to 3am.

The firmament of stars is formed from 3am to 6am.

The sun and moon hold sway from 6am to 9am.

The sea and land emerge between 9am and 12pm.

Reptiles and birds arrive between 12pm and 3pm.

Beasts and man turn up between 3pm and 6pm.

From 6pm until 9pm is a time set aside for contemplation.

*

Which leaves just three hours.

*

Three days is the traditional period of time for transition

from one state of being to another during initiation ceremonies.

*

But this leaves no time for sleep?

*

The awakened are not asleep.

 

 

 

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