Jude the Obscure…

Solved by Walking…

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While the initial idea was to consider all the scriptural references to Michael,

the General Epistle of Jude promised to be problematic.

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It is the first and only scriptural text to refer to Michael

as an Archangel and is important for that reason,

but that aside, for a long time, there seemed little else to commend it,

apart that is for an apparent obscurity.

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The quotation in full runs thus:

‘Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil,

he disputed about the body of Moses,

dared not bring against him a railing accusation,

but said, “The Lord rebukes you!”

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A couple of things present themselves…

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Firstly, ‘contending’ may not necessarily be ‘warring’ so

that the devil here accords more readily with the ‘Old Dispensation’

notion of Satan as accuser or prosecutor in a court of Law,

a disputant, as it were, in a legal confontation.

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From such a notion, presumably, springs

the age old tradition of playing, ‘Devil’s advocate’.

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And secondly, Michael, albeit, a mighty Archangel

relies exclusively upon ‘The Lord’s’ power in order to ‘win the day’.

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We are here, it seems, a far cry from the, ‘war in heaven’ of Revelation,

and perhaps a little closer to the Hebraic conception of a more orderly

and seemingly purposeful expulsion from the heavenly realms by God.

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But why should the body of Moses be key?

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The body here could be symbolic of the earth realm,

and as such would be the point at issue in any sought after transformation.

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The Old Dispensation relied soley on purification

and a raising of the earthly body through initiation.

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This process was symbolised by a new, clean raiment.

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The New Dispensation appears to have ‘upped the ante’,

by insisting upon a ‘World Apocalypse’,

which eventually results in The New Jerusalem…

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And nobody has ever seen that!

A Gnostic Chapter?…

Ancient of Days, William Blake

Left Hand Paths?

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… The concluding sections of Chapter Twelve are by far its weakest.

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In them much of the previous story is restated in far greater detail.

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The woman is given eagle wings with which to evade the ‘serpent’

and bring her to a place beyond it’s sight where she may safely feed?

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There is though some ambiguity here which rests on an

interpretation of the phrase ‘…from the serpent’s face’.

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Serpents ‘see’ via the vibrations carried on air waves,

and can hypnotise prey, with their gaze, before striking…

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The biblical flood is then unleashed by the ‘serpent’

but the Earth comes to the woman’s rescue

by swallowing the flood waters.

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If earlier sections have blurred the distinction between St Michael and Christ,

then this episode surely does the same for God and the Devil?

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The rest of time is to be played out with the ‘serpent’ persecuting

the remnants of the woman’s seed that have survived the flood…

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None of which accords particularly well with previous scripture,

although Moses is given ‘eagle’s pinions’ at one stage

in order to get him to where he needs to be!

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The chapter, taken as a whole, has a distinctly Gnostic aspect to it

with the Earth populated merely by

heaven’s discarded remnants,

and overseen by a wrathful demiurge railing against time.

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The time-phrase riddle for the ‘New Dispenation’,

resolves itself into a designation of the mystery woman

as Venus, the Pagan Goddess of Love,

which in the light of much that has transpired

in the last millenium makes a lot more sense than most other solutions –

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Of the ‘half-time’ planetary beings only the Moon and Venus

are conceived as Feminine and as the woman symbolically

‘stands-on-the-moon’ she cannot be the moon.

There are also some very persuasive

astronomical reasons for this designation…

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– The only way out of the nightmare is by death or, as St Michael proclaims,

by ‘the blood of the Lamb,’ and by the ‘word of testimony’,

which is, perhaps, not the clearest of ‘road maps’ for people to follow…

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Heaven by design, Earth by default,

has ever been the cry of those irrevocably lost at heart.

 

‘Heaven’s loud voice?’ …

Blake’s Angel neatly encapsulates aspects of the Books of Daniel and Revelation.

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… “Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God,

and the power of Christ: for the accuser of our brothers is cast down,

which accused them day and night…

Therefore rejoice you heavens and you that dwell in them.

Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea!

For the devil is come down to you, having greath wrath

because he knows that he has but a short time.”

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Are we to conclude that this is the voice of St Michael?

I think we are meant to.

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We may wonder after the inhabitants

of the earth and sea on the third day of creation?

And Christ’s participation at this early stage?

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The argument, presumably, would be that as the heavenly realms

are beyond time, they include all time, and the passages

we have considered so far are certainly consistent with this theme.

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Strength in relation to St Michael we already know about.

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Salvation is a lifting of veils, or scales, from the eyes:

an awakening into that living realisation which alone grants freedom.

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If some of the traditional attributes of Christ seem to fit Michael,

like casting out devils, then some of the traditional

attributes of Michael can also be seen to fit the Christ.

 

Quis ut Deus?

‘Am I more like God than you because I am stronger?’

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… It was, it seems, the Romans, that most militaristic of empire building peoples

who first insisted that St Michael should be seen, that is, depicted,

in a military light, the Commander-in-Chief of an ‘Army of Angels’, as it were.

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After Constantine’s defeat of Licineus at the Battle of Adrianople AD 324

which the Emperor attributed to the Archangel Michael he had a painting

of the Saint slaying a Dragon commisioned for the Michaelion,

a Christian Sanctuary nearby, which was previously dedicated to healing waters.

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This lead to the now standard iconography of Archangel Michael

as a ‘Warrior Saint’, who slays a single-headed Dragon.

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All empires rely for their dominance, to a certain extent,

on military prowess but the militaristic mind-set of the Romans

infiltrated every aspect of their culture,

and their newly acquired religion, alas, was to be no different…

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In following this route the Holy Roman Empire

made the same mistake that extreme Islamists of today make

when they perpetrate terrorist acts in the name of ‘Jihad’,

that is, they confused the edicts of an inner conflict with its outward projection.

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Or was it just a straightforward case of demonising ‘the opposition’,

and are these the same thing anyway?

Graven Image…

10 Top Pictures Of Saint Michael The Archangel Full - Archangel Michael Wallpaper Hd, HD Wallpaper Download #1990668

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‘ … And look! A man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold… His body also was like beryl and his face had the appearance of lightning. His eyes were as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to burnished brass. The voice of his words was as the voice of a multitude… and he said, “… To you am I now sent. Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, your prayers were heard and I am come for your prayers… I am come to make you understand what will befall your people in the latter days. I will show you the literal truth of these things. There is no other that can do this.”‘

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It is very difficult to find any illustrations for this piece.

Perhaps that is linked to the Hebraic injunction against graven images.

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In the current climate of image saturation it might be worthwhile

 considering the possible reasons for such an injunction…

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Speaking of his encounter with the ‘man clothed in linen’ Daniel says, “I alone saw the vision and the men that were with me saw it not but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled and hid themselves… I was left alone and threw myself to the ground. When he spoke I stood, trembling, and when he had finished speaking I was strengthened.”

Elsewhere in the text Daniel is less sure of this being’s precise nature:

“… And look! One like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips. I opened my mouth and spoke… Then there came again, and touched me, one like the appearance of a man…”

Michael is described both as a ‘Chief Prince’, and as ‘Daniel’s Prince’ by the narrator.

And later, as a ‘Great Prince’… “How long until the end of these awful things?”

Then I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the water of the river, swear by the Ever-Living One as he lifted his right hand and his left hand to heaven, “For a time, times, and half a time and when the breaking of the power of the holy people comes to an end, then shall all these things be fulfilled.”

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Already, after this brief overview we can glimpse some of Michael’s traditional attributions.

He is concerned with ‘end times’.

He strengthens and protects the individual and can be petitioned on behalf of nations or ‘a people’.

He acts as a bridge and can communicate, high to low, and low to high.

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In times of hardship and stuggle he may well be worth invoking…

 

Curiosities…

St Michael’s victory over the Devil – Sculptor, Jacob Epstein

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The French occultist, Eliphas Levi, the German philosopher Franz von Baader, and the Theurgist, Louis Claude de St. Martin spoke of 1879 as the year in which Michael overcame the dragon.

In 1917, Rudolf Steiner the founder of anthroposophy, similarly stated, “In 1879, in November, a momentous event took place, a battle of the Powers of Darkness against the Powers of Light, which ended in the image of St Michael overcoming the Dragon.”

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All of which is, to say the least, curious…

The traditional texts which mention Michael, and they are few, do not mention a dragon, and yet, iconographically, St Michael slaying the dragon is almost as ubiquitous as St George…

Religious paintings, sculptures and stain glass windows are all in agreement despite many, if not most,  of them being produced before 1879!

So what is going on?

Pull up a seat…

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‘ … And look! A man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold… His body also was like beryl and his face had the appearance of lightning. His eyes were as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to burnished brass. The voice of his words was as the voice of a multitude… and he said, “… To you am I now sent. Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, your prayers were heard and I am come for your prayers… I am come to make you understand what will befall your people in the latter days. I will show you the literal truth of these things. There is no other that can do this.”‘

– First appearance of Michael :  The Book of Daniel, Chapter 10: 5-21

Blinded by the Light…

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… So, we return to the quest.

And turn shining eyes to the south.

Not that we ever left it, yet the churches had definitely ‘fallen off-line’…

Until Skipton.

Until one particular stained-glass window in Skipton.

It is tempting to think that later traditions lose much that is essential to preceding ones.

In magical traditions derived from the Hebrews, the Archangel Mikael is a guardian of the south quarter and if a ‘Michael Window’ is present in a church, it is a relatively safe bet that it will be found on a south wall of that church.

So, why were we charging around St Michael’s, Hathersage, looking at stained-glass windows on the north wall, with such singular precision?

Because we were desirous of another window.

This headlong, wilful charge, bugles blaring, could well have been our undoing, had we been alone.

There was no ‘Michael Window’ in St Michael’s, Hathersage.

But there was this…

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So, what to say of this banner?

It is a work of art, certainly.

It is a work of art which transcends the medieval style of its composition, although, the ‘S’ as an ‘eight’ and the ‘M’ as an ‘omega’ are remarkable.

The ‘lance’ too, as ‘celtic crozier’, is a sublime touch.

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Was the dragon always golden?

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Does this hue, denote the beginning or even the end of a process?

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Was the beast once much bigger?

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Is this really how one earns one’s ‘spiritual wings’?

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The spirals on the Saint’s shield are, to say the least, suggestive…

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 But the burning question which most readily springs to our mind is this:

if we nearly missed this depiction

can we hope to find the Archangel when it is being deliberately ‘hidden’?

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Keys to Heaven: Design…

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… By Fox!

That is ‘Mister…’ to you.

‘C.J.’ – Charles James…

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Sue saw the Banner Torches, unlit.

I heard the drums.

We both said in unison, “That’s Fox!”

“What’s Fox?” said Gary.

“You’ll see.”

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One second earlier and we would have missed them.

Any later and we would not have caught the full half-hour show.

‘Standing Stones’ – ‘Three Magicians’ – ‘The Pentagram’

‘Mrs Widge’ – ‘Stella’ – ‘Ducks’…

to name but a few of the dances.

And observing all, at the head of the Dancing Ground, the Krampus!

So strange, how things turn out…

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The next morning we found ourselves at the highest point of the area.

The Lion Inn, is the sort of hostelry one could frequent all day, every day,

and would not mind in the slightest getting snowed in to.

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Coffee’s all round before taking in a trio of standing stones,

one of which, the third may just be a stoop…

And at the second we perform the third round of our ‘ritual’.

Just before the rain sets in.

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Last of all is the church at Lastingham

and the reputed Crypt of St Cedd.

The possibility of his presence here, too, is ambivalent.

There is something, and we all feel it,

 though precisely what… is difficult to say.

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In the pulsing crypt we perform our final ‘ritual’.

Wordless…

For we have each been working with

our ‘own’ words all weekend.

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And the weighty matters at Whitby Abbey all those centuries ago

turned on a ruse involving keepers of the Keys to Heaven.

St Peter or St John, but then,

St John is the keeper, not of heaven,

but of a New Jerusalem.

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Thought and Memory, can be wordless too,

so, it might be pertinent to ponder

just how those wide ranging ravens

communicate their wisdom to the High One?

He who, never eats and, for nourishment partakes only of wine.

‘By leaving space for Spirit’…

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As we wave our goodbyes at the wood well.

I cannot help thinking the Wide Wanderer would have approved…

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With thanks to organiser, Steve Tanham.

Keys to Heaven: Sobriety…

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With our third term, ‘sobriety’, we start to rise…

By accepting the control we attempted to impose on the

world in our ‘planning’ and singularly failed to exert upon ourself in ‘gluttony’.

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Roads of excess can lead to places of wisdom insists the Blake-Man,

and in our countless excesses may we hope that this is so…

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Sobriety is not abstinence but it does wield discrimination,

when applied not to others, in judgement,

but to ourself, in understanding.

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Our search for food left little time to shop,

and a small sandwich instead of the better value large

proved an elegant sufficiency.

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Meeting at the same Cafe as our morning break

proved only that lightning does not strike a place twice.

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Any lingering excess from the previous night would soon

be burned off by the looming coastal walk:

away, blown, cobwebs, the terms,

introduced by a little mud sliding…

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From here on in things necessarily become

incredibly precise though, heaven knows,

we had no idea. Does the hand that guides, also design?

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Our forty minute cliff-top sojourn

somehow became one-hour-and-a-half.

Do not ask for these are mysteries.

We stopped to talk for no more than fifteen minutes en route…

In a gale.

It could not have been longer.

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Our ‘early tea’ became just a coffee,

and an early night beckoned, then,

we were accosted…

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