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…

 

 

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

Jude the Obscure…

Solved by Walking…

*

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

the General Epistle of Jude promised to be problematic.

*

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.

*

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!”

*

A couple of things present themselves…

*

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.

*

From such a notion, presumably, springs

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

*

And secondly, Michael, albeit, a mighty Archangel

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

*

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.

*

But why should the body of Moses be key?

*

The body here could be symbolic of the earth realm,

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

*

The Old Dispensation relied soley on purification

and a raising of the earthly body through initiation.

*

This process was symbolised by a new, clean raiment.

*

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

by insisting upon a ‘World Apocalypse’,

which eventually results in The New Jerusalem…

*

And nobody has ever seen that!

‘Heaven’s loud voice?’ …

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

*

… “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.”

*

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

I think we are meant to.

*

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?

*

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.

*

Strength in relation to St Michael we already know about.

*

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

an awakening into that living realisation which alone grants freedom.

*

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.

 

Aeons…

Blake’s take on the Seven-Headed Dragon of Revelation is suitably anthropomorphic!

*

We are continuing our ‘trawl’ through chapter twelve of Revelation, which commenced here.

*

… ‘And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered,

for to devour her child as soon as it was born…’

*

Time ‘devours’ everything that is born into the world, but wait, ‘…And

she brought forth a man-child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron:

and her child was caught up into God, and to his throne…’

*

I think the ‘man-child’ here represents an Aeon…

Such a designation would cover both ‘Horus’, and ‘Christ’,

at any rate he his saved from his earthly sojourn and

caught up into a heavenly throne, just like the star Spica,

which nestles in the ‘Throne of Virgo’!

*

Although, ‘ruling all nations with a rod of iron’ may well be something

of an ‘elephant in the room’?

*

The phrase ‘are you ready to be delivered’ can be used to commence

the ritual of exorcising demons.

*

Thrones are always regarded as feminine,

especially when a masculine divinity happens to be sitting upon them.

*

‘…And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place

prepared of God, that they should feed her there

a-thousand-two-hundred-and-sixty-days…’

*

‘God’ appears to be plural here in which case ‘they’ would be the ‘Elohim’.

These are the seven planetary beings, but presumably, from the heavenly

perspective rather than the earthly which in this mythology appears to be demonic.

*

The woman in her escape to the wilderness is reminiscent of both Lilith,

Adam’s first wife who consorts with demons in the desert,

and Sophia, the Gnostic Principle-of-Wisdom, forever

harried by demons throughout her sojourn in an ignorant world.

*

The earthly realm is populated with ‘devils’, it seems,

long before ‘that old serpent’ gets there!

Menorah?…

Hanukkah Menorah Jewish Judaica Israel Vintage Brass Chanukah ...

Menorah as Chalice

*

… The Book of Revelation can be described

as a book of arcane symbolism.

*

It seems to me astonishing that such a work should have been

accepted into the recommended canon when so many

other far less controversial texts are regarded as apocryphal –

this word which now has connotations of spuriousness or falsity

is derived from the Greek word for ‘hidden’ –

Apocryphal works, then, can be regarded

as those books which possess hidden wisdom.

*

It will be useful to consider the opening few paragraphs

of Revelation and compare them to Daniel’s vision of Michael

which we looked at in earlier posts

*

“It was on the island of Patmos.

I was meditating on the seventh day

when I heard behind me a voice as of many waters,

“I am the beginning and end, first and the last.”

I turned to see who it was that spoke,

and I saw a figure resembling the Son of Man.

He was standing in the middle of seven golden candlesticks.

His beard and his hair were like white wool.

His eyes were flames of fire.

His countenance was bright, as the sun when it shines at its height.

He was clothed in a long white robe.

About his breast went a golden girdle.

In his right hand he held seven stars.

His words rang out of his mouth clearly

with the poignancy of a double-edged sword:

“I am he that lives and was dead.

I possess the keys to death and hell.

I shall live forever more.”

I fell down at his feet and they were like fine-brass forged in a furnace.

He laid his hands upon me, “You must write down all you see in a book,

and send it to the Seven Churches of Asia.

Let all the churches know that I am he who searches

the reins of the heart and gives to every one, according to their works.

Tell them to remember from whence they have fallen,

to return to their first love lest I come upon them like a thief

and remove their candlestick from its place,

thus speaks the ‘Amen’: ‘I know your works, I know that you have a name,

I know that you live, and yet, you are as the dead!'”

*

It might be difficult for St Michael to be described as the,

‘one who is living but was dead’, but

he could certainly lay claim to being regarded as

‘the first and the last’ and also as possessing,

‘the keys to death and hell’…

*

In the Book of Daniel, we may recall,

St Michael was described as a Great Prince,

as a Chief Prince, and as Daniel’s Prince.