The long night

The seasons turn as we approach the turning point, the Solstice… the longest night… just three short weeks away. And yet, the sky is beautiful this morning, a clear, deep blue graced with the lights of heaven. The world is still and silent, even the birds are hushed as dawn creeps over the horizon of a rain-washed world. The moon lights the village and touches the rooftops with silver. Branches are down in the lane and few are the leaves that still cling tenaciously to the trees, most stripped away by the vicious fingers of winter winds.

There is such strength in the grasp of leaf to twig, both so fragile they can be plucked and broken by a child, yet the bond of life so strong it can withstand the most inclement weather. Until it is time for them to fall.

Even when the leaves fall it is part of a greater renewal, the confetti of the marriage of the seasons, nourishing the earth and the tree from whence they fell. The tree sleeps through the winter, seemingly lifeless, husbanding its resources against the coming of spring. Beneath the skeletal surface of this dying time the life within shapes new leaves and blossoms, waiting in pregnant patience for the warm kiss of the sun.

northagain 064Leaves fall, branches break… the old and sere stripped away by the turning wheel of the year, clearing the way for a green birth.

There is so much laid out before us, even in the avenues of our city streets. The life of nature is so strong and so beautifully balanced. So easy to damage when, with careless hands her children grasp at her skirts, taking anything that claims their attention and desire… yet strong enough to recover when we are no more.

In the little wood where we sometimes walk, the small dog and I, man has left his traces. From the earliest times, track and road have passed this way. From the air, the circled marks of ancient homes can be seen in the fields, the line of a Roman road, lost now to plough and furrow. And still we carve this little patch of green to serve our needs. Yet as soon as we turn our back the wild things cover our tracks, reclaiming the earth for themselves, our little lives more fragile than their delicate blooms.

In towns and cities, sites and factories that were once hives of industry fall silent as technology moves on and we are proud of our advances, not noticing the quiet crown of plant and sapling our forgotten edifices wear, the gentle but inexorable hand of nature taking back her own as soon as we depart.

The seasons of the earth are echoed too within our own lives… we are part of the cycle, our bodies dance to the same natal song of the seasons. Life springs from death, death from life in an endless round.

northagain 108The cadence is echoed within us as we laugh for joy beneath the sun of summer and weep in grief when winter touches our hearts. In the dark days, we too may feel as if leaf and branch are being stripped from us, battered by the winds of change and the storms of emotion. Yet like the trees only the damaged and broken falls from us… the green heart is strong and holds the pattern of renewal within itself.

As the wheel turns it is easy to become lost in the dark days, feeling a verdant spring to be too far to reach, fearing in the shadows that it will not come. Perhaps, like the trees, we too are then husbanding our strength, withdrawing within where growth and renewal can work their magic unseen, ready to blossom at the first touch of the sun.

When the Solstice comes, the world, still facing the worst of winter, turns almost unnoticed towards summer. We know this, yet the winter is still to be endured. The days will lengthen, the light will be bright on days covered in snow, ice is yet to break open the cracked stones, and we will huddle by our hearths as if there is no warmth in the world, forgetting that we have passed the nadir and the eternal dance of the seasons carries us onwards towards a brighter dawn.

When we are lost in grief, gripped by the cold of fear, it is hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel, hard to believe that we have passed the worst point when we see a dark road still looming ahead. Yet this is the rhythm of life itself, as the earth holds us in the reassuring and loving embrace of a Mother and shows us that not all is lost in winter, it merely endures the frost while within, nourished by the fallen leaves that were stripped away by the storms and the turning year, the green life springs anew.

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The Alchemist: Last Judgement…

File:Gargoyles, Notre-Dame, Paris (3584514985).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

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Perhaps, taking his cue from what little was left of the Mediaeval originals,

Viollet-le-Duc incorporated and emphasised horns, and claws, and talons,

and tusks, and fangs, and beaks, and raised heckles, in his grotesques.

Even the feathers of the birds resembled scales, or chain-mail.

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Gargoyles of Notre Dame Cathedral - Album on Imgur

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Nature for the denizens of the two towers, which between them

encompassed the directions of West, North and South,

appeared to be red in tooth and claw,

with little or no desire to transcend that state.

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As monsters of the human mind, presumably,

this state also applied to the collective psyche,

and was, perhaps, forever exemplified by the

 inhabitants of Paris who moved through the streets below,

and over whom the grotesques so rapaciously brooded.

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Nevertheless, the monsters became objects

of deep and prolonged fascination for both Parisians

and those who came from much farther afield

to climb the spiral-stairwells, and gawp.

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File:Gargoyle, Notre Dame, Paris, France, about 1870.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

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Many of the fantastical beasts had captured prey,

and feasted, ravenously, some of them fought,

others appeared to be in the process of hunting.

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This is quite deliberate and contrasts with the Angel of the East

which sounds its heavenly horn to announce the Last Judgement.

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Parution du second volume de la biographie de Fulcanelli | Toison d'Or

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Behind Gabriel, arrayed along the length of the base of the harmonious spire,

pointing the way of ascent, stand the apostles, upright, and serene.

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But wait, what of the Christ Spirit?

Should not it too have been there?

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Folded Victory: Gargoyles at Notre-Dame de Paris | Gargoyles, De paris, Lion sculpture

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Oh, but it was…

It was one of the grotesques!

A Harmony of Eight…

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The point sits at the centre of the square,

where its two diagonals intersect.

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From the same intersection, another square

can be drawn at right angles to the first.

Like this, we create eight equidistant points.

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By taking the original squares and extending all

eight sides, a new set of intersections is generated.

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The new Octagon, bigger than the first,

 is perfectly derived from its archetype.

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https://silenteyeblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/domeplan.gif

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Extending the sides of the Octagon generates another pair of larger squares.

The pattern is infinitely extendable around the point of origin with

perfect symmetry in every direction…

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A point indicates a location in space which is present but has no dimension…

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https://silenteyeblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/dragon.jpg

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To Greet the Dawn

sunrise 005I wandered into the living room at four, having given the whole sleeping business up for the night. Ani raised one ear and an eyebrow then curled up tight and refused to budge. It is odd though, now that I do not have to be up early, I seem to have reverted to an earlier mode when the house was so full of people that rising at ungodly hours was the only time I had to do things in peace.

There is something about the dark hours when the world is still sleeping, as if beyond the local noise you can hear the slow heartbeat of earth. There is nothing ‘ungodly’ about these moments, in fact quite the opposite.

How can you not feel close to the divine in a silence broken only by the wind in the trees… or looking up at star-strewn heavens? How can you not be touched by awe as the dawn paints the horizon in gold and flame and the first blackbird opens the day with song?

Our worlds are, for so many of us, artificial. Sunrise occurs behind closed blinds at the flick of a switch, TV and radio and the eternal rumble of traffic drown the delicate morning paean and a golden dawn cannot be seen in many places. We don’t realise that, of course, as we watch the first light creep into our rooms, busy with our preparations for the day. It was borne in upon me a few days ago as my son, also sleepless, had set his camera up to catch the dawn. I drove from village to town, stopping to capture something of the blaze of light on the way. He, hanging half-naked out of his bedroom window in the frost, caught only a tiny streak of gold above the rooftops, his horizon bounded by chimneypots.

sunrise 012

I love the dawn. From where I sit to write I can turn to the window and look due east, and will always stop to watch those fleeting moments of glory that touch the sky. I am incredibly lucky, yet so accustomed had I become to the daily joy of greeting the dawn it was not until a city-dwelling friend mentioned that it had been years since he had seen a true dawn that I realised just how lucky…. That seemed to me a tragedy, yet I have been a city dweller much of my life and know it to be true.

Knowledge and realisation are so very different.

We know things, take them for granted through habituation and it takes something to spark our attention before we can consciously notice them… and it is only at that moment that they become real for us again, vivid, vital and full of wonder.

As I write, the wind howls through the trees, drowning any sound but its own, an elemental tide of rushing air. From here there is no sulphurous glow from the town to colour the sky and the birds still sleep.

Soon, very soon, I will see that first shy blush as the false dawn touches the clouds and I will watch to see if the sky is clear enough to allow the painted horizon to blaze or whether the dawn fires will quietly suffuse the clouds with a gentle glow. I will listen to the waking of the morning as the birds sing and I will do so in full awareness, grateful that I can share a moment in solitude with something greater than I… and know It.

sunrise 017

The Alchemist: ‘A Violet Duke’?…

Eugène Viollet-le-Duc - Wikipedia

Architect in the guise of Thomas-the-Apostle.

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If our Alchemist was pulling his beard,

it would be because he and the grotesques surrounding him

on the tower balustrades of Notre-Dame, Paris,

were not actually mediaeval statuary at all,

but nineteenth-century restorations.

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Charged with the task of renovation, in eighteen-hundred-and-forty-four,

Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, found only the stumps

of claws and talons on the tower corners

but with the help of a body of stonemasons

he set about re-envisioning the cathedral’s mediaeval past…

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File:Gargoyles and chimeras 1, Notre-Dame de Paris 2011.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

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They did a pretty good job!

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If our Alchemist was tugging at his beard,

it was doubtless because

he was not an alchemist at all,

but the wandering jew, Ahaservus,

as some have made claim, doomed to wander

the annals of time forever in search of his messiah…

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Gargoyle Notre Dame - Free photo on Pixabay

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But, well, really, our ‘Violet Duke’

had put enough occult blinds in his work

to obscure the Christ Spirit itself,

though that was far from his intent…

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And if our Alchemist was stroking his beard?

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If he was stroking his beard he too would be

contemplating the prospect of statuary which

had been spread out before him but apparently

just out of both reach and gaze of scrutiny.

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Notre-Dame de Paris - Wikipedia

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The restoration undertaken by Viollet-le-Duc

included a reconstruction of the cathedral’s central spire

which had been dismantled in seventeen-hundred-and-ninety-two,

and repair of the angelic horn-blower which topped the apex of the nave.

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The spire he made octagonal and along four of its edges,

he placed copper-statues

of the Evangelists, and the Twelve Apostles.

Instead of Judas Iscariot, though, he included a self-portrait,

in the guise of Thomas-the-Apostle.

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Unlike all the other figures who faced outwards

and looked far and wide to the horizons of Paris

Viollet-le-Duc faced the spire and looked up to the heavens.

Except, he appeared to have his eyes closed,

and raised an uncertain hand to his forehead in a gesture of concern.

Was he straining to hear something indistinct from above?

Had he just been struck by an omission of extreme importance?

Or was this merely Thomas-the-Apostle in the throes of his doubt?

The Alchemist…

L'Alchimie de Notre Dame de Paris – La Nuit / La Nuit

A drawing by Julien Champagne.

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Why would the Mediaeval Stonemasons sculpt figures

on the top of their buildings which no one can see from the ground?

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Like some church towers, it was possible to scale

the towers of Notre Dame, Paris, and acquire a closer view

of the sculpted forms which inhabited its roofscape.

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Should this endeavour be approached in a symbolic frame of mind,

it might be useful to regard the spiral staircase which led there,

as a series of right-angles arranged around a lineal ascent,

and to take note of how many steps were required to reach the top.

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Any work of alchemy

unfolds in a series of steps,

or processes…

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The steps themselves might be regarded

as achievements or ‘crowns’ upon the Royal Way.

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And when one reached the top?

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Of the figures on the square-sided towers

only one was nominally human.

There is no doubt, therefore, that we would

be meant to identify with him…

Julien Champagne’s illustration, above,

is a masterful representation.

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Our ‘inner’ alchemist for such as he been designated,

primarily because of his Phrygian Hat, or ‘liberty cap’,

his liberia, was nevertheless a curious figure.

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Did he stroke, tug at, or pull his beard?

All three of these actions have different connotations.

Did he strain forward to see, or call out to, or even warn,

someone below, who was ascending to reach his position?

From a different perspective his mouth can be seen to gape wide.

Was that person, if person there was, ascending to save or release him?

Or merely to question him about the strange company he kept?

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File:Chimera of Notre-Dame de Paris.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

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All the other figures that peered from the parapets

of the towers alongside the Alchemist were what might be termed

grotesques, they were certainly not gargoyles,

for gargoyles are water-channels of which these figures have none.

Most of them also appeared

to be displaying a predatory or demonic nature.

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File:Gargoyles of Notre Dame.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

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Ever vigilant over the movements of humanity,

in the busy metropolis beneath them, some of them fed…

The Alchemists: Fulcanelli…

Parution du second volume de la biographie de Fulcanelli | Toison d'Or

This skyscape no longer exists due to renovation and the recent fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.

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‘There are deeper secrets in stone than in iron.’

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It is not to everyone’s taste.

Some respected proponents of the Western Mystery Tradition profess

to not caring very much for it all.

Although, I strongly suspect that their ‘not caring’ is a euphemism for non-understanding.

It is a mystery certainly.

But one all but impossible to ignore if you are engaged upon

a search for meaning in life.

What were they about, these savants?

At odds with the mainstream yet courted by kings.

Their published claims regarded by most as gibberish.

That term itself a reference to Geber, one of the most illustrious of their ilk.

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We have already briefly considered, Newton, today regarded as a ‘man of science’

but at heart a seeker after the secret fire,

and Paracelsus, nowadays regarded as a quack doctor

but in fact an early practitioner of both Homeopathy and Mesmerism,

and today, we shall take a look at Fulcanelli…

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But already we run into difficulties.

For one thing, we do not know what Fulcanelli looks like,

or indeed, if he exists, or even if he ever existed at all!

He is purported to be the author of two books:

The Mystery of the Cathedrals and Dwellings of the Philosophers.

Both are classics of esoteric science.

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‘…Cathedrals’ sets out to explain the ‘books written in stone’,

which are the Gothic Cathedrals of Europe,

and really, who could do such a thing without being involved in some way

in their construction or design?

For the most part, these art-works of stone were designed

and constructed during the Middle Ages.

The book was written in the nineteen twenties,

and is not the work of a young man.

As late as Nineteen-Seventy-Eight adepts were claiming

to have spoken with Fulcanelli in Florence!

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Perhaps the claims of the Alchemists are not entirely without foundation?

His name means, ‘Little Volcano’ or ‘Mini-Vulcan’.

Could we translate this as ‘The Gentle Flame’?

It would be nice to think that we could…

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Let us then take our flame and apply it to the following question:

Why would the Mediaeval Stonemasons sculpt figures

on the top of their buildings which no one can see from the ground?

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 walking dead…

We had been engaged in one of those long existential debates, discussing life, death and the possibilities of what might come before and after. The debate had gone on for some time, discussion had gone deep and we had covered some serious stuff, including the changing perspective of the years, fuelled by my impending birthday and the universal fragility of life.

“You should make a video,” said my son.

For a moment, I was flattered, feeling that perhaps I had acquitted myself so well that he saw my thoughts as worthy of being shared. But that moment was a fleeting one… he took out his phone.

“What, now?”

“Yeah.”

“But I’m a mess…” Vanity is universal when faced with a lens. Or that’s my excuse.

“Well, I’d rather you were sort of natural anyway…” It all clicked into place then. So much for flattery.

“You mean, for when I die?” My health may be a bit unstable at present, but I’m certainly not planning on dying at the moment. He had the decency to look a tad embarrassed.

“Well, yes… but don’t feel obliged to die anytime soon…”

“Thanks…”

“…I haven’t given you permission yet.” This is true. As he is both my son and my employer, such an extended leave of absence requires his approval and he has made his feelings quite clear on the matter.

By this time, the camera is running and I face the immortalising lens with no make-up, haystack hair and wearing my oldest clothes. We continue the debate, though in a far more lighthearted manner. Even so, it feels odd. Bad enough being recorded, which I dislike at the best of times, but to know you are being filmed as a memory for when you are dead is quite a strange feeling.

One of the things we had been discussing was the value of remembering that physical life is finite. It is a concept that must be taken from rather abstract idea we generally live with and transformed into a practical application. It is not a morbid or depressing perspective, as some might think, but is actually liberating as it shifts the focus from the transient to the eternal.

With a conscious awareness of the inevitable ending of this phase of existence, life and every experience in it, good or bad, takes on a new depth and richness. Nothing is to be missed through inattention, every experience is to be savoured and appreciated, because there is an awareness, a backdrop to living, that constantly reminds you that each moment could be the last.

And, as the camera captured our laughter, I was getting a graphic lesson in bringing that concept into reality.

It begs the question of how we want to be remembered when we are no longer in the world. Do we want to leave a mark on society? Be missed? Create immortality through art or a legacy of scientific thought? Maybe our immortality comes through our bloodline… our children and their children? Or perhaps we wish only to be remembered with a smile.

But why should we want to be remembered at all? Perhaps it is the fear of utter annihilation. Or simply the ego, the personality we wear in life, programmed for its own survival, that  seeks to perpetuate itself… and cannot accept that life as we know it can carry on without us? No matter how well-known or well loved we are, unless we do leave some kind of concrete legacy to posterity, in a few generations we will be no more than an entry in a ledger or database somewhere.  And even that will one day disappear.

Whether we believe there is no more than this physical existence, or in the survival of the soul, we cannot escape the cycle or the recycling of life.  One thing is certain, in the physical universe, nothing is ever utterly lost. From plankton to planets, everything that comes into being will evolve and come to an end. Its component parts will be returned to whence they arose and become the building blocks of something new. Personally, I believe that also holds true of the soul. We do not need to seek immortality. We carry eternity within us.