“This limitless cosmos is full of Presences, full of Persons — full of angels.
We have to discard all our trivialized and anthropocentric conceptions of the nature of such beings. They are personified metaphysical presences, the movers of the worlds, and they provide the connection between ourselves and divinity.
There is no question of anthropomorphism. The personality of these beings is not derived from ours; ours is only a dim reflection of theirs.
The hermeneutic ability of the creative Imagination to transmute all things into symbols destroys the distinction between psychology and cosmology and unites them in a psycho-cosmology in which Creator and creature participate not as opposing terms with an unbridgeable gulf separating them, but as complementary poles of a divine drama.”
–Tom Cheetham from The World Turned Inside Out
The divine drama, it’s worth all of the effort — heart and soul — we commit to translating its dance. I’ll help you connect the dots! Join me on the following social media — whichever suits your particular style, temperament and art.
Illustration by Ilonka Karasz from William Maxwell’s The Heavenly Tenants (Harpers) 1946
Man is a plural being.
When we speak of ourselves ordinarily, we speak of ‘I.’ We say, ” ‘I’ did this,” ” ‘I’ think this,” ” ‘I’ want to do this”—but this is a mistake. There is no such ‘I,’ or rather there are hundreds, thousands of little ‘I’s in every one of us. We are divided in ourselves but we cannot recognize the plurality of our being except by observation and study.
At one moment it is one ‘I’ that acts, at the next moment it is another ‘I.’ It is because the ‘I’s in ourselves are contradictory that we do not function harmoniously. We live ordinarily with only a very minute part of our functions and our strength, because we do not recognize that we are machines, and we do not know the nature and working of our mechanism.
We are machines. We are governed entirely by external circumstances. All our actions follow the line of least resistance to the pressure of outside circumstances.
Try for yourselves: can you govern your emotions? No. Read more
What’s a revelator? A ‘revelator’ is one who reveals, especially one who reveals divine will.
Divine will is different from your will. (Not really, but for the sake of this post I’ll say that there’s a difference.)
A more poetic way to put this comes from Chin-Ning Chu who declared:
“Two agendas are prevalent in your life: Heaven’s and yours.”
If you study the animated GIF above, and watch for the little crown, that ‘exchange’ will give you a better understanding, than the conventional, of Chu’s wisdom.
The start of a new year provokes most of us to look straight into the face of Time — usually towards the last few days of December (which is why so many people get so drunk on New Year’s Eve), and wonder: “What the fuck happened?” As in, where did the Time ‘go’.
This is understandable because for most of the year, like most of our lives, we avoid developing a sound relationship with Time and instead feel that Time is stalking us, cornering us, going too fast or in some instances, like a terrible job, going too slow. It’s anything but lovely. We are distanced from Time’s magic creative ability.
The Buddhist teacher Tarthang Tulku writes about our relationship to time like this:
“Existence itself depends on time and necessarily partakes of the derivative past-present-future structure and also of transitoriness.”
This is another way that Time is a revelator. If there wasn’t time we wouldn’t see the things that exist in space. We would have no way to exerpience experiences because everything, both internal and external, would just be an amorphic blob.
Astrologers are familiar with this truth in the way they associate the planet Saturn with Time. Saturn, as a function of the divine, draws boundaries, imparts a sense of solidarity, despite the fact that, as Neptune reminds us, things aren’t really ‘there’ in the solid way that we think they are. But no matter, you have to know where the bus stop is to make your 3 o’clock doctor’s appointment. This is living by Saturn’s laws, not Neptune’s.
“‘Things’ are here, in the present only to pass out of reach. ‘Things’ are desired (due perhaps to previous such losses to the past) but are ‘not yet’. We have become so conditioned by this trend that all our hopes and aspirations amount to filling up little slots in a sort of personalized past-present-future grid. We are literally timing ourselves away.”
He goes on to explain how, should we not develop a solid relationship to Time, that when we reach the end of our life we will be confronted with the accumulative fallout of our ignorance. Time then presents us with the seeming finality of death.
“Death,” he says, “is a totally opaque partition. We cannot see beyond it, nor can we see it clearly enough to discover other options around it.” Read more
I created this mix several years ago — a collection of hymns, chants, Medieval carols and songs — a music compendium to mirror and celebrate this sacred moment in the Earth’s time cycle.
The Solstice, the night of the longest night, also marks the return of luminosity, as Winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere and radiance gains prominence.
Light has always symbolized awareness and consciousness, as well as life-giving, creative properties. And in a real way we are each bodies of light, with the Sun Absolute as both our source and sustainment. And that bond is not simply symbolic, it is literal.
For many astrologers, the Winter Solstice is a demarcation that defines the start of the New Year. How we experience the longest night provides an essential hint as to the theme or signature of the year ahead. Both universally and personally. It’s my wish that this mix of music can tune you into a vector that’s off the beaten path, especially for this time of year.
Solstice Blessings to each of you!
I’ve always put up a Christmas tree. Despite the halfhearted participation (and groaning) of my boyfriends, I’ve faithfully, right after Thanksgiving, headed out and bought (or here on Vashon, cut down) a tree to lug home. It’s a ritual I rarely miss.
After visiting India some years ago I returned home in the winter and the notion of putting a bauble-laden tree on display felt absurd. This is a rite of passage for anyone who ventures to India: Your brain cells are rearranged and you never view your world, or its customs, the same. I know that was true for me as a Westerner. Christmas in America, after the dust and squalor of India, felt gluttonous. So I skipped the holidays that year — though I missed having a tree in the house.
I enjoy the act of arranging the colors, textures and lights on a tree. It’s similar to making a painting, the alchemy of conjuring art. Simpler, but no less magical. I especially love the ricochetting of light amidst the ornaments, as it envelops the tree at nighttime. As I’ve grown older I’ve come to understand that the ritual of displaying a tree is a sacred act — although I’ve never fully understood why.
Most of us are familiar with the historical origins of the Christmas tree. Its association with the pagan rite of celebrating the solstice. When the light of the Sun ‘returns’ in the Northern hemisphere and begins its increase and ascent, the radiance grows stronger and longer through the ensuing months. Trees would be displayed to honor the burgeoning of light and life. And the fruits and trinkets that would decorate the tree honored the bounty, the wish of a successful harvest in the year to come.
And yet the historical perspective never impressed me much. I mean, none of those facts would drift through my mind as I’d lounge on the couch in the evening — no matter my age — and stare at the tree until I fell asleep. Nope, another set of mysterious associations would encircle me and send me into a reverie. And it wasn’t until I came to the conclusion of one of my favorite books this year that I began to make sense of my devotion.
Martha Heyneman‘s book The Breathing Cathedral is a fantastic interweaving of the cosmologies of Gurdjieff, Dante, Aquinas, Stephen Hawking and others, into a new model, a new interpretation of the universe we inhabit. I was drawn to the book because, as a longtime student of Gurdjieff’s teachings, I was intrigued to see how Heyneman, a zoology student turned poet, was bringing Gurdjieff’s teachings forward and marrying them to the world of science.
The last chapter of her book is titled O Christmas Tree, and at first the subject — the family Christmas tree — seemed an odd way to summarize all that she’d explored in the previous chapters. But in the end I understood completely. Read more