The court of Kyumars, first mythical king of Iran, reigning on an Edenic land in an eternal spring. Illustration of the Book of Ferdowsi Kings. Shâhnâmeh of Shah Tahmasp (Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp: A Book of Illustrated Kings of the 16th Century), Tabriz, c. 1537.
At the center, King Gayumars (first king of Persia according to the legend) is seated cross-legged and levitating above his many courtiers. On his sides, his son, Siyamak, is standing on the right, while his grandson, Hushang, is seated on the left. The harmony between the lavish vegetation, which goes beyond the margin, and the people is to be noted. In addition, the stylistic similarities with Chinese art in this Persian work show how cultural exchange happened even within the arts during the time.
For those who are wondering, here’s a rough translation of the lines on the folio:
When the sun reached the lamb constellation,9 when the world became glorious, When the sun shined from the lamb constellation to rejuvenate the living beings entirely, It was then when Gayumars became the King of the World. He first built his residence in the mountains. His prosperity and his palace rose from the mountains, and he and his people wore leopard pelts. Cultivation began from him, and the garments and food were ample and fresh.
- The Eternal Spring
In Chinese painting, the seasons correspond to feelings born of the Invisible, to combinations of yin and yang and aspects of the contemplative heart. The seasons of the miniature are analogous: they manifest a periodization of the soul and an activity of God. Persian painters almost never describe winter; the preferred seasons are spring or autumn, as in Behzad and his school. However, thriving vegetation, bright colors, birds and eggs in the nests, constantly suggest a spring idea of time, and this symbolic choice, which we will analyze here, is eminently revealing of the miniature paradise’s way.
In Islam, as in other civilizations, spring is the emblem of Eden. In Roman antiquity, Ovid spoke of the “eternal spring” of the golden age, and Dante, in the Middle Ages, described the earthly paradise as a spring garden. Like the medieval troubadours, the Persian poets include in their poems of love or wine, or their panegyrics, an evocation of spring. In the image of a musical mode, this literary convention indicates the symbolic tone of the work and its hermeneutical register. The spring referring to a contemplative time, to the Adamic consciousness, is therefore a spiritual intelligence that will deliver the deep meanings of the poem. This is also true for miniatures: their spring decor is not so much a temporal environment as an Edenic space, a symbolic box, a kaleidoscope of the Spirit. Conversely, autumn can be the season of separation and reflect the pain of lovers, as in the story of Leyla and Madjnun.
In the miniature, the Edenic meaning of spring is underlined by the presence of birds. These can be real (cranes, nightingales, geese, hoopoes, etc.) or mythical, such as Sîmorgh. In the Qur’an, the language of the birds is the initiatory wisdom granted by God to Solomon.( Coran XXVII, 16.)
Sufism frequently uses the image of the bird to symbolize the higher or heavenly soul, a spiritual motion or inspiration, principles and states of Being. The birds are almost always associated with flowering trees, and one can see the symbol of spiritual degrees (birds) in the Divine Reality (the tree), or the symbol of the Sufi saint (the tree). ) and its inner realities (birds). The bird is associated with the soul, its cage with the body, its flight to the freedom of the spiritual consciousness flying in God.
Spring is often mentioned by Ferdowsi in his Book of Kings, particularly in his description of the “heavenly” residence that King Kavus built in the Alborz Mountains. In these sumptuous palaces, of gold, crystal or gems, true spiritual places “where fortune must grow and never fall”, one did not “feel the heat of summer”: “the air was perfumed there Amber, “” The rain was wine, “” The gay spring reigned throughout the year, and the roses were beautiful as the cheeks of women. ”
Elsewhere he describes the palace of King Mihrab’s wives: “The palace looked like a spring garden by its colors, its perfumes, and its paintings of every kind. ”
In Sufi literature, spring enjoys a privileged meaning, with multiple and interdependent connections.
Rumi writes that “outside the spring of the world, it is a hidden spring“. This secret season, of which the earthly spring is a fleeting reflection, is none other than the divine time of the soul, its eternal rebirth in God.
Sultan Valad recommended to his disciples to imagine “the Essence of God like spring”. Ansari (1006-1089) says of God’s vision that it is a spring regeneration of the soul: “The spring of my heart is in the meadow of Your encounter. It is at the spring equinox, writes Sohravardi, that King Key Khosrow held the Grail “facing the sun,” and in the light of the star “the lines and imprints of the worlds were manifested there.” .
Nezâmî associates with the spring awakening of nature the idea of spiritual immortality (the Source of life) and of an unchanging esotericism (always green), represented by Khidr, mysterious character mentioned by the Qur’an and sometimes identified to Biblical Elijah: “Then, like Khidr Verdoyant, Immortal Prophet, The grass regained youth! Then the water recovered Source of life! “Daqiqi, a poet of the 10th century, exposed in a few verses the symbolic corollaries of spring, woman and paradise:” A paradise cloud, O my idol, has thrown an April parure on the earth. The rose garden in the Garden of Eden is the same, the tree is a hedge covered with ornaments. ”
The meaning of spring is deduced from its characteristics: after the “sour face” of winter, before the burning of summer and the opposite of autumnal nostalgia, it is a renovation and a transfiguration. More than the cyclical return of a bloom, it is the miracle of the existence arisen from the “winter nothingness”, just as the oasis is the drunkenness of a desert touched by a gift of God. His explosions of colors and scents embody the movement of joy, the expansiveness of Love, the expressive sap of God and the alchemy of a revelation. Spring is also the fulfillment of a promise: that of paradise after the “winter” ordeals of earthly life or after the autumnal sadness of the separation between the soul and God.
Everything is exactly what it must be, for all things are under the control of the One. Among the many Koranic proof texts cited in support of this imperative is the verse «His only command, when He desires a thing, is to say to it “Be!”, and it comes to be» (36: 82). Theologians called this word “Be” the creative command (al-amr al-khalqī).It is eternal, which is to say that, from the human point of view, it is re-uttered at every moment. As a result, the universe and all things within it are constantly renewed. see Islam and the Transformative Power of Love…
- Khidr – the Green One – is very important in Sufism : St George and Al kidhr
The present master of the Golden Chain, the Sultan al-Awliya Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani (may Allah sanctify his secret), has confirmed that Saint George is Sayyidina Al-Khidr, peace be upon him. The word “confirmed” is appropriate, since this identification has been widely made for a long time. According to HRH Prince Charles, for example: “We forget too easily that the veneration of the Virgin is shared in the Middle East to this day by Christians and Muslims alike; that the mysterious prophet of the Muslims, Al-Khidir, was identified with…the Christian St George…” Perhaps most obviously, St. George’s Day in the Ottoman Empire was better known as Hidrellez, a name deriving in part from the title al-Khidr or “the Green.” If it is objected that Hidrellez falls on the 6th of May rather than the 23rd of April, that is, St. George’s Day in those regions of Western Europe still holding to this tradition, let it not be forgotten that the 6th of May is simply St. George’s Day in the Eastern liturgical calendar. Read more…
- The home of al Khidr ( The Green One) in Kataragama (Sri Lanka – Sarandīb – Ceylon)
According to a folk etymology, the Tamil name Kathirkāmam is said to be evolved from the combination of two words Kathir (meaning glory of light) and kāmam (Love), which according to the legend is “where the light of Murugan mingled with the love of Valli“.
The aboriginal Vedda community used to refer to this deity as O’ Vedda or Oya Vedda, meaning “river hunter”. The Sri Lankan Moors visiting this place pay homage to a Muslim saint known as al-Khidir, who according to them gave his name to the Islamic shrine at this place, and therefore attributing to the place etymology.
Sri Lanka’s indigenous inhabitants, the Veddas or Wanniya-laeto (‘forest-dwellers’) as they call themselves, preserve a direct line of descent from the island’s original Neolithic community.
Murugan, the undying ‘Tender Youth’ and boon-granting patron and of the Kali Yuga, has been adored, praised and worshipped by uncounted millions of devotees since Vedic times.
Although, strictly speaking, the word Kataragama refers to the place-name of a certain area in southern Sri Lanka. Kataragama, Kacharagama or Kadiragama…whatever name you may call it, it’s a place of worship for all. People from all religions gather here to pray to the Kataragama God
Islamic Kataragama Islamic Kataragama: Home of al-khidr
According to Islamic tradition our forefather Adam (alai) first descended to earth in Serendib (modern Sri Lanka) upon Adam’s Peak. Al-Khadir, Alexander and the Fountain of Life:In worldwide Islamic tradition, the story of the prophet or saint known as Khwaja Khadir (Khizr) occupies a role of special distinction. Coming of Mystery Imam al-Mahdi:In this age of unrest and accelerating change, modern social and political pundits have been left behind by the rapid pace of events.
Firewalking: A Vow to Walk the Fiery Path When Embers feel like Petals: Heat emanating from the bed of embers is unbearable even from afar. Flames darting up occasionally light up the large crowd
Invisible currents flow like mighty rivers along the paths of every pilgrimage, and borne along by these currents the traditional foot pilgrims move in their thousands from one spiritual center to another. Kataragama is a sanctuary full of intiatic mysteries for pilgrims of all faiths: Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians and Muslims. The pilgrimage to Kataragama, across the length of Sri Lanka.
- The Spring of Regragra – Morocco
- The Regraga – Morocco
The Regragas are the inhabitants of Chiadma. The Berber Regraga were the descendents of the 7 saints apostles of Islam. During a trip to the Mecca, they learnt the new religion and they were told by the Prophet to spread Islam to the Maghreb.
Every spring (March-April)they carry out a pilgrimage of 44 sacred places : «the spring of Regraga». They bring the Baraka when they do their «daour» (trip) and at every stop you can find a fun fair and a souk where you can admire the «halqua», folkloristic shows with singers and dancers –the chikhates – a type of music that comes from the Bedouin singing.
Laâroussa In the countryside in times of droughts, it is tradition to carry in the fields a white puppet with blossoms – named Laâroussa Chta. [Laâroussa=the bride on her wedding day Chta= rain] The chief of the Regraga Akarmoud is considered the chief of all Regraga.
Laâroussa relies the oral tradition.
The Khaïma : A sacred tent in the red coulour is transported on the back of a dromedar och represents all the 12 Regraga Zaouias. The moqadems (chiefs) of their zaouias use the tent to recieve visitors and gve them baraka. The Khaïma applies the written tradition of The Ifriquiya.
Regraga (Rejraja)Regraga refers mainly to the large pilgrimage effectuated annually by the Chiadma tribes. They have 24 zaouias.
It takes place in spring and lasts 39 days. During these weeks, pilgrims visit a series of local shrines, from the mouth of the Tensift river south of Safi to the northern outskirts of the High Atlas, including the city of Essaouira itself. They are led by two groups that effectuate a kind of round trip, stopping at every shrine on the way. One must dress at every shrine a holy tent made of fan palm fibres and dyed with henna, the other one arrives in procession with a muqaddim (religious leader) riding a white horse.
The Daour (tour) of Regraga visit in 39 days the tombs of 44 saints.It starts in zaouia de Sidi Ali Ben Bouali and ends in Sidi Messaoud Boutritiche (in Had dra)
The seven saints
The founding myth recounts that the Berber saints went to Mecca to meet the Prophet Mohammed. They were Christians followers of Jesus, but were awaiting the arrival of a final prophet. They went to the messenger of God to convert to Islam. The Regraga were also revealing the glossolalia of the Prophet Mohammed. Indeed, the latter spontaneously understood the Berber language in which they spoke. However, his daughter Fatima did not understand a word unknown language, which to her looked like rejraja, that is to say, “empty handed“. The Prophet said to her daughter: “You just give them their name. “He then instructed them to return to Maghreb to bring Islam. The seven saints obeyed and returned to their Berber country with an oracle from the prophet Mohammed. The tribes were converted en masse and reputation of Regraga spread widely, and well before the first historically attested Arab conquests. They had acquired the title and prestige of the Companions of Prophet. Each year, the seven holy warriors visited the tribes in the region to ensure that they did not apostasy: that is the origin of Daour.
The seven saints are:
Sidi Boubker Ben Ashemas
Sidi Salah Ben Boubker
Sidi Abdallah Ben Salah
Sidi Aïssa Bou Khabia
Sidi Yala Ben Ouatil
Sidi Saïd Sabek.
- These legends find their way in the legends of Al Khidr,St George and the Green Man in differents traditions:
Wherever we travel, from the troubled lands of the Middle East to the remote regions of Russia and Central Europe, we find that he is still honoured as one of the timeless spiritual guides of humanity. He also presides over the great historical institutions like a guiding light, with his chapels and churches located at the very centres of power. Why, we may find ourselves asking, does this alleged Roman soldier martyred for his beliefs right at the beginning of the Christian era still exert such a powerful influence, especially as in 1969 the Vatican demoted him to the rather undignified status of a minor local saint? read more… The Green Man, St George and the Dragon Power of Nature
- The Green Man and the Wild Man in Folklores
Green is etymologically related to growth. What is green is growing and fertile. It will develop and develop. However, green also means naive and inexperienced. An inexperienced boy is a ‘greenhorn’; a rookie. He is compared here with the young green leaf. They say he is ‘not yet dry behind the ears’, or else: ‘he is still green behind his ears’. The Green man is young, full of vigor and potency and still has to ‘ outgrown’, so be initiated into the secrets of the adult world.
Hereby a number of folk rituals and parades in which a man covered in leaves was carried away. These rituals were held at different places in Europe during the mornings.
The best-known examples are the procession with the ‘Jack in the Green’ in England, with the Green Joris in Romania, the Austrian ‘Pfingstl’ and the Dutch Klissenboer.
But there are many more among others: Le pere Mai in France,
and the Zeleny Juray from Yugoslavia.
What significance can you give to these rituals when you view them as initiation and fertility rituals?
Especially the connection between the Green man and the Wildeman can give us new insights about the meaning of the Green man.
What is the meaning of this if you view this as an initiation and fertility ritual?
Especially the connection between the Green Man and the Wildeman gave new insights about the meaning of the Green Man. Read More …. The Green Man and the Wild Man
- Green Man, May Day and May Pole
Since May 1 lies about halfway between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice, it was considered a good time to mark the transition into summer. Indeed, in most of medieval northern Europe (meaning the Celtic calendar), May 1 was the beginning of summer. By then the seeds for crops had just been sown (so farmers and their laborers could take a short break), and it was time to drive cattle and sheep out to their summer pastures. Both the sprouting crops and the soon-to-be pastured cattle needed divine protection from the dangers of the natural and supernatural worlds, which is why May Day developed as a holiday and took on the associated rituals and mythology that it did. And a goddess was a good figure to deal with such human concerns…..On May Day the May Queen and the Queen of Winter, together with their companies, would engage in a ritual contest, and the result was never in doubt. After the May Queen won, she would be crowned. Read more … Green Man, May Day and May Pole
- Spring Rejuvenation ritual, St george and the Dragon, Mariage of May queen and king in Folklore
-Spring Rejuvenation ritual : Carnaval of Binche in Belgium
-Carnaval of Nurembergh
- -St george and the Dragon: The “Doudou” of Mons in Belgium
- –World War I Miracle? The Angels of Mons
Doomed to death
While the Battle of Mons raged and they had lost count of the number of British soldiers who had been killed by enemy fire, the 8th brigade was fighting tooth and nail to defend Mons. On the evening of 23 August, as night was falling, the situation was serious. The 21,000 Germans involved in the battle had made it to Mons from the East. They were occupying the city and threatening the British rear. On the right, the situation was just as dire, the Commonwealth soldiers had to tackle the 7th Bremen Regiment, which was holding Spiennes. Despite all this, the 8th Brigade miraculously made their way out. They managed to find their way through the darkness to get to their camp. The story might have been left there, if a rumour hadn’t started to spread among the soldiers. Some claimed to have seen angels in the form of archers. They supposedly stopped the Germans in their tracks so that the British could retreat. Fiction or reality? Of course it’s hard to say. The Great War gave rise to plenty of legends. On some parts of the front line, soldiers are said to have been helped by celestial figures to stay alive.
The church and then the British government used this event to motivate soldiers to continue to fight. Shortly afterwards, the fantasy writer Arthur Machen published an article in the London Evening News about the event. He told the story of a British soldier who was helped by archers to escape from the claws of the German army. He alluded to Saint George, the patron saint of soldiers and a legendary character for Mons. Although he quickly admitted that he had made up the whole story, there was no longer any doubt. The legend took on different forms. The angels were presented in different ways, either as a cloud of light or a winged horseman. The famous legend of Mons is still widely written about today, 100 after years after the war began.World War I Miracle? The Angels of Mons read more and look also “The Great and Holy War”
-Mariage of May queen and May king in Folklore: “Boerenbruiloft” in Venlo,Holland
- The Art of Archery
Festival of Popinjay
Popinjay or Papingo (signifying a painted bird), also called pole archery, is a shooting sport that can be performed with either rifles or archery equipment. The object of popinjay is to knock artificial birds off their perches. The rifle form is a popular diversion in Denmark; a Scottish variant is also known. The archery form, called staande wip in Flemish language, is popular in Belgium and is shot occasionally in the United Kingdom under the governance of the Grand National Archery Society. In Germany a traditional shooting at wooden birds placed on a high pole is called “Vogelschießen” (that is “bird shooting”). These are carried out either with small bore rifles or crossbows.
At the village of Rieux-Volvestre- France
The legends is: “… the devil haunted the country. He changed into what he wanted in order to seduce a pretty princess, daughter of the master of the city. The Lord, fearing to see his child bewitched, ordered that the demon be hunt, promising to kill his treasure and the young person. It was a first Sunday of May: Satan had changed to “Papegay” (parrot). The people of the city, armed with tools and bows, were looking for him all over the countryside. With the grace of San Sebastián, patron of the archers, a young “pastorel” (shepherd) named Tantiro, who was in love with the Lord’s daughter, pierced the evil bird with an arrow, thus gaining the title of “Rei” of Rius and the heart of the “tender and white person”.
Sacred Archery – the forty prophetic traditions
Sacred Archery – the forty prophetic traditions – is now available for the first time in the English language, translated from Arabic and Ottoman Turkish, these forty authentic ahadith on archery are available as gathered and commented upon by the Master Archer, Katib Abdullah Efendi over four hundred years ago.
Included in the book is the first chapter of traditions, history, and legends of sacred archery as translated from the Telhis resail rumat by Mustafa Kani. This chapter really adds “juice to the meat” and gives an insight into the Islamic thought, beliefs, and practices that existed in the bilad ul-islam, or “abodes of peace”, which have all but now been lost.
The Symbolism of Archery
THE symbolic content of an art is originally bound up with its practical function, but is not necessarily lost when under changed conditions the art is no longer practiced of necessity but as a game or sport; and even when such a sport has been completely secularized and has become for the profane a mere recreation or amusement it is still possible for whoever possesses the requisite knowledge of traditional symbolism to complete this physical participation in the sport, or enjoyment of it as a spectacle, by an understanding of its forgotten significance, and so restore, for himself at least, the “polar balance of physical and metaphysical” that is characteristic of all traditional cultures. Read here The Symbolism of Archery
- The Holi Festival in India
Holi is considered as one of the most revered and celebrated festivals of India and it is celebrated in almost every part of the country. It is also sometimes called as the “festival of love” as on this day people get to unite together forgetting all resentments and all types of bad feeling towards each other. The great Indian festival lasts for a day and a night, which starts in the evening of Purnima or the Full Moon Day in the month of Falgun. It is celebrated with the name Holika Dahan or Choti Holi on first evening of the festival and the following day is called Holi. In different parts of the country it is known with different names.
The vibrancy of colors is something that brings in a lot of positivity in our lives and Holi being the festival of colours is actually a day worth rejoicing. Holi is a famous Hindu festival that is celebrated in every part of India with utmost joy and enthusiasm. The ritual starts by lighting up the bonfire one day before the day of Holi and this process symbolizes the triumph of good over the bad. On the day of Holi people play with colours with their friends and families and in evening they show love and respect to their close ones with Abeer.
There is a symbolic legend to explain why Holi is celebrated as a festival of colours in the honour of Hindu god Vishnu and his follower Prahlada. King Hiranyakashipu, according to a legend found in chapter 7 of Bhagavata Purana, was the king of demonic Asuras, and had earned a boon that gave him five special powers: he could be killed by neither a human being nor an animal, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither at day nor at night, neither by astra (projectile weapons) nor by any shastra (handheld weapons), and neither on land nor in water or air. Hiranyakashipu grew arrogant, thought he was God, and demanded that everyone worship only him.
Hiranyakashipu’s own son, Prahlada, however, disagreed. He was and remained devoted to Vishnu. This infuriated Hiranyakashipu. He subjected Prahlada to cruel punishments, none of which affected the boy or his resolve to do what he thought was right. Finally, Holika, Prahlada’s evil aunt, tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her. Holika was wearing a cloak that made her immune to injury from fire, while Prahlada was not. As the fire roared, the cloak flew from Holika and encased Prahlada, who survived while Holika burned. Vishnu, the god who appears as an avatar to restore Dharma in Hindu beliefs, took the form of Narasimha – half human and half lion, at dusk (when it was neither day nor night), took Hiranyakashyapu at a doorstep (which was neither indoors nor outdoors), placed him on his lap (which was neither land, water nor air), and then eviscerated and killed the king with his lion claws (which were neither a handheld weapon nor a launched weapon).
The Holika bonfire and Holi signifies the celebration of the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, and of the fire that burned Holika.
In the Braj region of India, where the Hindu deity Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated until Rang Panchmi in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna. The festivities officially usher in spring, with Holi celebrated as a festival of love. There is a symbolic myth behind commemorating Krishna as well. As a baby, Krishna developed his characteristic dark skin colour because the she-demon Putana poisoned him with her breast milk. In his youth, Krishna despaired whether the fair-skinned Radha and other girls would like him because of his skin colour. His mother, tired of the desperation, asks him to approach Radha and ask her to colour his face in any colour she wanted. This she does, and Radha and Krishna became a couple. Ever since, the playful colouring of Radha and Krishna’s face has been commemorated as Holi. Beyond India, these legends to explain the significance of Holi (Phagwah) are common in some Caribbean and South American communities of Indian origin such as Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. It is also celebrated with great fervour in Mauritius.
- The Primavera of Botticelli : The Eternal Spring and a message for our times
…In La Primavera, Botticelli, through the figures of Zephyr and Mercury, contrasts the `movements’ of the mind and body. Man is capable of the highest good but also the basest depravity. To explain why such conflict exists within the noblest of species, it was said that the soul is a temporary inhabitant of the body. Its sensual and material demands were what Ficino called `many mad masters’.
– Such demands lead to a state of constant striving, an impulsive, irrational search for gain and pseudo-fulfilment, the narrow and shallow state of unawareness the Platonists called `being asleep’.
In UNDER THE GUISE OF SPRING concludes Eugene Lane- Spollen:
HERE IS NO DOUBT that La Primavera `spoke’ to the young Lorenzo,( as she spokes to us today), at a crossroads in his(our) life, as a wealthy and possibly influential member of Florence’s most powerful family. Were Venus to express what the painting said to its owner five centuries ago, she might say:
`Excellent Lorenzo, you of Divine origin, were also bom of an earthly nature and both will seek to claim you. Understand that you are briefly in this world, not of it, and the heavens in their entirety are not in some other place but within.’
“If sensual pleasures cloud your vision, the memories of those seducing moments will echo in your empty soul, a prison of your own making.‘
`Never forget who you are, for intuition tells you, you were born to be what you choose to be. You are a god in mortal raiment who should not lose his way. So eschew a life of illusions for one of perpetual spring.’
`Even if you fall you can rise again, re-born. Stride out boldly, for once you understand, you are free, and then Fate and earthly fortune will have no power to harm you.’
`Enter now Lorenzo — embrace this nymph before you, the fount of truth and grace, I am within your power to reach. Paradise can be gained by many paths and is known through time by the names of many gods and places.’
`Step forth, join their dance! … this power of grace to liberate you was known to the ancient sages from Hermes to our Plato.’
`Gaze intently to where true Beauty, the Supreme Good is encountered, and the clouds will lift and you will see.
`Recall to mind the heights of joy and how it once was before the fall, for that is where your journey home begins.
`Be worthy of the honour and let Mercury, you, your rational self, guide the ascent of your mind.’
In the centuries to come, self-empowered and increasingly confident individuals would turn their energies and conquering minds to overcome every barrier to knowledge and advancement, even nature.
Our debt to the classical and the unfettered spirit it loosed is enormous, and reminders are all about us. Classical deities adorn edifices on five continents, great corporations are named after classical gods ( Nike, Clio, Hermes…) and the classical architecture of government buildings and courthouses the world over communicates the idea of wise leadership.
However, it was not the City of Man that had interested members of the Academy. They had sought an understanding of man’s true nature and potential for transcendence.
The growth in human self-belief showed itself in booming commerce, broadened geographical horizons and adventures inspired by ingenuity, daring and creativity.
An abundance of opportunities opened up, some powerfully seductive for the material wealth and pleasure they offered — what John Reed calls ‘that powerful substitute for being’.” Russell Kirk writes:
but the seed of hubris, overwhelming self-confidence was sown it has remained for us in the 21th Century. To look back upon the course of this hubris, diffused all over the world, and to see the oratorical aspirations of the humanists transformed into the technological aspirations of the modern sensual man … in our lust for divine power, we have lost human dignity.‘
(Reed, Elegant Simplicity: `… incapable of animating our souls beyond the one dimensional reality we mostly inhabit.’)
After five centuries and more of religious turmoil and wars, La Primavera and its message have survived to our time under the guise of spring.
As one stands in front of the painting, one can hardly be faulted for wondering whether that perennial secret of rebirth which unlocked a profound ‘human’ happiness, somehow reaches out through the layers of time and varnish to resonate with something instinctively and perennially present in the unexplored corridors of the mind.
- The Gargoyles of Notre-Dame: Medievalism and monsters of modernity
The purpose of the grotesque masks on the outside walls of Romanesque churches was undoubtedly that they should serve as a means of exorcism against impure spirits. The mode of action of such exorcistic masks can be readily understood if one considers how, when a man approaches a sanctuary and seeks to direct his spirit towards the highest, all the dregs in his being, owing to a natural reaction of the soul, tend to arise and seek to enter his thoughts under a multitude of guises. If, at this moment, he espies a mask which represents, with unmistakable grossness, any hidden greed, passivity or lust, he can look on them ‘objectively’, and laugh at them. In this way the evil spirit is exorcized and flees the scene.
These stone masks thus contribute to a process of unmasking in the soul, but on a basis that is the exact opposite of modern psychoanalysis. For whereas in the latter the one who is plagued by dubious impulses is invited to accept his complexes as himself, the medieval man, awakened by an exorcistic device, looks on the mischievous intruder as an enemy from without, as an impulse foreign to himself which, like a disease, has sought to take root in him, and which he has only to perceive with clarity in order to be freed from it. For, according to Christian doctrine, the devil cannot tolerate the truth.
Images of Lust: Sexual Carvings on Medieval Churches :Sexually explicit sculptures may be found on a number of medieval churches in France and Spain. This fascinating study examines the origins and purposes of these sculptures, viewing them not as magical fertility symbols, nor even as idols of ancient pre-Christian religions, but as serious works that dealt with the sexual customs and salvation of medieval folk, and thus gave support to the Church’s moral teachings.
- Krampus or Spiritual “winter” of the modern world
In Catholicism, St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children. His saints day falls in early December, which helped strengthen his association with the Yuletide season. Many European cultures not only welcomed the kindly man as a figure of generosity and benevolence to reward the good, but they also feared his menacing counterparts who punished the bad. Parts of Germany and Austria dread the beastly Krampus, while other Germanic regions have Belsnickle and Knecht Ruprecht, black-bearded men who carry switches to beat children. France has Hans Trapp and Père Fouettard. (Some of these helpers, such as Zwarte Piet in The Netherlands have attracted recent controversy.)
Krampus’s name is derived from the German word krampen, meaning claw, and is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology. The legendary beast also shares characteristics with other scary, demonic creatures in Greek mythology, including satyrs and fauns.
The legend is part of a centuries-old Christmas tradition in Germany, where Christmas celebrations begin in early December. Krampus was created as a counterpart to kindly St. Nicholas, who rewarded children with sweets. Krampus, in contrast, would swat “wicked” children, stuff them in a sack, and take them away to his lair.
According to folklore, Krampus purportedly shows up in towns the night of December 5, known as Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night. The next day, December 6, is Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas Day, when children look outside their door to see if the shoe or boot they’d left out the night before contains either presents (a reward for good behavior) or a rod (bad behavior). (
- INSIGHTS INTO CHRISTIAN ESOTERISM by René Guénon
The very concept of ‘folklore’ as it is commonly understood rests on the radically false idea that there exist `popular creations’, spontaneous products of the masses; and one can immediately see the close relationship between this way of looking at things and ‘democratic’ prejudices. As bas been quite rightly said, ‘the profound interest of all so-called popular traditions lies above all in the fact that they are not popular in origin’; and we would add that if, as is almost always the case, we are dealing with elements that are traditional in the true sense of the word, however deformed, diminished, or fragmentary they may sometimes be, and with things of real symbolic value, then their origin, far from being popular, is not even human.
What may be popular is uniquely the fact of ‘survival‘ when these elements come from traditional forms that have disappeared; and in this respect the term ‘folklore’ takes en a meaning very near to that of ‘paganism”, taking the Jatter in its etymological sense and with no polemical er abusive intent.
The people thus preserve, without understanding them, the debris of ancient traditions sometimes even reaching back to a past toe remote to be determined and which is therefore consigned to the obscure domain of `prehistory’; and in so doing they function as a more or less ‘sub-conscious” collective memory, of which the content has manifestly come from somewhere else. (This is an essentially “lunar’ function, and it should be noted that, astrologically, the popular masses effectively correspond to the moon’, which at the same time indicates their purely passive nature, incapable of initiative or spontaneity.)
What may seem most astonishing is that, when we go to the root of the matter, the things so conserved are found to contain in a more or less veiled form a considerable body of esoteric data, that is, what is least ‘popular’ in essence, and this fact of itself suggests an explanation that we will lay out in a few words.
When a traditional form is on the verse of extinction, its last representatives may very well deliberately entrust to this collective memory of which we have just spoken what would otherwise be irrevocably lost. Read more…INSIGHTS INTO CHRISTIAN ESOTERISM and René Guénon
- EARTHLY PARADISE : Dante’s Initiatory Rite of Passage by Daniela Boccassini
Thanks to the experiential work he had done on himself in the years spanning the First World War, Jung had come to understand that the way to wholeness, to individuation – if any – demands at the outset a grueling descensus ad inferos, which entails «the confrontation with the shadow and the world of darkness» (CW13: §335). I do not need to dwell on how graphically Dante describes this very process in the Commedia: from his descent through Hell, where the souls engulfed in darkness are the unconscious manifestations of their own and humanity’s gigantic shadow, to his ascent of Purgatory, where Dante as a living being retains his shadow, while the souls, who have lost theirs, are engaged in the process of uncovering the hidden identity of their translucent celestial nature, which fully manifests as spirit in Paradise…
….The procession accompanying Beatrice captures Dante’s attention for the whole of canto 29, and the figurative events involving the chariot and the Tree unfold in canto 32. In between, through cantos 30 and 31, all of Dante’s reasonable expectations of a happy reunion with his Beloved are not merely challenged but ruthlessly thwarted. Instead of praising him for successfully carrying out his unparalleled journey into the Garden of Eden, Beatrice sternly forces Dante to confront the unacknowledged gloom that the shadow of his human persona still casts into the paradisal «chiaro fonte» (Pg 30.76). In this way and through interrogation, Dante is skillfully challenged to disown that side of himself which had failed to follow Beatrice beyond Persephone’s threshold, causing him to remain ensnared in the alluring, yet deadly, web of «imagini di ben false» that enwraps mortal life.
Only by dying to that fallacious, ego-centered and ego-driven worldview will Dante gain access to the paradoxical Apollonian dualitude of the griffin, thus entering into a true hieros gamos with his immortal Beloved, as Beatrice intimates by intently gazing at «la fiera | ch’è sola una persona in due nature» (Pg 31.80-81). It is this kind of radical ‘ri-conoscenza’, this endured apprehension of his mortal shadow as beguilement, that finally allows Dante to die-before-dying, so that the purifying ritual of immersion in the waters of the river Lethe, presided over by Matelda, can effectively take place. Yet this is not enough for Dante to move on, as the events outlined in the last two cantos openly show: if in Christianity the ritual of baptism symbolizes death and rebirth at once, here we are told beyond the shade of a doubt that Dante’s immersion in the waters of Lethe seals his death to what might be called his ego-consciousness, but leaves his rebirth into higher consciousness, literally, hanging. For that rebirth to occur, Dante needs to tap the potentialities offered by a different state of being, and only once this has occurred, will a second baptismal ritual be performed, in the waters of another river….. Read the complete paper EARTHLY PARADISE : Dante’s Initiatory Rite of Passage by Daniela Boccassini
- Falconry as a Transmutative Art: Dante, Frederick II, and Islam
The imperial eagle – notably, in the form handed down by the Romans to later generations of European rulers – is the hypostasis of an absolute power conceived as “naturally” divine in origin. In contrast, the tamed falcon, at rest on the emperor’s fist or being offered to him by his falconers, became for Frederick II the emblem of an acquired form of wisdom – of a nobility, that is, which must be educated so that its inborn aggressiveness may be restrained and redeployed under the superior command of reason. The falconer thereby becomes the image of the ideal sovereign, he who succeeds in controlling the instinctual aggressiveness of humankind by way of his “taming power.” He is at one and the same time the self-aware and responsible repository of natural law and the guar- antor of positive law, that is, of justice. The study and practice of falconry were therefore for Frederick II the best and noblest ways for the sovereign to deepen his understanding of the laws of the natural and of the human realm; to him they were indispensable tools in his honorably dispatching his mission as universal sovereign….
….If the objective of the Commedia is to save humankind from itself and principally from its self-imposed rapaciousness, then we can usefully ask ourselves which figurative means Dante could call upon to evoke a process of taming and conversion that by its very nature aims at transmuting the individual’s instinctive ego-grasping into an artfully acquired – but nevertheless also gracefully received – form of absolute surrender and self-sacrifice to the highest manifestation of selflessness and boundless love.
How are we to visualize the very nature of a learning process that must be experiential if it is to become effective? Such is, after all, the goal of the Commedia as a whole – in direct opposition, that is, to the treacherous attempts at rational grappling with reality, which leave human pride misleadingly in charge of transcendent affairs. While in our postmodern world of con- cept-based existence there seems to be little or nothing to call upon in order to suggest such a salvific becoming, I hope to have shown persuasively that Dante saw in falconry the art most apt to express that process of surrender and taming of an individual’s own nature, in the form of a return to that very “hand” on whose universal fist the whole world is unknowingly perched. For Dante, no art better than falconry could convey the sense of that sacrificial inner transmutation necessary for human consciousness to awaken to the vision of itself as a pure reflection of the transcendental source of all-encompassing love.
No other art could as powerfully express the potential for universal salvation inscribed within a process meant to make human consciousness cognizant of its own divine origin – of its own participation in, and belonging to the very substance offered by the falconer to the falcon as its only rightful meal, as that “bread of angels” already evoked in the Convivio: purely celestial food, on which life itself unsuspectingly keeps feeding. …. Read the complete paper Falconry as a Transmutative Art: Dante, Frederick II, and Islam
- St George: The Art of Dragon Taming
Paul Broadhurst in “the Green Man and the Dragon”told about the art of Taming the dragon in Britain:
One of the best-selling books of all time was The Golden Legend, written by the Bishop of Genoa Jacobus de Voragine. In it he provided the medieval world with a definitive account of the lives of the saints, which everyone at the time believed to be historical facts gleaned by his scholarship from ancient records. In reality, like so many others that were to follow down the centuries, it was a motley mix of fact and, where there were no facts, a liberal dose of fiction. There was also an agenda.But it was a formula that gripped the attention of its readers, who preferred to believe in the fabulous and miraculous exploits of their heroes, just as in Celtic times when people loved to hear of the wondrous world of giants, gods and the Land of Faery. The saints were all these, and more, for they did the work of the one true God. Read More about St George: The Art of Dragon Taming
- The history of the modern West is the history of “l’homme sans Ame.” ( “the being without soul”)
It is this Soul which gives its true dimension to the person. The human person is only a person by virtue of this celestial dimension, archetypal, angelic, which is the celestial pole without which the terrestrial pole of his human dimension is completely depolarized in vagabondage and perdition. The people of the modern West are falling into darkness, falling through depthless valleys.
“Day by day they are falling through (the) darkness of an endless well that no one can take them out, except, if the Lord of Heavens (is) sending to you a rope. That rope it is impossible to be cut off, always (it) is ready. Keep that rope, you should be saved and rewarded and honoured and glorified in His divinely Presence”. Maulana Sheikh Nazim al Haqqani ( 30-03-08)
- The Recovery of Human Nature (William C. Chittick)
Islam isn’t the ass-backward religion many in the West think it is – there is a long tradition of mystical Muslim philosophy that is as rich and complex as anything in the Western tradition. William C. Chittick argues for a subjective science of experience as a means of regaining our true human nature, and uses Islam as a way into this integral point of view.
Here is a key quote: ” In short, two grand movements can be observed in the cosmos as a whole: One is that of exteriorization, the other that of interiorization; one is that of creation or cosmogenesis, the other that of dissolution or destruction; one is manifestation, the other disappearance. These two movements are given a variety of names. Among the most common are “Origin and Return,” a phrase that was used as a book-title by both Avicenna and Mulla Sadra. The Origin is pictured as centrifugal, dispersing, and devolutionary, and the Return as centripetal, integrating, and evolutionary. The two movements together are depicted as a circle. Beginning at the top, all things come into existence through a gradual process of descent and differentiation, and they appear in a multiplicity of modes. Having reached the bottom of the circle—the realm of visible reality—they reverse their course and ascend back toward the top. The two movements are thus called the Arc of Descent and the Arc of Ascent”.
It’s great to see this perspective being offered within an Islamic framework. Too many people reject Islam as backward as a result of the radicals in Iraq, Iran, and the rest of that region. But there is so much more to that tradition. Read here The Recovery of Human Nature
Who better than Sultan Valad could explain to us the teachings of his father? Rumi’s eldest son was his intimate friend and confidant. For seventy years, says Aflaki, he illuminated the words of his father and master, miraculous, eloquent, in deciphering the mysteries and interpretation. The Master awakens the sleepy soul of the student and allows him to climb the ascending steps to Paradise. He describes us the Skills of Soul Rapture. Mawlana Rumi himself says: “I have studied a lot of science and have worked hard to offer rare and valuable things to researchers and scientists who come to me, it is God the Supreme who has decided so.” And he said to his son: “O Bahâ-ud-Din, my coming into this world has come to prepare yours, for all the words that I say are speeches, but you, you are my action.” It is a message for all times, a revelation of wisdom for our time
- Oikosophia: For we need a home where we may once again speak the language of the soul, and a language of the soul that may take us home.
…To awaken the Functional Consciousness is to be Love, to be Unity. Qualification separates you from the water of the sea, from the stone, from the earth, from vegetation, from the amorous turtle dove, from the ferocious beast, from all human races; but all that appears outside of you is functionally within you, man of the end of a Time.
Qualification shows you a Moslem separate from a Jew, a Buddhist, a Brahman, a Taoist, a Christian; it discusses endlessly their “philosophies” and their merits. What is your criterion, you who do not know the revelation of Knowledge? Everything in its own fashion tells you the Truth, while only Truth speaks to you openly of Redemption.
Redemption is within us, provided we awaken the Consciousness of the function which unifies, and renders all discussion null and void. Is not Knowing more precious than seeking Learning?
…Sophia, then: the wisdom language that unites, rather than divides. For the time of homecoming has come. At long last. Read the complete paper Oikosophia by Daniela Boccassini
- The Relationship between the Environment and Man
The Macro-Micro Mirror-play
God says in the Holy Qur’an:
We shall show them Our signs on the horizons and in their own souls until it becomes clear to them that He is the Truth … (Fussilat, 41:53)
And: And in the earth are signs for those whose faith is sure / And [also] in yourselves. Can ye then not see? (Al-Dhariyat, 51:20-21)
In these verses, God links His signs in the environment with His signs within ourselves. This means that the Divine Metacosm is reflected in both the microcosm which is man and the macrocosm which is the universe.
In other words, man is like a small world, and the universe is like a large man, and by recognising the signs in either of these worlds we can come to know the Truth of God, for His signs are both within us and within the world. Read the complete paper THE HOLY QUR’AN AND THE ENVIRONMENT