THE DRAGON THAT SWALLOWED ST. GEORGE
By Whitall N. Perry
“Whosoever implores my aid shall receive it’.—St. George
The purpose of this paper will be to examine the pattern of the eternal return (anakuklêsis) in relation to a particular archetypal entity—in the present case, St. George; and then to see, both how it happens that, and what the consequences are when, “myth” declines into desuetude.
….. Christianity’s conflict with the various paganisms it encountered can thus in part at least be explained as a rivalry between the classic spatial or periodic perspective and the newly revealed temporal or historical one, which—independently of other considerations—being more “timely” was precisely bound to prevail. Yet the bane of historicity is secularization, and man being what he is, it suffices but a subtle shift in focus for “the measureless and perilous world of forms and of change,” hitherto regarded as something negative to be rejected, now to be seen as something positive to be espoused. The outer world becomes reality, matter assumes an increased importance, and man experiences a Renaissance marked by humanism with its concept of indefinite progress and human or worldly perfectibility. This entails in consequence a loss of contact with higher states of being, mythology is relegated to a realm equatable with the incredible, while sacred history itself in turn becomes “myth.”
Islam, the last of the historical religions, actually seizes hold of time itself as a sword with which to destroy all time: the Shahâdah or Witness “Lâ ilâha illa ‘Llâh—There is no divinity if not the Divinity” destroys through a transformation that refers and ultimately renders everything back to its Origin; the Event or Final Day or Judgment is not only ceaselessly proclaimed as immanent, Islam itself is in a way already that Event or Judgment. The past and the future are more geometric than temporal; Allah “is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward”; there is purely the desertic fatality of the omnipresent Now, and this Now belongs to God
For the Muslim believer, the world is thus in part illusion and in part theophany, but at all events never more than a veil (hijâb) covering Reality.
It goes without saying that the Christian believer (wherever he still exists) is likewise no secularist: he is the first to “let the dead bury
their dead” and is more predisposed than not to turn his back on the world itself as the personification of evil. He is a man who only endures history while awaiting the glory of the Kingdom to come. Read more here
This paper is part of the book Ye Shall Know the Truth – Christianity and the Perennial Philosophy
More than four others – Frisian Folkstale
At that time there lived in the Grinzer Pein (Friesland) a young man who was called out that he was not afraid of anything. When a ferry had to be dug, he got a job there. He joined the team with twenty westerners. Those twenty westerners were as lazy as duckweed. They wanted him to do the work, so he got into trouble with them. Then they said, “If you don’t work, we’ll cut you in pieces.” But the young man laughed and said, “You should try that first.” And then those twenty westerners came up to him with open knives , but he knocked them down one by one, for he was not afraid. And that same evening, near the new ferry, one of the Westerners was found cut into strips. But that joung man had not done that, his own comrades wanted to get rid of that westerner. And because the young servant had fought with him, they thought, he will be blamed.
That turned out to be the case, because the nineteen westerners testified that he must have been the murderer of their comrade. He went to court, and because he would not confess, he was put on the rack, but he maintained his innocence, for he was not afraid of anything, not even the pain. Desesperate, they called a wizard, a real wizard. He had to scare him so he confessed. The wizard had him tied on a chair; then he was powerless. But they had tortured him so much that he could hardly speak.
And then he was given a cup of warm milk to drink. The magician looked straight at him and said, ‘Look at the ground in front of you!’ And then the young man noticed that his ten toes had turned into ten snakes. They grew out of his toes, they grew bigger and bigger and came closer and closer to his head. But he made those snakes drink one by one from the hot milk from the cup he had in his hands. The snakes writhed together again and fell asleep at his feet.
The wizard asked, “Aren’t you scared yet?” But he replied, “You haven’t got any of those beasts yet, because my cup isn’t empty yet.” Then the wizard turned the boy’s hair into flames and said that he would be consumed by these flames. But the young man asked: ‘Do you have tobacco in your pocket? I don’t have any tobacco with me, but my pipe does. Stop it in front of me for a moment, so I can at least light it on the flames and don’t have to use a match’.
And the third was that the sorcerer sat before him and said: If you will not confess, you will be sent to hell. ‘But the young servant laughed, for he was not afraid. The wizard looked straight at him and then the young man noticed that his body was turning into a skeleton. The magician said:
“Aren’t you scared yet? Remember – this is how you go to hell and stay there!” “Oh,” he said, “why should I be afraid? Such an old charnel house as I am now – there is no one in hell who knows me.” And he did not bow the neck.
However, he was sentenced to death. The executioner appeared and he was to be cut into four. He was already on the block to be chopped in four, then they asked him if he wasn’t scared yet. “No,” he said, “why should I be afraid? Our father always said I was worth more than four others. And if you cut me in four here, you’ll be dealing with not one, but four men in a minute.’ And he was not quartered, but they took him back to the cell.
That same night the devil came to him and left nothing to frighten him. He told him the most horrible stories and transformed himself into the most horrible forms. The devil became an old woman, with teeth as large and as sharp as razors, and threatened to bite his throat. The devil became a dragon with seven heads that spewed fire at him. He became a very large snake, with a mouth so wide that it could eat it in one sitting. But the young servant was not afraid. Only when the devil finally asked him if he felt any fear at all did he say, “No, I don’t, but you do!
And he began to tease him so furiously, he made such hideous noises, and he drew such crooked faces, that even the devil became frightened and threw himself to the ground and blew the retreat.
The judges came to the conclusion that a person that even the devil fears can never be a murderer. And he was acquitted…