Nature, Theophany and the Rehabilitation of Consciousness

Nature, Theophany and the Rehabilitation of Consciousness
by David Catherine

We have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgements; more experts but more problems; more medicines, but less healthiness. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but we have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we have less communication. We have become long on quantity but short on quality. These are the times of fast foods, but slow digestion; tall man, but short character; steep profits, but shallow relationships. It is a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room.

Dalai Lama

We live in a time of immense social, psychological and environmental change. Enrapt by politically heroic (and yet unsustainable) solutions; multi-national research bias; “PowerPoint” presentation charts (aspiring to ninety-degree trend-lines); new “World Records” on “BREAKING NEWS!”; precision-guided missiles; broadband uploads / downloads on hyper-threaded CPUs (with “the world at our fingertips”); “think-tank” video conferencing; post-human bio-technology; “Scientifically Proven!”; “NEW!”; “NOW!”; “WOW!”; “Wi-Fi” mobile connectivity; “That’s Entertainment!”; “must-have” manufactured needs; Celebrity TV; Pop-Quiz Game-Show; high-speed car chases with guns blazing; “Wrestle Mania;” “Da Vinci” porcelain veneers; “heroin-chic” anorexia on fashion cat-walks; silicone sunsets on Miami Beaches – and munching on a cheeseburger delivered by a clown in a yellow and red costume, to the theme tune of “We are the Champions” – it seems as though we are sufficiently desensitized to the extreme realities that surround us.

“What-eh-va!” is fast becoming our most admired and most broadcast catchphrase. If the corporate boardroom doesn’t get to us first, we can be sure that the product packaging or the metrosexual fashion-police will. No-thanks to the latest in pop-psychology, it is clear that hyper-entertainment and hedonism are gaining ground as prescription for our current malaise; regular doses of this medication are enough to distract anyone who might sense any madness in global affairs. It appears we are so high on “YES!” we have forgotten the value of “No.”

Having worked in environmental support and observed the wanton destruction of nature and its associated ecosystems (intricate feed-back systems integral to human survival on earth), I am undoubtedly concerned as to the future of all things natural on this planet. However, I am equally concerned about human perception, the paradigms or technologies that shape our perception, and the degree to which this perception impinges on the outer world. Like many others I have come to realize that an ecologically “sustainable” future cannot be achieved merely through Environmental Law, Protected-Area Management and the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems. Parallel to these undeniably important and laudable disciplines, it is essential that we move towards an understanding and rehabilitation of consciousness – the reality of which will be briefly discussed in the introductory chapter that follows. If, according to the most progressive fields of study, human consciousness is shown to be interconnected and interdependent with the natural world and thus natural order, then a significant part of the ecological crisis – if not the primary cause – is the way in which we view the natural environment; how we perceive of, or ascribe value to, nature and cosmos.

Thus, ecological stability is invariably related to the degree of ontological stabilityand integrationwithin human consciousness. It is within this context of globalization, a deteriorating natural environment and a crisis of consciousness, that “Nature, Theophany and the Rehabilitation of Consciousness” [hereafter referred to as NTRC] has been produced. NTRC is a continuation on themes already developed in the works of Seyyed Hossein Nasr (In the Beginning was Consciousness; Religion and the Order of Nature), Martin Lings (Symbol and Archetype: A Study of the Meaning of Existence), Tom Cheetham (Green Man, Earth Angel: The Prophetic Tradition and the Battle for the Soul of the World), William Anderson (Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth), René Guenon (Fundamental Symbols); Frithjof Schuon (various works) and – as relates to the cosmology of self and soul – Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri (The Journey of the Self; Witnessing Perfection).

NTRC is not intended to be a polished thesis – in fact the author is not an academic – it aims to bring awareness to certain contemporary issues and to stimulate discussion on the themes presented. In appealing to a wide spectrum of readers, there may be some who feel the work fails to effectively address ecological issues, owing to the inclusion of spiritual, metaphysical or mythical principles; or conversely that it fails to honour the Divine Absolute by expounding secular ecosystemic thought (or is perceived as promoting ‘pantheist’ ideals). There is no satisfactory answer, other than (for the scholars), “We are all still learning;” and (for the religious), “We are all returning.” In order to highlight the essential reality of divine order, it has become necessary to use terms such as “supra-sensory,” “meta-historical,” “supra-rational,” “trans-personal,” etc.

Please note that this is not an attempt to repudiate the senses, historical record, the rational mind, or the personal self; neither is it to imply that the divine order is a distant and/or disconnected state. On the contrary, prophetic tradition speaks of divine presence and has indicated that the “Ground of Being” (i.e. pure consciousness) is “nearer to [us] than [our] jugular vein.” On this point, the perceived distancing factor between the conditioned self and the unconditioned Spirit is considered proportionate to the degree of “egotism” of the self.9 If an image in a mirror seems vague or impossible to discern, this may be due to the extent of the layers of dust obscuring the image / mirror. To polish the mirror or to clarify the lens of perception is to bring into view and into proximity, that which was thought to be far. Hence, human proximity or remoteness to the divine reality must be considered from a qualitative perspective and not reduced to a quantitative “nearness” or “distance.”

  • Cosmological order

Cosmological order, and thus the order of nature, has long since been considered as sacred theophany (The Book of Nature) by the saints, sages and prophets of Divine Order. Seyyed Hossein Nasr defines theophany as, “a symbolic showing of God [i.e. the Divine Attributes] in the mirror of created form.” Since humans are considered to be the barzakh (interspace) between the heavens and the earth – as well as being the stewards of cosmological order – one can only conclude that an ecological depreciation must reflect a distortion in human perception/behaviour: a failure to attain correct cognition of who we are, where we are, where we come from, and how we should behave on this currently fragile planet.
“Nature, Theophany and the Rehabilitation of Consciousness” [NTRC] explores human society’s alienation from, and disregard for, natural order and the resulting ecological /
climatological crisis that has ensued.
Expounding on concepts and principles of theophany, interconnectedness, interdependence, equilibrium and harmony, NTRC argues that roots of our various socioenvironmental crises lie primarily in a (human) crisis of consciousness. In
order to resolve our ecological dilemmas, therefore, we cannot simply rely on the
enforcement of environmental legislation and a rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems: parallel to these commendable disciplines, we need to move towards an understanding and rehabilitation of consciousness itself.
This includes developing a knowledge of self that is attuned to Divine Presence, that is
ontologically transformative, and thus ultimately grounded in the unified Divine Absolute:
Pure Consciousness (rûh al-quddûs) – the sacred centre of Being. In light of the necessity of this ontological recognition (dhikr) and alignment (Islam), it can be deduced that it will not be possible to find any political, social, religious or ecological reconciliation, if we cannot first learn to reconcile our personal, limited, conditioned self (nafs), with the trans-personal, eternal, unbounded and unconditioned Spirit (rûh): the prototypical pattern for any and all reconciliation. God-willing.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Creation, Symbol and Archetype

The Nature and Purpose of Existence-The Cosmology of the Self -The Journey of the Self – Symbol and Archetype

Interconnectedness, Equilibrium and the Green Signature

The Green Signature

Nature, Theophany and the Rehabilitation of Consciousness

The Ecological Crisis – The Psychological Crisis -The Essential Self

In Search of the Green Man

The Mother Goddess and her Son / Lover – Dionysus & Skanda-Murukan – Khidr-The Green Man in Europe – The Quest for the Green Woman

The Green Lion, the Philosopher’s Vitriol and the Emerald Grail

Nature, Theophany and the Rehabilitation of Consciousness: reasd Here

Tales of Winter – The Art of Snow and Ice

Winter was not always beautiful. Until Pieter Bruegel painted Hunters in the Snow, the long bitter months had never been transformed into a thing of beauty. This documentary charts how mankind’s ever-changing struggle with winter has been reflected in western art throughout the ages, resulting in images that are now amongst the greatest paintings of all time. With contributions from Grayson Perry, Will Self, Don McCullin and many others, the film takes an eclectic group of people from all walks of life out into the cold to reflect on the paintings that have come to define the art of snow and ice.

See more The Art of Snow and Ice

  • Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Hunters in the Snow  by Rachel-Anne Johnson


It is a bleak winter’s day as the hunters return to the village. The dogs are weary, though the hunters’ catch is meager. Outside an inn, peasant women stoke a large fire, as a man brings a wooden table outside, both activities in preparation for the singeing of a fattened pig whose meat will be stored for the long winter months. In the town below, a woman hauls firewood across a snow-laden bridge while across the pond, a cart, fully loaded with wood and kindling, makes its way through the village. In contrast to these labors that must be completed to survive the season, the majority of the villagers are making the most of the day on frozen ponds at the foot of the hill, skating, curling, and playing hockey. Beyond them, in the distance, jagged cliffs cut through the frozen flats, shielding a riverside town from the onslaught of snow that presses in from the right. On the edge of this town, the river is frozen over, and figures venture on foot and with carts from its frozen banks.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Hunters in the Snow of 1565 is an imaginative and thought-provoking image of a winter’s day. It was produced as part of a series of landscapes that depict the seasons of the year, often referred to as the Months, which also includes The Gloomy Day (Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna), Haymaking (Lobkowicz Palace, Prague Castle, Prague), The Harvesters (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), and Return of the Herd (Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna).

Spring: The Gloomy Day

Summer: Haymaking

Late summer: The Harvesters

Autumn: The Return of the Herd

Winter: The Hunters in the Snow

Read also PIETER BRUEGEL’S SERIES OF THE SEASONS: ON THE PERCEPTION OF DIVINE ORDER by  Remdert FALKENBURG

On one level, Hunters in the Snow depicts the traditional labors for the months of December and January. In medieval prayer books, calendar illuminations depicted the labors and activities appropriate to certain times of year. December was characterized by singeing the pig and January by hunting motifs, conventions that were well- established by the sixteenth century and present in almost every illuminated manuscript from the Bruges workshop of Simon Bening, the most likely precedent for seasonal imagery with which Bruegel would have been familiar.

Bruegel includes different aspects of hunting in the image by depicting the group of hunters and dogs in the foreground, the inn that they pass on the left whose sign references St. Hubert, the patron saint of hunters, and a bird-trap in the left middleground.

 

The slaughter of a pig is a conventional motif for December, while singeing the pig is typical for January. Though no pig is present in Bruegel’s winter landscape, this progression of activity is suggested by the large fire on the left and the man carrying the table outside, which could represent the next stage – quartering the animal.

On another level, however, there is much more going on in Bruegel’s image than these traditional activities, and the composition raises a number of questions regarding how contemporary viewers would have understood Hunters in the Snow. Why at this time does Bruegel monumentalize a typically small-format genre? Hunters in the Snow measures 46 in. x 64 in., compared with a calendar illumination that rarely would have been larger than 6 in. x 5 in. Why do so many figures and motifs diverge from the conventions of previous calendar illustrations? The traditional labors are subtle and peripheral in relation to the entire image. Why the elaborate detail and unconventional motifs within images that were traditionally formulaic in subject matter? And, ultimately, how were these elements meant to be understood at the time, in their original context?

In an attempt to explain Bruegel’s elaborations and monumental scale, most scholars have situated Bruegel’s series of the Months firmly within the realm of world- landscapes. In this artistic tradition, landscapes were constructed to embody a cosmic significance, connecting the seasons and their activities to a higher order of religious providence and celestial harmony. The labors of the seasons reflect an order to the world that is both cyclical and divinely ordained. Another branch of scholarship takes the world-landscape characteristics of Bruegel’s Months and attaches to them the conventional devotional practices of the medieval calendar tradition and the use of religious symbols that one sees in the work of the Flemish landscape painter Joachim Patinir.

See  also: Landscape of the soul, as an Image of the Pilgrimage of Life

and Spiritual exercise for the “Refugee” of our Times – Sources materials

To these interpretations, discussed further below, this essay argues for another crucial element in understanding the original context of Hunters in the Snow, which is that the image, and its fellow panels from Bruegel’s series of the Months, are descriptive of Antwerp’s suburbs specifically, rather than merely monumentalized calendar illustrations of seasonal activity based on the prescribed models of medieval sources. It is, like many other images from Bruegel’s oeuvre, a localized genre painting – a scene from everyday life that derives its meaning from the perception of familiar objects or activity within it. Bruegel’s personal experience of Antwerp’s countryside has been noted as a possible factor in the creation of landscapes like Hunters in the Snow, but only in general terms, and without regard to the experience of the panel’s original audience. The artist’s inclusion of local and historical elements, common to all five of Bruegel’s Months, contribute to the images’ function as visual chorographical narratives, or descriptions offering an embodied perspective of a region (choros), stressing local details and characteristics. This perspective is uniquely experiential in its depiction of local agricultural activity, the connection of landscape elements, travel, local economic interests, and idiosyncratic details of life in and around 1560s Antwerp. This interpretive framework takes into account the original suburban location of Hunters in the Snow and an ensemble of motifs that would have been recognized by its original owner, Niclaes Jongelinck, as referring to Antwerp itself and his own role in the city’s social fabric.

The goal of this essay, then, is the reconciliation of the secular and spiritual understandings of Hunters in the Snow, and the entire series of the Months by extension, demonstrating that its contemporary audience would have extrapolated meaning from the image by drawing on both local knowledge and experience of Antwerp’s countryside, and a spiritual understanding of the motifs Bruegel includes based on the artistic traditions from which they derive. The precedents of medieval calendars and the world-landscape tradition provide a spiritual context for Bruegel’s landscapes and the localized details within them provide the means by which their original viewers inferred significance from them. It is through the recognition of the familiar and the knowledge of artistic precedents that meaning emerges. Ultimately, these elements work together to reveal the perception of a landscape of providence – both the divine providence of God and nature, and the local providence of the region of Antwerp as it goes about its seasonal labors.

Hunters in the Snow as a World-Landscape

Although scholars have acknowledged that Bruegel’s series of the Months can be seen as “faithful transcription[s] of the countryside,”x and thus an appropriate comparison to a chorographic view of the region around Antwerp, there seems to be a tendency to pass over chorographical considerations in favor of placing the landscapes within the larger, geographical context of world-landscapes. It seems that because the series has traditionally been called Months, and cycles of seasonal motifs were meant to be nearly universal in their application, one is immediately inclined to think of these images in the same context. Svetlana Alpers, in The Art of Describing, uses the categories of cartography, or map-making, to place Bruegel’s work within the confines of the world-landscape genre:

We might also want to use mapping terms to distinguish the larger geographical ambitions of Bruegel’s Season landscapes from the specific chorographic concerns of his drawings of the Ripa Grande or the painting of the Bay of Naples…By combining the traditional themes of the seasons with an extensive mapped view of the earth, Bruegel gives the yearly cycle a world rather than a local dimension...xi

Alpers differentiates images like Hunters in the Snow from works like Naval Battle in the Bay of Naples (1558-62), arguing that we do not have a specific topographical location to connect with the former as we do the latter. Furthermore, because Bruegel composed Hunters in the Snow using a bird’s-eye perspective of the winter scene, the viewer is set apart from the image, asked to contemplate it with a particular detachment from an impossible vantage-point. This view, as Walter Gibson has described it, is “truly cosmic in scope, showing the great forces of nature playing over immense portions of the earth’s surface, as they “subordinat[e] the world of the peasant to the much vaster world of nature.” The implications of the world-landscape context, thus, also apply to the human activity within Hunters in the Snow, suggesting that the overarching view of reality presented in this image is that nature and cosmic forces determine the activities of the everyday. Furthermore, Gibson connects Bruegel’s view of nature, and the peasants subordinate position within it, to Virgil’s Georgics, a classical poem that moves from the “mundane details of farming and cattle-breeding to rhapsodic descriptions of the celestial constellations and the great meteorological forces affecting the world.”xiv In these interpretations, then, Bruegel is presenting a view of reality that is shaped by the cosmos – a world that is not lived-in, but looked-upon.

Hunters in the Snow as a Devotional Image

One way in which a viewer might look upon such a world is with an eye for spiritual perception. Medieval books of hours, where the conventional labors of the months were first codified and presented within a devotional context, depicted the activities of each season under the divinely ordained cycles of both the cosmos and the church. These books directed their readers through devotions that were to be done at certain times of the day and on particular holy days throughout the year, complementing each devotional text with illustrations of the agricultural and leisure activities that marked such times. The illustrations were most often juxtaposed with zodiac imagery or celestial maps, emphasizing the cosmic structure that dictated the labors shown beneath them.

The labors are further contextualized by the inclusion of details pertinent to the patron or owner of a particular book of hours. In the case of the Tres Riches Heures of Jean, the Duke of Berry, the activities in the calendar illustrations take place not only beneath the zodiac signs and a star map, but also in the shadow of the duke’s palaces, depicted as accurate portraits in the background of many of the illuminations. In this way, the spiritual meaning of seasonal labor within a divine and cosmic cycle is focused for the book’s reader through the association with recognizable places. Similarly, in Hunters in the Snow, the labors and activities presented are subordinate to the broad landscape that suggests the region of Antwerp. Though the celestial and zodiac imagery are no longer present in the Months, Bruegel retains the idea of attaching familiar places to the activities depicted. Jongelinck’s world, like the duke’s in the Tres Riches Heures, looms over and around the seasons that Bruegel depicts.

The way in which this spiritual mode of perception may have functioned in regard to Hunters in the Snow is argued by Reindert Falkenburg, who discusses the series, not only in terms of its composition and vantage-point, but in terms of small, religious motifs that connect Bruegel’s work with that of Patinir and others, who used large-scale landscapes to frame biblical scenes. Similar to the way in which the world-landscape tradition encourages a detached evaluation from the viewer, Falkenburg suggests that Bruegel’s series encouraged devotional contemplation, much closer in function to the medieval calendar illustrations of the seasons described above. The engagement of the viewer, who is put in the position of exploring the paintings to find the small vignettes, is the key to understanding how sight leads to insight in these images. In this interpretation, we move from an elevated meditation on the cosmos, to a more interactive relationship with the image itself.

Within Hunters in the Snow, Falkenburg points to various details that implicate both the figures in the image and the viewer of the image on a spiritual level. He begins by considering the sign above the inn depicted in the left foreground of the panel, which reads, “Dit is inden Hert” (translated as “This is in the Stag”).

The sign also displays a rough image of St. Hubert dropping to his knees in front a large stag. St. Hubert was the patron saint of hunters because he converted to Christianity after being shown a vision of the cross in the antlers of a stag. Falkenburg connects this sign and the reference to St. Hubert to the fact that it appears that the only catch the hunters return with is a single fox and, thus, any appeal the hunters may have made to the patron saint was not terribly effective. The author suggests that this is Bruegel’s way of showing that the meager catch is a result of the hunters not having St. Hubert properly in their hearts and that the figures of the hunters, looking down at their feet as they pass by the inn, function as negative examples for the viewer. They go about their labors without regard to the sign at the inn or that which it represents; they are spiritually blind to their patron saint and, by extension, oblivious to the revelation of Christ indicated in the sign’s portrayal of St. Hubert’s vision of the cross.xix The viewer of the image, if focused on exploring the painted terrain while ignoring the spiritual signs (and the inn’s actual sign), is implicated alongside the distracted hunters and their consequent meager spoils. Consequently, the viewer’s spiritual mode of perception reads these motifs as reminders to acknowledge the role of divine providence in the labors of the seasons. Perhaps,  as some  commentators  have  proposed,  Bruegel   shows   himself   here  a  “honest humorist”   by   suggesting  that  their  scant  catch  results   from   not  having   St.Hubert  “inden  hert”:  in  their heart.

 

Look also : winter-through-bruegel-s-eyes-

  • The Numbering at Bethlehem

The painting shows a Flemish village in winter at sundown. A group of people is gathered at a building on the left. A sign bearing the Habsburg double-headed eagle is visible on the building. Other people are making their way to the same building, including the figures of Joseph and the pregnant Virgin Mary on a donkey.

A pig is being slaughtered. People are going about their daily business in the cold, children are shown playing with toys on the ice and having snowball fights. At the very centre of the painting is a spoked wheel, sometimes interpreted as being a reference to the wheel of fortune.

To the right, a man in a small hut is shown holding a clapper, a warning to keep away from leprosy. Leprosy was endemic in that part of Europe when the painting was created. There is a begging bowl in front of the hut. As he often did, Bruegel treats a biblical story, here the census of Quirinius, as a contemporary event. And once again, reference to particular political events has been adduced – in this case, the severity of the Spanish administration in the southern Netherlands.[2] However, Bruegel may well be making a more general criticism of bureaucratic methods.[3]

The events depicted are described in Luke 2, 1-5:

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered… So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

— Luke 2:1-5, NKJV[4]

This is a rare subject in previous Netherlandish art. The ruined castle in the backgroundsee 2nd detail is based on the towers and gates of Amsterdam.[5]

Towers and gates of Amsterdam.by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

When the Moors Ruled in Europe

When The Moors Ruled In Europe is a documentary movie presented by the English historian Bettany Hughes. It is a series on the contribution the Moors made to Europe during their 700-year reign in Spain and Portugal ending in the 15th century. It was first broadcast on Channel 4 Saturday 5 November 2005 and was filmed in the Spanish region of Andalusia, mostly in the cities of Granada, Cordoba and the Moroccan city of Fes.

The era ended with the Reconquista during which the Catholic authorities burnt over 1,000,000 Arabic texts.

Join British historian Bettany Hughes as she examines a long-buried chapter of European history–the rise and fall of Islamic culture in what is now Spain and Portugal.

Although generations of Spanish rulers have tried to expunge this era from the historical record, recent archeology and scholarship now shed fresh light on the Moors who flourished in Al-Andalus for more than 700 years.

This fascinating documentary explodes old stereotypes and offers shocking new insights. You’ll discover the ingenious mathematics behind Granada’s dazzling Alhambra Palace, trace El Cid’s lineage to his Moorish roots, and learn how the Iberian population willingly converted to Islam in droves.

Through interviews with noted scholars, you’ll see how Moorish advances in mathematics, astronomy, art, and agriculture helped propel the West out of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance. What emerges is a richly detailed portrait of a sensuous, inquisitive, and remarkably progressive Islamic culture in Christian Europe.

  • History of the Moorish Empire in Europe
Samuel Parsons Scott’s three-volume history of the Moors in Spain and their influence on the culture of Western Europe was a landmark publication when it first came out in 1904. The first two volumes provide a detailed chronological history while the third volume presents aspects of the culture of al-Andalus, revealing the achievements of the Moorish empire and its impact upon Western scholarship and progress. Topics covered include the Moorish modes of conquest, government and administration; agriculture, trade and commerce; the influence of Moorish learning in science, literature and the arts; and reflections on Muslim social life and practices.Read Here:

Table of contents

Volume I
Introduction by Elizabeth Drayson
Author’s Preface
Chapter I: The Ancient Arabians
Chapter II: The Rise, Progess, and Influence of Islam
Chapter III: The Conquest of Al-Maghreb
Chapter IV: The Visigothic Monarchy
Chapter V: The Invasion and Conquest of Spain
Chapter VI: The Emirate
Chapter VII: Foundation of the Spanish Monarchy
Chapter VIII: The Ommeyades; Reign of Abd-al-Rahman I
Chapter IX: Reign of Hischem I; Reign of Al-Hakem I
Chapter X: Reign of Abd-al-Rahman II; Reign of Mohammed
Chapter XI: Reign of Al-Mondhir; Reign of Abdallah
Chapter XII: Reign of Abd-al-Rahman III
Chapter XIII: Reign of Al-Hakem II
Chapter XIV: Reign of Hischem II
Volume II
Chapter XV: The Moslem Domination in Sicily
Chapter XVI: The Principalities of Moorish Spain
Chpater XVII: Wars with the Christians; The Almoravides
Chapter XVIII: The Empire of the Almohades
Chapter XIX: The Progess of the Christian Arms
Chapter XX: Prosecution of the Reconquest
Chapter XXI: The Last War with Granada
Chapter XXII: Termination of the Reconquest
Volume III
Chapter XXIII: Influence of the Moors on Europe Through the Empire of Frederick II and the States of Southern France
Chapter XXIV: The Spanish Jews
Chapter XXV: The Christians Under Moslem Rule
Chapter XXVI: The Moriscoes
Chapter XXVII: General Condition of Europe from the VIII to the XVI Century
Chapter XXVIII: The Hispano-Arab Age of Literature and Science
Chapter XXIX: Moorish Art in Southern Europe
Chapter XXX: Agriculture, Manufactures, and Commerce of the European Moslems; Their Manners, Customs, and Amusements
  • Moorish Architecture in Andalusia

    Spain owes its special historical position in Europe very largely to his intensive encounter with the Orient. In the summer of 710, a small force under the command of a Berber named Taî f ibn Mâ lik landed to the west of Gibraltar. The Islamic armies that followed in its wake succeeded in conquering large areas of Spain within a short span of years. The conquerors gave the country the name of “”al-andalus.”” Thus began a period of cultural permeation that was to last for almost 800 years. In spite of intolerance and animosity, there developed between Muslims, Christians, and Jews a shared cultural environment that proved the basis for great achievements. Moorish-Andalusian art and architecture combine elements of various traditions into a new, autonomous style. Among the outstanding architectural witnesses to this achievement are the Great Mosque in Cordova and the Alhambra in Granada, recognized and admired as part of the world’s heitage right up to the present day. They are described in detail in this book. The main centres of Hispano-Islamic art and architecture, the cities of Cordova, Seville and Granada, are discussed within the chronological framework of developments, both political and cultural, from 710 to 1492. Read Here

The Power of Myth

  • Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth

In this beloved 1988 PBS series, mythologist and storyteller Joseph Campbell joins Bill Moyers to explore what enduring myths can tell us about our lives. In each of six episodes –“The Hero’s Adventure,” “The Message of the Myth,” “The First Storytellers,” “Sacrifice and Bliss,” “Love and the Goddess,” and “Masks of Eternity” — Moyers and Campbell focus on a character or theme found in cultural and religious mythologies. Campbell argues that these timeless archetypes continue to have a powerful influence on the choices we make and the ways we live.

Released shortly after Campbell’s death on October 30, 1987, The Power of Myth was one of the most popular TV series in the history of public television, and continues to inspire new audiences.(1988)

The Power Of Myths – Full Series

The power of myth_masks of eternity

The Power Of Myth – Masks of Eternity

The Hero with a Thousand Faces (first published in 1949) is a work of comparative mythology by Joseph Campbell, in which the author discusses his theory of the mythological structure of the journey of the archetypal hero found in world myths.

Since the publication of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell’s theory has been consciously applied by a wide variety of modern writers and artists. Filmmaker George Lucas acknowledged Campbell’s theory in mythology, and its influence on the Star Wars films.[1]

The Joseph Campbell Foundation and New World Library issued a new edition of The Hero with a Thousand Faces in July 2008 as part of the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell series of books, audio and video recordings. In 2011, Time placed the book in its list of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since the magazine was founded in 1923.[2]

Campbell explores the theory that mythological narratives frequently share a fundamental structure. The similarities of these myths brought Campbell to write his book in which he details the structure of the monomyth. He calls the motif of the archetypal narrative, “the hero’s adventure”. In a well-known quote from the introduction to The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell summarizes the monomyth:

 

 

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.[3]

In laying out the monomyth, Campbell describes a number of stages or steps along this journey. “The hero’s adventure” begins in the ordinary world. He must depart from the ordinary world, when he receives a call to adventure. With the help of a mentor, the hero will cross a guarded threshold, leading him to a supernatural world, where familiar laws and order do not apply. There, the hero will embark on a road of trials, where he is tested along the way. The archetypal hero is sometimes assisted by allies. As the hero faces the ordeal, he encounters the greatest challenge of the journey. Upon rising to the challenge, the hero will receive a reward, or boon. Campbell’s theory of the monomyth continues with the inclusion of a metaphorical death and resurrection. The hero must then decide to return with this boon to the ordinary world. The hero then faces more trials on the road back. Upon the hero’s return, the boon or gift may be used to improve the hero’s ordinary world, in what Campbell calls, the application of the boon.

While many myths do seem to follow the outline of Campbell’s monomyth, there is some variance in the inclusion and sequence of some of the stages. Still, there is an abundance of literature and folklore that follows the motif of the archetypal narrative, paralleling the more general steps of “Departure” (sometimes called Separation), “Initiation”, and “Return”. “Departure” deals with the hero venturing forth on the quest, including the call to adventure. “Initiation” refers to the hero’s adventures that will test him along the way. The last part of the monomyth is the “Return”, which follows the hero’s journey home.[citation needed]

Campbell studied religious, spiritual, mythological and literary classics including the stories of Osiris, Prometheus, the Buddha, Moses, Mohammed, and Jesus. The book cites the similarities of the stories, and references them as he breaks down the structure of the monomyth.

The book includes a discussion of “the hero’s journey” by using the Freudian concepts popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Campbell’s theory incorporates a mixture of Jungian archetypes, unconscious forces, and Arnold van Gennep’s structuring of rites of passage rituals to provide some illumination.[4] “The hero’s journey” continues to influence artists and intellectuals in contemporary arts and culture, suggesting a basic usefulness for Campbell’s insights beyond mid-20th century forms of analysis. he Hero with a Thousand Faces Read here

 

Jung: “The world hangs on a thin thread ….”

The world hangs on a thin thread…

and that is the psyche of the man

 Carl Jung

 

 

Text :

 From  The Rebel in The Soul-  ancient Egytian papyrus

Paintings see here

 

 

 

  • Transcript:

Jung: The world hangs on a thin thread, and that is the psyche of man. Nowadays we are not threatened by elementary catastrophes. There is no such thing [in nature] as an H-bomb; that is all man’s doing. WE are the great danger. The psyche is the great danger. What if something goes wrong with the psyche? You see, and so it is demonstrated to us in our days what the power of the psyche is of man, how important it is to know something about it. But we know nothing about it. Nobody would give credit to the idea that the psychical processes of the ordinary man have any importance whatever. One thinks, “Oh, he has just what he has in his head. He is all from his surroundings, he is taught such and such a thing, believes such and such a thing, and particularly if he is well housed and well fed, then he has no ideas at all.” And that’s the great mistake because he is just that as which he is born, and he is not born as “tabula rasa,” but as a reality.

Paintings From  The Rebel in The Soul-  ancient Egytian papyrus

  • Interviewer: Jung had a vision at the end of his life of a catastrophe. It was a world catastrophe.

Marie-Louise von Franz: I don’t want to speak much about it. One of his daughters took notes and after his death gave it to me, and there is a drawing with a line going up and down, and underneath is “the last 50 years of humanity.” And some remarks about a final catastrophe being ahead. But I have only those notes.

Paintings From  The Rebel in The Soul-  ancient Egytian papyrus

 

  • Interviewer: What is your own feeling about it, the world situation?

von Franz: Well, one’s whole feeling revolts aginst this idea but since I have those notes in a drawer, I don’t allow myself to be too optimistic. I think, well, we have always had wars and enormous catastrophies, and I have no more personal fear much about that. I mean at my age, if you have anyhow soon to go— so or so egocentrically spoken. But the beauty of all the life— to think that the billions and billions and billions of years of evolution to build up the plants and the animals and the whole beauty of nature— and that man would go out of sheer shadow foolishness and destroy it all. I mean that all life might go from the the planet. And we don’t know— on Mars and Venus there is no life; we don’t know if there is any life experiment elsewhere in the galaxies. And we go and destroy this. I think it is so abominable. I try to pray that it may not happen— that a miracle happens.

Paintings From  The Rebel in The Soul-  ancient Egytian papyrus

  • Interviewer: Do you find that young people that you see now are aware of that? That it’s in their consciousness?

von Franz: Yes it’s partly in their unconscious and partly in their consciousness, and I think in a very dangerous way, namely, in a way of giving up and running away into a fantasy world. You know, when you study science fiction, you see there’s always the fantasy of escaping to some other planet and begin anew again, which means give up the battle on this earth, consider it hopeless and give up. I think one shouldn’t give up, because if you think of [Jung’s book] Answer to Job, if man would wrestle with God, if man would tell God that he shouldn’t do it, if we would reflect more. That why reflection comes in. Jung never thought that we might do better than just possibly sneak round the corner with not too big a catastrophe. When I saw him last, he had also a vision while I was with him, but there he said, “I see enormous stretches devastated, enormous stretches of the earth. But, thank God it’s not the whole planet.” I think that if not more people try to reflect and take back their projections and take the opposites within themselves, there will be a total destruction.

Paintings From  The Rebel in The Soul-  ancient Egytian papyrus

“The supreme madness is to see life as it is and not as it should be, … things are only what we want to believe they are ...” Jacques Brel

Read: Personal myths in light of our modern-day “reality”

This comprehensive collection of writings by the epoch-shaping Swiss psychoanalyst was edited by Joseph Campbell, himself the most famous of Jung’s American followers. It comprises Jung’s pioneering studies of the structure of the psyche – including the works that introduced such notions as the collective unconscious, the Shadow, Anima and Animus – as well as inquries into the psychology of spirituality and creativity, and Jung’s influential “On Synchronicity,” a paper whose implications extend from the I Ching to quantum physics. Campbell’s introduction completes this compact volume, placing Jung’s astonishingly wide-ranging oeuvre within the context of his life and times. Read here

  • Jung and Alchemy

Jung’s interest for alchemy starts from two directions. One is the necessity to find a historic parallel to his own discoveries of the unconscious psychic life. The second refers to the series of dreams which have evoked the new research course, on which Jung talks at length in his autobiography: Memories, Dreams and Reflections.

 Picture from Aurora Consurgens“Before I discovered alchemy – writes Jung – I had a series of dreams which dealt with the same theme. Beside my house stood another, that is to say, another wing of annex, which was strange to me. Each tie I would wonder in my dream why I did not know this house, although it had apparently always been there”. This strange part of the house revealed its meaning finally: “The unknown wing of the house was a part of my personality, an aspect of myself…”

This part was unconscious and would reveal itself as an interest for the in-depth study of medieval alchemy.

This study was announced definitively in the dream from the year 1926 when Jung dreams himself being captive in the 17th century. “Not until much later did I realize that it [the dream] referred to alchemy, for that science reached its height in the seventeenth century”.

Alchemy is a symbolic representation of the “individuation process In the serious alchemy, believes Jung, processes arising from individual psyche are described encoded. Peculiar terms that alchemy operates with, such as prima materia, unus mundus, Mercurius, filium philosophorum, lapis and many more are decrypted by Jung through an arduous work of over 10 years.
His develops and parallels are described at length in his book Psychology and Alchemy , an essential piece of work for the ones studying interestedly analytical psychology, the individuation process and the exploration of the unconscious through dream interpretation.

 

“We could resume Jung’s vast experience with alchemy in the next two quotations:

“Grounded in the natural philosophy of the Middle Ages, alchemy formed the bridge on the one hand into the past, to Gnosticism, and on the other into the future, to the modern psychology of the unconscious”.

 “Only after I had familiarized myself with alchemy did I realize that the unconscious is a process, and that the psyche is transformed or developed by the relationship of the ego to the contents of the unconscious”.

More about alchemy, archetypes and dream interpretation may be found in Psychology and Alchemy, the book Jung has dedicated to the analysis of the relationship between alchemical symbolism and the individuation process. Read here

  • Jung, Aquinas, and the Aurora Consurgens: Establishing a Relationship with God

The reunion of a man with God is the subject of a medieval text which aggregates excerpts from the Bible and Arabic alchemical texts that had recently become available in Europe. The Aurora Consurgens personifies God as Wisdom, a spiritual being who not only formed the world in the beginning but is also a guide to men to return to God subsequent to their separation at the Fall.

The union of feminine Wisdom and a man is aligned with pairs of opposites such as spirit and soul, and is also conflated with the union of a man and a woman. While the text is perhaps falsely ascribed to St. Thomas, it is consistent with his ideas so that it may be explicated using his writings on the Trinity, psychology, angels, and Greek philosophy. From there, correspondence is established with C. G. Jung‘s concept of archetypes, and the text is subsequently interpreted from the perspective of analytical psychology.
It is identified how interaction of archetypes associated with the union of a man and a woman provide an explanation for the process of redemption given in the Aurora. A similar process of redemption is identified in other writings from the beginning of the Christian era up to the modern teachings of the Catholic Church. Read more here

Personal myths in light of our modern-day “reality”.

“The supreme madness is to see life as it is and not as it should be, … things are only what we want to believe they are ...” Jacques Brel

Big fish eating small fish

A broadside criticising the exploitation of political power by alluding to the proverb of big fish eating small fish; with an engraving with motives after Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel showing in the centre a table with a large dish of small fish, around the table are sitting five large fish with human arms, dressed in clothes and devouring the small fish, the table scene surrounded by various scenes of larger fish being cut open, revealing smaller fish, in the background small fish hanging on the gallows; with engraved title and text.

  • Light and Dark Personal Mythology in Current Events

These days we ponder what should be the “new myths” in light of our modern-day reality, but upon reflection we can see that many already exist and are playing themselves out on the public stage, in the form of people’s “personal myths” that drive their words and actions. In our Internet age, “personal mythology” is not merely a private matter of each person’s individuation process. The manifestations and consequences of personal myths are often bizarre, tragic, and dangerous to society. We have seen this recently: in the minds of the shooters in the massacres in Charleston and elsewhere, the takeover of Oregon’s Malheur wildlife refuge by an armed self-styled militia, attitudes toward Muslims, the debate over immigration, race relations, and in much of the rhetoric of the current presidential campaign. In order to understand events and control our future, it has become more urgent than ever that we be able to recognize and understand myths when they see them, which is the first step both to controlling their dark side as well as to developing healthier new myths that will inspire individuals and society in a more positive way.

Masquerades played a big role in the carnival festivities and contributed to the reverse practices. Masks frequently evoked animal or even demonic faces and revealed the dark tendencies of being. Indeed, each person used to choose, without even realizing it, a disguise and a mask that best reflected the lower tendencies. Far from hiding his face, the individual put on a mask revealing the darkest face that he tried to hide under different social masks in everyday life.

The mask (from the Latin “persona”) actually concealed the various external and changing appearances of the social character and revealed the real personality of the individual.

Like carnival practices, the Italian theatre of the “comedia dell’arte” gave the actors a mask that hid their face and removed any possibility of expression other than that of the character.

Let us note in passing that the Chinese (Chan) and Japanese (Zen) Buddhist traditions consider that every being has an original face, the face of his or her true being, under the mask of the apparent face. So, the mask can both reveal the dark aspect of the being during the carnival time and hide the luminous aspect in everyday life.

James Ensor is in line with the Flemish painting and Jerome Bosch in particular. Like Jerome Bosch, he did not try to paint men according to their outer appearances, but as they were inside. And there is no better way than the Flanders’ carnival parties to unveil the other side of the picture.

The carnival mask did not only conceal the appearances of the social figure, it also revealed the hidden face of the being carrying it. Each person chose indeed, subconsciously, a mask (From the Latin “persona”) which best reflected his or her true personality. Far from hiding the face of the person, the mask let appear, on the contrary, his or her true face.

The grotesque faces of these masks revealed the desires that animated the being: jealousy, cupidity, concupiscence etc. If these desires were not counterbalanced by opposed tendencies such as love, generosity, non-attachment and so on, they generated anguish: the anguish of losing what one has, anguish to lack, anguish to die etc. Desires are always sources of torment. And at the time of Jerome Bosch, the supreme desire consisted in accessing Paradise and the supreme torment to end in the flames of Hell. Two dangers threatened any being by the end of the Middle Ages: Death and Devil. That theme often came back under the metal point or brush of James Ensor.

Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889

Devil (from the Greek “diabolos”, which means disuniting, splitting, dividing) symbolizes beforehand all our own inner demons. Desires and anguishes often conceal the other tendencies of the being. Othello only saw Desdemona through Iago’s eyes; jealousy masked his love for his wife. The being forgets this side of himself that unites him to the other and maintains his inner unity. He is disintegrated, split up and let people only see a hideous facet of himself because it was deprived of its complement.

The features revealed during the carnival parties are not specific to a particular being, but characteristic of the gathered crowd. James Ensor was always haunted by crowds and insect hordes, which share the same conditioning and know only one destiny, to follow their instincts.

  • Note: 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). (

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • In The Bear, the Harlot, the Magician and the King Lloyd D. Graham explains the source of Carnaval and the period of change  from winter to Spring.

The “ insurrection “of january 6th 2021 in USA Capitol  is an expression of the deep rooted origins of the folklores of Carnaval and Krampus,

6 january is the feast of Epiphany

HERE FOLLOWETH THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD AND OF THE THREE KINGS from Golden Legends

On this day we are making King cakes . They come with cardboard “crowns” to be worn by whoever gets the slice with the token and becomes monarch of the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bear, the Harlot, the Magician and the King  by Lloyd D. Graham
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the seduction of the wild man Enkidu by Shamhat the
harlot symbolically causes his death as an unreflective animal and his rebirth as a
human – an Eden-like fall into self-awareness. Created as a match for king
Gilgamesh of Uruk, Enkidu goes on to become the king’s beloved friend. In
European folk traditions, the Wild Man is interchangeable with the bear, and
parallels can be drawn between Enkidu and the Candlemas Bear associated with
Carnival. Since Enkidu symbolises our pre-human nature, one can perceive a
figurative truth to the pan-European folk belief that people are descended from bears.
Thematic overlaps exist between some Gilgamesh narratives and European folk-tales
about a Wild Man whose father was a bear (the Bear’s Son / Jean de l’Ours motif) or
about twin boys, one of whom was raised in the wild by a female bear (Valentine and
Orson). Perhaps surprisingly, the roots of Santa Claus lie in the Wild Man. So too do
the origins of Merlin, the wizard of medieval Arthurian romance. Merlin has
elements in common with Enkidu, while King Arthur can be seen as a metaphorical
“Bear’s son.” Over time, the status of the Wild Man has changed from a wholly
inhuman monster to a “noble savage” who today might even be cast as a salvific ecowarrior.  Read here


The Wild Man or the Masquerade of Orson and Valentine – Brueghel

Read more here

Message from The Heart Of The World – ‘Don’t Say They Didn’t Tell Us’!

  • Voices from the Sacred Mountains

The Arhuaco indigenous peoples of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, are known for their century-long track record of environmental protection, but their cultural survival and conservation of this sacred mountain’s ecosystems are at risk.

  • Message from The Heart Of The World! (Corazón Del Mundo) Shortfilm

  • From the Heart of the World: The Elder Brothers’ Warning – Kogi Message to Humanity:

  • Aluna

In the second documentary, the Kogis have re-emerged, realising that the importance of their warning had not been grasped.[5] As well as warning Younger Brother they have decided to share their secret sciences in the belief that sharing these sciences will share their burden of changing the world for the bette

Aluna means “conscience “. Enter the last theocratic chiefdom in America, hidden for centuries on a mountain in Colombia. The Kogi have made this amazing documentary to help us understand how to avoid the destruction of the world that they are trying to protect, and of ourselves.

If you watch this video and feel inspired by the Kogi and their message, please know that they have NO interest in people coming to visit them and their sacred lands. This includes visiting La Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City), which for the Kogi was never “lost”. Rather, it was purposefully hidden, because it is an incredibly sacred site that even many Kogi are not sanctioned to visit… and certainly not tourists.

The Kogi have gone to GREAT lengths, for the past 500+ years to keep their sacred lands free from the energy and unconscious spiritual issues of outsiders. This is something the average “Westerner” might have a hard time understanding. But all we need to understand is that the Kogi DON’T want people visiting their lands, and whether we understand the spiritual reasons for this, or not, is unimportant. Being in their territories uninvited is like walking into a complete stranger’s house, uninvited, and walking through the rooms of that house as if it were your own. It is rude and inappropriate. Please take this to HEART and KNOW what it means to violate their wish to NOT have outsiders in their sacred lands.

If you feel—and KNOW within your heart—that you have a genuine calling (not just idle curiosity) to support the Kogi in some way, my only recommendation is that you take a serious and sincere interest in recovering your attention from the great many distractions—most especially “spiritual” distractions—and doing what it takes to come into greater consciousness of who you are as Spirit, where you are from as Spirit, and precisely why you are here, as Spirit. This is hard and, at times, painstaking work. Most importantly, know that the message of the Kogi is a practical one. That we day-by-day apply ourselves to the deep work of resolving our issues, misconceptions, projections, negative tendencies, etc. And that we do EVERYTHING within our power to stop living a lie (the Modern world) which is quite obviously destructive and out of alignment with LIFE. In simple terms, they are making it clear that the Western world must drastically change its ways, less we go through drastic changes. If you’re reading this, that likely includes you. The Kogi are not simply something interesting for our entertainment or idle curiosity. They do NOT wish to be idolised, for that only marginalises the deep importance of their message, which is, in reality, the Mother’s message.

  • The ancients guardians of the earth

“The Younger Brother is damaging the world. He is on the path to destruction. He must understand and change his ways, or the world will die,” Luis Guillermo Izquierdo lamented as he walked beside me, his cheeks swollen with a wad of coca leaves that he slowly masticated.

Ritual flute music drifted through the forest from some unseen source as Izquierdo – a mamo, or enlightened spiritual leader, of Colombia’s Arhuaco indigenous people – led me to the sacred natural pool Pozo de Yaya for a ritual cleansing. He removed his sandals, lowered himself onto a rock and sat cross-legged beside a fast-running stream. Izquierdo bade me remove my shoes and step into the water. Then he handed me a piece of thread representing the umbilical cord tethering me to Mother Earth, and in a warbling falsetto told me to pour my thoughts into the thread.

The Younger Brother is damaging the world – he must understand and change his ways, or the world will die

Hair as thick and whorled as a flokati rug flooded over Izquierdo’s shoulders from beneath a woven white conical hat, worn in reverence to the snow-capped peaks of the sacred Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. He was dressed in thick, snow-white trousers and a matching serape (shawl) of maguey fibre, tied by a belt at the waist. He reminded me of a Star Wars Jedi ­– a wise member of the noble protective order capable by mental training of tapping into the metaphysical ‘Force’ in search of peaceful and righteous solutions. The metaphor seemed appropriate.

“We want the Younger Brothers to know more about our culture. In that way we can stop him destroying the world,” said Izquierdo, referring to the modern world beyond the mountains.

Along with the Kogi and Wiwa, or Malayo, the Arhuaco are descended from the ancient and advanced Tairona civilisation (Credit: Christopher P Baker)

The Arhuaco are (with the neighbouring Kogi and Wiwa, or Malayo) one of three peoples whose ancestors were connected to the ancient and advanced Tairona civilisation. Brutally subjugated by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th Century, the survivors retreated into the pyramidal Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta that explode upwards from the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Their homeland – the world’s highest coastal mountain range – comprises every distinct climatic ecosystem in Colombia, from coastal wetlands and equatorial rainforest to alpine tundra and glacial peaks. Declared by Unesco in 1979 as a Biosphere Reserve of Man and Humanity, the mountain range was named as the most irreplaceable ecosystem on Earth by Science journal in 2013.

The three communities, who still total about 90,000, according to non-profit organisation Cultural Survival) call themselves the ‘Elder Brothers’ and are ruled by mamos, who maintain an ancient cosmovision (a conscious, cognitive interpretation of the world) based on a worship and custodianship of Mother Nature.

The mamos believe themselves uniquely possessed of a mystical wisdom. Izquierdo, like fellow mamos, spent his entire youth in intense spiritual training. Chosen by divination and sequestered for 18 years from birth to adulthood within dark confines near the summit of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, they’re inculturated in their societal values until they master a cosmic consciousness that they believe permits them to commune with the planet directly. “They learn to work as hidden-spirit midwives to all life, keeping it in balance,” explained Alan Ereira, a documentary filmmaker and founder of the Tairona Heritage Trust.

After the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th Century, the Tairona retreated to Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains (Credit: Christopher P Baker)

“The thoughts of our ancestors are embedded in every rock and other element in which humans have contact,” said Izquierdo, who holds to Arhuaco belief that we exist in a conscious universe where all material things have life and awareness. It’s unfathomable to them that ‘modern man’ does not believe the Earth consciously experiences the harm we inflict on it.

“They cannot understand why it is that we do what we do to the Earth,” said Wade Davis, an anthropologist and former National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who spent many years studying and living among the Arhuaco.

Surrounded by almost impassable jungle (and in recent decades caught in the crossfire between the Colombian Army, Farc guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries), this ‘lost’ indigenous people lived for five centuries in almost complete isolation and obscurity, steadfastly guarding their territory against outside intrusion. Despite this isolation, their consciousness and cosmovision charges them with the responsibility of maintaining the harmony of nature and the universe on behalf of all mankind.

The thoughts of our ancestors are embedded in every rock and other element in which humans have contact

Three decades ago, the indigenous people of the Sierra realised that the sacred Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta snow caps ­– for them, the literal heart of the world – were melting. The páramos (high-altitude savanna) were drying up. Amphibians and butterflies were disappearing. In 1987, concerned that climate change was impacting the cosmos, they established the Organización Indígena Gonawindúa Tayrona to represent the mamos at a governmental level.

The Kogi were the most traditional and withdrawn group, and according to Ereira, they were fearful that their work of taking care of the world would be disrupted and damaged by contact. But in 1990, their mamos decided that, without drastic change, all would be lost, so they persuaded their people that they had to go public, and they invited Ereira to film From the Heart of the World: The Elder Brothers’ Warning.

But their aching exhortation of ecological disharmony and potential disaster fell on deaf ears. Two decades later, they called Ereira back to make a sequel: Aluna. “They had to do better, driven by fear of what they see will happen next,” Ereira said.

As the world accelerates towards calamity, the Sierra peoples’ self-awareness as wards for the Earth’s ecological welfare has taken on a sense of urgency.

The Arhuaco maintain an ancient cosmovision based on a worship and custodianship of Mother Nature (Credit: Christopher P Baker)

While in Bogotá researching a National Geographic guidebook to Colombia, I was introduced to Arhuaco political representative (and future Senate candidate) Danilo Villafañe Torres. Known as ‘El Canciller’ (the Chancellor) and ‘Gran Hermano’ (Big Brother), Villafañe inherited the mantle of tribal leader at age 23 from his father, Adalberto, who was killed in 1996 by drug traffickers for opposing illegal coca plantations on Arhuaco land. Villafañe invited me to visit the ‘heart of the world’ in the care of Izquierdo.

“Brother Christopher is here to share our message with the Younger Brothers,” Izquierdo said to the border guard. He dipped his hand into a beautifully hand-woven zijew (shoulder bag) and withdrew a handful of coca leaves. The guard did the same. They exchanged leaves as a symbol of sharing and goodwill.

We were attempting to enter the Resguardo Arhuaco. Occupying a vast tract of land on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the community’s autonomous territory was granted legal recognition by the Colombian government in 1983. (The Kogi occupy their own resguardo on the northern slopes; the Wiwa, to the south-east.)

The sullen guard scrutinised me with disdain.

Izquierdo – known by the honorific Mamo Menjavi – spoke again, more authoritatively. I heard the words ‘National Geographic’. At that, the custodian smiled, and the massive gates swung open, creaking on their rusting hinges.

The Arhuaco are one of the last uncorrupted indigenous civilisations to survive culturally intact since the time of the Aztecs and Incas (Credit: Christopher P Baker)

The ravine-slashed, boulder-strewn drive up the mountain from the village of Pueblo Bello would have challenged a goat. Few vehicles ever make this journey into the heart of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. I felt honoured. Permission for bunachis (outsiders) to visit Nabusimake, the ‘capital’ of the Arhuaco resguardo, is rarely given. To be allowed entry to Nabusimake’s sacred walled inner sanctum is almost unheard of. ‘The entrance of non-indigenous is prohibited’ reads a sign above the thatch-topped entrance gate. For the lucky few who make it inside, photography is forbidden.

But the mamos held council the evening of my arrival and granted me permission to enter. The next day, I clambered up a narrow ladder beside the gate to photograph the hallowed hamlet, nestled in a small pine-scented plateau cusped by a mountain meniscus.

Huddled together against a rough mud-and-stone wall, three teenage girls giggled nervously, unsure whether to pose or flee. Younger children scattered. Women withdrew at my approach. The men – aloof, expressionless and haughtily proud – avoided eye contact, impervious to my presence as I walked a cobblestone thread between worlds. They eased past, mysterious as ghosts. Several wore cowboy hats and other sartorial accoutrements that set off their white Arhuaco attire.

Izquierdo smiled serenely. By contrast, he seemed pleased by my presence.

 

Permission for outsiders to visit Nabusimake, the ‘capital’ of the Arhuaco resguardo, is rarely given (Credit: Credit: Christopher P Baker)

Permission for outsiders to visit Nabusimake, the ‘capital’ of the Arhuaco resguardo, is rarely given (Credit: Christopher P Baker)

Indefatigable and inspired, the self-assured mamo is at the forefront of a third wave of Arhuaco initiatives that represent a huge leap beyond the unheeded warnings from their mountain refuge. Izquierdo champions opening up the resguardo for ethno-tourism and autonomous economic empowerment, such as the sale of Arhuaco crafts to the Younger Brothers.

Since 1995, various Arhuaco communities have organised themselves into cooperatives to produce and sell export-quality organic coffee. But as climate change pushes coffee production to cooler, higher mountain slopes, they’re now working to supplement coffee earnings with those from selling cacao. And as spiritual leader for Puerto Bello (the gateway village at the base of the mountains), Izquierdo has promoted the cultivation of sugarcane locally to produce panela (unrefined, organic raw brown sugar) for export.

“The idea is also to let the world know more about our culture,” Izquierdo said. “We want to carry the message that it is not simply to cultivate, but to cultivate with conscience,” he added, referring to organic farming, without harmful pesticides and other inputs, in harmony with Mother Nature.

The Sierra peoples’ self-awareness as wards for the Earth’s ecological welfare has taken on a sense of urgency (Credit: Christopher P Baker)

By integrating into the cash economy, the Arhuaco are gaining cultural recognition while deriving income to buy back, parcel by parcel, ancestral territory owned by Younger Brothers, Izquierdo explained. The ultimate goal is for the Arhuaco to control more than 190,000 hectares (almost half a million acres), reconstituting ancestral territories like a rombacabeza (jigsaw puzzle), piece by piece.

I watched, fascinated, as Izquierdo moistened a wooden stick with saliva and dipped it into a poporo (a gourd filled with lime from powdered seashells), a carry-over from pre-Columbian civilisation. Izquierdo extracted some lime, wiped it on a wad of coca leaves to enhance the coca’s stimulating effect, and stuffed the wad in his mouth.

The thick limescale, the hard residue that builds by incremental degree with each wipe around the rim of the gourd, is a living library of every thought underlying every stroke of the stick. For the Arhuaco, an individual’s every thought or dream is literally recorded by the metaphorical action of poporeando (dipping into the poporo). “We write our thoughts with it. It’s a record of a man’s entire life,” Izquierdo said.

Several members of the Arhuaco community champion opening the resguardo for ethno-tourism and autonomous economic empowerment (Credit: Christopher P Baker)

Equally, every knot in their intricately crafted zijews and clothing represents a thought or memory. I watched men perched on low wooden stools weaving cloth on ancient looms, deep in concentration as their deft fingers wove together the material world with that of spirit.

The idea is also to let the world know more about our culture

Every aspect of Arhuaco life is permeated with the symbolism of weaving. “Their central metaphor is a loom,” Davis said. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the very spindle from which the all-knowing Mother’s thread unwinds, turning possibility into reality, dreams and memory. The power of embedded thought is the very weft to the warp of their cosmovision.

Suddenly the meaning of the maguey thread that Izquierdo had handed me became clear. My experience with the Arhuaco was indelibly printed in that metaphorical umbilical cord. A cord uniting the past and present, the spiritual and material worlds, and my understanding – my thoughts, dreams and memory – of the Arhuaco’s cosmovision to be shared with the world.

  • Don’t Say They Didn’t Tell Us’

MESSAGE FROM THE BIG BROTHERS (03/27/2020)

We, the Mamos from the Heart of the World, that is also the Heart of the Universe, from our Sacred House. the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, greet all our younger brothers and sisters of all the races of the world, the great brotherhood, all masters, the lightworkers, all of those who are on the path to change consciousness, to those who are awakening to a new consciousness and also to all those who are still asleep. We invite you to reflect on what is obvious, what everyone is talking about, the message that crowns us all as a single unit, in a single pain, in a single suffering, as a single humanity that suffers, cries that it is broken and that has to rise empowered, different, freed from incomprehensible egos, from values that did not help, and from powers that left us weak and tired of carrying them and that did not help when we needed them most. The Mother spoke, life shouted it in our faces, nature revealed it, the unintentional fires screamed it as a Truth.

But we did not hear them, because we were busy with grandiose work for ourselves, because they did not touch us directly, because we were busy building a better tomorrow without knowing for whom or for what. Today, we cannot say that we were caught off guard, that we were not warned, that it was a surprise. Don’t say they didn’t tell us. We, the Mamos who have learned for hundreds of generations and lineages to take time to develop communication with the higher and lower dimensions, who lived for 18 years of our present life learning to silence our minds, to desensitize our biological bodies and our senses, to extinguish our egos, to put our minds to sleep so that they do not judge, do not sentence, do not condemn. In those years and until the end of our existence we continue to learn to be Mamos, by sharpening the senses of the higher being and training ourselves to perceive, with the senses of the soul and the heart, the whisper of the divinity carried by the wind, the breeze, the waters, the clouds, the mountains, the animals, the forests, the very small like the bacteria, the visible and invisible beings, as the guardians of our Sacred Sites. We have learned that they speak with the innocent laughter of children, in the old wisdom of the one who is already leaving, with the color of the clouds, in the melting of the Chundwas (snow peaks), in the birds that stopped flying, in the volcanoes that woke up perplexed and began to roar until they made Mother Earth tremble.

We the Mamos read it, understood it, witnessed it when the slow and accurate walk of the father sun changed, hugging Mother Earth until she was burned, and when the lunar cycles no longer aligned to direct life, the planting time and the harvest. Younger brothers and sisters, the things that may seem insignificant to you have an enormous meaning for us, the Mamos. In every natural event, in every manifestation the Mamos see a messenger and a message, a guardian, a teacher, a counselor, who offer us the opportunity to hear, to dialogue with them, with Mother Nature and with Mother Earth.Thus, we learn the power to lead without insisting that others follow us. We call those viruses, bacteria, those who do good things for us or who plague us, or alter our time and space, our Elder Brothers. Today, one single tiny entity is producing a huge disturbance forcing all of us to make a stop on our sacred pathway of life.

For us, the Mamos, when Mother Earth had her first dawn everything was manifested from the spirit, in Ánugwe. Then, everything was manifested in Ti’naÁnugwe is the immaterial force of existence, the intangible and greater “Law Force” that governs and controls everything that exists in nature and in the cosmos. Ti’na is the force in the material way, visible and manifested from Ánugwe. Thus, all kingdoms, animals, plants, waters, rocks, and everything that exists are manifested in Ti’na. They came first, ahead of us, in Ánugwe,where they manifested as the supreme force of life, of creation, and thus they had tocontinue in Ti’na. We were the last to arrive in Ánugwe and Ti’na. We arrived yesterday, and although we have not yet been able to understand what we came for, or why we were the last, nor what would be our sacred mission, or why did we come to be with the elder brothers, we became their executioners and as cannibals we began to consume and destroy many of them. We have altered the order established by the Most Sacred Law of the Universe, the Law of Origin, which is the Law of Order, of life and of respect for the inner being We have not learned to put ourselves at the height of Mother Earth, nor of Nature. As capricious children blinded by the power of reason, we begin to change everything, destroying, annihilating everything in our path.

We were so powerful that in a blink of an eye we overheated the planet, thawed the poles, causing many brothers of flora and fauna to disappear. We polluted the breeze and the air. Very few have acted with a consciousness of transformation wanting to change the system. That chaos is what today governs us. Until now, we were playing with fire. We put ourselves off balance. And then, a virus, the smallest of the elementals, the most insignificant creature before the eyes of the younger brothers forced us to stop the pursuit of the race, without knowing after what we were running. That virus became a great teacher, an authentic messenger.

From our communication sites with the portals from the different dimensions, we, the Mamos, perceive that this teacher is fed by fear, vibrates with it and is empowered by the fear that he perceives in all of us who feel terrified of losing what we have, what we built or planned to build. As humanity we have been crowned with the vibration of fear. From the Sacred sites the Guardians send us courage and we Mamos add to this courage a good dose of solidarity, unconditional love and self-confidence in ourselves to spread it to others as an effective shield against fear.

We, the Mamos, speak with Mother Earth, we speak with life and with beings from all kingdoms. From our sacred offices we ask for forgiveness, first for ourselves, our neighbors, the breeze, the water, the animals and the plants. We heal them, we balance them, because by healing and balancing our Elder Brothers, we heal and balance ourselves, because everything is integrated into the whole by interacting with each other and with ourselves. Only when we achieve the new balance will the New Humanity be empowered by solidarity, giving way to the New Earth, promoted, honored, respected and loved. Then, not only will pure air be possible, not only will healthy animals be possible, will plants be possible, but each element, each being will be fulfilling its mission, without being destroyed, violated, by what is called development, civilization, modernity and which we, the Mamos, call unconsciousness.

Our Sacred Mother Earth will be protected when we as humanity make the resolution to do things respecting and revering all life. For us, the Mamos, this is an invitation to change and transform ourselves without aggression, with love and kindness. It is something that you talk about the transformation or mutations that modern viruses are doing. The Mamos see this as an approaching reality that we can reach with the greatest humility that will assist us with the absolute truth of being able to apologize to ourselves and to all brothers and our elder brothers, to have a change in attitude, a transformation of consciousness and habits of thinking before this sacred planet, before this sacred mother and before our sacred elder brothers.

We have demonstrated how powerful we are to change, to transform. Let’s use the same power to mutate our consciousness adding a strong dosage of love, compassion, respect and reverence for life without rejecting with pride or arrogance the elder brothers of nature, because they were here ahead of us. Mother Earth, the Guardians of our Sacred Sites, the Mamos of the Chundwas are calling all of us, mobilizing Mamos and younger brothers and sisters to work together bringing that change in humanity and in the world. May power, light and love be with all of us to make that transformation during this time of change.

Duni.

Mamo Dwawiku Izquierdo, Mamo Arhuaco from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia

Compiled and translated by Amanda Bernal-Carlo, President, The Great Balance

More info here:

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  • Aluna: A Message to Little Brother

by charles eisentein https://charleseisenstein.org/essays/aluna-a-message-to-little-brother/

A black line, a network of hidden connections, links all the sacred places on earth. If that line should be broken, calamities will ensue, and this beautiful world shall perish. Destroying a forest here, draining a swamp there might have dire consequences across the globe. The Kogi shamans cannot perform their work of maintaining the balance of nature much longer in the face of our depredations.

How are we to interpret this warning coming from the Kogi people of the Sierra Madre in Colombia, delivered through their latest film, Aluna?

Contemporary Western viewers may respond to the film with resistance and skepticism. The old guard will undoubtedly reproduce the violence of well-worn colonial discourses, dismissing the Kogi’s message as primitive magico-religious thinking. For the ethnically sensitive, such a crude dismissal is passé. Today we have more sophisticated ways to deafen ourselves to what the Kogi are telling us.

The first we might call “ontological imperialism.” It would be to say, “Yes, the Kogi are onto something after all. The black line is a metaphor for ecological interconnectedness. Their talk of the voice of water is code for the hydrological cycle. They are keen observers of nature and have articulated scientific truths in their own cultural language.” That sounds fair enough, doesn’t it? It gives them credit for being astute observers of nature. However, this view takes for granted that basal reality is that of scientific materialism, thereby disallowing the conceptual categories and causal understandings of the Kogi. It says that fundamentally, we understand the nature of reality better than they do.

If their message were merely, “We must take better care of nature,” then the above understanding would be sufficient. But the Kogi are inviting us into a much deeper change than that. Do we understand the nature of reality better than they do? It once seemed so, but today the fruits of our supposed understanding—social and ecological crisis—gnaw at our surety.

A second and related way that Western viewers may resist the Kogi’s message is through what Edward Said called “Orientalism”—the distortion (romanticizing, demonizing, exaggerating, reducing) of another culture to conform it to a comfortable and self-serving narrative. An Orientalist response to Aluna would seek to turn the Kogi into a kind of cultural or spiritual fetish object, subsuming them into our own cultural mythology, perhaps by making them into an academic subject and stuffing their beliefs and way of life into various ethnographic categories. In that way we make them safe, we make them ours. It is just another kind of imperialism.

We might do the same by inserting their messages into a comfortable silo called “indigenous wisdom,” elevating the Kogi to superhuman status and, in the process, dehumanizing them as well. It is not true respect to worship an image—the reverse image of our own shadow—that we project onto another culture. Real respect seeks to understand someone on their own terms.

I am happy to say that Aluna avoids both traps (of imperialism and Orientalism). What makes this film remarkable is that fundamentally it is not a documentary. I have always been a little uncomfortable with documentaries about other cultures, even those that avoid the overtly patronizing tone of “look at those happy natives,” because they of necessity objectify their subjects, turning them into the material of a (video) “document.” By documenting others, we incorporate them into our world, into a safe educational or entertainment or inspirational frame, and into the “society of the spectacle.” But this film is not a documentary.

Reversing Colonialism

Who is the filmmaker here? Ordinarily one would say it was Alan Ereira, a former BBC producer who produced it. But that’s not what he says, and that’s not what the Kogi say either. According to them, the Kogi noticed the accelerating degradation of the planet and contacted the outside world to deliver a message that we must stop the destruction. They did so first in the early 1990s with the BBC documentary From the Heart of the World, after which they again withdrew from contact.

Obviously, we didn’t heed their message. “We must not have spoken it clearly enough,” they concluded, and so they sought out Ereira again to make a sequel. Fittingly, this is not a masterly production in conventional terms. Ereira appears to be in a little over his head, guileless, uncertain, and humble. These qualities are palpable throughout and contribute to one’s confidence that the Kogi and their message have not been conveniently packaged for commercialization or ecospiritual objectification. It is a raw and honest film.

The cynical observer, practiced with the tools of post-colonial analysis, might think that the assertion that “the Kogi have requested this film be made in order to convey their message” is a mere cinematic trope, or a way to preempt charges of exoticism, Orientalism, and cultural appropriation. However, that analysis is itself a kind of colonialism, based as it is on the patronizing assumption that the Kogi must be the helpless pawns of the filmmaker. It discounts the Kogi’s own explicit assertion that they have called the filmmaker back in order to transmit an important message to “little brother” (the industrialized world).

Dare we take the Kogi at face value? Dare we hold them in full agency as authors not only of this film, but of a message sent to us on their initiative? To do so reverses the power relations implicit in even the most post-colonially sensitive ethnography, in which the distinction between the ethnographic subject and the ethnographer is usually preserved in some form (and institutionalized when, with all due disclaimers, it appears in academic publications). Anthropologists don’t normally grant ethnographic populations agency as the originators of messages to academia.

The Kogi are not interested in being studied. They have not allowed anthropologists to live among them. They have not let their civilization become an object within ours. They, in fact, have been studying us—and with increasing alarm. “We have warned little brother,” they tell us, “and little brother has not listened.”

The Gift of Humility

In one telling scene, the Kogi mama (shaman) Shibulata visits an astronomical observatory in England. The astronomer is struck by the fact that Shibulata evinces no desire to learn from Western science, no curiosity about the telescope. He shows him photographs of galaxies invisible to the naked eye. The mama is not impressed. He is here to teach us, not to learn from us. Perhaps he recognizes the telescope as another manifestation of the same desire to conquer nature that has destroyed the forests and rivers and mangrove swamps near his home. He also displays an uncanny power, picking out from a large photograph the single star in it among multitudinous galaxies and other objects. Naming it, he says, “That star is not visible to our eyes.”

In this film, the colonial gaze is turned back on the colonizers—sternly, imploringly, and with very great love. The Kogi tell us, “You mutilate the world because you don’t remember the Great Mother. If you don’t stop, the world will die.” Please believe us, they say. You must stop doing this. “Do you think we say these words for the sake of talking? We are speaking the truth.”

Why hasn’t “little brother” listened? It has been over twenty years since the Kogi first spoke their message to the modern world. I think perhaps we have not listened because we have not yet inhabited the humility that this film embodies. We continue to try to somehow box, contain, and reduce the Kogi and their message so that it can rest comfortably in our existing Story of the World. The Kogi themselves say that thought is the scaffolding of matter; that without thought, nothing could exist. The official Aluna website describes the Kogi’s view thusly: “We are not just plundering the world, we are dumbing it down, destroying both the physical structure and the thought underpinning existence.” The conceptual reduction of the Kogi, and indigenous groups generally, to academic subjects, museum specimens, New Age fetish-objects, exploitable labor, or tourist spectacles is part of this dumbing down.

Thankfully, the requisite humility to truly hear the Kogi is fast upon us, born of—what else?—humiliation. As our dominant cultural mythology falls apart, we face repeated humiliation in the failure of our cherished systems of technology, politics, law, medicine, education, and more. Only with increasingly strenuous and willful ignorance can we deny that the grand project of “civilization” has failed. We see now that what we do to nature we do to ourselves; that its conquest brings our death. The utopian mirage of the technologist and the social engineer recedes ever further into the distance.

The breakdown of our categories and narratives, the breakdown of our Story of the World, gives us the gift of humility. That is the only thing that can open us to receive the teachings of the Kogi and other indigenous people—to truly receive them, and not merely insert them into some comfortable silo called “indigenous wisdom,” as if they were a museum piece or a spiritual acquisition.

I am not suggesting that we adopt, part and parcel, the entire Kogi cosmology. We need not imitate their shamanic practices or learn to listen to bubbles in the water. What we must do is embrace the core understanding that motivates the attempt to listen to water in the first place: the understanding that nature is alive and intelligent, bearing certain qualities of a self that Western thought has arrogated to human beings alone. We must make it no longer an Other; we must grant to nature the same agency that this film humbly grants to the Kogi. Then we will find our own ways of listening.

What Does Nature Want?

The modern mind does not easily comprehend the idea of the intelligence of nature except through anthropomorphizing or deifying it—another attempt at conquest. That would impose upon nature the same neocolonial attitude that this film does not impose upon the Kogi, and it is contrary to their message. Living much closer to nature than we in industrialized society, the Kogi can be under no illusion that nature is always nice, fair, and pleasant. From a dualistic mindset, the putative “intelligence of nature” looks like a capricious, evil intelligence. If you or I were in charge, we’d do better, wouldn’t we? We wouldn’t arrange for 999 tadpoles out of a thousand never to achieve froghood. We wouldn’t write so much suffering and death into nature. We would improve on nature. Such is the conceit of civilization as we know it.

To the extent we participate in modern society, “you and I” have been in charge. Look at what has happened to the world. Maybe it is time for younger brother—to see through different eyes.

Granting subjectivity and agency to nature and everything in it does not mean to grant human subjectivity andhuman agency, making them into storybook versions of us. It means asking, “What does the land want? What does the river want? What does the planet want?”—questions that seem crazy from the perspective of nature-as-thing.

The Kogi are not talking about a non-material, supernatural spirit to infuse consciousness into otherwise dead matter. For the Kogi, matter is not a container for thought; matter is thought made manifest, the thought of the Mother. Their beliefs are not actually supernatural, not in the sense of abstracting spirit (and all that goes with it like sacredness, consciousness, etc.) out from matter. To do so denies the inherent beingness of nature just as much as standard scientific materialism does.

Materialism, however, isn’t what it used to be. Science is evolving, recognizing that nature is composed of interdependent systems within systems within systems, just as a human body is; that soil mycorrhizal networks are as complex as brain tissue; that water can carry information and structure; that the earth and even the sun maintain homeostatic balance just as a body does. We are learning that order, complexity, and organization are fundamental properties of matter, mediated through physical processes that we recognize—and perhaps by others we do not. The excluded spirit is coming back to matter, not from without but from within.

So the question, “What does nature want?” does not depend for its coherency on anything supernatural, an external intelligence. The “wanting” is an organic process, an entelechy born of relationship, a movement toward an unfolding wholeness.

A Non-Utilitarian Argument Against Ecocide

In that understanding, we can no longer cut down forests and drain swamps, dam rivers and fragment ecosystems with roads, dig pit mines and drill gas wells with impunity. The Kogi say, to do so damages the whole body of nature, just as if you cut off a person’s limb or removed an organ. The well-being of all depends on the well-being of each. We cannot cut down one forest here and plant another there, assuring ourselves through the calculus of net carbon dioxide that we have done no damage. How do we know that we have not removed an organ? How do we know we have not destroyed what the Kogi call an esuana—a key node on the black thread scaffolding the natural world? How do we know we have not destroyed a sacred tree, what the Kogi call “the father of the species,” upon which the whole species depends?

Until we can know it, we’d best refrain from committing further ecocide on any scale. Each intact estuary, river, forest, and wetlands that remains to us, we must treat as sacred, while restoring whatever we can. The Kogi say we are close to the dying of the world.

As the film makes clear, science is beginning to recognize what the Kogi have always known. An invisible web of causality does indeed connect every place on Earth. Building a road that cuts off the natural water flow at a key site might initiate a cascade of changes—more evaporation, salinization, vegetation die-off, flooding, drought—that have far-reaching effects. We must understand that as exemplfying a general principle of interconnectedness; furthermore, we must see the aliveness and intelligence of the world. As the Kogi say in the film, “If you knew she could feel, you would stop.”

Otherwise, we are left only with the logic of instrumental utilitarianism as reason to protect nature—save the rainforest because of its value to us. But that mindset is part of the problem. We need more love, not more self-interest. We know it is wrong to exploit another person for our own gain, because another person is a full subject with her own feelings, desires, pain, and joy. If we knew that nature too were a full subject, we would stop ravaging her as well.

Aluna brings this knowing a little closer. Only by hardening our hearts can we view the film’s images of filled-in swamps and bare, scarred mountains, and disbelieve that something is feeling very great pain. Only by the colonialistic dismissal of an entire culture’s cosmology and ways of knowing, can we uphold our own dying mythology of nature as an insensate source of materials and repository of wastes. The sober indignation of the Kogi defies easy dismissal. It is not hard to believe that they—the largest intact civilization that has remained separate from global industrialized society—are indeed “Elder Brother.” It is not hard to believe their warning. To act on it, though, might require the same courage, patience, and wisdom the film reveals in the Kogi.

Free yourselves from mental slavery part 1

  • Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery: The origin and meaning behind Bob Marley’s Redemption song.

We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.”

“Redemption Song” by Bob Marley

Those words are widely associated with the lyrics in “Redemption Song” by Robert Nesta (Bob) Marley:

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds.

The Work That Has Been Done, Marcus Garvey, October 31, 1937, Sydney Nova Scotia

Few know those sentences and thereby the song’s true meaning. Those words can be traced to Marcus Garvey. In fact though Garvey’s movement was disparaged as being a “Back to Africa” movement, Garvey and his supporters refer to it as a movement for “African Redemption,” which has a reference in the song’s title. The earliest known reference to the concept of “African Redemption” can be found in a letter written by Benjamin Lundy on May 28th, 1833. The letter was addressed to the Annual Convention of Free People of Color Convention due to meet in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lundy’s words to that effect are as follows:

A new era has opened upon the world! The “dark age” of African oppression is drawing to its close; and the happy “millennium” of African redemption is near at hand! Let the inhabitants of that ill-fated continent rejoice, and her children wherever scattered, sing praises to the Most High, on the “banks of deliverance.”

In Garvey’s only work that can be considered an actual book “The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey” Volume 1 is “Dedicated to the true and loyal members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association in the cause of African redemption.”

Thereby it can be claimed Bob Marley paraphrased Marcus Garvey’s speech “The Work That Has Been Done” for not only that key lyric, but the song’s title as well. The speech is presented in its entirety below.

Marcus Garvey with quote on emancipation from mental slavery, the next stage of human development.

Emancipation from mental slavery

Scientists said once that the Negro was the missing link, but now they realize that the Negro is the oldest man in creation. He is so old that he is black, and everything darkens by age, therefore he could not be the missing link. Something must be missing from his link. That the Negro is old and that accounts for his colour there is a lot behind it. Because once upon a time we were a great people. We built the Pyramids and the Sphinx. When history is written in truth you will find that the first civilization was projected from the Nile on the Congo Basin. In the earliest dawn of civilization you found the Negro in Benin, in Timbuktoo, in Alexandria. Anthropologists will tell you that the Pharoahs were black men. When they dug up the mummy of Tutankamen and saw he was a black man they would not tell you the truth. Civilization went across the north to Europe to India, to China, all the way down and proved that the black man had circumnavigated the world. The North American Indian, the Australian Aboriginal, the Aztecs of South America were all people who became what they were through the contact of Africans who had travelled across the continents when they were carrying their civilization, just as how the great white man is travelling around the world to-day and planting the evidence of his race, but before modern history was written and produced in the different continents there were different shades of colour, each had their original civilization. Like all great people we fell. The present civilization is not the only one that existed, but before this we had Roman civilization, Greek Civilization, Persian civilization, Babylonian civilization, and even medieval Egyptian civilization, but the Negro civilization anti-dated that.

The African went down with his blundering civilization, the Persian, the Greek, the Roman all went down and we do not know how long this civilization will stand with its Mussolinis and its Hitlers. Civilization is a cycle. It changes. I should like to see black and white get on so well toghether that the black man will remember how kind he was. It is the only way we are going to get along because man is man for that.

The white man is no missing link, nor the black man, nor the yellow man either. Surely no animal could achieve what Marconi did, what Edison did, what the great engineers did, what the great scientists did. Surely no man could do what the Japanese are doing, no missing link could do what Carver is doing at Tuskegee. He is the greatest chemist to-day, who can bring out of one product so many chemicals.

No monkey could do what the brown bomber did to the Welshman. If man will let a monkey beat him then he is lower than a monkey. We are men whether we are white, yellow or black, because we have one origin. We came from the same place and we are going back to the same place. The Negro went to sleep for a long while, resting from his labours, but he slept too long, so everybody stole a march on him and therefore he is the only man without a country; and so the U.N.I.A. seeks to restore the Negro to his own vine and fig tree. Economically, for his own interest, the white man will not like it, but deep down in his heart he will say that the Negro is right.

I would like to see Canada for the Canadians, England for the English, America for the Americans and in the same way I want to see Africa for the Africans, those at home and those abroad, so that when we are sick and tired and weary we may lay our heads in the lap of our mother and ask her to comfort us, bless us before we die. Every people should have a flag, a land of their own, and the U.N.I.A. points you to achieve something. A large number of you were and are members and I bring you the greetings of those in the other parts of the world.

We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign.

The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind, because man is related to man under all circumstances for good or for ill. If man is not able to protect himself from the other man he should use his mind to good advantage.

The fool will always carry the heavy burden. The fool will always be crushed without a tear from God or man because God Almight never made a fool.

God is all wise. When God Almight made man in His own image and likeness, it wasn’t the physical, it was the mind that was like God. Every man represents God in his unitary intelligence.

When man abuses that intelligence he lowers himself. God has given you intelligence to take care of you. He hasn’t repeated Himself yet. God was so thoughtful of man and his progeny that he made a variety of things so as to pander to the taste of the Adams that would come after the first.

When God made you He made you the masters of the world, not serfs and slaves, but your mind must be developed intelligently. It is your mind that rules the body. You cannot go further than that mind to seek truth and to know truth and to re-act to truth.

That is the only way you will be able to protect your group. The white man is still doing research work with his mind. It has taken him to the bowels of the earth to extract what nature placed there for him. On that same intelligence he has gone into Heaven. What you see in Sydney, in Nova Scotia is only the fringe of the white man’s intelligence. Everything that you see that is methodical is the product of the white man’s mind. He visualizes nations and kingdoms and he has them. There is nothing spiritual around his materialism.

They are all objective things realized, dreamt and thought out. Sydney is only what men have visualized to a greater extent. The British Empire was the visualization of men like Raleigh, and Drake, who seeing things of value, attached them to the mother country. If places are not well protected then men take them and add them to their Empires.

The U.N.I.A. is dreaming of a day when the Negro will possess himself of a homeland, when he will build for himself. The man who cannot build for himself is not only a poor fish in the sea, but ultimately will be a dead fish, plodding for himself.

Nobody wants to die except the fool, because life is a worth-while thing. It is only people who are together can survive now-a-days. It is only by organising that we can get anywhere, as the Mayor told you. We are looking for the redemption and the freedom of our homeland. (We hope, sir, to invite you to Sydney, in Africa, because there we shall have different things than you have in Canada.)

Our obsession is like that of the Jews. They are working for Palestine. We are working for Africa, like the Irishman, he is working for Ireland, and the Canadian is working for a grand and noble Canada. We are helping to send on the great force of power of Canadian industry when the Canadians will realize that they too can help us to do some good as we have been helping them to do some good. We have been helping to build and up to now we are not dead, we have not fallen. The Negro has the power of resistance. He can do the job. I feel sure, as you have done in the past, you will continue in the future, whether I come here or not. Remember the primary purpose that has brought me here — goodwill, co-operation, unity from the rest of your fellows in the United States, Africa and the West Indies. We have celebrated the happiness, the glory of our Organization’s accomplishments. We have had our ups and downs and failures, but that was only a drop in the bucket. If the Mayor were to tell you of the failures of his race, you would wonder at their patience. When the Liberals fail they go out of office and let the Conservatives go in, and the Government goes on. If you Negroes have a penny bank and it fails, you swear that you will never put another penny in it again. You should kick out the first dishonest man and put in an honest one. That is why you will have to it swim to Barbados, Trinidad and Demerara. You know how many times the Canadian Pacific failed until they now have their wonderful system? The only way you can be happy is to lay the foundation in one generation for the succeeding generation. If you do not build ships for the next generation you will always be walking.

Take the white race, sometimes you see an old man president of the bank, knowing well that their grandchildren are coming after them and they are storing up for their generations to come after. Our disposition is to eat everything and let the boy work for his. We cannot treat our children as our fathers treated us, so do not eat up everything you get, for God’s sake. Remember that the boy who is coming up is to carry on until God comes. Do not be here as serfs and slaves because God never made you anything else but men.

Whatever that has happened to the man it is his own mind that puts him there. He has abused the force of power of that mind. Men can create the environment to suit himself. When you do not use your intelligence you fall and will be submerged. It is because we do not live up to the state of our intelligence why we suffer so much.

Before I close, I want to appeal to you to use your intelligence to work out the real things of life. You have to apply that intelligence to the management of your own individual and collective racial affairs. Every race has to lok after its own affairs. You have formulated no legal or moral claim. That is why people are taking away Africa today, just how Mussolini took away Ethiopia because he thought the Ethiopians had no use for it. One man used his intelligence and knocked out while the other tried to pray.

The time you waste in levity, in non-essentials, if you use it properly you will be able to guarantee to your posterity a condition better than you inherited from your forefathers. The U.N.I.A. is carrying throughout the world the message of goodwill. The message is going on. It has reached you. It will go to others, so that we may have one outlook, one purpose in life. I do hope the friendship will continue, sir, economically, politically and that you will never have cause to believe that we are not what we seem. (Cheers.)

The Chairman, Rev. Ford: Speaking on behalf of the peoples of this community permit me to say that hey have enjoyed this message of goodwill immensely. Please take back for us the message that we, in Cape Breton, shall stretch out the curtains of our habitation with this in view — one God, one aim, one destiny. I have spent over six years in college learning the various ologies, but to-night you have taught me one ology and that is Negro ology. The hon. Marcus Garvey told you to-night that the man who doesn’t love his people cannot love his God. This is an epoch-making event. Let us bind ourselves together, not only when he is here, but when he is gone, so that we may be lifted up with wings as he goes.

  • I can’t Breathe” is the expression of the Crisis of the modern world.

I can’t breathe is  sure the slogan associated with the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. The phrase is derived from the words of Eric Garner and George Floyd, two African-American men who died of asphyxiation during their arrests in 2014 and 2020, respectively, as a result of excessive force by primarily white police officers. The phrase is used in protest against police brutality in the United States.

But this protest, this Cry show us the real problem of the Modern man:

Modern man is a human without Soul, without the “Living Breath”.

The protest is the expression of  his deep spiritual Crisis in the times of deep ignorance.. Read more here

Free yourselves from mental slavery – part 2

“The crisis in sense, meaning, and identity doesn’t just push people into cults and conspiracy theories, it also makes mainstream belief systems more cult-like.”

      • From QAnon’s Dark Mirror, Hope

By Charles Eisenstein

A dark mirror shows features one would rather not see. You gaze at the repulsive visage in the picture frame, the caricature of everything despicable, only to realize with dawning horror that you are looking not at a portrait but at a mirror.

The political defeat of Donald Trump in the 2020 election is a crossroads for the quasi-political movement grouped loosely around the QAnon conspiracy myth and, more broadly, around Trump himself. Because the man and the movement were a dark mirror for the whole of society, it is also a crossroads for society.

For those unfamiliar with it, the QAnon movement started early in the Trump administration when a mysterious person, calling himself Q and claiming to be an administration insider, began posting cryptic messages on internet message boards, particularly 8Chan. These consisted of hints and promises that Donald Trump was executing a masterly plan to vanquish his enemies, uproot the Deep State, and restore America to greatness. Their mantra, by which followers (call QAnons) kept the faith, was “Trust the plan.” However bad it looked for Trump, victory was just around the corner.

At the present writing (late November, 2020) it would seem that the QAnons would have no choice but to abandon the faith. Not so. In various corners of the right wing alternative media, one may still read desperate theories about how Trump’s apparent defeat is a ploy to set up his master stroke. Even after he is deposed, even if he goes to prison, the myth will only change shape, since it is merely an outcropping of a much larger, long-established mythos, driven by repressed social and psychological forces. The same holds for Trumpism generally. It is thus important to gaze into this dark mirror and see what has been hidden; otherwise we will face one of two grim possibilities, each worse than the other. (1) In a few years a new and more formidable demagogue will arise to channel the repressed forces toward a fascist coup. (2) A neoliberal corporatocracy, costumed in the garb of progressive values, will consolidate its already well-developed powers of surveillance, censorship, and control to establish a techno-totalitarian state that will attempt to repress those forces forever.

I would like to offer another alternative that becomes possible when we look into the mirror and meet the aforementioned repressed forces at their source. Healing, rather than victory, is its formative ideal. I call it the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.

A Comforting Mythology

It is understandable why so many people have celebrated the defeat of Trump, a man who presided over the deliberate separation of immigrant children from their parents, who needlessly provoked Russia and China, who gave free pass to some of the worst of American’s racist tendencies, who green-lighted new levels of environmental destruction, who pushed regime-change operations in Venezuela and Bolivia, and so on. Yet it is also true that the incoming Biden administration is rife with Wall Street insiders, neocon war hawks, intelligence agency officials, prison-industrial complex cheerleaders, and representatives of Big Pharma, Big Data, and pretty much Big Everything. Neither Joe Biden nor the Democratic Party has been a particularly effective champion of racial equity, environmental protection, economic fairness, or world peace for a very long time. Biden himself cavorted with overt racists in his early career, was a key architect of mass incarceration, has been a consistent supporter of America’s foreign wars, and has done numerous favors for Wall Street. An unpleasant surprise awaits anyone who thinks that much will improve now that the bad guys are out and the good guys are in.

It would be convenient if the problem with America were Donald Trump, bad people who worked with him, and ignoramuses and dupes who supported him. If so, we could breathe a sigh of relief that with the election a victory over evil has been won.

Ironically, the ideology of QAnon is an exaggerated version of this same basic thoughtform. It says that a group of diabolical people are responsible for the evil in the world, and that if they could be expunged, the world could be healed. In QAnon’s mythology, the locus of evil is the Deep State, an elite cabal interpenetrating government, corporations, banks, and other elite institutions, and the champion of Good is Donald Trump who, with superhuman subtlety, foresight, and skill, wages a 4D chess struggle against them.

The QAnon mythology offers three degrees of comfort. First, at a time of social and economic breakdown, it assuages the discomfort of uncertainty by making the world understandable. Second, it absolves its followers of complicity in the problem (in contrast to blaming reigning systems, which implicate pretty much everyone to some extent and admits no ready solution). Third, it offers a hero, a savior, a Good Father who will set things aright, and upon whom one might project one’s own unfulfilled expression of greatness.

It is so tempting to personify good and evil, to locate each in the person of whomever appears most conspicuously in the dramas offered for our consumption. One side holds Donald Trump in exactly the same way that the other holds George Soros and Bill Gates. Personifying evil offers the comfort of knowing at least in principle how to solve the world’s problems. There is someone to destroy, to expunge, to defeat, to cancel, or to silence. Problem solved. The standard Hollywood movie script is also the script for war and also, it seems, the script for a lot of today’s political discourse.

I have been counseled to issue a public denunciation of QAnon, to which I reply that I am not in the business of denouncing anyone. In clarifying who is friend and who is foe, denunciation reduces the target to the status of enemy. I won’t take sides in the culture war, not because I think both sides are equal or that all viewpoints are equally true, but because (1) I believe that the blind spots both sides share are more significant, and more dangerous, than their disagreements, and (2) Beneath the conflict is a hidden unity that will emerge when all parties humbly try to understand the other.

QAnon has done considerable damage to people’s lives and to the body politic in the context of Trumpian neofascism and persistent systemic racism. Yet to reduce it and its followers entirely to those terms is to commit the same error – and derive much the same comfort – that QAnon itself does in its reduction of a complex situation to a drama of good versus evil. In doing that we sacrifice real understanding in favor of a narrative that divides the world into good guys and bad guys.

Daniel Schmactenberger puts it well when he says, “If you feel a combination of outraged, scared, emotional, and very certain with a strong enemy hypothesis, you have been captured by somebody’s narrative warfare, and you think it’s your own thinking.” Visit the enemy territory, he counsels, and see what the world looks like from there.

Who among their critics asks, “What hidden truth seeks expression in the QAnon phenomenon? What truth rides upon its myths?” In an essay last spring, I catalogued some truths that ride the New World Order conspiracy myth (of which QAnon is a variant); for example, that an inhuman power rules the world; that those we call leaders are its puppets; that established authority has betrayed our trust. In it I wrote:

The conspiracy myth embodies the realization of a profound disconnect between the public postures of our leaders and their true motivations and plans. It bespeaks a political culture that is opaque to the ordinary citizen, a world of secrecy, image, PR, spin, optics, talking points, perception management, narrative management, and information warfare. No wonder people suspect that there is another reality operating behind the curtains.

That QAnon is rife with Islamophobia, racism, and other flavors of bigotry does not erase the validity of these basic intuitions. It does, though, illustrate the tragic nature of the QAnon phenomenon, which diverts an authentic populist revolt onto vain dreams and ready divisions. This is also, in part, the tragedy of Donald Trump. Much of what I will say about QAnon applies to Trumpism in general.

The simplifying explanation for why so many people voted for Donald Trump is that he gives vent to their covert racism, hate, and fear. Certainly, the United States is home to many inveterate racists, and racism to this day exerts a baleful influence on American society. However, the caricature of the racist Trump voter resentful of his declining status relative to people of color and hoping to uphold his dominance and privilege against progressive social trends leaves out a lot. It does not explain why millions of Obama voters voted for Trump in 2016 and presumably 2020. It does not explain why Trump won a greater percentage of minority votes than any Republican candidate since 1960, while his support among white men declined from 2016 to 2020. Invoking racism to explain away the Trump phenomenon prevents us from looking at an anti-establishment sentiment so intense that 74 million people would vote for a man who so often gives the appearance of being coarse, boastful, ignorant, phony, vain, corrupt, and incompetent.

If we continue to leave out all these things, I fear that sooner or later we will be confronted with an aspiring fascist who is younger, smoother, more charismatic, and more competent than Donald Trump. If we don’t accurately understand and address the root cause of Trumpism, that is what will happen in 2024. If Trump could almost win in 2020, imagine what such a man or woman could accomplish if the repressed forces that elevated Trump intensify.

Addictions and Cults

Hungry for what? Obviously something much more nourishing than what Q’s stories provided. That is why QAnon and the mythology from which it draws is so addictive (anything can be addictive that temporarily quells the pain of an unmet need without actually meeting it). Thus, QAnons went down the proverbial rabbit hole, eagerly awaiting their next fix of a Q post, shedding friends, alienating family, losing sleep, squandering countless unproductive hours to get one hit after another of indignation, feelings of superiority, assurance that they are right, and the above-mentioned comfort. Friends and family speak of losing loved ones to QAnon just as they speak of losing them to an addiction or a cult.

QAnon indeed displays many features of a cult. It draws people into an alternate reality, estranges them from friends and family, and exploits their need to belong. It attaches them to an in-group of believers, membership in which is completely dependent on what one says and believes (rather than acceptance for who one is). However, to understand QAnon and cults in general as parasites on the social body risks ignoring the conditions that invite those parasites in to begin with. Do we want merely to suppress the current outbreak? What will it take to heal the social body on a deeper level?

Cults prey upon the vulnerable. What makes someone vulnerable? First, a disintegration of a belief system that told a person who she is, how the world works, and what is real. Second, an unmet need to belong. The perfect candidate for cult recruitment is someone whose world has fallen apart, leaving them lonely and confused. It isn’t weak and stupid people who fall into cults. Anyone who holds a sanctimonious attitude toward QAnons and “conspiracy theorists” is deluding themselves.

I say this to remedy any sense of superiority one might obtain from reading my description of the false comforts of the QAnon mythology. Does it feel good to diagnose others’ spiritual pathologies? If so, it could be because we ourselves suffer a version of the same hunger we see in the dark mirror of QAnon. But really, who among us today has not suffered a breakdown in meaning or an unmet need to belong?

Today, a majority of society are prime candidates for cult recruitment. Our societal meaning-generating stories are in disarray. Fifty years ago, a broad mainstream of Western society believed in the march of progress. The world was getting better year by year and generation by generation. Soon, technological progress, liberal democracy, free market capitalism, and the social sciences would eliminate the age-old scourges of humankind: poverty, oppression, disease, crime, and hunger. Within that story, we knew who we were and how to make sense of the world. Life made sense within a linear narrative of progress that told us where we came from and where we were going.

The mythology of progress, of which the United States of America was the foremost paragon, told us life was supposed to get better with each generation. Instead, the opposite has happened. The mythology of progress told us of an age of plenty, yet today we have extreme income inequality and persistent or growing poverty in the West. It told us we would be healthier with each passing generation; again, the opposite has happened, as chronic diseases now afflict all age groups at unprecedented levels. It told us that the onward march of reason and rule of law would bring an end to war, crime, and tyranny, but levels of hate and violence have not dropped in the 21st century. It told us of an age of leisure, yet the workweek and vacation time has stagnated since the mid-20th century. It promised us happiness, yet today rates of divorce, depression, suicide, and addiction rise with each passing year.

Adding to all of this an undeniable ecological crisis, it is hard now to fully embrace the mythology of progress as a source of meaning and identity. With its failure to deliver on its promises, the wellspring of meaning for modern society now runs dry.

The resulting crisis in sense, meaning, and identity doesn’t just push people into cults and conspiracy theories, it also makes mainstream belief systems more cult-like. To some degree, major news outlets and social media provide exactly what the QAnon addiction did (indignation, feelings of superiority, assurance that they are right…) They also tend to “draw people into an alternate reality, estrange them from friends and family, and exploit their need to belong.” How many family gatherings are ruined, how many family members are no longer on speaking terms, having dissociated into separate realities?

Indulge me for a moment in a little rhetorical exaggeration. In the United States, two dominant cults apply the tools of information warfare to vie for public loyalty: (1) the Democratic Party, New York Times, MSNBC, NPR, CNN cult, and (2) the Republican Party, Fox News, Breitbart cult. Each offers its followers the same comforts as Q: they offer a narrative that makes sense of the world in the midst of change; they offer a diagnosis of social problems that exculpates themselves, and they offer people to cheer for, champions for the cause of victory over evil. They also offer a sense of belonging. Have you ever felt a sense of homecoming when you tune into your favorite pundit or website?

Note: The Battle about Money (1570): Money and Excrement

The Psychology of Capital and the Marketplace in Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s `Dulle Griet’

The Antwerp stock exchange, the Bourse, controlled the wealth of Europe, and in mid-century it was at the height of a boom. This boom was founded on new forms of credit, necessary to finance the high risks of sea-trading. The shift to credit allowed merchants to defer and interweave the consequences of their ventures, and citizens became used to the psychology of gambling on future profits. Like modern trading-floors, the Bourse was no sober club. Incidents of violence were not unknown and the building it-self (new in 1531) was plagued by vandalism and graffiti. It was a centre for gossip and scandal of all kinds. Read more here…

The unprecedented, and somewhat enigmatic, iconography of this image derives from the fertile imagination of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, who executed the original drawing after which this was engraved. Strongboxes, piggy banks, money bags, barrels of coins, and treasure chests—most of them heavily armed with swords, knives, and lances—attack each other in a ferocious display of chaotic, all-out warfare. The Dutch verses inscribed in the lower margin inform us that “It’s all for money and goods, this fighting and quarreling.” According to the Latin portion of the inscription, the banner with the “savage grappling hook” in the right background exemplifies greed, the vice at the root of all this trouble. The image seems to suggest that humanity’s lust for money is responsible for armed conflict.  The concerns for the dangers of acquisitiveness and avarice expressed here had deep resonance in Antwerp, the bustling mercantile capital of Northern Europe where Bruegel was active for most of his career. Though inscribed “P. Bruegel” in the lower right corner, the engraving was probably not published until several years after the artist’s death in 1569.

Cults, armies, and police states depend on the control of information. As warring parties weaponize facts, we learn to discount all sources of information. We wonder what agenda lies behind a given “fact.” Knowing that narrative warriors select, distort, or invent facts, the canny citizen tends to ask “Who said it?” before asking “What did they say?” and then to disbelieve what they said if it serves a disagreeable party or purpose. In such circumstances, how is any conversation possible?

The routine mendacity of politicians over the last few decades has desolated the civic commons, once a rich domain of broad agreements about what is real, what is important, and what is legitimate. We can’t blame only the politicians of course. From corporate PR campaigns to intelligence agency psy-ops, from internet censorship to government secret programs, we are awash in lies, deception, secrets, half-truths, spin, fraud, and manipulation. No wonder we are so prone to believe in conspiracies. Their building blocks are everywhere.

Here is the dark mirror. The rise in conspiracy theories reflects a power establishment shrouded in lies and secrets, which viciously persecutes anyone who, like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, pulls aside the veil.

   Note:To See Yourself within It: Bruegel’s Festival of Fools

Although fairly subtle, the composition of the Festival of Fools stages a
procession similar to a wagon play. (Wagon plays were processional dramas that took place during Ommegangen (devotional processions) in the 1550s and 1560s. Rhetoricians conceived of wagon plays as didactic episodes that could morally
edify and educate their audience. The plays utilized overt metaphors and personifications to create allegorical productions that focused on collective civic identity.

This crisis in communication and sense-making has been long in the making. The attempt to bend truth to serve other ends has harmed the soul of language, diverting the creative power of word toward the maintenance of illusions. Consequently, our society as a whole is helpless to change its course. That would require agreement, the building blocks of which have turned to sand. I have watched this paralysis intensify for 20 years now. In 2007 I wrote an essay called The Ubiquitous Matrix of Lies, in which I said, “As we acclimate to a ubiquitous matrix of lies, words mean less and less to us, and we don’t believe anything any more. As well we shouldn’t! We are facing a crisis of language that underlies and mirrors all the other converging crises of the modern age.”

Our main engines of knowledge production – science, journalism, and the arts – once enjoyed robust, near-universal social legitimacy. Now each cult gleans through the stubble of the knowledge commons for grains of still-agreed upon fact to add to its army’s granary. The warring parties swiftly requisition any new crops the independent scientist, journalist, or philosopher might sow. If they resist, their crop is burned to the ground. Thus it is that the best journalists today are all independent or contribute to marginal publications: Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Diana Johnstone, Seymour Hersch…. They defy both cults’ narrative (Right and Left) and therefore, because they disabuse us of the caricature taped over the mirror, give us a chance to see some dark truths.

When Hate Hijacks Anger

The crisis in meaning has direct economic causes. It is hard to believe in the social project when one is economically insecure, politically disenfranchised, stripped of dignity, and cut off from participation in society as a full member. This has long been the condition of African-American and other brown people in America, along with women and those who deviated from social norms. Today, the same economic forces that required their oppression and profited from it have turned toward the white middle class. The Machine that once depended on white racism to maintain a brown underclass now devours its own, chewing up vasts swaths of middle America and spitting the gristle and bones onto the trash heap of disenfranchised irrelevancy.

Note: Big fish eating small fish:A broadside criticising the exploitation of political power by alluding to the proverb of big fish eating small fish; with an engraving with motives after Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel showing in the centre a table with a large dish of small fish, around the table are sitting five large fish with human arms, dressed in clothes and devouring the small fish, the table scene surrounded by various scenes of larger fish being cut open, revealing smaller fish, in the background small fish hanging on the gallows; with engraved title and text.

Do I hear the reader protest at my drawing an equivalency between oppressed minorities, who have only external circumstances to blame for their poverty and despair, and the mostly white QAnons who, despite having so much more privilege, wallow in their white fragility, blaming everyone but themselves for their dead end lives, their involuntary celibacy, and their video game addictions? This kind of sanctimonious assessment, which is common in left-leaning social media comment threads, mirrors exactly standard racist canards about lazy, irresponsible black people who blame the system and refuse to take personal responsibility. Both refuse to look at the conditions that generate the choices they condemn.

The relevant question here is not who has suffered more, who is the biggest victim, who is the most oppressed and therefore the most deserving of compassion. The question is rather, What are the conditions that gave rise to Trumpism, and how do we change those? We must ask this question, unless our strategy is to be endless war against those we deem irremediably evil.

Watching an interview with the extremely penitent founder of 8chan (QAnon’s main forum), Frederick Brennan, I was moved by his description of typical 8chan users, particularly the “Incels” and those who’ve swallowed the “black pill.” The former term refers to men who are involuntarily celibate; the latter refers to nihilism. These by no means define the entire QAnon movement, but they offer a window to some of the social traumas driving it.

Displaying varying degrees of misogyny, the Incels draw a lot of condemnation. They are denounced for believing themselves “entitled to sex,” and reviled for displacing blame for their own failings onto women. We can denounce them and fight them online, call them out and cancel them, but can we see them as human? Can we see their frustrated yearning to love a woman, to raise a family, to contribute meaningfully to life? Frustrated desire naturally turns to violence, directed at others or oneself or both.

Again I hear a protest, “Fine for you as a straight white male to call for compassion for these perpetrators and their avatar, the perpetrator-in-chief Donald Trump, but what about compassion for the victims? They need it even more.” To that I say: as a matter of sheer practicality, it is precisely compassion for the victims that requires compassion for the perpetrators. Compassion enables us to quell the violence at its source. Compassion isn’t the same as giving someone a free pass or allowing them to continue harming others. Compassion is the understanding of another being’s inner and outer condition. With this understanding, one can effectively change the conditions that generate harm. It is precisely the same logic that leftists use when talking about crime. Instead of waging an endless war on criminals, let’s look at the conditions that breed crime. What makes someone a drug dealer, a robber, a gang member? What conditions of trauma and poverty? Following the trail of these questions, one may arrive at root-level responses.

Whether we are talking about the inner city youth growing up in extreme trauma and deprivation, or the white Incel living in his parents’ basement with only his despair, his student debt, and his video games for company, we must be careful not to impute helplessness onto these victims of circumstance. There is no circumstance too oppressive for the human being to transcend. There is a place for messages like “Stop being a victim. Take ownership of your life. Stop asking for charity.” Crucially though, these messages will be useless, counterproductive even, if they come from a place of superiority or disgust. It cannot be, for example, the privileged white person telling the ghetto dweller to get his act together. Such messages have to come from a full appreciation of the anguish and misery of the oppressed condition, and a genuine vision of the greatness of those in it. Yes, greatness. It is hypocritical and pointless to call someone to greatness without believing in their greatness. And this belief cannot be a mere spiritual ideology. For these reasons, usually it is only other black people who can effectively exhort African-Americans to take responsibility for raising themselves up, and it is usually other men who can do the same for the Incels. I know people who say their lives were saved from addiction and despair by this kind of “tough love.” We just have to keep in mind both words of that phrase: the love as well as the toughness. If you secretly despise those you are trying to help with your tough love, you will hinder not help. To transcend one’s conditions requires courage. It is a lot easier to be brave when someone knows you are brave.

One of my favorite quotes, by Viktor Frankl, will help illustrate these points: “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” One can feel truth ringing through these words. Yet obviously, their application would not be to visit a concentration camp, quote it to the prisoners, and then walk away. The right application is to one’s own circumstances. The words ring the bell of bravery; having acted from it, one may then ring it for others who may be in similar circumstances.

Let’s be clear that compassion is not the absence of anger. I am not asking the abused or the oppressed not to be angry. Quite the contrary – anger is a sacred force. It arises in response to confinement, violation, or threat (to oneself or in witness to another). It is key to social change, because it supplies the energy and courage to break free of familiar holding patterns.

Note: Tulip mania

Tulip mania(Dutch: tulpenmanie) was a period during the Dutch Golden Age when contract prices for some bulbs of the recently introduced and fashionable tulip reached extraordinarily high levels, and then dramatically collapsed in February 1637.[2] It is generally considered to have been the first recorded speculative bubble (or asset bubble) in history.[3] In many ways, the tulip mania was more of a hitherto unknown socio-economic phenomenon than a significant economic crisis. It had no critical influence on the prosperity of the Dutch Republic, which was the world’s leading economic and financial power in the 17th century, with the highest per capita income in the world from about 1600 to 1720.[4][5][6] The term “tulip mania” is now often used metaphorically to refer to any large economic bubble when asset prices deviate from intrinsic values.

Hate is the result of a narrative hijacking anger and channeling it onto convenient enemies. Hate preserves the status quo. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.”

Once anger becomes hate, one no longer has an accurate understanding of the situation. Hate interposes a projection in front of an adversary, making them appear both more terrible and more contemptible than they actually are. Therefore, hate is an obstacle to victory in a fight. To win, one must be in reality, accurately understanding the opponent. With that understanding, the fight may no longer be necessary – another response may present itself.

Or not. Sometimes forceful intervention is necessary to prevent harm. Sometimes the abused, the persecuted, the oppressed need to fight back, go to court, run away, or enforce a boundary. Sometimes they need allies in doing that. Sometimes abusers need to be physically restrained so that they do no further harm. But when it comes from hate rather than anger, the goal of force undergoes a subtle shift. It becomes no longer to stop harm, but to inflict harm – to avenge, to punish, to dominate – in the name of stopping harm. To quote Dr. King once again, “Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.” Please meditate on these words. It looks to me like such a cancer is spreading in America, with precisely the effects on its national “personality” that King predicted.

In the end, the formula for “saving the world” cannot be victory in an epic battle of Good versus Evil. (That in fact is QAnon’s formula.) Since the two sides appear, from the close election, to be nearly equal, if it comes to war then Good, in order to overcome Evil, must become better at war than Evil – better at violence, better at manipulation, better at propaganda, better at deception. In other words, it must cease to be Good. How many times have we seen this play out in history, when the people’s liberation movement becomes the new tyranny?

`hij wil altijd het onderste uit de kan halen‘ (he always wants to get the most out of it)

Already it is happening. In my youth it was the conservatives who were the main instigators of censorship, burning Beatles albums, removing evolution from science textbooks, suppressing sexuality in literature. They were also the main manufacturers of consent, manipulating the media to maintain a state of constant war. Now it is the “left” who has most enthusiastically taken up the weapons of information warfare, with its deplatforming campaigns, cancel culture, and suppression of dissent. I put “left” in quotation marks because the actual left was the first victim of the new censorship, which began with the demotion of socialist and anti-war websites in Google search and social media. Facebook and Google still suppress this type of website by giving weight in their algorithms to “authoritative sources”; that is, the voice of the authorities. Now the ranks of the censored expand to include alternative medicine sites, vaccine skeptics, critics of 5G technology, and dissenters from Covid-19 public health policy.

Bry Moneybag Flatterers-

Surely, some of those censored are purveying false information; just as surely, not all of it is false. True or false, the suppressed viewpoints have one thing in common – they clash with the narratives and interests of established corporate and political powers. Properly speaking, opposition to those powers defines the left, not the right. It is as if we are approaching a political pole reversal. As with reversal of earth’s magnetic poles, considerable chaos precedes such a realignment. It hasn’t happened yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years the Republican Party becomes the party of the poor and working class, while the Democratic Party becomes the chief representative of the elites, Wall Street, large corporations, and the military-industrial complex. Judging by Joe Biden’s cabinet picks, this process is well underway. That would be a welcome change from the situation of the past 30 years, in which both parties give lip service to the people while serving the interests of the corporate-financial-military elite.

Note: In The Bear, the Harlot, the Magician and the King Lloyd D. Graham explains the source of Carnaval and the period of change  from winter to Spring.

The “ insurrection “of january 6th 2021 in USA Capitol  is an expression of the deep rooted origins of the folklores Carnaval and Krampus,

6 january is the feast of Epiphany

HERE FOLLOWETH THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD AND OF THE THREE KINGS from Golden Legends

On this day we are making King cakes . They come with cardboard “crowns” to be worn by whoever gets the slice with the token and becomes monarch of the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bear, the Harlot, the Magician and the King  by Lloyd D. Graham
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the seduction of the wild man Enkidu by Shamhat the
harlot symbolically causes his death as an unreflective animal and his rebirth as a
human – an Eden-like fall into self-awareness. Created as a match for king
Gilgamesh of Uruk, Enkidu goes on to become the king’s beloved friend. In
European folk traditions, the Wild Man is interchangeable with the bear, and
parallels can be drawn between Enkidu and the Candlemas Bear associated with
Carnival. Since Enkidu symbolises our pre-human nature, one can perceive a
figurative truth to the pan-European folk belief that people are descended from bears.
Thematic overlaps exist between some Gilgamesh narratives and European folk-tales
about a Wild Man whose father was a bear (the Bear’s Son / Jean de l’Ours motif) or
about twin boys, one of whom was raised in the wild by a female bear (Valentine and
Orson). Perhaps surprisingly, the roots of Santa Claus lie in the Wild Man. So too do
the origins of Merlin, the wizard of medieval Arthurian romance. Merlin has
elements in common with Enkidu, while King Arthur can be seen as a metaphorical
“Bear’s son.” Over time, the status of the Wild Man has changed from a wholly
inhuman monster to a “noble savage” who today might even be cast as a salvific ecowarrior.  Read here


The Wild Man or the Masquerade of Orson and Valentine – Brueghel

Redeeming the Black Pill

Earlier I used the term the “Black Pill.” Nihilism, of course, is no mere philosophical position, but the intellectual window-dressing on a psychological state of despair. In fact, this despair is always latent in modern society, because (1) Its reigning reductionism renders the universe into a meaningless scribble of atoms and void; (2) Its reigning theory of life tells us we are here to survive and reproduce; (3) Its reigning economics directs our creative energies toward unfulfilling work and mindless consumption, and (4) Its dominant social patterns cut us off from nature, community, place, and the experience of belonging. For a while, rapid increases in wealth and dazzling technical achievements kept the despair at bay. But it was there all long, a gnawing void at the heart of the ideology of progress. It was there all along, an inner poverty mirroring the destitution progress had wreaked upon other cultures and non-human beings. It was there all along, our own shadow that followed us as we raced toward a Utopia ever just at the horizon. Now as the glamour of progress dissolves, as our exhaustion mounts, and as we face the sobering realization that the horizon grows no closer no matter how fast we run, despair overtakes us at last.

Nihilism is a natural response to the shoddy and tired myths offered to us as sources of meaning. How many of us have had experiences directly contradicting what our main epistemic authority (science) tells us is possible? How many of us sequester narrative-busting data points in a separate mental compartment, living more or less in official reality but unable to wholeheartedly believe in it?

One reason that cults and conspiracy theories are so compelling is that they gather threads snipped away from official reality and weave them into another fabric. Some of those threads may have been snipped because they are simply untrue, and have no place in anyone’s reality. Others may have been snipped because they clash with the color scheme of the main fabric; that is, they disturb reigning institutions and paradigms. These are the threads we must weave into any tapestry of meaning that could be a satisfying successor to today’s dominant political narratives.

What I am saying is that some of the claims that weave through the conspiracy narrative merit attention. The delusional nature of the narrative does not invalidate all of its threads, and we should not dismiss everything conspiracy theorists say just because they said it – especially when our information gatekeepers malign and suppress genuine dissent as conspiracy theories, disinformation, and Russian propaganda.

Starting in 2017, the US government issued a series of disclosures of numerous UFO sightings by trained military observers, sometimes accompanied by video. Basically, it confirmed a theory that it and the mainstream media had for decades vigorously ridiculed as the province of cranks, crackpots, and conspiracy theorists. This revelation joins numerous other publicly acknowledged government and corporate conspiracies: COINTELPRO, Operation Paperclip, Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Iran-Contra, the CIA’s running of drugs into American inner cities, the FBI’s sabotage of civil rights groups, and many more. Despite this record, the media and government pretend all this is in the past and they are not today deceiving the public in service to their own power. Come on, people. Can we exercise a bit of skepticism when it comes to the narratives of established power?

The Alchemist; alchemist working at stove at left, robed figure reading instructions from manual at r; a fool with bellows and the alchemist’s wife with an empty purse in centre; in right background, alchemist and his wife taking their three children to the hospital, identified with inscription over the door. The scene – a message of timeless value – illustrates man´s folly chasing after the illusion of transforming worthless objects into gold with such vigour that he ruins his family. Dressed in shreds, he places a coin into a bowl while a scoundrel stirs the fire at his side. He remains unmoved by his wife who opens her empty purse, his children in their desperation hide in an empty wardrobe. A scholar sitting on a bench writes his report in a manuscript whose outcome is seen in the background as a painting within a painting where the family is being led to the poor house.

When the meaning offered us excludes obvious facts, direct experience, and our hearts’ recognition of truth, no wonder so many of us lapse into nihilism, thinking that life and the universe itself is meaningless. That nihilism and the latent despair that drives it was QAnon’s spawning ground. The same ground spawns mindless consumerism, technology fetishism, the hypnotic myth of progress, and the spectacular psuedo-dramas of politics, sports, and entertainment. These are the spawn and also the ground, comprised within what Guy Debord named “The Society of the Spectacle.” Any edifice of meaning collapses around the hollow core of its fundamental inauthenticity.

The hunger for the real that gnaws at the Spectacle’s subjects cannot be met from within the Spectacle itself. Online experiences may assuage the nihilism and despair, but they cannot fully meet it. Only direct, sensory, multi-dimensional relationship can. Ultimately this, and not intellect, is the source of meaning.

The Poor Kitchen; a group of gaunt men gather around a table at left and reach for a pot of mussels, while behind them a fat man attempts to escape the grasp of a thin man through the door at the back of the room; other thin men at fireplace at right and softening dried fish at right foreground; in centre a thin woman feeds a child while another child upturns an empty pot over his head;

The Rich Kitchen. several large men sit around a table laden with meats and pies; behind them to the left several pots of food and a pig roast over a large fire; in the foreground a rotund woman nurses a pudgy baby and two children eat bread soaked in milk from a full trough; in the background a large man shoos a thin man with a bagpipe from the door; reversed copy within a double trait carré

The Black Pill is the distillation of cultural despair. It spreads from one dispossessed person to another, leaching its poison into the body politic. The frustrated desire of the Incels morphs easily into racial hatred and sexual violence. The nihilism of the Black Pills finds relief in grandiose fascist stories of past and future greatness.

Elck (Everyman). A bearded, near-sighted man searches with a lantern through barrels, baskets and sacks in the centre foreground; the same figure appears again in the left foreground in a barrel, twice in the right middleground, and in the left middleground where he is engaged in a match of tug-of-war with another man; various sacks and parcels are inscribed with owners’ marks; dice and cards are strewn in foreground

The situation is closely analogous, as Chris Hedges describes it, to 1930s Germany, where just as today “…the spiritually and politically alienated, those cast aside by the society, [were] prime recruits for a politics centered around violence, cultural hatreds and personal resentments.” Their rage, he observes, then as now, was directed in particular at the liberal political intellectuals who had abdicated their proper role within capitalism, which is to soften its rough edges, mitigate its worst tendencies, and wrest a fair share of its wealth for the working class. American liberals performed that role admirably from the 1930s through the 1960s and even into the 1980s, before, as Hedges puts it, they “retreated into the universities to preach the moral absolutism of identity politics and multiculturalism while turning their backs on the economic warfare being waged on the working class and the unrelenting assault on civil liberties.” In the 1990s the Democratic Party (like Labour in the UK and various social democratic parties in Europe) began to romance Wall Street and the transnational corporations. They consummated their marriage in the Obama era and bore a child called totalitarian corporatism, which vies with its rival, Trumpian neofascism, for our future.

The closeness of the election shows that these two futures hang in near perfect balance. Is there a third option? There is, but it depends on building bridges across the most forbidding fault lines of our fragmenting social landscape.

The Incels, Black Pills, and QAnons show us in magnified form the dispossession of a vast swath of middle America (dispossessed of hope, meaning, and belonging, and increasingly economically dispossessed as well). They join the traditionally dispossessed racial and ethnic minorities, but not, tragically, as their allies. Instead they turn their rage on each other, leaving little energy to resist the continued plunder of the commons. The two main cults each offer their followers a proxy target – a caricature of the other side – for their rage.

In light of this tacit collusion, one wonders if both are not two arms of the same monster.

The Tide of our Times

For any of this to change, we must be willing to see past the caricatures. Caricatures are not without truth, but they tend to exaggerate what is superficial and unflattering while ignoring what is beautiful and subtle. Social media, as described in Netflix’s documentary The Social Dilemma, tends to do the same, chiefly by herding users into reality-proof echo chambers and keeping them on-platform by hijacking their limbic systems. They are part of the apparatus that channels popular rage – a precious resource – into populist hate. QAnons and Black Lives Matter protesters actually have a lot in common, starting with a profound alienation from mainstream politics and loss of faith in the system, but having been maneuvered into false opposition they cancel each other out. That is why compassion – seeing the human beneath the judgments, categories, and projections – is the only way out of the social dilemma.

Compassion is the tide of our times. Perhaps that is why increasingly furious attempts to sow hatred are required to maintain the psychic conditions for a control-based society. It takes more and more propaganda to keep us divided. A person in the online community I host described her stint going door to door in Iowa as an Andrew Yang campaign worker. Her strongest impression was of an intense desire among these common folks for unity, an end to the strife. Maybe we are closer to social healing than online behavior, with its vitriol and venom, would indicate. Hate is usually louder than love – in society and within ourselves. What will happen if we listen to the quieter voices?

Underneath the distorted and betrayed hopes of the QAnons lies the authentic hope that had to be there in order to be betrayed and distorted in the first place. It is the same hope that came out with Obama’s election: change, a new beginning. It is the same hope that Trump invoked: Make America great again. Today the same perennial hopefulness rises again among Biden voters.

How can the same hope animate forces that seem diametrically opposed? It is because the distorting lens of us-them thinking diffracts it into two, making us think that change will come through defeat of the enemy presented us. Dehumanization is a primary weapon of war (making the enemy despicable), just as it is the template of racism, sexism, and the reduction of all that is sacred. It is precisely the opposite of what is needed if we are ever to pull together.

For cliches about solidarity, unity, coherence, and reconciliation to become real, we have to look into the dark mirror of all we judge. We have to learn to draw meaning from a new story that isn’t about triumph over the Other. We have to put down the lenses of judgment and ideology, to see with new eyes the people and information our stories had banished. That is how we will forge an unstoppable populism. Let the unlearning begin.

Note:Pieter Bruegel the Elder Drawings and Prints

see friends man has known this for many years”

One of the greatest Netherlandish artists, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525/30-1569) is best known today for his paintings of peasant life. Yet it was above all through his exceptional graphic work that he achieved widespread fame during the sixteenth century. His drawings and the prints made after his designs, while based on traditional sources, are innovative and independent, and they are wide ranging in their subject matter. Read here

 

Free yourselves of mental slavery – part 3

The scenario is bleak: Consumerism and materialism dominate all aspects of social life. Older people look with alarm at the crumbling of civic and religious institutions. Young people view the future with a sense of foreboding. Politicians appear self-interested, religious leaders hypocritical, business people ever more corrupt. Violence is escalating at home and abroad, with no ready solution in sight. Alienation and disorientation are pervasive.

Whatever similarities we may find in our contemporary predicament, the society I’m describing is 14th-century Germany. As in 21st-century America or the world, many people of the time, feeling battered by the world around them, sought spiritual wisdom and a more profound connection to the divine. In the early 1300s, this meant that a large number of practicing Christians, laypeople and clerics alike, were searching for a more direct and satisfying experience of God’s presence than what they found in familiar institutional practices.

The potential chaos embodied in these grassroots, subjective movements alarmed some Church leaders. From his seat in Avignon, Pope John XXII, while mostly concerned with matters of state, sought to rein in both the “radical” Franciscans, who preached the importance of apostolic poverty, and the women known as beguines, who formed what we would today call intentional religious communities — groups of spiritually likeminded laypeople, rather than members of a formal religious order, who lived and prayed together.

  • Meister Eckhart, a Mystic for Our Time

In the midst of this tumult, many Christian seekers in the Rhineland of what is today western Germany found life-altering wisdom in the preaching of a Dominican friar, Eckhart von Hochheim, better known as Meister (“Master”) Eckhart. An acclaimed scholar trained at the University of Paris, Meister Eckhart sought to bring the fruits of his many years of theological and philosophical study and contemplation to lay audiences — an unusual aspiration among priest-scholars, who typically considered such matters beyond the comprehension of average people.

Even more revolutionary was Eckhart’s message. Unlike most preachers of the day, who focused on sin and eternal punishment, he described a process he called “the divine birth,” in which true believers could experience God directly within them.

The key lay in letting go of all worldly things, all desires and preconceptions — even one’s image of God himself: “The more completely you are able to draw in your powers to a unity and forget all those things and their images which you have absorbed, and the further you can get from creatures and their images, the nearer you are to this [divine birth] and the readier to receive it.

Then, he said — “in the midst of silence” — God would come within the soul.

Meister Eckhart’s way to “know” God directly was shaped by two central insights, the products of many years of study and contemplation. The first was that the seeker must “unknow” everything he or she thinks about God. Human language and images are essentially metaphorical, comparing things to one another. But God is completely other.

Obviously he is not an old man with a flowing white beard (or even a “he”), but he is also not a being in the sense that we normally mean. It is more accurate, according to Eckhart, to say that God is Being itself, since all existence derives from him.

We should learn not to give God any name . . . for God is above names and ineffable.” In fact, Eckhart warns, “if you think of anything he might be, he is not that.” This deconstruction of images of God, in which we come closer to knowing the ineffable divine by negative attributions — God does not exist in time or space, for instance — than by positive attributions, is known as negative theology, a tradition dating back to St. Augustine.

God’s “unknowability” in word and image was a hard concession for a professional scholar who had invested himself in coming to know God through a rigorous probing of Scripture and Catholic tradition. But the more that Eckhart had tried to approach God rationally, the more frustrated he had become. Instead he came upon a second key insight: One could “know” God through direct experience. Later scholars would call such an approach “mystical,” but a more accurate and less loaded term for what Eckhart meant would be “intuitive”: Rather than trying to know God from the outside, through our senses and intellect, we should try to know him from the inside, from that divine presence already within each of us.

Eckhart called this presence “the divine spark.” He preached that, through a contemplative process of self-emptying, or “letting-go-ness,” the seeker will directly encounter the God within. Only with the death of the old and false self, in theological terms, could the new and true self be born.

The concept traces to St. Paul, who directed Christians to “put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.

In Eckhart’s interpretation, the resulting “divine birth” represented no mere metaphor but a direct encounter of the individual soul with the divine. The best news was that God was eager to fully embrace the seeker: “You need not seek him here or there,” he wrote. “He is no further than the door of your heart; there he stands patiently awaiting whoever is ready to open up and let him in. No need to call him from afar: He can hardly wait for you to open up. He longs for you a thousand times more than you long for him.”

Eckhart’s message both excited and unnerved the Christians of his day. Although he never denigrated the external forms of piety around him — he was an active priest — his focus on the internal, on contemplation, was highly unusual, even unsettling to many lay listeners. The Church they knew preached that each person’s salvation depended on the performance of good works and acts of contrition, yet these were absent from Eckhart’s teaching. The Church they knew revolved around the veneration of saints and the celebration of sacraments, yet these played no apparent role in the internal self-transcendence Eckhart described. The Church they knew esteemed monks, nuns and other contemplatives as closer to God than the layperson, yet Eckhart preached that direct experience of God was accessible to any true seeker, regardless of social or religious status.

It is a testament to the truly “catholic”(καθολικός (katholikos), meaning “universal” meaning “all embrasing)  nature of medieval Christianity that what Eckhart called  “a wayless way” to divine union — and subsequent commentators would call apophatic or imageless mysticism — coexisted peacefully with Eucharistic devotions, pilgrimages and penitential self-flagellation. Not until late in his life did Eckhart become caught up in an inquisitorial procedure, based largely on local politics, that culminated in several of his statements being condemned in a papal bull as “evil-sounding.” After eliminating these more controversial statements, his disciples Johannes Tauler and Blessed Heinrich Suso continued to attract followers after the master’s death in the late 1320s. Still, after several decades the master himself faded into obscurity.

Fast forward seven centuries and the medieval Dominican friar has emerged as something of a modern spiritual celebrity. Millions of Roman Catholics and other Christians now claim Meister Eckhart as one of their own, not to mention many Zen Buddhists, Sufi Muslims, Advaita Vedanta Hindus, Jewish Cabalists and a variety of other seekers who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” In the United States, interest in Eckhart owes much to the popularity of his namesake, Eckhart (born Ulrich) Tolle, a spiritual teacher and author whose beliefs weave together the medieval master’s teachings with an eclectic blend of contemporary Eastern and New Age concepts. Thanks in part to the massively influential endorsement of A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Oprah’s Book Club, the modern Eckhart’s books have together been translated into more than 30 languages and sold some 10 million copies worldwide.

What is it that all these people see in the words of this sage from a distant era? The most common denominator appears to be an attraction to Eckhart’s revolutionary method of direct access to God (or, for some, to ultimate reality) — a profoundly subjective approach that is at once intuitive and pragmatic, philosophical yet non-rational, and above all, universally accessible. Many modern Christian authors, such as the Franciscan priest Richard Rohr — who calls Eckhart a “mystic’s mystic” — view his teachings as part of a long Christian contemplative tradition.

Despite that noble pedigree, Meister Eckhart was late to gain notice among modern Christians. His attractiveness to many contemporary Catholics ironically owes much to the post-Vatican II Church’s intensified engagement with other world religions. The Council’s 1965 declaration Nostra aetate (“In Our Time”) is best known for its repudiation of Catholicism’s long tradition of anti-Semitic statements, but it also represented the Church’s first genuine outreach to Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and other non-Christian religious traditions. By a vote of 2,221 to 88, the Council affirmed that the Holy Spirit can indeed be at work in these faiths as well, although obviously not to the same degree as in Christ’s ordained Church.

Already by that time, several Catholic thinkers had begun to explore affinities with non-Christian religions, particularly those of Asia. One of the most famous of those spiritual explorers, the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, engaged extensively with Zen Buddhist teachings before discovering a strikingly similar approach already present within his own tradition: Meister Eckhart. Merton agreed with his frequent correspondent, the Japanese scholar D. T. Suzuki, who called Eckhart “the one Zen thinker of the West.”

At the same time that medieval Japanese monks were formulating the core of Zen teaching, Eckhart drew deeply on centuries of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and pagan thought to develop a remarkably similar approach to experience of the divine. “Letting-go-ness” lines up with the Zen “no-mind” (wuxin) as well as the Taoist “no action” (wu wei). Buddhists also appreciate the master’s distinction between the constructed individual identity of each person — what we would call the ego and Eckhart calls the “false self” — and the common nature we all share, the authentic self, which the master identified as divine.

Like his Zen counterparts, Eckhart was wary of God-talk, which he thought more often obscured than revealed the divine, and he aspired to a unity with the ultimate. He called this a “second” or “divine” birth, which is in many ways similar to the Buddhist notion of satori, or enlightenment. The resulting “Christ nature” that he described, echoing St. Paul in Galatians 2:20 (“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”) looks remarkably similar to the internal “Buddha nature” of the Mahayana tradition.

At the same time, Eckhart’s embrace of meditation anticipates by seven centuries its popularity, along with the practice of “mindfulness,” among people of faith as well as among the ever-growing number of New Age seekers, agnostics and avowed atheists and others who list their religious affiliation as “none.”

Obviously many important differences remain between the Catholic Eckhart and other faith traditions, most notably on the role and identity of Christ. But the significant convergences have attracted increasing attention since the 1960s. In that sense, Eckhart, whom Merton called “my life-raft,” has brought the contemplative tradition to non-Catholics while deepening the modern Church’s ecumenical dialogue with other spiritual traditions.

Note: Meister Eckhart’s Sermons

Meister Eckhart’s Sermons contains some of his short sermons.The sermons themselves are in relatively plain English. In them, Eckhart flirts with some controversial topics. He describes the soul as “laying hold” of God in a mystical manner, so that there is “no distinction” between God and the soul. Indeed, some of his more radical teachings were eventually condemned by a papal council as heretical. But Eckhart does illustrate a way to synthesize one’s religious belief with one’s philosophy. Interesting and demanding, Meister Eckhart’s Sermons will challenge a person’s conception of God and religion. Read here

Of course, not all Catholics would view the similarity of Eckhart’s teachings to Zen Buddhist practices as a recommendation. While more ecumenical Catholic writers such as the priests Aelred Graham, OSB, Robert E. Kennedy, S.J., and Richard Rohr celebrate the affinity, other more conservative thinkers, such as James Hitchcock, have remained cautious about a full embrace of the medieval friar (particularly given Eckhart’s sermons on the Godhead, in which detractors detect hints of pantheism).

“Mysticism” also remains a suspicious concept for many modern people, given its popular association with visions and other supernatural experiences. But Meister Eckhart never claimed any special powers or called himself a mystic — or anything other than a Catholic preacher of the gospel. If he was a mystic, he was a profoundly anti-obscurant, egalitarian and down-to-earth one, rooted in centuries of Catholic contemplative tradition. In that sense he may be the perfect mystic for our own troubled times.

Here THE COMPLETE MYSTICAL WORKS OF MEISTER ECKHART 

 

Persian sufi miniatures : Angels submission to Adam ( In front Satan refusing)

  • Interreligious Dialogue: Ibn ‘Arabi and Meister Eckhart

Finding a Single Essence for Religions

As the last major world religion, Islam has continually compared itself with other religions and, more than any other, it seeks opportunities for dialogue and addresses in particular the followers of other Abrahamic religions, i.e. the people of the Scripture. As the basis for this dialogue, Islam refers to the same thing that we consider to be the essence of religion. And that essence has to do with faith, belief and content and not with the act and the form:

Say: O people of the Scripture! Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah and that we shall ascribe no partner to Him, and that none of us shall take others for Lords beside Allah. (The Holy Quran, 3:64)

And argue not with the people of the Scripture unless it be in [a way] that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender. (Q. 29:46)

The one idea that religions have in common, and on the basis of which they can enter into dialogue, is “God” – and a belief in Him, which lies at the heart of the religion, and is behind all the apparently different forms of Divine Law. As Jelaluddin Rumi suggests, it is this very essence which is hidden behind the apparent world.

This single essence not only paves the way for dialogue but satisfies the contemporary human as well. It is this very essence which permeates human nature and is at the root of the human soul. It can be reached through Friendship (wilaya), which is personified in Christianity as Jesus Christ, and it occupies an important place in Islamic mysticism. Consequently, in the dialogue between religions, we should start from the perspective of religious mysticism. For, according to some scholars, “of all kinds of human thought, mysticism is almost always and everywhere the same. And this is why others have also regarded mysticism as a solution to today’s problems, claiming: “Never before in history was it more urgent for all of us to learn the language of the mystics than in our time, when division threatens to destroy us. The mystics of every tradition speak a language that unites. Equally it is claimed that: “Mysticism is the same in all ages and in all places; timeless and independent of history it has always been identical. East and West and other differences vanish here… For one and the same experience speaks here, only by chance in varying dialects East is west and West is east.

Absolute Truth and Believed Truth

Ibn ‘Arabi and Meister Eckhart’s tolerance for different ideas originated, as mentioned above, from their knowledge of God, for God is too great to be contained in a view that is the product of limited human thought.

Presence of Sovereignty is indifferent
Transcendent from imaginary syllogisms.

According to Ibn ‘Arabi, everyone worships a god who is a product of his own imagination; in other words, he determines what God is in his own beliefs:

God is created in the belief of His bondsmen. For, when a person rationally considers God, he creates what he believes in himself through his consideration. Hence he worships only a god which he has created through his consideration. He has said to it “Be!”, and it has come into existence. That is why God commanded us to worship the God brought by the Messenger and spoken of in the Book. For if you worship this God, you will be worshiping your creator, and you will have fully given worship its due.

Evidently, the God of whom the prophets speak is not more than a single God. Meister Eckhart expresses himself in ways that are in perfect agreement with Ibn ‘Arabi:

A man ought not to have a God who is just a product of his thought, nor should he be satisfied with that, because if the thought vanished, God too would vanish. But one ought to have a God who is present, a God who is far above the notions of man and of all created things.

However, it should be noted that the gods who appear in human ideas and in whom human beings believe, and whom Ibn ‘Arabi calls “believed gods”, are the manifestations of the same One God in various thoughts and constitutions. It is not wrong to believe in such a god: the mistake is committed when this “believed Truth” is regarded as the absolute Truth, and anything else is denied. The perfect mystic is aware of this very point and believes in God in all His manifestations.

The fact that human beings determine who and what God is by their beliefs, and deny other manifestations of God in other beliefs, is the content of hadiths in which it has been said that on the Day of Resurrection, God will appear to His servants and these servants will accept only that form of God which is in harmony with their constitutions, natures and reasons, and they will deny other forms. In Ibn ‘Arabi’s words:

At the Resurrection, the Real (God) will disclose Himself and say, “I am your Lord”. They will see Him, but nevertheless they will deny Him and not acknowledge Him as their Lord, despite the existence of vision because of the lifting of the veil. When He transmutes Himself for them into the mark through which they recognize Him, they will say to Him, “Thou art our Lord”. Yet He is the one in whom they were seeking refuge, and He is the one they confessed to and recognized.

Read more Interreligious Dialogue: Ibn ‘Arabi and Meister Eckhart