Unseen Warfare

This spiritual classic, Unseen Warfare, was written by the Catholic priest Lorenzo Scupoli, then after seeing its value, later edited and revised by St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain and St. Theophan the Recluse. In the same spirit as the Philokalia and other writings of the Orthodox Holy Fathers, this book offers detailed guidance for anyone desiring to please God. Look also Polishing your heart, Virtues Ethic for a modern Devotion in our times

This recording is chapter 9: “On Protecting the Mind From Too Much Useless Knowledge and Idle Curiosity.” The teaching will be especially helpful for the naturally quick-witted and argumentative, those consuming news and current events, and anyone struggling to avoid distractions and submit their will to Christ. Quoting St. Basil the Great, “Let listening to worldly news be bitter food for you, and let the words of saintly men be as combs filled with honey.”

Rich in its references to the teachings of the saints and Fathers, Unseen Warfare combines the insights of West and East on that spiritual combat which is the road to perfection and the stripping away of all that militates against it. St. Theophan wrote in his foreword, “the arena, the field of battle, the site where the fight actually takes place is our own heart and all our inner man. The time of battle is our whole life.” Read the book here

Introduction

There is a war going on outside and there is a war within. We are all tired of these wars and wish they would cease. We want the world to change. Most of us wish things around us were different and most of us wish we could change things inside of us. But how can we change ourselves so as to change the world around us? We are broken, discontent and lost. However, as God has demonstrated throughout history, He is exceedingly proficient at pulling off His will through messed up people in pretty crazy and amazing ways. 

Our brokenness can be fixed. We can be healed. This can be accomplished this through learning about and practicing unseen warfare, which is ascetical theology. This is the foundation of the spiritual life which is the way to healing, and the way to healing is the path towards God. As Evagrius said, “People become better as they come nearer to God.” Therefore this is a spiritual and religious process of re-linking one’s soul to God, which ends in communion with God. Through God we can be fully restored.

Referring to the spiritual life in terms of war is a little intense for some. The modern spiritual enthusiast might prefer softer terms such as “self improvement” or “self help” or “self realization”. I prefer referring to this as unseen warfare because this explains with precision the active work that self improvement requires. It is “unseen” in that is takes place in the mind and heart of a person.

It is “warfare” because there is an intense conflict in ones thoughts, feelings, desires and urges during the process of change. It is a war, and it requires warfare—daily confrontation with the bad habits and patterns that we have established over time. This is what Jesus Christ was referring to when he said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matt 10:34). It may sound like a paradox, but as Aristotle said, “we must make war so that we may live in peace.”

Here we will explore this as taught in the Holy Sccriptures and the writings of the early Church fathers, desert monks and nuns and mystics throughout the ages. We will be delving into the writing of the great early spiritual writers and ascetics from both eastern and western Christian traditions as well as some more modern theologians and philosophers.

“You must never be afraid, if you are troubled by a flood of thoughts, that the enemy is too strong against you, that his attacks are never ending, that the war will last for your lifetime, and that you cannot avoid incessant downfalls of all kinds. Know that our enemies, with all their wiles, are in the hands of our divine Commander, our Lord Jesus Christ, for Whose honor and glory you are waging war. Since He himself leads you into battle, He will certainly not suffer your enemies to use violence against you and overcome you, if you do not yourself cross over to their side with your will. He will Himself fight for you and will deliver your enemies into your hands, when He wills and as He wills”
— Unseen Warfare, Lorenzo Scupoli (16th century)

Through the course of this website you will be learning the basics of spiritual warfare. Some will be theoretical but much will be practical. We will be learning about the following topics: the Goal of unseen warfare, who the enemy is, the location of the battlefield (the soul), the anatomy of the soul, the passions, how to overcome bad habits with good habits, the virtues and the vices (the long lists), how to think straight and overcome destructive thoughts, self examination, self control & self denial. We will also cover a brief survey of illumination & perfection which will include contemplation, uncreated light, hesychasm, dispassion & theosis, most of which may be largely out of the reach of us who live not in a cave.

The aim of this endeavor, that is undertaking unseen warfare, is not to find happiness or consolation in this life, nor is it to be viewed as a “self help” system. Although these are the natural outcome of success in spiritual warfare, they are not the actual end game in victory. As C.S. Lewis said,  

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”

–C.S. Lewis

The goal of unseen warfare is to reconnect with God. As outlined in the scriptures, this is a road of affliction and suffering. After all Jesus said that this for the modern American. Therefore, wanting to do this is a bit crazy. You have to be nuts to be excited about wanting to destroy yourself and all your desires. The American way is, “you deserve it” or “just do it!” or “You can do anything you want as long as it doesn’t hurt requires each of us to bear our own cross. This includes dying to our self and also rising again as a new man in Him.

The early Greek philosophers, and later, the Church saints and mystics, knew that desire and pleasure do not produce happiness, but instead produce suffering. So the ascetic is embracing suffering and even uniting it to Christ to overcome suffering. This makes no sense to the world. As stated eloquently by St. John Climacus in the Ladder of Divine Ascent:

“All who enter upon the good fight, which is hard and close, but also easy, must realize that they must leap into the fire, if they really expect the celestial fire to dwell in them.”

–St John Climacus

When choosing to engage in any level of ascetic practice, one thing is for certain. We will be challenged, tested and we will fail. In fact, we will fall on the battlefield very often–even daily and even multiple times a day. Failure is a major component of this battle. And because the culture and world we live in is going in the opposite way of asceticism, the battle is all the more difficult, and at times may seem impossible. But be of good cheer, because the Church Fathers knew it would be difficult for us. Here is an entry from the Arena, by the Russian mystic, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov. I’m pretty sure this is describing our time.

“Once the holy fathers of the Egyptian Skete were talking prophetically about the last generation. ‘What have we done?’ they said. One of them, the great Abba Ischyrion replied: ‘We have carried out the Commandments of God.’ They asked him: ‘And what will those who come after us do?’ Abba replied: ‘They will do half as much as we have done.’ They again asked him: ‘And what will those who come after them do?’ Abba Ischyrion replied: ‘They will not have any monastic activity whatever, but they will be permitted to have troubles and afflictions, and those of them who persevere will be superior to us and our fathers.’”

— St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

This website of teachings and quotes is a warriors manual or field guide that can be referenced for inspiration. The quotes from the scriptures, saints and mystics herein quickly empower and inspire. Their words are like swords that cut through the modern worldview of materialism, relativism and individualism. By God’s mercy and grace, we can destroy our broken self and build up a new person in Christ. This is the way of true purpose, peace and contentment that is only fully realised when a soul is purified and united to the Godhead.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication…”

— St. Paul or Tarsus

St. Hildegard’s ‘Five Beasts’ or Mirror for our Times

St. Hildegard’s ‘Five Beasts’ in a Nutshell

In 1150 St. Hildegard completed her first major work, Scivias (“Know the Ways of God”), a description of 26 highly symbolized visions that manifest the history of salvation. Soon after her death, inexplicably, Scivias and Hildegard fell into obscurity. It wasn’t until the late 20th-century that the work was rediscovered by Latin scholars looking for material for their students. The first complete English translation appeared in the 1990s.

In Book Three, Vision 11, Hildegard describes five symbolic animals as the forerunners of the Antichrist: a Fiery-Red Dog, Yellow Lion, Pale Horse, Black Pig, and Grey Wolf.

it is known as : Pentachronon sive speculum futurorum temporum (The Book of Five Times or Mirror of Future Times), an anthology of her prophecies compiled c.1220.

She explains that each one represents individual and brief historical periods that follow each other in succession. She also reveals how each animal symbolizes a particular evil that afflicts society during the corresponding period.

In thebook The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society,it starts with an examination the 20th-century with the intention of seeing how historians divided it up and then how they characterized the individual eras that the divisions would unveil. It turned out that there is general agreement among them; certain years marked major social and geopolitical changes in Western society: 1914, 1945, and 1991.

See also: Hildegard of Bingen: Viriditas – the greening power of the Divine –

Five distinct future epochs of Hildegard of Bingen:

Hildegard is more explicit in the final vision of the Book of Divine Works than in Scivias about distinct historical phases. She begins by recapitulating the final hymn of the Ordo Virtutum, which in itself presents a vision of history:
In the beginning all creatures were strong; in the midst of it flowers blossomed, then viridity slipped away. That fighting man [Christ] saw this and said: “I know this, but the golden number is not yet full. Look at my father’s mirror. I bear weakness in my body, my small ones tire. Now remember that the fullness which was there at the beginning ought not dry up. You resolved in yourself that your eye would never fail until you see my body full of jewels. For it tires me that all my limbs are object of derision. See Father, I show you my wounds. Therefore, people, bend your knees to your father so that he may stretch out his hand to you. As if identifying herself with a wounded Christ, Hildegard urges humankind to return to that fullness of health or viridity with which creation was once endowed. Hildegard unravels what this means by explaining that she sees history not as a march of unstinted progress since the incarnation, but as one of a new burst of vitality immediately after the incarnation, followed by a period of long decay, “in which viridity fell away from its strength and turned into womanly weakness.” The renewal of the papal schism in 1159 probably reinforced her pessimism about the future of the Church. She may be alluding here to either Paschal III (1164–8), the cardinal placed on the see of Rome by Rainald of Dassel, archbishop of Cologne (1159–67), imperial chancellor and vicar for all Italy, or his successor as Antipope, Calixtus III (1168–78). Hildegard then examines various historical periods, first describing the major apostles: the mild-mannered Matthew, the sceptical Thomas, the zealous Paul, the gentle James, brother of the Lord, the wise and strong Peter, and the virtuous and chaste John. There had been a gradual growth in iustitia and honesty of behaviour since the time of the Flood until the incarnation and the time of the apostles.After the time of the apostles, however, the sun became darkened and iustitia has weakened. She blames in particular “a judge of royal name” as bad as Nero and other tyrants. From a quite separate text, we know that she is referring here to the Emperor Henry IV. Hildegard assumes the voice of Christ in crying out about the loss of viridity in Christ’s body as if it were her own. She does not include any image of ecclesia as the Bride of Christ, as in Scivias. Perhaps out of disillusion with the formal structure of the Church, she now transferred her attention to the suffering of Christ himself. In the Liber Divinorum Operum, she concentrates on the theme that iustitia had fallen away from what it was in the past. The age of the dog began with the judge she mentions (Henry IV) and continued until God struck down another ruler “of a spiritual name, with the wisdom and cunning of a serpent,” perhaps Rainald of Dassel (d. 1167). She excoriates the ravaging wolves, dressed in ecclesiastical robes who carry arms, rob the poor, and plunder what does not belong to them. Then follows the age of the lion, a time of war, when armies will kill each other and many cities will be destroyed, although this will be followed by a time of justice and peace before final judgment, presumably the time of the millennium. Her metaphors are those of natural health, the earth abounding with the “viridity of fruitfulness.

The age of the horse, however, symbolizes the onset of changeability. The armies of the heathen will attack Christendom. She anticipates a radical fragmentation of the Roman imperium that can never be repaired. People will follow other teachers and other archbishops.Picking up the claims of Scripture, she anticipates that both sons and daughters shall prophesy (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17), while there will also be many heresies before the emergence of the Antichrist in the time of the pig.

By identifying these wild animals with specific periods in history, Hildegard encourages her readers to think much more clearly than in Scivias that these present times are part of an order that must pass away before ultimate judgment. She was no longer afraid of speaking out about the wrong directions that had been taken in the history of the Church. She is also more specific than in Scivias about what the Antichrist is teaching: his arguments against the precepts of chastity, which she says will deceive mankind.

Only through the sending of Enoch and Elijah will the trickery of the evil one be overcome and people will be won back to God. All of these prophecies serve to warn humanity that it must return to the moral righteousness, the iustitia revealed by Christ. Hildegard sees the wounds in Christ’s body as manifestations of the injustice which still endures in society. In Scivias, she had preserved a more traditional image of the Church as a Virgin Bride that had been soiled by vice and corruption. Her emphasis on the suffering of Christ in the Book of Divine Works reflects her broader interest in that work with the need to restore the health of the human body. She is convinced that injustice will eventually be exposed and the son of perdition defeated. Hildegard concludes the Book of Divine Works by referring back to the frailty of her own body, which she sees as weak and frail, animated only by the Holy Spirit to give instruction to the Church.Her hope for human history is that it moves towards a restoration of that vitality in her own body for which she longed. The Book of Divine Works is one of the great texts of the twelfth century, a vision of the working of the world and the human person. It may be misleading to describe it as a vision of history. Hildegard saw her mission as one of promoting moral reform rather than of arguing for social revolution. Nonetheless she did become much more articulate than she had been in Scivias about the extent of corruption within the Church after she had established herself at Rupertsberg. By the time she finished the Book of Divine Works in 1174, when she was seventy-six years old, she had lost none of her imaginative powers, but she was more pessimistic about the future than when she had started on her prophetic career.

Five distinct future epochs between her own time in the twelfth century and the Eschaton, or End Times: all labelled, in veiled metaphors, under animal signs:

(1) The Age of the Fiery Hound (2) The Age of the Yellow Lion (3) The Age of the Pale Horse (4) The Age of the Black Pig and (5) The Age of the Grey Wolf.

first, she avoided identifying “the day or the hour,” which is good because only false prophets do that. It might Seem like her timeline can be exactly fixed on the historical timeline and thus come up with a date…but we actually can’t do that without speculating.

Second: speaking of speculating, specifically about how to fix her timeline to the historical one, I’m about to try to do that very thing. But keep in mind that this is just fun speculation.

Third: the Church never says that private revelations are definitely true. So don’t take St. Hildegard’s vision as gospel truth, nor speculative attempts (like mine below) to fix it to certain points on a timeline. This is all theory…not necessarily true.

Now for my attempt to Speculatively affix this Not-infallible vision to a timeline:

The Fiery Hound age might be the 1100s. The Albigensians were forerunners of the antichrist and could be the perverse mercenaries of whom St. Hildegard speaks. The corrupt secular leaders could include Emperor Henry V, who persecuted the Church over the investiture controversy, King Henry II, who wanted to make the Church an arm of the State and martyred St. Thomas Becket in the process, and Emperor Frederick I, who persecuted Pope Alexander III. The corrupt spiritual leaders and pope could include the many English clergy who cooperated with King Henry II, the many other European clergy who cooperated with Emperors Henry V and Frederick I, Pope Paschal II, who compromised with Henry V over the issue of lay investiture, and Pope Celestine II, who compromised with France when the king there tried to illegally appoint a bishop.

The Yellow Lion age might be the 1500-1600s. The “time of chastisement and disendowment of Church” could be the Protestant Revolt. In England, Northern Germany, and the Netherlands, the Church was disendowed and its buildings were transferred to protestants. Catholics were persecuted in these territories and forced underground. “Tempus utile” and “tempus virile” seem to mean “time of usefulness” and “time of manliness,” and there were many great saints during these ages who made great use of the time to convert the protestants back to the Faith, institute the Catholic counter-reformation, and oversee the Council of Trent. This could be the “renewal of spiritual strength” St. Hildegard mentions. The “conversion of pagans” could be from the missionaries to South America who converted the continent to Christ, to North America where Mexico and Florida were converted, and Asia where Catholic missionaries such as St. Francis Xavier had great success in Japan and India.

The Pale Horse age might be the 1700-1800s. “Church polluted” could be a reference to the time right before the French Revolution, when France had many atheist bishops and almost the whole clergy subscribed to the anti-papal demands of the French. The 1800s also saw the heresies of Americanism and its child Modernism threaten the Church in America and some of its poison has continued to this day. “Persecution of Christians by heathens” could be a reference to the Revolution in France, the No Nothing party in America, the Kulturkampf in Germany, the Unification of Italy, and the Boxer Rebellion in China. “Christians saved by miracle and conversion of heathens” could be a reference to Lourdes and the restoration of Catholicism in France with Napoleon (who was a persecutor overall, but did re-legalize Catholicism…his successors in France were a bit better and restored Catholicism more fully). “Papacy and Empire dispersed” could refer to the dissolution of Holy Roman Empire, the kidnapping of the pope by Napoleon, and the annexation of the Papal States by Italy. “Church returns to pristine discipline” could refer to the reigns of Blessed Pius IX and Leo XIII, who also brought back the pope’s “spiritual strength” in part through their widely-read and influential encyclicals. The Church in Europe began to reattain dominance under them.

The Black Pig age could be the 1900-2000s. “Reign of heretics and forerunners of Antichrist” could refer to rampant atheism, modernism, and protestantism. “many Christians desert orthodoxy” could refer to the gains evangelicalism has made and cafeteria Catholicism within the Church. “moral decay and spiritual decline” could refer to sexual revolution with its fruits, rampant abortion, contraception, sexual deviance, and triumphalist hedonism. We are still in the 2000s, so we might be waiting for the “signs of the End.”

look also Time and Space in the Symbolism of Abel and Cain

  • The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society

An another cycle is described by Reid TurnerThe Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society.   The cycle is as a mirror of the great one but on a shorter time ( see Timeline of Cycles by René Guénon and Gaston Georgel)In 1929 René Guénon made the breakthrough in decoding the correct duration of the Manvantara and the duration of the 4 Yugas. That work can be found in his book Traditional Forms and Cosmic Cycles”. René Guénon explained in the aforementioned book how he arrived at the decoding of the real duration of the Yugas and of the Manvantara. He did not claim some secret source or divine inspiration, but rather he exposes his logical deduction based on elements of several different Traditions, and with that process demonstrates the complementary nature of the teachings of those Traditions. The end result of the breakthrough decoding, whose argumentation is too long to be duplicated here, is that:…Read More

In 1150 St. Hildegard completed her first major work, Scivias (“Know the Ways of God”), a description of 26 highly symbolized visions that manifest the history of salvation. Soon after her death, inexplicably, Scivias and Hildegard fell into obscurity. It wasn’t until the late 20th-century that the work was rediscovered by Latin scholars looking for material for their students. The first complete English translation appeared in the 1990s.In Book Three, Vision 11, Hildegard describes five symbolic animals as the forerunners of the Antichrist: a Fiery-Red Dog, Yellow Lion, Pale Horse, Black Pig, and Grey Wolf. She explains that each one represents individual and brief historical periods that follow each other in succession. She also reveals how each animal symbolizes a particular evil that afflicts society during the corresponding period.

In the book The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society, it  starts with an examination the 20th-century with the intention of seeing how historians divided it up and then how they characterized the individual eras that the divisions would unveil. It turned out that there is general agreement among them; certain years marked major social and geopolitical changes in Western society: 1914, 1945, and 1991.

Thus the century can be divided into four eras: 1870-1914; 1914-1945; 1945-1991 ; 1991-present. (1870 was the Franco-Prussian War which changed the map of Europe and inaugurated the secularization of western Europe). Consulting a wide range of historians, some of whom were friendly to religion and others not, the characterizations of those historical periods that emerged actually matched Hildegard’s description of the specific social evils that were represented by the first four of her five beasts.

The following is a very condensed presentation of those correlations. The first one was difficult to figure out; Hildegard’s description of the era was brief and somewhat vague. The others, as you will discover, are quite obvious.

The Fiery Red Dog (1870-1914)

Historians like to call this the “Age of Imperialism”; the empires of Europe were at their zenith. From a sociological perspective, however, the theme of the era was the exploitation of the working poor, a problem Karl Marx was determined to fix. His ideology was spreading like wildfire of which the popes of the era would issue many warnings and condemnations. Pope Leo XIII, in his famous encyclical, Rerum Novarum, declared of the problem of social injustice “…there is no question which has taken a deeper hold on the public mind.” If you read the encyclical, you’ll notice that it is primarily a condemnation of communism.Here’s how Hildegard described the era:

“One is like a dog, fiery but not burning; for that era will produce people with a biting temperament, who seem fiery in their own estimation, but do not burn with the justice of God.”*

The key to understanding this is to focus on the word “justice”. “Fiery” is to be understood as passionate, similar to a common English usage of the word. We are told that during this era characters will emerge who are passionate for justice, but not really “on fire” because it is not the justice of God, but their own form of justice. It is not difficult to make a case that she was referring to injustice toward the working poor by the upper classes and the consequent rise of communism. The history and literature of the era testify to the centrality of social injustice for understanding what was happening during the period. (Zola, Hardy, etc.)

The Yellow Lion (1914-1945)

Most historians connect the two wars and call it something like “The Age of Catastrophe”, or “The Age of Total War”, an era dominated by wars, genocides, military dictatorships, political prisons, religious persecutions, etc. Historians struggle to understand how the Christian nations of Europe permitted it to happen.Hildegard describes the era as follows:

“Another is like a yellow lion; for this era will endure martial people, who instigate many wars but do not think of the righteousness of God in them; for those kingdoms will begin to weaken and tire, as the yellow color shows.”

“Martial” or “war mongering” does not overstate what kind of people dominated much of this era; nationalism and communism were two sides of the same coin. As the era came to a close, the fall of the Nazis and their allies proved to be a spectacular exhibition of self-delusion and cowardice.

The Pale Horse (1945-1991)

To historians these years are known as the “Cold War” era. Most focus their attention on the many conflicts, proxy wars, intrigue, etc. between the two superpowers. Others with more sociological interests will examine the student riots and unrest, assassinations, and the changing perspectives on human sexuality. In regard to the latter, one can think of two influential documents produced during the era that reveal the dramatic changes that took place with regard to sex, The Kinsey Reports (1948), and Humanae Vitae (1968).Hildegard describes the era as follows:

“Another is like a pale horse; for those times will produce people who drown themselves in sin, and in their licentious and swift moving pleasures neglect all virtuous activities. And then these kingdoms will lose their ruddy strength and grow pale with the fear of ruin, and their hearts will be broken.”

The key word is “licentious”, meaning sexual debauchery. Thanks to artificial birth-control the purpose of sex changed from procreation to pleasure. Like a healthy horse turning sickly pale, the damaging consequences of the sexual revolution on western society began to reveal themselves in the 1980s. Statistics on abortion, divorce, single-parent families, suicide, STDs (including AIDS), etc., all exploded as the era came to an end.

The Black Pig (1991-present)

It is an open question as to how future historians will view the West since 1991 and what sort of titles will be used to characterize the period. From the experience of the last quarter century one might be tempted to call it “The Age of Globalization”. The dominant themes have been free trade, elimination of borders and for much of Europe, a common market, passport, and currency. This title also suits the continuing migrations of millions to Europe from the Middle East and Africa.

Note that Hildegard states clearly that she is referring only to the era’s “leaders” in her description. The generation of leaders since the 1990s have not been, in general, the same type of people as their predecessors. Today’s leaders tend to be pro-abortion and pro-homosexual marriage, imposing many laws, like Obergefell vs. Hodges, that are contrary to Christian teaching.

Hildegard writes:

“…[T]his epoch will have leaders who blacken themselves in misery and wallow in the mud of impurity. They will infringe the divine law by fornication and other like evils and will plot to diverge from the holiness of God’s commands”

As the agenda of political correctness, gender theory, homosexuality, race, etc., gradually became more radicalized in the higher educational system through the 70s and 80s, naturally so have our leaders who were educated in those times. Think of Clinton, Blair, Obama, Trudeau, Cameron, Holland, Merkel, etc.; think also of the thousands of their political appointees, including judges, that further the cause of political correctness, the goals of which “infringe the divine law”. Historian Paul Johnson has described it in terms of social engineering and referred to it as “the salient evil of our time”.

The Grey Wolf

The arrival of the era of the Grey Wolf will ultimately prove whether it was coincidental that the preceding four historical eras matched Hildegard’s descriptions of them. But it is important to acknowledge, however, that Hildegard’s descriptions are not interchangeable with these eras. Historians may vary on the importance of the sexual revolution, but they would not place it in the other eras, it belongs to the Cold War years. Likewise, outside of the era of the Yellow Lion, the other three eras were relatively peaceful. Social engineering was being practiced by the Soviet Union and the Fascists, but it does not define the period of 1914-1945, malice and militarism do. Moreover, since the four follow in the proper order; it strikes me as unlikely that these correlations were accidental.

It is interesting that Hildegard goes into far more detail regarding the Grey Wolf then the other eras. Essentially, three main things will define the era:

  • Civil unrest and revolutions with their cause being economic inequality.
  • Physical persecution of the Church by a specific group of people.
  • A powerful spiritual revival in the Church.

She also adds that it is when the Church will be “…replete with the full number of her children.” The Church’s mission to evangelize will have been completed.

The Beasts and the Symbolism of the Ropes

Each beast represents a brief historical period (see here for the background). You will notice that there is something coming out of each of the beast’s mouth. Hildegard describes these as ropes that are attached to the top of a mountain. The mountain, she tells us is meant to symbolize a specific social evil that is characteristic of the individual historical era.

She explains that the ropes represent the attachment of the people of that era to its particular social evil, and that this attachment would be evident from the beginning of the era to its end. This is very important in helping us to discern whether the era in question matches the symbolism of the beast. Lots of things happen during a given historical period, but not things that continue from the beginning to the end.

All the ropes are black except the one that comes from the mouth of the wolf, which is partly black and partly white. For the length of the ropes indicates how far people are willing to go in their stubborn pleasures; but though the one that symbolizes greed is partly black and puts forth many evils, yet some will come from that direction who are white with justice. And these latter will hasten to resist the son of perdition by ardent wanders, as My servant Job indicates about the righteous doer of justice, when he says:

Words of Job:

The innocent shall be raised up against the hypocrite, and the just shall hold to his path; and to clean hands he shall add strength” [Job 17:8-9]. Which is to say:
One who is innocent of bloody deeds, murder and fornication and the like, will be aroused like a burning coal against one who deceives in his works. How? This latter speaks of honey but deals in poison, and calls a man friend but stifles him like an enemy; he speaks sweet words but has malice within him, and talks blandly to his friend and then slays him from ambush. But one who has a rod with which to drive away vile brutes from himself walks in the light of the shining sun on the righteous path of his heart; he is raised up in the sight of God as a bright spark and a clear light and a flaming torch. And so, bearing in himself the strongest and purest works, he puts them on like a strong breastplate and a sharp sword, and drives away vice and wins virtue.

“For, from the time of the persecution the faithful will suffer from the son of the Devil until the testimony of the two witnesses, Enoch and Elijah ( Khidr in Islam), who spurned the earthly and worked toward heavenly desires, faith in the doctrines of the Church will be in doubt. People will say to each other with great sadness, “What is this they say about Jesus? Is it true or not?”

The king shall rejoice in God; all they that swear by Him shall be praised; for the mouth of them that speak wicked things is stopped” [Psalm 62.:12.]. Which is to say: The profound knowledge of the beautiful human language that gives voice to the will and disposition of God is a great measure of human stature; and it makes music at the altar of God, for it knows Him. And when the hissing and gaping of the Devil, which taints human minds with shame, is forsaken in the time of desperation, the blessed will be praised in minds that sing, and they will make a flowing path of words to the pure fountain of the mighty Ruler.

The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard and Revelation 17: The Beast with Seven Heads

beasts2

St Hildegard’s vision of the last days is a description of five symbolic beasts that represent five unique historical periods that immediately precede the time of the Antichrist. The book, The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society, argues that four of the five periods have already occurred in our recent history. If the book’s theories are convincing, then we can look for references to that same future period of time in the prophetic literature of the Bible and compare.

babylon4

One such reference is the well-known apocalyptic passage in the Book of Revelation which includes a description of the infamous “Whore of Babylon”. Unfortunately, the book of Revelation is very difficult to interpret, and Revelation 17:1-14, which references the Whore of Babylon and the beast with seven heads, is especially difficult to understand. But it can be interpreted, and often is among Catholic theologians, as referencing the time leading up to the Antichrist. To do so requires the premise that the book of Revelation relates to the future and has specific information about the end times.

BIBLICAL TYPOLOGY

A common method of interpreting Revelation among Catholic theologians is typological. Biblical typology is the study of words, events, symbols, etc. that have a broader meaning then their immediate biblical context. Numbers connected to events are the most common “types” found in the Bible; there were forty days of rain, forty years in the Sinai wilderness, forty days fasting in the desert etc. It tells us that these events are connected or somehow foreshadow each other. When a passage in Revelation can be connected to an event or series of events which happened in the first century, they’re also intended to be viewed as foreshadowing events into the future. Catholic biblical scholar Peter Williamson, STD., in his popular commentary on Revelation prefers the typological approach to interpreting the book’s message:

“…[U]nderstanding the book’s first-century historical context is essential for interpreting it correctly. However, it is also clear that Revelation claims to depict the Church’s trials leading up to the return of Christ. …In John’s view, the spiritual dynamics of the final trial are already present in the temptations and persecutions that confront the Church in his day. From our vantage point centuries later, we can see that the prophet John saw the end of history through the lens of the trial facing the first-century churches of Asia in the Roman Empire. Like other eschatological [end-time] biblical prophecies, those in Revelation seem not to distinguish the author’s day from that of history’s end.”

Utilizing this approach in interpreting Revelation 17, we have a clear biblical reference to the time leading up to the Antichrist that parallels Hildegard’s vision:

Revelation 17:1-6

Then one of the seven angels who were holding the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come here. I will show you the judgment on the great harlot who lives near the many waters. The kings of the earth have had intercourse with her, and the inhabitants of the earth became drunk on the wine of her harlotry.” Then he carried me away in spirit to a deserted place where I saw a woman seated on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names, with seven heads and ten horns. The woman was wearing purple and scarlet and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls. She held in her hand a gold cup that was filled with the abominable and sordid deeds of her harlotry. On her forehead was written a name, which is a mystery, “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth I saw that the woman was drunk on the blood of the holy ones and on the blood of the witnesses to Jesus.

Revelation 17:7-14

When I saw her I was greatly amazed. The angel said to me, “Why are you amazed? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, the beast with the seven heads and the ten horns. The beast that you saw existed once but now exists no longer. It will come up from the abyss and is headed for destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world shall be amazed when they see the beast, because it existed once but exists no longer, and yet it will come again. Here is a clue for one who has wisdom. The seven heads represent seven hills upon which the woman sits. They also represent seven kings: five have already fallen, one still lives, and the last has not yet come, and when he comes he must remain only a short while. The beast that existed once but exists no longer is an eighth king, but really belongs to the seven and is headed for destruction. The ten horns that you saw represent ten kings who have not yet been crowned; they will receive royal authority along with the beast for one hour. They are of one mind and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will fight with the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and king of kings, and those with him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

In the first passage the angel introduces John to specific apocalyptic images and characters. In the second, the angel explains who and what they represent. The explanation, however is complex and contains what seem like riddles. While there is no clear consensus among Catholic interpreters of these passages, it seems evident that the beast with the seven heads refers to the Antichrist, or at least the “eighth king” does. He  is referred to “The beast that existed once but exists no longer is an eighth king, but really belongs to the seven and is headed for destruction“. This is the same beast that was introduced in Rev. 13:1-18 and will be destroyed by Christ (“the Lamb“).

The reference to the seven kings representing the “seven hills” would clearly have been understood by St. John as Rome, since it was commonly known as the city on seven hills, the angel explained that each hill represents a king, connecting it to the seven-headed beast. A coin minted by Emperor Vespasian depicts the goddess Roma resting on seven hills just as the image of the harlot did. So we have the rise of the Antichrist, who will deceive the nations in the last days and be destroyed by Christ, being presented in connection with the Roman Empire during St. John’s day. From a biblical typological viewpoint, the angel is describing the last days using the analogous history of early imperial Rome.

THE SEVEN KINGS

augustus
Augustus

The seven kings represent the first seven Roman Emperors, beginning with Augustus (27 BC-14 AD) (Julius Caesar was not considered emperor). Five of which, the angel tells John, have “fallen”. Following Augustus, they would have included Emperors Tiberius (14-37), Gaius (“Caligula”) (37-41), Claudius (31-54), and Nero (54-68). The next one, the “one who still is”, would have been Emperor Vespasian (69-79), who seized the throne during “the year of four emperors”. The seventh, Titus (79-81), whose reign lasted only two years, is the one who, “when he comes he must remain only a short while“.

The angel further helps John understand the beast’s connection to the Roman empire by referring repeatedly to an eighth king but who is really one of the seven who apparently dies and then comes back to life: it existed once but exists no longer, and yet it will come again“. John would have understood this to be a reference to a much-believed popular myth in the first century that the much-hated Emperor Nero, after being declared and enemy of the people by the senate and committing suicide by stabbing himself, nevertheless survived and went into hiding in Parthia with the intention of returning and re-establishing himself on the throne. Historians of this period are familiar with this and refer to it as the “Nero Redivivus” legend.

EMPEROR NERO

“Count the numerical values of the letters in Nero’s name, and in ‘murdered his own mother’: you will find their sum is the same.”

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Nero

This is a typical piece of Roman graffiti during Nero’s reign as reported by Roman historian Suetonius in his book, The Twelve Caesars. It refers to Greek numerology. In Hebrew numerology (gematria), however, his name adds up to a different number — 666. He did indeed murder his mother, as well as kick his pregnant wife to death when she complained about him coming home late.`He also may have invented homosexual marriage, as on two occasions he publicly married his male lover (Nero dressed as the bride). What would be most significant is that he was the first Roman emperor to systematically persecute Christians, including the murder of John’s brother disciples, Saints Peter and Paul. This makes Nero a “type” of the Antichrist.

In The Annals of Imperial Rome, the Roman historian Tacitus reports that Nero, who was widely suspected of instigating the burning of Rome and performing songs on his private stage while fire engulfed the city, looked around for scapegoats; this is when the persecutions began. The emperor chose to blame the “notoriously depraved Christians” (Tacitus notes that this is what Christians were popularly referred to as). Tacitus did not like Christians, who he said were followers of a “deadly superstition”, and who engaged in “degraded and shameful practices”, claiming also that “…the human race detested them.” His personal lack of sympathy is striking:

Their deaths were made farcical. Dressed in wild animals’ skins, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or made into torches to be ignited after dark as substitutes for daylight. …Despite their guilt as Christians, and the ruthless punishment it deserved, the victims were pitied. For it was felt that they were being sacrificed to one man’s brutality rather than to the national interest.”

The persecutions ended after Nero’s death but resumed in the latter part of the reign of Domitian.

EMPEROR DOMITIAN, THE EIGHTH KING

domitian5
Domitian

After the brief reign of Titus, identified by the angel as the seventh king, his brother, Domitian took his place. Most of the information about his persecution of Christians comes from early Christian sources. Note the reference to Nero in this quote from Eusebius of Cesarea’s History of the Church:

“Many were the victims of Domitian’s appalling cruelty. At Rome great numbers of men distinguished by birth and attainments were for no reason at all banished from the country and their prosperity confiscated. Finally, he showed himself the successor of Nero in enmity and hostility to God. He was, in fact, the second to organize persecution against us.” (Book 3; Sec.17)

Suetonius explains that in the later part of Domitian’s reign his treasury had run short of money. This was when the extreme persecution began; he even passed a death sentence on anybody descended from the Davidic line. Tertullian, in  his most famous work, Apolologeticus, also compares Domitian to Nero:

“Nero was the first emperor who wreaked his fury on the blood of Christians, when our religion was just springing up in Rome. But we even glory in being first dedicated to destruction by such a monster. …Domitian too had tried the same experiment as Nero, with a large share of Nero’s cruelty.” (Chap. 5)

Identifying Domitian with Nero was not uncommon at the time, but it does not exactly fit with the words of the angel who identified the eighth king as the same person as one of the seven (Nero). But this is typical of the biblical typologies in Revelation. Professor Williamson, who we quoted earlier, stated that apocalyptic literature in the bible is “…the future addressed through parallels with the present”. But notes that those parallels will not and can not be perfect. We know that the Antichrist will try and mock the death and resurrection of Christ through a deception, after which, the Church will endure its final persecution. This is reflected in the Nero-like, but more expanded, persecutions of Domitian, the last and most brutal of the kings represented by the seven headed beast. Yet it is reported by Eusebius that he relented and stopped the persecutions; again, he was a “type”, a foreshadowing of the Antichrist.

THE FIVE BEASTS OF ST. HILDEGARD

It was revealed to St. John that the last days would resemble the first days of the Roman Empire, its first eight emperors, all of whom are part of the same apocalyptic beast that represents the person of the Antichrist. St. Hildegard’s vision of five beasts appears to correspond to the first five heads of the seven-headed beast, the …”five who have fallen”, in three ways:

  1. They both represent five successive and unique (as well as brief) historical periods that precede the Antichrist and in some way prepare his way. Chroniclers of Rome report how the five emperors ruled in distinct ways.
  2. Both periods of rule (the five beasts and the seven kings) were heavily influenced by evil and under the influence of the spirit of the Antichrist.
  3. In the fifth period of each series (the reign of Nero and the era of the Grey Wolf) a period of physical persecution of Christians occurs that would end, but then later resume in a more determined way.

There is dissimilarity, and it is in the numbers: In Revelation there’s one beast with seven heads, one of which is the person of the Antichrist, versus Hildegard’s five separate beasts that precede the person of the Antichrist. However, because biblical typology is not always meant as an exact blueprint, but to only foreshadow future events, the difference may not be relevant. Just as past history can be organized and divided in different ways by different historians, those with the prophetic gift might report the same series of events in the future in different ways as well. Also, and this is an important distinction, Hildegard’s visions are not typological. She does not see historical events that foreshadow future events, but, using symbolic imagery which she carefully explains the meaning of, she sees aspects the future exactly as they will happen.

In addition, in later chapters of Scivias, (book 3, vision 11), Hildegard provides quite a lot of detail about the rise to power of the Antichrist, how he works his deceptions on “…those whose names were not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life” (Rev. 13:8), and apparently convinces the ten kings of the world to cede him their authority. It is evident that this will take an unspecified amount of time and will occur after the end of the era of the Grey Wolf. It is worth noting here that as Roman Emperor, Vespasian formally changed the laws regarding succession, thus allowing his son Domitian to become emperor. The Antichrist will likely have those that also pave the way for him to rise to power. There will undoubtedly be a period of time that elapses between the Grey Wolf and the rise of the Antichrist.

CONCLUSION

This represents the results of a typological interpretation of the passage in Revelation 17; yet there are other possible interpretations. I would highly recommend Peter Williamson’s Commentary, Revelation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015) in which he discusses them. While there is not a perfect correspondence between the period leading up to the Antichrist in both Revelation and St. Hildegard, there are no material inconsistencies. The first of the two periods of persecutions revealed by St. John as envisioned by St. Hildegard begin sometime during the era of the Grey Wolf. In my analysis of her vision, this era is not very far off. Nero’s finally coming back.

  • Patinir, Pieter Aertsen, Brueghel were living in the same period and try to find a way to show us what was wrong in their society: Vanity of earthly knowledge see landscape of the soul

In Revelation Vanity is represented by the Whore of Babylon. On earth this woman here represents all the pride of the world, all the temptations that we are constantly confronted with in our daily lives and to which we often succumb or the woman with the venom of the earthly senses (the serpent), but nature’s love (the earth) comes to her assistance.

In Chapter 13 the beast from the sea is depraved evil come to kill all virtues in the human heart. It derives its strength from the dragon, the poison of earthly wisdom, while the beast with two horns like a lamb and speaking like a dragon is hypocritical earthly holiness in the flesh which prevents the simple soul from’praying to God (the mark on the right hand or the forehead). The number of the beast is the whole of humanity.

Babylón is interpreted as the confusion of earthly senses; the Whore is false earthly wisdom, her golden jewels hypocritical holiness and the cup fuIl of abominations the carnal appetites.

The beast with seven heads is the evil caused by earthly knowledge and wisdom and its rule on earth; its seven heads are the doctrines of earthly wisdom and the seven kings are personal vindictiveness under the guise of holiness.

  • Dulle Griet is the model of the Rebellion of modern man against his soul, a model of his Anger. How can she  find  a way to calm her anger?

She can looks in  the mirror and see herself, making more “selfies”, so  seeing more anger as the portait of vanity of Hans Memling shows us. The lady see only more vanity.  The message of Memling is in his Triptych of Earthly Vanity and Divine Salvation  focuses on the idea of “Memento mori,” a Latin phrase that translates to “Remember your mortality.” Memling’s triptych shockingly contrasts the beauty, luxury and vanity of the mortal earth with images of death and hell.

In the time of BreugheI it was the message that  Vanity was not the solution. see: Nothing Good without Pain: Hans Memling”s earthly Vanity and  Divine Salvation

The scene of “Babylon, the Great Prostitute”: symbol of all abominations,  From the tapisseries of the Apocalypse of Angers;She is seen styling her long hair,which in the Middle Ages is a sign of prostitution . This prostitute has a pretty face and  she is looking in a mirror … but the mirror reflects another face, a great ugliness! This is the reality of the soul of this prostitute because the mirror is a symbol of truth and it is also the sign of the heart.She is represented sitting on a hill watered by four rivers: “These waters are peoples, crowds, nations, languages”.  She looks at herself in a mirror but the reflection that it sends back to her is that of a very ugly face (image of her soul).“On her forehead was written a name, a mystery: Babylon the great, the mother of immorality and abominations of the earth. And I saw this woman drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses of Jesus … “”And the woman you saw is the great city that has kingship over the kings of the earth. »Having seen these details, we are now informed: She is the great prostitute of Babylon. Babylon means “the door of the Gods”. It is said in the Bible that Babylon was previously a golden cup in the hands of Yahweh but it fell and became the sign of pride. This woman here represents all the pride of the world, all the temptations that we are constantly confronted with in our daily lives and to which we often succumb. In the days of John, the seven hills watered by four rivers obviously refer to the city of Rome and the pride of this imperial Rome which imposes its yoke everywhere in the world.There is a sign of hope anyway in the tapestry with this angel with orange wings, the color of light and pointed towards the sky. He leads Jean by taking him by the hand … indicating that we are never alone. In the background, Hennequin of Bruges has also, once again, placed the bivium of Pythagoras, this sign which leaves us free to choose the path of good or the path of evil.

“The letter” y “represents the symbol of moral life. The question of good and evil arises before the free will of man: two roads open before him: the left, the thick branch of the “y”, is wide and easy to access, but leads to the chasm from shame, that of the right, the thin branch, is a steep and painful path, but at the summit of which one finds repose in honor and glory. “

Man in Sapphire Blue or The Trinity: A Study in Compassion.

The Man in Sapphire Blue is from the book Scivias (1151)
Hildegard was 42 years old in 1142, when this, her first book of illuminations, was started.

Hildegard describes: “A most quiet light and in it burning with flashing fire the form of a man in sapphire blue.”  The blue colors and the manner in which the man holds out his hands, extended toward the world, denote compassion and healing. Hildegard describes the Trinity as “One light, three persons, One God. The Father is brightness and the brightness has a flashing forth and in the flashing forth is fire and these three are one.” The Father is a living light, the Son, a flash of light and the Spirit is fire.. The fire of the Holy spirit binds all things together, illustrated as an energy field surrounding the man. Symbolized as the golden cord of the universe, the Holy Spirit streams through eternity creating a web of interconnectivity of all being and of divinity with creation and humanity (reminiscent of an East Indian cosmology using cord and thread imagery).

Hildegard’s theology of Trinity is about divine compassion entering the world. Jesus the Christ is the revelation of the compassion of God, the incarnation of divine compassion. The Hebrew word for Womb is compassion. But we do not merely look at a mandala (ancient circular image of the universe) – we are transformed by it. This mandala draws us into the energy of divine compassion, it connects us with the Christ, the Blue Man, such that we realize our own identity in Him who is the compassion for the universe.  If we don’t hold our healing capacity in unity, the entire rope (universe) unravels.

May the words and visions of Hildegard speak to your sense of divine receptivity. And may you wonder with reverence at the precious gift of this amazing, sacred cosmos and our Oneness with all of Life.

Giotto – last judgment Padua Arena

Panic

By Eden Prime

I have chosen to look at the word ‘Panic’ through the subject of The Last Judgement, during which the Second Coming of Christ occurs, where God judges humanity for the final time. The subject is found in all Canonical gospels, particularly the apocalyptic sections of the Bible. Traditionally, The Last Judgement will occur after the dead are resurrected and a person’s soul is reunited with its own body. Christ will then come, along with all the angels, and each person’s relationship with God will be judged. Read here

Legends of the End;prophecies of the End Times, Antichrist, Apocalypse, & Messiah From Eight Religious Traditions

Ever since the advent of nuclear weapons, biological warfare and irreversible degradation of the environment, we have all been facing the End of Days. Whether the world ends tomorrow or lasts for centuries, this is the ‘climate’ of our times. We are all more or less familiar with the Christian apocalypse—but what do the other world religions have to say about the Last Days? This book persents eight Legends of the End: Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hopi and Lakota. When these stories are placed side-by-side, great differences and amazing similarities appear—similarities both in broad outlines and in minute details. Every spiritual tradition must include both a story of the first Beginning and a myth of the final End—the end of the earth, of the universe, of time itself. In relation to this End, the secular worldview limits us to the perspective of Fear: the fear of the end of life, the dissolution of matter. But in the Spiritual worldview, the fear of material disaster is swallowed up in the unveiling of eternal Truth. Apocalypse means ‘revelation’. Read here

King Charles: Harmony – A New Way of Looking at Our World

For the first time, His Royal Highness King Charles III, shares his views on how mankind’s most pressing modern challenges are rooted in our disharmony with nature. In the vein of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and Van Jones’ Green Collar Economy, Prince Charles presents the compelling case that solutions to our most dire crises—from climate change to poverty—lie in regaining a balance with the world around us. Here download

  • Sacred Web Conference 2006

The theme of the Conference was introduced by HRH The Prince of Wales in a 16-minute long, specially-videotaped address for the Conference. The video and text of the address are found here: Prince Charles’ speech and Prince Charles’ video

see also Conference Summary

Look here to see the relation of King Charles III with Islam and Sufism

King Charles on his relation with Martin Lings (courtesy of a facebook friend):

“One of the great privileges of my life has been to know Dr. Martin Lings, whom I first met through my Patronage of the Temenos Academy which, in turn, came about through an introduction to Dr. Kathleen Raine by Sir Laurens Van der Post. See SAN PEOPLE: THE WORLD MOST ANCIENT RACE.

All three of these remarkable people have provided untold inspiration and support not only to myself, but to many others besides. Thus their absence from the scene makes the world a poorer place – poorer for the fact that they constantly reminded us of that invisible dimension in our existence which forms the underlying pattern of all manifestation and which has been so cruelly and brutally abused in our age.

In Dr Lings’ case, he saw beneath the surface of things and helped us to penetrate the veil behind which lies the sacred meaning to so many of life’s mysteries. He helped us to look beyond the literal and to comprehend that there are many layers of meaning within the hidden universe – something which science is now at last beginning to recognize through the acknowledgement of an inherent order and harmony to the world about us and within us.

I used to look forward so much to what became an annual visit from Martin Lings when I had a chance to explore with him some of his inner discoveries, whether in the world of Shakespeare or of Sufism. One of Martin Lings’ greatest legacies – apart from his insights into the true significance of many of Shakespeare’s plays and his remarkable biography of the Prophet Muhammad – must surely be his timely reminder to us that Sufism, of which he was such a distinguished proponent, has always been at the spiritual heart of Islam, constantly reiterating the unshakable and sacred truths of love, compassion and forgiveness which seem to lie at the very sources of the light that lightens our darkness and which, if it illuminates our hearts, can engender that peace we all seek. It is an illuminated peace which I pray is now enfolding the departed spirit of dear Martin Lings.”

The Eleventh Hour

Martin Lings gives us from the outset powerful reasons for believing that we have now reached a point in time from which the end — whatever that may mean — is already in sight without being immediately imminent. In other words, we are now at an hour which is neither the tenth nor the twelfth. He argues that what Judaism, Christianity and Islam call the end of the world can be understood in the same non-absolute way. The concept of the Millenium, which is clearly the equivalent of the new Golden Age of the next cycle of time, is to be found in all three monotheistic religions, bringing them into line, in this respect, with Hinduism, Greco-Roman antiquity, and Buddhism.

Read Here

A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales titled ‘Islam and the West’ at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies , The Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford | Prince of Wales 27 October 1993

King Charles III’s attraction towards Islam:

The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times look here

  • Mont Athos and Orthodox Christianity

See here : King Charles and Mount Athos, the ancient centre of Orthodox Christianity

Monarchies are Supported by Heavens,
By Mevlāna Shaykh Nazim, discourse on January 1st, 1997

Respect Her Majesty the Queen. We are happy to be here in England. It is a blessed place. Every kingdom is blessed, a republic never can be. This is why I am happy to be here. I ask Allāh the Almighty to bless the Queen and her Royal Family, especially His Royal Highness Prince Charles. We support everyone who is trustworthy and asks for the Truth.

All curses come from those who run after devils and give their support to them. Respect and support the true ones. Find them and support them. When the elections come look for the honest and true ones who are supporting Her Majesty. Whoever is against Her Majesty will not be supported by Heavens. Don’t think that those who have bad intentions concerning Her Royal Majesty will be successful in the long run. Never! They will never be able to get rid of the monarchy because the monarchy is supported by Heavens. 

“My birthday (1922) and her birthday (The Queen of England, 1926) are on the same day, April 21st. She became a queen and I became nothing!”

– Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil Al-Haqqani ق

In 1953 Mawlana Shaykh Nazim ق was 31 years old. He was invited to attend the coronation of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. He accepted and he attended. On June 2nd, 2003, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the coronation Mawlana was narrating the story.

Only God knows what kind of blessings were bestowed upon Queen Elizabeth II and what kind of responsibility was assigned to the monarchy.

May her soul rest in peace. 1926-2022

Rumi: A Disclosure of Wisdom  for our Time

Who better than Sultan Valad could explain to us the teachings of his father? Rumi’s eldest son was his intimate friend and confidant. For seventy years, says Aflaki, he illuminated the words of his father and master, miraculous, eloquent, in deciphering the mysteries and interpretation. The Master awakens the sleepy soul of the student and allows him to climb the ascending steps to Paradise. He describes us the Skills of Soul Rapture. Mawlana Rumi himself says: “I have studied a lot of science and have worked hard to offer rare and valuable things to researchers and scientists who come to me, it is God the Supreme who has decided so”.  He said also to his son: “O Bahâ-ud-Din, my coming into this world has come to prepare yours, for all the words that I say are speeches, but you, you are my action.” It is a message for all times, a revelation of wisdom for our time. free download

Introduction

Sultan Valad (1226-1312) was the son of Jalal ad-Din Rumi. Jalal ad-Din Rumi was born in Balkh in Khorasan in 1207. Rumi was himself the son of an eminent teacher, Baha-ud-Din Valad, who was also called “the Sultan of the scholars”. It is in his memory that his grandson, Sultan Valad, was also called Baha-ud-Din.

In 1219, Rumi’s father had to flee from Khorasan because of the Mongol invasion. The family ended up settling down in Anatolia, at Konya, capital of the Seljuk Empire. This is where Jalal ad-Din Rumi succeeded to his father as the head of a theology college. He taught there until his death in 1273.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi composed a considerable work, which includes the Mathnawi, the Diwan of Shams of Tabriz, Ruba’iyat, and Fihi-ma-fihi. Fihi-ma-fihi is a series of conversations of Rumi with his disciples and friends that was collected by Sultan Valad.

This book was originally called Maarif, which literally translates as Gnosis of  better The Skill of Soul’s Rapture. It is a Persian prose work in a style approaching the spoken language and containing accounts of Sulṭān Walad’s thoughts and words. It is composed of lectures given to his students explaining and reflecting his father’s material. The tone and material is very much like his father’s material collected in Fihi-ma-fihi, but Maarif is less spontaneous, more elaborate, more explicit and less dense. Its form is less diversified as it includes only a few interlocutors, discussions and questions. It is obvious that, in Kitab al-Maarif, Sultan Valad reflected on his father’s teaching and expanded on what he thought to be especially important. It is also interesting to note that Maarif was also the title of the book by Sultan Valad’s grandfather – who was his namesake. This book was recently translated into English under the title The Drowned Book: Ecstatic and Earthy Reflections of Bahauddin, the Father of Rumi by Coleman Barks and John Moyne.

Nobody was able to transmit the essence of Rumi’s teaching better than Sultan Valad. He was not only Rumi’s elder son; he was also his dearest confidant. From six years old he would attend Rumi’s meetings with disciples. When people desired a favor from Rumi, they would ask Sultan Valad to be their intercessor. In his various writings and lectures, Valad ciphered many of cryptic symbols of his father’s behavior, actions, hints and indications. He also explained many of his father’s mysteries. This was carried out throughout his life in the forms of prose, poetry and discourses for his disciples. Valad was also familiar with Shams Tabrizi (Rumi’s beloved mentor) and used to associate with him regularly.

It is said that one day Rumi was speaking to his visitors about Moses’ stick. According to the Koran, the stick swallowed up the creations of the Pharaoh’s magicians, while the length of the stick neither augmented nor decreased by a single atom. Rumi asked, “How could I explain this incomparable parable so people can understand it?” And, turning toward Sultan Valad, he asked him to comment on the verse. Sultan Valad bowed and said, “This parable is like a man who has an extremely big palace that is in complete darkness. Suddenly, someone brings a torch and its presence lights up the palace. The torch neither diminishes nor augments, but the darkness disappears.” Rumi congratulated him and said he was delighted with the answer.

Once Rumi told his son, “O Bahâ-ud-Dîn, my coming into this world happened to prepare yours; for all the words I say are discourses, but you, you are my action.”

The text of the original Maarif is taken from the Persian collection by Najib Mayel Heravi, who compared, collected, and compiled five different editions of the book. The version that we used is the smallest in size of the 5 editions, and has the most in common with all of the other versions. The French and Spanish translations have also been used in the preparation of the present edition. Every effort has been made to preserve, in its unattainable form, the teaching that it contains.

In Sufism, ma’rifa describes the mystical intuitive knowledge of spiritual truth, or better the skill of soul “rapture”achieved through ecstatic experiences, rather than revealed or rationally acquired.

A seeker of ma’rifa is called ‘arif’, the one who “knows”.

In one of the earliest accounts of the Maqamat-l arba’in (“forty stations”) in Sufism, sufi master Abu Said ibn Abi’l-Khayr ma’rifa lists as the 25th station: “By all creatures of the two worlds, and through all people, they see Allah, and there is no accusation of their perception. “

Marifat is one of the ‘four doors’ of Sufism:

Sharia: legal path.

Tariqa: methodical-esoteric path.

Ma’rifa: soul rapture, mystical knowledge, consciousness.

Haqiqa: mystical truth / truth.

A metaphor for explaining the meaning of ma’rifa is to collect the pearl. Shari’a is the boat; tariqa is represented by the rowing of the pearlman; haqiqa is the pearl; and ma’rifa is the ability to see the difference between real and false pearls.

  • Introduction of Sultan Valad

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

All the Prophets and Saints are known and distinguished by virtue of the miracles and prodigies that they perform. The Sages and the Seekers of Truth say that God has bestowed a specific grace upon each one of them. What He has granted to one, He has not granted to another. He has given to each a different dominion, a separate world. My grandfather used to say that each Prophet was capable of performing any miracle, and that they possessed all powers. But God conceded to each one an Attribute according to the needs of the moment to satisfy a specific need or desire. For instance, a sage may know medicine, astronomy and other sciences: but when he treats a patient, we cannot affirm that he only knows the art of medicine. According to the circumstances he will show one aspect of his knowledge that he has mastered. Or, if a person who is concurrently an expert goldsmith, cobbler and tailor is sewing garments, we cannot say that he only knows that specific craft. Or still, if a river powers a water-mill, a sensible person would not say that it is the only function of the river; it is capable of many other things such as washing clothes, refreshing, turning gardens green again, and contributing to the growth of plants and flowers. But in that specific instance, it is necessary to move the wheel of the mill; and in a garden or field it could be seen to provide other services.

Therefore, each Prophet is capable of accomplishing any miracle, but he performs miracles and prodigies according to the needs of his people.

The prophets are manifestations and instruments of God. They are extinguished and annihilated in Him. Through them God shows everything. Therefore, how is it possible to assert that God is not capable of doing everything? God is the active principle; the Prophets are like a pen in the hand of the writer. Each mark that the pen draws is, in fact, written by the writer. They are like the bow and the arrow. It is not the bow that shoots the arrow, but the archer. That is why God, the Most High, has said: “When you slew, it was not you who slew, but God.”

God is literally saying: “Mohammad, that arrow that you shot, it is Us who shot it not you. Everything you do is by the commandment and mandate of God. What then is your role? Since it is Us who Act and everything is done through Our Desire and Will, he who fights and struggles against you, fights and struggles against Us; he who follows you and acts upon your commands and manifests friendship and love for you, has done those things toward Us.”

  • Action

Someone said, “The most important is action; words are not important.” I said, “I too would like to find someone who knows what action is and can see, so that I can show him action.” Now, you like words. One can converse with you since you are not a man of action. How could you comprehend what action is? As action you only understand prayers, fasting, reading spiritual texts, pilgrimage, alms, meditation, and devotion. But all these are not action. These are the means to reach true Action. It is possible that when you perform these activities they exert some influence over you and transform you in relation to what you were before. For example, prayer allows one to distance oneself from sin and error. Action, on the other hand, purifies your faults. When you are in a state of impurity you have not accomplished the prayer.

So all these different forms and modes do not constitute Action. Action is the transmutation of the heart, passing from one state to another. Like the seminal liquid and the embryo passing from one state to another in the mother’s womb; first a clot of blood, then a fetus, then the face of a man who is endowed with life, enters the world and grows up. This transformation and growth is action and ascension.

The meaning of Miraj (Mohammad’s journey to heaven)  is the same as we have just mentioned. The seeker passes from one internal state to another. The second state is higher than the first; the third is higher than the second, ad infinitum.

Anyone who, in the bazaar of this world – because “This world is the field which is reaped in the other world” – remains two days in the same state suffers a loss. Day by day, second by second, it is necessary to rise and advance. This is the reality of action. Who perceives such action? With the exception of God, no one knows it or can see it. “My saints are under my dome; except I, no one knows them.”

In a word, knowledge is closer to real action than personal effort and corporal practices such as prayer, fasting, and the rest. Since it is possible for knowledge to be separated from action and be rendered useless, it is even more possible that personal effort and corporal practices, since they are further away from real action, are rendered even more useless. Hypocrites perform external practices such as prayer and fasting, but cannot traverse the path of faith and declare the existence of God. If they possessed the knowledge and ability they would not be miscreants. Therefore, everything that was said and indicated concerning the different modes and ways, gestures and devotions that are practiced and recognized are the means of real action, but not action itself.

Iblis (The primary name of Satan in Islam) performed practices of devotion in heaven for thousands of years. If his external practices had been real, he would have behaved differently when God ordered him to prostrate himself before Adam.

Jesus did not perform external acts, but practiced true action in such a way that he was able to evolve from a state of spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity. What Jesus declared in the cradle( “Truly I am the servant of God; He has given me the Book and has made me a prophet.” (Sura 19, verse 30, Mohammad achieved it when he was forty years old

Thus, the reality of action resides in your transformation and progress at each instant. When the philosopher’s stone grazes copper, it is the transmutation of copper into gold that constitutes real action. A piece of copper may be hammered, boiled or extended, but it will still remain copper. Those who are not capable of recognizing gold and perceive the external form of practices say, “If gold exists in the world, it is that which has been hammered and has become wide and long.” But he who knows gold examines the metal with the touchstone and will not buy it, even for half a cent, if it is not pure gold.

I, who am God, do not look at your faces, or your behavior or your words, but I set my eyes upon your hearts in order to know the degree of love you have for me.

For a wise man, one indication is sufficient. Or put in other words, “if there is someone home, only one word will suffice.”

  • Friends of God

The Friends of God are the Attributes of God and His chosen ones (These Attributes are such things as All-Seeing, All-Hearing, All-Powerful. All together there are 99 of them, commonly referred to as the 99 Names of God) ; not God himself, but they are the Secrets of God. Knowledge and awareness of God is easier than the knowledge of his Secrets. Likewise, if you wish to know someone, you get acquainted and spend some time with him. This desire to know him can be accomplished with little effort. But if you desire to gain the inner secrets of his heart, greater efforts would be needed. We may conclude that it is easier to learn appearances than to obtain inner secrets.

If someone wishes to visit a Master and be received by him, after a few attempts and with some effort, he may succeed. But if he wishes to have access to the knowledge of the Master, then he must dedicate many years and much effort to gain a piece of this treasure.

In a city, there are one hundred thousand God-believing people. All of them crave that God grant them their desires. They consider God to be the Unique, the Almighty, the Generous, the Teacher, the Guide, He who forgives and He who punishes. They submit to Him with sincere heart and soul and worship Him. In general, they are like this: some are strong in action, some are weak; some have little knowledge of God and some have much. But among these hundred thousand people, only a small community incline toward a true Saint. Among that small community, only one or two truly know that Saint.

After this discussion, it is clear that worship and knowledge of God is common. In general, everyone, without exception, can follow the Path of Knowledge. Even the heedless worship God.

Impiety and faith, both travel His Way saying, “He is Unique, the One without associates.”

Men worship God in various forms, practices and languages. But worship is not exclusive to man. Even the heavens, the sun, the stars, the moon, the earth, minerals, mountains, stones, dust, air and fire – everything worships and praises Him in a language that you do not know or understand.

To ensure that not everyone will pray to God or return to Him, all created beings are the screens and courtiers of God. The exquisite delicacies, silk garments, beautiful women, and other riches of this world prevent the elect from serving and seeing God. These things are like highwaymen to the seekers and those who are on the path – until by means of lamentation, prayers and remembrance – some of them escape from the brigands, and successfully bring the loads and garments of the seeker to acceptance and submission to God. But it is God who guards the Saints of God, and makes it impossible for everyone to find or recognize them, because it has been said that “my Saints are under my dome; Except I, no one knows them.” That is, my Saints and my friends are concealed under the dome of My Jealousy, in order that no one, other than I, can see them or know them. As in this world, when the great kings sit on the throne of justice, receiving both noblemen and commoners in their courts; hearing each desire and granting requests according to rank. Still, these people never see the sons and daughters of the king. And the man who asks to become the confidant and companion of the king risks his head – unless the king, by his own volition and knowing the loyalty and faith of the person, makes him his confidant.

Ungodly obstacles or brigand-like demons and devils can be chased away by means of recitation and remembrance. But with which recitation or which remembrance could we chase God away? Therefore it is obvious that finding Friends of God and knowing them is much harder than knowing God. Whoever knows a Friend of God knows God, but the reverse is not true. Knowledge of God does not necessarily lead to knowledge of the Friends of God, since there are many people who recognize and submit to God but cannot know and understand the Truth. Even when they see a Friend of God, they make enemies of him and reject him.

Some sages, like Junaid(Junaid of Bagdad -d. 9107) and Shibli (Junaid’s disciple -d. 945), rejected Mansur el-Hallaj because of his seemingly blasphemous outcry “I am the Truth” – and decided to spill his blood . They unanimously released an edict allowing the hanging of this unique and precious man. After his body was taken down from the gallows, it was burnt and his ashes dispersed on the river so that no trace of him would remain in this world. It is told that, regardless of what was tried, the ashes would arrange themselves on the surface of the river to form the words “I am the Truth”. They were all filled with rue after witnessing this wonder.

Likewise for Moses, who was one of the Prophets and Messengers of God. Despite his knowledge and greatness, Moses sought to know Khidr (a mysterious character in the Islamic tradition who was the guide of Moses, and often called ”The Green One” Also thought to be the Prophet Elijah) and implored God to be able to meet him. After many prayers and lamentations, his supplication was granted. God said, “Start a journey and seek Our pure servant so that you may find him.” He found Khidr at the seashore. His eyes and his heart were enlightened by this encounter, and he achieved many goals from this single meeting. For, “God, the Most High, has servants. When they gaze upon the other servants, they cover them with the mantle of prosperity.” One glance of Khidr invested Moses with such robes of honor and so much blessing that, “the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, and nothing has passed through the heart.” (Hadith of the Prophet).

Desire for the friendship and company of Khidr sprung in Moses, without ever seeing him or experiencing his presence:

You have not been visible to us, So we are in this state.

Woe to us, if You became visible.

Khidr said, “O Moses, be satisfied with everything you have seen in us and leave, for sharing the road with us is dangerous. It would be better that you did not take the risk, because there are many dangers.” But Moses complained with sincerity and love. After they were together for some time on their route, they found a ship on the seashore. The ship had no equal in its beauty and craftsmanship. However, Khidr made a hole in it so that it became unusable. Moses said, “What you have done is not right, since it is contrary to wisdom and to the law. If the touchstone of justice was applied, this act would not be found of good value, and on the scale of fairness and the law it would reveal itself as wrongful.”

Khidr answered, “Did I not warn you that you should not disagree with me?”

Moses apologized, “I have forgotten our pact. It is my first fault, but forgiveness is better.” And he wept much until Khidr forgave him.

After some time had passed, they arrived on an island. Among the children of that island there was a beautiful, graceful and sweet child. Khidr gently took the child’s hand and walked away with him. Moses was puzzled and followed Khidr and the child. When they arrived at a solitary place and out of the sight of people, Khidr put the child under his foot and slit his throat. Moses protested vehemently and cried out, “Where is the fairness in ending the life of a pure and innocent child?”

Khidr answered, “Did I not tell you to turn away and not come with me because you would not have endurance to witness or understand my actions?”

Moses came back to his senses and said, “I committed a fault; forgetfulness overcame me.”

Khidr said, “You are so impertinent! Each time you question my acts, then you say that you have made a mistake, and that forgetfulness has overcome you.”

Moses said, “For Love of God, forgive me once again, for it is customary to forgive three times. If I argue again, do not accept my excuses.”

If a fault again you see in me, Do not aid in my adversity.

Khidr excused Moses a second time under the condition that, if he should commit a third fault, they would part regardless of any pretext or excuse. They traveled together for some time. By chance it happened that they did not find any food for several days and were close to dying of starvation. In this state of deprivation, they came upon a vast island where they saw a large city and a large crowd of people. They noticed a wall on the verge of collapse due to a hole in it. Khidr repaired and rebuilt the wall.

When Moses saw what had happened, he was sure that finally, after so much misery and hunger, food, gifts and money would soon come to them in great quantities. But Khidr took Moses by the hand and walked away. Moses lost his patience and cried out, “O, Khidr! We are hunger-stricken. You raised a wall that nobody could repair, and the owner of this house is extremely rich. At least you could have asked for a wage which would have allowed us to eat for a few days. Even if you had renounced everything you could have asked for a piece of bread so that we could eat. Your action is contrary to law and justice and none could agree with it.”

Khidr said, “O Moses! You have committed three faults. However, I will explain to you the three cases that provoked your protests so you may know that these actions were worthy of approval rather than condemnation. Otherwise, I would not have done them.”

“The reason I made a hole in the ship, even though it belonged to poor and decent people, was that I saw with my inner eye that tyrants had the intention of taking the ship and using it to attack good men. Therefore, I destroyed the ship and rendered it unusable.”

“The reason for the murder of the child was that in later life, the boy, who was ill natured, would have behaved in such a way that his parents would have failed in the way of God. I wanted his parents to be able to attain the perfect end and not go astray because of their son. It is like a gardener who prunes the diseased branches so that the other branches may acquire strength.”

“I restored and straightened the wall that was ruined to the point of collapse. The wall belonged to rich orphans. I did not ask for money or recompense because their father was a Servant of God.” The commentators of this story note that in the seventh generation of those orphans there was a righteous man. Others assert that there was a good man in the seventieth generation. Thus, a man like Khidr – to whom belongs not only the treasure of the other World, but who is himself a source of generosity – acts to benefit the ancestor of the seventh or the seventieth generation. Out of respect for the descendants, he performed an extraordinary service that no one else could have done. Although he himself was in great need and difficulty, he did not accept any compensation.

Khidr explained the essence of the wisdom of these three secrets to Moses – and they parted.

A descendant of Ali (Ali was the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet) fell drunk in the bazaar in the city of Tabriz. His head, face and beard were soiled with vomit and dust. A devout dervish, who saw him in this state, insulted him and spat on him. That same night, the Prophet appeared to the dervish in a dream, “You allege to be at my service, following and submitting to my tradition, hoping to be among those who will enter paradise. But when you saw me covered with vomit in the middle of the bazaar, why did you not wash my filth and lay me down as expected from the servants who attend their master? Not only did you not serve me, but your heart allowed you to spit upon me.”

At this moment, the dervish said to himself, “When did I do these things to the Prophet?” The Prophet immediately answered, “Do you not know that our children are our most precious possessions? If it was not so, how could they inherit the possessions of their father?” The dervish awoke with a start and set out to search for the man. He brought him to his home and gave him his house and half of his possessions. While he lived, he remained at his service and attended him with great respect.

In emphasis of the preceding, it is told that one sufi said to another, “Each day, God the Most High, manifests Himself to me seventy times.” The other answered him, “If you feel so much bravery, go and see Bayazid.” After some time passed, the sufi said again, “I see God seventy times a day.” And the other repeated, “If you have so much bravery, go and see Bayazid.”

Since this affair lasted for a long time, the sufi at last decided to visit Bayazid, who was living in a forest. Bayazid intuitively knew that the dervish was coming to visit him, and came out of the forest to meet him, and next to the forest their meeting took place. At the moment the dervish perceived Bayazid and saw his blessed face, he could not bear it; at once, he gave up his soul and left this world.

Let us consider the profound meaning of the forest. The forest represents the interior of Bayazid, and the trees in the forest are the thoughts, knowledge and spiritual rank that he held in his heart. When the Sufi arrived at the place of Bayazid, how could he have entered the forest and then walked back out? Bayazid had to come out of the forest so the Sufi could see him.

Likewise, when an intelligent man speaks to a child, he must come out from the “forest” of his own intelligence and knowledge, and speak to the child accordingly. In this way the child may understand. “Speak to people according to the degree of their understanding.”( Hadith of the Prophet)

The sufi perceived God according to his own capacity. But when the Light and Splendor of God shone upon him through the dimension of Bayazid, he could not bear it and was annihilated.

Gabriel received the Light of Divine Radiance and obtained his sustenance from it. He was, like a fish, eternally immersed in the ocean of Divine Union. When he escorted Mohammad toward God during the Mi’raj, he went together with him as high as his own rank would allow. When they arrived at this superior place, he stopped and remained immobile. The Prophet said, “Come, why do you remain there?” Gabriel answered, “I cannot go further for I am not permitted. If I advance a single step more I will be burnt.”

The Prophet continued alone and contemplated Divine Beauty with the inner eye.

Anyone who sees God, from an ant to Solomon, sees Him according to his own capacity. All things are nurtured by God, and all life and existence derive from the Manifestations of God. But where are the manifestations of Solomon or the ant?

A master has ten slaves. One of the slaves is five years old, another is ten, another is thirty, another is fifty, and yet another is sixty years old. All of them are at the service of the master and show him submission. However, the service of some is superior to the service of others. The master talks to each of them, but in accordance with their capacity he maintains a different relationship with each of them. If he would behave in the same way with the youngest as with the oldest, the youngest could not endure it.

The garment is tailored to fit the man.

Equally, God manifests himself to the believers and the Saints in accordance with their spiritual rank. The Light of God descends upon them in a manner that they are able to endure. When a man wants to unite with fire, he heats up water in a bath. He unites himself with the fire through the intermediary of the water. If he were to walk directly into the fire, he would be burned. However, the Perfect Man finds himself in the fire like a fish in the water. The other seekers and believers lack the necessary strength to benefit from the fire without the intermediary.

What we are saying here is that it is easier to recognize and know the Friends of God than to know God without their intermediation. It does not mean that the Friends of God are different from God; such an allegation would be erroneous. But you cannot see God with the same power as that with which the Friend of God contemplates Him. Therefore, go and seek the Friend of God, so that through his intermediary, you may see what he sees – and God knows best.

Al Khidr

Read More of The Skills of Soul Rapture…..

Who better than Sultan Valad could explain to us the teachings of his father? Rumi’s eldest son was his intimate friend and confidant. For seventy years, says Aflaki, he illuminated the words of his father and master, miraculous, eloquent, in deciphering the mysteries and interpretation. The Master awakens the sleepy soul of the student and allows him to climb the ascending steps to Paradise. He describes us the Skills of Soul Rapture. Mawlana Rumi himself says: “I have studied a lot of science and have worked hard to offer rare and valuable things to researchers and scientists who come to me, it is God the Supreme who has decided so”.  He said also to his son: “O Bahâ-ud-Din, my coming into this world has come to prepare yours, for all the words that I say are speeches, but you, you are my action.” It is a message for all times, a revelation of wisdom for our time. free download

  • Habileté du Ravissement de l’Âme

Qui mieux que Sultan Valad pouvait nous transmettre l’enseignement de son père? Fils ainé de Rumi, il fut son intime et confident. Pendant soixante-dix ans, nous dit Afláki, il éclaira les paroles de son père et Maitre, miraculeux, éloquent, dans le déchiffrement des mystères et l’interprétation scripturaire. Le Maitre éveille l’âme endormie du disciple et lui fait gravir les degrés ascendants du Paradis. Il nous décrit l’Habileté du Ravissement de l’Âme. Mawlana Rumi, déclare lui-même : « J’ai étudié bien des sciences et me suis livré bien des efforts afin de pouvoir offrir aux chercheurs et savants qui viennent moi des choses rares et précieuses. C’est le Dieu Très-Haut qui en a décidé ainsi ». Un jour Rumi a dit son fils, “O Bahâ-ud-Dîn, mon arrivée dans ce monde est arrivé pour préparer le tien; car tous les mots que je dis sont des discours, mais toi, tu es mon action”. C’est un message pour tous les temps, une révélation de Sagesse pour notre Temps. Free Dowload

Het boek De kunde van Ziel’s vervoering (Kitab al-Ma’ârif) is geschreven door Sultan Valad. Sultan Valad was de zoon van Jalal ad-Din Rumi. Jalal ad-Din Rumi werd geboren in Balkh in Khorasan in 1207. Rumi was zelf de zoon van een eminente leraar, Baha-ud-Din Valad, die ook “de sultan van de geleerden” werd genoemd. Het is in zijn nagedachtenis dat zijn kleinzoon, Sultan Valad, ook Baha-ud-Din werd genoemd. Ooit vertelde Rumi zijn zoon: “O Bahâ-ud-Dîn, mijn komst naar deze wereld gebeurde toevallig om de uwe voor te bereiden; want alle woorden die ik zeg, zijn preken, maar jij, jij bent mijn daad. ” free download

The court of Kyumars, first mythical king of Iran, reigning on an Edenic land in an eternal spring.

Illustration of the Book of Ferdowsi Kings. Shâhnâmeh of Shah Tahmasp (Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp: A Book of Illustrated Kings of the 16th Century), Tabriz, c. 1537

The Sun Dance: A Maypole of Wisdom for the 21th century

The Principle of Verticality 

The spiritual man is one who transcends himself and loves to transcend himself;the worldly man remains horizontal and detests the vertical dimension.

Frithjof Schuon

The  principle  of  verticality,  which  is  a  fundamental  principle  of traditional wisdom, is based on the affirmation of transcendence as an aspect of a comprehensive and integrated reality that is Absolute.

According to this understanding, reality has both a transcendent Origin and an immanent Center, which are one, rather than being reduced to the merely horizontal dimension of its existential or quantitative elements.

Verticality implies both Heaven and Earth, a worldview in which meaning and purpose are defined principally by both height and depth,and secondarily by breadth – that is, principally by man’s relationship to God, who is simultaneously ‘above’ and ‘within’ creation, and who there-fore governs all creaturely relationships – rather than by breadth alone –that is, solely in terms of the relationship between the subject and the world.

It also implies that the horizontal is subordinate to the vertical,that is to say, the relationship between man and the world is premised on the primary relationship between God and man: to restate this in Christian terms, the love of one’s neighbor is premised on one’s love for God. According to the traditional worldview, existence is transcended by a supreme reality, which, whether expressed in theistic or non-theisticterms, is Absolute, and which, without derogating from its unity, is si-multaneously (at the level of the primary hypostasis) expressed by the horizontal ternary, Truth or the Solely Subsistent Reality, Goodness or the Perfection and Font of all Qualities, and Beauty or Abiding Serenity and the Source of its Radiant Effulgence: in Platonic terms, the True, the Good and the Beautiful.

All creation is prefigured in this supreme reality,which projects existence out of its own Substance into a world of form (hence etymologically, ex-stare, to stand out of, or to subsist from, as the formal world of existence stands out of, and subsists from, the Divine Substance) through a vertical ternary comprising, first, the Essential or Principial Absolute (which is Beyond-Being), second, the Relative-Absolute Source of Archetypes (which is the primary hypostasis of Being), and third, the realm of Manifestation (which is Existence).

Looking to the Spiritual vertical way, as the Maypole do, gives us an opportunity of discerning an understanding between Non-Virtues and Virtues,  developing Spiritual values needed in our times.

History of eight natural celebrations

The eight traditional celebrations, most of which exist today in somewhat different form, date from time immemorial. Many European festivals date back to earliest times, pre-dating even Indo-European influences. The celebrations of different cultures often share many common points. This is because their myths and mythologies are linked to the same sources: the sky, the sun, the stars, the earth, and the rhythm of the seasons. In ancient European traditions – and in particular the Nordic and Celtic traditions – the course of the sun occupies a very important position. Our ancestors were well aware of the relationship between the sun and the rhythm of the seasons. The calendar of yearly celebrations was based on these rhythms and has continued to this day, although some name and date changes occurred as Europe was Christianised. The calendar of celebrations revolves around the Eight Nature Festivals, which have existed throughout Europe for many hundreds of years.The calendar is based on the sun’s position at various moments of the year, and on corresponding seasonal activities. This link between the sun’s course, the seasons, and the community made our ancestors feel that they were part of a long chain of living things including the earth, humankind and the heavens, which formed a coherent whole. The dance lime tree, with its three-tiered structure, forms a link between the earth and the heavens, and serves as a symbol for the order of things.

 

The eight annuel natural celebrations

 Winter solstice, the Jul (or Yule) festivall
Imbolc, the celebration of 1 February
Spring equinox, Easter
May Day, Beltane
Summer solstice
Lugnasad, the celebretion of the grain harvest
Autumn equinox
Samhain, the remembrance of the dead and the saints


European sun dance read here
Tilleul à Danser planté à Mazille, France

Sun Dance of the Native Spirits

The Sun Dance is the most sacred ritual of Plains Indians, a ceremony of renewal and cleansing for the tribe and the earth. Primarily male dancers—but on rare occasions women too—perform this ritual of regeneration, healing and self-sacrifice for the good of one’s family and tribe. But, in some tribes, such as the Blackfeet, the ceremony is led by a medicine woman. It has been practiced primarily by tribes in the Upper Plains and Rocky Mountain, especially the Arapaho, Arikara, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventre, Hidatsa, Sioux, Plains Cree, Plains Ojibway, Omaha, Ponca, Ute, Shoshone, Kiowa, and Blackfoot tribes.

The Sun Dance is a ceremony practiced by some Native Americans and Indigenous peoples in Canada, primarily those of the Plains cultures. It usually involves the community gathering together to pray for healing. Individuals make personal sacrifices on behalf of the community See more here.

Usually the ceremony was practiced at the summer solstice, the time of longest daylight and lasts for four to eight days. Typically, the Sun Dance is a grueling ordeal, that includes a spiritual and physical test of pain and sacrifice. This ritual usually—but not always—involves piercing rawhide thongs through the skin and flesh of a dancer’s chest with wooden or bone skewers. The thongs are tied to the skewers then connected to the central pole of the lodge. The Sun Dancers dance around the pole leaning back to allow the thongs to pull their pierced flesh. The dancers do this for hours until the skewered flesh finally rips. The Sun Dance is also a rite of passage to manhood.

The dance is practiced differently by each tribe, but basic similarities are shared by most rituals. In some instances, the Sun Dance was a private experience involving just one or a few individuals. But many tribes adopted larger rituals that involved the whole tribes or sometimes many tribes gathered to celebrate the Sun Dance together. Lodges or open frames built of trees, rawhide or brush are prepared with a central pole at the center.

The Ultimate Ritual of Pain, Renewal & Sacrifice

Though the dance is practiced differently by different tribes, the Eagle serves as a central symbol in the dance, helping bring body and spirit together in harmony, as does the buffalo, for its essential role in Plains Indian food, clothing, and shelter. Sometimes an eagle’s nest or eagle would be mounted at the top of the center pole. Holy men might also place a dried buffalo penis at the top of the pole to give the dancers virility. And buffalo skulls were placed at the perimeter of the lodge to honor their power and courage. (Some dancers choose to have their flesh pierced through their backs and the rawhide ropes from the skewers are attached to the heavy buffalo skulls. Then the dancers dance on rocks and brush as they drag the heavy skulls. This usually takes longer to rip their flesh.

Buffalo–Tatanka
Tatanka are held in high regard by Native Americans. The tatanka gave up its own flesh and life to provide everything for the people. For Native Americans, the tatanka is a true relative, making life possible for them. Because of their importance, a buffalo symbol or skull is present in all sacred Lakóta rituals. The tatanka represent generosity and self-sacrifice. According to the Lakóta, to give what you have to others is one of the most highly respected way of behaving.

Dancers also blow a whistle made from the wing bone of an eagle that makes the sound of an eagle cry. The whistle is painted with colored dots and lines to represent the keen and precise perception of the eagle. There is also a beautiful eagle feather attached to the end of the whistle that blows back and forth to represent the breath of life.

In Native culture, the wanblí is considered the strongest and bravest of all birds. For this reason, its feathers symbolize what is highest, bravest, strongest, and holiest. When a feather falls to the earth, it is believed to carry all of the bird’s energy, and it is perceived as a gift from the sky, the sea, and the trees. Feathers may arrive unexpectedly but not without a purpose.


Each type of feather represents something different. The wanblí’s feather, however, is one of the most esteemed. An wanblí’s feathers are given to another in honor, and the feathers are displayed with dignity and pride.

Many tribes smoke sage and burn smudge pots of sage, which is believed to conjure spirits and help the dancers. Some tribes also wear wreaths of sage on their heads and wrists. Ancient dances and songs passed down through many generations are offered accompanied by traditional drums, smudge pots of sage are burned over a sacred fire.

The entire tribe prepares for a year before the ceremony and the dancers fast for many days in the open before the dance. The Sun Dance ceremony involves all the tribe. Family members and friends (only Native people are allowed to attend) gather in the surrounding camp to chant, sing and pray in support of the dancers.

If sun dancers have not released themselves from their bloody tethers by sundown, holy men remove the skewers and reverse the piercings to help rip the flesh. In the 1918 definitive book, “The Sundance of the Blackfoot People,” by leading American anthropologist Clark Wissler, he states: “When all thongs are torn out, the lacerated flesh is cut off as an offering to the sun… The author has seen some men extremely scarred from repeated Sun Dance ceremonies…The offering of flesh is called the Blood Sun Dance.” Exhausted dancers would be cared for afterward in a medicine lodge, where holy men and women sung and prayed above them.

The ceremony was extremely arduous and not without its risks. Clark Wissler also wrote: “It is said that all who take this ceremony die in a few years, because it is equivalent to giving one’s self to the sun. Hence, the sun takes them for its own.”

In 1883, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs criminalized the Sun Dance and other sacred religious ceremonies in an effort to discourage indigenous practices and enculturate Native Americans into white society. The prohibition was renewed in 1904 and remained illegal until 1934 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s new administration reversed the decision. During the fifty years the Sun Dance was prohibited, many native tribes defied the law and continued to perform their most sacred dance, usually as part of Fourth of July celebrations!

Read hereTHE SPIRITUAL LEGACY OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN

Read here : American Indian Religious Traditions

Native Spirit and The Sun Dance Way Home Page

Eagle (heraldry)

The eagle is used in heraldry as a charge, as a supporter, and as a crest. Heraldic eagles can be found throughout world history like in the Achaemenid Empire or in the present Republic of Indonesia. The European post-classical symbolism of the heraldic eagle is connected with the Roman Empire on one hand (especially in the case of the double-headed eagle), and with Saint John the Evangelist on the other.

A golden eagle was often used on the banner of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. Eagle (or the related royal bird vareghna) symbolized khvarenah (the God-given glory), and the Achaemenid family was associated with eagle (according to legend, Achaemenes was raised by an eagle). The local rulers of Persis in the Seleucid and Parthian eras (3rd-2nd centuries BC) sometimes used an eagle as the finial of their banner. Parthians and Armenians used eagle banners, too.[1]

In Europe the iconography of the heraldic eagle, as with other heraldic beasts, is inherited from early medieval tradition. It rests on a dual symbolism: On one hand it was seen as a symbol of the Roman Empire (the Roman Eagle had been introduced as the standardised emblem of the Roman legions under consul Gaius Marius in 102 BC); on the other hand, the eagle in early medieval iconography represented Saint John the Evangelist, ultimately based on the tradition of the four living creatures in Ezekiel. Read more here

  • Falconry as a Transmutative  Art: Dante, Frederick II, and Islam

The imperial eagle – notably, in the form handed down by the Romans to later generations of European rulers – is the hypostasis of an absolute power conceived as “naturally” divine in origin. In contrast, the tamed falcon, at rest on the emperor’s fist or being offered to him by his falconers, became for Frederick II the emblem of an acquired form of wisdom – of a nobility, that is, which must be educated so that its inborn aggressiveness may be restrained and redeployed under the superior command of reason. The falconer thereby becomes the image of the ideal sovereign, he who succeeds in controlling the instinctual aggressiveness of humankind by way of his “taming power.” He is at one and the same time the self-aware and responsible repository of natural law and the guar- antor of positive law, that is, of justice. The study and practice of falconry were therefore for Frederick II the best and noblest ways for the sovereign to deepen his understanding of the laws of the natural and of the human realm; to him they were indispensable tools in his honorably dispatching his mission as universal sovereign….

….If the objective of the Commedia is to save humankind from itself and principally from its self-imposed rapaciousness, then we can usefully ask ourselves which figurative means Dante could call upon to evoke a process of taming and conversion that by its very nature aims at transmuting the individual’s instinctive ego-grasping into an artfully acquired – but nevertheless also gracefully received – form of absolute surrender and self-sacrifice to the highest manifestation of selflessness and boundless love.

How are we to visualize the very nature of a learning process that must be experiential if it is to become effective? Such is, after all, the goal of the Commedia as a whole – in direct opposition, that is, to the treacherous attempts at rational grappling with reality, which leave human pride misleadingly in charge of transcendent affairs. While in our postmodern world of con- cept-based existence there seems to be little or nothing to call upon in order to suggest such a salvific becoming, I hope to have shown persuasively that Dante saw in falconry the art most apt to express that process of surrender and taming of an individual’s own nature, in the form of a return to that very “hand” on whose universal fist the whole world is unknowingly perched. For Dante, no art better than falconry could convey the sense of that sacrificial inner transmutation necessary for human consciousness to awaken to the vision of itself as a pure reflection of the transcendental source of all-encompassing love.

No other art could as powerfully express the potential for universal salvation inscribed within a process meant to make human consciousness cognizant of its own divine origin – of its own participation in, and belonging to the very substance offered by the falconer to the falcon as its only rightful meal, as that “bread of angels” already evoked in the Convivio: purely celestial food, on which life itself unsuspectingly keeps feeding. …. Read the complete paper Falconry as a Transmutative  Art: Dante, Frederick II, and Islam

see also: Raptor and human – falconry and bird symbolism throughout the millennia on a global scale

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HISTORY OF THE WARLIS


The Warlis are an aboriginal tribe living at the foothills of the Sahyadris in western India.
Warlis were hunters and gatherers living in the forest. With time, they were forced to settle down at the base of the hills, and so, they adopted an agro-pastoral lifestyle.
Waral is brushwood which the original settlers had to clear in order to settle down.
Warul also refers to the brushwood used to burn on the fields as Rab.
This could be the origin of the name of their tribe- Warli

n the book The Painted World of the Warlis Yashodhara Dalmia claimed that the Warli carry on a tradition stretching back to 2500 or 3000 BCE. Their mural paintings are similar to those done between 500 and 10,000 BCE in the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, in Madhya Pradesh.

Their extremely rudimentary wall paintings use a very basic graphic vocabulary: a circle, a triangle and a square. Their paintings were monosyllabic. The circle and triangle come from their observation of nature, the circle representing the sun and the moon, the triangle derived from mountains and pointed trees. Only the square seems to obey a different logic and seems to be a human invention, indicating a sacred enclosure or a piece of land. So the central motive in each ritual painting is the square, known as the “chauk” or “chaukat”, mostly of two types: Devchauk and Lagnachauk. Inside a Devchauk, we find Palaghata, the mother goddess, symbolizing fertility.[3] Significantly, male gods are unusual among the Warli and are frequently related to spirits which have taken human shape. The central motive in these ritual paintings is surrounded by scenes portraying hunting, fishing and farming, festivals and dances, trees and animals. Human and animal bodies are represented by two triangles joined at the tip; the upper triangle depicts the trunk and the lower triangle the pelvis. Their precarious equilibrium symbolizes the balance of the universe, and of the couple, and has the practical and amusing advantage of animating the bodies.

The pared down pictorial language is matched by a rudimentary technique. The ritual paintings are usually done inside the huts. The walls are made of a mixture of branches, earth and cow dung, making a Red Ochre background for the wall paintings. The Warli use only white for their paintings. Their white pigment is a mixture of rice paste and water with gum as a binding. They use a bamboo stick chewed at the end to make it as supple as a paintbrush. The wall paintings are done only for special occasions such as weddings or harvests. The lack of regular artistic activity explains the very crude style of their paintings, which were the preserve of the womenfolk until the late 1970s. But in the 1970s this ritual art took a radical turn, when Jivya Soma Mashe and his son Balu Mashe started to paint, not for any special ritual, but because of his artistic pursuits. Warli painting also featured in Coca-Cola’s ‘Come home on Diwali’ ad campaign in 2010 was a tribute to the spirit of India’s youth and a recognition of the distinct lifestyle of the Warli tribe of Western India.[4]

Tribal Cultural Intellectual Property

Warli Painting is the cultural intellectual property of the tribal community. Today, there is an urgent need for preserving this traditional knowledge in tribal communities across the globe. Understanding the need for intellectual property rights, the tribal non-profit Organisation “Adivasi Yuva Seva Sangh” initiated efforts to start a registration process in 2011. Now, Warli Painting is registered with a Geographical Indication under the intellectual property rights act. With the use of technology and the concept of social entrepreneurship, Tribals established the Warli Art Foundation, a non-profit company dedicated to Warli art and related activities.

Culture

Warli legends say that the Gods went to the potter fly or Gungheri Raja to ask for balls of mud to make the earth which was flooded with water. Read here the Mystical World of Warli

Tradition

The Warli Painting tradition in Maharashtra are among the finest examples of the folk style of paintings. The Warli tribe is one of the largest in India, located outside of Mumbai. Despite being close to one of the largest cities in India, the Warli reject much of contemporary culture. Warli paintings of Maharashtra revolve around the marriage of God Palghat.The style of Warli painting was not recognised until the 1970s, even though the tribal style of art is thought to date back as early as 10th century A.D.[1] The Warli culture is centered on the concept of Mother Nature and elements of nature are often focal points depicted in Warli painting. Farming is their main way of life and a large source of food for the tribe. They greatly respect nature and wildlife for the resources that they provide for life.[2] Warli artists use their clay huts as the backdrop for their paintings, similar to how ancient people used cave walls as their canvases.

Jivya Soma Mashe, the artist in Thane district has played a great role in making the Warli paintings more popular. He has been honoured with a number of national and central level awards for his paintings. In the year 2011, he was awarded Padmashree.

A tarpa player c.1885

These rudimentary wall paintings use a set of basic geometric shapes: a circle, a triangle, and a square. These shapes are symbolic of different elements of nature. The circle and the triangle come from their observation of nature. The circle represents the sun and the moon, while the triangle depicts mountains and conical trees. In contrast, the square renders to be a human invention, indicating a sacred enclosure or a piece of land. The central motif in each ritual painting is the square, known as the “chauk” or “chaukat”, mostly of two types known as Devchauk and Lagnachauk. Inside a Devchauk is usually a depiction of palaghat, the mother goddess, symbolizing fraternity.[3]

Male gods are unusual among the Warli and are frequently related to spirits which have taken human shape. The central motif in the ritual painting is surrounded by scenes portraying hunting, fishing, and farming, and trees and animals. Festivals and dances are common scenes depicted in the ritual paintings. People and animals are represented by two inverse triangles joined at their tips: the upper triangle depicts the torso and the lower triangle the pelvis. Their precarious equilibrium symbolizes the balance of the universe. The representation also has the practical and amusing advantage of animating the bodies. Another main theme of Warli art is the denotation of a triangle that is larger at the top, representing a man; and a triangle which is wider at the bottom, representing a woman.[4][better source needed] Apart from ritualistic paintings, other Warli paintings covered day-to-day activities of the village people.

One of the central aspects depicted in many Warli paintings is the tarpa dance. The tarpa, a trumpet-like instrument, is played in turns by different village men. Men and women entwine their hands and move in a circle around the tarpa player. The dancers then follow him, turning and moving as he turns, never turning their backs to the tarpa. The musician plays two different notes, which direct the head dancer to either move clockwise or counterclockwise. The tarpa player assumes a role similar to that of a snake charmer, and the dancers become the figurative snake. The dancers take a long turn in the audience and try to encircle them for entertainment. The circle formation of the dancers is also said to resemble the circle of life.

Warli painting from Thane district

Materials used

The simple pictorial language of Warli painting is matched by a rudimentary technique. The ritual paintings are usually created on the inside walls of village huts. The walls are made of a mixture of branches, earth and red brick that make a red ochre background for the paintings. The Warli only paint with a white pigment made from a mixture of rice flour and water, with gum as a binder. A bamboo stick is chewed at the end to give it the texture of a paintbrush. Walls are painted only to mark special occasions such as weddings, festivals or harvests. They make it with a sense that it can be seen by future generations.

In contemporary culture

The lack of regular artistic activity explains the traditional tribal sense of style for their paintings. In the 1970s, this ritual art took a radical turn when Jivya Soma Mashe and his son Balu Mashe started to paint. They painted not for ritual purposes, but because of their artistic pursuits. Jivya is known as the modern father of Warli painting. Since the 1970s, Warli painting has moved onto paper and canvas.[5]

Coca-Cola India launched a campaign featuring Warli painting in order to highlight the ancient culture and represent a sense of togetherness. The campaign was called “Come Home on Deepawali” and specifically targeted the modern youth.[6] The campaign included advertising on traditional mass media, combined with radio, the Internet, and out-of-home media.

Traditional knowledge and intellectual property

Warli Painting is traditional knowledge and cultural intellectual property preserved across generations. Understanding the urgent need for intellectual property rights, the tribal non-governmental organization Adivasi Yuva Seva Sangh[7][8] helped to register Warli painting with a geographical indication under the intellectual property rights act.[9] Various efforts are in progress for strengthening sustainable economy of the Warli with social entrepreneurship.[10]

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look also: May Day, May Tree, May Pole, St george and the Dragon, wunderkreis/labyrinth, Sun Dance and Warli : “Youthfulness” with Perpetual Wisdom.

Oh Mary standing there
You are good and i am evil
will You remember my poor soul
I will bestow You an Ave Maria
Ave, Ave Maria, Ave Ave maria

Kill your Dragon

“Our only purpose is to give our love, respect and service to God but if given the opportunity every person would be a pharaoh. His ego would declare itself the highest lord. We must kill the dragon that is our ego and then we will find Allah with us and around us and within us” Sheikh Nazim al Haqqani

look also here

Looking to the Spiritual vertical way, as the Maypole do, gives us an opportunity of discerning an understanding between Non-Virtues and Virtues,  developing Spiritual values needed in our times :. Read here: Maypole the Principle of verticality

Ash-Shams (Arabic: الشمس, “The Sun”) is the 91st surah of the Qur’an, with 15 ayat or verses.

BY the Sun, and its rising brightness۝[18]

by the moon when she followeth him۝

by the day, when it showeth its splendor۝

by the night, when it covereth him with darkness۝

by the heaven, and him who built it۝

by the earth, and him who spread it forth۝

by the soul, and him who completely formed it۝

and inspired into the same its faculty of distinguishing, and power of choosing, wickedness and piety: now is he who hath purified the same, happy۝

but he who hath corrupted the same, is miserable.

— Q91:1-10[19]

1-10 Good and evil

BY the Sun, and its rising brightness۝[18] by the moon when she followeth him۝by the day, when it showeth its splendor۝by the night, when it covereth him with darkness۝by the heaven, and him who built it۝by the earth, and him who spread it forth۝by the soul, and him who completely formed it۝and inspired into the same its faculty of distinguishing, and power of choosing, wickedness and piety: now is he who hath purified the same, happy۝but he who hath corrupted the same, is miserable.

— Q91:1-10[19]

The first part deals with three things:-:

1-That just as the sun and the moon, the day and the night, the earth and the sky, are different from each other and contradictory in their effects and results, so are the good and the evil different front each other and contradictory in their effects and results; they are neither alike in their outward appearance nor can they be alike in their results.

2-That God after giving the human self powers of the body, sense and mind has not left it uninformed in the world, but has instilled into his unconscious by means of a natural inspiration the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, and the sense of the good to be good and of the evil to be evil.

3-That the future of man depends on how by using the powers of discrimination, will and judgement that Allah has endowed him with, he develops the good and suppresses the evil tendencies of the self. If he develops the good inclination and frees his self of the evil inclinations, he will attain to eternal success, and if, on the contrary, he suppresses the good and promotes the evil, he will meet with disappointment and failure. Sahl al-Tustari (d. 896), a Sufi and scholar of the Qur’an, mentions, “By the day when it reveals her [the sun],He said:This means: the light of faith removes the darkness of ignorance and extinguishes the flames of the Fire.[20][21]

More than four others – Frisian Folkstale

 At that time there lived in the Grinzer Pein (Friesland) a young man who was called out  that he was not afraid of anything. When a ferry had to be dug, he got a job there. He joined the team with twenty westerners. Those twenty westerners were as lazy as duckweed. They wanted him to do the work, so he got into trouble with them. Then they said, “If you don’t work, we’ll cut you in pieces.” But the young man laughed and said, “You should try that first.” And then those twenty westerners came up to him with open knives , but he knocked them down one by one, for he was not afraid. And that same evening, near the new ferry, one of the Westerners was found cut into strips. But that joung man had not done that, his own comrades wanted to get rid of that westerner. And because the young servant  had fought with him, they thought, he will be blamed.

That turned out to be the case, because the nineteen westerners testified that he must have been the murderer of their comrade. He went to court, and because he would not confess, he was put on the rack, but he maintained his innocence, for he was not afraid of anything, not even the pain. Desesperate, they called a wizard, a real wizard. He had to scare him so he confessed. The wizard had him tied on a chair; then he was powerless. But they had tortured him so much that he could hardly speak.

And then he was given a cup of warm milk to drink. The magician looked straight at him and said, ‘Look at the ground in front of you!’ And then the young man noticed that his ten toes had turned into ten snakes. They grew out of his toes, they grew bigger and bigger and came closer and closer to his head. But he made those snakes drink one by one from the hot milk from the cup he had in his hands. The snakes writhed together again and fell asleep at his feet.

The wizard asked, “Aren’t you scared yet?” But he replied, “You haven’t got any of those beasts yet, because my cup isn’t empty yet.” Then the wizard turned the boy’s hair into flames and said that he would be consumed by these flames. But the young man asked: ‘Do you have tobacco in your pocket? I don’t have any tobacco with me, but my pipe does. Stop it in front of me for a moment, so I can at least light it on the flames and don’t have to use a match’.

And the third was that the sorcerer sat before him and said: If you will not confess, you will be sent to hell. ‘But the young servant laughed, for he was not afraid. The wizard looked straight at him and then the young man noticed that his body was turning into a skeleton. The magician said:

“Aren’t you scared yet? Remember – this is how you go to hell and stay there!” “Oh,” he said, “why should I be afraid? Such an old charnel house as I am now – there is no one in hell who knows me.” And he did not bow the neck.

However, he was sentenced to death. The executioner appeared and he was to be cut into four. He was already on the block to be chopped in four, then they asked him if he wasn’t scared yet. “No,” he said, “why should I be afraid? Our father always said I was worth more than four others. And if you cut me in four here, you’ll be dealing with not one, but four men in a minute.’ And he was not quartered, but they took him back to the cell.

That same night the devil came to him and left nothing to frighten him. He told him the most horrible stories and transformed himself into the most horrible forms. The devil became an old woman, with teeth as large and as sharp as razors, and threatened to bite his throat. The devil became a dragon with seven heads that spewed fire at him. He became a very large snake, with a mouth so wide that it could eat it in one sitting. But the young servant was not afraid. Only when the devil finally asked him if he felt any fear at all did he say, “No, I don’t, but you do!

And he began to tease him so furiously, he made such hideous noises, and he drew such crooked faces, that even the devil became frightened and threw himself to the ground and blew the retreat.

The judges came to the conclusion that a person that even the devil fears can never be a murderer. And he was acquitted…

Ash-Shams (Arabic: الشمس, “The Sun”) is the 91st surah of the Qur’an, with 15 ayat or verses.

BY the Sun, and its rising brightness۝[18]

by the moon when she followeth him۝

by the day, when it showeth its splendor۝

by the night, when it covereth him with darkness۝

by the heaven, and him who built it۝

by the earth, and him who spread it forth۝

by the soul, and him who completely formed it۝

and inspired into the same its faculty of distinguishing, and power of choosing, wickedness and piety: now is he who hath purified the same, happy۝

but he who hath corrupted the same, is miserable.

— Q91:1-10[19]

1-10 Good and evil

BY the Sun, and its rising brightness۝[18] by the moon when she followeth him۝by the day, when it showeth its splendor۝by the night, when it covereth him with darkness۝by the heaven, and him who built it۝by the earth, and him who spread it forth۝by the soul, and him who completely formed it۝and inspired into the same its faculty of distinguishing, and power of choosing, wickedness and piety: now is he who hath purified the same, happy۝but he who hath corrupted the same, is miserable.

— Q91:1-10[19]

The first part deals with three things:-:

1-That just as the sun and the moon, the day and the night, the earth and the sky, are different from each other and contradictory in their effects and results, so are the good and the evil different front each other and contradictory in their effects and results; they are neither alike in their outward appearance nor can they be alike in their results.

2-That God after giving the human self powers of the body, sense and mind has not left it uninformed in the world, but has instilled into his unconscious by means of a natural inspiration the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, and the sense of the good to be good and of the evil to be evil.

3-That the future of man depends on how by using the powers of discrimination, will and judgement that Allah has endowed him with, he develops the good and suppresses the evil tendencies of the self. If he develops the good inclination and frees his self of the evil inclinations, he will attain to eternal success, and if, on the contrary, he suppresses the good and promotes the evil, he will meet with disappointment and failure. Sahl al-Tustari (d. 896), a Sufi and scholar of the Qur’an, mentions, “By the day when it reveals her [the sun],He said:This means: the light of faith removes the darkness of ignorance and extinguishes the flames of the Fire.[20][21]

Assumption, Dormition of Virgin Mary – 15 August

August 15th is the Feast of the Assumption. Around this feast cluster so many associations that a wide variety of images can prompt meditation. From the Orthodox Church comes another name for the Assumption: the Dormition of Mary.

The word dormition means sleep; icons portray Mary as falling asleep in the Lord. With roles reversed, Christ holds her wrapped in a burial sheet as if she were a newborn child. Christians remember how she held him, wrapped in swaddling clothes, newly born into this life. “Your grave and death,” they sing on August 15, “could not keep the Mother of Life.”

In St Luke’s Gospel on this Solemnity of the Assumption, the Evangelist records the words of Our Lady as she prays: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”. Before reciting the Angelus, Pope Francis reflected on the two verbs in that prayer: to rejoice and to magnify.

To rejoice
“We rejoice when something so beautiful happens that it is not enough to rejoice inside, in the soul, but we want to express happiness with the whole body”, said the Pope. “Mary rejoices because of God… she teaches us to rejoice in God, because He does “great things”.

To magnify
“To magnify means to exalt a reality for its greatness, for its beauty”, continued Pope Francis. “Mary proclaims the greatness of the Lord… she shows us that if we want our life to be happy, God must be placed first, because He alone is great”. The Pope warned of getting lost in the pettiness of life, chasing after things of little importance: “prejudices, grudges, rivalries, envy, and superfluous material goods”. Mary, on the other hand, invites us to “look upward at the ‘great things’ the Lord has accomplished in her”.

The Gate to Heaven
“Mary, who is a human creature, one of us, reaches eternity in body and soul”, said Pope Francis. This is why we invoke her as the “Gate of Heaven”. “There she awaits us, just as a mother waits for her children to come home”. We are like pilgrims on our way home to Heaven. Seeing that “in paradise, together with Christ, the New Adam, there is also her, Mary, the new Eve, gives us comfort and hope in our pilgrimage down here”.

Heaven is open
For those who are afflicted with doubts and sadness, “and live with their eyes turned downwards”, the Feast of the Assumption is a call to “look upwards” and see that “Heaven is open”. It is no longer distant, and we need no longer be afraid: “because on the threshold of Heaven there is a Mother waiting for us”. Mary constantly reminds us that we are precious in the eyes of God, and that we are made for the great joys of Heaven. “Every time we take the Rosary in our hands and pray to her”, he said, “we take a step forward towards our life’s great goal”.

The greatness of Heaven
“Let us be attracted by true beauty”, “let us not be drawn in by the petty things in life, but let us choose the greatness of Heaven”. Pope Francis concluded by praying that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Gate of Heaven, may help us daily to fix our gaze with confidence and joy “on the place where our true home lies”.

The Assumption signals the end of Mary’s earthly life and marks her return to heaven to be reunited with Jesus. While the bodies of both Jesus and Mary are now in heaven, there is a difference between the Assumption and the Resurrection.

Where Jesus arose from the tomb and ascended into heaven by his own power, Mary’s body was taken up to heaven by the power of her Son.

For this reason we use different words to describe each event. One is the Ascension of Christ and the other, the Assumption of Mary.

The Assumption of Mary Feast Day dates back to earliest Christian times.The first believed to have asked what had happened to Mary’s body was St Epiphanius, a 4th Century bishop who devoted himself to the study of Mary’s death and believed Our Lady did not die but instead was recalled to heaven.

The feast day of this holy and momentous event stems from the middle of the 5th Century when the Commemoration of the Mother of Jesus was celebrated each year on 15 August in a shrine located near Jerusalem.

More than 100 years later, the feast also commemorated the end of Mary’s sojourn on earth and was known as the “Dormition of Our Lady.”

“Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory,” Pope Pius told the masses.

For many, the most telling verification of the Assumption can be found not only in learned theological studies or definitive doctrinal statements, but in the medium of Mary’s many apparitions which the Church has declared worthy of belief. Where these apparitions have appeared have become beloved Holy shrines visited by millions each year.

Read more here :The Assumption and the World

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  • The Dormition of Mary

The Dormition of the Mother of God is a Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which commemorates the “falling asleep” or death of Mary the Theotokos (“Mother of God”, literally translated as God-bearer), and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. It is celebrated on 15 August (28 August N.S. for those following the Julian Calendar) as the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Dormition not on a fixed date, but on the Sunday nearest 15 August.

The death or Dormition of Mary is not recorded in the Christian canonical scriptures.

Hippolytus of Thebes, a 7th- or 8th-century author, claims in his partially preserved chronology to the New Testament that Mary lived for 11 years after the death of Jesus, dying in AD 41.[1]

The term Dormition expresses the belief that the Virgin died without suffering, in a state of spiritual peace. This belief does not rest on any scriptural basis, but is affirmed by Orthodox Christian Holy Tradition. It is testified to in some old Apocryphal writings, but neither the Orthodox Church nor other Christians regard these as possessing scriptural authority.  And It was knew by Bruegel though  the Golden Legends as we have seen ealier.

  • Difference of denomination Assumption, Dormition and Death of Mary

In Orthodoxy and Catholicism, in the language of the scripture, death is often called a “sleeping” or “falling asleep” (Greek κοίμησις; whence κοιμητήριον > coemetērium > cemetery, “a place of sleeping”). A prominent example of this is the name of this feast on 15th of August: Dormition; another is the Dormition of Anna, Mary’s mother.

  • Theological symbolism

The “Dormition of the Mother of God” is one of the most revered icons in Russia. It is this icon that was first miraculously delivered from Constantinople to Kiev where it consecrated with its divine presence not only the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, but all of Holy Rus, the new (and final) bastion of Orthodoxy.

In the traditional depiction of this icon, we see on the lower level the Virgin falling into slumber on her deathbed surrounded by saints, and on the middle level we see the figure of Jesus Christ standing, holding the soul of the Virgin Mary in the form of an infant in his hands.

In considering the symbolism of this depiction, it is necessary to immediately point to the reverse analogy between the central figure of the Dormition of the Mother of God and the classical “Mother of God” icon. If in the traditional depiction of the Mother of God (for example, the “Vladimir Mother of God”, “Kazan Mother of God,” etc.) we see the ‘adult’ Mother of God holding Jesus, then in the Dormition of the Mother of God we see the inverse: the ‘adult’ Jesus Christ and the ‘infant’ Virgin Mary.

Explaining this contrast will help us discover the universal, ontological character of the Christian tradition which, like any fully-fledged tradition, in addition to a historical aspect bears a deeply metaphysical, supra-historical charge directly tied to the spiritual understand of reality at large.

Thus, the very fact of the Incarnation of the God-Word in the material, human universe necessarily implies a certain “diminishment” of the fullness of the second hypostasis of the Holy Trinity, not an essential “depreciation” (the Trinity always remains self-resembling), but an external, apparent, visible depreciation.

Christ is described in the Gospel as “suffering.” In the First Coming, the true nature of the Son remains veiled, hidden, and can only be guessed by chosen disciples. But for subsequent generations of Christians, defining this divine nature becomes the basis of Faith – Faith, not Knowledge, since Knowledge is associated with the ontological obviousness of a certain sacred fact, and the obviousness of the Son’s divinity manifests itself only at the moment of the Second Coming, the Coming of the Sacred in Power, in Glory, i.e., in his original ‘non-diminished’ quality.

Therefore, the classical image of the Mother of God with the infant has a symbolic meaning that is central to prayer and Church practice.

In this icon, as in the sacred map of reality, a ‘diminished’ spiritual center is shown surrounded by the human or, more broadly, material cosmic nature which externally ‘surpasses’ this center, is ‘predominant’ compared to it, and is ‘bigger’ than it is.

The Mother of God with the infant describes the ontological status of the world between the First and Second Coming where the Son is already revealed to the world, but in a ‘diminished’ quality thereby demanding Faith, personal effort, and spiritual devotion on the part of believers for ‘dynamic,’ willed transformation of Faith into Confidence.

The Dormition of the Mother of God icon presents us with the inverse proportion. Rising above the concrete historical fact of the Virgin Mary’s personal death, the Orthodox tradition here offers a prototype of an eschatological situation, valuably pointing to the meaning of the sacraments of the End Times.

The depiction of Christ holding the infant Virgin in his arms describes the true proportions of the spiritual world in which the Center, the Pole of Being, the God-Word is presented not as  diminished, but in its full metaphysical extent.

In the heavenly world, the ‘diminished’ is the  ‘material,’ the ‘earthly’ cosmic portion, while the Spirit itself appears in its entirety.

Here the Word is  omnipresent and obvious and all-fulfilling.But the material world is not simply destroyed in heavenly  reality. It is transformed, it is ‘drawn’ to the spiritual regions and rises to its heavenly and supra-material archetype.

Hence, in fact, the special term ‘dormition’ (a calque from Greek “koimesis,” or sleep, rest, lie; in Latin ‘assumptio”) in contrast to the usual word ‘death.

Dormition means ‘solace’, i.e., the transition from the state of ‘unrest’ inherent to material, physical reality to a state of ‘peace,’ in which all things abide in the regions of Eternity.

Thus there is not ‘destruction,’ but ‘final disappearance’ understood by the word ‘death.’ It would be interesting in this regard to pay attention to the Russian etymology of the word ‘uspenie’ (dormition), which is akin to the Ancient Indian term ‘svapiti’ (literally ‘to sleep’). This Indian term literally means ‘to enter oneself’ or ‘dive into one’s inner self.’

As follows, our word ‘uspenie’ etymologically means ‘entering the inner world’, the ‘inner ‘world’ being a synonym for the ‘spiritual’ or ‘heavenly’ world.

In the troparion for the celebration of the Dormition of the Mother of God, it is said: “in falling asleep she did not forsake the world.”

In giving birth thou didst preserve thy virginity;

in thy dormition thou didst not forsake the world, O Theotokos.

Thou wast translated unto life,

since thou art the Mother of Life,

and by thine intercessions doest thou deliver our souls from death.

This refers not only to the compassionate participation of the Mother of God in worldly affairs after her departure, but also the fundamental ontological event of the ‘casting of the material world’ into the spiritual sphere as a result of a special, unique sacred event.

What metaphysical event is symbolized by the Dormition of the Mother of God?

This event is the End Times. It is at this moment, the moment of the Second Coming, that happens the final affirmation of true spiritual proportions in correlation to the material and the spiritual.

The ‘material’ (the Virgin Mary) turns out to be an infinitesimal point in the Infinity of spiritual Light, the Light of the God-Word, Christ.

Consequently, the Dormition icon reveals to the Christian the deep mystery of the End Times, which is not a global catastrophe, not the destruction or disappearance of the physical world as is seen most often by those who are only superficially familiar with Orthodox eschatology, but the essential and total restoration of the normal, natural, harmonious ways of being where the spiritual, heavenly Light completely incorporates the physical, material darkness.

Therefore, from a Christian perspective, the End Times is the single most important event of an entirely positive, salvational meaning. The End Times is not a catastrophe, but the end of catastrophe since, from a spiritual point of view, any ‘unrest’, ‘worrying’, or ‘movement’ is essentially catastrophic for the spirit and, in addition, signifies the triumph of inferior, Satanic forces.

The End Times, the End of the World, and Judgement Day act as something repulsive and negative only for the enemies of God, only for those who identify their fate with the dark course of restless, demonic fate.

For believers, on the contrary, this is salvation, a celebration, and transformationthe universal and final ‘dormition’ of matter together with the universal and final ‘awakening’ of the spirit.

Thus, we can now distinguish three levels in this spiritual teaching manifesting such abundant wisdom in the icon of the Dormition.

  • Historically, this icon tells of the death of the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ and her subsequent mercy for the believers and suffering of this world.
  • Ontologically, it embodies the affirmation of true spiritual proportions of material reality in the larger picture of being, where the spirit fills everything while physical reality is ‘diminished’ to an infinitely small point.
  • Eschatologically, it points to the meaning of the End Times, i.e., the restoration of true existential proportions and the affirmation of the absolute triumph of the Heavenly, Divine element. The ‘diminishing’ of matter in the End Times does not mean its destruction, but its ‘induction’ into the fulness of light and peace.

 

  • Universal symbolism

The symbolism of the Dormition icon (if we juxtapose it to the Mother of God icon) also has analogies outside of a Christian context. The clearest such similar spiritual concept of the structure of being is reflected in the Chinese symbol of Yin-Yang, in which the white dot against the black background signifies the diminishing of the spirit in matter, while the black dot against the white background is, conversely, matter in spirit.

However, the Chinese tradition is characterized by contemplation and and the absence of an eschatological orientation. Thus, the Chinese are inclined to  consider this symbol as a sign of eternal harmony while  Christians see ontological plans in an historical and eschatological perspective, hence Christianity’s distinctly  ‘dynamic’ character supposing the personal, volitional  engagement of man in the outcome of the fate of the spirit. 

The Chinese believe that this volitional aspect is not so  important insofar as the Tao ultimately arranges everything  in the best way.

Undoubtedly, similar symbolism can be found in many other traditions in reference to  the correlations between the material and spiritual worlds, but the Chinese example represents  something so clear and comprehensive that all similar parables can be reduced to it.

Read more here

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  • Bruegel: The Dormition of  Virgin Mary

The Death of the Virgin, 1574

(On behalf of himself and his friends Abraham Ortelius took care of the production.); at bottom center below line of cartouche in lower margin:1574; in lower margin: Gnati certa tui Virgo cum regna petebas/ Complebant pectus gaudia quanta tuum?/ Quid tibi didce magis fuerat quam carcer[a]e terre/ Mi grare optati in templa superna poli?// Cumqkel sacram turbam,fieras cui prfidesidium tu, / Linquebas, nata est qu[a]e tibi maestitia/ Quam mk_lestus quoq[ue], quam lkietus .spectabat eunte[m] /Te, nati atq[ue] idem grex tuus ille pius?// Quid magis his gratutn, quam te regnare, quid faleque/ Triste fuit, facie quam caruisse tried/ M[a]estiti[a]e Ifidetos habitus, vultusqzie proborum/ Artci monstrat picta tabella manui”

( Virgin, when you sought the secure realms of your son, what great joys filled your breast! What would have been sweeter for you than to migrate from the prison of the earth to the lofty temples of the longed-for heavens! And when you left the sacred group [of followers of Christ] whose mentor you had been, what sadness sprang up in you. How sad as well as how joyful was that pious gathering of you and your son as they watched you go. What was a greater joy for them than for you to reign [in heaven], what greater sadness than to miss your appearances? This picture, created by a skillful hand, shows the happy bearing of sadness on the faces of the just.)

  • In several respects The Death of the Virgin is an extremely unusual engraving after Pieter Bruegel. It was not made until five years after Bruegel’s death in 1569, and it reproduces a grisaille painting by the master that was not meant to be engraved.

Executed as a result of the efforts of two eminent men who were close friends of Bruegel, it inspired two illustrious contemporary scholars to pen appreciations—which are among the very few commentaries written on prints in the sixteenth century.

And finally The Death of the Virgin is simply one of the best prints engraved after a composition by Bruegel.

The renowned Antwerp humanist and geographer Abraham Ortelius owned Bruegel’s grisaille Death of the Virgin, painted about 1564:

As one of the inscriptions in the lower margin of the print tells us, he had the engraving made for himself and his friends; in 1574 he asked Philips Galle to copy the composition in copper so that he could give away printed reproductions of his admired possession.

It is generally assumed that the erudite Ortelius himself wrote the unsigned Latin verses in the margin, which dweil on the religious content of the image.

That the scholar did present friends with impressions of the print is known from the written testimony of two men. In July 1578 the Dutch moralist, playwright, and engraver Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert thanked Ortelius for sending it to him and offered elegant words of praise for all concerned: “from top to bottom I viewed [the sheet] with pleasure, and in admiration for the artful drawing and the meticulous engraving. Bruegel and Philips [Galle] have surpassed themselves. I do not think that either has ever done better. Thus their friend Abraham [Ortelius] with his favors [in acquiring the painting and ordering the print] encouraged both their arts. Never did I see, such is my opinion, a better drawing, nor an engraving of the same quality than this sorrowful chamber.

Some twelve years later the Spanish theologian and royal librarian Benito Arias Montano appealed to Ortelius for an impression as a token of friendship, recalling in a letter of March 1590 that he had seen the grisaille at his friend’s house and describing it as “painted in the most skillful manner and with the greatest piety“; the next year, in April 1591, he gratefully acknowledged receipt of the engraving.

 The death of the Virgin is not recorded in the Bible. Only in the Middle Ages was the theme gradually incorporated into what were for the most part apocryphal accounts of the life of Mary.

The subject became increasingly popular, due especially to a detailed narrative in the Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine, a much-read compilation of writings from the second half of the thirteenth century on the lives of Christian saints and martyrs.

Although it never found as much favor as stories about other moments from the life of Mary, the theme of The Death of the Virgin was taken up by some of the greatest northern European artists of the fifteenth century. Paintings by Hugo van der Goes and Dieric Bouts and prints by Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Durer on the subject established a pictorial tradition that Bruegel embraced.

Indeed, for his own Death of the Virgin Bruegel borrowed specific compositional elements from engravings by Schongauer and Durer

Like most artists (here Rembrandt) of his time, Bruegel derived his conception of the death of the Virgin from the Golden Legend. read here: The Assumption of the Glorious Virgin our Lady S. Mary from Golden legend

While other artists based their representations of the subject quite directly on the account in that volume, however, he introduced highly unusual, innovative features into his scene.

According to tradition, he chose to show the sad event at night, which enabled him to dramatize the composition by means of emphatic chiaroscuro effects especially appropriate to the grisaille technique of his painting.

In Galle’s powerful translation of Bruegel’s image, the bedroom is dimly lit by a fireplace, a few candles, and the light radiating from Mary.

Bruegel filled the room—which literary sources tell us is in the house of the apostle John—with furniture and household utensils, creating an unusually domestic setting, replete with homey details such as the table in the foreground with the remains of a meal.

Whereas the Golden Legend speaks only of the apostles present, here many individuals pay their respects to the dying Virgin. Dressed as a priest, the apostle Peter, the first leader of the Christian community after the death of Christ, stands at Mary’s bed as if he were administering extreme unction; an acolyte holding a cross-staff appears behind Peter; and a friar kneels at the edge of the bed in the right foreground: like the numerous guests in the background, these are elements that are new to the story and suggest that the events shown could just as easily have taken place in Antwerp in the sixteenth century as in biblical times.

It seems probable that here Bruegel chose a familiar contemporary setting, as he did in other religious works, to bring his image close to his viewers so that they could identify with those attending Mary on her deathbed and thus elicit from them strong spiritual feelings.

As one scholar has recently pointed out, Bruegel’s reading of the event as taking place in his own time is close to that of roughly contemporary Jesuit texts on the meaning and interpretation of the Virgin’s death.

 The only inexplicable detail in his composition is the sleeping man in the left foreground. He is generally considered to be John the Evangelist, although there is no evidence to confirm this identification, nor has anyone yet convincingly accounted for why he is so conspicuously sleeping at the verg moment of the Virgin’s death.

May Be we can find an answer in tis passage of the Golden Legend:

And St. Cosmo, in following the narration, saith: And after this a great thunder knocked at the house with so great an odour of sweetness, that with the sweet spirit the house was replenished, in such wise that all they that were there save the apostles, and three virgins which held the lights, slept. Then our Lord came with a great multitude of angels and took the soul of his mother, and the soul of her shone by so great light that none of the apostles might behold it. And our Lord said to St. Peter: Bury the corpse of my mother with great reverence, and keep it there three days diligently, and I shall then come again, and transport her unto heaven without corruption, and shall clothe her of the semblable clearness of myself; that which I have taken of her, and that which she hath taken of me, shall be assembled together and accord.

That same St. Cosmo rehearseth a dreadful and marvellous mystery of dissension natural and of curious inquisition. For all things that be said of the glorious virgin, mother of God, be marvellous above nature and be more to doubt than to enquire. For when the soul was issued out of the body, the body said these words: Sire, I thank thee that I am worthy of thy grace; remember thee of me, for I ne am but a thing faint, and have kept that which thou deliveredst me.

And then the other awoke and saw the body of the virgin without soul, and then began strongly to weep and were heavy and sorrowful. And then the apostles took up the body of the Blessed Virgin and bare it to the monument, and St. Peter began the psalm In exitu Israel de Egypto.

It is usually assumed that Ortelius was the first owner of Bruegel’s grisaille of The Death of the Virgin and that he may have helped to conceive its innovative iconography. His involvement on this level is certainly plausible, for he belonged to a circle of learned friends in Antwerp that included Bruegel as well as Galle and Arias Montano.

It was in this circle of humanist scholars and a few artists, with the publisher Christophe Plantin and his press, Officina Plantiniana, at its heart, that Bruegel’s Death of the Virgin originated and was circulated by means of Galle’s engraving. Ortelius’s tribute to Bruegel, written in his Album Amicorum about 1573, is both brief and apt: “That Pieter Bruegel was the most perfect painter of his age, no one—unless jealous or envious or ignorant of his art— could ever deny.”

The names of Galle, Bruegel, Coornhert, Montano and Ortelius all come together in the story of the engraving of The Death of the Virgin.

The painting, a haunting work in grisaille that hangs today at Upton House near Banbury, had originally belonged to Ortelius. A large number of Bruegel’s drawings were done specifically for the popular market in engravings but his paintings were private commissions and were not produced as editions of prints. The print of The Death of the Virgin is an exception and, even so, there was never a popular edition. Some years after Bruegel’s death Ortelius engaged Galle to produce a very limited edition intended for members of the intimate circle that had constituted the Hiël group.

A letter (dated 1578) exists from Coornhert to Ortelius thanking him for his copy and in 1591 Arias Montano wrote having received his. (See Manfred Sellink in Nadine Orenstein, Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Drawings and Prints, New York: The Metropolitan Museum, 2001, pp. 258-261

Coornhert openly acknowledged a spiritual outlook formed under the influence of Franck and, like his mentor, devoted energy to translating great masterpieces of the perennial tradition including Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, Cicero’s On Duties, Erasmus’ Paraphrases of the New Testament and Homer’s The Odyssey.

At first, as a humanist, he was passionately committed to the cause of freedom of religious thought and opposed the rigidity and doctrinaire stance of Calvin. Later he came under the influence of Franck as well as other spiritual reformers such as Hans Denck and Sebastian Costellio and received from them formative influences which turned him powerfully to the cultivation of inward religion for his own soul and to the expression and interpretation of a universal Christianity‘. Coornhert makes a distinction between the forms of institutional religion, which he calls outer or external religion’, which he allows as a preparatory stage and inward religion’ which is the establishment of the kingdom of God in men’s hearts. Only God has the right to be master over man’s soul and conscience; it is man’s right to have freedom of conscience”. With his intransigent defense of tolerance, even toward nonbelievers and atheists, the Dutch Catholic humanist and controversialist Coornhert made a substantial and permanent contribution to the early modern debate on religious freedom.

Rejection of the institutionalized reform movements on the basis of their new dogmatism and formalism … motivated the believers in a more “inward” spiritualized faith. Like the reformers, Spiritualists advocated free Bible research, but as a result of the notion of a direct personal relationship with God – and individual approach that we also find in Erasmus – they attach great importance to an unimpeded access to the Spirit of the individual.

At the same time they tend to minimize the importance of “externals”: ceremonies, sacraments, the church, often also the supreme authority of the Bible, for they consider the Spirit of prior significance; the Bible without the Spirit becomes a “paper pope” as Frank put it.

The same author points out that while Erasmus and humanism were a significant influence on men like Sebastian Franck, spiritual seekers were also influenced by late-medieval mystical traditions found in Eckhart and Tauler. Voogt acknowledges the importance for 16th century exponents of radical dissent of the anonymous Theologia Germanica (German Theology) which they frequently used and quoted from.

Henry Niclaes, founder of the Family of Love was profoundly influenced by this work (and by Thomas â Kempis‟ Imitation of Christ). He, and his main disciple (and later rival) Barrefelt, felt attracted to the Theologia’s theme of the return to a Platonic oneness and of the freedom of the will. They embraced the notion, found in this small book, that incarnation continued after the Ascension of Christ. This incarnation – known among Familists as Vergottung (godding) – takes place, they believed, whenever the spirit entered the individual.

One element of the Theologia that does leave a strong imprint on Coornhert … mostly through the mediation of Sebastian Frank … was the idea of the invisible church, vested in the hearts of true Christians wherever they may be found.

  • Convivium

By the early sixteenth century, the upper classes began to pattern their activities during mealtime after those that occurred in the dining halls of monasteries or courtly circles. Primarily, it was an occasion not only to eat one’s fill but also to express one’s thoughts. Since Plato’s Symposium, the convivium had been an established literary genre ideally suited for discussion of a variety of topics. Founded on further descriptions of feasts in classical texts such as Cicero, Macrobius and Plutarch, the nourishment and self-cultivation that took place at dinner parties was provided in equal measure by food, drink and conversation. For example, the Ancients wanted both Bacchus and the Muses to preside at banquets, for “learned and entertaining words…delight the body and mind as much as wine does, or more.” Athenaeus constantly plays with the idea that words, not just food, provide the “satisfaction” of the meal: “we brought as our contribution not delicacies, but topics for discussion.”Montaigne praises the Greeks and Romans for setting aside “for eating, which is an important action in life, several hours and the better part of the night,” because the meal is an opportunity for total pleasure thanks to “such good talk and agreeable entertainment as men of intelligence are able to provide for one another.” Edere et audire,” to eat and listen; in Erasmus’s Fabulous Feast, this is the goal of a few friends sitting around a table—to cultivate the mind by taking in stories while nourishing the body with dinner. In the “Sober Feast,” when deciding how to properly dedicate the garden where their dinner will take place, the character Albert suggests that each one make a contribution of his own. Aemilius questions, “What shall we contribute who’ve come here empty-handed?” Albert replies, “You who carry such riches in your mind? Let each offer to the company the best thing he’s read this week.” As we will see, these convivial conversations were spurred on by scripted topics, texts read around the table or paintings hanging on the wall.

That was also the case with the Convivium intended for members of the intimate circle of the Family of Love, that had constituted the Hiël group. And sure for the the Onze Lieve Vrouw ommegang” which is held on 15 August for the Assumption of Mary.

In the 15th, 16th and 17th century the Ommegang of Antwerp was the most important in Flanders. The “Onze Lieve Vrouwommegang” consisted originally of two events: the first celebrated the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary.

 

The second was a large, opulent secular participation of the guildsas the Guild of Saint Luke ( where Bruegel was member), crafts and chambers of rhetoric, each of which contributed a float to a procession through the streets of Antwerp[ Some floats contained references to events of the preceding year. There was considerable rivalry between the guilds in their efforts to provide the most splendid display.

For the intimate circle of the Family of Love that had constituted the Hiël group, the Assumption of Mary had sure a deep spitiural meaning.

  • Bruegel the Apocalypse Within:

In an introductory passage to his commentary on Revelation which appeared in 1627 the Flemish Jesuit Cornelius a Lapide mentioned the only inward interpretation he seems to have known of — that of the Spanish Biblical scholar Benito Arias Montano — and, although he acknowledged slight differences, he placed it in the medieval tradition of spiritual commentaries.

Certainly the patristic and medieval exegetes quoted by a Lapide,Ticonius,
Primasius, Bede, Anselm, Hayrno, the Victorines, Rupert of Deutz and Denys the Carthusian — have something in commonwith the inward commentators. They either rejected a historical-political significance outright or added a spiritual interpretation to persons and places existing in history. For Primasius and Bede Asia is thus equated with pride; BabyIon is commonly interpreted as the sum of all evil, the beast as the devil and the whore as the rejection of God. At the same time, however, the Book was invariably regarded as prophesying the triumph of the Church’ of Christ. Chapters 4 and 5 were seen as a description of this Church, and the last chapters as an account of its victory. In the inward interpretations which I shall be discusring the Church of Christ disappears and is replaced by the human soul.

Benito Arias Montano was the first to admit that his interpretation of the Book of Revelation in his Elucidationes in omnia S. Apostolorum scripta of 1588, original though it might seem, was not of his own devising. He had taken it from the Dutch spiritual writer Hendrik Jansen van Barrefelt who wrote under ‘the pseudonym of Hiël, ‘the uniform life of God’, and Hiël, in his turn, leads us to a particular attitude towards the Scriptures, which had developed in Northern Europe in reaction to Luther’s ideas.

This attitude, fostered by Thomas Miintzer and shared by Sebastian Franck, Sébastien Castellion, Valentin Weigel and others, was based on the belief that the Spirit was of far greater importance than the Letter and that the Scriptures could only be understood by the man enlightened by that same Spirit with which they had been written. To this must be added a further conviction, held by such men as David Joris and Hendrik Niclaes: the world had entered the last of the three altes of time, the age of the Spirit corresponding to the theological virtue of Charity, in which the seventh seal on the Scriptures would be removed for the spiritual man .

Hiël, a native of Gelderland, had been a weaver, and he prided himself on his ignorance of any language except Dutch’ . He had once been an Anabap­tist and had then joined the Family of Love shortly after its foundation by Hendrik Niclaes in Emden in 1540.

The Family of Love, whose ideas  are central to Bruegel‟s intellectual and religious outlook, was not an isolated phenomenon and can be shown to be a link in the chain of schools – more or less hidden – stretching alongside the more visible history of Christianity in Europe . Read mor about the movement at The Spiritual Message of Bruegel for our Times

Despite his professed ignorance of languages and an apparent lack of education Hiël was profoundly imbued with the spiritual ideas circulating in the Low Countries and Germany, and above alI he venerated the medieval tract which all the spiritual writers in Northern Europe claimed as one of their main sources, the Theologia Germanica. In 1573 Hiël, who by this time resided chiefly in Cologne, broke away from Hendrik Niclaes and, in the years following, he devoted himself to writing his own books. These included his commentary on the Book of Revelation, the Verklaring der Openbaringe Johannis In het. ware Wesen Jesu Christi.

Refusing to commit himsejf to any visible church but displaying a certain preference for Catholicism rather than for Protestantism, Hiël carried to its extreme conclusion the attitude of the ‘spirituals’ towards the Letter. Rather than attempting any philological interpretation of the Bible he used the Bible as a text illustrating his own doctrine. To it he applied a single scheme of interpretation: throughout the Scriptures, he maintained, there could be detected a figurative indication of the eternal struggle in the soul of man between the sinful earthly being or nature, dominated by earthly wisdom, and the divine nature of God.

Only by killing earthly wisdom and the lusts and properties in his soul would man enable Christ to be reborn within himself and be united with God, thereby restoring that `oneness’ referred to at the beginning of the Theologia Germanica: 

“Sin is selfishness:Godliness is unselfishness:A godly life is the steadfast working out of inward freeness from self:To become thus Godlike is the bringing back of man’s first nature”.

Read more here

The Ottomans: A Cultural Legacy

A hundred years after the abolition of the Ottoman sultanate on November 1, 1922, enough time has passed to reexamine the Ottomans and reassess their legacy.

This illustrated volume, by critically acclaimed author Diana Darke, explores their unique achievements in architecture, cuisine, music, science, and medicine, as well as the political challenges they met. The Ottoman Empire faced issues shared by modern European and Middle Eastern countries: how to maintain a balance between religious ideology and secular politics and how to promote fairness and equality among citizens in a multicultural society.

While many still equate the Ottomans with the decadence of Istanbul–extravagant architecture, harems, and hookahs–they are unaware that the secrets of Ottoman success lay in a disciplined bureaucracy and a standing army that both awed and seduced its opponents. The Ottomans harnessed the talents of their diverse populations and quickly buttressed the crumbling edifice of Byzantine Christianity. Their dynamism and resilience helped fuse the cultures of Asia, Europe, and Africa, from the Himalayas to the Sahara, absorbing whatever impressed them, from Mongol armor to Persian tile work. Alongside their essential rigor, they enjoyed the finer aspects of life: in music, cuisine, and art, unafraid, even as rugged fighters, to display their love of flowers and gardens, especially tulips and roses. Behind the fine robes, carpets, and ceramics on display today in their great architectural monuments, Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia, lie centuries of migration, trade, and struggle. In this original and beautifully illustrated book, Darke reveals a radically new picture of the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300-1600

A preeminent scholar of Turkish history vividly portrays 300 years of this distinctively Eastern culture as it grew from a military principality to the world’s most powerful Islamic state. He paints a striking picture of the prominence of religion and warfare in everyday life, as well as the traditions of statecraft, administration, social values, financial, and land policies. Free download

Daily Life in the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire was an Islamic imperial monarchy that existed for over 600 years. At the height of its power in the 16th and 17th centuries, it encompassed three continents and served as the core of global interactions between the east and the west. And while the Empire was defeated after World War I and dissolved in 1920, the far-reaching effects and influences of the Ottoman Empire are still clearly visible in today’s world cultures.

Daily Life in the Ottoman Empire allows readers to gain critical insight into the pluralistic social and cultural history of an empire that ruled a vast region extending from Budapest in Hungary to Mecca in Arabia. Each chapter presents an in-depth analysis of a particular aspect of daily life in the Ottoman Empire. Free Download

The Janissaries

From the fifteenth to the sixteenth century, the janissaries were the scourge of Europe. Their ferocious spirit allowed their masters to extend their conquests from the Danube to the Euphrates. Their power was such that even sultans trembled.

But by the end of the eighteenth century, they were more interested in trade than war. Ill-disciplined and arrogant, both rulers and ruled turned against them. Yet their political power was so extensive it took years before they could be suppressed. Here Download

Useful Enemies: Islam and The Ottoman Empire in Western Political Thought, 1450-1750

From the fall of Constantinople in 1453 until the eighteenth century, many Western European writers viewed the Ottoman Empire with almost obsessive interest. Typically they reacted to it with fear and distrust; and such feelings were reinforced by the deep hostility of Western Christendom towards Islam. Yet there was also much curiosity about the social and political system on which the huge power of the sultans was based. In the sixteenth century, especially, when Ottoman territorial expansion was rapid and Ottoman institutions seemed particularly robust, there was even open admiration.

In this path-breaking book Noel Malcolm ranges through these vital centuries of East-West interaction, studying all the ways in which thinkers in the West interpreted the Ottoman Empire as a political phenomenon – and Islam as a political religion. Useful Enemies shows how the concept of ‘oriental despotism’ began as an attempt to turn the tables on a very positive analysis of Ottoman state power, and how, as it developed, it interacted with Western debates about monarchy and government. Noel Malcolm also shows how a negative portrayal of Islam as a religion devised for political purposes was assimilated by radical writers, who extended the criticism to all religions, including Christianity itself.

Examining the works of many famous thinkers (including Machiavelli, Bodin, and Montesquieu) and many less well-known ones, Useful Enemies illuminates the long-term development of Western ideas about the Ottomans, and about Islam. Noel Malcolm shows how these ideas became intertwined with internal Western debates about power, religion, society, and war. Discussions of Islam and the Ottoman Empire were thus bound up with mainstream thinking in the West on a wide range of important topics. These Eastern enemies were not just there to be denounced. They were there to be made use of, in arguments which contributed significantly to the development of Western political thought. Free Download

Look also: SUFI ORDERS AND POPULAR CULTURE and

SUFISM, MUSIC AND SOCIETY IN TURKEY AND THE MIDDLE EAST

Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man

This work from one of the world’s leading Islamic thinkers,Seyyed Hossein Nasr, is a spiritual tour de force which explores the relationship between the human being and nature as found in many religious traditions, particularly its Sufi dimension. The author stresses the importance of a greater awareness of the origins of both the human being and nature as a means of righting the imbalance that exists in our deepest selves and in our environment. Free download here

The underlying religion

The underlying religion: An introduction to the perennial philosophy.


‘‘There is…one sole religion and one sole worship for all beings endowed with
understanding, and this is presupposed through a variety of rites’’ – Nicholas
of Cusa


Due to the pivotal function of the perennial philosophy within both transpersonal and humanistic psychology this volume will be of paramount interest to researchers and practitioners and belongs in every library of transpersonal and humanistic psychology.
This recent anthology was compiled by Clinton Minnaar and the late Dr. Martin Lings (1909–2005), one of the leading perennialist authors of the XXth century, who was the Keeper of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books at the British Museum.
This anthology is organized into seven themes, each theme having its corresponding essays:


I. ‘TRADITION AND MODERNITY’, describes the hiatus that divides the sacred orientation of the traditional world from that of the secular and progress driven modern and post-modern world.
Nothing and nobody is any longer in the right place; men no longer recognize any effective authority in the spiritual order or any legitimate power in the temporal; the ‘‘profane’’ presume to discuss what is sacred, and to contest its character and even its existence; the inferior judges the superior, ignorance sets bounds to wisdom, error prevails over truth, the human supersedes the divine, earth overtops heaven, the individual sets the measure for all things and claims to dictate to the universe laws drawn entirely from his own relative and fallible reason. ‘‘Woe unto you, ye blind guides,’’ the Gospel says; and indeed everywhere today one sees nothing but blind leaders of the blind, who, unless restrained by some timely check, will
inevitably lead them into the abyss, there to perish with them. (pp. 317–318)

II. ‘TRADITIONAL COSMOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE’ underscores the implicit limitations of modern science, its failures and destructive tendencies for not receiving its directives from divine principles utilized since time immemorial in both East and West.
At the heart of the traditional sciences of the cosmos, as well as traditional anthropology, psychology, and aesthetics stands the scientia sacra which contains the principles of these sciences while being primarily concerned with the knowledge of the Principle which is both sacred knowledge and knowledge of the sacred par excellence, since the Sacred as such is none other than the Principle. (p. 117)
III. ‘METAPHYSICS’ gives a clear exposition on what is and what is not integral metaphysics according to the perennial philosophy which has nothing to do with ‘‘New Age’’ spiritualities.
[I]n truth, pure metaphysics being essentially above and beyond all form and all contingency is neither Eastern nor Western but universal. The exterior forms with which it is covered only serve the necessities of exposition, to express whatever is expressible. These forms may be Eastern or Western; but under the appearance of diversity there is always a basis of unity, at least, wherever true metaphysics exists, for the simple reason that truth is one. (p. 95)
IV. ‘SYMBOLISM’ contextualizes symbols outside the pale of modern psychology or that of the ‘‘unconscious’’ which they are commonly thought to originate rather than that of their true origin in divinis as are ‘‘archetypes’’. The answer to the question ‘What is Symbolism?’, if deeply understood, has been known to change altogether a man’s life; and it could indeed be said
that most of the problems of the modern world result from ignorance of that answer. As to the past however, there is no traditional doctrine which does not teach that this world is the world of symbols, inasmuch as it contains nothing which is not a symbol. (Lings, 1991, p. vii)
V. ‘THE PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY’ provides a revision and an expansion, mutatis mutandis of what has been commonly attributed and often wrongly so as the perennial philosophy or the ‘transcendent unity of religions’. It is through the perennial philosophy that true and authentic
interfaith dialogue can precede for both the differences and similarities are taken into account without compromising the integrity of each tradition. Ibn ‘Arabi writes:

My heart is capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles
and a convent for Christian Monks,
And idol-temple and the pilgrim’s Ka’ba [Mecca],
And the tables of the Torah and the book of the Koran:

I follow the religion of Love, whichever way his camels take;
my religion and my faith is the true religion.

(Ibn ‘Arabi, quoted in Lings & Minnaar, p. 224

VI. ‘BEAUTY’ makes it clear that it is incumbent upon anyone on a spiritual path to live within a context of beauty for spiritual support vis-a` -vis highlighting the inherent the dangers and pitfalls of not having such an integral milieu.
‘‘It is told that once Ananda, the beloved disciple of the Buddha, saluted his master and said: ‘‘Half of the holy life, O master, is friendship with the beautiful, association with the beautiful, communion with the beautiful.’’ ‘‘Say not so, Ananda, say not so!’’ the master replied. ‘‘It is not half the holy life; it is the whole of the holy life.’’ (p. 249).
VII. ‘VIRTUE AND PRAYER’ provides important notes on spiritual guidance, complementing the previous chapters dealing predominantly with that of traditional doctrine. All great spiritual experiences agree in this: there is no common measure between the means put into operation and the result. ‘‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,’’ says the Gospel. In fact, what separates man from divine Reality is but a thin partition: God is infinitely close to man, but man is infinitely far from God. This partition, for man, is a mountain; man stands in front of a mountain which he must remove with his own hands. He digs away the earth, but in vain, the mountain remains; man however goes on digging, in the name of God. And the mountain vanishes. It was never there. (p. 308)
The Afterword entitled ‘The Revival of Interest in Tradition’ written by the late perennialist Whitall N. Perry (1920–2005), provides a condensed overview of the formative figures of the perennialist or traditionalist school and their unique contributions.

The underlying religion: An introduction to the perennial philosophy. Here free download