The Babylonian Tower of Modernity

  • The Babylonian Tower of Modernity

By Carlijn kingma  CARTOGRAPHY OF SOCIETY

How our religion of capitalism and central believe in mechanical progress has led again to confusion of speech, and how society, accordingly, ends up divided in multiple romantic reactions. Or, a map to find our way home within the modern dream of progress.

In collaboration with Piet Vollaard and Edwin Gardner
Rotterdam 2017

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
— Genesis 11:4

Why does a man build a tower? To fight off enemies? To transmit TV programs? To house more inhabitants and to economize high costly earth? No, no and no! That’s a lie, and the masking of the real and the only true function of a Tower – to shout as loud as possible “Here I am! Look how strong and mighty I am!

This time we are building a tower to reach for the heavens of progress. Organized around an oil engine, we deploy, we produce and continue to grow. But somehow along the way, dissonance emerged on the exact direction we are heading. And while trying to reach for these heavens of progress, we forgot why we actually wanted to go there in the first place. And once we finally reach the skies, our sight is clouded with smog.

Almost everyone inside the tower – or maybe even everyone – secretly dreams of being better. To be smarter, richer, more liked or more powerful. And in order to become this better person, and move up inside the hierarchy of our society, a man will face competition. Most of us get stuck somewhere in some layer of accomplishments/success, but for the lucky little few, who can make it to the top, the world beneath is a playground.

But first of all, down in the center of the drawing, to be able to enter the tower at all, a man has to have the right papers. Like the lottery you can win a ticket for access, if born in the right country at the right time. If not, we are very sorry to tell you, but I’m afraid today we are full. But if you happen to win and you have made it inside, you can walk the ramps, that circle up, and eventually aim for the skies. But again, like everything else in this world, not without resistance.

Inside the tower, at the bottom of it all, we find the working class. We call them the lower educated, and they perform practical tasks, such as taking the oil from the earth. To transcend and move up inside the tower of success, perhaps to the service based practices, you need first to pass through an educational gate, to prove you are worthy of the task. But to reach for the skies, it doesn’t stay there, there are multiple thresholds and gates. Although the gates of global borders now seem permanently open, you will soon walk upon some more, judging your ethnical background, your gender and family name. And finally, for the engineers and programmers who work inside the building for bigger trade, to become a god in our own little world, to become director of the the political muppet show and to rule, point and divide, there is a gate to pass only with money.

view here ( in Dutch)

It all might seem unbelievable maybe, but don’t think for a moment we are non-believing men. For all I know there is much and more to say about our central believe in mechanical progress. We have gods of progress to turn to and to worship. Zeus, with his pointy arrow in arm, ripped right of the growth chart. Or Hermes, playing an arithmetic song about how we can reach for the innumerable/uncountable.

Imprisoned within the eternity of our daily routines, in fear of losing our spot in the line to another person or to a robot perhaps, we solemnly move from one task to the next. In blind procession, trying to keep the engine of capitalism running and do what is expected of us, we have all become creatures of habit and convention.

We work eight hours, we sleep eight hours, and in the eight hours left we work a little more. While night we secretly dream of descending, up to nobody knows where. Inside our man made dream of housing, we happily decorate the concrete cells like cabinets of homely attributes. But somehow, everywhere within the tower, from the exiled migrant to the footloose networker, people have lost their notion of home. Our bedrooms become a product on the market, while work has been move to the kitchen table. Home has been displaced by an idea that’s both elusive and contested. And we feel lost and displaced inside this rational concrete dream.

Note: The Tower of Babel by Breughel

Building the Tower of Babel was, for Dante, an example of pride., Canto 12.

 Purgatory in the poem of Dante Divine Comedy  is depicted as a mountain in the Southern Hemisphere, consisting of a bottom section (Ante-Purgatory), seven levels of suffering and spiritual growth (associated with the seven deadly sins), and finally the Earthly Paradise at the top. Allegorically, the Purgatorio represents the penitent Christian life In describing the climb Dante discusses the nature of sin, examples of vice and virtue, as well as moral issues in politics and in the Church. The poem outlines a theory that all sins arise from love – either perverted love directed towards others’ harm, or deficient love, or the disordered or excessive love of good things.

The gate of Purgatory, Peter’s Gate, is guarded by an angel bearing a naked sword, his countenance too bright for Dante’s sight to sustain. In reply to the angel’s challenge, Virgil declares that a lady from heaven brought them there and directed them to the gate. On Virgil’s advice, Dante mounts the steps and pleads humbly for admission by the angel, who uses the point of his sword to draw the letter “P” (signifying peccatum, sin) seven times on Dante’s forehead, bidding him “take heed that thou wash / These wounds, when thou shalt be within.”

With the passage of each terrace and the corresponding purgation of his soul that the pilgrim receives, one of the “P”s will be erased by the angel granting passage to the next terrace. The angel at Peter’s Gate uses two keys, silver (remorse) and gold (reconciliation) to open the gate – both are necessary for redemption and salvation. As the poets are about to enter, they are warned not to look back. Read more here

World on Fire

In his essay “World on Fire” Charles Eisenstein describe the situation as follow:

I can’t easily draw a causal connection here, but it seems significant that uncontainable wildfires are contemporaneous with inflammatory rhetoric, heated debates, flaring tempers, burning hatred, seething distrust, and smoldering resentment. Just as dried out, fuel-laden forests burned out of control with a mere spark, so also have our cities burned as the spark of police murders touched the ready fuel of generations of racism; decades of economic decay, and months of Covid confinement. Our social ecosystem is as damaged and depleted as the forests that are so prone to fire“.

  • Reverence and Relationship

While engineers, ecologists, and especially indigenous people can offer techniques to properly steward forests and restore them to resiliency, the transition to a healed world requires something much deeper than better techniques. More important is to learn to inhabit the source from which indigenous land stewardship practices arise. That source is a way of seeing, conceiving, and relating to nature. It is also a way of understanding ourselves: who we are and why we are here.

Fundamentally, the source of wise forest management is to see and know nature as a being, not a thing. That’s the best I can put it, but it isn’t good enough. The words themselves entrap me in error. Nature is not something separate from ourselves, and not even “things” are just things. Let me say then that traditional and indigenous cultures live in a world where being is everywhere and in everything, and humans are no more or less sacred than trees, mountains, water, or ants.

On the most obvious level, the view of nature-as-thing greatly facilitates the clearcutting, mining, stripping, and profiteering, just as dehumanization of other people allows their exploitation and enslavement. It’s the same basic mindset. But there is another problem too: the mindset of nature-as-thing prevents us from coming into the intimacy of relationship that is necessary to tend, heal, and cocreate with it to mutual benefit. It is like the difference between a doctor who treats you impersonally, as a “case,” and one who sees you as a full human being.

Last month, the state of California committed to a 20-year program of forest thinning which seeks to reduce fires through brush clearing, logging, and prescribed burns. This program is fraught with possible unintended consequences. When we understand a forest as an organism, a being, rather than an engineering object, we recognize engineering concepts like reducing fuel load as, at best, a first step. After all, a healthy forest requires rotting vegetable matter to nourish fungi, invertebrates, etc. that are crucial elements of forest ecology. How do we know how much brush to clear and how many logs to remove? We can only learn that through attentive observation and long relationship. Here, the experience of local first peoples can be invaluable, as they have built up that knowledge over countless generations. To learn from the inevitable mistakes that will occur in the forest thinning program will require humility, the kind that comes when one knows one is relating to a complex living being. Otherwise, we stumble from one error to the next, as when, in an effort to increase carbon sequestration, we plant ecologically and culturally unsuitable trees that end up dying a few decades later, leaving conditions even worse than before.

Another word for the attitude that I named as the source from which indigenous land stewardship practices arise is “reverence.” To revere something is the opposite of reducing it to a thing. Modern, educated people have long lived in an ideological matrix that says nature, at bottom, is merely a whirl of generic particles bumping around according to mathematical forces. What is there to revere? It says that purpose, intelligence, and consciousness subsist in human beings alone. The burning of the world calls us to awaken from this delusion.

From the attitude of reverence, we see things invisible to the engineer’s eye. We ask questions the utilitarian never asks. Paradoxically, in the end, the knowledge thus gained we be more useful – not just to the forest, but to ourselves – than anything we could accomplish from the exploitative mindset.

In truth, we are not separate from nature. What we do to the other, we ultimately do to ourselves. When the forests are sick, we are sick. When they burn, even if we escape the flames, something burns within us too. The social climate mirrors the geological climate. We may not recognize this truth as indigenous people do, but we are the land. Is it not obvious, looking at today’s political landscape, that a fire rages out of control?

I can’t easily draw a causal connection here, but it seems significant that uncontainable wildfires are contemporaneous with inflammatory rhetoric, heated debates, flaring tempers, burning hatred, seething distrust, and smoldering resentment. Just as dried out, fuel-laden forests burned out of control with a mere spark, so also have our cities burned as the spark of police murders touched the ready fuel of generations of racism; decades of economic decay, and months of Covid confinement. Our social ecosystem is as damaged and depleted as the forests that are so prone to fire.

The matrix of complex relationships that we call community has to a great degree collapsed into simplified relations with impersonal institutions, mediated by money and technology. Social networks may give the appearance of community, but they lack the interdependency that marks a real community (or ecosystem). We can see now how fragile – or how inflammable – such a society is.

I won’t be so bold as to say that addressing our social separation will quell the fires. Yet, one can see how the project of land healing through reverence and relationship is congruent to the project of social healing, which, too, depends on restoring reverence and relationship.

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Note: Compare with 500 years ago:

Bruegehel : the Apocalypse within

The absurdity of Bruegel’s characters comes straight out of Erasmus’ Praise of Folly, a fantasy and satire on the self-deception on much of human endeavour, mocking human pretensions, monks and theologians, the scholastic intellectual substructure that supported late Medieval piety.

Erasmus cites Democritus who was supposedly constantly amused by the spectre of humanity. The book first appeared in 1511, and underwent numerous revisions and additions until the last corrections in 1532. It was an instant success. The book’s narrator is Folly who portrays life as an absurd spectacle lambasting the foibles and frailties of mankind, only to praise the ‘folly’ of simple Christian piety, the pious ideals in which Erasmus had been educated, and spirituality of The Imitation of Christ, four treatises from the 15th century attributed to Thomas â Kempis.

Erasmus and À Kempis were both Augustinian canons, more importantly both had their roots in the devotio moderna to which Erasmus remained faithful to the end of his life.

The text of Folly is a potent mix of wit, wisdom and wordplay, but it culminates in a serious indictment of churchmen, and sets out the virtues of a Christian way of life that St Paul says looks to the world like folly: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, less the cross of Christ should be void. For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God”.

This is the crossroads of belief where Renaissance Christianity and Medieval religion collide, and evangelical humanists take the turning signposted scripture. The pilgrim’s way had forked and despite the lure of side roads such as ‘theological backlash’ and ‘millenarianism’, two major routes had opened up, and remained open, to choose from.

Bruegel stood at that crossroads and  seemed never quite made up his mind which direction to go in. As he wavered in his decision, he was also sensibly never open about exactly what he believed. “He lived at a time and place in which free and open expression of certain ideas could mean death.Read more here

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The Doorway Called Enchantment

I live in the northeast of the land people call the United States. Here, fire is not much of a threat, yet. A few weeks ago I was walking with my brother in the woods behind his Pennsylvania farm, where the sloping land gives way to mountainside. We crossed a creek, a bare trickle in some places, dry in others. John told me that he had been here with an old-timer who said that in his youth, this creek was so deep and strong, even in August, that there were only a few places one could cross it. What happened to this being, this creek? Some locals say it is because too many wells were dug, drawing down the water tables and drying out the springs that feed the creeks. Others say it is because of the repeated logging of the mountain, going back to colonial times. Or maybe, I thought, it is again a long-delayed result of the cascade of changes following the extermination of wolves, cougars, and beavers. All these activities are an insult to the land and to the water, oblivious to reverence.

Ultimately, to stop the fires and turn onto a world-healing path, we must turn from domination and subjugation to reverence and respect. Sometimes that means adopting the role of a protector for vulnerable, precious beings, like Marina Silva is doing in Brazil. (Here is an organization she works with, along with others I mentioned in my 2019 article on the Amazon fires.) Sometimes it means stepping into the role of nurturer or healer, like the people reintroducing beavers, practicing regenerative agriculture, and building water retention landscapes. For someone in the corporate or financial world, reverence might steer them to choose life over profit in a moment where it takes a little courage to do that. That courage is a dilute version of the courage of South American indigenous activists who risk torture and murder by landowners, logging companies, mining companies, and their paramilitaries, because it puts something else above maximizing personal self-interest. It is thus an important act of solidarity.

Reverence brings courage. Reverence brings knowledge. Reverence brings skill. Reverence brings healing. It is the fulcrum of the great turning of civilization toward reunion with nature. Today the word has religious connotations, but this is not the kind of reverence that worships an idol. It is the reverence of the lover who looks into the eyes of the beloved and sees infinity.

If reverence brings all these things, then what brings reverence? It will not do merely to exhort people to be more reverent. The gateway to reverence is enchantment. A few days ago I stood with my son Cary, age seven, at Rhode Island’s last undeveloped coastal pond watching turtles. We felt what it was like to be those turtles. We could hardly stop watching them. In that moment, the thought that we would harm them for anything less than a sacred purpose was horrifying and absurd. We knew them as precious in and of themselves, not for any use to us. Few people, dropping into that moment, could escape that enchantment. Yet, every day, we participate in systems that treat turtles and much else as resources to exploit, or make them collateral damage in other exploitation. We cannot avoid this participation, for we live in that system, and that system lives in us. More and more of us no longer feel at home in it though. It cannot easily accommodate our reverence, our enchantment, and our true purpose of service to life.

Mining company executives or members of ranchers’ death squads might be far away from the doorway of enchantment. The principle of enchantment-borne reverence does not substitute for legal action, nonviolent direct action, and so on. However, a healed planet will not result from a succession of desperate holding actions. We need to ground ourselves in directly experiencing earth as obviously precious as the turtles were to Cary; to know her as a being and as an organism, and we need to spread that knowledge. Then we will have the clarity, the courage, the skill, and most importantly, the allies in unlikely places, to defend her vulnerable parts, to preserve and strengthen her organs, and to transition away from systems built on the mythology of earth-as-thing.

Note: The Tower of Babel by Breughel

Building the Tower of Babel was, for Dante, an example of pride., Canto 12.

 Purgatory in the poem of Dante Divine Comedy  is depicted as a mountain in the Southern Hemisphere, consisting of a bottom section (Ante-Purgatory), seven levels of suffering and spiritual growth (associated with the seven deadly sins), and finally the Earthly Paradise at the top. Allegorically, the Purgatorio represents the penitent Christian life In describing the climb Dante discusses the nature of sin, examples of vice and virtue, as well as moral issues in politics and in the Church. The poem outlines a theory that all sins arise from love – either perverted love directed towards others’ harm, or deficient love, or the disordered or excessive love of good things.

The gate of Purgatory, Peter’s Gate, is guarded by an angel bearing a naked sword, his countenance too bright for Dante’s sight to sustain. In reply to the angel’s challenge, Virgil declares that a lady from heaven brought them there and directed them to the gate. On Virgil’s advice, Dante mounts the steps and pleads humbly for admission by the angel, who uses the point of his sword to draw the letter “P” (signifying peccatum, sin) seven times on Dante’s forehead, bidding him “take heed that thou wash / These wounds, when thou shalt be within.”

With the passage of each terrace and the corresponding purgation of his soul that the pilgrim receives, one of the “P”s will be erased by the angel granting passage to the next terrace. The angel at Peter’s Gate uses two keys, silver (remorse) and gold (reconciliation) to open the gate – both are necessary for redemption and salvation. As the poets are about to enter, they are warned not to look back. Read more here

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

Praise of Folly Anno 2020: ‘keep your mouth shut’

  • Allegory of Folly:

In the early sixteenth century when Quentin Matsys painted his Allegory of Folly, likely around 1510, fools were still commonly found at court or carnivals, performing in morality plays. Sometimes a fool would be mentally handicapped, to be mocked for the amusement of the general public. Matsys has chosen to represent his fool with a wen, a lump on the forehead, which was believed to contain a “stone of folly” responsible for stupidity or mental handicap. In other instances, however, the fool would be a clever and astute observer of human nature, a comedian who used the fool’s robes as a pretext for satire and ridicule. Matsys’s fool was nearly an exact contemporary of Erasmus’ Praise of Folly, in which the character of Folly is in fact a wise and astute commentator on folly in others. Fools were a popular subject in both the art and literature of this era and Erasmus’ work was particularly important to the sixteenth-century Humanist circles in Antwerp.

The traditional costume of the fool includes a hooded cape with the head of a cock and the ears of an ass, as well as bells, here attached to a red belt. The fool holds a staff known as a marotte, or bauble, topped with a small carved figure of another fool – himself wearing the identifying cap. This staff would have been used as a puppet for satirical skits or plays, and the figure’s obscene gesture of dropping his trousers, symbolic of the insults associated with fools, was once overpainted by a previous owner who found it overly shocking.

The gesture of silence, with the fool holding a finger to his lips, refers to the Greek god of silence, Harpocrates, who was generally depicted in this manner. Silence was considered a virtue associated with wise men such as philosophers, scholars, or monks. Here, however, Matsys turns the gesture into a parody by juxtaposing it with the inscription ‘Mondeken toe’, meaning ‘keep your mouth shut’, beneath the crowing cock’s head. Matsys is drawing our attention to the Fool’s indiscretion. A later hand has added the word ‘Mot’ above, likely a later sixteenth or seventeenth century reference to a prostitute – this may have been an attempt to turn the present allegory into the figure of a procuress.

Matsys’ fool is made even more grotesque by his hideous deformities – an exaggerated, beaked nose and hunched back – and thin-lipped, toothless smirk. Grotesque figures were a favourite theme of the artist, making regular appearances in his paintings as tormenters of Christ or in allegories of Unequal Lovers. This reflects an awareness of the grotesque head studies of Leonardo da Vinci, whose drawings had made their way northward from Italy. Indeed, of all Matsys’s other works, the fool in the present painting is perhaps closest in type to the tormenter directly behind and to the right of Christ in the Saint John Altarpiece – which is, itself, a direct quotation from Leonardo’s own drawing of Five Grotesque Heads.

Quinten Matsys’ early training is a matter of speculation, with scholars suggesting variously that he may have been apprenticed in Antwerp to Dieric Bouts; trained as a miniaturist in his mother’s native town of Grobbendonk; or possibly worked for Hans Memling’s studio in Bruges. We do know for certain that in 1494, Matsys was admitted to the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke as a master painter, and by the end of the century he was operating his own studio with several apprentices, among them his sons Cornelis and Jan. Matsys is known for both religious and secular works, and his style became increasingly Italianate in his later career; in turn he is recognized as an influence on such painters as Joos van Cleve, Joachim Patinir and Lucas Cranach the Elder.

  • Folly ’s ‘keep your mouth shut’, Anno 2020

Based on economic growth, financial hegemony of the “happy few”” and abuse or rape of cheapest labor workers in Low-cost country or homeland, the democracy of Modern man shall never succeed  to recover his soul with fake “sincere political change” or  with fake “concern”.

Folly ’s ‘keep your mouth shut’ about all the abuses of the systems and is silent about Ethics, Virtues and uprightness… Silence about spiritual grow, honesty and respect of differents communities…

Prophets of doom now abound and “green parties” have mushroomed everywhere. The moving force for those movements remains, however, by and large purely external. For a humanity turned towards outwardness by the very processes of modernization, it is not so easy to see that the blight wrought upon the environment is in reality an externalization of the destitution of the inner state of the soul of that humanity whose actions are responsible for the ecological crisis.

Many claim, for example, that if we could only change our means of transportation and diminish the use of fossil fuels as a source of energy, the problem would be solved or at least ameliorated. Few ask, however, why it is that modern man feels the need to travel so much?

The wisdom of the 21th  century or the Foffy of our times say: ‘keep your mouth shut’,

But can we ask Why?

                                                          Ship of Fools

-Why is the domicile of much of humanity so ugly and life so boring that the type of man most responsible for the environmental crisis has to escape the areas he has helped to vilify and take his pollution with him to the few still well-preserved areas of the earth in order to continue to function?

-Why must modern man consume so much and satiate his so-called needs only outwardly?

-Why is he unable to draw from any inward sustenance?

We are, needless to say, not opposed to better care of the planet through the use of wiser means of production, transportation, etc. than those which exist today. Alternative forms of technology are to be welcomed . But such feats of science and engineering alone will not solve the problem.

There is no choice but to answer these and similar questions and to bring to the fore the spiritual dimension and the historical roots of the ecological crisis which many refuse to take into consideration to this day.

Democracy:

Oligarchy then degenerates into a democracy where freedom is the supreme good but freedom is also slavery. In democracy, the lower class grows bigger and bigger. The poor become the winners. People are free to do what they want and live how they want. People can even break the law if they so choose. This appears to be very similar to anarchy.

Plato uses the “democratic man” to represent democracy. The democratic man is the son of the oligarchic man. Unlike his father, the democratic man is consumed with unnecessary desires. Plato describes necessary desires as desires that we have out of instinct or desires that we have to survive. Unnecessary desires are desires we can teach ourselves to resist such as the desire for riches. The democratic man takes great interest in all the things he can buy with his money. Plato believes that the democratic man is more concerned with his money over how he can help the people. He does whatever he wants when ever he wants to do it. His life has no order or priority. So can a happy few ( 1% of the world population) try to dictate the rest of the human and using them as robotic slaves and wanting them to live without a soul.

Vandana Shiva On the Real Cause of World Hunger

Oneness vs. The 1%: #VandanaShiva at the United Nations Office at Geneva.

  • Technocracy: Amazon, Google, and Apple have moved past monopoly status to competing directly with governments… and winning

Amazon’s cloud servers host the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department, and other US agencies, for example..US Senator Josh Hawley is demanding a criminal antitrust probe of Amazon as the e-commerce behemoth’s powers grow to rival the government’s own. Google and Apple, too, are now ordering governments around.

Data centers can be thought of as the “brains” of the internet. Their role is to process, store, and communicate the data behind the myriad information services we rely upon every day, whether it be streaming video, email, social media, online collaboration, or scientific computing.

Data centers utilize different information technology (IT) devices to provide these services, all of which are powered by electricity. Servers provide computations and logic in response to information requests, while storage drives house the files and data needed to meet those requests. Network devices connect the data center to the internet, enabling incoming and outgoing data flows. The electricity used by these IT devices is ultimately converted into heat, which must be removed from the data center by cooling equipment that also runs on electricity.

On average, servers and cooling systems account for the greatest shares of direct electricity use in data centers, followed by storage drives and network devices (Figure 1). Some of the world’s largest data centers can each contain many tens of thousands of IT devices and require more than 100 megawatts (MW) of power capacity—enough to power around 80,000 U.S. households (U.S. DOE 2020).

As the number of global internet users has grown, so too has demand for data center services, giving rise to concerns about growing data center energy use. Between 2010 and 2018, global IP traffic—the quantity of data traversing the internet—increased more than ten-fold, while global data center storage capacity increased by a factor of 25 in parallel (Masanet et al. 2020). Over the same time period, the number of compute instances running on the world’s servers—a measure of total applications hosted—increased more than six-fold (see Figure 3) (Masanet et al. 2020).

These strong growth trends are expected to continue as the world consumes more and more data. And new forms of information services such as artificial intelligence (AI), which are particularly computationally-intensive, may accelerate demand growth further. Therefore, the ability to quantify and project data center energy use is a key energy and climate policy priority.

  • The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times

The Reign of Quantity gives a concise but comprehensive view of the present state of affairs in the world, as it appears from the point of view of the ‘ancient wisdom’, formerly common both to the East and to the West, but now almost entirely lost sight of. The author indicates with his fabled clarity and directness the precise nature of the modern deviation, and devotes special attention to the development of modern philosophy and science, and to the part played by them, with their accompanying notions of progress and evolution, in the formation of the industrial and democratic society which we now regard as ‘normal’. Read more here

  • In Praise of Folly by Erasmus

In Praise of Folly, also translated as The Praise of Folly (Latin: Stultitiae Laus or Moriae Encomium; Greek title: Μωρίας ἐγκώμιον (Morias enkomion); Dutch title: Lof der Zotheid), is an essay written in Latin in 1509 by Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam and first printed in June 1511. Inspired by previous works of the Italian humanist Faustino Perisauli [it] De Triumpho Stultitiae, it is a satirical attack on superstitions and other traditions of European society as well as on the Western Church.

Erasmus revised and extended his work, which was originally written in the space of a week while sojourning with Sir Thomas More at More’s house in Bucklersbury in the City of London.[1] The title Moriae Encomium had a punning second meaning as In Praise of More.

Read more here

Migration to the Spiritual Land of Peace

Migration to the Spiritual Land of Peace

Part I: Introduction

  • The Coronation

For years, normality has been stretched nearly to its breaking point, a rope pulled tighter and tighter, waiting for a nip of the black swan’s beak to snap it in two. Now that the rope has snapped, do we tie its ends back together, or shall we undo its dangling braids still further, to see what we might weave from them?…

Covid-19 is like a rehab intervention that breaks the addictive hold of normality. To interrupt a habit is to make it visible; it is to turn it from a compulsion to a choice. The phenomenon follows the template of initiation: separation from normality, followed by a dilemma, breakdown, or ordeal, followed (if it is to be complete) by reintegration and celebration. Now the question arises: Initiation into what? What is the specific nature and purpose of this initiation? The popular name for the pandemic offers a clue: coronavirus. A corona is a crown. “Novel coronavirus pandemic” means “a new coronation for all.”

Already we can feel the power of who we might become. A true sovereign does not run in fear from life or from death. A true sovereign does not dominate and conquer (that is a shadow archetype, the Tyrant). The true sovereign serves the people, serves life, and respects the sovereignty of all people. The coronation marks the emergence of the unconscious into consciousness, the crystallization of chaos into order, the transcendence of compulsion into choice. We become the rulers of that which had ruled us. The New World Order that the conspiracy theorists fear is a shadow of the glorious possibility available to sovereign beings. No longer the vassals of fear, we can bring order to the kingdom and build an intentional society on the love already shining through the cracks of the world of separation. Read more: The Coronation with Charles Eisenstein

  • Modern man is ignorant about his own ignorance

see also:“I can’t Breathe” is the expression of the Crisis of the modern world.

  • The Migration to the Spiritual Land of Peace  is an universal theme to find Wisdom.

In all religious of the world we find the quest to Sincerty and Uprightness and is part of the Unanimous tradition. the search for the now apparently forgotten meaning of Tradition and the significance of the perennial philosophy needs to be  pursued with an ever—increasing sense of urgency in the highly materialistic West. see The Unanimous Tradition: Essays on the essential unity of all religions Tribute to Ananda Coomaraswamy

At Sacred Web Conference 2006 on Rediscovering the Sacred in our Lives and in our Times,. HRH The Prince of Wales said:

 

This wisdom was told not only in all the spiritual Traditions of the world, but surely by all the Prophets from the birth of Adam ( see the Tales of the Prophets) till the Last prophet Mohammed(a.s.)( see MUHAMMAD THE MESSENGER OF ISLAM His Life & Prophecy)

This wisdom is still told and used every day with the stories the Lifes of the saints in the Christian tradition-( see  the Golden Legend) and the liturgical calendar that indicates the dates of celebrations of saints , or the Lives of the Saints in the Orthodox Church. For the lives of the Sufi Saints  in the Islamic Tradion look also The Tadhkiratu ‘l-awliya – the” Memoirs of the saints” by Attar, Farid al-Din, d. ca. 1230  .Or look to The Naqshbandi Sufi Way: History and Guidebook of the Saints of the Golden Chain.

  • “Rebel in the Soul”

But to start our Migration to the Spiritual Land of Peace – Exercise, we look  at an old text  known as papyrus 3024 from the Berlin Museum, known  as “Man arguing with his Soul” or the “Rebel in the Soul” we can perhaps study one of the earliest accounts of the confrontation with the ego.

 – Rebel in the Soul: An ancient Egyptian dialogue Between a Man and his Soul

This controversial text, that was meant for initiates at the threshold of the Ancient Egyptian Inner Temple, speaks to us with intriguing relevance to the problems of today. Taking the form of a dialogue between a man and his soul, this sacred text explores the inner discourse between doubt and mystical knowledge and deals with the rebellion and despair of the intellect at a crucial stage of spiritual development.
The first complete and consistent translation of the Berlin Papyrus 3024, which is thought to be nearly 4,000 years old:

“The man’s soul tells him that men of greater value than he have suffered from the world, and advises him to gain an insight from his attitude and search to overcome his despair.

It is An Egyptian temple text, related with the God IAI, an aspect of the Solar God, the stubborn donkey. It shows the intellectual rebellion of our Ego.

 

 

 

 

 

“The stubborn, passionate, long-suffering ass is the perfect natural symbol of our rational personality. It bears, like the ass, the weight of all our suffering, and carries us through life. It is stubborn, selfish and refuses to go where we think we best…

Carrot and stick:


….Yet paradoxically, it is the same stubborn ass, and only the ass, that can carry the Rebel to salvation; mounted upon the ass, man is mounted upon his own rebellion. The ass is the father of all rebels, but also the carrier of redemption.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Ancient Egypt, Iai, the Great Ass, is the aspect of the Sun God with Ass’s ears.  This is Osiris in his listening state; listening equalled wisdom to the Ancient Egyptians. The Book of the Gates depicts the progression of the sun through the night. The Twelve Hours of Night are depicted as regions of the Underworld. Each region is an Hour, and each Hour has its gate through which to pass. To pass, we must know the name of the gatekeeper, or guardian.

This is the same as identifying the layers of egos we each have within – an ego is what others might call one of the deadly sins, Pride, Envy, Greed…all those different aspects of the personality that can prevent us from progressing through the gates or stages of spiritual development.  When we look inwardly at the aspects of our personality that rule or affect our lives, we need to recognise what is affecting our spiritual progress; if we learn to use it wisely and become its master, instead of it being master over us, we then recognise the Guardian of that Gate – can name the Guardian, and can “pass through the Gate”. Consciousness moves from Gate to Gate.

In the argument with his Soul, the man is bargaining for the right to die because he can no longer face the suffering of living in this world without his mentor. In Ancient Egypt, it was believed that a man and his Soul would be judged together in the afterlife; the Soul can make appeals on his behalf.  So the man is arguing with his Soul to persuade it that killing himself is the correct thing to do, as he wants it to accept his reasons, and agree with him so that it will stay with him after death and make favourable appeals. However, his Soul has other ideas..

“I spoke to my soul that I might answer what it said:

To whom shall I speak today?

Brothers and sisters are evil and friends today are not worth loving.

Hearts are great with greed and everyone seizes his or her neigh­bor’s goods.

Kindness has passed away and violence is imposed on everyone.

To whom shall I speak today?

People willingly accept evil and goodness is cast to the ground everywhere.

Those who should enrage people by their wrongdoing

make them laugh at their evil deeds.

People plunder and everyone seizes _his or her neighbour’s goods.

To whom shall I speak today?

The one doing wrong is an intimate friend and the brother with whom one used to deal is an enemy.

No one remembers the past and none return the good deed that is done.

Brothers and sisters are evil

and people turn to strangers for righteousness or affection.

To whom shall I speak today?

Faces are empty and all turn their faces from their brothers and sisters.

Hearts are great with greed

and there is no heart of a man or woman upon which one might lean.

None are just or righteous and the land is left to the doers of evil.

To whom shall I speak today?

There are no intimate friends

and the people turn to strangers to tell their troubles.

None are content and those with whom one used to walk no longer exist.

I am burdened with grief and have no one to comfort me.

There is no end to the wrong which roams the earth.

When we consider the age of this text, from  XII Dynasty  Egypt (approx 1991-1783 BC), we can see that the nature of the woes and troubles of humankind have changed very little.

The man’s soul tells him that men of greater value than he have suffered from the world, and advises him to gain an insight from his attitude and search to overcome his despair.  It tells him some allegorical stories – the first being the “mythical field of transformations”; both the field AND the plough are to be found within man. The field is the ground; the earth, where the soul of the man dwells, and is to be cultivated by the ploughman – the man must “cultivate” himself.

The harvest is what is then offered back to the soul. The “harvest”, what is left of the man after his life, is in dangerous hands if left uncultivated. It is exposed to a “storm from the North” said to indicate the Head (Reason); the storm is consciousness threatened by intellectual rebellion.
The man at this point in the story, when his Rebel/ego is arguing for survival, is not yet ready to let the wisdom of his heart rule his intellect, and this is symbolised by the crocodile. The man’s heirs, in the story he is told by his soul, are eaten by a crocodile whilst still in the egg, before they are fully formed, before they have lived, and will never realise their potential.  Read more here

“I can’t Breathe”: Crisis of the modern world

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

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

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

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

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

Modern man suffocates and cries:  “i can’t breathe” , because  a human without “the living Breath” is always dying. It is his only certainty in life, man shall once die and all traditions in the world teach us to take care of our Soul, our “Living Breath”, always in our daily life, but sure at the moment when we are dying. Modern man is the only one of all the traditions of the world who dares to think that he is right to live without his soul and without his “Living Breath”. What an arrogance and Vanity! But remember Vanity is the quality of being vain, something that is vain, it is always empty, or valueless.

  • The Art of Dying Well according to Erasmus of Rotterdam and Teresa of Ávila

Contemporary conversations about death and dying are lost and unsatisfying on many levels. This phenomenon subsists not only in fields like bioethics, but also in religion and spirituality. Modern culture is preoccupied with seeking ways to live a longer, youthful life, ignoring the inevitable forthcoming of death. One period during which the topic of death and dying was reflected upon by the common Christian was between the fifteenth and the seventeenth centuries, during which a specific genre of literature was formed: ars moriendi. This genre attempted to provide intellectual, cultural and religious answers as to how death should be understood and ritualized. Two spiritual writers who contributed to the understanding of ars moriendi are Desiderius Erasmus and Teresa of Ávila. What unites these figures of the Catholic tradition is their attempt to show that preparation for death is a lifelong process of cultivating appropriate virtues.  Read hereThe Art of Dying Well according to Erasmus of Rotterdam and Teresa of Avila

As the Corona virus is taking a toll on all of us and  is attacking our lungs, giving us serious problems of breathing, especially those least able to retreat into their homes until the worst is over.

But, beyond the health and humanitarian measures urgently needed for those affected, it also offers a chance to right historical wrongs – the abuse of our earthly home and of marginalised societies, the very people who will suffer most from this pandemic. This viral outbreak is a sign that by going too far in exploiting the rest of nature, the dominant globalising culture has undone the planet’s capacity to sustain life and livelihoods. The unleashing of micro-organisms from their animal hosts means that they must latch on to other bodies for their own survival. Humans are a part of nature – and everything is connected to everything else.

      • Ego rules the world: Anti-“God”, Anti-“Humanity”, Anti-“Nature

The story of the Tower of Babel (like that in The Suicide of Saul, Bruegel’s only other painting with an Old Testament subject) was interpreted as an example of pride punished, and that is no doubt what Bruegel intended his painting to illustrate. Moreover, the hectic activity of the engineers, masons and workmen points to a second moral: the futility of much human endeavour. Nimrod’s doomed building was used to illustrate this meaning in Sebastian Brant’s Ship of Fools. Pieter Bruegel’s Tower of Babel , originally displayed in the suburban villa of Antwerp entrepreneur Niclaes Jonghelinck as an image that fostered learned dinner conversation (convivium) about the well-being of the city. Looking at various sources, the author analyzes how the theme of the painting, a story of miscommunication and disorder, resonated with the challenges faced by the metropolis. Antwerp’s rapid growth resulted in the creation of a society characterized by extraordinary pluralism but with weakened social bonds. Convivium was one of the strategies developed to overcome differences among the citizens and avoid dystrophy of the community. Read more Here

Charles Eisenstein explores the history and potential future of civilization, tracing the converging crises of our age to the illusion of the separate self. In this limited hardcover edition of Eisenstein’s landmark book, he argues that our disconnection from one another and the natural world has mislaid the foundations of science, religion, money, technology, economics, medicine, and education as we know them. It has fired our near-pathological pursuit of technological Utopias even as we push ourselves and our planet to the brink of collapse.

Fortunately, an Age of Reunion is emerging out of the birth pangs of an earth in crisis. Our journey of separation hasn’t been a terrible mistake but an evolutionary process and an adventure in self-discovery. Even in our darkest hour, Eisenstein sees the possibility of a more beautiful world–not through the extension of millennia-old methods of management and control but by fundamentally reimagining ourselves and our systems. We must shift away from our Babelian efforts to build ever-higher towers to heaven and instead turn out attention to creating a new kind of civilization–one designed for beauty rather than height. Breathtaking in its scope and intelligence, The Ascent of Humanity is a landmark book showing what it truly means to be human. Read here online

Our civilization is in decay. Because we have blown-up our ego. Cosmic Balance has been disturbed. The painting “Dulle Griet”of the great painter Bruegel express very clearly the Crisis of Modern man: Modern Man with all his “economical grow- energy” and scientifical research based on his rebellion against his Soul, is landed in an apocalyptic “theather” prophesying the complete destruction of the world.

Dulle Griet is the model of modern man’s  Rebellion  against his soul and  Anger against it. How can Dulle Griet 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 Breughel and in our times  the message is  that  Vanity is not the solution. see: Nothing Good without Pain: Hans Memling”s earthly Vanity and  Divine Salation

The Whore of Babylon in the The Apocalypse Tapestry of Angers

All Is Vanity by Charles Allan Gilbert (September 3, 1873 – April 20, 1929)

The phrase “All is vanity” comes from Ecclesiastes 1:2 (Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

 

 

 

 

Don’t change the world in hopes of changing yourself,

change yourself so the world changes because of you.

For more info see:  The Spiritual Land of Peace of the “Holy Refugees”

      • Life out of Balance: the Qatsi trilogy

In his Qatsy trilogy film director Reggio, use the world qatsi from the Hopi language, in which the word qatsi translates to “life.”  see Life out of Balance: the Qatsi trilogy

POWAQQATSI’s overall focus is on natives of the Third World — the emerging, land-based cultures of Asia, India, Africa, the Middle East and South America — and how they express themselves through work and traditions. What it has to say about these cultures is an eyeful and then some, sculpted to allow for varied interpretations.The title POWAQQATSI is a Hopi Indian conjunctive — the word Powaqa, I ( Ego),which refers to a negative sorcerer who lives at the expense of others, and Qatsi –i.e., life.

where KOYAANISQATSI dealt with the imbalance between nature and modern society, POWAQQATSI is a celebration of the human-scale endeavor the craftsmanship, spiritual worship, labor and creativity that defines a particular culture. It’s also a celebration of rareness — the delicate beauty in the eyes of an Indian child, the richness of a tapestry woven in Kathmandu — and yet an observation of how these societies move to a universal drumbeat.

2.Powwaqatsi (1988) from Stephen Galleher on Vimeo.

  • Seek Wisdom in this time of deep Ignorance:

Plato’s words are as relevant now as they were during his time. He is still one of the world’s greatest teachers.

Philosopher Plato discusses five types of regimes (Republic, Book VIII). They are Aristocracy, Timocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy, and Tyranny. Plato also assigns a man to each of these regimes to illustrate what they stand for. The tyrannical man would represent Tyranny, for example. These five regimes progressively degenerate starting with Aristocracy at the top and Tyranny at the bottom

Democracy:

Oligarchy then degenerates into a democracy where freedom is the supreme good but freedom is also slavery. In democracy, the lower class grows bigger and bigger. The poor become the winners. People are free to do what they want and live how they want. People can even break the law if they so choose. This appears to be very similar to anarchy.

Plato uses the “democratic man” to represent democracy. The democratic man is the son of the oligarchic man. Unlike his father, the democratic man is consumed with unnecessary desires. Plato describes necessary desires as desires that we have out of instinct or desires that we have to survive. Unnecessary desires are desires we can teach ourselves to resist such as the desire for riches. The democratic man takes great interest in all the things he can buy with his money. Plato believes that the democratic man is more concerned with his money over how he can help the people. He does whatever he wants when ever he wants to do it. His life has no order or priority. So can a happy few ( 1% of the world population) try to dictate the rest of the human and using them as robotic slaves and wanting them to live without a soul.

Vandana Shiva On the Real Cause of World Hunger

Oneness vs. The 1%: #VandanaShiva at the United Nations Office at Geneva.

  • Based on economic growth, financial hegemony of the “happy few”” and abuse or rape of cheapest labor workers in Low-cost country or homeland, the democracy of Modern man shall never succeed  to recover his soul with fake “sincere political change” or  with fake “concern”.

Ashanti kingdom

It is and always shall be a dead End…

  • The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times

The Reign of Quantity gives a concise but comprehensive view of the present state of affairs in the world, as it appears from the point of view of the ‘ancient wisdom’, formerly common both to the East and to the West, but now almost entirely lost sight of. The author indicates with his fabled clarity and directness the precise nature of the modern deviation, and devotes special attention to the development of modern philosophy and science, and to the part played by them, with their accompanying notions of progress and evolution, in the formation of the industrial and democratic society which we now regard as ‘normal’. Read more here

see Rediscovering the Sacred in our Lives and in our Times.

  • Democracy can only survive when it is based on Spiritual values and Virtues

Spiritual Rescue is to be find in the African Tradition as Ubuntu: Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù])[1] is a Nguni Bantu term meaning “humanity.” It is often translated as “I am because we are,” or “humanity towards others,” or in Xhosa, “umntu ngumntu ngabantu” but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.

Traditional education system, still in use in our time by the Xhosa, where Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born to the Thembu royal family in Mvezo can help to revover our humanity as the  Rites of passage used fort he youth

In his remarkable book, Clyde Ford restores to us the lost treasure of African mythology, bringing to life the ancient tales and showing why they matter so much to us today.

African myths convey the perennial wisdom of humanity: the creation of the world, the hero’s journey, our relationship with nature, death, and resurrection.  From the Ashanti comes the moving account of the grief-stricken Kwasi Benefo’s journey to the underworld to seek his beloved wives.  From Uganda we learn of the legendary Kintu, who won the love of a goddess and created a nation from a handful of isolated clans.  The Congo’s epic hero Mwindo is the sacred warrior who shows us the path each person must travel to discover his true destiny.These and other important African myths show us the history of African Americans in a new light–as a hero’s journey, a courageous passage to a hard-won victory.  The Hero with an African Face enriches us all by restoring this vital tradition to the world. Here free downoad.

  • Hell Is for White People A painting from 1515 turns a mirror on its viewers

Artist unknown (Cristovão de Figueiredo?), Hell, Museu da Arte Antiga, Lisbon, ca. 1515. Oil on oak, 119 x 217.5 cm.

In his post  Alexander Nagel explains:Our painting of hell is big, much bigger than you might expect from looking at a photo. It doesn’t fit clearly into any category of picture known at the time. It is an independent panel, not a scene in a fresco cycle that gains meaning from the larger program. It’s not an altarpiece, nor is it a typical private devotional image, which would have been smaller. Its oblong shape suggests it was not part of a larger structure, as in triptychs by Bosch and others, where hell occupies one compartment, one part of a larger statement about human life and the world. This is a big stand-alone painting of a subject that normally didn’t stand alone. The painting lowers you right down to the sub-basement of hell and lets you look. The looking begins as voyeuristic fascination and then sinks into self-reflection. Hell Is for White People

  • Wolfgang Smith | We Are Born for Wisdom

What emerges from the considerations of Physics and Vertical Causation  is an incomparably enlarged worldview: a cosmos vast enough to encompass not only all of modern science — from the distant stars to subatomic particles — but also the quintessential patrimony of antiquity, with its higher spheres inhabited by allegedly “mythical” beings. The discovery of vertical causality has reopened the door to the wisdom of ancient cosmologies, which, far from being “prescientific superstitions,” refer to truths higher than those discoverable by way of physics. Wolfgang Smith has shown that a radical expansion of our Weltanschauung  is not only scientifically admissible, but is in fact absolutely necessary for a proper understanding of physics. see The-Wisdom-of-Ancient-Cosmology-Contemporary-Science-in-Light-of-Tradition

  • Long before face masks, Islamic healers tried to ward off disease with their version of PPE (“personal protective equipment”)

Just as many now don face masks and do breathing exercises to protect against COVID-19 – despite debate around the science behind such practices – so too did the Islamic world turn to protective devices and rituals in premodern times of trouble. From the 11th century until around the 19th century, Muslim cultures witnessed the use of magic bowls, healing necklaces and other objects in hopes of warding off drought, famine, floods and even epidemic diseases. Read more here

A metal magico-medicinal bowl, left, and a ceramic ablutions basic inscribed with the word ‘taharat,’ meaning purity.

Taweez of Naqshandi Tariqat

 

  • SACRED ECONOMICS with Charles Eisenstein

Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth. Today, these trends have reached their extreme—but in the wake of their collapse, we may find great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.

This book is about how the money system will have to change—and is already changing—to embody this transition. A broadly integrated synthesis of theory, policy, and practice, Sacred Economics explores avant-garde concepts of the New Economics, including negative-interest currencies, local currencies, resource-based economics, gift economies, and the restoration of the commons. Author Charles Eisenstein also considers the personal dimensions of this transition, speaking to those concerned with “right livelihood” and how to live according to their ideals in a world seemingly ruled by money. Tapping into a rich lineage of conventional and unconventional economic thought, Sacred Economics presents a vision that is original yet commonsense, radical yet gentle, and increasingly relevant as the crises of our civilization deepen. Read online here

  • The Coronation

For years, normality has been stretched nearly to its breaking point, a rope pulled tighter and tighter, waiting for a nip of the black swan’s beak to snap it in two. Now that the rope has snapped, do we tie its ends back together, or shall we undo its dangling braids still further, to see what we might weave from them?

Covid-19 is showing us that when humanity is united in common cause, phenomenally rapid change is possible. None of the world’s problems are technically difficult to solve; they originate in human disagreement. In coherency, humanity’s creative powers are boundless. A few months ago, a proposal to halt commercial air travel would have seemed preposterous. Likewise for the radical changes we are making in our social behavior, economy, and the role of government in our lives. Covid demonstrates the power of our collective will when we agree on what is important. What else might we achieve, in coherency? What do we want to achieve, and what world shall we create? That is always the next question when anyone awakens to their power.

Covid-19 is like a rehab intervention that breaks the addictive hold of normality. To interrupt a habit is to make it visible; it is to turn it from a compulsion to a choice. Read also The Coronation with Charles Eisenstein

  •  The spiritual potential of quarantine

Being alone in quarantine, devoid of friends, family, co-workers and community, a person is truly lonely. Talking on the phone, messaging and even video chatting is no substitute for being in the physical presence of others. There is no replacement for the hug, kiss or even the handshake. Just having others around gives a person a sense of security and comfort. Quarantine forces a painful loneliness.

Yet the loneliness of companionship can also create an opportunity. The loneliness of others creates the solitude of the person with God. All alone, a person is able to commune with God as never before. God is eternally listening to our voices, and God awaits our prayers.

The silence of prayer/meditation provides a person the opportunity to connect to God on the deepest of levels. Without the pressures of work, a schedule or family chores, a person can turn to God, pour their heart out and deepen their relationship with the Creator. The gaping hole of spirituality left by the absence of ritual can be filled with a more unique connection to God.

Quarantine is a challenge previously unthought of by our Sages. It is lonely and depressing. Those feelings are natural and valid. All of us in quarantine are feeling them. But taken in the right way, it can provide time and opportunity to connect with God, rethink values and recommit to the priorities that are important to us. It means to become a “Refugee”, to recover our soul and to take refuge in the “Living Breath”  and take care of it.

Don’t change the world in hopes of changing yourself,

change yourself so the world changes because of you.

The Soul That Does not Live in God is not Alive

Spring makes red and white flowers appear on the trees,

But the spring that is the origin of colors is colorless.

Understand what I have said, and give up all talk;

Run to the Origin without color and unite yourself to it.

Annihilate yourself before the One Existence

So that thousands of worlds leap out of you

And your pure existence flames out of itself

And goes on and on birthing different forms.

Of course, none of these forms will last.

Happy is the one who knows this mystery!

Happy is he who gives his life to know this!

He leaves this house for another far more radiant.

You cannot understand this mystery through reason;

The Way to Knowledge winds through suffering and torment.

If you do not feel pain, you do not look for healing.

The soul that does not live in God is not alive.

She seems like a soul, but does not deserve the name:

She has not been made alive by the Beloved.

The soul is given life by the four-elements

Like a lamp that burns through the night:

The light is from oil and wick, it is not eternal.

While the oil exists, the lamp burns, but then goes out.

The one made alive by God will never die.

He lives through God and not through gold or bread.

God is the Light, the Eternal Source of Lights.

The Light is causeless, as is His fiery radiance.

Like gold, God’s value comes from His pure, perfect essence.

Sultan Valad

  • Mutiny of the Soul

Depression, anxiety, and fatigue are an essential part of a process of metamorphosis that is unfolding on the planet today, and highly significant for the light they shed on the transition from an old world to a new.

When a growing fatigue or depression becomes serious, and we get a diagnosis of Epstein-Barr or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or hypothyroid or low serotonin, we typically feel relief and alarm. Alarm: something is wrong with me. Relief: at least I know I’m not imagining things; now that I have a diagnosis, I can be cured, and life can go back to normal. But of course, a cure for these conditions is elusive.

The notion of a cure starts with the question, “What has gone wrong?” But there is another, radically different way of seeing fatigue and depression that starts by asking, “What is the body, in its perfect wisdom, responding to?” When would it be the wisest choice for someone to be unable to summon the energy to fully participate in life?

The answer is staring us in the face. When our soul-body is saying No to life, through fatigue or depression, the first thing to ask is, “Is life as I am living it the right life for me right now?” When the soul-body is saying No to participation in the world, the first thing to ask is, “Does the world as it is presented me merit my full participation?” Read More Here

  • To Become a “Refugee” means to make a migration to Sincerity or to the“uprightness” of Love.

 

What the Emigration to Sincerity demands of us? see To Become a “Refugee”: Emigration to Sincerity or “uprightness” of Love

see also Source materials for the “Refugee” of our Times

and  Migration to the Spiritual Land of Peace -Exercise.

Presenting the Sufi path to the Maypole of Wisdom

The Choice  – Y :

The Corona virus is taking a toll on all of us, especially those least able to retreat into their homes until the worst is over.

But, beyond the health and humanitarian measures urgently needed for those affected, it also offers a chance to right historical wrongs – the abuse of our earthly home and of marginalised societies, the very people who will suffer most from this pandemic. This viral outbreak is a sign that by going too far in exploiting the rest of nature, the dominant globalising culture has undone the planet’s capacity to sustain life and livelihoods. The unleashing of micro-organisms from their animal hosts means that they must latch on to other bodies for their own survival. Humans are a part of nature – and everything is connected to everything else.

The spiritual potential of quarantine

Being alone in quarantine, devoid of friends, family, co-workers and community, a person is truly lonely. Talking on the phone, messaging and even video chatting is no substitute for being in the physical presence of others. There is no replacement for the hug, kiss or even the handshake. Just having others around gives a person a sense of security and comfort. Quarantine forces a painful loneliness.

Yet the loneliness of companionship can also create an opportunity. The loneliness of others creates the solitude of the person with God. All alone, a person is able to commune with God as never before. God is eternally listening to our voices, and God awaits our prayers.

The silence of prayer/meditation provides a person the opportunity to connect to God on the deepest of levels. Without the pressures of work, a schedule or family chores, a person can turn to God, pour their heart out and deepen their relationship with the Creator. The gaping hole of spirituality left by the absence of ritual can be filled with a more unique connection to God.

Quarantine is a challenge previously unthought of by our Sages. It is lonely and depressing. Those feelings are natural and valid. All of us in quarantine are feeling them. But taken in the right way, it can provide time and opportunity to connect with God, rethink values and recommit to the priorities that are important to us.

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. “

The Choice Y

Presenting the Website  Sufi Path to the Maypole of Wisdom:

  • Crisis of the modern world

Ego rules the world: Anti-“God”, Anti-“Humanity”, Anti-“Nature

Our civilization is in decay. Because we have blown-up our ego. Cosmic Balance has been disturbed. The Origin – Cosmic Womb/Vacuum – “doesn’t tolerate” this. With the help of Her two Cosmic Forces of “Death and Rebirth” (“Stirb und Werde” – “Die and Become”-J.W. von Goethe) She breaks down our ego-accumulations, thus restoring the Original Balance. Read More

  • Life out of Balance: the Qatsi trilogy

The Qatsi trilogy:

The Qatsi trilogy is the informal name given to a series of non-narrative films produced by Godfrey Reggio and scored by Philip Glass:

 

The titles of all three motion pictures are words from the Hopi language, in which the word qatsi translates to “life.” The series was produced by the Institute For Regional Education, who also created the Fund For Change

Qatsi Director Godfrey Reggio: We Are in the Cyborg State!

Naqoyqatsi is a Hopi word (more correctly written naqö̀yqatsi) meaning “life as war”. In the film’s closing credits, Naqoyqatsi is also translated as “civilized violence” and “a life of killing each other”.[4] While Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi examine modern life in industrial countries and the conflict between encroaching industrialization and traditional ways of life, using slow motion and time-lapse footage of cities and natural landscapes, about eighty percent of Naqoyqatsi uses archive footage and stock images manipulated and processed digitally on non-linear editing (non-sequential) workstations and intercut with specially-produced computer-generated imagery to demonstrate society’s transition from a natural environment to a technology-based one. Reggio described the process as “virtual cinema”.

Thirty years after “Koyaanisqatsi,” Godfrey Reggio—with the support of Philip Glass and Jon Kane—once again leapfrogs over earthbound filmmakers and creates another stunning, wordless portrait of modern life. Presented by Steven Soderbergh in stunning black and white 4K digital projection, “Visitors” reveals humanity’s trancelike relationship with technology, which, when commandeered by extreme emotional states, produces massive effects far beyond the human species. The film is visceral, offering the audience an experience beyond information about the moment in which we live. Comprised of only seventy-four shots, “Visitors” takes viewers on a journey to the moon and back to confront them with themselves.

More info  here

  • Rediscovering the Sacred in our Lives and in our Times

The conference was introduced by HRH the Prince of Wales who, in a specially videotaped message recorded earlier at St. James’ Palace, spoke of the Sacred as the essential dimension of truth and therefore of understanding, and of the “crisis of perception” in the modern world:

We have lost our way because we can no longer see clearly. And so we have forgotten. A world of parts has replaced a world of wholeness. A world of separation has replaced a world of connectedness and entanglement. The secular has pushed aside the Sacred.” Read more here

  • Because Dante is Right

The incomparable greatness of the Divine Comedy shows itself not least in the fact that, in spite of the exceptionally wide range and variety of its influence—it even shaped the language of a nationits full meaning has seldom been understood.

At the time of the Renaissance, however, people did at least still debate as to whether Dante had actually seen Heaven and hell or not. At a later date, concern with the Divine Comedy dropped to the level of a purely scientific interest that busied itself with historical connections, or of an esthetic appreciation that no longer bothered about the spiritual sense of the work at all.

Thus, people fundamentally misunderstood the source upon which the poet drew for his work of creation, since the multiplicity of meaning in it is not the result of a preconceived mental construction grafted onto the actual poem; it arises directly and spontaneously out of a supra mental inspiration, which at one and the same time penetrates and shines through every level of the soul—the reason, as well as the imagination and the inward ear.

It is not “in spite of his philosophy” that Dante is a great poet; he is so thanks to his spiritual vision, and because through his art, however caught up in time it may be as regards its details, there shines forth a timeless truth, at once blissful and terrifying—in short, it is because Dante is right. Read more

  • Goethe , the “refugee”

Zelige Sehnsucht Blessed Longing, Goethe

In the begin of “Modernity”, Goethe warns us in his poem Zelige Sehnsucht Blessed Longing

 

 

 

 

Tell no one else, only the wise
For the crowd will sneer at one
I wish to praise what is fully alive,
What longs to flame toward death.

When the calm enfolds the love-nights
That created you, where you have created
A feeling from the Unknown steals over you
While the tranquil candle burns.

You remain no longer caught
In the peneumbral gloom
You are stirred and new, you desire
To soar to higher creativity.

No distance makes you ambivalent.
You come on wings, enchanted
In such hunger for light, you
Become the butterfly burnt to nothing.

So long as you have not lived this:
To die is to become new,
You remain a gloomy guest
On the dark earth.

It is the story of moth and the candle, found first in the Kitáb at-tawasin of the martyr mystic al-HalIáj (d. 922) and then taken over by the poets of Iran and Turkey, that forms the bridge between the poezie worlds of Iran and Germany. Goethe found it in a translation of Persian verses and transformed it into one of the most profound poerns in the German language, Zelige Sehnsucht (Blessed Longing). “Stirb und werde,,‘ “Die and become,” is Goethe’s advice to the reader in this poem, and this idea of dying and being reborn on ever rising levels of existence permeates large parts of classical Persian poetry. It is the song of the never-ending quest, the fulfillment of Love through suffering and deathi expressed in images of the journey through rnountains and deserts to end only in paradise, as Goethe says at the end of the Book of Paradise in the West-Ostlicher Divan:

Bis im Anschaun ew’ger Liebe

wir verschweben, wsr verschwinden . .

Contemplating Love eternal

we float higher and dissolve .

This poem is an example of the “helplessness that sometimes accompanies love.” He offers it as an example of the way passion causes us to surrender our “common sense, rationality and normal serious reserve;” to awaken to the creative energies, the desires and longing emmanating from the heart.

This awakening is the threshold of “salvation.” To make the realization that you are part of something so vast and lovely, it transcends form and time is like falling in love. It IS falling in love…it is seeing “sameness,” recognizing yourself in the other – realizing that you are One with the Other, falling into the universal mystery that is the Love of God! Love is the nature of this cosmic Spirit-relationship. Love is all there is. Love is who you are, where you came from, how you are to live, and that to which you will return. Read More here

  • Maypole

The maypole is a symbol of the Tree of Life and by extension the Tree.  It is cut and used in celebrations in early Spring when plant life is just starting to become abundant again, in effect when life is regenerating. The custom is to be found from Scotland and Sweden to the Pyrenees and Slav countries.

The time when the maypole is brought in depends on the place because, being symbolic of new life, it is cut when life is at its most regenerative.  Spring occurs in different months in different parts of the world, so in the UK and Saxony, for example, it is generally cut on the  1st May; in the Vosges it is the first Sunday of May;  in Sweden it is the Summer solstice. Read more here

  • Traditionalism and Folklore

By “folklore” we mean that whole and consistent body of culture which has been handed down, not in books but by word of mouth and in practice, from time beyond the reach of historical research, in the form of legends, fairy tales, ballads, games, toys,crafts, medicine, agriculture, and other rites, and forms of organization, especially those we call tribal.

This is a cultural complex independent of national and even racial boundaries, and of remarkable similarity throughout the world. . . . The content of folklore is metaphysical.

Our failure to recognize this is primarily due to our own abysmal ignorance of metaphysics and of doctrines are received by the people and transmitted by them.

 In its popular form, a given doctrine may not always have been understood, but so long as the formula is faithfully transmitted it remains understandable;

“superstitions,” for the most part, are no mere delusions, but formulae of which the meaning has been forgotten. . . . We are dealing with the relics of an ancient folk metaphysics its technical terms. . . . Folklore ideas are the form in which metaphysical wisdom, as valid now as it ever was. . . . We shall only be able to understand the astounding uniformity of the folklore motifs all over the world, and the devoted care that has everywhere been taken to ensure their correct transmission, if we approach these mysteries (for they are nothing less) in the spirit in which they have been transmitted (“from the Stone Age until now”) with the confidence of little children, indeed, but not the childish self-confidence of those who hold that wisdom was born with themselves. Read more here

  • A lifelong pilgrimage: The Mirror of Jheronimus bosch

Bosch makes art personal, on different levels, and thatmakes him modern. He was one of the first artists in the Low Countries to sign his paintings: ‘Jheronimus bosch’. It was plainly important to him that the works he left behind should be traceable to him. The Haywain (cat. 5) too was signed with his standard signature, affixed like a stamp to the bottom right of the central panel. Bosch also made his art personal, however, for those who look at it. The Haywain is so famous nowadays that it is hard to imagine that when he created it no other painting existed with this subject matter or anything remotely resembling it. We do not know of a single visual precursor for either the Haywain or the Wayfarer. Bosch created an image here that is entirely contemporary – hypermodern art from around 1510–15. Despite their moralizing content, the Haywain and the Wayfarer are not dogmatic paintings; they hold up a mirror to their viewers, to teach them to see themselves better. It was important to Bosch to make his viewers aware of how they bumble their way through life, longing for earthly things. He offered them a personal, exploratory way to realize that if they were to avoid hell and damnation they needed to turn to the good. It is also an important shift in emphasis in the approach to the question of what it means to be a good Christian. Bosch’s work is closely related in this respect to the message of the Devotio Moderna. Read more here

  • Viriditas: the greening power of the Divine – Hildegard of Bingen

Let your eye live and grow in God,
and your soul will never shrivel.
You can count on it to keep you alive . . . awake . . . tender.
—Hildegard, Letter to Archbishop Arnold of Mainz

Humanity, take a good look at yourself.
Inside, you’ve got heaven and earth, and all of creation.
You’re a world—everything is hidden in you.
—Hildegard, Causes and Cures

 

When a person does something wrong and the soul realizes this, the
deed is like poison in the soul. Conversely, a good deed is as sweet
to the soul as delicious food is to the body. The soul circulates
through the body like sap through a tree, maturing a person the
way sap helps a tree turn green and grow flowers and fruit.
—Hildegard, Scivias

Don’t let yourself forget that God’s grace rewards not only those
who never slip, but also those who bend and fall. So sing! The
song of rejoicing softens hard hearts. It makes tears of godly sorrow
flow from them. Singing summons the Holy Spirit. Happy praises
offered in simplicity and love lead the faithful to complete harmony,
without discord. Don’t stop singing.
—Hildegard, Scivias

Read more about Viriditas: the greening power of the Divine – Hildegard of Bingen

  • The Noble Colloquy between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kāmil

This article aims to explore a profound ethical challenge confronting heterogeneous, multi-denominational, and ethnically variegated societies as they confront modernity, seek bonding capital, and come to terms with their own diversity. It does so by deconstructing the dialogue between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kāmil in 1219. That striking colloquy provides intriguing insights on a wide range of issues, including celebrating transculturalism in the spirit of convivencia, advocating for mutual respect, and emboldening humanitarianism. Even more remarkably, this exchange occurred when the crusades were raging – at the apex of intense hostility between Muslim and Christian communities. At that time, Pope Honorius III demanded that crusaders, from far and wide, eradicate “evil” Muslims and liberate Jerusalem. Yet, despite that, St. Francis was eager to go among the Muslims, and eventually, met with Sultan al-Kāmil. The sultan, as Fareed Munir writes, was peace-loving, sagacious and a “man of honor,” indeed, no less magnanimous and courageous than Francis. The hospitality he showed to Francis, by hosting and attentively listening to him for nearly three weeks, is profound. Ultimately, that experience changed both men, and presumably others present. See: St Francis and the Sufi,

also Sultan Malik al Kamil and St Francis

and Umar Ibn al-Farid the Great Poet

  • Discerning Wisdom from Folly with Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Discerning an understanding between Non-Virtues and Virtues is   needed in our times. And the works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder can help us to find an answer. Read more

 

 

  • PETER BRUEGEL THE ELDER AND ESOTERIC TRADITION

By Sir Richard Temple at The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts

The late paintings of Peter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525 – 1569) are full of symbolism and allegory whose meaning has been widely and differently interpreted. Some see Bruegel as a gifted, humorous peasant, others as a satirist and political commentator and yet others as a Renaissance humanist and mystic. There is no consensus on the significance of the paintings and hardly any documents to help the historian.

This thesis considers Neoplatonic humanist ideas at the heart of the Renaissance in Italy and in Flanders in the 16th century, relating them to the historical continuum known as the Perennial Philosophy. This concept is little understood today and this work traces its history and demonstrates that it was widely, if not universally, accepted in the Hellenistic era and in the Renaissance.

It also considers the tradition of religious mysticism in Germany, the Netherlands and Flanders throughout the late Middle Ages that led up to the Reformation and points out that this movement is also an expression of the Perennial Philosophy, citing the works of Meister Eckhart, the Rhineland mystics and the schools that came out of the Devotio Moderna.

The work considers the esoteric, ‘heretical’ school called the Family of Love that claimed among its adherents a number of highly illustrious artists, thinkers and politicians. Such men as Christoffe Plantin, Abraham Ortelius and Justus Lipsius spurned the religious turmoil of the period and rejected Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists alike in favour of an inner mystical state they called the ‘invisible church’. They were close to Bruegel, bought his paintings and, it cannot be doubted, shared his thought.

While there are no surviving documents to prove Bruegel’s personal connection with the Familists, the weight of circumstantial evidence, especially when seen in the context of the Perennial Philosophy, is compelling. However, it is the paintings themselves that open comprehensively and convincingly to an esoteric interpretation – once one has the key that unlocks their meaning. This thesis provides that key and leads the reader through an analysis of seven of Bruegel’s last paintings.

The Introduction consists of two sections; the first summarises the discoveries and
opinions of scholars and art historians during the last seventy years and their differing
and often incompatible views as to Bruegel‟s religious and social status and the
significance of his art. The second section analyses in some detail his painting The
Numbering at Bethlehem along the line of esoteric ideas and symbolism that will be
developed throughout the whole work .

The form of the ideas of this thesis could be illustrated by a picture of three concentric circles of which the outer would be the Perennial Philosophy – what Renaissance thinkers regarded as the body of truth drawn by the ancients from their knowledge of the cosmos  and which, like the universe, has no external boundary. In writing about the Perennial  Philosophy I have cited Plato and Hellenistic and Renaissance Neoplatonists as well as writers of the 20th-century, among whom are Ananda Coomaraswamy and René Guénon  and writers associated with their ideas; I have also quoted the theosophist W. Thackara.
Within this is the second circle containing aspects of the Perennial Philosophy that found expression in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance periods and which culminated in Antwerp in the 16th-century. What may at first appear to be diverse influences are drawn from Renaissance „paganism‟, the mysticism of Meister Eckhart and his followers as well as „gnostic‟ or „heretical‟ schools such as the Adamites with whom Hieronymus Bosch was associated. At the centre of all this – in the innermost circle – is Bruegel or, rather,  his paintings, for the man himself is more or less silent and invisible. Yet the testimony of the later paintings is like a kernel containing the wisdom of the Perennial Philosophy.
The paintings are there for all to see and yet their colours, forms and narratives are a veil
– albeit a veil of great beauty – that covers a high order of knowledge. They are,
therefore, esoteric.

In fact the form of the ideas set out here is necessarily linear but we can remind ourselves that the right to speak of the ultimate truths of Man and the universe was regarded in the 16th-century as traditionally belonging to the realm of prophets, poets, mystics and artists.
Such men spoke in multi-layered symbols and their vision is not limited to mens and
ratio only. Read more Here

 

  • To See Yourself within It: Bruegel’s Festival of Fools by Todd Marlin Richardson

Bruegel’s Festival of Fools

The topics of blindness and self-awareness I discussed in relation to the
Peasant and Nest Robber bring me to the focus of my fourth and final chapter,
Bruegel’s Festival of Fools . In addition, the practices of making and viewing
works of art I have described for all of Bruegel’s later peasant paintings are also
helpful in thinking about this particular design. Nadine Orenstein argues for a late
dating of the print, after the now lost drawing by Bruegel, based on the words Aux
quatre Vents inscribed at the bottom center. This is the form of the publisher’s address
used by the widow of the print’s publisher, Hieronymus Cock, following his death in
1570. Orenstein speculates the drawing was completed in the last years of Bruegel’s
life, during the same time he painted the peasant panels, and the print produced after
his death.

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

The crowd of lively characters enters from the left, beneath the trellised pergolas, and processes to the right, before dancing hand-in-hand and meandering their way into the background where the musicians provide music. The right side of the building through which they process is a gallery for viewing. On the far left side, two men support a makeshift carriage, made just visible by the handle they carry, which bears a bald-headed fool above their shoulders holding a ball before his gaze.

At first sight, the collection of figures seems to be rather chaotically constructed; they engage in acrobatic manoeuvres, heads swivelled awkwardly on bodies and bodies piled on top of one another. In the foreground, multiple fools play a bowling game, while in the background people on a platform strum or bang various instruments. The figures are in full costume with hood and bells; they dance, exhibit bawdy gestures and participate in proverbial activities, examples of which I will discuss shortly. All of this is mentioned in the accompanying text below the image.

The text reads, in translation, “You sottebollen (numbskulls), who are
plagued with foolishness, / Come to the green if you want to go bowling, / Although one has lost his honor and another his money, / The world values the greatest sottebollen. // Sottebollen are found in all nations, / Even if they do not wear a fool’s cap on their heads. / They have such grace in dancing that their foolish heads spin like tops. // The filthiest sottebollen shit everything away, / Then there are those who take others by the nose. / Some sell trumpets and the others spectacles / With which they deceive many nitwits. // Yet there are sottebollen who behave themselves wisely, / And taste the true sense of ‘tSottebollen (numbskulling) / Because they [who] enjoy folly in
themselves / Shall best hit the pin with their sottebollen.Read more

  •  Green Man, May Day and May Pole

Mythology of May Day

First we talk  about the Goddess who lies behind May Day; second will be about the bonfires of May Day Eve and third  the mythology and rituals behind the Maypole.

Since May 1 lies about halfway between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice, it was considered a good time to mark the transition into summer. Indeed, in most of medieval northern Europe (meaning the Celtic calendar), May 1 was the beginning of summer. By then the seeds for crops had just been sown (so farmers and their laborers could take a short break), and it was time to drive cattle and sheep out to their summer pastures. Both the sprouting crops and the soon-to-be pastured cattle needed divine protection from the dangers of the natural and supernatural worlds, which is why May Day developed as a holiday and took on the associated rituals and mythology that it did. And a goddess was a good figure to deal with such human concerns. Read more here

  • Proclaiming St George’Day ( 23rd of April): A Day of “uprightness”, and a day of remembering, sharing and of coming together, organizing “Convivium” or Forum for Ethics, Honesty and “Uprightness”

Asking St George his Intercession, protection and patronage for the project:

The saint was then beheaded on April 23, 303. And his feast day is still celebrated all over the world! 1717 years later, in the Year 2020 we ask you to pray :

The Prayer to Saint George directly refers to the courage it took for the saint to confess his Belief before opposing authority:

 

 

 

Prayers of Intercession to Saint George:

Faithful servant of God and invincible martyr, Saint George; favored by God with the gift of faith, and inflamed with an ardent love of Christ, thou didst fight valiantly against the dragon of pride, falsehood, and deceit.

Neither pain nor torture, sword nor death could part thee from the love of Christ. I fervently implore thee for the sake of this love to help me by thy intercession to overcome the temptations that surround me, and to bear bravely the trials that oppress me, so that I may patiently carry the cross which is placed upon me; and let neither distress nor difficulties separate me from the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Valiant champion of the Faith, assist me in the combat against evil, that I may win the crown promised to them that persevere unto the end.

O God! You are the Bestower of favours. No one has favour over You. O Possessor of Majesty and Nobility, You are the One Who constantly bestows His bounties. There is no deity other thanYou. You are the One who grants safety and refuge to those that seek it and to those in fear.  We ask You to remove all tribulations, those that we know and those that we do not know and those about which You know more, for truly You are the Most Mighty, the Most Generous. ( From the Prayer on  Bara’a Night )

Read more here: Forum for Ethics, Virtues and Uprightness

look here Celebrations of St George’s Say all over the world  

 

and the Patronages of Saint George all over the world

 

  • St George and Al kidhr

At first sight there seems to be little connection between Elijah, George and Khidr, apart from the fact that in the Middle East they are frequently associated with the same place by different religious traditions. Is it then a simple case of overlapping traditions, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, all of whom focus on the Holy Land as part of their own heritage and take Abraham as their forefather?

Certainly there is a view which suggests that Khidr is to Muslims what Elijah is to Jews, in respect of them both acting as initiator to the true believer, and which in itself is testimony to attempts to find common ground between the three traditions.

Then there is the ancient theme of the spiritual side of man being dominant over the material, as suggested in the stories by the holy rider on a chariot or horse (or in the case of Khidr, a fish).

This is a clear picture of the divinised human, who comes to deliver mankind:

Elijah is zealous for God and the destroyer of false prophets, while St George is the conqueror of animality in the form of the dragon; Khidr’s role is rather less vividly martial – he brings real self-knowledge, delivering the individual from the false and base nature of the soul.

In all three cases one can remark the polarity of the monotheist or true believer and the pagan or ignorant: Elijah and the prophets of Baal, St George and the emperor Diocletian, for example  and perhaps most strikingly in this respect, Khidr who points out the interior meaning of this opposition and is thus the educator of Moses.

However, we should note significant differences in their status, which in part reflect the religious context in which they appear: Elijah is a prophet, in a long line of prophecy; St George is a saint, martyred for his faith in the tradition of Christianity; Khidr, however, is almost a nobody – he is neither saint nor prophet, but an ordinary person graced with immortality and initiatic significance. While the first two are usually portrayed as mounted, Khidr has his feet upon the ground (or just above it in some stories) or walks on water; as we shall see, he has a most particular role to play in mystical teaching. Read more here

  • The Allegory of Good and Bad Government

The “Allegory of Good and Bad Government” is a series of fresco paintings executed by Ambrogio Lorenzetti which are located in the Salon of Nine (or Council Room) in the Town Hall (Palazzo Pubblico) of the city of Siena. This famous cycle of pre-Renaissance painting is made up of six different scenes: Allegory of Good Government; Allegory of Bad Government; Effects of Bad Government in the City; Effects of Good Government in the City; Effects of Bad Government in the Country; and Effects of Good Government in the Country. Commissioned by the Council of Nine (the city council) and designed as a sort of political warning, aimed at members of the Council (drawn from Siena’s ruling families), to reduce corruption and misrule, these mural paintings offer a pictorial contrast between the peace and prosperity of honest rule, versus the decay and ruin caused by tyranny. Read more here

  • Forum for Ethics, Honesty and “Uprightness”

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

We need to be sincere with our selves , to be “upright” strictly honourable and  honest, as the symbol of the Maypole is. Together we can initiate and erect a maypole as various European folk festivals do, in respect of the safely coming of Spring. But as many Folklores in Europe did, to keep it more permantly,  we can plant a Lime Tree in the center of the village of on squares in the city, to keep the remenbering of  “uprightness”,of sincerity in our mind, in our heart and in our everyday lives.

See  planting  The Dance Lime Tree project 

In this way,as  in many folklores of Europe, they recognize their dependance to Nature and their submission to something Higher than themselves. And happy they danced under the Lime Tree on important opportunities.  Man has always be in need of a symbol, but certainly a symbol for communality and fraternity.

The Lime Tree  can become again a beautiful symbol of Fraternity, and also draw strength together to face the future and a place of remembering, sharing and of coming together.  Than Maybe, this message from the Past can help us  to be able  to rediscover  the meaning of  the Eternal Spring. Or as Hildegard of Bingen call it The Greenness ( Viriditas) of our soul

The Forum for Ethics, Honesty and “Uprightness”  will realize a meeting place for everybody, and for all the cultures, traditions and religions. Inviting everybody to share their knowlegde and wisdom. It will be functioning as a bridge between cultures, spiritual knowledge, folklores, art and wisdom from our interconnected world. But the project is also the intention to plan the Lime Tree of Wisdom in our heart using pollarding and pruning to make our tree stronger,  with pofound roots of “uprightness”, sincerity, love and wisdom . See more about Forum for Ethics, Virtues  and Uprightness

There is still more to come….

Maypole of Wisdom  is a project of  website Sufi Path of Love

Thank You

COVID-19 is taking a toll on all of us, especially those least able to retreat into their homes until the worst is over.

But, beyond the health and humanitarian measures urgently needed for those affected, it also offers a chance to right historical wrongs – the abuse of our earthly home and of marginalised societies, the very people who will suffer most from this pandemic. This viral outbreak is a sign that by going too far in exploiting the rest of nature, the dominant globalising culture has undone the planet’s capacity to sustain life and livelihoods. The unleashing of micro-organisms from their animal hosts means that they must latch on to other bodies for their own survival. Humans are a part of nature – and everything is connected to everything else.

The Nature is Speaking:

More on Nature is speaking here

…”.I would like to tell you a few things about this virus and the lessons it should teach us, all the things we should be learning. I would like to add my voice to the crowd and be heard above it.

I would like to say: fish have returned to the Venetian canals now that humans have stopped polluting them.

I would like to say: the clouds of air pollution over Italy and China have dissipated since people were prevented from causing them with their cars, planes, factories.

I would like to say: up to 80,000 premature deaths which would have been caused this way have probably been prevented in China by the shutdown of the economy.

I would like to say: carbon monoxide levels in the air above New York have collapsed by 50 percent in a single week.

I would like to say: Nature recovers swiftly when we stop our plundering of Her bounty.

I would like to say: lift your gaze, humans.

I would like to say: we can learn from this, we can change.

I am squatting in the sun on this day of the spring equinox, it is a cold sun, I am down by the pond with my children, we are watching the tadpoles squirm free of their jelly under the leafing poplars. The world is turning.”

Paul Kingsnorth is a writer living in rural Ireland.

The current pandemic is just one aspect of the human-made planetary crisis known as the Anthropocene; runaway climate change and biodiversity loss are others – and all are connected. COVID-19 confronts us with a civilizational crisis so immediate and so severe, that the only real strategy will be one that can reach into and heal the web of life.

This crisis strips away all delusional confidence in modern world notions of history, progress, humanity, knowledge, time, secularism, and our tendency to take life itself for granted. It should also caution us against responses that strip away democratic and human rights, as is happening in the name of controlling the virus in many countries, for such responses only further reduce the ability of citizens to deal with such crises.

The corona crisis signifies a civilization that is dying, but also, it shows a pluriverse of ‘other worlds’ rising up. Every crisis is an opportunity. The key question is how to remake our economy and polity in a way that respects ecological limits and works for all humanity. The answer must go beyond superficial managerial and technological fixes to deep systemic transformations that can shake up structural injustices, unsustainability, and de-futuring. We need a dramatic shift towards genuine democracy;one that places confidence in the time-tested genius of local communities and collectives.

We challenge the old eurocentric mode of existence based on separation of humans from other natural entities – us versus them, mind versus body, secular versus spiritual. By denying the essential interdependence of everything on Earth, this dualist way of thinking and being simply served to entrench the domination of masculine power over life-affirming feminine care. It paved the way for the most objectifying and harmful economy humanity has ever seen, today enshrined in a heavily militarised global neoliberal capitalist (dis)order.

The pandemic is bringing home new lessons. Economic globalization has not brought universal prosperity but ecological devastation, social disruption and inequality.

The spiritual potential of quarantine

Being alone in quarantine, devoid of friends, family, co-workers and community, a person is truly lonely. Talking on the phone, messaging and even video chatting is no substitute for being in the physical presence of others. There is no replacement for the hug, kiss or even the handshake. Just having others around gives a person a sense of security and comfort. Quarantine forces a painful loneliness.

Yet the loneliness of companionship can also create an opportunity. The loneliness of others creates the solitude of the person with God. All alone, a person is able to commune with God as never before. God is eternally listening to our voices, and God awaits our prayers.

The silence of prayer/meditation provides a person the opportunity to connect to God on the deepest of levels. Without the pressures of work, a schedule or family chores, a person can turn to God, pour their heart out and deepen their relationship with the Creator. The gaping hole of spirituality left by the absence of ritual can be filled with a more unique connection to God.

Quarantine is a challenge previously unthought of by our Sages. It is lonely and depressing. Those feelings are natural and valid. All of us in quarantine are feeling them. But taken in the right way, it can provide time and opportunity to connect with God, rethink values and recommit to the priorities that are important to us.

  • The past is the mirror of the future

Looking the horizontal way and learning from the past, as Breughel and Bosch did but also Erasmus and Goethe as many others, learning from the “Black Death” and  taking also a vertical distance to understand better the message from Eternity, wil the website Maypole of Wisdom deliver a message for our times at the intersection or cross point of the present.

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

We need to be sincere with our selves , to be “upright” strictly honourable and  honest, as the symbol of the Maypole is. Together we can initiate and erect a maypole as various European folk festivals do, in respect of the safely coming of Spring. But as many Folklores in Europe did, to keep it more permantly,  we can plant a Lime Tree in the center of the village of on squares in the city, to keep the remenbering of  “uprightness”,of sincerity in our mind, in our heart and in our allday lives. In this way,as  in many folklores of Europe, they recognize their dependance to Nature and their submission to something Higher than themselves. And happy they danced under the Lime Tree on important opportunities.  Man has always be in need of a symbol, but certainly a symbol for communality and fraternity.

As the Spring Rejuvenation ritual of the  Carnaval of Binche in Belgium, the Gilles of Binche becomes for one day  the hero and symbol of Fraternity.

The Lime Tree of Wisdom  can become again a beautiful symbol of Fraternity, and also draw strength together to face the future and a place of remembering, sharing and of coming together.  Than Maybe, this message from the Past can help us  to be able  to rediscover  the meaning of  the Eternal Spring. Or as Hildegard of Bingen call it The Greenness ( Viriditas) of our soul.