“Those who might be tempted to give way to despair should realize that nothing accomplished in this order can ever be lost, that confusion, error and darkness can win the day only apparently and in a purely ephemeral way, that all partial and transitory disequilibrium must perforce contribute towards the greater equilibrium of the whole, and that nothing can ultimately prevail against the power of truth.”
And he set two pillars in the porch of the temple. And when he had erected the pillar on the right hand, he called the name thereof Jachin. In like manner he erected the second pillar, and he called the name thereof Boaz. 3 Kings 7:21
In the outer court of the First Temple of Solomon stood two pillars, guarding the entrance to the Sanctuary. They were erected by the Tyrian craftsman Hiram Abi, who was the general architect of the temple (the reason foreign craftsmen were brought in is undoubtedly due to the nomadic nature of the Jews, who were in essence not allowed to build sedentary structures). He named the pillar situated on the right hand Jachin, and the pillar on the left hand Boaz. The language of Josephus (in the part of the Antiquities where he describes the Temple) betrays his opinion that Jachin was situated towards the South, and Boaz towards the North.
From this basic information there has been derived throughout history an abundance of correspondences, both by the tradition (i.e. kaballah) of the Jews, and by the tradition of the Masons. These correspondences are by no means unique though, and may be applied far beyond the scope of these pillars. Nevertheless, I will name the most relevant here.
To start with Jachin, we see that it is placed at the right, which is to the south in this case. This cardinal direction corresponds to the season of summer, and by extension to the summer solstice. This then connects to the masculine element of fire (and the sun), and by extension air (for air is only the ‘crystallisation’ of fire). It is the ‘active’ element, which the Jews connect to the pillar of Mercy in their Tree of Life, and which the Masons call the pillar of Beauty.
On the other side, the left one, we have Boaz, which is placed on the north side. This direction corresponds to winter, and a fortiori to the winter solstice. The feminine elements of water (and the moon), and thus also earth (because earth is simply the ‘coagulation’ of water), are connected to it. It is ‘passive’, and the kabbalists associate it with the pillar of Justice or Severity, and the freemasons name it the pillar of Strength.
Aside from these fairly basic correspondences, we find a more interesting one. Deriving from the associations with the solstices, we can connect Jachin with St John the Baptist, and Boaz with St John the Evangelist. This is because of the special significance the feast days of the two saints have in masonry. The feastday of the Baptist namely falls a little after the summer solstice, and the feastday of the Evangelist a little after the winter solstice. The first falls under the sign of Cancer, the second under the sign of Capricorn. From the viewpoint of the earth, the sun begins it descending movement from the summer solstice, and reaches its lowest point on the winter solstice, from whence it begins to ascend until it again reaches its highest point in the summer. Of course, it does not really “ascend” or “descend” cosmologically speaking, but here, as said, we take the earthly (or phenomenological) viewpoint. The descending movement from midsummer on belongs then to the Baptist, for baptism is the descension of grace, while the ascending movement starting with midwinter belongs to the Evangelist, whose praises of the Word ascend to the heavens like incense.
In these images of the two Saint Johns we find that the order of the pillars is inverse to the order of the pillars of Boaz and Jachin. We see that Jachin (equated to the Baptist) is suddenly placed on the left side, and Boaz (equated to the Evangelist) on the right side. This is really no surprise, as ‘left’ and ‘right’ are relative terms (as opposed to North and South, which have definitive directions). What is on the right hand as seen from one viewpoint, is on the left hand when seen from the opposite viewpoint. The viewpoint which the astronomical considerations take in regards to the movement of the sun throughout the year is an earthly viewpoint, as we mentioned above, while the viewpoint which is taken in the building of the temple is a celestial one, for it is supposed to be an image not so much of the earth, but rather one of the heavens. As the earthly viewpoint is inverse to the heavenly viewpoint (for it is said ‘as above, so below, in inverse’), the positions of the pillars are also inverse. In some images unconnected to the two St Johns the pillars are also the opposite way around, and they can be explained in either the same way as above, or they are simply created by the ignorant.
Now, having elucidated some characteristics of the two separate pillars, I think it prudent to move onto some more profound considerations. To begin with the Jewish Tree of Life, it has not two pillars, the left and the right, but it has three, there is also a middle pillar. The Masons as well, have not only the pillars of Strength and Beauty, but have also added a middle pillar they call Wisdom. This pillar is not always depicted, not out of some desire to ‘keep secrets’, but rather because it is truly an ‘invisible pillar’ (cf. also the third face of Janus (whose name and function is ‘coincidentally’ very similar to that of the two Saint Johns (this similarity is only properly seen when you realise the name John is a poor translation of the name Johannes)), which is very rarely depicted). It signifies above all the ‘middle way’, a term which is often used to express certain epistemological or moral teachings (for example those of Aristotle (golden mean) or of the Buddha). This is of course a valid use of the term, but here it is used in its higher meaning of a ‘central’ way, i.e. a path that moves from the centre (or middle (cf. also the circle with the dot in the middle which is enclosed by the two St Johns)) of the individual being towards the centre of the world. For between these centres there is a direct line, a pillar as it were, a ray of light emanating from the spiritual sun. This ray is the intellect, and perhaps this is why the Masons call it the pillar of Wisdom.
Another thing which might be tangentially connected to this is the story of Samson, who, bound to two pillars, pulled (or pushed) them down, destroying by this act the entire temple of Dagon. We might interpret Samson here as the third pillar, which resolves (here expressed as ‘destruction’, as we for example also see how the third eye (the middle between the left and right eye) of Shiva destroys the entire world (cf. the temple of Dagon being as a ‘heathen temple’ not a symbol of Heaven but rather a symbol of ‘the world’)) the duality of the pillars into the unity of (spiritual) death.
This third, hidden, middle pillar might also be the cause of the Syriac work ‘the Cause of all Causes’ mentioning three, instead of two, Herculean Pillars (Hercules being a solar figure, and his twelve labours obviously mapping onto the twelve signs of the Zodiac).
To return to our original subject, in the case of Solomons Temple, there was also no visible middle pillar. Instead the middle space was occupied by the High Priest. This is no surprise, as our eternal High Priest in the order of Melkitsedek also occupies the middle space, for He is the union of the two opposites, of Heaven and Earth, of God and Man, and is called the Wisdom of God, in whom all things were made.
We think it wise to add a few more words on the symbolism of the decorations of the pillars. Let us start with the two hundred pomegranates that are in rows under the chapiters. The pomegranate symbolises above all the Word, for just as the fruit contains countless seeds inside its breast, the Word of God contains all the logoi spermatikoi (‘rational seeds’) which form the basis of existence. The red colour and shape of the pomegranate also reminds us of the heart, and the juice that it is filled with could be likened to the blood of the grape. In this sense its ‘cutting open’ symbolises the sacrifice of the Lamb, which from (and with) the Creation of the world allows all these rational seeds to leave the heart. The multiplicity of the seeds also gives the pomegranate a secondary symbolism of fecundity, which is why Venus is found holding it, and the Chinese give them as an engagement gift. The number of 100 (Chronicles gives 100, Kings 200, we can assume it was 100 for each pillar) also points to this fecundity, as such numbers (100, 1000, 10000) often symbolise the totality (and thus multiplicity) of existence.
Now let us move on to the lily, which crowns the pillars. The lily, due to its floating on the surface of the water, represents the overcoming of the state of becoming. See also how it said about the lilies that they neither labour nor spin, this is clearly the state of being, which is above that of ‘action’ (i.e. labour) and ‘becoming’ (i.e. spinning (cf. the Wheel of Fortuna)). The lily also represents (with a lot of other flowers) the ‘receptive’ heart, due to its ‘cup’ like shape. We can say that the lily, when it opens itself up, receives the liquid from the sacrificial pomegranate. So it is with the heart of man, which, if it opens itself up to the Sacred Heart and receives its blood, is made to be the crown of all things.
Now lets move on to the ‘nets of checkerwork’, which covered the heads of the pillars. The net represents the entirety of existence, the vertical strands are the formal qualities, the horizontal strands the material substance (and by extension the indefinite multiplicity of beings in a certain state, and the indefinite amount of possibilities in a single state). The Eastern traditions also speak of ‘Indras Net’, which is this same net which represents the entirety of existence, the world or ‘nature’, which they call ‘maya’ (makes you wonder about the term ‘inter-net’). The nets being ‘of checkerwork’ might indicate that they had a sort of checkerboard pattern, alternating two colours or materials. This may symbolise the perpetual duality which permeates existence, and which is only resolved on a higher plane.
Finally there were ‘wreaths of chain work’, which were over the checkered nets. These may serve a similar role as the nets, for the chains are made of interlinked pieces (called links). Being made of metal, they may also serve as a sign of ‘materiality’, which is reinforced by the idea of ‘restraining’. Just like the net, the chain wreath can serve as a symbol of the ‘capture’ which places one under the ‘illusion’ of the matrix of the world, and ‘binds’ or ‘restrains’ one under the spell of materiality.
It seems then that the lily and pomegranate form a symbolic pair, and the checkered net and the chain wreath do as well. The first pair seems to remind us of the heart, while the second pair refers us to the world. The heads of the pillars then form an image of Nature (in its widest sense), for on top is the lily, the heart which has risen above the waters, which is the world, and this world is symbolised by the nets of checkerwork covered with the wreaths of chain, under whose oppression are the hearts of the individual beings, which bleed under its tyranny.
“The old enemy is not called theking of the wicked because he created them or leads them, but because he exercises the tyranny of his domination over them with God’s just permission” – Blessed Alcuin of York
The name ‘Abaddon’ seems to signify the state of (spiritual) destruction. This is why the name is used both to describe a ‘place’ of destruction (one of the compartments of Hell, and by extension, Hell in its entirety), and an ‘agent’ of destruction (the archangel of the abyss). The practice of signifying by one name a state, which expresses itself both as a person and a place, is quite common, and can for example also be seen with the Greeks, who by the name ‘Hades’ signify both the underworld and its king.
Abaddon then is the personification of extermination, and this fact has been interpreted doubly. There are on the one hand those who say that he is an agent of Satan, or Satan himself, or the Antichrist, and on the other hand those who say that he is an agent of God, or God (namely Christ) Himself. It is true that the figure of Abaddon is in some ways a simile of Christ, for example in the fact that the Lord was named in the same three languages that Abaddon was named (Hebrew, Greek, and Latin (at least in the Vulgate)). But this must not allow us to say like the “Jehovas Witnesses” that Abaddon is merely another name for the Christ. Rather it alludes to the fact that the Devil is the Ape of God, for from the beginning, with his attempted usurpation of the Godhead, to the end, with his attempted usurpation of the Second Coming (as the Antichrist), the Satan attempts to be like God, and never attains it.
We say then that Abaddon is the Devil, and we can say as well that he is the Antichrist, insofar as the Antichrist is only the manifestation of the Devil in human form, just as the Christ is only the manifestation of God in the human form, and as the Christ is one with the Heavenly Father, so is the Antichrist one with his father.
But we must add that those who say that Abaddon is an agent of God are not entirely wrong, for it is true that the Devil was the angel of God, and Samael means the ‘poison of God’. While rejecting then the opinion that Abaddon is Christ Himself, we may admit that Abaddon as the Devil is an agent of God, who with His permission works destruction upon the sinners. This destruction is allowed by God because it is ‘righteous’, that is, it works evil upon the evil, contributing thusly to the good of the whole. And it must be remembered that all is the Will of God. Amen.
P.S. The Greek name for Abaddon is Apollyon, which resembles the name for the Greek god Apollo, and both seem to derive from the Greek word for ‘to destroy’. The fact that Apollo is most often seen as a god of the sun and health (although the healing faculty is more represented by his son, Asclepius (see also my previous blogpost)), leads many to forget that he is also the god of the plague, and so by extension destruction (cf. his caduceus which carries two snakes (representing both the maleficent and beneficent forces) as opposed to the rod of Asclepius which only carries a single snake (signifying solely the beneficent force)). But this means not that we can equate Apollyon with Apollo, for Apollyon seems to only designate the destructive force, while Apollo designates both the destructive and the (re)constructive force.
The science of medicine must be one of the oldest granted to men, and from its beginning it has been connected to the priestly function. This can be seen from the fact that most ancient treatments consisted of certain herbal ingredients combined with some (what are commonly called) “magical” rites or incantations. The name “medicine man”, which is used to refer to the priests of the American Indians, also points us to this connection. And also the terms “shaman” and “witch doctor” refer to priests who simultaneously serve the function of healing. The ancient Greeks had their healing temples as well, named after Asclepius, whose rod is today still used to symbolise medicine. And it is then also no surprise that in medieval Europe the Church was the prime provider of healthcare, with Charles the Great decreeing that every cathedral and monastery had to have a hospital attached to it.
The reason for this connection between the priest and the doctor is very simple, it is namely the correspondence between the body and the soul. The priest is concerned with the health of the soul, and may thus be said to be a ‘physician of the soul’ (as our Lord is also called the Great Physician, as He makes all things whole (note that “healing” literally means “making whole”, and that “sickness” is thus equated to “brokenness”), while the doctor is concerned with the health of the body, and is called just a regular physician. But as we said, there is a correspondence between the two, they may not be separated. This seems like a very clear thing, e.g. corporeally torturing a man will probably have a negative effect on his mental health, and a temperate man will probably be of good bodily health. Yet often this truth is ignored, and we attempt to treat all ills, both psychic and corporeal, with corporeal goods. The ancients did not have this problem, as they perfectly combined these two domains (perhaps most archetypically symbolised by the herb and the prayer) for the curing of the ill. It must be added that the traditional view on the relationship between the soul and the body is double, i.e. the body is dependent on the soul for its essence, and the soul is dependent on the body for its manifestation. In other words, without the soul the body would be nothing, and without the body the soul would not be able to have a presence in the world. It is clear that this is not an equal dependence, and thus traditionally the body is seen as mostly dependent on the soul. By extension the healing of the body was then seen as dependent on the healing of the soul. (Let alone the fact that the healing of the body was regarded as essentially secondary to the healing of the soul.)
Another point which must be considered is that the function of medicine is always concerned with ‘life’. This can be the restoration of life, the preserving of life, the extension of life, and so on. The Oath of Hippocrates (who was a descendant and priest of Asclepius) can be summarised as a promise to protect life in all cases (some examples given in the Oath are refusing to cause a woman to have an abortion and refusing to euthanise a person). Most of traditional Chinese medicine has as its sole purpose to ensure a ‘long life’. It would be a mistake to solely interpret this obsession with ‘life’ in a corporeal manner, for while the survival of the body surely is a good, it is not good in itself, nor is it the highest good. We must say that the ‘life’ which is spoken of in traditional medicine, the life which it tries to restore, is the eternal, spiritual life (in theurgic medicine) or the aeviternal, psychic life (in spagyric medicine (in the Paracelsian sense)). We may compare it to the fountain of eternal youth, which might be more accurately called the fountain of perpetual life, which also does not primarily refer to the prolonged survival of the body, but rather the restoration of the life of the soul. Now, as we said before, we may not make an absolute separation between the body and the soul. We might then expect to see the spiritual status of those who have attained eternal life reflected in their corporeal status. An example of this reflection is the phenomenon of the incorruptibility of the corpses of the saints, i.e. the lack of decomposition of their bodies after their deaths. Another example may be the extraordinarily long lives (compared to ours) the first men are said to have had.
Of course, with the Renaissance and the Reformation, many of the monasteries and cathedrals, with their attached hospitals, were closed, and the traditional medical authorities were rejected in favour of more experimental (or ’empirical’) practices. The so-called “Enlightenment” and the following centuries only exacerbated the narrowing of this priestly science, with the body coming to be seen as a mere machine, and physicians being deprived of any knowledge of the soul. It is then no wonder that we live in an age of unprecedented sickness.
He is the way; to him who has put off all that is dead He is the life. He who travels on this way is told to take nothing with him on it, since it provides bread and all that is necessary for life, and since enemies are powerless on it, he needs no staff, and since it is holy, he needs no shoes. – Origen, commentary on the Gospel of John
So, too, when the disciples were appointed to preach the gospel they were told to take with them neither shoe nor shoe-latchet; and when the soldiers came to cast lots for the garments of Jesus they found no boots that they could take away. For the Lord could not Himself possess what He had forbidden to His servants. – St Jerome, letter to Eustochium
The Roman gods were usually portrayed barefoot, and so it is with the Roman Emperors, who had the habit of taking off their sandals before entering into their temples. The Hindus also take off their footwear before going into their holy places, and so do the Japanese. Moses was commanded to remove his shoes before coming into the presence of God, and the priests of Aaron exercised their function barefoot. The Oriental and Ethiopian Orthodox still practice the custom of being without footwear when entering into their churches. The crusaders did the same when entering into the Holy Land.
From all these examples it may be gathered that the practice of being barefoot inside sacred spaces is both widespread and ancient. What then is the reason for the existence of this practice? First we must consider the status of feet in the traditional conception of the human body. We may take as an example the statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, with its head of gold, its chest of silver, its thighs of bronze, and its legs of iron. Its feet, in essence an extension of the legs, are made of a mixture of iron and clay. The head with its rational faculty is considered the highest, the chest with its strong will considered the second, the thighs (and belly) are filled with passion, and thus are third, while the legs (and feet) are seen as purely corporeal (or serving corporeal means), and thus are last. Another example is the Hindu conception of the types of man, where the Brahmins derive from the head of Brahma, the Kshatriyas from his arms (arms being the extensions of the chest), the Vaishyas from the thighs, and the Shudras from the feet. Their functions obviously corresponds to the functions of the parts of the body they derive from. Another example is that St John the Baptist says that he is not even worthy to loosen the shoe of the Christ, which St Aquinas says is the ‘least (read: lowest) service that can be done for men’.
Another interesting aspect of the symbolism of the loosening of the shoe is the following. For the Israelites it was a common practice to break the bonds of marriage by the loosening of the sandal of the husband by the wife. In this light must also the words of St John about the loosening of Christs sandal be read, i.e. as indicating that Christ is the bridegroom, not St John himself. This is also why St Jerome says the following: “Moses (…) could not by any means approach to Him without first loosing the latchet of his shoe, that is, without first putting off the bonds of marriage.” Such a practice might seem very strange at first, but can be easily resolved by a few realisations. The first is that marriage is considered as a sort of ‘protection’, primarily against the passion of lust. The second is that the shoe (or sandal) protects the foot, primarily against dirt and thorns and the like. In the way that the shoe then protects the foot against the dirt of the soil, marriage protects the soul against the dirt of the passions. In that way the loosening of the shoe corresponds to the loosening of the bond of marriage.
The feet then are traditionally considered the lowest part of the body (corresponding to the fact that they are quite literally the ‘lowest’ part of the body (i.e. closest to the earth), and the shoe is traditionally considered a covering for the foot which protects it against the filth of the earth. The filthy nature of the shoes is also nicely exemplified by the practice of throwing shoes at people, a practice which is today still very alive, for example in the incident involving the american president George Bush. On the corporeal level we can then say that the shoes are taken off because they are filthy (and even if they are not literally filthy, they are at least filthy in principle), and one does not bring filth into a holy place. In a more spiritual sense we might say that the removing of the shoes corresponds to the removing of the dirt from the soul, but also to the removal of the ‘protective’ ‘garments of flesh’ (cf. the leather shoes have always been made of) from the soul, making the soul ‘naked’, exposing it to the psychic and spiritual influences which abound in the temple. This is also implied by the mere fact that ‘loosening’ always corresponds to the ‘dissolving’ tendency.
Tangentially related to this traditional form of ‘exposure’ to psychic influences by being barefoot, is that people lost in the forests and national parks and such, and later found again, are often found barefoot. This may have to do with them entering into the psychic realm (whether voluntarily or coerced by some force or entity), or at least shedding their corporeal presence in some way.
The Feast of All Saints celebrates the lives of the saints, their prior lives on earth, as well as their current lives in heaven, where they celebrate with us this day. The date of the feast seems to have been situated by the eastern churches at a definitive distance after the spring equinox, while in the western churches it seems to have been, if not from the beginning, at least from very early times to have been placed at the same certain distance from the autumnal equinox. This difference must have to do with the different climatological and ethnological dispositions the different peoples under the mantle of the church have had. I will here focus more on the historic practices of the western churches.
The date of the feast, the 1st of November, well after the equinox but still well before the solstice, indicates the ‘transitionary’ and perhaps more popularly named ‘liminal’ nature of this feast. It is where the ‘limen’, the barrier, specifically between the living and the dead, is weakened, if not broken entirely. The practices around the feast all reflect this.
Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the celebration of the saints in heaven, the living, who pray for and with us, the dead. Of course attached to this is All Souls Day, where we pray for the souls recently departed and in state of purgation. Infused are these celebrations always with the reminder of death, the fact that all must join one day or another in the dance of death. There is not a better time to remember these things than after summer, the time of life, than before winter, the time of death, yea, precisely in autumn, the time of the dying. Let us then discuss certain practices.
Bonfires were a very common sight, not only on the day we are discussing, but more generally in these earlier times. They were not primarily burned for their fire, as is often assumed, but rather for their ashes. The ashes are namely the dead. Ash is dead fire, fossilised fire. This is why the participants would try to engulf themselves (and often their cattle) in the smoke of the bonfires, and would cover their faces with the ash. Not only would this in practice make them part of the dead, it was also a protective measure. For ash being ‘fossilised’ or ‘crystallised’, it kept them connected to the earth, and protected them from all too harmful psychic influences, which were running rampant in such ‘liminal’ times.
The ‘dance of death’ was also a common sight, where all would dress up as the deceased, as dead noblemen, dead bishops, and so on, and would have a little dance. This is all one big ‘memento mori’, a re-enactment of the state all will achieve, and perhaps most of all a reminder that the dead are the truly living, and the living are the truly dead.
Another practice is the baking of ‘soul cakes’, cakes that were given to children (and the poor) in exchange for their prayers for the dead relatives of the giver. In its basis this is a simple offering with a few added benefits such as the feeding of the poor and the improvement of the state of the dead.
Many modern practices of ‘Halloween’ have descended from these ancient practices. The people put on their costumes (even though they do not dress up only as the dead anymore), they go trick or treating (even though they not pray for the dead anymore), they go to parties (even though they do not remember that they are the dead anymore), they light fires (even though they do not smear their faces with ash anymore). We must then compare this feast to the other remnants of medieval feasts, such as the feastday of St Nicholas (about which we have written before). It retains certain potential powers, but the understanding of it has generally been obscured. This is not helped by certain ‘christian’ (mostly protestant) groups, who through their ignorance have tried to remove ‘pagan’ influences from this feast. Perhaps they have also forgotten that these ‘pagan influences’ or sometimes even ‘pagan origins’ were dreamt up by 19th century academics in the first place.
In any case, let us ask the living saints to pray for the dead, that is, for us, still in the body, and for those who have left the body but have not yet arrived in the homeland.
“and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire” “unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, Itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his soul shall lose it; and he that hateth his soul in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal“
Among the few things that we know about the ancient tradition of the Hyperboreans, is the fact that wheat played a role in their rites of worship. Again we see with the Eleusinians that wheat plays a prominent role, especially in the form of the triple wheat (showing many similarities to the fleur-de-lis (this symbol being often seen as both symbolising the Trinity and the Virgin Mary) offered to Demeter. And thus we see with Christianity, being an orthodox tradition and followingly conforming to eternal truth, as well the appearance of the symbolism of wheat.
Not only does wheat appear in the Christian tradition in its raw form, but also in its processed form, i.e. as bread. For example, when the Lord gives us His Body to consume, He gives it us under the form of bread. Bread is in fact the wheat that has been killed and resurrected. Perhaps quite funnily, we see also that a bread is finished when it is ‘risen’. This is then the ‘living (i.e. resurrected) bread’ which has come down from heaven, the manna which is also the ‘heavenly dew’. And the Lord teaches us also to pray for this ‘supersubstantial (as in ‘above being’) bread’. Besides that we mustn’t forget the birthplace of the Christ being Bethlehem, that is, the house of bread. For the Jews the bread was also often a sign of the ‘Presence’ of God (and we should recall the connections between the concepts of ‘presence’, ‘tabernacle’, ‘spirit’, and ‘(re-)birth’).
But let us return for a moment from the bread to its original form, i.e. the wheat, or even further back, the grain of wheat. Now these grains are none other than seeds, and the seeds are the undeveloped principles or reasons of all things, i.e. the rationes seminales or logoi spermatikoi. These grains are then cast down into the earth, i.e. the corporeal domain (for the earth signifies nothing other than the body), and by this are killed, that is, while in the one sense they now ‘live’ on earth, they are ‘dead’ to their origin, i.e. the Word. Being in this state then, the opposite process must take place, i.e. they must die to the world, so they can live once more in the Word, and this we call the resurrection, living bread is made from grain. He that loves his soul (psyche (i.e. the manifested logos ‘corrupted’ by the fleshly)) will lose it, he that hates it in this world (i.e. hates it in its manifest form) will have life (zoe (i.e. the resurrected seed returned to its heavenly ‘uncorrupted’ state)) eternal.
The symbolism of wheat is thus primarily one of resurrection, which is the goal of all true religion.
“It is said in the book concerning the fortunate discovery that at the arctic pole there is a high magnetic rock, thirty-three German miles in circumference. A surging sea surrounds this rock, as if the water were discharged downward from a vase through an opening.” — Johannes Ruysch
The conception of the north pole as a black magnetic mountain surrounded by a circular continent divided by four powerful rivers is quite old (maybe even going back to the first men), but was perhaps first somewhat extensively described in a lost fourteenth century book called the Inventio Fortunata (it is of course possible that there are earlier more extensive descriptions which were not written down, or if written down, completely lost to time). The first summary of this book is also lost, but luckily it was so influential that all the maps made in the following centuries feature this conception of the north pole. Here we will not make any claims about the corporeal appearance of the current North Pole, but rather try to apprehend the symbolic meaning of its features as described by the ancients and medievals.
To begin with the rock itself, it is obvious that it symbolises the Prime Matter. Its colour (or rather absolute lack of colour) symbolises its (relative) indistinctness, its location is the “centre of the earth” (or by extension an ‘entrance’ into the centre of the earth), the fact that it is a rock connects it with the baetyls, which were also centres of the earth (e.g. the Omphalos). Its ‘magnetic’ properties represent the ability to ‘attract’ and ‘repel’ all things from itself, as it is the mother of all things. Lastly it is described as being 33 (German or French (this confusion perhaps indicating that it is not supposed to be taken entirely literally)) miles in circumference. This number is obviously quite the symbolic one (cf. the age at which our Lord perished, highest Masonic grade), 3 being the number of Heaven, 33 the Heaven of Heavens.
Now, if the Rupes Nigra then represents the Materia Prima, what then to say of what surrounds it? It is said to be surrounded by a surging sea, a whirlpool destroying all that are not worthy to enter into the centre. It is said that 4000 people entered here but never returned. Four being the number of manifestation, it could be said that 4000 represents the entirety of manifestation (1000 (or sometimes 10000) representing entirety or a whole collection), and that thus only those who have entirely transcended the manifested may enter unto the black rock (it is said the number of people who went in and returned was 8, representing Justice or the ‘Coincidentia oppositorum’ (which coincidentally takes place in the Materia Prima)). This ‘surging sea’ is then the ‘Guardian of Paradise’, who must be defeated before the Eden might be entered. Connected with this are also the four rivers, both present in the medieval north pole and in the ancient conception of Paradise. In fact, Eden is also often described as circular, with four rivers forming a cross through its centre, at which stands the Tree of Life. Could it be possible that the ancient Hebrews were describing the North Pole as their ancient homeland? Perhaps, but such things we might never know, so let us stick to what we do know, namely its symbolic meaning.
The North Pole then represents Paradise, the original home of all, to which we pray to return.
The theory of evolution has today become so widespread that even most self-styled ‘traditionalists’, ‘conservatives’ and ‘christians’ have begun to held it in theory if not in practice. This theory is in fact so widespread that even those who deny its application in a certain domain (for example, those who deny that it applies to the biological) will still hold it (implicitly or explicitly) in the other domains (for example the societal). Here we will attempt to demonstrate the modernist foundations of this theory, not by engaging it on its own principles, but rather by going deeper and showing the hidden meaning of its symbols.
The fundamental premise of the evolutionary theorists is that the higher arises from the lower through fortune. In this sense they are only a certain sect of the much widespread worship of Fortuna, and deserve only special attention for the first part of their premise, namely that the higher has its origin in the lower. This premise has been refuted principally many times already, and as we said, here we will not do so, but rather focus on revealing its expressions. The two expressions we will take as examples here are firstly the evolution of modern man from the “caveman” and secondly the evolution of birds from the “dinosaur”.
Let us begin then with the “caveman” or “troglodyte”, a brute and unintelligent, apelike creature with its primary habitation in caves, which is supposed to have been the father of modern man. For their clothing they have the untreated skins of beasts, and their language is one of sighs and grunts. Now this is the basic evolutionary view of the first men, and if not held anymore precisely as such by the current ‘experts’, then at least it is the image most widely held by the common man. But let us compare the qualities of the troglodytes to modern man and to ancient man, to see which he more resembles. To begin with the languages. The language spoken by the troglodyte is thus one of grunts and sighs, of grugs and zogs. For the language of the ancients we could pick many, such as the Latin or Sanskrit, but as the Egyptian seems to be one of the oldest, let us pick this one. Now, none who have made serious study of the hieroglyphs and their corresponding meaning and pronunciation will admit that they have any similarity to a ‘gruntlike’ language. Of course the evolutionist will say that the caveman lived just long enough before the Egyptian to give him enough time (a few thousand years or so) to develop from his grunting an elaborate metaphysical system of expression. Compare then the modern language, which is predominantly a pidgin (i.e. business) english, whose sole purpose is to either facilitate a trade or show an ideological adherence. Is this then not all the more similar to the grunts of the caveman, who by his grug signifies goodwill and trade, and by his zog signifies his submission to a more powerful troglodyte? See then the clothing. The caveman clothes himself in some shaggy animal hides and nothing more. Now the ancient man, while definitely donning animal hides, sometimes even unmodified, did not do so for warmth or to cover his loins or some other biological reason. No, the ancient man puts on the hide of the animal for ritual reasons. The ritual slaughter of the animal has existed from the dawn of man, and these were thus not slaughtered for meat only. Ancient man puts on the ritual hide not for warmth, but rather to become himself the sacrificial animal. Now look at modern man, whose clothing is produced in bulk by the hands of asian children, and whose primary demands are that it is “comfortable” (e.g. the predominance of ‘sweatpants’ and ‘sneakers’). Is the demand for comfort of modern man then not much more similar to that of the caveman than the demand of ancient man is? See then the habitation of the troglodyte, for which he is named, namely the cave (note that this is a complete lie and that man never lived in caves, rather they were initiatic centra (as “entrances into the midst of the earth”) and the habitations of nonhuman beings). Compare it to the habitations of the ancient man, who lived predominantly either as a nomad in tents, or as a farmer in barns. And compare it then to the living space of modern man, who spends his days in an “apartment” surrounded by a hundred other “apartments” and “apartments buildings”. Is the claustrophobia of the flat not much more similar to the restriction of the cave than the freedom of either the steppe or the fields? Look then at the mind of the caveman, he is predisposed towards violence, and has little capacity for intelligent thought. Compare this to ancient man. While it is true that ancient man lived in a world of almost constant warfare, the combatants were usually limited to a certain caste, and the scope of warfare was quite limited, kept in check by a strict code of honour. See then the wars of modern man, who has raised every man to the level of combatant, widens the scope of war to the entirety of the world, and holds not a single thought of honour. The intelligence then of modern man. I don’t think this requires much explanation. Who among us can read? Who among us can understand? See the academics of today and weep for what is. See the academics of yore and weep for what was. It is then clear that the myth of the troglodyte is much more the projection of modern man of his own psyche onto the scarce ruins of civilisation than the true semblance of ancient man.
Let us then move on to the second example, namely the supposed evolution of the avians from the “dinosaurs”. The symbolism of the birds is clear to any versed in animal symbolism. The birds, when not representing the Holy Spirit Himself, represent the angels reclining on the World Tree, only swooping down to earth to deliver a divine message. Now the symbolism of the dinosaur (meaning “terrible reptile”) is quite different. In the medieval manuscripts we find the image of the Peridixion, or World Tree, upon which the birds rest, and the creatures we find sitting at the bottom of this tree quite accurately resemble the form of the dinosaur. The symbolism of the lizard or reptile is also quite obvious, it represents namely all things “earthly” or even “chthonic” (i.e. sub-earthly/subcorporeal) and thus all things “infernal” and “demonic”. How strange then that one would pose the heavenly being, namely the avian angel, to have developed from the hellish being, namely the demonic dinosaur. Here we truly see the theory of evolution expose its satanic origins. Instead of posing the demons as “fallen angels”, i.e. as lower beings which have their origin in the highest, it poses the angels as “risen demons”, i.e. higher beings which have their origin in the lowest. Perhaps because here the example is detached from man himself, we see clearer the pure “inversionary” nature of this theory. Not only does it wish to “subvert” the truth, but it wishes to present a complete inverse “alternative”, and has been very successful in this aim. We need spend less words on this second example, as its symbolism is all too clear. Perhaps the evolutionists spent a little too less time trying to invent more copes, thinking that all focus would be on the evolution of man. We can only guess after their depraved thoughts.
Hoping to have given a sufficient view of the symbolism of two examples of expressions of evolutionary theory, I leave the reader to his own thoughts. May God be with us.
“That thou mayst write on them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over the Jordan: that thou mayst enter into the land which the Lord thy God will give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, as he swore to thy fathers.”
Apart from water, the drinks that most prominently occur in Scripture are milk, wine and honey. Because the symbolism of water is too extensive and has already been often expounded upon, we will focus on the other three here.
It is said, ‘I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it’. This refers to the believer who is still early in his faith and understanding. The milk is the first thing that nourishes him, because the wine and honey are still too high for him to digest. The milk represents the dogma and the law of the Church, which the young christian follows on a basis of authority and faith, as he is not yet able to directly understand the mysteries. This is why it is said ‘The lamb should not be cooked in his mothers milk’. Apart from being a prophecy of the Passion, where the lamb is the Christ, the cooking the Crucifixion, and the Mothers milk the law of the Israelites, it is also a warning against revealing too much to the early initiate, who must first fully digest the milk, i.e. the dogma and practice or law, of his mother, i.e. the Church, before he is able to overcome the cooking, i.e. the passions and tribulations which arise on the path of deification. The milk then is the symbol of the right law and teaching, which leads man away from disobedience and depravity, and towards the beginning of wisdom, which is the fear of the Lord. Milk also sometimes is called compassion, for it is precisely this compassion which motivates the condescension by which the law and dogma are established.
Now wine is always the symbol of intoxication. Its vulgar meaning refers to the corporeal intoxication, which causes man to further himself from virtue and wisdom into the carnal pleasures. In this case the wine symbolises the man who is below the Law, as opposed to the milk which symbolises (the attempt at) conformity with the Law. But there is also the higher meaning of the intoxication, which refers to the man who is above the Law, i.e. the Man who has completed or perfected or fulfilled the Law. This intoxication is nothing else but the zealous adoration of the perfected man, who by beholding (and thus, loving) the beauty of the Divine manifestations and Essence forgets all carnal and corporeal matters. Wine is then Love, but it is also His blood. But in this is no contradiction, for the blood was given from love. By this it is then also a symbol of the Passion, and thus of any passion, not taken in the carnal sense of pleasure but rather in the sense of suffering. For to reach the station of beatific love one must carry his cross and be crucified and give his blood, from which the drinker of milk is still protected. By desiring the go beyond the law, one subjects himself to greater dangers, and greater sufferings, but also greater rewards, and this entire (part of the) path is symbolised by the wine.
Moving then in order of viscosity, and thus in order of indigestibility, we arrive at the last station, which is that of honey. It is said that the taste of the manna, the bread formed from the heavenly dew, was ‘like to flour with honey’. If we have seen before the blood here we see the body, which has the taste of honey. It is precisely the death or sacrifice of this body which brings about the sweetness and delight of the honey. For it is also said ‘(Samson) went aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold there was a swarm of bees in the mouth of the lion and a honeycomb. And when be had taken it in his hands, he went on eating’. The death of the Lion of Judah brings resurrection and eternal life to those who eat from the honey spawned from His carcass. Furthermore it is said ‘so that he might suck honey out of the rock’. The rock is here the the same rejected by the builders, the cornerstone from which the manna does descend. Honey then represents the death of the lover and his resurrection.
As our knowledge of the Japanese is rather limited, and we do not speak their language (and thus translations are our source material), the following interpretations will not so much be accurate pictures of the probable intent of the authors of these poems, but rather a reflection of our own symbolic worldview. Having made this caveat lector, let us begin.
When you contemplate the waters at day break, you can hear the lotus blossom.
The Waters here represent the Materia Prima. The Day Break or Morgenrot is the arising from the (Spiritual) Sun out of the Waters, which is the primordial manifestation. This results in the Lotus which floats on the Waters unaffected by the Waters (conceived not only as the ‘semi-unified’ Materia Prima but also as its manifold expression as ‘the world’), the sound it utters being the first Word, the Divine Intellect which walks on water. This cosmogonic interpretation can also easily be made into an initiatic interpretation, as the initiation is simply a reproduction (in the literal sense) of the cosmogonic process.
I give my name back as I step in this Eden of flowers.
The Name (the ‘nama’ of the ‘namarupa’) here represents the particular form the being has taken in his earthly life, which is relinquished on death or the departure from this world, the particular form being bound to this world. In this poem the death is not so much visualised as a ‘departure’ but more as an ‘entering’, a stepping into this ‘Eden of flowers’. These ‘flowers’ we can see in the same vein as the Lotus or the Rose, both symbols of the Heavenly Wisdom, or, by extension, the Sedes of this Sapientia, which is Paradise or Eden. The relinquishing (or death) of the individual form (which is the ‘name’ the demiurgal Adam gives) then returns the being to his original state in Paradise.
Disgusted with the world, I withdraw into the net.
Here we see in contrast with the last poem a conception of death as a ‘departure’ or ‘withdrawal’ caused by the state of being “disgusted with the world”. This “disgust with the world” is the same as the “contemplation of the waters” of the first poem, namely the realisation of the ‘unreality’ (or morally conceived the ‘maleficence’) of the world and/or its root (cf. the Hindu Prakriti). The ‘net’ is then connected with the symbolism of weaving, where the vertical strands are the ‘rays’ of the (spiritual/intellectual) Sun, i.e. the qualitative essences of certain states, and the horizontal strands the extension of these particular essences into either space or simple quantity, or more broadly the totality of possibilities of a certain state. The Net is then a symbol of the Universe or entirety of existence, with all the particular states of the ten thousand beings formed by the intersections of the vertical and horizontal strands. The “withdrawal into the net” is a leaving behind of one of these individual states (such as the human state), and an entering into the domain of formless (or supra-formal) existence, which is the true ‘metamorphosis’ or ‘transformation’, i.e. the going-beyond-form, which is the true (initiatic) death.
The journey west, a way that all would travel: flower field.
The “journey west” must here be understood as the passing through the Janua Inferni or Pitriyana, which is governed by the sign of Cancer and is in terrestrial astrology associated with the season of Summer and the cardinal direction of West. This is the way that “all would travel” as this is the default gate through which the ‘exit of the world’ takes place after death. It is said “would” as there is the possibility of an exit instead via the Janua Coeli or Devayana, governed by the sign of Capricorn and terrestrially speaking associated with Winter and East. This ‘Janua Coeli’ is in fact the same as the ‘Rosa Mystica’ of the “flower field”, and also the earlier mentioned ‘Sedes Sapientiae’. If some speculation is allowed we might say that the author of this poem contrasts the terrestrial and celestial views of the signs, the first placing the Pitriyana in the West, but the second placing instead the Devayana there. The “would” and the sudden introduction of “flower field” seem to hint at this, but perhaps this speculation is too far-fetched.
The fourth day of the new year: what better day to leave the world?
Four being the number of manifestation (evidenced by the four elements, seasons, cardinal directions, and so on), and the “new year” being a symbol of the ‘(re-)creation of the world’, the “fourth day of the new year” represents the generation of the sublunar world from the principal (i.e. as principles) creation. The author then declares that there is no better day to “leave the (sublunar) world” than on the day that it was generated, indicating again the ‘unreality’ or ‘maleficence’ of the world, and the imperative of leaving it as soon as possible.
I believe the general theme of these poems is now clear, or at least the general theme of our interpretation of these poems. The passing from this world is visualised as a death of the individual form and a birth into the supra-formal realm, the ‘illusionary’ nature of this world is declared, and we must pass from it through the gate of the gods into Paradise.