Tax Day Tarot Reading

Dark Moon in Pisces – Tax Day, April 15th 2015

11140272_1627907280755678_1074056979640632238_n-1Today, the Hanged Man says:

“You have sought happiness by taking Delusion as your paramour, calling her Beauty as she demanded. At night, you sleep beside her, breathing softly as you die, an intellectual suicide and philosophical murder in your bed. The night sky is a mere painting on your bedroom wall and you never seek to question why the heavens do not circle you! All of your maps are just crude drawings of a non-existent territory. Know that you will never find freedom within rhetoric.”

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Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes the truth grows inside the nexus of fear, like a fruit tangled in brambles. Truth is a shape-shifting consciousness of evolution, and when you’re in alignment with it, you will find yourself filled with enthusiasm and horror. Modern technocratic society, still patriarchal, hierarchical and divorced from nature, contextualizes your life against a background filled with the wrathful consequences of blasphemy and the healing catharsis of tragedy.

Today is one that offers transpersonal experience to flow through your subjective perceptions. Be quiet and still. As you meditate, allow the enormous wave of human history to find its apex in all that is and is not you.
When you come back to a focused point of individuality, you will feel greatly renewed in your purpose.

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The Power of Primal Myth

Caspi Maman by Pablo Amaringo

Caspi Maman by Pablo Amaringo

“The realm of myth, from which, according to primitive belief, the whole spectacle of the world proceeds, and the realm of shamanistic trance are one and the same.” – Joseph Campbell “The Masks of God”

For some time now, it has become common place for Westerners to journey to the Amazon to partake in the sacred plant elixir known as, ayahuasca. These experiences have generated thousands of mystified anecdotes which proclaim the ayahuasca phenomenon to be cleansing, awakening and reifying. The fact that Westerners are now crawling all over the plant ceremonies of the Amazon appears to be an enactment of the fetishization of “primitivism” and the commodification of spirituality. However, though these aspects of exploitation are no doubt present, most devotees of this experience believe that ayahuasca is an immensely powerful teacher that ushers in a spiritual transcendence which defies mundane politics. In other words, Ayahuasca consumption is considered to be a form of communion with the primal mythopoeic realm.

Origins by Pablo Amaringo

The Serpent Canoe by Pablo Amaringo

Primal Myth

There is not just one Amazonian tribe which uses ayahuasca, (aka yage) but the Desana branch of the Tukano Indians in eastern Colombia will be the focal point of this research. The Desana have a creation myth which suggests that humankind was born of the cosmos and that the cosmos can be directly communed with through ingestion of sacred plants, including, caapi which is the vine used to make Ayahuasca.

The Tukano Creation Myth

“The first people came from the sky in a serpent canoe, and Father Sun had promised them a magical drink that would connect them with the radiant powers of the heavens. While the men were in the “House of the Waters,” attempting to make this drink, the first woman went into the forest to give birth. She came back with a boy radiating golden light, whose body she rubbed with leaves. This luminous boy-child was the vine, and each of the men cut off a piece of this living being that became his piece of the vine lineage.” (Metzner, 2006, p.11)

holy-communionThe sacred vine in the Tukano myths could be compared to the Western notion of the Christ child, born into the world a savior and consequently dismembered and eaten. (the sacrament)

Tukano religious practices center on the interpretation of dream-like and/or telepathic visions, produced by consumption of ayahuasca: the crushed and boiled “vines of the dead” (Metzner, 2006, p. 14) In these altered states, the Desana commune with the spirits of plants and animals.

Crushing Tiger by Pablo Amaringo

Crushing Tiger by Pablo Amaringo

This ritual is primarily used for healing and requires a shaman, called an ayahuasquero. During the ritual, these guides administer the drink and then chant and sing to shape the experience, move it along, and summon catharsis. The participants usually experience a violent physical purging and then an utter dissolution of their former consciousness. In other words, they trip the f**k out!

Mysterium Tremendum

Like in dreams, there are infinite possibilities in terms of experience on ayahuasca. However, there are many commonalities which give the impression that ayahuasca consciousness is a realm unto itself with its own symbolic language. As the participants behold the swirling chaos of inner space, the ayahuascero acts as a guide who gracefully traverses these inner realms in order to facilitate healing.

Ondas de la Ayahuasca by Pablo Amaringo

Ondas de la Ayahuasca by Pablo Amaringo

Many people experience a return to the “Cosmic Uterus”, making the Tukano creation myth come alive: visceral and prismatic. Many also experience multiple realms of consciousness simultaneously, creating a feeling of omnipresence so unlike mundane subjectivity. Many people talk to and shape-shift into the forms of powerful animal spirits, including the jaguar and the serpent. It is also expected that one will commune with plant consciousness and with one’s ancestors.

by Alex Grey

by Alex Grey

The term, “hallucinogen” is actually derisive towards the ayahuasca experience because the religious beliefs of the ayahuasca cultures do not consider the accompanying visions and sounds to be hallucinations. Rather, they are conceived of as an expansion of natural human abilities. The consumption of ayahuasca is considered to be a technology, which allows open communication with the realms of plants, animals, ancestors, and the cosmos. Therefore, the term entheogen should be used, which is a term that describes a substance intended to produce an ecstatic and inspired state.

The purpose of the ayahuasca trance is to re-enter the realm of the primal myth.

In myth, creation rolls life up from the deep, the stars are born, the oceans  swell, and the plants and animals flourish in harmony. The mythopoeic realm is like the womb, a place for life’s regeneration. On the quest to know one’s true self, it may be that the ayahuasca experience is incomparable. 

Allpa Manchari by Pablo Amaringo

Allpa Manchari by Pablo Amaringo

‘‘The nature is your nature, and all of these wonderful poetic images of mythology are referring to something in you.’’– Joseph Campbell, “Primitive Mythology

Self-Portrait by Pablo Amaringo

Self-Portrait by Pablo Amaringo

About the Artist

Don Pablo Amaringo was born in 1943 in Puerto Libertad in Peru and is very famous for his paintings which are inspired by his ayahuasca journeys and visions. He was 10 years old when he first took ayahuasca. Pablo suffered a severe heart illness, and his remarkable recovery and treatment of ayahuasca to cure this led to him becoming and dedicating his life to being a shaman. In 1977 he abandoned his life as a healer and focused his full energy on painting and teaching in an art school. Don Pablo Amaringo died on the 16th of November 2009 in Pulcallpa, Peru.

http://www.robinskey.com/ayahuasca-and-don-pablo-amaringos-paintings/‎

Works Cited

Campbell, J. (1991). The masks of God: Primitive mythology. New York: Arkana.

Furst, Peter T.  1972.  Flesh of the Gods:  The Ritual Use of Hallucinogens, P. T. Furst ed.  New York:  Praeger Publishers.

Metzner, R. (2006). Sacred vine of spirits: ayahuasca. Rochester, Vt.: Park Street Press.

Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo. The Cultural Context of an Aboriginal Hallucinogen

Williams, J. E. (2005). The Andean codex: Adventures and initiations among the Peruvian shamans. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Pub. Co.

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Quest for Quietude

alexgreyquestforquietude Since the invention of the printing press, mass media has changed human consciousness and in the Information Age this evolution continues at an exponential rate of acceleration. This transformation is not invisible. Many are so plugged into mass media consciousness that “addiction” develops, complete with neuroses and withdrawal symptoms. 

How has human consciousness changed as a result of mass media? Well, we know that television opens the subconscious mind like a dilated pupil, inducing a trance which dissolves the subjective experience of “I” and replaces it with a blending of consciousness with all others who are “tuned” in. Likewise, the internet takes this dissolution of subjectivity and creates an accessible notion of unity in which all knowledge is simultaneously present.

The concept of the individual, developed during the Renaissance and so beloved by the West, is fading away.

The great media theorist, Marshall Mcluhan was best known for the famous axiom, “The Medium is the Message” from his book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.

Marshall Mcluhan

Marshall Mcluhan

In this book, Mcluhan looks at all media, from print to electric light to radio and television, as mediums of communication which forever changed the way humans relate to one another and their environment. In his Playboy interview from 1969, Mcluhan said, “ …all media, from the phonetic alphabet to the computer, are extensions of man that cause deep and lasting changes in him and transform his environment.” Mcluhan makes it clear that attempting to judge the messages of mass media (television, internet) based upon literary categories of narrative analysis “offers no dues to the magic of these media or to their subliminal charge.” (p.27)

In short, Mcluhan understood that the narrative content of mass media matters very little. Qualitative judgements based on morality and narrative content comes from the literary mindset of individualism and nationalism born from the Gutenberg printing press in the 16th century. The individual experience of reading a book to one’s self created a unique subjectivity which television and the internet are eroding. The zeitgeist of mass communications is more akin to archaic theories of panpsychism and universal mind. The impact of the medium is on our thought processes and the way it changes our perceptions. 

GustaveDore

Engraving by Gustave Doré “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” illustrations- 1876

Now here’s where we encounter the dark waters. Upon human consciousness, mass media transposes virtual reality over sensual reality and it is easy to become lost in a bardo filled with the apparitions of salesmen and the hungry ghosts who follow them.

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Tibetan Hungry Ghosts, 19th Century

It plays out as the grand tragedy of literary subjectivity searching for identity in a place where no individual mind exists. Confusion is the leading side effect. Those who direct the programming of these mediums of communication take advantage of the confusion and fill these subliminally charged communions with embedded ideologies.(aka culture) It is not conspiracy theory to note that only corporate interests are heavily represented and that those interests are malicious in that they seek to divide people and inculcate them with fear. Advertising is always about selling desire and self-doubt: that is all.

Though culture itself is a mass hallucination perpetrated through the language of the establishment, that realization does not excuse one from partaking in evolving consciousness. The reproductive power of the hallucination of Western culture is rooted in mass media, for it is only through imposing mass control through homogenized ideology that millions of people can be lost in the same fantasy. But all is not lost because the human spirit always lies in wait just beneath any nefarious confinement, poised for escape into freedom, creativity, and love. If one becomes lost in utter nihilism, then suddenly one is well suited to the role of the psychopomp who guides people from the land of illusory cultural programming to the shore of self-realization.

Hermes, the psychopomp between the realms of the living and the dead; the gods and the mortals.

Hermes, psychopomp between the realms of the living and the dead; the gods and the mortals.

It has been my experience that meditation, art, energy healing, entheogenic substances and/or devoted contemplation all have the power to allow the user to shed their cultural branding but retain collective consciousness. (There are many versions of these pathways. Find out what means something to you or create something new!) Deep exploration of inner space allows people to free themselves from the imprisonment of hierarchy, and feel their potential once again as they are reborn as a sovereign being: pain is released, beauty is beheld, and art pours out.

The Rapture of Psyche by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1895)

The Rapture of Psyche by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1895)

One of the first skins that must be shed is any moral agenda which prevents a person from exploring their own consciousness. i.e. nonsensical drug laws, religious prohibitions etc… To put it simply, I love what the great writer and poet Maya Angelou said before she died on May 28th, 2014. She posted a final statement on Twitter in her usual poignant manner, saying Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God. In conclusion: On the quest to know ourselves, let’s listen in the quietude of inner space, use media to commune with the collective on our own terms, and evolve!

 

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Exit the Bardo. Enter the Void

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 Enter the Void is a film, which is so beautifully composed that it seductively beckons one to journey deep into inner space. The prospect seems tantalizing at first, as sensations of awe and wonder skim across the visual plane through its glowing images of neon nightlife. But by the time receptive exploration has begun, the intensity of the experience becomes magnified to an almost unbearable degree leaving the viewer feeling helpless against the sheer force of the mental agony it confronts. This film is not just an existential meditation on life. This is a film about life, death, and suffering in the continuum of consciousness as described in part by the sacred text, The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

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Though most of the film takes place outside of linear time, it does begin with a somewhat traditional plot. A young American named Oscar is living in Tokyo. The audience sees everything through his eyes, even the shutter snaps of darkness every time he blinks. This effect makes the viewer’s relationship with Oscar immediately intimate. He is a blank screen for our own egoic projections. So, through his eyes we explore his dim apartment, the beautiful figure of his sister as she leaves for work, and above all the kaleidoscope of Tokyo city lights shining from over the balcony. Oscar has been reading The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which he reviews as being, “pretty cool”. Once he is alone, a few white granules of dimethyltryptamine or DMT are sprinkled into a pipe. We see the lighter go up to our face, we see the eyelids blink more slowly, and then everything dissolves into a mingling of twisting fractals, fading in and out of different color schemes. These intertwining geometric visions lead the audience into sedate astral contemplation, mostly concerning the nature of of the titular void.

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Suddenly, Oscar is interrupted by a cell phone call. We learn from his end of the conversation that he is a drug dealer and the cosmic scene is interrupted for business. Our protagonist gets up to splash some water on his face. In the bathroom he stares into the mirror and for the first time we see the embodiment of the consciousness we have been tuned in to.

Unfortunately for Oscar, the drug deal is a set up for betrayal. He is shot by an overzealous Tokyo police officer and dies on the floor of a bathroom stall. The blood pools around our vision, the blinking becomes languid, slow, and finally Oscar ceases to breathe.

images-1However, this is where the movie becomes really interesting. Oscar’s vision never goes black. Rather, his sight, now unblinking and disembodied, floats above the cacophonous crime scene below. According to Robert Thurman’s translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, “during the between state, the consciousness is embodied by a ghost-like between body, made of subtle energies structured by the imagery in the mind, similar to the subtle embodiment we experience in dreams.” (Tibetan Book of the Dead, 45)

The perspective of the subtle energy rises up into a light on the ceiling and the screen is consumed with its pulsating penetrating light, blinding the viewer with its emptiness. However, as quickly as this vacuum of light is found, the disembodied spirit recoils from it and continues to explore the physical remnants of the murder. Thurman describes this part of death as, “confusion about what has happened to them, residual unconsciousness from the stage of imminence, and terror of being cut loose in the universe prevent them from recognizing their deepest home in this clear light translucency.” (Tibetan Book of the Dead 44)

It is obvious to the audience that this subtle energy is still very much attached to the physical world. Its limitless ability to traverse time and space begins to allow a story to reveal the reasons why. The rest of the film swims deeply through ecstatic and torturous memories. Forms begin to bleed into one another; realities, memories, and fantasies swirl together. Human nature reveals itself to be largely enter-the-void-2009-1080p-mkv_snapshot_00-34-13_2010-11-27_20-34-45perverse and cruel in the Tokyo streets, but this disembodied consciousness has its eyes wide open without flinching. Regarding the dynamism of disembodied spirits, Thurman claims, “During the between state time, due to its fluidity and the subtlety of their Energy embodiment, their consciousness is magical in power and extremely intelligent.” (Tibetan Book of the Dead, p.45)

The viewer is galvanized into falling deeply into inner space and these fathoms are marked by an homage to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, through the recurring image of a fetus.

image from  2001: A Space Odyssey

Image from – 2001: A Space Odyssey

Whether in deep space of the inner or outer realms, the fetus symbolizes rebirth of consciousness. In Enter the Void, the allusions to the Tibetan Book of the Dead are overt and so the emergence of the fetus reminds the subtle energy that rebirth is an option. It can return to human form.

The last part of the Tibetan Book of the Dead contains advice for choosing the right womb to reincarnate into. In a lingering hypnagogic scene, the disembodied spirit glides above many scenes of intercourse, viewing the sexual energies as prismatic light. However, only the womb of his sister who has coupled with his best friend actually draws the subtle energy in. The audience is shown the primal scene of spermatazoa gushing towards the glowing ovum, where in the fusion of gametes the seed of life is germinated.

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Reincarnation as the child of one’s beloved sister may seem sentimentally appealing to the viewer, but according to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the womb should be chosen for reasons outside of “emotional addictions, lust, hate, or delusion” (Thurman, 194) This makes the tone of the film decidedly tragic throughout, as Oscar lived a painful life, was murdered, and then was unable to transcend that suffering in his next reincarnation.

Oscar’s time spent in the bardo or the between was an amalgam of the confusion and suffering he had known as an individual human. The profound sense of discomfort experienced in his lifetime compelled Oscar to explore consciousness and ponder enlightenment. The bardo was a journey of painful encounters, where forms dissolved yet memories still haunted and attachments remained unsevered. Death as a mode of transcendence was not yet possible for Oscar, and so his attraction to reincarnate into his sister’s womb seems justified. In an incorporeal way, the impetus was to exit the bardo by entering the void.

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Though the film does not have an overtly triumphant ending, the sacred themes are nevertheless persistent. The Tibetan Book of the Dead provides a context for the binary between life and death, which presents a holistic continuum as the model for understanding consciousness in the universe.

As Thurman says, ‘‘Tibetans considered it a matter of common sense and scientific fact that animate beings exist along a continuum of lives, and that death, between, and rebirth processes follow a predictable pattern.’’ (Tibetan Book of the Dead, 18)

Therefore, the whole process of the expansion of consciousness is sacred to the Tibetans and even the woeful outcome of Oscar’s experience is an exalted aspect of the divine. The void can be thought of as any emptiness that is sought for want of wisdom. In the afterlife, the Tibetans encourage that the deceased seek the void made of clear light, but Oscar’s choice is just as noble in terms of the voyage to enlightenment.

In conclusion: see the movie or don’t see the movie, but do read the Tibetan Book of the Dead for illumination on the continuum of life/death/enlightenment.

Bardo

Fremantle, F. (2001). Luminous Emptiness. Boston: Shambala Publications.

Noe, G. (2009).Enter the Void [Motion picture]. France: IFC Films.

Sambhava, P., & Thurman, R. (1994). The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Book of Natural Liberation Through Understanding in the Between. New York: Bantam.

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The Cosmic Cosmology of William Blake’s Art

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In the Romantic era, William Blake created an entirely original mythopoeic cosmology, which was the inspiration for both his poetry and his visual artworks. His poetry blended with his sumptuous watercolors and engravings to create an artistic effect that was cinematic before cinema was even conceivable. Blake’s vision of the world was fiercely independent of any dogmatism from the rational or spiritual conditions of the Enlightenment era and his astounding collection of illuminated poetry gives the modern reader a visceral experience of the ‘‘Poetic Genius’’, which Blake believed was the essence of creation itself.

1809 Pen, Ink, Watercolor "The Horse of Intellect is leaping from the cliffs of Memory: it is a barren rock: it is also called the Barren Waste of Locke and Newton.”

1809 Pen, Ink, Watercolor
“The Horse of Intellect is leaping from the cliffs of Memory: it is a barren rock: it is also called the Barren Waste of Locke and Newton.”

What makes William Blake such an important archetype for the Romantic era itself was his zealous pursuit of freedom, his passion for revolution against tyranny and how he prioritized creativity above all other pursuits in life. Regarding his motivation to live as an embodiment of creative imagination Blake said, ‘I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s. I will not reason and compare. My business is to create!” (These were direct references to the Enlightenment era methods of Sir Isaac Newton and the philosophies of John Locke)

William Blake was not a gentleman artist, but was in fact a tradesman in his craft who worked as an engraver. He was commissioned to bring many textbooks and classic works of literature to life with small, yet meticulous illustrations. Therefore, Blake depicted as many familiar scenes and characters as he depicted radical new ones. For example, Blake was commissioned to illustrate John Milton’s, Paradise Lostand so we can examine Blake’s version of Adam, Eve, and Satan in the Garden of Eden, which is unlike any other depiction in the whole of Christian art.

Milton's Satan -  "It Is Better To Reign In Hell Than To Serve In Heaven"

“It Is Better To Reign In Hell Than To Serve In Heaven” – Satan (Paradise Lost)

In addition, he often painted scenes from Bible stories, such as the Book of Job or the mystical dream of Jacob’s Ladder from the Book of Genesis.

 His religious art contains esoteric symbols that allude to Blake’s mystical revelations. A prominent example is found in Blake’s use of spiral imagery. Blake’s depictions of these scenes remain unique.

imgres(To the left) Blake paints Adam and Eve under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, with Adam’s back turned as Eve is enveloped in the serpent’s body, which spirals around her nudity and delicately feeds her the forbidden fruit in an open mouth kiss of original sin. The effect is extremely sexual, yet Eve is not the typical Western nude made object of desire. Rather, this image feels biological.

The spiraling stairway to heaven seen in Jacob’s dream.

 Again we see a spiral used by Blake to depict the stairway to heaven, that Jacob dreams of in the Book of Genesis. This story has been widely explored in Christian art as well, yet the staircase has always been a straight ladder stretching up to heaven. Blake, in his striking originality, shows us a spiral stair winding up to heaven in a diffusion of starlight and celestial splendor. Blake, as the Poetic Genius was expressing more in his imagery than a simple retelling of Bible stories.

Blake’s Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden tells a story far removed from the traditional one. In Blake’s cosmology, God was an androgynous primeval entity named Albion, which became sexual when it split into four disparate parts or “zoas”. These four zoas catalyzed a life form between them, which was a man named Adam, who had a spectre or shadow named Satan and was joined by an emanation of his consciousness named Eve. (William Blake and the Myths of Britain, 1999)

The relationship of the four Zoas, as depicted by Blake in "Milton, A Poem"

The relationship of the four Zoas, as depicted by Blake in “Milton, A Poem”

According to Blake, life began as source energy (Albion) which emanated a holy trinity of life: Adam emanates a female aspect, Eve, and then sends his specter, Satan, to seduce her into a permanent division from Albion.

Note how Adam and Satan have the same physique, showing their relation as different aspects of the same entity. Eve is seduced as Adam turns his back, revealing his shadow.

Note how Adam and Satan have the same physique, showing their relation as different aspects of the same entity. Eve is seduced as Adam turns his back, revealing his dual nature.

Blake’s version of the Garden of Eden story sounds like a poetic depiction of the process of cell division, now known to molecular biology. The story is about sex, but there is none of the Christian shame in Blake’s version, for all are the progeny of Albion. Blake’s version can be read as a deeply shamanic vision that depicts the elegant process of DNA twisting genes together through the union of chromosomes to create physical form imbued with life force. In this cosmological view, all mankind is woven together with a unifying consciousness that was purposely individuated from Albion in order to experience the subjective Self. Original sin is absent from Blake’s view, for differentiation from the original essence appears to be the cosmic order of things which is to be accepted and experienced, not resisted.

Blake’s visual depiction of spirals (snakes, stairs, flames) must have been inspired by his visionary experiences of transcendent truth, which binds imagination to expression in the physical world. The spiral is at the very core of being, just as DNA is the language that we are translated into the physical world through. William Blake was a revolutionary explorer of inner space and sacred experience came naturally to him. His observations compelled him to share his wisdom within beautiful poetry that embodied the profound insights he had into the cosmos. “To see a World in a Grain of Sand/ And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,/ Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour.”

The Sumerian deity, Ningizzida, is accompanied by two gryphons Mushussu; it is the oldest known image of two snakes coiling around an axial rod, dating from before 2000 BCE.

The Sumerian deity, Ningizzida, oldest known image of two snakes coiling around an axial rod, dating from before 2000 BCE.

The spiral is a common symbol found in art from the majority of cultures around the world and it is the primary shape found in environmental structures of the universe. Blake, like other mystics, intuited that the spiral was an essential aspect of consciousness and physical form.

PL12bBy the 20th century, science found through its instruments of study that both galaxies and DNA are expressed in a spiral formation, and particles follow fractal waves of motion rather than straight lines. The spiral rules the micro and macrocosmic, the internal and the external worlds. The 20th century anthropologist, Jeremy Narby studied the phenomena of the spiral in Western and indigenous consciousness claiming, “Both shamans and molecular biologists agree that there is a hidden unity under the surface of life’s diversity; both associate this unity with the double helix shape (or two entwined serpents, a twisted ladder, a spiral staircase, two vines wrapped around each other); both consider that one must deal with this level of reality in order to heal.” (The Cosmic Serpent, 1998)

DNA

DNA

In addition, the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung said that spirals represent “cosmic force” and that the upward spiraling of Kundalini serpent imagery symbolized “the urge of realization (which) naturally pushes man on to be himself”. (The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga, 1932) Jungian analysis would interpret the intuition of Blake as a communion with the collective unconscious. Interestingly enough, William Blake’s concept of the Poetic Genius is not too dissimilar from Jung’s collective unconscious and so it is fitting that Blake was so in tune with deep cosmic imagery and that he infused the Bible with this consciousness. One of William Blake’s most famous revelations about the cosmos is summarized in this quote from his poem, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,“…If the Doors of Perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.

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Explore a great archive on Blake: http://www.blakearchive.org/blake/ 

Read a great biography on Blake: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/william-blake

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All Religions Are One

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Principle 1st – That the Poetic Genius is the true Man, and that the body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic Genius. Likewise that the forms of all things are derived from their Genius, which by the Ancients was call’d an Angel & Spirit & Demon.” (William Blake: The Complete Illuminated Books, 2001)

This quote is an excerpt from a William Blake tract entitled, All Religions are One, which was written in 1788. (read full text here) This work of many principles and assertions is prefaced with the phrase The Voice of one crying in the Wilderness”, which is a quote from the Bible repeated by both the prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist as they each proclaimed the salvation of the world through the coming messiah.  Blake is equating himself with these men, by asserting that his words are prophecy, which contain a message of salvation.  In Blake’s time, this salvation would have been from the strict Enlightenment era empiricism and from the dogmatic religious tyranny that restricted the experience of what he terms, “the Poetic Genius”.

Prophet in the Wilderness by William Blake 1816-20.

Blake’s concept of the sacred sought to find a unifying principle of religious experience, which he distilled down to an energy called, “Poetic Genius”. This reference to the “Poetic Genius” appears in many of his works as the ultimate source of prophesy, art and of the imagination, which provides mankind the impetus to express their spiritual experiences.  In Blake’s perception, because this energy defines the truth of man, then this realization of the source of spiritual experience was one that was liberating and unifying for mankind.  In this poem, Blake is postulating that this source of creative energy is the also the source of the physical form, which is the primary essence of life, rather than the empirical or religious experience. He also asserts that the entities called angels, spirits and demons throughout history are also emanations from this energy and need not be discounted as illegitimate experiences, despite the lack of empirical observation that could be applied to defining them.

William Blake was a mystic in his own time and his legacy, in the realm of spirituality, is one of radical and romantic ideals which transform traditional beliefs associated with science and religion into a more holistic and interconnected consciousness. William Blake devoted his life to finding and expressing the essence of religion, unbound from the societal structures which would impede free thought or vibrant experience. Throughout this search, he certainly displayed the behavior of one who believed in spiritual beings.

Blake’s conclusions about religion are similar to what anthropologist, E.B. Tylor found in the 20th century. Tylor defined the essence of religion, not as Poetic Genius, but as animism, which he argued was the foundation of all religious practice and complex belief systems. The difference is that E.B. Tylor approached this revelation about the source of religion with disdain for religious experience, considering it to be a primitive aspect of mankind.

On the other hand, William Blake exuberantly experienced his time and place in this world through a perspective that included a connection to the realm of the spirit and yet bore none of the restrictions of superstition or dogmatism. His philosophy was one that provided much of the energy for the Romantic era, which was a time of liberation and rebellion against tyranny in all its forms.

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, by Caspar David Friedrich, 1818.

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, by Caspar David Friedrich, 1818.

From Blake’s point of view, all of his life’s work was divinely inspired and this perception gave him the freedom of mind to express compassion and love for all of mankind as his equals in the realm of the Poetic Genius. As he says here in the same poem, “As all men are alike (tho’ infinitely various), So all Religions & as all similars have one source. The true Man is the source, he being the Poetic Genius.” (William Blake: The Complete Illuminated Books, 2001)

 

 

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Metonymy

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Socially constructed identities are useful, but are never final conclusions on the quest to “know thyself.” 

This post is not meant to inspire a discussion of who “they” are. In truth, “they” are actually “us.” Rather than externalizing a problem, let’s integrate it into our holistic experience. Though humans throughout history have been rather easily divided and then conquered, it is because we have a tendency to be ruled by our own concepts of metonymy. (our language designs our reality) So, let’s remember that a representative part is never really the whole, just as a human being is never merely a racially categorized political ideologue. No matter how just a cause may seem, we are not merely the social and political labels which we identify with.

 

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