Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Shores of Galilee

(A Study in Oils)
..........Below me lie the dark waters of Galilee, deep and brooding. Overhead an umbrella of silent, stormy-looking, grey clouds stretches to the horizon. I drift to the west to where the waters lap gently against a beach.  And there stands the Cross. It stands at the boundary of darkness and light, inner and outer, spiritual and material, real and unreal..........and death and life. Here on the shores of Galilee we, the Cross and I, stand at the boundary between the unconscious Foundation of my being and the Kingdom of my consciousness. The Cross also stands at the boundary of what is and what is only perceived to be, an infinite universe approaching the threshold of interpretation by the personal, finite mind.
          The Cross stands erect, its foot floating deep in the Earth's core beyond my consciousness; seemingly on fire but remaining unconsumed. Far above me beyond the clouds of unknowing, the Cross reaches upwards into the heavens towards the lighted Crown of creation. The Cross..........yes of stands over the boundary between one state and another. Truly, it stands at the Crossover point.
          Where the vertical crosses the horizontal, at the coexistence of all opposites, the point of paradox, hangs a Rose. At its very heart is darkness, dark matter, dark energy, a vortex of darkness. And I sense an uneasiness, as if trying to face the awful possibility that the observed universe is nothing more than a projection of my mind, an image that hides another reality that I can never know. How can I know what is, by gnosis? A dangerous, exciting idea. A way of knowing that requires the deepest awareness of doubt and uncertainty, as well as humility.
          But the nature of the Cross is changing. No longer is it a Rose Cross, but a Calvary Cross. At the point of paradox hangs an ancient skeleton, long dead and partly obscured in a mist of uncertainty. Yet one living Eye remains in its socket and watches me as I move and survey the watcher. What is it that I see? I see that it is only that it is. Yet that also is what I am!..........Sacrifice?..........A sacrifice, or  a continuous sacrificial act that reaches back to the very dawn of creation?
          The Dark is closing in once more, and I must leave..........

(Images from my meditations on the Rose Cross)          

The explanation of this meditation is proving to be rather more difficult than I had first imagined. To begin with it appears to be a combination of two meditations with the Cross appearing in two different guises. The meditation began as an inner investigation of the Rose Cross, and therefore it is natural and expected that an equal-armed Cross should appear. The fact that a change takes place, and a Calvary Cross replaces the Rosicrucian image, is significant. That is one of the unexpected events which must be investigated. The other is the appearance at the centre of the Rose of a black vortex.

This apparent combination of meditations can also be seen as an 'interference' or a 'contamination', both descriptions to be seen as being non-pejorative. But how and why would such contamination occur? Whilst not knowing how, I see three possible answers as to the why of it. The first reason could be an invitation to psychological denial. I will discount that on this occasion because the sublety that usually accompanies that invitation is missing. The second reason could be that the higher realm of the self has something important it wishes to communicate. On balance I suspect this is the case here. The third reason may simply be that further meditations and thought have clouded, or clarified, the existing recall of the primary meditation.  In effect this reason changes little, if anything, about the investigation.

It will be recalled that in a previous post, "L'Abbaye de Boquen" (posted 27.4.2013), I was told that I had not even scratched the surface of Christianity. Although I do not interpret that message as an invitation to pick up a religious thread in my life that I discarded decades ago, there is implicit in that earlier statement a call to uncover something that I have missed, something that is worth researching. There appear to be three interlinked strands in this meditation. The first strand, which I do not intend to develop, is the allusion to the mystical Qabalah through the terms Kingdom, Foundation and Crown. It is the two remaining strands which are of prime interest, the Rose Cross and its contained vortex, and the Calvary Cross and its skeletal image.

One final point must be made before an analysis of this meditation is attempted. In my experience, when my unconscious mind seeks to communicate with my consciousness or ego, it does so with images that have some meaning for me. That is to say, the images carry certain meanings and also consequences. This is why Christian symbolism as well as images relating to physics and astronomy play such a large part in my meditational life. On occasions, even ideas from favourite books and films/movies have a role to play. It's all language after all, and language is about symbols.  

The Rose Cross.

In a previous post, "Into the Abyss" (posted 22.6.2013), I described a journey into an inner, black hole vortex. It is this that lies at the centre, at the heart, of the Rose. In the material universe, according to current thinking, nothing can escape the pull of a black hole once the event horizon has been crossed. Even stars cannot evade their fate inside that presence. Nothing can come back to tell us what lies beyond the event horizon, any more than can anyone return from beyond the death event to tell what lies beyond. As the ego cries out in terror,

"Fly!  Do not jump!  It is too dangerous, and I will be lost!  I will surely die!"

Yet it is a journey that must be taken by each one of us, at some point in our lives. To experience that journey in virtual reality may be one of the greatest gifts the unconscious mind can bestow, particularly if in the end, we do in fact fall into the safety of no-where, of no-when. It is a state which the ego will never reach, any more than Moses was ever allowed to reach the promised land. One can only look beyond, and hope to get a glimpse of the far country.

The Calvary Cross.

This particular image of the Calvary Cross has given me much uncertainty as to its possible meaning. In fact it wasn't until I dreamed a dream very recently that I finally understood. Here is a very brief extract from that dream:-

..........She walked towards me, her arms outstretched. "May I remove your face, Dad? Do you look bizarre behind it?" I backed away terrified. "No you may not!" But I knew what lay behind my face, an inability to hide or influence with appropriate use of facial muscles what I truly thought and felt. She grinned.  "Okay Dad."..........

Thus, finally, I realised that the Eye, the inner "I", is what this is all about. Beyond the flesh, the face, the mask of the persona, lies the True Self. It is that Self which is the beneficiary of the act of sacrifice of the domination of the ego. Yet at a much deeper level I suspect that there is something about the concept of sacrifice, perhaps relating to the Higher realm of the Self, that I have yet to understand. And I fear to probe lest I lose that intuitive experience amongst a collection of words. For words can kill just as easily as they can draw forth understanding. 

Yet one thing more is apparent. If I have not yet scratched the surface of Christianity, then I must strip away any preconceived religious notions I have have been taught about Jesus the Christ; rid myself of any Jesus-personae images I have collected from the Church. I must go further than the scriptures or art, particularly Victorian art, and begin again to try to see the historical Jesus as he really was. An impossible task? Perhaps, but to dump all preconceptions about that man is better than having wrong perceptions. A correct 'not this, not that' is better than an incorrect 'he was this, and that'.

I would be surprised indeed, if I discover at some point in the future that I have plumbed the full depths of this composite meditation. All I can do is wait and watch, and have faith in the process. Whatever answers there are to be had lie deep inside me. I need to exercise patience. It is the Calvary concepts with which I need to deal, because they are more personal than the Rosicrucian material.


  1. The thing about religious studies, they last lifelong on all accounts. I rather favor the critique that you really have to stick with just one and that is probably your birth legacy... thus Christianity. I was raised in Christendom and so were you, thus we have Christological instincts from the atmosphere as it were.

    However, I am one of those ersatz creatures who tries for a distinction thus: I am deeply spiritual but mostly arreligious. Which, if it means anything, means I separate myself from all religious groups. In my thought about how the world of spirit functions, the Chinese concept of Tao, especially as it is focussed through the Chinese Classic I Ching, is my guide. In terms of psychology, Buddhism guides me. My devotion tends to Hinduism. But my basic symbol and struggle is Christian and I, once a confirmed member of a Congregation, am apostate.

    So as it turns out, I who agree you are probably best served remaining in the spirit world of your youth, did not follow my own advice, so I will add one more piece. I had an experience right at my twenty first birthday that was very strong and uprooted me. It nearly killed me, but I was dying of despair anyway. I think of it as a kind of spiritual triage, and part of the long term consequences are the questions I have had on "Why me?" The point here being, nothing about that experience was Christian in any way. I have followed that bellweather in my life rather than any outer expression, except where they match up with the core of me.

    Lacking an experience like that which can serve as an anchor, then I think one has the best chance remaining within the home tradition, especially when there is somewhere to go.

    However, I would be careful in defining what is Christian in order to match the effort the church has made at its own orthodoxy. It is okay to have an individual path, but I think it is proper and dutiful to avoid confusing the waters any further. Living spiritually in Christendom and being Christian are two specifically different matters. Christians have a basic creed, which they often recite aloud in religious services. It is called the Nicene Creed. A later version, the Apostle's Creed, is also used but only in the west. If you are not in agreement at any point with either then you are not mainstream Christian as Christianity is today, no matter what your inner experience of the Cross is. To me this sort of thing is the distinction between religious and spiritual (even if the symbology is specifically Christian). A one-eyed skeletal Christ figure on a cross does not seem all that Christian to me, though it is a fully qualified vision arising out of your human soul. It certainly does not stand alone.

    The cross itself is of course a very ancient pre-Christian image of the cosmos, and it arises in all its forms in all spiritual streams. "Four-ness" is one of the primary divisions prior to the "Five" of the human form.

  2. Christopher; Excuse me if I do not give a full response to your wonderful comment straightaway. I will take a little time (which I do not have right now) to give you a considered answer later.

  3. To return to your comment, I agree completely with your first paragraph, and of course Christian symbolism does form the basis of my inner language, the language of the soul as it were.

    Your experience of various spiritual philosophies goes beyond mine, and I am uncertain whether I could call myself arreligious. Certainly I dissociate myself from all religious groups but seeing myself as broadly protestant. I suppose it depends on what one means by religious. But it is with Christianity that I must deal, and will continue to do so.

    I am interested in your point that the one-eyed skeletal figure on the Cross does not seem to be particularly Christian to you. I must give that observation a lot more thought. I certainly feel Christian, but not 'a' Christian, and I doubt that the Church would see me as a Christian. Well that's alright, Jesus Christ wasn't a Christian either. But he was something that I would like to investigate. In doing that I suspect I will reach psycho-spiritual depths that go far beyond any formulated religion.

    As I said in my post, I would be very surprised if I have plumbed the depths of this meditative experience. It could even be that this experience will turn out to be one of the most important I have had, maybe a real turning point in my life.

    Again, thank you Christopher for your comment. I shall enjoy reading and re-reading what you have said.

  4. (Darn, I lost my comment due to google not remembering me! Let's see, what did I write....)

    I mayhave written this before, how astounded I am by your clear and vivid visual descriptions of your meditations and dreams. Your long practice and notes in your diary must have helped greatly. I don't meditate as such, though sometimes I'm in some kind of trance when deeply absorbed in my artmaking, so reading your descriptions are fascinating for me. Thanks, Tom.

  5. I think you may have said that before, Marja-Leena, but I don't mind hearing it again. You mention your deep absorption in your artmaking, and that sounds very much like the process in which I engage at times. I'm glad for finding such wonderful common ground between us.

  6. Sorry I'm late to comment,Tom. Your Saturday posts are a gift I always look forward to.
    Your painting of the rose is stunning, especially seen on larger scale; you managed to depict both the flower's silky beauty and a sense of unease, even fear, at the darkness in its centre, perfectly illustrating your text.
    If it were possible, I'd love to see you create an image (even a very simple one) for each of your posts.
    Being primarily a visual person, I sometimes find it difficult to respond adequately to the intensely verbal description of your inner travelling. I'm there with you but it would be great to have a window to look out of!

  7. Thank you for that Natalie. I was afraid that sooner or later someone would make the request you have just made. That of course puts me on the spot, of my own lack of confidence in my own abilities. I know I must address this, and maybe your request will give me the shove I have been avoiding. In my defence, I did produce a little drawing to head my 'Fantasy Island' script.

  8. Beautifully described, dear Tom. I could not help but recall the story of Óðinn, who they say gave his eye for more wisdom. Men on crosses. How many stories are there? Óðinn, Spartacus, Jesus, Peter ... but no women. What would a story of a woman hanging from a cross tell us? Please don't get me wrong, I do not take issue with history. But I have to wonder why there are no stories recorded of women hanging on crosses. The cross has intrigued me more and more over the years, perhaps because in Japan, the first non-christian land I have lived in, there was no healthy respect for 4 (which sounds like the word for death, so is to be avoided at all costs). Even dishes are sold there in sets of five.

    Crossroads in the south ... blues guitarists learning their skills there from the devil ... the Star of David, 2 triangles of 3 points ... the circular round with 2 points of the symbol of Taoism ... I am intrigued by these ancient ancient symbols.

    Thank you again for bringing this all back to me. Most definitely worthy of pondering over an ale or two.

  9. My christian experience was interrupted by the religion called Christianity. The one eyed skeletal Christ is significant to me as the literal corruption of a spiritual adventure that was stolen by those who "became the church" with the Council of Nicea.

    This vision of yours is amazing Tom. I'm honored to have found you and the gnossis you bring.

  10. Rouchswalwe; I had said in answer the Christopher (above) that I was interested in his comment that the figure on the Cross did not seem particularly Christian to him. (I also pointed out in my post that I'd be surprised if I had plumbed the depth of this experience.)

    After reading your comment I realise I had become too focused on the Christological aspects of this imagery. Of course I see now that there are strong Nordic influences in this imagery. Now I have even more to consider. "When will it all end?" I ask myself.

    One thing I do regret, and that is that I do not have a good book on Nordic Myths and Legends. Even as a young man visiting the local library, I had to request special access to the reserved books section, normally unavailable to the general public. Any suggestions?

    As part of the buttering up process, dear R, may I suggest that we do not come across stories of women hanging from trees/crosses is because you're all wise enough already. :)

  11. Halle; That opening sentence is a sad indictment of Christianity indeed. But I have also to remind myself that it isn't the religion itself that is primarily responsible, but the Church Fathers who constructed it, and later individuals who modified it. Yes, I'm with you on this point.

    And bless you for the final part of your comment.

  12. Tom, you probably know that it's a minefield when it comes to books on Nordic myth ... there is so much badly researched stuff out there. The first good book that comes to mind is Lindow's Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs. And of course, a solid translation of The Poetic Edda, such as the one by Lee M. Hollander is important to read. I have to run but will be back later with more suggestions.

  13. It seems that here are experiences, and then there are more experiences. All the wisdom schools teach that powerful experiences are only the entry point to even more powerful ones, and more crucially, the stage-changes that are so much more difficult than simple changes in mindstate. I guess the point is to continue to burn away the illusion that we are separate entities, to undermine our natural selfishness through long and serious effort. Your honest and beautiful descriptions of the visions you're deciphering continue to be a wonderful encouragement.

    Compliments on your lovely rose.

  14. Finally got around to reading your post. Why is it that I get so very nervous prior to doing so? Maybe because I know that I will be moved in a way that I can not find words to describe it or maybe it is because I know that I will make a fool of myself with my comment.
    So, why do I make a comment?
    Could it be that you are done having learned how to live and are now forced to learn how to die?

  15. Ellena; I find I cannot answer your question. What I do know, however, is that I always welcome your comments, your contact, just as much as I welcome my other friends who visit my space.

  16. I love your new profile picture Ellena!
    In my opinion, your comment has cut through to the heart. Many of us seem to be intently exploring and attempting to bridge the boundary between life and death, through exploration of the outer and the inner experiences.
    Why do you make a comment? Pshaw!