Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Brexit and the phlegmatic English people - an observation by Terry Boardman

 The Wounded Cavalier (1855) by William Shakespeare Burton

The English people are, in general, by temperament a phlegmatic people. It takes a lot to stir them. The English bull is not the fiery Spanish bull. 

In our history, they were only once really and justifiably stirred, and that was during the Civil War, which was a truly national event that involved all classes and regions. The Wars of the Roses, by contrast, were largely a dispute between two groups of aristocrats. 

The English people were also once unjustifiably stirred - in 1914-18 and that was done on the basis of lies and propaganda. 

I sense that those that voted for Brexit are waiting ‘patiently’, though through increasingly gritted teeth, to see if the government is going to abide by the democratic decision which the people made on 23 June 2016 and carry it through. 

If the eventual “deal” turns out to be a sell-out which more or less leaves us in the EU, then I suspect the bull will indeed begin to “stir”. Things will, as you say, “come to a point”. 

Terry Boardman, from a personal e-mail - with permission.

Note: TB provides further analysis of the spiritual significance of the English Civil War in an article focusing on The Wounded Cavalier painting, depicted above .

The Strange Ship


'The Angel came to me on Pentecost morn, while it was still dark. "Dindrane," he called, and I woke and saw him at the foot of my bed - flashes and flickers of gold all about and a Presence and Shining in the air. And in my mind a hope and excitement that I too might be overshadowed by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit as was our blessed mother, Saint Mary.

'But no. Not that way for me. "Dindrane," he said. "The Most High God requests you to cut off your hair and place it in the gold and silver casket which I shall leave with you."

'It seemed such a little thing this request, such an odd and purposeless thing, and I was struck with sadness that this was all Heaven should ask of me. But the Angel said more ... about my brother, Percival, who I have seen not for ten years, and of Galahad and Bors, his companions on the Quest. He told me the high end my long brown hair  - which I love very much and shall greatly miss - will now help bring about. And he also spoke of  my own passing from this world, but no sooner had I felt the weight of his words than he left me and I heard the bells of the holy convent, over the mountains and by the sea, ringing out as they do every dawn. And it was the morning of Pentecost. And the bells were ringing and the task was at hand ... '


*

... Galahad rode fast and far through the late-summer night and all the next day. Forest, field, river, stream, valley, hill and dale sped by. Though nature rang and shone, he had an inner sense that the Wasteland and Carbonek Castle were close at hand. But he felt no desire to force the issue. He had had enough of forcing things. That approach had led him nowhere and had brought too many of his companions either to death or an ignominious abandonment of the Quest.

He came upon a round stone tower with a white cross painted on its door. As if he had seen him coming, a tall hermit with a long beard and a red robe opened the door and stood outside. 'God be with you, Sir,' he said, and Galahad brought his horse to a halt before him. 'I will stay here for a night or two,' he decided, 'and reflect and pray on how the Grail may best be found.'

So the hermit took him inside and Galahad had a bath and a supper of rice and bread. Then the hermit spoke certain secret words and took him to the chapel where he said Mass. Then Galahad fell asleep on a bed piled high with straw and would have slept long past dawn but for a hammering on the door in the middle of the night.

Something inside him knew that the hammering was for him. He got up, sped down the stairs, unbarred the door and found himself face to face with a young woman on a white horse, dressed in blue and gold. A brightness shone around her and at first Galahad thought she was holding a lantern in her right hand. But then he saw that it was a casket of some kind, but so golden and bright that it lit both horse and rider up as if it was a miniature sun. In the glow cast by the casket Galahad could see that the rider's hair was brown and short.

'Galahad,' she said. 'It is time to leave. Take your horse and ride with me to the coast that looks out onto Ireland. There you will find your companions again and the ship that will bring you to your heart's desire.'

Then Galahad took up his horse and the hermit came out and gave him his blessing. He saluted the rider, and Galahad had the sense that they knew each other already. Then they were on their way, riding side by side through the dawn and the morning and the afternoon and the evening and all through the night until they came to the sea.

They turned their horses loose and picked their way through the boulders down to the shore, where a ship with a single white sail stood waiting for them. Two figures stood on deck waving, and Galahad's heart leapt for joy when he saw that it was Percival and Bors.

They climbed aboard and greeted each other heartily. Galahad noted the affection with which Percival and the brown haired girl embraced each other. Big round tears rolled down Percival's cheeks. 'This is my sister, Dindrane,' he said, and Galahad could tell by the emotion they showed that they had not seen each other for a long time.

The sun rose, the breeze blew, the sail billowed, and the little ship moved off around the shore as if propelled by invisible hands. Galahad, Percival and Bors talked happily of times gone by and the high adventure yet ahead of them. Dindrane stood on the other side of the deck, still holding her luminous casket, watching the waves and the rocky shore go by. Galahad found it hard to take his eyes off her. There was something compelling about her - a presence, stillness and strength that he had seldom if ever encountered in man or woman before. At length they came to a little inlet and the ship ground to a halt between two banks of sand. 'Come,' said Dindrane. 'Follow me.'

They walked up a pebbly hill and down the other side. There, where the waves met the beach, was another, bigger ship, with four white sails. A rope ladder reached down from the deck to the beach. Dindrane climbed up and the others followed. Once on deck, she led them down a flight of steps to a chamber underneath. Galahad saw a bed with a white pillow and silver coverings. In the middle of the bed was a shining sword partially removed from its jewelled blue and green scabbard. Its blade glowed white and fierce and the pommel was set with a wondrous green gemstone. 'Look,' said Bors. 'There is writing on the blade.' And they turned to look and saw words written in a flowing purple script:

'The man who draws me will be the noblest and purest of Arthur's Companions. His destiny it shall be to succeed the hermit Nasciens as High Priest of the Grail.'

'That can only be you,' said Percival to Galahad..

But Galahad shook his head. 'Not yet,' he said. He felt in his heart that there was something else that needed to happen first. Then Bors said to Dindrane. 'Why has the blade been left so exposed? It might only be a hands-breadth, but the sea air will still weaken it.' Dindrane stepped forth. 'I will tell you the tale,' she said ...



' ... Three decades ago, King Pelles, the Lord and Master of what is now the Wasteland, was out hunting with a retinue of followers. They were hunting the great boar, Tryn Twrch, which had crossed the sea from Ireland and was laying Wales waste as it had already laid Ireland waste.

'The hunt was a successful one. A great splashing was heard and a number of hill men came to King Pelles to report that they had seen the boar scrambling into the water and wading back to Ireland. But by the time the news came in the day had grown late and the King found himself separated from his men and the forest quite impenetrable. With one hill man to guide him, he came out upon this beach where this ship is now moored. And it was moored here that evening too. 'Rest you here for this night, Sire,' said the hill man, 'and when morning comes we shall be better able to pick our way through the forest.'

'So Pelles climbed on board, then down the staircase to this chamber. When he saw the sword he desired it greatly and strode forward to take it. But a voice rent the air and cried out, 'Do not touch the sword, O King, for you are not worthy.' But the King carried on and pulled it out by the hands-length you see here. And a spear swooped down at him, wounded him in the thigh and sent him spinning to the floor. And all his lands were laid waste. Blasted and charred.

'Pelles took the spear from his thigh, hobbled off the ship and crawled back to Carbonek on his hands and knees, his wound bleeding profusely. He lies there still with one blessing left, the presence of the Grail and the Grail's High Priest, Nasciens. That and the prophecy given hundreds of years ago by Joseph of Arimathea - that the King of Carbonek will one day suffer from an unstaunchable wound and will have to wait in penitence and faith for the Great Restorer to come - he who will heal the King, let loose the waters over the land, and become High Priest after Nasciens.

'But know this. If Pelles had not lusted after the sword, the Restorer would still have come, though not so soon as this. He will come again at the end of time and he will have enemies to fight, both now and then. He will need a sword. Here it is.'



They stood in silence for a long time. Then Galahad observed something. 'Sister,' he said to Dindrane. 'The sword belt is not in keeping with the beauty of the sword and scabbard. Let us find or make a new one.' It was true. The leather belt attached to the scabbard was worn and frayed and looked as if one touuch was all it needed for it to fall apart.

Dindrane nodded, took up her casket and opened it. They looked in and saw a belt of brown, lustrous hair, fastened with clips and brooches of the purest gold and silver. She handed the belt to Galahad, while she unclasped the old one and laid it in the casket. 'Fasten the belt,' she whispered, and Galahad leant forward and tied it to the scabbard. 'Now draw your sword,' she said. 'See, it responds to your touch. The writing has faded.'

So Galahad pulled out the sword, and his heart and mind and the whole way he thought and felt about the world were changed. For the first time, everything felt right and in its proper place. All the uncertainty and indecision were gone. He had a dim sense that people were kneeling down around him - more than three people too - but the sword was so bright and the air so dazzling that it was hard to see anything clearly. But he did notice that Dindrane was missing. And that was a shame as there was much he wanted to say. But no need to hurry. She would be up on deck looking out at the waves as usual. Plenty of time, plenty of time ...

*

'No, not for me the fulfilment of the Quest. Not for me the high and holy things, the voyage over the sea and the mystic city of Sarras. I have just one more task left now - to give my life as a ransom for many as soon as we touch land. For this is what the Angel told me. First my hair, then my life. It is a harsh schooling, but in my heart - the deepest, most secret, most sacred part of me - I welcome it. For I have been granted my dearest wish - to follow after our blessed mother, Saint Mary. So I can say too, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word." The Grail itself, and everything good and true that pours from it, cannot outshine the simple, holy grace of those fifteen words of trust, faith, patience, longing, love and hope.'






Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Why Do People Not Recognise Jesus?

That is, why do people not recognise Jesus for who he is? If he really is who he claims to be then surely that should be apparent? He should strike an echo in every human heart. But even during his lifetime there were plenty of people who saw and heard him but did not recognise him and so consequently rejected him. And now, though you might think he is plainly revealed in scripture, religion, tradition and art, there are many who do not recognise him.

I would say there are several answers to this but they each have to do with the failure of a particular human faculty: something that should be open, and would be in an unfallen world, is closed, either fully or partially.

These faculties are the intellect, the imagination and the will. If properly functioning, each one of these should be able to recognise Christ. If correctly orientated to the good, they would all see the truth of Christ and the person would respond accordingly. So, the fact that one does not recognise Jesus points to a defect in the individual concerned.

For those who have grown up in a non-Christian culture the situation is a little different. We are all influenced by our environment,  and what has developed in an alien environment may not sit comfortably with us for various reasons to do with habit, custom, loyalty and sense of tradition. But most people in Europe and America are the product of a Christian culture, even if that is now at one or two removes, so they do not have this excuse. And actually, even those who have been born into one of the other world religions might be able to see that Christ really is something more than anything in those religions. They all have aspects of him but not him revealed and in his fullness.

Let us take these human faculties that should be able to see Christ for who he is one by one. First, the intellect. I am using this word not only in the sense of reason (as opposed to faith) but also that in us which enables us to know and to understand. A more highly developed intellect should certainly be able to understand more of Christ but I believe that a properly functioning intellect at any level should be able to see the truth of Christ. If our mind is open to truth then we should know Christ. I am not disputing that, to such a mind, doubt and uncertainty might also be present, but these are only primary when the intellect has become clouded by worldliness.

The imagination is that in us which opens up the mind to what is beyond sensory perception. A correctly ordered imagination, one uncorrupted by egotism, demonic influence or unholy desire, would respond to the reality of Jesus. It would see the truth in a passage of scripture or a story from his life or even a great painting. It would see the truth in him and him as the truth. There would be something like an inner opening such as when the bud of a flower is touched by the sun.

When the will is directed to righteousness and truth then it can respond to Christ but if it is centred on itself and its own ends it may well fail to respond as it should. So, if we do not recognise Christ it could be because we do not want to, either because we do not want to behave in the way that would require or because we do not want what Christ promises.

I recognise that there are mitigating circumstances in all these cases, particularly for people living nowadays. Many people are not properly introduced to Christ. Either they do not meet him at all, knowing of him only at a distance, or else they are given a false image of him, one distorted by human beings, and they reject that as inadequate. But even these people have a responsibility to seek out the truth and not just be satisfied with secondhand knowledge. Somewhere inside us all we know that we have come to Earth for a spiritual reason and we should therefore seek a spiritual answer to the question posed by our existence in this world. If we don't, that is our failure, tough as it may be to accept that statement.

Many people now in the West who do seek a spiritual answer look elsewhere than Christ. This is partly because the churches have not been able to keep pace with the evolution in human consciousness, particularly over the last three centuries, either mistakenly adapting to secularisation, in which case they are perceived as beside the point, or else failing to respond to increased intellectual development and the need of modern men and women to know and not just believe. They have not emphasised the inner path of theosis as they should have done which leaves the field open to Eastern mysticism and a host of other esoteric practises. The fact that the grass is often perceived as greener on the other side of the fence while the familiar becomes stale also contributes to this.

However, spiritual approaches which do not have Christ at their centre  risk becoming focused on the human self. This may not matter so much at an early stage of the path but becomes very important later on for Christ is the true image of God and the only direct signpost to him. He is the gateway through which we all must pass to eternal life and we can only do this if he is stamped on our heart, showing that we have emptied ourselves of self and accepted him as the true form of God. Now, other religions may have pointers to Christ because he is present in them in their most spiritualised forms, but he is only fully present as himself and if we would become sons and daughters of God we need to recognise him as the true pattern and template. Only when we recognise Christ can we really rise above ourselves.





Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Brexit minus Albion Awakening equals Fear-Resentment-Evil

It is clear, from reading newspaper headlines at the supermarket, that the Brexit process is in a phase of contrived political theatre, staged for the benefit of the gullible masses. But what is the strategy behind the Brexit pseudo-crisis: what is intended by those directing the play?

Immediately after the Brexit vote, for just a few days, there was the possibility (the danger - for the global Establishment conspiracy of demonic servants) that Brexit was about to become a righteous conflict, a showdown between two sides that (very broadly, very approximately) represented Good and Evil, God and the Adversary - with Brexit and Remain approximating for these. There was a 'danger' that Brexit might encourage and energise the ordinary, decent, middling people - and even that it might lead to a spiritual and Christian re-awakening...

Righteous conflict is Good, because necessary for Good: it is, indeed, what we most need, everywhere in this world. But the people of Britain failed this test, and soon allowed themselves to become re-absorbed into the fake conflict of mainstream politics - the same old faces; and mainstream politics has only one side in terms of ultimate objectives - and that side is evil in its various manifestations.

Because the people behind the current Punch-and-Judy show in the mass media do Not want a clear resolution to Brexit, either way. Although they certainly prefer Remain to Brexit; they want even more to have the UK (and everywhere else) locked-into a perpetual state of incrementally-escalating fear and resentment - because that is precisely the Hellish hope.

This plan seems to have gone perfectly: the Brexiteers feel cheated, because they have been cheated by being offered a fake Brexit-in-name-only which fails to include the prime reasons for Brexit - just like the EU but worse.

While the Remainers have developed their already-existing paranoid spitefulenss, and now hate and fear the tens of millions of Brexiteers even more than they did before. Because they now realise that the Brexit-people comprise a majority of the country that the Remainers pretend to rule, and that therefore their 'democratic' legitimacy lies in shreds. Yet, of course, the Remain elite cling to their power, with the increasingly obvious sham-excuse of protecting from 'racism' the newly arrived ten million-plus population of resident migrants whom they have invited to live in Britain - to live, that is, at the expense of the Brexiteers.

So Brexit has been shaped-into a win-win scenario for the powers of evil; and indeed this outcome was inevitable for so long as Britain remained a secular society that believes only in hedonic materialism.

Unless or until this spiritual fact changes, all political change and all stasis will continue to be turned to harm.

How could it be otherwise?

(Cross-posted from Bruce Charlton's Notions blog...)

Sunday, 21 October 2018

I Am What I Believe

I used to think that what people believed about life was a more or less intellectual thing and did not reflect the sort of person they were. Whether you were a religious person or an agnostic did not necessarily indicate the state of your inner being. And if your instincts leaned towards right or left that did not say much more about you than your background or principal points of concern. In other words, that belief was not a moral matter. 

Perhaps that was true at one time but it isn't now. Today, as the lines of good and evil, truth and lies, right and wrong, are being increasingly clearly drawn, it is proper to acknowledge that what you believe is an outward sign of what you are. I must qualify that statement by saying that there are always other factors involved, your age, your cultural background, your education, how you have been brought up and so on, but these are to the argument as nurture is to the nature/nurture argument which is to say, they are largely secondary.

Of course, many people now don't believe anything very passionately. Their beliefs, such as they are, are held lightly and do not determine the course of their life or involve strong feeling. But even such people as these are responsible for their beliefs, and, to that extent, their beliefs do reflect what I am going to call their spiritual worth. Some people were enthusiastic Nazis or Soviet Communists, others, presumably the majority, just went with the flow. But even these latter cannot be said to be innocent of the crimes of those two regimes. Similarly today, no one who goes along with the spiritual desecration of the world is an innocent bystander, even if those who do simply go along with it are much less culpable than those who actively pursue this path and work to bring about the ends that will increasingly separate Man from God. 

We are all adults and we are all responsible. We all have the voice of truth within us and we have the choice as to whether we will listen to that or not. If we do not, that is an active choice and it means that we are rejecting truth. To reject truth comes from self-will and it is hardly exaggerating to call this an act of evil. The true and the good, the real good, are one and the same, and to deny one is to deny the other. If you deny good, what else can you call that except evil? 

The world today is being brought to the point when everyone must make the decision as whether to acknowledge the reality of God or deny that. This is a serious test of the human heart and it will not be made easy. We might want a sign to help us along but, as has been said, it is a wicked generation that looks for a sign. As a matter of fact, it will be easier to deny God, or the true nature of the living God, than to accept him. It might even be made to appear wicked to bear witness to the true God. Why? Because this is the test, to believe when belief is regarded by the world as a sin, a sin against humanity as it will be painted. That way the real state of the heart is brought out.

The most important decision anyone can make in life is a spiritual one because that determines the path you take and the sort of person you will become. It shows where you wish to invest your being. And this spiritual decision is not simply about spirituality. It is about what sort of spirituality and, when all is said and done, it is about the acceptance of Christ for Christ is the highest manifestation in this world of spiritual truth and your ability to see this, to resonate with it, if you'll forgive the slightly New Agey expression, marks out what sort of person you are. But I must add that, just as people make God in their own image, so they do Christ. He is often cut down to fit our own prejudices. Go back to the Gospels, especially that of St John, to see what Christ is and what he isn't. Don't reinterpret him in the light of modern political ideologies for if you do you will be one of those people to whom he says, "I never knew you: depart from me".

What we believe reflects what we are. What we reject also reflects what we are. There is an argument that different people might simply be focusing on different aspects of the whole and that the truth lies in a reconciliation or integration of various beliefs. No one is completely right and no one is completely wrong. I'm afraid this won't do. Like all false arguments, it has elements of truth but there is a fundamental reality that must be acknowledged first before these lesser subsidiary truths come into play. If that is ignored then the lesser truths don't have much significance. For instance, pagans might be open to aspects of reality that Christians do not acknowledge. Indeed, they are. However the reality that the spiritual Christians uphold is of a higher order and more profound nature than that of the pagans. It is more comprehensive, deeper and, quite simply, truer. Likewise with right and left. The right, when true to itself, sees everything in the light of God, the left sees everything in the light of humanity or that nebulous concept 'the people'. Both may be valid. One is considerably more so. They are not equivalent.

I am what I believe does not mean that I fully am that here and now, but that what I believe reflects my real values and the direction I wish to travel. It shows what I want to be and what I think I should be. I venture to predict that the coming years will bring matters into even greater focus, and prevarication or fence sitting will become harder. We will have to choose and that choice will determine our future path. This is what awakening is all about.






Friday, 19 October 2018

More on Rudolf Steiner's 'falsified' prophecy of Christ's Return in the Etheric...


Following-up a post here, last year - in which I was generally negative about this idea; I have given further thought to the matter and done a 'thought experiment' - the results of which can be found at my Notions blog.


Monday, 15 October 2018

Terry Boardman on Western musical evolution

TB in full flow...

I have been engaging with the work of Terry Boardman over the past couple of years - watching videos of lectures and reading articles - many of which can be found on his personal web pages

Boardman is an historian, translator and an anthroposophist (student, teacher and advocate of Rudolf Steiner) - a scholar of the unusual, and someone with a distinctive personal perspective.

Overall, Terry Boardman strikes me as one of the most interesting of living British thinkers, a decent and honest individual, and someone from whom geninuinely new ideas flow in abundance.

Here is a sample: some thoughts on the evolution of Western music...


After the 1914-1919 war, when Middle Europe failed to take up and apply Rudolf Steiner’s ideas of social threefolding, he pointed out that despite the trauma of the war, ingrained habits of thought were still too strong to allow people to change their thinking and align it to the needs of the new Age of Light that had begun, he said, in 1899/1900 with mankind’s crossing of the threshold of the spiritual world.

The doors of perception that were necessarily closed c. 3000 BC to enable mankind to fully incarnate into physical earth reality were now reopening. Music again was a pointer here. Classical harmony had broken down at the end of the 19th century, and in 1908/09 Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) composed the song cycle The Book ofthe Hanging Gardens Op. 15, the first fully atonal work.

The final breakdown of classical harmony, already prefigured in Wagner’s work (e.g. Tristan and Isolde), was a powerful symbol of the fact that man’s incarnation process of descent into the physical and mineral element of the earth culminating in the consolidation of the personal ego through the major-minor structure of harmony,based on chords built on the intervals of the prime, third and fifth, was over.

The threshold to the spiritual world had been crossed – albeit unconsciously by most of humanity; a long excarnation process would now begin with the movement from the experience of the physical world to that of the etheric world of life forces. As physics had dominated the sciences since the 16th century, now biology, which was ‘supposed to be’ the science of the living, was coming into its own, and this dissolution of the solid into something more suggestive and implicit was mirrored in western arts first in the paintings of the Impressionists and then in the evanescent music of Satie and Debussy.

But no sooner had this occurred than two opposite tendencies made themselves manifest – in Schoenberg’s atonality (1908) and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (1913). These two cardinal works can be said to have signalled the beginning of the falling apart of western culture into the nerve pole and the will pole respectively, a process which accelerated throughout the 20th century.

Composers like Josef Hauer (1883-1959) and Arnold Schoenberg were searching for a new music; they sensed the coming of the new era and sought a new spiritual music that would correspond to it (a “purely spiritual, supersensual music composed according to impersonal rules” – Hauer3) but they and their successors ended up creating an extremely conceptual, abstract, mathematical music that was more redolent of the silent geometry of the fixed stars than of the movements of the heavenly spheres. It failed, and still fails, to touch the hearts of most contemporaries.

At the same time, before the war, composers such as Debussy, Satie and Ravel were already experimenting with influences from black American ragtime music.

During the war, jazz made its impact in Europe, notably after the arrival of large numbers of black American soldiers in 1917-1919. This was music of will and rhythm, certainly a kind of life, as distinct from the contemplative abstraction of the music of the Second Viennese School, but the music of both these opposite poles grew rapidly in the 1920s after the war and because of the shock effect of the experience of the war on European culture, which had removed many people’s reservations in the area of tradition, culture, and sexuality.

In the 1920s many European intellectuals and educated people now fell in love with jazz and the dances that went with it. We see this kind of infatuation well portrayed in the famous dance by the false Maria in Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis (1927) and in the ecstatic reception given to the wild dances of the black American Josephine Baker in European clubs of the period.

By the 1930s what had remained only ideal conceptions of Dionysian art in the head of Friedrich Nietzsche had become willed actions on stages across the West, while in their spectacular political mass rallies and other events, the Nazis, borrowing from the Soviets, combined the Apollonian and Dionysian elements in a new, sinister political form of social ‘art’ that cut out the mind and reached directly into the feelings and will. All these ‘cultural’ developments reflected the failure of Europeans to evolve their own culture in a healthy direction in the new Age of Light; they had been knocked sideways by the catastrophe of 1914-1919.

From the 1920s onwards, as American culture, through its jazz, its dances, its crooners and, above all, its Hollywood movies, gradually took over in Europe, and western culture in general became more sexualised, black popular music increasingly pushed out traditional white European popular songs to the point where today BeyoncĂ©, Rihanna, and Nikki Minaj and their white counterparts (Madonna, Lady Gaga, Jessie J) and imitators can be heard in most public spaces. Black American music has had an overwhelming influence on pop and rock, rap has removed much of melody in the pop world, while hip-hop and drum ’n’ bass have killed out a great deal of harmony.

The focus has been on “getting down”, as the grandfather of American funk, James Brown, would say, getting down to the root chakra, the sexual centre which has traditionally driven biological human life but which is in our time increasingly seen simply as a source of ecstatic pleasure separated from conception, pregnancy and birth, as intellectual science has steadily divorced sex from birth. The tendency to sexualise music has been overwhelmingly pushed in the direction of the European masses by commerce and the mass media, which find it useful to control people through their subconscious drives.

But what about the opposite pole, the one which proceeded from Schoenberg’s Book of the Hanging Gardens? It continues within the western modern classical tradition, though not so often played live, but where do we see this pole, the nerve pole, the thinking pole, in popular music today?... (Read the whole thing...)

Saturday, 13 October 2018

First Principles

It should be self-evident that first principles can't be proved by logic or reason. They are deeper than that and consequently can only be known. If they are not known or denied or argued against, it is because the mind, for motives of its own, has cut itself loose from the moorings of truth. It has separated itself from reality and enclosed itself in illusion.

I am prompted in this thought by a questioner of my post on homosexuality who asks why can't we live and let live? Why can't homosexuals just lead their lives as they wish if it doesn't harm anyone else? An understanding of first principles should make the reason why quite clear but the point is that it does harm others if a society ratifies something which is against truth. That society has now cut itself off from the reality of God. It has rejected first principles and thereby put itself out of alignment with reality, and the consequence will be separation from the good and a descent into a downward spiral.  Disharmony and chaos will be the result and that will lead to eventual psychological breakdown. You might think I am exaggerating, and it is true this scenario will not happen overnight. But it will happen unless there is some kind of correction. You cannot swim against the tide for long without eventual exhaustion.

First principles are something about which we all should have an instinct. A culture that challenges first principles is one that is on the way down. It's a classic sign of decadence and has something in common with a jaded mind that seeks stimulation by breaking convention. The destruction of a society's forms and conventions, built in some sense on first principles, releases an energy that does indeed provide temporary stimulation but that energy is soon dissipated and you are left with nothing except an inevitable feeling of inertia and ennui that demands more stimulation to invigorate its faded sense of being. The downward spiral continues. The only solution is a restoration of first principles.

What are these principles? Funnily enough, they vary according to individual cultures. That is to say, they don't actually vary at all but the form they take does and focus might be on different aspects of the whole. That having been said, a primary requirement is acknowledgement of transcendental reality. This means an appreciation that this world is not sufficient in itself but is a creation. There is something behind it that is not directly perceptible by ordinary means, specifically thought and the senses, but is nonetheless the very basis of all things that are so perceptible.

Then there is the connected idea that human beings have within themselves the capacity to embrace higher levels of being, if they will. They are not just as they seem to be but destined for greater things. The recognition of this fact is very important because it means we do not just rest content with appearance but constantly aspire to see behind that and go beyond it. We do not rationalise our bad and wrong and sinful behaviour but know it to be an aberration which will hold us back from proper fulfilment.

Perhaps the most important thing to know about first principles is that goodness, beauty and truth are not constructed things, depending on an individual's preferences, but objective realities. Only if a culture acknowledges this will it seek to coordinate itself to the good, the beautiful and the true and discourage, or even outlaw, the expression of what goes against these things. We now have a sentimental attitude to freedom and self-expression believing, more or less, that anything goes, especially if it can be rationalised as art or justified as pushing the boundaries back a little more. A wiser society would know that many things will lead to its spiritual corruption and downfall if they are allowed to flourish unchecked. I would point to music as significant in this regard but one could include art of any description as well as sexual practice and even certain scientific pursuits. For that matter, even some forms of religion or what passes under that name.

It should be obvious that the contemporary world has almost completely lost contact with first principles. As it has expanded its idea of what human beings are in strictly material terms, it has abandoned any sense of a higher spiritual reality and the fact that men and women should be seen in that light. Not only are first principles denied, we actually believe that in so doing we are bravely forging ahead to a more enlightened world. Truly, the extent to which we are self-deceived is astonishing. The question is, why have we done this? Why have we rejected first principles? And the answer to that is we have become puffed up and proud, convinced of our own rectitude and wisdom. It is a kind of hubris and the ancient Greeks knew very well where that led.

First principles are not up for debate. They are fundamental to the well-being of any culture. They entail a recognition of God or the gods, and the understanding that this world has a proper pattern which should be adhered to if we would live in harmony with it and ourselves. The contemporary severance from first principles is unparalleled in history and will result in ever greater alienation and societal breakdown as human psychology buckles and perhaps even breaks under the strain of living in a world divorced from truth.

To relate the theme of this essay with the theme of this blog I would say there is no chance of Albion awakening until it rediscovers first principles. Something along the line of The Elizabethan World Picture would be a start even if that should be updated a bit to conform to contemporary consciousness which, although largely disconnected from truth as things currently stand, still has its own contribution to make when brought back into alignment with first principles.


Monday, 8 October 2018

The Elizabethan World Picture

About 30 years ago I was looking at some books that my brother was getting rid of. Among them was one that drew my attention. It was by an academic named E.M.W. Tillyard and it was called The Elizabethan World Picture. I had recently been reading books by Frances Yates, a scholar who more or less exhumed studies of occultism during the Renaissance, and this looked interesting. "Could I take it?" I asked. He didn't want it (it was an old school book) and so I salvaged it from the pile of rejects.

The stimulus for this book was the attempt to get to grips with the metaphysical background to Shakespeare's plays and to Elizabethan literature in general. Tillyard realised that to understand the idea of political order during the period of the English Renaissance he had to see it as part of a much larger cosmic order. He found that this could be conceived in three ways which were as a chain, a set of correspondences and a dance. The notion of cosmic order, in fact, ran through the whole of Elizabethan society and it was fundamentally religious in tone - as it would have to be since it was rooted not in the material world but in metaphysical reality. He saw that to imagine the Elizabethan age as a kind of precursor to secular humanism that was making the break from medieval religiosity, as apparently was often the case at the time he was as writing (1943), was completely wrong. It was much more the continuation and development of medieval thought and not really modern, as in humancentric, at all.

The basis of the Elizabethan understanding of the world was order. There was a divine order, reflected externally in the Sun and the planets, and this order was expressed hierarchically. The proper working of this order, and its proper recognition by Man, resulted in harmony. Its neglect or abuse caused disharmony. It was like a musical instrument out of tune. And what principally caused disorder was sin.

The awareness of sin was everywhere in the 16th century as it had been in earlier centuries. The idea of sin and salvation was familiar to and acknowledged by all sections of the populace. And sin was spiritual in significance. Man's sin did not just affect him individually. It corrupted the world and set it out of kilter with its source. It severed the links in the chain that led down from God to Man.


The Great Chain of Being from Robert Fludd (1574-1637). The hand of God reaches down through the stars to Nature and thence to the physical world.

The chain of being was the symbol that described both the connection of Heaven to Earth and its hierarchical nature. In Tillyard's words "The metaphor served to express the unimaginable plenitude of God's creation, its unfaltering order, and its ultimate unity. The chain stretched from the foot of God's throne to the meanest of inanimate objects." It bound the whole of creation together and each link took from above and gave to below which is not to imply that the movement was always in one direction only. One of the significant aspects of this understanding of life was that even lower links in the chain brought something to the whole which was not otherwise present. Stones are near the bottom "but they exceed the class above them in strength and durability". So God is never wasteful and everything has its purpose.

Tillyard's book contains a full description of the various links in the chain as visualised by the Elizabethans, but, for the purposes of this brief article, it will be sufficient to list them very basically. All starts from God, naturally enough, and then proceeds down from him through the various hierarchies of angels until it reaches the stars "which, though obeying God's changeless order are responsible for the vagaries of fortune in the realms below the moon." Man, poised between heaven and earth, is the nodal point of this system and "his double nature, though the source of internal conflict, has the unique function of binding together all creation, of bridging the greatest cosmic chasm, that between matter and spirit". Below man, of course, there are the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms.

The chain describes the vertical aspect of the world but the horizontal is also catered for in this system. Here operate the correspondences which relate various things to others of a similar kind. However, the correspondences are not only horizontal, that is to say, connecting things on the same plane, for there are correspondences between celestial archetypes and earthly manifestations too. For example, the Trinity is reflected in man in understanding, will and memory, divine Intellect in the light of the sun and so forth. The correspondences in this regard demonstrate the wisdom of the old Hermetic maxim. "As above, so below". The pattern of the heavens is repeated in things of the earth.

Finding connections is a game one can play endlessly and it can be illuminating too. However, I would refer the interested reader wanting to learn more to one of the many books on symbolism, or even astrology which is largely based on a similar idea, the sense that all things in this world are reflections of higher ones and also connected to each other in various ways.

The last chapter in Tillyard's book is called The Cosmic Dance and it describes how traditionally creation had been thought of as an act of music. This idea is echoed in the creation myths of both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis which each start with music. Tillyard quotes from A Song for St Cecilia's Day by John Dryden (memorably set to music by Handel) which, though composed a little later in 1687, perfectly encapsulates the Elizabethan idea of creation.

FROM harmony, from heavenly harmony,
      This universal frame began:
  When nature underneath a heap
      Of jarring atoms lay,
    And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
    'Arise, ye more than dead!'
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry,
  In order to their stations leap,
     And Music's power obey.
From harmony, from heavenly harmony,
   This universal frame began:
   From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in Man.

But it is not just creation that is understood musically. The dance goes on everywhere at all times, the movement of the planets being a notable instance of it. The sea dances to the music of the moon. Time itself is said to be a kind of dance. Movement is musical. Life is musical. And it is no accident that courtship was thought to revolve around dancing. That idea survives today, even if in a much degraded form. In fact, you could probably judge the state of a society's civilisation by the sort of dances it favours. Which is bad luck for us.

These three things, the great chain of being, universal correspondences and the dance of life were at the heart of the Elizabethan conception of the universe. This was seen as existing both horizontally and vertically with all its component parts related to each other, all having a place in the scheme of things to which they should keep if the whole was to continue in harmonious fashion. This did not rule out growth and development, but that should be in line with the naturally unfolding patterns of life and not be in an arbitrary, chaotic, forced or wilful way which would surely introduce disorder and destroy harmony.

I am not saying that the Elizabethan World Picture is literally true but I do think that, as a symbolic representation of how the universe is organised, it is considerably more accurate than anything we have today. We now live in a world that has abandoned any higher sense of how the universe works and have consequently introduced the level of disorder that all traditional teaching warned  about if the laws of life were disregarded and human egotism allowed its head. We have disrupted order. Now it is up to us to rediscover it and remake the or, at least, our universe.