Category Archives: Symbolism

The Ticket Inspector…

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I am late.

I am expected in Leicester and now my only option is to catch the last train.

The last train to Leicester is a slow train and also appears to be experiencing difficulties.

Stopping where there are no stations.

That sort of thing.

It becomes clear that many of my fellow passengers are not going to get to their destinations and as the ticket inspector makes his round they discuss alternatives together.

As this is an unfamiliar route I assume that Leicester too is now out of the question.

A strange thing about the ticket inspector, although this is a new route and I have never met him before, he knows my name…

“Yes, Stu…”

…and uses its familiar form.

“You’ll be in Leicester in twenty minutes time.”

Not only does the ticket inspector know my name and use its familiar form, he is also incredibly accurate.

My alarm clock is due to go off in precisely twenty minutes time.

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Perspectives on Perception…

1 ‘The Seed at Zero.’

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The Circle is Time

Six of the Nine
Process through time

Three of the Nine
Are outside time:

Divine.

Yet still impact
And impinge in time
By impelling this processional motion.

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3‘ Six of the Nine’.

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The Six of the Nine can be represented by the six faces of a cube:
Enfolded outlooks on the world.
The Three of the Nine can be represented by the three dimensions of a cube:
…Dimension is always an adequate symbol for Divinity.
The Seed at Zero can be represented by the cube itself in miniature:
A little world encapsulated by a larger one…

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4Three of the Nine’.

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What is the antithesis of one?
None, two or many…?
It is tempting to answer money… that is, ‘my one’ as opposed to The One, which ‘belongs’ to everybody.

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For many years I laboured under the misapprehension that to glean the gist of a thing was to have the mere rudiments of it which is almost the exact opposite of the word’s actual meaning. This can happen because of the context in which words are used and context which has at least two viewpoints if not many more is really just another word for perspective.

The World is predicated on Number.
Mineral, Plant, and Animal growth are all governed by Number.

Music is Number in time.
Geometry is Number in space.

Neither the World, Music nor Geometry initially ‘looks’ very much like Number but that is what they are.

The qualities of Number are the key to understanding this, which really means their properties and their relationships, each one conceived as distinct from all the others yet linked by natural sequence and logical progression.

Strictly speaking there are only seven numbers.
Zero is not a number because it is the negation of Number:
It is rather both Tomb and Womb of number…
One is not a number because it is everything, without which there would be no thing:
Not One Thing…
Nine is not a number because it is a completion and possesses all the qualities of Zero:
And although numbers go on for ever they always repeat from Nine…

But Geometry can help here too because the way we see things affects the way we think about things and vice-versa.

Whenever we come across a reversible we have reflection and the world, it has been claimed, is merely a domain of perceived reflections.

Plato’s Cave is the classic simile for this idea.
In order to affect the shadow-play of the world-screen one has to access the light source.
The outer can only be affected by changing the inner.

This can be ‘seen’ to be the case by experiencing the following ‘optical illusion’.

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When the outer cube ‘flips’ the inner cube remains unaffected.
But if the inner cube ‘flips’ the outer cube has to flip too.

Can you see it?

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Stairways of the mind…

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“There are a lot of ugly looking lions in Portmeirion.”

We shrink from wondering whether or not one of them is devouring the Buddha’s missing right forearm.

“And lots of steps.”

“Number Six spends a lot of time in the village running up and down steps.”

Run up one set of steps in Portmeirion and a Mansion becomes a Two-up-Two-down.

Run down another and one is accosted by a plaster-cast-christ declaiming on a balcony from which depends a black sheep.

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“Soft clothes?”

“Perspective. One is spatial, the other, intellectual.”

“Clever that.”

Here, the ridiculous jostles with the sublime to unfeasibly pleasing effect.

“It’s nothing more than a clutter and jumble of odds and sods, lovingly reassembled into, well, something, uncluttered and well ordered.”

“Much like memories, perhaps.”

“Or what memory makes of experience.”

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In the corner of that courtyard there, a manicured tree sprouts in-front of a doorway.

Or rather, a doorway, which leads nowhere, has been constructed behind a tree which is then kept manicured.

Its the perfect place in which to reconsider one’s cardinal points and be reminded of one’s priorities.

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The Marsh King’s Daughter II…

 

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‘…The Earth will see you on through this time…’

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…There always is.

The Marsh King sinks back beneath the waters with the unnamed Egyptian Princess in his thrall.

Some time later a green shoot with a water-lily bud appears above the slime.

The bud unfurls to reveal a small girl-child.

The child is spotted by a watching Stork and is taken to a barren Viking couple who, quite naturally, are enthralled with the gift and immediately besotted with the child.

Children normally display both the physical and temperamental characteristics of their ancestors, predominantly their parents, and usually in more or less equal measure.

Here, these tendencies are pronounced.

Helga, for this is the name the Viking couple choose for her, is a beautiful girl-child during the day, albeit displaying a strong blood-thirsty streak, whilst as the sun sets she turns into a compassionate, toad-like monster!

Is the name significant?

How important is it that Helga is the only named character in the story?

Could any device be better chosen to make us consider the diurnal polarity of Day and Night and their profound affects upon our consciousness and its natural tendencies?

Cold mountain…

Warm earth…

If we are in any doubt as to what we are to make of these devices we are introduced to the somnambulistic nature of both Denmark and the nether regions of Marsh-Land later in the tale.

To make matters worse, Helga’s apparent beauty beguiles all those who gaze upon her and blinds them to the reality of her brutish day-time nature.

It is only her adoptive Viking mother who witnesses and begins to see and realise the true nature of the problem presented to both her, and by extension us, in the form and expressions displayed via the mysterious Marsh King’s Daughter.

There is more…

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The Marsh King’s Daughter…

 

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‘…Hi-ho the Carrion Crow, Fol-de-rol-de riddle…’

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Although the second longest of Anderson’s Fairy Tales, The Marsh King’s Daughter is relatively little known and perhaps, even, considered to be one of his ‘lesser’ tales.

It is a huge, sprawling epic of a yarn, which like most of his stories draws liberally from the ancient sagas, legends and folk tales which Hans imbibed in his youth.

Unlike some story tellers, although Anderson approaches the traditional devices with free reign, he never loses sight of their psychological and spiritual import and consequently, whilst sometimes apparently piling device upon device in wild profusion, there is always a satisfying, not to say, profound pay off to his seemingly more fantastical meanderings.

In these posts then, rather than retell the story, we intend to focus on aspects of the tale in order to investigate and elucidate the psychological and spiritual components of the story as a whole.

The Marsh King himself, though central to the plot, plays a comparatively minor role in the story, appearing just once, initially disguised as a tree stump.

It is a cunning disguise which gives the foul fellow the opportunity to drag an unsuspecting princess to her apparent doom beneath the marshes.

But wait, how did such a delicate, pretty one find herself on the edge of a marsh in Denmark?

She was sent from Egypt by her dying father to look for the antidote to his wasting disease.

And how did she get there?

She donned a feathered cloak and flew there as a swan.

Then, why didn’t she simply re-don the cloak and fly away when the Swamp Man revealed himself to her?

Because her jealous sisters, who had flown with her, stole her cloak and destroyed it…

Spatially, the construct is no less dazzling.

Here, as in most traditional stories the horizontal polarity of Egypt and Denmark constitutes a world and its other-realm.

The Outer, wasteland, can only be re-invigorated from the Inner depths which appear to be somewhat murky.

The healing herb reputedly grows in a bog, the domain of the Marsh King.

Already, the mix of natural metaphor and deep psychological insight  begins to weave its ancient magic.

But there is more…

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Infinite Regress…

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THE INFINITE HIGHWAY

If one always returns to where one came from,

then one’s destination is halfway between where

one came from and where one is going to.

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HALFWAY TO INFINITY

Every step along the infinite highway is simultaneously

an equal distance between an infinite future

and an infinite past, that is, it is halfway to and from infinity.

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EQUAL PARTS OF INFINITY

To find the halfway point of any distance,

one first splits the distance into equal parts then,

when the number of equal parts remaining is equal

to those that have passed one has one’s halfway point.

The equal parts of infinity, however, are all infinite.

Infinity is the only thing that can be split into… infinities.

This is known as counting the for evers of forever.

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FOREVER YOURS

Reflecting upon all this it appears…

‘The Ancient of Days’

Is a good poetic name for infinity.

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THE INFINITE HOTEL

A Traveller approaches the Infinite Hotel and asks The Ancient of Days for a room.

Now, there are an infinite number of rooms in the Infinite Hotel, however, the Traveller is informed by the Ancient of Days that all the rooms in the Infinite Hotel are taken.

Q: How does the Traveller get a room in the Infinite Hotel ?

A: The Ancient of Days asks the occupants of Room 1 to move into Room 2 and the occupants of Room 2 to move into Room 3…and so on… and on… Infinitely, thus making room for the Traveller.

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INFINITE EXPANSE

At any one time in the Infinite Hotel then, there will be any number of people on the corridors moving from one room to the next, and this number will be dependent on how many Travellers are seeking a room in the Infinite Hotel…

Consider this…

All the rooms in the Infinite Hotel have a name…

All the rooms in the Infinite Hotel have the same name…

The name of all the rooms in the Infinite Hotel is ‘After-Life’.

Consider this…

All the corridors in the Infinite Hotel have a name…

All the corridors in the Infinite Hotel have the same name…

The name of all the corridors in the Infinite Hotel is ‘Life’.

By extension…

The occupants of each room in the Infinite Hotel have names…

The occupants in the room before yours are called ‘Parents’

The occupants in the room after yours are called ‘Children.’

The act of moving from room to corridor is called ‘Birth’.

The act of moving from corridor to room is called ‘Death’.

‘Life Duration’ in the Infinite Hotel can be defined as,

the amount of time spent in the corridor

 before moving into the next room…

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IN FIN…

Once one

Never none

Forever one.

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An Aye for an Eye?…

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“Sure, ’tis a terrible thing to choose one or t’other.”

The Aurally Man

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Alchemy as process has a number of stages.

And nobody seems able to agree on how many!

This might not though be a disagreement of number but of measure.

An hour possesses sixty minutes and three-thousand-six-hundred seconds, after all.

If we make our focus three, we get…

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A point worth considering: all the triangles are of equal size.

Individually this seems obvious but, perhaps, not quite so, relatively.

A shortcoming alluded to in the phrase, ‘vagaries of the human eye’.

Which is another point worth considering.

The human eye follows lines like a moth to flame.

This is one of the reasons why the ‘Blessed Head of Joshua’ is eyeless.

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Image result for lemniscate

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A Comparative Method…

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…The Tetrahedron is the magical symbol for elemental fire.

Fire has always carried with it a mystery.
From earliest times it was thought the proper preserve of the Divine.
For man to have gained this dangerous boon took especial cunning, courage and skill.
The fire-bringer in the old stories was a demi-god, a hero, a trickster…

In Vedic Mythology, which arose from the Indus Valley Civilisation, the fire sacrifice is regarded as a mental operation, an operation of the mind or of consciousness.
It has the aim of transcending the three worlds beneath the sun which are subject to the endless round of birth and death… and of reaching the realm beyond the sun where dwell the immortals.
Its practitioners are Agni (‘fire’) Vayu (‘spirit’) and Aditya (‘sun’).

Contemporary descriptions of Agni vary; some give him seven hands and tongues but only two heads, others depict him with three heads and as many golden bodies.

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Whatever Agni actually looks like, if he can actually be seen, you would not perhaps expect to meet his like in the classical world.
And yet there is one figure whose ‘story’ bears comparison with that of Agni.
Hermes!

Seven Flaming Tongues

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– Original research by A.M. Hocart.

Over time Hermes became patron of the western mystery tradition and so we may surmise that for the Vedic culture too Agni was a patron of an esoteric science.
The word is cognate in our culture with ignite, ignition and igneous though not with iguana.

What kind of Fire traverses Three-Worlds and leads to a realm beyond the Sun?

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Skunk seeks medicine: Raft…

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…”My musk-sac… my power,” cried Skunk as he drifted along the river on his raft of logs.

Someone hailed him from the river-bank, “Yes, your musk-sac came floating past here,” they said, “we tried to retrieve it, but it was floating down the middle of the river.”

“My thanks, nonetheless,” shouted Skunk, “I will return and show you my good will.”

Skunk continued to wail about his lost musk-sac and a little further on somebody else hailed him from the river-bank, “As a matter of fact your musk-sac floated ashore here, but we pushed the filthy thing back into the current.”

“My curse upon you,” shouted Skunk, “I will pass back along this way and you will feel my vengeance.”

So it went with Skunk on his journey.

Some there were who, sensing its power, had attempted to retrieve the musk-sac for him whilst others, thinking it repulsive when it drifted to the shore, had thrown it back into the current of the river.

Skunk promised boons in abundance to those who had tried to help and the force of his wrath to those who had not.

By now, Skunk had drifted on his raft of logs to the lower reaches of the river.

Here, he went ashore to continue his search over land. …

to be continued

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