Rex Quondam Rexque Futurus

Only by setting the Sun can rise, only by becoming dry, as if they were dead, the majority of seeds can germinate: death is a mill that grinds life. Similarly, in archaic times, the children had to undergo a temporary initiatory death before being able to be reborn to a renewed and more mature form of existence.

***

In this article I will focus on a series of themes and symbols that can be found within the so-called Arthurian cycle:

King Arthur (from Welsh arth, Celtic *arto-, Proto-Celtic arthos*, from the PIE root *rtko, always with the meaning of “bear”) is the “Bear King” (the constellation of Ursa Major in Gaelic was called Cerbyd Arthur, “Arthur’s Wagon” [the symbolic function of the wagon is exactly equivalent to that of the horse and the ship, it is the cornerstone that sustains and gives shape to life understood in a higher meaning]), son of Uther Pendragon (from Celtic -penn, “mount” [a symbolic image always referring to the burial mound understood as matrix of rebirth] and “dragon”, maybe with the meaning of “mount of the dragon”): both the bear and the serpent (in Greek “dràkon” means both “dragon” and “serpent”) are archaic symbols of initiation and eternal rebirth, the first in relation to its cyclical apparent death and rebirth during the period of hibernation inside the den, the second in relation to the cyclical renewal of its existence when it hides inside a narrow natural cavity to do the molt; in myths and folklore the gaze of the dragon has the power to petrify, immobilize or paralyse its victim, characteristic attributable to the etymology itself of the word “dragon” (stemming from Greek “dérkomai”, “to gaze intensely”) and comparable to the petrifying power of Medusa’s head: it’s the calcification process to which may incur both the placenta and the child inside the maternal womb, therefore the power of the gaze is synonymous with death.

yearling_in_denMuta2-8105-copia

Arthur and Uther are therefore two initiates that have accomplished in their youth a ritual process of reincarnation within the ancestry, but their kinship suggests that they may actually be the same identical figure; the medieval sources at our disposal indicate the 26th of November as date of Uther’s death, fifteen days after the anniversary of Saint Martin: Uther dies in the period of the year when the bear begins its hibernation, and simbolically reincarnates in his son Arthur (“bear”), who, as his father, will come into possession of the sword Excalibur (forged in Avalon, the burial mound, and obtained by the legitimate descendant or by extracting it from a stone [i.e. the burial mound] or by taking it from the arm of the Lady of the Lake that comes out from the water wielding it [the symbolism of the water is substantially equivalent to that of the burial mound, it fulfills at the same time a function of grave and matrix and is, especially in reference to the amniotc fluid, a generator and life-giving element), the object with which was buried the divine ancestor and in which his identity is poured and materialized, solemn guarantee of a regal destiny: only the legitimate and predestined descendant can take possession of it and make sure that his own immature and fragmented identity reintegrates with that of the deceased reborn in him, he himself in a previous life.

For what concerns Melin, master of initiation and prophet, it will suffice to remember that according to the tradition he was conceived by a daimon and a mortal woman, his second name was Ambrosius (“he who possesses ambrosia”) and used to prophesy while sitting under an apple tree.

It can be said that, by means of the initiatory process of reincarnation, our ancestors took the responsibility of altering the regular flow and at the same time the intrinsic nature and self-awareness of children; the reincarnation of the spirit, identity, memory and knowledge of a divine ancestor was accomplished in the short period of time in which the initiate resided in the telluric depths of the burial mound. The intuition, realisation and inner possession of the metaphysical truth that allows us to integrate our individual identity within the totality of time is the fundamental purpose of the initiatory process: the eternal flow of time consists in the eternal restoration and reintegration of the same identical living matter, for which reason we have always been and we’ll always be, we are made of the substance itself of eternity and immortality, yet yoked to a temporal and mortal perspective, being no longer able to attain and innerly possess this metaphysical truth.

In relation to sacred kingship is relevant the theme of the “painful blow” that wounds and weakens the Sacred King, called Fisher King, whose indecipherable infirmity is described in terms of a disability in the legs, more specifically in the thigh, with consequent lameness and difficulty of movement (in the Mabinogion, similarly, Brân the Blessed is wounded in the thigh by a spear, wound that results incurable and an inscrutable obstacle to the fulfillment of the regal function; also the hero Celtchar undergoes a very similar destiny): this refers to the recurring symbolism of the femur as a synonymous of movement and life; therefore this enigmatic weakness and infirmity, from which the Sacred King awaits to heal (on the symbolic level “healing” always equals to “rebirth”) while residing in his castle (i.e. the burial mound, the place where the deceased reigns supreme) in a state of symbolic “sleep” (state of being that I will examine further down), consists precisely in a symbolic and temporary apparent death, which has as immediate consequence the sterility of both kingdom and nature, manifesting itself in the symbolism of the “Terre Gaste” (“Wasteland”) and the “Arbre Sec” (“Dry Tree”); the Sacred King is therefore arrived at the conclusion of his annual function, in correspondence of the temporary death of the Sun during Winter, and exclusively the Graal will be able to heal him, the search of which, in this interpretative context, can be understood in terms of a selective competition aimed at restoring and pass down the sacred kingship.

TRAMONTO-X-LOC.-LORETTA

Note: archaically the states of sleep and death were placed in reciprocal equivalence (Hypnos [the personification of sleep] and Thanatos [the personification of death] are twin brothers in the Greek mythology), indeed a sleeping man and a dead man are outwardly very similar, and both the bed and the grave have always served as a place of rest; these associations led to believe that as well as sleep and night are inevitably followed by awakening and day, death would have been fatally followed by rebirth, that’s why our ancestors often placed the dead in fetal position (position that, significantly, we tend to assume, intentionally or not, during sleep) inside the burial mounds, so that they would become, simbolically, embryos waiting to be reborn from the womb of the earth, source of life.

9610-17

At the end of the Battle of Camlann (during which Arthur is mortally wounded by Mordred) occurs an ambiguous episode, the one in which Arthur embraces Lucan, one of his last knights still alive, and by doing so suffocates him causing his death; it has been hypothesized that Lucan may be a figure equivalent to the god Lugh, which was christianized by the Church in Luke the Evangelist: their names would share the same etymological meaning, “bright, shining”, from the PIE root *leuk-, “light, brightness, shininess”, from which also come the Latin lux and the Greek leukos, both with the same meaning; one of the epithets of Lugh is indeed “lámfada”, “of the long arm”, in reference to the solar rays, which arrive everywhere despite coming from the immeasurable celestial heights. The legendary Battle of Camlann took place in coincidence with the festivity of Samhain, celebrated between October 31st and November 1st and today known as Halloween, which from the initiatory side marked the beginning of the ritual of rebirth, whereas from the merely seasonal side marked the beginning of Winter: therefore Lucan, the Sun, must necessarily die, and Arthur, the bear that hibernates, renounces possession of Excalibur and allows himself to be taken to Avalon.

ARTHDEAT

Avalon (etymologically “isle of apples”, from Welsh afal [pronounced “aval”], Breton aval, Celtic *abal-, Proto-Celtic *aballo-, always with the meaning of “apple”; in the Vita Merlini of Geoffrey of Monmouth, Arhtur is taken in the Insula Pomorum), is a legendary isle simbolically located in the west, where the Sun sets: it is the land of the dead, i.e. the burial mound.

Beetween Gavrinis (a small isle – situated in the Gulf of Morbihan in Brittany – where there is a prehistoric burial mound) and Avalon there is no difference:
full_Gavrinis-ADV-Oct2015-28-1-

Avalon is therefore related to the apples of immortality or eternal youth, as in the case of the red apple picked by Eve from the Tree of Life and given to Adam, solemn promise of future rebirth and symbolism that refers to the placenta, which looks like a tree and sustains the life and development of the fetus thanks to the nutrients present in the noble blood that flows in it. In certain versions of the legend Arthur goes to Avalon escorted by three ladies (tripartite manifestation [past, present and future: time] of a single figure symbolizing the circularity of existence), and there nine fairy sisters (personifications of the nine months that make up the symbolic pregnancy) take care of him, so that he can “rest” and “heal”, waiting for the propitious time to return, i.e. to be reborn, and assume kingship.

“Some say, in many places of England, that king Arthur is not dead, but by will of Our Lord carried elsewhere. They also say that he will return…I don’t affirm this, but rather that somewhere in this world his life has undergone a transformation. But many say that in his grave is written this verse: HIC IACET ARTHURUS, REX QUONDAM REXQUE FUTURUS”.

-Thomas Malory

Advertisements

Thirst for Immortality

“Honey is the divine nectar that drives away the spectre of death”.

-Pliny the Elder

Previously we have clarified that the concept of “Tree of Life”, understood as axis mundi (“world axis”), consists in a symbolic image that refers to the function carried out by the placenta as cornerstone from which originates life understood in a higher sense: starting from this premise it is easy to understand how the drink of immortality, that in the mythologies is obtained from the aforementioned tree, is nothing but the liquid nourishment that from the placenta reaches the fetus by means of the umbilical cord.

albero-dorme-2Immagine correlata

***

In the Vedas and Upanishads the soma or amṛta is a juice that drips from the Tree of Life that is believed to grow in certain mountains (the “sacred” and “cosmic” mountain placed in the “center of the earth” or “center of the world”, and described as “navel of the earth” or “navel of the world” [some examples: the Olympus of the Greeks, the Himinbjörg – “heavenly mountain” or “hidden mountain” – of the Nordics, the Meru of the Indians, the Golgotha – “skull”, the place where the head of Adam was buried – of the Jews] is always the place of conjunction between Sky, the masculine principle, and Earth, the feminine principle, coincidentia oppositorum [“coincidence of opposites”] that results in the birth [the concept of birth is always equivalent to that of rebirth] of the divine child, event to which refer all the myths that describe the sudden separation between Sky and Earth: generally speaking the maternal womb and the cave or burial mound are the matrices that refer, respectively, to the physical rebirth and the initiatory rebirth), juice capable of conferring immortality to those who drink it: the etymology of “amṛta” is similar to that of the word “ambrosia” and means “not death, immortality”. In the Avesta we find instead the haoma, another drink that bestows immortality, obtained in this case too by a Tree of Life, the Gaokorena that grows in the mountains; similarly to the soma or amṛta and the haoma, the melikraton – a libation composed of milk and honey described in the Odyssey – had the power to reanimate the dead and was compared to the very essence of life.

Note: when we talk about immortality, we are not referring to the indefinite extension in time of an individual biological existence, without the occurrence of changes in the state of being: we refer instead to the possibility that, through a strong emotional shock in the context of an initiatory ritual of rebirth and through an induced awakening of the memory of the blood, the achievement of a transcendent state could bring out into the consciousness of a child the memory and awareness of his previous existences.

In the Greek mythology the ambrosia and nectar are both foods that enable the gods to be immortals and perennially young: many have suggested that these mythical foods may be identified with honey (it is not a coincidence the fact that Saint Ambrose has assumed the role of patron saint of bees and beekepers) and mead (a drink that in the Norse mythology was obtained, significantly, by the mixture of honey and blood), i.e. fermented honey (our ancestors compared the fermentation process to the spiritual transformation that occured during initiatory rituals: in both cases a maturation phenomenon was accomplished inside a closed and dark space), since ancient sources decribe honey as the first and primordial nourishment of the gods, while mead was known in antiquity as the drink of the gods. This relation makes sense, even more so when we know that in prehistoric times the child that went inside the cave or burial mound in order to accomplish the rebirth ritual, thus becoming a fetus inside the womb of the earth, carried with him some honey to appease the sorceress or priestess inside the grave, primordially the she-bear, and he himself had to feed with that honey: the symbolical nourishment of the fetus inside the womb.

On a symbolic level it is significant the fact that bees favour tree hollows and rock fissures as dwellings in which to produce honey:
forebears17

To reinforce what I have just decribed we can refer to the Norse mythology, where the dew that covers the leaves of the yew Yggdrasill (yes, some ancient sources use the term barr [“needle-shaped leaf”] in relation to its leaves, furthermore the yew is the tree that more than any other can symbolize the placenta, because in it grow red berries that recall the placenta’s red bubbles full of nutritious blood) – in poetic language called “mead tree” – has the taste of honey and is compared to mead: the bees feed on it and, as suggested previously, the child who faced the initiatory ritual was symbolically seen as a bee.

The leaves and berries of the yew:
taxus-baccata_ng7

In the Völsunga Saga is told that in the hall of Völsung’s house there was a big apple tree (the apples conceal the same symbolism described above in relation to the red berries of the yew, they are the essence of the drink of immortality) whose branches protruded from the roof: this tree was called Barnstokkr (“children’s trunk”, i.e. the placenta).

Barnstokkr and an apple tree:
the_branstock_by_hoffmanapple-tree

The Indo-Iranian god Mitra is born from a rock – “petra genetrix“, originally the cave or burial mound and during classical antiquity the underground temple called “mithraeum”: both symbols of the womb of rebirth – surrounded by a serpent (i.e. the umbilical cord) near a spring (i.e. the amniotic fluid or the liquid nourishment of the placenta) and under a tree (i.e. the placenta).

Now, why not throw into the fray the symbolism of the horn, that often symbolizes the umbilical cord, the bond that unites and makes interact the ancestors with the descendants?

The cornucopia (“horn of plenty”) is a very explicit symbol in relation to the nourishment of the fetus in the womb; in the Mabinogion is described an inexhaustible horn that restores the youth and strength of heroes each time they drink its content. In this context it is relevant to remember the Hindu myth in which the Devas and Asuras grab the opposite ends of Vāsuki – the cosmic serpent wrapped around mount Meru – and twist it to obtain the soma or amṛta; in another myth Indra obtains the same drink from the dead body of the serpent Vritra.

In the Norse mythology Sigrdrífa after being awakened offers to Sigurðr the minnisveig, the “drink of memory” (i.e. the memory of previous lives), a horn full of mead. Mímir (“memory” [of the previous lives]), the possessor of Mímisbrunnr (“well of memory”, located beneath one of Yggdrasill’s three roots and equivalent to the spring Mnemosyne [“memory”] to which refer Orphism), every morning uses the horn Gjallarhorn to drink the precious and sacred liquid – mead according to the Völuspá – contained in the well of wisdom (wisdom is equivalent to memory): also Odin managed to get the chance to drink a sip of that liquid.

I conclude with the Grail, traditionally known as a cup or chalice whose content has vivifying and healing virtues: the cup or chalice and the tree have a very similar shape and, taking into consideration the virtues of the Grail, we can assume that this important object of the Arthurian cycle symbolizes the placenta and its life-giving liquid nourishment.

8595

It should also be noted that in certain late medieval sources the Holy Grail is called Sangréal; in Old French, san graal and san gréal mean “holy grail” and sang réal means “royal blood”: indeed the blood full of nutrients contained in the placenta is a “royal” and “divine” blood, not an ordinary one. In this context it will be good to remember that for our ancestors wine was a symbol of blood (in Valdôtain the word “gradale” means “cup for wine”), specifically in reference to what I have just explained in relation to the function of the blood contained in the placenta: that’s the reason why Odin, the symbolic fetus, needs only wine (i.e. the blood of the earth [the female principle]) to feed himself.

Now you will also be able to see with different eyes the Christian rite of the Eucharist, during which a mass of crazy fanatics drinks the blood of Christ from a chalice full of wine.

<<What the fuck I’m doing?!>>:
gpii-eucaristia

The Spear of Life

In its most archaic and sacred symbolism, in the context of an inititory ritual of reincarnation, the spear was a representation of the umbilical cord: I will try to unveil this image through a brief examination of three episodes selected from the Arthurian cycle, the Celtic mythology and the Norse mythology.

***

In the Arthurian cycle the Bleeding Lance is a sacred object that bleeds from its tip and that can give rise to a flow of blood, just like the Lúin of Celtchar, an enchanted spear described in the Mabinogion: it is the nourishment in form of blood that from the placenta (i.e. the Grail, with its life-giving liquid nourishment, and the Cauldron of the Dagda, full of blood in which the Lúin of Celtchar must be immersed in order for it to cool down and become safe to handle) arrives to the fetus, passing through the umbilical cord. The Fisher King feeds on the blood of the Bleeding Lance in order to heal from his mysterious infirmity, i.e. in order to be reborn, the Fisher King being no other than the divine ancestor that will reincarnate in the child who performs the initiation ritual.

The Bleeding Lance:
grail-2c

***

The Gáe Bulg or Gáe Bulga is the spear of Cúchulainn, a hero of the Celtic mythology: the name of this particular weapon means “belly spear” and “notched spear”, the umbilical cord being a “spear” inside the belly and the intermediary thanks to which the nourishment of the placenta reaches the fetus, allowing him to grow, so in a sense it is the “mouth” and the “teeth” of the fetus. The word “bulga” seems to derive from the Proto-Celtic compound *balu-gaisos, that means “spear of mortal pain” or “spear of death”, maybe in reference to the potential death of the mother after childbirth. Note that the use of the Gáe Bulg requires a preparation that can be realized exclusively along a water current, while it is held between the toes: the water current is the amniotic fluid while the strange position is a reference to the position of the child in the womb before birth, upside down with the feet near the umbilical cord.

optimal-foetal-position

***

In the Hávamál there is a section where Odin describes his initiatory sacrifice:

“I trow I hung
on that windy tree
nine whole days and nights,
stabbed with a spear, offered to Odin,
myself given to myself,
high on that tree of which none hath heard
from what roots it rises to heaven”.

-Hávamál

In this case I will try to unveil also the other symbols: Odin is symbolically a fetus, hanged on Yggdrasill (the Tree of Life [i.e. the placenta], whose branches are said to be wet by the Norns with sacred water [i.e. the amniotic fluid]) and pierced by Gungnir, his own spear (i.e. the umbilical cord [one of his epithets is “lord of the spear”]). The nine days and nights (analogously, in the Mabinogion is said that the hero Cai can breath under water [i.e. the amniotic fluid] for nine nights and nine days) are the nine months of pregnancy (a residue, almost unrecognizable, of the archaic initiatic ritual of reincarnation and reintegration of the partial identity of children within the totality of a honourable ancestry persisted among the Romans, for which the ninth day of life of infants was the lustral day, during which the newborns were purified and received a name [name is equivalent to identity]), and the same is the case for the “nine worlds” sustained by Yggdrasill (the function of the placenta sustains the development and life of the child during the nine months inside the womb), every “month” being a “world”, in the sense of a definite and complete temporal cycle; moreover, as you may know, our ancestors used to let grow a tree above their burial mound (i.e. the womb of the earth). The time will come when Yggdrasill will fall, in other words the time of the rebirth, the event that decrees the end of the life-giving function of the placenta, its “fall” and “death”; Odin sacrifices himself to himself, because his symbolic death is a prelude to his own rebirth, after which will emerge in his consciousness the memories of his previous lives.

Odin and Yggdrasill:
epbwrqb
785393372d4f249a14850c2639e9bb9a