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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:
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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

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About Zeus and Typhon

For our ancestors the femur was a symbol of movement and thus of the life force, especially in relation to the prehistoric burial mounds – inside which have been found cases of femurs missing or replaced with bear’s femurs – and the initiatory ritual of rebirth that took place inside them: in this article I will try to unveil the symbolic relation between these archaeological finds and the myth of the battle between Zeus and Typhon.

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Typhon is a monstrous creature described in different ways by the various ancient sources, but generally speaking he was a gigantic winged monster with an at least partially serpentine shape.

Typhon:
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In the mythical tale Zeus figths against Typhon and tries to kill him, but the monster manages to immobilize the god by severing the tendons of his hands and feet. The key in this context is to understand that the tendons fulfill the same symbolic function of the femur in relation to the ability to move and the life force of an individual: the tendons perform in the myth the same role that the femur performs in the ritual. Zeus is immobilized, alive but at the same time symbolically dead, awaiting to regain the ability to move (i.e. awaiting to be reborn), exactly like the divine ancestor inside the cave or burial mound.

It will not surprise the fact that at that point Typhon will bring Zeus inside a cave (i.e. the burial mound), where he will hide the tendons of the god inside a bearskin, an extremely archaic symbolism that comes directly from the primordial Bear Cult practiced by the Neanderthals long before the end of the last Ice Age. The cave, i.e. the womb of the earth, is the Korykion Antron (“cave of the leather sack”, from korykos, “leather sack”) and is protected by the dragoness Delphyne (from delph, “womb”).

The Korykion Antron:
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The korykos (“leather sack”):
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But finally Hermes (name that etymologically means “stone”: it is interesting to notice that the Greek word “hermaion” described both a pile of stones [originally in reference to dolmens, cairns and menhirs, which, over time, among the Greeks took the form of the sculptures significantly called “herms”] and a fortunate man) manages to enter the cave (he is a psychopomp god with the privilege of being able to access and return freely from the realm of death) and to recover the precious tendons: immediately Zeus regains the ability to move, i.e. returns to life after an apparent and symbolic death, and defeats Typhon once and for all. The divine child, i.e. Hermes, has found the femur of his ancestor inside the burial mound, and by means of an initiatory ritual has achieved a higher and transcendent spiritual state: he remembers and is aware of his previous existences and consciences, which now are, at the same time, distinct and unified realities in the shape of this reborn divine individual (in the sense of “undivided”, i.e. whole, integral, not fragmented).

Le Besoin d’Impossible

The first book published by Marie Cachet, Le Besoin d’Impossible, is a purely philosophical work but at the same time multiform in its implications: in this article I’m going to indicate and expose the issues that have mostly caught my attention during the reading of the book.

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Let’s start from an assumption that, although discussed and deepened by the author in another context, is essential for a thorough understanding of the work that concerns us now: the modern European man is, fro ma biological point of view, a slightly hybridized Neanderthal man (today we are on average, genetically speaking, 99,7% Neanderthal): what does this have to do with questions of philosophical nature? According to Marie Cachet one of the consequences of this hybridization, even after its stabilization, was the birth or surfacing of a metaphysical vertigo, a disharmony and despair of the mind that manifested itself simultaneously with the dramatic transition to a temporal, and thus finite, perception of the Universe: a real “fall” that led us far from the possibility of fathom and living the concepts of eternity, intended as the atemporal point that we call instant, and infinity, intended as spatial infinity.

At that point our ancestors, as well as us today, tried instinctively, unconsciously and obsessively to compensate this metaphysical despair without being overwhelmed by the “terror of time”; an explosion of human dynamism, individual and collective, led progressively to the birth and development of civilizations, arts, sciences, spiritualities, religions and philosophies, all attempts to recreate the lost harmony of the mind and extend one’s personality beyond the boundaries of the biological duration of existence, in an attempt to forge a sort of simulated eternity: the need for the impossible, as suggested by the title of the book.

Examples of materialization of the collective genetic memory of a people, in an attempt to be remembered in time:
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Examples of materialization of the genetic memory of an individual, the sculptor, in an attempt to be remembered in time:
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Therefore, according to Marie Cachet, every external creation as well as all forms of teaching are manifestation of a deep necessity of the human beings, namely the selfish need to go beyond the yoke of time, beyond the finitude, so as to preserve themselves in time, through other people, symbolic containers of their self, potential reincarnations of their self. Therefore creating and teaching (the equivalent Italian word is “insegnare”, “mark within”) are therefore a means to conquer eternity and defeat the illusion of a finite time: we project our self in the future, through an imaginary or real reincarnation, which in turn will transmit in the future the essence of our self, in an eventual endless chain.

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An essential distinction that emerges during the reading is that between the individuals conscious of their metaphysical despair, active and subjective individuals, and the vast majority of those who are not aware of it, passive and objective individuals, which unconsciously suffer the consequences of this disharmony. The religions – especially the organized religions – and spiritualities that give us dogmatic and established metaphysical responses, the daily repetitiveness, the social conventions and all the entertainments we create in our societies are, although we do not realise it, tools that distract us and allow us to flee from the metaphysical anguish inherent in us, from the sacred terror that we experience in front of the ultimate mysteries of the universe and of life. Only by getting rid of all this – especially of what provides us standardised metaphysical answers – and through boredom, certain men will fall into the metaphysical despair and find their authentic self (through the manifestation of the memories of their previous lives, memories engraved and latent in our blood), their true essence, undergoing a sort of awakening: achieved this superior spiritual state, a deep impulse will force them to find their subjective responses to the fundamental dilemmas that surround us.

You dare to face the metaphysical abyss?

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As I have previously explained, these are just some of the issues discussed in this book, a unique work of its kind, the ones that most involved me: I urge you to read it and give shape to your personal opinion.

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The Book of Coming Forth by Day

The Book of the Dead of the Egyptians consists in a numerous series of chapters intended to reveal the initiatory process through which a divine ancestor could reincarnate in a chosen descendant.

The Weighing of the Heart:
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I will try to interpret some brief quotes that have caught my attention:

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“I am the Today.
I am the Yesterday.
I am the Tomorrow.
Through my numerous Births
I subsist young and vigorous”.

-Chapter LXIV

Through his numerous rebirths (in this context rebirth and reincarnation are always interchangeable terms) the honourable ancestor has lived in the past, is living in the present and will live in the future, returning periodically to be young, healthy and strong.

“He aspires to eternal life
As is the Sky, without end and without limits.
Because, in truth, to the Sky belongs your Soul,
But the Earth owns its corporal form”.

-Chapter CLXIII

The honourable ancestor aspires to live eternally through endless rebirths: the soul, i.e. the spirit, is associated with the Sky, since they are both eternal and immutable entities, whereas the body is associated with the Earth, since they are both temporary and mutable entities.

“May my Soul dwell in my Body,
My Body unite with my Soul!”.

-Chapter CLXIII

The deceased aspires to a rebirth that will necessarily takes place through the reconciliation of the soul with the body.

“Know this, your head will be saved!
It will not be stolen from you, for all eternity!”.

-Chapter CLXVI

For our ancestors the head was the symbol of the wisdom, memory and identity of a person: the skull had thus an essential role during the initiatory ritual of rebirth, and the text assures to the deceased that his head will be preserved and that his identity will belong again to him by means of future reincarnations.

“In truth, you are the same Horus
shining in the middle of your Cosmic Egg”.

-Chapter CLXX

Horus – the child that attempts to accomplish the initiatic ritual of rebirth – and the divine ancestor inside the pyramid – which is like a fetus inside the womb – are the same entity: both are waiting to be born from the cosmic egg.

The cosmic egg wrapped by a snake symbolizes the womb during pregnancy and the umbilical cord:
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The ankh was the symbol of life and represented the female reproductive system, intended as universal matrix:
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“Horus himself puts you erect
Like many times he has already done, with the sanctified”.

-Chapter CLXX

The child puts in erect position – a prerogative of those who are alive and a synonymous of life and return to life – the mummy of the divine ancestor, like many times has already happened in the past.

“Behold, I rise up from the Bowels of the Universe,
And for the second time I come to the world…
I return little child, without father, a new-born…
Nobody will be able to prevent me, when the time will come,
From answering to the questions that I will be asked…”.

-Chapter CLXX

The divine ancestor inside the pyramid has finally reincarnated in the body of the chosen descendant which has accomplished the initiation ritual: back in the world of the living and he will be able to answer to all questions concerning the metaphysical truths.

“Your navel is the Realm of the Dead.
Where Light and Darkness are in equilibrium”.

-Chapter CLXXII

The concept of “navel” (as well as those of “navel of the earth”, “navel of the world”, “center of the earth” and “center of the world”) symbolized the realm of the dead, in this context the pyramid, the place where life and death are in equilibrium, the divine ancestor being not alive but not even definitively dead: he is in an intermediate state between these two, awaiting to be reborn.

“In truth, in the moment when I was born in the world of the Beyond,
A new deity was born: and it was me!
Now, with my own eyes, I can see…
I look around me; I exist.
My vision is clear and piercing.
Erect, I resume the interrupted thread of my existence…”.

-Chapter CLXXIV

The divine ancestor is reborn inside the pyramid, he returns to see with his own eyes and becomes aware of his renewed existence: alive again, he resumes the thread of his existence, interrupted only by a temporary death.

“The Yesterday has generated me.
Behold, Today
I create the Tomorrow”.

-Chapter CLXXIX

He who becomes aware of his own cycles of rebirths owns the past, the present and the future.

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