Wherever you are is the entry point – Kabir

May 2, 2005
by gwyllm

The Monday Stumble…

Organizing myself out of a wet paper bag, I kinda stumble into the day. Along the way, I discovered some links and an article or two.
Had a nice visit with Spencer down from Seattle yesterday, he hung around as I printed shirts for Radio-Free EarthRites donors. We talked about the usual; sources, keeping it real and the basis for magickal transformation.
How do we bring about change that matters? The old saw… start with yourself, and all else follows.
More below.
Ah…. Links. Here are some of interest.
Tim Learys’ life to be trivialized on the little screen. I expect nothing from this little adventure:
Defining Freedom The Neo-Con way… interesting article on the current state of affairs of the international corporate state:
Alternative Cosmologies and Altered States
by Stanislav Grof
Noetic Sciences Review, Winter 1994, pages 21-29
From a talk given at the Institute of Noetic Sciences conference “The Sacred Source: Life, Death, and the Survival of Consciousness”, Chicago, Illinois, July 15-17, 1994.
Editor’s Note:
In Western societies, the dominant paradigm presents a cosmology in which humans, as biological matter, live and die in a universe governed by the laws of physics. In this worldview, there is no room for the possibility of life after death, and different states of consciousness have significance only as pathological deviations from that worldview.
In sharp contrast, the cosmologies of other cultures—ancient and contemporary pre-industrial—have taken for granted the existence of an afterlife. For them, dying is a meaningful part of life, and death is a journey for which the individual can and should prepare. To aid in this, many cultures throughout history have developed experiential “technologies”—techniques and practices intended to train initiates in the art and science of dying and postmortem survival. These experiential “technologies” invariably involve training in altered or non-ordinary states of consciousness throughout the individual’s lifetime.
This fundamental difference between Western and pre-industrial cosmologies and their respective end-of-life technologies has profound consequences for how societies view living, dying, death, and non-ordinary states of consciousness. In this article, psychiatrist Stanislav Grof explores some of the key elements in pre-industrial cosmologies and their emphasis on transformative “technologies” for training in altered states throughout the individual’s lifetime.
In general, the conditions of life existing in modern technologized countries do not offer much ideological or psychological support for people who are facing death. This contrasts very sharply with the situation encountered by those dying in one of the ancient and pre-industrial societies. Their cosmologies, philosophies, mythologies, as well as spiritual and ritual life, contain a clear message that death is not the absolute and irrevocable end of everything, that life or existence continues in some form after biological demise.
More at the site folks!

Initiation: Dromena (Things Acted)
There were three degrees of initiation: the Lesser Mysteries which were a preliminary requirement, the Greater Mysteries or telete which means “to make perfect,” and the additional and highest degree, the epopteia. The telete initiation can be divided into the dromena : things acted, the legomena : things said, and the deiknymena : things shown. Theo Smyrnaios has his own particular stages of mystical initiation related to his five-step understanding of philosophy. They are 1) initial purification, 2) mystic communion or communication, 3) epopteia : revelation of the holy objects and transmission of the telete, 4) crowning with garlands as the badge of initiation into the mysteries, and 5) the happiness resulting from communion with God. According to inscriptions the crowning of initiates occurred at the beginning of the ceremonies described as the second and third stages. Their names were recorded on wooden tablets by the priests, and their myrtle wreaths were replaced by wreathes with ribbons, the emblem of their consecration to the goddesses. (Mylonas Eleusis p. 261)
The seventh day, Boedromion 21, was the second day at Eleusis and was probably spent resting and preparing for the final ceremony (orgia) in the Telesterion that night. Proclus writes:
to those entering the temenos (sacred precinct) of Eleusis the program was stated, not to advance inside the adytum.
(Ibid. p. 261)
In the dromena the initiates may have imitated in ritual fashion the actions and feelings of Demeter in the original time. These could have included the abduction of Persephone, the wanderings of Demeter, her arrival at Eleusis, her sorrow while staying with Celeus and Metaneira, the rejoicing at reunion with her daughter, and finally her divine gifts of grain and mystic knowledge. Tertullian complains of a ritual discrepancy.
Why is the priestess of Demeter carried off, unless Demeter herself had suffered the same sort of thing?
(To the Nations 30)
Lactantius says:
In the Mysteries of Demeter all night long with torches kindled they seek for Persephone and when she is found, the whole ritual closes with thanksgiving and the tossing of torches.
(Mylonas Eleusis p. 215)
Many literary sources and especially the art show us the dominant importance of the torches in the rites. Ovid gives this account of the original action of Demeter:
There the goddess kindled two pine-trees to serve her as a light; hence to this day a torch is given out at the rites of Ceres.
(Fasti IV, 492-494)
A quote from Apollodoros indicates sound effects.
The Hierophant is in the habit of sounding the so-called gong when Kore is being invoked by name.
(Fragment 36)
This gong was used in the Greek theater to imitate thunder, which was believed to come from the underworld. (Kerenyi Eleusis p. 84)
Plutarch describes the serious reverence on the final night as being analogous to the deepest calm of the enlightened philosopher.
Just as persons who are being initiated into the Mysteries throng together at the outset amid tumult and shouting, and jostle against one another but when the holy rites are being performed and disclosed the people are immediately attentive in awe and silence, so too at the beginning of philosophy: about its portals also you will see great tumult and talking and boldness, as some boorishly and violently try to jostle their way towards the repute it bestows; but he who has succeeded in getting inside, and has seen a great light, as though a shrine were opened, adopts another bearing of silence and amazement, and “humble and orderly attends upon” reason as upon a god.
(Progress in Virtue 81e)
Aristeides describes the range of emotions experienced.
Within this hall, the mystics were made to experience the most bloodcurdling sensations of horror and the most enthusiastic ecstasy of joy.
He says the Eleusinian initiates were to receive “impressions, and not information,” and the aim was that they be put into a certain attitude of mind, provided they were prepared for it. (Casavis The Greek Origins of Freemasonry p. 111)
The following account by Synesius indicates that Aristotle took the same position:
But their procedure is like Bacchic frenzy – like the leap of a man mad, or possessed – the attainment of a goal without running the race, a passing beyond reason without the previous exercise of reasoning. For the sacred matter (contemplation) is not like attention belonging to knowledge, or an outlet of mind, nor is it like one thing in one place and another in another. On the contrary – to compare small and greater – it is like Aristotle’s view that men being initiated have not a lesson to learn, but an experience to undergo and a condition into which they must be brought, while they are becoming fit (for revelation).
(Synesius Dio 1133)
Themistius says of the initiate:
Entering now into the secret dome, he is filled with horror and astonishment. He is seized with loneliness and total perplexity; he is unable to move a step forward, and at a loss to find the entrance to the way that leads to where he aspires to, till the prophet or conductor lays open the anteroom of the Temple.
(Themistius Orat. in Patrem. 50)
Stobaeus speaks of:
a rude and fearful march through night and darkness.
(Casavis The Greek Origins of Freemasonry p. 111)
Proclus says:
In the most sacred Mysteries before the scene of the mystic visions, there is terror infused over the minds of the initiated.
(Ibid. p. 111)
Porphyry tell how a boy’s part in the ritual helps the relationship between god and man.
For, in your mysteries, what the boy who attends the altar accomplishes, by performing accurately what he is commanded to do, in order to render the gods propitious to all those who have been initiated, as far as to muesis, that, in nations and cities, priests are able to effect, by sacrificing for all the people, and through piety inducing the Gods to be attentive to the welfare of those that belong to them.
(On Abstinence From Animal Food )
According to Hermias, those initiates who closed the eyes, which muesis signifies, no longer received by sense those divine mysteries, but with the pure soul itself.
The following passage from Plutarch’s essay On the Soul survives today only because it was quoted by Stobaeus (Florigelium 120). So significant are its ideas and perhaps others in the same essay, that it may have been censored from his collected works by some ruthless dogmatists. It does more than describe the emotions experienced in initiation as it goes to the core of its meaning.
Thus death and initiation closely correspond; even the words (teleutan and teleisthai) correspond, and so do the things. At first there are wanderings, and toilsome running about in circles and journeys through the dark over uncertain roads and culs de sac ; then, just before the end, there are all kinds of terrors, with shivering, trembling, sweating, and utter amazement. After this, a strange and wonderful light meets the wanderer; he is admitted into clean and verdant meadows, where he discerns gentle voices, and choric dances, and the majesty of holy sounds and sacred visions. Here the now fully initiated is free, and walks at liberty like a crowned and dedicated victim, joining in the revelry; he is the companion of pure and holy men, and looks down upon the uninitiated and unpurified crowd here below in the mud and fog, trampling itself down and crowded together, though of death remaining still sunk in its evils, unable to believe in the blessings that lie beyond. That the wedding and close union of the soul with the body is a thing really contrary to nature may clearly be seen from all this.
(Grant, F. C. Hellenistic Religions p. 148)
We will proceed down this road some more if you like, feedback appreciated…

May 1, 2005
by gwyllm

Beltane 2005

Most photos from:

I love the Beltane Societies Devotion to the Rites. Kinda lovely, and what runs through my imagination. I think the Rites are centered at Arthurs’ Seat (This all takes place in Edinburgh Scotland), which is a wonderful location, and probably really appropriate. Beats the hell outa what we do here for sure. I spent some time up at the seat. It gets the mind racing it does.

Beltane: First memories. I knew it as May Day, and I can remember the May Pole. I recall dancing around it when I was maybe 3, maybe 4? This was in Newfoundland, and it is one of the earlier memories that I have. The Pole was a thing of mystery, and the dance, that was fun. All polite in a 20th century way, but little did they know that it opened me up (and maybe some of the others?) to ancient memories and longings.

Beltane became important to me in the 70’s as I became more aware of the Pagan nature that was brewing inside of my heart. Later, it became a full blown ceremony, often private but with all the ancient elements. We didn’t celebrate this year, which is sad but there is illness in the household, and well you know how that goes.
So I am assembling this homage to it, with poetry-pictures-quotes.

If you have any thoughts on the subject, please share them in the comments. If you have someone to share the day with do. Find some of the elements of the old rituals and build on them. Take time for affection, a cup of wine and nature. Mix them up and see what happens!

The May Queen
Alfred Tennyson

YOU must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;
To-morrow ’ill be the happiest time of all the glad New-year;
Of all the glad New-year, mother, the maddest merriest day,
For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
There’s many a black, black eye, they say, but none so bright as mine;

There’’s Margaret and Mary, there’’s Kate and Caroline;
But none so fair as little Alice in all the land they say,
So I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
I sleep so sound all night, mother, that I shall never wake,
If you do not call me loud when the day begins to break;
But I must gather knots of flowers, and buds and garlands gay,
For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
As I came up the valley whom think ye should I see< But Robin leaning on the bridge beneath the hazel-tree? He thought of that sharp look, mother, I gave him yesterday, But I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May. He thought I was a ghost, mother, for I was all in white, And I ran by him without speaking, like a flash of light. They call me cruel-hearted, but I care not what they say, For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May. They say he’s dying all for love, but that can never be; They say his heart is breaking, mother—what is that to me? There’s many a bolder lad ’ill woo me any summer day, And I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May. Little Effie shall go with me to-morrow to the green, And you’ll be there, too, mother, to see me made the Queen; For the shepherd lads on every side ’ill come from far away, And I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May. The honeysuckle round the porch has woven its wavy bowers, And by the meadow-trenches blow the faint sweet cuckoo-flowers; And the wild marsh-marigold shines like fire in swamps and hollows gray, And I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May. The night-winds come and go, mother, upon the meadow-grass, And the happy stars above them seem to brighten as they pass; There will not be a drop of rain the whole of the livelong day, And I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May. All the valley, mother, ’ill be fresh and green and still, And the cowslip and the crowfoot are over all the hill, And the rivulet in the flowery dale ’ill merrily glance and play, For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May. So you must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear, To-morrow ’ill be the happiest time of all the glad New-year; To-morrow ’ill be of all the year the maddest merriest day, For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May. ____ T'was on the May Day morning that we all got up at dark, To welcome in the daybreak with a frolic in the park. They told us that this was the point the god conceived a son But the thing which just confused me was that dad and child were one." _________________________
Kipling: Oh,do not tell the Priest of our plight,
Or he would call it a sin;
But we have been out in the woods all night,
A-conjuring Summer in!
Ian Anderson: For the May Day is the great day,
Sung along the old straight track.
And those who ancient lines did ley
Will heed this song that calls them back.
and now a wee poem from our William Butler Yeats

The Song of Wandering Aengus
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

A Blessing on All of You! Have a Lovely Beltane!