Editorial Note: One thing about my writing process is that I am conscious of a desire to be able to look back and be proud of my work. This causes an amount of perfectionism, dallying and rejection of what seems to me to be slapdash attempts. This is a long excuse for not having the post up until today. I eventually figured out that I was trying to take to large a bite at the apple and needed to divide the chapter into two parts. (This post will cover material from the beginning of the chapter until the top of page 118 where a new paragraph begins.) Happy belated Lammas everyone!
It was upon a Lammas Night when corn rigs were bonnie...
|"Eve tempted by the Serpent" William Blake c.1796|
Ishtar Rising Chapter Four Part I: Mammary Metaphysics (Hilaritas Press edition pg.95-118)
I believe the telegram quoted from the beginning of the chapter was the first bit of Discordianism I ever encountered in the wild. I was immediately attached to the message and the cheekiness, it wouldn't be long until I found the Principia online, but I'll admit it wasn't until reading Illuminatus! that I truly appreciated the holy book.
I think it is a sign of WoMankind's recognition of our own sticky, drippy biological process that fruit plays such an important part in our symbolism. As someone who was blessed to live on a farm with an orchard, there was always something delightfully heady about the blooms turning into hard knobs and then plumping up into crisp-yet-bursting apples and chin-coating peaches. I hope that the smell of the blossoms in the spring and the soft stink of rot and fermentation as fruit drops to the ground overripe will stay with me my entire span. Like the Mellisai attending the Delian hive, the constant buzzing of bees was a hallmark of trips through the orchard. While the end result was less-than-perfect, my first wedding took place under what remains of the apple boughs and the ceremony, which I penned, mostly contained liturgy from the Canticle of Canticles...
Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.
As a child, I was troubled by the story of Eden. (I spent a lot of my childhood troubled by stories.) It always seemed like a stacked game and I didn't understand the arbitrary nature of fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. I didn't understand that God would love us and condemn our race for such a simple mistake. Why did you put the Tree there in the first place, asshole? It wasn't until later, when I read about the Rape of Persephone that I began to feel that the fruit in the garden functioned much like the pomegranate seeds offered to Demeter's daughter; a deliberate, shitty trap. I eventually began to see the plight of humanity after Eden as something akin to Persephone's- trapped in a loveless marriage with God. Considering Wilson brings up the theory that at first Eve would have been Mother to Adam and a consort of God, the bad marriage analogy might hold some metaphorical water.
It wasn't until I read the Ophidian Gnostic interpretation of the Eden myth that it made true sense to me: Eden was a trap, designed to keep mankind in thrall to the Demiurge/Jehovah and the Tree was the way out. The Serpent was Christ, emanation of the Pleroma, and Eve was an agent moved by the Shekinah/Sophia to free mankind from the Edenic illusion. Thus we became as gods, knowing good and evil.
As I've mentioned before, I was enchanted with Graves' The White Goddess when I read it before discovering it was mostly a product of Graves' imagination. At the time I still cared about such distinctions. I was enthusiastic about the idea of a Goddess-based religion but I found the Wiccan-inspired books and the revisionist myths of Women's Liberationist scholars charmless and obviously full of shit. My prior knowledge of mythology assured me that these stories were incomplete and left out a lot of detail. Considering that I had expanded beyond Edith Hamilton and Scholastic books on Myth, I felt that I had some basis for this suspicion. I still stand by it and am relieved that Wilson points out that the idyllic yarns about a pre-historical matriarchal golden age are mostly conflation and exaggeration.
I don't know what it says about me that I prefer my Goddesses from the lens of historical esoteric tradition rather than that of twentieth century feminist theory. Does it mean that I am unwilling to accept women on their own terms? Am I still a slave to outdated Apollonian academic authority? Or do I prefer an older style of writing?
Take, for instance, the lovely speech of the Goddess that Wilson heard while attending a coven meeting in Minneapolis. That is from Gerald Gardner's "Prose Charge" which I am almost certain was written by Crowley in his dying days. It was Crowley's genius that seeded Wicca, although modern neopagans tend to despise the man. At the time Gardener was lurking around Hastings trying to pump the Grand Man for ideas, Kenneth Grant was also a member of the milieu. Both Grant and Gardner competed for the attention and affirmation of not only Crowley but Austin Osman Spare in the twilight years of both men. It is from Grant that Wilson received the fallacious information about an all-encompassing pre-historic Cult of Isis. According to the Pyramid Texts and the records of Heliopolis, the first venerated God of Egypt would have been Atum and later Ptah. This quickly evolved into the cult of many gods before the ascension of Osiris. While Grant's theories are entertaining in the extreme and Crowley himself spoke of a pre-historical Isian Age, there's no historical evidence for these ideas. (Grant is one of my favorite magicians, if only for the fact that he was so very, very mad and brilliant in that order. If we are able to complete our upcoming Louis T. Culling series, we'll have to go spelunking in the Tunnels of Set with Mr. Grant.)
I also have to disagree that Homer had any especial dislike or misunderstanding of Achilles in The Iliad. We have to remember that one of the stories surrounding Achilles is that he hated the idea of warfare, although he was made for it, and tried to hide as a maiden when Agamemnon called the Kings of Greece to sail upon Ilium. In fact, Agamemnon sent wily Odysseus to suss out Achilles and remind him of the Oath of Tyndareus. Pity Achilles reader, his doom was sealed by his love of Briseis and Patroclus. Later, of Briseis, a Byzantine would write:
tall and white, her hair was black and curly;
she had beautiful breasts and cheeks and nose; she was, also, well -behaved;
her smile was bright, her eyebrows big
As Wilson begins to discuss the shift in attitudes towards women and sex with the rise of Christianity, I can feel my blood pressure rising. I will say that Origen is a complicated mess of a human being who seemed blessed with mystical insight that was marred by his own mental deficiency to overcome the cancer of the early Church. I don't think we can rely on assessments of women by someone who castrated themselves. Augustine is an ass and a poison. It's funny how the position of Orthodoxy hasn't changed that much since that nasty-little man did as much as he could to aid the ruination of civilization.
We'll continue with Wilson's Magical Maliciousness Tour next week as we continue to examine how it all kept going wrong.
I appreciated the inclusion of dialogue from Faust. I've always found the plot point that when given immense magical powers, Faust used them to sleep with Helen of Troy extremely relatable.
Considering the vocal number of TERFS (Trans-exclusive radical feminists), I'm not sure that "its (Women's Liberationism) shell of dogma [has] been softened by the noisy splashing of all the other odd and colorful fish swimming about in the free waters of Consciousness III."
I'll probably need to read The Greening of America. Perhaps we are simply in a liminal period between major change in sexual expression, after all many on the left have embraced gender identity, and eventually people will be amused or unconcerned about the "noisy splashing" of other people's expression.
Just as Augustine believed that Adam and Eve were perfect because of their lack of feelings before the fall, the credo of the anal personality today is "facts don't care about your feelings" which was made famous by the ultra-orthodox Ben Shapiro and the whole Daily Wire crew of ghouls. In fact I saw coverage this past weekend of the arch-analist, integrationalist and non-ironic theocrat Matt Walsh had taken some time off from insulting Simone Biles to start some dumb controversy about how men shouldn't cry.
While reading about Augustine's theory about Adam and Eve having sex through pure will, I was immediately reminded of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And now I have to wonder if Dennis Reynolds would be Augustine's perfect man:
This week's music selection is not only inspired by Lammas Night, but the whole idea of The Wicker Man in light of the oncoming narrative which, as far as I remember, I've always considered a film with a happy ending. One of my all-time favorites!