The first post in the series had a generally optimistic view (as represented by the Nosferatu-to-Edward transition), but I'm afraid the lessons haven't been learned very well. Recent events, including the Aurora massacre and subsequent shootings, such as the Oak Creek gurudwara shooting and the assassination of a member of the congregation ten days later, have been cause for worry. This does provide us, however, with an opportunity to consider what the great Oak can teach us in these times of bloodletting.
First, however, let us take a look at Aurora. Known in Ancient Greece as Eos (famously rosy-fingered Dawn), she is the goddess (though she was a Titaness) of the dawn, of new days and new beginnings. There is no reason to ramble on lengthily, but I invite the reader the investigate further if it feels appropriate. Though Eos represents new beginnings, and, presumably, hope, her stories reveal otherwise.
|Aurora Ascending the Heavens by Julien de Parme|
If you'll notice the face of Aurora's young companion, he doesn't seem to be particularly thrilled. This is probably due to the fact that Eos was cursed by a jealous Aphrodite with an unsatisfiable sexual desire after she hooked up with Aphrodite's Romeo, Ares. Her subsequent affairs end in tragedy, notably the one with Tithonus: faced with the prospect that her lover would die, since he was a mere mortal, she asks Zeus to grant him eternal life; she failed, however, to ask for eternal youth, so Tithonus ages endlessly, until Eos transforms him into a grasshopper.
What can we learn here? That l/Love, essential, wonderful though it might be, goes nowhere if it is not tempered by Wisdom, and this is where the Devil comes in. Here we go back to Greek mythology, to the story of Persephone and Hades. As always, I recommend further inquiries on the reader's part, but to sum up, Persephone was the daughter of the goddess Demeter, Mother of the Earth. The stories vary slightly, but the important point is that Persephone is one day abducted by Hades to be his consort. Demeter becomes depressed, and, since she rules over the cycles of the Earth and all the crops, life begins to wither. It is only when a deal is struck that life returns: Persephone is to spend half the year in the Underworld with Hades (fall and winter, when Demeter is sad) and half the year above (spring and summer, when Demeter is with her daughter).
|The return of Persephone, by Frederic Leighton|
Persephone is astrologically linked to Virgo the maiden (with Demeter being associated with Taurus, ruling the cycles of the Earth). It is only after she is abducted into Hades (Scorpio) that she can move on to complete the yin cycle with Capricorn (material realization) and Pisces (mystical transcendence). Of course, this myth works in many layers, but one of the more important lessons is that it is necessary for a young wo/man to come into contact with the Devil before fulfilling his/her destiny/role. Keeping in mind that Cancer represents the Dark Night of the Soul and that the goat - Capricorn - is frequently associated with the Devil, we see our your virgin surrounded by all this darkness. It is no coincidence that the loss of virginity is so much more traumatic for women - they are confronting a Devil, whereas for a man this is usually seem as a positive step into adult manhood. This does not mean, of course, that men do not have to confront their own demons, but it has to be more of a conscious move on their part.*
This loss of contact with our shadow side has been the rule for many centuries, though you wouldn't get a retort from me if you were to say that we're headed to a more balanced attitude towards the masculine and the feminine (sadly, it's been a rough ride). One of the reasons women have been seen as inferior or as spawn of the devil is exactly because they tend to be much more in touch with their shadow side, which scares the living hell out of men who are caught up in their hubris. The first mistake made by Man was not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (the knowledge of the balance between yin and yang handed to a male human by a snake, another form of the Devil - the picture is getting quite clear here), as the elitists who co-opted monotheistic religious mythology would have you believe, but to assume that he is superior to other forms of life (known as hubris) - a message carefully added to the Bible by said elitists.
|The appropriately named Titanic|
Taken to the extreme, Man sees himself not only as superior to other forms of life, but sometimes even as an equal of the gods. The gods, however, in their w/Wisdom, have always warned us that we are not on par with them (any archetype - i.e. god - necessarily loses something when it becomes manifest in consensus reality) - a lesson we learned harshly when Zeus split formerly androgynous Man in two. This is what happens when Man relies too much on the masculine principles of rationality and action, while sensitivity and patience sit on the sideline. We must, therefore, come face to face with the Devil, often a traumatic experience exactly because we deny the Devil in us, before we are to make any leeway on the path to Godhood. Sadly, Man much prefers the sweet red apple to the bitter green apple.
If you'll consider the points made in the first part of the series, it's high time we stopped seeing the Devil as something to avoid and started instead to integrate the Devil with Jesus, the inner demon with the inner saint. When we fail to do this, when we project our Devils onto other people or even onto fictional characters (the Joker and Bane are obvious, recent fodders), the Devil feels neglected, and comes out in a wholly unhealthful way, to put it mildly. If we were to take the social memory of Earth into a therapist's office, there would be much to be said about the Earth learning to consciously integrate the shadow side it has long neglected and which keeps manifesting through unconscious outlets. We must remember that Prometheus gave us fire, that is l/Light, l/Love, the ambition to seek Godhood, to serve this purpose, whether through oneself or through others, but not necessarily the w/Wisdom that should go with it. We must not confuse, then, knowledge, which is attained with masculine, active investigation, with w/Wisdom, which is attained with feminine, passive pondering and digestion (note that Cancer rules the stomach). While we do, great advancements in science will always be followed by terrible crimes**.
This is why it is important to see what we can learn from the Devil after it has come out, to let the memes and the ideas sink in, to integrate it so that violence and chaos are used for noble ends. Thus, we move from the goddess Aurora to the mighty oak tree. The Oak was understandably revered by the Celts as a symbol of honour, wisdom and strength. Oaks have been long associated with royalty (the Round Table is supposed to have been made of oak) - oaks are known to be frequently struck with lightning, symbolizing their access to the heavens. In my view, however, the lightning also gives us a warning: grow too tall and you'll pay the price.
The 16th trump of the Tarot, the Tower (previously discussed here), illustrates this. The main lesson in this trump is that we must be careful not to forget yin when we are out yanging. When we have not learned the lessons of the 15th trump, the Devil, we will inevitably be struck with lightning thrown by dispute-settler Zeus. Lightning also brings us back to Prometheus and our misuse of the divine Fire. There is no need to move in circles here, I believe.
This is not to say that lightning is always bad (one could argue there is no such thing). The oak tree was known to the Celts as the door to the inner planes - accessing this higher consciousness was described as "opening the oak door." The point is to remember that being struck by lightning should not be seen as a failure, but rather as a contact with something higher trying to tell us something.
This brings us back to the recent tragic events. It is clear, in both the events of the crimes and the popular/media response, that lightning still causes us to cower in fear. The mainstream media's reporting has been thoroughly superficial, and the alternative seems to be focusing on all the wrong issues (covered here by Chris Knowles). Both analyse these events with a complete lack of l/Love, that is, sending messages of fear (remember that "the only thing to be feared is fear itself). The former describes the murderers as deranged lunatics who could strike anywhere at any time, while the latter describe them as pawns of a sinister group who could strike anywhere at any time. While both pretend to be applying an investigative lens to the tragedies, we clearly see that the focus is truly elsewhere. The bread crumbs lead us to the extreme right and the gun lobby, but the media are clearly still busy discussing the finer points of bread crumb analysis.
While takes us to Milwaukee, the third act in this drama. The origin of the city's name is contested, but there are clear associations to "a beautiful land," "a land by the river," and a "council place." What we can learn here, then, is that we must once again remember to conciliate solid earth with liquid water, cold facts with warm intuition. What we choose to do instead is to bury our heads in the sand. Sadly, this is not to access what might lie underneath, but simply to avoid being struck by lightning.
|Milwaukee, complete with phallic Tower and passive water|
Wisdom without l/Love (distrusting the consensus, but in fear) leads nowhere, and neither does l/Love without w/Wisdom (passionately defending an unresearched point of view). The Devil is trying to teach us to heed both, but to little avail. Free yourself, then, from the bonds of fear. Look the Devil in the eye, and hear what he has to say. We must all remember that there is indeed a Devil, both inside and out, but this only means that the Devil is a part of ourselves and a part of the world. The key word missing here is responsibility, the concept that will be explored in the third part of the series. For a brief preview of the ideas, check this out.
One final look through the astrological lens: the Earth is represented in the sign of Cancer, the Imum Coeli of the zodiac wheel. This 4th sign indicates the solid ground we stand on and feed from, our mother (archetypical, not necessarily literal). The opposite sign is that of Capricorn, and it is related, as I've mentioned to the Devil. It is outer achievement and material action (contrary to the emotional digestion of Cancer), the father that kicks us out of the house so that we can make something of ourselves. If the Earth is your mother, don't forget the Devil is your daddy.
* I think this would be a good moment to remind the reader that the discussion here is always in terms of archetypes and symbols, never about generalizations about real people. All people go through through the same archetypal journeys, regardless of whether they are men or women. We must always keep in mind that dreaming of a black man attacking you in your dreams does not mean you are a racist underneath - black is a colour associated with shadows, and this is actually part of the reason why the African peoples were so demonised.
** Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley (it had to be written by a woman) is just such a warning: when Dr. Frankenstein tries to imitate the gods and create a new type of being (and he does - are we not all Creators?), but neglects to nurture the creature (that is, forgot the Cancer step that comes after Geminian science), which ends, naturally, in terrible tragedy. Some will try to spin it as some sort of Luddite propaganda, but this is just fear playing its usual part. A more detailed analysis is to come.