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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Eternal Return

My little christmas tree to you.        
So I´m a little late…I got caught up in rushing around before Christmas…but I´m in time to wish you a Happy New Year!

I had an unusual Christmas this year.  It was very nice, with excellent foods, and good company but it wasn´t Christmassy... There was no going down the pub to see faces you haven´t seen for a minimum of a year or decade, and in Catalunya cranberry sauce is unheard of. No mistletoe, no sitting around with the ceremony of who opens which present when, and shockingly not even a hint of drunkenness…I did slurr my words, but it was more due to the eternal struggle with foreign languages.

Mircea Eliade writes that all cultures have ceremonies that allow the individual to leave his daily life, if only momentarily, to enter into “that world” where all is exactly the same as the last time, where time stops ticking, all becomes eternal. It is an ethereal, sacred place where the spirit is renewed, the old is thrown out, and the experience gives a sort of reset. Like taking the battery out of the back of your Blackberry.

It is the same place maybe that Henri Corbin talks about, where the material is spiritualised and the spirit is materialised.

I am sure that we have all felt this, when a certain date of the year we do exactly the same as the last time, as the time before that, since we can remember. When we forget ourselves and in so doing re-find ourselves. For, why else would Catalans get so excited about eating a soup for their Xmas meal? And how come stuffing takes you back to when you were a child and Uncle Maurice said that if you imagine strong enough, stuffing tastes of whatever you want it to? And it did. And it does. It tastes of Christmas, it tastes of a connection with my ageless self that I renew through stuffing ceremonies every year.

And this year I didn´t get it through food. I didn´t manage to get into that agelessness on Xmas day where all is the same, where the brain gives way to the heart. Xmas day isn´t a day I expect to do a bit of graffiti with Enric´s grandchildren. But I did (and I loved it...).

But do not fret, I did get that feeling, I was transported back to being my ageless musical self, playing carols with Dan the Man. It is something that as a child and teenager I have done every year, and since have listened to nearly every year. And god-damn, though they are not exactly top of the pops, I love ‘em! They give me the same emotions as when I was me before. They take me half way to that place.

On Xmas day I listened to a TV programme talking about the symbology of Father Christmas. I found it super interesting and want to share it.

Papa Noel was originally dressed in green, because he represented being connected with the earth, with nature, with trees. He is helped by little elves, or tree dwellers, who if you are worthy, if you have worked on yourself, give gifts. The programme talked of gifts as in talents, such as the gift of creativity. If you passed through the material darkness with dignity, with connection to the light of being, then you were given more gifts-talents.

Santa Claus, being attached-connected in this way to the heavens by a very fine golden thread (in Norse mythology), descends from the heavens down through the chimney, which the programme mentioned is related with the spinal cord, with the chakras. He tumbles down to the root chakra and if you have been good, he leaves gifts under the tree.

Here the tree is a symbol of life. We humans are suspended between the roots that go into the lower worlds and the branches that reach up to the higher worlds. The lower world is represented by black, the chaos of material, the instinctual world, and we grow organically up towards the white of the heavens, where there is the possibility of reaching an entelechial connection with the stars (with the star or angel, who sits at the top of the tree smiling angelically, even though the tree has been rammed up her flowing robes).

The tree is decorated, and in the past with candles, which I would like to think are the little lights of consciousness that help us along our individual paths to the final goal - but begs the question of how did the tree not burn down…?

If you are unworthy here in Spain, if you are a naughty and have been acting up, you receive a piece of coal, which is black and represents a regression to the world of material chaos. The smiling white angel has to wait.

But if we´ve been worthy, can the experience of connecting with the angel, be the same that Mircea Eliade and Henri Corbin speak of? Where, as Hermes Trismegistus said, chiselling in the Emerald Tablet: "That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing"?

So, you see I was very happy eating my dinner on my lap, in the privacy of our home, listening to the idea that Papa Noel too represents, in this time of the Winter Solstice, the idea of going into the dark depths with the light of our souls, to come out of the dark chaos with grace, having learnt more about ourselves, enabling us to receive gifts that allow us to live a little wiser, somewhat more universal, with more pleasing order. With each cycle let´s hope we are a little more in unison with our true selves.

Have a Great New Year.


Alchemy and Mysticism from The Hermetic Museum
Author: Heinrich Khunrath
Work: Amhitheatrum sapientae aeternae
Date: 1606

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Happy doing the things you do.

So recently Enric sent me this video ...

video


It made me think...and of course being someone to jump into the shoes, or shoe in this case, of another....I imagined myself the man with the one leg...and contemplated how would I feel at the end of the performance, seeing that I had moved an audience to tears. 

I did a theatre course a couple of years ago with our beloved teacher Jose Vásquez, titled, "Contact with the Shadow"....the idea was to go into ourselves...and through a particular difficult exercise, I realised that no matter what happens to us, even if we have all of the physical problems in the world imaginable, we are still, believe it or not, us. 

Some days I wish I could just have a rest.  But alas! I must always be with me.  No escape.  So, after the video I imagined myself, in the position of the man with one leg, and imagined how I would react (all half unconsciously - you know that internet half-in-half-out approach...) and came quickly to the conclusion that I would probably react like this:

"What the f am I doing here?....making audiences cry just cos I´m dancing with one leg....What am I here on this planet for?....What is my existence worth?....Why should I not just kill myself?..." and on and on....

The sensitive reader will discern that I had, emotionally wise, a rather difficult November.  Again.

But at that moment of hundimiento....of falling in on myself....into and far away from my imagined one legged body....a little voice came into my head.... not strong but small and gently wise....and said "You are right.  It´s no good dancing just to make an audience look at you admiringly be moved to tears"  It continued "....you would only get the satisfaction, the fulfilment you are looking for, if you danced because it is what most you wanted to do in that moment, because it is what you LOVE to do."

And I would say, humbly, that that little wise voice inside of me is actually quite wise....

I Ching says: 

  • When a man is dissatisfied with modest circumstances, he is restless and ambitious and tries to advance, not for the sake of accomplishing anything worth while, but merely in order to escape from lowliness and poverty by dint of his conduct. Once his purpose is achieved, he is certain to become arrogant and luxury-loving. Therefore blame attaches to his progress. On the other hand, a man who is good at his work is content to behave simply. He wishes to make progress in order to accomplish something. When he attains his goal, he does something worth while, and all is well. (Hexagram 10, 9 at the beginning)

Maybe this is all so simple and obvious to others, but to me it was a sort of breakthrough.  So I apologise if this would seem ridiculously simple, but I realised how important it is to listen to your heart, and do what makes you enjoy life, what makes you happy just to be.  If people see you doing it, and themselves are moved to do what their heart whispers to them, (which also makes them happy doing something, with a love of the action-result to want to show others too), well, that is just beautiful...and if no one sees, or they do but don´t applaud, well, just by having done the action itself brings the feeling of it being totally worthwhile.  Personal fulfilment is gained by simply living with a balance between the desire of our heart and the possibilities of our mind.

I would hazard a guess that what we are innately trying to acheive is Beauty.  It is what fills us with fulment.  Beauty, according to François Cheng is what manifests between yin and yang, between the femininine (in all of us) and the masculine (in all of us), between the right and left brains, between performer and audience.  Between the polarities of life manifests Beauty like an end of a rainbow.  We cannot create it....we can only do our bestest in expressing our part, in the way in which we feel most purity, most harmony with who we are, in the hope that Beauty manifests. 

In her wonderful talk Elizabeth Gilbert talks at one point about the Moors who invaded the south of Spain.  Their dancers would dance night after night, dancing, dancing....but once in a while a dancer would "click in", would tranform and in so doing would seem to float in the harmony of their movements, they would appear more than just human as if a light were shining through them...and the audience would shout "¡Olé! ¡Ole!" which was "Allah! Allah!"....the divine shining through.  And that, I guess, is Beauty.

But we cannot dance in life if we are not dancers, just to achieve what someone else really liked and got fulfilment from, and got audiences shouting "¡Olé" at them....for as Oscar Wilde put succintly "Be Yourself, everyone else is taken". 

And so I realise that I have been moved by the ballet of the two people in the video…moved to think about myself, to think about my actions, my motivations, to think about Beauty….I have been moved to write, to play with words….but I´m telling you, even with two legs, if I were to dance for you, you´d all fall about laughing.