Thread: On Fairie Story--Tolkien's ideas (and essay) about this
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Hmm...if you allow all of the different images people have come up with to express the divine or life's experiences, you have such a rich variety of color to work with. But because life is life, people keep coming up with similar themes. I am at the point in the Silmarillion where it's talking about Numenor and how some of them went to Middle Earth and taught regular pitiful normal men things, and then they would leave, and it sounded like the Numenorians were like little King Arthurs, showing up and shining a light and inspiring imitation, and then leaving. And "apostles" are supposed to do that also, and every now and then we recognize a really good one who shows up for awhile--like maybe a fabulous boss or coworker. So that's a theme, but it has a different "color" to it than the image of an apostle--who might be like a missionary, and that might carry images of all of the times prostelatizing went wrong or offended people. A Numenorian might show up and shine a light and work for the good, but will not commit the error of stepping on the toes of the culture he is visiting. So you "recover" the idea of what an apostle would be, but shhhh...don't use the word "apostle."
As to the Cross, I have long thought the Focus on that image was a mistake. The intense focus on the Suffering and Death of Jesus leads to in inescapable and not entirely incorrect notion that Christianity is the biggest Death Cult on the planet. Hence people miss the Strong Affirmation of Life that Jesus really represents. It is difficult to focus on the affirmative more Gnostic principles of Christianity when one is wallowing in all the Suffering. In Buddhist thought, the first principle: All life is Suffering --is an existential principle. Not to be focussed on in intense scrutiny, but to learn detachment from and open oneself up to the Mysteries of the Universe. This notion is also found in Gnostic Christianity, and if you look really, really hard at the Gospels still retained in the Bible you can still find traces of this idea.
I do have a fondness for Pre-Christian Celtic Crosses though. I am also fascinated by the history of the Swastika -- originally an Asian symbol of Peace and Harmony -- and it's conversion to the most Evil Symbol on the Planet. I cannot abide this imagery in the West. I had noticed that the panels on the front door of our house formed a pair of swastikas and when the opportunity came to be rid of the door a couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance. When taking my mother to the Stanford Medical clinic for breast cancer surgery, I was disgusted by all the swastikas in the architecture. I can only appreciate the original intent of the Crooked Cross when it is used by it's Asian Originaters, who are often oblivious to the symbol of Hate it has become in the rest of the World.
Okay, rant over. I feel like I need to wash my mind out now . Think Green thoughts again and return to cheerfulness.
On Aslan and the relation of the Redeemer to the Lion (and also the lamb): This was a profound connection from Mithraism (originally from 600BC Babylonia). The Lions face with it's Golden Mane represented the sun (Son of God and Sun God). But it's Cuddly Nature was also represented by the Lamb. It's these connections Lewis loved so much that leads people like me to believe that Paganism slipped past Lewis's own Watchful Dragons and color his entire Worldview. Some may accuse me of saying that Lewis was a closet Pagan. But really when it comes to Lewis and Tolkien it wasn't so "closeted". It oozes from their very pores. Though Lewis was an "apostle" of Jesus as you aptly describe, he couldn't help but really be advocating for a more Universal Pagan Christ. Particularly in the [i:2svs4vic]Chronicles of Narnia[/i:2svs4vic]. Tolkien himself, did his utmost to advocate in his fiction away from the traditional notions of Apostling (crumbs, is that a word?). Any hoo, that's all for the moment.
I read the conversation a lot of you were having over on Narniaweb regarding the guy in The Last Battle who thought he was a Tash worshipper and Aslan counted all of his work and belief as equivalent to service to himself. A lot of people on the forum seemed [i:2btfxixc]worried[/i:2btfxixc] that a non-Christian would be "let in" like that and thought that it must have been a mistake that Lewis made. I wondered for awhile why that would be a BAD thing. I mean, in the parable of the workers in the field, the owner hired people late in the day and paid them the same wages that he paid those who worked all day and the point was (I think) "Hey, I'm the Boss. I can run things however I choose, and it's really not up to you to second guess my rules. If I want to be super generous to some of my employees, that's my business, not yours." My kids try to argue with me all of the time about what our rules should be--like it's a democracy. But they don't always understand why our rules are what they are, and I do not owe it to one to explain why I decide to handle things with another the way I do. I guess that the downside of believing that God is really laid back and forgiving is that if people overestimate the degree to which God is "chilled" then we might not work as hard a we should trying to spread the gospel--and then if a lot of people go to hell it will be OUR FAULT.
ANYWAY, C. S. Lewis was a smart man, and I doubt that he got caught with his pants down. I think that he knew he was incorporating pagan elements and that he really meant to be inclusivist.
To get back to C. S. Lewis, I think he was ready to take and use ANYTHING that did not outright oppose Christian ideals. Or maybe he modified pagan ideas so that they would fit into his larger system of belief.
It doesn't require any deep analysis to chuck out the idea that Lewis was an Exclusivist. It's when we get to the other 2 notions the idea gets sticky. Now it is clear from the story of the Calormen Emeth that Lewis was Consciously an Inclusivist. A position perfectly acceptable for an Anglican or a moderate Catholic. Anglicans are sometimes lumped in with protestant churches but they are really different. The Reformation split was largely over the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity which had been a bone of contention within the Catholic Church from the beginning. The Trinity was viewed by many as akin to Paganism, i.e. polytheism. There were some positive aspects to the Reformation. It promoted a more democratic view of theology, to bring people closer to God by diminishing Church Heirarchy. But it had a much stricter interpretation of Biblical Doctrine that has given rise to Fundamentalism and a Literalistic view of the Bible.
My case is that [b:bm1966w4]subconsciously[/b:bm1966w4] Lewis (and by extension Tolkien) was more of a Universalist with Pagan Leanings. The case is a little harder to Directly make for Tolkien as he kept his views closer to his vest. In any case Lewis and Tolkien were both enraptured with Medievalism which saw Jesus as fulfilling Pagan Desires and prophesies. It was a neo-classicist approach to Greco-Roman Paganism which used the imagery to bring Magic back to a stultifying Christianity. Many Christians argue "Oh, they only used the imagery not the pagan theology". But this really begs the question, as Blake pointed out about Milton. If it was only about imagery, then Why did they find it so attractive? Wasn't there enough beauty and mystery within Christianity to begin with?
I did not know this about Blake. Must check out more about him.
As to Lewis, I don't know if liberal is quite the right word. But he and Tolkien were as enamored of pagan thought as the medievals and it clearly influenced them, their art, and their views of Christianity both consciously and unconsciously. I hope to eventually develop my ideas into a book myself . I think I have a lot of supporting evidence.
While many Know that Tolkien was also Christian; he has been given up on by Christians who recognize that his love of Faerie story has made him a Neo-Pagan Guru to many. I think that is why so many Christians reflexively cling so hard to Lewis nowadays, and try to justify away lewis's Pagan aspects. They don't want to lose him too. I'd like them to know I'm not trying to take him away. Just make him accesible to more people, by looking at his views as a whole instead of separated into discrete parts.
How do I mean this? I read a debate that Martin Luther had with Erasmus re: the degree to which salvation occurs primarily through works or faith. Erasmus seemed much more relaxed about it all. Our works matter, otherwise why does the Bible talk so much about right behavior? But Martin Luther was singular in (or at least famous for) taking the "salvation by works" ethic to its logical conclusion. Martin Luther had a mentor during that time when he was sweating out the question of his own goodness, and the mentor thought Luther needed to chillax. As if, you know, "Nobody takes any of this that [i:14mz1l5n]seriously[/i:14mz1l5n]." I learned that, through history, there have been those who are donatists and those who are catholic: [i:14mz1l5n]donatists[/i:14mz1l5n] being concerned with upholding standards and therefore separating the committed from the non-committed, and [i:14mz1l5n]catholics[/i:14mz1l5n] who believe in stretching as much as possible to be inclusivist--or as Monty Python says, "They'll take you as soon as you're warm." You know, and donatists fear that catholics will let just anyone in and then we'll end up with a whole lot of lazy people who don't even know what committment means because they grade on a curve, and we'll get a bunch of Christmas and Easter christians with a small "c" and that will be IT. And catholics fear that donatists will exclude all but the few, the proud, the Christians.
So maybe Tolkien is too catholic (small "c" for not making a big enough distinction between those who make it into the club and those who don't. In the LOTR, there are no rituals. Some characters are made stronger by enduring more adventures and trials, and there is a sense that elves are superior and so are the dunedain. They are superior by nature and also by their exposure to superior nurture, but you don't get the sense that people are being ranked for their goodness. Hmm...well, you get songs written about you if you do something great, but people don't seem to sweat it out if no songs are written about them. The hobbits are more "noble" upon returning from their adventure. Gimli definitely loves the Good, as we can see by how fiercely he worships the Lady Galadriel. Characters want to do good and their ability to be brave or strong comes from their love of the Good. But not so much worrying about burning in hell or getting an "F" in life.
Do you think that the differences in ethic between Narnia and Middle-Earth have much at all to do with their creators being Protestant or Catholic?
Maybe I only think of C. S. Lewis as being more "keen" because he wrote the [u:2xlzhz6f]Screwtape Letters[/u:2xlzhz6f], which makes one think about just what the rules [i:2xlzhz6f]are[/i:2xlzhz6f]. And in LOTR, I don't even know if there are rules, in the sense of people being judged or worried about being judged.
Your point about Tolkien’s (or Catholocism’s) supposed Mary-olotry is interesting, GB. Tolkien’s female characters are quite remote or less well-developed than all of the guy characters. Like, ’My women are on such high pedestals, I can’t see them without binoculars. It’s hard for me to really get a good enough view to accurately depict and describe them.’ However, I get the vibe that pretty much all things Elven are of the feminine domain. I mean, notice how a lot of the Elf extras in LOTR films are of ambiguous gender? Or rather, there are a lot of really beautiful men acting in Elf parts who could very easily be beautiful women because their features are so fine and thin. And the lilting sound of those languages seem feminine. Even when he’s writing about noble heroic deeds done by especially special Elves, I still think of them as having a lot of feminine traits. Well, and their patron saint Elbereth is a woman. Yavannah is their other patron saint.
I thought that Tolkien and Lewis’s friendship cooled over literary pursuits. Tolkien was perfecting and perfecting his books with ultra-fine sandpaper while Lewis was cranking out books like crazy, probably not thinking as hard about his fiction books. I thought I remembered reading that while they were giving helpful criticism to each other it kind of came out that each one kind of disrespected or failed to understand or appreciate what the other was trying to do.
These competing pulls (between inclusivity and exclusivity, lower quality and perfectionism) are reflected in scriptures. Well’maybe the OT is more focused on defining who the Israelites are as separate from the rest (donatism). But you get lots of stories of people as a whole screwing up, God wiping out some and leaving a remnant. (Noah’s Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah) Then there’s the whole ’Make disciples out of all nations’ pull.
I was thinking about this theme in terms of people imagining how well they are doing in the eyes of God, whether they think they’re dangling over the fiery pit, about to be thrown in’Santa Claus is going to give them a stocking full of coal and nothing but socks and underpants under the tree. There’s always that theme going on, you know? I don’t think atheists get out from under it either, because the same theme applies in relationships with people. ’Are we good?’ My daughter used to say, when she was really little, ’Mommy-Daddy, are you happy at me?’ Regularly checking in to see if she was doing well in our eyes and that our love and approval was assured. I thought about this a lot in one class in graduate school. It was about the Mystics of the Middle Ages’so we were reading books by people who were operating kind of outside the norm of spiritual life’In general, God is obviously ’happy at them’ because they have mystical experiences, but they aren’t necessarily getting affirmation or guidance from the traditions and groups they are in.
ANYWAY, the professor’s philosophy was not to let us students really know exactly what was required to get an ’A.’ Very much like trying to get tenure or writing your dissertation and wondering all the time whether it will be regarded as ’good enough.’ This totally happens to people trying to get tenure, and I’ve talked to wives of tenure-seeking professors who complain that their hubs are unavailable to help out much w the kids at home because they are always paranoid that they keep having to work harder and harder to ensure that they will get a thumbs up rather than a thumbs down. It was like that in this class. Graduate students like to try to get all ’A’s.’ Maybe that’s just adult or mature students. They kind of expect to get all ’A’s’ as if that is within their control and that it is all just a matter of working hard enough. I mean, in some ways this encourages people to work harder, right? But a lot of students were also full-time teachers with spouses and kids, who kind of liked to know the rules so they could budget their time. But this teacher would not let us know what the standards were.
The thing is, though, focusing on ’what’s good enough’ can take your mind off of learning, which is supposed to be why you are there. The purpose is not to attain a piece of paper with excellent grades printed on it; the purpose is to learn. Someone who cheats is trying for the degree without learning. Same with somebody who is trying to get through the program by doing the least possible amount of work. The point is, are you working with the teacher or against? It feels that way being a teacher, too. ’Do I really have to police for cheaters? Ugh.’ That’s no fun. You want students who actually want to be there who are genuinely interested in the material. Do you want a doctor taking care of you who aimed for the piece of paper? It’s a maturity thing, and doesn’t necessarily coincide with age. To be able to just relax and focus on doing your thing rather than worrying about whether some bigger entity approves of what you’re doing or not. One would like to think that if you’re sincere and you try hard that there is no reason to worry whether you are on Santa’s ’naughty’ or ’nice’ list.
ANYWAY, even though there’s the scene with Emeth in [u:unghmumb]The Last Battle[/u:unghmumb], there’s also the bit about Susan no longer being a ’friend of Narnia.’ And the [u:unghmumb]Screwtape Letters [/u:unghmumb]really uses the fear of damnation as a tool’or a listener has to remind him/herself that he is just making points using demons, not that most of us are constantly in danger of going to hell. I don’t get that same fear-of-damnation vibe from Tolkien. Maybe the world we live in will go to hell in a handbasket, but we aren’t worried about what will happen to us after death. And WE didn’t invent the frickin’ orcs. Maybe there’s Original Sin in the sense of the damage Melchor has done to the world and the muck that we have to live in sometimes, but all creatures are not blamed for a Fall.
When you mentioned Susan, I think you were touching on the similar point you were making about Tolkien. Neither of them knew how to handle adult women. Before he met Joy Gresham, Lewis seems to operate under the assumption that adult women were all into makeup and clothes and had little interest in intellectual pursuits. This all changed when he met Joy. Had he written Narnia then I think he would have changed Susan's fate. I wish I could remember where I read this, but I am fairly certain in one of his later letters Lewis himself expresses these regrets. But without that letter I have no other supporting evidence.
As to original sin: I think the sin was not necessarily mankinds. When humans encountered the ice age, they must have felt it as rejection by Mother Earth. It seemed like an "expulsion from the garden." It became necessary to discover the secrets of fire (Prometheus) and to learn from the tree of knowledge. And you are right' we are all seeking each other's and Nature's Approval. Ritual evolved out of seeking the approval of the spirits of the Eaten into seeking the approval of the Gods, to finally the approval of God. And you are Soooo Right in pointing out how this stultified into organized religion in all it's exclusivity. Though I think exclusivity arose with Monotheism. The secret hand shakes and such arose as secret societies were formed in response to The Church and it's exclusive rule.
Tolkien and Lewis were both seriously conflicted by suffering (if only they had turned to Buddhism ). Their own suffering and others. Their are a number of reasons of the cooling of their close friendship (what friendships don't endure such trials). Theology was only one reason, and by most indications, not necessarily the primary one. After Lewis met Joy, he would insist on bringing her to Inkling meetings (a no-no) and I think Tolkien resented jealously her coming between him and Lewis. And as you say, there were the disputes over literary pursuits. I think people may make a bit too much of all these disputes as it seems they still maintained a relationship though it was rockier.
Your thoughts on Tolkien and the feminine echo my own. As I said about Lewis, Tolkien was unsure of how to deal with women (that crusty bachelor he). But he still saw the necessity of balance in Faerieland. It took Rowling ultimately to achieve the goal he and Lewis sought. Just as the Medievals thought Christ fulfilled Pagan Desires, so does the Feminine fulfill Christian Desires.
Uuuhh!! Not sure where to go from here so I'll stop for now .
Or maybe just nuisance and irritation and pleasure. I love how the Hobbit has so much about Bilbo being scared or uncomfortable and wishing he were at home frying bacon and hearing the tea kettle begin to sing. It makes me want to make some toast and jam.
Tolkien is making a point regarding the "willing suspension of disbelief" as something adults do when condescending to something "childish." I hadn't quite thought of it in that way before. Rather, Tolkien suggests, one willingly [u:2e53eppo]believes[/u:2e53eppo] in the story itself as a "subcreation." A secondary aspect of the primary world. Terence McKenna is fond of discussing the "Imaginal Realm;" a very real place that is adjunct to the so-called primary or real world. I am particularly fond of this notion, and I see that McKenna and Tolkien are largely talking about the same thing. Hence-forth I shall no longer say that I am "suspending disbelief." Rather, I shall indicate by my enjoyment of a fantastic piece of fiction, that I am a willing particapant in it's reality.
This is directly applicable to discussions of whether places like Middle-Earth and Narnia are actually "real" places that one could visit. There is the one notion that through the parallel worlds theory of physics (which I believe is correct) all possible worlds exist in infinite multiple universes. But there is also a "hidden" realm directly connected to our own universe. A realm our imaginations inhabit, and wherein, as Tolkien and McKenna suggest, reside other very real entities. These could be Nature Spirits unshackled from their own physical restraints, Jungian archetypes given form and free reign to follow their own independent desires, extraterrestrials attempting to communicate across time and space through the direct link of the imaginal realm, or even independent entities that only exist in the imaginal realm yet occasionally attempt to break through into the "real" world such as Gods and Goddesses or Demons and Angelic beings or "fairy" creatures unconnected to physical Nature. The multiverse of possibilities breaks wide open with such a worldview as Tolkien's and McKenna's and I dare say CSLewis's too.
It may very well be real in the sense that it resembles a place or a reality that we will all experience some day and that we are in a sense experiencing now. I mean, the Bible is supposed to represent "revealed" truth. God speaking to people who then tell stories about God and then these are written down. But who says that God can't also play "muse" to the poets and "reveal" a "reality" through them? Milton writes as though this is true. I mean he explicitly calls upon the divine Muse meaning that the Muse is the Holy Spirit who will inspire his imagination. Dante at least acts as though his hell, purgatory, and paradise are realities that have been revealed to him in a dream. AND...most writers who reveal their methods say that they don't feel as though they are creating or producing; they feel rather that they are [i:2u6o1hqs]listening[/i:2u6o1hqs] or [i:2u6o1hqs]discovering[/i:2u6o1hqs] or basically taking dictation from this source that communicates through them.Anne Lamott describes it as holding the lantern while "the kid" digs for "the stuff." "The kid" is the part of the artist who plays and puts the rational mind to sleep a little bit. Stephen King talks about "the boys in the basement" who do all of his work. Or he's got this muse who is ugly and smokes a cigar and who is in control. He can beg him or encourage him. Or rather he has to "show up" at the desk on a regular basis in order to make it more likely that he will be there to catch what his muse or his "boys in the basement" come up with.
I haven't read McKenna, so i don't know if this is the mechanism he is talking about at all. It probably is not. But maybe there's a bridge to make to connect them.
I started by saying: I think I disagree with Tolkien that Art (Fantasy) is to be distinguished from Dreaming or Madness/ Hallucination. I imagine that if he and McKenna could converse Tolkien might be persuaded otherwise. Fantasy is created from the imagination with conscious (but also [b:3d18ccby]subconscious[/b:3d18ccby]) intent. Dreaming and Hallucination are expressions of the subconscious imagination, considered spontaneous and uncontrollable. Yet Dreaming and Hallucination may be entered into with [b:3d18ccby]full awareness[/b:3d18ccby] (consciousness), as through Lucid Dreaming, and as through paying attention to the distinction between the hallucinatory image and the "Real" World upon which it is superimposed. So Fantasy and Dreaming/Hallucination are both expressions of the "imaginal realm" in their own right.
So I think Tolkien might come into agreement on this if only the opportunity existed to converse with him.
And to add to this in light of your last post: Visions of the Prophets, often considered Madmen can be seen then as messages from this other "hidden" realm. And the Muse, related to Sophia (the personification of Divine Wisdom) by the Gnostics, is the ambassador to Poets and Alchemists, Artists and Musicians from this other realm. Inspiring us to ever greater heights of Creation in the hope of Transformation of the "Real World" into a realm wherein the imagination becomes real and the real becomes the imagination.
Yeah, I know it's a little paradoxical. But if you "muse" upon this for a while I guarantee it will all make sense. Your intellectual instincts are generally unerring Otto's World.
P.S. McKenna speculates on the nature of the mechanism as you describe -- but he also delves into notions of the Shamanistic ingestion of psychotrropic substances and the role of media, traditional (art, poetry, music, books) and electronic (TV, the Internet) as a kind of Feedback loop that is both inspired by and inspires The Muse.
You know, and think about some of the imaginary products Stephen King comes up with, and how would you like to really BE in one of his books? (whip out the wand) [i:39l374ga]Ridiculous![/i:39l374ga]
Indeed the imaginal realm isn't all flower fairies and super-kittens. One really needs to be prepared to delve into those regions ( beyond merely reading about them). But in the Realm of Fairy (the same place really) , We have as much power as any entities we might find there. The Nightmare on Elm Street movies are one of the few horror films I can tolerate. It's really all about dreaming and finding your dream powers. Sort of like...erm...Exactly like Neo in the Matrix. Once we realize we're in the "matrix" we can access all our hidden power. The trick is being aware of which "realm" one is actually engaging when one is immersed.
One way to be prepared to face your nightmares is a mirror meditation. After a while the image of your face begins to morph (and you will often see your "aura" too). First ones face will shift through all sorts of horrid forms as various "dark" aspects of the self are revealed. If you don't allow yourself to become frightened (just keep repeating"it's all in my head" and keep watching, all your inner demons melt away. Everything becomes brighter, your aura shines like a halo and the Angelic faces within show themselves. Well there is a bit more to this I should tell you before trying it. I actually hadn't planned to pass on these practical techniques just yet. That's what I get for writing in this state of mind. Don't try this without further information. It can be a very frightening experience to the unprepared, but it [b:qz5slbnj]works[/b:qz5slbnj]. No matter what, once accomplished your nightmares may still occur--but they are no longer frightening. The illusion has been stripped away. You see that it is only various aspects of the Self.
Anyway,sorry for veering off into this--but they were all right on the Dawn Treader once they realized the truth of this.
Yeeesh....see what groggy gets me. I'll talk to you later before I dig myself in deeper.
P.S.These things are so "entangled" as Tolkien might say, I am not sure it is entirely possible to separate out what belongs in the Feminism thread.
His points are so apt. I recall the BBC versions of Narnia. They reminded me of puppet shows and pantomime, taking me right out of the story. It was interesting to note that Tolkien felt similarly about such things. I think Tolkien would have really liked how TLOTR films turned out -- no "bufoonery" or "pantomime." And Peter Jackson truly resolved the distinctions between "Drama" and "Fantasy" as Tolkien described them. Truly we have now come to the point of "Faerian Drama" as Tolkien calls it. Man, I wish he had been alive to see this dream fulfilled.
I lost my stride due to events happening here so I felt guilty really delving in. So I just started lurking.
I HAVE been thinking of your points about chivalry and the sacred feminine and paganism and such. I've been dabbling around reading in Lewis's space trilogy and there's so much in it about proper order and differences in the sexes and planetary influences and such.
Nothing you did though.
And what were you talking about with the mirror meditation? Every once in awhile I'll come across a person who knows about something--a form of prayer or worship, or some knowledge from the Eastern World, like the value of this or that herb, or this or that pressure point to achieve xyz, and it really does sound like magic, like we may as well be in Harry Potter's world.
I first learned of the use of the mirror in meditation through Carlos Castaneda, the Trickster himself. His works purported to be an anthropological study of Huichol Shamanism from the Sonoran desert in Mexico. The "anthropological" aspects of his works have been largely debunked....in part by real Huichol "Indians." But this just makes his works more relevant in a fashion. Castaneda was big on the whole tricking the mind thing. He fits neatly into the notion of the Trickster God, best known as Loki (from Nordic mythology) or Coyote (from real Native American shamanism). I think most of Castaneda's work is syncretic--combining Eastern practical traditions with Native American practical traditions. I may talk more about his works later.
Anyway, I'm going to move on to the mirror meditation now. In Casteneda's book, he (under the watchful eye of his mentor) places a mirror just under the surface of the water in a pond and begins to meditate. After a while his face morphs into something "demonic." The apparent entity on the other side of the glass begins to struggle to try and break through. In true Yoda fashion, his mentor steps in and stops the process, admonishing his student for losing control.
To be continued:
I had reached a roadblock in my practice. I couldn't afford a teacher to show me how to do it right. So I was inspired to use our large bathroom mirror to aid my Chi Gong meditations. Standing in a medium horse stance, feet firmly rooted, breathing from just below my navel, in through the nose and out through the mouth, (thanks Mr Miyagi ) tip of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth on the outbreath, whole tongue pressed aginst the roof of the mouth on the in breath, (sometimes it is good to do a tongue drop while breathing if the energy gets stuck), I began. The effect was nearly instantaneous. I rapidly felt the Chi unwinding up my back and focussed, quickly dropping the energy down my front. I felt it pass down my torso and spiral down my legs corkscrewing into the Earth firmly grounding me.
The visual effects soon followed as the "third eye" opened wide. I could see my aura shifting and glowing like the northern lights (though the colour was more uniform). As I paid attention to my facial features they began to shift and change. All of a sudden I was seeing demonic faces,then hag like, then piglike. I remembered my Jungian readings and told myself these were just aspects of my unconscious mind. It worked. Calmly maintaining my breathing, I watched as my morphing face shifted now to more symmetrical features becoming at once prettier and more majestic. My aura changed colour and as I felt my crown chakra opening up the whole room was full of light and I felt the "heavenly" energies flowing down into me, through me, to rest in the Earth.
To be continued:
Unfortunately, life has a way of interrupting regular practice. Depression and Physical pain return, making it harder to return to practice. I no longer have such a large mirror. But whenever I feel good enough, I begin my practices again and I feel better until life interrupts again. (I think I Know now why so many seek the ascetic monastic lifestyle. So they can continue practice unhindered by the constraints of modern work habits and family). But for me family, friends and Earthly Pleasures are just as important, and I have grown to accept the cyclical nature of life--it's highs and it's lows.
Before I conclude, I know I have mentioned that occasionally Vicodin is better than meditation at relieving pain. Now that I have explained more fully some of my practices I can more accurately formulate that statement. Vicodin (and other pain relievers) can make one temporarily feel well enough to begin practice again--until one is called back to "reality" by life's obligations and love of family. This may be part of the reason Jesus admonished those who were attached to their families (at least in some texts). My perspective suggests that the Gnostics view of Jesus' "Mystery Teachings" may be more accurate than the orthodox view, though there is no way one can conclusively "prove" such a thing.
P.S. I am thinking about describing a current three-way debate regarding the Trnity, Jesus' Divinity, and monism. But I will save that for later and post it on the Feminine thread when I get around to it. I am curious as to your thoughts on the matter, but like I said--I may save that for tomorrow.
Ah, the old Individual vs. The Group chestnut. So there is danger, when believers have direct experiences of God, because some of those experiences may sound different than what is currently in scripture, and so how do we know that those experiences come from GOD and not from some mischievous spirit or the person's own crazy imagination? And we must preserve some kind of integrity as a group so that we can hold ourselves together as a group and define ourselves to others. But then, wasn't it personal experience when Jacob wrestled with the angel or when Moses heard the voice from the burning bush, or when Paul had that life-changing experience on the way to Capernum? And then when we teach people to pray, what do we tell them to listen to? The answers they get or the little nudges they feel are only legit if they resemble what has already been revealed up to the point when the Bible was compiled as a single authorized body of scripture? Can't really resolve that one at all. Because even the Church itself evolves over time. Who is to say how God is allowed to speak to people? But then, you can get all kinds of craziness going if people really start praying and honestly start hearing answers that are fairly direct.
Anyway, GB. I don't have much to say about it, but I wanted you to know that I am reading the book.
Have you gotten your copy of [u:2obaswo5]Discarded Image [/u:2obaswo5]yet?
When you say "three way" do you mean getting some of the Narnia people involved? And I always need help and reminding about how this connects to Tolkien.
So I live in the Northwestern U. S. right now--the Seattle area, to be more precise--and I have only been here now for three years, so I still feel like a newcomer who is trying to get to know the culture. This is a mecca for more spiritual, "woo woo" cures and practices. I like to try to jump in and experience the culture, wherever we live, and it just so happens that I got a couple of different mystery ailments soon after moving here, so that I have had reason to sample some of the more hippy-ish of the healing arts. I had my first ever bone-crunching "adjustment" series because one of my ribs popped out of its socket in my sternum. This showed up on an x-ray I had because it hurt a LOT but really felt kind of like pneumonia. Anyway, I got referred to an AWESOME doctor who is also certified in...damn my Alzheimer's...osteopathy? She cracked EVERYTHING. It was scary and awesome and eye-opening and shocking. She could have killed me by snapping my neck around like they do in spy movies, but she didn't. My hub is a doctor, so you'd think we'd know all about this stuff, but nope. It's kind of non-traditional. And then I got another mystery ailment that has no diagnosis so far but which entails feeling like s$^&# a lot of the time. So I'm trying [i:24zklfw9]everything[/i:24zklfw9] I can think of as long as it doesn't seem [i:24zklfw9]too[/i:24zklfw9] "woo woo." And I am in the perfect geographical spot to dive into the smorgasbord of oriental healing arts. So I've tried yoga and meditation and acupressure. No needles yet. And I haven't done meditation seriously enough or consistently enough to be really good at it.
Anyway, so a lot of the things you mention, GB, are new ideas to me that I have only encountered recently, and which I would not have given credence to before being driven to it by pain and suffering. John Kabat-Zinn is my favorite guy right now. Don't tell my husband, but I'm in love with him. And he seems totally Jesus-y. Not beard-and-sandals Jesus-y, but
oh crap. gotta go. back in a sec.
I saw John Kabat-Zinn on Bill Moyers' series [u:30jy9wcd]Healing and the Mind[/u:30jy9wcd]. and there he was, crouching down next to people who were suffering from chronic pain (from cancer or injuries or other illnesses) coaching them through little bouts of pain to be with them and help them through it. He gets the patients that nobody else can heal or help, and they're at the point where it's just too bad...they have to live with whatever pain they have, and he helps them reduce their levels of pain and learn to live with it with equanimity. He didn't exactly lay hands on people and make all of their suffering go away, but you could tell from the video that he totally cares about his patients and that he can teach them ways of coping that really do give them some peace and help.
And it can be expanded from just physical pain and suffering, to any situation you're in that you just HATE and want badly to get out of but you can't. One aspect of being in that state is that when you HATE something but you're IN it anyway, the natural tendency is to struggle and fight and try to change the unchangeable, but doing it like a gerbil running in a wheel, getting tired out and going nowhere. [I'm not explaining this to you, GB, but to anyone else reading it, because I wonder how many people understand this stuff or have any direct exposure to it.]
I've been a church person for um...about 25 years...going on purpose by my own volition and not because my parents made me. Being in that mode for 25 years. And I've never really gotten good at praying. It's a dead-end for me. You're supposed to just DO it and it will get better over time. And all things of this type are learned by DOING and not reading about it. But there does not seem to be much guidance available. I did find a great book called [u:30jy9wcd]A Celebration of Discipline [/u:30jy9wcd]by Richard Foster that talks a lot about prayer and other disciplines (such as meditation and fasting and service) which you grow over time simply by DOING them over and over and over. It's just like what they tell writers to do: you have to sit your butt in your chair every damn day and WRITE, whether you feel like it or not. The payoff comes from doing it over and over repeatedly, longterm, through practice. And there's no guarantee that the practice will be good or worthwhile on any individual day even when you've gotten good at it. Anyway, Richard Foster is a Quaker, and apparently in that tradition there is a lot of silence in their meetings and people just SIT and LISTEN and WAIT for some prompting from God. They do it all of the time and it is natural. I think if I did it I would be kind of creeped out at first. Or I would have been creeped out 20 years ago. Not that anyone needs another book recommendation, but Richard Foster is also awesome (in his books) at teaching about church history almost from an experiential point of view. Like he understands what it feels like to fast for 40 days. Some of the more "woo woo" things in the Bible he has actually done or been with people who do it. Like healing by laying on hands, or praying hard for something, or asking for direct guidance from God.
The reason why I mention Richard Foster is to say that in the Christian tradition, at least the one I am immersed in, you read about a lot of "woo woo" practices in the Bible, but almost nobody today actually does any of those things. Or you can go through your whole life and never meet anybody who does any of those things, so that it seems that they only did those things right after Jesus' life and resurrection was "fresh" and that those things don't happen for the rest of us mere mortals, even though it kind of implies that it IS supposed to happen for us too.
So there is SOME tradition of people really doing private practices that change their consciousness, their lives, their perceptions, their abilities...whatever. But it's really secret in the mainstream, and you only occasionally meet people who do any of those things and you wonder how they ever picked it up.
On the other hand, Buddhism tells you how to do it and helps you with all of these funky ways of breathing and imagining pathways of energy and such. Richard Foster is the only Christian I know of who comes close do doing anything like that--explaining how to do these practices. I don't know how much of it is a placebo effect of tricking your mind into healing your body, or how much of it is purely physical. A friend of mine had a dog with cancer and took the dog to an accupuncturist, and the dog totally perked up. Amazing. That takes the placebo variable out of the equation, because the dog had no idea what was happening [other than getting a special new kind of attention, I guess]. So it must not be [i:3v83zbop]all[/i:3v83zbop] about tricking your mind into healing itself.
Hmm....well, I've already admitted that I'm pretty much a universalist. I say that if it looks like a duck and acts like a duck and sounds like a duck, then it's a duck. And if you take Jesus's main commandment as the keystone element: Love God as much as you are able, and love your neighbor as you love yourself--then Buddhism seems to fit with the program just fine. They just have a lot more under the belt studying ways of calming down the mind and body. What are the 5 main principles? Non-striving, non-judging, ...can't remember the other three..."with intention"--that's a phrase that comes up a lot--good intentions...I'm not sure that there's any good reason to burn a Buddhist at the stake for heresy. People working as hard as they can to be more loving, assuming that a good part of "loving" involves having a lot of self-awareness and self-discipline an inner peace. Equanimity and Magnanimity. What's to argue with that?
Man, what a sermon. I'm going to pick up my soap box, and leave the park now. Sorry about that diversion.
This leads to a form of monism (there are many). The debate on Narniaweb started when a Real Monotheist claimed that the Trinity was polytheistic and that Jesus couldn't be Divine. The Black Glove responded with a halfway decent argument about the Trinity being 3 into 1, i.e. Many into One. All equally divine. I of course took the position that we All are Divine and that TBG was arguing for a form of Monism (as I was also) rather than Monotheism. Hence a three-way debate that echoed the very debates at the dawn of Christianity. Arianism, Catholicism, and Gnosticism. How is this related to Tolkien? Other than the fact he was a Christian?
Well this really is the heart of the matter. Tolkien and Lewis's works really border on Universalism. And different Christians recognize this with different degrees. A lot of the folks at Narniaweb are very well intentioned but struggle with resolving the Pagan aspects. "No it can't be" some cry. "Lewis didn't really mean it. It's all just for art's sake." Other, more doctrinaire and "right-wing," Christians recognize all too well the Pagan aspects of Lewis and Tolkien. So much so, That they are convinced that Lewis and Tolkien are part of The Satanic Masonic Conspiracy to control mankind and seduce their children--mentally and sexually . It's amusing and yet very sad at the same time that some are so frightened by other peoples theological and philosophical ideas. They little recognize that their own religion contains many aspects that are shared with Paganism. Only more orthodox Jews and Muslims, (and the few non-trinitarian Christians) are truly Monotheistic. Christianity is, to varying degrees, Monistic, as is Paganism. Even Lewis believed that a Pagan was closer to Christianity than modern Atheism (one of the points that so raises the ire of "Fundamentalists." So I suppose this little side-track really does belong on this thread.
I'll need to get back to you on the principles of Buddhism after a quick refresher of what they are . It's been a little while since I studied Buddhism.
I just read a little chunk that said that the gnostics' definition or concept of "God" was one that was bigger than the "God" who was the character of "creator" in the Creation Story.
Now here's me running off with all of the implications of this idea: The Creator is smaller, like an angel below the real "God" in rank, and he jealously guards knowledge from Adam and Eve and does not want them to obtain it, hence the story of the apple-biting tragedy in the Garden of Eden. In this view, the Snake is really the hero and he is telling Eve the truth about the apple (we'll call it an apple for convenience, but we don't know what fruit it was). And the only reason why Adam and Eve get punished is because Creator is really mad that they got this access to knowledge and he doesn't want them to obtain immortality as well, so he prevents them from eating anything off of the Tree of Life. But the real "God" wouldn't do that. The reason why God in the early part of the OT seems so babyish and mean and prone to smiting people and drowning them and such is because he isn't the real one. <--Okay, that was just me running with that idea of there being a Creator who is a different lower being than the ultimate source of everything. Like mistaking Elbereth for Iluvatar.
But I actually did read that, yes? The gnostics believed that the Creator character in Genesis is not the real God--the ultimate last biggest one--and they thought that the church hierarchy or official church was following the lesser Creator god and not the Ultimate last and biggest one, and so the church was in the error of following a false idol, so to speak. They didn't have the real one, and so the gnostics did not have to follow the rules of the church because they were above them.
I mean, I think that a lot of us think this way anyway and don't realize it, but I was surprised to see that anyone ever really said it out loud like that.
Even in re-reading the Gnostic Gospels I read in small chunks too, because it takes time to absorb the information. I was pleased at how much I remembered and surprised at the things I had forgotten .
Oh, considering about your point on Elbereth and Illuvatar; it seems that Tolkien was thinking along Gnostic lines.
Tolkien originally came up with this delightful story in September 1925 as a means to comfort his son Michael when Michael lost his little toy dog whilst they were on holiday. Tolkien later revised, rewrote and illustrated the story into it's current form hoping to have it published circa 1937. It was finally published in 1998
It is particularly noteworthy for this thread due to the introduction written by the publisher. The publisher notes that Tolkien wrote this book while "'...still influenced by the convention that 'fairy stories' are naturally directed to children.'" He later regretted having in any way "written down" to his children
In Tolkien's Fairy Story essay (1939) he criticized the "flower and butterfly minuteness" of most depictions of Fairy Creatures at the time. The introduction to [i:17fdouxe][b:17fdouxe]Roverandom[/b:17fdouxe][/i:17fdouxe] verifies that Tolkien was engaged in a reclamation--or restoration if you will--of the original power of myth.
In other words, Tolkien was instrumental in beginning the important work of restoring the gods and beings of ancient mythology back to their eminent stature--before they were diminutized by the advent of Christianity. Many of the beings in European (from Germanic to Irish) folk and fairy tales had been "shrunk." Tall Elves had become tiny Leprechauns and Fairies. The Goddess became the Fairy Queen.
Tolkien, through his life's work, was attempting to restore gravitas to the world of Fairy and return Elves to their rightful size. In essence he was engaged in "the Archaic Revival." Though C.S. Lewis's [i:17fdouxe][b:17fdouxe]The Chronicles of Narnia[/b:17fdouxe][/i:17fdouxe] were books directed at youth, they also contributed big time to the Neo-Pagan Renaissance of the 1960's up through today. Which (as I have noted previously) is ironic for a pair of writers who were Christian.
Yet there can be little doubt in the importance of the role played by Tolkien and Lewis in establishing the modern Neo-Pagan movement. Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca by themselves would have garnered little attention. It was the immense popularity of these Fictions by Tolkien and Lewis that propelled the interest of millions the world over. Even Starhawk (a prominent Wiccan) credits Lewis and Tolkien for sparking her interest in Paganism.