David – Chapter 5

February 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

“And Solomon was heir to David. And he said, ‘O ye people, we have been taught the language of birds; and we have everything bestowed upon us. This indeed is G-d’s mainfest grace.’ – Quran 27:17

Pray, Read, Read, Read, Re-Read, Work and Discover. It’s a motto well taken to heart, and in practice it provides the most sure path to the crux of the Mystery.

On a recent post a kind Italian alchemist provided some invaluable advice on the Art which I would invite everyone to explore – Alchemy is the most ancient Art, where Mother Nature acts and we, humble humans, do not know why and how.”

In his explanation he presents the Path as a journey through an Enchanted Wood, and, as most of us can recall from stories we’ve heard or read, in such a Wood we are often met with illusions that hearken to our hidden desires.  It’s important to remember, as the Tibetans teach, that the gods are given long life and great pleasure, but they are still subject to the cycle of death and rebirth. It is only those granted the Grace of True Knowledge that step outside of the cycle.

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”

– Matthew 1:11

What ever you wish can be yours, for a price, in the Enchanted Wood, and many have stumbled on their walk in stopping too soon before they reach the Fountain of Diana. In Chapter 5 Dennis has laid out the symbols of the Great Work, an array of animals, flowers, metals and signs that encode the Process of the Art. With such a profusion of ambiguity it is tempting to put our own interpretations on the meanings that these markers point to. In the long history of the Art this has lead many to make great discoveries in the material world, through missteps on the Path they have applied the Hermetic Wisdom to inferior arts and found that even a fragment of the Mirror of the Microcosm can reflect the Great Work and they have attained stations in the World  worthy of their mastery of these small reflections, but Alchemy is the Art of the Philosophers. As the Kohelet says, “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

“Mercury with his feathered Head-gear, his Helmet, his Winged sandals and Caduceus, flings himself through the Trap-door of the Heavens, cleaves the Airy Void, alights nimbly on the Earth and throws at Threeston’s Feet the three Hatchets, and says to him: “Thou hast bawled long enough to have a Drink; thy Prayers have been granted by Jupiter. See which of these three is thy Hatchet and take it off.”

Threeston picks up the gold Hatchet; he looks at it and finds it very heavy, then he says to Mercury: “By my Soul, this is none of mine; I’ll ha’ nought to do w’it.”

He does the same thing with the silver Hatchet, and says: “This is not it either; you may have it.”

Then he takes up the wooden Hatchet. He examines it at the End of the Handle: on that he recognises his Mark, and quite leaping for Joy, like a Fox who finds some Hens astray, and grinning from the very Tip of his Nose, cries out: “By’r Lakin, this here was mine. If you will leave that for me, I will sacrifice to you a big Pot of Milk quite full, covered with beautiful Strorberries, next Ides (that is the fifteenth) of May.”

“My good Fellow,” said Mercury, “I leave it for thee; take it; and because thou hast chosen and wished with Moderation in the matter of Hatchets, by the Wish of Jupiter I give thee these two others. Thou hast wherewith to make thee rich hereafter; be honest.”

Threeston courteously thanks Mercury, and pays Reverence to the great Jupiter, fastens his old Hatchet to his leather Belt and girds it above his Breech, like Martin of Cambray. The two others, being more heavy, he hangs round his Neck.

And so he goes swaggering through the Country with a broad Grin among his Fellow-parishioners and Neighbours, giving them Patelin’s merry little Speech: “Haven’t I got ’em ?”

Next day, clad in a white Jacket, he loads his Back with the two precious Hatchets and goes off to Chinon, that famous City, that noble City, that ancient City, even the first City in the World, according to the Judgment and Assertion of the most learned Massorets.”

– Francois Rabelais

“Some say his Words and Stories are so dark,

They know not how by them to find his mark…

Whereas some say, A Cloud is in his Head,

That doth but shew how Wisdom’s covered

With its own mantles, and to stir the mind

To search after what it fain would find:

Things that seem to be hid in words obscure,

Do but the Godly mind the more allure;

To study what those sayings should contain

That speak to us in such a Cloudy strain.”

– Pilgrim’s Progress, Prologue to the 2nd Part, John Bunyan

“”0 Attar! you have scattered on the world the contents of the vessel of the musk of secrets.
The horizons of the world are full of your perfumes and lovers are disturbed because of you.

Your verses are your seal;
and they are known as the Conference of Birds and Stages of War.

These conferences and talks and discourses of the birds are the stages of the war of bewilderment;
or, one may say, they are the Book of Intoxication.

Enter into this book with love. When the horse of your love gallops and you desire something,
act in conformity with Your desire.

Love is the remedy for all ills,
and it is the remedy of the soul in the two worlds.

0 you, who have set out on the path of inner development,
do not read my book only as a poetical work, or a book of magic,

but read it with understanding; and for this a man must be hungry for something,
dissatisfied with himself and this world.

He who has not smelt the perfume of my discourse
has not found the way of lovers.

But he who will read it with care will become active,
and will be worthy to enter the Way of which I speak.

Those of the outer world will be like drowned men as regards my discourse;
but men of the inner world will understand its secrets.”

– Conference of the Birds (Mantiq at-tair), Farid ud-Din Attar

“Some discerning and less superficial authors, struck by the similarity between gothic (gothique) and goetic (goetique) have thought that there must be a close connection between gothic art and goetic art, i.e. magic.
For me, gothic art {art gothique) is simply a corruption of the word argotique (cant), which sounds exactly the same. This is in conformity with the phonetic law, which governs the traditional cabala in every language and does not pay any attention to spelling. The cathedral is a work of art goth (gothic art) or of argot, i.e, cant or slang. Moreover, dictionaries define argot as ‘a language peculiar to all individuals who wish to communicate their thoughts without being understood by outsiders’.

Thus it certainly is a spoken cabala. The argotiers, those who use this language, are the hermetic descendants of the argonauts, who manned the ship Argo. They spoke the langue argotique-—our langue verte (‘green language’ or slang)—while they were sailing towards the felicitious shores of Colchos to win the famous Golden Fleece. People still say about a very intelligent, but rather sly, man: ‘he knows everything, he understands cant.’ All the Initiates expressed themselves in cant; the vagrants of the Court of Miracles—headed by the poet Villon—as well as the Freemasons of the Middle Ages, ‘members of the lodge of God’, who built the argotique masterpieces, which we still admire today. Those constructional sailors (nautes) also knew the route to the Garden of the Hesperides….
In our day, cant is spoken by the humble people, the poor, the despised, the rebels, calling for liberty and independence, the outlaws, the tramps and the wanderers. Cant is the cursed dialect, banned by high society, by the nobility (who are really so little noble), the well-fed and self-satisfied middle class, luxuriating in the ermine of their ignorance and fatuity. It remains the language of a minority of individuals living outside accepted laws, conventions, customs and etiquette. The term voyous (street-arabs) that is to say voyants (seers) is applied to them and the even more expressive term sons or children of the sun. Gothic art is in fact the art got orcot (xo)—the art of light or of the spirit.

People think that such things are merely a play on words. I agree. The important thing is that such word-play should guide our faith towards certainty, towards positive and scientific truth, which is the key to the religious mystery, and should not leave us wandering in the capricious maze of our imagination.”

– from Mysteries of the Cathedrals, Fulcanelli

“I die of thirst beside the fountain
I’m hot as fire, I’m shaking tooth on tooth
In my own country I’m in a distant land
Beside the blaze I’m shivering in flames
Naked as a worm, dressed like a president
I laugh in tears and hope in despair
I cheer up in sad hopelessness
I’m joyful and no pleasure’s anywhere
I’m powerful and lack all force and strength
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

I’m sure of nothing but what is uncertain
Find nothing obscure but the obvious
Doubt nothing but the certainties
Knowledge to me is mere accident
I keep winning and remain the loser
At dawn I say “I bid you good night”
Lying down I’m afraid of falling
I’m so rich I haven’t a penny
I await an inheritance and am no one’s heir
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

I never work and yet I labor
To acquire goods I don’t even want
Kind words irritate me most
He who speaks true deceives me worst
A friend is someone who makes me think
A white swan is a black crow
The people who harm me think they help
Lies and truth today I see they’re one
I remember everything, my mind’s a blank
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

Merciful Prince may it please you to know
I understand much and have no wit or learning
I’m biased against all laws impartially
What’s next to do? Redeem my pawned goods again!
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.”

– Ballade, Francois Villon (trans. Galway Kinnell)

Tread lightly, meditate deeply, on the Hunt the Hunter must be calm and still, “do not run: “Praecipitatio a diabolo”…it’s very dangerous to run in the Enchanted Wood, even at the outskirts. The entries are very well guarded,” as our Friend in Italy advises. Jump to a conclusion and you could fall off a cliff, or worse find success before you reach the Goal of the Wise.

I die of thirst beside the fountain
I'm hot as fire, I'm shaking tooth on tooth
In my own country I'm in a distant land
Beside the blaze I'm shivering in flames
Naked as a worm, dressed like a president
I laugh in tears and hope in despair
I cheer up in sad hopelessness
I'm joyful and no pleasure's anywhere
I'm powerful and lack all force and strength
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

I'm sure of nothing but what is uncertain
Find nothing obscure but the obvious
Doubt nothing but the certainties
Knowledge to me is mere accident
I keep winning and remain the loser
At dawn I say "I bid you good night"
Lying down I'm afraid of falling
I'm so rich I haven't a penny
I await an inheritance and am no one's heir
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

I never work and yet I labor
To acquire goods I don't even want
Kind words irritate me most
He who speaks true deceives me worst
A friend is someone who makes me think
A white swan is a black crow
The people who harm me think they help
Lies and truth today I see they're one
I remember everything, my mind's a blank
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

Merciful Prince may it please you to know
I understand much and have no wit or learning
I'm biased against all laws impartially
What's next to do? Redeem my pawned goods again!
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.
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