A Northern Inuit dog howling along with a bugle playing the Last Post.
I don’t know what to make of my previous entry. My “sensible” side says it almost reeks of mania. I’m not sure what else to say except it hasn’t really added to or taken from anything I didn’t already know so it’s difficult to assess.
As far as I’m concerned, there are still only two lives I’m at all sure about (the two most recent human lives I recall) and even those I’m not terribly sure about.
It started with a memory of being crucified.
Before I go any further let me reassure you that this life was not in Judea; it was in what is now Germany from what I gather.
I wasn’t sure about it, but as I was trying to figure out my name, the name “Narthos” came to mind. This may not have been my name as it is a female name and I sensed I was male in this life (unless some of the Germanic tribes had female warriors)
It seems Narthos (or Nerthus) is the name of a Germanic goddess mentioned in part of Tacitus’ account of the Roman campaigns against the Germans. It may have been a goddess I worshipped or the name of a woman I knew.
I don’t know if I knew this from my readings in Tacitus or not. I don’t recall the particular passage I see it cited in. I’ll have to see if it was part of what I read since I only read what I was assigned to (Tacitus can be a bit of a bore at times) and I can definitely say if it’s in a part of the book I’ve read or not once I go over the text.
Also, I need to check the book- both the parts I’ve read and the parts I haven’t- for references to crucifixions being carried out during those campaigns.
Anyhow, I’m not in the mood to dive neck-deep in Tacitus right now. I’m still feeling kind of weird from that memory.
It isn’t weird in a bad way though. The distinct impression I got was that I had died without fear, in quiet resignation and perhaps even a bit elated to die for my tribe. It seems I had worked myself into something of a trance, and I was able to block my body awareness to the point where I wasn’t suffering any more. It almost left me feeling uplifted because I was entirely at peace with what was happening at that moment, with the sun setting, but when I remind myself of what this is I feel uneasy with calling it an “uplifting” memory.
It really got me thinking about how many others must have found a moment in the slow process of crucifixion to set their mind to accept death and shrug off the pain as an act of will, or how many others in that era had believed in a god or in the good of their tribe so much that they would do the same. The Romans executed perhaps thousands of people in all parts of the Empire by crucifixion, after all, and they can’t have all gone to their deaths kicking and screaming. I know, this is getting uncomfortably close to blasphemy for some, but if reincarnation is fact then it is nothing special to die with your affairs in order on the cross, or to return from it.
And really, I always found that aspect of Christianity puzzling. Why worship the moment of his sacrifice when a better religion could be built around his life and ideas? Why ornament your body with the instrument of Jesus’ torture when you could ornament your mind with the attainment of Gnosis? What Jesus showed, ultimately, was one of many ways to attainment and the story of the crucifixion is only punctuation.
Maybe I’m wrong about my memories of being a Germanic tribesman fighting the armies of mighty Rome and being crucified for it. This is very likely a product of cryptomnesia unless it’s in a part of the book I haven’t read yet. But I think it was worth reflecting on how common this sort of thing was back then and how reincarnation might change that story drastically if we could all remember the day we were crucified. No wonder the Council of Nicea nixed it; it might give us unwashed masses hope that we might all find attainment. What a dangerous idea!
EDIT: The work by Tacitus that mentions Narthos was not his document of the Roman campaigns against the Germanic tribes which I have read in part, but his ethnographic Germania which I have never read. That’s one part of the memory already plausible.
The language has been downgraded to say Russian forces are “moving inside” Ukraine, but the initial headline said “Russian Forces Have Invaded” in no uncertain terms. I think they are deliberately trying to avoid a declaration of war by retracting the word “invasion” but it’s unnerving how much of a crisis this is turning into.
Damn it all… I don’t want to see another one, even if I do remain a civilian this time.
I recently did a little research on the concept of the Vision of Sorrow, an attribute of the Sephirot Binah in Kabbalah.
Admittedly, it isn’t something I’ve studied much, but it came up in a conversation with a friend who is big on Kabbalah, and the description is pretty much like what I went through when I remembered John’s life and understood just how bad things could get and began to feel entirely apart from the presence of any sort of divinity. The source I used was Colin Low’s Introduction to the Kabbalah.
In in the section dealing with Binah, I found a passage that perfectly describes why I don’t follow any set path any more and why I felt totally alienated from the Wiccan path I was on when my first memories of past lives broke through and showed me how little comfort there could be when facing ultimate reality:
Lastly, it is worth asking “what is God?”. What does the Kabbalistic trinity of Kether, Chokmah and Binah represent in reality? I have deliberately avoided mentioning an enormous amount of Kabbalistic material on these three sephiroth because it is not clear whether it contributes to a genuine understanding. How useful, for example, is it to know that the name Binah (BINH) contains not only IH (Yod, He), the letters representing Chokmah and Binah, but also BN, Ben, the son? There is a level of understanding Kabbalah which is intellectual, and capable of almost inifinite elaboration, but it leads nowhere. What experience or perception does the word “God” denote? If there is nothing which is not God, why are so many people searching for God? Why do so many people feel apart from God? I quoted D.H. Lawrence’s poem “Only Man” because of his deeply intuitive view of the Fall from God and the abyss of separation.
I was browsing in my local occult bookshop recently, a shop which contains a catholic selection of books covering Eastern religions, astrology, Tarot, shamanism, crystals, theosophy, magick, Celtic and Grail traditions, mythology, Kabbalah, witchcraft, and so on. I am not sure what I was looking for, but despite a couple of hours of browsing I certainly did not find it. What did strike me was the extent to which so many of these books were written to make human beings feel good about themselves. There is a smug view permeating so much occult literature that “spiritual” human beings are a little bit more “advanced” or “developed” than the pack, that they are “moving along the Path” towards some kind of “enlightenment”, “cosmic consciousness”, “union with God”, “divine love”, or one of many more fantastic and utterly sublime goals. It is all so empowering and affirming and cosy. Even in the less starry-eyed and gushy works the view is predominantly, almost exclusively human-centred, and I found it difficult to avoid the impression that the universe was designed as a foam-padded playground for human souls to romp around in. There is more than a little truth in Marx’s statement that religion is the opium of the people, and a cynic could justify a claim that occultism and esoteric religion are little more than a security blanket for unfortunate people who cannot look reality in the face. Where are the books which say “you are an insignificant speck of flyshit in a universe so vast you cannot even begin to comprehend its scale; your occult pretensions amount to nothing and are carefully designed to protect you from any experience of reality; all human experience and knowledge is parochial, insignificant and largely irrelevant on a universal scale, and your personal contribution even more so; there are no Masters or Powers, no Secret Chiefs, no Inner Plane Adepti, no Messiahs, and God does not love you; the only thing you possess is your life, and the joy and mystery of living in a universe filled to the brim with life, where little is known and much remains to be discovered; when you die, you are dead.” I do not concur with this position in its entirity, but it is a valid position to adopt, and one which is not strongly represented in esoteric and occult literature. Why not? Perhaps people do not want to buy books which say this. I will venture an opinion which reflects my own experience; as such it has no general validity, but it is worth recording nevertheless.
I believe that many religious, esoteric and occult traditions currently extant are unconsciously designed to protect human beings from experiencing God and lead towards experiences which are valid in themselves but which are biased towards feelings of love, protection, peace, safety, personal growth, community and empowerment, all wrapped up in a strongly human-centred value system where positive human feelings and experiences are emphasised. I believe that people are apart from God by choice, that they cannot find God because they do not want to.
It is difficult to justify this statement without resorting to an onion-skin model of the psyche; underneath the surface, unsuspected and virtually inaccessible, is a layer which does its best to protect us from the existential terror of confronting things as they really are. As a child I was terrified of the dark; the dark itself was not malign, but I was deeply afraid, and in this case it was fear which determined my relationship with the dark, not any quality of the dark itself. So it is with God – it is our deeply buried and unrecognised fear which determines our relationship with God. We read books, go to the cinema and theatre, argue, invent, throw parties, play games, search for God, live and love together, and bury ourselves in all the distractions of human society in a frenetic and unceasing effort to avoid the layers of fear – fear of solitude, fear of rejection, fear of disease and decay and disintregration, fear of madness, fear of meaninglessness, arbitrariness and futility, fear of death and personal annihilation. Like an audience in a cinema, we can live in a fantasy for a time and forget that it is dark, cold and raining outside, but sooner or later we have to leave our seats. And underneath all the fears is the fear of opening the door which conceals the awful truth: that we have wilfully, and with great energy and persistence, chosen not to know.
I came to a point where I had knowledge of things I had no desire to know about come rushing in, and saw an endless string of life after life with no obvious or apparent stamp of the divine on the process of death and rebirth. After that, dancing naked around trees in the woods and invoking gods I’d never once felt the presence of never felt the same again. But thinking back, it wasn’t anything but my own expectations of achieving a union with the divine and total fulfillment from an easy and pleasurable path that set me up for that disappointment.
That’s the abyss: finding out just how little grip you actually have on everything when the vastness of time and space yawns before you. It nearly destroyed me and now I see clearly how little I was prepared for the place I found myself in my life, but now I feel like I’ve made peace with it and begun to see the beauty of ultimate reality, or what little I concede to know of it.
I think this happened some time in the early 18th century, probably in England but it could have been anywhere in Europe as far as I can tell. I was among young boys but I don’t know if I was a boy myself. I think I might have been, by the way they interacted with me. I don’t know my station in life, whether I was middle class or a beggar’s child, but the streets looked a bit mean, muddy, and dilapidated, like the slums of London in that era, though strangely few people on them apart from us.
One of the boys came running down the street, shouting something. We saw a regally-fitted retinue of white horses, coachmen, footmen, riders in powdered wigs (one of them was clearly aristocratic by the blue velvet coat accented with intricate brocade he wore). The carriage itself had a Gothic look, very upright and boxy and made of turned black dowels with panels of muted color and golden accents.
We got out of the way and stood along the side streets. One of the boys pushed me forward and I nearly stumbled into the carriage as it passed. I turned and pushed him back. Strangely, he didn’t get up and hit me like I would expect him to; he laid there in the muck looking defeated and hurt that I’d shoved him harder than he’d shoved me. The other boys laughed.
I also remember something about an old gate made of rickety wood that we would simply jump over rather than bothering to open and close, and an area where there was slightly more space between the houses and pigs, chickens, and dogs roamed the streets (or maybe that’s East Coker much later).
The carriage is an interesting detail. I only know a brief gloss of the history in England during this time period so I can only hazard a guess that it was a bishop faithful to the “High Church” tradition in that carriage. I’m going to have to poke around and see if I find any matches though that doesn’t really prove anything since I might have seen such an artifact if a carriage like that still exists.
Yeah… unless it’s based on K.W. Jeter’s sequel, don’t bother. At least Kevin understood the work conceptually; I’d hate to think what a script written completely by Hollywood screen writers would be like.
Actually, I’d expect it to be about like “Total Recall” but less unintentionally funny and even less relation to the original story than this.
Also, as much as I like Harrison Ford as Deckard, bringing him back would bring back deja vu of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” If you give him a bad script, you’re going to have a bad movie.
I really hope they use Kevin’s story if they insist on making a sequel.