Black Elk’s Peak, South Dakota
le 15 aout, 2016
Mon Cher M. de St. Exupery,
Je m’appelle Christopher Reynolds et je suis Americain. Ne soyez plus si triste car il est revenu! J’ai vu le Petit Prince et à ce jour il n’est plus un enfant. Il est devenu un homme. Le jeune Chef initié que j’ai rencontré vous remercie tous les jours d’avoir sauvé sa vie quand il était plus jeune. Il m’a montré ses cicatrices initiatiques et tatouages des renard et serpent. Il m’a béni et m’a offert ainsi qu’à tous mes proches une guérison par l’eau.
En effet, il est aujourd’hui un shaman dévoué à l’eau et il marche autour de la Terre afin de la préserver et la protéger. Avant de partir et de continuer sa route, il m’a dit :
L’Eau est la Vie .
Tu ne dois jamais oublier cette Vérité.
Il a ajoute aussi qu’il espérait que vous dessiniez mieux maintenant.
(Dear Mr. de St. Exupery,
My name is Christopher Reynolds and I am an American. Please don’t be sad anymore because he has returned! I saw the Little Prince and he is no longer a child. He has become a man. The young initiated chief that I met thanks you each day for having saved his life when he was a child. He showed me his initiation scars and his tattoos of the fox and the serpent. He blessed me and offered all of my relatives a healing with water. In fact, he is a water-shaman who now who walks the Earth to preserve and protect all waters. Before leaving to continue his journey, he told me:
Water is Life.
You must not forget this Truth.
(He added that he hoped you were better at drawing now.)
The sketch at the top is the last image of the book, Le Petit Prince, by Antonine de St. Exupery. Le Petit Prince was voted the ‘book of the century’ for the 20th century by the French. It was my privilege to teach St. Ex’s tale of the pilot, the desert, the stars, the water, the helpful fox and serpent and, of course, the golden-haired prince from asteroid B612 with his Rose. They say that if you love a person’s creative work, you will continue to labor with his unanswered questions. It has always been this star over the desert that has called to me over the decades. Consider again the flat sky that has been a trademark of senex consciousness the past 2500 years:
It only has to be flat if we choose to see it that way. This was the central message of Le Petit Prince as spoken through Le Renard:
“Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.”
(Here is my secret. It is quite simple: One only sees rightly with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eye.)
To see the essential with the heart is to recognize the deeper pattern of relationships in a manner that is both whole and responsive. If we see with our hearts and read St. Exupery’s final words, something remarkable begins to happen.
Ca c’est pour moi le plus beau et le plus triste paysage du monde. C’est le meme paysage que pour celui de la page precedente, mais je l’ai dessine une fois encore pour bien vous le montrer. C’est ici que le petit prince a apparu sur la terre, puis disparu.
Regardez attentivement ce paysage afin de le reconnaitre si vous voyagez un jour en Afrique dans le desert. Et s’il vous arrive de passer par la, je vous en supplie, ne vous pressez pas, attendez un peu juste sous l’etoile! S’il alors un enfant vient a vous, s’il rit, s’il a des cheveux d’or, s’il ne repond pas quand on l’interroge, vous devinerez bien qu’il est. Alors, soyez gentils! Ne me laissez pas tellement triste: ecrivez-moi vite qu’il est revenu.
(This is for me the most beautiful and the saddest landscape in the world. It’s the same landscape as the preceding page, but I drew it one more time to really show it well. It was here that the little prince appeared on Earth and then disappeared. Look at it carefully so you can recognize it if you travel through the desert in Africa some day. And if you happen to pass by, I beg you, don’t rush past this place, wait for a bit just under the star. If a child approaches you, if he laughs, if he has golden hair, if he doesn’t answer you when you ask him questions, you will guess who he is. Be kind and don’t leave me so sad: write immediately to tell me he has come back.)
Notice the stirring of your heart as you read the words. Earth and sky are united in an alignment of star, person, time and place. Notice the simultaneity of beauty and sorrow together and the gentleness they inspire in you. Just here, under this heart-seen star, are depths unto Depths of meaning. The writer touched an ancient pattern of the sacredness of the mysteries of birth and death. We are all born under the right star, in the right place at the right time, into the right family, to the right mother and father. We are all born into the right landscape that reflects who we have come here to be. For each individual who has even been, who is and who will be, this birth/death moment/location has its own signature that coincides with our great 13,700,000,000 years old ever-moving clock. If you will allow your heart to complete the circle, take in this idea for yourself. You, too, are the Petit Prince, Petite Princesse.
When all the worlds lined up, you came at the right time into this world.
Here’s the Renaissance voice of soul, Marsilio Ficino:
To the extent that the ruling heavens favor your beginnings and further life, you will pursue the promise of your birth; especially if Plato is correct and antiquity with him, in saying that when anyone is born they are given a certain daimon, a life-guardian–destined by one’s very own star.
It was in this place that Antoine de St. Exupery was not able to see further. He just didn’t live long enough, nor was he ever able to dislodge himself from the structures of Catholic senex consciousness. In Le Petit Prince, the serpent was the un-recognized healer and the petit prince’s life-guardian. His Rose, his Beloved, was Earth. As I was returning from the ceremony when South Dakota re-named the highest peak in the Black Hills, Black Elk’s Peak, I met a blond-haired French speaking individual. It was the way he laughed that was most striking. As soon as I was able to find pen and paper, I wrote down my letter to answer St. Ex.
Like St. Ex, I too am a ‘cradle Roman Catholic’ man, with all the good and bad that comes with it. When we were making our First Communion at St. Mary’s Parish in Norwalk, Ohio, one of the older boys made a gesture that frightened me. We had been taught to walk with our hands pressed together in front of us, heads bowed with our fingertips pointing up to Heaven. Just as we walked up the steps to the Church door, my 3rd grade compatriot suddenly made an angry face and pointed his finger-tips down towards Earth. He growled, “Grrrrr, I’m prayin’ to the Devil!”. It scared the bejesus out of me. Inside that Catholic world view of 1968, Hell as an eternal fiery prison under the ground at the center of the planet was still real.
Later in my life, in 1982, I met Paula, the woman I would marry. She lovingly kissed the center of my chest on one of our first dates. At that moment, I felt my consciousness drop down into my body from just above me to the right. I didn’t know it, but up until that kiss of amazing grace, I wasn’t truly embodied. I remember opening my eyes from the new perspective. First were feelings of relief and exhilaration, next, came feelings of betrayal that after so many years of Jesuit instruction, I had been living above my body, above the Earth and not embodied and in relationship – ensouled.
You know of my Cro-magnon initiation of 1986. Even after that opening, in July of 1992, I heard Robert Sardello present on Sophia and facing the world with soul. As he explained the TriniSophia, he first drew a triangle on the chalkboard and labeled the vertices, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He then drew a downward pointing triangle to make a 6-pointed star.
This downward pointing triangle is the Holy Trinisophia.
He paused for a moment, and then continued…
So, opposite the Father is….?”
He paused to let us think about it. Immediately, from inside me came my unspoken guess:
He then filled in the vertices of the Trinisophia:
Mother, Daughter, Holy Soul.
After all the work I had done to undo my childhood world view with teachers I really respected, including Jung, Campbell, Robert Bly and Eugene Monick, after all the hours in Jungian analysis with Dr. Vocata George, even after becoming Eternity, the deepest structures of my mind were still rooted in the idea of the fallen Earth under that flat sky. In the earlier years of my inner striving to heal, I would suddenly wake up some mornings with feelings of terror in my chest. “What if I’ve been led astray and now I’m going to go Hell!?” It took an embarrassingly long time for that psychic parasite from my past to at long last dissolve. In fact, I thought that I had healed my past when those morning wake-up-terrors were no more. Clearly, there was more effort necessary!
The unconscious damning of embodied life on our planet runs through all 7 generations of my family, the Reynolds. My ancestors arrived in Virginia in 1740. Through Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, athiest, Catholic and 12 Step recovery movement, all of my ancestors have suffered this terror. As I wrote above, I thought I had dealt with the curse of Earth intellectually and in therapy. Yet, here it came again — the Earth is where the Fallen live.
The deep structure of prejudice against the planet can’t be all blamed on the Christian world-view, nor even the athiest late-modern. The condemnation of Grandmother Earth as Gaia occurred at the opening of the axial age, around 500 BCE. Hesiod wrote that Gaia and Ouranos were Titans and thanks be to the Gods and Goddesses, they were condemned as far below the Earth as the sky is above it. I think we need to move further back into time to find where this trouble started. It’s clear that there came a shift and evolution in the human intellect with the awareness of the planetary archetypes, Moon, Sun, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury and Saturn. This awareness came forth with the inception of writing in letters, calculation in numbers, and harmonics in music in the days when our ancestors first became literate. It may have been Sumer or Chaldea, some 3000 years ago. Maybe our troubles began in Egypt? (Could the Chi Rho symbol over the sun be Pharaoh’s revenge — Cairo disguised as Chi Rho?) A literate and priestly class of society claimed rulership ordained by the power of the sky.
If you study Western mythology carefully, you find that the astrological Gods and Goddesses who ascended into authority during the axial age rest upon a deeper mythic strata. Though the elder powers are demonized and called Titans in Hellenistic Myth, you can see in their names vestiges of the 7 Powers, the Grandfathers and Grandmother of traditional ways of life:
Ouranos = Father Sky
Gaia = Mother Earth
Hyperion and his sister, Theia = East
Koios = North
the Titan, Iapetus, the piercer, might imply the West…and so on.
The struggle over the Powers of Earth and Sky in order to impose a new order upon the world is classical colonial poetics for Western Culture’s assumption of control over nature. We have a bad habit via the divine sanction of Olympus and later via the divine decree of the Father in the Highest Heaven. Before Greece, Rome, Europe and America was the Egyptian culture from which tradition of priestly cursing the divinities of previous rulers was the norm.
To heal the Western mind from its prejudice for the invisible and above requires a respectful openness to the orally transmitted and remembered stories that come from indigenous wisdom. It’s unexpected, but one of the Titans who were condemned by Hesiod was Memory – Daughter of Gaia and Ouranos, Mnemosyne. Not only was Memory buried, but She was also bound with curses. We have so much un-burying to do.
To honor Memory, in Mnemosyne’s case, (we get our Mnemonic of the mnemonic devices that help us remember from her) there are cultural stories that carry wisdom perfected over eons of time. The resurrection of Mnemosyne helps complement and complete the Western Mind by bringing it back into interdependent relationship with the greater, more ancient community of life upon which it depends. Here, Memory, with the capital “M” means more than the recall of data from the past, though that is part of it. Memory, in this case, is the Memory as a power of the imagination that we know in its essential form when we remember our dreams, visions, and ancestors, when we recollect the narrative of our biography.
In our own tradition of Sophia, Memory as a primal power of imagination is called, Mother, in the Trinisophia as taught by Sardello. Hillman, too, takes this up in Re-Visioning Psychology when he noted how the narratives of repressed memories turned out to be imperfect reports of the past. Those fictions still had crucial psychological import, but they were not trustworthy accounts for literal events. (Depth psychologists found this out the hard way, by the way.) Hillman noted that memory, too, is fundamentally imaginal, an activity of soul. Jung in an interview near the end of his life described the future that we remember in dreams as the way psyche can see around corners.
In its most essential form, Mnemosyne refers to remembering the personal and cultural dream. When we remember dreams, we are not merely recalling a sequence of chemical events that happened though the night. We are remembering the future in soul language – metaphors for the horizon of life that is coming to be. Jung, in an interview near the end of his life, described the future that we remember in dreams as the way psyche can see around corners.
Freeman: You have written, at one time and another, some sentences that surprised me a little about death. Now, in particular, I remember that you said death is just as important as birth and like it, it’s an integral part of life. But surely, it can’t be like birth if it’s an end, can it?
Jung: Yes, and if it’s an end, and there, we are not quite certain about this end, because you know there are these peculiar faculties of the psyche, that it is not entirely confined to space and time. You can have dreams or visions of the future, you can see around corners, and such things. Only ignorance denies these facts, you know; it’s quite evident that they do exist and have existed always. Now these facts show that the psyche is not under obligation to live in time and space alone, and obviously, it doesn’t, then, to that extent that psyche is not subjected to those laws, and that means a practical continuation of life, of a sort of psychical existence beyond time and space.
It is the invitation into the future, the indication, the emotion of inspiration and the intuitive feeling of inner direction that is the identifying gift of persons who keep the oral traditions and traditional stories.
Often, a story-teller or singer will not know the story or song to offer the people until the very moment it all begins. This is because what is to be told and/or sung does not live in space-time, but in psyche, which is not entirely confined to space and time. The best story tellers and singers may appear to be working with long ago, but what is guiding them about the story they choose is what is to come. We are released from the past by the right story, certainly because some old, unforgettable trouble has been untangled, dissolved, lifted away, but also because there is a root into eternity and the future coming to be. Story-teller, James Beard, aka. Noodin, has decribed this. I’ve also heard Michael Meade complain that when he tells stories, clocks are no good for him because they all start looking like mandalas.
The unexpected ‘piercer’, Iapetus, then, the sacred being that was cursed in the ascent of the West, may be the best person to heal the West of its madness. Who can come to our assistance with a healing piece is the serpent. No! I do not mean the Devil!
It’s soul’s serpent that heals us with its bite:
First, “soul” refers to the deepening of events into experiences; second, the significance soul makes possible whether in love, in receptivity, in creativity or in religious concern, derives from its special relation with death, with birth and with re-birth. And third, by “soul” I mean the imaginative possibilities in our collective and personal natures, the experiencing through reflective speculation, intuition, dream, image, fantasy, and co-creation (co-poesis) – that mode that recognizes all realities as relational, primarily symbolic or metaphorical and in service to the relationships by which the past and present are honored and through which the future is brought forth.
Though I was always safely guided by dreams, neither Church-sanctioned divinities nor angels, save one, who I think was Gabriel, came in them. My most transformative dreams have been of serpents and cats. This was problematic because in Catholic sanctioned imagery, the serpent is the one who caused the Fall and cats are the symbol for witches.
There was and still is a statue of Virgin Mary stepping on the serpent in the entrance to St. Mary’s.
It would be a healing serpent dream that would finally urge me to learn more about the archetypal unconscious. In our stories, we forget that the first beings that came to protect the Enlightened Buddha under the Bo Tree were serpents. He was protected by cobras. In the temple of Asclepius, the healing would come in a dream when the God visited you in serpent form. The symbol for healing in our culture is based on the older symbolism in the Caduceus:
St. Exupery’s Catholicism and inherited colonialism project an evil onto le serpent and la terre in the Petit Prince that an individual rooted in the sacred Earth would not exhibit. His imagined conversation seems to project more evil and coldness onto the Earth than is there. He seems to be suggesting here that:
1. Christianity is a victorious religion.
2. Earth and all life in our world is less valuable than an Eternal life after we die.
3. The Doctrine of Original Sin, as expounded by Augustine, is true.
“Good evening,” said the little prince courteously.
“Good evening,” said the snake.
“What planet is this on which I have come down?” asked the little prince.
“This is the Earth; this is Africa,” the snake answered.
“Ah! Then there are no people on the Earth?”
“This is the desert. There are no people in the desert. The Earth is large,” said the snake.
The little prince sat down on a stone, and raised his eyes toward the sky.
“I wonder,” he said, “whether the stars are set alight in heaven so that one day each one
of us may find his own again . . . Look at my planet. It is right there above us. But how far away it is!”
“It is beautiful,” the snake said. “What has brought you here?”
“I have been having some trouble with a flower,” said the little prince.
“Ah!” said the snake.
And they were both silent.
“Where are the men?” the little prince at last took up the conversation again.
“It is a little lonely in the desert . . .”
“It is also lonely among men,” the snake said.
The little prince gazed at him for a long time.
“You are a funny animal,” he said at last. “You are no thicker than a finger . . .”
“But I am more powerful than the finger of a king,” said the snake.
The little prince smiled.
“You are not very powerful. You haven’t even any feet. You cannot even travel . . .”
“I can carry you farther than any ship could take you,” said the snake.
He twined himself around the little prince’s ankle, like a golden bracelet.
“Whomever I touch, I send back to the earth from whence he came,” the snake spoke again.
“But you are innocent and true, and you come from a star . . .”
The little prince made no reply.
“You move me to pity–you are so weak on this Earth made of granite,”
the snake said. “I can help you, some day, if you grow too homesick for
your own planet. I can–”
“Oh! I understand you very well,” said the little prince.
“But why do you always speak in riddles?”
“I solve them all,” said the snake.
And they were both silent.
I want to be clear that I am not naively stating there is no shadow, nor evil and that there are no individuals who would seek to harm a little prince. However, the detail of the fact that the snake in this conversation feels empathy for the innocence and longing of the little prince for his home, at least for me, indicates that the serpent in this conversation is of the same Holy Spirit as those cobras who protected the little prince’s elder nephew, Siddhartha, when he awakened beneath the Bo Tree to become the Buddha.
During Siddhartha’s enlightenment struggles, when he was assailed by the destructive powers, he was surrounded by snakes who kept him safe. In the face of the worst of his trials, he touched Earth who also rooted him, held and protected him. The world over, the serpent is not only a protector, but also the initiator who, in a caring rite of passage ritual, puts to rest the mind and body of childhood and brings forth the mature mind and the sensual, potent, sexual and spiritual body of adulthood for a beautiful life blessed by Earth.
In my own healing serpent dream at age 30, I was bitten in the backbone by a giant snake. Its mouth covered my entire back. All my body was pulled away from behind, even as my consciousness still ‘stood’. I seemed to be receiving a lesson about consciousness that remains, even after body and bones are taken away. After the serpent bite, there was a tiny spark of light floating in the air, a scintilla, a star. I felt this star was precious to Earth. There was also my learning, witnessing awareness of that point. I was both the spark and the one who learned through relationship with it.
I worked the next morning in active imagination, or finishing the dream, as the Mayan shamans say, with that scintilla. When I consciously returned to the dream in my minds’ eye, I let the story unfold further. At first, the light drifted gently down to the ground near a muddy spring, but soon after, my light was honored by a small butterfly that placed the scintilla in the center of its head.
In the dream, my spark and awareness were not bound to space-time and could move by stretching into the time periods of my choosing. At the dream’s end, even that remarkable indestructible awareness also needed to be surrendered in service to life. It was in this way that I was initiated into the next phase of my life.
I wrote and sang in my song, Is It Time:
Through the wild heavens, stars fly like sand.
I know that I love you, I have a place to stand.
I have a place to stand.
At the end of Le Petit Prince, the narrator shares that he could not find the body of the Little Prince. He assumed that like the Jesus of his Catholicism, the child gave his life and died, that he then left the shell of his body to ascend into the sky outside time and space to dwell forever with his Rose.
In the argument I am proposing, based on most of the enthospheric wisdom of indigenous cultures, based on the snake’s capacity for empathy for innocence, based on my own dream experience, the serpent would have surely pretended to give the child the death-wish that he asked for, but it would assuredly be a death/re-birth into manhood and into service to a more profound relationship with life. The snake would not be an anonymous voice living in a desert terra nullis, but a tribal divinity devoted to male initiation. Fox, too, though not recognized by the colonial hunters of the village, would be a totem of indigenous wisdom and be associated with the Spirit of Education with soul, teaching that one can only see rightly with the heart.
The reason why the Little Prince’s body was not there in the morning was that the shamans came to carry forward this space-time Traveler, this Petit Prince Shaman, in order to help him move into his understanding of serving The Rose. His life continued as a man who is in service to that Beauty which sustains the universe. In Le Petit Prince, the narrative unfolded to the unexpected, life-giving well, in the middle of the desert. Surely, the Water of Life, that the saved the Prince by synchronistic grace and shared care for each other, would be his Vocation as a man.
In this hidden chapter of the story, Fox had prepared the Prince for his initiation where he would be faced with the question of whether or not he should sacrifice his most cherished ideas about life and the world and return to the wisdom of knowing life through his heart. The Snake helped him die to his childhood in an initiation ritual so that he would be prepared to know Eternity in the here and now in sexual union with his Beloved, throughout the Earth and cosmos. The Grandmother Earth would ever remind him and support him, root him. The village shamans would welcome him and adopt such a loving courageous soul into their community.
Before the titanic curses that bound the Sacred Powers of Earth and Sky that runs through the 3 ideas above, the West knew a different relationship with life. At this moment, throughout the ethnosphere the primal cultures still consider and experience our planet as a Source of all virtues – those very same virtues that Socrates said represented knowledge – Knowledge is Virtue. There is a beautiful image of Earth in the Anishinabe Grandfather Teachings story. In that story, Earth is a heart, a drum, a fire, and a blessed union of the masculine rock with the feminine waters. When the wisdom that guides humanity is lost, the virtues of: Love, Courage, Truth, Honesty, Humility, Wisdom, and Respect are drawn forth from the center of the Earth. Along with those virtues is the teaching that they must all be present in order to work and that if we leave any of the virtues out, the whole of us suffer from the imbalance.
Dissolving of 30 centuries of prejudice against the peoples of the oral traditions of the world requires repeated return to direct experience of indigenous wisdom over many years. In July of 2015, I pierced for the first time as a Sun Dancer at a Lakota Sun Dance ceremony. The experience of offering my body and blood for the good of the people is beyond the reach of language. However, at the moment I broke from my piercing, time slowed down and I watched with amazement as a dark skeleton shape was pulled up and out of my body. The shadow bones went into the Sacred Tree and disappeared. As I saw the image fade from sight into the Sacred Tree, the words,
The Teaching of Original Sin,
were spoken into my mind.
When the wisdom is lost, indigenous teachings say that we are to go back to Earth’s classroom and make ourselves students, disciples of Earth. It was only by walking outside of Western culture with love, respect and generosity, by participation with deep reverence in native ceremony, that I was healed at this deepest level. For my entire life, and for the lives of my Ancestors,– so many generations — a curse had been unconsciously hidden in our bones. Malidoma Some shared that the Dagara imagine that our bones are our Memory for who we are. This is why when something is true, we know it in our bones. To move one step further, when bones are Memory, inner and outer skeletal alignment, attitude , and stance in the world, all merge with the collective unconscious/cosmic memory field.
Interestingly enough, the theme of structure and discipline that belongs to Chronos/Saturn, was imagined in the past as reflected in the bones and teeth of the human skeleton. I’ve thought a lot since the skeleton curse of Original Sin was lifted out of me-us.
Another way for us to imagine proper relationship with Father Time, is to honor the bones and teeth, to show reverence and gratitude to our skeleton within. Every single tooth and bone of us is sacred. It has always been so.
When all the worlds lined up, you came at the right time into this world.We are all born under the right star, in the right place at the right time, into the right family, to the right mother and father. We are all born into the right landscape that reflects who we have come here to be. For each individual who has even been, who is and who will be, this birth/death moment/location has its own signature that coincides with our great 13,820,000,000 years old ever-moving clock.
I invite you to be open to the idea that Earth, the person, Grandmother, and that Sky, the person, Grandfather are loving, generous, virtuous participants in the star of our birth that can be seen with our hearts. When St. Exupery had his serpent describe Earth as granite – this was senex poisoning talking. To know Earth as the Grandmother implies relationship. Outside our culture, before contact in the States, the children were called, those faces beneath the ground. They are still called that now in the enduring indigenous cultures here. Look at this fragment of Black Elk’s prayer as it was translated by Neihardt:
Grandfather, all over the world the faces of the living ones are alike.
In tenderness, they have come up out of the ground.
To fully understand the coinciding of all the elements that prepared each of our births requires the concept of meaningful coincidence – synchronicity. By synchronicity, in this writing, I mean:
A meaningful coincidence in which two independent events having no causal connection nevertheless seem to form a meaningful pattern. C. G. Jung first wrote about synchronicity in 1928 in a dream seminar. Jung’s thoughts on meaningful coincidence deepened through his career. Synchronistic awareness was the birth-canal through which the mature, alchemical Jung came forth. Since 1928, there has been long enough study of the phenomenon that it is considered a psychological fact. In Cosmos and Psyche, Tarnas described 3 stages of development:
1. A first experience of various coincidences and patterns that though they seem remarkable are ignored or described as “nothing but…”
2. A second experience of coincidences that are especially powerful. They mark a threshold in a person’s psychological and spiritual development. They often occur in association with births, deaths, crises and other major turning points. This can bring new meaning and purpose in the life of an individual.
3. A the mature stage, synchronicity is an accepted fact of life, part of life’s intelligence and artistry. It is known that the world is talking to you all the time.
The narrative of Le Petit Prince proceeds by synchronicity: a pilot crashes in the Sahara where a young space-time Traveler appeared, just at the moment the Little Prince arrived on Earth, he was met by the serpent, just at the moment when the Little Prince weeps for his Rose, the Fox appeared, just when there was no more ordinary water, after 8 days and a long night wandering under the stars in the desert, both the pilot and price find a well that is unlike all others. It has a living water. It works to consider that it is a personified synchronicity who is the narrator. The point here is that without the concept of synchronicity, a reader will misunderstand the book of the century. Without the concept of synchronicity, you will misunderstand a human life where you are cared for by Grandmother and Grandfather – Gaia and Ouranos, Earth and Sky. Without the concept of synchronicity, you will also misunderstand our own Western story.
There was a collective, therefore a cultural synchronistic event that happened in 1604. That year, a supernova suddenly appeared in the constellation, Orphicius, the Serpent Bearer. Today, we name this supernova, Kepler’s Star. This is Kepler’s drawing of Ophicius with the location of the supernova written with the letter, “N”, written upon the right ankle. “N” was for Stella Nova — the New Star.
The stellar remains of Kepler’s Star are with us today:
In 1604, Kepler struggled with the same senex consciousness as Antoine de St. Exupery did in 1944. Kepler, too, was unconscious about the serpent as a healer in his own cultural tradition. Ophicius is Asclepius – the healer. In 1604, Europeans were forced to wrestle with their dogma of the flat sky dome of ‘fixed stars’. The dogma of their time was the same dogma in place since the planetary divinities ascended to power. The dome was supposed to be perfect, eternal and unchanging. Kepler’s Star, was interpreted by Kepler as the return of the Star of Bethlehem. He had forgotten that the nighttime sky is itself a sacred ground.
To recover the sacred ground of the sky we can take up Kepler’s Star as a synchronistic event to be seen with the eye of soul-just to strike that bell again:
that mode that recognizes all realities as relational, primarily symbolic or metaphorical and in service to the relationships by which the past and present are honored and through which the future is brought forth.
Kepler’s Star was a prophetic serpent’s healing bite to the vulnerable mythological heel of the Western sky. The Message – a cultural initiation is at hand. You are now in a ritual death/re-birth. I do not blame Kepler, nor all institutional authorities of his day for missing the opportunity. In Cosmos and Psyche, Richard Tarnas reminded us that the Copernican theory was rejected by all religious, philosophical and scientific authorities when De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was published in 1543 in Nuremburg, during the Holy Roman Empire.
The Stella Nova in Ophicius, with the benefit of 410 years of hindsight, was a message to all persons and institutions for how to enter into the emerging participatory world view – it requires a surrender of all the light that was known in the past in order to transform into a more universal species at home in its galactic neighborhood. The problem of chronopathology indicates that we are still in labor through this message as a people, to move through a death/rebirth as individuals and as a species. In serpent language, it was time to shed our collective old skin. Before a snake sheds its skin, the old skin clouds its eyes and it can’t see. All capacity to feel the world are hindered. When the snake leaves its old skin, the old skin turns inside out. In 1604, the West got a heads’-up from the cosmos that it would soon be a time of turning everything and everyone inside out.
To be snake-bitten on the ankle also carries a mythic depth. With the benefit of hind-sight and reading from within our own cultural stories, we are in the myth of Orpheus. In the story of Orpheus, his Beloved, Eurydice was bitten on the ankle and died. Orpheus, a great musician, journeyed to the Underworld in hopes of bringing her back to life. He was able to convince Hades to let her return by using his music. The warning for him was that he was not permitted to look back as he left the Underworld. At the last moment, he turned to see if Eurydice was following him. Alas, he saw her but she was not able to leave the realm of the dead. Our constellation of Lyra is a reference to the love story of Orpheus and Eurydice.
Might we imagine another message of Kepler’s Stella Nova to be a mythic call to the Underworld for all those who care for soul? This time, was it not Orpheus who would die? For another angle, was it a time for all those who care for initiation, healing and soul to journey themselves? Was it a time for the souls of all the enduring institutions of the West to make their own collective journeys? Because at that time, patriarchy was the rule of the day, was the bite to the serpent-bearer’s right ankle a marker for what would become a death/rebirth of the Western stance in the cosmos? If so, then the call was to recollect the essence of the masculine and feminine that had been buried in the ascent of the West.
Underworld, in this sense, meant to become disciples of the near-death-experience, of birth, of life between lives, of visions and dreams, of the stories of the ones who had been condemned, who suffered and who had been erased, degraded and cursed by the then-dissolving authority, to return to Earth who had been kept down under and who was the most humiliated in the patriarchal world view. It was a reference for recovering a groundedness in authentic humility rooted in actual personal experience.
The inverted torch, which currently refers to literal death in our cultural iconography, in fact, lights the way for the depths now required. The theme of cursed divinities has important unconscious Christian baggage here. Again, generally, anything going downward, to this day in our culture, makes people fearful because of centuries of association with the enemy of life. The word, chthonic, is the direction of this downward illumination. Chthonic, pronounced, with a ‘th’ sound like the word, thick – ‘tho-nick’, is defined by Merriam-Webster’s as: of or relating to the underworld.
There are a lot of benevolent chthonic powers, but the one that is central to healing our culture is Serapis, King of the Deep. We can take a lesson from the past when we recollect a corner of the wisdom that united the warring Greeks and Egyptians. The establishment of Serapis was co-revelational which means that the shift came about through direct soul experiences of the people. The serapeum united the peoples as regards death, resurrection, dreams, ancestors, abundance, the wealth and inheritance which is beneath life and nourishes in hidden ways. Egyptians and Greeks were able to co-recognize and discern, a benevolent Depth that represented for them a healthy care of soul.
Serapis continued to increase in popularity during the Roman period, often replacing Osiris as the consort of Isis in temples outside Egypt. In 389, a Christian mob led by the Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria destroyed the Alexandrian serapeum, but the cult survived until all forms of pagan religion were suppressed under Theodosius I in 391.
The King of the Deep, who may well be imagined as the the Spirit of the Depths in Jung’s Red Book, once we un-bind the curses, re-opens the way for us to consider that in the same way as our cultural way of seeking comfort in a chronopathological senex-styled consciousness is the exception to human cultures, so is our cultural way of seeking wisdom without profound reverence for the chthonic realms of dreams, ancestors, death, re-birth, and the abundance of life. We need to be death-like to go there, which means, to turn out the lights, go to sleep and descend into the deep rest of the night. Maybe you notice that we are a culture who unconsciously pollutes the starry heavens with artificial light. We have sleep problems.
In Masks of God, Joseph Campbell described the many faces and forms over the centuries by which the Source beyond names is psychologically known. The heart of the archetypal Presence in human beings, in all life and throughout creation, is a Source who is willing to let go of all that was before in order for more life to come. With the benefit of the astronomy of our times, we know that most all the elements of Earth are the result of the surrender and death of stars. In the last conversation I had, with an astronomer, she said there were 3 stars that gave their elements so we could become who we are. We are literally star stuff, as Carl Sagan was fond of saying. We are living beings, living cells within a beautiful child of the suns. We are also planetary, not only citizens of Earth, but made of the same solar substance of all the planets.
Though Kepler got the astronomy and the ancient mythology wrong, he did get the Christian mythology right. His star was the Annunciation of the new and unexpected birth out of the collective European soul. To each European soul was born a starry-bodied child of the infinite galaxy-filled home where we are now. The child of the heavens that was announced by his Star was the Daughter of Christianity’s Madonna of the Dark.
If the first “Christmas star” announced that Emmanuel: God is with us, the second Christmas star announced that:
The Sensual, Beautiful, Immanent Presence is with us.
Ours is the task of recollecting that this has been true in and through the Earth, in and through all planetary beings, and participating accordingly, something which our science fiction has been telling us for some time now.
Understood mythologically, Mary, the person who is the collective European soul, is the archetypal person responsible for the transformation of the West still occuring. The West can find healing of its chronopathologizing when we apprehend the relationship between magnification of all that is and Her Prayer – the Magnificat. The West is in The Age of Magnification.
Please listen to my song, Remember Us:
c. 2016 Reynolds
How old am I, for how long have I been sleeping?
You still my soul with language that I remember speaking.
I feel your hand shake me.
I feel so far away.
I’m desperate to reach you, to see the light of day.
Help me remember us.
Help me remember us.
Help me remember this.
I hear you call me with a name I don’t understand.
I feel our love strongly, can’t find words to explain.
Across the table, I see you.
Tears rise in your eyes.
And the bird on the rooftop sings of love that never dies.
I will remember us.
I will remember us.
I will remember this.
I will remember us.
I will remember us.
I will remember this.
I will remember.
I will remember.
I will remember this.
How old am I?
For how long have I been sleeping?