Something has changed. Something has been realized. Something has been revealed. Our relation to time has been irreversibly altered. We are slowly, one by one, catching a glimpse of the eternal. In the LOTR, it took several years for even the Wise to discover the true nature of the Ring. It could be likewise in the present situation, although things are at a much faster rate of acceleration. Many are not noticing the shift at all. In the centre of things, would we notice?
By slipping the Ring onto our finger we reach the centre of the Wheel, where many teach we become free of its movement, and we attain the vision of Fortuna herself. We see all the turns and seasons of the cycle as one. Like Bilbo and Gollum we stop growing old. But we soon become seduced by its power. To know the illusion of time is to know how to manipulate time. And yet we have not destroyed the Ring. To become like Sauron, like the Dragon, is this the ultimate risk of sync?
In previous posts, I discussed what I called the 108-year Rosicrucian cycle from 1904 to 2012, marking a degree and a half transition between the Ages of Pisces and Aquarius. I surmised that a time of concealment is ending and a time of revelation has begun. Could this be reversed? Are we about to enter another Dark Age? This could be. There is nothing inevitable about these myths. It does seem, though, it feels, that something quite new has been revealed. Was this a planned revealing? Was Bilbo meant to find the Ring? Even deeper questions.
As in the Dark Crystal, there is a profound ambiguity here. Will the Skeksis achieve their goal of immortal tyranny, endless time? Or will the Mystics succeed in merging the two races into one transcendent whole? Both Christ and Antichrist are here right now. We do not have assurances of the return of the King or the Jedi.
Perhaps we are, as philosopher Slavoj Žižek often suggests about the economic/social/ecological mega-crisis of too late capitalism, like Wile E. Coyote who has just ran off the cliff with his legs still flailing in mid-air. Our choice is to look down and become again the victim of gravity and time or, like Neo, realize that we could always already fly.
Blake's diagnosis of and remedy for this crisis are far more radical than Žižek's, but Blake would agree that we have stumbled off the precipice and need to choose whether to fall or fly. In many respects, Blake anticipated this exact point in our history. "2012" is really a shorthand for the crisis long forseen, but presently in full culmination.
In this sense, 2012 did happen. This is the apocalypse. The Winter Solstice is the perfect metaphor for this passage. The point of deepest darkness is passing, although it appears to be becoming both colder and darker, and light --widespread knowledge of the illusory nature of time and the products of time -- is slowly beginning to reappear. The darkness is only apparently growing because it is widely becoming noticed.
Another meme to go viral recently is the idea of the iPhone 5 as the black monolith of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The colour and dimensions are an exact match, and certainly both are tools to aid in our collective evolution. Another good match, though, is with the palantíri of The Lord of the Rings.
Like the iPhone, the palantír is a device for communicating over long distances to anyone who happens to be looking into a similar glass. The palantíri have the power to both enlighten and to deceive, and they are strangely addictive. They can impart tremendous knowledge about the outside world to those that gaze into them. And if one who is bearing the Ring happens to look into one of these stones, everyone else watching would instantly be aware and become transformed.
2012 is about recovering both the Ring and the Stone. When the first is finally brought to light it will now very quickly be revealed to all.
The explosion of conspiracy theories in a little more than a month after the Sandy Hook atrocity, and the added layer of synchronicity that even fairly conventional sources are becoming aware of, appear to be an example of this.
Even the continual online debate of debunkers vs. conspiracy theorists vs. New Agers vs. sync heads on what the hell 2012 is/was about is entirely unprecedented. 2012 is the ultimate Non-Consensus Event or NCE. It is impossible to reach any sort of consensus on its significance. This may be its final purpose.
In previous posts on the 108-Year Rosicrucian Cycle, I made the suggestion that the 22 cards of the Major Arcana of Crowley's Thoth deck may have, in a sense, been "played" in sequence in connection to various events from to 1904 to 2012. The implication was that the final card, The Universe, was played on the Winter Solstice. Other researchers have made similar suggestions.
There is much to be written about this card and its relation to 2012, including a personal sync that it was with a Woman and her Snake that I began this current stroll of weirdness. It will suffice for this post to point out that the Snake is also Orc and the Woman, surrounded by a Ring or Wheel of stars, is our goddess, Fortuna. The Four Zoas reappear, and as on The Wheel of Fortune card all of the action at the top of the card is streaming down from near the Winter Solstice point between Scorpio and Aquarius.
The Universe is the last card in the sequence, but it also signals the renewal of the cycle. Maybe. The next card is back to the "first," or the zeropoint, The Fool. And like the trickster, Coyote, the Fool is about to step off a cliff. Like what is separating and connecting the last and first sentences of Finnegans Wake, we are in the gap between worlds. Do we continue to ride the round or do we break through?
If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
The Turning Point of the Solstice could very well become the Breaking Point, and the Orc Cycle would finally end. We would wake in the Wake. Blake came quickly to realize that Orc and Urizen are equally trapped in the cycle of time, in the "same dull round." The Wheel, the Ring, must be destroyed if eternity is to be attained. Like darkness in Gollum's riddle, however, eternity already permeates time and the world. By reaching the centre of the Wheel, and exploding out from it and beyond its bounds we approach liberation.
All true art, however, is already there. All of the Poets know eternity. The only difference now, if there really is one, is that this process is occurring on a grand, collective scale. All of matter is being realized as spirit. As in the Gnostic myth, the True God fully immersed Himself into the prison of matter in order to entirely transform it, in an evolution lasting eons, into pure spirit. Blake's myth of Albion is the same story. Dualism is becoming non-dualism. For all of his talk of 2012, one gets the sense that Terence McKenna had several long glimpses of this.
Joyce ties this idea of time vs. eternity to the archetypal struggle between brothers, also expressed in the Hero Twin myths. In the Wake he reworks the old fable of the thrifty and industrious Ant and the carefree yet indolent Grasshopper into his own strange tale of "The Ondt and the Gracehoper." The Gracehoper (both Shem and Joyce himself) mocks the Ondt (Shaun and Joyce's literary rival, Wyndham Lewis):
Your genus its worldwide, your spacest sublime! But, Holy Saltmartin, why can't you beat time?
The Ant may be the master of all space, he may be fully supplied and prepared for the long, harsh winter, and the dancing and singing Grasshopper might starve to death during this winter, but the Ant is trapped in time and the Grasshopper, the Grace-hoper, is not. The Grasshopper is the Fool who has decided to fly. He is the Orc who has broke the cycle.
One reading of "Holy Saltmartin" is Saint Martin, the saint of the holiday of Advent. Advent celebrates the first coming of Christ in the Nativity, but also the Second Coming where Christ will return "like a thief in the night" and true believers will meet with Him in the air. This is yet another myth of the bursting of eternity into time. It is Joyce's incomparable genius that he is able to seamlessly join such a serious item of dogma with a fable about insects.
In Indian philosophy, the idea of the Wheel of Fortune has its parallel in the concept of samsara, which also literally means "circle" or "wheel." Samsara is the cycle of birth, death and rebirth that has turned perpetually throughout the eons. All beings, including the gods, are subject to this endless cycle, and all suffering is ultimately caused by our bondage to this Wheel.
The various Indian philosophies and religions all offer different ways and teachings to find liberation from this cycle. In Mahayana Buddhism, an extreme non-dualist formula is given where liberation from the cycle is, in a sense, equated with the cycle itself. The Mahayana philosopher, Nagarjuna famously wrote:
There is nothing whatever which differentiates samsara from nirvana; and there is nothing whatever which differentiates nirvana from samsara. The extreme limit of nirvana is also the extreme limit of samsara; there is not the slightest bit of difference between these two.
From a liberated perspective, the awakened perspective of a Buddha, acceptance of the Wheel of Fortune, the endless cycle of time, is the ultimate goal. Escaping from the Wheel is to realize that there is no escape. Everything which lives and dies within the Wheel is "empty" in and of itself, including ourselves. The point is to attain the perspective of the entire Wheel.
This is one interpretation of this teaching, but I think it is incomplete. If, on the other hand, it is the full doctrine then any true Blakean would discard it out of hand. At first reading, it appears to argue that we be content with the "same dull round." This would be intolerable to Blake and is the essence of what he criticicized as "natural religion."
There is a danger, I think, of stopping halfway with this. Nirvana is samsara, but samsara is also nirvana. In earlier Buddhism, which Nagarjuna did not reject, nirvana is described as being beyond mind and matter -- the complete cessation of suffering. This must also be the Wheel.
In other words, this teaching is not asking us to accept the Wheel in the form that we presently experience it at all. The Wheel itself must be transformed by our minds, by our imagination. This brings us a lot closer to Blake's notion of "double vision."
These concepts are difficult, but it is helpful to take a look at yet another Tolkien character, Tom Bombadil. Bombadil is a mysterious figure who does not fit into any of the classifications of beings on Middle-earth. Tolkien himself describes Tom as an intentional enigma. It is likely this difficultly in aligning Tom within a conventional good vs. evil narrative that kept him out of Jackson's film trilogy.
It's clear that Tom Bombadil has aspects of the Fool or the Grasshopper to him. Perhaps unlike these two, however, Tom is entirely successful. He lives with the beautiful Goldberry, the daughter of the River. He is the complete and unchallenged master of his domain. He has an abundant supply of everything he needs, and he is almost giddily happy at all times.
Like the Fool and the Grasshopper in potential, though, Tom has "beat time." He is described as being the "Eldest." Frodo freely and easily gives Tom the Ring, and Tom makes it seem to disappear before giving it back. He is the only figure in Middle-earth shown not to be affected by the Ring. The Wise considered entrusting it to him for this reason, but Gandalf convinces them that Tom would probably just forget about it.
That he is not a simple, absent-minded fool is illustrated by the fact that it is Tom that Gandalf goes to have a long conversation with when all of his tasks as a wizard are completed. Tom is already outside the Ring and time. He exists in eternity. He knows that nirvana is samsara and at the same instant that samsara is nirvana. One gets the impression that he has been expecting Gandalf for a long while.
The Invitation of God
The medieval heresy of the Brethren of the Free Spirit has something of this character or archetype as well. The reason that the Free Spirit was such a heresy and threat to the established order of the Church and the Kings, was that if Christ had died and been resurrected for our sins, then it is impossible to ever sin again. Christ has reversed the Fall and so we are all back in the Garden. Time has already ended and it is just a matter of realizing this.
A similar, more modern, expression of this heresy can be found in the last scenes of the movie, Waking Life. Here, a cartoon version of the film's director, Richard Linklater, has a conversation with the central character.
Linklater explains that he read an essay by Philip K. Dick that tells the story of that author's mystical experience involving the idea that we were all still living in Apostolic times, but that an evil demiurge was preventing us from knowing this.
And he was really into Gnosticism, and this idea that this demiurge, or demon, had created this illusion of time to make us forget that Christ was about to return, and the kingdom of God was about to arrive. And that we're all in 50 A.D., and there's someone trying to make us forget that God is imminent. And that's what time is. That's what all of history is. It's just this kind of continuous, you know, daydream, or distraction.
Dick's gnostic ideas are really not that dissimilar to the Brethren of the Free Spirit, or from Mahayana Buddhism. Perhaps unlike the Free Spirit or Tom Bombadil, Dick was unable to entirely convince himself that is was possible to actually live in the Garden.
Linklater, though, takes the idea forward. He tells of a dream he had where Lady Gregory, the patron of Yeats, appeared and told him about the nature of the universe:
Now Philip K. Dick is right about time, but he's wrong that it's 50 A.D. Actually, there's only one instant, and it's right now, and it's eternity. And it's an instant in which God is posing a question, and that question is basically, 'Do you want to, you know, be one with eternity? Do you want to be in heaven?' And we're all saying, 'No thank you. Not just yet.' And so time is actually just this constant saying 'No' to God's invitation. I mean that's what time is. I mean, and it's no more 50 A.D. than it's two thousand and one. And there's just this one instant, and that's what we're always in.
Lady Gregory goes on to explain that this is essentially the story of all of our lives -- the movement from the "No" to the "Yes." The "No" is what binds us to the wheels of fortune and samsara, and the "Yes" is what can liberate us. The central character goes on to ask how he can finally wake up from his endless dream, the same cycle, and Linklater replies:
I don't know, I don't know. I'm not very good at that anymore. But, um, if that's what you're thinking, I mean you, you probably should. I mean, you know if you can wake up, you should, because you know someday, you know, you won't be able to. So just, um ... But it's easy. You know. Just, just wake up.
The "Yes" here is the same "Yes" as the last word of Ulysses. The meaning of "waking up" here has the same meaning as it does in Finnegans Wake. James Joyce follows the same heretical tradition as the Free Spirit, William Blake, Philip K. Dick and Richard Linklater.
Reflecting the Doors
Those online researchers of the interweavings of synchronicity within pop culture, literature, current events, and personal experience are also becoming initiates of the old heresy. Synchronicity brings together two or more meaningful things regardless of, almost in spite of, space and time. It offers a small peak at eternity, a peak which is not satisfying until it is followed by many more peaks and glances. And even then, the desire to know is only quelled by the full embrace of the "Yes."
This is why sync is so subversive. It creates unlimited desires beyond anything that the temporal or spiritual authorities can possibly provide. Eternity cannot be packaged and sold back to us. It cannot be forced on us through the barrel of the gun. Only a simulacrum of eternity can be presented in these ways. All authority can only exist within the illusion of time, within the bounds of the Ring. Synchronicity disrupts this timeline. The more we connect together, the more we escape from programmed narratives.
In a letter published in Magic Without Tears, another heretic, Aleister Crowley, illustrates how this is done:
I will now tell you what this method is: as I walked about, I made a point of attributing everything I saw to its appropriate idea. I would walk out of the door of my house and reflect that door is Daleth, and house Beth; now the word "dob" is Hebrew for bear, and has the number 6, which refers to the Sun. Then you come to the fence of your property and that is Cheth - number 8, number of Tarot Trump 7, which is the Chariot: so you begin to look about for your car. Then you come to the street and the first house you see is number 86, and that is Elohim, and it is built of red brick which reminds you of Mars and the Blasted Tower, and so on.
This is the method. As Blake explains, though, it is not even necessary to use Kabbalah or occult symbolism, as Crowley is. It is better to create your own poetic system. After the fact, the authorities are very adept at co-opting any symbol system or visionary work. We must break through quickly on the strength of our own metaphors and change them when they become ineffective.
Blake continually emphasized that the only reality is the Imagination. The experience of synchronicity most definitely confirms this. And ultimately, according to Blake, all of our imaginations are really facets of the Imagination of one Being, which Blake calls Albion and Joyce calls Finn.
When this is realized, when Albion or Finn awakes, all of reality will change. This does not just mean that our perception of reality will change, although our senses will be completely "cleansed," but as reality is imagination it will change along with our perception. As Blake believed from the Bible, a New Heaven and a New Earth will be created.
The Sticky Web
From Blake's point of view, the aim is never to "get back to Nature." Nature has already fallen. The web of life is a web. It traps us. The wilderness is less fallen than present human civilization, but we also cannot live there. The idea of a network, which seems so horizontal and democratic compared to the hierarchies and pyramids of power which support the Empire, is also a net, a snare. The www has us all stuck to its strands.
To identify with nature is to identify with the Wheel. It is to move to the Wheel's centre or hub. This is where Fortuna watches. From the perspective of Fortuna, the continuous turnings of fate "delight" her. She is Maya or Isis playing with her veils. This perspective is that of only seeing nirvana as samsara. It equates liberation with the vantage point of the whole Wheel. This is necessary, but it does not free us. Fortuna is as trapped as we are.
It is the Goddess who turns the Wheel. She perpetuates the Orc cycle. It was Kronos' mother, the goddess Gaia, who helped him castrate his father, Uranus. And it was Zeus' mother, the goddess Rhea, who helped him overthrow his father, Kronos. The only objective of the Goddess is to keep the Wheel in spin. The divine mother has always conspired with her son against the father-god. And when a new son is born from the union of mother and son-turned-husband, then the goddess (and its always the same Goddess) will plot again with her new offspring. And the cycle continues.
This last dualism is one that Blake completely recognized. It is the division between the Creator and his Creation. When the essentially hermaphroditic Creator becomes enamoured and obsessed by his/her work of art, the world or universe, the divisions of the sexes result. HCE becomes divided from ALP. Blake advocated the full revelation of Mystery. Anything less than this meant that the veils of Maya, who Blake called Vala, would still seduce and the wheel spins on.
Only full consummation in fire and passion, like that of Dante and Beatrice at the foot of the Tree of Knowledge in Eden, is enough to break through the Wheel and to reach the ladder to the stars. The division of Orc and Urizen is a false and illusory division. The Creator must become whole if he ever hopes to fully unite with the Goddess.
Wheels Without and Within
Long before Carl Jung wrote about the necessity to unify the animus with the anima, Blake's poetry sang of the lost female emanation or shadow. A man who has lost his emanation, as Blake claimed that Milton had lost his, is only a spectre, one who is dominated by the Selfhood.
If the symbol of the Goddess is the web or net, then the symbol of the Father God is the pyramid. But the pyramid always emerges out of the web. The new Orc will raze the old pyramids and ziggurats only to eventually construct new pyramids from nature's web. The Goddess takes delight in this. Both the pyramid and web can be dangerous symbols. Like the Wheel itself, they are ambiguous. The symbol that Blake uses to transcend these two is in fact the transformed Wheel.
Of many Wheels I view, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic
Moving by compulsion each other : not as those in Eden, which,
Wheel within Wheel in freedom revolve in harmony & peace.
This "wheel within wheel" sounds very close to the mandalas of Asian philosophy. It is the mandala also which Jung called the archetype of individuation. Towards the centre of Tibetan Buddhist mandalas is a smaller wheel of three animals. These are the pig, representing ignorance, the bird, representing attachment, and the snake, representing aversion or anger.
To reach the very centre of the mandala, to attain the only point that will release us from the cycle, we must overcome these three. Ignorance, attachment and aversion neatly sum up what Blake means by the Selfhood. The three animals combined are identical to the Covering Cherub which bars our way back into Paradise. The three can also be seen as Urizen, the Goddess, and the serpent, Orc. With these three, the cycle keeps in spin.
As we approach the centre, the rhizome, more begins to connect. Time begins increasingly to resemble eternity. The syncs begin to multiply. This happens on individual and, following Jung, collective levels. All indications are that this is happening right now. The Ring has been revealed to a critical threshold. More and more people are beginning to realize, as the Dragon gives way to the Snake, the illusory nature of time and, as PKD wrote, the Empire built on this illusion.
Perhaps we don't need to destroy the Ring we just need to, like Bombadil, forget about it. Old Tom had his Goldberry, though. The river, ALP, finally unifies with HCE, the sea. The Creator finally becomes one again with his own Imagination.
The world of imagination is the world of eternity. It is the divine bosom into which we shall all go after the death of the vegetated body. This world of imagination is infinite and eternal, whereas the world of generation, or vegetation, is finite and temporal. There exist in that eternal world the permanent realities of every thing which we see reflected in this vegetable glass of nature.