By Gythia Eowyn OR
Nothing Gold Can Stay
By Robert Frost 1874-1963
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
I have a little clock- a Westclox Baby Ben- that I received for a Yule gift as a child. Decades later, it evokes powerful memories of my childhood and particularly of that Yuletide when I wrote my letter addressed to “Father Christmas in Greenland” asking him for this little clock which- for so many childish reasons, fascinated me. I also wrote letters on behalf of my siblings and gave them to my Dad to post for me. Over the years, I have often looked at that clock, recalling past events and wishing I still believed in Father Christmas in Greenland! Greenland: what an interesting name for the land we believed Santa came from! How symbolic it is for something we lose as we grow up and “life” takes over!
What do we mean by “life taking over?” It is the mindset that focusses on worldly progress and is mainly measured as apparent material progress against the clock: schooling, jobs, families, mortgages; in the process, we forget our childhood dreams and perceptions of the world. Interestingly, there actually are four types of time: mechanical, perceived, cyclical and infinity (absence of time). And contrary to popular belief, the way time affects us alters with our focus! Yet, we all “fall” into line and accept linear time as our basically unchallenged reality.
To help illustrate how our perceptions “fall,” here is an interesting exercise devised by one of my favourite authors.(1) As I read each of these short pieces, pay particular attention to your body’s response to each:
1 Just now
A rock took fright
When it saw me
By playing dead(2)
2. All you and your pet rock can
you fall at
the same speed.(3)
Does the first statement by Norbert Mayer somehow animate your being, reminding you of how you might have felt as a child- that all objects and creatures are alive? Contrast that with the second statement by Ken Wilber. Hasn’t something within you just died? Does it not feel mechanistic, sarcastic and ego-oriented with the inherent brain-oriented judgement about the rock as an inferior creature and denigrating reference to “pet” as if such a person is stupid? And how appropriate that his reference to the words “fall” and “speed” occur in the same sentence! Yet haven’t we all been conditioned into perceiving Mayer’s poem as being somehow childlike, whilst Wilber’s observation seems “rational” and “scientific?” What we call “science” is essentially the Cartesian worldview of the universe as a machine, each part of which is just a cog functioning in a system. Unlike our ancestors, we struggle to view the world as alive because we have internalised the machine and thus, it has become the lens through which we experience the whole world.
We all have an innate sense built into our souls before rebirth that acts as a compass for our lives. As an expression of the archetype, life is our gard in Odin; the Norns give us our personal “lot” in life, which is dependent upon our own wyrd from past lives and the lessons we need to learn in the next. Our “lot” is simultaneously a piece of earth, that space we occupy in the overall order of things and an inheritance. Thus, it is the image our soul lives by, a pattern- Plato’s paradeigma: your inheritance, your place on earth and your soul’s portion in the world order. This “gard in Odin” is individual destiny held in the heart’s knowing; it becomes our necessity in this world and our guide is our inner genius known in Greek as the daemon and to us as our fylgia.
We come into a world in which the imperative is to “grow up, to “hurry up” and pass up “childish ideas” so we can enter the adult world. Yet, in entering human incarnation, the soul must grow downwards to take root in the earth, so it can bloom in its own time- a process it may perhaps only accomplish over several lifetimes! This tension of opposites- spirit and soul- are the beginning of our problems as human beings and it is not uncommon for the furies of drink, drugs and depression to touch the lives of young adults. Even if we navigate life in seemingly responsible fashion, mid-life often throws up a crisis where people realise they still “don’t know” what they want to “become” when they “grow up!” Indeed, a whole market has flourished around “finding your purpose” in life! This is a clear signal that the soul has been neglected and suffocated in the wake of worldly time. For children are more consciously connected with their fylgia than adults- a consciousness that recedes, giving way to the classic symptoms of generalised boredom that is epidemic in this Age. Boredom is an innate survival strategy- the soul’s signal that we need to escape a toxic situation and hence, is the psychological counterpart of physical disgust at bad food. Unfortunately, unchecked boredom easily morphs into depression, which has increased exponentially over the last few generations to an all time high of 25% of Americans by their mid twenties and one million lives lost annually to suicide.(4) You see, depression lights up the same circuitry in the brain as pain; and pain is the physiological signal that an organism is suffering, that it’s survival is somehow in jeopardy. Left unchecked, depression causes brain damage because the brain is physically inflamed; and inflammation is the common denominator of all the diseases of modern civilisation: diabetes, cancer, asthma, allergies, obesity, atherosclerosis. As depression researcher Stephen Ilardi says:
“We were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, socially isolated, fast-food laden, sleep deprived frenzied pace of modern life.”(5)
But can we be sure of this? As Stephen says,(6) we only need to consider our genetic evolution to understand what is happening. 99.9% of our human and pre-human experience took place 1.8 million years ago in the Pleistocene Epoch as hunter/gatherers. 10,000 BCE saw the beginnings of agrarian society during which some more minor genetic selection occurred. Then just eight generations ago- from the 1700s onwards- (the Industrial Revolution)- a period of Radical Environmental Mutation occurred without a parallel change in our basic wiring as human beings from that of our ancient ancestors. This is one of the main reasons why almost no diseases of modern civilisation, including depression, are found in modern hunter-gatherer tribes. They spend their days in the company of loved ones and are physically active in the service of adaptive goals (ie securing food, maintaining shelter etc.). They are not forced to channel their energies into daily activities that their souls know are futile, unhealthy and precarious as we are in the modern post-industrial world. And the unprecedented pace of change continues to accelerate away from nature, with its stellar technological changes and the gross abomination of our food supplies.
I would also add to Stephen Ilardi’s statements that, whilst we are socially isolated, population mass has reached epidemic proportions in the west. And much of that populace are aliens which, to our Pleistocene genes, represent a threat: remember, the amygdala responds below conscious awareness. We were meant to be in tribes of our own folk, not artificial, multicultural communities. By the same token, a depressed person’s drive to isolate himself may well be expressing an ancient need of the soul to meditate, to commune with the chthonic deities, to go on a vision quest etc., which is denied him by modern life. And equally, any company he needs as medicine is that of his own tribe, not Rastas Umbongo from Uganda!
As we saw last year,(7) the depression many people experience today is not just sadness: it is a dark night of the soul because the influence of the fylgia in our lives is being severely constricted, if not effectively suffocated. It is integral to the soul of Nature so that there is a synchronous relationship between what we perceive as our own soul and that of the Natural World. Literally, we feel the pain of the natural world. Indigenous religions didn’t just know our human ancestors still lived amongst us; they also knew that trees, plants and animals were literally our ancestors too because their incorporation into the food web meant that their material and essence not only nourished them in the present, but also affected the evolution of their genes and mind. This we know from science: if a person eats a plant, many of the bacteria and micro-organisms present within it are then found to be active in their gut and this becomes an important part of their body’s intelligence system and hence, of consuming locally sourced food. Old systems of medicine accounted for this synchrony between humans and Nature.
This vitalising connection between humanity and the natural world has been understood mythologically as a holy greening power known as viriditas. One of the most prolific writers on this was the medieval German writer, composer, philosopher, mystic and visionary Hildegard Von Bingen who emphasised the vital connection between the “green” health of the natural world and the holistic health of the human person. Hence, when she approached medicine as a type of gardening, it was not just as an analogy, but with the understanding that plants and elements of the garden are direct counterparts to the humors and elements within the human body, whose imbalance leads to illness and disease. The art and science of viriditas can be seen preserved in the Natural Farming Movement, in particular in biodynamic farming and the “One Straw Revolution” work of the Japanese farmer and Philosopher Mansanobu Fukuoka(8) who pioneered methods of minimal interference by man when farming.
Thus, viriditas is the soul’s expression in the world of form most beautifully described by the science fiction author, Kim Stanley Robinson:
“Look at the pattern this seashell makes. The dappled whorl, curving inward to infinity. That’s the shape of the universe itself. There’s a constant pressure, pushing toward pattern. A tendency in matter to evolve into ever more complex forms. It’s a kind of pattern gravity, a holy greening power we call viriditas, and it is the driving force in the cosmos. Life, you see.”(9)
This is why the soul responds to beauty, to classical architecture, to pleasing art and to the natural world; it is why it recoils from monstrous skyscrapers, degenerate art and ghetto environments. The former is elevating and evolving; the latter is degrading and annihilating.
This implosive force, curving ever inwards and pushing towards pattern is the fractalisation of nature and reminds us of Odin’s descent into matter in his quest for the mead of inspiration. It is the harvest arising from the experience of the tension of duality within the serpentine coils of time, the soul of the world transforming itself in the alchemical vat of time…
From the black sun of alchemy, the nigredo, we search out the illuminating and transmuting green ray!
The green light of alchemy is particularly coveted. It is the formerly mentioned viriditas; it shimmers throughout Nature, is seen infrequently with the “green ray” of the rising and setting sun and also with the transformation of various chemical substances as they burn. The green light/ray is symbolic of illumination, of life and death and alchemists also saw this “secret fire” as “the living spirit” in the image of a green, translucent, and fusible crystal.. This is the emerald star of Odin-Wotan, often referred to as the ancient emerald tablet in alchemy. It contains the secret formula for the transformation of reality and it was this tablet which gave birth to alchemy itself and Hermetic quests for enlightenment.
Consequently, green is potently symbolic. Green is feminine and yin, often seen as being opposed to red (masculine, yang) and symbolises transformation, renewal, springtime, awakening, long life, hope, immortality, freshness, water- and life itself. It’s so-called “darker” aspects are death, decay and sickness; but viewed in the web of life, these aspects intertwine and support one another since all are processes of transformation. Alchemically speaking, these so-called “darker” aspects are the putrefaction process, known as the nigredo. Alchemists particularly saw the transformation processes from red to green as interactions between the different realms of masculine and feminine.
Now the entities and forces which express themselves in the properties of material elements or states of matter have, in bygone times, been perceived as elemental creatures- gnomes (earth), sylphs (air), salamanders (fire) and undines (water). Within the green of nature, they were regarded as fairies. The word “fairy” derives from Middle English and French words meaning “land,” “realm,” characteristic activities (mainly involving enchantment), legendary folk (known as faie or fee) and the ancestors. The original Latin referred to one of the personified Fates and hence, it can also mean a guardian or tutelary spirit and from that etymology, a thing spoken, decision, decree, prophetic declaration, prediction etc and hence, destiny and fate. Can you see now how viriditas is thus the soul’s expression and how it relates intimately with our gard in Odin and our fylgia, the soul’s guide?
Of course, in being spirits of nature, fairies are of the eternal wildwood and as such, are often associated with virgin goddesses. In mythologies, maidens such as Idun, the dakinis, Artemis, Quan Yin, Persephone, Krishna’s gopis, the Virgin Mary etc. reflect the eternal evergreen nature of youth and immortality, a state whereby one is eternally poised and ready- waiting at the edge of change. It is the tender, preternatural spirit of beauty, potential, innocence- a delicate green world of otherworldly concerns (tending Nature etc) that bear little or no relationship to what we habitually call “the real world.” It is a self-contained world, the Garden of Eden, the Isle of Avalon, the Garden of Hesperides from which the Hyperborean Priestesses of A-Mor(10) dispense the golden apples of immortality and the mead of inspiration that inspires the poetry of the soul.
In mythology, maidens often “fall” into sorrow (e.g, in Christianity the Virgin Mary becomes the Mother of Sorrow). This is highly symbolic of the legend of “The Fall.” By eating the apple offered by the serpent, it is alleged that we “fell” into the world of duality and that this brought great sorrow upon the world because Eve disobeyed god; and so we were expelled from Eden for sinning. However, this is a false myth propagated by the demiurgic forces. The truth is that:
“Whosoever eats them, or enters into contact with them, discovers eternal youth, eternal life.”(11)
For in our mythology, Idun, (whose name is synonymous with Eden and means the Renewing One, ever young, rejuvenator or the rejuvenating one), is the purest of heart and dispenses the apples of rebirth to the gods. Thus, we were never expelled from the Garden of Eden, (more accurately named the Garden of Odin). It is always within us as the evergreen of life, the eternal Golden Age within and the immortal aspect of our gestalt. If we understand the whole world as an alchemical vessel to which we are integral, we are simultaneously the eternal Golden Age and “The Fall.” “The Fall” is an allegory for the movement of the Ages into time itself: the bud of the Virgin becomes the flower of the Mother. It is the soul separated from her lover- from spirit- into the world of form. Here in the world of form, the soul’s path back to Hyperborea begins: the soul deepens and finds spirit within the world when she meets and joins with her animus. It moves in cycles reflective of the Great Ages, reincarnation, life/death/rebirth, the seasonal cycles etc and becomes the spirit of transforming change as opposed to that of eternal waiting. And in change, there is perceived loss of the original Self, a perception that arises from the materially-bound ego whose limited vision sees itself as a separate object instead of integral to the subject, your being. Hence, it is only “loss” if myopically perceived through the lens of the dualistic ego as sin and corruption- just as the Judaeo-Christian interpretation of the Garden of Eden myth portrays it as!
Apples themselves are important symbols of fertility and are particularly associated in mythology with the Vanir, being symbolic of both life and death. When dissected, they reveal a pentagram, which also symbolises the morning and evening star, known variously as Venus/Aphrodite/Freya. Freya of course, is the patroness of human fertility, our goddess of sexual love whilst apples were reputed to have aphrodisiac qualities (the word “aphrodisiac” being derived from Aphrodite’s name). Our sexual nature- known as the eros spirit- moves the kundalini energy seated at the base of the spine, the vitis embla, the serpent that coils around the base of Yggdrasil which is the sacred ouroboros of magic and alchemy. This serpent is symbolic of the ambiguous nature of the kundalini energy that can bring enlightenment or annihilation. Through the serpent of eternity living within the body/soul, the soul seeks union with the spirit and circulates in the blood. She is the memory of our divine origins that are recalled in ritual (whose root meaning is blood), where ritual seeks to unite the soul and spirit, thereby catalysing initiation and states of enlightenment. Sexuality is the seat of our vitality, prana, kundalini, the font of eternal life. It brings the marriage of soul and spirit, male and female. The erotic spirit Eros, descends into matter to seek union with the green soul- (animus seeks out anima)- “within time.” Thus, sexual love nurtures the soul and in the bubble of lovemaking, with its oceanic wave of fluidity, it revitalises us, turning bodies and souls into alchemical vessels ripe for transformation and rebirth.
Unfortunately in this degenerative Age, the spirit of the virgin is extremely misunderstood and so vulnerable to those who would corrupt her innocence. Understood literally, as a Cartesianally viewed response to the world- (ie without soul)- innocence is regarded as naivety that needs to “wise up” and as the young girl, ripe for corruption. Understood correctly, virginity means without guile and purity of intention. The “ways of the world” tend towards those of illusion and addiction to linear time, valuing progressive material action over being: thus, we lose our sense of loving tenderness, guilelessness and the knowledge that we are immortal, that the soul is eternal and cyclical “in Nature” and that the spirit of the eternal evergreen virgin was never lost but lives within us; and so we become sorrowful and prey to the egoic Lokian forces that hold sway in Midgarth, perceiving the wildwood within as a separate place applicable only to fancy imagination, an island “cut off” from “reality” living “behind the mists”- an Isle of Avalon- that can only be glimpsed by an initiated few or otherwise, as some sort of misty, romantic past Golden Age.
However, our ability to imagine is a gift from the gods, a reflection of our deepest inner beings and longings born from them that mirror, a reality alive within us, within our blood memory and so a reality in the alchemical flask of the world. It is an enduring, inviolate vision of the spirit as it seeks to reunite with the green soul, Psyche’s search for Eros. Imagination- and particularly, our mythic imagination- is our soul, our folksoul, expressing itself in the world of form. Listened to with the perfect poise of the evergreen virgin, we know the world in a blade of grass. Listened to in a state of fall, we mow the grass and mindlessly chuck it in a landfill!
One of the most tragic outcomes of modern life is the way in which families unwittingly neglect and abuse the fylgia. Everyone- parents and children alike- are born into this world with a specific gard in Odin- a calling or task to be or do something within the scheme of Nature and so fulfill a niche for our folk that nobody else can fulfill. There is some intriguing research(12) that shows how from 3-8 years of age, genetic heritability has less impact on the child than his innate character. Then again, at adolescence and finally, around mid-life onwards- when calling, character and fate become more inescapable- the influence of genetics also recedes. At one time, society understood that the parent’s role was to provide for the physical needs of the child. Then in the scheme of things, this environment might provide appropriate challenges, which later reflect as part of the pattern of emergence and strengthening of the soul’s expression over a lifetime. This paradeigma, this pattern, as we noted above, is a compacted image the soul holds in the heart that shows its portion in the world order, a pattern placed there before birth, and our mythology attests to this.(13)
However, in order to nurture the soul’s pattern into worldly expression, the ideal is to have a mentor whose understanding corresponds with the pre-existent image in the child’s heart. Put another way, parents provide the cave of security, whilst the mentor is a teacher who can apprentice the child. Hence, in mythology, magical abilities are often honed whilst working with a magician or a master craftsman who perceives the young person’s potential with “the eye of the heart,” an allegory for the way unthwarted fate and destiny play out to hone the soul in Midgarth. Unfortunately today, this vital understanding of mentors- or else role models- has been distorted into a party line educational system whilst the child’s natural desire to seek out a role model is frequently mangled to suggest s/he has latent homosexual tendencies. Simultaneously, any role models presented are usually pathetic, degenerate, vacuous, plastic media celebrities.
The psychiatric parental fallacy that a child’s entire world rests on their ability to be “good parents” not only poisons the truth, but twists a vital role into a family destroying minefield. The artificial moral imperatives of modern parenting turn father into the good guy who likes Disney, kid’s food, gadgets, and banal wisecracks whilst the great mother of creation and destruction (psychiatrically personified as our biological mother) is blamed as the precursor for all our successes and failures in life! Meanwhile, this monstrous weight of psychological responsibility so wrongly foisted upon both parents smothers the influence of their own fylgias and hence, they often unconsciously do the same to their children, mistaking repression for teaching them how to live life in “the real world.” Apathy, depression, abuse, violence, indifference and intolerance amongst family members are all partly the demonic response of the suppressed daemonic.(14) This is a fascinating and important topic way beyond the scope of this talk suffice it to say that the ancient wisdom of apprenticeships, mentorship and rites of passage cannot be overstated in their centrality for nurturing the organic emergence and growth of “the acorn,” the emerging character and calling of the soul, from the sub-strata of life into the heart of the world. It is no accident that poets and philosophers often speak of the soul as a garden to be tended and nurtured; for in the realm of viridtas, the processes are synonymous. The word “happiness” derives from eudaimonia, meaning a well pleased daemon; and a well-pleased daemon is our portion of the ancient wildwood expressing itself in the alchemical vat of time. Our calling simply must- by necessity- accord with Nature’s soul. Hence no amount of self-development workshops will teach people how to be happy and in sync with their purpose until such time as the garden of the soul is genuinely deferred to, as opposed to the ego mind!
So once again, let’s return to the heart of the matter. Last year,(15) we referenced the three main biological oscillators within the human body: the heart, gut and brain. We learnt that the brain should be entrained to the heart and not vice versa, because it is the heart that receives and processes information from our environment and sends it to the brain for analysis whilst simultaneously, affecting our emotional processing to affect the functioning of the amgydala. The heart perceives wholeness and insides; the inherently linear brain can only perceive Euclidean objects- forms without soul. Now, we should use all three oscillators properly when navigating life. The heart uses emotion, feeling and empathy; the gut is our intuition: there is a certain internal knowing at its core- that is, even if a prospect is terrifying, you “just know” you have to do do it! The brain is the logical, rational, historical aspect of the triad: it maps out the linear, “doing” aspect. And the health of all three is central to our spiritual unfolding making the quality of our environment- especially our food supply- pivotal to the processes. The inherent lifeforces within our food are key to our mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Conversely, it has been found that deficiencies in the gut microbiome- (that is, the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space)- are a major component of most degenerative illnesses, depression and behavioural difficulties in children. Many of these microorganisms exist across the phyla(16) such that we are literally integral to Mother Jorth’s web: we are simultaneously receivers and transformers of countless flows of information throughout her infinite terrestrial web of relationships.
Further, biodynamic agriculture correctly works with the cosmic emanations from the planets that, with the correct growing conditions and practices, become stored within the plants and animals that we eat, thereby feeding our subtle bodies and hence, our capacity for spiritual development and so our flowering as a natural and enlightened expression of the folksoul. The health and diversity of the microbiome across the phyla increases the opportunity for novel, organic evolution , which vitalises the entire organism of earth. In agriculture, this is Sif’s gift to us of reseeding and the infinite potential of evolutionary growth on every level of matter and consciousness. This is viriditas, the holy greening of the earth whose truth is that it is dangerous fallacy to imagine any single species, however large or small, is somehow expendable. The great lie of the so-called “green revolution” of modern, industrialised monoculture has proved this conclusively and has thrust the entire earth onto a knife edge of suicide. And Idun weeps for the impoverishment of the soul.
Truly, the greatest and single most important revolution of our time is the holy work of brave farmers following in the footsteps of such visionaries as Masanobu Fukuoka and Rudolph Steiner, who are patiently healing the swathes of abandoned, barren, poisoned, desertified land so atrociously abused by corporate agricultural practices back to vibrantly fertile, living farm organisms. Hail Sif!
“Like the winter sky in azure garbed and golden crowned, the gods of Valhalla sit enthroned. Within the doorway stands each noble Norn, together bearing date’s rune-written shield. They made laws and chose life for the Children of Ages and wyrd for men.” (17)
It is a lie to believe we were ever expelled from the Garden of Eden. For it is always within us. It is wrong to imagine that we must return to some primordial state of unconscious innocence; for that is not what the Norns have decreed for us. We are the Children of the Ages and our lot is their gift to us, our fylgia who guides our wyrd. Yes, our soul requires a return to the bosom of Eden, a re-immersion in the alchemical vat of the world. But it is a conscious return, one wrought as a truly green revolution in matter- of fully conscious awakening. It is that of the Total Man and Total Woman,(18) a new Hyperborea and a newly awakened universe. Odin descends into matter searching out the mead of experience that arises from our expression of the tension of duality in the world of form. Time enlightens or time kills; it all depends upon how patiently and consciously we nurture the garden of our soul in our quest for the elusive emerald star of Odin-Wotan.
At the centre of a vast, beautiful wildwood a million miles away yet here and now, stands a tree of infinite height and immeasurable depth. Beneath its emerald canopy and vast, serpentine boughs sits a maiden weeping. Poised on a knife-edge, she awaits her fate. Will you thrust the knife deep into her breast and dissect the corpse of her heart in the laboratory of your ego, desecrating all semblance of her form whilst remaining blind to the curtain of a new dark Age whirling around you? Or will you bring her the delicate kiss of eternal love and unite anima and animus within your blood memory, within the luminous green ray of your soul and the eternal emerald heart of the world?
Do you believe in Greenland? Or is Greenland in a blade of grass?
Hael the Great Becoming!
*** *** ***
1. Stephen Harrod-Buhner
2. Norbert Mayer
3. Ken Wilber
4. Stephen Ilardi http: www.youtube.com/watch?v=drv3BP0Fdi8
7. Eowyn OR
The Black Sun of Alchemy in Depression and Dark Nights of the
8. Masanobu Fukuoka
The One Straw Revolution
10 A-Mor: “without death”
NOS: The Book of Resurrection
11. ibid, p177
12. James Hillman
The Soul’s Code
13. The Circle of Ostara
Odinic Mythology part 1
14 James Hillman
15 Eowyn OR
16. Phyla: a biological group of organisms located between kingdom and
class in biological classification
17. The Book of Blotar of the Odinic Rite
(The Odinic Rite, 1993)
18. Miguel Serrano
Boredom: A Lively History
(Yale University Press, 2011)