Weird Coincidence

Black, White, Red. Past, present, future. Humphrey, Chimpden, Earwicker. Anna, Livia, Plurabelle. Crone, Maiden, Nymph (i.e. nubile woman). Hera, Athena, Aphrodite. Death, rising, falling. The 3 Fates (Moirai, literally “shares, phases,” such as Old Moon, New Moon, Full Moon), the ancient 3-season year. ∆. Consider in this respect the following from Joseph Campbell’s Creative Mythology:

[The] Anglo-Saxon word wyrd has about it a sense of haunting doom that is recaptured in Shakespeare’s three Weird Sisters. These are transformations into witches of the Norns of old Germanic myth, who (as described in the Old Norse “Wise Woman’s Prophecy,” Völuspó) dwell by Urth’s well, from which they water the roots of the World Ash. Shakespeare’s trio, on a “desert heath,” amid thunder, lightening, and rain, conjure from their witches’ cauldron prophecies that are heard as though from outside by Macbeth, yet are of deeds already maturing in his heart. In Old Norse the Norns’ three names are given as Urth, Verthandi, and Skuld: “Become, Becoming, and Shall Be,” Past, Present, and Future, which appear to be a late invention, however, inspired perhaps (twelfth century A.D.?) by the model of the Greek three Graces. For there seems to have been originally but one Norn: called Urth in Old Norse, in Old High German Wurd, and in Anglo-Saxon Wyrd. The word may be related to the German werden, “to become, to grow,” which would suggest a sense of inward inherent destiny. … Another association is with the Old High German wirt, wirtel, “spindle,” by which the idea is suggested of a spinning and weaving of destiny. The classical triad of the Moirai may have contributed to this image; namely of Clotho, the “Spinner,” who spins the life thread; Lachesis, “Disposer of Lots,” determining its length; and Atropos, “Inflexible,” who cuts it. And so the symbol of the spindle became significant of destiny, and the woven web, of life.

Aphrodite was called Eldest of the Fates, Aphrodite Urania. In truth this singular Fate is the complex character Aphrodite–Hermes, a.k.a. Draco, Tityos, Metis–Coeus, Venus–Mercury, Eros — i.e. the hero in general, the Green Woman coupled to the Green Man.

Although of the past, the duality Humphrey–Anna remains profoundly yet most subtly coincident with the present. As such, this existential presence is symbolized in terms of smallness, lowness, humbleness. The word humble derives from the Latin humilis, “low,” and humus, “earth,” and is cognate with the Greek chamai, “on the ground,” and chthon, as in the name Thunar, i.e. Donar, Thor, a.k.a. Zeus, Jupiter. As we’ve noted, the name Anna is linked to the Latin anus, “ring,” and annus, “year,” and is akin to the Old Irish ánne, “ring,” the Sanskrit anna, “food.,” and the Greek ana, “up, back, again.”

We’ve recognized this extremely discreet and providential male–female presence immediate to the White–Red constellation Osiris–Orion: the star Sirius, the “Dog Star,” original underdog. Indeed the dog, wolf, fox and coyote are especially popular symbols of this subtle, old and eternal power. In each version of the Hamlet myth, for instance, a dog or wolf is involved with the hero. In Norse myth Fenrir the wolf-son of Loki corresponds to Ursa Minor and especially to Polaris. Ragnarök, the terminal battle of the current cosmic cycle, begins when Fenrir breaks the magic cord that otherwise binds him. Holmberg writes (as reported by Santillana and von Dechend in their Hamlet’s Mill):

The Siberian Kirghis call the three stars of the Little Bear nearest the Pole star, which form an arch, a “rope” to which the two larger stars of the same constellation, the two horses, are fastened. One of the horses is white, the other bluish-grey. The seven stars of the Great Bear they call the seven watchmen, whose duty it is to guard the horses from the lurking wolf. When once the wolf succeeds in killing the horses the end of the world will come.

The Cherokee, note Santillana and von Dechend, call the Milky Way “Where the dog ran.” A certain dog, the story goes, habitually stole meal from a corn mill owned by the “people of the South” and ran with it to the North, dropping meal as he went and thus creating the Milky Way. (Reverse these directions and the story fits my understanding of proto-mythology.) Santillana and von Dechend furthermore point out “the preference of the very many mythical dogs, foxes, coyotes — and even of the ‘way-opening’ Fenek in West Sudan — for meal and all sorts of grain — more correctly ‘the eight kinds of grain.” Recall that the Hermes-like “Opener of the Way” in Egyptian mythology, guide to the mysterious Duat (seemingly the afterworld), is jackal-headed Upuat — the Greek Anoubis, this name from the Egyptian Anpu, which latter name stems from the word inpw, which word is related to the English word emperor, which word derives from the Latin in + parare, “to prepare, order,” as in the Parcae, spinners of Fate. Likewise Odysseus upon returning home during the 20th year of his absence is greeted by his old dog Argos; which then immediately dies. The ancient Celtic word meaning “fox” is lovernius, which can be interpreted literally as “hill spring gatherer,” or “gatherer about the hilltop spring.” This name and its meaning are strikingly reminiscent of Aquarius. Athens’ famous Lyceum, the gymnasium where Aristotle taught, was literally the “Gathering Place (or Den) of Wolves.” Ancient Mediterranean soldiers typically wore dog-skin caps, these being akin to the aforementioned bear-skin caps of the Germanic warrior elite.

Recognizing the equivalency between the dog/wolf/fox/coyote and the bear, recall that Arcadia, located on the Peloponnesian peninsula, is named after Arcas, son of Zeus and Callisto. Hera turned Arcas and Callisto into bears. Zeus then set them in the stars as Ursa Minor and Ursa Major, respectively. In Arcadia there remained a proto-mythological cult of the wolf. That cult referred to Zeus as Zeus lykaos, meaning “Zeus-the-wolf” or “Zeus-the-shining” — the latter as in the name Phoenix — and indeed practiced human sacrifice and cannibalism. Inevitably the re-invented Zeus of the Great Reversal, sent the famous 9-day deluge to destroy this last bastion of proto-mythological Greek culture. Zeus’s son Apollo, whose twin sister is Artemis, was likewise referred to as Apollo lykaos. Apollo was furthermore considered the “god of distant archery.” The English word arrow stems from the Latin arcus, meaning “bow, arc, arch.” Santillana and von Dechend recount the Lapp belief that when the star Arcturus (located in Bootes) shoots the “North Nail” with his arrow on the last day, heaven will fall, crushing the Earth and setting fire to all. They also report that the Babylonians called Polaris the “Arrow Star”; that the Babylonian New Year ritual recognized the Arrow Star as the star “who measures the depth of the sea”; and that the Avesta refers to, “Tishtriya [“the Arrow”], by whom the waters count.” Jacob Grimm recounts the medieval Dutch poem of Brandaen: “Brandaen met on the sea a man of thumb size, floating upon a leaf, holding in his right hand a small bowl, in the left hand a stylus; the stylus he kept dipping into the sea and letting the water drip from it into the bowl; when the bowl was full, he emptied it out, and began filling it again. It was imposed on him, he said, to measure the sea until Judgment day.” The Finnish Kalevala describes a Great Oak and the very special man whose stature is inversely proportional to both the size of the ocean from whence he comes and the height of the magnificent tree which he addresses:

And the summit rose to heaven
And its leaves in air expanded,
In their course the clouds it hindered,
And the driving clouds impeded,
And it hid the shining sunlight,
And the gleaming of the moonlight.

The aged Vainamoinen,
Pondered deeply and reflected,
“Is there none to fell the oak-tree,
And o’erthrow the tree majestic?
Sad is now the life of mortals,
And for fish to swim is dismal,
Since the air is void of sunlight,
And the gleaming of the moonlight.”

Then a man arose from the ocean
From the wave a hero started,
Not the hugest of the hugest,
Not the smallest of the smallest.
As a man’s thumb was his stature;
Lofty as the span of woman.

This same extremely humble figure was also able to kill the great ox which all other potential heroes fled from in fear. Tom Thumb, Tiny Tim, John Barleycorn  (a “barleycorn” being the unit equal to 1/360 of a meter; the name is linked to the Sumerian še, pronounced “shay,” and to the Cretan deai, both meaning “barley, grain,” the latter being a basis of the name Demeter): they all correspond to Humphrey–Anna, to the dog/wolf/fox/coyote, to the high priest, to Upuat, to Hermes, to Polaris, to Aquarius, to the mill/harvest, to the New Year, to the end/beginning of the cosmic cycle (i.e. the “world”).

This analysis suggests that the foregoing association of Apollo with Delphi is surely more than an artifact of the Great Reversal. The very word melissai, “bees,” referring to the priestesses of the temple at Delphi, seems to resonate not only with the Greek word meaning “honey,” meli, but also with the famous Homeric term lyssa (the Attic lytta, as in Hippolytta, queen of the Amazons), meaning “martial fury” and “rabies” and being closely related to lykaos. In fact, the harlot-priestesses of Inanna’s temple in Mesopotamia were known as lukur-priestesses, “wolf-priestesses”; and the Latin word lupa — literally “she-wolf” also means “prostitute.” (A she-wolf, recall, nurses Remus and Romulus.) Proto-mythology seems to consider bees honey-wolves, just as it considers bears bee-wolfs (as in the name Beowulf). Bees and bears are in this sense equivalent, and both are equivalent to wolves; moreover each is equivalent to the great guide and, similarly, to the sacrificed Father.

Many myths alternatively feature a hare, a serpent, or a salmon to represent Humphrey–Anna. Other such symbols are the color orange (as in the orange-fleshed, orange-skinned salmon), orange fruit, cheese, carrots (which are domesticated Queen Anne’s Lace), and the pearl. Oddly enough the word pearl stems from the Latin perna, “upper leg.” Mythical heroes typically carry a wound in the upper leg or hip, which wound adumbrates their their destined sacrifice, their inevitable reduction, as it were, to godly status. Odysseus as a young man was wounded just above the knee by a boar’s tusk. When following the Trojan War and his famous subsequent misadventures Odysseus returns home disguised as a beggar, his old nurse (a she-wolf of sorts, and á la his dog Argos) recognizes him by this scar. Scars are pearls of sorts. Likewise, Odysseus’s chief patron is the goddess Athena — whose famously grey eyes are akin to pearls. The word pearl is furthermore related to the Greek pternē, meaning “heel of a shoe,” and ptelos, “wild boar.” Hunting dogs, of course, are trained to follow at their master’s heel. Odysseus returns home following 19 full years of absence and is recognized by his dog, who has effectively remained at Odysseus’s heel all along. The ancient Egyptian system of proportion is based on a column or row of 19 squares; but curiously the Egyptian gods tend to be depicted only 18 squares tall yet standing upon a pedestal (from the Latin pes, “foot”) which is 1 of these units tall and which is the symbol of the fraction ½. That pedestal and likewise that fraction — which fraction represents the primordial instant of creation/sacrifice (Kronos castrating Ouranos, for instance) — are heels of sorts. Likewise what chiefly connects Achilles to his father Peleus — i.e. to death, to mortality, to Father Dis (god of the underworld) — is his weak heel. Remember in this respect that the P-I-E prefix per- means “to strike.” We examined this prefix in relation to the Biblical and Akkadian names for the Euphrates, i.e. the river of death: Perath or Parat, and Purattu, respectively. Similarly the thunder god of the Slavs is named Perun; the Lithuanian god of lightning and thunder is Perkunas; and the Hawaiin volcano goddess is Pele. In Sanskrit, púr- means “fortified stronghold made of earth.” Other cognates include the Greek perdix, “partridge” (sacred to Aphrodite; the male hobbles during his mating dance, á la Aphrodite’s husband Hephaistos), parthenos, “virgin” (as in the Parthenon, i.e. the Doric temple of virign Athena); the Greek geranos, “crane”; the Germanic ger, meaning “spear” and “true” and “key,” as in the German gitriuwi, “faithful,” and likewise as in names of Hamlet’s mother Gertude and Odysseus’s wife Pe(r)nelope; the Sanskrit grhá, “enclosure,” the Lithuanian gardas, “pen” or “fold,” the Albanian garth, “hedge,” the Avestan gərəδa-, “cave,” and the Russian górod, “city,” all of which derive from the P-I-E ghordo; and similarly the Norse Hel, goddess of the underworld, she being akin to Persephone as well as to Helen and to Helen’s essentially sacrificed (in this case cuckolded) husband, the red-haired Menelaos.

Thus it is that dogs, nurses, scars, pearls, heels, creation/sacrifice, lightning, thunder, volcanoes, goddesses/mothers/wives, cranes, and castles/forts/groves/caves/grottos/pens/homes/cathedrals/cities/tombs are closely related.

The number 19 represents the White/Apollonian, the physical, the essential, the boundary — i.e. “being,” as I (following Einstein) call it. Boundary is nothingness in contrast to Red/Dionysian reality, i.e. in contrast to monads (which quanta Sartre referred to as “being”). By his wife Hecabe (“100”; who nevertheless represents the triple-Goddess, eg. Hecate) Troy’s King Priam had precisely 19 sons, although he had 50 children total — including 12 daughters. Precisely 19 rectilinear pieces comprise the border of the famous Tunc page of the Book of Kells. In connection with Egyptian art we’ve noted that White/Apollonian 19 involves a nevertheless superior, godly, Red/Dionysian 18. Likewise, perhaps, Mayan art is based on an 18 x 19 grid. More generally speaking, the 18:19 ratio (0.9474) is almost exactly that of the length from the apex of a pentagon to its base compared to the length from the pentagon’s left upper point to its right upper point. The proportions of a pentagon are strictly related to Phi, the Golden Mean. For instance, a pentagon inscribed within a circle of radius 1 measures exactly Phi/2 from the center to the base. The 18:19 ratio is moreover almost precisely that of the 5th musical chord, the semitone, which is the sound produced by a plucked string being held at the point 243/256 = 0.9492 of its length. Curiously, every 18th number — and only every 18th number — of the Fibonacci series (the most obvious symmetries of which are 5-fold, 12-fold and 60-fold) has 19 as a factor. Moreover, the hexagonal numbers 1, 6, and 12 (a single hexagon can be surrounded by 6 others, which can then be surrounded by yet 12 more) sum to 19. Indeed, the number 19 is akin to the Fibonacci structure, to the Sign of Solomon (the Star of David), to the number 9, and to the cube, all of which resonate with the Golden/Legal tension between White/Apollonian 12 and Red/Dionysian 5 or 6.

Saint Brigit’s shrine in Kildare, Ireland, was maintained by 19 nuns in turn over the course of 19 days. On the 20th day the shrine was supposedly attended by the saint herself. In 432 BCE the astronomer Meton pointed up the “Grand Cycle of 19 Years”: the new Moon (or rather, dark Moon) coincides with the new Sun of the winter solstice (i.e. the most southerly rising and setting of the Sun; the longest night of the year) every 19 years, a coincidence which is called the “Meeting of the Sun and Moon.” Odysseus, the Moon, returns to meet Penelope, the Sun. We recognized such coincidence in regard to the courts of Sumer: The full Moon — and especially the orange, Harvest Moon, the rising of which coincides temporally with yet is spatially opposite to the setting of the Sun — represents the completed king, i.e. the king upon his moment of sacrifice, of regicide, at which moment he at last corresponds to the Sun, i.e. he at last becomes dominantly Red/Dionysian and thus virtually female, all but identical to his queen or queens. Perhaps this periodic coincidence is why the Babylonians considered the 19th day of a month taboo and counted 19 as 20 minus 1. According to the Great Reversal, on the other hand, the king (eg. Odysseus) is not sacrificed but rules unto wizened senescence. The number 19 is likewise related to the phenomenon called nutation (which word stems from the Latin nutare, “to nod”). Concomitant of planetary and lunar motion the chief precessional motion of the Earth’s axis is embellished, so to speak, with small elliptical motions. These embellishments are the nutations. The primary nutation periods are 13.66 days (half the period of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth), 1/2 year (i.e. half the period of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun), 9.3 years (rotation period of the Moon’s perigee) and 18.6 years (concomitant of the 18.6-year oscillation of the plane of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth relative to the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun; i.e. the period of the Moon’s “nodes,” these being the points where the orbit of the Moon intersects the plane of the ecliptic, i.e. the plane of the Earth’s orbit about the Sun). The 18.6-year nutation — marked by an amplitude of 9.2 seconds of arc is the most obvious. Yet nutation itself was not discovered until 1728, by the English astronomer James Bradley; and it went unexplained for another 20 years. Nevertheless many ancient astronomical observatories, including Stonehenge, accurately record the 18.6-year cycle of the Moon’s nodes. That cycle can be considered to represent the important resonance between the numbers 18 and 19. A more precise match to the more godly of the pair, the number 18, is the fact that each eclipse of the Sun by the Moon can be said to repeat itself (in terms of its non-negligible qualities as observed by the naked eye on Earth: completeness, location in the sky, apparent size of the disc) at a different place on the Earth every 223 synodic months (a.k.a. lunations), i.e. 223 x 29.5305882 = 6585.3211 days = 18.029 years (on average, the synodic month varying from 29.2 days to 29.8 days), this 18.029-year duration being a so-called “saros” period. These immediate repetitions occur at different places on Earth, so to say, because the saros period is not a whole number; rather it is off by 0.3211 days. Consequently 54 years and 34 days pass before such repetition occurs (i.e. is focused) at virtually the same place on Earth. That the fraction 0.3211 is so importantly linked to the number 54 will prove to be very interesting to us. The number 1132 is Joyce’s favorite symbol in the Wake, and he occasionally therein he does use 3211 instead. His usage of these symbols remains an extreme mystery. Moreover, his next favorite symbol in the Wake is the nearly as mysterious number 432, which equals 54 x 8. As we will see, the numbers 54 and 432 and 8 are extremely significant in relation to the universal clock. And since relative to a single human lifespan eclipse repetitions — meetings of the Sun and the Moon, i.e. of the female and the male — are perhaps the most important ticks of that clock, Joyce may have used the symbol 1132 to indicate the extreme mythological importance of the coincidence of the Sun and the Moon. The transposition from 3211 to 1132, it would therefore seem, indicates proto-mythological, “counter”-clockwise motion, a sort of reversal of time (or a reversal of the Great Reversal). Similarly, if you read 3211 backwards you get 1123: the initial 4 numbers of the Fibonacci series. Curiously, I might add, the initial 6 Fibonacci numbers sum to 18 (or 3 x 2 x 1 x 1 x 3), while the initial 8 Fibonacci numbers sum to 54 (or 3 x 2 x 1 x 1 x 3 x 3). We should further recall in regard to the Joycean symbols 1132 and 3211 that the Sun’s mean apparent diameter — virtually equal to that of the Moon, a coincidence requisite for the further coincidence which is a total eclipse of the Sun — spans 32 minutes and 2 seconds of arc. The 11 in 3211 or in 1132 could be thought to indicate these 2 seconds, these 2 ticks. Moreover, as I earlier noted and later will explain, the number 32 (as in 3200 BCE?) is quite generally significant of the precise moment of falling, i.e. of the tip of the pyramid, the proto-mythological New Year, the star Polaris, the end of a cosmic cycle, quantum gravity, the suspended/mediate nature of every monad and of the essence of existence in general (eg. Hermes, Odin on the tree, mistletoe in the tree, the golden bough, the Holy Grail, the Fibonacci structure, etc.). And insofar as the number 32 represents falling/unity, the number 23 — i.e. 32 in reverse — represents rising/plurality.

We’ve seen that the number 19 is related to the root  pe-, especially as that root expresses boundedness. Another pe- word noteworthy in this respect is peasant. According to the Great Reversal, peasants are natural slaves rather than potential warriors, kings, priests or representatives of the Black/Baroque. The word peasant is nevertheless cognate with a tremendously rich collection of mythologically important characters, words, and phenomena. Sure, the Latin pagus merely means “district”; but the Greek pēgē means “spring (of water).” Here we are back in the primordial garden, the mythological moment, the moment of gravity. Indeed, it is from the primeval garden’s central spring that the name of the chief celestial ramification of said garden derives: the Pegasus Square. With a blow of his hoof, the winged horse Pegasus — i.e. the Phoenix — causes the Hippocrene stream to spring forth from Mount Helicon. The name Pegasus stems from the aforenoted pēgē  coupled to sus,“up, sweet.” Mount Helicon goes by many names, including Haran, Ararat, and Tara — the latter perhaps from téa múr, “Téa’s wall,” and linked closely to the Latin terror and terra, the Greek trein, “to be afraid,” and termōn, “boundary,” the Sanskrit tarman, “top of a post,” and the Latin tertius, “third,” all of which are related closely to both the prefix And- and the suffix -vari in the name of the Norse fish-god Andvari. I’m reminded of the nursery rhyme: “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after.”

Abutting said mountain’s location on the northern face of the universal clock is the constellation Ursa Major, which corresponds to the Titan Iapetus (or Io-Petus) — note the pe/pet- root — and his consort Themis (“order”), she who accepted from Gaia responsibility for Delphi. This pair further corresponds to the following famous and equivalent dualities: Iseult–Tristan, Guinevere–Lancelot, Grainne–Diarmuid, Isis–Osiris, the Aśvins (a.k.a. the Nasatya), Freya–Frey, Ariadne–Theseus, Aphrodite–Adonis, Ishtar–Tammuz, Inanna–Dummuzi, Cybele–Attis (i.e. Isabelle–Attis), Astarte–Attis, Penelope–Odysseus, Artemis–Apollo, etc. Which is to say, Ursa Major corresponds to the happy state of the hero prior to his sacrifice. Homer in the Iliad points up this correspondence as he describes the shield which Hephaistos fashions for Achilles:

Five welded layers composed the body of the shield. The maker used all his art adorning this expanse. He pictured on it earth, heaven, and sea, unwearied sun, moon waxing, all the stars that heaven bears for garland: Pleiades, Hyades, Orion in his might, the Great Bear, too, that some have called the Wain, pivoting there, attentive to Orion, and unbathed ever in the Ocean stream.

Bathing in the Ocean stream means sacrifice followed by burial in/upon water, i.e. in/upon the river of death (Eridanus, Euphrates, Styx, etc.), which river corresponds to the stretch of the northern face of the universal clock running from Cepheus to Hercules and coincident with the Milky Way, a.k.a. Brown Street.

A “wain” is a chariot. In Ursa Major we have the true stellar equivalent of the charioteer Phaethon (whose name means “Shining,” as in Stephen King’s famous novel and Kubrick's film adaptation of it). The son of Helios (a.k.a. Phoebus, the “shining one”; considerably equivalent to Apollo, son of Zeus) and Clymene (daughter of Oceanos), Phaethon questions whether Helios is in fact his real father. To demonstrate the strength of his paternal bond, Helios promises to fulfill any single wish Phaethon puts to him. Phaethon responds by asking permission to drive the Sun-chariot, with its 4 white horses, through the heavens for a day. Helios reluctantly honors the wish. Young Phaethon, however, quickly loses control of the vehicle. Initially he turns too far from the Earth and therefore the Earth grows very cold. Then he turns too close and is about to burn up the Earth. Zeus intervenes by striking the chariot with a lightning bolt, sending Phaethon plummeting into the river Eridanus. Zeus moreover floods the Earth to reduce the planet’s temperature. Phaethon’s friend Cygnus grieves so hard that Zeus turns him into a swan; and Phaethon’s sisters, the Heliades, grieve so much that Zeus turns them into alder trees, their tears becoming amber. The fall of Phaethon, the Greeks say, marked the end of the Golden Age. I think it likewise corresponds to the advent of the Great Reversal and especially to the aforenoted comet impact in the Mediterranean Sea c. 3200 BCE.

Helios’s chariot is equivalent to the chariot driven by the mother goddess of Asia Minor: Cybele. This goddess was chiefly associated with the Earth, with eminences, and especially with a black stone enshrined at Pergamum. In Phrygia she was perhaps originally called Kubaba, “Lady of the Cube,” for she is associated with a goddess of that name whose shrines were likewise situated in caves or grottoes and who was worshipped at Carchemish — the town, recall, that I mentioned in connection with Haran, Haran being located where the ancient road north from Damascus intersected (i.e. coincided with) the ancient east–west road from Nineveh to Carchemish. Note the resonance between Cybele and the Ka’aba (the “Cube”) — the most sacred shrine of Islam, containing in its southeast corner the Black Stone of Islam. Likewise note her resonance with Humbaba of the Gilgamesh epic — which epic I will interpret in the next chapter, uncovering the equivalency of Humbaba, the cube, the Yule log, and Ulysses. Virgil (70–19 BCE) in his Aeneid says that the Trojans and hence the Romans considered Cybele their mother goddess.

Midsea great Jove’s great island Crete, lies southward. There’s Mount Ida, there the cradle of our people [the Romans]. … There was the origin of Mount Cybelus’ Mother goddess [Cybele, the “Lady of Ida”], with her Corybantes’ brazen ringing cups, her grove on Ida; there her mysteries, devoutly kept, and the yoked lions of Our Lady’s car.

That lady and that car and those lions are the proto-mythological Sun. According to Greek myth, the lions are the transformed heroic couple Atalanta (“balanced”) and Melanion (“black Moon”). Yet Virgil here is expressing what is perhaps the chief proto-mythological, non-Greek (or at least non-Athenian) legend about the founding of Troy, according to which Troy was founded by the 1/3 of Crete’s population who fled that island nation under pressure of famine and led by a Prince Scamander (whose name was subsequently given to the Phrygian river Xanthus). Upon reaching a certain Phrygian beach, they made camp in the shadow of a tall mountain, which they named Ida after the Cretan mount considered home to Zeus. Apollo had suggested they settle where they happen to be attacked at night by Earth-born enemies. To my mind such enemies represent dreams (especially nightmares), “giants”; but according to legend the enemies in this instance were mice, for Scamander’s initial camp was attacked at night by a horde of field mice, and Scamander hence dedicated a shrine there to Sminthian Apollo (“Mouse Apollo,” a favorite Cretan god) and married the nymph Idaea. Eventually the Phrygian king Dardanus welcomed these Cretans, now called Teucrians after Scamander’s son — by Idaea — and successor, Teucer, and went so far as to give his daughter in marriage to Teucer and to refer to his own subjects as Teucrians. The Athenians, contrariwise, say that Teucer had emigrated to Phrygia from Athens and that Dardanus, son of Zeus by the Pleiad Electra (daughter of Atlas), arrived shortly thereafter from the Arcadian kingdom founded by Atlas, where he fathered by a daughter of Teucer the boys Erichthonius and Ilus (i.e. Oïleus) and that later he married Chryse, the daughter of Pallas, and fathered by her a pair of sons, Idaeus and Deimas. The historical Troy referred to by Homer seems to have been the 7th of 10 successive city-states built upon the same hillock. As was common in those Bronze Age times, this particular Troy seems to have been the capital of a federation of 3 peoples. In this case the tribes were likely the Trojans (White?), the Ilians (Red?), and the Dardanians (Black?).

Now, the aforementioned Pallas is an extremely interesting figure. She was the childhood “playmate” of Athena. The 3 goat-skin-clad nymphs of Libya had found the infant Athena on the shore of that land’s great salt lake Tritonis. The child Athena accidentally killed her peer Pallas (“maiden, youth”) while they were playing at combat with a spear and shield. Aggrieved at this loss, Athena asked to be called Pallas Athena and eventually emigrated to Greece via Crete.… One way or the other, the aforementioned Ilus, son of Dardanus, emerges in Phrygia, where he is instructed by the local king (or else by Apollo) to follow the wanderings of a certain spotted cow and to found a city wherever the beast initially lies down. Heeding this instruction, Ilus follows the cow to the small hill of Ate, where it finally lies down. This resting place is precisely where Dardanus had determined to build a city, a project Dardanus aborted when an oracle of Phrygian Apollo warned him that misfortune would always befall the site’s inhabitants. Ilus, despite this warning, proceeds to build the city of Ilium (which is eventually named Troy). Having layed out the city boundary, Ilus prays to Zeus for a sign. Exiting his tent the next morning, Ilus stumbles upon a half-buried wooden object which proves to be the representation of Pallas which Athena had carved in memory of the dead Libyan playmate. The idol is legless yet life-sized, standing 3 cubits tall, wrapped around the breasts by the aegis (“goat-skin” girdle, a shield of sorts), holding a spear in her right hand and a distaff and spindle in her left. Regarding the Palladium, Apollo Smintheus (i.e. Apollo the Mouse God, whom we will meet later and who is credited with benefiting the Cretan foundation of Troy) advises Ilus: “Preserve the Goddess who fell from the skies and you will preserve your city. Wherever she goes she carries empire!”

Initially Athena had erected this idol on Olympus, where it received great honor. But when the Pleiad Electra, Ilus’s grandmother, was “raped” by Zeus and in turn touched the idol, Athena considered it defiled and therefore cast both Electra (“Amber”) and the idol down to Earth. Which is to say, Pallas and Electra are identical, Pallas representing the chief member of the college of nymph priestesses (alias the Pleiades, Joyce’s St. Bride’s Academy), which college (the orignal harem) according to proto-mythology initiates the execution of the king when his virility significantly declines. Electricity owes its name to electrum, amber, and is deeply connected to the Electra myth. The word anode, for instance, stems from the Greek a + odyne “pain,” as in Odysseus and Ulysses, and is probably akin to the Old English etan, “to eat” — as in the Christian mass and, deeper still, the proto-mythological cannibalization of the sacrificed king’s body so as to conserve his special vigor or energy, if you will. The word cathode stems from the Greek kathodos, this from kata “down, by” + hodos  “way.” The anode represents the notion of a merely White, non-corporeal, painless Heaven; it absorbs electrons (i.e. souls). The cathode represents the notion of a Black Hell or, likewise, of a merely Black Hell-on-Earth; i.e. it represents the devaluation of corporeality; it emits electrons (toward Heaven). Indeed amber — which was proto-mythologically considered magical, for it is generally a golden rock of sorts (as in Cepheus, i.e. Peter) that nevertheless floats (á la Ouranos’s genitalia; á la Aphrodite; á la a sacrificed king whose body is set aflame and adrift; á la mistletoe, which floats, as it were, Moon-become-Sun-like in the tree), like oil, like a teardrop of Golden, Red fire, a parcel of regal, solar energy — was transported from the Baltic, land of the Norse goddess Hel, down the famous Amber Route to the Adriatic, to be traded throughout the Mediterranean world and especially in Phoenicia, the “Red Land.” Amber = Hel = Helen = Helios (Hel–Ios) = Ophelia (Op–Helia) = Eur–Opa (“Red Face”) = Core = Persephone = Demeter = Day = Hesione = Andromeda = Red Dragon (of the St. George story) = Sea Monster = Aphrodite. The “fall” of Electra = the fall of Ouranos = the fall of Aphrodite = the fall of Hephaistos = the fall of Lucifer = “creation” = sacrifice = complexity = Red/Dionysian = corporeality = reality = the existential = Black/Baroque. Here again is the secret blackness of milk.

The Sun goes south every year, precisely when Boreas (the North Wind) fertilizes the sea and raises amber. Probably most of the amber was transported south during the winter, in large part, perhaps, by dog sled. These dogs would have been associated with Fenrir, wolf-son of Loki, Loki being the Norse equivalent of Lucifer, Hephaistos, Hermes, etc. The unleashing of Fenrir corresponds to the end of the present cosmic round. The sled itself, and its Loki-like driver, would have been associated with the celestial Chariot and its driver, i.e, with the Wain, Ursa Major, and Phaethon, son of Helios. Most likely a considerable proportion of such sleds were sleighs drawn by reindeer. In a sense the reindeer was the initial domestic animal, for although they essentially remain wild they do excercise an affinity for human urine — as in the name Orion — and largely for this reason they are wont to live in close communication with humans, which communication is useful to humans and is all but fairly considered domestication. (Likewise the elephant remains essentially wild yet often in the service humankind.) Yes, Santa Claus — Red, White and Black Saint Nick — is equivalent to Loki, while the couple Donner (“Thunder,” ear, Red) and Blitzen (“Lightning,” eye, White) correspond both to Loki and to Fenrir. And where does Santa live? Polaris. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Despite Zoroastrian-style idealism, the primacy and moreover the chief nature of the electron itself — i.e. of the real current in contrast to the ideal (that is, merely conceptual) nodes, of the Red in contrast to the White and the Black — is naturally recognized. Hence the anode is signified with the color red.

The Palladium’s spear symbolizes the execution of the king. We noted in this connection that the Greek odyne means “pain.” Likewise the word pain — which also means “bread,” and is cognate with Pan — stems from the Greek poinē, “payment, penalty,” as in point and Penelope (Penel–Ope, alias “duck,” “veiled one”), she purportedly being mother of Pan by the suitors of her red-haired, disproportionately short-legged husband Odysseus, “the angry one.” Penelope’s pairing with Odysseus parallels Aphrodite’s pairing with bandy-legged Hephaistos as well as Helen’s pairing with red-haired Menelaos. Moreover, Helen’s 5th and final husband (after Theseus, Menelaus, Paris, and Deiphobus) — whom she wed, after death, on the White Isle at the mouth of the Danube — is the famous spear-man Achilles, son of the sea goddess Thetis. Hence Achilles is called Pemptus, “Fifth.” The Illiad derives largely from a poem titled “The Wrath of Achilles,” which focuses on the dispute between Achilles and Agamemnon over a captured princess. The name Achilles (Akhilles, Akhilleus, Aiákidês), said to mean “no lips” (as in an angry face), seems cognate with quelle, Germanic for “well, spring” (in Greek called pēgē), as well as kite (from the Middle High German kūze, “owl”), and kith (from the Old English kuth, “known,” as in Athena, goddess of knowledge and war, whose symbol is the owl; and as in the English word uncouth). The Greek akhos — synonymous, in fact, with the Greek penthos — means “grief” and “song of grief.” Robert Graves notes that the plane-tree was sacred to Helen because its leaves have 5 points and thus each represents her hand, as in Chiron, “The Hand,” mentor of Achilles; but, says Graves, Apollo borrowed this symbol — just as the god Esmun borrowed Tanit’s (i.e. Neith’s, Anath’s,  Athena’s) open-hand emblem, and, I might add, just as Athena supervened upon Aphrodite. This emblem seems to correspond to the 5-petalled/pointed rose/star shape that the planet Venus traces relative to the stars (as seen from Earth) — with the Sun at the center, Venus never getting more than 47° away from the Sun — over a period of 40 years (minus 3 days). A 5-pointed star graces the flat face of a bisected apple, as in the apple of the Tree of Knowledge and as in the apple “For the fairest” and as in Apollo himself (the 5-fold-fractal human archetype). The Egyptian hieroglyph meaning “knowledge” is a 5-pointed star, the corresponding Egyptian god of knowledge being Thoth (the Greek Hermes), whose totem animal was an ibis or crane, which latter word comes from Greek geranos and is thus related, as I will later explain, to the cro/car/kar complex, which complex also involves the words spear and truth (as in Hamlet’s mother Gertrude) and the notion of a circular home/paradise. But getting back to the word pain, we should note that it is closely related to paint and pigment, which stem from the Latin prugere, “to tattoo, embroider,” as in Penelope’s veil and her weaving. Here we have the meaning of the Palladium’s distaff and spindle. Another close relative of pain is the Greek pygmē, “fist” (as in pugnacious), the English word fist deriving from the Old English fif, meaning “five,” and likewise closely related to the Old High German pfifa, “pipe,” the Polish pięść, “fist,” the Latin piscis, “fish,” and the Old High German fisc, “fish” — as in Aphrodite’s equivalent the sacrificed king (Poseidon, for example, he who holds the trident; or Mananann Mac Lir, as in the Isle of Man; or King Lear, he of the 3 daughters) and as in the salmon/serpent of knowledge, who lives in the spring/well at the base of the tree.

The Palladium and Electra correspond to the missing 7th Pleiad and likewise to the leap year (or “leap tear,” as Joyce referred to it) and especially to its 29 February and the number 366 — i.e. to the utter mystery of existence, White–Red–Black existence. What’s more, they correspond to the black stone sacred to Cybele. In 204 BCE — and surely in light of Apollo Smintheus’s aforementioned oracle — Romans brought Cybele’s black stone to Rome, another oracle having prophecied that if this stone were housed in Rome then Cybele would aid the Romans in their war against the Carthaginians. Need I add that the Palladium and the black stone of Cybele are equivalent to the Black Stone of Islam — and that these are also equivalent to the Statue of Liberty!?! Yes, Lady Liberty — who, like the Black Stone of Islam, faces southeast — is Lady Libya is Joyce’s Livia is Pallas is Electra is Andromeda (purportedly chained or tied by the hair to a corner of the Pegasus Square, the corner nearest at once the Pleiades and Polaris, which corner is the star Alpheratz, “Broken Down,” alias Sirrah, from the Arabic Al Surrat al Faras, “The Navel of the Horse”): chiefly the middle, Red/Dionysian, nymph aspect of the (White–Red–Black, Black/Baroque) triple-Goddess, which aspect has been specifically oppressed by the Great Reversal. Chances are that the Black Stone of Islam is a tektite; but more likely still, it was originally considered an especially dark peice of amber, a teardrop of the triple-Goddess.



Robert Graves, from his Greek Myths:

The Palladium, which the Vestal Virgins [a reduced manifestation of the college of nymphs] guarded at Rome, as the luck of the city, held immense importance for Italian mythographers; they claimed that it had been rescued from Troy by Aeneas — again, son of Aphrodite — and brought to Italy. It was perhaps made of porpoise-ivory. ‘Palladium’ means a stone or other cult-object [typically phallic/serpent/herm-like in its nature, akin to the illicit items contained in the Gorgon-faced aegis bag/wallet/basket — the name Paris means “wallet,” and as an infant Trojan Paris was carried in a wallet after being abandoned on Mount Ida — such as were carried thus in Athens’s ancient Thesmophoria procession of pseudo-harlot-priestesses; Pallas = Paris = phallus] around which the girls of a particular clan danced [hence the words ballad, ball, and ballet, where a b has simply replaced the p], as at Thespiae [and as around the maypole], or young men leaped, pallas being used indiscriminately for both sexes. The Roman College of Salii was a society of leaping priests. When such cult-objects became identified with tribal prosperity and were carefully guarded against theft or mutilation, palladia was read as meaning palta, ‘things hurled from heaven’. Palta might not be hidden from the sky; thus the sacred thunder-stone of Terminus at Rome stood under a hole in the roof of Jupiter’s temple — which accounts for the similar opening at Troy.

Worship of meteorites was easily extended to ancient monoliths, the funerary origin of which had been forgotten; then from monolith to stone image, and from stone image to wooden or ivory image is a short step. But the falling of a shield from heaven — Mars’s ancile [as in the Latin ancilla, “female servant”] is the best known instance — needs more explanation. At first, meteorites, as the only genuine palta, were taken to be the origin of lightning, which splits forest trees. Next, neolithic stone axes, such as the one recently found in the Mycenaean sanctuary of Asine, and early Bronze Age celts or pestles, such as Cybele’s pestle at Ephesus, were mistaken for thunderbolts. [Said double-headed axe was called a labrys, which word, as I will explain, is related to the word labyrinth, to Janus, and to Achilles.] But the shield was also a thunder instrument. Pre-Hellenic rain-makers summoned storms by whirling bull-roarers [rhomboi] to imitate the sound of rising wind and, for thunder, beat on huge, tightly-stretched ox-hide shields, with double-headed drum-sticks like those carried by the Salian priests in the Anagi relief. The only way to keep a bull-roarer sounding continuously is to whirl it in a figure-of-eight, as boys do with toy windmills, and since torches, used to imitate lightning, were, it seems, whirled in the same pattern, the rain-making shield was cut to form a figure-of-eight, and the double drum-stick beat continuously on both sides. This is why surviving Cretan icons show the Thunder-spirit descending as a figure-of-eight shield; and why therefore ancient shields were eventually worshipped as palta. [I wonder whether a comet descending into Earth’s atmosphere would be shielded, as it were, by an obvious figure-8 shape.] A painted limestone tablet from the Acropolis at Mycenae proves, by the colour of the flesh, that the Thunder-spirit was a goddess, rather than a god; on a gold ring found near by, the sex of the descending shield is not indicated.

The figure-8 shield certainly smacks of the symbol — suggestive of the Meeting of the Sun and the Moon — that graced the wandering cow which determined for Cadmus the site where he should settle and hence where the Greek city of Thebes would occur.


That story is almost perfectly paralleled in the legend of Ilus’s founding of Ilium and hence of Troy. Moreover, Greek Thebes — whose symbol is a lion, as in the lion of dawn, the lion of the desert, the lion of the Sun, and the lions of Cybele — resonates with Egyptian Thebes, with the Siwa oasis near Libya, and with Greek Dodona. At Egyptian Thebes there was a colossal yet hollow black statue of a seated stone figure. When the initial rays of sunrise heated the statue’s interior and made the air therein rush through the narrow throat, the statue made a sound like that of a breaking lyre-string. The Greeks considered this statue a representation of of Memnon the Ethiopian, son of Priam’s half-brother Tithonus (governor of Persia for Priam’s overlord Teutamus, king of Assyria) and of Cissia, “Ivy,” or Eos, “Dawn.” Priam bribed Tithonus with a golden vine, i.e. a golden bough, so that Memnon (“Resolute,” as in Agamemnon, “Very Resolute”) would aid the Trojans against the Greeks. (Likewise Zeus compensated Tros with a golden vine for the rape of Ganymede.) Initially Ajax attacked Memnon, but Achilles took over the job from Ajax and killed the ebony warrior. Eos then asked Zeus to grant Memnon immortality. Robert Graves:

A number of phantom hen-birds, called Memnonides, were consequently formed from the embers and smoke of his pyre, and rising into the air, flew three times around it. At the fourth circuit they divided into two flocks, fought with claws and beaks, and fell down upon his ashes as a funeral sacrifice. Memnonides still fight and fall at his tomb when the Sun has run through all the signs of the Zodiac.

According to another tradition, these birds are Memnon’s girl companions, who lamented for him so excessively that the gods, in pity, metamorphosed them into birds. They make an annual visit to his tomb, where they weep and lacerate themselves until some of them fall dead.

Egyptian Thebes, Siwa, and Dodona were the 3 prime ancient centers for the worship of proto-mythological Zeus/Amen — i.e. the 3-Man, the Green Man — and hence of the triple-Goddess. Long ago, recall, 2 black doves flew from this Thebes, one to Siwa and the other to Dodona, each dove alighting on an oak tree and proclaiming the tree oracular.  The priestesses at Dodona were called peleiades, “doves”; they were born of Atlas and Pleione, the Oceanid daughter of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. Robert Graves suggests that Memnon has in this legend been confused with Mnemon, a title of Artaxerxes the Assyrian, and with Amenophis, the Pharoah in whose honor the singing black statue was constructed. I think the situation more deep and complex. Mnemon primarily signifies Mnemosyne, “Memory,” mother by Zeus of the 3 (or 9) Muses and, we may infer, of the yet more antique Sirens, also 3 in number. Likewise the prefix Mne- points to the P-I-E high priest Manu. As such, both the name Memnon and the singing black statue represent the Green Man and the Green Woman and especially the college of Siren-like, Pallas-like nymphs who initiated the execution of the king (eg. Ganymede, Memnon, Hylas, etc.). Pausanias: “Swans sing before they die.” Graves: “[T]he sacred king’s soul departs to the sound of music.” Stones and especially singing stones seem to be closely associated with the sacrifice of the king and with rain-making, as in the names/titles Cepheus and Peter, each meaning “The Rock.” The Finnish Kalevala describes joy-stones, music-boulders, and song-stones, which a rune singer would sit on while singing and playing the kantele, a 5-stringed harp-like instrument originally made of pike bone as explained in that epic’s “Runo 40.” The Finns and Lapps — as in lapidary, meaning “stone,” and the Latin lapis, meaning “stupid” — are especially proto-mythological peoples, speaking as they do Finno-Ugrian, i.e. non-P-I-E, languages.

It seems likely that proto-mythologists equated meteorites and especially comets (both of which are literally planets of sorts, “wanderers”) with cows or lions. Sure enough, the Greeks called the Pleiades constellation — as in Electra/Pallas — the kometes, “the long-haired,” thus associating comets with the oracular dove-priestesses of Dodona and with the wandering cows/lions that founded, as it were, the oracular Egyptian city of Thebes (and in turn Siwa and Dodona), Greek Thebes, Troy, and, I might add, Antioch. In Old English, Old German, Czech, Hungarian, and Russian the Pleiades are called the “hen and chicks,” as in the Memnonides. Thus the Pleiades are further connected with the dawn of a new day (or year or age; i.e. the crowing of the implicit cock, a symbol of Kronos), with the black statue at Egyptian Thebes, and with Mnemosyne, the Muses, and the Sirens.

In the next chapter I will show that the aegis corresponds to the northern face of the universal clock (and hence to the universe in general), its contents corresponding to the constellation Draco, i.e. Metis–Coeus, Eve–Adam, Aphrodite–Hermes, Iseult–Tristan, etc.

Apart from stone (especially black stone), the lion, the desert, the Sun, and the Earth, other prime symbols of Cybele include a mirror, a pomegranate, and a key. The key in general is associated with the climax/peak, hurdle, and golden bough — i.e. with the general passage of the complete proto-mythological hero — and likewise with Atlantean Clito and with Greek Clio (Muse of history, as in the Greek klimba, “ladder,” and the Middle Low German keie, keige,“lance, spear”) and likely, too, with Kolyo/Kalypso, and furthermore with glory, as in Herakles, “Hera’s Glory.” Indeed, the chief myth associated with Cybele concerns her vengeance upon Attis for his infidelity. She causes him to go insane and thus to castrate himself. Likewise Hera causes Hercules to go insane and kill his wife. (And in fact the name Attis seems cognate with Gadirus, which character of the Atlantis legend we recognized as a proto-Hercules, his name meaning “gate” and “cat,” as in the Pillars of Hercules, Cadiz, Leo the lion, and the lion or lions of Cybele. A cat, recall, has 9 lives.) These motifs seem to be post-Reversal embellishments of the proto-mythological notion that the wife or wives of the king must determine when he should be sacrificed, this determination being made relative to his virility, which virility was believed to be directly proportional to the health of the tribe and of the cosmos in general.

The Great Reversal inverted the proto-mythological understanding of the cosmos, placing the White/Apollonian (eg. male, horse, Greek) over the Red/Dionysian (eg. female, lion, Trojan) and inasmuch all but eliminating sacrifice — and with it multeity-in-unity, beauty. Hence another, contrary inversion was called for. On the grand scale this return toward proto-mythology could only be accomplished by a likewise grand sacrifice of the White/Apollonian. But the White/Apollonian is not wont to execute such a sacrifice upon itself, and in the midst of the Great Reversal it is not inclined to allow the Red/Dionysian to execute a grand sacrifice upon it. Therefore what was called for is a grand White/Apollonian, Adonis-like character to sacrifice himself and reverse the Great Reversal, i.e. to re-turn the Golden/Legal philosophy to its chiefly proto-mythological state. This is precisely what Jesus of Nazareth did. In offering himself up for sacrifice at the hands of the Red/Dionysian Pontius Pilate — note the Po- and Pi- prefixes, akin to Pe- — of the Red/Dionysian Roman Empire (a continuation of Troy, i.e. of Mesopotamia, Atlantis), Jesus became at once identical to Kronos and to Ouranos, the self-sacrificing god. His death upon the cross was not a mere representation of the original sacrifice/creation; it was a true recreation of the cosmos.

Jesus of Nazareth’s extremely White–Red, complex, beautiful, Galahad-like, Aeneas-like, Castor–Polydeuces-like, Ganymede/Aquarius-like, Pelops-like, Hercules-like, Hermes-like nature — i.e. of the mediate type who is both born on Earth and borne up to eternal Heaven — is emphasized in the sense that he is declared the only son of God. An only son is at once youngest and eldest, White and Red. Likewise “red-golden-haired” Odysseus, Odysseus’s son Telemachus, and Odysseus’s father Laertes (son of Arkeisios) are each the only son of their respective fathers. In their predominate yet merely White/Apollonian aspect each of these characters is akin to Apollo (he who refuses to bind himself in marriage), Ursa Major, the Wain, Phaethon: White/Apollonian yet imminently Red/Dionysian. Each represents that extremely special type — which type is really every monad, every soul — who does not truly die upon sacrifice. Such, too, is the nature of Odin, Hermes, Ares/Mars, Attis, Hercules, to name just a few. From the 5th century BCE Apollo became increasingly identified with Helios, the Sun — the “Unconquered Sun.” Which is to say, Apollo became increasingly complex, Red/Dionysian, ripe for sacrifice. Concomitantly solar monotheism became the most popular form of paganism. When the Moon and the Sun meet, the Moon is sacrificed and becomes the Sun: White/Apollonian becomes Red/Dionysian, male becomes female.

Eventually Constantine equated Jesus with both Mars and the Unconquered Sun. Constantine — whose own title of Emperor, cognate with the Egyptian inpw, labeled him as being extremely akin to Mars (as does the title President) — believed that Jesus Christ could, like Odin, determine victory in battle. It is said that Constantine received instruction via a dream to place the “Chi–Rho” (as in Kronos, the great emasculator) monogram on his standards and shields.


This sign, considered a monogram for Christ, also appears on Constantine’s coins from 315 CE. James Joyce likely considered the Chi–Rho a monogram for Anna Livia Plurabelle, as well as for Christ: the lower half of the “X” may be considered a pyramid akin to the “A” in Anna; the upper half may be considered the “L” of Livia; and the “P” may be considered the “P” of Plurabelle. Thus we have Black, White, Red. The nexus represents the present, the moment of multeity-in-unity, of sacrifice, of gravity — of the hero’s ascent, if you will, to Heaven, i.e. eternity, completion, fully self-aware existence. The sword-in-the-stone motif of the Arthur legend likewise corresponds to the Chi–Rho monogram.

Returning our attention to Iapetus and Themis, note that the pair is said to produce 3 offspring: Atlas, Prometheus, and Epimetheus. But Atlas is also said to be the son of Poseidon and Clito. In this confusion we can recognize a deep identity between Iapetus and Poseidon/Neptune/Neptno/Nehushtan/ Yahweh/Sila and between Themis and Clito/Kolyo/Kalypso/Leto/Leda/etc. Likewise Prometheus seems to be an extremely complex, Odin/Hermes/Ares/Mars/Attis/Odysseus/Hercules/Pelops/ Ganymede/Castor–Polydeuces/Aneas/Jesus/Galahad character. Cleverest of the Titans, Prometheus tends to betray Zeus. For one, he tricks Zeus and the rest of the gods such that they get the worst parts of any animal sacrificed, the best parts going to the humans. He also steals the sacred fire from Zeus and brings it to humanity. Epimetheus, on the other hand, seems to be an all too simple, preternaturally White/Apollonian character. The name Epimetheus means “afterthought.” Delegated by Zeus to help Prometheus create humankind, Epimetheus is a fool who accepts Pandora as his wife (i.e. he indiscriminately accepts everything) and thus brings ills and sorrows to humanity. As for Prometheus, Zeus punishes him by chaining him to a rock (á la Andromeda) and sending an eagle to eat his liver. The organ regenerates overnight, however, and therefore the eagle returns day after day to eat it. Zeus releases Prometheus after Prometheus informs him that the sea nymph Thetis, whom both Zeus and Poseidon are lusting after, will give birth to a son more powerful than whoever will be the boy’s father. Hence Zeus causes Thetis to marry a mortal: Peleus. (Yet another pe- name!) Thetis nevertheless obsesses about bearing an immortal child. She therefore gives birth to a series of children, each time perfunctorily throwing the inevitably mortal child into her fire or boiling cauldron. Of course the infants cannot survive this treatment. Upon the 7th such birth, however, Peleus insists that the killing must cease. Thetis therefore pinches the child, Achilles, by a heel and dips him in the river Styx, the river of death, which river, according to Pausanias, bounds Tartarus’s western side. This is to say, Thetis baptizes the boy. Thus Achilles is rendered all but immortal, invincible everywhere but at said point on his heel. In this sense Achilles begins life as a Red/Dionysian, sacrificed character, a proto-mythological, Ares-like warrior — precisely as his “red-and-golden hair” and “shaggy breast” further attest. Indeed Achilles was worshipped as a sea-god in many of the Greek colonies on the Black Sea. Achilles is a Neptune, a Poseidon, an Erichthonios, an Hephaistos. Note that Achilles’ heel shot through with Paris’s (i.e. Apollo’s) arrow corresponds to the Arrow Star of the Babylonians, i.e. to Polaris, the “North Nail.”

That pinch/arrow/nail corresponds to the pin which stoppers the single vein of Talos, the bull-headed bronze man given to Minos by Zeus to guard Crete. Talos is also the name of Daedalus’s so-called apprentice, whom Daedulus pushes off the roof of Athene’s temple on the Acropolis out of jealousy over the boy’s great skill and out of disgust over the boy’s supposed incest with his mother Polycaste (“much tin” or “extremely pure”). (Athena had taught Daedalus his craft.) This is why Daedalus is exiled and ends up in Crete, where he builds for Minos’s wife the hollow cow so she can have sexual relations with Poseidon’s beautiful white bull from the sea (which Minos decided not to sacrifice, offering to Poseidon a surrogate instead) and in turn, for Minos, the labyrinth so Minos and his cuckolding wife and her offspring the Minotaur can live in humiliated seclusion. By some accounts the human Talos — whose soul flew away as a partridge, Aphrodite’s sacred bird — is Hephaistos’s father by Hera. In this sense Talos is not Daedalus’s student but his teacher. Indeed, the fall of Talos seems to correspond both to the Great Reversal and to the proto-mythological sacrifice of the king. The name Talos means both “suffering” and “ankle, anklebone.” Proto-mythological, Aphrodite-like Medea killed the bronze Talos by pulling out said pin; and some say that the Argonaut Poeas did the job by shooting him in the ankle with a poison arrow. Similarly, Laius snatched his infant son Oedipus at birth and pierced the boy’s feet with a nail. Clearly Talos resonates with Hephaistos, Oedipus and Achilles (among many other heros who are poignantly wounded in the ankle or heel). The name Oedipus means “swollen foot,” and it may derive from the Greek oedipais, “son of the swollen sea,” i.e. “son of Poseidon,” “son of Proteus (‘the first man’)”; in other words, he who, like Tristan, arrives by sea and returns (or is returned to) the sea. The name Laius, I might add, smacks of the name Claudius, which means “lame,” Claudius being Hamlet’s evil uncle. Consider the following germane commentary from Robert Graves’ Greek Myths:

Talos’s single vein belongs to the mystery of early bronze casting by the cire-perdue method. First, the smith made a beeswax image which he coated with a layer of clay, and laid in an oven. As soon as the clay had been well baked he pierced the spot between heel and ankle, so that the hot wax ran out and left a mould, into which molten bronze could be poured. When he had filled this, and the metal inside had cooled, he broke the clay, leaving a bronze image of the same shape as the original wax one.

Recall that the initial temple at Delphi is said to have been made of beeswax, as in apiary and Apis and the Nile River god Hp (of Hap or Hapi) and hippos “horse,” the horse being a prime symbol of Demeter and Poseidon. The replacement of beeswax with bronze corresponds to the replacement of Gaia with Apollo, of Poseidon with Zeus, of Talos with Daedalus or Hephaistos, of Aphrodite with Athena — i.e. it corresponds to the Great Reversal.

The name Achilles (Akhilles, Akhilleus, Aiákidês), said to mean “he with no lips,” seems cognate with quelle, Germanic for “well, spring,” the Greek pēgē. Likewise the name seems cognate with Lilith, ululate, Ulysses, Odysseus, anodyne, and anode. The Greek akhos — synonymous, in fact, with the Greek penthos, as in penalty and Penelope — means “grief” and “song of grief.” Homer’s Iliad is a song of grief. The title refers to the founder of Troy, Ilus the son of Tros, whose name, too, seems cognate with quelle, Lilith, ululate, Ulysses, Odysseus, anodyne, anode, Achilles, kill, kite (from the Middle High German kūze, “owl”), and kith (from the Old English kuth, “known,” as in Athena, goddess of knowledge and war, whose symbol is the owl; and as in the English word uncouth).

In the present light consider the prophecy concerning Aeneas, greatest survivor of Troy and destined patriarch of the Romans, as told by Virgil in his eponymous Aeneid:

In Italy he will fight a massive war,
Beat down fierce armies, then for the people there
Establish city walls and a way of life.
When the Rutulians are subdued he’ll pass
Three summers of command in Latium,
Three years of winter quarters. But the boy [Aeneas’s son],
Ascanius, to whom the name of Iulus
Now is added — Ilus while Ilium stood —
Will hold power for all of thirty years,
Great rings of wheeling months. He will transfer
His capital from Lavinium and make
A fortress, Alba Longa. Three full centuries
That kingdom will be ruled by Hector’s race,
Until the queen and priestess, Ilia,
Pregnant by Mars, will bear twin sons to him.
Afterward, happy in the tawny pelt
His nurse, the she-wolf, wears, young Romulus
Will take the leadership, build walls of Mars,
And call by his own name his people Romans. …
The Trojan Caesar comes, to circumscribe
Empire with Ocean, fame with heaven’s stars.
Julius his name, from Iulus handed down:
All tranquil shall you take him heavenward.

Julius Caesar, you see, was a Hermes/Mars/Attis/Odysseus/Hercules/Pelops/Ganymede/Aeneas type — a Christ type!

Achilles stands in considerable contrast, as a more simple character, prematurely Red/Dionysian. He is, recall, the chief character of the Iliad. The whole conflict between Greece and Troy is traced to the wedding of Achilles’ parents Thetis and Peleus. The couple did not invite Ares’ sister Eris, the goddess of discord. Thus offended, Eris tossed into the wedding feast a golden apple labeled “For the fairest.” Among the wedding guests were Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. Each of these 3 goddesses considered herself the fairest and therefore laid claim to the golden apple. Zeus proposed to settle the issue by letting the most beautiful of mortal man, Ganymede-like Paris of Troy, judge which of the 3 goddesses is the greatest beauty. Each of them bribe Paris: Hera promises him power; Athena promises him wealth; and Aphrodite promises him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen. Paris opts for Aphrodite and thus for Helen. Hera is especially offended. She therefore develops a hatred for the Trojans. Virgil, recall, writes of Hera — whose symbol is a “proud warhorse’s head,” just as Demeter’s symbol is a mare's head — and of Aeneas’s arrival at Dido’s Carthage, which city Hera “cared for more than any walled city on Earth” but of which she heard tell “that generations born of Trojan blood [i.e. the Romans] would one day overthrow her Tyrian walls”: “[T]he origins of that anger, that suffering, still rankled: deep within her, hidden away, the judgement Paris gave, snubbing her loveliness; the race she hated; the honors given ravished Ganymede ….”

Also woven into the Iliad is the aforementioned story of Pelops, which is closely linked to the Greek Flood story and to the story of Phaethon. The curse leveled by the dying Myrtilus upon the house of Pelops especially affects the house of Atreus, who is Pelops’ eldest son, the father of Agamemnon and Menelaos, and is said to be the first astronomer to correctly predict using mathematics an eclipse of the Sun by the Moon. Famously Agamemnon in his turn fails to honor the aid which the Myrmidon Achilles gives to him. This slight motivates Achilles to abstain from the fight against Troy. Clearly the name Myrtilus and the title Myrmidon are related. The former is closely linked to myrtle, “ever green,” as in the Green Man. The latter is said to mean “ant-person,” i.e. bee-person, dog-person, wolf-person, John Barleycorn, Tom Thumb, Tiny Tim (i.e. Pelops’ father Tantalus’s oak-wreathed father Tmolus) — generally the dead/sacrificed yet immanent father. The prefix myr- is, in fact, remarkable. In Russian myr- means both “peace” and “world.” The English word peace derives from the Latin pax or pas, and these are closely linked to the name Poseidon and to the words post, passion, and, I might say, cad (as in caddie and caduceus) and code (from the Latin caudix, codex, meaning “tree trunk,” and equivalent to the title Co-Deus or Coeus, the Titan of intelligence, paired with Metis and equivalent to the serpent of Delphi, Draco, Aphrodite–Hermes, Eve–Adam, the serpent of the Tree of Knowledge). Indeed, myr- in the form of mer- and mare- indicates “sea,” “female horse,” “merchant,” Mars/Ares, and Hermes. Which is to say, myr- points to the apex, the bee-hive, Apis, Hp, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Haran — generally to the moment of sacrifice, of muleity-in-unity, represented by the god–goddess who emerges from the sea, i.e. the Beast, the existential, proto-mythological, tri-une figure, the Tree Man and Tree Woman, who symbolizes the real state existence, the state of suspension, as it were, between the mere idealities which are Heaven and Hell, this state being celebrated and indeed apotheosized by proto-mythology and likewise by the somewhat more general Golden/Legal philosophy but discounted and denigrated by the advocates of the Great Reversal, which today include the neo-Zoroastrian, merely White/Apollonian groups known as Christian evangelicals and militant Islam, these seemingly contradictory movements actually depending chiefly on each other for their power. Note: White/Apollonianism is elemental to proto-mythology and especially to the Golden/Legal philosophy, but insofar as it is not subsumed in and subservient to this paradigm and philosophy, respectively, it is monstrous, tending via its disjunction from reality toward an extreme unity, i.e. an extremely simple unity, ultimately identical to solipsism and in this sense merely ideal. Permit me to add that I voted for John Kerry but I think that George W. Bush and his close company, though pandering to the Christian right, are trying to act precisely according to the Golden/Legal philosophy, which philosophy is clearly in fact the basis and essence of the United States government. This is now the chief problem of the Democratic political party in the United States: relative to the Repbublican party the Democratic party has become perceived as the lesser advocate of proto-mythological, Golden/Legal multeity-in-unity, which paradigm and philosophy, respectively (if you will allow the distinction), and especially the former, the common person (and thus the electorate) naturally conserves. The Democrats’ increased advocacy of what may be usefully if not altogether fairly called simple, White/Apollonian freedoms (i.e. freedoms for the sake of mere freedom) relative to complex, Red/Dionysian ligatures (i.e. legacies, legalities, legends, etc.) has cost it the trust of the people. Of course I will explain this opinion further ….

Pearl, pedestal, Perath, pentagon, period, peasant, Pegasus, Penelope, penthos, Iapetus, Peleus, Pelops. — The root pe- just won’t stop. Likewise Joyce in the Wake offers ubiquitous, pointed references to Perse, Parnell, Purcell, Percival (Parsifal), Persephone (Proserpine), Perseus, etc. Let’s presently consider these latter 3, mythological persons (which word, I should add, stems from the Etruscan phersu as well as from the Greek prosōpon, both meaning “mask”).

Lowly, naïve, simple Percival strikes out from his mother’s house — which house is absent adult men — and straightaway encounters and kills the Red Knight, taking his red armor (like Hector takes the armor of Achilles from the dead body of Patroklos) and inasmuch becoming the Red Knight. Percival, owing to his extreme simplicity, eventually attains a glimpse of the Holy Grail; but unlike the extremely complex, yet simple, and inasmuch extremely pure, extremely beautiful Galahad (á la the Trojans Ganymede/Aquarius, Aeneas, and, it’s fair to say, Julius Caesar), Percival is not able to touch the Grail and therefore does not ascend with it to heaven with it as does Galahad (á la Ganymede/Aquarius, cup bearer of the gods; or Aeneas, bearer of the golden bough). Note in this connection that the Holy Grail and the golden bough (mistletoe or not) are essentially the same thing: passports to eternity, held by the most complete, complex, dual, Hermes-like type; i.e. they are symbols of such type, which type every monad really is. Which is to say, the Holy Grail, the golden bough, mistletoe: all are outstanding symbols of Existentialism. And as I’ve suggested, the single best such symbol is the Fibonacci structure, its meta-symbol being the Golden Mean.

Persephone (Proserpine), daughter of Demeter (a.k.a. Ceres; note the De- prefix; the name is perhaps cognate with the Cretan deai, “barley,” which is akin to beer and bear and which Homer describes as “white” in contrast to “red” wheat — which latter word, however, means as it sounds “white,” Latin puros) — spends the wintry 1/3 (or ½) of the year in the underworld with Zeus’s youngest brother Hades (i.e. Aï–Des; their middle brother, by most accounts, being Poseidon), who has abducted her. The couple Hades and Persephone is akin to the Menelaos and Helen.

And then there’s Perseus, he of the winged shoes (or winged heels). His mother is Danae, princess of Argos, which is located in the Pelopennese. She had been imprisoned by her father Acrisius in a bronze tower, for according to prophecy the 1st son of Danae would kill Acrisius. Zeus, however, visited the imprisoned Danae as a shower of golden rain and thus fathered Perseus. King Acrisius banished Danae and young Perseus, but eventually Perseus did kill Acrisius — by accident, with a discus throw. Perseus beheads the Gorgon Medusa and carries her head nailed to his shield. That head is winged, and it brandishes wild boar’s tusks. One direct look from Medusa’s eyes will turn a man (but not, as Camille Paglia points up, a woman) to stone — i.e. it will petrify him. Medusa, whose name means “the Queen,” is equivalent to Kolyo, whose posterior aspect, recall, writhes with snakes and worms. Every creature is ultimately bound to Kolyo by a snare about a foot or a noose about the neck, or simply by their intestines. Likewise Medusa is further equivalent to the Sphinx, from the Greek sphiggo, “to strangle.” Born of the incest between the half-serpent Echidna and Echidna’s dog-son Orthus, the Sphinx has a woman’s head, a griffin’s wings, and a lion’s claws and rump.

Returning home with the head of Medusa, Perseus saves Andromeda, daughter of Cassiope and Cepheus. Cassiope had bragged that Andromeda is more beautiful than the Nereids, who in turn complained to Poseidon. Poseidon therefore caused a great flood and sent the sea–serpent Cetus to destroy Cepheus’s kingdom. Cassiope and Cepheus therefore chained Andromeda to the Pegasus Square, as a sacrifice to Poseidon. The scene of Andromeda’s rescue by Perseus is said to be near Lydda, precisely where St. George rescued his king’s daughter by capturing the red dragon to whom she was about to be sacrificed. Both Andromeda and the princess in the St. George story are equivalent to Core/Persephone. (Hence the name Perseus.) Precisely as Andromeda and the princess women have been sacrificed, Core has been abducted by Hades. Andromeda/princess/Persephone is the Nymph aspect of Kolyo/Kali — i.e. the proto-mythological triple-Goddess — rendered scapegoat in accord with the Great Reversal. Her trial represents the reduction of the Maiden–Nymph–Crone (Core–Aphrodite–Demeter, White–Red–Black) to the Maiden–Crone (Core–Demeter, White–Black). The flood sent by Poseidon corresponds to the 4-black-horse chariot driven into the Earth by Hades (bearing Core), the 4-white-horse chariot — which horses I'm sure were originally black-white-red, like the color of the unicorn’s horn, and like Zeus-as-bull who carried off Europa from Phoenicia to Crete, and like Minos’s heifer, and like Io the (Sun-)cow — being a symbol of Poseidon. Indeed, the Red/Dionysian Poseidon’s White/Apollonian horses were surely lunar bulls according to proto-mythology, the horse being domesticated after the bull (wild aurochs), and the New, extremely crescent Moon of the western-evening sky being considered the source of all water; likewise Demeter’s animal symbol is proto-mythologically the cow rather than the horse. Said flood and chariot are both remembrances of the cataclysmic comet and/or meteor impact(s) which seem to have been the chief cause of the Great Reversal and for which the essentially feminine priestly class (which class of course included both male and female members) was blamed. As Andromeda/princess/Core was sacrificed to the seaצserpent/4-bovine-charioteer, that Red/Dionysian “monster” was himself sacrificed by the powers of the Great Reversal. White/Apollonian Zeus and Black/Baroque Hades carried the day, Zoroastrian style, Good-versus-Evil style, moo-cow style. The complex, 3-pronged hero was all but destroyed.

This coup against the Red/Dionysian is retold from the perspective of Hera, the female power of the Great Reversal. She causes the Titans (i.e. the sea–serpent/dragon/Poseidon noted above) to kill, dismember and eat Zagreus-Dionysus (i.e. the original Dionysus, who is the son of Core/Andromeda/princess by Zeus-in-the-form-of-a-snake and is the male equivalent of the Nymph or more generally of the triple-Goddess, i.e. he is the triple-God, the 3 Man, the Tree Man, the Green Man). You see, almost immediately upon his birth Zagreus-Dionysus had clambered atop his father Zeus’s throne and played at throwing thunderbolts (i.e. wielding the sacrificial, double-headed axe). Zeus soon decided that Zagreus-Dionysus should indeed rule the world. Hera, wife of Zeus, was strongly opposed to the idea — presumably because, after the fashion of the Great Reversal, she doesn’t want her husband to give up power. The Titans, to perform their dirty deed against the infant, whiten their (red) faces with chalk. And while Zagreus-Dionysus is looking at himself in a mirror (which is among the several “toys” the Titans distract him with, including a cone, a bull-roarer, golden apples, a knuckle-bone, and a tuft of wool, erion), the Titans set upon him with knives. The child evades them by transforming intially into Zeus-in-a-goat-skin, then Kronos-making-rain, then a lion, then a horse, then a horned serpent, then a tiger, and finally a bull: 7 forms in all. It is this bull form of Zagreus-Dionysus that the Titans at last cut to pieces and devour raw. Enraged at this transgression, Zeus blasts the Titans to ashes with his thunderbolt (i.e. with his double-sided axe). Thus Hera realizes a political coup that she certainly determined to happen: she has used the Titans to eliminate — or, more accurately, reduce — the threat which is Zagreus-Dionysus, and she has done so knowing that the further prime consequence will be the destruction of the Titans (i.e. the proto-mythological people of the world). From the ashes of the Titans arise the initial “humans” — i.e. people living under the mantle of the Great Reversal, as slaves of sorts, like Hera’s handmaiden Iris, messenger goddess of the wind and of the (7-colored) rainbow, who is a Nymph and thus equivalent to Zagreus-Dionysus as well as to Hermes. Hera is that simple aspect of Woman which is (naturally and otherwise) in complicity with the Great Reversal (and with any such reversal). She is not complete; she is White–Black, Maiden–Crone, rather than White–Red–Black, Maiden–Nymph–Crone. Her most famous reduction of the triple-God is her reduction of the hero Hercules. This is the deep sense in which Hercules/Herakles is named: “Hera’s Glory.”

Frazer reports that versions of the St. George-versus-the-dragon story “have been found from Japan and Annam in the East to Senegambia, Scandinavia, and Scotland in the West.” Indeed, the picture of Andromeda chained to the Pegasus Square recalls the Aztec virgin mother Chimalman who dies giving birth to Quetzalcoatl and who is now in the heavens as “the Precious Stone of Sacrifice.” The Pegasus Square constellation at bottom of the World Tree, is also the sacred place for childbirth, the mother’s vagina corresponding to the well, the sacred spring containing the fish/serpent, the little Achilles/Erichthonios/Hephaistos. A mother dying in childbirth dies upon the sacred altar, as a proper sacrifice. As such, every proto-mythological human sacrifice was made precisely where the person initially entered the world, or at least upon a precise analog of that place. Natural abortions were brought here as well, for burial beneath the sacred tree. Of course the most premature of these abortions evidenced the fact that people originally have gills, that we are fish of sorts. (Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.) This fact corresponds to the practice of planting fish (recall the Pisces constellation, which surrounds the Pegasus Square) to fertilize domesticated seeds. A fish–man — like the founders of Gilgamesh’s Uruk — represents the full ontogeny of a human being as well as the full spectrum of proto-mythological sacrifice. We can trace this spectrum forward in time, from the Zodiacal age of Gemini (man–man, i.e. twins), to Taurus (bull–man), to Aries (ram–man), to Pisces (fish–man), thus charting the Great Reversal as well as the concomitant demise of sacrifice and likewise the infantilization, the White/Apollonianization of humanity, a process which completes itself in the Zodiacal age of Pisces, the age that nevertheless contains the Christian reversal of the Great Reversal (hence the famous fish symbol of Christians) and terminates in the age of Aquarius, Cepheus atop the World Tree.

The name Cepheus, recall, derives from the Aramaic Qēphā (“Cephas”), meaning “rock.” This was the nickname of the apostle Simon — son of Jonah, and initial bishop of Rome, i.e. initial pope, initial “papa” of the Christians. Hence Simon’s Greek name is Peter, from the Greek petra, meaning “rock.” (Cepheus is also known as the “gardener,” i.e. the Green Man.) Cepheus’s wife Cassiope — i.e. Cassiopeia, Cass-Io-Pe — corresponds to Quetzalcoatl’s “sister,” Quetzalpetlatl, just as Hera is at once Zeus’s wife and sister. This correspondence further suggests the aforenoted cognacy between the Aztec Quetzal-, “feathered,” and the Indo European castle. The word castle is in fact cognate with the name Cassiope. As I said earlier, a castle is a sort of eagle’s nest and is linked to the word castrate, as in Zeus’s father Kronos castrating his own father Ouranos. The ultimate mythological castle is that atop the World Tree. King Cepheus and Queen Cassiope occupy this castle-in-the-air, this Olympus, which is akin to Rome’s Vatican Hill (from the Latin vates, “seer, prophet,” linked to the Old Irish faith, “seer, poet”).


Dürer’s Four Holy Men
Peter and John at left; Mark and Paul at right
Altepinakothek, Munich


The rock-like, eagle-like, Phoenix-like, priestly nature of Cepheus and of Peter resonates in terms of their equivalency with Aquarius the water gatherer, he of the water–fire duality. Aquarius, you see, doesn’t just gather water for drinking; he is also the rain-maker/gatherer, Zeus the “storm god.” As such Aquarius is akin to a great mountain, mountains clearly being gatherers of clouds and rain. Recall that Perseus is conceived when Zeus visits Danae — who is imprisoned in a stone tower — as a shower of golden rain. Perseus later carries the head of Medusa, whose gaze turns men to stone. Throughout mythology, rock and stone are intimately connected not only with fire but also with rain, just as storms feature lightning (i.e. fire), thunder (i.e. rock-like rumbling), and rain. Again, Sir George Frazer, from his Golden Bough:

Stones are often supposed to possess the property of bringing on rain, provided they be dipped in water or sprinkled with it, or treated in some other appropriate manner. In a Samoan village a certain stone was carefully housed as the representative of the rain-making god, and in time of drought his priests carried the stone in procession and dipped it in a stream…. Among some tribes of Northwestern Australia the rain-maker repairs to a piece of ground which is set apart for the purpose of rain-making. There he builds a heap of stones or sand, places on the top of it a magic stone, and walks or dances round the pile chanting his incantations for hours, till sheer exhaustion obliges him to desist, when his place is taken by an assistant. Water is sprinkled on the stone and huge fires are kindled…. In Manipur, on a lofty hill to the east of the capital, there is a stone which the popular imagination likens to an umbrella. When rain is wanted, the rajah fetches water from a spring below and sprinkles it on the stone. At Sagami in Japan there is a stone which draws down rain whenever water is poured on it. When the Wakondyo, a tribe of Central Africa, desire rain, they send to the Wawamba, who dwell at the foot of snowy mountains, and are the happy possessors of a “rain-stone.” In consideration of a proper payment, the Wawamba wash the precious stone, anoint it with oil, and put it in a pot full of water. After that the rain cannot fail to come. In the arid wastes of Arizona and New Mexico the Apaches sought to make rain by carrying water from a certain spring and throwing it on a particular point high up on a rock; after that they imagined that the clouds would soon gather, and that rain would begin to fall.

… On Snowdon there is a lonely tarn called Dulyn, or the Black Lake, lying “in a dismal dingle surrounded by high and dangerous rocks.” A row of stepping-stones runs out into the lake, and if any one steps on the stones and throws water so as to wet the farthest stone, which is called the Red Altar, “it is but a chance that you do not get rain before night, even when it is hot weather.” [Llyn Dulyn is thought to be an extinct and fathomless volcano. Shepherds in the area liked to say that the appearance of a dove near the lake signaled the descent of a beautiful but wicked woman’s soul to the underworld.]

… At various places in France it is, or used till lately to be, the practice to dip the image of a saint in water as a means of procuring rain. Thus, beside the old priory of Commagny, there is a spring of St. Gervais, whither the inhabitants go in procession to obtain rain or fine weather according to the needs of the crops. In time of great drought they throw into the basin of the fountain an ancient stone image of the saint that stands in a sort of niche from which the fountain flows. At Collobrières and Carpentras a similar practice was observed with the image of St. Pons and St. Gens respectively. In several villages of Navarre prayers for rain used to be offered to St. Peter, and by way of enforcing them the villagers carried the image of the saint in procession to the river, where they thrice invited him to reconsider his resolution and to grant their prayers; then, if he was still obstinate, they plunged him into the water ….

The people of Crannon in Thessaly had a bronze chariot which they kept in a temple. When they desired a shower they shook the chariot and the shower fell. [Auriga/Erichthonios/Hephaistos is supposed to have invented the chariot to compensate for his lameness (or his snake-tail; i.e. his sacrificed, fish-like nature).] Probably the rattling of the chariot was meant to imitate thunder; we have already seen that mock thunder and lightning form part of a rain-charm in Russia and Japan. [Recall that the name Auriga means “ear,” as in Earwicker.] The legendary Salmoneus, King of Elis, made mock thunder by dragging bronze kettles behind his chariot, or by driving over a bronze bridge, from which he hurled blazing torches in imitation of lightning. It was his impious wish to mimic the thundering car of Zeus as it rolled across the vault of heaven…. Near a temple of Mars, outside the walls of Rome, there was kept a certain stone known as the lapis manalis. In time of drought the stone was dragged into Rome, and this was supposed to bring down rain immediately.

… Rain-making chiefs always build their villages on the slopes of a fairly high hill, as they no doubt know that the hills attract the clouds ….

… Similarly speaking of the South African tribes in general, Dr. Moffat says that “the rain-maker is in the estimation of the people no mean personage, possessing an influence over the minds of the people superior even to that of the king, who is likewise compelled to yield to the dictates of this arch-official.”

In the present light, the following collection of pe- words is worth surveying: peacock (sacred to Iris, messenger goddess, goddess of the rainbow); perd (P-I-E for “fart”); petroleum (from the Latin petr + oleum oil); petit; pelt; pelvis; pendulum (from the Latin pendēre, “to hang”); pesto (from the Latin pinsere, meaning “to pound”); penis (from the Latin for “tail”; the penis rises and falls, just like the Phoenix); peculiar (from the Latin pecus, “cattle”); pecuniary (from the Latin pecunia, “money”); penny (from the Old High German pfennig, “coin”); penta (“five”); pensive (from the Middle French penser, “to think,” and the Latin pendere, “to weigh”); Penatës (“inner ones”, dieties of the storeroom; such as those Rachel steals from Laban, and such as those Aeneas carries from Troy), peripatetic and peregrination (from the Latin noun peregrinus, which derisively means “a person who wanders through the countryside”: per-agrinus, from per or par meaning “equal,” and ager, meaning “field, territory, district”; but recall from the Odyssey: “All wanderers and beggars come from Zeus”); and let’s not forget pen (as in “pig pen,” or “pig sty,” or “writing utensil,” “stylus”; the Welsh noun pen meaning “head”). Note that the word stylus is closely related to the name Styx. Vico: “All gods swore by the river Styx, which was the source of all springs.” The ink of a pen is equivalent to the waters of the Styx. Joyce considered himself “Shem the Penman.” Some of the earliest writing pens were feathers. Indeed, the word pen derives from the Latin penna, meaning “feather,” and is related to the Greek petesthai, “to fly,” as well as pteron, “wing,” and piptein, “to fall,” as well as to the aforenoted Latin pes, “foot,” — which is why godly wings are attached to feet, specifically to heels. Thetis dipping Achilles in the Styx is akin to a writer dipping her pen in ink or pressing her fingers on a keyboard!

Earlier I spoke of pens in relation to Ptah/Hephaistos, peasants, slaves, and boundedness in general. The Romans called the persons whom they captured and enslaved vernae. Therefore the languages of these peoples were called vernaculars. A slave born in a master’s house was called a verna. This word is linked to the Hittite weriya, “to call, name,” and likewise to the Latin verbum and the English word. Similarly verna is linked to the English world — from the Old English wer, “man,” and eald, “old” — as well as to the aforementioned Anglo Saxon wyrd, the Latin vertere, “to turn,” and hence to the English virile, verve, virgin, vertex, vortex, verge, verdict and of course vernal. Recall the Sanskrit verbal root vr-, “to cover, encompass”; it implies liquidity as well as circularity and burial and is of course closely related to Kolyo. This root was employed to refer to ponds and marshes, to greenness — hence the Latin viridis, “green,” and the English verdure and verdant — and especially to the springs of the high providential forest groves. As such, vr- is also the root in the name of the Indian god Varuna, lord of the cosmic structure: dharma, me, etc. Likewise vr serves in the name of the Iranian god Vərəθraγna, whose is represented — like Ares/Mars and like Medusa — as an aggressive wild boar with sharp fangs and tusks.

King and peasant, like father and son, are both bound in terms of the cosmic structure. In Greek this structure is called Logos, meaning “word,” “idea,” and “thing.” The Hebrew word for “word” — translated into the Greek logos and into the Latin verbum — also means “deed.” Similarly the Sumerian me means “cosmic order” as well as “to act, behave,” “to be, say, tell,” “battle,” and “ideal, norm, function, office, responsibility, oracle, decree.” In ancient Egypt the lord of the cosmic structure is Thoth. In fact the 1st month of the ancient Egyptian year — which month is equivalent to our September, the proto-mythological springtime (i.e. the ver, verge, New Year) — is called Thoth. The cosmic structure Logos, dharma, me, maat, moira, tao, call it what you mayis focused chiefly on the autumn season, the season of sacrifice. Maat, measurer, and scribe in one, Thoth is typically portrayed as an Ibis — a bird famed for its ability to catch fish and snakes in marshes and in ponds — who holds a stylus. The chief center for the worship of Thoth in Egypt was Hermopolis, originally known as “City of the Group 8,” i.e. City of the Ogdoad. Thoth is called “Master of the City of the Ogdoad.” As the Greek name Hermopolis attests, the Greeks identified Thoth with Hermes. Likewise Thoth is equivalent to Upuat, Osiris, Hercules, Pelops, Ganymede/Aquarius, Aeneas, Attis, Odysseus, Jesus, Caesar, Galahad, etc. The Ogdoad are the 8 gods — 4 male and 4 female — primal to Hermopolitan theology: Nun–Naunet (the primeval Abyss), Huh–Hauhet (formlessness, chaos), Kuh–Kauket (darkness), Amen–Amaunet (the hidden). This city marked the boundary between upper and lower Egypt, Shemau and To–Mehu, south and north, respectively; thus it poignantly represented the mediator, the middle, the complex, the carnal, the real in contrast to the ideal. The honey bee hieroglyph, I should add, was used to represent not only bees and honey but also the royal title bit, “he of the bee” — which is usually translated “King of Lower Egypt” or “King of the North.” According to an Egyptian myth, honey bees were the tears of the Sun god Re — who, I say, is proto-mythologically a goddess. Such bees were in fact further associated with the goddess Neith, whose temple in the Nile delta was known as the “house of the bee.” Kings of upper Egypt were contrariwise titled nesw, “he of the sedge (i.e. papyrus) plant,” which tital is usually translated “King of Upper Egypt” or “King of the South.” Yes, the king of Shemau, like Joyce’s Shem, represented a fallen, Red/Dionysian penman, a man of writing, a nascent man of words rather than of action. In contrast the king of To–Mehu represented a White/Apollonian man of action, of ascendancy, a ladies man.

  The Egyptians seem to have represented the difference between structure and order in terms of the differences between Thoth and Ptah, Amen and Ptah, and Amen and Thoth. Douglas Hofstadter, in his Pulitzer Prize-winning and truly luminous Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, draws such distinction in terms of an “Inviolate Level” and a “Tangled Hierarchy.” Sartre, in Being and Nothingness, draws a similar distinction in terms of water: “Troubled water remains water; it preserves the fluidity and the essential characteristics of water; but its translucency is ‘troubled’ by an inapprehensible presence which makes one with it, which is everywhere and nowhere and which is given as a clogging of the water by itself.” Likewise Saussure places at bottom of his theory the categories “langue” and “parole.” Schelling described the pith of every moment as a “rotating movement” between 2 poles: a “first potential,” in which a contractive, “gravitational,” “pronominal,” intensifying force predominates, leading toward unity (i.e., toward Seyn; Schelling employing this spelling rather than the typical Sein); and a “second potential,” in which an expansive, “predicative,” extensifying force dominates, leading toward plurality (Seyendes). And Leibniz referred to experience in general as “derivative” in contrast to “primitive.” The various differentiations between potential and actual, eg. between potential energy and kinetic energy, are also akin to the difference between structure and order.

The god Ptah — whose name is cognate with Peter — represents the creator/created aspect of God. He is equivalent to Hephaistos, Erichthonios, Achilles, Yahweh, Nehushtan, Lucifer, Poseidon, Shiva, Adam, and Noah, among many others. Ptah is typically depicted as bound, for he can only create his otherwise unique, White/Apollonian order in terms of the Red/Dionysian cosmic structure. The chief center for the worship of Ptah was Memphis, near Heliopolis (On) at the Nile’s delta. This location corresponds to the high point of the heroic cycle and likewise to the constellation Cepheus. Ptah may be fallen in the sense that he is essentially like you and me, a soul, if you will, Red/Dionysian, complex, real; but he is nevertheless the greatest soul and thus absolute. It is somewhat ironic that lower Egypt, symbolized with the honey bee, represents the apex of the heroic cycle, while upper Egypt, symbolized with the sedge/papyrus plant, represents the low point, the underworld, the tomb. But really these poles are wonderfully and naturally confused, a single complex pole: White–Black, or better still, White–Red–Black: Ptah—Thoth—Amen, a trinity (i.e. Tri Man, Tree Man, Green Man) which corresponds to the triple-Goddess represented by Re. Thebes — well within upper Egypt — was indeed the chief center for the worship of this latter, hidden/absent/entombed aspect of God, the aspect which lives in the sweetwater mansion: Amen. Likewise Zeus is tripartite: Zeus–Poseidon—Hades. The same is true of the Latin version of Zeus: Jupiter. The son of Saturn, Jupiter is Mars–Mercury–Jupiter, or Tiwes–Woden–Thor (as in Tuesday–Wednesday–Thursday). Jupiter is especially the apotheosized hero, risen to Heaven — but momentarily falling back into carnal reality, to the tomb, as Saturn (Saturday), and thus becoming the father but likewise momentarily reborn as the new Moon (Monday), which grows until its size matches that of the Sun. Fattened as such (Mardi Gras, Tuesday Fat) the Moon/hero next goes (again) to the Tree to be sacrificed as the Tree Man, the Tri Man, the Green Man. Friday is Venus, i.e. Freya/Aphrodite/Core/Persephone, Joyce’s Issy or Livia. Sunday is Re/Rhea/Demeter/Ops, Joyce’s Isabelle or Purabelle. The 8th day, as it were, is the 8th antique planet: Earth itself, Gaia, Joyce’s Anna. Thus we have the triple-Goddess Earth–Venus–Sun, Joyce’s Anna Livia Plurabelle. And the 9th is the vault of fixed stars, represented by (White) Ouranos/Uranus or Ophiucus, the serpent-bearer, who together with (Black) Gaia/Terra/Tellus and the (Red) planets (who correspond to the sea) constitutes the grandest trinity. The serpent in the Garden of Eden represents the initial Adam: Kronos/Saturn, the severed genitals of Ouranos, Delphi’s Tityos/Typhon/Python, Egypt’s Amen; and likewise Hades, the original Pelops, Myrtilus, Noah, Mesopotamia’s Ziusudra, Utnapishtam; he who resides in the ark, the sweetwater mansion, the Pegasus Square, the Qa'aba. That Adam’s wife is Lilith, Aphrodite, Rhea, Ops, Re, Demeter, Persephone. The Adam of Genesis is the second Adam, equivalent to Zeus/Jupiter, the Egyptian Ptah, Peter, Cepheus; Noah/Ziusudra/Utnapishtam as survivor of the Flood; Pelops resurrected, Dionysus resurrected. And this second Adam’s wife, Eve, is Athena, Hera, Juno, Neith (weaver mother of the Sun god, i.e. male, Re), Hippodameia (“tamer of horses”).


The apotheosized aspect of God would be purely White or purely Black, i.e. purely and simply transcendent in one direction or the other, ascendant or descendent, if not for the proto-mythologic (i.e. belief and logic) according to which God must be the same kind of soul as every other. The ancient Egyptians understood that extremes meet. The source of the Nile meets its delta, closing the circle. This meeting — this general fact of reality — was especially represented by Hermopolis, by Thoth, and by the Nile itself, whose god Hp/Hap/Hapi is, as I noted earlier, equivalent to the Greek Poseidon — or Potidon, as in potential and the Greek Potniae, “powerful ones,” i.e. the triple-Goddess — and likewise the Tree/3/Green Man and was called by the Greeks Apis — as in bee, as in bit, as in lower Egypt, as in Ptah, as in Pelops (and likewise Hebe and Aquarius, other cup-bearers to the gods), as in Peter, as in Cepheus, as in The Rock. Bee and tree and rock and apex. It has long struck me as somewhat strange that the apex of the heroic cycle is so strongly associated at once with tree and rock. But recall that Apis laboriosa, largest honey bee in the world and indigenous to northern Southeast Asia, nests high on remote cliff walls (especially in the Himalayas); and bees in general — such as those of Delphi — are known for nesting in rock crevices.

Traditional honey hunter at work on a cliff face in Nepal.


The profound, acknowledged and celebrated confusion of the ascendant and descendent aspects of existence is evident in Mayan theology as well, according to which the god of bees, honey, and beekeeping — Ah Mucen Cab — was portrayed as hanging upside down and angry (like the angry Jewish god, and like Ulysses and Achilles, who were both sea gods of sorts, like Potidon/Poseidon, and were both known for their anger). Many scholars think the Maya considered Ah Mucen Cab the Descending God. Indeed, it may be fair to say that no god is more descendant, more incarnate, than Bit/Hp/Hephaistos/Hebe/Hepatu/Potidon/Ptah/Peter/Cepheus/Pelops/ Ulysses/Achilles/Jesus/etc at the very highpoint of his heroic cycle, at the very moment of his self-sacrifice. As I noted earlier, the Maya called the planet Venus (as in Aphrodite) Xux Ek, the “Wasp Star.”

The Egyptians nonetheless emphasized the similarity between Thoth and Ptah. Not only did they represent Thoth as an Ibis, a famed fish-catcher; the hieroglyph for their primal sea–serpent Kneph (a.k.a. Cnuphis) was identical to the hieroglyph for Thoth. From the mouth of Kneph issues an egg containing Ptah. (Which is to say, the Egyptians put the chicken before the egg.) This myth calls to mind the 2 eggs birthed by Leda, each containing twins fathered by Zeus in the form of a swan. The name and character Kneph is of course cognate with the P-I-E Neptno, the Hebrew Nehushtan, the Latin Neptune, and the Celtic Nechtan.

We’ll do well to consider some further occurrences of the prefix ne- and its cognates kne-, cnu-, nu-, no- and the like. A nexus, for instance, is a place where things come together. Likewise we have the P-I-E nemeton, meaning “sanctuary,” and the P-I-E –no, meaning “known as,” which is linked to the aforementioned verna (etc.) as well as to the aforementioned the Middle High German kūze, “owl,” and Old English kuth, “known,” as in Athena — patroness of Odysseus (a.k.a. Noman), goddess of knowledge and war — whose symbol is the owl. Among the other close cognates are nectar, noose, knot, knuckle, note, knowledge, gnosis, nous, numen, nose, neo, new, neck, necro, negative, no, needle, nettle, net, nether, nest, nut, nuptial, nerve, nefarious, knell, need, nine (9), night, and knight. Some cognate names are the Nereids, Nerthus (the Teutonic Earth goddess), Nessa, Nestor, Nemi (as in the “King” of the Wood at Nemi; see the beginning of Frazer’s Golden Bough), the Nemean lion, Nephthys, Nefertiti, Nemesis, Mnemosyne (“Memory”; by Zeus, Mnemosyne gives birth to the 9 Muses: Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polyhymnia, Urania and Calliope), Nessus (the centaur who effectively kills Hercules), Noah, Núadu, Nodens (the Fisher King, keeper of the Holy Grail), Noman, Nun, Nut, Nonoalco (the mountain on which Quetzalcoatl’s sister dwells), November, and Joyce’s Nolan.

In several respects I’ve pointed to the equivalency of Attis and Odysseus. Odysseus’s famous epithet Noman (or Nobody) is written in Greek Οΰτις (Outis). Clearly Homer and company understood and heard the equivalency between Attis and Outis. And sure enough, one of epithets for Attis is Naamen, meaning “Darling.” Noman is Everyman is Attis is the greatest god of all, the only god, really: the ever falling ever rising god, symbolized especially by the Moon. This is the meaning of the name Odysseus.

In this light note that the initial and greatest of the famous 12 labors with which Hera burdens Hercules — her husband Zeus’s son by Alceme, the queen of Thebes, which queen and city-state represent the (proto-mythological) triple-Goddess — is the job of killing the Nemean lion. Hera, recall, is queen of the Great Reversal. The emblem of this Thebes, recall, is a lion; and Hera is this White–Red–Black lion-queen reduced to the White–Black queen of the Great Reversal. Hera’s aim is to maintain the status quo — especially the power of the reigning king, namely her husband Zeus. Thus she attempts to enslave the rest of society, especially Zeus’s greatest son Hercules, who in a sense is the greatest threat to Zeus’s power. Zeus, the myth says, had fathered Hercules because he needed a mortal hero to help him battle the Giants. Zeus intended for Hercules to become the ruler of Mycenae or Tiryns. Knowing, however, that Hera would feel severely threatened by the boy’s existence, Zeus tried to mollify her by naming naming Herakles, “Hera’s Glory.” Hera was not amused. She eventually caused Hercules to go temporarily insane (á la Attis), during which spell he murdered his own wife Megara and their 3 sons (rather than emasculating himself, as Attis did). The Delphic Oracle instructed Hercules that to pay for this crime Hercules had to indenture himself to a lesser man whom had already been promoted over him by Hera: King Eurystheus. Thus the 12 labors put to Hercules by Eurystheus.

Hercules eventually died at the hands of his 2nd wife, Deianira — for whom he had had to battle the river god Achelous. Shortly after the pair married they needed to cross a river. The centaur Nessus — again, note the Ne- prefix — offered to help. But in so doing, Nessus tried to rape Deianira. Infuriated, Hercules mortally wounded the centaur, who as he was dying instructed Deianira that if ever she wanted to be sure of Hercules’ love she should now gather together his spilled, centaurian blood and semen and save this poisonous mixture for the occasion. When á la Cybele and á la Hera she eventually did suspect Hercules of an affair, she soaked a favorite shirt of his in the poison. Donning the shirt, Hercules soon experienced the agonizing pangs of impending and ineluctable death. On further advice of the Delphic Oracle (considered the medium of Apollo), the hero ordered a pyre built so that he could quickly thereupon end his suffering. But Hercules did not actually die atop the pyre, for Zeus directly granted the hero immortality, transporting him to Olympus just like he eventually did with Ganymede and, later, with Aeneas. Indeed, the now immortal Hercules married Hebe, cup bearer of the gods, who upon this marriage was replaced with Ganymede/Aquarius. Clearly Hercules is more of a Thoth/Hermes character than a Ptah/Hephaistos character.

The Nemean lion, initial victim of Hera’s machinations, is the son of Typhon (Python, Tityos, Set) and Echidna (half woman, half serpent); alternatively he is the son of Zeus and Selene (supposedly the Moon goddess, but more truly the Sun goddess, eg. P-I-E Swel, Phrygian Cybele, Latin Sol, German Sonne). This beast is said to have set the Nemean forest ablaze by spewing forth fire from its huge jaws. When Hercules kills the lion, he dons its impenetrable skin as a suit of armor (similar to those produced by Hephaistos) and eventually drapes that skin over his left arm and presents it to Apollo. The Nemean lion represents the proto-mythological mother goddess, who is reduced by the Great Reversal to the White/Apollonian Hera/Juno. Indeed, each of the 12 Herculean labors targets a certain primary symbol of proto-mythology. After killing the Nemean lion, Hercules is sent by Eurystheus to fight Hydra, a snake with 9 heads (1 of them immortal). Succeeding in this 2nd labor, the otherwise Golden hero is then sent to capture the Ceryneian hind, a stag sacred to the goddess Artemis. Succeeding again, his next task is to capture the Erymanthian wild boar, which he does using a net. He is then compelled to clean the dung from the horse stables of Augeus, son of the Sun god. Next he is dispatched to remove the Stymphalian birds (note the Sty- prefix) from the Peloponnese. Following this 6th labor he is sent to capture the bull which Minos had failed to sacrifice to Poseidon and which in turn sired the Minotaur. Following this victory he is ordered to subdue the man-eating mares of Diomedes. Succeeding again, he is sent to fetch the girdle (belt or necklace) of Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons. (This girdle recalls those of Anath, of Artemis, of and the mother goddesses of India and Mexico, which are festooned with severed heads.) Of course he again succeeds. Subsequently he is dispatched to capture the red cattle of the supposedly predatory Geryon, who has 3 heads, 3 bodies and 6 hands and rules a western isle. This success is met with yet a penultimate order: to confiscate the golden apples of the Hesperides, female guardians of the fruit which Gaia gave to Hera when Hera became married to Zeus. Succeeding again, Hercules is lastly sent to capture the 3-headed hound Cerberus, guardian of the underworld.

Speaking of labors, a peasant’s day’s worth of labor is called an opera, this from Ops, the Sabine (i.e. pre-Roman) goddess of sowing, abundance, wealth, harvest, etc. The Latin operire means “to close, cover,” as in Kolyo and Penel-Ope. Ops (equivalent to the Greek Rhea) is the wife of Saturn (Kronos). These are the parents of Jupiter (Zeus) and Juno (Hera). Hence, too, we have the term aristocrat, for the Greek equivalent of the Latin optimus is aristos. The op- prefix is identical to the English ob-, which means “around, on, against, resistance.” Both are related to the snake, as in Ophiuchus (the serpent bearer) and Erichthonios (the snake-tailed boy, i.e. the lame initial king of Athens), and Shakespeare’s Ophelia (who drowns herself).

This brings us back to Hephaistos, the lame (i.e. bow-legged) divine smith, equivalent to the Egyptian Ptah. The Latin equivalent is Vulcan, whose smithy is located under Mt. Aetna on Sicily; the Cretan equivalent is Velchanus, which older name is more obviously cognate with Bel and Anu. Vulcan is widely associated with Maia and Vesta (Cybele and Hestia), goddesses of the hearth. The Siberian equivalent is the shaman. Santillana and von Dechend write in their Hamlet’s Mill: “The Yakuts claim: ‘Smiths and shamans come from the same nest,’ and they add: ‘the Smith is the older brother of the Shaman.’ ” (Bruce Chatwin presents the initial part of this quote in one of his remarkable books.) These authors further note that “the many iron pieces which belong to the costume of a shaman can be forged only by a blacksmith of the 9th generation, i.e. 8 of his direct ancestors must have been in the profession. A smith who dared forge a shamanistic outfit without having those ancestors would be torn by bird-spirits.” Bruce Chatwin: “In nomadic society the smith was not the underprivileged artisan of civilization; for the Mongols he was a hero and a free knight. Shamanism has always been connected with mastery over fire; metallurgical secrets are handed down within a closed circle associated with magic and sorcery.” In fact Vulcan was celebrated by the Romans every 23 August — i.e. at the beginning of the proto-mythological New Year season. We know next to nothing about this Volcanalia, save that people drove animals into a fire, seemingly as substitutes for human sacrifices. Similarly yet in marked contrast the chief festival of Ops — the Opeconsiva, “Wealth from Planting” — was celebrated on 25 August; but only her priests and the Vestal virgins participated, the officiating priest wearing a white veil.

Coincidentally, St. Patrick-the-Elder is said to have died on 24 August 465 CE. Likewise the death of St. Patrick of Nevers, whose relics are stored at Glastonbury, is celebrated on this day. St. Patrick-the-Younger, on the other hand, who supposedly arrived in Ireland in 432 CE and whose famous day of honor is 17 March, has been identified with Palladius, a deacon from the leading family in Auxerre, who in 429 CE prompted Pope Celestine I to send an envoy to Britain to counter the spread of Pelagianism. Stemming from the British monk Pelagius, this White/Apollonian theology pointedly countered Augustinianism by emphasizing the value of free will and likewise the individual’s natural (capacity for) purity. Palladius himself was sent to Ireland in 431 CE as 1st bishop thereof and is celebrated on 7 July. In ancient Rome the 7th of July was Nonae Caprotinae, a celebration of Juno (Hera) Caprotina. A festive holiday for female slaves, this day was marked by women making sacrifices to Juno under a singular wild fig-tree (i.e. a caprificus, from the Greek kapros, “wild boar,” the Latin capr, “he-goat,” and the Latin ficus, “fig”) outside Rome. As I noted earlier, a wild fig tree features in both the Iliad (where it is located outside Troy) and the Odyssey and corresponds to the constellation Hercules. In this respect recall, too, that the Sanskrit root vr- means “to cover” — as in the goddesses Kolyo and Kalypso — and features in the name of the Iranian god Vərəθraγna who like Ares/Mars and Medusa is represented as an aggressive wild boar. As such, Juno (Hera) Caprotina is equivalent to Kolyo/Kalypso. This is the rich sense in which 7 July resonates with 17 March, which latter day in ancient Rome was called both Liberalia — after Liber Pater, a fertility god — and Agonalia Martiale, “sacrifice to Mars.” On 17 March Roman boys graduated to manhood and became full citizens, discarding the purple-trimmed toga of childhood (the toga praetexta; significant of the child’s lingering attachment to the womb, i.e. to the feminine tomb, the state of death) and donning instead the completely white toga (the toga pura) representing the virile, chiefly White/Apollonian adult male.

Regarding St. Patrick-the-Elder’s 24 August, note that it is also St. Bartholomew’s Day — commemorating the martyred apostle Bartholomew, who, it is said, was flayed alive in Armeni. (Bartholomew is perhaps the Nathanael of John 1:45–51 and 21:2.) The St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of Huguenots occurred in 1572 CE in France. (The French Wars of Religion had started with the massacre of 1000 Huguenots at Vassy on 1 March 1562.) The Huguenots were French Protestants, mostly Calvinists, who were pressuring the Catholic monarchy of France to intervene on behalf of the rebels in the Netherlands against the Catholic Spanish and were thus promoting a sort of internecine war with Spain.

St. Bartholomew’s rather cultish following in England was boosted in the 11th century when Queen Emma, wife of Cnut (as in Cnuphis/Kneph, mother of Ptah; i.e. Thoth/Hermes, Leda–Zeus; and as in knuckle joints, these being symbolic of Cybele and equivalent to the aforementioned cohum, the part of a yoke to which the beam of a plow is fitted), gave to Canterbury Cathedral an arm supposed to be of Bartholomew himself. The Kentish capital Canterbury was the earliest seat of Christianity in England, having been established as such c. 600 CE. Similarly, London’s St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, completed in 1123 CE (note the number), is the city’s oldest. Wat Tyler, leader of the aforedescribed English Peasant Revolt — likely instigated by the remnants of the Knights Templar, forebears of the Freemasons — was brought to this hospital on Saturday, 15 June 1381 for treatment of the mortal wound he suffered earlier that day. On the previous Monday, Tyler and his rebels had taken control of cathedral. And on said following Saturday (Saturn’s Day) the rebels gathered on a side of the great London field called Smithfield while the 14-year-old King Richard II and his men did likewise opposite, in front of said hospital. The rest, as they say, is history. Smithfield served as the sight of St. Bartholomew’s fair from 1133 CE to 1840 CE. Roasted pig was a staple of this fair, hence the term Bartholomew pig, meaning “a very fat person.”

The contrast between the number 23 and the number 24 seems to corresponds with the contrasts between the 18 and 19, Thoth and Ptah, priest and king, Red and White. Likewise 23 December is in Norway called Tollemesse, “Torlak’s Mass,” Torlak being a goblin of sorts and corresponding to Thorlac (i.e. “Thor of the Lake”), patron saint of Iceland, equivalent to St. Patrick-the-Elder. In ancient Rome 23 December was celebrated as Larentalia, Larentia being wife of the herdsman Faustulus and wet-nurse of Remus and Romulus — i.e. equivalent to the famous she-wolf, as in the lukur-priestesses, prostitutes, and melissai (“bees, honey-wolves”). In contrast, 24 December is considered Adam’s Mass, this somewhat in contrast to Christ’s Mass (Christmas, 25 December). Included among Adam’s primary tasks, as you may recall, was the naming of animals, which task is closely related to the aforementioned Hittite weriya, “to call, name,” and to the English world, this latter stemming from the Old English wer, “man,” and eald, “old” — as in werewolf and weird. The word mass, I should put in, stems from the Greek massein, “to knead,” and refers to the kneading of bread which is eaten as a substitute for the body of the sacrificed king. Jesus’s birth seems to coincide with burial/eating of Adam; his childhood seems to correspond to the purplish childhood of Roman boys, which is a sort of feminine lingering in the womb, i.e. in the tomb. As such, the number 23 — like Joyce’s 1123, 3211, and 32 — seems to be associated with the top of the pyramid, i.e. with Hermes, Aquarius, Polaris, the monadic nature in general. Thus the following diagram may be heuristic.


Indeed, Joyce in the Wake seems to use the number 23 to symbolize the indivi-duality–trinity — (female–male)–past–present–future — which is any monad, any soul. The eldest of 10 siblings, Joyce had 6 sisters but he referred to them as his “23 sisters.” Achilles captured 23 towns outside Troy, including Lyrnessos, where he took Briseis as a lover. Leviticus 23:23–25 reads: “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the people of Israel, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work; and you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord.’ ” This is the so-called feast of trumpets, held in the seventh month of the chiefly White/Apollonian, religious calendar of the Hebrews, i.e. in the 1st month, Tishri, of their chiefly Red/Dionysian (proto-mythological) secular calendar, which month corresponds to our September. Said trumpets, by the way, are not the hacocerah (i.e. metal kind) but rather the shophar (made of animal horns, qeren). The shophar correspond to a horn of the river god Achelous, which horn Hercules removed upon killing him. Hercules gave the horn to nymphs who used it as the cornucopia (from, the Latin corn, “horn,” and copiae, “plenty”) — i.e. the “Horn of Ops/Rhea.” Zeus was reared on the milk of a goat, by Amalthea (she being equivalent to Ops/Rhea, mother of Zeus). When the goat eventually died, Zeus gave its horn to Amalthea. That horn had the power to grant to its possessor whatever she wished. In Finnish mythology the Sampo, a mill of sorts, did the same. The name Sampo is cognate with the Sanskrit skambha, meaning “pillar, pole,” and is thus akin to the aforementioned wirt, wirtel, “spindle,” and likewise to wyrd. The Hebrew word qeren indeed seems cognate with the Norse qvern, “mill.”

Joyce likely recognized the number 23 as being weirdly coincident with several critical and closely related historical events, all of them deeply proto-mythological. For instance, Brian Boru’s death occurred on 23 April 1014 CE, but his forces were successful that day, terminating Danish domination of Ireland. Foreign domination of Ireland began again on 23 August 1170 CE, when Henry II authorized the 1st English invasion of Ireland. Padraic Pearse organized the 1916 CE uprising against almost 754 years of English rule so that the revolt would occur on 23 April; but guns for his men were slow to arrive, so the revolt occurred on the 24th. On 23 August 1921CE Joyce was engaged in his celebrated discussion concerning synchronicities when a large black rat suddenly ran across the floor and scared the wits out of him. In ancient Rome, 23 April was the Vinalia, dedicated not to the aforenoted Liber Pater but to (Red/Dionysian) Jupiter, to whom the 1st draught of wine stored the previous autumn was poured as an offering. Shakespeare was likely born on 23 April 1565 CE (we know he was baptized on 26 April) and he died on 23 April 1616 CE. On the same date by the new-style, Gregorian calendar (but 10 natural days earlier), Cervantes died. In England, 23 April is recognized as Saint George’s Day, St. George being the patron saint of England. St. George is also the patron of knights, archers, syphilitics, boy scouts, and Catalonia, where the celebration of his day was originally confined to the upper classes but has since, owing to its coincidence with the death of Cervantes, become more popular. The custom in Catalonia is now for women to honor Cervantes on St. George’s Day by presenting books to the men in return for the roses that the men give to the women in honor of St. George.

I’ve identified St. George as a predominantly White/Apollonian albeit proto-mythological character. Central to this book, however, is the issue of whether the White/Apollonian is proto-mythologically subjected to the Red/Dionysian or is alternatively, in accord with the Great Reversal, rendered an end in itself. I think the confusions here — a healthy, proto-mythological duality in the former case and an unhealthy singularity, a meeting of extremes, in the latter — are at bottom of the English confusion recognized by Bonnie Blackburn and Leofranc Holford-Strevens in their Oxford Companion to the Year:

The English have often been regarded, particularly by their fellow Britons, as strangely lukewarm in their observation of their patron saint and his day; they cannot be trusted to remember his day (much less wear a rose on it), and at sporting fixtures they cause great offence in the other parts of the United Kingdom by waving not the flag of St. George, the red cross on a white background, but the all-British Union flag, in which it is combined with the crosses of St. Andrew and St. Patrick. However, his emblem was much in evidence among the English football supporters at the European Cup finals of 1996 (and again in the World Cup finals of 1998); a few weeks later the Church of England voted to include his day among the compulsory feasts. Yet it is still not a civil red-letter day, though in England the Union flag is flown.

The aforementioned relations between 23, 24 and 25 seem to resonate with the relation of 23 April to 24 August to 25 December (or 1 May to 1 September to 1 January); April (or May) being White, August (or September) being Red, and December (or January) being Black, as Livia is to Plurabelle is to Anna, as present is to future is to past, as rising is to falling is to fallen/hidden. The corresponding acronym LPA, by the way, is strikingly similar to the Latin lupa, “she-wolf,” i.e. melissai. Moreover the sum of 23, 24 and 25 is 72, which in years is precisely 1/360 (i.e. 1 barleycorn) of the period of the universal clock. Furthermore the division of the year as indicated is perfectly symmetrical, corresponding to the delta symbol and likewise to the letter A. Similarly 25 April is the latest date allowed for Easter; it is also St. Mark’s Day, considered unlucky. Venice celebrates the day of this their patron saint with a procession consisting of their 9 confraternities and closed by a man wearing a red damask gown and holding a pole topped by a moving wheel supporting a gilt lion girt with laurel branches. Following the subsequent dinner, the townsfolk gather in the Square of St. Mark — all wearing masks. At the sound of the square’s great bell, everyone falls on their knees. In ancient Rome this day hosted the Robigalia, a ceremony dedicated to keeping “rust” off the crops. Participants clad themselves in white, processed to the grove of the god–goddess Robigo–Robiga — these name(s) suggesting rubicund, “red,” and meaning “wheat rust, mildew, honeydew,” which substance is ironically white, wheat (in contrast to barley) being the truly white grain — and there burnt the entrails of a sheep (White) and a puppy (Red). The 25th of April was also the day on which male prostitutes were celebrated, these in contrast to lupa or lupus femina, female prostitutes, i.e. in contrast to she-wolves such as Larentalia, whose day, as I pointed out, is 23 December. According to my analysis, the number 23 is to the number 24 as older (Red) is to younger (White), but April is to August as earlier (i.e. younger, White) is to later (i.e. older, Red). Thus both the extrinsic and intrinsic senses of the terms younger and older are equally honored; and both are rendered perfectly resonant with the existential, the feminine, the fallen, the Black, and in a sense the hidden (eg. Persephone, the Black Virgin, who, as her “mother” Demeter, akin to Cybele, is destined to bring forth new life in the spring), which contrastingly is focused on the number 25 and the month December (which month involves the winter solstice). The number 25 is just outside the physical, just beyond the 24 hours of the day (or the 24 books of the Iliad as well as the 24 books of the Odyssey), as December is just beyond November, as 10 is just beyond 9. In this connection note that the word Yule, as in Yuletide, seems cognate with Kolyo, with the English coal — from the Old Norse kol, “burning ember” — and with the Latin and French kul, “anus,” as in “ring” and “annual” and “up, back, again.” The ungainly, blockish Yule log was fashioned and lit upon the New Year such that precisely 1 year elapsed before the log was utterly reduced to ashes. As I mentioned, the Yule log may be linked to Cybele (i.e. Kubaba, “goddess of the cube), to her black stone, to Humbaba, to the Ka’aba and its Black Stone of Islam, and hence to the Pegasus Square, the tomb of Adam, and to Golgotha, base of the Cross, base of the World Tree.

I would be remiss if in the present context I did not point out the weird coincidence which is James Joyce’s middle name: Augusta (rather than Augustus). Julius Caesar’s heir Octavian, the initial emperor of post-republic Rome, took the name Augustus in commemoration of his victory over Caesar’s right-hand man Antony and the Venus/Aphrodite-like lover of first Caesar and then of Antony, the famous Cleopatra, who on 12 August 30 BCE supposedly killed herself with a snake-bite. The feminizing, terminal a in Joyce’s middle name owes to a mistake made by the official who completed Joyce’s birth registration. Joyce probably considered the name as connecting him especially to Cleopatra, who according to ancient Egyptian thinking was Isis (Aset) manifest — just as the people of Asia Minor naturally yet rather coincidentally labeled Caesar god manifest shortly before he first met Cleopatra. The character Issy in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake is equivalent to Isis. Clearly a representation of the Triple Goddess, Isis is likewise chiefly a nymph and is especially equivalent with Persephone/Core and Andromeda. Probably with respect to this femme fatale aspect of Isis, the Egyptians associated her with the star Sirius. The annual rising of Sirius just prior to the Sun coincided with the providential annual flooding of the Nile, which lasted from late July or early August through September. This providence is likely a deep meaning of the name Augustus, which is said to mean “Blest.” Joyce’s middle name thus also signified both the dog star Sirius, which represents the missing father, and the high-point of the heroic cycle.

Insofar as the number 23 is suggestive of the extremely resonant, fractal Golden/Legal philosophy, we should not be surprised that the number is weirdly coincident in myriad other significant if not downright mystical circumstances. Julius Caesar’s body suffered 23 stab wounds (like bee stings) from his assassins, most notably among whom was Marcus Junius Brutus — the son of Caesar’s favorite Roman mistress, Servilia — and Quintus Cassius Longinus. Gutenberg worked with precisely 23 letters. The famous Schrödinger equation of quantum theory is symbolized by Psi (Ψ), the 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet, as are supposed psychokinesis (PK) and extra-sensory perception (ESP) phenomena. Exactly 23 stars are present in William Blake’s painting Jacob’s Ladder. Freud believed that cycles of 23 and 27 days combine somehow to form significant events. The human gene consists of 23 chromosomes (the root chromo- deriving from the Greek word meaning “color”). The average tilt of the Earth’s axis relative to its orbital plane is 23.3º. Every 24th number — and only every 24th number — of the Fibonacci series has the number 23 as a factor. The 23rd Fibonacci number (28,657) is the 10th Fibonacci number which is prime; and in the initial 1000 Fibonacci numbers there are exactly 23 prime numbers, the last being the 571st Fibonacci number. There are exactly 23 dimensionless constants in the Standard Model of particle physics. (If, that is, you count the parameter, sometimes called “theta,” which denotes the degree to which the so-called strong force violates “parity,” the symmetry between left and right. Experiments have been unable to demonstrate that this value is other than zero.) The number 23 is also said to be the most common number to come up in lotteries. In further regard to this weird number, consider the following from Robert Anton Wilson’s Coincidance:

Novelist William Burroughs while living in Tangier in 1958, had a conversation with a Captain Clark, who mentioned that he had been sailing for 23 years without an accident. That day, Captain Clark had his first serious accident. In the evening, while talking about this, Burroughs flipped on the radio and heard a bulletin about a crash of an airliner. The flight number was 23 and the pilot was also a Captain Clark.

Sequel: Burroughs later decided to write a screenplay about the Prohibition Era gangster Dutch Schultz. In researching it, he found the number 23 over and over again. Dutch Schultz had put out a contract on a rival, Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll, and Coll was shot on Twenty-third Street in Manhattan when he was 23 years old. Schultz himself was shot to death on October 23, 1935.

When my play Illuminatus opened on the Liverpool street so strangely linked with Jung-beetle-Beatle coincidences, the premiere was November 23. British playwright Heathcote Williams made a guest appearance as a walk-on. Later, Williams and I talked about other writers we knew, and Burroughs was mentioned, along with the 23 coincidences he had collected (only a few of which are mentioned above). Williams told me that when he met Burroughs this subject came up, because Williams had mentioned that he was 23 years old at the time. When Williams returned to his flat that night (he had recently moved), he noticed for the first time that the building across the street was number 23.

After Koestler’s Roots of Coincidence was published, Professor Hans Zeisel, of the University of Chicago law school, wrote to Koestler about a whole chain of 23s that had haunted his life: he lived at Rossaurerlaende 23 in Vienna, he had a law office at Gonzagagasse 23, his mother lived at Alserstrasse 23. Once Zeisel’s mother was given a novel, Die Liebe De Jeanne Ney, and took it with her to Monte Carlo. In the book, a character wins a great deal by betting on 23 at roulette. Zeisel’s mother decided to bet on 23 at roulette. Twenty-three came up on the second try….

[scientific] reexamination [of coincidence] had begun as early as 1919 in a book called The Law of Series, by Dr. Paul Kammerer. As a biologist, Kammerer not only studied strange coincidences but developed a taxonomy of them. … He concluded that coincidence represents an acausal principle in nature, as distinguished from the causal principles science had hitherto studied. He compared the acausal coincidental principle (ACOP, we shall call it for short) with gravity, noting that gravity acts on mass, while ACOP acts on form and function. He concluded, in words that foreshadowed some current speculations in quantum physics, “We thus arrive at the image of a world-mosaic … which, in spite of constant shufflings and rearrangements, also takes care of bringing like and like together.” …

The ACOP … Jung and Pauli called synchronicity because they assumed it was at right angles to causality and structured in space, not time. That is, the synchronicities (from the Greek syn, together, and chronos, time) happen at the same time. …

Barbara Honegger, a leading student of these matters, has pointed out a basic defect in the Jung-Pauli theory. ACOPs are by no means only synchronous. They are often separated by days or even years.

I’ve indicated that James Joyce paid great respect to coincidence. The following passage from Joyce’s biographer Richard Ellmann lends much greater weight and precision to that indication:

Joyce’s fictional method does not presume that the artist has any supernatural power, but that he has an insight into the methods and motivations of the universe. Samuel Beckett has remarked that to Joyce reality was a paradigm, an illustration of a possibly unstatable rule. Yet perhaps the rule can be surmised. It is not a perception of order or of love; more humble than either of these, it is the perception of coincidence. According to this rule, reality, no matter how much we try to manipulate it, can only assume certain forms; the roulette wheel brings up the same numbers again and again; everyone and everything shift about in continual movement, yet movement limited in its possibilities. Joyce was interested in variation and sameness in time: Bloom consoles himself with the thought that every betrayal is only one of an infinite series; if someone mentioned a new atrocity to Joyce, he at once pointed out some equally horrible old atrocity …. He was interested also in variation and sameness in space, in the cubist method of establishing differing relations among aspects of a single thing, and he would ask Beckett to do the same research for him in the possible permutations of an object. That the picture of Cork in his Paris flat should have, as he emphasized to Frank O’Connor, a cork frame, was a deliberate, if half-humurous, indication of this notion of the world, where unexpected simultaneities are the rule. The characters pass through sequences of situations and thoughts bound by coincidence with the situations and thoughts of other living and dead men and of fictional, mythical men.

… Only in Finnegans Wake was he to carry his conviction to its furthest reaches, by implying that there is no present and no past, that there are no dates, that time — and language which is time’s expression — is a series of coincidences which are general all over humanity.

By my terminology and likewise by the terminology of physics, to perceive coincidence is to perceive relativity, i.e. it is to perceive the quantum structure of reality. In German (and hence in the language of physics) these fundamental forms — i.e. these concomitants of a single, non-local Force addressable via the ultimate principle of relativity — are called eigen values, as in the tein-eigen of the aforedescribed Scottish Beltein festival. The synonymous terms “force-fire” and “need-fire” refer to the fact that these ceremonies were generally resorted to, as Frazer points up, “at irregular intervals in seasons of distress and calamity, above all when … cattle were attacked by epidemic disease.” The word eigen in German means “own, proper; exact, particular; odd.” Here we see the general sense of ceremonial fires: to the extent that people understood the essentially cyclic (i.e. quantum) cosmic order, they marked that regularity with fire; moreover, fires were likewise used to address important but seemingly random events. The implication here is that people believed these otherwise random events were just as much determined by the cosmic structure as were the clearly regular events. In a word, the implication here is faith, faith that the cosmos is comprehensible. Which is to say, these antique and even prehistoric peoples believed that the essence of the cosmos is quantum. The “odd” connotation of the word eigen refers to the fundamental weirdness of coincidence. As Virgil notes, odd numbers were considered more auspicious than even numbers: numero dues impare gaudet, “God rejoices in the odd number.” (Before the Julian reform February was the only month with an even number of days.) Nevertheless, eigen is related to the word eight (8); it is also related to the German Eiche, meaning “oak” (which was the only kind of wood used in the Roman’s Vestal fire), and is hence related to tree and tri/tre/dru. Note, however, that 23 = 8 resonates with the number 23 (as in 23), with the number 24 (as in 8 x 3), with the delta symbol (as in an equilateral triangle with dual sides and a tip corresponding to 23), and likewise with the letter A.

In this light you’ll find the following famous passage from Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being extremely interesting.

Apart from her consummated love for Tom as, there were, in the realm of possibility, an infinite number of unconsummated loves for other men. We all reject out of hand the idea that the love of our life may be something light or weightless; we presume our love is what must be. … But is not an event in fact more significant and noteworthy the greater the number of fortuities necessary to bring it about? Chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out is mute. Only chance can speak to us. If love is to be unforgettable, fortuities must immediately start fluttering down to it. … She knew this stranger was her fate ... it was the call of all those fortuities which gave her the courage. … Our day-to-day life is bombarded with fortuities, or, to be more precise, with the accidental meetings of people and events we call coincidences. … Anna meets Vronsky in curious circumstances: they are at the railway station when someone is run over by a train. The symmetrical composition [compared to Anna’s eventual suicide under a train] may seem quite ‘novelistic’ to you, and I am willing to agree, but only on condition that you refrain from reading such notions as ‘fictive,’ ‘fabricated,’ and ‘untrue to life’ into the word ‘novelistic’. Because human lives are composed in precisely such a fashion. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence into a motif, which assumes a permanent place in the composition the individual’s life. Anna could have chosen another way to take her life. But the motif of death and the railway station, unforgettably bound to the birth of love, enticed her in her hour of despair with its dark beauty. It is wrong, then, to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences, but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty.

Let me close this chapter with the following especially germane passage from Frazer, which passage moreover resonates extremely well with the entire text of this initial Gravity volume.

In Tibet the ceremony of the scapegoat presents some remarkable features. The Tibetan new year begins with the new moon which appears about the fifteenth of February. For twenty-three days afterwards the government of Lhasa, the capital, is taken out of the hands of the ordinary rulers and entrusted to the monk of the Debang monastery who offers to pay the highest sum for the privilege. The successful bidder is called the Jalno, and he announces his accession to power in person, going through the streets of Lhasa with a silver stick in his hand. Monks from all the neighbouring monasteries and temples assemble to pay him homage. The Jalno exercises his authority in the most arbitrary manner for his own benefit, as all the fines which he exacts are his by purchase. The profit he makes is about ten times the amount of the purchase money. His men go about the streets in order to discover any conduct on the part of the inhabitants that can be found fault with. Every house in Lhasa is taxed at this time, and the slightest offence is punished with unsparing rigour by fines. This severity of the Jalno drives all working classes out of the city till the twenty-three days are over. But if the laity go out, the clergy come in. All the Buddhist monasteries of the country for miles round about open their gates and disgorge their inmates. All the roads that lead down into Lhasa from the neighbouring mountains are full of monks hurrying to the capital, some on foot, some on horseback, some riding asses or lowing oxen, all carrying their prayer-books and culinary utensils. In such multitudes do they come that the streets and squares of the city are encumbered with their swarms, and incarnadined with their red cloaks. The disorder and confusion are indescribable. Bands of the holy men traverse the streets chanting prayers, or uttering wild cries. They meet, they jostle, they quarrel, they fight; bloody noses, black eyes, and broken heads are freely given and received. All day long, too, from before the peep of dawn till after darkness has fallen, these red-cloaked monks hold services in the dim incense-laden air of the great Machindranath temple, the cathedral of Lhasa; and thither they crowd thrice a day to receive their doles of tea and soup and money. The cathedral is a vast building, standing in the centre of the city, and surrounded by bazaars and shops. The idols in it are richly inlaid with gold and precious stones.

Twenty-four days after the Jalno has ceased to have authority, he assumes it again, and for ten days acts in the same arbitrary manner as before. On the first of the ten days the priests again assemble at the cathedral, pray to the gods to prevent sickness and other evils among the people, “and, as a peace-offering, sacrifice one man. The man is not killed purposely, but the ceremony he undergoes often proves fatal. Grain is thrown against his head, and his face is painted half white, half black.” Thus grotesquely disguised, and carrying a coat of skin on his arm, he is called the King of the Years, and sits daily in the market-place, where he helps himself to whatever he likes and goes about shaking a black yak’s tail over the people, who thus transfer their bad luck to him. On the tenth day, all the troops in Lhasa march to the great temple and form in line before it. The King of the Years is brought forth from the temple and receives small donations from the assembled multitude. He then ridicules the Jalno, saying to him, “What we perceive through the five senses is no illusion. All you teach is untrue,” and the like. The Jalno, who represents the Grand Lama for the time being, contests these heretical opinions; the dispute waxes warm, and at last both agree to decide the questions at issue by a cast of the dice, the Jalno offering to change places with the scapegoat should the throw be against him. If the King of the Years wins, much evil is prognosticated; but if the Jalno wins, there is great rejoicing, for it proves that his adversary has been accepted by the gods as a victim to bear all the sins of the people of Lhasa. Fortune, however, always favours the Jalno, who throws sixes with unvarying success, while his opponent turns up only ones. Nor is this so extraordinary as at first sight it might appear; for the Jalno’s dice are marked with nothing but sixes and his adversary’s with nothing but ones. When he sees the finger of Providence thus plainly pointed against him, the King of the Years is terrified and flees away upon a white horse, with a white dog, a white bird, salt, and so forth, which have all been provided for him by the government. His face is still painted half white and half black, and he still wears his leathern coat. The whole populace pursues him, hooting, yelling, and firing blank shots in volleys after him. Thus driven out of the city, he is detained for seven days in the great chamber of horrors at the Samyas monastery, surrounded by monstrous and terrific images of devils and skins of huge serpents and wild beasts. Thence he goes away into the mountains of Chetang, where he has to remain an outcast for several months or a year in a narrow den. If he dies before the time is out, the people say it is an auspicious omen; but if he survives, he may return to Lhasa and play the part of scapegoat over again the following year.

Next chapter: “Gilgamesh”