Evoking Eros - To Wake Up The Sleeping Beauty
The desire in us for Beauty is so inate to be almost a human compulsion. So the attack of the eugenicists on Beauty, which has been manifesting in the art world since the Frankfurt School, may be where they finally get hung with their own petard. However, this isn’t to suggest that we rant against the dark and ugly visions of the post modernist world that they’re trying to impress on us via the Hirsts, the Emins and the Saatchis of so-called Brit Art, but instead to perform the role of the shaman, which is to create new worlds.
We can create new worlds of Beauty through our own artworks - paintings, carvings, poetry, dance and music - which will be so attractive, that people will be compelled to follow their inate desires, to choose our new worlds over the old ones. They won’t be able to stop themselves. If you make the best chocolate in the world, people will soon flock to you, and forget all about Cadbury’s and Nestle’s.
To our ancestors, Beauty was part of wisdom - which is why the eugenicists want to rob us of it. But to understand what these original wisdom principles were, and how Beauty was represented within it, we have to go back to basics. The base is the floor of the issue, which we have to dive down very deep to find. This is because the base was swept from under our feet, along with the rug, when Christianity began to establish its religion across the Western world 2,000 years ago.
Since then, science (which is really just a continuation of Christian thinking, but without the God bit) has muddied the waters still further by deluging and flooding the broken and dismembered floor under an ocean of ignorance. Then it planted a dualistic Ark upon these waters and, like the blind demiurge of the Gnostics, refused to recognise anything that isn’t contained within this vessel. Meanwhile, the ocean of the Abyss is churning dangerously beneath us all ~ and only the quantum physicists and shamanic types are starting to recognise it.
To understand wisdom as it was perceived by our earliest ancestors, we have to go beyond dualistic principles, and look to the so-called non-dual, or Advaita, principles of Vedic wisdom which are also found in the early Greek myths. How Indian philosophy got into the Greek myths is a discussion for another day.
Suffice to say, both the Indians and the Greeks speak an Indo-European language (as do we) and thus come from the same seed stock, the tribes of which were gathered in the Caucasus region just after the last Ice Age.
What I mean is that we need to move to a different model; one which gives rise to a different story of which the death of the human body is only a small event which occurs in the middle of the cycle, and not at the end of a linear progression or line. So instead of the dual perception of, say, death and life, light and dark, yin and yang, we need to move to a triumvirate foundation.
The triumvirate was expressed in Vedic literature as Sat Chit Ananda (Truth, Consciousness and Bliss) and, later on, comes down to us in Hesiod’s Theogony (written down around 800 BCE, but thought to be a crystalisation of a much older strata of mythos) as the Three Pillars of Truth, Goodness and Beauty.
The Universe, according to Hesiod, is constructed of three basic elements or essences: Truth, Goodness and Beauty. And once we start working with that model, we can see how we’ve been robbed of our birthright by the religion of science. This belief system, which has bunsen burners and Petri dishes in place of incense censers and communion plates, can have no truck with Goodness or Beauty, because within their crude tools, instruments and devices, there is no way of observing or measuring Goodness or Beauty objectively. In other words, Goodness and Beauty don’t fit in, because there’re no way of measuring them. And if you can’t measure it, it has no value... to them.
And even Truth has been demoted in the laboratory to mere objective observation in the delusion that the observer can separate himself from what he is observing. Thus, Beauty needs to be awoken and rescued from this spiritual Wasteland or Wilderness within which we currently find ourselves.
But to begin to appreciate a universe that is built on the essence of Truth, the essence of Goodness and the essence of Beauty is going to be about as simple as asking a monkey to write an encyclopaedia. (Yes, I know they used to say that a hundred monkeys would get there eventually but, actually, even that idea has been debunked lately.)
We have become separated from these Three Pillars of Wisdom by thousands of years of cognitive evolution going in the wrong direction. It reminds me of the story about the monk who was stopped in the road and asked the way to the church, and who replied: “Well, I wouldn’t go there from here.”
We need help. We need a miracle. In fact, we need divine intervention. We need to ask the spirits to help us … and there is no one better god or spirit that I can think of to ask for assistance than Eros.
Eros Farnese from the Naples Archeological Museum, inv. 6353.
Eros, just like everyone and everything else in Greek mythology, has been much misunderstood in the last two thousand years. Once the cosmological model of the triumvirate of Truth, Beauty and Goodness had been discarded for a dualistic model, so his role as one of the original Four Immortals representing All-Compelling Beauty was also quickly forgotten ~ apart from in our dreams. You might say that Eros is the original Sleeping Beauty ~ who needs to be awoken by a kiss.
For Hesiod, Eros was the creative life principle of the world. It was Eros who formed a world space through the gap of Chaos (Tartarus, the Abyss, Night) out of which Gaia created Heaven and Day. Without the All-Encompassing Beauty of Eros, nothing can live, nothing can thrive; our lives are barren and meaningless.
The desire to return to our true state, to our birthright of True Goodness, like the Prodigal Son, is the desire represented by the All-Beautiful Eros.
This desire, though, has been misunderstood over the millennia and has become simply compelling desire, divorced from what the desire is actually for. So the compelling desire of Eros has been reduced and relegated to being primarily related to sex, to erotic desire. And then the final nail in the coffin was when sex was downgraded from its position as a means of spiritual transformation, by a religion which no longer had any philosophic basis to understand the role of Mary Magdalene as a divine courtesan, to just a pleasurable activity which led to the procreation of the species.
However, for the Greek philosophers of Hesiod’s time, the compelling desire evoked by Eros was for the native Good ~ aka Gaia or Mother Nature who is voluptuously attractive, brimming over with lush fertility and adorned with a cornucupia of stunningly beautiful panoramas, divine harmonies, exotic fragrances and delicious fruits which can engulf all reason and sensibilities in a delerium of euphoric bliss.
We find traces of this wisdom teaching in the myths about Dionysus, the grandson of Demeter, who “came from Eastern lands” and has many similarities to the much older Indian Shiva ~ the horned man-god with the adorned lingum, serpent, bull and female devotees of, shall we say, questionable moral character? in the West, we know him as Pan, Cernunnos or Gwyn ap Nudd.
Wall hanging of Gwyn ap Nudd by Wendy Andrew
For sale from her website, Painting Dreams.
In Dionysus, Pan, Cernunnos and Gwyn, we find the shamanic rituals of shapeshifting, death and dismemberment, and then resurrection. So in Dionysian shamanic rites, we can find Eros (or Cupid as he became known to the Romans and more latterly, Hallmark Cards) as the all-compelling desire for the Good or the Land.
Dionysian procession on a marble sarcophagus
I’m not suggesting that we need to revert to the Bacchanalian orgies of celebration of Mother Gaia as were practised by the worshippers of Dionysus and the Roman Epicureans. Unfortunately, the true meaning and purpose of Bacchanalia has degenerated, in the Wasteland, into a meaningless piss-up on a Saturday night. But I am suggesting that we can once again attune ourselves to the Three Pillars of Wisdom by the shamanic practises expressed within his corpus of myths, and recognise and recreate the role of Beauty which will have the power of a million imploding atom bombs to create new and much better worlds for people to live in.
© Ishtar Babilu Dingir, 2013
This article is being discussed on Ishtar Babilu Dingir’s forum, Ishtar’s Gate, here: Evoking Eros - To Wake Up The Sleeping Beauty
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Former Sunday Times journalist and now a shaman, Ishtar Babilu Dingir is the creator of ISHTAR’S GATE and the HANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON. She is also the author of LORD OF THE DANCE, a book about life in India with the late Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
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