Thursday, April 29, 2010

The mythology of Taurus (II): The Hierophant

(Aries here and here ). The Bull had its first installment here This letter speaks of doctrines and educationIt can indicates orthodoxy, comformity to established ideas and codes of social behavior: "The Emperor" of Aries symbolizes the rules and institutions that enforce them, "The Hierophant" reflects our sense of obedience.

Taurus does not want complications in his life of leisure. They conform to a group, they adapt to the system and are committed to its causes. Far from imposing its dominance as the rams the Bulls are more subtle: they put in others a sense of obedience. That makes the "Hierophant" perfect to represent the Taurus. But who is this guy?

The Hierophant

"Hierophant" was the priest of the mysteries of the Eleusis, in ancient GreeceCalling it "the" Eleusis is an unfortunate legacy of poets like those who speak of "the" America: Eleusis is a Greek city.

The data we know: the ritual in Eleusis began around 1600 BC (the year it's not a sure thing at all, but having so little data it would be a shame to remove it) in honor of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone; each year were held the Lesser Mysteries and every five years the Greater Mysteries and there was a basket and a sacred chest. To enter the brotherhood it was enough not have been convicted of murder and "not be a barbarian", ie to speak Greek fluently.

Period and that’s it, anything else is speculation. Nothing, absolutely nothing was written about the mysteries of Eleusis by original participants or sources. Comments of Plato and other philosophers allow thinking the mysteries were about linking the man with the gods but that’s guessing.

That has been enough for "researchers" review "real" mysteries of Eleusis, invoking a scroll that only they have and have linked to the Gnostics. The truth is that the knowledge compiled in Eleusis, effective or not, is lost forever. With the rise of Christianity the mysteries gradually lost importance until Emperor Theodosius I declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire and the Eleusis temples were razed in 396 AD Until this day nobody has proven that neither the Gnostics, or the Copts, or Arians, or the Cathars, or anyone retained this knowledge but "Brotherhoods" are invoked now and then, which apparently have occasional hard times which force them to publish their secret books to raise funds.

The Pontifex Maximus and the episode of Canossa

The title of Pontifex Maximus is not Christian nor Catholic: Pontíficex Maximus was the head of the Roman religion. Julius Caesar himself occupied the office when he designed the basis of our present calendar. Then the emperor took the title for himself; today is not clear whether the first pope who used the title was Damasus I (336-384) or Leo I (440-461). Anyway, for nearly four centuries the popes were not pontifex.

When the seat of empire was moved from Rome to Byzantium the pope was left without protection and Leo III called for help which he got but brought a very complicated problem: was the Emperor, representing the civil authority, subject to the pope, representative of God? The problem remained unsolved for centuries creating a crisis which finally bursted out at Canossa. The story is convoluted, but since is the turning point in the relations between the papacy and the empire (with its interesting metaphor of the Aries-Taurus relationship) I will try to summarize it.

Pope Gregory VII was one of the great reformers of the church, he confronted shames as the vacant sees (abbeys that were given to nobles who didn’t pay one visit but had all the privileges of the nobility) or priests living with their mistresses. And he decided to get back the appointment of bishops for the papacy.

At that time the Holy Roman Emperor virtually appointed all bishops and even the pope, but taking advantage from the fact that Henry IV was still a child, church officials announced "in the Name of God" that the pope would be elected onwards by the cardinals, a practice that is dogma now but is not foundational of the church.

In that context, when pope try to take one further step and sought to recover the appointment of bishops, the Emperor Henry, who though young was no longer a child, said he didn’t recognize the authority of the pope and was excommunicated. Big mistake. Huge: Henry lacked experience and above all, his nobles had desires to know how that of being emperor felt, so they seize the ocassion and rebelled against the emperor Henry, backed by the bishops. Uh-oh, said Henry, who had to ask an audience with the pope.

Gregory chose not to have the audience in Rome, out of fear that Henry will take his army to the city, so Matilda of Tuscany lent Gregory her fortress of Canossa. There they met in January 1077.

As the great books of demonology had not begun to be written, nobody had told the pope that pride and rejoice in humilliation is a deadly sin. Gregory forced Henry to stay three days before the gates of the fortress, wearing only a shirt, kneeling in the snow, on bread and water for fasting to give him Christian penance. Then he accepted the Emperor back into the church.

But the rebel german nobles would not lose their chance and continued in arms. When the rebels chose a king to replace Henry and civil war broke out Gregory remained neutral for years, hoping that both sides would weaken each other and thus strengthening the position of the papacy. As a result of that move he lost the trust of both parties made a fatal error and allied with the rebels after an important victory.

It turned out that Henry lost the next battle from a strategic point of view ... but the head of the rebels died. Gregory, anticipating a serious problem, made his third mistake in line upon which he would have time to reflect in prayer: he rushed to excommunicate Henry again, neglecting to see that he was no longer a boy but a general.

For Germans, this excommunication was pointless except within the secular agenda of the Pope, who was acting as a hostile power. So the people surrounded Henry who took up arms, settled scores with Matilda of Tuscany and besieged Rome, where he tried to impose another pope.

Gregory witnessed the looting of the city until he was rescued and was taken to Salerno where he died the following year, reflecting on the holy virtue of prudence. Henry faced another civil war nearly 15 years later and was forced to abdicate, accusing him of appointing an antipope. Yet even today is considered a hero by his people as the figure who held the national dignity.

I'm not saying that Henry was a native of Aries and Gregorio of Taurus, but from an archetypal point of view, Henry was synchronized with the strengths of the Aries "Emperor" while Gregorio lost sight of the Taurus "Hierophant": if Gregory had not been so volatile in their decisions, had not tried to play the game of power without an army, had proclaimed a clear opinion and had not counted on the weakness of a young king whom he had humbled, things had been different. As arcane also illustrates what happens when bulls commited themselves to a cause, in this case the Investiture Controversy, in which Gregory probably had the reason, but he allowed that reason to blind him.

The archetype.

Anthony Hopkins as James Stevens in "The Remains of the Day"on novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. This steward represents the essence of an England that disappears quickly. His strength and his tragedy is that everything (including his feelings, which remains tightly repressed) should be made according to the rules of that national tradition which was disappearing before the eyes of everybody.

Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: A New Hope. This character experiences a curious metamorphosis over the entire series. In the first installment though presented as a "Hermit", its role and its meaning is to initiate the formation of Luke in the ways of the Force and jedism is ultimately a religion.

Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen in The Godfather. The Corleone family consigliere is usually the one trying to stop wars (especially those who crave the brutal Sonny, the eldest son of Don Vito) remembering that this is business and the rules of the mafia.

Gary Sinise as Mac Taylor in CSI: New York. Rare is the chapter where you don’t hear him trying to stop the impulses of one of his subordinates to achieve results at all costs: only following the book, slowly but surely

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