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Mythology - The Wounded King

To: alt.magick
From: glass@panix.com (Robert Scott Martin)
Subject: Re: Mythology - The Wounded King
Date: 5 Mar 2003 17:55:28 -0500

Organization: Snail Graveyards

I am no longer an astronomer. I now prefer to stare into the chemical sky
and cleanse its venoms; as such, this venture into fields beyond those I
know is likely to be exploratory, incomplete, and possibly even
misleading.

Nevertheless, in the absence of the specialists, here we are. Permission 
granted to archive or forget.

ENVOI: THE WOUNDED SKY.

In the everyday life of the world, the hermetic axiom (axis) applies more 
or less, but almost never perfectly. The relationship of above and below, 
heaven and earth, mythos and praxis, word and flesh is proximate, limited 
to the limits of the magician's own ingenuity and persistence.

"As above, so below" is not an equation. It is a simile, a marriage of 
convenience where the copula may be approached but almost never quite 
achieved. The ladder twists into a spiral staircase; the pole wobbles; the 
mirror is not quite free of distortion. Ouranos Castrato.

From the perspective of heaven, the earth was born broken. Original sin, 
mortality, time. From the perspective of earth, the sky was born broken, 
and so the stars fall out of harmony with the year.

Except, of course, if one inhabits a Golden Age. But even Golden Ages wear 
down.

THE MULTIPLE CENTAUR PROBLEM

Chiron enjoyed perfect health until he met Hercules. He was a child of the 
Golden Age, a son of old Saturn, who ruled when the seasons and the zodiac 
were aligned, when the relationship between above and below was simple and 
free from noise. As the story goes, he first appears when the epoch of the 
titans was already waning: Saturn sired him on the hunt for baby Jupiter, 
but unlike the other children of Saturn, Chiron is not perceived as a 
threat to the old order, and so needs to be neither devoured nor hidden.

Chiron is also the Centaur, which stood at the opposite end of the year 
from Virgo Astraea, midsummer queen of the Golden Age. As such, if Astraea 
marks the zenith, Chiron's hybrid nature identifies him as the autumnal 
turning point, the cusp, two feet on either side of the abyss that divides 
the Titanic era from the people who brought you Mount Olympus. 

In fact, Chiron (Centaurus) survives into the Olympian era largely as a 
peripheral character, a constellation auxiliary to the main thrust of time 
(zodiac). His patron is the old "Apollo," and he functions as a conduit 
transmitting the vestiges of Apollonian harmonies (medicine, law, music, 
astronomy) into a world that now faces the task of imposing those 
harmonies on the resurgent monsters in order to realign the heavens -- in 
short, to rectify the calendar so we can get on with life as best we can.

Who shows us how to do the job? Hercules, who does in fact rectify the 
calendar through his zodiacal labors, a process that produces several 
constellations while eliminating its share of old "monsters," relevant to 
the previous era but now getting in the way of the new. 

He inaugurates this great work with Leo; Virgo Astraea, the Golden Age, 
recesses to the end of the year (and, in fact, "leaves the earth"). The 
corners of the Herculean calendar are thus Leo Scorpio Aquarius Taurus: 
what we would call "the Taurean Age" or perhaps an Aeon of Isis.

After planting his club (Day One) in the Lion's head, the astronomer then 
banishes Hydra from the zodiac, replacing it with Cancer. Having mapped 
two consecutive constellations, he now possesses the cognitive tools 
(abandoning his axis or club for arrows dipped in Hydra's blood) for 
"slaying" other signs and annexing replacements into the Olympian order. 

Now at length it comes time to rectify the Centaur. As an intermediary
between epochs, Chiron is mostly harmless, but still bears the marks of
the old order and so must be driven from the stage -- even "accidentally"  
-- in the pursuit of the new calendar. And yet, as a transitional figure,
he remains part of the Olympian fabric and so is relatively "immortal," a
necessary aspect of time. And yet, he is still one of the old monsters
that are no longer truly relevant to the world.

It appeared as an irresolvable paradox, an "eternal wound" according to 
the logic baptized in Hydra. Since the function of heroes is to achieve 
the impossible, Hercules solves the problem unintentionally, through a 
switch, an "error," and Chiron-as-Old-Monster departs the main stage of 
the sky to become Centaurus.

Chiron-as-Olympian-Symbol is apotheosized as Sagittarius. It depends on 
who you read.

(Why isn't the Slaying of Chiron one of the canonical Twelve Labors? Myth, 
like dreams, survives holographically, through redundant signs. Thus, the 
rectification of Sagittarius can be told two ways in the Hercules 
hagiography, as a Labor (and I keep my own strange counsel as to which of 
these corresponds to which sign) and as the "incidental" death of the old 
Centaur.)

The Twins, Chiron's cousins at one of the Golden Age's other corners, were 
treated in similar fashion, a single constellation conceptually split so 
that one remained immortal and the other was killed -- or maybe both were 
sometimes immortal and sometimes dead, the stories tangle. Individually, 
the Gemini resolve the problem by sharing it; together, they remain an 
eternally wounded unit, caught between horns of the bull. The Virgin 
suffers likewise, as we know Astraea now as Persephone, dead half the 
year.

While Chiron suffers this splitting of his transitional nature, he also
stands in for Prometheus, who might himself of course be old Saturn
incognito (and thus, the Centaur's own absentee father). Once the pivot
constellation is rectified, the old year is absolved of the accumulating
errors that wrecked its clockwork, now to be enshrined as a "Golden Age."  
By resolving Chiron's hybrid signification, his temporal "wound" is healed
-- and so is the cosmic wound of Saturn/Prometheus. A god has "died"  
(Chiron gone below the horizon, down to Tartarus) and so the old god can
be rehabilitated (brought back above the horizon, to "Sicily" of all
places) into the Olympian order of things.

Prometheus gets his liver back, but Ouranos is still missing his dangly 
bits. For a while at least, the calendar and the year line up again, more 
or less (but less as time lumbers on). The truly "eternal" wound is still 
present, but it is almost entirely bearable, barely apparent to only the 
most sensitive instruments. Eventually it will grow to the point where 
another rectification is required to ease the pain.

Hercules, meanwhile, as student and companion of Chiron (first
representative of the new astronomy looking backward, rather than the last
representative of the old looking ahead), also has to resolve an eternal
wound of his own before history can sweep away its last lingering
embarrassment.

Finally, the Centaur(s) and Hydra have their revenge and the 
hero-astronomer leaves the stage. Time grinds away at paradox, and 
individual characters are especially prone to erosion. Hercules is not the 
first emperor of the new zodiacal dynasty, but (with Chiron) the pivot on 
which the dynastic wheel turns. What goes around, comes around.

This process almost certainly took quite a bit of time.

And there have been at least two "Hercules," according to Herodotus. The 
Egyptians had one about 19,000 years ago.

THE SECRET OF THE GRAIL

By the time the Grail mythology was codified, it had already dawned on 
people that we had already gone halfway into the Piscean epoch and were 
now on our way back out, and that the Empire wasn't coming back. The wound 
of the sky was widening; the Gregorian calendar was losing sway. 

Again, the hero's task is to reunify the world through resolving paradox: 
rectifying the sky or, if one's tastes lean toward the microcosmic, 
"atoning." In this case, Parzival must figure out what is going on with 
the heavens by solving various astronomical problems and other riddles 
written in "starry script." The solution will help heal the "wound."

Parzival is innocent of the old calendar, realizing (on Saturday no less) 
that he "know not what the time of year may be or how men the tale may 
reckon of the weeks." This realization takes him forthwith to the home of 
Treverizent, who teaches him such things.

And the Grail Poet himself, von Eschenbach, notes that the teacher of his 
own teacher was one "Flegetanis," of whom that wacky Trevor Ravenscroft 
notes:

"Flegetanis is not a personal name but a Persian word that means a person 
familiar with the stars. Flegetanis was an astronomer -- not what we think 
of as an astronomer today, but someone who has imaginations of the 
heavens. That is, a man who can look up to the stars with clairvoyance."

And Parzival's own name is "written in a cluster of stars." He's no 
Hercules, but one could argue that his position in history does not 
require same.


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