Chapter Eleven

    ~ In the Court of the Crimson King ~

    - chapter 11 index -
    pg. 1 - Moonchild | pg. 2 - The Dream The Illusion
    pg. 3 - The Court of the Crimson King | pg. 4 - The Purple Piper
    pg. 5 - Three Lullabies | pg. 6 - Orpheus
    pg. 7 - The Keeper of the City Keys | pg. 8 - The Pilgrim's Door
    pg. 9 - The Gardener | pg. 10 - The Yellow Jester
    pg. 11 - The Dance of the Puppets | pg. 12 - Dionysus
    pg. 13 - The Fool | pg. 14 - Logos
    pg. 15 - The Magician | pg. 16 - Finis

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    The Divine King | Dionysian Ecstacy | St. John's Day

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    For some, The Dance of the Puppets represents the Crimson King's descent into madness. This is quite accurate, because the Divine Child of the Crimson King (Zeus) is Dionysus.

    "Orphism, attributed to the mythical Orpheus, is the teachings of an ancient Greek philosophical cult which exerted great influence on Greek culture, and later on Western mysticism and occultism. The chief teachings are of reincarnation, a Greek version of Karma, a history of the universe which was formed by Chronos who formed an egg and created the first king of the gods -- whom Zeus supplanted and fathered Dionysus -- the divine child. Orphism had a great impact on alchemy.'

    - Orphism

    "So that Kronos would not find the divine child, either in heaven or on earth, the goddess Amalthea placed the child in a cradle and hung it from the branch of a tree, as the Golden Fleece was hung from a tree in the land of Kolchis. A faint echo of that ancient myth can still be heard in the following familiar, if nonetheless somewhat disturbing nursery song:

    Rock'a'by baby
    in the tree top
    when the wind blows
    the cradle will rock
    when the bough breaks
    the cradle will fall
    and down will come baby
    cradle and all.

    That bough upon which the cradle hangs is, of course, the Golden Bough, and within that cradle lies the new king."

    - Frank Cannon

    "He’s been called a 'second Zeus,' particularly when compared with Zagreus, which means, 'Zeus-like.' And it was Orpheus’ contention that Dionysus was the successor to Zeus’ throne. When he was finally admitted to heaven, he stood at the right-hand of Zeus as Jesus stood at Jehovah’s right-hand."

    - The Advent of Dionysus

    The Dance of the Puppets is the triumphal procession of the returning (resurrected) king.

    "Triumph - A word formed from thriambos, the Dionysiac hymn.

    “Some ... have assigned the origin of ... triumphal processions to the mythic pomps of Dionysus, after his conquests in the East, the very word triumph being ... the Dionysiac hymn.”
    - Pater: Marius the Epiourean, chap. xii.

    - Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

    "Dionysus was the ancient Greek god of fertility, ritual dance, and mysticism, the mysterious and paradoxical god of altered states, of ecstasy and terror, of wildness and of the most blessed deliverance - the mad god whose apperance sends mankind into madness. Euripedes famously called him 'most gentle and most terrible'.

    The Epiphany of the God that Comes

    The inner force of this dual reality is so great that he appears among men like a storm. All tradition, all order must be shattered. Life becomes suddenly an ecstasy - an ecstasy of blessedness, but an ecstasy, no less, of terror. His appearance is startling, disquieting, violent. It arouses opposition and agitation. Right at his birth gods arise as his enemies. Terrible disturbances are engendered in his vicinity. And in this way, even the revelation of the god who has become a man creates wild emotion, anger, and opposition among mankind. The god appeared with such wildness and demanded such unheard-of things, so much that mocked all human order, that he first had to over-power the hearts of men before they could do him homage. Thus the conception of his first arrival, the mythic image of a regular coming - became a story of strife and conquest.

    Dionysus is a dying and resurrected god of fertility, in the mold of Tammuz who even in his genesis myths has two, or even three, successive incarnations, firstly between Zeus and Persephone representing heaven and the underworld.

    Zeus and the Moonchild

    Zeus came to Persephone in the shape of a serpent, and he begat by his daughter that god, Zagreus or Dionysos who, in the Orphic stories, was to be his successor, the fifth ruler of the world. . The birth of the son and successor to the throne actually took place in the maternal cave. A late ivory relief shows the bed in the cave: the bed in which the horned child - the horns signify attributes of the heavenly bull, the waxing and waning (lunar) son of Persephone, the moon-goddess of the underworld - had just been born.

    - The Epiphany of Miraculous Dread

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    Dionysus' identity as "the dying and resurrected god of fertility" brings us to another reason why the King is Crimson...

    "Many of the myths of dismembership surrounding Dionysus appear to record ancient rite in which a king was killed and spread for the fertility of the land.

    ...the myth is telling of the son of a king who is given the scepter of kingship and placed on the throne as the last 'king of all the gods of the world' for a day and then sacrificed in the king's stead to maintain fertility of the earth. It is likewise said the infant leaped into the throne and held up the thunderbolt. The tearing apart of Dionysus is itself the refertilizing of the land with blood, just as Tammuz was ground and Osiris was scattered. In Rome Dionysus was Pater Liber 'father freedom' who protected the crops against evil fortune. As the white bull he is Persephone's dying moon."

    - The Epiphany of Miraculous Dread

    The Killing of the Divine King

    "For Frazerians (followers of J.G. Frazer's theories), literature harks back to myths that were originally the scripts of the key primitive ritual of regularly killing and replacing the king in whom the god of vegetation resided, in order to ensure good crops for the community. "The king must die" is a familiar summary line"(p. xxii From Ritual to Romance).

    The center of the primal ritual is the enactment of the death and rebirth of the god of vegetation, for human survival depends on vegetation and the revival of it during spring:

    The annual death and revival of vegetation is a conception which readily presents itself to men in every stage of savagery and civilization; and the vastness of the scale on which the ever-recurring decay and regeneration takes place, together with man's intimate dependence on it for subsistence, combine to render it the most impressive annual occurrences in nature, at least within the temperate zones...Hence it is natural that in the magical dramas designed to dispel winter and bring back spring the emphasis should be laid on vegetation, and that trees and plants should figure in them more prominently than beasts and birds. (p. 392,378 The Golden Bough)

    This age old practice can be traced back to ancient tradition found in tribes in Africa, Europe, and Asia. This ritual is seen today in the Easter enactments of the passion play and was widely present in the past. In Babylon an annual ritual of a mock slaying of the fair youth Adonis and his raising from the dead symbolized a continued renewal of the earth. The concept stems from the most primitive nature of man:

    "For they believe...that the king's life or spirit is so sympathetically bound up with the prosperity of the whole country, that if he fell ill or grew senile the cattle would sicken and cease to multiply, the crops would rot in their fields, and men would perish of widespread disease. Hence, in their opinion, the only way of averting these calamities is to put the king to death while he is still hale and hearty, in order that the divine spirit which he has inherited from his predecessors may be transmitted in turn to him to his successor while it is still in full vigor and has not yet been impaired by weakness of disease and old age. (p. 312 The Golden Bough)"

    - Arthurian Parallels

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    "Greek tragedy and the history of Western art grew out of the ritual recital of epic poems that took place during the Dionysian festivals of ancient Greece. Specifically, Nietzsche attributes the birth of tragedy to the mimetic experience of the chorus.

    Mimesis was "the primary dramatic phenomenon: projecting oneself outside oneself and then acting as though one had really entered another body, another character." (Nietzsche) When the bard chanted his poem he became the character portrayed. The situation became 'real' for the poet and the chorus. "The dithyrambic chorus ... is a chorus of the transformed, who have forgotten their civil past and social rank, who have become timeless servants of their god and live outside all social spheres." (Nietzsche)

    - Mimesis and the Aesthetic Experience Essay by R.Cronk

    "The actual birth of tragedy, as Nietzsche argues, is explained as coming from the music and dances of the Dionysian cult as a triumph of the Apollonian form. He envisions "the sublime as the artistic conquest of the horrible."

    - The Birth of Tragedy by David Kovach

    "Dionysus is identified with ecstatic possession, wine, mountains, wild animals, frenzied women, frenzied dancing, fertility and, especially, the coincidence of opposites.

    Victor Turner and others would speak of Dionysus and Kataragama in terms of 'liminality', of being on the margin, in an in-between geographical or psychological space "where fluidity challenges stability, where fusion replaces boundary--here too normal relations and normal inhibitions are suspended in a quasi-magical interlude characterized by joyful play, imaginative exuberance and free energy.

    As spirits of antithesis and paradox, both Murukan and Dionysus are characterized by the juxtaposition of pandemonium and silence."

    A striking characterisitic of the first king Crimson album: the pandemonium of Twenty First Century Schizoid Man juxtaposed with the silence of I Talk to The Wind.

    "...another coincidence of opposites.

    Not only in myth, but also in cultic practice, their epiphanies are celebrated with colorful noisy processions and frenzied dancing by torchlight--and yet, during the procession at Kataragama, ritual participants do not utter a single word.

    As in the melancholy silence of The Dream The Illusion :

    In the cult of Dionysus, too, melancholy silence was the sign of women possessed by the god. Modern scholars--who are devotees by profession of Apollo--regard with disdain the secrecy and paradoxical, double-edged logic common to Dionysus and Kataragama and abhor what they regard as cult excesses. Charles Segal observes, "As Apollo imposes limits and reinforces boundaries, Dionysus, his opposite and complement, dissolves them."

    - Dionysus and Kataragama: Parallel Mystery Cults by Patrick Harrigan

    "Dionysian ecstasy is a mass phenomenon and spreads almost infectiously. This is expressed mythically by the fact that the god is always surrounded by his swarm of followers. Everyone who surrenders to this god must risk abandoning his everyday identity and becoming mad: both god and follower can be called Bacchus.

    Dionysus brings to the fore (when he is "in us" and causes us to "stand outside ourselves" with the group) the irrational side of our nature, unlike Apollo who stands aloof as a symbol of the higher, refined cultivation to which we mere mortals can only aspire

    But what is essential, and quintessentially Greek, is that these two sides -- both the Rational and the Irrational, the Apollonian and the Dionysian -- are not something that defines now one person, now another: rather they BOTH exist within us all."

    - Apollo & Dionysus: Greeks and the Irrational

    "As the soothsaying god presiding over the Delphic oracle, Apollo "the shining one" is also the god of appearance, fantasy, dream, artifice, and "blissful deception" (Nietzsche 14-15, 102). Thus, whereas it might seem that Apollo is the "sane" god, Nietzsche describes him in words we typically associate with some of those in our "down" list above ("unconscious," "depraved"). Allan Megill explains how Nietzsche capitalizes on ambiguities in the German word schein, which means not only "light," but also "semblance" or "illusion" (39). Apollo is the healing and helping force in sleep and dreams, wrapping humanity in the veil of maya that protects us from the realities of our harsh existence which, if faced too directly, would not allow us to go on living.

    It is his dark counterpart, the ivy-covered Dionysus, who strips away the veil of our fragmented individualism, exposing "the womb of the sole true reality" in all its awful glory (Nietzsche 16, 106), and challenging the carefully guarded "sanity" of those who ignore him (17). When we lose our way among the cognitive forms of appearance-when reason fails-nature itself "rises up from man's innermost core," and we are intoxicated with both dread and ecstasy, completely forgetting our selves. Undoing Apollo's careful numbering of each individual thing, Dionysus prefers unity to order, seeking to dissolve the many into the One. What is illusion and what reality? This seems to depend on one's point of view; the beautiful forms of Apollo are lifeless illusions viewed from the underworld abyss, while the chaotic flux of Dionysus is deranged from the altitude of Olympus."

    - The gods must be crazy: The denial of descent in academic scholarship

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    Dionysian dancing was also a phenomenon present during the reign of Frederick II.

    "As early as the eleventh century we find clear accounts of diabolical possession taking the form of epidemics of raving, jumping, dancing, and convulsions, the greater number of the sufferers being women and children. In a time so rude, accounts of these manifestations would rarely receive permanent record; but it is very significant that even at the beginning of the eleventh century we hear of them at the extremes of Europe--in northern Germany and in southern Italy. At various times during that century we get additional glimpses of these exhibitions, but it is not until the beginning of the thirteenth century that we have a renewal of them on a large scale. In 1237, at Erfurt, a jumping disease and dancing mania afflicted a hundred children, many of whom died in consequence; it spread through the whole region, and fifty years later we hear of it in Holland.

    But it was the last quarter of the fourteenth century that saw its greatest manifestations. There was abundant cause for them. It was a time of oppression, famine, and pestilence: the crusading spirit, having run its course, had been succeeded by a wild, mystical fanaticism; the most frightful plague in human history--the Black Death--was depopulating whole regions--reducing cities to villages, and filling Europe with that strange mixture of devotion and dissipation which we always note during the prevalence of deadly epidemics on a large scale.

    It was in this ferment of religious, moral, and social disease that there broke out in 1374, in the lower Rhine region, the greatest, perhaps, of all manifestations of "possession"--an epidemic of dancing, jumping, and wild raving. The cures resorted to seemed on the whole to intensify the disease: the afflicted continued dancing for hours, until they fell in utter exhaustion. Some declared that they felt as if bathed in blood, some saw visions, some prophesied.

    Into this mass of "possession" there was also clearly poured a current of scoundrelism which increased the disorder.

    The immediate source of these manifestations seems to have been the wild revels of St. John's Day. In those revels sundry old heathen ceremonies had been perpetuated, but under a nominally Christian form: wild Bacchanalian dances had thus become a semi-religious ceremonial."

    - The Epidemics of "Possession"

    "Regarding the Pied Piper, it is not at all far-fetched that such a person lured the youths (already in a trance due to their dancing mania) out of town and enslaved them through his demoniacal power of suggestion. The Cologne Chronicle reports that, in 1374, the St. John's dancers soon became victims of much "fraud and knavery," and that more than 1000 women and virgins in Cologne became pregnant during the dancing epidemic.

    Those of us who have read the sources documenting the history of the medieval dancing illness and have recognized the horror felt by writers of the time of the elemental force of mass hysteria can have no doubt concerning the true background of the catastrophe that occurred in Hamelin on St. John's Day in 1284."

    - The Pied Piper and St. Vitus's Dance
    Egon Schmitz-Cliever, M.D.

    But there were other Dionysian outbursts during the time of Frederick II, manifestations which actually effected the course of Empire.

    "In this time of crisis and confusion, tortured with the throes of a new birth, all spiritual and other forces were tense and at fever heat, and men fell an eager prey to any miracle that promised easier and better things. In the midst of all this the preachers appeared everywhere simultaneously, calling to penance, and coupling their terrifying words with the message of peace they stung the people to raving and madness. The epidemic spread like wildfire. 'All were drunk with heavenly love, for they had quaffed of the wine of the spirit of God after testing which all flesh begins to rave.' The peace and penance mania of the year 1233 is known as the "Great Halleluja !" because the penance preachers over-ran the country with this cry in praise of the great Three-in-One. In Parma a preacher appeared playing on a little copper trumpet from which he drew now sweet now terrifying sounds. He lured the people, especially children, after him like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. They followed with boughs and burning tapers through streets and market-places, joining loudly in the brother's Halleluja. On his arrival all enmities were suddenly forgotten, all battles abandoned : 'A time of happiness and joy began ; knights and people, burghers and peasants struck up hymns and songs in praise of God ; people fell on each others necks, there was no wrath, no strife, no confusion : only Love and Peace.'
    Almost the whole of Italy fell under the spell of the Halleluja.
    The service of penance of 1233 was only a forestaste of the much wilder and more savage outbursts of the Flagellants in 1260 after Frederick's death, fanatic figures who are not far removed from the cycle of legend that centres round Frederick.
    The Halleluja came to an abrupt conclusion. At the last great feast of peace in Paquera 400,000 North Italians, it was computed, assembled round Brother John of Vicenza. Solemnly a pact of eternal peace was sworn. Four days later the war of the towns broke out again. All flew at each other's throats and Brother John, "Duke" of Verona sat in the dungeon of one of his innumerable foes. The balance between Emperor and Pope was gradually restored when the Romans had sobered again after their orgy of peace."

    - Frederick II
    by Ernst Kantorowicz
    (p. 396-9)

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