Ending where it began, with the image of the land and sea,
(the album and the song) portrays a circle (a cycle) or the action of a
pendulum. Beginning in one direction (the active resistance of verse one/the
), the pendulum of
stops at the mid-point (the passivity of verse two/the stasis of
) and then turns in the other direction (the active acceptance of verse
three/the enantiodromia of
Ladies of the Road
(the album and the song) also makes repeated allusions to all three of the
previous albums in the cycle. And so we see that, just as
the album summarizes the other three albums in the cycle,
(the song) is a microcosm of
(the album). What this presents is an image of the ego in relation to the Self.
"The self is not only the centre, but also the circumference that encloses
conscious and the unconscious."
"The process of individuation, or psychological development, leads
progressively further away from the ego to the Self, from the unconscious to
consciousness, from the personal to the transpersonal, the holy, the
realization that the macrocosm is being mirrored in the microcosm of the human
- Radmila Moacanin, 1986
And so (to the degree that the ego recognizes the Self) the "islands" that
"join hands" are the ego and the Self (which includes the Collective
"Individuation is a process (not a goal) in which the ego becomes increasingly
aware of its origin from, and dependence upon, an archetypal psyche."
In that the first half of life involves developing the ego consciousness
(turning away from the unconscious) and the second half of life a turning back
towards the unconscious (and away from the ego), the individuation process also
entails going in two directions.
"Jung understood individuation to be something that began in the second half of
life, when individuals reach the zenith of their lives and suddenly find
themselves facing an unknown vista or some unforeseen upheaval. Sometimes this
turning point takes the form of a crisis: such as a financial failure, a health
problem, a broken relationship, or a change of residence or profession -
something which upsets the status quo. Sometimes this experience assumes the
form of a profound self-doubt, a loss of meaning or religious conviction, a
questioning of everything previously held so dear. Sometimes it presents itself
as a deep yearning or a call to change direction. And many times, it can
manifest itself in powerful dreams and fantasies."
And the individuation process is also the Hero's Journey of Separation,
Initiation and Return.
Building up the ego and then tearing it down are each necessary to
individuation. Both are like the sailor's "pearls and gourds" and the
micro/macrocosmic nature of
: "equal in love bound in circles".
"Think that you are not yet begotten, that you are in the
womb, that you are young, that you are old, that you
have died, that you are in the world beyond the grave;
grasp in your thoughts all this at once, all times and
places, all substances and qualities and magnitudes
together; then you can apprehend God."
- Hermes Trismegistus Corpus Hermeticum Libellus, the Eleventh Volume
the mellotron makes a second appearance on the album. The last time we heard
this instrument it was used to evoke the pain and terror of the storm, the
descent into darkness (matter). At the very end of
the mellotron reminds us, instead, of
In The Wake Of Poseidon
, the King Crimson song most concerned with finding a balance, both within the
individual and in the world. Here at the end, in his new found wisdom, the
sailor has discovered that the storm has been inside him. What he has been
struggling with all along is the imbalance within himself. It is in these last
few seconds of the album that we hear the moment of conjunction. As in
In the Court of the Crimson King,
In the Wake of Poseidon
, the alchemical union in
is portrayed as but a fleeting moment, a glimpse of shimmering gold the
alchemist in his laboratory sees in the bottom of a flask.
"The whole path towards the divine, the ultimate, has to pass through this
territory of the ego. The false has to be understood as false. The source of
misery has to be understood as the source of misery - then it simply drops.
When you know it is poison, it drops. When you know it is fire, it drops.
When you know this is the hell, it drops.
Try to see your own ego.
Just watch it.
Don't be in a hurry to drop it, just watch it. The more you watch, the more
capable you will become. Suddenly one day, you simply see that it has dropped.
And when it drops by itself, only then does it drop. There is no other way.
Prematurely you cannot drop it.
It drops just like a dead leaf.
The tree is not doing anything - just a breeze, a situation, and the dead leaf
simply drops. The tree is not even aware that the dead leaf has dropped. It
makes no noise, it makes no claim - nothing.
The dead leaf simply drops and shatters on the ground, just like that.
When you are mature through understanding, awareness, and you have felt
totally that ego is the cause of all your misery, simply one day you see the
It settles into the ground, dies of its own accord. You have not done anything
so you cannot claim that you have dropped it. You see that it has simply
disappeared, and then the real center arises.
And that real center is the soul, the self, the god, the truth, or whatsoever
want to call it.
King Lear and the Fool in the Storm (William Dyce, 1851)
"Upon vigilant examination, we
can have no direct experience of any such thing called ego,
mind, or soul. They exist only as ideas and, like any idea, they
cannot be eliminated, only seen through. Trying to kill the ego is
like trying to drain a mirage of its water. The essential point has
Realization, awakening, Satori-or simple sanity-is to recognize
that there is no ego, no mind, no individual soul. There is not
now, nor has there ever been, nor will there ever be. This is not
the achievement of a higher state or the end of a long and
arduous journey, but rather the recognition of what has always
been the case. The ego has not been eliminated; it has been
recognized as never existing in the first place."
"Everything in nature is perfectly real including consciousness, there's
nothing to worry about. Not only have the chains of the Law been broken, they
never existed; demons never guarded the stars, the Empire never got started,
Eros never grew a beard.
No, listen, what happened was this: they lied to you, sold you ideas of good &
evil, gave you distrust of your body & shame for your prophethood of chaos,
invented words of disgust for your molecular love, mesmerized you with
inattention, bored you with civilization & all its usurious emotions.
There is no becoming, no revolution, no struggle, no path; already you're the
monarch of your own skin--your inviolable freedom waits to be completed only by
the love of other monarchs: a politics of dream, urgent as the blueness of sky.
To shed all the illusory rights & hesitations of history demands the economy of
some legendary Stone Age--shamans not priests, bards not lords, hunters not
police, gatherers of paleolithic laziness, gentle as blood, going naked for a
painted as birds, poised on the wave of explicit presence, the clockless
"Once I free
my mind of the filter of ego, I realize that individuality itself is just an
illusion, that indeed
everything is already related to everything else; everyone is already
conditioned by and
dependent upon everyone else. We exist in a web of interrelatedness, and it is
itself (and not some abstract Being or God behind it) that is the
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a
piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a
clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the
less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as
if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any
man's death diminishes me, because I am involved
in mankind, and therefore never send to know for
whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
"This final stage of transformation brings a kind of cosmic consciousness,
perhaps Nirvana. As represented in 21.World, you experience the Self as the
center of the World, around which the Cosmos rotates. So, in the Pythagorean
Tarot, the dancer is surrounded by the zodiac and the four figures representing
the four elements and the four kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal and
Before the fall, in
, before losing his "cosmic consciousness", he was surrounded by minerals (
stony road, dusty wheels, snuff brown walls), plants (cactus, pine, sweet sage,
strange herbs, a Dragon fig tree), animals (lizards, ants) and man (
"This seeing of yourself at the center of the world is not ego inflation,
however, for you also realize that this Self is transpersonal; rather,
inflation was characteristic of 0.Fool: recall that "fool" derives
from follis, wind bag.
The concerns of the individual tend to be coextensive with the concerns of the
world, and so the individual appears egoless; in fact, the ego has expanded to
encompass the world, not by inflating, but by dissolving into it."
Just as "earth, stream and tree return to the sea" and dissolve into it.
"Such a person is assuredly still human, imperfect but completed."
"The Fool dances his last dance as king, for soon he will be stripped of his
special status, but he rejoins the common mass of humanity in a transfigured
state, having perhaps transformed the masses by his example..."
As a result of his seduction by the world (Maya, the Formentera Lady) the Fool
is stripped of his special status (his wholeness). Eventually, through the hard
lessons of life, he reacquires the wisdom/unity/intuition he had lost and
rejoins the common mass of humanity in a transfigured state.
The Fool has become the Dancer
, who dances the eternal dance of liberated life, blending rhythm and
spontaneity. She is the integrated soul, ascending to the eternal realms and
descending again into the world of the four elements. Uniting all opposites
into a dynamic synergy, she holds the keys of Heaven and the Abyss and points
the way into the new Aquarian Aeon, the return of the Golden Age of
"The final age, foretold by Cumaean song, is here:
the great cosmic order of ages is born anew.
Now the Virgin Astraea returns; Saturn's kingdoms return.
Down from heavenly realms, offspring of the gods,
a child is born. The age of iron comes to an end.
In every region of the world the golden race appears anew.
That child, blest with life of the gods, will
witness hero and deity once more united, and under their
watchful eye, will rule a world restored to peace."
- Vergil's Fourth Eclogue
"As the Hindus point out, maya is not separate from Brahman, but is one
manifestation of the
godhead. It is the manifestation of the godhead as differentiated into the
multitude as opposed
to the one -- it is the many which is also the one. In this sense, liberation
is not an escape from
maya, but the ability to dance with it, to see through, to "play" at the "play"
of delusion of
maya. To call maya a "veil," in retrospect, is somewhat misleading. There is no
veil. Maya is
"The Dancer looks both ways, and holds the keys
that show the rising, falling vortices.
Her dance expands within the world, and takes
the world within; in her the world awakes.
Unreal divisions yield to unities!"
- verse accompanying the World Tarot card
"Tanit, the Goddess, seems to be taking care of this place since Phoenician
times. No matter the winds reaching the island's shore, she goes on ... dancing
with natural beauty. All who come here perceive this in some way and get
"A light breeze flowing across the Jamuna river mingles with a lonely voice.
The musician recites a line from a Sufi poem -- it could be Amir Khusrao. The
words float high above, supported only by a harmonium. Then a chorus of four
others echoes the melody. Someone picks up the dholak (a double-headed finger
drum), another begins clapping to the beat. Gradually, the singing gathers
momentum and a gathering of devotees, mesmerised, starts swaying to the music."
"Qawwali is a kind of Sufi gospel music, in which the singer recites devotional
poetry like that of 13th century mystic poet Jelalludin Rumi, or improvises
using lines from the Koran or other religious texts. Transporting the listener
to a state of union with God is the goal of qawwali. Its vehicles are the
insistent drum beats of the tabla and dholak, the drone of the harmonium, and
the sound and meaning of the poetry."