Chapter 14
Dark Night of the Soul : Wilderness

And there a Swan is Born

- chapter index -
pg. 1 - Wilderness | pg. 2 - Prince Rupert Awakes | pg. 3 - The Sufis
pg. 4 - And there a Swan is Born | pg. 5 - Reels of Dream Unrolled | pg. 6 - The Peacock's Tale
pg. 7 - The Tibetan Book of the Dead | pg. 8 - Dawn Song | pg. 9 - Night Enfolds Her Cloak of Holes
pg. 10 - The Battle of Glass Tears | pg. 11 - Prince Rupert's Lament

- page index -
Go Polonius or Kneel | Now Bears Prince Rupert's Garden Roam | And there A Swan is Born

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"For now Prince Rupert's tears of glass
Make saffron sabbath eyelids bleed"

As explained in chapter five, "saffron" and "sabbath" represent eastern and western religions. It would seem Rupert is here acknowledging that (Ego) attachment to religion (seeing the world through the eyes of a dogmatic Christian or Moslem) has brought him pain. But note it is not the eyes that are the problem but the eyelids. When the eyelids are shut (the "saffron sabbath eyelids" of religious dogmatism), Prince Rupert is blind to spiritual reality.

"Without demolishing religious schools (madrassahs) and minarets and without abandoning the beliefs and ideas of the medieval age, restriction in thoughts and pains in conscience will not end."

- Rumi

"Scar the sacred tablet wax
On which the Lizards feed."

It is Prince Rupert's tears that "scar the sacred tablet wax". His ego induced pain is causing him to doubt the validity of "sacred" texts.

"Subjects vegetate in subjection, virtuous people in virtue, liberals in humanity, without ever putting to these fixed ideas of theirs the searching knife of criticism. Undislodgeable, like a madman's delusion, those thoughts stand on a firm footing, and he who doubts them -- lays hands on the sacred! Yes, the "fixed idea," that is the truly sacred!"

- The Ego and His Own by Max Stirner

But what about the "Lizards"?

"...but I found myself sitting on a pleasant bank beside a river by moonlight
hearing a harper who sung to the harp, & his theme was,
The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water,
& breeds reptiles of the mind."

- William Blake
"A Memorable Fancy"
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The "man who never alters his opinion" is driven by an ego that breeds "Lizards" of the mind, defense mechanisms, ego defenses. In terms of religion, these ego defenses "feed" on the "sacred" nature of religious dogma. To the believer certain beliefs are "sacred". The ego's opinions ("Lizards") "feed" on ideas that are, like the ego, not to be questioned.

"Ego, is the absence of true knowledge of who we really are, together with its result: a doomed clutching on, at all costs, to a cobbled together and makeshift image of ourselves, an inevitably chameleon charlatan self that keeps changing and has to, to keep alive the fiction of its existence."

- Buddha and Queen Maya

"Emptiness is not nothing; it is the absence of self (ego or center or point of
reference) or self-effacement, self-extinction. It is openness. Intellectually, we are open
when we do not cling to a yes or no, when we do not insist on defending an opinion
(from our military bunker -- the ego);"

- Buddhism: The Life and Message of Gautama

"Wake your reason's hollow vote"

Again, there is no place for the intellect in this process.

"As St. Thomas pointed out, "we must proceed by the way of remotion, since God by his immensity exceeds every conception which our intellect can form." St Thomas thus called it the via negativa."

- Mystical Experience in Modern English

"Wear your blizzard season coat"

Castel del Monte in winter

And there is no place for emotion. He must be prepared for the ordeal ahead.

"Weather symbols are often appropriate. Because of the considerable death of phenomenal experience, in spiritual terms this is very much the 'winter' season."

- Black Hole

"For, as all exponents of the Perennial Philosophy have constantly insisted, man's obsessive consciousness of, and insistence on being, a separate self is the final and most formidable obstacle to unitive knowledge of God. To be a self is, for them, the original sin, and to die to self, in feeling, will and intellect, is the final and all-inclusive virtue."

- Aldous Huxley - The Perennial Philosophy

"Burn a bridge and burn a boat
Stake a Lizard by the throat."

Bridges and boats represent contact with the outside, the sensory world. The Lizards that must be killed are ego constructs/defenses.

"Inwardly or outwardly, if you encounter any obstacles kill them right away. If you encounter the Buddha, kill him; if you encounter the Patriarch, kill him; ...kill them all without hesitation, for this is the only way to deliverance. Do not get yourselves entangled with any object, but stand above, pass on, and be free!"

- Lin-chi

In total, the chorus is Rupert's statement of resolve and outlines what he intends to do to reach his goal.

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"Go Polonius or kneel"

"Polonius pontificates. He purports to know
answers when he has none. He claims to have truth when he himself
obscures it. He feigns expertise by virtue of his authority. But his real
interest is power."

- Diagnosing and Treating the Ophelia Syndrome

Polonius, an advisor to the Prince, here represents unwanted advice from the intellect which, in the interest of the process underway, needs to either leave or subordinate itself.

"Intellect is good and desirable to the extent it brings you to the King's door. Once you
have reached His door, then divorce the intellect! From this time on, the intellect will be
to your loss and a brigand. When you reach Him, entrust yourself to Him! You have no
business with the how and the wherefore. Know that the intellect's cleverness all
belongs to the vestibule. Even if it possesses the knowledge of Plato, it is still outside
of the palace."

- The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi, p. 222

As a literary device, Polonius is similar to the supporting cast in Act One of King Lear.

"The literary critic Maynard Mack compares Lear's task to a Medieval Morality play: "Lear, flanked in that opening scene by 'vices or flatterers on the one hand, virtues and truth-speakers on the other'--stirs memories of a far more ancient dramatic hero, variously called Mankind, Everyman, Genus Humanum, Rex, Vivus, Rex Humanitas, Magnificence, etc. He is about to endure an agon that, while infinitely more poignant and complex than theirs, has its roots in the same medieval conception of psychomachia, interpreting man's life as "the arena of a Holy War between the contending forces of his own nature . . . [They] are in some sense (again as in the Morality plays) extensions of himself, who will struggle to assist or defeat him..."

- Opposing Selves-Roles and Masks

"The reapers name their harvest dawn
All your tarnished devil's spoons
Will rust beneath our corn."

The "reapers" allude to the coming destruction. The weapons of the ego ( a brigand) are "tarnished" and ineffective, "spoons" instead of swords.

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"Now bears Prince Rupert's garden roam
Across his rain tree shaded lawn"

We learned in chapter five that, in the "real" world, the "bears" (Russian bear) represent the Mongols of the 13th century. The "bears" are also literal bears.

"From Tunis and Egypt came the Emperor's strange animals. He had humped camels with saddlery of red leather from Tafilet, the Sultan's elephants who trumpeted through the park in the sultry noontide,, snarling Berber lions, leopards, rugged bears, lynxes, an odd strutting giraffe, ostriches and parrots. And when he set out with his beasts, the impenetrable dust rolled over the sycamores."

- The Infidel Emperor
by Paul Wiegler (p. 153)

In terms of the inner journey underway, the "bears" (which, significantly, Rupert does not characterize as the enemy) are a foreshadowing of the powerful force which will obliterate Rupert's ego. "His rain tree shaded lawn" is the cozy comfortable area of the psyche inhabitated by Rupert's ego. His ego is "rain tree shaded": free from scrutiny, the harsh glare of the sun, the truth.

The "bears" are also the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

"Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?"

- Job 38:32

Mazzaroth is the Hebrew word which means the 12 signs of the Zodiac.

"The two Bears Ursa Major Ursa Minor and the whole Northern Hemisphere sky, are seen to revolve around a star that doesn't appear to move; Polaris, the North Star; located at the tip of the tail of the Little bear or Little Dipper and the orientation of the bear figures changes dramatically through the course of the night.

With the exception of Polaris, the seven stars making up the Little Dipper, or Lesser Bear are much fainter than the seven star making up Ursa Major, the Big Dipper - which is the most prominent group of stars in the sky.

Perhaps more than any star other than the Sun; Polaris has been regarded as the most important star in the heavens.

The polar star is the visible point in the sky where the axis mundi connects the Earth with the heavens. It is a cosmic pillar or column, the peg in the sky or the nail of heaven. Astronomers of India called it the Pivot of the Planets. A symbolic representation of Spirit as the axis mundi or center of the world.

The supreme deity of many culture was generally considered to have its throne at the North Star. According to Siberian traditions this represents the Great Celestial Shaman.

The ancients considered the structure of the universe to be in correspondence with the structure of the body. The universe was the "macrocosm" and the body was the "microcosm". Hence the top of the head (brahmarandra) corresponded to the top of the universe (North Star). Ascension (macrocosmically) through the heavens (often numbered as seven) to the highest heaven corresponded to ascension (microcosmically) of the kundalini to the sahasrara. The susumna nadi (microcosmically) corresponds to the envisioned macroscopic world axis (fixed at the North Star) which is trunk of the "world tree" in some mythologies."

- Ursa Minor The Lesser Bear

"During his or her state of sublime "ecstasy", a shaman is able to travel out of his body and between the levels of a 3-tiered Universe of upper, middle and lower "worlds". The so-called "World Tree" found mentioned in many of the worlds' mythologies is often represented by a cross and used as the symbolic link between these worlds. In some traditions it is also expressed as a ladder, a river, an ocean or mountain. Above the world tree, and a symbol of its' enduring axis is the Pole Star ("Polaris" the fixed binary of Ursa Major) known to the Greeks as Phoenice, or Stella Maris."

- Ogham Scripts

"The 7 stars resident there have also given rise to other titles such as the 7 Sleepers, Sages, Bears, while in northern regions it became known as the Wagon or Arthur's Chariot. Apparently, the term is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word "cheorl" a peasant who became a free-man, but it also means a spinning wheel or spiral.
Astrophotography by Allen Hwang
In ancient Egypt it was associated with Set, Typhon or the Dog of Set who ruled the circumpolar regions. Much later it was named "Charles' Wain" after Charlemagne the first Holy Roman Emperor (800-814AD). "

- Feng Shui

"The name Ursa Major, according to The New English Dictionary, "appears to arise out of the verbal association of the star name Arcturus with Arturus or Arthur, and the legendary association with Arthur and Charlemagne..." In Welsh lore, the constellation is seen as a symbol of the Celtic King Arthur; his name, it is claimed, is derived from Arth-Uthyr, "the wonderful bear". So it was that the early Britons saw Arthur's Chariot in the great constellation; "Arthur's slow wain his course doth roll in utter darkness round the Pole..." Furthermore it has been suggested that this constellation, with its circular route, may have led to the notion of the round table (The Zodiac)."

- Ursa Major

The "bears" of Ursa Major also refer, oddly enough, to the constellation Libra and, therefore, may also allude to the state of balance achieved in the previous album.

"When the pans (of Libra) are in balance (at the equinoxes), the pointer on the scales, or the sword which is identical with it, becomes the symbol of the changeless Centre. The polar axis which stands for it points to the Great Bear which, in Ancient China, was called the Jade Scales. Sometimes, however, the two pans of the celestial scales were represented by the Great and Little Bear."

- Libra

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"Lizard bones become the clay --
And there a Swan is born"

The death of the ego will result in a rebirth or revealing of the Self. This idea of something beneficial coming out of destruction is also suggested by the "corn" that is predicted to grow over the "tarnished devil's spoons".

"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone;
but if it dies, it bears much fruit"

- Jesus (John. 12:24)

Sir Galahad by Joseph Noel Paton

"When a seed falls into the ground, it germinates, grows,
and becomes a tree: if you understand these symbols,
you'll follow us, and fall to the ground, with us."

- Rumi

Dark Night of the Soul : Wilderness ~ The Sufis

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Dark Night of the Soul : Wilderness ~ Reels of Dream Unrolled

Sign the Dreambook Dreambook Read the Dreambook

Chapter One The Metaphysical Record In The Court Of the Crimson King In The Wake Of Poseidon Lizard The King In Yellow The Sun King Eight
The Lake Which Mirrors the Sky In the Beginning Was the Word In the Beginning was the Word...side two Eros and Strife Dark Night of the Soul...Cirkus Dark Night of the Soul...Wilderness Big Top Islands
Islands Two Footnotes in the Sand Still Still 2
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