Redeeming value of Betrayal

“Le héros. Un homme coincé contre le mur par le doigt de Dieu »

Jean Paul Sartre

(The hero. A man stuck against the wall by the finger of God)

“Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, ‘You were also with Jesus of Galilee.’

But he denied before them all, saying, ‘I do know what you are saying.’

And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, ‘This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.’

But again he denied with an oath, “ I do not know the Man.’

And a little bit later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”

Then he began to curse and swear, saying, ‘I do not know the man!’

Immediately a roster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, ‘Before the roster crows, you will deny ME three times.’

So he went out and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26: 69-75.

This reproduction of Caravaggio’s The Denial of Saint Peter was taken from Wikimedia Commonshttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Denial_of_Saint_Peter-Caravaggio_(1610).jpg

In an article of The Washington Post, Sebastian Smee discussed the symbolic value of The Denial of Peter, painted by Caravaggio a few months before his untimely demise in 1610—now believed to be due to heavy exposure to the lead in painting. He said: “The scene takes place at night. Firelight lends the image its atmosphere of flickering contingency. Caravaggio, who had a talent for making enemies, was interested in all the ways humans are not rocks—all the ways in which we are flimsy, inconstant and not to be depended upon. Since he was no saint himself…we might extend the idea to say that he was beguiled by all the ways in which—not wishing to be martyrs to virtue—we crave transformation.” Saint Peter the Apostle, the First Pope of the Catholic Church, eventually overcame his fears, spread the Gospel of Christianity and became a crucified martyr. Caravaggio, l’enfant terrible,  also painted the painful scene where Peter was being crucified upside down.

Note. This reproduction of The Crucifixion of Saint Peter was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Crucifixion_of_Saint_Peter-Caravaggio_(c.1600).jpg

In his long intellectual/ political career—that brought him from being a Communist Party member to later denouncing the atrocities of Joseph Stalin—Jean Paul Sartre always believed that, in all major crossroads of our lives, we, humans, have a choice. In an article detailing an interview with Sartre, Ian Birchall said: “It is scarcely surprising that the Second World War had an enormous impact on Sartre’s thinking. It thrust him into the army, detention in a German prisoner of war camp, then return to Paris and involvement with the Resistance. For Sartre, all this brought home the reality that questions he had previously considered as purely intellectual matters involved choices and alignments in the real world. Choices, which under the Nazi occupation, could be matters of life and death.” Thus Sartre started his lifelong political commitment—based on his intellectual work—that prodded him to fight against all that he, and his companion Simone de Beauvoir, considered as social injustices. His participation in Resistance against Nazism, was modest but all too real.

We confess that in the beginning of the fascist Military Dictatorship of Uruguay in 1973, we felt a crushing sense of impotence and betrayal of our core ideals. Only when we started to engage in political activism during our tumultuous stay in the Pre-Medical Program of the Universidad de la República, did we regain our freedom. In those dark days of authoritarian control of our activities, we had the exhilaration of deliverance when, overcoming our natural fears, we jumped into the street with our companions to protest in earnest. Echoing that fabulous sentiment, Sartre wrote in La République du Silence that : “we have never been so free as under the German Occupation.”

Moreover, we believe that these unique experiences enrich the creativity of humans, not only by giving us with original experiences but also refreshing insights into us. When rubber bullets and tear gas cannisters start whizzing past you… you wake up. And if you had “the privilege” of mercilessly being beaten up with a wooden baton, you stay that way…And it does not matter that your back  (expressly exposed to protect your head) keeps reminding you later about the follies of your youth…

During the May 1968 Revolt in the streets of Paris, Sartre—then a furibundus Maoist—participated in all the protests staged by his students at La Sorbonne. He irritated the members of the De Gaulle administration so much that one of his cabinet secretaries said:

-“Mon Général, we have to arrest Sartre to quell the demonstrations…Right now.’

After demurring for a few seconds, De Gaulle said: “We cannot arrest Voltaire.”

Human Betrayal and subsequent Spiritual Redemption is the fertile soil for Artistic Inspiration.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mirror

“Yo temo ahora que el espejo encierre el verdadero rostro de mi alma, lastimada de sombras y culpas, el que Dios ve y acaso ven los hombres” Jorge Luis Borges

(Now I am afraid that the mirror stores the true face of my soul, hurt by shadows and guilt complexes, the one that God sees and perhaps men do too)

Since our times in those dark, humid, eerie caves, we, humans, have been totally mesmerized by the reflection of our image on the water surfaces. In many cultures, the appearance of a clear image is a foreboding of good tidings. And the contrary… Not until Justus von Liebig, a German chemist, invented the mirror in 1835 did we have a reliable way to reflect any images; he developed a technique of applying a thin layer of silver to one side of a piece of glass to create a reflective surface.

Considering that we attribute supernatural powers to things we cannot understand, mirrors have gained a reputation of being some kind of “reflections of the truth.” The idea that a broken mirror brings seven years of bad luck originates in the Roman belief that the human soul took seven years to renew itself; in the same vein, the right way to void the pending misfortune is to bury the glass fragments deep in the ground. For some cultures—foremost of all, the quaint beliefs of small towns in Sicily—when a member of the family passes away, all the mirrors in the house must be covered with black drapes so the spirit of the dead cannot re-enter our reality. All the film buffs know that the soul-less vampires do not have a mirror reflection. Actors are wary of discovering their reflection while looking on another’s shoulder.

Do mirrors constitute a portal to another world, parallel to our reality?

In the 1990s, particle physicists were measuring the time it took for neutron particles to break down into protons once they were removed from an atom’s nucleus. In an article in The Independent, Harry Cockburn said: “Two separate experiments saw the neutrons broke down at differing rates, instead of decaying and becoming protons at exactly the same rate, as was expected. In one the free neutrons were captured by magnetic fields and herded into laboratory, and in the other they were detected by the subsequent appearance of proton particles from a nuclear reactor stream. Those particles fired out in the stream from the nuclear reactor lived on average for 14 minutes and 48 seconds—nine seconds later than those form the bottle traps.” This phenomenon might be explained by a mirror-world world where some neutrons migrate before coming back to our world and emit a detectable proton.

In a previous article, we already discussed the NASA experiment that sought to measure the scientific data that could form the basis of a parallel world, besides ours. In an article in USA Today, Matthew Brown refuted the theory that a parallel universe existed, solely based on the NASA findings in the Antarctica. He said: “the recent ANITA does not have any findings that support the ‘antiverse’ idea, known to physicists as the CPT Symmetry Universe. Researchers affiliated with the project have offered scenarios ranging for scientists needing to update their models about the Antarctic ice to decaying super heavy dark matter in the Milky Way.” This author said that it is misleadingly false to claim that a parallel universe exists based on this.

We confess that we have always been leery of mirrors of nay kind, especially those tall ones that go from the floor to almost the ceiling level. A few years ago we visited briefly an apartment to rent where the living room was framed by tall mirrors on all sides. After a few minutes, we promptly skedaddled back to the safety of our familiarly boring reality, where the parameters are known.

Parallel worlds? No, thank you very much. We like this world just fine, even with its many defects.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Haredim’s joyous celebration of God

When we were doing our Neurology Residency in a major New York City teaching hospital, a Haredim religious figure was admitted to the ward after having had a serious Stroke that left him in a coma for many days. His close family members and friends liked to keep a vigil right outside the ward, and they often used our meeting room after hours to take turns to pray non-stop in Hebrew for his soul’s salvation.

All the residents and professors understood their deep grief and religious fervor. Except for one resident, who happened to be Jewish himself, but of secular views. One on call night, when we were in charge of the ward, together with an intern and two students, he accosted us in a tempestuous manner, holding a cup of coffee aloft.

-“Hey, why are letting these guys take over our room,” he told us, “Kick them out.”

Shocked by his unusually intolerant stance, we mumbled, “Er…They asked nicely.”

-“Who did, eh?”

-“A tall bearded old man came out and asked me if it was O.K….I said it was.”

-“What’s his f****** name?”

-“God Almighty, I believe he said.”

Fuming like a clogged steam locomotive’s chimney, he turned around and took off.

Note. This picture shows our son Gian Luca during his visit to Israel, on a hill overlooking Jerusalem.

David Biale et al explored in Hasidism: A New History multiple social, cultural, and religious aspects of one of the most influential movements in modern Judaism. They narrated the journey of Shlomo Halberstan, a Galician Jew, that arrived in 1945 to New York City, where at the time there were only 200-300 Hasidic Jews. He established the Hassidic Bobov community in Brooklyn that has more than 100,000 members at present. In the USA there are two more large Hasidic communities:

  1. Satmar: a Hungarian-born branch that is very zealous and insular.
  2. Chabad: a Russian-born branch that is more messianic and worldly.

These scholars point out the sheer irony of the fact that the resurrection of Hasidism occurred in the USA and the State of Israel, which has had a problematic relationship with these movements ever since the inception of the Zionist State in 1948. They said: “In its bitter polemical struggle with Zionism, the Hasidic leadership perceived modern Jewish nationalism as a secularizing movement offering an alternative national Jewish identity that would undermine loyalty to a traditional way of life.”

There are three dimensions of Hasidim’s mysticism that emphasize the here and now.

  1. God’s immanence.
  2. Worship in the Material World.
  3. Mystical State of Cleaving

God’s immanence

The Jews that had resided in Central and Eastern Europe for centuries believed that there was a continuous tension between the material demands of the body and the ethereal demands of the spirit, which favored an ascetic life to achieve saintliness. On the contrary, Hasidim rejected that melancholic stance leading to depression, and promoted a more joyful and enthusiastic embrace of God’s presence in daily lives. During the darkest moments of the Ghetto of Warsaw, the Hasidim engaged in enthusiastic dancing in the streets, to the dismay of other suffering secular Jews.

Worship in the Material World

God’s presence in our desires and mental states will be readily transmitted to our dealings and tasks in the material world that surrounds us. The Hasidim do not believe in the ascetic retreat from the material world to meditate and pray but rather work assiduously in all the professional and business realms of a modern society. If God Almighty is everywhere, the use of a plow, hammer or lens is rightly allowed.

Mystical State of Cleaving

The esoteric teaching of the Kabbalistic traditions of the Middle Ages influenced the Lubavitcher; they claimed that: “the state of cleaving to God—devekut—is attained by wholehearted inner concentration that is attuned to God’s presence in all being. It is not dependent on or achieved by knowledge of a metaphysical system that is possessed by an esoteric elite.” Contrary to the centennial Talmudic traditions of patiently studying ancient legal and religious treaties in the seclusion of libraries, the Hasidim believe that the state of devekut is obtained by their worldly cleaving.

The Hasidim freed the religiously minded Jews from the burden of esoteric learning.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

The Mystic Wanderer—Part III

-“Don’t you want to take a shower, Mystic Wanderer—looks like you need one.”

A few years ago, we were travelling frequently from Miami to San Dona di Piave in order to carry on our Doctoral studies in Health Policy and Management at Columbia University with extended stays in the Veneto region of Italy. We often bought a ticket from a German airline, which meant a transfer in a major hub like Munich or Frankfurt. Given that there were only a few hours of waiting time, we spent that time in the clean, secure terminal after eating a delicious snack and drinking a good beer. We often dozed off for a one hour or two, without any hassles. Until that day.

Those unsolicited words startled us, interrupting our nap in a super-comfy sofa of the main lounge; it had been almost deserted in the wee hours, with only the din of its open buffet-style cafeteria. Droopily coming out of our REM sleep, we looked askance at the impertinent creature that broke it.

In front of us stood a medium height middle-aged man with the dark complexion typical of Middle Eastern origin. With his wet hair neatly combed and his just shaven face, he was wearing a combo of a short sleeves shirt and a pair of pants, so nondescript that we cannot even remember their colors. He could have passed for any cheeky salesman that, out of nowhere, abruptly accosts you in a bazaar’s alley to peddle a carpet of dubious origins and worse weaving.

-“Sorry…do I know you?” we managed to mumble, rubbing our eyes.

-“Don’t think so. But I do know you. I sensed your presence well before I arrived.”

-“Really? And who are you?”

-“My name is Ahmed, I am a businessman that makes at least this connection once per month. I love this airport…There are nice free showers over there. Try them.”

-“Well, I’m kind of lazy. I’ll have a good one once I arrive in Miami.”

-“You seem to be very ambitious but still quite approachable…No obstructionist pride.”

-“Got plenty of defects, but vanity has never been the worst of them.”

-“Keep it that way…There is a stone inscription at home that warns against the dangers of pride…It says…” He then started to recite some words that seemed like Latin but we could not decipher.

At that moment, a two men-patrol of green-uniformed German police stopped by and asked to see our passport; we reached for our handbag and handed it to them. Once they checked it with a hand-held computer scanner, they politely returned it. We then noticed that our “new friend” was gone, as stealthily as he had arrived. We forgot to mention that he presented to us without any carry on luggage or handbag, something very unusual in a hub airport full of transit travelers.

We buried that anecdote all the way back in our so disgracefully cluttered Unconscious mind. Until a few days ago, when we were reading, out of sheer curiosity an excellent article in the Wikipedia about the Templar castle of Krak des Chevaliers, we found the following:

Note. This picture was taken from Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Krak_des_chevaliers_inscription_latine.jpg

You may have bounty, you may have wisdom,

You may have beauty

Pride alone defiles all these things

If it accompanies them

Wow! The sight and sound of our encounter with Ahmed rushed into our mind. Was this the inscription he had told us about? Why would he call that castle his home? Was he a time traveler that was making a stop-over in our world? Could it really be? Is there a parallel world and time?

Whatever the answer to those questions are, we will surely abide by those sage words. Pour quoi pas?

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Happy Easter

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. We wish a Happy Easter to all our Christian relatives and friends around the world. We are anxiously waiting the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ tomorrow, Easter Sunday. It is, together with Christmas festivity, the holiest day of the year for Christians and we always respected it. Our brother Gustavo yesterday reminded us that a day like today, Good Friday, we used to go to the Nuestro Señor de la Paciencia, a very old church in the Old City (Ciuda Vieja) of Montevideo, Uruguay, with our mother Gladys and our grandmother Yolanda. In fact it s a quaint little church below a bigger one, sitting in its basement with an access through a very steep marble stairwell. We slowly descended, firmly holding the arms of our ageing grandmother, until we reached it.

At the altar, an image of a sitting Jesus Christ reminds us of the value of patience and being patient. All around the walls, there are hopeful little mementos (limbs, hearts, heads, etc.) that the Faithful had planted after fervently praying for the well-being of their loved ones with their personal wishes. In our novel Madame D.C, – Three Voyages , we described the visit of our characters to this site. It has always been a site of strong emotional significance to us, Montevideanos, and we miss it badly. Due to its precarious architectural parameters, it had been open only on Good Fridays for decades. Today, due to the pandemic restrictions, it will remain closed. Closing our eyes, we are right there.

Note– This image of Caravaggio’s The Incredulity of Saint Thomas was taken from Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas-Caravaggio_(1601-2).jpg

According to Saint John’s Gospel, Saint Thomas was the only disciple of Jesus Christ that doubted his resurrection on Easter Sunday, saying that he would not believe it until he personally poked his finger in Christ’s wounds with his own finger. He missed the first appearance of Jesus Christ to his disciples. Then Jesus Christ appeared to him and prodded him to put his finger inside his wounds. After Thomas made sure that he was in front of Jesus Christ resurrected, Our Savior told him:

Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29.

Caravaggio reproduced this Biblical tale in that great masterpiece painted around 1601-1602 and now housed in the Sans Souci gallery of Potsdam, Germany. In these terrible pandemic times, many of us are asking the same question: “how come God allowed this tragedy to unfold over Mankind?” With all the extra burden shoved on our financial and familiar dimensions, due to the draconian Public Health measures that severely limit our mobility, our faith is being put to the test everyday. How many times have we paused for a few seconds to mull over the same painful question:

“Why did you abandon us God? WHY?!!!”

Let us pause for a moment and reflect on the many blessings that we have in this valley of tears. The big scientific advances of the last few years have enabled the design and creation of good vaccines. The new Biden-Harris administration has efficiently distributed million of doses all over the country. Both my children and myself are now vaccinated and protected against the ravages of Covid-19.

How can we avoid feeling that God has always been at our side and never let go of our hands?

But the deliverance from this pandemic must make us reflect about the future course of our lives. We cannot go back to our ill-advised consumerism that is gravely damaging our planet’s ecosystem. We cannot ignore that millions of human beings are living in miserly conditions all over the world. We cannot tolerate that warmongering among nations, tribes, groups, etc., are destroying families. And we have to stop deluding ourselves that, even if we ignore the above, we can “save our skin.”

“Gésu était en agonie jusqu’à la fin du monde. Il ne fau pas dormir pendant ce temps-là.” (Jesus was in agony until the end of the world. We should not be sleeping during that time) Blaise Pascal

This is no time to go back to our old “sleep mode.” It is time to wake up and take positive action.

Thank you very much God Almighty.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Astrology – Part I Introduction

In order to spontaneously, smoothly start the discussion of such a difficult issue like Astrology—rife with hot controversies and opinions, pro and con—we preferred to “go with the flow”, instead of taking any firm position either way. We decided to first transcribe two pages from our novel Madame D.C. Book I – Three voyages.

In this scene Emily and Annie, two close friends, visit Madame Melina, a famous soothsayer with a small storefront office in Washington Avenue of Miami Beach. Here is their dialogue:

-“Oh, Madame Melina”, Annie said. “I’m desperate—help me,”

Annie and Emily were seated at the round table of the astrologer’s studio.

-“I will…But first you must calm down a bit, dear,” Melina said, turning her attention to Emily. “Who’s this nice lady that came with you?”

-“My cousin, Emily…A Wall Street financier—she needs help too.”

-“Hi, Madame…I’ve heard so many good things of you.”

-“Hello, pleased to meet you—I’ll take care of you of course.”

-“My David has a lover,” Annie said, sobbing. “What should I do?”

-“Mmm…To defeat your enemy you must know her first…Find out where she was born, the date and what’s more important…the time of the day.”

-“It’s not a woman—”

-“What?”

-“It’s a travesty.” Annie twirled a strand of her blond hair and smelled it.”

-“I see…We must find her, uh, his Ascendant…Know what it is?”

-”Nothing springs to mind.” Emily said.

-“Mmm…we’re familiar with the zodiac signs of the calendar but we ignore which one was ascending at the time…That variable differentiates each one of us from someone born in the same place that day…In Greek, ‘horos’ means ‘hour’ and ‘skope’ is look—to look at the hour of the Ascendant.”

-“Oh…I didn’t know,” Emily said, “but I’ve always been curious…”

-“It’s natural for a woman to feel some curiosity,” Melina said, “Astrology connects us with our mystical dimension…For centuries patriarchal figures of authority have seared guilt complexes in our minds to control us better. Astrology re-connects women with he stars that we’re coming from. We’re small pieces of the original Big bang—we project our own source of light.”

Annie stared at her in total rapture. “Have such a way with words—”

-“Let’s start with yours,” Melina said to Emily. “Write down your date of birth with time and place. I’ll check the Carta Astral website.”

Emily wrote in a post-it note. Melina read it and started hitting the keyboard.

-“Mmm…You’re Aquarius..But your Ascendant is Leo, which makes you practical, organized…Like all the great writers or politicians. Interesting.”

-“It’s funny that you mention it, but I’m toying with the idea of a writing and political careers…Are the stars aligned in my favor, Madame?”

-“Definitely, go for it—it’s your destiny…There’s a rub though.”

Emily hunched over the table. “What?”

-“Mmm…You were born in the 3.30 and 5.30 PM time frame…You got a vibrant body but you must learn how to handle your sexuality…and you’re brewing more than one existence inside you—you’re a latter-day alchemist.”

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

 

The longest, darkest night is falling upon us

Today, December 21st, 2020, our Celtic forefathers warned us through a dream at early dawn: “Wake up, Son of Samhain, you must prepare your family for today’s celebration.” We immediately jumped out of bed, ready to follow a ritual that has been in our families for centuries, both in the Basque and Italian branches: The Winter Solstice.

In an excellent article, Elizabeth Dias, a reporter of The NY Times, said: “Humans all over the Northern Hemisphere will share nature’s winter ritual of darkness on Monday, whether they acknowledge the winter solstice or not. In the lower 48 states, this year’s longest night will last 15 hours and 50 minutes in Angle Inlet, Minn., according to the U.S. Naval Observatory. In New York City it is 14 hours and 45 minutes, and in Miami 13 hours and 28 minutes.”

The end of the happy Summer season and the beginning of the harsh Winter has been celebrated by agricultural communities since Ancient Times with a special family gathering around a bonfire, sharing a hearty meal and traditional stories. The critical supply of grain was already stored in the makeshift silos, the animals were herded into the barn for protection and everybody looked up at the clearest sky. Will the deities above have mercy on human beings and allow them to survive this winter? They believed that the unstable period was used by wandering spirits to cross over. It was a time of great fear and uncertainty, and only their communal efforts could finally save them.

Note – This picture of David Rijckaert’s Barn Interior was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:David_Rijckaert_(III)_-_Barn_interior_with_a_peasant_feeding_cows_and_pigs,_with_three_peasants_near_a_fire_place_to_the_background.jpeg

We have become inured to the passional riveting of these ancient cyclical benchmarks, naively safe in the belief that just the marvelous scientific and technological prowess of the past two centuries would shield us from the dramatic consequences our ancestors suffered if they dared to ignore them. However, the terribly prolonged pandemic of the SARS-CoV-2 has dramatically altered the supposedly “normal parameters” of daily life, obliging  all of us to adapt quickly. Even something as simple as ordering a cappuccino at a bar, has been radically changed, maybe forever. This utterly contagious virus is an Agent of Evil that does not respect national boundaries or social standings.

The approval of the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines has given us the needed glimmer of hope that, after a long wintertime, the chain of viral transmission will be radically cut. The national governments, while enforcing a draconian lockdown for festivities, are actively signing contracts for a steady supply of the vaccine for their populations. It would be wise to look at the pristine skies tonight and pray to whomever/whatever.

May God Almighty have Mercy on us and grant us the privilege of surviving Winter.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Symbology in Tarot – Major Arcana Part V

Continuing with our discussion of Tarot, we will address the spiritual power with these cards:

VIII – Strength

This card shows a young woman gently caressing a fierce lion, the representation of soft power. In ancient cultures, the lion—and the lioness of course—was the preferred symbol of raw passion and strength at both personal and societal levels. Using her spiritual strength this woman manages to convert that ferocious beast into a domesticated cat; the “invisible nature” of soft power makes that oftentimes it is disregarded and even undervalued in our usually aggressive social interactions. However, the capacity to persuade, and not to force, others is a critical asset that has more relevance now that women, using their transformational style of management (more democratic and participatory) are slowly displacing the hitherto predominant transactional style of men (more command and control in nature) Times change.

Note – This image of Amedeo Modigliani’s Portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

In 1990, Joseph Nye, professor at Harvard University, published Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power where he said: “when one country gets other countries to want what it wants might be called co-optive or soft power in contrast with the hard or command power of ordering others to do what it wants.” For this author, power is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get the outcomes you want; a country can do it with brute force or using its soft power. According to Nye, it is based on its culture, political values, and foreign policies.

In 2001, Robert Greene published The Art of Seduction, his second book, where he described 24 seduction techniques. In The 48 Laws of Power he wrote: “ seduction is about power and manipulation as it is about romance, about how to make someone fall under your spell.”

Upright strength – When this card appears, it means that you are strongly motivated by your inner spiritual strength and you have the stamina to undertake great tasks. You do not try to coerce or force others to accept your will but rather you gently try to persuade them “to see things your way.” The invisible nature of that great gift makes some foolish contender to underestimate you and try to take advantage of a situation. You will manage to turn the tables around and show who really rules. By controlling your animal instincts, you are able to re-direct that precious energy.

Reversed Strength – When this card appears, it means that you are either depleted of your inner strength or you are perilously overflowing with it, leading to mistakes. Contrary to the Upright Strength, you have lost your connection with your source of energy. The equilibrium must be recovered by calmly assessing what is missing or what is excessive in your present situation. After a major setback, both at the personal and social levels, we feel weaker and more vulnerable to outside influences. You must pause and calmly re-consider what brought you to that situation. Only by tapping again your spiritual source of strength, will you be able to recover from it.

 

IX – The Hermit

This card shows an old man standing atop a mountain, a sign of spiritual mastery; he is someone that has chosen a hard path of self-awareness and sacrifices. In his right hand he is holding a lantern with a six-pointed star—the Seal of Solomon. As he takes another step, he sheds light on the pathway immediately ahead, not far away. His left hand, whose sensations are transported to our Right Hemisphere (the seat of our Emotionality) is holding a long stick, an ancient symbol of authority in tribes. This card epitomizes the need for self-introspection, separated form the maddening noise of the world, to reach an understanding of who we are and where we are going.

Note – This image of Francisco de Goya’s San Ignacio de Loyola was taken from Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:San_Ignacio_de_Loyola.jpg

Ignazio Loiolakoa—also known as Ignatius de Loyola and Ignacio de Loyola—was a Spanish Basque priest that “revolutionized” the staid Catholic Church by emphasizing the need to carry long, deep introspections in order “to know who we are” and by establishing, together with his comrades, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1539. After being gravely injured in the Battle of Pamplona in 1521, he had a along recovery period for his lesion of the left leg, which eventually lead him to the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat. He did deep introspection and confessed all his past sins before giving up all his material possessions, his clothes included. He walked up to the neighboring town of Manresa where he begged in the street for his keep and spent long hours in a cave, praying to God Almighty and repenting. After a short pilgrimage to the Holy Land (where he had some “differences” the Franciscans who were in charge) he returned to Spain and studied Theology and Latin in the Universidad de Alcalá from 1524 to 1534. He travelled to Paris to study at the Collège Saint-Barbe where he obtained a Master of Arts degree in 1535. His meditation techniques were fully explained in his book Spiritual Exercises, which triggered a brief process by the Roman Inquisition until he got a papal pardon. It was the first friction between the Jesuit Order and the Roman Curia, which still persists today with the nomination of Jorge Bergoglio, a Jesuit priest, to Saint Peter’s seat.

A few years ago we did several Ignatian retreats (no talking of any kind) in a Juan XXIII house of Miami, under the guidance of the late Jesuit priest Padre Llorente. It brought us a lot of spiritual good and we are re-considering going back for another round. In this supposedly “modern age”, where all our spaces are invaded by obnoxious pings, we need the oasis of Silence more than ever.

Upright Hermit—This image is a clear call to engage in a period of deep reflection. Stop being distracted by the cacophony of torrential sounds of our consumerist society and take the necessary time to reflect on where you are and what is missing. Do you feel that you are achieving your professional or labor objectives? How is your relationship with your fellow co-workers, superiors, and subordinates? Do you have outstanding issues at home that you must address with your family members? Perhaps there are some personality flaws that make other people take a distance. Perhaps you should do a bigger effort to reach out to your children, spouse, parents.

Downright Hermit—This image means that you are either coming out of a period of introspection or that you should start to do it, trapped with too much self-isolation. Perhaps you went through a period of professional or labor re-engineering but now you are ready to jump again into the daily fray of our competitive society. At the strictly personal level, it might mean that your voluntary or casual withdrawal into your own cocoon is already hurting the feelings of someone close to you—a partner. Stop wallowing in your own concerns, fears, plans, and have a good look at him/her. Most likely you will find new ideas, new plans, new feelings that must be shared right away.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

Interpretation of Dreams – Part I Enantiodromia

In his book Psychology and Alchemy, Dr. Carl Jung, a pioneer in the study of the symbology of dreams, introduced Alchemy’s representations into the study of Psychology. He claimed that the ancient alchemists, working without the cultural and social constraints of a strong super-state or church hierarchy, observed and recorded their findings without any pre-established judgements or dressed-up conclusions. They had more natural empirical experiences.

Dr. Jung believed that many of the raw sentiments and beliefs in the Unconscious occasionally filter into the Conscious realm, but they have to be “dressed up” to soften their sharpest edges and most shocking shades to pass the “border customs.” For that deceitful camouflaging to succeed, the Unconscious often uses alchemist’s symbols that are not in the “no entry list” of the gate’s guardians checking arrivals.

In her book, Marie Louise Franz stated: “For example, a woman patient dreamt that an eagle was at first flying up to the sky, and then suddenly turning around its head, began to eat its own wing and dropped back onto the earth…This dream invokes of enantiodromia, the reversal of a psychic symbol.” The eagle was the alchemist’s symbol of Human Reason and Carl Jung patient’s dream implied that her actions might be running counter against her beliefs.

Enantiodromia derives from the Greek words enantios (opposite) and dromos (running course) In his book Psychological Types, Carl Jung defined it as: “the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time. This characteristic phenomenon practically always occurs when an extreme, one-sided tendency dominates conscious life; in time an equally powerful contraposition is built up  which first inhibits the conscious performance and subsequently breaks thorough the conscious control.” It can be considered as the sheep’s skin used by the wolf. As a psychological tool, it acts as “two operational twins” that nonetheless have opposite characters and demeanor.

Note – the above image of Twins Grace and Kate Hoare 1876 by John Everett Millais was taken from Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Twins_Grace_and_Kate_Hoare_1876.jpg

The philosophical concept behind this term dates back to thousands of years ago, In the traditional Chinese beliefs, the Yin and Yang are inextricably related as shown by their symbol. When one of the components reaches its extreme position, it starts to become its opposite. The natural balance of Life is maintained by this correction. Dr. Jung read the writings of Heraclitus who said: “cold things warm, warm things cool, wet things and parched things get wet.” He credited him for discovering what he considered a major psychological law: the regulatory function of the opposites.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Symbology in Tarot – Major Arcana part IV

In this article we will discuss the two cards associated with the healing power of Love and the human willpower .

VI – The Lovers

This card shows a naked woman and a man standing before the Angel Raphael who is the representation of the healing power of God Almighty in Abrahamic tradition. Surrounded by the lush vegetation of the Garden of Eden, they are threatened by the sibylline enticement of the Devil in the form of a serpent attached to an apple tree. The twelve flames of the burning tree represent the twelve signs of the zodiac. The man—the Conscious mind—is watching the woman—the Subconscious mind—who is in turn watching the Angel—the Super Conscious. It resumes the progression from purely physical needs through the emotional concerns towards the spirituality. Women are the pulleys transmitting our physical energies towards the attainment of our spiritual goals, surpassing our limitations.

Note – This image depicting The Archangel Israfil was made in Egypt or Syria in the late 14th-early 15th century.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arabic-manuscript.jpg

In most Abrahamic religions, (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) Saint Raphael is associated with healing in various forms. In the Gospel of John, he is the angel that is stirring the waters at the pool of Bethesda. In the Babylonian Talmud, he is one of the three angels that appeared to Abraham in the oak grove at Hebron, charged with healing him after his circumcision. In Islam, he is depicted with a trumpet because he will be responsible for blowing it atop the mosque in Jerusalem to announce the Resurrection. He heals our spirits from the manifold frustrations of Life.

Upright Lovers – This scene conveys the unique serenity and safety that a genuinely loving relationship, based on mutual affection and respect, confers to the partners. It is usually ascribed to sexual companions, but it can also refer to other members of our family and close friends. Being totally naked, they are not afraid to expose their innermost feelings and concerns to the other partner, eschewing hypocritical shame. In a labor or professional context, it might mean that you have to “come clean” with  your deeply held beliefs in challenging situations that put your honesty to the test. Your circumstantial choices must be aligned with your moral and ethical upbringing.

Reverse Lovers – This scene gives us the idea that something is wrong in your life. It could be that you are not being completely honest and sincere with your partner. In that case, you must sit down for an extensive discussion of possible remedies. If it refers to a labor or professional situation, it might mean that you must mend your ways by following the precepts of your teachers and avoiding the “easy way out.” The apparition of this card means that you must eventually make the rightful choice. Moreover, the coupling of two individuals will create a higher form of association.

VII – The Chariot

This card shows a courageous warrior of Antiquity riding his chariot into battle, which he does by the sheer power of his will and not by holding any reins. His attire shows several alchemical symbols like the crescent moon (the future) and a square (the willpower) In the front of his chariot, there is a representation of an eagle, which embodies human reason in the symbology of alchemy. Above his head there is a constellation of stars connecting him to The Divine and in front of him lie two sphinxes pulling in opposite directions. However, exercising strong voluntarism, he manages to steady the course right in the middle. Behind him, stands the natural flow of Life, represented by a tumultuous river that never stops and cannot be controlled by men.

Note – This image of an alchemist working in his laboratory besides a big vase with a painting of both an eagle (symbol of human reason) and the Ouroboros (a serpent or dragon eating its own tail) appears in the 15th century Swiss alchemical treatise called the Aurora Consurgens. 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aurora_consurgens_zurich_044_f-21v-44_dragon-pot.jpg

Alchemy is an extremely ancient branch of natural philosophy that dates back to Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Greco-Roman world; the name derives from the Latin term alchymia. Alchemists tried to transform the physical and spiritual realities with esoteric techniques that were wrapped with Hermetic principles related to magic, mythology and religion. For example one of their methods was the chrysopoeia, i.e. the transformation of “base metals” like lead into “noble metals” like gold. After the translation of Medieval Islamic treaties on science in the 12th century, the European alchemy started to play an important role in the development of modern laboratory techniques and the experimental method, which are still being used in our times.

The blossoming of the basic scientific methodology in the 17the century eclipsed the Alchemy, which was considered as a charlatan’s endeavor tainted with magic. But the seminal studies of Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist, of our collective unconscious brought the symbology of Alchemy back to the fore. Jung dared to tackle its complex, dark significance in his book Psychology and Alchemy.  Marie-Louise Franz was a Swiss disciple of Jung and in her book An Introduction to the Symbolism of Alchemy and Psychology, she said: “in (his book) Dr. Jung has, as it were, introduced alchemy into psychology , first by publishing a series of the dreams of a natural scientist which contain a great amount of alchemical symbolism, and then by quoting from old texts, whereby he hoped to show how important and modern this material is, and how much it has to say to modern man. He himself discovered alchemy absolutely empirically. He once told me that he frequently came across certain motifs in his patients’ dreams and then one day he started to look at old books on alchemy and noticed a connection.”

Jung believed that our Unconscious is not an ethereal fabrication of our personal and collective minds but rather a physical entity that has a powerful characteristic:

The Unconscious is Matter that knows itself

Marie-Louise Franz said: “the alchemists, in observing and experiencing their symbols and in their written description, worked without any conscious religious or scientific program, so that their conclusions are spontaneous, uncorrected impressions of the unconscious with very little conscious interference, in contrast to other symbolic material which had always been revised.”

Upright Chariot – When this card appears, it is a clear signal that you must use all your willpower to steady the course of action and avoid being swayed sideways by obstacles and persons that would stand in your way to success in any kind of realm. On a personal or public level, you must move forward with focused determination. This is not a time for the meek or the doubtful. You must make that valiant first step. If it refers to an event in you recent past, it might mean that your spiritual strength has helped you surmount all those seemingly impossible obstacles with panache.

Downright Chariot – When this card appears, it is an unequivocal sign that you must stop and stand down in whatever major project or task that you might have started. Perhaps you must re-evaluate your course of action by studying all the parameters that had prodded you to take it in the first place. Even though you might successfully achieve your goals, they might turn out to be a “bad choice” for you and other persons. At the personal level, it might mean that you must sit down with your friend or romantic partner to discuss some past events or decisions that affected you greatly. While the Upright Chariot is a road sign that says: “Full speed ahead”, the Reverse version is another sign that says: “Stop”, in big bold red letters with a white background.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aurora_consurgens_zurich_044_f-21v-44_dragon-pot.jpg