The Adoration of the Magi.
And, not particularly Christmassy, but I like it- the Goddess Minerva:
It seems to me that I am conscious and rational, and that I make decisions. The illusion is so perfect, it is hard to see how anyone ever sees through it. You want to believe, and can rationalise almost any evidence against, after the fact.
So, I became aware of the emotional being underneath this conscious self, and still thought I could make the decisions. I just have to cajole it a bit. I am, after all, the adult. Rather than telling it what to do, so that it goes in a huff, I would persuade it, show it why, and it would come round.
It’s like riding an elephant, except I don’t know if I am the Mahout, fully in control most of the time except when the elephant gets Really Annoyed and stops responding to the reins, or just riding along. Like a child in Mummy’s car, with a toy steering-wheel, imagining I was driving the car.
Or the elephant is God. Sometimes it deigns to explain things to me, and sometimes it just expects me to work things out, and does nothing about it when I fail, because I will work it out eventually. Forty years later I begin to work it out, and it welcomes me; because it could not give me any clues, just will me to succeed. It was doing its best to look after me.
I am still planning and scheming. It will do what I want, I know it will, there must be some magic reins or steering wheel that actually work, I have the brains and the intelligence and the silver tongue and the command of language and the persuasiveness and the sane ideas of what it ought to want so that I can get it to DO MY WILLLLL
Possibly, it is in control and gets me to think something through occasionally. That could be my purpose. Here am I “thinking”, all the time, much of it just rehashed stuff from before and irrelevant stuff about all those bits of the world I know about but will never see or affect, or imagining future heavens or hells which have not the slightest chance of coming to be or connection to reality, and then it wants some Slow Thinking done, and it gets me to do it. Or that is all subconscious too, and the words in my mind are just the echoes of it.
I am the monkey-mind! I am as much use as a pet monkey?
Which part, conscious or subconscious, is the Writer? I like to hope it is both of us.
Inanna, the Queen of Heaven, wants Gilgamesh, King of the city of Uruk, as her lover, but he spurns her. Your lovers have found you like a brazier which smoulders in the cold, a backdoor which keeps out neither squall of wind nor storm. In a rage, she calls on her father god Anu to give her Gugulanna the Bull of Heaven to take revenge on Gilgamesh. He refuses, but when she threatens to break open the doors of the Underworld so that the dead shall eat food like the living, he relents. The bull snorts and the Earth opens, and the warriors of Uruk are killed; but Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the bull. Inanna curses Enkidu, who throws the bull’s right thigh at her. For this, the Gods kill Enkidu.
Inanna arrays herself as the Goddess, in royal robe and crown, and the breastplate called “Come, man, come”, then descends into the underworld to attend the funeral of Gugulanna, whose husband is her sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the Dead. She leaves behind Ninshubur, her servant, with instructions if she does not return. She pushes aggressively at the door of the Underworld, and Ereshkigal commands the doorman to open the seven doors a crack, letting her through but removing her royal garments. “Let the holy priestess of heaven enter bowed low.” When her garments are removed, Inanna protests: “What is this?”
“Be satisfied, Inana, a divine power of the underworld has been fulfilled. Inana, you must not open your mouth against the rites of the underworld.” Or,
“Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect,
They may not be questioned.”
(The first comes from this prose translation, the second from this verse translation.) Inanna makes Ereshkigal stand, and takes her throne, but the seven judges shout her guilt, and she is turned to a corpse, hung on a hook.
When she does not return, as instructed Ninshubur petitions Inanna’s father-Gods Enlil, Nanna and Enki to rescue her. Enlil and Nanna refuse, saying “Inana craved the great heaven and she craved the great below as well. The divine powers of the underworld are divine powers which should not be craved, for whoever gets them must remain in the underworld. Who, having got to that place, could then expect to come up again?”
Enki creates two demons to rescue Inanna. He gives them the life-giving water. They go to the underworld and find Ereshkigal sick and in mourning, her unwashed hair “bunched up as if it were leeks”. They sympathise, and she offers them a river of water. They demand the corpse, sprinkle the life-giving water on it, and bring Inanna to life.
When Inanna returns, she is escorted by demons who will accept no sacrifice, but afflict humanity- “tear the wife from a man’s embrace”- without pity. She must bring back a substitute, for no-one has ascended unscathed from the Underworld. She finds Ninshubur in mourning, and will not send her, but her husband Dumuzid is dressed magnificently and seated on a throne, so she chooses him. The demons seize him. He escapes briefly, and his sister asks to share his fate: each will spend six months each year in the Underworld.
What does the story of Inanna mean?
It is incantatory and repetitive. You would hear it as a story, and the repetitions would please you like the returning themes of a symphony.
The Jungian interpretation is clear. Jesus said, When you strip naked without being ashamed, you will become children of God and have no more fear. Inanna’s finery is mere pretence, masks so she might look good- though Isaiah 64:6 sees them differently: we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Our pretences are stripped away, and we are free.
The individual garments may have individual interpretations:
With the me in her possession, she has prepared herself:
On her head she wears the shugurra, the crown of the steppe.
Across her forehead her dark locks of hair are carefully arranged.
Around her neck she wears the small lapis beads.
At her breast she wears the double strand of beads.
Her body is wrapped with the royal robe. [or, She covered her body with a pala dress, the garment of ladyship.]
Her eyes are dabbed with the ointment called, “let him come, let him come.”
Around her chest she wears the breastplate called “come, man, come.”
On her wrist she wears the gold ring.
In her hand she carries the lapis measuring rod and line.
What could each mean? Comment! Knock yourself out!
Joshua J Mark, in the Ancient History Encyclopaedia, eschews the Jungian interpretation: the tale shows how self-centred and unfair a Goddess may be, and humanity suffers. Also the change of Dumuzid and his sister explains the seasons. Though myths may pass through many hands, and have meanings added. He thinks Ereshkigal is praised at the end of the poem-
Holy Ereshkigal! Great is your renown!
Holy Ereshkigal! I sing your praises!
-because she sought justice against Inanna; but the Goddess of the Dead should be propitiated, especially after portraying her as outsmarted by her sister.
For me, a myth speaks to the unconscious. I can explain the meaning that we lose our pretences, our identities, when we find our unconscious, because I have become conscious of that. There may be other meanings in the story.
I have been at thirdwaytrans again. He finds the identity “a trans woman” a prison, because it means we can no longer present male. A commenter brought up Inanna. First I tried to please the World with my hyper-manly persona (from Greek for mask) then, more truly me, with “Clare”. After descending into Hell, or reaching rock bottom, I learn how valueless the masks are. Before I transitioned, I thought that in five years’ time I might be trying to present male, but transitioning was the only way to get to that place. My identity as trans liberated aspects of myself I could not express otherwise.
Unilantern, commenting, claims masculine and feminine are patriarchal oppression. She produces a great long screed arguing masculinity is seen as instrumental, femininity as expressive. If a man is expressive he is seen as feminine. But composers, painters, poets, philosophers, even writers, were until recently overwhelmingly male.
Healing-stars Goddessastrology compares the removal of the seven garments to the purification of the seven chakras, though chakras are understandings from a different culture. Hooray for eclecticism!
Is classical music better than popular music?
Bach’s cello suites were almost forgotten when the teenage Pablo Casals found the score in a second hand music shop in the 1880s. I heard them as a teenager, when my father played a recording: I could not bear to listen to them. The repeating patterns put me into confused boredom. I begged him to turn it off, and he refused: he inculcated in me the idea that high culture might not be immediately accessible, but was worth the effort of engaging, and because of his effort I enjoy the Bartok string quartets. Who could not, after similar effort to understand their ways of communicating? Their range of emotion and animal energy is mesmerising.
It took a genius to recognise and communicate the wonder of those cello suites, and now millions know them. Here is Yo Yo Ma at the Proms- I paused the concert to write this post. Learning the Sonata in C Minor (Pathétique) was worth the time, more than a month, that it took me, and playing it in my teens helped me access emotional states I could access no other way. I cannot play it now.
This is a class issue. I am cultured and educated, and I like Opera, Greek tragedy, and classical music. I met a woman in the railway station waiting room who was going to the Duran Duran reunion concert. She had been to the opera, and enjoyed it, but felt more comfortable with Duran Duran. I loved the City of London Chamber Orchestra concert, it was in no sense me doing the conventional thing, and I needed to pay attention. It involved effort.
The only full set I heard at Greenbelt was Kiran Ahluwalia. The programme reinforces that this is Culture: rooted in Sufi mysticism, transcending her training in traditional ghazal. What I saw was a glorious stage presence supported by technically skilled yet mostly self-effacing musicians. She was utterly girly-feminine singing of ankle-bells- you must walk with modesty, or you will get envious glances and condemning remarks- dancing round the stage, communicating her delight instantly to me. There was a long Tabla solo, which I am sure connoisseurs would appreciate, though I only noticed it was fast. I loved her.
For so long I have held myself apart, and one of the ways we as a family held ourselves apart was a strong active disapproval of popular music, which has reduced my enjoyment and inhibited my communicating with other people. Better to see the value in it. Like this:
That was the song which showed me that a pop song could be made around one brilliant line- who is she, what is her situation? Does she delude herself?- and a great deal of padding. Now, I could expatiate on the contrast between the rigid structure of the beat, simple harmony, bubble-gum pop vocal style, and the yearning in it. Very British to have emotion so held. Yet I do not need much, this week, to move me to tears.
Render unto Caesar-
Jeremy Bentham proposed The Panopticon, a prison of open cells around a central watch-tower. The prisoners could not see each other, but the guards in the tower might be looking in on them at any time. So they always had to conform, or they might be caught and punished further.
In the hospital, someone on suicide watch was followed all the time. The follower did not speak, or restrain the patient except by the locks on the outside door; but she could not escape watching, in case she could create something to self-harm from the things about her.
Now, the British state wants to read all our emails, subjecting them to increasingly sophisticated analysis software to spot anyone non-conforming, and my demonstrating against Trident- £100,000,000,000 to threaten the whole world with death, while children starve, and die of preventable disease, and are uneducated. My opposition to it is clearly insane, when the British Public want it, and it would be irresponsible and a vote loser for the Opposition actually to oppose it.
Caesar thinks everything is Caesar’s, yet some people can escape, a little. If you can make money, and support yourself, or better still if you can inherit it and your portfolio grows without your effort, then you can be allowed eccentricities.
Increasingly, not the rest of us. The welfare state must be whittled away to nothing. No-one is so sick or disabled that they should get benefits as unfit for work. We are forced into conformity, and watched in case we step out of line.
I am insane, for nothing I want makes sense, nothing is rational, I can make sensible arguments for none of it except I want it. “The heart has reasons which Reason cannot know.”
And to Goddess-
we are created in the image of God, loving, creative, powerful, beautiful, unique- none of us conforms, not really, none of us is sane, no-one fits the boxes and the square holes and Procrustes’ bed. All of us have that of God, which stubbornly refuses to fit. No-one has the full picture. Some want a nice, controllable God in a few mostly horrible verses of the Bible- “Slaves obey your masters”, that kind of thing, a God who is a greater bully than they are, a God for Caesar. I cannot give Caesar anything. I tried, I really did, and then I could not any longer, because God called me and being God’s was all I could bear
so I must rely on Goddess
The heart of the Gospel is the Love of God. Rather than going on about Hell, like so many Evangelicals, Joel Osteen, among others, embodies loving acceptance of all, as all kinds of sinners cross the threshold of the Church. As Paul says after enumerating really really bad people, And such were some of you. Here the weary, scunnered and flummoxed by the World, may find rest for our souls. And here’s the collection plate.
Here’s past0r_r0bert, coming from much the same place. He gets much of his argument from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, but rather than being horrible about outsiders, like Evan Lenow on trans women, he attempts to portray their false understanding of masculinity as some sort of ideal to which men should aspire. He goes over the story of Adam and Eve as if it were literally true. He welcomes every man, as Christ would- no matter what mess you are in right now, you have great value because you were created in the image of God– but then gives this masculine ideal:
A godly man is not ruled by his passions, but rather conquers them
– does not harm his family, but protects them
– does not neglect his family, but nurtures them
– does not abuse his family, but cares for them
– does not rule over his family as a tyrant, but serves them like Jesus
– does not see women as objects, but as image-bearers of God
For those who can fit themselves to it, this may seem attractive, though no-one fits it perfectly. r0bert sticks with the procrustean idea: married women should Allow your husband to lead and meet his failures with support not criticism. And While all men are unique in their own way, they all share a common design.
He is nasty about gay people on the way: when we use labels such as wimp, gay, loser, we dehumanise him. Gayness and transgenderism have resulted in confusion about men and women.
r0bert is not quite as vile as some Evangelicals. It is so much better to present your understanding of the Christian life as a positive ideal than to condemn outsiders as Al Mohler, say, does; but still his message only fits the small group who can just about conform to his idea of normal. He would let the rest twist in the wind. However welcoming he appears, he denies the variety and beauty of God’s good creation, calling it “confusion”. Perhaps he has not read that in Christ there is no male nor female.
Osteen said that while the Bible condemns gay sex that would not be the first message he would emphasise. But while it is in any part of his message, he is an oppressor, driving people from God.
Is not Mary beautiful with the Moon? One might almost think her Artemis or Diana.
What do bloggers have to say about the Goddess?
Here and now states in my art i try to capture the concepts i think are closest to realities i observe which is strange, as his female figure has no head, and no genitals. Yuck. I learn that “Goddess” is a trade name for a bra manufacturer, courtesy of the Bra Museum, which has eleven photos of their “688 strapless backless longline bra”, which “may be discontinued”.
Linda Olsen has photographed a woman outside, in a long robe, posing with a bow and arrow: as she observes, “having nature as our backdrop really was nice”. I agree. The model is the focus of interest in the pictures, but the backgrounds add complexity and depth. See left, go and have a look.
Awen is a Welsh word for inspiration, specifically of the poets, and Cat Treadwell in Drops of Awen writes of having a focus to her creativity. The Lady is guiding my hand as I get on. That creativity which I am most proud of comes as random and spontaneous, which is perhaps why what I write is so short. I like the idea of working with particular Goddesses, aspects of power and personalities. It might help me to differentiate characters. I would like pictures of her creations.
Swati Prakash shares evidence establishing the scientific truth behind spiritual experiences. An infra-red security camera has captured a beam of light from the Goddess’s third eye. When I played the video, it appeared to show a store-room with a dot of light flickering rapidly about occasionally. But then, the faithless confronted by a miracle may see nothing.
Avalon is an island in the Arthurian legend, and the last album by Roxy Music- I felt they were going off the boil a bit. Son of Avalon has found that the Morrigan, Goddess of battle, strife, fertility, water, healing and prophecy- a useful, all-purpose Goddess, then, like a Swiss army knife- is calling him. She is the Lady of the Lake who gave Arthur Excalibur, and she has shrouded Avalon in mists for protection, so that one may only find it through her.
Luca Crow, a Pagan, shares her preemie (premature child) birth story. She has a rare condition which makes her unable to bring a child to term, which was found during her pregnancy. She had particular dreams of the child and the birth, whose messages she did not at first understand but which turned out to be predictions of what happened. When she had emergency surgery, her faith in the Goddess kept her calm. She accepted the Goddess’s will, even if it were to take her baby. She spent three weeks in hospital, and her husband stayed with her.
I had this comment:
قل هوالله احد الله الصمد لم يلد ولم يولد ولم يكن لهو كفوان احد
Well. There is always Google translate: Say Hoallah one God Samad begets not and was not a fun one Kovan. From the context, I thought Samad meant LGBT, but in fact it is The Eternal, a name for God. Instead of cursing the gays, he is denying the divinity of Jesus, a doctrine about which I am agnostic. Kovan is more difficult. It is unlikely to mean the suburb and Underground station in Singapore; Google gives me no likely meaning.
I understand that some Muslims believe that the Koran should not be translated: the revelation was in Arabic, and translating it changes the words. Revelation says, If anyone adds anything to [the words of prophecy], God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. In Oldham, the Asian children go to Koran classes after school, and learn the alphabet and how to read it by rote, with little understanding. The trouble is that I do not understand it. If you speak to me, please make some effort to help me understand. I am doing all the work here.
I replied that Jesus is God’s son, and we are God’s children. He said,
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاتة يا اهل الكتاب تعالو الي كلمة سواء بيننا وبينكم الا نعبد الاالله والانشرك بة شيء فان توليتو فشهدو بانا مسلمون المسيح علية السلام رسول عظيم من رسل الله وفقك الله الخالق لم يحب ويرضا
Google translate gives “Peace, mercy and blessings of God, O People of the Book ĘÚÇáć word to both you and us, but we worship and Alllah Alanscherk expe something the Tlito Vhhdo PANA Muslims Christ peace be upon him a great messenger of God’s messengers of God the Creator and enabled you did not like and Aarza”. Unhelpful.
They deny that I am a follower of Jesus. Oh. OK. Well, the Koran has Jesus deny his divinity: God will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, “Worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God”? He will say: “Glory to thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, though I have not known what is in thine. For thou knowest in full all that is hidden.
More googling. I found a page which says how Muslims should address Christians: dispute ye not with the People of the Book except with means better (than mere disputation) unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say “We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow. So, perhaps this commenter only wanted to say what he was commanded to say, in the way he was commanded to say it- “I’m right, and you are wrong”. And, having said it, he is absolved from any responsibility for my descent to Jahannam. Oh well. At least he wanted to say something.
18th century French artists, having fun.
The Swing. Waldemar Januszczak explains it is particularly naughty in that she’s not wearing knickers. Women didn’t, then. That is why it is traditional not to wear anything under the kilt- the Highlands were a place apart until 1746, when the Crown set itself to assimilate them, and kilt stuff became a tradition.
Onywye. Where was I? The captivated onlooker’s pose is very like this chap’s.
Technical skill, a sex joke everyone would have got, a satire people might have needed explained to them-
Here is Mmm de Pompadour, by Boucher:
He also painted the resting maiden.
Is this just smut, as Januszczak says? Or- (rethinking after my connoisseur friend’s comment) There is smut, and porn, and erotica, and art, and I am not certain of the overlaps and lines between them.
Artists, whose work deserves fame 250 years later, turning their hands to anything: not necessarily above arousing customers. Here is the Goddess Diana. Does the fact that someone might find it arousing make it impossible to find it otherwise beautiful? I laughed at Monty Python’s Art Critic.
Is it different, if a gay male eye looks at these: unaroused, you see the art in them. Now, we have a political response: women are objectified, and an ideal is defined which will make most women feel inadequate- though Diana’s nymph has bad cellulite.
Post reliant on Waldemar Januszczak, again.
The painting is usually called “The embarkation for Cythera”. Cythera is the island of Aphrodite,
where mortals may experience true love.
However, Waldemar Januszczak, whose programme on the Baroque introduced me to this, believes that the beautiful ones are leaving the island-
where the Cupids disport themselves. He argues this because of the woman in the centre, on the hillock, who looks longingly back towards
Pictures from Wikimedia, where you can use Flash to explore the painting in even greater detail.