Beautiful Daughter, the Lion and the Dragon

“ The lion took my beautiful daughter. He seized her, dragged her into his lair with his great dragon. When she was in the pit, the lion screamed. His companions gathered. The dragon whistled and hissed. All the beasts gathered near him and roared. They hid from my daughter, roaring elsewhere, lest their powers diminish. So my cry calls up to the mighty one, who excels among the powers. I the son ask my father. My garment hangs on the universe, saying, if I have wronged the great lion, let him eat me now in his lair. If I’ve wronged the great dragon, let him swallow me here. But if I haven’t wronged the lion here in his midst, let me escape his lair and take my daughter from him. Father of us all . . . place the garment over us all. I pounded their nets; I cracked open their lair. I cast stones on it. I seized the great dragon and his consort I enmeshed them in a trap. I took my daughter from them and placed her high above them all. I hurled stones at their wheel till it collapsed under them, and my daughter and I destroyed all their nets. We drove the great lion and the dragon out of the cosmos, and we came to the village land of the just. They know it too. From the heart of a second lair I took my daughter into the land. They now are also happy. And it will happen soon just as the bride enters the bridal chamber.” ~The Coptic Manichaean Songbook

Lion and Dragon

This tale is definitely not meant to be taken literally. It is a pure allegory and filled with fairly obvious symbols. The lion, dragon, and beasts of the pit represent the Devil and demons of hell. The lair of the lion and dragon is hell.

The Beautiful Daughter

While on one level, the beautiful daughter could represent an innocent person, I think the symbol here is more specific. What the speaker is calling his Beautiful Daughter is symbolic of his Divine Soul. It is, after all, souls that the Devil wants to drag into the pits of hell (which is also allegorical). The Soul is beautiful because it is innocent and pure. It is spirit, not infected with matter and materialism. It has no desire for wealth or fame, but only to reunite with God. Continue reading “Beautiful Daughter, the Lion and the Dragon”

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golden city of heaven

Golden City of Heaven Allegory

Golden City of Heaven

“’In this world of time and of chance, we have still, like the strayed animals or like the migrating birds, our homing instinct. We seek. That is a fact. We seek a city still out of sight. In the contrast with this goal, we live. But if this be so, then already we possess something of Being even in our finite seeking. For the readiness to seek is already something of an attainment, even if a poor one.’

“Further, in this seeking we are not wholly dependent on that homing instinct. For some, who have climbed to the hill tops, that city is not really out of sight. The mystics see it and report to us concerning it. Science and mysticism may do their best and their worst: but these pathfinders of the spirit never falter in their statements concerning the independent spiritual world which is the only goal of ‘pilgrim man.’ They say that messages come to them from that spiritual world, that complete reality we call Absolute: that we are not, after all, hermetically sealed from it. To all who will receive it, news comes of a world of Absolute Life, Absolute Beauty, Absolute Truth, beyond the Bourne of time and place: news that most of us translate—and inevitable distort in the process—into the language of religion, of beauty, of love, or of pain.” ~Evelyn Underhill (inner quotes from “The World and the Individual” by Josiah Royce)

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.” ~ Revelation 21 By St. John

City of Heaven

I have never read any writings of the mystics that talk about a city in Heaven, especially a city of Gold, which is usually how it is depicted (more on that later). I can say that I personally have never really thought of Heaven as having cities, or one city, in it. Cities are, after all, constructs of matter and the more materialistic a society is, the more likely it is to have great cities all over the landscape. So many in some places that it is hard to find more than tiny places of a natural environment. But I thought about it and decided that it makes sense in a symbolic way.

We have come to think of those living in primitive wildernesses, or even tiny villages made of mud huts, as primitive. On the other hand, those who live in cities are advanced, educating, learning, and growing. While I don’t think that analogy and generalization is true, it is widely accepted. For that reason, it can be used when allegorically and metaphorically describing Heaven, which is the only way Heaven can be described to those who have not developed their spiritual side sufficiently to have visited the place. St. John in Revelation is not the only mystic to have used that metaphor. But why a Golden City of Heaven?

Golden City of Heaven

Golden chariot of Apollo

Gold is just as much an allegorical reference in these tales as is the concept of a city in Heaven. Gold has a number of allegorical meanings in spiritual writing but is mostly symbolic of Heaven, God, Wisdom, and the sun. Not the physical sun, but the Spiritual Sun. Sun Deities, which are also allegorical, are often golden in some way. For example, Apollo drives a golden chariot to carry the sun.

For more on the symbolism of Gold, click here, and here.

So the Golden City of Heaven is an allegorical way of telling spiritual seekers that if they want to find this hidden city of spirit they should turn to the Spiritual Sun, which acts as a kind of window between Heaven and Earth, or in more modern, scientific terms, a wormhole between the low dimension of matter and the higher dimensions of spirit.

If there are actual cities in heaven, it is hard to know what they would actually look like, since they would be beyond the limitations of space and time. So because of that, a spiritual city, even the Golden city of Heaven, could occupy the very space and time you are in now, yet you would be totally unaware of it. Did not Jesus tell his Apostles that the Kingdom of God is all around us, yet we see it not? And heaven is filled with Souls, not physical bodies, so what sort of city would Souls live in?

Seeking the Golden City of Heaven

But the most important part of Underhill’s tale quoted above is that we seek the Golden City of Heaven, even if we are not aware of it. It is the Holy Grail, the Grace of God. It is Spiritual Enlightenment. Many are not aware that they seek it, they just know that they seek something more than what they have in the realm of matter. The most misguided among us become greedy and seek more and more material possessions, yet are never satisfied. They need to turn their seeking to the spiritual, to finding the Golden City of Heaven. Such lost souls should not be hated but pitied. They have strayed so far, they can’t even see the path. That is changing in the time of the Sun of Righteousness.

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naked

Naked Bodies are Things of Beauty

“I am ashamed, for naked bodies are exposed to lewd glances and lustful looks. There is foolish laughter and foul words spoken among the onlookers.

“Yet it is not the naked body that is degrading, for bodies are things of beauty. In the beginning, God molded the body to its shape, knowing that in the days to come His Spirit would dwell therein when entering the matter of Earth.

“It was shaped slowly, with care and foresight. Loving hands wrought its wonderful form, and the day dawned when it became the abode of a living soul. Then God commanded, ‘Respect this, this vessel of the ever living spirit, for it is a great and delicate thing meant for communion one with another. It is my supreme achievement upon earth.’

“Therefore, though the body be not supreme it is a thing of greatness, it is a glorious temple meant to be the residence of a god. It reflects without the spirit dwelling within; the smile, the laugh, the eyes reveal it. The body is a thing of glory, it is the greatest of all material creations. …

“That which causes man and woman to forget their responsibility, which arouses in them desires and thoughts, which they cannot control, is not a thing of goodness; it is an instrument of evil. Why should men cover their bodies and women hide their nakedness? Not because naked bodies are things to be ashamed of, but because of what the eye of the beholder makes of them.” ~the Kolbrin Bible (MAN:14:1-7)

Naked Bodies

It is actually quite amazing that people who say we are created in God’s image and our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit think that there is something wrong with being nude. The body is the temple of God, but must be hidden under manmade clothing. Illogic at its best.

Another bit of illogic is how most people accept nudity in art, but nude people on a beach, “No Way!”. It makes me think of the famous tale of the Greek woman who was the widow of a senator and had been allowed to take over his job after he died. This required her to be in areas of the city of Athens where women generally didn’t go. So one morning, when she was walking to the Senate building, three teenage athletes came running around the corner of the building, naked as the day they were born. As was standard for Greece in those days, athletes always performed and practiced nude. But women were not allowed in sporting events. The boys thought it was safe to be running in an area where women didn’t go. But when they accidentally exposed themselves to a woman, they were subject to being sentenced to death for their grievous crime! Fortunately for them, the woman came to their defense, pointing out that she was the mother of several boys, so had seen naked boys before, plus there were nude statues of men and boys all over the city (much like the statue of David used to illustrate this post). She got them freed. Continue reading “Naked Bodies are Things of Beauty”

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bread made of corn

Bread Made of Corn, Bread of Light

Bread Made of Corn

“For a man to say, ‘This bread is made of corn,’ is easy enough. He should tell us how bread is prepared in detail, and baked. To talk of freedom from passions, and of perfection, is easy, but to experience to be brought to perfection is the lot of few. The gospel says in short compass, ‘Thou shalt not be angry; thou shalt not covet. If any man smite thee, turn to him the other also. If any man judge to take away they cloak, give him thy coat also.’ The apostle, tracing out how the work of cleansing should be done, little by little with patience and perseverance, teaches at large, first feeding with milk, like babes, then carrying on to growth and to full age. The gospel said that the garment was made of wool, the apostle declared in detail how it is made.

“So those who utter spiritual discourses, without tasting what they discourse of, are like a man who travels on a desert plain, assailed by burning heat, and being thirsty, draws a picture of a running stream of water, with a sketch of himself drinking, when all the while his lips are parched, and his tongue also, by the thirst that possesses.” ~St. Macarius the Egyptian

The Bread Made of Corn

St. Macarius is talking in allegory throughout this Homily. As a spiritual adept and teacher, he doesn’t care whether or not you know what your bread is made from or to have you know how to bake bread. That is if you interpret “bread” literally. But you shouldn’t. He is really speaking of an allegorical bread, a spiritual bread. It is the bread that Jesus used to feed the multitude. It is the Bread that Jesus taught us to pray for in the Lord’s Prayer. Neither of those is about physical, literal bread, but instead about the food of the spirit and soul, which is Spiritual Light.

So St. Macarius is saying that we need to know what the spiritual bread is made from, Spiritual Light, but we also need to know how that bread is “baked”. In other words, we need to know how to get that Light into us to awaken and nourish our spiritual faculties. Continue reading “Bread Made of Corn, Bread of Light”

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