For myself, I always write of Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.
- James Joyce to a young writer, quoted from James Joyce by Richard Ellman
"Don't you think you need a Woman ... to make it come alive?"
Live With Me, sung by Sheryl Crow and the
Rolling Stones, November 25, 1995 Miami, FL
Though a little delayed, this reprises and extends the Ishtar Rising discussion group from the Jechidah site that finished in September. I recommend anyone interested in this subject to read all eleven blogs and the comments posted there.
Robert Anton Wilson tells the story of how Ishtar Rising (IR) came into being toward the end of his 1989 Introduction to the book. Playboy Press asked him to write a book about the female breast, surprise surprise, and he gladly accepted the mission while adding a great deal of depth to the subject by connecting it to the worship of the Goddess. He says he composed it "in the Hermetic style," essentially a style intended to expand the mind and raise consciousness or as Wilson puts it: "show what Blake claimed to see, 'infinity in a grain of sand.'" He says the disguised multiple meanings in every paragraph will only get deciphered by people who write commentaries of Finnegans Wake. This indicates a book meant for reading multiple times if one wishes to penetrate and unlock, one could say psychometrize, the information contained therein. Wilson frames the esoteric content of Ishtar Rising while suggesting further research in the penultimate paragraph of this intro:
"In conclusion, those who want to read a bit more about the relationship of the Return of the Goddess to the neurological revolution of our time — the biochemical basis of my Hermetic remarks on the crown and heart chakras — should certainly consult Dr. Christopher Hyatt's Secrets of Western Tantra (Falcon Books, 1989)"
Presented with the basic physical subject matter of the sexuality of the female breast, RAW, without downplaying, denying, or sensationalizing this sexuality (like Playboy magazine did, for instance) connects it to the goddess, what Carl Jung called the Great Mother archetype. He repeats the breast/goddess correspondence in the sentence just quoted by mentioning the biochemical basis regarding the crown and heart chakras. This sacred linking and directing of physical sexuality follows the instruction given in Crowley's Book of the Law I:61 where it says to direct the Serpent flame to Nuit and warns that all will get lost should a particle of dust interfere. Dust appears in the Bible and here as a metaphor for the brute animal nature.
Another view on this linkage involves the way the Ancient Greeks classified three forms of Love:
1. Eros - romantic/sexual love.
2. Philos - brotherly/sisterly love.
3. Agape - Divine love.
The Hermetic (i.e. coded in a particular way) indicators in the book may suggest a course of expanding Eros into Agape. Perhaps this helps Ishtar rise? Of course, Philos can undergo a similar expansion. In BoL(I:53) Nuit says that "[t]his shall regenerate the world, the little world my sister, my heart & my tongue unto whom I send this kiss." With these words we see a connection from the other direction between the expansive abstract archetype to the physical. The "little world" means the physical world of space/time we live in, which Nuit calls her sister. The goddess makes an intimate connection to our planet. We may postulate — and confirm or refute with experimentation — that helping Ishtar rise helps heal, sustain, and grow the Earth, which appears to be in big trouble right about now in regards to sustaining human life.
The evolutionary movement to raise the goddess has multiple aspects - individual, social, global, from the mundane to the mystical and all levels in between. Everyone, regardless of gender, has a combination of male and female energies. Male energy usually dominates in men, female in women, in other words, it commonly goes along lines of biological gender. The questioning of gender identity which has garnered much attention and consideration in the past few years seems proof and acknowledgement that some mixture of male and female energies exists in everyone regardless of biology. However, what we mean here has more to do attitude, behavior and expression than gender. A man can display gentle and receptive qualities, feminine traits, without giving up masculinity, you find a balance. Likewise, a woman can be aggressive and controlling, male qualities, while appearing feminine in appearance and other areas.
Wilson said he put disguised Taoist philosophy in Ishtar Rising. We utilize their dual representations Yin and Yang to help differentiate female and male energies and separate these energies from consideration of organic bodies. Yang = male. Yin = female. From the I Ching, Book of Changes on the second hexagram K'un / The Receptive:
This hexagram is made up of broken lines only. The broken line represents the dark, yielding receptive power of yin. The attribute of the hexagram is devotion; its image is the earth. It is the perfect complement of The Creative — the complement, not the opposite, for the Receptive does not combat the Creative but completes it.
The analog for this in the West exists in the Thelemic viewpoint of Horus as the reigning deity of the age. Horus comprises a twin god made up of a yang-like outgoing aspect called Ra Hoor Khuit and a silent, yin identity known as Hoor Pa Kraat. The practitioner alternates between the postures associated with these twin deities in the Star Ruby ritual, Crowley's iteration of the Golden Dawn's Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Practicing these postures in the ritual educates the body and emotions along with the intellect to the differentiating and balancing of the yin and yang energies.
How can goddess washup affect the real world? Wilson provides the basis on page 135 - 136 of the Hilaritas edition of Ishtar Rising:
"Poetry and magic, then, are based on a belief that thought can create its own reality — which Sir James Frazer in The Golden Bough called the theory of 'the omnipotence of thought' and which Freud, in his comment on Frazer's anthropological investigations in Totem and Taboo, traced back to the child's power, with an outcry of desire, to make the missing mother mysteriously appear again and offer the all providing breast. It is no accident, then, that so many poems from the Odyssey right up to Joyce's great prose-poem, Finnegans Wake, contain magical 'invocations' summoning the goddess to appear at once."
This seems a good paragraph to examine the multiple levels and puzzles woven in Ishtar Rising. For instance, RAW makes a connection between literature and magic, the power of the word to affect thought and thus help fabricate reality. In the beginning was the Word. He invokes two scientists, an anthropologist, and a pioneering psychologist to support his point. Also the foremost prose stylist of this or any other time, James Joyce, who said he used a mathematical and scientific approach (along with several other styles) to write his books. In other words, RAW applies rational methodology to an area considered irrational. The mention of Joyce clues the reader/detective to look for puns such as "the all providing breast" that could signify many things beyond the literal.
The intention to raise the Great Mother and Female Intelligence in general faces an uphill battle against long established tradition despite enthusiastic and ecstatic efforts toward changing myopic patriarchal values. How humans see the world gets strongly influenced from a mixture of very old religious and philosophical beliefs. The Bible tells us that Woman got made from the rib of a Man to provide him a companion. Some time later she gets him kicked out of paradise. The archetypal "Fall of Man" came from a woman leading him astray according to the popular version of this pervading myth. The ideas of Plato and Aristotle dominated how people in the West were trained to see the world. In Timaeus, the book of Plato's Creation myth, "[a]mong those (animals) who were born men, all that were cowardly and lived an unjust life were, according to the likely account, transplanted in in their second birth as women." You got demoted to being a woman if you didn't make the grade as a man according to the philosopher who most influenced Western thought. Yet Plato believed in the equality of men and women. Aristotle, on the other hand, held that, without question, women were inferior to men.
The modern initiative to changing these sexist attitudes and prejudices begins, perhaps, with Friedrich Nietzsche known for his efforts toward breaking the stranglehold of the Church's influence in telling people how to think and live. He began a project to overturn Plato which goes along with his calling for a "transvaluation of all values." This definitely includes the value of female intelligence. In Human, All Too Human he wrote: "the perfect women is a higher type of human than the perfect man, and also something much more rare."
Some of Nietzsche's later writings about women have been interpreted as misogynist. In her thesis, Nietzsche's "woman": a metaphor without brakes Kathleen Merrow writes:
"Nietzsche's metaphor of "woman" — far from being misogynist — reveal a positive, affirmative "woman." His use of this metaphor radically dislocates traditional conceptions of the relation masculine/feminine as it dislocates the "truth" of metaphysics. I argue that the metaphor "woman" is central to Nietzsche's attack on traditional philosophy and notions of truth. ..." About the last chapter of the thesis: "[m]y concern here is with the extension of Nietzsche's strategy of "women" to radical feminist theory in the valorization of "women" as difference and otherness and the use of this valorization to attack the patriarchal structure and history of language and thought."
The last sentence appears academic speak for Ishtar rising.
* * * * * *
Next up in the literary lineage behind IR comes the grandly dramatic, epoch shaking attempt by Aleister Crowley to switch the course from the male dominated Roman Catholic Church to a new religion, Thelema, guided by female intelligence in the guise of Nuit, Babalon, and Hoor Pa Kraat - the intelligence at the heart of Horus, the reigning god of this age. The reception of The Book of the Law over 3 days in early April, 1904 inaugurated this battle for a new direction, a new rising. It wasn't until The Beatles released Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967 featuring Aleister Crowley on the cover alongside large cast of people who influenced the band that a significant number of people outside of occult circles began hearing about this shift in consciousness.
Nuit is the first guide in this new sensibility, she begins The Book of the Law, first by introducing Herself then by announcing "The unveiling of the company of heaven" followed by the proclamation that "Every man and every woman is a star." Since Nuit = the starry goddess of Infinite Space, we find the beginnings, in the first 3 lines, of a shift toward the valorization of Woman as Higher Intelligence.
The first chapter in TBotL starring Nuit seems the most beautiful, poetic, and easy to receive. In contrast, the last chapter led by Ra Hoor Khuit, the charging, outgoing, yang part of Horus, gets harsh at times as it involves the war machine against traditional entrenched attitudes and forces resistant to change, and their, at times, oppressive, hostile reactions - both from inside oneself and from society. Think of the 60's again, or right now.
In verse 62 Nuit connects the physical with the archetypal, the microcosm with the macrocosm in her mission statement and call to rise:
"At all my meetings with you shall the priestess say — and her eyes shall burn with desire as she stands bare and rejoicing in my secret temple — To me! To me! calling forth the flame of the hearts of all in her love-chant."
The Holy Grail of medieval legend symbolically represents the sacred feminine principle, the energy that brings forth life according to Hermeticists. The Chariot card, in Crowley's iteration of the Tarot, shows a charioteer transporting this precious source. "His only function is to bear the Holy Grail. ... In the center is radiant blood; the spiritual life is inferred; light in the darkness." Crowley provides qabalistic proof and maintains that the formula of the new aeon we entered in 1904 = The Chariot, the activity of which seems very close to Ishtar Rising.
* * * * * *
It was always women publishing Joyce.
- Sylvia Beach, Sylvia Beach interview on James Joyce and
Shakespeare and Company (1962) available on You Tube.
The writings of James Joyce comes up next in our look into the background of Ishtar Rising. No question that Joyce strongly influenced RAW. Though referenced little in the main text of IR, Wilson makes sure to mention Joyce's affinity with the archetypal material in the 1989 Introduction.
Arguably, Joyce did as much in the field of literature as Crowley did with the mystic arts to facilitate the conscious return of the goddess. Sixty-seven days after the final day of the reception of the Book of the Law in 1904, Joyce wrote about one day of life in Dublin, Ireland in his epic magnum opus est Ulysses. 67 = "the womb of the mother containing the twins." Joyce chose that day, June 16, 1904, forever after known as "Bloomsday," because his first date with Nora Barnacle, his future wife, occurred then. Some five years later he wrote Nora saying the best part of his writing comes from her and that if she fully accepted him he would indeed become the poet of his race. Apparently she took him up on it, they remained together, raising a family, for life.
Joyce has been described as a "womanly man" and he made the main character in Ulysses, Leopold Bloom, a womanly man. Not meaning an effeminate or gay man, rather a male who has learned one way or another how to be more like a woman in attitude and behavior. Ulysses seems worth reading on this point alone. Believe it or not, in many of the Marx Brothers films, Groucho Marx gives an excellent illustration of the womanly man balance in action.
Wilson quotes Finnegans Wake at the top of chapter 2 in Ishtar Rising:
"... but we grisly old Sykos who have done our unsmiling bit on alices, when they were yung and easily freudened ... " appearing critical of psychoanalysis as does the chapter. Using Freud's terminology, Wilson classifies Leopold Bloom as a purely oral type. Reading Ulysses will confirm that, and then some. Joyce really goes to town in places with the oral allusions. We encounter copious consuming of food, for instance, in the book.
Joyce teaches and encourages the reader to look for puns in Ulysses including puns on the sound of a word. For example, the story occurs in Dublin which sounds like doubling hinting at multiple meanings. On the surface, everything takes place in Ireland yet the plot loosely parallels in structure and allusion the Greek myth, the Odyssey. On the one hand we read about mundane events of a day in the life of the characters Leopold and Molly Bloom, and Stephen Dedalus, on the other hand, these mundane events take on mythic significance as they follow the ancient Greek story - double meanings (at the very least) to everything that happens. It seems natural to take this one step further and consider that every event doubles as both a local and universal significance, or, as the Hermeticists say, uniting the microcosm with the macrocosm. Joyce's opening quote above illustrates this concept.
Among his literary intentions, James Joyce sought to valorize and sanctify the ordinary. Like RAW, he took a strong influence from William Blake who could see a whole world in a grain of sand. From this perspective, everything around you including the events of your daily life, mundane as they may seem at times, can appear as holy and sacred as any cosmic truth or great myth anywhere if we have or get the eyes to see. Ulysses seeks to raise consciousness to this level. Odysseus's goal in the Greek myth is to return home to his wife Penelope. It can be said that we return home, metaphorically, when we raise our consciousness to recognize the Beauty all around us. By affirming feminine wisdom, Joyce and Wilson affirm Life.
In his Magnum Opus Duo, Finnegans Wake, Joyce quantum jumped to new levels of goddess communication and explication with one of the central characters, Anna Livia Plurabelle (ALP). She doubles as the wife of the protagonist, HCE, and as the expression of all things goddess. In one sense, like Ariadne, she symbolizes a thread running through the novel helping to navigate and solve Joyce's labyrinth. His art imitates occult forces in life while making them stronger, like a signal booster.
Without the ALP section, Work In Progress, the working title for what became Finnegans Wake, might never have been completed. She made it possible. Joyce created a new, experimental dream language, very dense and hard to follow, safe to call it incomprehensible upon its initial encounter, that perplexed eveyone. It seems no one, including his patrons, potential publishers and literary friends saw any value in this experiment, at first. His response to this opposition was to write and send them the Anna Livia Plurabelle chapter. That turned the tide, people started to get it or at least allow him some latitude to carry on. Before the entire Wake came out, he arranged for the ALP chapter to get published under its own cover as a selling point, an introductory way into the literary maze of Finnegans Wake when it got published in full not so long after. Again, art imitating life, or art demonstrating what can happen in life. He wrote about the Divine Feminine to seduce people into undertaking the great work of reading and hearing Finnegans Wake. Similarly, some occultists believe that the goddess seduces the aspirant into the Great Work of transformation.
To help determine the authenticity of these evolutionary forces as opposed to a fantastical set of beliefs and ideas (wishful thinking) we observe and pay close attention to parallel indicators from disparate, superficially unconnected sources. We have no direct evidence Joyce ever read Crowley, yet coincidentally, the last, one word sentence, of the Anna Livia Plurabelle chapter is "Night!" When translated into French, it becomes Nuit.
* * * * * *
Writing of humans circa 30,000 B.C. RAW says:
"... it seems that the starry cosmos, in those days, was conceived as a great mother who had given birth to the life of the earth. Wise old women (the wiccas, wise ones, from whom we get the word witches) were thought to have a special affinity with her. Above all, this goddess was not a metaphor or idea; she was a living presence, just as the American Indians to this day refer to the earth as a living mother and still fondly expect that she will throw off the maniacal whites whose technology seems largely to be an attack on her." - Ishtar Rising p. 97
The use of the adjective "maniacal" appears a double meaning suggesting the root cause "man." The subtextual context of this quote, near the beginning of Chapter 4 Mammary Metaphysics, suggests that we can return to the attitude they had then — the goddess as a living presence. How to go about realizing this seems a never ending, multifaceted, joyous, lifetime education.
I've listened to and been educated by a wide spectrum of female singers and artists over the past 30 years. In no particular order: Nina Simone, Linda Ronstadt, Laura Nyro, Sister Rosetta Tharp, Emmylou Harris, Hildegard of Bingen, Rickie Lee Jones, Ma Rainey, Janis Joplin, Judy Collins, Laurie Anderson, St. Vincent (Annie Clark), Joan Baez, Chrissie Hynde, Billie Holiday, Mavis Staples, Aretha Franklin, Norah Jones, Patti Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Ariana Grande, Stevie Nicks, Big Mama Thornton, Alicia Keys, Joni Mitchell, Grace Slick, Nico with the Velvet Underground, The Runaways, The Go-Gos, The B-52s, Heart, Joan Jett, Blondie (Deborah Harry), Lene Lovich, Tina Turner, Lana Del Ray, Carole King, Jewel, Mahalia Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Allison Krause, Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo, Erykah Badu, Odetta, Natalie Merchant, Ruth Brown, Annie Lennox, Sheryl Crow, Bessie Smith, Koko Taylor, Etta James, Ronnie Spector, Dylan's background singers during his gospel period and others less well known.
Except for Chaka Khan, Laurie Anderson, and Joan Baez, I've not engineered for any of these musicians. Yet, I have been fortunate to work with an amazing array of extremely talented women in the recording studio and on the concert stage. Just in the last 18 months:
1. An intimate singer/songwriter compilation album, Annihilation Party with Mariee Sioux, Aaron Ross, Angelica Rockne, and Davia.
2. A wonderful solo cello album, Emerge, by classical musician and music educator Rebecca Hood-Sava.
3. Mastering for my dear friend Raphaële Lannadére, a French chanteuse-style singer with haunting, moody melodies and arrangements. She performs as L and the album is Paysages.
4. Different projects with Simrit, her world music band SIMRIT, and a new artistic exploration into roots reggae with Zion Collective, soon to release their debut album. One of the new songs closely aligns with this post, its working title was Woman, that changed to Become. A snippet of it can be heard on the clip linked to. One very special afternoon we recorded Simrit and Salif improvising on vocals and kora which became the EP Salok.
5. A couple of mixes for Berlin based Phoebe Kildeer and her collaborator Ole Wulfers, Life Goes Through You and All Is Well for their forthcoming album. These avant garde forays sound like they came from Berlin with very interesting arrangements and sound design creating a darkened and deep, spacial atmosphere. One song has a strong Bertolt Brecht influence and I know Phoebe has some Tom Waits musical DNA in her artistic core.
6. At least 2 releases and various other audio post production projects with Moksha Sommer, who, with her partner Jemal Wade Hines form the driving force and core of HuDost. Their new album, to be released in a matter of days on Nov. 19 is Anthems of Home. They call it Folk/Americana, it's also dynamic and varied with lush vocal and string arrangements, pop and rock elements and occasional psychedelic flavorings.
7. This summer I got to do a live recording of Eric McFadden and Kate Vargas. Eric I know and love from past projects, he's up there with my favorite guitarists, and is a great songwriter. Vargas was a wonderful new discovery. This took place at the raucous and noisy Crazy Horse Saloon in Nevada City, Ca in the first hopeful let up of the plague. The spirited gusto of her bluesy, raspy vocal delivery driven by her acoustic and Eric's amplified acoustic guitars really cut through and established a strong presence in the room. Their songs also had some of the Waits musical DNA thrown into the mix and several of the grooves felt akin to something you might have heard once in a New Orleans area juke joint. This release is still pending but you can hear some of the studio versions. Church of The Misdirection, in particular, seems very topical with what's going on with social media and various tribal cults in politics.
8. A very strong new country/folk song called Jackie written and performed by Cassidy Joy, another shining local talent. It evokes very strong emotions as it's sung from the perspective of Jaqueline Kennedy on the day of her husband, John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963. It comes from such an archetypal place of dealing with and living through tragedy that anyone anywhere can strongly connect with this. Both Robert Anton Wilson and Bob Dylan symbolically connect the JFK assassination with the sacrificial killing of the Divine King that anthropologist J. G. Frazer observed in various indigenous cultures and wrote about in The Golden Bough. Dylan released a song last year, Murder Most Foul, a 17 minute epic, that used this event as a jumping off point to riff on art, culture and life, both then and now. To my knowledge, Jackie is the first time her perspective has ever been taken in song; her emotions and her grief. It will be released in less than two weeks on November 22.
9. I currently have a work in progress with Angelica Rockne, a sensitive and beautiful singer/songwriter also listed above. I won't comment on it now only to say it will be well worth the wait.
10. An upcoming experimental sound voyage collaboration with Paula Galindo and Vlad Moskovski called Excursion into Deep Waters which will get its premiere broadcast November 23rd at about 9:30 pm on The Other Side on station KVMR from Nevada City.
11. Honey of the Heart is a beautifully engaging and wide ranging folk/acoustic/soul/world/roots collective spearheaded by Justin Ancheta and Maren Metke with a little help from their friends. I also got to mix an awesome track called Oxygen by Heather Normandale, one of their collaborators.
When Will I Be Loved - Tribute to Linda Ronstadt