My reading has been all over the place of late, but the last few days I have found some of that coming together around some peculiar, zigzagging relationships between myth and astronomy. I had been reading about the Basque victory over Roland from the Song of Roland because I was thinking about a sculpture from one of my alma maters. Thanks to Stranger Things, I spent a little time over on Wikipedia reading about the birth and development of Demogorgon from a scribal error to a significant player in European demonology* to a monster in Dungeons & Dragons. Thanks to the Oatmeal, I have been trying to give myself another refresher in the astronomy of our solar system.
I have also been reading Fromont’s The Art of Conversion which is quickly becoming my go-to book for thinking about the interplay of Kongo thought and Christianity over the long term. While she is more concerned with building up and exploring a literary, artistic, religious, and architectural archive than she is with appreciating the forms of thought that animate that archive (of course, you need that archive if you want to get serious about the thought), she is very sensitive to her material** and regularly drops sidelong observations which have helped me back fill my own understanding of the Kongolese influence on America. Anyway, that sent me out reading about St. James which led me to the Mozarabic Rite.
Anyway, there is a sidelong observation about the sanctification of the host which catches my eye: the host is broken into nine pieces (one for each facet of Jesus’s life), seven of which are used to form a cross. I toyed with the idea of mapping those nine aspects of Christ’s life onto the Sefirot, but it dawned on me that I was overlooking something important. Seven is the number of the doubles, and the removal of two pieces of the host to make a cross seems to be akin to the Jewish menorah having seven candles in the Temple, but nine outside of it.
Seven the number of doubles, which gets you into the system of planets. If you exclude the dwarf planets from astrological significance (and here the IAU’s rationale seems to hold astrologically: if the body hasn’t cleared its own orbit, can it be said to be astrologically potent like a planet?), then what we have done in the contemporary period is add two planets to the astrological roster (leaving the Sun and Moon intact for their significance to Earthly life, even if they aren’t planets in the astronomical sense).
I find some of the astrological eagerness to grow the medieval and classical cosmos a little overeager, rushing willy-nilly in ways that undermine the order of it, but this seems to provide a way to grow that cosmology in a way that retains the spiritual rationality underpinning it. From the perspective of the Sefer Yetzirah this does pose some challenges, but I believe that at least some of them are instructive and also support this expansion of the doubles.
The most challenging is of the order of time, since two new double lines would also imply two new days. I do wonder if the transformation of our daily time would in such a way would have important metaphysical ramifications, but there are a couple of immediately appealing structural patterns which would shake out of such a transformation. It would transform the month into a cycle of three weeks, punctuated by what I presume would be the dark moon day. That would bring the month into greater sympathy with the triplicate structures that dominate the Tree of Life. The week itself would also be more susceptible to triplicate operations.
The addition of the two double lines would also open the door for a reconsideration of the system of orifices that animate the SY. While it would be impossible to find new orifices in the head unless we wanted to make them artificially, there are several orifices elsewhere which could be brought into the system of doubles namely the orifices of generation and defecation. Considering how both are bound up with continuance (waste that nourishes other things and children who continue the human line), there is good reason to bring them into the system of orifices.
The inclusion of these orifices into the system of doubles brings to the foreground the challenges of preservation and conservation which are vital to our era, vital to the cinch point that the Anthropocene Era confronts us with. Bound up with this are also issues of reproduction and the question of nonprocreative sexuality, issues which have long been excluded or maligned by the Gnostics generally.
The addition of the new doubles brings the pillars of mercy and severity into parity with the central pillar. Neptune and generative orifices ascend to the the top of the pillar of the mercy, while Uranus and the defecating orifice ascend to the top of the pillar of severity. These doubles can serve as the lintel posts upon which the higher mother can rest, the Shin with four branches. Of course, that also requires each of the double lines have their own letter, too,and I don’t have a clear sense of how best to proceed on that point.
I’m not shifting to a nine day week or creating a couple new Hebrew letters quite yet, mind you, but considering this sort of thing helps me to think harder about the structures animating all this.
*From the Wikipedia entry on Demogorgon:
“According to Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, Demogorgon has a splendid temple palace in the Himalaya mountains where every five years the Fates and genii are all summoned to appear before him and give an account of their actions. They travel through the air in various strange conveyances, and it is no easy matter to distinguish between their convention and a Witches’ Sabbath.”
Though not related to this discussion, I find intriguing the ambiguity of Sabbaths, the difficulty of distinguishing one flight of spirits going to meet from another. Also, heh, the Orlando of Orlando Furioso is none other than the Roland who fell to the Basque.
**Noting, for example, the way in which the Kongo King Afonso’s legendary clearly rearticulates the legendary of Kongo’s founder Lukeni while interpellating Christian elements. Afonso, for example, did not kill his mother, but in some of the myths of Lukeni, matricide plays a prominent role. Decades after Afonso’s death, you find stories describing him as having buried his mother alive in the church of St. Michael.