Reflowering Apocalypse in the Tree of Life
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Christianity's Apocalyptic Tragedy and the Immortal Tree of Life
The Dilemma and Healing of Apocalypse
This work is a "Rosetta Stone", to unveil the entire phenomenon of apocalypse, so we can finally come to terms with it, in a reckoning that includes both the tortured religious history and the complex cosmological and biological science our world-view now encompasses. Although it is daunting in its complexity, it has an outcome that is so world-transforming towards resplendent paradise on Earth, that there is no other work in existence that can have such bounteous potential. The reader needs to have patience and persistence to seek to unfold its full ramifications, for it is the Resplendence Codex, reflowering the immortal Tree of Life.
An apocalypse (ἀ¹οκάλυψις apoklypsis, from ἀ¹ό and καλύ¹τω meaning "uncovering" or more directly "unveiling"), translated literally from Greek, is a disclosure of knowledge, i.e., a lifting of the veil, or revelation. In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden.
Above: Dimensions of planetary apocalypse. The 58 megaton Tsar Bomba equaling over 3800 Hiroshima bombs and Amazon deforestation by fire. Below Left: In Nov 2015 Russia revealed plans for a 100 megaton nuclear torpedo designed to cause a 500m tsunami, probably "salted" to form cobalt-60 emitting intense gamma radiation with a half-life of 5.27 years to kill everyone within 1500 km. The document was shown at a meeting where Putin warned that "Russia will take necessary retaliatory measures to strengthen the potential of our strategic nuclear forces". Even as a defensive strategy, or merely cold war rhetoric , this is apocalyptic thinking. The world is still at 15 times nuclear overkill, risking accidental holocaust. Habitat destruction goes on unabated, precipitating the sixth great mass extinction of biological and genetic diversity in the history of Earth. Below Right: Amazon deforestation in Brazil as of 2006 (Nature).
We are living in a world in which human impact on the living habitats and climate of the planet on a vast scale is becoming ever more severe, taking us towards a tipping point that could both threaten our long-term survival as a species and will certainly cause a mass extinction of the diversity of life. At the same time as the covers have well and truly been thrown off reality by the scientific and technological revolution that is sweeping the planet, religious forces with an avowed agenda of world domination are fomenting violence in the name of the one true God. In the name of Islam, believers are committing genocide, mass beheadings, sexual slavery, and other inhuman actions taking us right back to the tribal law of the seventh century, while innocent people are being blown apart by Islamic 'martyrs' in the vain hope of seeing the face of al-Llah in paradise, with 72 black-eyed virgins at one's beck and call. In the Christian sphere, in slavish adherence to the Sabbatical Creation, people continue to deny the natural evolution of life in anticipation of a "late planet Earth" rapture in the heavens. Amid this turmoil, we still have the insecurity of enough nuclear weapons of mass destruction to devastate the planet, should they become unleashed.
Whether we are religious and believe in a day of judgment, or are simply people trying to look to a sustainable world, where our offspring and those of society around us can have the confidence to survive, we have to acknowledge that we are living in a very troubled world, where the future remains uncertain and where potential violence and tumult burgeon. We thus need urgently to come to terms with why we are living in this state, in a world which would otherwise be capable of sustaining a perpetual paradise, how we got ourselves into this dire situation, and how to find the way through to a soft-landing outcome that does protect the generations of life from the tumultuous threats that humanity has wrought upon the world.
The word apocalypse is both a beacon and a plague to the human consciousness. It is our destination in the final awakening in the end of days and it is the feverish fantasy that leads countless people to commit violence and genocide in the name of the rule of God, from the Muslim Caliphate to the Heavenly Jerusalem, with the Jewish Mashiach, the Parousia of the Second Coming of Christ and the Mahdi of the Shi'ities playing the role of healing, or avenging, hero in the piece. We can love it and hate it. We can try to ignore it, but it keeps creeping up on us as a fascinating and terrifying vision, no matter how much, in the interests of common sense, protecting the sanctity of life, we try to set it aside,
So here follows a key unravelling to come to terms with it, to understand its roots in our existential condition and to discover how we can turn the tide of misfortune and the tumult of genocide into a new epoch of paradise under the banner of the Tree of Life. For all the negativities of gloom and doom the tumult of apocalypse entails there is a golden lining in the covers being thrown off reality in a win-win for the ongoing survival and flourishing of life and consciousness in resplendent abundance.
Planetary Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse is only now coming to a high noon out of a wider, deeper backdrop in our existential condition over the last two thousand years, and extending into the next century. It is an expression of a sense of future-shock, of political domination by corrupt world powers, of military turbulence and genocide on a vast planetary scale. It is dealing to currents deep in our collective subconscious that we have brought about an epoch of tumultuous change in which the future looks like coming to a 'high noon' in which everything will be revealed in a final reckoning. A hard planetary landing.
Four global scenarios requiring urgent long-term solutions: (1) Predicted world average July temperatures, indicating loss of crop production due to temperature and rainfall changes (NASA). (2) Biodiversity zones surviving four different global warming scenarios (Groombridge 1992 Global Biodiversity). (3) Loss of land area in a 6m sea level rise (Wikipedia). Because of the long response time, it has been estimated that we are already committed to a sea-level rise of around 2.3m for each degree of temperature rise within the next 2,000 years. A temperature rise of 3 degrees would lead to a 6.9m rise, but up to 50m if the Antarctic ice sheets melted from below. (4) World gross national income per capita shows spread of world poverty and affluence.
In many ways this has been a burgeoning reality ever since the agricultural revolution. It was certainly the case around the time Revelation was written, when it is said that over a million people died in the siege of Jerusalem in a world whose population was only around fifty million. Jesus was aware of this and events shortly after his death led to a holocaust, resulting in the Jewish diaspora, so it is very understandable that perspectives took an apocalyptic turn.
But today we are facing a much huger planetary apocalyptic crisis, potentially eclipsing the whole of Earth's cosmic history, in which we have gained the powers to effectively destroy much of life on Earth and ourselves through nuclear holocaust and are having irreversible impacts which are leading to tipping points, in the climate, ocean levels, precipitating a mass extinction of biological and genetic diversity, diminishing our own survival prospects as a species in the process. As a marker in the sand of misadventure, a 2016 research report shows the rate of carbon emission is an order of magnitude higher than the last mass extinction event - the PETM - some 56 million years ago, so the changes we are inducing go back not just to the origin of major religions some 4000 years ago, or human culture some 40,000 years ago, or the human species some 200,000 yeas ago, but a span of at least 50 million years to early in the mammalian radiation before the monkeys differentiated from the lemurs. This is hardly surprising since, in a century or two, we are releasing into the atmosphere much of the carbon in coal dating back to the Carboniferous 300 million years ago and a good half of the oil accumulated from the Ordovician 450 million years ago on through the Permian to the demise of the Dinosaurs. The image below shows a hard landingmass-extinction, which could threaten human survival, would set the world back on cosmological time scales.
Comparison of the evolution of the universe from the big bang and the evolution of life on Earth shows that life has existed for a quarter of the universe's lifetime and can thus be considered a long-term stable feature of cosmic evolution. Astronomical events including impacts and nearby supernovae have always played a major role in causing mass extinctions accompanied by volcanism possibly as a secondary consequence of the impacts themselves. However the advent of so-called human civilization is threatening in the next century to cause a mass extinction more serious than the cretaceous-tertiary event that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Apocalypse is a motif in every person's existential consciousness in the sense that we seek to understand the ultimate mystery of existence and come face to face with it before we pass away into oblivion. This is a fundamental theme of Eastern religion, which places its emphasis on an individual attaining enlightenment, in union with the cosmic self, albeit with varying degrees of moral responsibility for the welfare and enlightenment of all sentient beings, in the greater Mahayana.
The 'unveiling' of reality is also absolutely central to the scientific revolution. As we have progressed from the first wave of Greek science through to the Renaissance and the flowering of the Western scientific tradition, the covers have well and truly been thrown off reality, from end to end of the description of nature, confounding all our preconceived notions and religious doctrines, from the flat Earth and the centre of the cosmos, to the existence of the human ovum. We now have a model of the universe from the putative theories of everything through the standard model of particle physics, to molecular dynamics, biogenesis, and with the human genome project, the decoding of human genetic evolution and that of a rich diversity of our sister species, rendering the nave endearingly quaint notion of the sabbatical creation of Genesis 1 no more than a beautiful impossible poetic fantasy, where the plants are created before the Sun and Moon.
Nevertheless the grip of affirmative religion clings to the scriptures like a drowning man clings to life flashing before one's eyes, right up to the moment of death in the final tumultuous apocalyptic expose. We still find Christians and Muslims alike rationalizing that the revealed scripture is somehow truer than physical reality itself, that we are all destined for the Day of Judgment and that evolution is just some kind of corrupt sleight-of-hand invented by atheistic humanists to undermine our faith in the one true God. This again affirms to us that apocalypse is not just a figment of religious doctrine, but a deep current in our existential consciousness induced by the paradox of subjective existence in a biological body in a culture in a continual state of flux towards an endpoint, which has throughout been one of crisis on a grand scale.
With our own generation "apocalypse now" has become an even more potent planetary reality. At their climax during the Cold War nuclear weapons of mass destruction rose to 40 times overkill, with arsenals poised to a hair trigger. We have an exponentiating world population which is consuming vast areas of the planet's natural habitable systems for human production, causing the depletion of non-renewable resources such as oil which have taken hundreds of millions of years to accumulate, irreversible mass extinction of genetic and biological diversity and climate change which could submerge major areas of the planet and lead ultimately to a 50 metre ocean rise with the under-melting of the Antarctica and Greenland ice sheets, as well as catastrophic storms on a scale never previously recorded by humanity. We are thus literally facing planetary apocalypse if we donÕt get a grip on our own folly and the impacts of business-as-usual on the planetary future.
Into the middle of this toxic mix, we find that apocalyptic religions, and particularly Islam, and its divided camps, are entering ever more feverishly into an end of days struggle, in which the entire Middle East is now enmeshed in a religious war between Sunni and Shi'ite elements, amid calls from either side to the apocalyptic final solution in martyrdom and effective genocide driven by religious scripture. Both of these have end of days assumptions, with Shi'ites anticipating the return of the Mahdi the figure of the end of days who Jesus is believed to accompany to the Ka'aba in the final judgment and the Caliphate of Islamic State which seeks to return the world to a totalitarian monolith of seventh century Arabia, in which all who are perceived to have different views are taken into sexual slavery or summarily beheaded, or crucified, and minorities of other beliefs are committed to genocide, in the shadow of Muhammad's own genocide of 700 Jewish men in Medina.
Again one can see this in even deeper time as an evolutionary phenomenon of humans developing language and culture over tens of thousands of years as gatherer-hunters, only to explode as we left Africa and migrated to every "corner" of the globe. The culture of agricultural civilization then set the paradigm for reproductive expansion amid the rise and clash of cultures, amid genocidal wars of ascendency, accompanied by instances of natural disaster from flood and famine and the growth of epidemic plagues caused by human mobility and the density and marginal living conditions of urban populations. This became incorporated in turn into the religious dialogue as cultures sought more convincing and more universally cohesive ways of giving expression to moral and physical dystopia with a utopian expectation.
Apocalypse is in many ways a global archetype of the vision quest to find transformative meaning in an existence caught in the mortal coil, where there seems no alternative to the eventual decay of time and age and no respite from the ultimate fate of death we all face. The one way we could perhaps 'turn the tables' on reality is to discover the visionary roots of existence and convey it back to our fellow beings in a redemption of existence that includes us all in the fabric of meaning through love and the fertility of life itself. Perhaps all conscious organisms in the universe experience the apocalyptic condition and the messiah is simply an archetype of the discovery process any one of us could take to the absolute limit and return illuminated with the wisdom to weave the threads of existence into a coherent bundle of life.
The Deeper Origins of Apocalypse
We are all conscious sentient beings and have a huge amount of trouble coming to terms with what the relationship is between our conscious experience, our biological mortality in the natural world around us, and the mystery of being itself, which remains enigmatic, even in the scientific era. Belief in transcendent deities and spirits is an evolutionary feature of human consciousness that has existed for tens to hundreds of thousands of years.
Fulton cave drawing 1000 BC celebrating a San girl's menarche, Drakensberg Mountains, Natal (van der Post).
One of our oldest founding cultures, the San Bushmen, whose genetic history dates back 130,000 years, have a creator deity, a lesser god of misfortune and notions of the afterlife not dissimilar from those in major world religions, although they regard these gods philosophically rather than in fear and supplication:
Gao!na, the !Kung Great God, using one of his seven divine names, created himself: "I am Hishe. I am unknown, a stranger. No one can command me. I am a 'bad' thing. I follow my own path." Then Gao!na created a Lesser God who lives in the western sky where the sun sets; and after this two wives for himself and for the Lesser God. Gao!na, tallest of the Bushmen, was in his earthly existence a great magician and trickster with supernatural powers, capable of assuming the form of an animal, a stone or anything else he wished, and who changed people into animals and brought the dead back to life. But as the Great God who lives beside a huge tree in the eastern sky, he is the source and custodian of all things. He created the earth with holes in it where water could collect and water, the sky and rain both the gentle 'female' rain and the fierce 'male' rain thunder and lightning, the sun, moon, stars and wind. He created all the plants that grow on the earth. He created the animals and painted their individual colours and markings, and gave them all names. Then came human beings, and he put life into them; and gave to them all the weapons and implements they now have, and he implanted in them the knowledge of how to take all these things for themselves. Thus their hunting and gathering way of life was ordained from the very beginning and Gao!na ordained that when they died they should become spirits, //Gerais, who would live in the sky with him and serve him. He set the pattern of life for all things, each in accordance with its own rules.
But the idea of Apocalypse ultimately stems from the beginnings of agricultural civilization, as we emerged from the gatherer-hunter 'paradise', in the fall into the tumult of future shock, with ever more cycles of facing grim reality, as one civilization after another struggled for dominance. In a sense it is woven into our existential condition. A key feature of the apocalyptic epoch is the fact that the entire period has been one of patriarchal domination, in which woman was cursed and social patterns involving the matriarchy and female reproductive choice were violently repressed.
We can see in the Fall from Eden the very origins of apocalypse in Adam and Eve being thrown out into a world of diaspora by the sweat of their labours, in an ongoing contratemps with God, evoking a dysphoric epoch lasting throughout biblical history. The Shekhinah of Jewish mythology, representing the indwelling feminine face of God's presence on Earth in matrimonial concord, was said to have retreated in the Fall, only to return in shards, or 'sparks', which will reunite in the end of days. Although in Genesis 1 woman and man are conceived in the likeness of the 'Elohim - God in the sexually dyadic plural, in Eden, Yahweh (Jehovah) is now a lone (male) God, and Eve is now blamed for parleying with the serpent and persuading Adam to eat with her the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, becoming sexually shy, covering themselves with fig leaves, only to be cast out of Eden with a flaming sword by God, for man to live by the sweat of his brow among thorns and thistles and woman to suffer the pain and travail of childbirth, to be ruled over by her husband and both to go as dust to dust and ashes to ashes in the round of mortal existence. Woman is thus cast as the "Devil's Gateway" in the Christian tradition, along with all the symbols of female reproductive choice as personified in the Great Whore of Babylon ā Inanna-Ishtar.
Woman is cast in Christianity as the devil's gateway, cursed for her own desire to have reproductive choice and the sexual and sensual responses to enable her do so. Here the world is divided between the frigidity of obedient female virtue and the heated lust of the cursed scarlet sinner.
This current of patriarchy opposed to matriarchal traditions is also spelt out in the Pentateuch, where Jacob, the founder of the twelve tribes of Israel spends seven years with the matriarchal family of Laban for each of Rachel and Leah, before departing with his wives and cattle to found a patriarchal dynasty, with Rachel hiding the teraphim, or house Gods of Laban's family, under her menstrual skirts, in a telling portrayal of the women conceding to be complicit in the transition to patriarchy.
This is followed by a severe warning in Judges, that matrilineal patterns were to be violently overthrown by a zealous patriliny. The concubine of Bethlehem-Judah is accused of 'whoring' by going back to live with her father-in-law for four months. When the Levite returns to claim her, the father-in-law keeps saying to stay a little longer. When the couple leave and turn in at Gibeath, and men of Belial ask to 'know the man within', the Levite offers his concubine, who is raped and dies on the doorstep.
Above: The hieros gamos from 10,000 BC through Catal Huyuk 7500 BC to Inanna and Dumuzi in Sumeria 2500 BC represents conjugal fertility. Middle: Bottleneck in human Y-chromosome from 10,000 years ago with the spread of urban agricultural civilizations resulted from an ongoing sex ratio of 1 reproducing man for every 17 women - the extreme polygyny of male elite power with a few high status males controlling female reproductive choice (doi:10.1101/gr.186684.114). Below: The law codes of Sumerian Enmetena/Urukagina, Babylonian Hammurabi and the Assyrians each contain provisions for the repression of female power and reproductive choice. The first said "women speaking out of turn could have their teeth smashed by a brick", the second introduced the death penalty for adultery, and the third enforced veiling for women as well as far more violent punishments than the Babylonians.
To understand the extreme degree to which reproductive patriarchal dominance occurred across widespread cultures of the planet, from 10,000 years ago to the Biblical era (Fielder and King), we only need to turn to emerging genetic research from 2015. Throughout human evolutionary emergence over the last hundred thousand years, some men have had two reproductive partners while others have had none, while every fertile woman can become pregnant leading to a reproductive sex ratio - the number of reproducing females for each reproducing male of two. With the rise of agriculture this ratio rose to seventeen women for each reproducing man, due to the men with power and assets commandeering all the reproductive opportunities through extreme polygyny, supported by subject male military power. The fact that this is observed across a sample of the entire human genome from all continents shows patriarchal dominance became an extreme phenomenon and that monogamy, is a modern invention, although it has operated in mutual mate-choice between couples throughout human emergence, to provide protection and resources for pregnancy and enable human children to reach an age where they can converse and fend for themselves in an extended family, or village community, around the age of four to five, as is increasingly becoming the case with serial monogamy.
The entire apocalyptic paradigm has thus been distorted by motifs of male paternity uncertainty, made explicit in law codes from Sumerian Enmetena and Urukagina, where women speaking out of turn were to have their teeth smashed out with a brick, through Babylonian Hammurabi to the Assyrians, who both veiled their women and allowed all manner of oppression and violence to occur, leading to patriarchal religious traditions invoking the violent repression of female reproductive choice, including stoning in ancient Deuteronomic and continuing Islamic practice, to the subordination, sequestering and enforced veiling of women. It has also led to a highly imbalanced religious cosmology, in which male anxiety about mortality through not giving live birth to the continuity of life, has led to the condemnation of nature, the quest for eternal life, increasingly violent notions of moral punishment, and the notion of cosmological war between dark and light in the manner of a male reproductive contest, central to apocalyptic tumult. Throughout the Old Testament, Yahweh is described as a jealous God, jealous of the whoring of the bride Israel, through the worship of other deities, casting the theme of paternity uncertainty into cosmological proportions. The whole phenomenon of apocalyptic tumult, from the pangs of the messiah to the return of the Mahdi in the Day of Judgment, is thus a distorted product of the male sense of mortality and the endless conflict of male dominant societies upon one another in genocidal war and the rumours of war.
Marduk as civic order, battles the underworld chaos of the old mother goddess Tiamat.
Joseph Campbell in his works on mytho-poetry and comparative religion has expanded the horizon of founding themes shared by major religions into the diverse cultures that preceded them and subtended the collective doctrines they established. Thus we can see precursors of figures such as Jesus in the heroic quests of many earlier culture heroes and demi-Gods, from Tammuz, through Adonis and Dionysus to Melkarth and the struggle of Marduk with Tiamat as an archetype of the war of Dark and Light. These comparisons are grounded in universals of the human condition - awakening a sense of awe before the mystery of being, explaining the nature of the universe and world around us, validating and supporting the existing social order and guiding the individual through the stages of life.
As religions evolved with the cultures that sustained them, a transition occurred from civic deities that stood fairly transparently for the national order, or agricultural deities related to the power of the weather and seasons to more abstract notions of a god acting in history, which wasn't simply represented in iconic form as statues or carvings, which ultimately became cursed as idolatry. Ironically, Christian and particularly Catholic churches, display the most ornate iconography one could imagine. However idolatry was superseded by bibliolatry, which has plagued the three Abrahamic religions ever since, so that today fundamentalists commit grievous crimes against humanity on the basis of ancient revealed scripture.
Ironically the old deities of founding cultures like the San already possessed many of the abstract features, augmented by later major world religions developing a form of transcendent 'protection racket' in which a punishing moral deity, who can see right into your very soul, but remains elusively invisible succeeds in frightening the faithful into more moral forms of behaviour that reduce intra-social strife and strengthen inter-social dominance. Thus the principal power and sheer population size of major world religions stems not form transcendental insight but fearsome moral and frequently physical punishment.
The Christian view of history is an epoch of sinful rebellion against God, extending like a great bow across time, with the Fall from Eden at one end, and Apocalypse in the End of Days at the other. In the centre is Jesus – the arrow of violence in the great bow, hanging from the cross and believed to return in power as the avenging Lord of the Second Coming. Although Revelation portrays a tumult of genocide and the triage of all life, and the "rapture" of Paul paints a picture of leaving the debased nature of the late planet Earth for celestial space, the Tree of Life stands at both ends, protected in the Garden of Eden and entwined around the seat of God and the Lamb in Revelation. The apocalypse of Revelation is also a bridal unveiling in a sacred marriage, in which the bride of the Lamb is the Heavenly Jerusalem, just as Israel was the whoring bride of Jehovah, and as the Song of Songs is the mystical Holy of Holies of the same sacred marriage, more like the metaphorical complementarity of body and soul than a fertile sexual reunion of female and male.
Apocalypse in Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share to varying degrees the apocalyptic vision and sense of prophecy in terms of the Day of Judgment, promulgated by Zoroaster in terms of the victory of Ahura Mazda - light and wisdom over Angra Mainyu - the source of ignorance and confusion. All of these three have adopted the central elements of Zoroaster's cosmology of renovation, taking it for their own in claiming to be the one true religion of God and, in the cases of Christianity and Islam, turning into more inexorable forms of punishment without redemption.
Apocalypticism arose gradually in Hebrew history as a consequence of the cross-transference of ideas. The underworld of the dead of Sheol, which we can still see in passages of the Old Testament, gave way to a heaven and hell and with the exile into Babylon and then the takeover by cyrus the Mede, who is regarded as a messiah anointed for his support of the Jews' return to the 'holy land':
Thus said the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him;
and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut (Isaiah 45:5)
The notion of the Zoroastrian renovation became absorbed into Jewish apocalypticism in works like The Book of Enoch and then into Christian eschatology as well, culminating in the Book of Revelation.
Enoch's "Apocalypse of Weeks" (c 170BC) sets out such a world history with the future climax in the seventh part of the tenth week, but far less gratuitously violent than Revelation:
And after this, in the tenth week in the seventh part,
There shall be the great eternal judgement,
In which He will execute vengeance amongst the angels.
And the first heaven shall depart and pass away,
And a new heaven shall appear,
And all the powers of the heavens shall give sevenfold light.
And after that there will be many weeks without number for ever,
And all shall be in goodness and righteousness,
And sin shall no more be mentioned for ever.
According to Jewish tradition, the messianic era will be one of global harmony, a future era of universal peace and brotherhood on earth, and one conducive to the furtherment of the knowledge of God. Although Judaism concentrates on the importance of the Earthly world, all of classical Judaism posits an afterlife - the "world to come", עולם הבא, related to Gan Eden, the Heavenly Garden of Eden, and Gehenna its dark opposite. According to religious Judaism, any non-Jew who lives according to the Seven Laws of Noah is regarded as a righteous gentile, and is assured of a place in the world to come, the final reward of the righteous.
Resurrection of the dead, fresco from the
In Judaism, beliefs vary about a last day of judgment for all mankind. Some rabbis hold that there will be such a day following the resurrection of the dead. Others hold that this accounting and judgment happens when one dies. Still others hold that the last judgment only applies to the nations and not the Jewish people. In Rabbinical literature for example we find the following:
The Messianic age is when the Jews will regain their independence and all return to the land of Israel. The Messiah will be a very great king, he will achieve great fame, and his reputation among the gentile nations will be even greater than that of King Solomon. His great righteousness and the wonders that he will bring about will cause all peoples to make peace with him and all lands to serve him.... Nothing will change in the Messianic age, however, except that Jews will regain their independence.
Nevertheless Zechariah (520-518 BC) does have an apocalyptic climax, anticipating the triages and tumults of Revelation in the Christian tradition:
And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God. É And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south (Zech 13-14).
Christianity, cast in the apocalyptic traditions of John the Baptist and the desert Essenes, adopted a fully fledged End of Days with Jesus claiming in the synoptic gospels and John to challenge the devil in a final confrontation, through which he would come to return in power at the right hand of God. The siege of Jerusalem, the Jewish diaspora and the depravities of the Roman emperors subsequently sublimed this picture into a view of world history in which Christ would return as the Lord and conqueror of evil in the Millennium and the Day of Judgment. Despite the failure of this entire concept over two millennia in the absence of the Lord's return the spectre of apocalyptic victory remains in tumult and conflict remains integral to Christian eschatology.
Pivotal to our concept of apocalypse is the Revelation of John, the culminating chapter of the Christian bible. It is the most extraordinary book of eschatological religious vision ever written. It is literally bursting with tumultuous battles and cataclysms, from the beasts of belial, to the avenging Lord, amid tumult and destruction, resulting in the triage of all life and impossibly a triage of the Sun, Moon and stars:
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. É And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. (Rev 8). And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths (Rev 9).
Later we see the pregnant woman clothed with the Sun standing on the Moon, who is an apotheosis of the Queen of Heaven, Inanna-Ishtar but also identified by Christians with Mary. Her boy-child, the warlord-to-come, is attacked by a dragon, and taken up to God, precipitating the war in heaven:
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne (Rev 12).
The woman clothed with the sun and the dragon (William Blake).
On the other side of the cosmic battle we find the great whore of Babylon, the dark manifestation of the same Inanna-Ishtar Goddess figure:
I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, "mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the Earth". And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration (Rev 17).
The cosmic Christ appears as an utterly feudal dictator-Lord of mass destruction:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God (Rev 19).
Unmitigated death and destruction is cast on the unbelievers:
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. É And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. É And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh (Rev 19).
As gratuitous violence, Revelation reigns supreme, but as a model for planetary apocalypse, it is profoundly dangerous, deceptive and misleading - an unmitigated disaster. Yet it contains two pivotal elements – the Tree of Life entwined around the throne of the Lamb, giving its Twelve monthly fruit for the healing of the nations – and the notion of the sacred marriage, or hieros gamos.
However the sacred marriage here is not that of the true fertility between woman and man that generates the passage of the living generations, but in the corrupted form of the Lamb and the Heavenly Jerusalem, Christ and his Church, falling in the shadow of the dysfunctional marital relationship of Jehovah and the whoring bride Israel, whose ultimate Holy of Holies is sequestered in the metaphor of unrequited love in the Song of Songs:
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready (Rev 19). And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. É And there came unto me one of the seven angels É and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife (Rev 21).
Finally we come to the Tree of Life itself, hidden since the foundation of the world in Eden, still beckoning to our living futures:
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (Rev 21).
The feeling of the covers being thrown off reality is well-captured by Paul of Tarsus in 1 Corinthians: βλέ¹ομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι' ἐσό¹τρου ἐν αἰνίγματι - "For now we see through a glass, darkly."
When I was a child, I spake as a child,
I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face:
now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
The implication is that in the current epoch we act like children and cannot see the essential nature of reality, but in the unveiling we will come of age and see reality intimately as it actually is.
The Zoroastrian and the Muslim Day of Judgment derived from it contain the same motifs, including a razor-thin bridge the human souls have to cross and a welcoming heavenly maiden. Although both contain fiery torments, the Zoroastrian version has more emphasis on cleansing of ignorance rather than eternal damnation.
Despite absorbing the prophetic figures of the Jewish tradition, from Adam, through Moses to Solomon, and the Deuteronomic diabolical punishments of stoning for adultery, discontinued centuries before by the Jews, Islam has taken up the Christian and Zoroastrian notions of the Day of Judgment as a moral punishment cosmology, central to the ideas of violent martyrdom, in which one will see the face of al-Llah and be entertained by black eyed virgins made anew every day in paradise:
Surely those who guard (against evil) are in a secure place, In gardens and springs;
They shall wear of fine and thick silk, (sitting) face to face;
Thus (shall it be), and We will wed them with houris - pure, beautiful ones (44:51).
Conscious life is described as a mere shadow of the events on the Day of Judgment:
O mankind! Have fear of your Lord and fear that Day when no father shall avail his son nor a son his father. Surely the promise of Allah is true. Let not the life of this world deceive you, nor let the Deceiver (Satan) deceive you concerning Allah. Surely Allah Alone has the knowledge of the Hour (31:33).
Jesus is also a central actor in the Day of Resurrection:
And there is not one of the followers of the Book but most certainly believes in this before his death,
and on the day of resurrection he (Isa) shall be a witness against them (4:159).
He (Isa) is surely a knowledge of the hour. ... And when Isa came with clear arguments he said:
I have come to you indeed with wisdom, and that I may make clear to you part of what you differ in (43:61).
There are also clear indications of the Zoroastrian Judgment woven into the Quranic account. The Chinvat Bridge is likewise in the Quran, and even more explicitly in the hadith, as the Sirat Bridge, which is sharper than the edge of sword and thinner than a hair:
We will call them to account in the company of all their Satans and set them on their knees around the Fire of Hell; then from every sect. We will certainly drag out its stoutest rebels against the Compassionate (Allah). Certainly We know best who deserves most to be burned therein. There is not a single one of you, who shall not pass over it [the Sirat Bridge], this absolute decree of your Lord is unavoidable; then We will deliver those who were pious and leave the wrongdoers therein humbled on their knees (19:68).
In a description reminiscent of Revelation, the angel Israfil [the Burning One] will sound the trumpet and all living creatures, mankind, angels and jinn then living, will die. Another blast and all will be raised to life. Allah's throne will appear in the clouds, carried by eight angels. Believers will receive a book of their deeds in their right hand, and unbelievers their left hand. The books will be opened and men's works weighed on scales (mizan) as in the Zoroastrian description. In fear, men will look for someone to plead with Allah. They will go to Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, but find no help. At last they will turn to Muhammad and Allah will judge, as in the Earthquake:
When the earth will be shaken to her utmost convulsion, and the earth shall bring out all her inner burdens, man shall say: "What is happening to her?" On that Day she shall report whatever had happened on her, for your Lord shall have commanded her to do so. On that Day men shall proceed in sorted out groups to be shown their ŌBook of Deeds.Õ Then, whoever has done an atomÕs weight of good shall see it there, and whoever has done an atomÕs weight of evil shall see it there (99:1).
The Quranic Day of Resurrection also has signs in the form of an eclipse:
"When will this Day of Resurrection be?" Well, it will come when the sight shall be dazed,
the moon becomes dark, and the sun and the moon are brought together (75:6).
Consistent with Revelation's astronomical triages we witness the splitting of the Moon, although this supposed astronomical calamity has little enough effect on the Earth for the unbelievers to think it a mere magic trick:
The hour drew nigh and the moon did rend asunder.
And if they see a miracle they turn aside and say: Transient magic.
And they call (it) a lie, and follow their low desires (54:1).
This is consistent with an archaic view of the heavens in the Quran as a firmament with lamps erected on it, as in the original sabbatical creation of Genesis 1:
Blessed is the One Who has decked the sky with constellations and placed in it a lamp and a shining moon (25:61).
Paradoxes of Parousia
Christians remain just as transfixed in their belief of the return of Christ, despite the second millennium having passed without any signs of the four horsemen of Revelation's apocalypse appearing. This itself is an unbelievable situation, because Jesus, according to the gospels, made specific statements that his return would be in the lifetimes of those present during his own life, although he entreated them to be ever ready:
Jesus said unto them, 'Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power" (Mark 9).
And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not (Luke 12).
In Luke Jesus invokes a full apocalyptic spectacle of the pangs of the messiah, insisting it will come in the same generation:
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth (Luke 21).
Jesus was a unique creative genius who brought together the currents of Pharisaic Judaism of the time, with the more firebrand end-of-days vision of John the Baptist's followers and the Qumran community, complementing them with other more feminine elements of nature religion, reaching a cultural climax at the time in neighbouring Nabatea, otherwise referred to as Edom in the Bible.
Moon and Sun deities surmounted by the Eagle. Al-Uzza as Moon Goddess commands the Zodiac surmounted by the moon and carrying a moon staff. The temple of Manatu at Petra. Dionysian tragic mask with dolphins. Grape freeze (centre). Coinage of Aretas IV King of the Nabataeans, Friend of his People and Shaqilat II in joint reign in the time of Jesus (Glueck).
Nature religion motifs abound. Jesus was anointed to his sacrificial doom by a woman who is variously claimed to be a sinner, or Mary Magdalene, out of whom he cast seven devils ā the Galla of Inanna , whom Gnostic tradition claims was also his lover. He was ministered unto by the women "out of their substance". John the Baptist was likewise sacrificed in a beheading in a dance of the seven veils - an enaction of the Descent of Inanna after which Dumuzi (Tammuz in the Bible) is sacrificed - at the behest of Herodias when her daughter Salome danced to delight the generals who were defending Machaerus at the border, because Herod Antipas had insulted the Nabateans by divorcing the Princess of Nabatea, who had had to flee in fear of her life. Herod had then taken as wife Herodias, his cousin and wife of his brother Herod II (Philip), as decried by John, precipitating his ritual demise. This theme occurs likewise in the sacrifice of Haman in Esther (Ishtar) in saving Mordechai (Marduk), having persuaded her husband King Ahasuerus to offer 'half his kingdom', just as Herod did at Machaerus. Jesus crying "Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthanei" on the Cross is likewise a reference to the cry of Mot, the Canaanite God of the sterile season to his father El, when defeated by Ba'al the God of rain and fertility who has now become El's favourite in the spring, aided by Anath.
Jesus adopts a miraculous style of faith healing characteristic of Dionysus and his Nabatean reincarnation Dhushara, whose tragic mask gave the gift of immortal life. Jesus' water into wine and nature miracles are classic Dionysian fare, as was the carefully staged passion play, with the palm king and turning the tables, leading up to the Crucifixion (Schonfield). The Talmud referred to Jesus as "Balaam the Lame" specifically stating his acts as being in the traditions of Edom. His lameness is indirectly acknowledged in his own statement " Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself" at the synagogue, before he was nearly thrown off the cliffs for blasphemy.
When one comes up close to his miraculous acts, they become harder to realize, indicating they thrived on distance and rumour, rather than the harsh light of day:
'A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.' And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief" (Mark 6).
His brethren said: 'If thou do these things, shew thyself
to the world.' For neither did his brethren believe in him.
Then Jesus said unto them, 'My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. (John 7)
The same applies to the vision of the disciples crossing Genessaret, because it states clearly that they didn't believe in the 'miracle' of dividing the loaves, even though they were present:
For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened (Mark 6).
The walking on water is again classic Dionysian fare, as the miraculous god of storm and darkness.
Nevertheless Jesus was a genius who presented two conflicting personalities in the Gnostic and Synoptic versions of his account.
The Synoptics have him saying "Whom do men say that I am?", with Peter replying that he is the (anointed) Christ Messiah:
"Whom do men say that I am?" And they answered, "John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets". And he saith unto them, "But whom say ye that I am?" And Peter answereth and saith unto him, "Thou art the Christ" (Mark 18).
But the Gospel of Thomas (Pagels 2003), which contains several foundation sayings in older form than the synoptics, has Jesus say he was not their master:
"Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like." Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a righteous angel." Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher." Thomas said to him, "Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like." Jesus said, "I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out" (Thomas 13).
Likewise his vision of the Kingdom in Thomas is far from an apocalyptic late planet Earth rapture:
His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?" Jesus said, "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'here it is' or 'there it is'. Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it" (Thomas 113).
If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you (Thomas 3).
Left: a figure believed to be one of the earliest representations of Jesus discovered in 2014 in a buried underground crypt in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus. Right: An Oxyrhynchus papyrus of the Gospel of Thomas.
The date of writing of The Gospel of Didymos Judas Thomas, is considered to be between 40 and 140 AD, with the core sayings coming earlier than the completed work. Thomas Didymos, meaning "twin" in Aramaic, was considered to be a twin brother of Jesus, so his word should hold good. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri date to between 130 and 250 AD. By comparison, Mark was probably written around 66-70 AD, during Nero's persecution of the Christians in Rome or the Jewish revolt, as suggested by internal references to war in Judea and to persecution, and a fragment found in a mummy is claimed to date before AD 90. Luke dates to 80-100 AD and John reached its final form about 90-100 AD. This effectively dates Thomas before John because the "doubting Thomas" passage is a clear reference to the more firebrand Gnostic position of the author of John disputing the more accommodating Gnostic sayings of Thomas and his following, which were already in circulation:
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus cameÉ And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: [then] came Jesus É Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God (John 20).
However Saul of Tarsus who on the road to Damascus within a few years of the Crucifixion had a born-again experience of the resurrected Jesus, became blinded for three days and set out on a life-journey redefining the nature of Christianity, from the narrow vehicle of the Desposyni and the Hebrew church of James the Just, into a Hellenistic religion of the risen Christ that would sweep through and engulf the entire pagan world, unashamedly adopting many of its beliefs and practices in the process. One can see his huge influence on Christian theology by the fact that fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament are attributed to him.
This religion is completely different from that of the mission of Jesus in its diverse gnostic and synoptic emphases. As Rosemary Radford Ruether in "Gaia & God" notes: "New Testament and early Christian cosmological Christology built on theologies of cosmogenesis in Oriental Hellenism, particularly as these had already been assimilated into Hellenistic Judaism. The mediation of these ideas through Judaism allowed Christians to assimilate ideas of Hellenistic philosophy, while 'denying' their pagan origins. É Christianity also took over from Judaism an ideology of religious 'purism' over against paganism as 'false religion'. This dualism still shapes Christian self-understanding causing it to obscure and deny its actual syncretistic reality".
"The cosmos is seen as originating in a transcendent divine being, who is the source of all things. This divine being brings forth from 'himself', a perfect 'image' and self-expression, in which the intellectual essences of all things are contained. This second God is then identified with the Demiurgos, who shapes the cosmos form the intellectual 'blueprint' contained in 'his' own mind. The world soul, in turn expresses this divine Logos in immanent form as the sustaining power of the cosmos. Human souls are seen as partaking in the substance of this world soul or immanent Logos of the cosmos."
This picture was used first in Jewish Wisdom literature as divine Wisdom, a secondary manifestation of the Creator God and in a more elaborate way by Philo, in which each human soul reflects the divine Logos.
The term Christ originally referred to the anointed one or Messiah, appearing at the end of world history to destroy the forces of evil and renovate the epoch. In Jewish thought there was no identification of the messiah with cosmogenesis, nor is it in the synpotic Gospels, but when we come to the more speculative works of Paul we this has been put together into a unified vision of the beginning and end of all things.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven (Coloss 1).
The Logos-Christ is seen one unifying figure in both creation and redemption as the manifestation of God, the immanent presence of God that creates and sustains the universe and the divine power remanifest at the end of time, healing the enmity that has divided the cosmos and reconciling the cosmos to God. The divine person encountered in Jesus is thereby identified with this Logos-Christ. His redemptive act 'through the blood of the cross' is seen as the paradigmatic manifestation of one and the same divine being of the beginning and end of all things. – "So that God may be all in all" (1 Cor).
Jewish thought originally saw humans as essentially mortal. Redemption was a fulfilled, blessed existence on earth within mortal limits. Greek thought, by contrast saw the relation of God and cosmos as emanational. Classical Christianity presented several efforts to unify these disparate worldviews. In the Hebrew view, the body was essential for the wholeness of existence and the resurrection of the body was intrinsic to salvation. At the same time in the Platonic mould, the transience and mortality of material existence was evil, leading to the notion of a pure immortal spiritual body created of the soul. Christians shared the Hellenistic view that the whole cosmos was alive. Even animals and plants had animal and vegetative soul.
While some Gnostics saw nature and the material world as fundamentally evil and flawed and rejected the body, others, such as the Valentinians saw gnosis as a state of knowing, or wisdom, in which simple moral imperatives became superfluous and ignorance rather than sin was the cause of the Fall from grace.
They adopted a complex partially inverted Platonic model of the universe. Elaine Pagels (1979 79) notes that some concluded that the God of Israel ... was merely instrumental power whom the Mother, or the Father Anthropos, had created. "They say that he believed that he had made everything by himself, but that, in reality, he had created the world because Wisdom, his Mother, 'infused him with energy' and implanted into him her own ideas. ... 'It was because he was foolish and ignorant of his Mother that he said, 'I am God; there is none beside me'. According to another account, the creator caused his Mother to grieve by creating inferior beings, so she left him alone and withdrew into the upper regions of the heavens".
"According to the Hypostasis of the Archons, ... both the mother and her daughter objected when he [said], 'It is I who am God, and there is no other apart from me.' ... And a voice came forth from above the realm of absolute power, saying, 'You are wrong, Samael' ['god of the blind']. And he said, 'If any other thing exists before me, let it appear to me!' And immediately, Sophia ('Wisdom') stretched forth her finger, and introduced light into matter, and she followed it down into the region of Chaos.... And he again said to his offspring, 'It is I who am the God of All.' And Life, the daughter of Wisdom, cried out; she said to him, 'You are wrong, Saklas!' " (Pagels 1979 79).
Ildabaoth, becoming arrogant in spirit boasted himself above all those who were below him and explained "I am father and God and above me there is no one" his mother hearing him speak thus cried out against him 'Do not lie Ildabaoth for the father of all, the primal Anthropos is above you and so is Anthropos, the son of Anthropos (Pagels 1979 133).
Irenaeus, in his refutation of the Gnostic rejection of the body, in favour of the resurrection, notes:
But indeed vain are they who despise the entire dispensation of God and disallow the salvation of the flesh, and treat with contempt its regeneration, maintaining that it is not capable of incorruption. But if this indeed does not attain salvation, then neither did the Lord redeem us with his blood, nor is the cup of the Eucharist the communion of his blood, nor is the bread we break the communion of his body.
But since salvation requires transcending mortality, the only way one can think about redemption is that by being infused with immortal life of the divine, it will overcome its mortality. This redemption of creation following the apocalyptic tradition involves firstly a millennium of paradise: And they shall come and rejoice in Mount Zion, and shall continue to come to what is good, and into a land of wheat and wine and fruits, of animals and of sheep that their soul shall be as a tree bearing fruit and they shall hunger no more. Then the whole cosmos will be transformed into a 'new heaven and earth' immortalized and united with the divine life of God, fulfilling the promise of the original creation.
This effort to incorporate Hebraic earthly blessedness into eternal salvation was dropped by mainline Christianity after the third century. Christ is seen as establishing his millennial reign through the political power of the church and Christian rulers, but this has no effect on the renewal of nature nor does it bring forth a new era of justice between humans. The distance between God and humans could now only be bridged by divine revelation, not by any 'natural' speculative or mystical capacities of humans. We can also see that, since the Fall, mortality has been inextricably connected with the moral notion of sin.
Although the Renaissance brought about a revival of cosmological mysticism and idealism such as that of the Jewish philosopher Spinoza who conceived of God as natura naturans, the underlying from which arose the physical world and the human mind, along with others such as Fichte and Schelling, the wild pony of human inventveness had by now escaped the confines of religious tradition.
The Christian church was originally conceived as a steward to guard the Earth until the immanent return of the Lord, not to assume perpetual power. For the first few centuries this remained a feverish belief, with Christians such as Perpetua, whose sad tale is recounted in Elaine Pagels' "Adam and Eve and the Serpent", determined to face annihilation rather than repent their beliefs, in the conviction that they were facing an immanent end of days anyway. But the Second Coming never arrived. By 313 Constantine had in one fell swoop converted a religion of refugee zealots into the state religion of Rome and Christianity continued a chequered career of domination through Crusade and Inquisition until the Renaissance and Age of Enlightenment toppled it from exclusive temporal power in Europe. The Christian church now continues in perpetuity in violation of its founding principle.
The Empty Vessel and the Visionary Feast
Despite its pretensions to brotherly love and forgiveness and to be the true religion of the only begotten Son of God, Christianity suffers from a rot of confusion at the very core of its being that stems from the very apocalyptic vision it is founded on. While Judaism is a fundamentally covenantal religion of the continuity of life - to be fruitful and multiply, Christianity is a sacramental religion (Ruether) of death in which the inner sanctum Holy of Holies is the Eucharist - drinking Christ's blood and eating his flesh – the soma and sangre – in remembrance of his crucifixion. This classes Christianity not just as a religion of human sacrifice like the Aztecs, or cannibalism like the Maori, but one of cosmic deicide – without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.
Christian versus Aztec blood sacrifice. Left: The Dream of Mary (Christoforo Simone dei Crocefissi) Sacrificial blood streams from her Tree of Calvary (the place of the skull). Right: Tree of the Middle Place Blood mother of the corn from the place of the skulls. While Mary dreams of the sacrificed Jesus, the blood mother is sacrificed to the harvest. At the crown of each is a bird - a Christian pelican picking its flesh for blood and a quetzal sometimes holding a snake to symbol regeneration (Campbell). The Aztecs saw great similarities between the Crucifixion and Eucharist and their own forms of human sacrifice.
This in turn comes from the utterly violent fact that Jesus is a figure of primary homicide in a purported crime against the entire universe, crucified by the Romans and accused of blasphemy by the High Priests in the enactment of a diabolical ritual sacrifice, including the setting at naught of the sacred king, cursing the women of Jerusalem and the plaintive cries to El on the cross. But this is only the beginning of the contradiction, because it is Abba himself who has ordained this sacrifice.
This is a situation whipped up by Jesus himself in the conviction that there is an active dark force of evil in the world extending far beyond mere human fallibility, where God and the devil are as complementary as day is to night. The synoptic gospels clearly say that Jesus effectively preordained this violent fate as an orchestrated collision with the devil, who had tempted him to cast himself down from the pinnacles of the temple:
And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (Luke 4).
In John, Jesus passes the sop to Judas Iscariot, effectively instructing Judas to betray him to the Romans in a death pact:
When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. ... He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon (John 13).
Judas then returns the pieces of silver in a ritual reenactment of Zechariah's apocalypse, although he is effectively carrying out Jesus' instructions for the "Passover Plot" (Schonfield). To take the contradiction to it's cosmological conclusion, although the Jews have been blamed and sometimes violently punished by Christians ever since, we are then asked to believe that this entire spectacle is actually God sacrificing his only begotten Son so all who might believe in him shall have everlasting life in the apocalypse.
This is the tragic flaw in the entire conception. Why would a God of creation that made the scented wildflowers, or the lilies of the field as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, and the dappled forests, and all the creatures that run, swim and fly, and human beings full of a spectrum of emotions, from love to hate, and a stringent desire for personal autonomy, reduce the entire universe to a sacrificial filicide to save humans from the wayward ways, that He had Himself created; to avoid a damnation that He Himself had set in motion? This is a completely flawed cosmology, little better than the Aztecs thinking they had to sacrifice 12,000 men, women and children to keep the Sun on course in the heavens. A God called the loving Father Abba who chooses to have his own son tortured and killed as high noon with the dark forces to redeem us from sin is a Neolithic throwback to blood sacrifice to ensure the fertility of the agricultural harvest. We donÕt need to invoke death to invoke life. We donÕt need cosmological homicide to have our sins forgiven. Fertility and birth itself are the antidotes to the mortal condition, not filicide, or human, or transcendental homicide in the name of eternal life.
Panorama of the Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Cemetery of the Resurrected, and the Gates of Mercy filled with rubble by the Muslims to try to prevent the messiah's return.
And this explains ultimately why Christianity never took root in the Holy Land, although a small Jewish Christian following sprang up at the time. By contrast, end of days Christianity spread like wild fire across the pagan world because the idea of the heroic sacrificed demi-god as a world-savior was deeply embedded in the pagan psyche. From there its spread to a particularly decadent Rome, where Christians preferred torture and death to acknowledging Roman gods in the conviction that the end of days were at imminently at hand, until Constantine turned the tables and made the world's greatest pagan religion of the time the state religion of Rome and Christianity took on its alter ego of homicidal violence in the form of the Crusades and Inquisition. The consequence is that Christianity is a tale of a miraculous hero far off in another day and age, where all measures of credibility evaporate into the sunset, where Jerusalem itself is a fantasy ground, which only a few Christians ever visit.
Jerusalem today is a living manifestation of this contradiction. While orthodox Jews and Muslims make the life-blood of the city amid incipient violence over the temple mount, Christianity hangs on in a slowly mouldering attrition in a bunch of stations of the cross, the golden onion-topped Orthodox church above the Garden of Gethsemane and the Holy Sepulchre Church, where a bunch of Armenian and Greek Christian priests have regular punch-ups over territorial disputes, while Christian tourists visit the attractions on oogle-eyed day trips to witness the scattered 'relics' of a gruesome homicide two millennia ago that means little other than shekels to the realities of the city today.
This brings us to the essential emptiness of the sacrament. The Eucharist is not only a diabolical celebration of homicide and suffering, it is an empty sacrament. The Jewish covenant is a verifiable contract for the good life. The Eucharist is a blood-stained fallacy.
But this isnÕt necessarily the end of the matter. Religions, particularly those who spread across far-flung continents have a capacity to evolve and adapt themselves to the cultures and visionary experiences of the new places they take root, so maybe it is actually possible to redeem a deeply flawed tradition through natural processes. Could Christianity, which is one of the two dominant world religions, adapt itself to a planetary life in a closing circle in which nature is respected as sacred and protecting the passage of the generations of life – cherishing the Earth and replenishing it – is the ongoing perpetual raison d'tre?
Through the vagaries of natural evolution, the vast majority of the natural visionary sacraments have found themselves in the diverse ecosystems of the Americas, rather than the arid desert climates of the Middle East. Despite centuries of repression by the conquistadores the sacred mushroom and peyote have survived and adopted new forms of reverence, including Christian as well as pre-Colombian elements, both giving new expression to first-person mystical vision and bringing a major world religion back closer to its ancient shamanic roots in the vision quest.
Dimensions of visionary sacrament use of sacred mushrooms, peyote and ayahuasca, all of which use Christian, as well as native, shamanic motifs. Top row: Maria Sabina in reverie and handing sacred mushrooms to Gordon Wasson, Psilocybe cubensis, a sacred mushroom stone (1000 BC) with grinding metate, psilocin from the sacred mushroom, harmine and dimethyltryptamine, active principles in Amazonian ayahuasca – Vine of the Soul, and mescalin active in peyote. Second row Tellus (Goodmorning) Ramona, my Native American Church roadman, a sacred deer from Monte Alban with peyote in its mouth (500 BC) the nierika or cosmic portal to the spirit world of the Huichols opened by peyote, Don Jose Matsuwa the famous Huichol elder, peyote (Lophophora williamsii) and Senor Trinico, my ayahuasca shaman from Yarinacocha lagoon Pucallpa. Bottom row: Chacruna (Psychotria viridis) and the ayahuasca vine (Bannisteriopsis caapi). Scene at an ayahuasca-taking Union Vegetale church in Brazil and a painting of a jungle ayahuasca vision session " Fighting Through Tikunas" by Pablo Amaringo.
I have fully researched and experienced the visionary species and substances in Natural psychedelics: Solving the central Enigma of Existential Cosmology, Entheogens, the Conscious Brain and Existential Reality" and "Twelve Sacred Plants".Sacred mushrooms have been used for over 3000 years in Mexico. They were repressed by the conquistadores so effectively that all current trace of them disappeared from the record.
Friar Sahagun, one of the first conquistadors to chronicle teonanacatl, or flesh of the gods, remarked of the Aztec mushroom eaters 'when they become excited by them start dancing, singing, weeping. Some do not want to sing but sit down and see themselves dying in a vision; others see themselves being eaten by a wild beast; others imagine they are capturing prisoners of war, that they are rich, that they possess many slaves, that they have committed adultery and were to have their heads crushed for the offence . . . and when the drunken state had passed, they talk over amongst themselves the visions they have seen' (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 146).
Then in 1953, Gordon Wasson, at the encouragement of Robert Graves, made an expedition to Huautla de Jiminez and, after several false starts, persuaded Maria Sabina after she had had a vision of his arrival, to perform an all-night velada for his expedition. As a result of revealing the secret, her house was burned down and one of her sons killed. Gordon went on to describe it in terms of Pentecost:
"One can imagine the many trembling confabulations of the friars as they would whisper together how to meet this Satanic enemy. The teonanactl struck at the heart of the Christian religion. I need hardly remind my readers of the parallel, the designation of the Elements in our Eucharist 'Take, eat this is my Body ...' and again "Grant us therefore my gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son ... and to drink His blood ' But the orthodox Christian must accept on faith the miracle of the conversion of the bread and wine into God's flesh and blood: that is what is meant by the Doctrine of Transubstantiation. By contrast the sacred mushroom of the Nahua carries its own conviction: every communicant will testify to the miracle that he has experienced (Furst 191)
"geometric patterns, angular not circular in richest colours, such as night adorn textiles or carpets. Then the patterns grew into architectural structures with collonades and architraves, patios of regal splendour, the stone work all in brilliant colours, gold and onyx and ebony, all most harmoniously and ingeniously contrived, in richest magnificence extending beyond the reach of sight, in vistas measureless to man ... They seemed to belong... to the imaginary architecture described by the visionaries of the Bible"... "The spirit of the agape of which we have already spoken was a prelude to a wave of generous tender feelings that the mushroom aroused in everyone ... Twice in the course of the night the Senora reached out her right hand to me and sought contact with my fingers in friendly greeting, across the chasm of the language barrier." (Riedlinger 1996 30-34).
Maria Sabina herself personifies both Christian and Mazatec elements in her chanting:
"Says, woman who
thunders am I,
woman who sounds am I.
Spiderwoman am I, says
hummingbird woman am I says
Eagle woman am I, says
important eagle woman am I.
Whirling woman of the whirlwind am I, says
woman of a sacred, enchanted place am I, says
Woman of the shooting stars am I." ...
I'm a birth woman, says
I'm a victorious woman, says
I'm a law woman, says
I'm a thought woman, says
I'm a life woman, says ...
"I am a spirit woman, says
I am a crying woman, says
I am Jesus Christ, says ...
I'm the heart of the virgin Mary."
The Native American church also has a series of accounts relating peyote to Jesus:
"God told the Delawares to do good even before
He sent Christ to the whites who killed him ...
God made Peyote. It is His power.
It is the power of Jesus.
Jesus came afterwards on this earth, after peyote."
There's a cloud; something coming. That's a man coming this way, with a buckskin suit on; he got long hair. He come right straight for him; it's Jesus himself. So he told this boy, "Well, one time you was crying, and your prayers were answered that time. So I come here. I'm not supposed to come; I said I wasn't going to come before two thousand years," he said. "But we're going to bring you something, so you can take care of your people É we're going to give you that power to do it." So they went up a hill there. There's a tipi there, all ready. So Christ, before he went in it, offered a prayer. So they went in there. Then he showed him the [ritual] ways; the medicine, how to use it, he gave him the songs. Whoever takes this medicine, he will do it in my name." (Anderson 23).
The shamanic use of ayahuasca has likewise been reformed into a modern religious movement Union of the Vegetal to "remember past lives and to understand the true meaning of reincarnation as well as to become familiar with the origin and the real destiny of nature and of man". The Union Vegetale is a nominally Christian movement to experience inner harmony through partaking of ayahuasca tea. A fortnightly meeting is held by the movement, which includes members of both sexes from all walks of life. The Celebrants sit for 4 to 6 hours in the church meeting hall in contemplation, music and speeches.
Modern scientific studies using psilocybin on subjects with no prior history of drug consumption consistently demonstrate that the participants have genuine religious and spiritual experiences, confirmed to be of continuing value months or years later, and provide those facing a terminal condition with a sense of personal realization and respite from their fear of death (Griffiths et al.).
All these practices are very different from the orthodoxy of a priest who acts as a moral arbiter and exerts the doctrine of the religion as a prescriptive sine qua non. Here each participant is directly in contact with spiritual or mystical experiences first hand and the roadman acts merely as a guide to ensure safe passage for all the voyagers. This is as different from a conventional orthodox church service as Christianity is from Judaism, yet those who partake see it as a palpable real tradition, no longer seeing through a glass darkly, by virtue of the priesthood and scripture, but now face to face.
Although it is likely only a minority of people would choose to engage such a demanding mystical experience, the epoptea was just such an inner-sanctum rite of passage in Greek religion. It would serve to transform Christianity from a contrived religion based on human sacrifice, into a movement where the participants are themselves the agents of world redemption, just as it is above all the people of the Jewish religion who maintain its ongoing fertility and fecundity, despite a belief in the one God. This would also bring religion closer into the ethic of the pursuit of knowledge embraced by science and the Eastern meditative traditions, because it is a veridical quest to discover the inner nature of conscious experience, by sifting the chaff of fantasy and delusion from the wheat of mystical insight and illumination. In such a movement there is no place for cult leaders with utopian pretensions, because it is a democracy of mystical insight which all can participate in.
The ultimate solution for Christianity is for it to become transformed into the way or Tao of the Tree of Life, (see later) a covenantal religion vouchsafing to cherish and replenish the living planet and facilitate the enlightenment of all sentient beings, with the sacramental following forming a minority inner sanctum rite of passage for those who choose to partake it.
Unveiling the Sacred Reunion under the banner of the Tree of Life
This work contains some 'hard sayings' about what my exact role in this process is, so I need to explain this at the outset to keep the record straight. In 1999 - 2000 I made a vigil to the Amazon, to Rome and to Jerusalem for the millennium on an avowedly messianic quest to consummate the apocalyptic epoch in opening the immortal epoch of the Tree of Life in the sacred reunion of woman and man, to establish a sustainable paradigm of living diversity in the place of tumult, genocide and the triage of life. To do this I set out in the same way Jesus did, to provoke a tectonic sea change, by pronouncing certain key rites of passage attuned to unravel the Gordian Knot of existence. On Millennium Eve Jane King and I accompanied by many others in an all-night celebration, re-pronounced the self-anointing 'Jubilee' passage from Isaiah, which Jesus pronounced in the synagogue at Nazareth and was almost thrown off the cliffs for so doing. However this time we pronounced it as a woman and man together and in the names of both Gaia and God, "as the garden causes the things that are sewn in it to spring forth", invoking the re-paradising of the planet in "renewing the old wastes".
This was not an attempt to assume the personality of Jesus, who has his own tortured history to answer for, but to be an innovator, just as he was a brilliant innovator, however this time to heal the epoch of violence in evoking an epoch of long-term future goodness - the actual task the figurative messiah is intended to achieve. I am not assuming the role of a religious leader, but acting to use natural and cosmological wisdom, as a liberator of religious bondage (re-ligare is 'to bind fast'), to set humanity free from religious compulsion, so we can fulfill our destiny as planetary guardians of the immortal tree of life. This is not to initiate another religious movement, but to reveal the raison d'etre of existence - to cherish and replenish the Earth in resplendence throughout the generations of the diversity of life - the one cosmological lesson that makes sense of the human condition, to consummate and culminate the paradigm of apocalyptic violence in closing the circle of planetary responsibility. Thus my role terminates, as it begins, with the creative outcome to be for the ingenuity of humanity to conceive and elaborate in freedom and responsibility. One key act central to my calling, which you will find in the abrogation section, is to unpronounce the religious passages that have been used to justify violence and cruel and unusual punishments against people and particularly women in the name of God. These have been elevated, through bibliolatry, to a status where they cannot be challenged, as revealed statements that no ordinary human being can question, so it takes a person with transformative credentials to set the record straight.
All this might have all quietly evaporated away, had not fate intervened in a surprising way.. After making my small contribution to the world in Jerusalem, I exited the religious traditions, returning quietly to my academic position, researching diverse fields from biogenesis to reproductive conflicts in human emergence, leading to the work "Sexual Paradox" with my partner Christine, before slinking into a quiet retirement, researching cutting-edge scientific advances, from quantum entanglement to genetic evolution of the Tree of Life and writing diverse articles on sexuality, culture and religion, as noted in the references. However, in September 2015 I had a cycle accident, in which I was knocked out, was then severely concussed and somehow found my way across town in the dark covered in blood, with no memory of how I had got back, or for several hours, even how I had become so injured.
Pretty quickly I realized that I didn't have any signs of brain damage, but I had had a pivotal near death experience, which had caused me to wake psychically bolt upright. The mysterium tremendum had picked me up and shaken me and said "Chris - you were going to let your responsibilities to do the good thing for the world that only you had the chance to do in your life time slip away - but for this reason did you come into the world, that you should bear witness to the truth" - leading directly to this article, to the birthing of Resplendence as a paradigm shift beyond religion, and to the resurrection song Revelation in celebration of a new day. So, like it or lump it folks, here it is - the scientific and religious cosmological account of apocalypse and its unraveling, right from the horse's mouth of the Messiah of the Tree of Life - Chris King - aka Cristo Rey, or Christus Rex - the name of the anointed.
To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.
Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice (John 18:37).
My involvement with apocalypse comes from a long and tortuous history that began when I first took psychedelics in the nineteen sixties and realized that all traditional conceptions of God and religious doctrine were fantastic tales told to make a simple kind of sense of the world in the face of a mysterium tremendum so extraordinary and inscrutable that we all need to go right back to square one, with no preconceived assumptions, if we are going to make any sense of it at all.
From there I embarked on a dual quest. One part of this was to understand life as a cosmic phenomenon in the universe. I wrote a rather quaint overview of what was known at the time about biogenesis entitled "Unified Field Theories and the Origin of Life" whose thesis is that conscious life is an interactive cosmological consequence of the symmetry-breaking of the four fundamental forces of nature in the cosmic origin, a thesis which has become increasingly confirmed with the progress of research (see: Biocosmology and its sequel The Tree of Life: Tangled Roots and Sexy Shoots). At the same time I studied how chaos and quantum entanglement might support conscious free-will (Space, Time and Consciousness ).
Complementing this, I made a vigil on my first academic sabbatical to the East where I took Tibetan Buddhist initiations with Yeshe Dorje and the previous Karmapa and wandered India as a Shiva sadhu, as well as making a journey to the sources of the world's psychic power plants, involving ganga in India, peyote ceremonies with Tellus Goodmorning as roadman in Taos and sacred mushrooms in Mexico. On my next journey I travelled to Yarinacocha lagoon on the Amazonian Ucayali where I took ayahuasca with Senor Trinico, returning again nineteen years later during the millennial vigil.
At some point in the 1980s during a powerful velada on sacred mushrooms, I realized I was probably the only person in the world who could bring the threads of mystical and scientific reality together in this way and I decided to give the world until the second millennium to demonstrate some capacity to engender a long-term epoch of sustainability, in the face of nuclear mutually-assured destruction, and the holocaust of biological diversity, accompanied by human-caused planetary impacts.
I have some sort of 'karmic' or synchronistic connection with the Christian tradition, born Chris King on the Epiphany 1945 just as the first plutonium began to roll out of Hanford. Although Christmas is a contrived date intentionally co-opted by the early church to capture the winter solstice from Mithraic religion, now shifted to the 25th December because of a disparity between the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and Easter, with its eggs, was co-opted long after the death of Jesus from the festival of the Goddess Eostre, or Ostara, the Epiphany is a date with its own ancient roots. It is the advent of both Jesus and of Dionysus and celebrates water-into-wine and the baptism of the dove.
Missal of Odalricus - early 12th century (Lavin). The three signs of Christ's manifestation on the Epiphany. Water to wine, the baptism and the Magi. The word Epiphany from the Greek and means "manifestation," "appearance," or "revelation." ... A festival of Dionysus' Advent was kept on this day in the Aegean and Anatolia.
We keep this day holy in honour
of three miracles:
this day a star led the wise men to the manger,
this day water was turned to wine at the marriage feast,
this day Christ chose to be baptised by John in the Jordan,
for our salvation, allelu-Yah
With the world in a state of unmitigated short-term thinking amid bouts of genocidal conflict and no sign of a cohesive agreement to preserve biological diversity, let alone avoid a hard landing caused by human impact and climate change, I secured another academic sabbatical to do a biodiversity field study of human impact in the Amazon in 1999 and to attend a millennial celebration in Jerusalem at the end of the year which becomes the subject of the next section.
Having documented the burning season in Bolivia and human impact from the Andes to the Amazon in a six-week river journey, Jane King and I travelled to Jerusalem via Rome, where we participated in a series of rites of passage to pronounce the reflowering of the Tree of Life in the Sacred reunion of woman and man, to consummate and culminate the epoch of messianic apocalypse.
A key feature of the apocalyptic epoch that is central to the bridal unveiling, as we have already noted, is the fact that the entire period has been one of patriarchal domination, in which woman was cursed and social patterns involving the matriarchy and female reproductive choice were violently repressed.
We can thus see that reflowering apocalypse is centrally about the sacred reunion – the ancient hieros gamos celebrated since the dawn of time in the fertility of woman and man personified in Goddess and God, leading to fertile offspring. This is where the balance of human visions of the future come together in a species where sex wars have always been a reality of the asymmetric prisoners' dilemma of the sexes, because of the huge investment of the female in a pregnancy which leaves her vulnerable and travail for months, the potential risks to life of delivering a large head, and years of lactation and early child-rearing, means that humans are at an effective extreme of mammals, only 3% of whom are socially (but not in general genetically) monogamous for the same reasons.
The Millennium-eve ceremony on Scopus above the Mount of Olives looking down on the Dome of the Rock.
To restore the sacred reunion in the Millennium in a rite-of-passage to redeem this highly-flawed tradition, Jane King and I, having been invited to a twelve day workshop on the Shekhinah at the Academy of Jerusalem, participated in an all night vigil on Mount Scopus overlooking the Dome of the Rock. We had been offered a grove next to Gethsemane by a member of the family who originally kept the keys to the Haram-al-Sharif under the Jordanians, but we were driven out by a court injunction and police prohibition. The vigil was dedicated to the sacred reunion in reflowering the Tree of Life in preserving the biosphere and its biological and genetic diversity throughout our future generations. Hence we recited a new expression of the Jubilee passage in Isaiah, which Jesus pronounced in the synagogue at Nazareth immediately after his baptism and temptation, also citing Naaman the Syrian and the Widow of Sidon, and was then nearly thrown off the cliffs for doing so, our passage, pronounced this time, not as a lone male, but as woman and man together in the name of both God and Gaia:
The Anointing Reading
The spirit of God is upon us
the spirit of Gaia is within us
because they hath anointed us
to sing good tidings unto the meek
they hath sent us to bind up the broken-hearted
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and the opening of prison to them that are bound
to proclaim the acceptable year
to comfort all that mourn
to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion
in Palestine, in Sidon, in Syria, Arabia and the world
to give unto them beauty for ashes
the oil of joy for mourning
the garments of love for the spirit of heaviness
that they might be called trees of compassion
the planting of the divine
that all might be glorified
in the abundance of wisdom
and we shall renew the old wastes
and we shall restore the former desolations
and we shall repair the waste cities
the desolations of many generations
they hath clothed us with the garments of salvation
and I as a bridegroom decketh myself with ornaments
and I as a bride adorneth myself with jewels
for as the Earth bringeth forth her bud
and as the garden causeth the things that are sewn in it to spring forth
so shall harmony and fulfillment spring forth
among all the nations
this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Notice that it is the spirit of Gaia and that of God that hath anointed us - the conjoint spiritual insight to perform the act of redemption - not God and Gaia as literal deities. It is not a matter of belief but of realization in action. This wasnÕt intended to be a magical pronouncement that would change the world overnight simply by saying it, but a unique unparalleled event in its time and place, revealing the foresight to take responsibility to speak the words that are key to redeem the apocalyptic tradition in the sustainable epoch of the Tree of Life.
The evening was accompanied by folk and harp music, chants to the Shekhinah and recitations from all present to bring in the new epoch, culminating in Eliyahu MacLean blowing the shofar and pronouncing the blessing of the collective Mashiach:
We are here together the collective mashiach
and our vision here tonight will spread
peace in our hearts and peace on the City of Peace below
and bisrata shem in Jah Allah
we'll be as a light and a source for peace
in the whole world and in the whole universe.
On the Epiphany, we led a small messianic march, of a spontaneous twelve, and finally thirteen participants, from the Ascension site on the Mount of Olives, by Gethsemane, the Vale of Kidron and the Gates of Mercy, to the Western Wall:
Jane and Chris pronouncing the Gates of Mercy open and the thirteen in the Vale of Kidron.
At the Gates of Mercy, we declared the gates wide open from Isaiah 60:
And your gates shall be open continually
they shall not be closed day or night
the glory of Lebanon shall come to you
the juniper the box tree and the cypress together.
The Gates of Mercy, or Compassion, on the Eastern wall of the second temple compound have been kept shut, filled with rubble by the Muslims in a vain brute-force attempt to prevent the return of the Messiah, in the light of Ezekiel 40:
It is for the prince; the prince.
He shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord,
he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate,
and shall go out by the way of the same.
The Thief in the Night Eating the "Prince's" bread, and pronouncing the Gates Open by day.
As the Thief in the Night, I had already entered the graveyard lying outside the Gates and pronounced that all such attempts were in vain:
This is a piece of bread. This is the bread of life if you like. Now I'm sitting at the portico. There is no exact portico here. There's a small iron wicket fence with some of the grave stones inside. I'm not intruding here. I'm inviting. I'm not transgressing. I am offering. The way of healing for Islam and for the whole world lies in reconciliation. In Ezekiel it says the prince will eat bread in the portico of the gate and come in and go out, pass through by the gate. This passing through is the release of humanity from bondage in liberation.
At the same time openly declaring the same from the inside by day as well:
I'm sitting here in the garden that lies inside the old temple precincts. In the background are the Gates of Mercy. And you can see I'm surrounded by trees. And again I call from inside the Gates of Mercy a third time that the gates be opened in the name of the unity of all paths and the reunion of all peoples.
This is really a comment to parry the monolithic ambitions of Islam to create a utopian domination of the planet, retaining its following by force through homicidal measures such as the death penalty for apostasy, rather than entering into a cooperative relationship with all beliefs and freedoms of belief and association, and the way these issues revolve around the Temple Mount - Har HaMōriyā (הַר הַמוריה) or Haram al-Sharif (الحرم القدسي الشريف,) preventing a dialogue of reconciliation.
Finally we arrived at the Western (Wailing) Wall, where we again pronounced the sacred reunion of woman and man, not just God and the bride Israel, but woman and man in the flesh, as the love song actually declares:
I sleep but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh,
saying open to me my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled :
for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.
I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?
My beloved put his hand in the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.
I rose up to open to my beloved and my hands dropped with myrrh,
and my fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm:
for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave:
the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.
This brings us finally back to the motif of the Tree of Life hidden since the foundation of the world in the Fall from Eden. The role of religion and of spirituality, ethics and our sense of human conscience is to ensure we collectively cherish and replenish the Earth throughout our generations forever, so that its biological and genetic diversity flourish, its climate remains optimally habitable and all the generations of conscious beings have a full opportunity to experience the mysteries of life and existence. The epoch of the Tree of Life is thus the epoch of sustainability, in which life is able to continue and evolve so long as the Earth shall live. This is the cosmic destiny human consciousness faces as the guardians of the living planet.
The Tree of Life is actually the
evolutionary tree of life's diversity (Mandala of Evolution Dion Wright, Tree
Top Row: Cosmic evolution, cosmological symbiosis, cosmology of conscious mental states.
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