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Narratives within a Narrative
Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 10:43 am
I was taken by the inspiration behind the following post:
What hope and spirituality for the future looks like can't draft on what such aspirations looked like once a upon a time. While artistic use of biblical narratives and imagery are full of triggers within an audience of diverse experiences with religion, biblical narratives and imagery can't be abandoned either. We have such an intricate task in our time for a time to come.
Many misunderstand the larger task of deconstruction, which is to find other texts within a text, other narratives within a narrative. viewtopic.php?f=38&t=3168
I see this creative impulse displayed in the oral tradition as written down in the book 'St. Mary Magdalene: The Gnostic Tradition of the Holy Bride' by Tau Malachi. When I read this story, it fills my imagination with a new myth that shatters images from the past and creates new ones for today about the divine feminine and the hope we have for enlightenment. Then ending the story, I read how the narrative continues and changes and takes on new forms throughout history.
From one generation to another, the soul of Our Lady is incarnate as a holy woman ... in truth, she appears as seven holy women...laboring to give birth to the Second Coming of Christ...
I'm interested in hearing more about the concept of narrative and the creative process in the Sophian Gnostic Tradition and how this has played out in the Order of St. Haniel in the past and how this might play out by those of us interested in manifesting work today in any creative medium.
One inspiring element I've read here on the forum is how kavvanah (concentration) and devekut (cleaving) and spiritual practice can uplift what we manifest. I see this in the Sophia Guild and most recently the creation and dedication of the new altar for the Mother Circle. How can our creations draw down power and become talismans for those who experience our work?
As a side note, one recent movie I found to be powerful and contain Sophian themes is 'Jupiter Arising' (from the creators of 'The Matrix'). It contains a mystical sci-fi narrative with sometimes captivating images which helped me think about my innate divinity (royalty), spiritual heritage (elder races), and the cosmic battle that plays out on earth that we are a part of but often unaware (alien forces). I suspect all inspired creative work talismanic to some degree.
May those who communicate through creative work catch the transcendent vision of that which is immanent within us and all around us to bring forth the Second Coming of Christ.
Blessings to you this day,
Posted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 10:49 pm
Shalom Bevan! Full Moon Blessings to you!
The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us, how will our end come?" Yeshua said, "Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is. Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death" (St. Thomas, 18).
How Sophian lineage can articulate an aesthetic frame for all creative disciplines must invariably follow the Creation story itself, the Beginning. The Divine name Elohim is this frame of all possible experience, meaning, among many simultaneous interpretations, "One-Become-Many" or "Unity-in-Multiplicity." The femininity of this aspect of the One is well-established in midrashim. Speaking everything into being, She is establishing with each day of Creation a dimension of the metaphysical infrastructure that makes every narrative outcome possible.
Day One initiates Awareness.
Day Two initiates what is ignorant of Awareness, all that leads to evil.
Day Three initiates the synthesis of Awareness and Ignorance, a stabilized context.
Day Four initiates the material experience of time.
Day Five initiates movements of beings-forces transcendent.
Day Six initiates movements of beings-forces immanent, even the Human One in whom all of this reflects.
Day Seven is the alignment of all of this, the potential realization and embodiment of all of this.
There are innumerable other interpretations of these Days of Creation.
Contemporary aesthetics attempt to approach and express the non-dual, but cannot articulate the leap beyond duality. Faith is that leap. One's transcendence alone can experience the reality beyond duality. It is for this reason that we may contemplate Elohim-Binah as Depth of End, which has two comprehensive outcomes:
End-of-Days, Qetz ha-Yamim or
World-to-Come, Olam ha-Ba.
While these appear dualistic, they are simultaneous movements. Read St. John's Apocalypse as two simultaneous stories for two general communities on earth: For some, it's externally hell; for others, it's internally heaven. It is the consciousness of the one experiencing this that decides, much like our time. Our environment is unravelling. Life for many beings now is drying up. With what mind—with what narrative—will one view what is and proceed?
Where does this take your contemplation?
Re: Narratives within a Narrative
Posted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 5:00 pm
Shalom Elder Gideon,
Your interpretation of the Creation story is new to me and as I look back on the Genesis account I see the layer you describe! It opens up the story again in a very contemporary and metaphysical way. You say that this “metaphysical infrastructure makes every narrative outcome possible.” Initially the possibilities feel infinite and overwhelming, just like the process of starting the search to find an important story to tell. However, as inspiration comes down, the narrative incarnates into a specific time, place and person.
When I think of the traditional three act structure of movies, I see parallels to it in the Creation Story you present. The first act is about “a stabilized context”. What is the environment of the narrative? Who are the story characters? What are they aware and ignorant of? This sets the stage for the monumental change in the second act. The Inciting Incident is the event that changes the protagonists direction and propels the individual on a hero’s journey of self-discovery. Here the character encounters obstacles from other being-forces and from time. The third act is a resolution and a rest or "alignment". Then, beyond the screen story, the next story is setup for the characters. And so the third act of “alignment” becomes the first act of a “stabilized context” for the next narrative. The End becomes the Beginning as the narrative evolves.
As my awareness of art began to increase early on, I discovered an excitement and anticipation when I went to an art exhibit or film screening. It was like traveling to another geographical place where reference points disappear and new mysteries transpire. This transcendence draws people to explore aesthetic experience. How can we create something that helps other to leap into faith and the non-dual?
You state, “Our environment is unraveling. Life for many beings now is drying up. With what mind—with what narrative—will one view what is and proceed?” In this context, one approach to narrative might be to setup a dualism and then transcend it revealing an integrated need for both. For example, the duality of “life drying up” is the struggle of life and death. Could we resolve this separation by looking deeper and seeing how each works with the other?
I look forward understanding more of the Mystery you present!
The Rigor of Hope
Posted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:49 pm
Superb questions. I very much enjoyed your breakdown of the three acts in a traditional cinematic narrative. I spin constantly in what you've asked, "How can we create something that helps other to leap into faith and the non-dual?" and "The duality of “life drying up” is the struggle of life and death. Could we resolve this separation by looking deeper and seeing how each works with the other?"
I was very fortunate to have fully received the first influx of Star Wars (Episode IV) written by George Lucas and Joseph Campbell while I was at the open age of five. I was too young to see the story's magnificent structure, but what I felt was entirely spiritual, expansive, and luminous. I madly drew all of the characters and played obsessively with with my action figure collection. It wasn't the marketing, although that was aggressively ubiquitous. It was the depth of the story and how elegantly it described the Force. This story articulated hope so deeply that it was familiar, undeniable, and tangible.
I bring this up to raise what I believe is our largest creative challenge in this time, transitioning as we are as industrial societies from one collective experience to a distinct other. If we take the view of elite critical circles who bestow the most prestigious awards and recognition for visionaries of cinema, literature, art, and drama, for many complex reasons, many truly great works aren't so optimistic. Hope is getting harder to sell. While I acknowledge that this might be a uselessly oversimplified claim, the best of the best seem to be articulating an increasingly severe vision of existence. I acknowledge that it's what's happening and must probably play out: a tremendous current downstream. As a young artist before meeting this lineage, I was very hypnotized and intoxicated by everything cutting-edge, including its overt and covert claims of existence. Since meeting this lineage and experiencing first-hand what for many is dismissed as mythology and metaphor, I'm most fascinated now by what is upstream.
I could go on and on about this. My sense is that an archangel like Haniel is all about what's upstream, meaning hopeful, open-ended, and possible. I'm certain that this is more rigorous. How easy it is to diagnose and demolish rather than prescribe and build. What would have happened to the Wachowski's Matrix Trilogy, if they had a vision for "Zion" deeper than the name of a guarded hole in the earth? It's harder to present breakthrough, resurrection, and the World-to-Come without cliche and sentimentality. Metanoia and release from Plato's Allegory of the Cave, to which I've heard The Matrix compared, seems rarely as convincing as the shadows on its walls. This is certainly my call as an artist, Bevan, neither denying what undeniably is, nor caving into it.
There's so much more hope in existence that remains to be pioneered. I suppose that it's a matter of vocabulary. Fewer simply possess the experience to which the words of hope point, of how hope was, is, and can be. How others can be lead to leap is by way of language. How something else of consciousness is being revealed by consuming habitats and ourselves is a process that creatives can perceive, articulate, and manifest. Behind the greater severity compelling cultural imagination throughout industrialized societies is the other truth of Mercy far more intense, moving in and behind. How exhaustlessly insightful that mekubalim call the emanation of this perfect tension, "Beauty."
Re: Narratives within a Narrative
Posted: Thu Apr 09, 2015 10:55 pm
Shalom Bevan and Elder Gideon!
What a fortuitous discussion this is, since my current studies, which have largely taken me away from forum, are right in the realm of this discussion!
When I contemplate these ideas of how the story of scriptures is evolving and growing, as well as how we participate in this story telling as well as in what these old and new stories are doing to us, I am drawn to something mentioned in your discussions:
"You state, “Our environment is unraveling. Life for many beings now is drying up. With what mind—with what narrative—will one view what is and proceed?” In this context, one approach to narrative might be to setup a dualism and then transcend it revealing an integrated need for both. For example, the duality of “life drying up” is the struggle of life and death. Could we resolve this separation by looking deeper and seeing how each works with the other?"
Many schools of psychology are abandoning the notion of some "self" that exists within the person and adopting a couple notions relevant to this discussion. One is the notion that "self" may be more an ever shifting position within an inner conversation with a polyphany of perspectives. That means we are literally not a "self" that this idea is an illusion. We may actually be a bunch of characters and we are jumping around from character to character, changing "positions" while we "think" about our day. Funny, we can watch this in meditation and throughout our day!
Second, the notion of a cohesive self that allows us to interact with other people and even have an experience that we call "subjective" - the reason there is subjectivity at all, is because we create a story about who we are, which allows us to embody that role, and viola! That's one of our "positions." We are both living into the stories/selves we create, and at the same time, creating and re-creating new stories/selves to live into, all of the time.
Making stories, then isn't only an "artistic" act, it is the act of living itself, and it is the way we form the "reality" we live in/into.
Now, the next notion relevant to this discussion, laying a groundwork to the discussion on stories in spirituality and religion, is the notion that in order to interact with one another, to have relationships and society, we have to "coordinate" our stories with one another. That means we have to create stories together that allow us to take up roles within a shared story. These stories we create together must also coordinate with our own personal "self-stories," or we will find ourselves marginalized by society, or society will marginalize us -who is to say which is doing what? To be part of society, we must either coordinate our self-stories to fit society, or we must shift the cultural narrative to fit our self-story. This isn't so radical as it seems, according to these theories, society isn't "solid," it is an ever ongoing negotiation, and we are being shifted by society and shifting society all of the time. The margins become central, creating new margins who become central. As The Bard says, "All the world's a stage, and we are merely players." This may be far more literally true that originally conceived!
There is another layer to this that participates in the discussion about how the stories of spirituality and religion evolve and grows. All our identity stories, personal and shared, are built according to the models we know. The stories we have heard and know about direct how we construct out identity/society. Even the forms and format. The "three act film" Bevan refers to, is a relatively "new" shift from the five act play. But since we watch three act movies nowadays, not five act plays, it is therefore not only the new structure of modern stories, but the new structure of modern selfs and modern society. We "write" and live into the stories of who we are based on the stories we know. This isn't only the stories we have lived and seen lived, this includes the FICTIONAL stories. The story of The Great Gatsby, Abraham and Sarah, or of the Kardashians, whether it be the story of Yeshua and Magdalene, or the story of Two and A Half Men participate in how we form ourselves and our society/culture. We ACT INTO and create the stories that we know. Stories we know are the contexts into which we write ourselves, and our world.
Now, we all know that all Occidental stories go back to the bible, one way or another. To Jung and Campbell, there is something deeper within us that generates these stories, something archetypal. Either way, there is a kind of referencing back, while simultaneously creating forward.
The problem I hear you both pointing to seems to rest with the premise that I heard from the great english writer GK Chesterton: "When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything." Along this line, Nietzche claimed that "God is Dead" and much of our secular society has adopted Nietzche's narrative.
With this in mind, let's go back to this issue of interacting among human beings and the premise Elder Gideon layed down for us:
"Our environment is unraveling. Life for many beings now is drying up. With what mind—with what narrative—will one view what is and proceed?"
If modern psychology is right, we have always existed within a polyphany of narratives, that this is the nature of ourselves and our world. The challenge of creating a world together is not an issue of which narrative, or narratives, since this may have always been based in a belief in a solid single self that can never be achieved. The unravelling may be an issue of an attempt to break with our foundational narratives. The issue is how do we COORDINATE with one another's narratives, within a society that is attempting to separate from the foundational narratives that make up Occidental/Western identity and culture?
I think that Bevan pointed out the huge importance and purpose of the creative act of story/myth and spirituality with his appreciation of the Gospel of St. Mary Magdalene, referencing "myth" not as some abstract notion that is absent of magic and power - in fact we learn that these "myths" are not "mythical" at all, because we LIVE INTO THEM AND CREATE THEM! What I mean by this is exactly what gave Science Fiction literary credibility. Science Fiction writers have written the stories of what will be and science and scientists have been guided by science fiction to create the advances Science Fiction envisioned. Could not this phenomena also be true in the mysticism, visions and magic of "mythology"? If it is not "true," in the time the "myth" is told, does not the compelling story compel us to create it to BE true? This may be far more literally the case than we ever previously conceived in secular society (though mystics may have known it for a long time, those who valued stories for so long).
Stories, narratives on the level I hear you speaking about must somehow tell the story of what we are deeply and profoundly seeking to become, not just as individuals, but also as a species, as a humanity, yet they must carry within it, the force and power of what we were, so that contextual power can be powerfully referenced and drawn forth into the re-creative act.
We cannot create a powerful narrative that re-tells the future while divorcing the past. Stories only have power, dimension and depth through their ability to allude, reference and refer to other stories. Powerful stories are such because they speak to who we were, who we are and who we wish to become simultaneously. I believe that such an effort to break future narratives from past narratives leads to exactly the conflicts we are experiencing all over the world right now. On one side we have a strong secular movement in societies all over the globe that is often dismissive of religions, and therefore the stories within those religions. On the other side we have a strong cleaving to those stories and religions in extreme literalism and destructive reaction to the secularism that holds political power.
The power of the Gospel of St. Mary Magdelene is that it acts into where we are today, without abandoning who we were, but re-referencing it powerfully into the future. Stories are powerful also because, while they give direction, they also give the space for creative rendition for those who act into those stories.
Yeshua did this, the entire Gospels are full of references to the Torah as testimony of Yeshua's embodiment of the prophecies, while at the same time, re-envisioning the story into the future - "Before Abraham, I AM," and "I have not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law," and "The human one was not made for Shabbat, but the Shabbat was made for the human one."
Stories in this sense, in the sense I see you both questing for, are prophecy, true prophecy, or theurgy or Gospel - God-Spell. They are this creative reference to the stories we have told to ourselves about ourselves for generations that yet re-creates them into the future and so re-envisions us into a future, a future that as you have said, is one that invites us to embody Faith, Hope and Love.
To tell a powerful story is to re-create humanity.
May Messiah who is The Word be with you! Shalom!
Re: Narratives within a Narrative
Posted: Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:04 am
Shalom Dear Brothers!
I am delighting in this discussion! Praise to the Giver of thoughts being expressed by each of you!
I had never before thought of myself as an artist, but after reading these insightful sharings, especially Phillip's insights on myth and life, 'art' is taking on a new meaning, and it has come to mind that I too am an artist. Perhaps we can say we each are artists?
Being a lover of history, contemplations on the unfolding human story as it relates to the evolution of consciousness often swirl in mind. It has often swirled that we, most obviously presently, have been creating something new in our world. It has only been in the last hundred years ago or so that we, for the most part, have moved from a farming culture, centered around the survival of family, to an urban one, centered around the arising of the individual. And in the last fifty years, the prophecies of Yeshua seem to have finally manifest:
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
What seems to be dying is the old way, a way that now feels like bondage, with a new way, a way of true individualization, being born. And so it is not so much that we are losing something that we had that we ought to keep, but that we are experiencing a shattering of the old, that is making space for the new, a new humanity that is not bound by the past, by personal or family, cultural history.
Something you shared, Brother Phillip, comes to mind:
I think that Bevan pointed out the huge importance and purpose of the creative act of story/myth and spirituality with his appreciation of the Gospel of St. Mary Magdalene, referencing "myth" not as some abstract notion that is absent of magic and power - in fact we learn that these "myths" are not "mythical" at all, because we LIVE INTO THEM AND CREATE THEM!
I am wondering if perhaps we are speaking of making something from something versus making something from nothing? If our future is not divorced from the past, then our collective evolution is something from something. But if we can shatter the past, then what arises might be something from nothing?
A recent movie that feels to be expressing this is The Tree of Life.
For those who have not seen it, this movie was created as more of a vision, with linear story-telling seemingly thrown out the window. It is not surprising that, while viewing, the greater part of the audience was sobbing, weeping, quite loudly. In the Tree of Life, we saw how the old family - the old way of the father or "authority", no longer needed in our present state of evolution - was at first the cause of much woundedness. What arose from the healing of this woundedness did not feel as much like an evolution as it did a shattering and then an arising of something completely new - full on Grace.
One came away from viewing the movie with increased compassion, with a greater knowing that each of our unique lives and paths through suffering is not simply personal, but also a part of a greater plan, an evolution of human consciousness spurred by the evolution of life from a family collective to greater individualization. leading to a collective beyond our imaginings. Such transformation does not come without much dying or suffering of the individual and the world, as it breaks free from the past, opening up possibilities for a greater potential - a potential beyond our imagination.
It also comes to mind that such a quickening, such a rapid transformation of the individual, does not come without woundedness to our environment, as the individual is freed from an outer authority. But there are some good things arising presently, awarenesses's and steps to eradicate the damage to our world that greater individualization has caused.
I wonder, given Phillip's question, if we can say that art is the potential vehicle for coordinating our narratives, our personal stories, into something positive?
And so the question becomes, what myth are we bringing to life in our art, in our life, for the collective of individuals?
Praise to Yah - the source of Potential!
Re: Narratives within a Narrative
Posted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:07 pm
Thank your Brother Phillip and Sister Sheryl for your insightful comments on this post, which I want reflect on later. In this post I want to respond to Elder Gideon's call for hope.
"My sense is that an archangel like Haniel is all about what's upstream, meaning hopeful, open-ended, and possible. I'm certain that this is more rigorous. How easy it is to diagnose and demolish rather than prescribe and build."
I'd like to consider how themes within popular culture narratives fit with the principles within the Kabbalah to reveal hope.
* Time - Time is expansive and can open up perspective. There are many movies where time is a prominent character. The Terrance Mallick film The Tree of Life, which Sister Sheryl refers to, reveals a story of biological, emotional and spiritual Evolution. The story Cloud Atlas moves us across time using the Transmigration of the Soul as the vehicle. These elements give the audience a God-like reference point to experience a larger view beyond egoic self. Note that both of these stories use a non-linear approach to narrative, which further disorients and engages us in the Mystery. Here we receive a glimpse of our transcendence.
* Balance, Karma and Awareness - The Middle Pillar Ritual and the Pillars on the Tree of Life reveal to us the Middle Way and how karma and choices becomes the fuel which propels us in ascension. In a screenplay, at the beginning of Act 2, in a 3 act film structure, an event is required that moves the character 180 degrees (or so) from where they were. The movie Groundhog Day is a great example of this where we see Bill Murray's character humorously repeating his day, every day, over and over. The resulting chaos creates an external drive within the protagonist to uplift his consciousness to create change and resolution. This energy fuels the audience's attention because we sympathize with these cycles in our own experience.
* Wonder and Potential - Every narrative can be a divine mystery, unless it has been drained by over-familiarity or negativity. Every story plot point has the potential to change everything. The sacred mystery within the moment is a wonderfully dangerous space to open up and expand us. I think this is the reason why I'm drawn to independent films. If I put aside my preferences and expectations, I find all sorts of surprises in these movies that challenge my biases and create questions which become fuel for change. However, within unenlightened culture, the demiurge and archons feed on the darkness, negativity and ignorance within artist and audience. Contrasts of light and darkness create wonderful experiences in art, however when the darkness consumes, the resulting death and nihilism without resurrection and hope becomes hell. I like Elder Gideon's approach to this when he says, "It's harder to present breakthrough, resurrection, and the World-to-Come without cliche and sentimentality. ... This is certainly my call as an artist, Bevan, neither denying what undeniably is, nor caving into it." Here, God is always with us helping us shift, moment by moment, to reveal our Neshamah.
May Yahweh Tzavaot and Archangel Haniel guide us into receiving and giving the Myth that is within and all around us.
Re: Narratives within a Narrative
Posted: Sun May 03, 2015 6:33 pm
Brother Phillip you say:
Stories only have power, dimension and depth through their ability to allude, reference and refer to other stories. Powerful stories are such because they speak to who we were, who we are and who we wish to become simultaneously.
Sister Sheryl you add:
And so the question becomes, what myth are we bringing to life in our art, in our life, for the collective of individuals?
So who do we wish to become and what myth corresponds to this imagining for us today? What is the narrative that Mother wants us to share that holds breakthrough, resurrection, and the World-to-Come? I am very interested in these questions.
Elder Gideon indicates that the world is ready for a deeper story of hope, when he says, “What would have happened to the Wachowski's Matrix Trilogy, if they had a vision for "Zion" deeper than the name of a guarded hole in the earth?”
I am reminded of the story from the 17th century through which the Holy Spirit inspired not only our lineage but all of Europe with the gnosis and spiritual experience it brought to the seekers of the Light in the West. It is the myth of Christian Rosenkreuz, a medical doctor and mystic, who made a pilgrimage to the East where he discovered and learned esoteric wisdom to return and found the "Fraternity of the Rose Cross". This was the beginning of Rosicrucianism. The three anonymous manifestos that founded this movement ignited a spiritual wave that ripples into today.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Rosenkreuz
Being in the initial stages of the Second Coming, the story of St. Mary Magdalene is central to this Lineage Tradition. She holds who we were, who we are and who we want to become. It is a story that takes us into a glorious future despite the peril along the way. The Da Vinci Code book and movie have opened the door to it, but with a depth similar to The Matrix. Is the world ready to imagine the more mystical and deeper aspects of this? Coming to this tradition and finding the Second Coming narrative of the Outer Church fully reconstructed, I see much power here to inspire a more-than human life through gnosis in the Holy Shekinah.
Blessings to you all this day!