Religion in the Age of Pisces

Do the planets exert an infuence on human affairs? Considering the the way religion has developed in the Age of Pisces I think the answer would have to be yes. I would like to share the observations that lead me to this conclusion. If any of them contradict theological foundations that is not my intention and I would appreciate corrections and/or criticism.

Before I begin, I want to distinguish between two approaches that I have observed in discussions of religion. One is impartial and informational; the other is from the point of view of a believer. The word ‘impartial’ does not imply indifference or lack of belief; believers might use either approach.

According to T.R. Glover’s book, The Conflict of Religions in the Early Roman Empire, none of the religions that we now believe to be ancient are older than 700 BC. (Glover writes from the point of view of an atheist, arguing that the whole point of religion is to organize a society. I disagree with him on that point.) These religions include the worship of Orpheus, Dionysos, and Osiris–all figures with Hermetic attributes. I have come to believe that the Age of Pisces, ruled by the planets Jupiter and Neptune, was bound to have Hermetic characteristics.

Since reading Walter Friedlander’s book, The Golden Wand of Medicine, which attributes a malevolent influence to the symbol of the Caduceus of Mercury (or Hermes), I’ve been terrified of its influence in the United States. At one time I thought I might find a guarantee of safety in Catholic theology, because I have seen theological debates that seem aware of this threat. For example, part of the problem that arose between Père Jérôme and Albert Gleizes was Gleizes’ opinion that Church theology since the thirteenth century had to be thrown out. Gleizes thought Thomas Aquinas had taken everything in the wrong direction and that he could see its effects in sacred art. In other words, all theology since Aquinas had to be redone. But apparently the Church had already decided a debate between these two theologians in favor of Aquinas. As I understand it, part of the reason Aquinas prevailed was the greater degree of St Augustine’s Hermeticism.

Gleizes believed that Christianity was based on an older tradition and that it had lost its knowledge of the sacred. The idea of a basis in an older tradition by itself is not controversial, since it could refer to Judaism, but it was based on Guénon’s idea of a great world tradition of which Christianity is simply a part. The most obvious danger of this stance from a Catholic point of view would be the idea that Christianity had ceased to radiate spirituality, and so it is not exactly surprising that this began to create problems between Gleizes and Père Jérôme. (Albert Gleizes: For and Against the Twentieth Century, Peter Brooke, Yale University Press, 2001. page 221-223)

But to return to the problem of Hermeticism, I think I’ve seen similar considerations taking place in American Indian religion regarding Kokopelli. However, I realize now that it is unrealistic to expect a guarantee of safety. I don’t think human existence works that way, especially under the Age of Pisces.

Jupiter and Neptune rule the Age of Pisces. They are both associated with the Hindu deity Siva, and Siva has associations with Hermes. According to Edward Moor’s book, Hindu Pantheon (J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church-Yard, London, 1810), “most of the principal Hindu deities might be identified with Jove or Jupiter”(page 47). And, “The Jupiter Marinus, or Neptune of the Romans, resembles Mahadeva (Siva) in his generative character; especially as the Hindu god is the husband of Bhavani, whose relation to the waters is evidently marked by her image being restored to them at the conclusion of the great festival of Durgotsava”(page 48). “In the character of destroyer also, we may look upon this Indian deity as corresponding with the Stygian Jove or Pluto, especially since Cali, or Time in the feminine gender, is a name of his consort, who will be found to be Proserpine” (page 46). 

I’m not arguing that Christianity is just another version of this older religion. I’m arguing that these planets have influenced our age.  Robert Eisler argues for the Jewish origin of Christianity in his book Orpheus the Fisher. In the preface, page v, he says,

Christianity, considering its Greek influences, seems remarkable for its loyalty to the Jewish religion, and at the same time its rejection of the pagan gods of Greece and Rome. Is it possible that both characteristics of the Christian religion are responses to the potential harm caused by Hermeticism under a Pagan system?

The believer in me would put it another way. If there was ever a time that God would find it necessary to make himself known to humanity, it would be at the beginning of the Age of Pisces.

I think it is also reasonable to argue that the Protestant Reformation unwittingly opened the floodgates to aspects of the Age of Pisces that had previously been suppressed by the Roman Church.

 

Can We Talk About Patriarchy?

Since I inadvertently brought up patriarchy, it’s probably a good time to explain my general approach—again. I’ve been rethinking it due to the new developments in this conversation—for example our inclusion of Pope Francis—or maybe I should say his inclusion of us—and my support of a candidate in this presidential election. In the case of the election, I’ve wanted to avoid confusing my opinions with Senator Sanders’s platform. In the case of the Catholic Church I’ve become aware that there are many among us who don’t understand its relevance to the American conversation. I’ve made many futile attempts to answer their objections and I’ve finally had to admit defeat. Instead I’ll explain why I think Americans are fortunate to be invited into the church’s conversation.

I’ve already mentioned the biography of Albert Gleizes. After much study and thought I’ve come to the conclusion that without the presence of the French Church and especially its priests, this story wouldn’t have been so rich and meaningful. Of course the same can be said of the artists and writers.

The priests didn’t lead this conversation—they were a natural part of it because of their closeness to their communities and their interest in the art and culture of those communities. They listened, they invited the artists to teach in a church setting, and they commissioned work. Since reading about this process, the entire French conversation has had a hallowed place in my imagination. Sadly, that world is gone now. It died in World War II. Many people fear that the pre-war confidence in a restoration of order died with the old world. But fortunately, the Church didn’t get the memo, so it continued the conversation.

“In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War there was a widespread desire within the Roman Catholic Church for a change in the way in which the Church was presented to the world—a desire for greater openness and ‘relevance’ to the conditions of modern life. Its most radical expression in France was the ‘worker-priest movement—the movement of priests who, acutely aware of the divorce of working-class life from the Church, became workers, as indistinguishable as possible from their fellow workers, often actively engaged in the political struggles of the class led by the Communist Party.

“In art, the post-war period was characterized by a willingness to use well-known, sometimes controversial, artists, giving them considerable freedom, regardless of their own religious beliefs. The two names most prominently associated with this tendency were Fathers Marie-Alain Courturier and Pie Raymond Régamey, both Dominicans. They were to be behind the church at Assy, in the Haute Savoie, built between 1948 and 1950, with work by Léger, Lurçat, Matisse, Chagall, Bazaine and (especially controversial) a crucifix by Germaine Richier. They were also responsible for Matisse’s chapel—realized for the Dominicans—at Vence (1948-51), and for Le Corbusier’s church at Ronchamp (1955) and his Dominican priory at La Tourette (1960).” ((Debuyst: Le Renouveau de l’art sacré, as cited by Gleizes’s biographer, Peter Brooke))

Previously I mentioned the theological disagreements that arose from Gleize’s adherence to Rene Guenon. However, it’s important to also mention that these disagreements didn’t end the interaction of Gleizes and the Church. Today, many people associate theology with the Inquisition. I’ve read their articles online.  While the the Inquisition was indefensible, some of the worst events in our history have been a result of getting the theology wrong, so I would argue that it’s a force that must be reckoned with. Whatever hope we have of building a new and better world, it will have to be built with an awareness of the relevance of theology, for better or for worse.

I can argue this another way. When I wrote about our [intlink id=”1359″ type=”post”]Ayn Rand[/intlink] episode, I argued against her tendency to define her philosophical machinations as morality. I think it’s shocking that we were being fed the doctrines of Ayn Rand by financial institutions that have no concern for us.   Today there are many people slinging a new and improved world view and hoping to get followers. My point here is that none of our current ideas can be taken for granted simply on the claim of rationality or secularization. And if not for our cultural history I would have had no basis for my argument against Rand.

On a negative note, one concern I have is that the Catholic church takes on a different character depending on its setting and circumstances. I imagine the interwar period in France was a humble time for the Church, and I don’t know if the American Church shares any of the same characteristics, or if it ever did. Thanks to the U.S. bishops, our conversation with the Church has already had a some rude shocks. First we learned that the bishops believe it’s okay to risk the lives of mothers who trust Catholic hospitals to care for them. Second, there was a recent headline about a meeting between the U.S. Bishops and the Mormon Church to discuss shared concerns. Neither of these things increases my confidence in the bishops.

Hermes in India convinced me that the Devil presides over the medical system. Therefore, I can’t take this news about hospital policies lightly.

In addition, I know for a fact that Mormonism is a shoddy pretense of religion that provides wealth and power to a select few. Of course this shouldn’t be surprising since some of its leaders have ties to the Illuminati.

So in case you haven’t lost interest in this article, here’s my suggestion for an approach to the discussion of patriarchy. My objection to patriarchy is its economics, which I call ‘trickle-up economics’. I think greed was the original motivation for the denigration of women and that as long as large amounts of unattached wealth exist in the world, as opposed to being owned by communities (and passed down through mothers), there will be an endless struggle for control of it. I’m sorry to say, Plato’s philosopher-king isn’t coming—just an endless stream of shady characters in expensive shoes. This is the aspect of patriarchy that has to end.

But is a rejection of Plato the same thing as a rejection of the church’s theology, which depends on Greek thought? Not necessarily. Not unless economic inequality is more of a central tenet of our culture that I realize.  I think you have to look at the whole theological process rather than a single set of ideas from twenty-five hundred years ago.

I apologize again for how jumbled this is.  I’ve been trying to talk about this for quite a while and I’m out of patience with it.  Hopefully it makes sense.

Keeping the Art Conversation Real

Thinking about the biography of Albert Gleizes has led me in a thousand directions, all of them relevant to current events. Where I get into trouble is in deciding what to talk about first. Sometimes I think the French art conversation is the place to start since it’s part of the larger political picture and since some of the factions that struggled with each other a hundred years ago are still with us. However it is not my intention to promote any one faction. My goals include gaining a better understanding of what was being said, and illustrating its relevance to the United States. That is, to people in the United States that aren’t already part of an artistic elite.  I’m not aiming for a paternalistic art conversation, but a conversation that is capable of preparing everyone to participate, even if it takes several generations.  I’ve finally decided that maybe the best way to begin is to make a list of related topics. If any of you have expertise in any part of this list, please don’t wait for me—go ahead and write about it.

1. The politics behind the rivalry of Pablo Picasso and Albert Gleizes

2. The crucial difference between Gleizes and Picasso as explained by the
theories of Jacques Maritain

3. The place of the occult in art

4. The doctrine of Personalism as it applies to The Self, to art and to the
occult

5. The relationship between theology and art in the West and the Orient

6. French influence in Germany and Russia before the world wars

7. The occult revival in Russia after the fall of the Berlin Wall

8. The devil and the problem of evil in Western culture

9. Differing views of reality as represented by Albert Gleizes and the
Catholic Church

10. Picasso as mage

What Does Theology Have to do with Life?

In case you missed my previous speculation about the Virgin Mary, I’ll point out that it’s surprisingly easy to start speculating about theology, even when you know better. What I really wanted to talk about, rather than female ordination, was an old conversation about art that took place in early twentieth century France. By contrast, I find our current direction rather depressing.

French cubist Albert Gleizes also ventured into Christian theology to the dismay of his Catholic friends. Gleizes, a convert to the Catholic Church, unwittingly brought up an old debate pitting St. Augustine against Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. Gleizes argued that the ascendence of Aristotle and Aquinas in the 12th century had been detrimental to Christian art. In this he was influenced by René Guénon. ((Brooke, Peter, Albert Gleizes: For and Against the Twentieth Century, Yale University Press, 2001)) I don’t have a position on this debate, although I have my doubts about the influence of Guénon, another individual that the Church accompanied. I became familiar with him after writing Hermes in India. From what I can tell, the Church was on the right side of this debate. However, Gleizes biographer was in his corner.

But how are we to understand the relationship between theology and the physical world? For example, what do we do about the fact that our communities are not our own? This isn’t a casual question. Right now I’m wondering what I have to do to get an answer from the BLM. I wrote to them a few weeks ago for information about the Cliven Bundy case. (That was about the time my stocks started their latest decline.) It’s ridiculous to talk about reform under these circumstances.