“History” — Part I

In December 1963 I had a spontaneous series of altered states that lasted for about three weeks. In the center of it was an ecstatic conversion experience much like what had happened to me at age 14. Most people have no idea that such an experience is even possible. Those who do know about it think that it is always a conversion from one set of beliefs or faith community to another. In my case, and I think in many historical cases, it was a conversion from ignorance to knowledge. Belief became unnecessary; I know what I felt. I thus am and since age 14 have been fundamentally a Gnostic. The writings of the Church Fathers and of the Gnostics themselves seem transparently clear to me. Almost everything I have done in life has been part of a search for adequate ways to articulate and manifest that knowledge.

A prose description of the 1963 experiences was thoroughly inadequate. I spent the next five years working on the raw materials of the following poem. It was completed during the year that our huge friendship group was creating the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn. It can be read as 22 separate poems, of course, but it is a single poem with an overarching structure, in which the many portmanteau words are necessary elements. Read the title in light of Alice’s conversation with the White Knight.

“History”

or

Shiny pieces Found in the Ruens of a Mythology

(A Catechlysm in Dialectical Sonata Form,
Which Suite Accompanies a Miracle Play):

Exploration of an Inscape by Meditation on the Tarot

Praylewd

1. The Juggler

I wonder what these ruens

Whirr good for, but only when

I wander out hear for my recreations

Of a hypersphear on afternoons

I could be duing sumthing else.

Hear’s a pretty peace. I wonder

How it worked. It’s nicely wayted,

Good for tossing up and down,

A skipping stone.

Maybe it will grow again

When enjinns clear the ruens away.

Sometimes I juggle catnip mice

Or make history mosaics

Of pieces I like. Someone’s throne

The picture box away, and mixed up

Fra Angelico with Hearonymus Bosh.

But it passes the evening,

Or is it dawn? Ben, was that sun

On the back of the Precedent’s chair

In Philadelphia going up, or down?


 First theme

2. The Word: Jove Reversed

 

And I Am says “Hippopotamus,”

And there (oops!) is a hippopotamus,

And I Am sees that it (surprise!) is good.

 

And the Prince of Light

Says, “Lord, why do you

Call that a hippopotamus?”

And I Am says, “Because

It looks like a hippopotamus.”

And after a wile

The Prince of light says, “Lord,

Were you trying to be funny?”

And I Am sighs and says, “Yes, Prince.”

So the Prince of Light goes off

To think about that, and I Am

Looks at the hippopotamus and says,

“The trouble with him is

He ain’t got no senza hyumah.”

But the hippopotamus

Is too busy getting up

A petition for a female

Hippopotamus to care about

Anybody else’s hangups.

 

Anyway, the word

Creates the thing

It names. Birds

Are sferic inklings.


 3. Escapement: The Wheel

History: I think

About it all

The time, about

How it tries

To say it all, but

As millennia clock’s

Pendulum empires

And manespring cities

Tickle a million

Possible seconds

A second, patterns

Huge or close escape

The involving eye

That must implode

To see how each

Chosen second

Shapes itself upon us.


 4. The Tower

I am working at my desk, the same

Wooden desk I’ve told yew about time

And time again.

Wooden: treeness

Denied, the mind minding itself,

Leafing an iron-vine-spiraled fence,

Not painted green,

Between inside and outside.

My fingers pass, repass,

Tracing the invisibell

Blewprints of our age, the secret

Tradition all vision has sung:

To storm the gates of Second Eden.

 

“Poet, this battle hasn’t yet begun.

Prepare the Quaker canon,

The Gandhi-dancing gun.”

 

And playing the Ninth Symphony,

Of a sudden breaks a cloud, unknowing,

For Beethoven, realing all that dumb

Schillering, sings the same Coming:

 

“Joy, Godspark, Blyzelandsdatter,”

                                                                 Even in the tower

                                                                The golden shower

“Steps us up firedrunk to havenhome”

                                                                 In rarified air

                                                                 The Danaed discharge

“Spells, heals all custom sunders”

                                                                 From cloud to earth

                                                                 A human history

“Featherbrushes all brotherness”:

                                                                 Civitas Day!

The record ends: and Anna desceands

From our Attic bed to hold me,

Abstracted from my head,

Heartswollen in torrents of molten gold,

Weeping for the organic city

Unsundered by epicycles;

Crying, “If historians were poets,

They’d run naked in the streets,

Screaming, `Abolish history!

Destroy all the clocks!’”

  • Wyrdling

    Aidan, I thoroughly understand your spontaneous spiritual combustion. I had a similar experience when about 20, tho mine was less gnostic and more taoist in affect and effect. It has been the single most potent influence on how I approach my Paganism and my Craft, lo these 40 years later.

    On another note, tho I don’t typically post to blogs, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy yours and that I make it a daily practice to peruse your site. I know you’ve had doubts about the efficacy of your blog, but for this old witch, it’s a Must Read!

    Hold fast and Carry On!


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