Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Land of Sacred Jars II

The animistic spirit of the Tinguian jars is something that is found, however carefully presented, in the stories of the Holy Grail, the relic from the farthest Indies.

The Grail is said to "call" knights to its service as in the case of Parzival and the Templars. Knights serve the Grail, just as the Grail itself serves as implied in the cyclic question "Whom does the Grail serve?" Other instances also give the impression of the Grail as an actor, albeit in a way that would not have offended medieval Christian sensibilities.

The animistic spirit is appears again in late Hermetic texts. In the early 17th century The Ancient War of the Knights written in German, we have an interesting instance of a debate between the Philosopher's Stone, Gold and Mercury. The text is not meant to be comical and one could certainly conclude that some elements of animism are present.

GOLD: I will convince you by the Authority of the Philosophers, that the Truth of the Art may be accomplished with me. Read Hermes, he says thus: "The Sun is its Father, and the Moon {14} its Mother; now I am the only one which they compare to the Sun...

The STONE: At this Discourse, the Stone begun to Laugh, and told them, in Truth you deserve both the one and the other of you, that they should jeer you, and your Demonstration; but it is you Gold that I still the more admire at, seeing that you are so much conceited of your self, for having the advantage which you have to be good for some certain Things. Can you be perswaded that the ancient Philosophers did write as they have done, in a Sense which should be understood in a common Way? And do you believe that one ought plainly to interpret their Words according to the Letter?

During the dialogue, the Stone and Gold even mention the spirit present in seemingly inanimate physical objects:

GOLD: What you have said is no sufficient Proof; for though the Philosophers speak of one only Thing, which encloses it is self the four Elements; and which [Thing] has a Body, a Soul, and Spirit; and that by this Thing they would give us to understand the (Physical) Tincture; at such time when the same has been carried on to its highest (Perfection) which is the Point they aim at; yet this Thing ought at its beginning to be composed of me, who am the Gold, and of my Brother Mercury, as being (both together) the Male Seed, and the Female Seed; as has been said before: For after we have been sufficiently cook'd, and transmuted into a Tincture, we are then both the one and the other (together) the one only Thing which the Philosophers speak of.

The STONE: That goes not as you fancy; I have already told you before, that no true Union can be made of you two; for you are not the only Body {31}, but two Bodies together; and consequently you are contrary, considering the Foundation of Nature: but as for me, I have an {32} imperfect Body, a steadfast Soul, a penetrating Tincture. I have, besides this, a clear, transparent, volatile, and moveable Mercury: And I can operate all those (great) Things, which you boast of with you both, and which however you are not able to perform: For 'tis I who carry the Philosophical Gold, and the Mercury of the Wise (Men) in my Body; wherefore the Philosophers (speaking of me) say, our Stone {33} is Invisible, and it is not possible to attain to the Possession of our Mercury, any other way than by Means of {34} two Bodies, whereof one cannot receive without the other the (requisite) Perfection...

The Grail from the East, like the Grail Castle, is imbued with a spirit that acts and shapes the events of the Grail cycle literature. Any beverage or food that comes from the Grail, or anyone that touches the Grail also links with the same spirit. In a similar way, the holy dip in the Krater or Ganges River brings one in touch with the elixir and in communion with the abiding spirit(s). This is the ultimate self-identification in which one merges with spirit of the sacred object.

Thus, everything around the great cosmic mountain which has been covered with its pyroclastic dust and ash -- the water, trees, fruits -- become agents of immortality. The ancient observer could not help but notice that after the destruction of an eruption, the land suddenly becomes fabulously fertile due to the new rich volcanic soil.

The sacred jars made with the clay released from the Mountain of the Sun and the Mountain of the Moon mixed together possesses truly unique qualities. The two dual principles complement one another and bring the elixir to perfection. These holy vessels, although not much to look at, continued to be sought by kings even after the people of the cosmic mountains had forsaken them.

In ancient times, the pot of elixir was jealously guarded. Indeed, the number who could partake of its mysterious powers was severely restricted by the "gods." Maybe those of the Dragon and Bird Clan who wandered far from home, brought instead of cumbersome jars, only small chunks of volcanic clay in the form of stones -- the Philosopher's Stone.

Modern study of hermetic principles reveal the obvious -- that the transmutation sought after was internal and spiritual in nature, and that any chemical transformation of base metals was at best a secondary consideration.

These ideas were shared with Tantra which saw the cancellation of the polarities through union of the same. We read again from The Ancient War of the Knights:

THE STONE: 'Tis for this Reason the there is no other but only my self, who possesses a Male and a Female Seed, and who is (at the same time) a Thing (entirely) Homogeneal; also am I call'd an Hermaphrodite. Richardus Anglicus witnesses of me, saying, the first Matter of our Stone is call'd Rebis (twice a Thing) that is to say, a Thing which has received from Nature a double occult property, which is the Reason that the name of Hermaphrodite is given to it, as if one would say, a Matter, whereof it is difficult to be able to distinguish the Sex (and to diccover) whether it be a Male, or a Female, it inclining equally to both Sides: The (Universal) Medicine is therefore made of a Thing which is {35} the Water, and the Spirit of the Body.

16th century alchemy lab in Austria

Paul Kekai Manansala