MARCH, 2004

 

Mythic Prelude:

The Passion of the Christ Paradigm

As of this morning, March 1, on the day this March calendar goes up at Hermes 3 and goes out to the e-mail subscription list, the main front-page story here in Hawaii is about a man who shut down Kahului Airport in Maui yesterday when he drove his Dodge Durango SUV into the ticket lobby, opened a back door and doused the seats with gasoline, then set his gas-guzzling karma bomb of a car ablaze, and ran. God be praised, the people near the SUV had ample time to get out of the way before the thing exploded. And the police caught the firebug, a 52 year-old man from nearby Ha'iku who yelled that he wants to die.  

  It is stunningly appropriate that a middle-aged man living in an American state or colony in 2004 would commit ritual suicide in public by torching his wheels. What better symbol of the soul desert that America has become than a new suicide scenario in which the desperate one does not do away with himself, but instead blows up the costliest thing he's got? One does not need to be the Sufi master Esin Chelebi -- or one of the, likely, many others who have said this by now -- that the source and radiating center of the soul illness and mental instability the United States suffers now is the almost complete loss among most Americans of true spiritual feeling, practice and values. The resulting way of life is really only a way of things: completely material, based on the value system of one core principle: that every American has the right to buy and break as much as he damn well wants. The more you waste, the bigger you look, as F. Scott Fitzgerald knew well when he was proofing The Great Gatsby 80 years ago.

 This may prove a useful introduction to the main mythic subject for this month, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and its connection with the grand celestial time design in which the old Piscean Age of the Christ Paradigm continues to recede, while the new Aquarian Age of All-Embracing Friendship grows and flourishes. Gibson's great film -- for the script, direction, acting, cinematography, sets, costumes, music, all of it is magnificent state-of-the-art work that will cut some new trails, if only technical ones, for films to come -- is a milestone in the shape-shifting time that now gathers breadth, depth and speed, as old things strangely vanish, and unexpected new things suddenly appear.

  The Passion of the Christ in fact belongs perfectly to the time just before the coming sudden awareness that we do not live in a world of things, but a world of energy where human beings learn to create their entire conscious universe through the power of their own intention. Thus unneeded old thoughts and their material anchors disappear, many frightened people weird out, and wondrous new discoveries come. Among them:

  Philip Sedgwick, in his article "A Gem of a Star" and others have reported the amazing discovery of "the most valuable known gem in the Universe," the object astronomers have nicknamed "Lucy," from the Beatles' Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. "This star, BPM 37093," Philip writes, "crystallized into a diamond from a white dwarf star." It has a weight of about 10 billion trillion trillion carats." Those who wish to track these things weekly, and learn months ahead about approaching major phenomena like the Venus Occultation of June 8, will do well to get on Philip's subscription list for his free newsletter through galastro@aol.com.

  Yet another thrilling new find has come from Egypt, which will prove the Land of Surprises in many ways in the years to come. While it is not at all unusual for archaeologists to discover papyrus scrolls hidden inside mummies, it is a priceless rarity to find what has just come to light: a manuscript of Achilles, a tragedy by Aeschylus, the first of the great Greek playwrights. The play, long thought to have been lost when the Romans burned the library of Alexandria, is reportedly equal in quality to Aeschylus' best surviving work, and will be staged this summer by the National Theatre Company of Cyprus.

  Which brings us again to the subject of tragedy and The Passion of the Christ. It is obvious from watching and listening to the somber and shocked audiences that leave this film that it has aroused powerful tragic emotion. The question is whether the emotion is cathartized by the hero's suffering, and lifted away from the hearts of those who see the story. If Aristotle is correct in claiming that the aim of Oedipus the King and other successful tragedies is to arouse and purge the emotions of pity and fear, then Gibson has done half the job. He stirs very deep pity for the suffering hero, and fear of the cruelties human beings do -- but all this emotion is not transmuted and cleansed away, and this is why most people file dazed from the multiplex, exhausted and depressed by The Passion, rather than inspired and renewed. It is hard to imagine that this film will ignite those who see it into fervor and enthusiasm, and an urge to become Christian right now. Rather, The Passion is having the opposite effect of destroying the audience's self-esteem, and making them wonder whether human beings in general, and they themselves, are worth God's effort in saving them, loving them, or even keeping them alive at all.

 The other problem with the violent catharsis interruptus of The Passion is that the film lives almost entirely in the dimension of tragedy, while Jesus, in the things he actually said and taught, was working fundamentally in the realm of comedy. The main idea and emotional force of comedy in its purest form is the unity of all beings, as expressed in stories in which people work and fight and plot and play against each other until they see the misunderstanding that had set them against each other in the first place, and find some way to forgive everybody, even the one who dissed them really deep and bad. The actual ideas of Jesus, not the fakes that appear below where they belong, are the principles of Comedy (as articulated beautifully in Joseph Meeker's The Comedy of Survival): that everyone is included, every role is important, and in the end all is forgiven, and we have feasting and marriages and new life in a community of people who practice love, kindness, compassion and mercy. That's what Jesus really wanted.

  Did Jesus also really want the horribly bloody and harrowing version of his story that Mel Gibson has given us? Only if Jesus envisioned a world in which every human being who is merciful and kind is hopelessly outweighed by a hundred others who are bloodthirsty, stupid, sadistically cruel, mean, drunk with passion and lies and religious pride, and so indifferent to the agony of others that when Pilate tells the mob to "Behold the Man" -- at least the bleeding meat on his feet that is left of him -- the crowd howls for more pain, more blood, the gauntlet of spit and garbage and the shame and horror of the cross. The tragic world as it appears in the Jerusalem of The Passion of the Christ is much shorter on good people than Cold Mountain or even King Lear. If Mr. Gibson's goal is to show that human life is tragic, that human beings are so vicious and violently hateful that there is no way to improve us by human effort alone -- so God has to send a Savior to show us a way to be better -- then The Passion of the Christ has hit its aim of making humanity in general look sinful and damnable and utterly unworthy of God. It is no wonder that audiences are bummed and mumbling as they emerge to the comforts of neon, popcorn aroma and beeping video games.

  When the main thrust of the Jesus story is not the relentless hideousness of human beings, but Jesus' core teachings of forgiveness, compassion and love for all people, then human beings come out looking much better, and we are in Jesus' native domain of the comedy plot. The good news in this scenario is that Jesus wants to save us, even those who'd prefer to take responsibility for their own sins, thank you. The tough news is that Satan is after us too, and, as the Rolling Stones knew, Satan is said always to be a happy spectator when human beings harm each other most murderously. Mel Gibson is sure that the Devil is present and ugly at the cross, and as relentless as a telemarketer everywhere. Asked why many people still do not embrace the Christian faith, Gibson said, "they are Satanists, or dupes of Satan." One can well believe this from the notorious Super Bowl halftime show of two months ago, and its embarrassing proof that the main message of American pop music is, "Look at me. I'm a star who's getting laid a lot more than you are, so eat your heart out." And all of this is going on while the eternal given circumstances remain in effect, and God for many is still hard to find. No wonder demons appear everywhere to nervous and imaginative persons who haven't yet seen what Gandhi meant when he said, "The only devils in the world are the ones running around in our own hearts."

   The bottom line, as the end credits roll, is that Mel Gibson may have booted his own purpose by creating a work that will not have the intended explosive effect of spreading Christianity throughout the world, but will have instead the implosive effect of showing why all the Christian black and white, God and Satan, heaven and hell, and all the rest of the endless addiction to duality and conflict is increasingly irrelevant in a time of growing human freedom, awareness, and responsible intention. For reviewer Stephen Simon, "the entire film seemed like the dying gasp of an old ultra-religious paradigm that is slowly fading  into oblivion. I had the distinct feeling that I was watching the symbolic conclusion to 2000 years of human history that, in the West, has been dominated by the Catholic Church."

  So be it. One thing that is now suffering and dying is the Christ Paradigm itself, the whole anti-human premise that humanity is so sinful, corrupt and e-word that we cannot become good through our own effort, so God must send  a Savior to redeem our sins and rescue us from hell, and ourselves. Regular readers of this space have seen these ideas before, so we need not probe them here. The critical point now is that there are no more solitary Saviors on the way. Everyone knows the Lone Lifeguard is much more mysterious, sexy and dramatic than a whole monastery of high frequency hats, but there is simply no holding the truth back now, as the whole Aquarian impulse and method is communal, so we take individual and collective responsibility for the outcomes we receive, and we all work together to awaken ourselves and each other. We work out our own sins and do not need anyone else to die for them. Not any more. The agony scenario and the negating false paradigm it is built from must wither and blow away as the Aquarian energy of Friendship and Celebration spreads. So do what you can today to help an outworn, toxic paradigm make as graceful an exit as it can. Find a new friend. Drink watermelon juice. Sing! Keep holding that frequency.

   Finally, a few astral notes for the generally placid month of March, the first month of the rest phase and runup to June 8.

   While the New Moon of March 20 is relatively uneventful -- in effect an intimate dinner scene between Sun and Moon, with Mars (sextile to the pair at an angle of 60°) seated in the same restaurant, but at a table across the room -- the Full Moon of March 6 is the most powerful and intricate Full Moon of the year, rivaled only by the Blue Moon (double Full Moon) of July and the Libra Full Moon in late September.

  On March 6 Mercury conjoins the Sun in Pisces as Jupiter conjoins the Full Moon in Virgo, while Mars and the Moon's North Node in Taurus (8° apart, and thus not conjunct to each other) are both trine (120° from) the Moon, and sextile (60° from) the Sun, and Saturn in Cancer is quintile (72°, one-fifth of the circle from) the Full Moon in Virgo. The effect of all this is that the Full Moon of March 6, already festive enough as the time of Purim, Holi, and other laughter feasts, is even livelier this year as a time for celebrations that combine fun and feasting with spiritual ceremony and wider communal understanding.

  Not just the Full Moon weekend, but all of March, and the whole four months from now to late June, are of huge value as an opportunity to introduce others as gently as possible to the spiritual actualities of life on Earth, and increase the common human stock of love and active compassion. This superb chance is empowered and emphasized from now through June 25 by the ongoing trine (120° angle) between Jupiter in Virgo and the Moon's North Node (Dragon's Head) in Taurus. Reinhold Ebertin (in Transits) attributes to this combination the practical manifestations of the "ability to adapt, desire to enter into good relations, successful negotiations, gain of business advantages with others, partnership, engagement, marriage." In other words, the four months that begin now are a time for new alignments and alliances, and the strengthening and love-freshening of old relationships. It is of immense significance that this Jupiter - Dragon's Head trine will be exact on June 8, the day of the Venus Occultation, when Jupiter is at 10° Virgo 37' and the Dragon's Head is at 10° Taurus 37'.

  More on this next month or in May, as June 8 approaches. For now, another essential source for advance information about the June Venus Passage is the work of Carl Johan Calleman, author of The Mayan Calendar.

 

Copyright 2004 Dan Furst

 

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