The Third Legend: America Enters the Underworld
We have spoken of the legend of Amasis, the myth, really, that resulted in the explosion that formed the Hudson Valley and the Hudson river, the river of tears. We then spoke of the Legend of the Salamander, the elemental fire being, this particular one, the being of greed. In the legend we see he is actually a fallen angel, a ‘good’ being, who took a wrong turn by becoming too interested in the material world. In the legend, he also appears as the young man who falls in love with Mary, the daughter of Hugo, the head of the group running the forge. Mary’s pure love helps this young man (the transformed salamander) return to the spiritual worlds — but greed escapes into the world. (Oh, greed, is a necessity in the world — what becomes of it depends on how we meet it — right now it has a clear hold on this country.)
This legend also features New York, Manhattan.The atomic bomb, the culmination of the Manhattan Project (the word “Manhattan” is Indian, and refers ‘evil place’ – don’t literalize this! — it is the amazing art and intellectual dimension of Manhattan that brings balance to this word.). The Manhattan Project – much went on in Manhattan – offices of the secret project were in the high-rises (also a metaphor of ‘America”); uranium was stockpiled on Long Island; the bomb was constructed in Los Alamos, New Mexico; was exploded on July 16, 1945, at a place with the code name of “Trinity”, near Socorro, New Mexico. The bomb as an ‘anti-Trinity’. And one that releases even deeper forces that assist the spirits of greed. You recall that at the moment of the explosion of the bomb, Robert Oppenheimer says: “Now I become Death, destroyer of worlds”. That is, the ego, which is the potential of the I AM of Life turns into the I AM of death. Our very identity as human beings now serves the forces of death.
The explosion turned a square mile of the New Mexico landscape into an eerie kind of green glass, now named Trinitinite. No life takes place there. It is a vast ‘black hole’ that sucks in the true destiny of America so that the forces of greed become stronger and stronger. The Underworld of America opens. It is as if it has been sitting there since
Archetypally, this explosion reaches deep down into the Underworld, there in New Mexico, touching into and joining with the forces of the Aztec gods. The explosion touches into that archetypal impulse of removing the heart from the human being, that is, removing the capacity of creative imagination to make a cultural world; without the imaginal heart, greed meets no resistance.
The fourth and most recent upheaval showing the unfolding of the union of the spirits of greed with the spirits of darkness is 9/11. In the aftershock of terrible grief, we were told to continue living, to go out and shop, to go to Disneyland. It is the moment of the unleashing of the forces of greed full force into the world, because now we are convinced in soul that greed is good.
There is much to be imaged with 9/11. Mystery and controversy still surround this tragedy and thankfully keep the imaginal aspect alive. It is not a simple and uncontested fact that America was attacked by terrorists. The heat from the explosion was intense, and the iron/steel remained molten for weeks, when, if the collapse of the buildings were due to the implosion, the heat would have subsided in days. Many engineers have said that the collapse of the buildings and the fires could not have been due to the impact of the airplanes.
There is also a fault line that runs in the region of the twin towers, and an earthquake of magnitude 4.5 occurred in New York City in 2000. That fault line runs up toward High Tor. These imaginal pictures reveal the continued unfolding of the legend of the destiny of America – the actual destiny – that of meeting – and honoring the spirits of greed – not being possessed by them. We can imagine the 9/11 event as an upheaval, very direct, of the spirits of greed, and only secondarily a literal attack.
Perhaps the most important archetypal image is the explosion of greed that has occurred since 9/11. The stock market continues to soar. So does corruption in the realm of finances, spilling over into the government. The false division between greed and grief, an archetypal image that is one, not two, is nearly completed, and shows up as divided cities of steel skyscrapers and financial centers, and wealth, and incredible corruption, which everyone sees and cannot stop, divided from our grief, which unmet, becomes violence in the world. We cannot stop the greed because it now lives autonomously divided from its regions of unrecognized grieving, which is the formula for untold violence, for violence is untended grieving. And now we have a president who is also the president of greed.
In the next blog, we will look more closely at 9/11, see further images of America entering the Underworld — and also see Who is in the Underworld as the force that can counter greed.