We can begin to feel, now, where we may be headed — down and in. In the last installment, we encountered a first legend of the presence of spirits of greed within the land of America. This time, a further legend of this same place, High Tor, outside of New York City, is given in summary form. It is from the novella, The Salamander, by Elizabeth Oaks Smith, published in 1848. Next time I will offer a commentary on this legend.
Spiritual imagination, except in the Americas, is heavily ‘sky’ oriented. Earth is usually depicted as the last of creation, a kind of ‘space station’ for humans to work, die, be punished, or be taken back into the vast ‘heavens’. I have been developing the Spiritual-Earth imagination of the Native Americans (the In-Dios), and what happened from the moment of the invasion of this land. The ‘sky’ view of the origins of creation as the ‘place of the creator, this spatial orientation we assume without a second thought, confuses our indigenous soul, which we all live unconsciously by virtue of living within this land.
The implication is clear: Here in America, to come into the presence of the fullness of Divine Wholeness, we have to go ‘down’ (metaphorically, imaginally, soulfully) rather than ‘up'( which is also a metaphor, but is taken quite literally by all religions, and almost all ‘spiritual paths; The metaphorical ‘direction’ of spirituality, if one lives in America, is down. We are going ‘down’ anyway, but without awareness that we are on a spiritual journey, and thus going down in a destructive manner. These two legends indicate the inevitability of destructiveness unless we can consciously encounter the spirits of greed.
We are living the destiny of living in America, but it is fate more than destiny because it is unconscious and we are ‘being had’ by the spirits of greed.
It will not be as simple as coming into some kind of consciousness of this ‘first level down’ of incarnational spirituality; if — and that is an awfully big ‘if’ — we can come to earth-spirituality, we then enter a very long and deep process of purification. The Native Americans knew/know of this descent into nine levels of the underworld, the spirit-path of America. More of this as we proceed.
This installment give a summary of the Legend of the Salamander, a novel written by Elizabeth Oakes Smith, published in 1848. Next time
we will say more about this legend and how is now being enacted in America.
A curious tale of the Rosicrucians runs to the effect that more than two centuries ago a band of German colonists entered the Ramapo valley (the location of High Tor – my comment) and put up houses of stone, like those they had left in the Hartz Mountains, and when the Indians saw how they made knives and other wonderful things out of metal, which they extracted from the rocks by fire, they believed them to be manitous and went away, not wishing to resist their possession of the land. There was treasure here, for High Tor, or Torn Mountain, had been the home of Amasis, youngest of the magi who had followed the star of Bethlehem. He had found his way, through Asia and Alaska, to this country, had taken to wife a native woman, by whom he had a child, and here on the summit he had built a temple. To him had been revealed in magic vision the secrets of wealth in the rocks.
The leader in the German colony, one Hugo, was a man of noble origin, who had a wife and two children: a boy, named after himself; and a girl,—Mary. Though it had been the custom in the other country to let out the forge fires once in seven years, Hugo opposed that practice in the forge he had built as needless. But his men murmured and talked of the salamander that once in seven years attains its growth in unquenched flame and goes forth doing mischief. On the day when that period was ended the master entered his works and saw the men gazing into the furnace at a pale form that seemed made from flame, that was nodding and turning in the fire, occasionally darting its tongue at them or allowing its tail to fall out and lie along the stone floor. As he came to the door he, too, was transfixed, and the fire seemed burning his vitals, until he felt water sprinkled on his face, and saw that his wife, whom he had left at home too ill to move, stood behind him and was casting holy water into the furnace, speaking an incantation as she did so. At that moment a storm arose, and a rain fell that put out the fire; but as the last glow faded the lady fell dead.
An Iron Mine in the High Tor Region
When her children were to be consecrated, seven years later, those who stood outside of the church during the ceremony saw a vivid flash, and the nurse turned from the boy in her fright. She took her hands from her eyes. The child was gone. Twice seven years had passed and the daughter remained unspotted by the world, for, on the night when her father had led her to the top of High Torn Mountain and shown her what Amasis had seen,—the earth spirits of greed in their caves heaping jewels and offering to give them if Hugo would speak the word that binds the free to the earth forces and bars his future for a thousand years,—it was her prayer that brought him to his senses and made the scene below grow dim, though the baleful light of the salamander clinging to the rocks at the bottom of the cave sent a glow into the sky.
Many nights after that the glow was seen on the height and Hugo was missing from his home, but for lack of a pure soul to stand as interpreter he failed to read the words that burned in the triangle on the salamander’s back, and returned in rage and jealousy.
A knightly man had of late appeared in the settlement, and between him and Mary a tender feeling had arisen, that, however, was unexpressed until, after saving her from the attack of a panther, he had allowed her to fall into his arms. She would willingly then have declared her love for him, but he placed her gently and regretfully from him and said, “When you slept I came to you and put a crown of gems on your head: that was because I was in the power of the earth spirit of greed. Then I had power only over the element of fire, that either consumes or hardens to stone; but now water and life are mine. Behold! Wear these, for thou art worthy.” And touching the tears that had fallen from her eyes, they turned into lilies in his hands, and he put them on her brow.
“Shall we meet again?” asked the girl.
“I do not know,” said he. “I tread the darkness of the universe alone, and I peril my redemption by yielding to this love of earth. Thou art redeemed already, but I must make my way back to God through obedience tested in trial. Know that I am one of those that left heaven for love of man. We were of that subtle element which is flame, burning and glowing with love,—and when thy mother came to me with the power of purity to cast me out of the furnace, I lost my shape of fire and took that of a human being,—a child. I have been with thee often, and was rushing to annihilation, because I could not withstand the ordeal of the senses. Had I yielded, or found thee other than thou art, I should have become again an earth spirit. I have been led away by wish for power, such as I have in my grasp, and forgot the mission to the suffering. I became a wanderer over the earth until I reached this land, the land that you call new. Here was to be my last trial and here I am to pass the gate of fire.”
As he spoke voices arose from the settlement.
“They are coming,” said he. The stout form of Hugo was in advance. With a fierce oath he sprang on the young man. “He has ruined my household,” he cried. “Fling him into the furnace!” The young man stood waiting, but his brow was serene. He was seized, and in a few moments had disappeared through the mouth of the burning pit. But Mary, looking up, saw a shape in robes of silvery light, and it drifted upward until it vanished in the darkness. The look of horror on her face died away, and a peace came to it that endured until the end.
Manhattan from top of High Tor Mountain (slightly magnified)
I can now perhaps say just a bit concerning the unfolding of this work, to the extent I have a sense of it, though it is mostly unknown much in advance. I do want to work,
possibly in three installments, with the question of greed in America, and some imaginations of the soul-origin of this greed and its spirit-purpose, if we can meet it.
Then, due to the multiple perspectives of you, dear readers, I would like to try and offer a sense of the intertwining of soul-heart-spirit —what each perspective concerns and how they
relate with each other, and as well, what happens when one is separated from the other. The perspective offered in all these blogs centers within the heart, and for very particular
reasons, not the least of which is the original people of this land were people of the heart. There are further reasons, to be indicated. However, all three perspectives must be occurring together if we are really ‘here’, fully. Then, we may be ready to begin to unfold the imagination of ceremony as healing for America.
The Soul of America and the Underworld
In the region of High Tor, New York, an actual place right outside of New York City, near the Tappen Zee bridge, the enactment of two legends of great importance to the Soul of America occurred. The first legend is dated very near the time of the birth of Jesus. The second legend is dated somewhere around the 17th century. Then, in much more recent times, an event occurred in New York City which is not a legend at all, but will be developed and spoken in relation to these two legends.
The first legend
When Jesus was born, the youngest of the three Magi, whose name was Amesis, looked into the eyes of this child and saw the possible future of the human being. He saw that Jesus was the bearer of what the human being could become, and he also saw how this unfolding could be thwarted. He saw that it is possible that every human being could live in complete harmony with the earth and with the cosmos and with each other. This reality was inherent in the eyes of the child. And, Amesis saw that the future of the human being had to do with the destiny of the land of America.
Amesis came to what is now America, traveling by way of Alaska. He came to a region now known as High Tor, in New York, a place located right above what is now the Tappen Zee bridge, outside New York City. You can see Manhattan from this high place.
Amesis knew that the destiny of America involved soul’s encounter with the spirits of greed. The indigenous people of this region had ‘handled’ the presence of these beings by prisoning them deep within the earth.
Amesis came to this place where this imprisonment occurred. He knew that we would have to encounter these spirits, and hoped to transform them into spirits of good. He set up an altar and stayed there for a very long time. He married an Indian woman, and daily did rituals at this altar. One day, the spirits emerged, but were far, far more powerful than could be imagined, and could not be contained. A huge explosion occurred, creating the Hudson Valley and the Hudson River. The spirits of greed were released for the first time.
A hint of what we are now still required to confront within the soul can be heard in two images of the Hudson River and Valley. The Hudson river originates in a very small, very pristine lake high in the Adirondacks. The name of this lake is ‘Tear of the Cloud” lake. Then, the Hudson River itself is a huge estuary. This means that the salty water of the sea comes up the river to meet the tears coming down. The sea flows up as far as Troy, New York, a distance of 150 miles. We can imagine the Hudson as a river of tears – originating from the Tears of the highest cosmos and the deepest ocean. The soul of America as a place of lament, carrying the destiny of America as that of encountering greed, seeing and feeling it within, and undergoing a long but clear emotional initiation into grieving all that greed has and continues to wreak in the world. To find the destiny and the soul of America requires grieving the innumerable events that removed the original people who are the earth of this land and colonized them into people of shame that covered over our seeing and feeling shame. (There are actually two people who are the land that is America – the Native Americans — and the Black people — each in different ways. More on this later.)
We can begin to discern the soul-purpose of America — that of the humble nature of seeing those, our brothers and sisters, who are in need and offering service in humility and a sense of our lostness. In so doing we would discover that the feeling element of the heart, that which makes humans aware of being human is grief. Grief is what makes us truly human. That is the gift America has to offer, not just here, but everywhere.
A second hint concerning what we are required to confront, both individually as living in America, and that also concerns the land of America — the destiny of America concerns encountering greed
and finding the way through it. You can look through each of the previous blogs and read them as the unfolding of the presence of greed occurring since the invasion of this land. Now, with this first legend,
we see the presence of greed as forces within the land itself meeting the greed of the conquerors, producing voracious greed. What is this about?
Then a third hint –we cannot enter grieving without first undergoing purification. Our work with the soul-pictures of what happened to the original people of this land is intended to open this purification process.
In 2014, Cheryl and I and members of the School of Spiritual Psychology went on a pilgrimage to High Tor, New York. We all climbed the considerable height of High Tor, and from there, in the far distance,
New York City appears. The vision of the city, though, was unique. It did not appear as “New York City — over there in the far distance”. Seeing the city in the distance was simultaneously felt as New
York City being exactly where we were all standing. The still-existing deep feeling-connection between Manhattan and this place of High Tor persists as if still calling us to the Soul of America.
Next time —
a second legend, and also the meaning of the word “Manhattan”. introducing the manner in which these two legends are manifesting.
In this blog series, something of the Soul of America is slowly being revealed, more by its absence than by its presence. We have said that since the first invasions of this land, the soul of the Original People, the In-Dios, who were and indeed still are the land, has been obscured. It is not, though, a matter of going back and, so to speak, picking that up. We cannot do so because, over this vast time of being a soulless country, something has taken the place of the soul of America. (Note: recognizing that as a country we are soulless does not suggest that individual soul-awareness is absent. It does mean that those who are soul-aware are also aware of ongoing discomfort with the country, but tend not to see the difficulty as a soul difficulty going as deep as ignoring the spirit of the land.)
The soul of the Original People was centered in the heart. I alluded to that in the little vignette of C. G. Jung meeting with the Taos Elder, Mirabal – when Mirabal says to Jung that the strange white people with thin lips and searching eyes think with their head while the In-Dios think with their heart.
Alas, we cannot just turn directly to the ways of the heart and thus recover the soul of America – because, we, and by ‘we’, I mean the collective human beings of America, are now colonized in the brain. We have to first find our way out of being brain colonized. And, even if we could turn to the ways of the heart, it would not be by going back to the way Native Americans lived – not in any literal way.
In 1940, Leo Simmons, a Yale anthropologist journeyed to the small village of Oraibi, Arizona, on the Hopi reservation. He had a Hopi assistant with him, whose Hopi name was Sun Chief. Sun Chief had spent time in a boarding school, one of the principal ways that the In-Dios became colonized. Sun Chief went to this school by choice, a choice he regretted. He says:
“On June the fourteenth (1902) my father came for me and we returned home, riding burros and bringing presents of calico, lamps, shovels, axes, and other tools. It was a joy to get home again, and to tell about my experiences at school. I had learned many English words and could recite part of the Ten Commandments. I knew how to sleep on a bed, pray to Jesus, comb my hair, eat with a knife and fork and use a toilet. I had learned that the world was round instead of flat, that it is indecent to go naked in the presence of girls, and to eat the testes of sheep or goats. I had also learned that a person thinks with his head instead of his heart.”
I use the word ‘colonized’ above in exactly the same way as over the many years, the In-Dios have been colonized — that is, treated in such a manner – physically, perceptually, legally, that we have a completely false sense of who they are. We killed them, committed untold acts of violence and aggression, broke every treaty ever agreed upon, incarcerated them in reservations, made it virtually impossible for them to live except in dire poverty, removed the very center of their religious being by removing the medicine men and women, introduced them to alcohol – and bad food, and then made then live as if belonging to this civilization, not at its center, but as isolated colonies. This is the process of colonization. We, and often, even they are not able to see and know who they are, and not being able to see them, we cannot experience the reality of what is under our feet.
Colonization ‘stuffs’ false concepts of people onto them, and these concepts become the reality, a false, reality, but one that those who are colonized gradually come to be unable to recognize as false, and/or live in anger and hatred. Those who are colonized live in trauma.
Now, though, having gone through centuries of development without a sense of the soul of this place, without any sense of what it is to live in the heart, a different kind of insidious colonization has taken place – we Americans now live in the colonization of the brain, not knowing that the brain without the heart is subject to being colonized by the ‘great brain’ of cleverness, alas, or we should say, thank goodness, a cleverness-of-brain we all do not possesses – yet.
Another way of saying it – we live a disease of thinking that has come about through the ascendency of thinking taking place through ignoring the heart and inherently ignoring the spiritual nature of earth. Then, thinking goes awry and becomes ‘thinking about’, and all becomes living within the medium of ‘thinking about’, taking place without knowing where we are, without the wisdom-protections of nature, of earth. ‘Thinking about’ has no creativity to it, and instead relies on cleverness to give an appearance that we can live and live well without anything other than ourselves.
Thinking has its place, but we should not think all the time. We should think only when there is something genuine to creatively think. That is different than the incessant “I think”. Genuine thinking is consciousness aware of itself. ‘Thinking about’ is empty because the emphasis is on the ‘about’, which takes over and slides into opinion and belief that replaces genuine thinking, the very definition of cleverness.
That some do possess almost infinite cleverness – the questionable capacity of ‘thinking about’ that is completely un-rooted from the earth and uses that cleverness in conjunction with the will, has colonized us into powerless people confined to the reservation of materialistic longing, manipulated by the priests of cleverness and lies.
We have an immediate intuitive sense of the difference between head thinking and head talking and heart thinking and speaking. But, it is more than centering in logic versus centering in feeling, though that is indeed a part of the manifestation of this difference. But, with the onset of thinking being replaced by ‘thinking about’, opinion and belief now predominate.
Thinking and speaking that arise from the heart are accompanied by consciousness that is a power while thinking and speaking that arises from the head are not accompanied by consciousness that is a power. Brain consciousness has no power at all. That is why we say that thinking has to be applied to be useful.
Heart mode words are objects – what is said from the heart is the same as the object spoken of, indeed is the object in its mode of thinking and acting. If one speaks the word ‘peace’ from the place of the heart, a non-ending resonance takes place that is real, even tangible. If I talk about peace, such head- mode words are empty.
The mode of thinking and speaking of the In-Dios, heart, is the mode of prayer (ceremony, singing, dancing, speaking with the spirits.), and prayer is the mode of the conversing heart. The In-Dios lived within the thinking and speaking power of prayer. Later, we shall have to delve more into heart-presence as prayer-presence, for we live a very colonized sense of prayer — seeking something for ourselves. Prayer is the heart-mode way of conversing with all that is rather than the narrowing of prayer into seeking something that is not present.
We are certainly removed from the power of the heart, but are nonetheless now also colonized in another equally insidious way as the In-Dios –– we are colonized into the false comfort of living as if we have made the world. Another way of saying this – the In-Dios lived in constant prayer. We do not, and that ‘not having power’ lives within us as a felt sense of longing that cannot be satisfied here.
And, the impossibility of longing being satisfied here (meaning earth), that longing, when it is even noticed, for the brain does not tend to notice it at all – is projected into the search for the elsewhere Divine. Or, far, far more frequently, that longing becomes perverted into the false notion that the longing can be satisfied by the power of enacting our will, using our will to implement concepts to quell the longing, which is only very temporarily satisfied, and has to be done again, and again, and again. This implementation of concepts through the will is technology and the preparation for technology doing business on its own – artificial intelligence. As soon as our own artificial intelligence is perfected, it can then be turned over to the machine.
We are born operating in the heart mode. We live, though, in a ‘civilized’, ‘rational’ place where the mode we were born with is not recognized or accepted. The inchoate drive at the center of our being is not only completely neglected, it is inverted to become the false longing for possessing the earth rather than living within earth.