Sunday, August 3, 2014


Tiger Lilies, Arrow Leaf Tansy, Angelica, Columbine

     When I was in college, one of my bar mates was an aspiring writer. Over french fries and libations, we would discuss weighty literary and philosophical topics.  At one point, after a few beers, she blurted out, “You have to leave the meadow!” She sighed and chortled, believing that she had made another profound statement. I have to admit that I was impressed by the sentiment, having already imbibed a few, and I enthusiastically agreed. Having already lived in three different apartments in the El Dorado District, the most poverty stricken neighborhood in California, dubbed “Sin City” in the sixties, I had grown accustomed to the grittier side of life, the drugs, the criminality, the tawdriness. At the time, I believed she was implying that people cannot hope to understand art or literature without first questioning superficial middle-class values and losing their “innocence.”
    Now I realize that she might have also been poking fun at the sixties. I have to admit, however, that I have always secretly wanted to “get back to the garden.” Having experienced more than enough chaos, corruption, pollution, needless suffering, destruction and waste, I understand the universal longing to return to Eden. Born at the tail end of the baby boom generation, I have always been fascinated by sixties’ counter culture movements.  I have since understood that returning to paradise is not simply a matter of taking the right drug, joining the right political party, finding the right yoga position, or sitting at the feet of the right holy man.           
     I have always believed that you must become as a little child to regain paradise, possibly due to my Christian upbringing. I now understand that this is true in a very limited sense but also very misleading. We long to return to a time before we had to repress emotions to survive. But in childhood we have not had time to develop our minds and learn to harmonize instincts and emotions. There is more than a little suggestion that “returning to paradise” means giving free-reign to all instincts and emotions, no matter how selfish or destructive. It is easy to see why many efforts to “get back to the garden” have failed, and why so many individuals in the counter culture in the sixties have become libertarians.
     A return to paradise can be made only if one expands consciousness through exaltation and mental development. In a life-long process of expanding and disciplining the mind, sincere efforts must be made to balance the emotions and to comprehend spiritual principles. Returning to the meadow is a return to the state of being known as Tiphareth, the Christ center, on the Tree of Life. Through an expansion of consciousness, one achieves an understanding of the spiritual principles behind natural forces and develops compassion for all things. The Vision of Harmony leads to an understanding of the need to strive for the highest possible good as a way to harmonize the aspects of the self, the community and the society as a whole.
     Analyzing the symbolism of the Sphere of Tiphareth, Dion Fortune states in the Mystical Qabalah, “The Order of Angels of Tiphareth are the Malichim, or Kings. These are the spiritual principles of natural forces and no one can control, or even safely make contact with elemental principles unless he holds the initiation of Tiphareth....For he must have been accepted by the Elemental Kings, that is to say, he must have realized the ultimate spiritual nature of natural forces before he can handle them in their elemental form.  In their subjective elemental form, they appear in the microcosm as powerful instincts of combat, of reproduction, of self-abasement, of self-aggrandizement, and all those emotional factors known to the psychologist.  It is obvious, therefore, that if we stir and stimulate these emotions in our natures it must be that we use them as servants of the higher self, directed by reason and spiritual principle” (193).
Columbine, Tansy, Angelica, Tiger Lily
     Regaining paradise, in other words, includes the understanding that if we “stir the emotions,” we must learn to channel them productively through reason and spiritual principle.  Otherwise we might as well just continue to rely on the old tried and true methods of stifling emotion as a way to maintain social order. 
     According to Fortune, we must “give ourselves wholeheartedly to the corporate life” (157); in other words, we must accept that we are members of communities, instead of merely rebelling against any type of order that stifles the instincts and emotions. The powerful instincts of combat, reproduction, and self-aggrandizement will lift their heads even above Tiphareth, like the many-headed dragon in the glyph of the Garden of Eden after the Fall, if the higher self does not bring them into harmony.
     We cannot escape the polarity of emotions and instincts, each of which has a positive and negative side. For instance, the powerful instinct of combat can lead to cruelty and destructiveness or to great courage and energy, to injustice or to justice. The instinct of reproduction can lead to lack of chastity and lust or to unselfishness and the production of beautiful works. The higher self harmonizes and channels instincts and emotions for the highest good, but this takes concentration, inspiration, willpower and experience. “Stirring and stimulating” the emotions can lead to lack of balance, resulting in what others perceive as mistakes in one’s personal life, while one is learning what it means to open the heart and use emotions wisely and productively. Learning to live in the higher self and regaining paradise is the “great work” of a lifetime, but in the process we understand the Power and the Glory, the Victory and the Splendor and ultimately the Beauty of the Tree of Life and the natural forces within us and the cosmos.
Camas and Shooting Stars
NOTE: If you are wondering what has happened to the other essays that I’ve written for this blog over the past year, I have collected the ones I like and put them in what I consider the most effective order after eliminating mistakes and redundancy. If you wish to experience these superior versions, click on this link: Exploring the Experimental Range.

PLEASE ALSO NOTE: Inspired by the topic of “returning to the meadow,” I have written a modest story (with illustrations) for a harp and piano concerto in four movements. If you wish to experience the story, music, and illustrations, click on this link: The Last Meadow.

All of my revised work can be accessed at this site: PATHS AND THRONES.

All text, music and illustrations Copyright 2014, by Jim Robbins.
Tarot cards by Pamela Coleman Smith (in public domain).