The Dream of the Temple

Somewhere I wrote of a recurring dream that took place within an ancient temple:
 

In the first experience of the dream, it was the temple of Mars Ultor, the God of Vengeance and War. When the god commanded the warriors, who were my friends, to “Go Forth!”, I was consumed by sorrow at the knowledge that they would die in battle. But sorrow quickly gave place to so great a rage at the indifference of Mars toward the lives of my brothers that I myself murdered him as he sat on his throne. On that day the blood of Mars flowed from the temple.

In a second experience of the dream, the temple belonged to Apollo Abaeus and at his command to “Go Forth!”, I beheld the warriors depart swiftly in every possible direction. So urgent was their mission that there was not even time for me to ask them what they were doing. And so I asked Apollo himself and he told me that he was sending my friends forth to every corner of the Universe and even to places unknown to the gods so that at least some of them might survive and produce children.

In the final experience of the dream, I myself was the priest of the temple of Sol Invictus, but this time the command did not come from a god. Rather, the temple guard who lived with me in the temple precinct commanded me to “Go Forth! Be Seen by the Family!” As it was not the custom of the guard to command the priest, I understood how important this was. I left the temple unaccompanied and made my way to the Family in order to bring them hope in the moment when they had most need of it. When at last I returned through the grove that surrounded the temple, a thylacine pup fell from above as I passed beneath the last tree. The pup cried and clung to me, so I carried him with me into the temple and raised him as my son. The tree he fell from was revealed as the Sacred Tree that sanctified the entire temple grove and even the temple itself. The pup was Sol Invictus clothed in Earthly form.

[Regarding dreams: I’ve found that the meaning I extract from my dreams changes and evolves, especially in the case of recurring dreams. Sometimes the benefit of experience or reflection sheds light on aspects that were obscured previously. His dictis, dreams are just dreams. They are entirely and only what we make of them.]

~BT Waldbillig
October 15, 2017

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The Summoning

 

When the Maiden ceased her laughter
And the Wolf Pup sat at his feet

The Forest Boy held high his rod
And silence fell upon the meadow

Where the tall grass and yellow flowers
Keep watch with the sparrows

And a single tear dropped from his cheek
As stars sometimes fall from the heavens

Only then could the Forest Boy
Lay down the rod and put aside all sadness

Yet faster than a mighty stag the Pup
Seized the rod and swiftly made his way

Through the meadow, beyond the tall grass
To the place where no yellow flowers should grow

Though the sparrows know better
And the Pup looked up to the heavens

In that time between dream and dawn
In that moment they began to appear

The first from under a fallen tree
Another from behind the barren rocks

Some seemed to rise from the earth itself
While others emerged from the Lake of Many Faces

Then finally the last one came forth
From the Wolf itself, no more a pup

But mother and protector of her every litter
And through the darkness and quiet of night

They gathered around her
And fed until each was sated

And warm beneath her body
Even as sleep took each one

They left the place of awakening
For the land beyond

Knowing the perfect love of a mother
That love beyond all dreaming

Then one by one the stars appeared
Like sentries protecting their Master

Beyond numbering they appeared
Each more beautiful than the last

When at last the Boy opened his eyes
To the first light of dawn

The Maiden was gone
And the Pup nowhere to be found

Therefore he looked to Sol and rejoiced
While the sparrows returned to mark his way

Back through the meadow
Beyond the tall grass and yellow flowers

And when at last he arrived home
He was no more a boy, but a Father

Returning to many sons and daughters
Who gathered around him like pups

Eager to see the Father
Who is also Mother

So they sat around the hearth
And silence fell upon the house

As he told them stories
More beautiful than any dream

Stories only a Mother can tell
Though he had become a Father

Beyond fathers
Beyond mothers

He was the Friend
Who walks among us even now

And if you watch carefully
You will see Him yet

Running among the trees
Swiftly following his faithful Dog

Together they hunt the mighty Stag
To offer as sacrifice in the hidden place

Where the memory still abides
Though few remember

That place of empty lands
And undiscovered woods

Let us go there together
For I have much to show you there

In that place where once
I was a boy with a pup like no other

There he rests
There I wept

There I offered sacrifice as to a god
And refreshed myself in cool waters

There you, too, will travel
When you are no longer children

There you will offer sacrifice on my behalf
And you will know that you are loved

So long as your love endures
That place will endure

Your Father, too, will endure
Just as the Master endures

Just as your children will endure
And take refuge under the sacred tree

The one that grew from a boy’s staff
The one that gives refuge from all sorrow

Where children and pups and sparrows
Fish and insects and serpents

And creatures of darkest night
Gather no more in silence

They gather together
To sing wondrous songs

To tell stories as fantastical as fables
In the place where all discover

That they waited for no god or titan
For no father or mother or lost son

They waited for each other
For they were always

The People of the Great Heart

~BT Waldbillig
September 12, 2017

The Dream of a Father

On that day the Family of Blood
Will become a Family of Spirit

Once a people of war
They will no longer bow

To the Avenging God
Never again will they tremble

As they stand before the temple
They will sing and laugh and dance

Like sparrows in the meadow
Who seem easy prey to the hawk

But the hawk has no brothers
And the sparrows are a band

Of fearless warriors
Alone the sparrow is weak

But gathered together
The sparrows are mighty

Even so the spiritual family
Is bound together by the love

Shown to them by their father
Who never abandons his children

Steadfast like the true Friend
In this family father strikes not son

And both rejoice at the return
Of those who once were lost

Whether righteous or wicked
Whether king or poor man

Whether unclean woman or virgin
All are honored

All are loved
Just as Sol sends his gift

From highest heaven
Down upon all equally

Just as a dog lays down his life
For the master he adores

This father remains unconquered
So that his family might endure

Even though worlds pass away
The children of Sol

Live on in the firmament
Bright shining lights

The stuff of stars
Like their father

So long as their light
Fills the dark places

There will be life
There will be hope

And when the light of Sol
Goes out, another will rise

And another and another
Unto endless ages

Their enemies thought them
Creatures of dirt and mud

When they were always
As gods walking among men

Their enemies are no more
But the spiritual family endures

They were as sleepers
Lost in sad dreams

Who awake at cockcrow
To a world filling with light

And shot through with joy
Rising they go forth

To wander the world
As sparrows do

Taking for themselves
The Bread of Sorrow

And the Wine of Bitterness
Not knowing that of such

Is the food of gods
And as gods who wander the world

Leave behind many children
So these wanderers will bring forth

Many sons and daughters
On many worlds across the Universe

They shall become even greater
Than the one who first brought them forth

For that is how a father is honored
When his children become greater

Than their father’s greatest dreams
And love each other

With a love too great
For one Father’s heart to hold

~BT Waldbillig
July 13, 2017

Finding a Teacher (a poem by W.S. Merwin)

FINDING A TEACHER
By W.S. Merwin

In the woods I came on an old friend fishing
and I asked him a question
and he said Wait

fish were rising in the deep stream
but his line was not stirring
but I waited
it was a question about the sun

about my two eyes
my ears my mouth
my heart the earth with its four seasons
my feet where I was standing
where I was going

it slipped through my hands
as though it were water
into the river
it flowed under the trees
it sank under hulls far away
and was gone without me
then where I stood night fell

I no longer knew what to ask
I could tell that his line had no hook
I understood that I was to stay and eat with him

http://www.merwinconservancy.org/2017/05/finding-a-teacher-by-w-s-merwin/

~BT Waldbillig
May 24, 2017

From Darkness to Light

Stat arbor
Dum volvitur orbis

The Tree stands still
While the Earth spins

Almost ten years ago I came across the spiritual autobiography of Karen Armstrong, a respected scholar of religion and former Catholic nun, as well as British television commentator and one of the authors of the international Charter for Compassion. Through the course of her spiritual crisis in the convent and afterward as she tried to construct a life in the outside world, Armstrong was dogged by discouragement and feelings of failure which led to a period of severe depression. Many years later as she reflected on the path she had forged for herself, she realized that in her youth she looked at the spiritual life as unfolding along a straight line where we’re either going forward or retreating backward. Progress or failure. Now, in later life, she prefers the image of a spiral staircase: In any given present moment, it seems as though we’re stuck turning in circles, while in fact we’re very gradually ascending, growing or progressing in ways that are hidden or difficult to perceive. Only after much time, great effort, lots of failure, and a fair amount of luck can we perceive our true place.

Many people live in close contact with the frustration, desolation, discouragement, and despair that Karen Armstrong experienced. Some choose to abandon their spiritual endeavor altogether, but most do their best to continue despite the seeming uselessness of it all. It’s not unlike other great undertakings in life — marriage, vocation, friendship, education, or positive social transformation.

The way forward
Is the path of return

We all need some kind of help or encouragement or support or sage advice in time of desolation. Often we’re bitterly aware when others respond with silence to our own difficulties, though usually we pay no attention at all to the even greater struggles of those we love.

Fortunately, simple realties — understood for what they are — lead us back to the place of compassion. Something simple like a plucked flower, a fallen leaf, or a crushed sparrow’s egg has power to awaken us from the darkness. So does a kind word, a spontaneous smile, an outstretched hand, or the embrace of a family.

The moment of despair
Is the time of great hope

The history of our kind shows that once in a very great while some momentous event occurs that plunges all of us into the darkness together at once. In those past moments when we were tempted to think all was lost, our kind always found a source of power beyond imagining.

In our day, we do well to recall that we are not alone. Together, not abandoning even the smallest or most useless among us, we wait in darkness for the appearance of a bright shining light that has already begun to dawn.

~BT Waldbillig
April 24, 2017

From Perception to Thought

When there’s a queue outside the local soup kitchen, I think on consecrated mendicants with their begging bowls

When gang members show their signs, I think on the sacred mudra of holy men and women

When I come across street kids in hoodies, I think on the cowls of monks and nuns

When I behold hipsters with knotted hair, I think on ancient warriors

When I see raving dancers, I think on the trances of prophets and mystics

When I find only darkness, I think on a rising moon reflecting light from the Unconquered Sun

~BT Waldbillig
January 4, 2017