"A male was transformed into a man by the willful expenditure of energy. Above all, a man willed himself to be expendable. Like the sun, a man fed the fire of his honor on his own substance. The magnus animus, the animus virilis, squadered itself in contempt of its own dear life. Virgil's Euryalus declares to Nisus: "Here, here is a soul that scorns the light of life and holds that honor you are aiming at as cheaply bought if all its price is life" (Aeneis).
Livy's Torquatus argues against redeeming the Roman soldiers captured at Cannae with the following words: "Fifty thousand citizens and allies lay dead around you on that day. If so many exempla virtutis did not move you, nothing will ever move you; if such a great disaster did not make you hold your lives cheaply, nothing will ever make you do so" (Livy). It was the unnaturalness, the artifice of his ac- tions that, for the Romans, told the will of a vir. Being a man was a mannerism.
As an aside, the absence of a "feminine" version of virtus is not as puzzling or insulting as it might seem. Because it did not come naturally for a male to have virtus, it was no less natural for the Romans to attribute virtus to a female, who, equally unnaturally, showed exceptional will and energy. The virtus on which Plautus's feisty Alcmena prides herself is the energy she has shown both in preserving her chastity and in defending it (Amphitruo When...,Cicero praised the virtus of Caecilia, he was admiring the diligence, the energy, the courage, and the resolve with which she protected his client Roscius from Sulla and his favorite Chrysagonus.
The Romans associated virtus with vis, vires (physical power, vigor, vitality, energy, violent or forceful action). Accordingly, they also associated vir with vis and with viriditas, the flourishing vigor and potency of youth. But it is important to note that they also associated the female virgo (or vira) with the same notions.The vir and the virgo had in common youthful vigor, growth, fertility, freshness, and energy. The deliberate wasting of oneself and one's forces was a form of generosity, of liberality. Horace describes Aemilius Paulus, the conqueror of Macedonia, as "prodigal of his great spirit" (animae magnae prodigum Paulum [Carmina).
When, in the early fourth century..., a crevice mysteriously opened in the Forum, the soothsayers declared that if the Romans wished the Republic to endure forever (si rem publicam Romanam perpetuam esse vellent), they must sacrifice the greatest source of their strength. The valiant young warrior Marcus Curtius stepped forth. After admonishing his fellows that the strength of Rome lay in arma virtusque, devoted himself to a sacrificial death. Fully armed and riding a horse splendidly caparisoned, he leapt into the chasm (Livy).
For the Romans, the voluntary death of a Curtius or a Decius Mus was, to use the words of Bakhtin, "a pregnant and birth-giving death." And so Roman virtus, the aggressive and self-aggrandizing will of the strutting warrior (with its potential to disrupt all bonds and balance within Roman society) was controlled by its expiatory, sacrificial aspects; a man atoned for expanding by expending his being, by wasting the breath of his life. "Manhood," as Gilmore explains, "is the defeat of childhood narcissism."
In the Roman contest culture, then, to will death was not to deny life but to carve its contour. The contest drew its profile on the moment between exhilaration and annihilation, the electric and terrifying moment of the sacred. "Who, with the prospect of envy, death, and punishment staring him in the face, does not hesitate to defend the Republic, he truly can be reckoned a vir" (Cicero, Pro Milone).
For Yolande Grisé, a voluntary death could express the intensity of the Roman love of life and of action..." [C.Barton, Roman Honour, p.53-58]
Haunted Houses and Liminality: from the Deserted Homes of the “Faithful Departed” to the Social Desert of Schismogenesis
This paper begins with a review of Ghosts of the Faithful Departed, a collection of photographs of houses abandoned by emigrants in the Irish countryside. These beautiful and haunting images are interpreted, drawing from Heidegger, Jung and other sources, in order to identify and redeem some of the elementary forms that give meaning and substance to the idea of the home and what it means to be and to feel “at home”. This identification and redemption will locate a deep meaning of home that transcends the particularity of the Irish case and reaches out to a universal human experience. The empty house is interpreted as the liminal space of metempsychosis wherein one can see the waning spirit of the maternal goddess of the hearth, Hestia, and the ascendance of Hermes, spirit of the free market. The old, ruined house in the modern Irish landscape is a memento mori, an image of history as eternal recurrence (after Vico & Joyce) and a portent of a coming apocalypse (after Benjamin & Yeats). The new, contemporary house is “haunted” in a thoroughly modern sense; it is disenchanted, cold, empty, “haunted by the ghosts of dead religious beliefs” (Weber); and “haunted by a lack of ghosts” (Frye). Drawing from Lacan and Beckett, the paper will give a glimpse of the tragi-comic and absurd barren desert landscape that is emerging in the wake of the “property crash”. Finally, drawing from the work of Bateson and Mauss, the paper will explore the possibility of reversing the downward spiral toward catastrophe through the gift of social housing.
"A fundamental truth that we are being called to learn in the Age of Pluto is that reality is power! Schopenhauer and Nietzsche (and in a certain way, Adler), were on the right track but offered us unfortunate distortions. But power does not have to mean individual egoic power, war and hegemonic oppression. In fact, in this Plutonian period, if it continues to mean that, we will all be destroyed -- which is precisely the answer of power, that Plutonian power from which we are powerless to escape! Uranian Reason and Neptunian benevolence were offered in large part as alternatives to power; they stood against power. Democracy, including enlightened consensus-formed management, was not meant as an improved form of politics; it was meant as an alternative to politics which is always about power and vested interest (the default mode for human beings in groups). As Nietzsche experienced, the fact of mass democratization undercut some important source of deep life and passion; precisely the dynamic Plutonian unconscious. He was right about this, but the self-involved ego (likewise, the ethnocentric society) could not, without destroying and being destroyed, become the conduit of such power. The transformed 'individual' who was able to act as the conduit would be one whose nature embraced the collective as much as the individual -- which Adler knew, but Nietzsche in his individualistic isolation did not."
"Neptune is associated with the transcendent, spiritual, ideal, symbolic, and imaginative dimensions of life; with the subtle, formless, intangible, and invisible; with the unitive, timeless, immaterial, and infinite; with all that which transcends the limited literal temporal and material world of concretely empirical reality: myth and religion, art and inspiration, ideals and aspirations, images and reflections, symbols and metaphors, dreams and visions, mysticism, religious devotion, universal compassion. It is associated with the impulse to surrender separative existence and egoic control, to dissolve boundaries and structures in favor of underlying unities and undifferentiated wholes, merging that which was separate, healing and wholeness; the dissolution of ego boundaries and reality structures, states of psychological fusion and intimations of intrauterine existence, melted ecstasy, mystical union, and primary narcissism; with tendencies towards illusion and delusion, deception and self-deception, escapism, intoxication, psychosis, perceptual and cognitive distortions, conflation and confusion, projection, fantasy; with the bedazzlement of consciousness whether by gods, archetypes, beliefs, dreams, ideals, or ideologies; with enchantment, in both positive and negative senses.
The archetypal principle linked to Neptune governs all nonordinary states of consciousness, as well as the stream of consciousness and the oceanic depths of the unconscious. Characteristic metaphors for its domain include the infinite sea of the imagination, the ocean of divine consciousness, and the archetypal wellspring of life. It is, in a sense, the archetype of the archetypal dimension itself, the anima mundi, the Gnostic pleroma, the Platonic realm of transcendent Ideas, the domain of the gods, the Immortals. In mythic and religious terms, it is associated with the all-encompassing womb of the Goddess, and with all deities of mystical union, universal love, and transcendent beauty; the mystical Christ, the all-compassionate Buddha, the Atman-Brahman union, the union of Shiva and Shakti, the hieros gamos or sacred marriage, the coniunctio oppositorum; the dreaming Vishnu, maya and lila, the self-reflecting Narcissus, the divine absorbed in its own reflection; Orpheus, god of artistic inspiration, the Muses; the cosmic Sophia whose spiritual beauty and wisdom pervade all.
Considered as a whole, these themes, qualities, and figures suggest that the name Neptune is both apt and inadequate in denoting a mythological figure embodying the planet's corresponding archetypal principle. On the one hand, central to the observed characteristics is an underlying symbolic association with water, the sea, the ocean, streams and rivers, mists and fogs, liquidity and dissolution, the amniotic and prenatal, the permeable and undifferentiated. In this regard, one thinks of the many oceanic and watery metaphors used to describe mystical experience, the all-encompassing ocean of divine consciousness of which our individual selves are but momentarily separate drops, the ceaselessly flowing all-informing Tao whose waterlike fluidity evades all definition, the primordial participation mystique of undifferentiated awareness, the mists of prehistory, the amniotic fetal and infantile states of primary fusion, the oceanic realms of the imagination, the fluid nature of psychic life generally: the flow and stream of consciousness, the influx of inspiration, the fog of confusion, drowning in the treacherous deep waters of the unconscious psyche, slipping into madness or addiction, surrendering to the flow of experience, dissolving into the divine union, the cleansing waters of purity and healing, melted ecstasy, and so forth. One thinks here, too, of Freud's reference to the "oceanic feeling": "a sensation of 'eternity,' a feeling as of something limitless, unbounded— as it were, 'oceanic'. . . it is the feeling of an indissoluble bond, of being one with the external world as a whole." Equally relevant is William James's image of a transcendental "mother-sea" of consciousness with which the individual consciousness is continuous and of which the brain essentially serves as a sieve or filtering conduit (Cosmos and Psyche, 96-97)." [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Do you think a "deconstructive pluralistic view" is typical for Neptun/Pisces?
I copied and pasted this term from a post by you over here. What do you mean by "pluralistic view"? I kind of know what "deconstructive" means, by intuition. The opposite of constuctive.
Is it maybe the "Bottom Up" thinking? I get into trouble with that a lot! Or is it more than that? Deconstructive to me includes some kind of value judgement. Is Neptun not affirmative too somehow? What Neptune needs is Mercury (communication) as in Virgo or Gemini. Some dry logic. Neptune tends to forget about aquiring the proper tools to achieve things. (Deconstruction)
Neptune/Pisces doesn't need an outside "God" for it has the "God"-Consciousness within itself. Other signs don't have that. Neptune therefor can claim any position aside from being an atheist. Developing "empathy" would mean to look at other signs need for a God. "God" as the big simplifier. The major sense maker. Meaning giver. This is not something all signs experience equally. In fact only Pisces does effortlessly.
Addiction is very typical for Neptun. It is it's very own being. For Neptun it is almost self affirmation to use drugs in a way.
I don't want to promote drugs in the least. But don't want to moralize either. I just want to use one term from a description of what drugs do, to make some more sense of it.
The German term is "Filterschwächung". A weakening of the filters. So drugs are in the way, if one wants to exceed in bottom-up thinking, since this weakening of the filters is a kind of all levelling. All gets levelled to a (more pleasant? this would be the value judgement) One-ness.
Lyssa Har Har Harr
Gender : Posts : 9031 Join date : 2012-03-01 Location : The Cockpit
"J. J. Pollitt has argued that in the aesthetic vocabulary of classical antiquity the Latin pulchritudo was equivalent to the Greek to kallos (invisible, ideal Platonic Beauty), whereas venus-tas, “more mundane in its associations . . . [an] immediate sort of beauty which is known through simple sense perception,” translated the Greek charis (grace, charm), as Pliny the Elder attests.
For Vitruvius, the proof of venustas is the pleasure (voluptas) it gives, which indeed anchors architectural beauty in the world of the senses. Such beauty is not necessarily “mundane” or trivial but, operating in the world like rhetoric and religio, it is clearly worldly—a beauty whose worldliness the total exclusion of otherworldly pulchritudo from the vocabulary of De architectura appears to corroborate. But there is more to venustas than an aesthetic category and a translation of charis.
To begin with, one might recall with Cicero that venustas comes from Venus. According to Varro, Venus (love)—like proportion and symmetry, as Vitruvius repeatedly defines them—is a force that binds. Varro presents the birth of Venus herself ￼from the sea foam in a fusion of fire and water as the mythical paradigm for the binding force at the origin of all life. This force is the origin of coherence, universal concord, and community, wrote Plutarch, citing Greek sources, later in the second century A.D.;184 of all appearing in the world, according to Lucretius, whose De rerum natura Vitruvius knew, and who invokes Venus as “the pleasure [voluptas] of gods and men” at the opening of that great poem of cosmic order.
"Mother of Aeneas and his race [Aeneadum genetrix] . . . nurturing Venus, who beneath the smooth-moving heavenly signs fill with yourself the sea full-laden with ships, the earth that bears the crops, since through you every kind of living thing is conceived and rising up looks on the light of the sun . . . since . . . you alone govern the nature of things, since without you nothing comes forth into the shining borders of light, nothing joyous or lovely is made, you I crave as partner in writing [these] verses."
But the Venus Lucretius invokes at the opening of his poem is Aeneadum genetrix, mother of Aeneas’s race, ancestress of all Romans. She, Aeneas’s mother, had protected her son on ￼his treacherous sea voyage to Italy, where he came from Troy after its fall to father a new race of heroes. That this was so had been common knowledge since the third century B.C. in the foundation legend that Virgil later made epic and Augustan in the Aeneid. The Romans called the goddess they claimed as their genetrix Venus, however, not Aphrodite. And this Venus, arguably, named the very essence of the correct relations with the gods that, if properly maintained, guaranteed Roman might. It is in this that Venus might rightly be understood as the “mother” and origin of Rome, for the foundation legend naming her as the ancestress and divine source of Roman power became current in the century that saw the beginning of Rome’s con- quest of the Mediterranean world.
Venus is also a common noun, venus, which means “charm”: a thing, fact, or function that became personal in Venus between the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. Robert Schilling has argued that, in the religious sphere, the Latin venus is less charm as an aesthetic quality than charm in the sense of a magic formula or spell. The verb venerari (“venerate”) is to exercise that charm: to “exercise venus.” One did not “exercise venus” indiscriminately. Only gods were to be so venerated. In primis venerare deos, “above all venerate the gods,” Virgil writes in his Georgics. Not worship the gods in any vague spiritual sense, but perform the correct rites, for indeed Virgil continues: “and pay great Ceres her yearly rites.” Ceres’s rites were not the same as those of Juno, say, or Minerva.
In order to venerate or exercise venus on a god or a goddess, one had first of all to select or pick out the right ritual, a procedure which Cicero, adducing etymological evidence, gives as a defining condition of true religio. “Those . . . who carefully reviewed and so to speak retraced all ￼the lore of ritual were called religiosi, from relegere (to retrace or re-read), like elegans from eligere (to select), diligens from diligere (to care for), intellegens from intellegere (to understand); for all these words contain the same sense of ‘picking out’ (legere) that is present in ‘religious.’”
Proper selection is also a condition of venustas in architecture, where correct choice of the right proportional relationships yields the reward of pleasurable effect. “When venustas is taken into account, the appearance of a work is select [elegans] and pleasing [grata], and its members correspond with rightly calculated symmetries,” Vitruvius writes. If, in the religious sphere, a supplicant made the correct selection and properly performed the prescribed rite, he was rewarded with venia, another cognate of venus, which meant divine grace or favor. Seen in this light, Venus becomes less a personalized thing than a personalized relationship forged at the intersection of venerari, “to venerate,” and the venia obtained thereby—the interchange that, precisely, defined the mediating position that underwrote Rome’s special covenant with the gods and, reciprocally, her power.
Thus it is not surprising that, in the dying years of the republic, the individual Romans who craved a monopoly of Rome’s power all sought to harness Venus to personal ambition. The dictator Sulla claimed Venus felix (bringer of success or good fortune) as his special patroness in the early part of the first century B.C. Pompey later made the same claim for Venus victrix (bringer of victory), and crowned the vast theater complex he built as a victory monument in the Campus Martius with a temple dedicated to her in 55 B.C. Both Sulla and Pompey linked the patronage of Venus to their possession of the augural func￼tion that, as already noted, was the major axis of communication between gods and men. So, to an even greater degree, did Julius Caesar. The contest over who would monopolize Venus was endemic in the power struggles of the mid first century B.C. To Pompey’s Venus victrix, his rival Julius Caesar replied with his champion, Venus genetrix, the mother of all Romans whom he claimed as his personal ancestress and genealogical protectress and who became perforce the ancestress of Augustus, his adopted son. This direct line of descent, which underpins the whole of Virgil’s Aeneid, distilled as it were in the blood of the Julians the essence of the power that Venus (or venus) gave to Romans in general, making Caesar and Augustus, in whom it was thus concentrated, naturally more Roman, religious, and powerful than others. And so they were. Architectural proof lay in the Temple of Venus Genetrix which dominated the splendid new forum Caesar built adjacent to the old Forum Romanum in the early 40s B.C. to outbid Pompey’s Temple of Venus Victrix on the other side of the city.
In 44 B.C., not long after Caesar’s assassination, during the games Augustus held in honor of Venus Genetrix, a comet, the sidus iulium, had appeared to announce Caesar’s apotheosis. This star was figured on the head of his posthumous portraits, on coins, and also in the pediment of the new temple building. Validated by the painting, the star’s significance expanded to include the planet Venus: “Lucifer,” as she was called when she appeared in the morning, “bringer of light,” the star that announces the dawn. In the Temple of Divus Julius, the binding force of augury that ordered the world—the ratio of the “squaring” function that guaranteed Rome’s pact with the gods—became, thanks to Apelles’ Venus, plainly evident in the irresistible beauty of the cosmic, Roman, and, here above all, Julian genetrix.
Venus, as noted earlier, was the name Varro gave to the procreative force that joins fire to water, male to female. This force, he says, is inherent in Victory as well, because when Victory overpowers, she also binds. Like the newborn Venus rising from the sea, venustas, apparent beauty, is the visibility of the binding force that beauty generates through its power to inspire love."[Indra McEwen, Vitruvius]
The first step, the nigredo, the black stage, occurs when the alchemist boils the solid substance to a bubbling mass. This primary material is akin to “the dragon that creates and destroys itself,” to the “primordial matriarchal world.” The nigredo is also the ouroboros or caduceus of Mercurius, the alchemical symbol of transformation. Mercury is the world soul, both male and female, present at every stage of the alchemical process. His presence in the primal soup as the circular dragon or intertwined snakes suggests that even in chaos or death is the seed of organization and life. Though the nigredo is physical destruction or psy- chological pain, it is also the water of life, the womb. The psychological nigredo is a marker of melancholy, “confusion and lostness.”35 Often associated with the planet Saturn, this psychic state is far from the sun, a dark night of the soul. This mood is the inte- rior equivalent of the goring of Adonis and Dante’s trek into the wood. Like these redemptive declines, the melancholia of the nigredo is remedy as much as disease, marker of spiritual genius as much as symbol of material disorientation.
In this night arises a moon, the second stage, the albedo, the white, the transition from gloom and dawn. This stage appears when the solution is blanched, no color at all and the ground of all colors, transparent spirit and opaque body. On the one hand, it is the “good white snow”; on the other, it is Luna, heavenly queen. During this stage the swells of the matrix are “congealed”: Mercury as slivering snake is “frozen,” his quicksilver spirit transformed into a stable body. Mercury iced represents the world soul in a purified state. No longer boiling mat- ter (his ouroboric guise), he is matter and spirit at the same time. This new shape is innocence, the virgin waiting for marriage. Like the gloomy psychology of the nigredo, the moony one of the albedo is double. The whitened psyche, deep in dreams, forms a bridge between unconscious and conscious. On the one hand, fantasies pose dangers, for sleeping visions can easily turn one “lunatic.” On the other hand, the blanched mind enjoys glimpses of wisdom unavailable to the conscious ego. These oppositions are synthesized by the primary faculty of the albedo, the imagination, borderland between understanding and intuition, matter and spirit. From the underworld, Adonis imagines Venus; in the wood, Dante envisions Beatrice.
The lunar stage is the precursor to the sun, the rubedo. Achieved by melting and recrystallizing the white, the rubedo figures the process by which the Red King marries the White Queen to produce the philosopher’s stone. During this stage, the spiritual force of the red pen- etrates the purified body of the white, sublimating her from virgin to wife. The rubedo reveals Mercurius thriving as pure spirit, a fiery jewel capable of combining all oppositions into dynamic harmony—the philosopher’s stone. In synthesizing life and death as well as chaos and order, this rubedo jewel is not simply life, the eternal infant; it is also death, the dying king. Psychologically, the rubedo signals that the archetypes of the collective unconscious have been realized by the conscious ego. The unconscious becomes conscious: the man understands his feminine energies; the woman apprehends her masculine side. This is “integration.” Isis remembers Osiris, brings him back from the death, and with him engen- ders Horus; Dante, though weary from hell and purgatory, takes the hand of Beatrice, who leads him to the light. The imagination opens into the intuition. The microcosm within realizes its connection to the macrocosm, and both together become aware of their eternal relationship to the transcosmic, the pleroma.
The harmonies of the alchemical marriage and the psychological integration are not eternal but moments in a perpetual dialectic: the philosopher’s stone (the formed homunculus) is already the prima mate- ria (putrid death); Jungian individuation (the inner anthropos redeemed) arises from and must return to the darkness of the unconscious (the anthropos lost). This is the key point about the alchemical process: the alchemical work is endless conflict and resolution. Nigredo, albedo, and rubedo are all temporary instances in the ongoing processes of life, concordant discords between chaos and order, death and birth. Figuring these polarities is Mercury, who generates, sustains, and alters each stage in the work. This hermaphroditic presence is the origin, the primary material; the means, the world soul; and the end, the philosopher’s stone. Constant and changing, this “double” Mercury “consists of all conceiv- able opposites.” Hermes is the spirit of alchemy because he is a deity of complete being, revealing what many forget in their inhabitation of a half-world: chaos and ocean are the secret grounds of cosmos and city.
Mercury is the trickster, happiest when he is at play. Playing, he is able to achieve the double consciousness of the comic mode: the world is serious and not serious at the same time, a meaningful pattern of eternity and a filmy veil blocking the beyond. While immersed in the turbulence of the nigredo, Mercury can go with the flow and rise above the current. Resolving into the crystal of the albedo, Mercury stiffens into transparent geometry without forgetting the opaque flickers. He remains attuned throughout to the rubedo, the third term harmonizing matter and spirit. Embodying this tertium quid, Mercury never dissolves into fecund material, nor does he stiffen into spiritual rectitude. He enriches one pole with the other without becoming attached to either. This balancing act is closely akin to the great comic gnosis I detailed in my thoughts about the gently melancholy marriage between sorrow and joy." [ Eric Wilson, [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]]
"Playing cards are used for games and gambling, where one interacts directly with chance (or fate). Gambling with cards can be either a blessing or ruin lives. They are used for amazing magic tricks, pretending supernatural powers. In cartomancy they are sparks for the intuition and may even foretell the future. And they are powerful symbolic representations for numerology.
There are commonly recognized correspondences with playing cards:
4 suits for the 4 seasons
52 cards for the weeks in the year
13 cards in each suit match the 13 lunar months
365 days in the years (add the pips)
The modern deck is based on the French design, or as we know it today the English deck. These designs have pretty much stayed the same, following an original pattern, regardless of the maker. The exact shape of the pip or the design of the face cards’ colorful wardrobe may differ, but the essential elements remain the same. Card manufacturers simply follow a traditional design. But is there any hidden meaning in these designs?
I’ll offer one possibility. Let us consider the king court cards. Tradition holds the cards represent the following historic kings:
King of Hearts is Charles
King of Diamonds is Julius Caesar
King of Clubs is Alexander the Great
King of Spades is King David
The Kings of Spades and Clubs always hold a sword. The King of Hearts has a curious pose, holding his sword behind his head. He is also the only king without a mustache. But the King of Diamonds differs significantly from the other three king cards.
The King of Diamonds is the only king card shown in profile. In addition, the King of Diamonds does not carry a sword as the 3 other kings, but an axe. Why these differences? What is special about this card?
I have a theory. The King of Diamonds does not represent Julius Caesar, but the Norse God Odin!
A diamond is the shape of a rune, the Elder Futhark’s 22nd rune “ingwaz” or ing. The meaning of this rune is the Norse god Ingwaz, or Freyr. As the 22nd rune, 2+2 equal the 4 sides of the diamond’s shape. If the diamond actually does represent a rune, what other Norse symbolism is in the diamond cards?
In Norse mythology, Odin discovered the runes by sacrificing one of his eyes in exchange for the wisdom of runes. Thereafter he was the one-eyed god. The King of Diamonds has one eye and is gazing at the diamond shaped rune. His hand is raised towards the diamond rune, as if offering it to us. His other eye is hidden from view, for if it was shown eyeless the meaning of the king as Odin would be obvious.
The king cards all hold swords except for the Diamond King. In Norse mythology, Odin’s weapon was not a sword but the spear Gungnir. The King of Diamonds has an axe instead of a sword…a shaft of wood with a blade at the end, which could be a stylized version of Odin’s spear Gungnir.
Why have symbols of Odin offering the invention of runes to humanity? I suspect the designer used Norse mythology to make a specific point. The diamond is also a Masonic symbol used in scared geometry, and this symbolism really feels Masonic in nature.
Esoteric knowledge came at a cost, especially in the past. Historically those who did not follow the doctrines of church and state were severely persecuted. One could lose far more then an eye…it was truly dangerous. Heresy! The King of Diamonds as a pagan god offering runes means unsanctioned, unconventional or non-Christian concepts. Hence only one side of the king’s face is shown, his public side. The other side, maimed and eyeless, is the side seeking freedom of thought and freedom from - authority. And secretly offering it to those who seek the same."
"Human nature, essentially changeable, unstable as the dust, can endure no restraint; if it binds itself it soon begins to tear madly at its bonds, until it rends everything asunder, the wall, the bonds, and its very self." [Kafka]
"Janus was originally nothing but the god of doors. That a deity of his dignity and importance, whom the Romans revered as a god of gods and the father of his people, should have started in life as a humble, though doubtless respectable, doorkeeper appears very unlikely. So lofty an end hardly consorts with so lowly a beginning. It is more probable that the door (janua) got its name from Janus than that he got his name from it. This view is strengthened by a consideration of the word janua itself. The regular word for door is the same in all the languages of the Aryan family from India to Ireland. It is dur in Sanscrit, thura in Greek, tür in German, door in English, dorus in old Irish, and foris in Latin. Yet besides this ordinary name for door, which the Latins shared with all their Aryan brethren, they had also the name janua, to which there is no corresponding term in any Indo-European speech. The word has the appearance of being an adjectival form derived from the noun Janus. I conjecture that it may have been customary to set up an image or symbol of Janus at the principal door of the house in order to place the entrance under the protection of the great god. A door thus guarded might be known as a janua foris, that is, a Januan door, and the phrase might in time be abridged into janua, the noun foris being understood but not expressed. From this to the use of janua to designate a door in general, whether guarded by an image of Janus or not, would be an easy and natural transition.
If there is any truth in this conjecture, it may explain very simply the origin of the double head of Janus, which has so long exercised the ingenuity of mythologists. When it had become customary to guard the entrance of houses and towns by an image of Janus, it might well be deemed necessary to make the sentinel god look both ways, before and behind, at the same time, in order that nothing should escape his vigilant eye. For if the divine watchman always faced in one direction, it is easy to imagine what mischief might have been wrought with impunity behind his back." [[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]]
"A Janus head is a sculpture typically found at the doorway of a person's house. The god it represents, Janus, was two-headed, with each face poised in opposite directions. The phrase "Janus faced" as it comes down to us means "two-faced" or deceitful; but the original signification of the two-headed god meant vigilance and new beginnings, as in the word "January." To quote from Bergen Evans'Dictionary of Mythology, "It was a peculiarity of this god that the doors of his temple were kept open in time of war and closed in time of universal peace. They were rarely closed."
The image of Janus as two-headed reminds us that, as human beings, we are always radically de-centered and unknown to ourselves. It is no mistake that the doors of Janus' temple were kept open in times of war. In war, the other can take on the menacing quality of what is unknown to ourselves. Janus' signification of vigilance calls us to continually remain open to what has been marginalized, split off, and left out of dialogue, for it may appear in the face of that which aims to destroy us. The opening up of a dwelling-space can offer the dialogue which may thwart the mutual destruction which can result when we fail to recognize our disowned face in the face of the other. And, with such a dialogue, we cannot help but be transformed.
Janus is also the god of new beginnings, and as such he also contains the possibility for verdancy and youthful ambition. Janus’ love for the new betrays an element of Puer. Puer is captivated by the heights. He stands below and looks in awe at the rising Tower of Babel. The rising tower fuels his ambition for flight toward the sun. Icarus is the shadow-aspect of Puer, and the Tower of Babel is an Icarian project. Icarus is the adolescent in us who strains to break from the hearth to venture into the unknown. Yet, too hastily journeying forth into the blinding hot sun, Icarus loses the capacity for dwelling. His flight implies a love affair with death, and, like the rising Tower of Babel, Icarus’ transcendent departure toward the sky must inevitably end with a tragic fall.
Must Janus with his new beginnings suffer such a tragedy? Perhaps not. Janus’ two-faced countenance allows him both a forward and a backward glance. Janus journeys outward away from the hearth, yet he does not forget his origin. In the case of Janus, the journey is not linear; it is cyclical. Janus travels into the strange and alien territory outside of the human place of the polis, but he does so in the service of the return. Without his youthful enthusiasm, Janus would not have the courage to leave the hearth, and, failing to take the journey, he would stagnate, suffocated by his attachment to the familiar and taken-for-granted. Venturing forth, Janus is estranged but not stranded. In his estrange-ment, his dwelling place -- his origin -- becomes uncanny. He returns with boons for his community, and his dwelling place is enriched by the strange treasures he bears along with him on the festive return home. The journey outward is not in the service of an ethereal escape from the human realm; rather, Janus’ adventure into the strange is in the service of a transformation of the ground of his dwelling.
In “Theorizing, Journeying, Dwelling,” Bernd Jager writes:
The journey cut off from the sphere of dwelling becomes aimless wandering, it deteriorates into mere distraction or even chaos or fugue. The journey requires a place of origin as the very background against which the figures of a new world can emerge...To be without origin, to be homeless is to be blind. On the other hand, the sphere of dwelling cannot maintain its vitality without the renewal made possible by the path. A community without outlook atrophies, becomes decadent and incestuous. Incest is primarily the refusal of the path; it therefore is a refusal of the future and a suicidal attempt to live entirely in the past. The sphere of dwelling, insofar as it is not moribund is interpenetrated by journeying (249).
Janus is a theorist in the original Greek sense of theoria, which, as Jager shows, includes the idea of a journey. From the sixth century B.C., The Theognis depicts the theoretician as the official representative of the polis who visits the Delphian oracle. Here, the theorist is described “as a recipient of the divine message and as a faithful transmitter of that message back to the people” (236). The poet, then, is a theoretician in the truest, most original sense of the word.
The poet is the dwelling-venturer who discovers the Divine not by rising above materiality, but rather by a deepening of experience. Allen Tate makes the distinction between the angelic imagination and the symbolic imagination. While the angelic imagination “tries to disintegrate or to circumvent the image in the illusory pursuit of essence,” the symbolic imagination “conducts an action through analogy, of the human to the divine, of the natural to the supernatural, of the low to the high, of time to eternity” (427). The symbolic imagination begins within the human place, and through the soul-making of de-literalizing the image, the poet works to show the traces of the Divine in the concrete description of the mundane. The poet who imagines symbolically cultivates the dwelling-place of the human, and she does not mistake herself for a god. Instead, she discovers the gods in the round dance of the fourfold — Earth, Sky, Gods, Mortals — as this movement is gathered by things. With the imaginative description of the thing, the poet both witnesses and participates in the dance, and she finds herself within a deeper, richer, more human place. The angelic imagination, however, is the mode of understanding that fueled the foolish Babel project. Tate writes:
When human beings undertake this ambitious program, divine love becomes so rarefied that it loses its human paradigm, and is dissolved in the worship of intellectual power, the surrogate of divinity that worships itself. It professes to know nature as essence at the same time that it has become alienated from nature in the rejection of its material forms (429).
Thus, if we are to avoid the catastrophes of the Babel project, we must cultivate our human place with the symbolic rather than the angelic mind. The angelic mind is an Icarian mind which, leaving behind the (h)earth, finds itself homeless.
Janus’ journey is not Icarian flight, nor is it a vertical transcendence. Janus’ venture is a horizontal outward movement beyond the threshold of the familiar for the sake of the eventual homecoming. Yet, for the dwelling-venturer, home is no longer the merely familiar. Recall Marlowe in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Returning home from his excursion into the dark and savage recesses of the Congo, his London home becomes alien. He resents the pedestrians who walk the streets, content with their naive absorption in the merely familiar when he has seen “the horror, the horror...” At home, Marlowe is estranged. With the transformation of the ground of one’s dwelling, the ground is no longer mere ground, but reveals its nature as abyss, as unground. At home, Marlowe is no longer at-home.
The journey outward is not linear, but cyclical. Yet such an eternal re-currence is not mere eternal recurrent of the same, but rather, as Gilles Deleuze interprets Nietzsche, the eternal recurrence of the new.
Human nature, essentially changeable, unstable as the dust, can endure no restraint,” writes Kafka (42). The Puer spirit “tears madly at the bonds,” and embarks on his becoming in his confrontation with the strange. This is a period of chaos, the necessary turning away from the sphere of dwelling in the direction of change. Celtic legend speaks of the journey to the sacred mountain of Cader Idris. The traveler there may discover one of three different fates: She may die, she may go mad, or she may become a poet-visionary. She cannot stay the same. Upon her trek to Cader Idris, the venturer may denounce the comforts of home and seek the purity of the clear light of the sun which shines brightest at the peak. This is the seeking of a purity which leaves behind the carnal body — in short, this is death to the world. Or the traveler may too eagerly scale her way to the top of the mountain and lose site of home. For her, there is no returning. Lost in the strange and alien, the venturer becomes mad. Finally, there is the venturer who does not seek the pure essence of the peak, but rather goes forth upon the mountain so that she may bring back boons for her people in the valley below. She carefully tracks her steps, marking her path, and, once beholding the spectacle of the mysterious Cader Idris, she returns home with poetic visions which renew the soul of her community. The two-faced Janus, both looking forward and facing backward, is like the poet-visionary who keeps track of the origins from whence she came, and, doing so, her return is assured. In the spirit of Janus, Janus Head seeks to be the dwelling- venturer, who travels outward and returns with the treasures of the alien such that the ground of our dwelling may be transformed and ever-renewed."
Empedocles described four periods in the twin motion of the world between Strife and Love;
a) the mixed sphere - homogenous/heterogenous
b) hate gives rise to separation
c) culmination of hate - separates all things
d) philia (love) returns and tne things begin to unite again.
Man has a twin nature. A self that is constantly pulling apart and reinstating the limits of its boundaries, and a self that is constantly binding, breaching and corroding these limits. The Self is Janus-faced.
"Pleasure and displeasure are lower rank value judgments." [N., WTP, 61]
N.'s Overman was a balance and an elevation, an overcoming of this Janus-Be-ing...
"When Nietzsche, in considering the projection of the classical (tragic) into the modern in The Birth of Tragedy, writes "Scholarship, art, and philosophy are growing together inside me to such an extent that one day I'm bound to give birth to centaurs" (Letter to Erwin Rohde, in Nietzsche: A Self-Portrait from his Letters, p. 10 cited and examined in Sloterdijk, Thinker on Stage: Nietzsche's Materialism, p. 11), this untimely double-figure, half man and half animal (both classical and modern) marks the insight of Nietzsche's larger project: "suddenly, Greek antiquity was no longer a faithful mirror for humanistic self-stylization, nor a guarantee for reasonable moderation and proper bourgeois serenity. In one stroke, the autonomy of the classical subject was done away with. From above and from below, from the numinous and the animal realms, impersonal powers broke into the standardized form of the personality and turned it into a tumbling mat for dark ands violent energies, an instrument of anonymous universal forces." [Sloterdijk, Thinker on Stage: Nietzsche's Materialism, p. 14]"
The gateway of the blinking moment between past and future, between self-preservation and self-assertion.
"Sanctus Januarius. Thou, who with flaming lance. My soul from its ice set’st free, With a rush and a roar advancing. Longing to enter the sea, Ever brighter and ever purer, So free in your sweet constraint, All praise to your wondrous miracle, January, you beauteous saint!" [N., Genoa, January 1882.]
"Why do we fear and hate a possible reversion to barbarism? Because it would make people unhappier than they are? Oh no! The barbarians of every age were happier….The reason is that our drive to knowledge has become too strong for us to be able to want happiness without knowledge or the happiness of a strong, firmly rooted delusion…. Knowledge has in us been transformed into a passion which shrinks at no sacrifice and at bottom fears nothing but its own extinction…. Perhaps mankind will even perish of this passion for knowledge! … if mankind does not perish of a passion it will perish of a weakness." [N.]
"The condition for excellence is a thorough training in technique. Sheer skill must pass out of the sphere of conscious exercise, and must have assumed the character of unconscious habit ... [but] the training which produces skill is so very apt to stifle imaginative zest ... Beyond that [trained] limit there is degeneration... The moment of dominance, prayed for, worked for, sacrificed for, by generations of the noblest spirits, marks the turning point where the blessing turns into a curse. Some new principle of refreshment is required. The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order. Life refuses to be embalmed alive. The more prolonged the halt in some unrelieved system of order, the greater the crash of the dead society." [Process and reality]
"If seduction is challenge, transgression, and negation, venusian charm implies an opposite attitude of acceptance of the given and affirmation of the present. This does not mean resigned and forced acceptance, obtorto collo, as seems implicit in the verb colere. Nor does it indicate good natured consent, as in placare, but rather full assent, a disposition of the will to "say yes", to venerate, to give oneself without reservation. Raymond Radiguet, one of the most important twentieth-century interpreters of venusian charm, has captured the essence of veneratio: "it means to devalue things and misrecognize them, to want them to be different from what they are, even when one wants them to be more beautiful."
Veneratio is a silent movement because it suspends and silences the subjective desires, individual passions, and disordered affections that would impose themselves noisily against the divine and human givens that require their realization without seeing or understanding reality, and that rush toward utopia and destruction, oscillating between arrogance and desolation, exaltation and depression. The Roman goddess Angerona, goddess of will and occasion, seems to personify the silent premise of all veneration: her simulacrum held a finger to her lips, ordering silence. Veneratio means to say yes above all to the gods and hence to abandon totally all Prometheism, all hubris in the face of the divine. Man must please the gods, they must be enchanted, enthralled, fascinated by whoever turns to them. The captatio benevolentiae is the starting point of this eroticism. But the gods must be silent if they are to be venerated.
It seems that the Romans introduced veneration at precisely the same moment that they took speech from the gods, deprived them of myth and tne narration of their feats. Georges Dumézil has shown that the gods of the Roman religion are the same as those of the Indo European pantheon, but demythified, silent. Unlike Etruscan religion, Roman religion has no revelation: the Sibylline Books are a mere collection of rites to expiate the prodigal. The injunction "favete linguis" that invited participants to facilitate the ceremony's course with silence was therefore addressed to the gods themselves. Veneratio means to say yes to the world and hence to abandon resentful attitudes, preconceived criticism, or systematic refusal of the present. It is impossible to be charming if one is not at peace with the world, with the spirit of one's time, with one's surroundings. To venerate Venus in the world means to be willing to recognize the variety of her manifestations and to will them according to the occasion. Chastity and orgy, marriage and prostitution, monogamy and polygamy, homosexuality and heterosexuality: these are not incompatible realities among which one must choose once and for all, but situations one may appreciate in the proper moment. Yet the condition of their appreciation remains their silence, their discretion, their demythification. To be charming means not only to be ready for the opposite with the same indifference, but also to maintain a detachment that allows one to respect the cadence and rhythm even in the most decisive action. Venus presented herself to the veneration of the Romans in two apparently incompatible forms: as Venus Verticordia and as Venus Erucina. The cult of the former was aimed at turning the minds of young girls and women to chastity. The cult of the latter, of Sicilian origin but promoted to the rank of Roman divinity and honored with the erection of a temple on the Campidoglio, was instead closely linked to the practice of prostitution. The attribution of such opposing qualities to the same goddess does not arise from a nihilistic attitude that wishes not to compromise itself and hence favors one quality at one moment and another at the next, but rather from a profound intuition that manifests itself in the quality of the cult. Diodorus Siculus recounts that when the Roman magistrates traveled to Sicily, they always honored the sanctuary of Eryx with sacrifices and homages and "in order to please the goddess, they forgot the gravity of their mission in order to make merry in the company of women". These magistrates were thus charming in the eyes of the goddess before they appeared to those of her priestesses precisely because they took a detached interest in pleasure, a non-participatory participation. The poet Giambattista Marino astutely captured this venusian indifference in regard to chastity and lust when he shows in his Adone "Venus applauds obscene works no less than their opposite."
Finally, veneratio means to say yes to oneself. Not, of course, to one's own desires, dreams, and ideals: all these things are too imbued with negation and absence, too abstract and inconsistent to be truly retained as elements or aspects of oneself. Seduction may be rightly defined as a magic of absence, but "venus" is, quite to the contrary, inseparable from presence, from one's own situation, from that which is given to us. To venerate means to be at peace with oneself, to know how to will backward, to want that which has happened, to transform (as Nietzsche's Zarathustra says) every "so it was" into a "thus willed it to be." Veneration is "amor fati", a will to want that which has been and is, yet not in order to remain locked within the circle of an eternal return of the same, but on the contrary in order to want the present without being conditioned by its contents. It is thus the opposite of quietism that abandons itself completely to fate. It is the human participation in veneration that transforms any event into destiny, because the entire past was already "destinal".
And yet the repetition and devotion implicit in veneratio are not a true faithfulness. By silencing the gods, the world, and oneself, veneration is the premise of a mimetism that distorts all the more the more formally identical it is to its model. Radiguet remarks: "Nothing resembles things themselves less than those things which are close to them." This is especially evident in the consequences of the ritual of evocatio, used by the Romans to invite the enemy's gods to leave their cities of origin and come to Rome. The formula used to "evoke" foreign gods was "veneror veniamque peto." It is evident that the veneration of foreign gods required the initiation of a Roman rite dedicated to them, a rite that was more dislocation and distortion, "déplacement" and "détournement", than respectful procedure. At the base of Roman religious syncretism and of its extraordinary ability to assimilate the most diverse cults, one finds an attitude of veneration and acceptance that is not mere affability, but rather a most original erotic strategy, subtle philosophical and political thought. It would be a grave error to consider veneration a weakness or meekness; it is rather the arm of a "pium bellum", of a good war conducted without resentment. The association of Venus and Mars that the Romans probably borrowed from the Greek couple Aphrodite-Ares therefore reveals a meaning that is deeper and more exquisitely Roman. The connection between veneration and war figures also in "devotio", the rite in which a commander in particularly dire straits recited a formula, a "carmen" that dedicated him to the Manes and to the earth, in order to obtain victory. His offering himself to the beyond reveals a relation between venusian charm and death that is radically different from that which links Don Juan to the statue of the "commendatore" in seduction, or that which links Tristan to suffering and catastrophe in love. Whereas Don Juan is forced to accept the statue's fatal invitation, and Tristan's love is by definition opposed to mundane reality, the Roman commander spontaneously consecrates himself to death in order to win. For him, being among the Manes is once again a way to say yes to the present." [Venus]
"If "hubris", the arrogance implicit in seduction, invites hate and punishment, if amorous suffering is compensated by moral redemption and spiritual salvation, the veneratio of venusian charm solicits venia: the benevolence and grace of the gods, the world, and man. Venia is not properly speaking forgiveness, because no sin or even indulgence has been committed. Nor is it an allowance of space and time for repentance, since no deviation or error has occurred, in the venusian dimension, man is innocent. Of course his innocence is not ingenuous, spontaneous, and natural; it is an innocence located beyond good and evil because veneratio initiates a new beginning. Titus Livy tells that after the devotio of the consul Decius Mus, the Romans "took up the battle as though the sign had been given for the very first time".
A conspicuous part of the charm that the venusian perspective has exercised upon poets in particular derives from its character as repetition that presents itself as different, other, not identical to the preceding one, to the model or original. Here we find a explanation of the link between Venus and spring that is less banal than the usual generic reference to enchantment and the flowering of nature. The return of spring is enchanting because it initiates a transition, a passage from the same to the same. The refrain of the poem "Pervigilium Veneris" brings to the fore the cancellation of experience, the indifference in the face of past erotic experience: "Cras amet qui numquam amavit, quique amavit cras amet" ("Let those who have never loved love tomorrow, let those love tomorrow who have loved").
Venia is the consenting response of the divinity who has been an object of veneration. In the mutual relation of veneratio venia that is established between man and divinity, Venus combines in herself the two poles of the relation: she says yes to those who, inspired by her, have already said yes. She is thus the propitiator par excellence: she suggests "obsequium" and is "obsequens", is propitious and compliant to whoever already moves within a horizon of propitiation and condescension. Roman deities are endowed with venia, and Venus is by definition "obsequens" because assent and affirmation are implicit in the very notion of "numen", of divine power. "Numen" comes from "nuo", to nod. Of course this does not mean that the gods may not be irate or hostile at times, but there is always an expiatory or propitiatory rite that reestablishes the "pax deorum". It is this faith in the fundamentally favorable nature of the divine and of the present that allows the Romans to deify (to the horror of Augustine and Hegel) even the most harmful forces like fever and the goddess Lua, symbol of disorder and destruction, as well as the most secondary and laughable forces like those named in the "indigitamenta", because all these participate in some way in presence. Upon this faith is founded the possibility of assimilating the most diverse religions to that tolerant syncretism of the strangest cults that characterizes the development of Roman religion. They only thing that is truly unassimilable to the Roman pantheon is moral radicalism, precisely because it negates the present in the name of an "ought to be," of German idea of "Sollen", of utopia. The concept of aid is implicit in "venia". It is curious that the verb "nuo" (I assent) is confused with an archaic "nuo" that means "I suckle" "I nurse" (whence "nutrix"). The idea of benevolence and of "venia" thus seems linked to that of aid given in early infancy, in a state of extreme need. No matter how much this may tempt us to consider Venus as one of the many manifestations of the Mediterranean archetype of the Great Mother, such an identification would overlook the essential point. Readers of the Aeneid will certainly remember the episode in book 12, when Venus Genetrix runs to the aid of her son, Aeneas, who has been wounded in the battle against Turnus. Venusian literature is equally rich in examples that intend the aid of Venus in an erotic sense, from the Camoens of the Lusiadi (for whom Venus conjures up from the sea a lovely island inhabited by quite compliant nymphs who give themselves in the most voluptuous ways) to Radiguet, for whom Venus ironically "lets us glimpse her secrets, her fruits" unconsciously in sleep. But the notion of aid implicit in "venia" is much broader than that of maternity or sexual surrender: it must be understood in all its material and spiritual latitude. Venus is "obsequens" not only like a mother who nurses or matrons who, fined for their adultery, financed the erection of Venus's first temple in Rome in 295 B.C. The characteristic of her "venia" is of the philosophical order: it implies above all a willingness more general and vast.
If "veneratio" is to say yes to the gods, the world, and oneself, first silently and then according to ritual carmina, "venia" is to receive a yes from the gods, the world, and oneself, at first through a mute nod, a sign of approval, an intimate consent, and then through a word that is almost "independent of him who speaks it" which means ''not insofar as it signifies, but insofar as it exists."
This is the meaning that Emile Benveniste attributes to the root *bha whence "for" (to speak) and its derivations "fas", "fama", and "fibula". Of course the idea of "fas" understood as a divine word in a mute pantheon presents some difficulty, but the important thing is to point out the affirmative character implicit in the word "fas" and its ritual, demythified aspect. Thus the term "fama" seems to have originally had an affirmative intention. Finally "fibula", the fabulation of oneself, may create a persona (in the Roman sense of mask), but not a subject: the doubt about its reliability from the very start prevents the individual from failing pietas and becoming arrogant. Just as "veneratio", the giving of praise, turns into a mimeticism that dissolves the meaning of that which it praises, so "venia", the receiving of praise, finally annuls the content of that which is praised. The facility with which one is accepted as a sexual partner in contemporary life is part of the venusian charm, but this does not justify any particular complacency nor does it authorize any intimacy. These encounters, consummated without pathos and without anyone attributing any particular importance to them, have a profound enchantment: they are appreciable ceremonies precisely because they are empty. They are under the sign of Venus: the "venia" exercised in them annuls all vanity." [Venus]
"The luckiest throw in the game of dice, obtained when the four die each showed a different number, was called "venerium" by the Romans. This illustrates the relation between Venus and success. While seduction seems connected to an unhappy destiny, and love reciprocated has been wittily defined by Samuel Beckett as a short circuit, venusian charm is inseparable from success and a happy ending. Thus to remain locked within the metaphor furnished by the game of dice is misleading: Venus has nothing to do with chance. Her protégé would be like a player who "executing 100 throws, 100 times gets the venerium," but for the Romans such pretension would be an expression of the arrogance that is precisely the opposite of the venusian spirit. Presumptuousness Livy calls it "iactantia" - was the sin of the inhabitants of Praeneste who believed they could always win because they were protected by Fortuna Primigenia, who is foreign to the spirit of the Roman religion. Fortune, mere chance, does not at all occupy an eminent position in the Roman religious cosmos, and the idea of an essential and absolute originality is opposed to the experience of a city that was born and developed through assimilating and distorting mechanisms. It is not by chance, then, that sources exhibit traces of a polemical attitude on the part of the Romans with respect to the Praenestine cult of Fortuna, an attitude apparent in the prohibition on consulting its oracle.
The Roman suspicion of the concept of fortune has a philosophical basis: it depends upon the contrast between a voluble and uncertain "fortuna" and the venusian "felicitas", "solid and sincere". That Servius Tullius, son of a slave and patron of slaves, fortunately conceived and made king, had according to tradition dedicated a temple to Fortune tallies perfectly with this assertion. As Angelo Brelich observes, "Fortuna" in Rome is the goddess of slaves and those who live by their wits ("sine arte aliqua"), of those whose only remaining hope is for a stroke of luck. The goddess "Spes" is in fact associated with Fortuna in the Praenestine sanctuary. The success of Venus's protégé is not due to aleatory factors, for he is not under the sign of hope, which awaits events that may or may not happen. Nor must he be tainted by arrogance, and hence does not depend upon the presumption that certain favorable events necessarily occur. "Felicitas" consists in considering whatever happens to be favorable. Sulla, to whom the cult of Venus Felix is attributed, seems to have cultivated this idea implicit in the notion of venusian charm. He seemed to attribute greater value to his own image as "felix" than to real political power and in any case attributed the latter to former. According to Plutarch, he maintained this opinion of himself to the very end, in spite of suffering from a horrible intestinal ulcer that destroyed his flesh, transforming it into lice and dirtying him with an unarrestable flow of rotten matter. Despite this infirmity, which forced him to immerse himself in water several times a day with no results whatsoever, he never ceased to consider himself "felix". Two days before his death he ended his memoirs, asserting that "after he had led a life of honor, he should conclude it in fullness of prosperity".
By associating the concept of "felicitas" with that of "Victoria" and inaugurating cults and temples dedicated to this new goddess, Pompey also put himself under the protection of a Venus Victrix. Such a choice did not prove a felicitous one, since it conflicted with Caesar, who placed Venus in person among his ancestors! Appianus recounts that the night before the battle of Pharsalus, Pompey dreamed of decorating the temple of Venus amid the applause of the people. Awakened suddenly, he realized that the dream was not in his favor and, profoundly unsettled, went toward defeat substituting the battle cry "Venus Victrix" with "Hercules Invictus". The episode demonstrates that venusian charm is not reducible to a hope for a military victory: it transcends the good or bad outcome of a single conflict. It is not success in itself that makes one charming, but charm that predisposes one for success. The very concept of success loses its objective characteristics in the venusian perspective and becomes an attribute of enchantment: the Romans knew quite well that there were victories that were worse than a defeat, and defeats more providential than a victory. Caesar's decision to erect a temple not to Venus Victrix, who had helped him at the Battle of Pharsalus, but rather to Venus Genetrix is illuminating: he considered victory merely a consequence of venusian protection." [Venus]
"The word "venenum", like the corresponding Greek term "pharmakon", presents a double meaning, for it can be used both positively and negatively; it thus originally seems to have indicated the power of venusian charm in its multiple manifestations.
This affinity with the Greek term does not, however, illuminate its conceptual dimension, which is essentially Latin and is determined in opposition to the horizon opened by the noun "pharmakos", related to "pharmakon". In Greece, the scapegoat sacrificed (put to death or expelled) in order to purify the city of the ills that afflicted it was called a "pharmakos". To this end, a certain number of degraded and useless individuals were regularly maintained in Athens at the state's expense. René Girard sees in this custom a manifestation of sacrifice whose essence consists in the exercise of a ritualized violence that purifies and guards the community from the spread of unrestrained and total violence. This theory is founded on the presupposition that only the ritual repetition of violence, by provoking a cathartic and beneficent effect, can distance and preserve a society from barbarism. Human or animal sacrifice (implying bloodshed) is the only "pharmakon remedy" to the "pharmakon venom" of generalized violence: "non violence appears to be a gift of violence". As Derrida has shown, this perspective remains operant within Greek philosophy, in particular within Platonic philosophy.
Though there are a few sporadic cases of human sacrifice and ritual expulsion from the city to be found in the religious history of Rome, the word "venenum" turns our inquiry in a different direction. "Veteres vinum venenum vocabant," says Isidorus of Seville. This evidence, together with the study of the Roman feast of Vinalia, points out not only the sacred character of wine understood as the venusian drink par excellence, but also the meaning of the substitution of wine for blood in sacrifices.
The sacralization of wine in Venus's religion plays a role completely different from the one it plays in Dionysus's religion: in the most ancient Dionysian tradition, there is no reference to wine and the relation between the two is only established retroactively. The Dionysian intoxication comes from the homicidal fury of the "sparagmos", the tearing to pieces of the victim, consumption of his blood and flesh. The bloody sacrifice of Dionysism is the "pharmakon" that restores peace and social order. In the religion of Venus, however, the "vinum venenum", significantly considered the "blood of the earth" immediately takes the place of human blood and implies a refusal of violence even in its therapeutic and prophylactic uses. That the "pax deorum" is reestablished by means of the libation of the contents of the grape-harvest jars, rather than by means of bloody sacrifices, is a fact of enormous anthropological importance. Venusian charm thus locates itself at the antipodes of orgiastic intoxication. While the attraction exercised by Dionysus derives from the ritualized and controlled imitation of an originary and founding violence, the attraction exercised by Venus is, on the contrary, connected to a sort of displacement, transfer: by offering wine rather than blood, Venus establishes an astute mimeticism that exalts the grace of "détournements". "Venenum" also means dye, tint, color, and by extension makeup, "maquillage". In this way the cult of Venus interprets a profoundly rooted orientation in the Roman spirit, traditionally attributed to the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius: in response to Jove's request for human sacrifices, Numa did not refuse but displaced the meanings of words by offering him heads of onions rather than human heads, hair and pilchards rather than men. It is significant that love appreciated Numa's translation, in contrast to the Greek Zeus, who (as Hesiod recounts) did not forgive Prometheus for having given him bones covered with fat rather than flesh as a sacrifice. Also in this perspective is the tale of a certain Papirius, who, in an era when it was customary to promise entire temples to the gods as a vow, promised love a "pocillum mulsi," a glass of honeyed wine, and obtained complete fulfillment of his requests. Venusian charm is certainly linked to appearance, but not necessarily to "beautiful" appearance. The existence of a cult devoted to Venus Calva, whatever its origin, is yet further evidence of a religious disposition oriented toward an innocent displacement that excites, not the wrath of the gods, but their smile.
Demythification is also dedramatization: exaggerations and fanaticism are alien to Roman religion, which rejects the absolutist claims implicit in the delirious experiences of Dionysism. Dionysus's religion knows ecstatic joy, but has none of that humor benevolent and astute, prosaic and witty, that is an essential part of venusian charm. The poets have been the interpreters of this aspect, from the incomparable Giorgio Baffo (whom Apollinaire considered the greatest erotic poet of all time) to Radiguet. Baffo's Venus, who sprawled out on the grass in a delightful garden with her lover, teases her companion with these words: "Corne on, then, my lovely, give me the precious juice of your blessed prick, for I prize the juice of your little click more than muscatel" and concludes: "May those who don't fuck go to hell and become so many marmots. But let the first to have screwed be praised, honored, and crowned," belongs to the same erotic intuition that gives rise to the Bald Venus and "vinum~venenum." The demythification that exchanges wine for blood in sacrifices and onion heads for human heads is nonetheless not mere banalization or triviality: disenchantment does not eliminate enchantment, and exteriorization maintains a purity of its own, Venusian charm does not arise from a dialectic of concealment and unveiling: it presupposes an already uncovered and available reality.
Enchantment does not depend upon what is hidden or revealed, but on the transformation undergone by the "crudest" and "most obscene" reality. If there is still a secret to be revealed, then we are still in the realm of seduction, charm begins when there are no longer any secrets. Hence there were Dionysian mysteries, whereas Venus never had them: "in her role as scarecrow - writes Radiguet - Venus lacks authority". All this leads one to believe that the notion of purity that underlies venusian charm (and perhaps all of Roman religion) is completely different from that implicit in Greek religion. In Greece "katharma" meant "pharmakos", scapegoat, as well as purifying sacrifice. For Girard, this refers to a conception of purification as purgation, as the evacuation from the city of all that was held to be harmful by means of the exercise of violence analogous to the violence from which one wished to liberate the society. "Pharmakon" implies an identity between the evil and its remedy.
In Rome, however, the substitution of "vinus venenum" for blood seems to imply a concept of purity as a simulating operation, displacement and transfer free from passions and traumatic exclusions. Venenum could also be merely water tinted with red or myrtle wine, like that used by matrons for cleansing themselves in the Veneralia feast of the 1st of April, dedicated to Venus Verticordia! Whoever conforms to rituals and scrupulously carries out ceremonies is "castus". The Roman ritual without myth dispenses with fixed contents having a precise identity. Purification seems to become precisely the contrary of purification in Greece: it is not the identification and expulsion of something held to be impure, but the ritual emptying out of all aspects of life. On the 1st of April Roman matrons celebrating the rite of Venus were as "castae" as the prostitutes who worshipped Fortuna Virilis.
We cannot conclude without mentioning the meaning of "venenum" that has prevailed in the history of the word: "venenum" as deadly drink. But here, too, it is difficult to avoid the impression that the Romans aimed at a displacement of death itself. Plutarch attributed to Numa Pompilius the institution of an ancient cult dedicated to Venus Libitina, goddess of funeral rites. He observes that the Romans presumably shrewdly assigned the regulation of the birth and death of men to a single goddess. Such a cult appears to be inspired not by a tragic conception of existence, like that of the Greeks, but rather by an aspiration to make the cultural aspect of death coincide with that of birth. Nothing remains foreign to the venusian enchantment of rites and ceremonies.
The very etymological origin of charm, which comes from "carmen", refers to this perspective. "Carmen" has the general meaning of a cadenced formula, endowed with formal characteristics artificially regulated and maintained independently of their original meaning. Both religious formulas and the text of the law were called "Carmen". In the ritualism of the "Carmen", Roman religion perhaps finds its own unity in the charm of the quotidian, the contemporary crisis perhaps finds its own solution." [Venus]
Seeing as this thread is quite esoteric-based I want to post an interesting anecdote. I recently conducted multiple 'ouija board' sessions just out of curiosity, completely sceptical prior to doing them. However, in hindsight I do genuinely believe it wasn't me or my girlfriend moving the planchette whilst conducting these sessions, and the phenomena is unexplainable by scientific means. Anyone else tried it? What are other people's opinions?