The Return of Those Who Fly (II)

ONE VISION TO RESIST THE SINGULAR VISION (AND IT’S NOT WHERE YOU’D EXPECT)

“I don’t know why, but Alexander and Achilles have always sparked my imagination, even when I was a little child. I even don’t remember where I first heard about them, I seem to have known about them for always. (And then being quite upset when learning that other children had no idea who I was talking about… ;-))” (Lydia)

I recently became obsessed with Alexander the Great and Hephaestion Amyntoros, and I know when that happens, a story is getting reactivated in the collective consciousness, in the form of a new film, a sequel, a documentary, etc. Whether that means “I sense a disturbance in the Force” is yet to be seen, but what this obsessive state always does is to quickly put me up to speed with everything of interest: by feeding the obsession one learns a great deal in a short amount of time. I was right: 2020 will see the opening of the Amphipolis Kasta tomb, one of Alexander’s expensive monuments to his Hephaestion, to the public. My first reaction was that it looks significantly like one of the ancient gateways of the Fairy Folk. (Source of news: Opening in 2020: Alexander’s monument to Hephaestion is a new queer history pilgrimage) Meanwhile, the search is still on for Alexander’s body, which seems to have been… misplaced. In this article, I will explain how these findings are related and how to see beyond the mundane, into the symbolism of the idea that someone’s body could somehow be “waiting to be discovered” more than 2,300 years after his death: the search is for the Spiritual Body, which he was rumoured to have attained – hence the level of obsession it sparks off, in itself just another way to unite people across nations. “I came to see a King, not a row of corpses.” (Emperor Augustus, fanboy)

I have compiled a playlist of songs and music videos on the topic, which I will share with you. You may wonder what some Christian worship songs are doing on this list. To quote a friend, “Perhaps through the Dreamers of yesteryear, the meaning shall reveal itself to all.”

I grew up with the Heroic Tradition, myself. Most of my life I believed that seeing those bromancing heroes as being romantic lovers was my special secret, something only I could do or see. [1] Even after discovering others made the same interpretation, I couldn’t yet perceive that the Heroic Tradition was – in fact – deliberately aimed at an audience of tomboys like me, more than at men, regardless of what historians will tell you about heroic myths being used to teach the men of Greece a combination of racism and misogyny. Esoteric initiates didn’t write for misogynistic men, much less told us women that we are “slaves to our inferior passions.” Instead, they were our allies and understood our passion well. Our literature teacher’s conspiring glint in her eyes, when she explained the adventures of Enkidu and Gilgamesh in terms of a friendship, makes perfect sense now! Haha. (Imagine that in those days, you could still go to jail for suggesting to your students that queer people exist.)

It was watching a rerun of Oliver Stone’s Alexander (2004) which brought me this realization, that my friend was right about the Dreamers of the past. Regardless of what the myths were used for in antiquity, it is still up to us tomboys to decide on their final interpretation, and I choose love. Why? Because without us “Babylons” (‘Barbelon’ is a Gnostic term for a girl who behaves like a son or brother; also ‘Bab’ili’ was the “Gate of the Luminous Beings” such as the Ishtar Gate featured in the film), there is no “proud gay identity” the heroes could use as a reference, on a personal level, and which could thus be reflected in myth to convince the naysayers before we tomboys take flight. Since the heroes were taught misogynistic attitudes by their elders, they found it difficult to engage in their own relationship fully, as it would have been perceived as the highly disreputable behaviour of a man acting the part of women. (Because a story has been written down, we often expect the people in it to have lived an “ultimate version” of themselves, free from all fear – but their adventures represent a process of transformation, instead.)

Again, what’s with the worship songs? :)))

Here I will refer to shamanism, the primordial tradition of humankind. A God, as Alexander wished to turn his companion into (by petitioning the Oracle of Siwa) is the Spiritual Body of your one and only Soul Mate… the only person who makes you feel this amazing, and you do the same for him. So it’s kind of important, spiritually, that it isn’t just friendship or camaraderie there, if we grant someone’s partner divine status and decide to go on a pilgrimage (count me in! but just saying). Don’t get me wrong, I do connect with the description of Hephaestion as asexual – but I’m saying that asexuality is part of the spectrum of real sexuality, not its absence. It is simply misunderstood, because certain gestures, etc. are ascribed a lesser meaning than they have for the asexual person (the embrace is a huge example of this). Therefore, calling the relationship with your God “romantic, but not sexual” is an artificial division, and indirectly offensive – a sort of Victorian throwback to fears or disdain of surrendering to so-called lower passions (what I see into Alexander’s fear, as he kept such needs separate in his life – something which intrigued me a lot). In truth, there is nothing low or high about purity of the heart, just connection; it’s pulling away from it that hurts your mate. I can imagine the Oracle of Siwa asking, like in the comedy film The Terminal: “Where’s your green form? I can’t do anything without it. Go to the wall. NEXT! … Sir… your light green form?” – but in this case the light green form is True Love, and the oracle would know it is the required “paperwork.” If you don’t have a psychosexual connection with your nominee to godhood (though claims to be one single body with him, or veiled declarations like “Take, without ever regretting it!” would all be evidence to the contrary…), then he’s not your True Love, therefore not a romantic link, therefore not quite the God in your heart. However, it’s often very hard to be yourself in this world, so that’s probably why it took 8 months for the oracle to figure out a balanced answer to the problem… it doesn’t take that long for a trained messenger to ride from Babylon to Egypt and back!

The irony here is that, long before their deaths, Alexander was driven by the idea Hephaestion could be engineered into gaining the same afterlife status as himself, so that they’d ultimately never be apart; but then this status (“Everyone loved Alexander, son of Zeus”) was only ever real when Hephaestion directly looked upon him as his shining sun. Otherwise, there is no universally held opinion of the man or his territorial conquests – which is quite normal, I might add. So the many attempts to set up life markers to honour Hephaestion “equally” (e.g. by marrying him off to a Persian princess) ended in self-precipitated crises for them both. Again, heroes were taught certain values and cultural patterns, what constitutes honour and shame, etc. – but when they become heroes and pass into Fairy Tale, it’s in spite of those learned patterns, not because of them as is nowadays assumed to be the “esoteric meaning” of Hero Worship. Those patterns affect girls (tomboys) too, because we want to be heroes and knights, just as much. (By the way, when I was 10 I insisted on getting a wooden sword, and a burgundy maxi skirt became the perfect mantle.) But there is a difference between esoteric (inner meaning) and exoteric (outer meaning), and cultural expectations are exoteric. If you seek the esoteric, think Medusa, Circe, etc. These characters were remnants of a shamanic vision in a pagan world which had already shifted towards the “gods of man.” [2] 

Furthermore, during the single-standardization of spirituality by the Christian Empire, several esoteric cults of the Divine Heroes (‘Bismillah’, “In the name of the Perfect Human Being”) were suppressed, either eradicated or merged with the new religion. It’s time we recovered from that. The Perfect Human is not a singular pattern, nor is it an elite collective as such… it is the Perfection which exists in the eyes of the Beloved. That’s why there are many different conceptions of virtue. Yet religion would have you believe that by striving for moral superiority over other people, you alone will somehow escape that hidden Disaster recorded in books like the Bible (the asteroid impact, an extinction-level event which has already happened, but was feared could happen again). This is nonsense. The only way to escape is if ALL PEOPLE stand united, and thus the information about the Lightbody Perfection is released (which has a part to play in the protection of the planet, and is central to any form of participation in the cosmic). An asteroid-type object will not look to swerve left or right because of your beliefs or the next person’s…

Back from Space to this playlist for now, though: I’ve put it together like a collection of clues relating to when Alexander mysteriously dreamed about “finding immortality in darkness in a cave at the end of the world” and he was told to look for the initiates of that ancient knowledge. [3] Esoteric exploration romances have him “cross the land of darkness with his servant, in search for the water of life.” The latter sounded a lot like imagery from The Lord of the Rings (another work that, much like Homer’s writings, was once believed to have been entirely made up) – which then led me to Zeus abducting Ganymede, the Cup Bearer, via the symbol of the ‘Eagle and Child’ pub in Oxford where the meetings of the Inklings took place. The rest you may discover for yourself. Right now, I cannot stop laughing as I remember how one time, my writer friend (disappointingly for me) said Christian worship hymns “are quite relaxing, actually” but I had no clue what that really meant! Not until much later, when I was going over certain things and remembered another indication, “People have this idea the practice is something violent because they have no experience of what it feels like, which is entirely relaxing.” Then there are the texts in which Jesus describes himself as gay and divine, which I found after I had some strange dreams introducing me to that very idea. Whoops!!! So I stand corrected. (I should’ve remembered King David’s music was equally relaxing, and that he and Jonathan were of the Heroic Tradition as well. I was not relaxed, because religious groups have horrible effects on people via their teachings, which aren’t as attuned to queer takes on theology as the music can be; but these days I understand more about how running away from our pain conditions us down the line. It’s the Soul Mate’s pull that stands against this conditioning. For Christians, the Soul Mate is called the Holy Spirit or Guardian Angel, but the many fears associated with actively contacting the spiritual often transforms this angel into a demon for them. Nevertheless, if Jesus can help people understand it is not a demon, it’s your soul, then it’s all good. After all, it would seem he went through the same struggle there.)  

It is said the death of Alexander the Great was a mystery, that the doctors couldn’t figure it out and just gave his symptoms the name “fever”… not because the science wasn’t advanced, but because this fever acted strangely in their eyes. This reminded me of the initial stages of enlightenment, when Gnostics experience symptoms like the flu. So perhaps he didn’t experience “an emotional downward spiral” entirely (words that would frame the enlightenment in negative terms), but a more complex, sacred process of devotion like the one described in Sufi traditions, where Lovers become ill with longing for each other’s soul. Alexander took religion seriously, but at the same time he broke the rules in a big way, for one person. The “illness” is explained as the Light inside, consuming all impurities before the union with True Love. It was this appearance of illness that frightened the people of old against becoming involved with Those Who Fly (‘upyr’ > ‘vampir’), and contributed to the latter’s twisted image as evil vampires – whose irresistible pull is all-consuming, like a funeral pyre. But regardless of how many heroes “followed each other down to the House of Death,” I ask you to remember that liberating the Light inside does not actually require the death of the material body – it simply depends on how open your mind is.

Conclusion:

I am barely beginning to realize the many clichés that are running our lives, expectations dictated by collective stories of “rise and fall.” The prevalent mentality today is that you either get the Dream (which means affecting a large number of people), or you get a quiet life with your love, but these are mutually exclusive and there will always be some kind of loss. Your lover is your downfall, pitted against you in sanctified betrayal of your utopian craze. [4] We celebrate such ideas and imagine we have some kind of insight, that the Hero is someone who bravely and cynically defeats the Giants. Yet somehow, this fails to be logical thinking. Indeed, it is valuable to look into the past for insight into power struggles and then opt out of them, knowing what they are about, or why you desire the world so badly. But a cliché is simply that, no more, and until now I’d been ignorant of the real reason why things tend to go bust: fear… Fear about being different, other, whether female, queer, or divine. Not even the movie trailer for Alexander manages to escape that duplicitous loop of selling it as being about gory battle and glorious conquest (and um, some misplaced sexual attraction from Olympias! ew…), even while the movie itself outdoes that scene from The Two Towers where Frodo and Sam are candidly debating the finer points of Hero Worship (if you remember how that went)! So it’s clear to me now that the topic is queerness as a whole. Being queer, or a woman, is the only reason why it would appear that greatness and love are somehow incompatible. It’s a twisted message rooted in cultural rejection of the Other, with the resulting erotophobia spreading like a disease. So it’s not your lover who is your downfall, it’s yourself… yet it doesn’t have to be so, in the end.

King-and-Lionheart

Footnotes:

1. The final resting place of Achilles and Patroclus is not the official tomb built for them in Troy. As it turns out, it is suggested as Leuke, the White Island in the Black Sea, a rock also known as Serpent Island, near to a place in Romania where I personally spent many holidays dreaming as a kid – that’s where I promised myself to my True Love, swimming in the sea. Sensing the magic of a secret love, I promised I would never forget it growing up. “The Serpents” is a name for the Wise originally living around the Black Sea, the awakened Elves or Ili, who are distinguished by their fun-loving nature, sexiness, meditative disposition, androgyny, and of course by their ‘dor’ – the name Romanians call the poetic tradition of longing for one’s cosmic love. By the way, I get such a kick when so many videos use scenes from Oliver Stone’s movie with Romanian subtitles left in! (It fits the prophecy that when we discover Hercules’ legendary gear buried in the mountains on the Serbian border, we will all become “Defenders of Men” –  ‘Alexandros’ – and that’s when the Light will return to the world. Cool!). 2020 update: before the pandemic hit, as part of this pilgrimage I was planning to visit Istanbul for Mehmed II whose loyal friend Radu the Fair, Prince of Wallachia, was the queer figure that inspired the name of Bucharest, my city. I had not, however, linked Mehmed II with the tomb of Achilles – I just thought Istanbul would be a nice detour from the Troy-related route, but definitely connected to my Sea-promise. 

2. Ancient Greece was sadly not the “liberated culture” it is often taken for, especially in the West, who approach it as their ideal of democracy. There are several reasons for this. The ideal homoerotic attraction was seen as something temporary and universal, with the “universal” being for me the clearest indication that they didn’t get it, since it was applied to the wrong level and thus contributed to a lack of acceptance. Without subscribing to an essentialist view of sexual identity, it is nevertheless more logical to imagine that sexual diversity really exists in a population, and that it is something for the individual to work out – moment in which it becomes universal, by linking one’s private aspirations to those of others. Instead, ancient Greeks imposed a single, masculinist standard of conduct on the entire (male) population that involved multiple partners of both sexes, lack of exclusive attachment, making love in a “moderate” way (viewing passion as “unbecoming” of the rational man), partnering in order to give youth social standing or citizenship (which otherwise did not exist for boys, women, or slaves), etc. So it was only a handful of people (usually from elite backgrounds) who felt targeted in their sensibilities during philosophy class (e.g. “I like Achilles, because he loved Patroclus; why do they teach his mourning was excessive?”; “Can a man be friends with a woman equally?”), who could be called the Dreamers – and they were odd back then, not the norm. This is supported by the shamanic substrate of Greek myths. Shamanism involves an initiation into how our “social eyes” create the delusion of living a universal truth (“Athens promotes perfect freedom of thought” being the delusion in this case), and a shaman is also called a Dreamer. The biggest problem with the universalist approach is that it frames some people as more “virtuous” than others based on perceived brilliance, while disconnecting such brilliance from its true human depth and wreaking havoc on one’s sense of community and outlook. Last but not least, it was the cultural aspects mentioned above that twisted the message of love shared by Jesus Christ, replacing it with racism and xenophobia in church teachings.

3. The book The Persians by Gene R. Garthwaite offers some unique insight as it delves into how the philosophy of Zoroaster became a political tool. It suggests that Zeus of the Greeks was a deity appearing in many other guises, including Ahura Mazda from Zoroastrianism. The cosmic dualism of Ahura (light) and Ahriman (darkness) was used by the Persian Empire to promote itself over the tribes it had conquered. In other words, the empire and its ruling dynasties were cast as the mythical “light” versus the tribes in the role of “darkness.” Yet the idea of an “oppressive” Persian Empire is merely a Greek tale – as Greek as this curious light-bias was, a legacy of the Hellenistic dynasties. What could all this mean, which forces were at odds there? The answer must be in the origin of these tribes, and in how the Lightbody (concept of God) appears split into opposite forces and becomes oppressive when worshiped by slaves as just the external means of promotion to a higher status. Promoting “Men are good” without revealing the interested party will lead to confusion for the masses. The Magi, Zoroastrian priests who took to travelling the world any time extreme dualism would take off (such as the Roman interpretation of Manichaeism), promoted a subversive “heresy” instead: both Ahura and Ahriman originated in an androgynous spirit called Zurvan (Time), so the cosmic struggle ends when Ahriman is projected into the Fire of the Abyss (translation: a male cave becomes female, like in the Bible story about a Whale). Axis-shifting astrology from Zurvanism was also alluded to by Jesus regarding the Fish – the Ili – who finally get caught in the “nets” (container symbolism) of the true believers. Zurvanism was increasingly being seen as a heresy and fell out of everyday ritual, but Zoroastrians continue to worship the formless fire, or vibration of knowledge, to this day. I found suggestions that Bagoas may have worshiped the formless fire too (“formless” being a reference to androgyny), and as such his importance to the story of Alexander would be that of a spiritual prostitute, rather than a fallen one serving only material needs. He taught Alexander it was a type of power – not a weakness – to become more feminine.

4. In response to queries about Alexander being a tyrant (I’d say just very driven overall, and coming down from such highs is a pain, as the Persians can tell you): tyranny is in how you tell the story, while looking for a hero or a villain. It doesn’t really help human understanding. What helps is to notice the vision that came through cracks in his preconceptions as he was maturing, beginning to see that maybe he could shape his own destiny. He was awakening through exploration and travel – an inspiration to modern tomboys for sure! To this very day, he remains linked with exploration, and with uniting people across the globe. With that in mind, there is no problem worshiping a human being as divine, because the Soul is non-dualistic: it is continuous with both the person, the human, as well as plant-life, animals, God, and the Vision itself. (My favourite scene in the film Alexander is when he flashes this huge, childlike grin, discovering while in India that monkeys have hands just like ours – and from what I’ve read so far about his life, I think the film is trying to suggest to us that he truly had the heart of a witch, down to the things he was wearing… Since Hollywood usually gets witches wrong, casting them as the tyrants, this was different as it proceeded towards an acceptance rather than a transcendence of the biological realm.)

Farvardin-divinity-in-humanNote, however, that this type of worship is DARK, always was: Khemetic, or black, meaning “to see in the dark” – the mystical flash through which we see is the Soul Mate of that person, who is in turn given as the True Hero, by the Hero. It is like a gift, not like a system of belief from on high. So by doing this, you are also highlighting your True Love, and shifting the Axis to its rightful position. Exploration Nation, here we go.

  1. Kutless – Promise of a Lifetime
  2. The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – Your Guardian Angel
  3. Lee Ryan – Don’t Leave Me
  4. 30 Seconds To Mars – The Kill (Bury Me)
  5. Sanctus Real – Love Like Yours
  6. Andreea Bălan – Zizi (You Are My Sun)*
  7. David Gray – Babylon
  8. Don McLean – Babylon
  9. The Outfield – Voices of Babylon
  10. Avicii feat. Sandro Cavazza – Without You (Alexander/Hephaistion)
  11. Avicii feat. Adam Lambert – Lay Me Down
  12. Tolkien Ensemble – Verse of the Rings
  13. Simon & Garfunkel – The Sound of Silence (original version 1964)
  14. Ganymed – It Takes Me Higher
  15. ABBA – When I Kissed The Teacher
  16. Google Translate Sings Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler
  17. Adam Lambert – Lucy (feat. Brian May)
  18. WWRY Musical London – We Will Rock You (“thunderbolts and lightning” scene)
  19. Hillsong – I Surrender
  20. David & Jonathan – Lovers of the World Unite

(*) A fantasy stand-in of the oracle establishing the Cult of Hephaestion. Lyric translation here. The “helicopter pad” anamnesis acts as symbolism of the Lightbody in music videos (Helios/Sun + Coptic). The older corresponding symbol was the dragonfly – indicating the soul of a witch or mystic. Singer Andreea Bălan is a Romanian activist for LGBTQ. 

BONUS for super-geeks: Sprechen Sie Attisch? – a sample of how conversations between our Heroes may have sounded in Attic Greek. It may prove useful on a pilgrimage. O haire!

Bibliography:

  1. Mavrojannis, Theodoros. The Great Tumulus at Amphipolis. Remarks on Its Chronology in Comparison to the Debate for the «Deification» of Hephaestion. Gasparini (ed.), Vestigia. Miscellanea di studi archeologici e storico-religiosi per l’80 compleanno del Professor Filippo Coarelli, Stuttgart 2016, pp. 645-662.
  2. Reames, Jeanne. The Mourning of Alexander the Great. Syllecta Classica, 2001 – Academia.edu
  3. Young, Serinity. Women Who Fly: Goddesses, Witches, Mystics, and Other Airborne Females. Oxford University Press, 2018