The Hidden Meaning of Noah and the Ark; Pt. 3

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What are the Biblical writers trying to tell us about our inner worlds through the storied roles of Ham, Shem and Japeth? According to Preston Harold…

Ham appears to represent a preconscious ego-sense which is one of both helplessness and cunning, subject to all other psychic factors. Having looked upon the naked parent, it is subject to the Oedipus curse – the curse so involved with the physical intermingling of person and parent, of impotence despite man’s might and cunning.

Japeth appears to represent a subconscious ego-sense which is enlarged as its store of data grows through experience and learning – it becomes “a mighty one in the earth…the beginning of his kingdom was Babel…” and man’s subconscious is indeed a babble of selves within him, subject to an enlarging and mighty conscience.

Shem, the blessed, appears to represent the superconscious ego-sense as it is described in this study: a natural grasp of truth, a natural responsiveness to right that needs not to be belabored by conscience or memory.

The Lord God who shuts in the ark and sets the rainbow is seen to be a visitation in man’s consciousness – this, the Authority-Ego, his sense of certainty in being, dwells in the “tents” of Shem. The word, “tents,” indicates that consciousness is always on the move.

One might also be reminded here of the prologue to the Gospel of John, in which the Logos, the Word, is said to have pitched his “tent” among us, referring to the Incarnation. And as much as we receive Him, this visitation of our Lord God, our Authority-Ego, our inner Christ, to us He gives power to become “Children of God.”

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So what about Noah himself? What does Harold have to say about him? Here he conveys while wrapping up the roles of Ham, Shem and Japeth nicely…

Noah appears to be representative of man’s sense of having been – he represents memory residue, which resides in infant consciousness long enough to ratify or to activate God-consciousness in man and then to create a schism between itself and the preconscious level before it subsides into the unconscious. Noah’s demise coincides with infant amnesia, and his cursing of Ham indicates that every person suffers a trauma in infancy as a result of his partial glimpsing of his naked past. But the legend tells man that he cannot know himself through the exposure of his unconscious memory although it is parent of his present consciousness, for this memory spends itself in the constructive work of fetal development and birth. Thus, prior life or generation is a closed episode: the head of its household sinks into the unknown realm – a part of man’s consciousness may have glimpsed it in infancy, but a part refrained from viewing the naked body of the past and this part will always cover it quickly, hiding it from curiosity’s eyes. Thus, the Noah legend reveals the inner drama.

Amen, brothers and sisters! Although Harold’s approach isn’t the only way to understand the Biblical text, it is certainly the deepest and most relevant to understanding ourselves as part of the legend. The challenge for us is to interpret the other Biblical stories in this same manner. Preston Harold will continue to help us do so. Until next time, peace…

The Hidden Meaning of Noah and the Ark; Pt. 2

Noah and company have now arrived on dry land. We now come to the part of the story that more than often gets overlooked. After the rainbow appears things aren’t necessarily so bright and sunny. Preston Harold continues his exploration…

The legend’s poetic revelation of embryonic and fetal life does not end with the arrival of man on terra firma. It deals with infant being of race and individual. It says Homo sapiens must deal with his imagination, “evil from his youth,” pointing to childish barbarism and man’s behavior in primeval times when he resorted to cannibalism…. The most important lesson primeval man had to learn was to substitute animal flesh for human flesh to maintain himself in life – the most important lesson the infant must learn is to make this substitution, for he cannot forever feed off his mother. The Noah story introduces the parallel to the Totem feast: Noah offers every clean beast and fowl upon an altar – man has begun to teach through ritual the realization that led him, finally, to relinquish cannibalism. Thus, this earliest religion represents enormous progress in the development of human consciousness: a foreswearing of embryonic, fetal, and infantile experience wherein one must partake of human substance in order to know life – man has become as child.

The legend says that God sets a rainbow in the sky as a reminder, implying the birth of consciousness with which the legend also deals, indicating that the process is more traumatic than physical birth. It is depicted as a laying down of one ego or life and the picking up of another in differentiated consciousness. ImageAs the legend describes it, Noah lies down naked in drunken stupor and is glimpsed briefly by Ham, who is thereby cursed with “knowledge of helplessness,” and reduced to servant status. His offspring becomes a mighty and cunning hunter. But Noah is covered quickly by Japeth and Shem who do not look upon the self-induced, naked helplessness of their father-consciousness. When Noah recovers, he says, “Blessed be the LORD GOD of Shem… God shall enlarge Japeth and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem,” through whom the line of legend continues, encompassing those who become Israel, a multitude outgrown from that which was within the ark.

Now that Ham, Shem, and Japeth have been introduced, in our next post we will look at how Harold understands their symbolic roles in the psyche. Until then, peace…

The Hidden Meaning of Noah and the Ark; Part I

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With the recent release of Darren Aranofsky’s “Noah,” much discussion and controversy has been bandied about concerning the film’s biblical accuracy and the director’s artistic license. For anyone who saw the film, certainly they can attest that Aronofsky’s version doesn’t follow the biblical narrative “note for note,” but whether or not that is acceptable is up to each individual. For those who see the Bible as a book of literal history, “Noah” will be at worst heresy, at best confusing. For those who understand the Bible as a literary record of God’s acts in history (and in this case, pre-history), “Noah” will be seen as a Midrash, the Jewish tradition of storytelling that explores the ethics and values in the text, often using “what if” scenarios to flesh the story out (this is Aranofsky’s own approach). But for those who understand that the Bible is also trying to tell us something that not only happened “once upon a time” but is always happening, Preston Harold has something to say that will delight you. I will quote him at length…

The Noah legend depicts most dramatically a “recital” of all man has known in animal life, even as it enfolds, poetically and with a surprising degree of accuracy, aspects of the birth process, as may be seen in the following parallels:

When the ovum is pierced by the sperm, development of a very special growth called the placenta, cake, because of its shape, begins. When Noah is pierced by the Word of God, he goes to work and following most explicit instructions builds a very special structure upon high ground: the ark.

Through the umbilical cord that connects the embryo and placenta, the embryo derives oxygen and food; it develops its own blood, circulatory, and digestive systems – that are at all times quite distinct from its host’s. Noah was instructed to build a “window” and a “door” in the side of the ark, “and take unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shall gather it to thee, and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.”

The inner membrane of the ovum, or amnion (lamb), fills with a pint or more of water. In this the embryo floats. The ark (incorporating both placenta and embryo in symbolic form) is set afloat as the waters rise, Noah and his company shut within it.

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As the embryo develops into fetus, soma or “body” cells multiply by division, assuming special shapes to fit them to form the tissues and organs of the body. Noah’s company may be seen as a group of “body cells: there in reproductive capacity, and the company may be seen also as a sort of recital of all man has known in the realm of animal flesh, Noah and wife, his sons and their wives, representing the factors that carry the genetic code. The legend says that when the company of “body cells” comes forth, all are “after their kinds,” or are “arranged in families” – as are the soma cells which form the tissues and organs.

With the spilling of the birth waters, the fetus emerges from the womb to the dry ground of life. Noah waits until the waters have drained away and then his company emerges in a body, leaving the ark behind as the placenta is “after birth.” By the time the fetus is past the seventh month, its body is basically complete; but it is not uncommon for the fetus to delay until well into the tenth month before emerging. The legend says that by the seventh month, the “ark is grounded,” but the story enfolds also the lengthier term – “till the tenth month the waters steadily subsided, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains were seen.”

So what happens after the emergence onto dry land: the birth of the human being? We will consider that in our next post. Until then, peace…

The Word, our Larynx, and Creation

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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  And God said, “Let there be…” Genesis 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were created; without him nothing was created that has been created.  John 1

We step aside now to consider Harold’s quote from our last post, “If man is child, he will outgrow his present garment, his mental and physical vesture.” ImageTo do so we will again turn to look at what Rudolf Steiner had to say about this possibility. In a previous post here we considered what Steiner had to say considering the past conditions of humanity. In this post we will look to see where his spiritual scientific imaginings lead him in ruminating on man’s future.

The quotes from Genesis and the Gospel of John at the beginning of this post, telling us that everything that exists came into being through the word, point the way for Steiner’s understanding of humanity’s future. I will let Steiner speak for himself. From his lecture on June 28, 1907 in Kassel, Germany:

Imagine that we can transform air into a liquid and then into a solid. Already today, it is possible to solidify air. You know that steam, the gaseous form of water, liquefies when it cools and is transformed into solid ice when it freezes. Now imagine that I pronounce the word “god” in air-filled space. If you could solidify the air at the very instant these sound waves are present, a shape –perhaps a shell-like shape, for example – would fall to earth. The word “world” would produce a different shape. You would be able to capture my words, and each word would correspond to a shape made out of crystallized air.

This analogy was used in the Christian (esoteric) schools. Each object first exists as a thought concealed within a being, a thought that is then spoken and solidified. Christians imagined that the creation of the universe began with the thoughts of things, which were then pronounced by the divinity and sent forth into space. The plants and minerals you see are divine words that have solidified. Everything we see… is a divine word become solid…

If you bear all this in mind, you realize that the word was once a creative force. Today, we human beings are still mere beginners at what our forefathers once did. Today’s sexual procreation, whether by plants, animals,
 or humans, is simply a transformation of the divine creative word of former times… Our most nearly finished aspect is sexuality, while the beginning of a new means of procreation exists in the human larynx… The larynxImage we now use to produce words will become an organ of procreation that brings forth increasingly denser and more exalted creations. In the future, what is now air will be the substance of beings… In future evolutionary stages of the earth, what we can now only say, will then emerge in forms that endure. Ultimately, the larynx will become the organ through which human beings reproduce their own kind.

Steiner also suggests that the transformation of the larynx is just the tip of the iceberg:

Much more could be said about such organs, which we have incorporated into our respiratory system here on Earth but which actually belong to the heart system. They are present in the body as mere potentials now, but will gradually evolve further.

So what will the future human garment look like, which Harold posits we are growing into? If Steiner is right and earthly conditions will change so a new biology and subsequent forms are needed, what will they be? What will be the actual appearance of a human who can reproduce via the larynx? Whose cardio vascular and respiratory systems are transformed? One hint I’m getting from Steiner in this quote is that what are now involuntary functions within us will in the future become voluntary. But I’m afraid there can be no rock-solid answers at this point. Only our imaginations can suggest what we might become. I’ll leave that to each of us!

Until next time, peace…