Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Night I Met Nietzsche and How I Journeyed On to Behold the Triune Goddess

Dionysos riding a leopard, 4th-century BC mosaic from Pella
I started reading Nietzsche at the age of eleven. By the age of fifteen, I had devoured his entire body of work, and absorbed its nutrients into my psyche. He was my first "guru."
Edvard Munch - Friedrich Nietzsche (1906)
Nietzsche initiated me into philosophy (as Yeats had already initiated me into poetry). He taught me to wield the sword of mind in the service of ravishing beauty and ruthless truth. He gave me the strange medicine I needed to survive my journey to the surface of the earth.  I had, after all, been born in hell.

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster," he told me. "And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you." (Beyond Good and Evil)

But it was not until many years later, in my thirties, that I actually met Nietzsche. In a "dream." It was the 19th Century. His time, not mine. We were both visiting Vienna.

In a grand ballroom, with waltzing in the background, an older gentleman came up to me and said, "Have you met Heir Nietzsche yet? Oh, you haven't? You must, you simply must!"

And he led me to a small circle of people nearby, and brought me face to face with Nietzsche. There he was. Looking up at me, staring into an abyss. With blood orange moons in his eyes, and that mane of a lion in his mustache. And there I was looking down at him. Staring into an abyss.

Then I realized, wow, here I am with my first guru, the great warrior philosopher, the savior of my adolescence, but now he was younger than me, frailer than me, smaller than me.

I wanted to put my arm around him, and offer him the solace of my friendship.
I wanted to protect him, as he had protected me.

Waking, I could feel the distance that I had come already in my life, and I saw how I had moved beyond where Nietzsche had fallen. I could feel all his profound insights, and all his brilliant autopsies, I could feel all of his genius. And I vowed to protect it, to keep it sacred, and to someday somehow celebrate his unspeakably sublime message.  

"The 'Kingdom of Heaven' is a condition of the heart - not something that comes 'upon the earth' or 'after death,' he wrote, "the 'kingdom of God' is not something one waits for; it has no yesterday or tomorrow, it does not come 'in a thousand years' - it is an experience within a heart; it is everywhere, it is nowhere..." (The Antichrist)

Looking back on that night I met Nietzsche, from this vista twenty five years or so farther on into the vast wilderness,  I can trace the timeline of my life so clearly.

That dream encounter was one the great demarcation points.

Within the Embrace of the Triune Goddess

For me, all of Nietzsche's works are laid out on an arc between two great revelations.

There was the revelation he began with, in which he articulated the Apollonian and the Dionysian, two great opposing forces within the human psyche: sacred and profane, orderly and anarchic, chaste and lustful, light and dark, straight and stoned.  And there was the unfinished revelation he ended with, in which he had just begun to articulate the Will to Power as the engine that drives all human life. The exploration of these revelations (and how they play out for the artist and the mystic) had consumed much of my life until the demarcation point signified by that dream.

But for the next twenty years or so after, my journey into the wilderness led me deeper and deeper into a vast region of the psyche ruled by the Divine Feminine.

This is the region that Nietzsche had glimpsed in his tragic love for Lou Salome. But she had other appointments to keep, and could not take him there.

It was in that long stretch of the inner Gobi that I fell into the embrace of the great Triune Goddess.

John Bauer - Freja
And it was within that all encompassing embrace that, for me, the ceaseless struggle between the opposing forces of the Apollonian and the Dionysian, as well as the Will to Power itself, were brought into balance. They continue to play out, but now they play out within this greater context.

The great Triune Goddess has three aspects: Mother, Lover and Warrior, and these three aspects womanifest in countless names and forms, in all stages of life (e.g., both maiden and crone) and in all aspects. She is both Kali Ma, the Dark Mother, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Bright Mother. She is both Freya, the Blonde Lover Goddess and Morrigan, the Raven Warrior Goddess. She is the great goddess Tara in all twenty-one of her emanations.

She is the truth of the ancient future trinity.

She gave birth to us, she sustains us, and she is devouring us even as I write this note. And the greatest of her names is whichever one arrives on your lips in the moment, whether that moment is one of dire extremity, sublime pleasure or simple peace.

Yes, Nietzsche's bones lie far behind me, high on a promontory, in the vastness of this wilderness. Generations of broad-winged vultures have served as their guardians. Bleached in the blazing sun, those bones emit a brilliant light in the indigo blue of the desert night. But his laughter traveled on with me, and still permeates the swirling pillars of this psyche-temple.

"I know my fate," Nietzsche declared, near the end. "One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous — a crisis without equal on earth ... I am no man, I am dynamite."  (Ecce Homo)

-- Richard Power

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