"Hear me Calling" by Catrin Welz Stein“Your ingenuousness touches me, your unconcealed carnal intrigues amuse me, and it seems to me that, as is sometimes the case with the best kind of Sicilians, you have managed to achieve a synthesis of the senses and reason.”
The wizened and eccentric Classics professor, Rosario La Ciura, spoke these words to his young friend, Paolo Corbera, before revealing the greatest secret of the old man’s life: He had been in love with a Siren. Yes, a real Siren is the divine spark which ignited the marvelous book, The Professor and the Siren, originally published in Italian as La Sirena, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampesdusa.
As a young Greek scholar studying in Sicily, La Ciura had a divine––and yet also terrestrial––encounter with a sea Siren, who climbed up into his boat one summer afternoon. Once La Ciura had tasted the sublime confluence of the immortal and erotic transcendence of his Siren lover, he would repudiate the common experiences of humanity, spitting on them as dirty and utterly devoid of beauty. One of the only things that the old professor would allow himself to enjoy was a plate of sea urchins, briny and reminiscent of the kisses he once shared with his mythical beloved.
It seems to me most important at this stage in my spiritual and physical development, to dwell on this gift of achievement that Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa reveals in this, one of his only published works. I find these words of his to ring true to my own experience of those who have begun to master the delicate balance between life as a corporeal being, and the inner Being which is lit by an uncreated light. This is the struggle of St. Antony of Egypt, the fetish of every desert hermit and heretical flagellant, yes, but it is also a milder grove inhabited by the more moderate spirits among us who also seek out the gates of paradise. Cicero, Dionysius, Benedict, Hildegard, Ficino and Rabelais; they too have something to say about this balance––in fact they might have a bit more to say to us today than those who so quickly turned their human existence into some sort of sacrificial holocaust.
The reason I say these people might have come closer to giving us a glimpse of the Real is because they, each in their own way, focused inward in their quest for the Beloved. Saints and sages such as Gregory Palamas kept that ancient knowledge alive by focusing their attention on the inner light which can be revealed in the human heart through prayer, meditation and that experiential knowledge we call gnosis.
Even before the Nag Hammadi papyri were found, this hidden spiritual path was right in front of every Christian in the world. If we weeded our way through the “otherness” of an anthropomorphic mythology, there was at the end of the canonical Bible, a book of Mediterranean mysteries even more beautiful and profound than Tomasi di Lampedusa’s La Sirena. This ancient enigma is known as the Apocalypse of St. John, a.k.a. the Book of Revelation.
Three and a half decades before the discovery of the Gnostic Gospels in Egypt, a gentleman by the name of James Morgan Pryse would put forth his exposition of the Apocalypse as an esoteric interpretation of the Christos-myth. Pryse published his Theosophical research on the Apocalypse in 1910, rejecting the exoteric teachings of an anthropomorphic God, and showing a path to eternal life using that uncreated light within. The key to this path is Gnosis, and the nature of the New Jerusalem and each of the acts in the Hellenistic mystery play that is played out in Revelation is the subject of Pryse’s Apocalypse Unsealed.
Reminiscent of the ecstatic union of Professor La Ciura and his Siren, Pryse puts forth the ancient Hermetic matrix of energy and vibration which resonates between our three microcosmic bodies: The spiritual body (soma pneumatikon), the psychic body (soma psychikon), and the physical body (soma, or sarx, “flesh”). Pryse takes this primordial microcosmic Being and places it within the context of an initiation which is present in an absolutely complete form, in St. John’s Apocalypse.
The initiation contained in Pryse’s summary unleashes the latent light of the Logos within us, into conscious energy which travels as the speirema, which is Greek for “serpent coil”, through the apocalyptic cycle of initiation up the ladder of energy points in the human body; finally unveiling a solar body, the immortal Augeoides, in Greek called the soma heliakon. This initiation leads us to become self-luminous in the way Jesus was transfigured on Mount Tabor.
In this scenario, the material forms of our body are important, and have much to contribute to our enlightenment. Working as a whole, the initiate, like Tomasi di Lampedusa’s “best kind of Sicilians”, learns to manage a synthesis of senses and reason, which leads not only to balance and service to others, but to a relationship that leaves the pleasures of earth lacking in the seductive charm of our spiritual youth.