Troubadours & the Beloved: In Quest of the Cult of Eros-Rose (Fedeli d'Amore) or "The Religion of Love." Amor or Courtly Love (Cortezia) as the return of the Eros and the Feminine Principle to Western culture: Reuniting (heavenly) Sacred Love and (earthly) Profane Love.
"The subject tonight is love, and for tomorrow night as well. As a matter of fact, I know of no better topic for us to discuss until we die." --Hafiz
Re-Vision Radio's Romantic Quest for Origins:
The Troubadours & the Beloved
Re-Vision Radio, in its Romantic Quest for Origins--the origin of Sixties love-song--,takes you "way, way back" to the Troubadours (of Occitania or "The Provence") and their fin amor or amour courtois,which we now call "romantic love."However, our quest for Eros/Amordoesn't stop there with this "Courtly Love" tradition; for the Troubadours, themselves, quested south over the Pyrennes to Arab Andalusia (al-Andalus) to learn from the Arab (and Jewish) poet-singers, who had a long tradition of praising the "Beloved."(Thus the Western "courtly love" tradition owes its beginnings to the Andalusian poet-singers. Many of these were young Arab women--"proficient in Arabic popular sung poetry"--, who had been taken as booty from the battle of Barbastro by the Christian knights and given to the court of then young William IX of Aquitaine, who later became the first Troubadour.)
Re-Vision Radiohas (serendipitously) taken the "Spanish Caravan" and wants to take you back--"way, way, back"--to medieval Andalusia ("again and again"),since it has discovered (by circuitous route) an underground musical line of influence from Andalusia (after the Spanish Reconquista, 1492) to exile in north and west Africa (with Gypsy-influenced Flamenco), then to the Caribbean (Afro-Cuban rhythms), then to America (with Black American behop jazz in the 1940s), and finally (along with the Arab-influenced guitar) to Rhythm'n'Blues and Rock'n'Roll.
Therefore, you could say thatRe-Vision Radiohas taken, by way of the"Spanish Caravan,"the real "road-not-taken"--to mysterious Andalusia,where you can hear its wondrous influence "again and again."
Carry me Caravan take me away Take me to Portugal, take me to Spain Andalusia with fields full of grain I have to see you again and again Take me, Spanish Caravan Yes, I know you can (Jim Morrison & Doors, 'Spanish Caravan')
The Gypsy Scholar undertakes an Internalized Quest-Romance for The Beloved
fin'amor or "true love"
The joy of woman is the Death of her most best beloved Who dies for Love of her In torments of fierce jealousy & pangs of adoration. The Lovers night bears on my song And the nine Spheres rejoice beneath my powerful controll
They sing unceasing to the notes of my immortal hand The solemn silent moon Reverberates the living harmony upon my limbs The birds & beasts rejoice & play And every one seeks for his mate to prove his inmost joy
Furious & terrible they sport & rend the nether deeps The deep lifts up his rugged head And lost in infinite hum[m]ing wings vanishes with a cry The fading cry is ever dying The living voice is ever living in its inmost joy
-William Blake, Vala or the Four Zoas:Night of the Second
"The poets and singers of the Troubadour tradition envisioned love as inspiration to song."
"The subject tonight is love, and for tomorrow night as well. As a matter of fact, I know of no better topic for us to discuss until we die." (Hafiz)
Because Re-Vision Radio would go back--"way, way, back"--to the Troubadour's "Twelfth-century Renaissance" and their Grail Quest, it broadcasts a version of the 19th-century Romantic “Internalized Quest-Romance.” Thus, “Troubadour-Poet” Dante, guided by "Lady Philosophy" on his Quest-Romance for "the Beloved" (The Divine Comedy, dramatically structured in philosophical dialogue and song--canto), must have been in ear-shot of the Tower of Song, since a gate opened and he heard the heavenly music, just like Re-Vision Radio’s fellow travelers hear the music amplify and fade:
"Then, as I leaned, hearkening to that first sound, Methought a voice sang ... sweetly interwound With music; and its image in my ears Left such impression as one often catches From songs sung to an organ, when one hears The words sometimes and sometimes not, by snatches.” (Dante, Divine Comedy)
"Let us bring to bear the persuasive powers of sweet-tongued Rhetoric and . . . let us have as well Music, the maid-servant of my house, to sing us melodies of varying mood." (Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy)
Re-Vision Radio's Philosophical Quest-Romance charts a course (by way of the aboriginal "song-lines" of the planet) through many a dark night in search for great Orpheus, hoping to find the key to the mystery of PhiloSophy & Music and the inspiration of the Muses--“those funny voices” and their visiting angel band heard “in the daring night" in the Tower of Song. Thus, Re-Vision Radio's music puts "Philosophy in a New Key."
click on image to go to "Philosophy as Quest-Romance" page >>>
"Minstrels, minnesingers, troubadours, and trouveres told stories about life and death through the songs they carried from village to village. They wrote the poetry and set them to music and travelled with their jongleurs who accompanied them on a variety of instruments, mostly strings. When the dull nights of winter arrived, and during periods of time when the nobles were isolated from the poor during the plague, people sang songs and told stories, many about love and romance, some of them humorous, heroic, and sometimes bawdy, to pass the time. Many of the songs were written in praise of the idealized woman."
It could be said that the Troubadours created the first Western soul-based culture in Southern France. The decades between 1150 and 1250 are known as the classic age of the Troubadours. The pan-European Troubadour culture (France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Arabia) was commonly known as the “Courtly Love Tradition” of the "Twelfth-century Renaissance." Its Religion of Amor could be called the "Cult of the Eros-Rose.” For the Troubadours, the way back to lost paradise was through the god Eros and his sacred rites. As for the origins of this popular counter-cultural tradition, they are complex. Some scholars hold that the first Troubadours made their way dwn, across the Pyrennes, to the great culture of 11th-century Moorish Spain, where they found the first (Arabo-Hispanic) love poetry/song, which was heavily influenced by the mystic poetry of (Neo-Platonic) Sufism.
And from farther east, connections have been seen with the Tantric Shakti cult of India. Closer to the epicenter of Troubadour activity in Southern France, there’s been considerable evidence to support a borrowing from Celtic mythology, such as the Grail cup coming from the archetypal Celtic cauldron, the magical elements, and the Celtic Otherworld in the medieval romances. But the most important contribution to the Troubadour tradition was the high status of women in Celtic society, which became embodied in the sovereign Lady of the troubadour cult of woman. Other sources have been discovered, such as that of the Greek Eleusinian Mystery cults, Neoplatonism and, especially, Alchemy. There is considerable evidence that a number of the Troubadours were associated with the Albigensian/Cathar heresy. Some authorities point to a secret mystery cult behind the Troubadours. At the heart of this great heresy was the Troubadour/Cathar Gnostic Sophia, the feminine aspect of the Godhead. There is also the legend (lately popularized) that the Grail-Quest was initiated by Mary Magdalene, who is believed to have brought the Grail-chalice to the South of France. The chivalric, more masculine element in Courtly Love has been greatly diminished, and in its place the more feminine been put in their place. From Eleanor of Acquitaine on, women figured centrally in the Troubadour/Courtly Love tradition. As far as I’m aware, it was a woman who became the first Troubadour. Sappho (612 B.C.E.) was the first to celebrate Eros with music, the power or god of love: “Eros once again limb-loosener whirls me / sweetbitter, impossible to fight off–you burn me!” The history of the art of Love (Eros/Amor/Amore) is a long and complicated affair. In the allegory of the rose, The Romance of the Rose, the Courtly Love tradition, implicit in the lyrics of the Troubadours and Minnesingers, spread all over Christianized Europe. There are many poets, philosophers, and writers who carried on and developed the concept of eros. There’s Socrates and Plato, Sappho, then Ovid, Capellanus, and the Latin poets. And the Arabic poets should not be forgotten. The original Troubadours of the Twelfth-century Renaissance were succeeded by Dante and his mentors, first Persian and then Italian. Shakespeare carried on the tradition in his sonnets and plays. Then the Italian Renaissance Platonists, like Bruno, Mirandola, and Ficino, carried the torch into the philiosophy of love. Finally, 19th century Romanticism brought it into the modern period and prepared the way for our contemporary 1960’s Troubadours.
"The cultivation of passionate love began in Europe as a reaction to Christianity (and in particular to its doctrine of marriage) by people whose spirit, whether naturally or by inheritance, was still pagan. But this would be mere theory and highly disputable were it not that we are in a position to trace the historical ways and means to the rebirth of Eros. . . . Passionate love was then given a name which has since become familiar. It was called cortezia, or courtly love." --Denis de Rougemont
Troubadour's Book of Love wherein was written the courtly "Code of Love"
Courtly Love's Code of Chivalry required fidelity to the Beloved Lady, inspiring knights to go on quests and do great deeds to win the heart of the Beloved. This was known as "the knighthood of love."
Le Chant d'Amour (The Song of Love)
"The Grail Quest"
Far from having faded away centuries ago
this radical poetic tradition of Romantic Love--love with both a sexual
and spiritual dimension embodied in the “Beloved”--still blooms in the
counter-culture of Sixties and post-Sixties popular love song. Thus,
this essay is not just another take on "love in the Western world," but
in fact an attempt to envision an alternative view of Western
spirituality, which, in its Christoid dichotomy of divine and earthly,
sacred and profane, spiritual and sexual "love," has violently divided
asunder the archetypal Lovers and turned the pre-Christian "Garden of
Love" into a Wasteland, one that is today not only mirrored in the
Medieval Romances and the Grail-Quest cycle, but also literally in the
physical destruction of the natural environment--an environment in
which "Everybody Knows that the naked man and woman/are just the
shinning artifacts of the past" (L. Cohen, 'Everybody Knows'). I
suggest that the Troubadour's "Religion of Love," or what I’m calling
the "Cult of Eros-Rose," may be part and parcel of a deep psychological
longing and, thus, a quest-romance to rejoin heavenly and earthly love
to regain the paradise lost in Eden. Therefore, the Troubadour's
"Religion of Amor" is an attempt to heal the sacred vs. profane split
in the Western psyche. This means that my radical inversion of
Christianity’s “profane love” and "sinful pleasure” into “sacred
pleasure” and "sacred love" continues the quest inspired by the
"Also during the Middle Ages
in the same South of France where woman’s sexual power was once
venerated in the Paleolithic cave sanctuaries, there flourished the
poets known as troubadours and trobaritzes, whose songs of courtly love
honored woman as man’s spiritual inspiration and celebrated erotic love
between woman and man…. It is a powerful legacy, this legacy of romance
and ritual that the medieval troubadours and trobaritzes left us
despite the condemnation of the pleasures of sex by the Church. And it
is a legacy that, as we have seen, stems from more ancient roots: from
a time when sexuality was associated with the sacred rather than the
profane and the obscene."
The Troubadours wrote and sang
secular versions of the "love" exclusively dedicated to deity. This
“romanticization” of "spiritual" love means that in the Garden of Love
“earthly” love isn’t to be left behind, only to serve as a transcendent
stepping stone for a qualitatively different and greater love at the
point where the heavenly paradise is attained (as, in fact, some have
interpreted Dante’s quest from Beatrice to the Virgin Mary), but rather
"earthly" love finds not its negation but its fulfillment in kind with
“spiritual” love, a love that belongs once again to the half-human and
half-divine daemon, Eros, and not to the eros-denied Christ. This
deification of "earthly" human love, which simultaneously brings
"earthly" love up and "heavenly" love down to meet each other (in the
Garden of Love), can be seen as implied when the poet of the Roman
attributes to this love the "transcendent emotions of mystic rapture."
And within the Garden of Love parameters of this eroticization of
Christian love, the poets of Medieval Romance initiated, and their
heirs, the Romantic poets, completed the reunion of "earthly" and
"heavenly" love. The Troubadours and Courtly Love tradition emphasized
the passion of love, which was a transfiguring force; romantic love with a spirital dimension.
[From Essay-with-Soundtrack, "The Trobadours & the Beloved." For troubadour theme pics, see bottom of this page.]
Cupid & Psyche
Cupid & Psyche
Yahweh & Sophia
So in conclusion, let me attempt to make clear what is at stake here in this re-visioning of the Christian religion and its “heavenly” love, on one hand, and “earthly” love, on the other: it’s all about what is “spiritual” and what is not—about what is “holy ground” and what is not. In other words, the “Religion of Love,” or what I call the “Religion of Eros-Rose,” is a Romantic Reversal, with its Yeatsian motto: “There is more mystery in the dirt and the dung than in all the heavens.” This goes against the grain of both traditional religion (Christianity) and new-age religion, which changes the former’s content but secretly maintains its dualistic structure—the antagonism between sacred and profane love. (How many times do we hear from this or that disciple that romantic love is vastly inferior to the spiritual love their new-age master or guru teaches?) However, as we shall see, Dante—that passionate inheritor of the troubadour tradition—tried to remedy this to a certain extent in his Courtly Christianity of the Beloved. This, I submit, is meaning of the white “celestial rose” transplanted in the soil of this earth, this life, becoming the red “rose of high romance.” So this amateur essay, though admittedly tentative and speculative in its exposition, is not just another take on the perplexing topic of “love in the Western world,” but in fact is an argument for a new religious sensibility and, thus, a critique Western monotheistic/patriarchal religion, which, in its Christoid dichotomy of divine and earthly, sacred and profane, spiritual and sexual “love,” has violently divided asunder our souls and our cosmos, and turned the pre-Christian “Garden of Love” and its “symbolic rose” into a Wasteland, one which is not only mirrored in the episodes of Medieval Romances and the Grail-Quest cycle, but also in our “sacred [broken] heart.” But it doesn't stop there; the Christian war on eros—in the name of spirit vs. flesh—is mirrored in the physical destruction of the natural environment—an environment in which, as the song goes, “Everybody Knows that the naked man and woman/are just the shinning artifacts of the past.” In order to reverse this prophecy, the full implications of this heretical tradition of eros/amor must be grasped, for they undo the reversal of pagan values carried out by Christianity. In making the Earthly Paradise the temporal image of the Heavenly Paradise, it could be said that the troubadours, the singers and poets of this heretical tradition, including Dante, put “spiritual” love in terms of natural or “romantic” love, not the other way around (the Garden), paving a rose-strewn way for romantic love’s further elaboration and apotheosis with the “ideal love”—simultaneously sexual & intellectual—of the Romantic Movement. This eventual “romanticization” of spiritual love means that earthly love does not just serve in the Garden of Love as a transcendent stepping stone for a qualitatively different and greater love, to be left behind at the point where the heavenly paradise is attained (as in Dante), but rather “earthly” love finds not its negation but its fulfillment in kind with “heavenly” love, a love that belongs once again to the half-human and half-divine daemon, Eros, and not to the eros-denied Christ. This deification of “earthly” human love, which simultaneously brings “earthly” love up and “heavenly” love down to meet each other (in the Garden of Love), can be seen as implied when the poet of the Romance of the Rose attributes to this earthly love the “transcendent emotions of mystic rapture.” Thus within the Garden of Love’s parameters, this eroticization of heavenly love initiated by the poets and singers of Medieval Romance was completed by their heirs, the Romantic poets in the reunion of earthly and heavenly love. Therefore, with this Introduction to my subject, let me anticipate the sweet burden of my radical mythopoetic argument in song; the song not of the Ascended Masters, but of the Descended Lovers, whose song of songs can be heard to say: “. . . Amid flesh so full of God will not be faulted./ And hearts below will sing with hearts above. / And life so precious will not be assaulted. . . .” So when today’s Romantic Questers finally reach Dante’s celestial white rose, they will not hear black robed priests droning boring canticles but “relentless lovers singing endless love”—not the endless torture of dogmatic priestly religion and its relentless moralisms, but the descended, “relentless lovers” singing the rosy praises of “endless love.”
[From Essay-with-Soundtrack, "The Troubadours & the Beloved"]
On the Question of Sacred
or Profane Love (with the troubadours). Was it the saints or the lovers
that kept the doors of paradise open in the Middle Ages? In other
words, was the Catholic impulse of the mystics behind the troubadours
(as the religious historians say), or was it the troubadour impulse
behind the Catholic mystics? The Gypsy Scholar takes the latter view;
that (though the troubadours took the religious devotion directed to
the Virgin Mary and secularized it, redirecting it to their earthly
Beloved) the troudabours, in turn, provided Catholic high mysticsm with
its erotic troupes about divine love--metaphors that described the
soul's relationship to the Divine in erotic terms. (Mystics, such a St.
Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa, and St. Catherine, were much enamored
with Troubadour love literature in their youth.)
Christian theologians, from the Church fathers on, rank agape
(brotherly love) over eros (erotic love), an inferior kind of love.
However the Gypsy Scholar dares to challenge this value system by
inverting it--turning it upside down. Indeed, one renegade scholar of
the Judeo-Christian tradition has recently aided the Gypsy Scholar in
re-visioning the entire relationship between sacred and profane love by
contextualizing the biblical creation story into a cosmic love story:
"Genesis is a conversation between two Lovers ('the Eloheim') resulting
in the world coming into being."Thus, is the Creation the result of
the divine "intercourse" between male and female deities (as in the
Hindhu Siva and Shakti)? “To think about the possibility of the profound and the profane existing all at once.”
The Eternal Lovers
"Sacred & Profane Love"
Take off those working clothes Put on these high heeled shoes Don't want no preacher on the TV baby Don't want to hear the news
Shut out the world behind us Put on your long black dress No one's ever gonna find us here Just leave your hair in a mess I've been searching long enough I begged the moon and the stars above For sacred love
I've been up, I've been down I've been lonesome, in this godless town You're my religion, you're my church You're the holy grail at the end of my search Have I been down on my knees for long enough? I've been searching the planet to find Sacred love
The spirit moves on the water She takes the shape of this heavenly daughter She's rising up like a river in flood The word got made into flesh and blood The sky grew dark, and the earth she shook Just like a prophecy in the Holy Book Thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not steal Thou shalt not doubt that this love is real So I got down on my knees and I prayed to the skies When I looked up could I trust my eyes? All the saints and angels and the stars up above They all bowed down to the flower of creation Every man every woman Every race every nation It all comes down to this Sacred love
Don't need no doctor, don't need no pills I got a cure for the country's ills Here she comes like a river in flood The word got made into flesh and blood Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not kill But if you don't love her your best friend will
All the saints up in heaven and the stars up above It all comes down, it all comes down It all comes down to love,
Take off your working clothes Put on your long black dress And your high heeled shoes Just leave your hair in a mess
I've been thinking 'bout religion I've been thinking 'bout the things that we believe I've been thinking 'bout the Bible I've been thinking 'bout Adam and Eve I've been thinking 'bout the garden I've been thinking 'bout the tree of knowledge, and the tree of life I've been thinking 'bout forbidden fruit I've been thinking 'bout a man and his wife
I been thinking 'bout, thinking 'bout Sacred love, sacred love . . .
(Sting, "Sacred Love")
The Lovers (Blake, 'Milton'): "dissolv'd in raptur'd trance"
"Also On the right hand of Noah A Female descends to meet her Lover or Husband, representative of that Love, call'd Friendship, which Looks for no other heaven than their Beloved & in him sees all reflected as in a Glass of Eternal Diamond." --William Blake, A Vision of the Last Judgment
The Luring Songs of Luvah from the Tower of Song
They dance around the dying & they drink the howl & groan; They catch the shrieks in cups of gold; they hand them to one another. These are the sports of love & these the sweet delights of amorous play: Tears of the grape, the death sweat of the Cluster, the last sigh Of the mild youth who listens to the luring songs of Luvah. (Blake, Vala, Night the Ninth: "Oberon, Titania, Puck Dancing")
What is it men in women do require? The lineaments of gratified desire. What is it women do in men require? The lineaments of gratified desire.
--William Blake, The Question Answer'd (1793)
That pale religious letchery, seeking Virginity, May find it in a harlot, and in coarse-clad honesty The undefil'd tho' ravish'd in her cradle night and morn: For every thing that lives is holy, life delights in life; Because the soul of sweet delight can never be defil'd.
(Blake, America a Prophecy)
In happy copulation; if in evening mild. wearied with work; Sit on a bank and draw the pleasures of this free born joy.
The moment of desire! the moment of desire! The virgin That pines for man; shall awaken her womb to enormous joys In the secret shadows of her chamber; the youth shut up from The lustful joy, shall forget to generate. & create an amorous image In the shadows of his curtains and in the folds of his silent pillow. Are not these the places of religion? the rewards of continence? The self enjoyings of self denial? Why dost thou seek religion? Is it because acts are not lovely, that thou seekest solitude, Where the horrible darkness is impressed with reflections of desire. Father of Jealousy, be thou accursed from the earth! Why hast thou taught my Theotormon this accursed thing? Till beauty fades from off my shoulders darken'd and cast out, A solitary shadow wailing on the margin of non-entity.
I cry, Love! Love! Love! happy happy Love! free as the mountain wind! Can that be Love, that drinks another as a sponge drinks water? That clouds with jealousy his nights, with weepings all the day: To spin a web of age around him, grey and hoary! dark! Till his eyes sicken at the fruit that hangs before his sight. Such is self-love that envies all! a creeping skeleton With lamplike eyes watching around the frozen marriage bed.
(Blake, Visions of the Daughters of Albion)
"Liebeswirbel (Love Eddy)"
"Love Is In The Air"
"The Luminous Union"
To witness two lovers is a spectacle for the gods. (Goethe)
As love is the most noble and divine passion of the soul, so is it that to which we may justly attribute all the real satisfactions of life, and without it, man is unfinished, and unhappy. (Aphra Behn)
Soul meets soul on lover's lips. (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
The Kiss (Klimt)
Lovers (Pat Rouge)
“A kiss! The word is sweet. The kiss, I do not see why your lips do not dare one. It is divine secret which one mouth tells the other while neither needs to listen. It is a pilgrimage of the heart across the lips to the soul.” ― Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac
"The Parting Kiss" (by James Orman)
The Kiss in the Rose Garden
The overcoming of the Christoid dichotomy of sacred/heavenly love and profane/earthly love means that we can never definitively sort out (despite what both the theological and rationalist interpreters of medieval "love poetry" claim) whether the poet's impassioned address is to a "divine" or "human" Beloved....
On one level, then, the greatest romance of the Courtly Love tradition, The Romance of the Rose, is a story of the poet's love for his "Lady," and, on another, a Quest for the Philosopher's Stone. So the poet's "veiled love" turns out to be his concealed, or Hermetic Love (given the acknowledged alchemical allegory of the text). Thus, in the Roman, the sexual and the religious metaphors--the Freudian and Jungian interpretations--come together in hermeneutic intercourse with the reader's mind, leaving the reader in divine ambiguity (because of the allegory's Hermetic crypticism); ambiguity over the poet's "veiled love," ambiguity about sexual and spiritual love, over sensuality and intellectuality, love and ideas, and, finally, over precisely who the “Beloved" really is. Is she divine or human? Is she mistress or muse-- alchemical partner, soror mystica, or sore mistress?
"In this way the conflict inherent in the love relation is recognized as essential to it, and at the same time spiritualized. True, the real woman is still there, but she becomes more and more the pretext of an erotic and aesthetic exaltation. Thus a situation arises in which we are never sure whether the yearning is addressed to a real human being or to the phantom of an anima. Yet the love of the Troubadours . . . cannot have been a mere fiction. . . ." (The Dream of Poliphilo: The Soul in Love)
.... The point of all this controversy over ancient textual exegesis come to this: With the recognition of this profound ambiguity in not only the Troubadour/Courtly Love poet-singers but also the high mysticism of Catholic saints, then, comes a re-visioning, also, of the songs of our sixties folk and folk-rock Troubadours. On Re-Vision Radio, you will "hear" a familair song in a new light--the love-light of the Troubadours. Think about it: with all those enigmatic references to a love object in many sixties and post-sixties songs, from "Sweet Lorraine" to "Layla,"--actually inspired by the 12th-century Persian romance of Layla & Majnun (itself adapted from the already-famous story of the ill-starred lovers from the Arabic tradition)--just who is the "you" to which the passion of the singer is addressed?
[from Essay-with-Soundtrack, "The Troubadours & the Beloved"]
On the Question of Sacred or Profane Love (with the troubadours). Was it the saints or the lovers that kept the doors of paradise open in the Middle Ages? In other words, was the Catholic impulse of the mystics behind the troubadours (as the religious historians say), or was it the troubadour impulse behind the Catholic mystics?
You're the Queen of the slipstream
With eyes that shine
You have crossed many waters to be here
You have drank of the fountain of innocence
And experienced the long cold wintry years.
There's a dream where the contents are visible
Where the poetic champions compose
Will you breathe not a word of this secrecy, and
Will you still be my special rose?
Goin' away far across the sea
But I'll be back for you
Tell you everything I know
Baby everything is true
Will the blush still remain
On your cheeks my love
In the light always seen
In your head?
Gold and sliver they placed
At your feet my dear
But I know you chose me instead
You're the Queen of the slipstream
I love you so ...
You're the Queen, you're the Queen
Oh, the Queen of the slipstream, darlin'
Queen of the slipstream ....
(Van Morrison, 'Queen of the Slipstream')
Down the mystic avenue I walk again
Remembering the days gone by
And I'm knocking with my heart ...
She gives me religion
She gives me religion
And the angel of imagination
Opened up my gate
She said "come right in
I saw you knocking with your heart."
And the angel of imagination
She lit your fiery vision bright
Let your flame burn into the night
I saw you knocking with your heart
She gives me religion
She gives me religion
It's all right ...
(Van Morrison, 'She Gives Me Religion')
You're like a cool breeze, on a summer's day
You are a river running through the desert plain
You are my shelter, from the pouring rain
You were my comfort, even before the pain
I can hear the sound of five drummers in the wind
The leaves blowing in the breeze, ring out like guitars
A tin can rolls across the gravel like a tambourine
I am but a vessel, so I sing, because you are
Chorus In my head, you're always in my head
In my dreams, you're always in my head
In my pain, you're always in my head
In my peace, you're always in my head
A rainbow of rhythm stretches across the sky
An airplane in the distance, plays a beautiful cello line
It's no coincidence; it's in tune with the music in my head
If you were a shoulder you're where I would rest, but I am your vessel so I hear, you
In my head, you're always in my head
In my fears, you're always in my head
In my joy, you're always in my head
In my tears, you're always in my head
You're like a cool breeze, on a summer's day
You are a river, running through a desert plain
You've been my shelter, from the pouring rain
You were my comfort, even before the pain?cause I hear you
How can I live a day without you
In my head,
(How can I live a day without you)
you're always in my head
(How can I live a day without you)
In my fears,
(How can I live a day without you)
you're always in my head,
(You're always in my head)
In my joy,,.
(How can I live a day without you)
you're always in my head ,(How can I live a day without you)
In my tears,
(How can I live a day without you)
you're always in my head,
(You're always in my head)
How can I live one day without you?
How can I live one day without you?
How can I live one day without you?, yea
You're always in my head
ooooooh You are, you are love
You are, you are light
You are, you are joy
You are, you are peace
And I am, you are me (fade)
(India Arie, 'Always In My Head')
Eros & Psyche
Eros & Psyche
On Sacred & Profane Love
“It is much better, the novel now suggests, to think of the erotic union of man and woman as holy, that is, to see the sacred in the sexual and the sexual in the sacred. Hence ‘the cosmic love-making of Shiva and the Goddess’.” —Jeffrey J. Kripal (on Aldous Huxley’s Island)
“… annunciation of a full-bodied and more relational erotic mysticism. It is both a refusal to reduce the erotic to the simply sexual and a call to raise the sexual to the mystical through a personal encounter with another human being as other and lover.” —Jeffrey J. Kripal
“It was here that he realized that the secret forces of the mystical life are very much related to the hidden forces of the private parts: 'The genitals,’ he writes, ’are the devil’s favorite playground, as well as the bower where one can achieve the greatest intimacy with the divine lover'.” —Jeffrey J. Kripal
For an excerpt (with songs) of the GS's Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack, “The Troubadours & The Beloved: The Religion of Love & The Fedeli d’Amore," which deals with the Sufi eroto-mysticism of Ibn Arabi, click here
Thus . . . Here's what is said to have been
the all-important question for those of the Troubadour "Dialectic of
"Who is the Beloved"?
she a goddess (muse; anima archetype)? Or is she a flesh-and-blood
woman? Or, here's another option: reflecting on the wonderful, hermetic
ambiguity of the poetry of the Troubadours, could she be both--an angel in human form?
What do you think? Who is the Beloved?
"'See Me Through,'
in keeping with almost all of Morrison's 'love' songs from the 1980's,
could be addressed to a either a woman or a supernatural being." (Van
Morrison website. Posted 8/31/7, Van's birthday)
La Scapigliata (Head of A Woman, Da Vinci, ca. 1506)
La Scapigliata (Head of Danielle from "Ever After," 1998)
About Da Vinci's La Scapigliata: "It is a fascinating face ... but the meditative character is more typical of a Madonna rather than a profane figure. It was still Pedretti who lamented the exclusion of this portrait from the Leonardo catalogue by many scholars: 'Perhaps, in all his earthly thinness, this is the most sublime of Leonardo's works, more sublime than the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper, a work that was conceived to live out of time and space.'"
Again, Who Is The Beloved?
To whom or to what is the Great Longing addressed?
Is she an essentially sacred love , or is she a profane love?
A question that arose first with the 12-century Troubadour (from Moorish sources) love-song (trobar clus) and asked again with the post-Troubadourean sixties love-song. In its original expression and in its latest , the listerner wonders:
To whom is the unnamed "You/you" in the love-song actually referring; who is the real object of the singer-poet's infinite longing?
Is the Great Longing "holy longing" simply because it's directed to a transcendent figure, or because (whether transcendent or not) the quality and intensity and commitment to (and suffering because of) this great longing is so pure that this makes it "holy"?
This "Great Longing" for the lost (with its strains of melancholy and nostalgia) Beloved (who could be transpersonal, personal, or an ideal lost) spans its origins in Moorish Andalusia to its transformation in Moorish Flamenco in Spain (9th-14th c.) and in Moorish Portugal as Fado (19th-20th c.),where the longing is for the lost love, which could also be "home" (a concept that wasn't lost on all the Andalusian Hspano-Arab exiles in the post 1492 expulsions, a mass exodus that ended up, via North Africa and then into Latin and Carribean cultures, in the rhythms of Flamenco and other hybrid musical forms).
In this way the conflict inherent in the love relation is recognized as essential to it, and at the same time spiritualized. True, the real woman is still there, but she becomes more and more the pretext of an erotic and aesthetic exaltation. Thus a situation arises in which we are never sure whether the yearning is addressed to a real human being or to the phantom of an anima. Yet the love of the Troubadours . . . cannot have been a mere fiction. . . . (from The Dream of Poliphilo: The Soul in Love.
"Such an initiation does not indeed signify anything in the nature of a monastic conversion to divine love; it is a unique initiation, which transfigures eros as such, that is, human love for a human creature." It is furthermore said that the late Italian Troubadours of the cult of the fedeli d' amore (to which the young Dante belonged) effected "an adequate harmony between mortal and immortal love" and "introduced the idea that a beloved woman could symbolize an angelic Intelligence." For these Italian troubadour-poets the Eternal Feminine was called "Madonna Intelligenza," which reflected the cult's thorough-going "Sophiology," its fidelity to the mystic Sophia, or "Sophia aeterna"--conceived as the "Holy Spirit," or the "Angel-Intelligence" of the poet-philosopher.... To reiterate, unlike the "Beloved" of the purely idealizing chaste poets, she was no discarnate phantom to these Italian troubadour-poets. She was, in fact, what Beatrice was for Dante; "she was and remained for him the earthly manifestation, the theophanic figure, of Sophia aeterna." The “Lady" or the "Beloved" of the Troubadour poet is, then, in the last analysis, a real one but at the same time she was "in person" a theophanic figure, the Sophia aeterna or Madonna Intelligenza. Who is the Beloved? "She is twofold simultaneously, both female angelic phantom and flesh-and-blood woman." Thus a wise warning to the either/or interpreter of the fedeli d' amore poetry: the Beloved is
"both individual person and . . . an archetype. If we fail to grasp this twofold dimension simultaneously, we lose the reality both of the person and of the symbol ... We can only go astray if we ask, as many have done in connection with the figure of Beatrice in Dante: is she a concrete, real figure or is she an allegory?"
Fortunately, we will not go astray, if we listen for the echo of the original Troubadours of the "Religion of Love" in our contemporary Troubadours--in the Tower of Song.
.... What is significant here is that when this incarnation of the "Great Goddess of Eternal Wisdom" (V.M.) appears, she comes both as lover and teacher, divine initiatrix, for she "divulges the entire secret of the sophianic religion of love." It is pointed out by the poet-lover that the verses that provoke her philosophical lesson are enigmatic, reminding of the "arcane language of our Troubadours." The Beloved is "a sublime and divine, essential and sacrosanct Wisdom [Sophia], which manifested itself visibly to the author of these poems with such sweetness as to provoke in him joy and happiness, emotion and delight." Hence the entire sophianic poem, The Diwan, can be read as a celebration of his meeting with the mystic Sophia:
"From the very first the figure of the young girl was apprehended by the Imagination on a visionary plane, in which it was manifested as an 'apparitional Figure' of Sophia aeterna. Thus, it is revealed, by the mystic-poet of the Sufic fedeli d'amore cult, that "The young woman in turn is the typification of an angel in human form...." ("She's an angel of the first degree / She's an angel...")
(from Essay-with-Soundtrack, "The Troubadours & the Beloved")
"I'm not some stone commission Like some statue in the park I am flesh and blood and vision I am howling in the dark."
"The Grail Maiden"
You can't stop us on the road to freedom You can't keep us 'cause our eyes can see Men with insight, men in granite Knights in armor bent on chivalry She's as sweet as tupelo honey She's an angel of the first degree She's as sweet as tupelo honey Just like honey from the bee... She's as sweet as tupelo honey --she's an angel, she's an angel...
Again, who is the Beloved? Is she a flesh-and-blood woman? Or is she a goddess (muse; anima archetype)? Or, here's another option: (reflecting on the wonderful, hermetic ambiguity of the poetry of the Troubadours), could she be both--an angel in human form?
You can't stop us on the road to freedom
You can't keep us 'cause our eyes can see
Men with insight, men in granite
Knights in armor bent on chivalry
She's as sweet as tupelo honey
She's an angel of the first degree
She's as sweet as tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee...
She's as sweet as tupelo honey
--she's an angel, she's an angel...
(Van Morrison, 'Tupelo Honey')
"She's as sweet as Tupelo honey / She's an angel of the first degree." (V. M.)
Shakespeare's "Dark Lady"
Because the Tower of Song is not only the "Temple of Music" but also the "Temple of Love,"
all inferior love is transformed within its precincts and, thus,
(unlike the poor knight in the poem "La Belle Dame Sans Merci") "they don't let a woman kill you / In the Tower of Song."
Here, in the Tower of Song, the transcendent quality of the Troubadour's "Romantic Love" (fin amour) is finally realized.
"The Love of Souls"
"Flames of Love"
... "Well, I'm glad to hear you talk this way, you know I've watched you riding every day and something in me yearns to win such a cold and lonesome heroine." "And who are you?" she sternly spoke to the one beneath the smoke. "Why, I'm fire," he replied, "And I love your solitude, I love your pride."
"Then fire, make your body cold, I'm going to give you mine to hold," saying this she climbed inside to be his one, to be his only bride. And deep into his fiery heart ... he took the dust and high above the wedding guests he hung the ashes of her wedding dress....
"Portrait of a Red Rose"
"The Dream Rose"
The Troubdaour's Symbolic Rose: Aphrodite's "Queen of Flowers"
Aphrodite (Queen of Roses) & Eros
"The School of Love" (Venus, Mercury, Cupid)
As the anagrammatical connection between the "queen of flowers"--the Rose--and the ancient "god of love"--Eros--points out: there is a rose in eros, and an eros in the rose. This connection is more than that of words; it is one that goes back--"way, way back"--to the origins of Western history. But the rose-flower's commonality today--used as an expression of sentimental love on greeting cards--hides a long, ancient history as a profound esoteric symbol of the highest aspirations of the human quest. Among literary flowers--like the narcissus, hyacinth, and fleur-de-lis--, it reigns supreme. In fact, the poet Dante, in his masterwork, The Divine Comedy, made the white rose the very mandala of the Christian heaven. Most literary people today are aware of this celestial rose. Yet, unfortunately, few seem to know that this transcendent element that attached to the rose was actually a further elaboration of a preoccupation for symbolic flowers that long pre-dated Christian iconography. Thus, it is clear that the rose-flower was itself "derived from a plant rooted deep in the primitive mind."
The original pagan rose, associated with the Goddess, was a symbol of the integration of sun and flower, and simultaneously symbolized the sexual union of male and female forces, the fertility of all created things, and the spiritual attainment of ultimate harmony. It also symbolized birth and rebirth, life, spring, love, beauty, joy and sorrow, creation and eternity. The most famous goddess of roses in Western mythology was Venus-Aphrodite: "Aphrodite of all pagan goddesses bore the rose which has most directly affected the history of Western literary blossoms." In her hands it came to symbolize the power of love as it operated in the human heart. Although she was to the Greeks and Romans a subordinate goddess, she was once, in her own native land, an original Great Earth Mother, born from the sea. Her rose pervaded the life of the people in customs celebrating love. A Latin poet equates her with the fertility of the earth and uses the unfolding rose to symbolize her generative powers. "A glossy freshness hence the rose receives, / And blushes sweet through all her silken leaves."
women poets of ancient times championed love while the men were
glorifying war. They "created a tradition of female love poetry in
which love was the greatest good of all." A verse from the third
century B.C. reads: "Nothing is sweeter than love, all other blessings
/ Come second to it. I have spat even honey / From my mouth--I, Nossis,
/ Say this is so. But one whom Aphrodite / Has not loved, will never
know / What roses her flowers are." This sentiment is echoed four
centuries later: "This day has brought a love / it would shame me to
conceal . . . . / If I sin, I glory in sinning: / I will not wear
virtue's mask-- / the world shall know we have met / and are worthy,
one of the other."
Eros, god of love, half divine and half
human, is the son of Venus-Aphrodite, and, thus, adopted her roses. He
appears crowned with roses and sleeps in a rose bed. The nine Muses
also inherit her roses. Dionysus, god of inspiration and intoxication,
and inspiration to song, is also a rose-god who even rivaled Aphrodite
when it came to roses: "In thy dark wine-cup mingle summer snows, / And
wreathe thy temples with the blushing rose." And because Dionysus' rose
was linked with Aphrodite's as the flower of compound joy, it
symbolized love, ecstasy, beauty and song. "Persephone, the harbinger
of spring, had gathered roses among other early flowers in the ancient
Homeric Hymn to Demeter." Roses were the "queen of the flowers" that
made up the original heaven--the pagan of Elysium--and were later
transplanted into the Christian Garden of Eden and Paradise of the
blessed. With the coming of Christianity and its condemnation of pagan
delight in earthly beauties for their own sake, seeing in this a
perversion of the power of Christian love, the pagan "queen of
flowers," longtime symbol of love in a natural, ensouled cosmos, was
sublimated to the exclusive, anti-erotic, spiritual love championed by
Paul. Thus the rose, along with its Goddess, experienced a complete
reversal of pagan values and was sublimated to a de-sexualized heaven.
[From An Essay-with-Soundtrack, "The Troubadours & the Beloved: The Cult of the Eros-Rose"]
The Troubadour's Romantic Quest for the Symbolic Rose:
from the "Rose of High Romance" to the "Mystic Rose"
I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. (Song of Solomon)
Fresh is her colour as a rose in May Her hair, red gold, pleases in every way, Softer and sweeter than a man can say. (Anonymous troubadour)
Worthy of love is she, and fit, Before all other maids I swear, The fragrant name of the Rose to bear. (Romance of the Rose)
Flower of all maidens My love, Rose o'er all roses Above. (Medieval wandering scholar)
In the dream, the Lover is not only the poet but also Everyman . . . . The Rose is not only the Poet's Beloved; she is also Every Lover's ideal Lady. (The Dream Of Poliphilo: The Soul In Love, Or Hypnerotomachia)
There's a dream whose contents are visible, where the poetic champions compose. Will you breath not a word of this secrecy? Will you be my special Rose? (Van Morrison)
Oh, no man knows Through what wild centuries Roves back the rose. (Walter de la Mare)
For the rose's cosmic origins in fundamental, primitive explanations of the universe had been greatly diminished in the customs and lyrics of an entirely civilized people.... For modern writers who wish to discover primitive , unconscious, or historical origins must inevitably return to those origins from the perspective of a Christian era.... But both primitive roots and classical blossoms have come down to us filtered through the Christian centuries.... For the pagan rose had achieved such popularity that it had to be taken account of and adapted to Christian purposes by the early Church. Certainly most of its meanings on the planes of earth and heaven had already existed long before the Christian era. (Emerson, The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks)
THE SYMBOLIC ROSE
Troubadours were especially amorous about roses (pagan flower of
Venus-Aphrodite, representing earthly beauty for its own sake),
using them as metaphors for their Lady in poetry-songs. Later, in the
versified prose of The Romance of the Rose, Guillaume de
Lorris made the Lady the first hyrid "rose-woman" of love literature.
And, later still, Dante picks this red rose to represent his Lady,
Beatrice, and transforms it into the "heavenly white rose" at the end
of the Divine Comedy. Thus one could say that , in one sense, the symbolic rose of love progresses from sensual (red)
to spiritual love (white). In another sense, it could be said that
Dante's symbolic rose is the culminating blossom of what the Troubadours had
already planted in the Garden of Love with their conception of fin amour--the reconcilation of earthly and divine love; or the blend of the red and white rose.
rose has been a frequent or pervasive symbol in world poetry from "la
rosa sempiterna" of Dante to Eliot's "burnt roses" in "Little Gidding."
Indeed, as the semiotician (and rose novelist!), Umberto Eco noted:
"the rose is a symbolic figure so rich in meaning that by now it hardly
has any meaning left: Dante's mystic rose, and go lovely rose, the Wars
of the Roses, rose thou art sick, too many rings around Rosie, a rose
by any other name, a rose is a rose is a rose, the Rosicrucians." (Reflections on the Name of the Rose)
For the Troubadour of the "Twelfth-century Renaissance," the Beloved, known by “Rose” and many other names, was the figure who initiated the poet-lover into the religion of amor/eros--"The Religion of Love.” It is said of the Beloved--"Rosebud"--of Romance of the Rose that
Lover is not only the poet but also Everyman . . . . The Rose is not
only the Poet's Beloved; she is also Every Lover's ideal Lady.”
It is significant that the Roman begins with the “Poet's Dream,” a dream that is truer than so-called reality:
a man holds dreams to be but lies, / All fabulous; but there have been
some dreams / No whit deceptive, as was later found…/ And was assured
that dreams are oft times true.” So the poet cries out in ecstasy:
“Then burst on my astonished eyes / A dream—an Earthly Paradise: / And
suddenly my soul seemed riven / From earth to dwell in the highest
And because "The poets and singers of the Troubadour tradition envisioned love as inspiration to song," the Troubadour can be heard today in the Tower of Song:
There's a dream where the contents are visible Where the poetic champions compose Will you breathe not a word of this secrecy? Will you be my special Rose?
The Beloved, as the new hybrid of "Rose-Woman," was perceived by the poet-lover through the organ of the "theophanic imagination" (the Poetic, or Creative Imagination) as both flesh-and-blood woman and archetype (goddess/amima).
Dante's sunlit rose is Beatrice's flower, “the flower of mortal love revealed as symbol and agent of the immortal."
But in whatever form, by whatever name, she can be traced back to the Cathar-Troubadour's "Sophia" (wisdom), or the cult of the Fedeli d' amore's "Mystic Sophia," the "Sophia Aeterna." The Sophiology of this "Cult of the Eternal Feminine" conceived her as the "Holy Spirit" or the "Angel-Intelligence" of the poet-philosopher/lover.
Thus, in the Sufic form of the Fedeli d' amore, the Andalusian Ibn Arabi, poet-mystic of the Diwan, relates, in alchemical metaphors, how it all started "One Night" (a mystical trope from the Koran), and how he transmuted his desire into a flame,
fire which neither consumes itself nor consumes him, for its flame
feeds on his nostalgia and his quest, which can no more be destroyed by
fire than can the salamander."
Because of his "Lady" (the Mystic Sophia), he declares himself a devotee in the "Religion of Love":
marvel! a garden among the flames . . . / My heart has become capable
of all forms. . . . / I profess the religion of Love, and whatever
direction / Its steed may take, Love is my religion and my faith."
Christian & Moslem troubadours ("Catinas de Santa Maria")
The Garden of Love (The Romance of the Rose c.1500)
Romance of the Rose: "Round Dance with Genius"
Romance of the Rose: "Mirth & Gladness Lead the Dance"
Love in Dance of Sir Gladness (The Romance of the Rose c.1500)
Thematic Images of the Troubadour Court of Love & Garden of Love
The Gypsy Scholar's Philosophy as Quest-Romance
Lady Philosophy or Sophia
I saw the light of ancient Greece / Towards the One. I saw us standing within reach / Of the sun. Let go into the mystery of life / Let go into the mystery / Let go into the mystery / Let yourself go. (Van Morrison, ‘The Mystery’)
[Lovers of Wisdom] believe that it is wrong to oppose PhiloSophy with her offer of liberation and purification, so they turn and follow her wherever she leads. (Socrates, Phaedo)
The horses that take me to the ends of my mind / were taking me now: the drivers had put me / on the road to the Goddess, the manifest Way / that leads the enlightened through every delusion. // I was on that road. Wizard mares / strained at the chariot and maidens drove it. / The axle whined in the hubs / like a Panspipe / hanging fire in the whirl of the wheels, / propulsion of these priestess-daughters of the Sun. –Parmenides, ‘On Nature’ (‘Poem of Ascent to Heavens and the Sun’)
The “Religion of Love” may be entirely a phenomenon of the human heart, but it secretly carries within its symbolic rose other meanings, one of which is the inseparability of religion and politics, since the "white rose of heaven is tinged with political theory.”
For the poet-philosopher of the Fedeli d’Amore, such as Dante, philosophical truth is not found in rational proofs but in mystic realities of the Visionary Imagination; not fidelity to strict laws of logic, but rather “fidelity to the service of love.” The poetic cult of the Fedeli d’Amore was the first to define the Italian conception of courtly love, one which sought to reconcile carnal and spiritual love. Dante carried on the quest to unite Philosophy & Love addressing the incarnation of Philosophy as “Lady Philosophy,” or “Madonna Intelligenza,” which title reflects the idea that a beloved woman could symbolize an angelic Intelligence. It is said of the young Dante:
“Lady Philosophy has appealed to his intellectual faculties …. Lady Philosophy has shown him the place of reason as handmaiden to the revelation of Beatrice is to be.”
The Eternal Feminine, as “Madonna Intelligenza,” reflected the cult's thorough-going “Sophiology,” its fidelity to the “mystic Sophia” or “Sophia aeterna” (eternal Sophia) which was conceived as the “Holy Spirit,” or the “Angel-Intelligence” of the poet-philosopher. Because of the pan-European character of this cult, we find Andalusian troubadour mysticism speaking of the “Lady of Thoughts,” who is the spiritual and angelical part of the troubadour—his true self. . . .
The Gypsy Scholar discovered that his mixing of dialectic & love(song) is actually a kind of intuitive revival of the Fedeli d’Amore’s analysis of love and love of analysis, which, it is said, “carried on a very personal dialectic, eminently suited to revealing the source of the total devotion professed by the Fedeli d' Amore.” The Gypsy Scholar also discovered that the “Dialectic of Love” was also practiced by the poets of the Provence in Southern France: “. . . the problem of amour as we find it in Provence and the Romance of the Rose has deepened into a Philosophy which gave rise, within the poem, to philosophic speculation and a peculiar dialectic.” Thus, this description reflects what the Gypsy Scholar conceived of as his Orphic Essay-with-Soundtrack . . . .
This amateur literary essay, though admittedly tentative and speculative in its exposition, is not just another take on "love in the Western world", but in fact is an argument for another or alternative view of Western spirituality, which, in its Christoid dogma of divine vs. earthly, sacred vs. profane, spiritual vs. sexual "love", has violently divided asunder our souls and our cosmos, and turned the pre-Christian "Garden of Love" and its "symbolic rose" into a Wasteland, one which is not only mirrored in the Medieval Romances and the Grail-Quest cycle, but also in our "sacred [broken] heart"---and it doesn't stop there; it is mirrored in the physical destruction of the natural environment---an environment in which
"Everybody Knows that the naked man and woman / are just the shinning artifacts of the past." (L. C.) ….
This means that with the coming of Christianity and its condemnation of pagan delight in earthly beauties for their own sake (seeing in this a perversion of the power of Christian love), the rose, the pagan "queen of flowers"--longtime symbol of love in a natural, ensouled cosmos--was sublimated to the exclusive, anti-erotic, spiritual love of a de-sexualized Christ. Thus the pagan rose, along with its Goddess, experienced a complete reversal of values and was sublimated to a de-sexualized heaven and a bodiless spirituality. Yet, in spite of its erotic suppression, "return of the repressed" in this wasteland milieu occurred in the "Twelfth-century Renaissance.” Here the Troubadours and Minnesingers, the "strolling minstrels,” related the stories that came to be written down in the literary tradition of "Courtly Love.” At a time when sexual love was considered by the Church at odds with religious devotion, these singers and poets "secularized" the rose in their creations, putting their “Lady” on par with the devotion of the Church’s Virgin Mary. (The Church of Amor challenges the Church of Roma.) The "Courtly Love" tradition, implicit in the lyrics of the Troubadours and Minnesingers, spread all over Christianized Europe (becoming in some places the "Fedeli d' Amore") and had its apotheosis in the Grail Romances.
Thus, the full implications of heretical “Religion of Love” (amor/eros) must be grasped, for they undo the reversal of pagan values carried out by Christianism's assault on life. In making the Earthly Paradise the temporal image of the Heavenly Paradise, it could be said that the singers and poets of this heretical tradition put "spiritual" love in terms of “profane” or "romantic" love, not the other way around (the Garden), paving a rose-strewn way for romantic love's further elaboration and apotheosis with the "ideal" love---simultaneously sexual and intellectual---of the 19th-century Romantic Movement. This eventual "romanticization" of "spiritual" love means that "earthly" love does not just serve in the Garden of Love as a transcendent stepping stone for a qualitatively different and greater love, to be left behind at the point where the heavenly paradise is attained (as Dante is interpreted), but rather, on the contrary, "earthly" love finds not its negation but its fulfillment in kind with "heavenly" love, a love that belongs once again to the half-human and half-divine daemon, Eros, and not to the eros-denied Christ.
This deification of “earthly” human love, which simultaneously brings "earthly" love up and "heavenly" love down to meet each other (in the Garden of Love), can be seen as implied when the poet of the Roman attributes to this love the "transcendent emotions of mystic rapture.” And within the Garden of Love’s parameters, this eroticization of Christian love was initiated by the poets of Medieval Romance, and their heirs, the Romantic poets, completed the reunion of "earthly" and "heavenly" love. But the romanticization of heavenly love didn't stop there. Taking the inspiration from the poets of "Courtly Love" and the "Fedeli d' Amore" (which I’m calling the “Cult of the Eros-Rose,” or “Erose”), the Romantic poets followed their flesh and blood earthly love down to its divine root, and the profane experience of human love deepened and expanded back into its original (pagan) form. Finally, with the Black (Rose) Romanticist School of Leonard Cohen, this process comes to fruition:
"In the sweaty, passionate, filthy embrace, in all of its delicious and time-dissolving power, in the midst of that embrace there is no difference, no separation between the spiritual and the profane. But it's reached through the profane rather than through the spiritual, at least in my canon. That is the portal, that is the door into the whole affair. In that moment there is no separation, there is no spirit and flesh, there's no conflict, there never was. It's dissolved.”
This heretical insight points to Eros, the god of love that reigned in the pagan souls before the coming of Christ, who symbolized the life-denying love of the patriarchal order's apotheosis. It is this "youth of a thousand summers,” Eros, who whispers to our naturally pagan souls: "I am the god who comes down from heaven to the earth and makes a heaven of the earth .... I am Love.” Once more, the Romantic poets reconciled, at the same time, traditional with personal meanings, giving transcendent significance to personal experience and, conversely, personal significance to transcendent experience. And the symbolic rose allowed these poets to unite personal and collective meanings and values in a single, multi-leveled symbol, one which later poets, like Yeats, called the "alchemical rose", which he envisioned as a symbol of the negation and overcoming of the Christian cross.
So in conclusion, given that (as has been observed about Dante) "the white rose of heaven is tinged with political theory," I will spell out the socio-political implications of the meaning of the heretical "Religion of Amor" for out time. Let me make clear what is at stake here in this re-visioning of religion and its "heavenly" love, on one hand, vs. "earthly" love on the other: its all about what is considered "spiritual" and what is not; about what is "holy ground" and what is not. What the Gypsy Scholar has been calling the "Heretical Religion of Love (Eros)" and its "Romantic Reversal" is nothing less than an erotic revolution---turning the Christianized cosmos upside down; inverting its values. Thus one could say (after Dante’s orthodox interpreters sublimated the symbol of his love out of reach for human lovers), that the Romantic poets the transplanted "celestial rose" in the soil of this earth, this life ("rose of high romance"); for everybody knows the motto of the great Romantic Reversal: "There is more mystery in the dirt and the dung than in all the heavens."
Thus, in the face of Christianism’s assault on pagan life ("the naked man and woman / are just the shinning artifacts of the past”), let me then conclude this essay with the sweet burden of my radical mythopoetic argument in song--not the song of the Ascended Masters, but of the Descended Lovers, whose song of songs can be heard to say:
". . . Amid flesh so full of God will not be faulted. And hearts below will sing with hearts above. And life so precious will not be assaulted: Relentless lovers singing endless love."
So when today's Romantic Questers for Erose finally reach the plane of Dante's heavenly rose, they will not hear black-robed priests nor new-age masters droning boring canticles, but "relentless lovers singing endless love"--not the endless torture of dogmatic priestly old- or new-age religion and its relentless moralisms, but the descended, "relentless lovers" singing the rosy praises of "endless love".
[From Essay-with-Soundtrack: “The Troubadours & The Beloved”]