This "Special Presentations" page serves as a supplement to the content of the "Programs & Playlists" page.
Posters for the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 1969
Arnold Skolnick’s 1969 promotional poster
Woodstock: Aug 15, 1969 – Aug 17, 1969
The Gypsy Scholar's Metaphorical Expedition to the Imaginal North Pole: Sailing Into The Mystic
From weekly Introduction to "The Shamanic Journey to the North Pole Star & The Golden-Age Arctic Homeland." ".... I will now follow the sailing maps of the ancient Hyperboreans (those beyond the North Wind) and leave all the familiar landmarks of conventional thought behind, assaying/essaying into the uncharted waters of out-of-the-way thought. Therefore, the Gypsy Scholar would ask you, dear listener, to come along on this imaginal journey—as he unapologetically sails into the mystic … North Pole."
[ "The Shamanic Journey to the North Pole Star & The Golden-Age Arctic Homeland, pt 3" ]
The History of Navigation By the North Star & Sailing to the Northern Arctic Paradise
Neither by land nor by water will you find the road to the Hyperboreans. –Pindar (Greek 6th-century BCE lyric poet.)
Across the straits, around the horn, / How far can sailors fly?... / We sailed for parts unknown to man, / Where ships come home to die... / Upon the seventh seasick day, / We made our port of call. / A sand so white, and sea so blue, / No mortal place at all. – ‘A Salty Dog’ (Procol Harum, 1969)
Throughout the ages, many a tale and song have told of the great risks sailors have always faced when they traveled at sea, especially those adventurous mariners who explored for unknown or fabulous lands in uncharted waters (such as the arctic paradise of Hyperborea). Sudden storms could break their masts and shred their sails. Giant waves could sink their ships or wash men overboard. Hidden reefs could tear open their hulls. And even if they were lucky enough to avoid these, sailors could still become hopelessly lost and wander until starvation, thirst or disease set in, which would sometimes lead the crew to mutiny. There was nothing they could do about the weather, but, with proper navigation, sailors could avoid hidden reefs and keep from getting hopelessly lost by following the North Star. And, who knows, perhaps some of these daring mariners and desperate salty dogs stumbled upon a the lost arctic paradise at the North Pole.
The Gypsy Scholar, with Pagan Heart & Soul, goes Down to the Crossroads (ruled by the Northern Mercurius) leading to the Paradisiacal Arcadian Groves
“The Shamanic Journey to the North Pole Star & The Golden-Age Arctic Homeland”
Thus, in this next installment of my musical essay series on the Golden-Age Arctic Homeland, I will begin by traveling to the crossroads—the mythic crossroads of time and eternity, which are guarded by the Messenger of the Gods, Mercury; for he is the God of the Crossroads and the god of travelers. He is also the god of story telling, quick thinking, magic, trade and commerce. Because he is the god of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, the pagan Greeks erected little statues of the god Hermes-Mercury along the side of the road and at crossroads to honor the god of travelers. Any threshold border, any area of transition, was for the ancient pagans, like the Celts, steeped in magic and legend, and the most significant of these is the crossroads where the veil to the otherworld is thin. Crossroads were considered, like doorways, to be potent with the transcendent powers of gods, spirits, and the dead. They symbolize the necessary transition from one phase of life to another, and from life to death. This was probably the main reason why, as psychopomp (guider of departed souls), statues of Hermes-Mercury, Lord of the Crossroads, (called herms) stood guard at cross-junctions. However, Mercury is also the god of symbolic crossroads, like the crossroads in life. For mental travelers Mercury aided them on the best way to face the unknown. Thus, it’s entirely appropriate that I begin this journey to assay/essay at the crossroads—this search for the lost Golden-Age Arctic paradise—because in ancient times the crossroads were places where very important information was exchanged, information that might never reach a town or village. Yet it’s even more appropriate that Mercury, the God of the Crossroads, initiates this journey into uncharted realms, because, as the alchemical Mercurius, he advises us to follow the North Star, which is identified as the guide par excellence in the alchemy. According to alchemical texts, Mercurius (the fire of the Aurora Borealis) is at the beginning and end of the journey. As C. G. Jung has pointed out: “This is an allusion to the mystic journey, the ‘peregrinatio’.” We are informed that the questing traveler comes to rest in the Pole, where the heart of the World Soul (Mercurius) is located: “In the Pole is the heart of Mercurius, who is the true fire, wherein his master rests. When navigating over this great sea . . . he sets his course by the aspect of the North star.”
Therefore, the Gypsy Scholar would invite you, dear listener, to come along on this journey to a place that existed before history, "when the moon was new." As we go down to the crossroads of history and myth, we will travel light; so all you will need to make this journey to the lost Northern Arctic paradise and its Arcadian groves is a sky-map of the North Star and a pagan heart and soul.
For images and information about Hermes-Mercury, God of the Crossroads, click here
Paradisiacal Images for Sacred Groves/Woods & The Crossroads
Paradisaical Images for Elysium & Arcadian Fields
1.The Sky Story Behind the North Pole & the Golden-Age Arctic Homeland
Hart: [trying to comfort his hospitalized and devastated partner Cohle] Hey, ah, didn’t you tell me one time at dinner, once maybe, about you usta make up stories about the stars?
Cohle: Yeah, I was ah in ... in Alaska, under the night skies.
Hart [pointing to the night sky]: Yeah, you usta lay there and look up. Yeah—at the stars.
Cohle: Yeah, I never watched a tv until I was 17, so there wasn’t much to do out there 'cept walk around, explore …
Hart [pointing to the night sky]: And … and look up at the stars and make up stories. Like what?
Cohle: I tell you Marty, I’ve been up in that [hospital] room looking out of those windows every night and thinking … it’s just one story. The oldest.
Hart: What’s that?
Chole: Light versus dark.
(From HBO drama series True Detective; final episode, final scene)
Click hereto read from
the first section of musical essay (03/17/14) , "The Sky Story Behind the North Pole & the Golden-Age Arctic Homeland," of which the above dialogue served as an epigraph to.
"The New Year & Rebirth in Archaic Myth and Ritual"
To summarize from "The New Year & Rebirth in Archaic Myth and Ritual" musical essays, we learned that the mythic rituals for the New Year always comprised, in their structure and meaning, an element of regeneration through repetition of an archetypal act, usually of the original cosmogonic act of creation. Archaic and traditional peoples, because of their “nostalgia of beginnings,” periodically sought in their New Year rituals to abolish profane time and thus regenerate the sacred time of the beginning, the origin (in illo tempore ab origine). Prof. Mircea Eliade has termed this as a “Quest for Origins.” Thus, every New Year the mythico-rituals of archaic peoples sought to accomplish a “reactualization, of the cosmogony” at the “sacred center of the world.” In short, we have learned the suspension of profane time through the symbolism of the New Year answered to a profound need on the part of archaic and ancient peoples, who sought to return to that mythic moment—a mythical time before time (illud tempus)—as often as possible, in order to regenerate themselves and start anew.
This archaic sense of time and ritual regeneration is, of course, alien to our modern world. However, to reiterate the argument from previous musical essays, despite the radical discontinuity between and ancient and modern worldviews, I have maintained that, if we go deep enough in our quest for origins—way, way back—, we of today’s world may recognize the very same motive and need for regeneration, both individually and collectively. And, once more, we may even be able to glimpse in our own profane New Year’s rituals—as corrupted from the archaic ones as they may be—a lingering vestige of the hierophanies (i.e., manifestations of the sacred) that were commemorated and participated in through archaic ritual. In other words, we may come to see that the ontological ‘thirst for being” and “nostalgia for beginnings” peculiar to archaic peoples are still alive within us today and lies at the bottom of our need to participate in our contemporary secular New Year’s “profane rejoicings.”
Therefore, the Gypsy Scholar would suggest that what he calls the Tower of Song is the ideal Retreat and View at the center of the world, from which to bring in the New Year and start anew.
"Lonely Towr" from Il Penseroso (Palmer 1879)
Oh let my Lamp at midnight hour Be seen in some high Lonely Towr, Where I may oft out-watch the Bear, With thrice great Hermes. (Milton, 'Il Penseroso' 1633)