Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Rock of Ravens

As regular readers of this blog may be aware, your humble writer is in the process of moving. This adventure began on September 9, 2016, when I departed Florida, my home for nearly a quarter of a century. It entered into a new stage on October 31 when I purchased a new house (yes, the closing was on Halloween). While I don't normally do blogs that revolve around myself, I've been rather struck by a lot of the history and curious synchronicities surrounding my new home.

Of course even the dating is rather apt. Over two thousand years ago September 9, 9 A.D. witnessed the storied defeat of Varus by a confederation of Germanic tribes under the control of the Roman-trained military officer Arminius at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. This was one of the most stunning defeats the Roman Empire ever experienced, one that had a profound effect on the course of the Empire. This battle would later play an enormous role in the emerging German nationalism of the nineteenth century and would develop a practical cult around it during the Nazi era (Himmler and several of his mystics in the SS were obsessed with the battle). Given the amount of time this blog has dedicated to exploring esoteric Nazism, I suppose there is a certain symmetry to the date. And Halloween needs no explanation.

The character I purchased the house from has a certain spooky air about him. I shall refer to him as "Pete" due to his striking similarity to the character of Pete Martell (Jack Nance) in the soon-to-be-revived Twin Peaks. This individual is a dead ringer right down to the look, the voice and the outdoors man air to the point that I was tempted to ask him if he had ever met anyone named David Lynch or Mark Frost a time or two.

Pete Martell
"Pete" is a well traveled individual who had had filled the house with various treasures from around the world. He has a special interest in Buddhism and Hinduism and owned many exotic religious pieces from the Far East. During the turbulent 1960s he had been drafted, went to Vietnam and then ended up in San Francisco in 1967, right on Haight-Ashbury no less. He claimed that no less than Janis Joplin had babysat his daughter for a time. I was rather dubious of this bit, but he could certainly spin a yarn.

Pete can tell many others about his travels around the world, which were frequent. The house was littered with pictures of him across the Far East, before the Great Pyramid of Giza and at Al-Khazneh, among man others. My girlfriend and I asked him several times what he had done for a living and he skillfully evaded the question every time. We had begun to suspect something spooky when one of his former neighbors, who had lived near him for nearly thirty years, made a curious unsolicited statement: Pete had worked for the government, had traveled frequently and had never offered any details concerning his work. While he was well liked, many neighbors suspected his work was highly classified.

While doing my own digging, I realized Pete had lived in Arlington, VA during the 1980s while the cabin we purchased from him was being built. His old address did not appear to be far from the Pentagon. Certainly the possibilities are endless. But moving along.

The house is located a little off of U.S Route 50, which stretches from West Sacramento, California to Ocean City, Maryland, and features such destinations as Kansas City, St. Louis and even Washington, D.C. The stretch through Nevada is known as "The Loneliest Road in America" while the one in my new location runs through the Appalachian Mountains, with much of it paralleling the historic Northwestern Turnpike. The turn off is between Romney, West Virginia and Winchester, Virginia. This was one of the bloodiest stretches of the Civil War, with both towns be hotly contested by the Union and the Confederacy.

Interestingly, Romney features the largest of the remaining Indian mounds in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle in the form of the Indian Mound Cemetery. It is believed to have been to have been constructed by the mysterious Hopewell peoples. As I've noted before here, West Virginia has witnessed a lot of high weirdness, and Indian mounds frequently appear against the backdrop.

The land that Recluse's new home resides upon was originally owned by Lord Fairfax and was deeded to Dr. James Craik in 1766. Craik was George Washington's personal physician while Fairfax had first encountered Washington when the future president was but 16. Fairfax employed him as a surveyor for three years. Naturally both Fairfax and Craik were prominent Freemasons. There is some speculation that Fairfax first introduced Washington to Masonry.

Lord Fairfax (top) and James Craik (bottom)
"Pete," the former owner, dubbed the cabin "Ravens' Rock." This was allegedly due to the rocks at the top of a nearby mountain barring this same name. This would apparently not be the only rock formation on a mountain or location in West Virginia being named Raven Rocks. Curiously, there is also a highly secret military facility in Pennsylvania called Raven Rock Mountain Complex. Effectively it is a nuclear bunker that serves as an "underground Pentagon." It contains emergency operating centers for the US Army, Navy and Air Force. Allegedly, the "War Room" is located here.

Beyond the potential intelligence allusions, the raven itself is also littered with symbolism. The great Tech-Gnostic provides some interesting insights:
"Throughout the ages, birds have been harbingers of fortuitousness... of consequence. Owls, crows and especially the crow’s big brother… the Raven… have foretold of ominous events. It is widely known that a gathering of crows is known as a 'murder of crows.' It may not be as well known that a gathering of Ravens is called a 'Conspiracy of Ravens.'...
"Common ravens have coexisted with humans for thousands of years. Over the centuries, they have been the subject of mythology, folklore, art, and literature. In many cultures, including the indigenous cultures of Scandinavia, ancient Ireland and Wales, Bhutan, the northwest coast of North America, and Siberia and northeast Asia, the raven has been revered as a spiritual figure or 'Trickster' god."

Here are some more insights into the associations of the raven in folklore:
"In Ancient Greece, too, the raven was a solar bird sacred to Apollo. Although Puharich says that the eagles determined the sitting of the omphalos at Delphi, Strabo states that this task was performed by ravens. At least both birds have this in common, that they acted as messengers of the gods and performed prophetic roles. Ravens were also attributes of Mithras, and these were believed to be endowed with the power of casting evil spells.
"Ravens are common features of Celtic legend, in which they played prophetic roles. The Psuedo-Plutarch was undoubtedly based himself upon Gaulish tradition, translated Lugdunum (the Celtic name for Lyons) as 'Ravens' Hill' rather than the accepted 'Lug's Hill', since a flight of ravens had shown the city's founders where to build.
"In Ireland, the war-goddess took the name of 'Bobd' or carrion-crow and often appeared in this shape. The crow is the nocturnal aspect of the raven and in Ancient Greece was sacred to Athene while, as we have seen, the Raven was Apollo's bird. 
"In any case, ravens play a fundamental part in the Welsh tale, 'The Dream of Rhonabwy': when Arthur's men slaughtered Owen's ravens, the surviving birds reacted violently and in their turn hacked the soldiers to pieces. Ravens still occupy a respectable place in folklore... The birds were sacred to the Gauls and in German mythology were the companions of Wotan (Odin).
"In Scandinavian mythology, two ravens perched on Odin's throne, Hugin {Mind} and Munnin {Memory}, and a pair of wolves crouched beside the god. The two ravens stand for the creative and the two wolves for the destructive principle..."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pgs. 789-790)
The raven clearly has an extensive association with prophecy and creation. Many Native American Demiurges also take on the form of the raven. Beyond this, ravens also figured prominently in the symbolism of alchemist.
"Alchemists have always associated the stage of putrefaction, where matter becomes black, with the raven. They call this stage 'the Raven's Head': it is leprous and must be bleached by 'bathing seven times in the waters of Jordan'. These are imbibitions, sublimations, cohobations or digestion of matter, all practiced under the lordship of fire alone. This is why the black bird is so often depicted on the pages of ancient treatises of Hermetic lore..."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pgs. 790-791) 

Putrefaction, in the form of nigredo, is the first stage of alchemy's "Great Work." The Great Work is symbolically supposed to represent the journey of rebirth. The nigredo stag represents the death of the old self so that something new can spring forth. Certainly this is rather apt for my present situation. One stage of my life is finished and another is just beginning.

The world may be going more and more mad every day, but even dreams can shine forth in these dark days. I've long dreamed of writing before a roaring fire and I fulfilled it this evening. It is a small dream, but big things often have small beginnings. This is good to keep in mind as the final days of the US Election come upon us. Be wary dear reader but remain hopeful all the same.

NOTE: New posts on this blog may be scarce for the next month or so. The process of getting settled into my new home will be time consuming and will seriously cut into my writing time, but I shall do my best. Certainly there may be more than a few current events in the near future that will warrant comment. At worst, regular posts should be back again by early December. Until then, stay tuned.


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  2. I love it! I learned a few things; it was insightful, creative, and the pic at the end is funny.
    Also when I saw that pic of Pete, I definitely thought that was the best nickname.

  3. Recluse...
    Thanks for the nod above... Have fun settling in to your new abode. Raven's Rock... What a dwelling of portent!