“My dear one is dazzling and ruddy, the most conspicuous of ten thousand.”
(The Song of Songs 5:13)
Experience. A thrilling personal experience. This is something I’m going to talk about today. It’s still holiday time and I prefer to honor the period. So let me relax and keep it easy. Anyway, I’ll tell you about the day I started to get excited in connection with the flat earth. I got the news from my assistant and he was very excited too.
Many people are interested in conspiracy theories. The list could be quite long. You could suggest chemtrails, tsunami bombs, the moon landings as faked, 9/11 cover-up and the like. My assistant got involved in a collision with the flat earth. I was at his place one evening, right two years ago, and his wife told me about their adventurous discovery. Here is a short story about my implication in the flat earth research.
Knowing the earth to be flat was a great surprise, of course. I could never have supposed. But when the idea presented itself to the mind, I immediately felt it was reasonable. It was suddenly a period of great joy, such I’ve never had the same before. In the ten past years, I had had a pretty happy life. Now, though, I was perceiving the discovery of the flat earth as an additional fascinating gift. It was changing my life forever.
Today, however, the departure point of my post will originate from a time far enough away.
When I married I asked a school girlfriend to read the song of Solomon at the wedding ceremony. The parish priest was pretty surprised but didn’t oppose.
In the course of the years, that song stayed in my mind, resonating forever. Many questions raised about. The first was one connected to the fact that the young girl was not married. Of course, the youths were making love. But behaving like that, according to God’s principles, they were reprehensible and at odds with the bible standards. I never arrived to understand until after having realized the earth is flat.
Experience into the themes of the Song of Songs
Here you find a passage of the fifth chapter of the Song that is thought to be difficult to match with the rest of the Scriptures.
He I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.
Friends Eat, friends, and drink;
drink your fill of love.
She I slept but my heart was awake.
Listen! My beloved is knocking:
“Open to me, my sister, my darling,
my dove, my flawless one.
My head is drenched with dew,
my hair with the dampness of the night.”
I have taken off my robe—
must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet—
must I soil them again?
My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
my heart began to pound for him.
I arose to open for my beloved,
and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh,
on the handles of the bolt.
I opened for my beloved,
but my beloved had left; he was gone.
My heart sank at his departure.[a]
I looked for him but did not find him.
I called him but he did not answer.
The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
They beat me, they bruised me;
they took away my cloak,
those watchmen of the walls!
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you—
if you find my beloved,
what will you tell him?
Tell him I am faint with love. (New International Version – NIV)
Experience in the fairy tale of Cupid and Psyche by Apuleius
Before trying to get deeper into the consideration of these verses, I would like to start taking a cue from a Latin fairy tale. Cupid and Psyche is a mythical story from the book of Metamorphoses. It is the tale of a sacred marriage belonging to the classical tradition. This is a tale that shares so many elements with Beauty and the Beast and other tales of that ilk. The version of the myth of Cupid and Psyche comes from an early novel by an African Roman of the 2nd century A.D. Apuleius’ novel is a charming romantic story of love between a mortal and a god. Moreover, it is thought to give us inside details of the workings of some forgotten ancient mystery.
The tale is here not complete and a bit shortened.
A certain king and queen had three daughters. The charms of the two elder were more than common, but the beauty of the youngest was so wonderful that the poverty of language is unable to express its due praise.
Her two elder sisters of moderate charms had now long been married to two royal princes; but Psyche, in her lonely apartment, deplored her solitude, sick of that beauty which, while it procured abundance of flattery, had failed to awaken love.
Her parents consulted the oracle of Apollo, and received this answer, “The virgin is destined for the bride of no mortal lover. Her future husband awaits her on the top of the mountain. He is a monster whom neither gods nor men can resist.”
Accordingly, all things being prepared, the royal maid took her place in the procession. While Psyche stood on the ridge of the mountain, panting with fear and with eyes full of tears, the gentle Zephyr raised her from the earth and bore her with an easy motion into a flowery dale. By degrees, her mind became composed, and she laid herself down on the grassy bank to sleep.
When she awoke she entered a magnificent palace whose august front impressed the spectator that it was not the work of mortal hands, but the happy retreat of some god. Drawn by admiration and wonder, she approached the building and ventured to enter. Every object she met filled her with pleasure and amazement.
She had not yet seen her destined husband. He came only in the hours of darkness and fled before the dawn of morning, but his accents were full of love and inspired a like passion in her. She often begged him to stay and let her behold him, but he would not consent. On the contrary, he charged her to make no attempt to see him, for it was his pleasure, for the best of reasons, to keep concealed.
This reasoning somewhat quieted Psyche for a time. But, one night, she told him her distress, and at last, drew from him an unwilling consent that her sisters should be brought to see her.
They asked her numberless questions, among others what sort of a person her husband was. Psyche replied that he was a beautiful youth, who generally spent the daytime hunting upon the mountains.
The sisters, not satisfied with this reply, soon made her confess that she had never seen him. Then they proceeded to fill her bosom with dark suspicions. ” Take our advice. Provide yourself with a lamp and a sharp knife; put them in concealment that your husband may not discover them, and when he is sound asleep, slip out of bed, bring forth your lamp, and see for yourself whether what they say is true or not. If it is, hesitate not to cut off the monster’s head, and thereby recover your liberty.”
Psyche resisted these persuasions but when her sisters were gone, their words and her own curiosity were too strong for her to resist. So she prepared her lamp and a sharp knife and hid them out of sight of her husband. When he had fallen into his first sleep, she silently rose and uncovering her lamp beheld not a hideous monster, but the most beautiful and charming of the gods, with his golden ringlets wandering over his snowy neck and crimson cheek, with two dewy wings on his shoulders, whiter than snow, and with shining feathers like the tender blossoms of spring.
As she leaned the lamp over to have a better view of his face, a drop of burning oil fell on the shoulder of the god. Startled, he opened his eyes and fixed them upon her. Then, without saying a word, he spread his white wings and flew out of the window. Psyche, in vain endeavoring to follow him, fell from the window to the ground.
When she had recovered some degree of composure she looked around her, but the palace and gardens had vanished, and she found herself in the open field not far from the city where her sisters dwelt. Psyche meanwhile wandered day and night, without food or repose, in search of her husband.
Both Solomon and Apuleius are unreachable in expressing the bride’s feelings when her body is pervaded by the divine presence, and they are not the only ones.
Experience into the themes of Theresa Davila’s writings
Similarly, Teresa Davila, the author of The Interior Castle or The Mansions, described the soul’s intense response to God’s election in the language of erotic passion. In this, she belongs to a long tradition of mystical experience that is known as bridal mysticism. Teresa’s love of God and her eventual physical/spiritual union with him found expression in a vision in which an angel pierced her heart with a golden spear and sent her into a ravishment.
“It pleased our Lord that I should see the following vision a number of times. I saw an angel near me, on the left side, in bodily form. This I am not wont to see, save very rarely… In this vision, it pleased the Lord that I should see it thus. He was not tall, but short, marvelously beautiful, with a face which shone as though he were one of the highest of the angels, who seem to be all of fire: they must be those whom we call Seraphim… I saw in his hands a long golden spear, and at the point of the iron, there seemed to be a little fire. This I thought that he thrust several times into my heart and that it penetrated to my entrails. When he drew out the spear he seemed to be drawing them with it, leaving me all on fire with a wondrous love for God. The pain was so great that it caused me to utter several moans, and yet so exceeding sweet is this greatest of pains that it is impossible to desire to be rid of it, or for the soul to be content with less than God”. (Peers, E. Allison. Studies of the Spanish Mystics. Page 197)
The erotic intensity of her vision is vividly suggested in Bernini’s Transverberation. It’s a masterpiece where the artist with insuperable skill gives form to Teresa’s swooning expression and languid pose. He surprisingly reveals her rapture and feelings by concealing her body under the deep folds of her drapery mantel. She is clothed from head to foot in a loose hooded garment. Her feet are bare, the left one prominently displayed. Her eyes are shut, her mouth opened, as she swoons in ecstasy. Standing before her is the figure of a winged youth. His garment hangs on one shoulder, exposing his arms and part of his upper torso. In his right hand, he holds an arrow that is pointed at the heart of Teresa.
The symbolism of bridal mysticism is often found in the Bible when God presents himself as Israel’s husband. With the early Christian church’s emphasis on the divinity of Christ, the term sponsa Christi, the bride of Christ, was applied to both female and male members of the Christian community. Then Christ himself is considered to be the husband of his Congregation, the New Jerusalem. Their total union can be deduced from the words Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “And the two will become one flesh. This sacred secret is great. Now I am speaking with respect to Christ and the congregation”.
Certainly, the form of Teresa’s vision and the symbolism illustrated in Bernini’s masterpiece lies very close to the tale of the god of love and his human beloved. Psyche’s name means “soul,” and she begins her career as a mortal. It is because Eros loves her and wants her for his bride that Zeus is willing to elevate her to the status of an immortal. For Teresa, the moment in which she experiences the spiritual wound is but one moment in a complex drama culminating in the spiritual marriage, when such wounds will no longer be felt but are supplanted by a complete union of God and the human person on an inner level.
Experience into the theme of bridal mysticism
Bridal mysticism was first manifested in the Old Testament and continued in the New. It found itself expressed very vividly in the lives of many martyrs and believers. In the Scriptures, God’s love for his people was often characterized as a relationship similar to that of the Bridegroom and the Bride. It was typified this way to show the ecstatic love and secret or mystical union which can be achieved between a human soul and the divine, wherein God becomes, in a sense, the “Lover”.
The “sacred mystery of God” is centered around Christ. He is the shepherd of the Song of Songs and the greater Solomon. In the Song, the Shulamite loves both, just because the shepherd is her earthly fiancé, but Solomon is the heavenly bridegroom. Between them no rivalry’s admitted. Solomon had wives and concubines. The Shulamite on earth is for a short period a concubine, but, in heaven, when a winner, part of the bride. Bye, bye, my reader.