Friday, September 21, 2012

All Aboard the Venusberg

The Tannhäuser Gate Revisited: Continuing the Madness


 In Animus and Anima, Emma Jung writes:
To a somewhat later period belongs the Tannhäuser legend which Richard Wagner revived; it apparently dates from the fifteenth century and was widely known in the sixteenth throughout Switzerland, Germany, and the Neterlands

Now is forsooth my lay begun
Of Danhauser I'll sing thee,
And of the wonders he hath done
With Venus, the noble Minnie.

Danhauser was a sturdy knight
In quest of wonders he
Did wish to enter Venus' mount,
Where pretty women be.

That is the way most versions of the song begin, but there is a Swiss form from St. Gallen, accounted the oldest... Whereby the residents of the Venusberg are marked as relatives of Melusine...” (P. 73)

As interesting as this is, it's about to get a whole lot crazier and cooler.
“As the name shows, Venusberg is a place of love's pleasures and delights where Venus hold[s] sway. It corresponds in every way to the “Islands of Women” or fairy hills, spoken of earlier, and all the legends about it resemble each other closely in that they tell of a man being lured to such a place and held there by a woman's enchantment, and of his never, or only with the greatest difficulty, being able to find his way out again...

The antagonism between Christianity and paganism, already intimated in the story of Melusine, comes clearly to light in the Tannhäuser legend. However, the paganism which emerged at the time of the Renaissance was not that of the nothern peoples, but of antiquity...

Another work important to mention here is the Le Paradis de la Reyne Sibylle by Antoine de la Sale. It was preserved in two fifteenth century manuscripts and printed in 1521. This “paradise,” according to one Italian tradition, lies on the Monte della Sibilla in the Appennines... A cave in the mountain is supposed to be the entrance to Queen Sibylle's palace and her realm within corresponds exactly to the Venusberg. The legend resembles that of Tannhäuser, except that here the repentant knight is promised immediate forgiveness for his sins. However, his squire leads him to believe that the pope is decieving him and really intends to imprison them, so they both return return to the Sibyl's paradise.... According to Desonay the sibul referred to is the Cumaean one, who told Aeneas the way to the underworld, explaining where the golden branch could be found that would open its entrance. This was supposed to be a cave near Lake Avernus, and a grotto said to be the Sibyl's is still shown in the vicinity. Obviously the tradition has been combined with thatof the cave on the Monte della Sibilla, which also lies near a lake and was believed to lead to Queen Sibylle's paradise.”
Ironically, with this we can begin looking at the whole picture of the accounts if we also take Reginald Scot's Fairie Sibylia ritual in Discoverie of Witchcraft into account:
When Carlo Ginzburg discusses the clerici vagantes, he adds: “As though this was not enough, they also declared they could call up the 'Furious Horde', made up of children who had died before they were baptized, of men slain in battle and of all 'ecstatics' – in other words of those souls who had had to abandon their bodies, never to return.”

During the first part of the Scot ritual the magician is told to: “go to one that is new buried, such a one as killed himselfe or destroied himselfe wilfullie.” This spirit corresponds fairly well to the Biaiothanatoi, which I have discussed nigh endlessly on this blog. This spirit, Jake Stratton-Kent writes of in the first volume of the Geosophia: “The spirit from whom the magician seeks assistance is either a new buried suicide or criminal; both are typical restless spirits in Greek demonology... Their relationship is sealed by an oath of mutual assistance, which is to say a pact...” (P. 98) But of the “fairy,” he has some very interesting comments as well.

Fetching Sibylia, a particularly important part of his role, is included in these instructions. It may be wondered why the magician does not merely conjure her himself; this is certainly a question that requires answering. The answer is straightforward, that the ghost is a resident of this world, while she is a high-ranking inhabitant of another. For the magician to seek her in her own realm would be a much more dangerous enterprise. It is more likely she would detain him in her world, as Calypso detained Odysseus, than that he would bring her back with him...”
Well, I guess my brief two visits to the Venusburg straight up fucked that up. I suppose I am luckier than I realize. Or something.

One more interesting quote:
The status of the Sibyl appears lessened in the context of this rite, compared to her position in the Norcian legends. Among the details that have apparently diminished is her ability to consecrate and confirm the power of the Book of Spirits, which nevertheless plays an important part of this ritual... Implicit too in her ability to act as counsellor is a far higher status than that of a simple divining spirit. This reminds us that the Sibyl encountered in the mountains of Italy was an instructor in magic, whose authority exceeded that of the magician. This is a most potent indicator of her original role in older traditions.”
Fucking awe-some.

Some day, maybe, I'll be able to do the ritual as it appears in Scot and the Geosophia (not to mention The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, p. 237-243). But at present, I'm shocked the rush of Gnosis I got way back when and my brief astral foray wasn't complete and utter insanity. Maybe some day, I'll be a less shitty sorcerer. Hah!

Be seeing you,
Faust.



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