Sunday, June 23, 2013

René Guénon on the Two Saints John

While summer is generally regarded as a joyful time and the winter season as sad, due to the fact that the former represents in a way the triumph of light and the second that of darkness, the two corresponding solstices are in actually a character exactly opposite to that indicated. This might appear a strange paradox, and yet is very easy to see it that way given our knowledge of traditional understandings of the annual cycle. In effect, what has peaked already can not but decrease, and what has come to its lowest can not go further, but on the contrary, must begin to grow immediately. So the summer solstice marks the beginning of the downward half year, and the winter solstice, conversely, the ascending half, and this explains, from the point of view of cosmic significance, these words of John the Baptist, whose birth coincides with the summer solstice, "He (Christ , born in the winter solstice) should grow, and I to fall. " It is known that, in the Hindu tradition, the upswing is put in relation to the deva-yana, and the downswing with pitr-yana, therefore, in the zodiac, the sign of Cancer, for the summer solstice, is the "door men", which gives access to pitr-yana, and the sign of Capricorn, for the winter solstice, is the "gate of the gods", which gives access to the deva-yana. Actually, the term "cheerful", ie beneficial and favorable, is the upstream half of the annual cycle, and the "sad" period, ie malefic or unfavorable, appears in the descending part of the year, and the same character belongs naturally, at the door which opens at each solstice of the two periods in which the year is divided by the solar action. 

It is known, moreover, that in Christianity the festivals of the two San Juan are directly linked with the two solstices, and, this is very remarkable, although we have never seen it mentioned anywhere, just remember what is expressed in some way by the double meaning of the very name of "John". Indeed, the Hebrew word hanan has both the sense of 'benevolence' and 'mercy' and the 'praise' (it's at least curious that, in our own language, words like "grace" have exactly this double meaning), therefore the name Yahanán [or, rather, Yehohanan] can mean 'mercy of God' and 'praise to God'. And it is easy to see that the first of these two senses seem to agree very specifically to St. John the Baptist, and the second at St. John the Evangelist, but otherwise, it can be said that mercy is obviously "down" and praise, "up", it brings us back to their respective relationships with the two halves of the annual cycle. 

Regarding the two Saint Johns and their solstice symbolism, it is interesting to also consider a symbol that seems peculiar to Anglo-Saxon Freemasonry, or at least has not been preserved elsewhere: a circle with a dot in the center, between two parallel tangents, and these tangents are said to represent the two Saints John. Indeed, the circle here is the figure of the annual cycle, and the solar significance, on the other hand, is more manifested in the presence of the dot in the center, as the same figure is both the astrological sign of the sun, and the two parallel lines are tangents to the circle in the two solstice points, marking their characteristic "breakpoints", as these points are, in effect, the limits which the sun can never overcome in the course of its motion, and because these lines correspond to the two solstices and may also be said to represent the same thing - both Saints John. There is however, an anomaly in this configuration, the annual solstice diameter should be considered, as we have explained before, as relatively vertical to the equatorial diameter, and only in this way, moreover, the two halves of the cycle, going from one solstice to another, may appear as real and ascending and descending respectively, for then the solstice points are the highest point and the lowest point of the circle, in such conditions, the tangents at the ends solstice diameter, being perpendicular to it, will necessarily be horizontal. But now consider that the symbol, the two tangents, on the contrary, are figurative and vertical, therefore, in this special case, some modification is made ​​to the general symbolism of the annual cycle, which otherwise is easily explained, it is evident that it has not been produced by an assimilation established between these two parallel and two Masonic columns; these, which naturally can not be vertical but have otherwise under their respective situation north and at noon, and at least from a certain point of view, are in an effective relationship with the solstice symbolism.

This aspect of the two columns clearly seen especially in the case of the symbol of the "Pillars of Hercules", the character of Solar hero Hercules and his twelve zodiacal correspondences are familiar enough to not require additional comment, and it is clear that the solar character justifies precisely the significance of the two columns linked to his name. Thus, the motto "non plus ultra", referring to those columns, appears to contain a double meaning: not only expressed, according to the usual interpretation, an otherwise valid terrestrial perspective, indicating the limits of the known world, ie, in fact, what the limits are, for reasons of research might be of interest, was not allowed to be passed beyond the travelers, but indicates at the same time-and certainly should said first and foremost - that, from the celestial point of view are the limits that the sun can not cross and between which, as between the two tangent lines that tried before, it holds inside its annual course. These latter considerations may seem far removed from our starting point, but, in fact, are not, as they contribute to the explanation of a symbol expressly referencing the two Saints John, and, moreover, it can be said that in the Christian tradition, all that pertains to solstice symbolism is also, for that matter, related to both saints.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Passing of Past Supreme Grand Inspector General Antonio Onias Neto of the Brazilian Modern Rite

It is with Deep regret that I have to announce the passing to the Eternal East of M.·.  I.·.  H.·. Antonio Onias Neto former Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the Supreme Conselho do Rito Moderno - Brazil, a figure of universal Freemasonry, a unique and irreplaceable   example of incessant work and fraternal attitude.

His open and positive attitude clearly demonstrated the Modernity and Tradition in the Modern Rite and bore fruit in his extensive experience and work.

Along with M.·. I.·.  Bonachi Batalla he was one of the architects enabling the development of the Barcelona Charter and the Universal Masonic Union of the Modern Rite (UMURM), instilling courage and determination, as well as an example of what should represent the Modern Rite for the rest of the Brethren as well as in our society.

We want to convey to the Supreme Council of the Modern Rite - Brazil and the Grand Orient of Brazil, our deepest condolences and will present you with individual duel batteries in our Chapters and Sovereign Supreme Councils of East and West Valleys.

Honor to his memory!

                                   ஃ  ஃ  ஃ

Com profundo pesar que tenho de anunciar a passagem para o Eterno Oriente  de M.·.  I.·.  H.·.  Antonio Onias, o ex-Soberano Grande Inspetor Geral do Supremo Conselho do Rito Moderno - Brasil, uma figura da Maçonaria universal como exemplo único e irrepetível do trabalho incessante e atitude fraternal.

Sua aberta e positiva visto claramente que a atitude de modernidade e tradição no fruto Rito Moderno, além de sua vasta experiência e trabalho.

Junto com o irmão Bonachi Batalha foi um dos arquitetos que permitir a Carta de Barcelona e da Universal Maçônica União Rito Moderno, infundindo coragem e determinação, bem como um exemplo do que deve representar o Rito Moderno para o resto da Irmãos bem e em nossa sociedade.

Queremos transmitir ao Supremo Conselho do Rito Moderno - Brasil e do Grande Oriente do Brasil, nossas mais profundas condolências e irá apresentá-lo com baterias duelo individuais em nossos Capítulos e soberano de todos os Supremos Conselhos de Vales Leste e Oeste.

Honra à sua memória!

                                   ஃ  ஃ  ஃ

Con Profundo pesar tengo que comunicaros el pase al Oriente Eterno del M.·.  I.·. H.·. Antonio Onías, Ex Soberano Gran Inspector General del Supremo Conselho do Rito Moderno - Brasil, figura de la francmasonería universal única e irrepetible como ejemplo de trabajo incesante y actitud fraterna.

Su carácter abierto y positivo deja ver claramente esa actitud de Modernidad y Tradición en el Rito Moderno fruto además de su extensa experiencia y labor.

Junto al Hermano Bonachi Batalla fue uno de los artífices de hacer posible la Carta de Barcelona y la Unión Masónica Universal del Rito Moderno, infundiendo ánimo y determinación, así como ejemplo de lo que el Rito Moderno debe representar para el resto de Hermanos/as así como en nuestra sociedad en general.

Queremos transmitir al Supremo Conselho do Rito Moderno - Brasil y al Grande Oriente do Brasil, nuestro más sentido pésame, así como que le tendremos presente con sendas baterías de duelo en nuestros Soberanos Capítulos y Supremos Consejos de todos los Valles de Oriente y Occidente.

¡¡¡Honor a su memoria!!!

Gracias a Joaquim Villalta, Vª Orden, Gr.·. 9

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ta Makuenda Yaya - San Antonio de Padua, the Congo Saint in Cuba

It is only fitting, with the Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua just past to visit the subject of the devotion to this great saint in the Americas, and to note his close association with not only devout Christians everywhere, but especially among those who maintain Afro-diasporic religious traditions of Central African origin in the Americas, and note the important historical connection this saint has with the ancient African Kingdom of Ntotela dia Kongo, or the Kingdom of Kongo, who provided more of its sons and daughters to the vicious slave trade that fed the Americas than any other African nation and which today sees its territory divided between several modern nation states - La République Démocratique du Congo, La République du Congo (Kinshasha), A República de Angola, and La République Gabonaise, to name them all. 

It may come as a surprise to some that Saint Anthony might be so closely related to both the history of a Central African Kingdom of old, and the slave trade, or that he is a major figure in African Traditional religions such as Haitian Vodou, Cuban Palo, or any number of Afro-Brazilian religions such as Candomblé or Umbanda, to name but two. However, it might come as even a greater surprise that in the old Kingdom of Kongo for a few years between the 1690s and 1706, he became a she. In that, lies a tale.

Beatriz Kimpa Vita (1684-1706), was a Congolese prophetess and leader of a Christian movement, Antonianism, which she founded. This movement taught that Jesus and other early Christian figures were from the Kongo Empire. Her teaching grew out of the oral traditions of the Roman Catholic Church in Kongo.

Beatriz went to live among colonists sent out by King Pedro IV, one of several rival rulers of Kongo, to reoccupy the ancient and by then abandoned capital of São Salvador. There was a great deal of religious fervor among these colonists who were tired of the endless civil wars in the country. During an illness in 1704 she claimed to have received visions of St. Anthony of Padua, and when, as she reported to Father Bernardo, she died, St. Anthony entered her body and took over her life.

Much of her teaching is known from the Salve Antoniana. The Salve Antoniana taught that God was only concerned with believers intentions not with sacraments or good works, and that Saint Anthony was the greatest one, in fact, a "second God." In addition, she taught that the principal characters in Christianity, including Jesus, Mary and Saint Francis, were all born in Kongo and were in fact Kongolese. She upbraided the Catholic priests for refusing to acknowledge this.

Kimpa Vita was captured near her hometown and burned at the temporary capital of Evululu as a heretic in 1706 by forces loyal to Pedro IV. She was tried under Kongo law as a witch and a heretic, with the consent and counsel of the Capuchin friars Bernardo da Gallo and Lorenzo da Lucca.

The Anthonian prophetic movement outlasted her death. Her followers continued to believe that she was still alive, and it was only when Pedro IV's forces took São Salvador in 1709 that the political force of her movement was broken. Many of her followers, the Antonians were sent as slaves to the English Colonies in the Americas, to Cuba, and to Brazil. In North America, they may have been involved with the Stono Rebellion. In Brazil, there is both physical evidence of her religion in the tradition of carved statues of Anthony used often for both devotional and magical purposes, and one of her followers was arrested and ultimately died at the hands of the inquisition, charged with sorcery, and died calling on Saint Anthony's protection. 

In Cuba, the most lasting evidence of the devotion to Saint Anthony, the Congo Saint, and perhaps the most remarkable to be found in all the Americas, lies in  the small pueblo of Quiebra Hacha, not far from the port of Mariel just west of the nations capital. Here, not only do we find a chapel dedicated to Saint Anthony, but that chapel, maintained by the descendants of slaves, who practice the Congo inspired religion of Palo, maintain a statue that may have been brought from the Congo, and it also is perhaps the last Congo religious house in Cuba to continue to use the rare sacred Kinfuiti drums, a friction drum used only for ritual purposes. 

Below I have embedded a video on both this saint, the ritual, and the Kinfuiti in Cuba. I'd like to thank my dear friend and colleague, Ralph Alpizar for the inspiration to write this short piece.


Gracias a Ralph Alpizar.