Saturnal Rebellion & the Ossuary of Milan
Here are a few personal thoughts on my current state. In fact, I guess, it is a short meditation on what it means to work in harmony with the forces of Saturn. And why, in times like ours, this might manifest as a form of rebellion.
I also had the privilege of sitting in a very special place when pondering about these things. So I am trying to pass this privilege on as best as I can, and share some of the impressions from the amazing ossuary in a small chapel in Milan with you below.
LVX, Frater Acher
Just like for many of us, patience for me never was a virtue I aspired to perfect. What good could come, I guess I thought, from just another word for procrastination or pleasure delay?
However, for many months now my inspiration by far exceeded my limited capabilities to execute upon it. Projects that began as sudden hints from inner contacts grew, expanded and took on roots far beyond what I originally conceived. By simply following their leads, step by step, early morning after early morning - when I normally get to do my research and writing - they led me deeper down the rabbit hole. And just as much as they continued to amaze me with the connections and insights they revealed, they also turned daunting in light of what it would take to tell their whole story. The longest of these projects has accompanied me for more than ten years and has now finally settled into a shape close enough to its original idea for it to be born in a physical form.
After all this work, I am still no fried of patience. But it turned me into a much closer ally of Saturn than I ever have been before. Saturn is connected to the great, black mother of Binah. And just like any mother, her spirit holds a deep understanding of all the processes in play, hidden from our human eye, below a surface level. Here the word patience is nothing but an entrance gate to encounter the virtues of endurance, humility, service and ultimately the Great Work. For no great work can be rushed, nor does it come easy, nor is it quickly mastered or acquired.
They say it takes 10,000 hours of training to master any skill. That number roughly equals 2.3 years of training, every day, for 12 hours a day, with no exception. What they don't say is that it also takes putting in 10,000 hours worth of practice, without knowing exactly where your work will really lead. As part of this journey nobody gets a 'sneak peak' of the person we will be when we emerge from it. Of course we all hold visions, dreams of how it could be, of what we could be, but in most cases these will never come to be. Reality just like deep magic hold their own plans for us. What is ours, is to stay in our track and to fulfil them, one day at a time, to the best of our ability. To bring through the shape of ourselves - or of any significant piece of work we are engaged in - is a process of dedication and discipline, much more than it is of creativity.
Of course creativity is crucial to this path, but mostly it plays in the periphery. It shines a light when we run up against obstacles, when we search for ways around these, like a river searching for its way around or underneath a mountain. The rest of it is holding on to our intent, and fulfilling our training or work one day at a time. The rest of it is Saturn.
As I said, there is still no beauty in patience for me. But I did discover a tremendous amount of beauty, force and marrow in things that cannot come without it: That is in calmness, in rhythm and ritualised habits, in enjoying slow and organic growth, in following the tides and seasons without trying to speed up the harvest. As any mother knows, there is beauty and pure joy in seeing something significant, something living grow from within you, slowly but surely, into the outside world. There is beauty in sending a part of you into this world - and realising it as something entirely foreign, different and new as part of this slow process of emergence.
At the end of day, there might be no virtue these days which is more subversive, more counter-culture, more occult for lack of a better word, than mastering one's patience. Nothing more seditious, then engaging in the art of pleasure delay. Not for the sake of it alone, but in service to the acts of significance that may come from it.
Of course, going counter-culture in isolation, without being carried by a communal current yet, is a tall order. All by yourself it takes pulling away from the riptide of instant gratification, from the lure and bait of social networks, and from the grand illusion that having great ideas would equal accomplishing ventures of greatness. Putting in 10,000 hours of training into the skill of devotion is a particularly lonely road. These days it might have become the ultimate form of Saturnal rebellion.
San Bernardino alle Ossa
These were the thoughts I had, sitting in the small ossuary across the street from the famous dome of Milan. Time truly is of no concern here; and one might hardly find a better place to mediate upon Saturn and the black mother Binah.
Skulls and bones have been collected here in a small room next to a cemetery since the early 13th century. After a fire in 1712 had destroyed the already enlarged bone-chamber, a new church was built in its place and dedicated to St.Bernardino of Siena.
'The vault was decorated with frescos by Sebastiano Ricci with a Triumph of Souls and Flying Angels, while in the pendentives are portrayed the Holy Virgin, St. Ambrose, St. Sebastian and St. Bernardino of Siena. Niches and doors are decorated with bones, in Roccoco style. In 1738 King John V of Portugal was so struck by the chapel, that had a very similar one built at Évora, near Lisbon.' (wikipedia)