Death in Art

A somber procession of three hundred robed and hooded men winds along the edge  of the sea. The deep power of their chanting  mingles with the ringing of the bells and the crashing of the surf, and the crashing surf rings against the shore.  In their midst, lifted high on strong shoulders,  a young Priestess lies on a bier wearing a long, purple gown. Her red gold hair undulates around her head like  rays of the sun; her face is covered by a sheer white veil. In her hands are lilies, flower of the dead

As the sun begins to sink below the horizon of the sea, the procession comes to a stop to stand opposite that point of dying light to set the bier upon the waves. A great howling rises up, cries and lamentations, as three torches are lit and waved on high before the flames are touched to the wicket of thorns surrounding the Priestess on the bier. Ablaze, it is pushed out upon the sea to burn, and slowly sink under the waves with the last rays of the sun.
A tomb is erected in the forest in honor of the Priestess who has left for the Otherworld in her fiery boat. A wolf is set to guard it.

I wrote this essay long ago…in the 1970s… in response to a question given by my favorite art history teacher of all time, Dr. Ellen Kosmer. She was teaching a unique class called ‘Death in Art’ and the first thing she asked us to do was to describe our funeral. As I wondered what to write, I found myself hovering above the scene of this barbaric funeral procession, knowing that the woman on the bier was me, and that this was my funeral.
I thought it was just my wild imagination at work…
I had been studying art most of my teenage years. My themes  were mostly moody, dreamlike, and mystical, and because of this tendency, I was introduced to the art of the Victorian Pre-Raphaelites by a fellow student.  After being totally infatuated by their work, especially the Grail paintings by Rossetti and Burne-Jones, I assumed I was being influenced by the popular Victorian images of the Lady of Shallot.  I was very interested in Arthurian Legends and felt that surely these influences had come together to catapult me into this dream of an ancient funeral rite.
During the course of my life, I have learned things that perhaps provide  me with an alternate view of this. In much of my meditation practice, I would find my self hovering above my body looking down at myself before I entered the Otherworld. I also learned, during the hay day of ‘Near Death Experience’ literature, that after death one often hovers above one’s body and looks down at it, attached by what has come to be known of esoteric literature, the “silver naval cord” that ties the physical and spiritual bodies together.
Since then, I have wondered if this essay, written when I was 18 in an art class, was indeed a memory of  a past life death of mine.
To back this notion up, I was told by Jeff Green in my first ever astrology reading, that in a past life I had lived in Scandinavia and been a Rune master.
This essay seems to describe an archaic Viking funeral, the sea burial of a holy woman, and was definitely set in a Northern country.
Could it be so?

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Heimdall, Rowan, Aquarius, Winter Dreams

Another Heimdall coincidence: I discovered the Ogham tree associated with him is the Rowan or Mountain Ash. Rowan is also the tree ascribed to Aquarius in “Celtic Astrology”. Again this dream coming in January at the start of Mercury retrograde in  Aquarius.

January 12th -14th
For three nights of this Mercury retrograde in my sun sign Aquarius, I have dreamed of Heimdall, the divine ‘Watcher’ of the Rainbow Bridge that connects Heaven and Earth. His name has been constantly chanting through my mind — making sure I don’t forget, or ignore, the call of the Messenger. Heimdall is equated with Mercury, or Hermes, the God who carries messages from the Otherworlds to those of us in the Mortal realms. Those of who carry the Witchblood are most likely to pay attention.This blog post is my way of anchoring this message in the Reality.

That Heimdall and his message belongs in the Book of Winterspells can be shown by spelling all of his powers:

The name Heimdall means the White One, also ‘World Radiance’.  His colors are blue and silver — all are the colors of winter in the North, fire and ice, sun on snow. Like the winter sun, he possesses a supernatural clarity of vision, and due to the silence and stillness of the earth, he hears the whispers of the Other.  Much like those who bear the witchblood.

He offers protection with a sacred shield inscribed with the snowflake pattern of the Helm of Awe.

He carries the Hunting Horn, or echoing horn, whose blast can be heard in all the worlds. Like a great wind blowing through the trees, a wintry blast! The horn is made of bison horn, and horned creatures are sacred to the winterspells…
With this horn, Heimdall announces the Rangnarok, the Twilight of the Gods, when he will do battle with Loki, Trickster God of mischief. The end time, when all the worlds are withdrawn back to the Source is a winterspell…

The White Hart or Stag, who frequents this blog, Eikthymir, stands on the roof of Odinns Hall eating the leaves from the Tree of Life.  Sacred dew drips form his antlers, like the musk that quickens new life in the Spring. His antlers, like a fence, enclose the sanctuary with strong protection. I myself have enlisted the aid of the antlered Stag as a defense during psychic attack. I know his gift of rebirth is a promise and a truth.

Heimdall’s Rune is Algiz that represents the flying swan, and the Valkyries who are Swan Maidens who carry souls between Life and Death along the Rainbow Bridge. They fly by means of swan feather cloaks, teach hidden wisdom to shamans and warriors, and lead souls into the Netherworlds when their time comes.
The feminine attribution of Algiz is called Hamingja in rune shamanism, the giver of luck and a guide on the path to higher consciousness.

Some thoughts on this:

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For me the syncronicities are many, and that Heimdall’s name should be en-chanted for three nights with Mercury retrograde in Aquarius makes the message even more significant. My star sign is Aquarius and this is one of my winterspells…

I am part Iroquois. In Iroquois tradition, all white animals are sacred to the divine realms which, to be honest, in most primal cultures is equated with the world of the Ancestors, or the Dead. In such cultures, death is not perceived as final, it is simply entry into another world. Before the white people come, a White Dog Sacrifice was conducted every winter by the Iroquois. In this ceremony a White Dog was given to the Gods to ensure a good relationship with the Otherworld powers.
As a bit of an aside, for us this rite may be disturbing, but for those in alignment with magical consciousness, the white dog is sacred, already part of the Otherworld. His mortal appearance is a gift to the people who then send him home in gratitude.
All white mammals, albinos, are rare. Rare creatures are always sacred in primal consciousness. It is also important to note that in pre-horse cultures, dogs were the most useful and valuable animals, and the sacrifice of the most valuable is most powerful.

All white animals are sacred to the North, for it is the House of Death, darkness, burial, winter, but also the stars, so much more brilliant on nights with no moon, The radiant Milky Way courses overhead every January in Massachusetts, more visible than at any other time.
I always felt I my spirit came to earth from the North Pole. That I fell from the stars at that point. I had a psychic reading a few years ago with a woman from one of the tribes here and she told me straight away that I was born in the North. Most people are born in the South. This makes me different, as one travels from death to birth rather than the other way around. Therefore do I live my life in reverse…

My spiritual name, Whiteswan was given to me in a Lakota ritual reinforced by dreams and presence of the White Swan in the 7th House of my Vedic Horoscope.
The Rune Algiz is in the shape of a reversed peace sign without the ring. It is said to represent a swan falling from Above to Below. I sense it as descending into the head of Heimdall and imprinting its sign on his brow. This brings to mind the Awen which looks like Algiz reversed. The Awen is like the rays of the sun streaming down through the trees and is imprinted on the brow of prophets, seers, and poets, such as the bard, Taliessin, in Faery Tradition. I feel the Awen is also connected, for Heimdall, with his messages from the Gods and his trips along the Rainbow Bridge, is the bringer of Higher Consciousness. As Above so Below.

Another thought: If the meaning of my dream is to hear the trumpet blast announcing Rangnarok, the Twilight of the Gods, perhaps signaling the approach of 2012 when some say the world will end, have no fear. As Heimdall fights Loki we shall see a shift in consciousness. The Yin and Yang, dark and light, male and female shall be engaged in the spiral dance as we ascend back to divine realms. For those who heed, this shift will be a shift to more consciousness, not annihilation.

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