Sunday, December 26, 2010


Hoping a little I'd get snowed in so I could indulge my latest passion, a "translation" of some of the works of Maria Rubedo of Tarn, Mistress or Abbess of the Ladies of St. Sernin, a millenariast cult in the Midi-Pyrennes often seen as a repository for remnants of Mithraism. Her community was tolerated for its lip-service Catholicism and ability to create healing liquors, medical service to the rich (who were charged) and poor (for free), and its ability to send money when and where it counted to ensure its Sisters' peace and survival.

However, her extensive alchemical experimentations would have placed her beyond even the protection afforded by her ability to brew the 16th-century equivalents of Viagra and birth control pills. To avoid detection and subsequent immolation, she couched her researches in the writing of "holy verse" in Slavonic, a language approved by the Pope and which she purported to use in order to spread The Word to northern lands. These verses became "The Rubedium," a volume gifted to Sir Christopher of Morova, in the hope, as the inscription reads, that he "might fill others with the Spirit as he has filled me." In a world where Hildegard of Bingen lights up the boards on Amazon, it's hard to understand how The Rubedium remains ignored, but perhaps her chosen subject matter provides a clue.

The verses are loosely arranged around a depiction of the Season of Misrule, a winter festival with roots in the Saturnalia, where traditional roles were reversed, practical jokes abounded, and licentiousness reigned. She used the familiar formula of describing such behavior in great detail, followed by a quick tailspin spin of sudden enlightenment and reformation to the greater glory, etc. Odd bits of such festivals can be seen even today, in modern celebrations of the season. Teasing out her teachings on introvert alchemy and from among the longer passages of overwrought erotic and grotesque description and pious tracts is the interesting challenge in her work (as it may often be in The Work as well).

Two of Three
That my bliss should be divided thus,
And thus multiplied, may remain mystery.
Wood split flares bright, but such kindling
Is ash an hour of this season's long night.
But these logs appear to strengthen in our sleep
Nothing gray at morning but the light--indeed,
They have the power to warm me through the day.

So much could be divined at this year's center,
When in the name of our patron, we celebrate
A Saturnalia, where rules and roles. like night,
Turn on that point and tumble, end upended.
My maid is my mistress; the hands that dig
In cold earth now might root more dexterously
Among my silks; the groom suffered the right to ride.

And I presume an usurpation bold
That in other days may have me made
Myself fuel, kindling a mob's ire, rapt
To a stake like any other, hungry to know flesh.
But beg this season's privilege, blasphemy.
It is just this: My eternal desire
To act in imitation of the One
Brings me to to this unity with two,
For what was He, when once himself made Three,
But made greater in love, and more praiseworthy?
Let us follow this example, and be blessed
At least until the days the Light returns
And such freedom will be crowned, or snatched from us.


Slothrop said...

The life struggle against that which divides us is starting to feel like your main theme. A lot of love in this 1, or is it yearning - pining (like me) for a lost underground of abandon?

A theory holds that Saturn's rings (uniform, regular) are the remnants of an unstable moon. How many people remember in their dreams a beautiful, volatile, vanished world? & if I heard you sing this 1 I swear I would hear tritones (diabolus in musica)....

Maria Padhila said...

you sent me scrambling to the internets with that one..."unstable moon"...aren't they all? ;) that ought to be one to take on before long. actually i'm thinking about a poem for capricorns so maybe--there you go. that underground of abandon? not really so lost! knock, and it will be opened to you ;)