St George’s Day. Interesting choice for a French election given the saint’s widespread patronage in areas I surmised in my Archaeology of Dragons presentation as being known for revolting peasants.
His experience with the dragon is covered in Pieces of Eight and the reasoning for and antiquity of is explored in Star.Ships.
This year, in an hagiographic version of “Where Are They Now?”, we look at what George did next. And that is, he went meddling in the prefect Dacian’s persecution of Christians.
He arrived in the town, shouting that all their gods were actually demons, and that only the God of Heaven was the true God. This is the sort of behaviour that tends to get one arrested and sure enough, George ends up in the clink.
It’s notable how typologically similar conversion stories are. George’s subsequent torture motifs look very Cyprian/Justina. If Cyprian represents the incorporation of the wisdom and magic of the pagan world into the new milieu, a Roman soldier may be a stand in for the same process happening to its military might.
In prison, George is dismembered -archetypally obvious- and has his limb wounds burned and salted. The next morning, after Christ visits him in the night, he’s put back together again.
Dacian hires a sorcerer to defeat him -a sorcerer who promises his own head if he fails. (Guess we’ve been bad at business dealings for quite some time.)
This sorcerer first attempts to poison his wine but George cures it by making the sign of the cross over it -just as Justina nullifies Cyprian’s dodgy ‘love’ magic with the sign of the cross. You’re getting a very clear battle of the symbols here. A stronger dose of poison is similarly nullified. At this point the sorcerer -Cyprian style- begs at George’s feet to be converted. I find the magical logic behind these conversions fascinating: this magic works better so I want it.
He gets beheaded, obviously. A deal is a deal. (Note to Rune Soup Premium Members: Clearly insufficient “more” in his statements.)
The next day, Dacian orders George to be tortured on yet another super-obvious symbol of the universe he clearly just has lying around, which is a great wheel covered in knives. It falls apart as George approaches it.
Then comes the Cyprianesque cauldron of molten lead. As George is lowered into it, he prays and the lead just swirls around him, leaving him untouched.
Dacian then decides to play Mr Nice Prefect: “George, my son. You see how long-suffering our gods are; they put up with your blasphemies so patiently yet are ready to forgive you if you consent to be converted. Give up your superstition, sacrifice to our gods, and win great honours from them and from ourselves.”
George decides to spring Dacian’s trap and agrees, as long as Dacian brings the whole city together to watch him parade up to the temple and to perform sacrifices and contrition. Dacian orders the population rounded up and the city garlanded. The next morning, George parades up to the temple, falls to his knees, and asks God to destroy it.
“Fire” comes down from heaven and destroys the temple in front of the whole city. The earth swallows up its ruins along with the pagan priesthood. (In The Golden Legend, “George” as a name comes from “earth” and “worker”. Also note that the temple and its priests are now in the underworld.)
But George isn’t done. When he is summoned before Dacian to be accused of murder and destruction, the prefect’s wife Alexandria is converted to Christianity in front of him. (On my way to steal your girl!) Dacian strings her up by her hair and tortures her to death -making Alexandria one of the few martyrs who didn’t receive baptism.
Dacian orders that, the next day, George is to be dragged through the streets and beheaded -because headlessness hasn’t yet featured enough- and indeed this does happen.
As Dacian is returning from the execution site to the palace, presumably remarking to his courtiers that it really was “quite the weekend”, more fire falls from heaven and kills him.
Happy Fear and Loathing in St George’s Day to you all.
POSTSCRIPT: It is useful to consider the definition of a Jungian archetype in this context as a story or motif that is infinitely dense. That is to say, your exploration of it will never exhaust it. George is and has several of these, which are interesting to consider in light of his appearances and roles in the subsequent 1800 years. By Gordon/Rune Soup Blog
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Only Twenty Seconds
The following story comes from Andrew, a teacher of the Course, who lived in New York for a long time. At 9/11 he was with other brothers at Ground Zero and helped several people who were wandering around in shock. Many miracles occurred here. At this moment of deepest agony the gates of heaven were wide open and things happened that would not have been possible otherwise. Within a few years, New York City fell back into the normality of deep sleep though. Andreas lived there at the time when I visited him at the crossing of First Street/First Avenue between Uptown and Downtown, a neighborhood with alternative shops and cafes, where the ever-present scent of incense and pot announced an alternative lifestyle.
My girlfriend and I stayed right across from Andreas’ apartment in one of the cheapest descents of the city. We stayed at the youth hotel of the Hare Krishna Temple. Because I worked for several hours during the days renovating the rooms, I could stay there for only twenty-five dollars a night; otherwise it would have cost sixty-five. My room was right above the temple. This meant that I was woken up every morning at 4:30 when the drum and the choir of the community were singing: “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare. Hare Rama…” Andrew himself once had been a bigwig in the Hare Krishna ISKCON organization and could enter the hotel and eat breakfast for free. Once, for an hour, we joined a group of Indian dancing and singing monks of ISKCON, when they made their rounds in a nearby park. Andreas, a large athletic man in his sixties, is a great communicator.
He had the ability to connect with the people in the streets of New York and bring them into contact with the inner light. After such a meeting they found themselves in a different world than before. The following story took place in his youth. Because of the Vietnam War in the U.S. conscription, he was active in the late sixties and early seventies.
Andreas eluded the convening by changing his place of residence every two weeks, spending two years practically on the road. He acted here quite legally. He always reported the new address immediately to the city and the Army. But since the bureaucratic apparatus of the U.S. Army needed a certain amount of time to send the convening papers to the new address, he was always in a different place when they reached the destination.
He told me that he had only slept twice outside in these two years. Again and again the people with whom he had hitchhiked or who he met on the road had taken him home. With God, he did not want to have anything to do, except he trusted the universe that he would be taken care of always, which was already much more than many Christians are able to do. Once, however, it looked bad for him. He was in the middle of the night somewhere, knocked off in a lightless wasteland. Freezing rain soaked his clothes and he saw no more way to find shelter.
He was shivering and was sure that his death was imminent. He fell to his knees, looked up at the black starless sky and prayed for the first time since his childhood. “Universe, God, I’m dying. If I go somewhere, if there is another life for me up there, then please give me a sign!” He did not even ask for help. At this point of the story his voice always failed.
It took God only twenty seconds to respond! Headlights of a jeep shot around the next corner of the country road where he was. There were soldiers in it. The car stopped and took him with them.
From that moment on, he was in search for this God who had never let him out of sight.
When he got to know the Course and realized ‘Yes!’ to God, he was afraid. “I do not want to have to fight like Albert Schweitzer in Lambarene with the heat, the disease, and the mosquitoes, but if you want, I’ll do even that.” The answer of the Holy Spirit was the following. “You are only expected to live always in the passionate ecstasy of light and miracles. No other sacrifice is requested!” He happily agreed. Since then, he is a living expression of this order.