The THREE-FOLD EAR and the Energies of Enthusiasm
From the Great Above the Goddess opened her ear to the Great Below.
Hymn to the Sumerian Inanna 1a
I have eaten from a drum, I have drunk from a cymbal, I am an initiate of Attis.1b
The Outer Ear
(note: idiosyncratically I include the 'ear-drum' as part of the outer ear.)
the ear lobe
Absent in all other primaces, the ear lobe is an erogenous zone and has at times functioned as a sexual/devotional symbol and offering. Severed ears at some point became a substitute for the castrated phallus sacrificed to the Great Mother in the Cult of Attis.2 The Cult of Attis also shared with both the Dionysian and the ancient (first and second Temple) Hebraic 3 cults the prominence of the Cymbal rather than the drum, to accompany their rites.
"In Egypt devotees offered their ears to the Goddess Tsis, and until the early decades of the Christian era, sculpted ears were offered at the shrines of the Great Mother in other parts of the Middle East." 4
Many of these shrines have been identified as caves, capable of symbolising not only the uteral but the auditory canal as well.
The metaphorical identification of the Ear and the Goddess has been reclaimed and reinterpreted by the feminist thealogian Nelle Morton. " ... the more divine act is hearing to speech rather than hearing." 5
"The spontaneity with which we as human speakers (sound-makers) articulate ourselves becomes fundamental in the course of cosmic history." (words added)
"... liberation would occur as we let ourselves be healingly heard, by each other and in those depths where we encounter Wisdom."
" 'Hear our prayer', of course, has always been an important refrain ... But the prayer does not then make sense as a request ... It may be superceded by the varieties of meditation, centering and visualisation Morton's story reveals, and by modes of communal attunement to sacred presence and a channeling of collaborative energies."6
the ear drum
The archtypical drum resides within our skulls; the tympanic membrane tensed at the end of the auditory canal, and as such extends the axiom 'as Above, so Below' to 'as Within, so without'.
The classic axiom, generally attributed to Hermes-Thrice-Greatest, also has very strong traditions ascribing it to Maria-the-Jewess, identified as Miriam the sister of Moses, who lead her troupe of women drummers in music and song (and most likely dance as well) at the Biblical crossing of the Sea of Reeds. 7
The drum in Middle Eastern culture was primarily a women's instrument and terracotta figurines of female drummers are among the most prevelant representations at Neolithic and Iron Age sites in the Middle East. 8
This tradition is currently being revived by Layne Redmond in her work with the Mob of Angels.
The sixteenth Hexagram of the I-Ching, YÜ, is the only Hexagram which is related specifically to both sound and music.
The Taoist Liu I-Ming in his commentary 9 notes the especial property of YÜ (translated as Joy) as 'proper timing in action'. ln context this relates to the use of the proper rhythm sounded at the proper time, a major factor contributing to the efficacy of sound to cause specific effects. The whole of the tantric system of Raga, for example, also incorporates a precise day and time designation for performance.
Except for remnants in the Eastern and Roman churches this aspect is unfortunately absent in the musics and their performance in the West. YÜ is also translated as Enthusiasm 10 whose etymology from the greek is: en (in) + theos (divinity), and carries the root meanings of both inspiration and possession by the divine/power(s).
It is fairly universal that sounded rhythms, on whatever implement, are the vehicle whereby trance (inspiration) or identification ('possession') are attained, and as such strengthens this Hexagrards relevance.
In its image of thunder rising from the Earth was seen the prototype of music. Aspects drawn from the commentaries relating to this are "...the Earth and Thunder issuing from it with it's crashing noise form YÜ. The ancient Kings, in accordance with this, composed their music..." 11 and "...it fell to music to ... construct a bridge to the world of the unseen." 12
To these can also be added: " ... the epiphany of the Goddess is inseparable from the noise of howling and crashing..." 13
"...They clash the cymbals of the Great Mother ... "
In the associations in these examples it can be appreciated how both drums and metals have found their pre-eminent place in sacred/ritual musics, due to the complexities and intensifies their use can produce, The intentional activation of the drum/rhythm 'without and within' and the identification of the practitioner/participant with an 'Other' ('above and below') is focused here at the ear drum, gate to the middle ear.
The Middle Ear
The middle ear is composed of three small bones, the hammer, anvil and stirrup, which transmit the energies pulsing the ear drum to the inner ear. Through their action these pulsings are intensified by a factor something over 13 times.*
The choice of names for these bones and their association with the smithy is mirrored in both the myth of the origin of the Pythagorean theory of music and the use of drums and metals as Shamenic instruments par-excellance.
The Pythagorean harmony consisted of 3 concords, the discovery of which is said to have been made by Pythagoras on hearing the hammers striking the stirrup held with the Tongs against the anvil in a smithy. Attaching the heads of the hammers to cords of equal length and substance he developed his theory. Many versions of this story, in an attempt to disassociate the Shamanic element, relate it only in terms of lengths of cord. And speaking of stirrups, 'riding' and Equestrian imagery abounds in both Metallurgic and Shamanic lores.
" For Pythagoras numbers were the principles and elements of all things and composed the proportions of the whole world."14
In respect to this, the beats composing rhythm patterns gain their power through the value of their proportions, seen in the quantity of beats separated by rests in the phrasing comprising a particular rhythm. Proportion literally translates as 'for one's portion' and portion includes the meaning of destiny. When sounding a proportion/rhythm " then, one is invoking a course of events,15 the intention of which varies with the particulars of the 'timing in action'. Individual rhythms are also capable of multiple effects, again, depending on one's intention.
The smithy was where the cymbals, gongs, rattles, castanets and etceteras were created for the rituals of the Goddess. The intentions: "rites calling for...meditation, prayers and acts of worship" 16 executed during the creative processes composed the oral aspect of the Craft traditions.
As has been noted in some studies, 17 representations of cymbals were often interpreted as shields, and hence ritual musicians have continually been described as armed warriors.
This same school of interpretation also sees the Butterfly symbol of the Goddess, especially when rendered in metals, as a double headed axe. It's the paranoid school, for whom the Joyous sound of thunder is the voice of an angry god.
In view of this consider the myth that Hephaestus, Archtypical smith of the West, releases Athene (Wisdom) from Zeus's skull to spring out "fully armed with a mighty shout".18 In light of the aforementioned 'noise of howling and clashing', we see here the Smith/Shaman releasing Wisdom to manifest as/through sound.
In myth Hephaestus is intimatly related to the five male Dactyls born from the 10 fingerprints of Rhea upon the Earth, and hence the choice of the name Dactyl, meaning finger, These Dactyls knew all the secrets of Nature. Inventors of metallurgy they were the smiths and also regarded as masters of both Music and the Healing Arts. They were also regarded to have been the teachers of Pythagoras. 19
Their five sisters were equally knowledgeable and recorded as having initiated Orpheus into the Mysteries of the Goddess. Orpheus is another figure with both Shamanic and Musical associations, although his instrument was primarily the voice. 20 As regards his 'Iyre', while now applied to one Parsecular instrument, lyre was originaiy a generic term given to Music itself. Its strings, 3 or 7, symbolised either the Goddess in her tripartite aspect or the seven Celestial bodies, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. 21
Meanwhile, back in the smithy, the relation of the Blacksmith to the Shaman is revelant throughout Shamanic cultures, and an Ur-Smith is active in many of the initiations in the 'inner' Underworld. This Ur-Smith is generally concerned with that part of the initiation process which includes the dismembering of the novice, often into a cauldron, and their reconstitution as a Shaman, frequently with some bone(s) replaced by metals. Pythagoras was also reported to have had a golden thigh-bone. 'Related traditions also include the use of scone crystals in this process, in many of which crystal is held to be of Celestial origin.
A Yakut proverb relates, "A Shaman's wife is respectable, a Smith's wife is venerable." 22
Charis, the first of the 3 Graces, is in some myths the wife of Hephaestus. At their most important sites of worship, the Graces, as Forces of Nature, were personified by meteorites. 23
In universal traditions, meteorites were the first, and in some cases only, Iron worked by cultures/societies. Their explicit Celestial, origin and mode of arrival, as a flaming stone, was an obvious focus for the Mysteries which accumulated between and around those creating from then.
Many of these Mysteries, joined by others from the glass makers, glazing potters, and dyers, when interacting with Hellenistic science in that cauldron of syncretism, known as Alexandria (ca. 500 to +300) produced what is now known as Alchemy.
Among the 'founders' of Alchemy our same Maria-the-Jewess is counted. She is credited with the first use of Hydrochloric Acid and the development of the water, sand, and oil baths, vessels which are indespensable in modern chemical laboratories. The most important of her ovens is still known by her name, the Bain-Merie (the double boiler). 24
The Inner Ear
The inner ear is also refered to as the Labyrinth.
In fact, the inner ear is composed of two labyrinrhs, one inside the other. An outer 'bony labyrinth' encloses an inner 'membraneous labyrinth' which includes the chochlea, or sea shell. *
This is where the real action is, for it is here that the dynamics which have so far been 'physical' will achieve true transformation. The energies which pulsed the ear drum and were then concentrated by the middle ear are now transmitted through the oval window to the fluid in the inner labyrinth. This begins a hydro-electric Process. The fluids of the chochlea vibrate, which in turn vibrate/fire the neurons along the Basilar and Tectoral membranes of the chochlea. As neural impulse in the voltage of the central nervous system, the exterior energies have now been transformed back into the realm of electricity, which I feel can be regarded as a 'physical' form of light.
Throughout the world both the cave and the labyrinth have had primary roles in both initiatory and offeratory rituals.
The etymology of Labyrinth is from (labrys) double axe (butterfly) + (inth) extent / house of.
The Labyrinth of Crete which enclosed the Minotaur was fashioned by Daedalus, a latter name for the same energies personified by Hephaestus, who occasionally appears in genealogies as one of the ancestors of Daedalus.
In some of the myths, the Labyrinth was not a walled or subterranean construction, but took the form of the Labyrinths which can still be seen on the floors of European cathedrals, the one at Chartres being an outstanding example.
Such Labyrinths were the sites of ritual dances of the Goddess, with their 'descents' in their turnings to the left and 'ascents' in their turnings to the right, symbolising the congruence of the Underworld with the Celestial.
Across the valley from the cathedral in Chartres is a cemetary which is contemporary with it. In this cemetary, at roughly the same elevation as the cathedral, is a very large, very old, tree. One gets the same 'unearthly' earthed feeling standing there as upon arriving at the center of the Labyrinth in the cathedral. This 'polar' dynamic also occurs in the inner ear, where there is also a round window on the chochlea just below the oval window. This is sometimes referred to as the secondary ear drum and pulses out as the energies from the oval window are pulsing in.
Double movements, right-left, in-out etc., are often represented in sacrec images as a double spiral. The Taoist Yin-Yang symbol is one variation of this form. In Chinese myth, Yu the Great is reported to have achieved the creation of Nine sacred cauldrons. Five of them correspond to Yang and four with Yin, thus symbolising the union of opposites in an image of cosmic totality. 25
The cauldron / furnace / spiral / labyrinth is a new matrix, an artful 'uterus' where the ore / participant completes their 'maturation' through refining. Within this complex of associations are the roots of both practical metallurgy / alchemy / chemistry (and note that there are traditions that Paracelsus spent time in the mines of Bohemia) and the mystical / tantric speculative alchemy.
One of the more visible members of the 'invisible college of the Rosecrucians' of the early seventeenth century was Michael Maier, physician to the emporer Rudolph II. Maier, who in his published works also engraved his own etchings, considered the whole of Alchemy to be enclosed in the last six words of verse two, chapter one of Genesis:
whose common translation is: And the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.
A variety of associations related to the proceeding commentaries can be derived from this phrase by applying some traditional forns of scriptural exegis.
The six Hebrew words are composed of 23 letters, 2+3=5; the Quintessence symbol and result of the Art. 2x3=6; which is also the major numerical correspondent to both the Sun and to gold.
Besides an alphabetical correspondence, the Hebrew letters also have numerical equivalents. Some words in which the numerical values of the letters total 23 are:
goldsmith (10+1+2+5+4), engraving (1+9+10+3), orgasm (2+6+9+6), riddle (1+4+10+8), and these three words which are permutations of the same four letters: prayer (10+10+2+1), force (1+10+10+2), and correspondence (1+2+10+10).26
As to the words themselves:
The first word denoting and the spirit appears in other Locations in the scriptures denoting:
breath: Genesis 17 verse 5: the breath of life
wind: Psalm 18 verse ll: the wings oil the wind
touch: Judges 16 verse 9: the touch of the fire
The second word denoting God or Goddess is a feminine plural of five letters.
Its first three letters can form a semantic unit which in its Arabic form denotes: to worship. Its Hebraic form denotes variously: to howl, an oath, and, to invoke or to charm.
The song/howling of Orpheus can also be considered in terms of this. Its last two letters denote variously:
sea: Exodus 13 verse 18: the Sea of Reeds
west: Genesis 13 verse 14: westward
reservoir: 1 Kings verse 23f: Described here is the artful
Sea of the Solomonic Temple, a bronze cauldron
containing some 10,000 gallons of water.
The third word denoting hover consists of five letters with these numerical values (400+80+8+200+40) which total 748.
A different word (400+300+10+8+30) which also totals 748 denotes: whisper, a / to spell, a / to charm, secret art, to heal.
" The place where the whispering for charming purposes is done, (the ear)." 27
A varient parsing of (400+80+8+200+40) produces:
(40+200+8) denoting to finish, to anoint, to heal. Its mirror image (8+200+40) denotes to dedicate for sacred use, and the fisherman. The remaining two letters (80+40) denote two, sustenance, to begin. (400+80) denotes the drum, the hollow of the hearth, the furnace/stove.
The traditional hover is drawn when the middle letters (80+8+200) are considered the semantic unit, with the first (40) and the last (400) letters construed as gramatical additions. (40+40) denotes death, and (400+40) denotes perfection. (80+8+200) denotes vibrate, hover, tremble, cherish, fertilise. (200+8+80) denotes the Potter, the Creatrix, the wheel. A Yakut parable relates that the first Smith, Shaman and Potter were of the same blood. 28
The fourth and fifth words are joined in the written texts (10+50+80 - 30+70) and together denote over or, more properly, over the face. The fourth word (30+70) denotes height, heaven, above, to yoke or to bring about, depending on pronunciation.
The fifth word (10+50+80) denotes face, countenance, movement, to turn, (to) free, (to) empty, or twilight, again, depending on pronunciation. The five letters together total 240. Alternate totals of 240 include: (10+200+10+20) denoting "Kiri Ram, an imitation of a musical sound for beating time to dancers." 29 and
The Light is Come. Isaiah 60 verse 1 (200+6+1 1+2 -10+20).
The sixth and last word the waters is composed of 4 letters which total 95 (40+10+40+5).
Removing the initial letter (5) which is the particle the , leaves the word waters (40+10+40) which retains the same meaning when read from the right or from the left. In this actualising of the right/left spiraling action, the transforming nature of water is represented.
The whole of the following verse, Genesis 1 verse 3 can be translated as: And the charming waters composed, hearing light: and the light returned.
This verse brings this consideration of the mythos of the ear full-circle to the process of hearing. As with all sense perceptions, the actual processes are admitted by 'science' to be a mystery. In this context, and in closing, I would add that the songs sung by the Nine Muses are designated as mnemosune: the memory of what is, what was, and what will be. 30
1a. C. Keller: Goddess, Ear & Metaphor: On the Journey of Nelle Morton
Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion Fall 1988 v.4.2
1b. G.E. Mylonas: Eleusis aid the Eleusinian Mysteries 1961 p.291
2. B. Walker: Encyclopedia of Esoteric Man 1977 article: ear
B.G. Walker. Womens Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets 1983 article: Attis
4. op. cit. #2 B. Walker
5. N. Morton: The journey is Home 1985 (p.54f)
6. op. cit. # 1
7. Exodus 15 verses 20 & 21. Song text: Exodus 15 verses 1 - 17
8. C.L. Meyers: Of Drums and Damsels. Biblical Archeologist March 1991
9. T. Cleary:(translator) The Taoist I-Ching 1986
10. R. Wilhelm:(translator) The I-Ching (rendered into English by C.F.Baynes)
11. Z.D. Sung: The text of the Yi King (and it's appedixes)
Chinese original with English translation 1969
12. op.cit. #10
13. M. Gimbutas: The Goddesses & Gods of Old Europe 1981 (p.183)
14. W. Stirling: The Canon 1981
15. Z'EV: Rhythmajik -- Practical Uses of Number, Rhythm and Sound 1992
16. M. Eliade: The Forge and the Crucible 1973
17. J.E. Harrison: article Kouretes and Korybantes
Dictionary of Religion and Ethics
18. R. Graves: The Greek Myths 2 volumes, index in volume 2, 1977
19. X.F. Smith: article: Magic (Greek and Roman)
Dictionary of Religion and Ethics
20. G. Luck: Arcana Mundi 1987 see index: Orpheus
21. F. d'Olivet: Music explained as Science and Art
translated: J. Codwin 1987
22. M. Eliade: Shamanism 1974 p.470 & see index: Metallurgy, Smiths, Underworld
23. I. F. Burnes: article: Charities Dictionary of Religion and Ethics
24. Article: Alchemy: Encyclopedia Judaica
25. op. cit. # 16
26. Note that all of these, and the following spellings/proportions are capable of functioning as Rhythms, and their 'meanings' as intentions. op.cit. # 15
27. M. Jastrow: Dictionary of the Talmud p.703
28. op.cit. # 16
29. op.cit. #27 p.636
30. Article: Muses: Encyclopedia of Religion 1987
* Index: Ear: Encyclopedia Britanica 1989