Daily Draw July 6th, 2009
It’s time again for The Nigel Jackson Tarot and a passage from the book The Flowering of the Middle Ages.
Today’s relevant Flowering passage:
“The close ties between Cîteaux and England during the early 12th century were probably due to the personal taste of the Abbot Stephen Harding, himself an Englishman.”
When I opened the book, I stuck my finger on an illustration of an initial from a Josephus manuscript made at Canterbury between 1120 and 1140. This initial shares, with other bits of art and architecture from both England and Cîteaux, a distinctive dragon with pointed ears, a ridged spine, three claws and a spur on its feet, a tail that ends with a bunch of leaves, and rows of beading along his back and wings.
What is a Josephus manuscript you ask? Flavius Josephus (Joseph Ben Mathias) was a Jewish scholar and historian from Jerusalem in the first century AD. who wrote several books on Judaism, which also contained background on early Christianity and the society and customs of his time, and thus it was felt important to copy his writings into manuscripts in the 12th century, to preserve and study his teaching. If you’re interested, much of his writing can be found online at Project Gutenberg.
Here is another initial, from a manuscript of Josephus’s Antiquitates iudaicae (Antiquities of the Jews) that was made in Canterbury, so you can see the colours that were used.
Stephen Harding was an English monk who left to became a travelling scholar, studying in Paris and Rome, and landed in the abbey of Molesme in Burgundy, which was a Cistercian order, where he and others eventually left because they felt the monks and leadership there were lax. They founded an abbey at Cîteaux, and Stephen later became the third abbot there and served for 25 years. His leadership and that of St. Bernard, caused rapid growth of the order, and he founded 13 monasteries before his death. Stephen is now Saint Stephen Harding; over twenty of the abbots of Cîteaux became saints.
Cistercians strictly followed the rule of St. Benedict and were an enclosed order devoted to manual labour, particularly that of agriculture, and spread to hundreds of monasteries over Europe in the Middle Ages. In modern times they have split into groups according to how moderate in austerity and manual labour they are, reflecting the Benedictine order in some cases, and in strict observance they are what we now call Trappist monks. I often find it difficult to understand the difference between various Orders, but this is a basic overview.
Cîteaux Abbey is located south of Dijon, France, and after being sold and bought back over the centuries, it is now a Trappist monastery. They make and sell cheese, honey candies and other products. There aren’t too many monks there now, but it attracts tourists. They have special spiritual visits where people can see the lives of the monks, visit the library and old scriptorium, and have a guided tour into the private areas. You can also visit in a more public way, simply to view the beautiful architecture and grounds.
ACE OF COINS
Terra, Terra, I hold you in my hand.
Nigel Jackson refers to this as the Monad of Earth; a monad being an indestructible unit, or simple and indivisible substance in the Universe, often God. Pythagorean number theory uses the term as did Giordano Bruno and Van Helmont (who based his monadology on the thoughts of Paracelsus.) Leibniz then used this term and popularized it in his book Monadology, and then Kant got hold of that and elaborated on it as did Goethe and Lotze.
It seems the philosophy expanded like Cistercian monasteries. Monad, monastery: both alone units and indivisible substances, yet coordinated with others. The metaphysics of simple substances; the primal aspect of God in Earth. In Gnosticism, the supreme being is the Monad, the One, the highest God, the Absolute, the Perfect Aeon. The emanations of the One are called Aeons and the One is an Aeon.
The Rider-Waite Aces all show the hand of God or perhaps angels, hence the Gnostic and philosophic reference in this card, which is rather a perfect tie-in to earthy dragons with leaf tails and the eons/aeons of Cistercian history. I love a play on words and a play with history.
The Monad of Earth