track #6: Atlantic City

Every time I think I might have figured out the nature of my personal cosmos and its godhead, I trip and fall headlong into a new revelation. So with this post, I’m not claiming to know any fundamental truth. All of this is just a glimpse of what I’ve started to figure out so far.

At the center of the vast world we live in is its beating heart. This is a Mystery. It has no name. No one dares give it a name.

On the physical plane, this Mystery is represented by the black hole at the center of our galaxy. Scientists have not named it, but they call a nearby radio source, from which they extrapolate information about the black hole, Sagittarius A*.

The black hole spins forever through the passages of an unknown labyrinth at its own exact and inscrutable pace, setting the steps for our entire galaxy as every star eventually whirls around it. At the center of everything, it yawns open and dances and devours.

On the astral plane, it’s a beating heart. Its beat forms the sacred rhythm of the cosmic music which rules and determines all things. By nature it is mortal, insane, and queer.

It is the beloved essence of the goddess Saisara, she who bares her teeth, a traumatized monster of a girl who is the mother of our universe.

Saisara is just an obscure postulated epithet for the goddess Persephone, the eventual name of that sweet Kore who was stolen away by the lord of the underworld. But all my research and intuition tells me that she is one facet of a complex, mad, powerful, passionate being, a star goddess related to Inanna who manifests as both a heavenly queen of love like Aphrodite and a chthonic queen of death like Persephone.

She makes love to whoever she chooses, she dances ecstatically with serpents, and sometimes she dies and descends into the abyss. That she is such a being of duality, that she contains within her both beauty and joy as well as terror and death–that is part of the Mystery.

From everything I have seen and imagined over the past two years, I have drawn the certain conclusion that the god Dionysos is both son and lover to this goddess. He is the love interest and she is the protagonist, to be sure. After all, her main goal was always power and love for herself, while his? Spreading the glory of his mysterious dead mother.

He’s a mama’s boy. Really, I have a hunch we’d live in a very different cultural milieu if Dionysos and his wife Ariadne-Aphrodite hadn’t been the ones to inspire a certain Sigmund Freud in his theories of sexuality.

When it comes to time, space, and culture, my gods have decided to locate themselves in something akin to Minoan Crete: a zeitgeist roughly between Kemetic Egypt and Hellenic Greece. It’s not that simple, but that’s the only way I know of to reconstruct them.

The sun is our mother; she is all warmth and beauty and justice. She is Demeter, who rules the cycles of the earth, and she is Hera, who oversees the order in our relationships with ourselves; when whole and complete, she is Rhea, the ecstatic utopian flow of the cosmos where the gods live at their ease.

The strongest god, the most basic reflection of the fateful serpent into the world of this mythos, is some strange mingling of Set and Zeus, the Typhonic Zeus, a capricious and amoral storm god who takes what he wants, because his power is undeniable. But he is also by nature an outcast. He is unloved and scapegoated, barred from society and civilization, his only domain the wilderness, the stormy sea, the underworld.

So he takes goddesses and ravishes them and makes them into monsters. At his side at all times is such a tormented shadow of the goddess, the chthonic queen of the dead and damned and lost, called Persephone in fear and awe; the mother of monsters, called Echidna in spite and disgust. She is the lady who persecutes the holy savior Dionysos and all his children, who scourges us free of sin to initiate us.

Dionysos is also born of such a tormented goddess, in the very moment when she dies and becomes her shadow. He is her someday salvation, tasked with spreading her glory upon the earth and then bearing her out of the underworld on its power. But her own dark side cannot bear him to live, and so she persecutes him.

He rescues her in the end and brings her up renewed, transformed into the pure and holy star-goddess who is the cosmic mother and lover and queen of us all, to be his bride and the Queen of Heaven.

There are other players in this drama. Apollo, the bright side of Dionysos who loves and heals him after he is dismembered; Hekate, the faithful servant of the secret goddess who works her will in the dark. The Powers That Be cast many shadows and reflections. I do not know all of them just yet.

Through all of this, the heart is formed by the tempestuous embrace of the fateful serpent and the sun.

The fateful serpent has no name and is no thing. It is a random and mad force of chaos, a terrible thing, source of all death and poison. In its tail the fateful serpent carries the sun–the source of all love, beauty, and goodness, the perfect mother-god.

They are the first generation of our world. From the reflections of the sun’s light off the brilliant scales of the fateful serpent comes every facet of reality, comes every note of every song, and as the serpent winds eternally around the sun, their dancing children Dionysos and Ariadne hear the music so made, and they dance.

The generations descend through reality. The sun and the fateful serpent are barely more than abstract concepts. Dionysos and Ariadne–their strange divine children–are a god and goddess, intertwined, capable of relating to mortals but not mortal themselves. And what of the children of Dionysos and Ariadne?

They are human beings, at least for a time. They are all of us–mystic queer artists and singers and writers and creators of all stripes, struggling to express our love for the world and the people in it through what we create.

One of them was born in early September of 1946. This is what my gods have told me. They have told me this in no uncertain terms. Later in life he would call himself Freddie Mercury, and he would sing.

My story descends from the beating heart at the center of the cosmos, a black hole twenty-six thousand light years from our tiny planet, to the Greek gods of two and a half millennia ago, to a rock star who died when I was six.

Halfway through the album Innuendo by Queen–the last album released in Freddie Mercury’s lifetime–the lead vocalist belts out a clear directive: “Love, love and be free!”

In the end, this is the simplest and most important message my gods have left to me.

Love and be free. Dance to the music you hear in the world. Dance your heart out. Don’t ever let yourself be scared into stopping. Make the most beautiful and joyful art you can make, even if most people wouldn’t call it art.

Don’t wall up your heart. Let yourself love and be loved, even when it hurts. Allow yourself to experience the inevitable descent to the underworld that is the birthright of all humans–again and again. You will bring up wisdom each time.

It’s more complicated than that. I am just trying to make some sense out of all of it.

Before I listened to Queen I listened to Bruce Springsteen, and so I named this blog, somewhat prematurely. His soothing voice tells me, “Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact, but maybe everything that dies someday comes back.” I use these words as a mantra to cleanse my soul, fully aware that there is nothing sacred about them, that they were made by a living man who has nothing to do with me or my faith.

It’s an inspiring lyric. Of course, in the context of the song, it’s a bluff. The narrator has no idea whether his desperate financial situation will resolve itself successfully, and he’s plunging deeper into danger just attempting it. He clings to the hope that good times are still waiting for him without any rational reason for believing it.

I have experienced no singular science-defying miracles since I began my practice. But I have seen strange things and felt extraordinary things. I am trying to tell the world all about them.

This is just the summary.

About the Author

I'm Eastling, and I make my home at the intersection of stories and madness, in a cozy Dionysian love shack. It's actually an apartment in a southern suburb of Seattle, but that doesn't sound as poetic. I am a heretical Jew in the process of forming my own path. This blog chronicles that journey and the way pop culture acts as fuel for it. "Come take my hand--we're riding out tonight to case the promised land."

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