None of you need to be told the significance of St John's Day or St John's Eve. The Masonic/Templar connections, the curious status of Saint John the Baptist in the western esoteric tradition, 'initiatory headlessness' appearing in the archaeological record more than thirty thousand years ago, the fact that it is my birthday eve. These connections are very obviously associated with the solstice, however the sync connections make it also a holy day/tide for Baphomet, hence last year spending two weeks juice fasting, mantra-ing, visiting the Hellfire Caves and then ingesting a metaphoric, entheogenic head. (Been there, done that, but I heartily recommend it.)
And we also learn in José Leitão's fantastic The Book of St. Cyprian: The Sorcerer's Treasure that, in the traditions of the Iberian Peninsula that the date is midway through a trilogy of Midsummer saints. These are the santos populares, including Saint John, obviously, as well as Saint Peter and Saint Anthony.
Surely this all means we can dispense with the trappings and just call it Midsummer? Perhaps. I mean, I certainly did on the weekend:
But I'm not sure we aren't missing a trick by skipping all those intervening centuries. We can assume you have read or are about to start reading Jeffrey Kripal's Authors of the Impossible, where he tells of his visit to the apartment of Jacques Vallée for a long, fruitful discussion.
This means you also know that the good Doctor Vallée spent three years creating a series of stained glass windows for his library? Quoting from the book:
At the top of each stained glass window there is a single glowing rose. Everything that takes place in that room is thus truly and literally sub rosa. There also, in the first window, is a familiar friend, Bishop Agobard. He is holding a book in his hand entitled -what else?- Magonia, as he blesses a man coming down from a beam of light to protect him from the crowd below, which no doubt wants to kill him as some kind of demonic magician.
I saw many other symbols in those five windows. As I looked, the light laughed as often as it shone. There was, for example, a grinning, cartoon-like devil modeled, Jacques told me, after a similar imp from the Cathedral of Chartres. He held a prism in his hands so that he could screw up the heavenly light beaming from above. There was also a knight holding the Holy Grail, the Egyptian goddess Isis signalling secrecy with her finger over her mouth as she held the Liber Mundi or Book of the World (again reality or nature as a secret text to be read). There was an alchemical furnace; the Queen of Heaven emerging, Picasso-like, from different dimensions; the priest Melchidezek: and the medieval nun, mystic, painter, and writer Hildegaard of Bingen.
Quite the impressive display for a former astronomer who spent around half his adult life with Top Secret clearance, shared the Stanford Research Institute with the Stargate Project and made his fortune as an internet investor, no?
What he told Kripal in the interview is that he adopts the trappings of the current western culture as an overlay of these very real phenomena largely for convenience. So as not to stand out, or appear hugely aberrant. Much of this he learned from his colleague and mentor, Dr Allen Hynek. Hynek wanted ufology and spirituality to open consider the wider picture of these phenomena and stop being so "provincial".
That's a marvelous word, isn't it? Provincial. Broken down to its literal meaning, it is just on the right side of civility. It perfectly captures the sentiment behind stripping out more than a thousand years of western esoteric history so as to celebrate St John's Eve but call it Midsummer. The magical world too often wants to have its cake and eat it too: 'these things are real but they behave precisely as I describe.' Returning to Kripal's description of his encounter with Doctor Vallée:
[P]rivate study, solitude and a fierce independence of thought are all crucial to the search for esoteric truths; that, for the sake of not being noticed, one should adopt the religion of one's place and time, but also realize that the external forms are irrelevant, since the path is the same; that such secrets cannot be institutionalized and are available to a sufficiently prepared intellect at any time and anywhere; and, finally, that an effective initiation into these secrets cannot come from any human being or human institution.
Doctor Vallée's sentiment appeals to me, especially today.
You all know how I feel about the criminal bank run for and by paedophiles. But you also know that my favourite Isis Temple is in Barcelona and that I collect saints the way late Millenials collected Pokemon. Individually, we need to find a way to wear our historic shackles deliberately, because we cannot speak for the other side of the change in symbolism. Robert Bauval, for instance, regularly identifies as Roman Catholic (and not just because the hatted lunatic keeps 'accusing' him of Judaism). However when you read his books you see a sober historical description of which parts of the Heliopolitan family went into the (c0-)creation of the Holy Family. I think there are shade of Vallée in his cosmology.
Thus we return to the date. June 24. The day of the initiator, the one who clears the way for a new experience of the sacred, the one who announces a new universe. On this very day in the most auspicious year of the twentieth century (sorry thelemites!), an American pilot, Kenneth Arnold, coined a term and announced -triggered- a reformulation of how we think about and experience the wider universe.
He was the first man to use the term 'flying saucer'. Just go ahead and think about what he baptised into existence. Can you think of a better date for his encounter?
Raise a glass today if you don't know what's going on. Raise two if you think you do. Keep raising until you realise you definitely don't.