Cultivating Beauty Part 2

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In my last post, I discussed the traditional definitions of beauty from a European perspective.  So, now I want to talk about what that means for us as women. I think as women we should be reclaiming beauty and its power and taking it back for ourselves.

We live in an age that abounds in and celebrates ugliness. Modernist architecture increasingly encroaches on our civic spaces, women purported to be beauties are often plain and uninspiring. Obesity is not only on the rise, but is something – despite all its proven health consequences – to be celebrated, lauded even.

The word beauty comes from the Greek word for ripe and the inferred notion was something being of its time. Obviously, fertility is implicated. This is something that beauty is being slowly disconnected from in modern culture, the ability to bear children and bring precious life forth. Being of childbearing age and being able to bring children into the world is a gift and a power like no other. We are the nurturers of the next generation. (This is why it is so important that women know about their own culture so that they can transmit to their children that sense of ‘This is who we are’ – but that’s the subject for another post.)

Beauty, true beauty and grace, is something that can only emerge from within. We can spend fortunes on cosmetics and clothes but without the inner order and harmony we will only be imitating beauty, rather than embodying it.

Feminine beauty has always inspired men to create the most wonderful civilizations for us to make call home. Our civilizations are poems of love and commitment from men to women and back again. Men build civilizations for women, inspired by their beauty. Women then nurture and grow the children of that civilization and around we go. It is not surprising that as women increasingly disregard beauty as a virtue, Western civilization goes into decline.

In my last post I spoke of how beauty has been defined as an ideal, by philosophers since Plato. Although there are differences there is a consensus that beauty is an ideal, a standard of perfection which reflects a harmony or order.

As women, we can do a great deal to ensure the survival of Western civilization by beginning to reflect this feminine energy back to the world again – grace, tenderness, kindness, gentleness and motherliness.

Feminism leads to a perversion and skewing of this natural force. The greatest, truest power at our disposal is not, and never has been, trying to be like men but celebrating our differences from them. So, our innate tenderness and gentleness are our greatest powers and gifts. In any healthy society, this force is used to sustain itself. In the past, this was why women not only birthed and raised the children but took care of the sick, the elderly and the dead.

In the West, we have seen women’s traditional roles taken over by the state and outsourced to high heaven as we have been coerced into the traditionally masculine sphere of labour. Simultaneously, we have been conditioned to stop focusing on our immediate families and communities and regard the whole world as such. Rather than pumping feminine energy back into our civilizations, it is being ineffectively sprayed at the world. This makes our energy ineffective and largely unappreciated, leaving women burnt out, bitter and, quite often, just plain crazy.

Feminism has encouraged women not to be beautiful, in any way, to syphon off the nourishment to Western civilization.

When we are aligned with nature we are more gentle than men, we are more emotionally responsive, we are more tender. There’s nothing wrong with that. Why are we trying to compete with men for emotional resilience? We have different jobs to do on this Earth, ours is tending to the well-being of the tribe. For men, it is tending to the safety of the tribe.

In the West, it is obvious this energy is out of kilter when we look at the different female fashions, either a slobby, dumpy mess with rainbow coloured hair or an overly made-up slut, both of which are pastiches of femininity.

When we disregard nature, we don’t do very well anyway, we don’t think or act like blokes, no matter how we try. Isn’t it time we were just ourselves?

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Cultivating beauty

What I wish to discuss today is beauty and the cultivation of the feminine. In the West today, we don’t see much beauty. Our buildings are ugly, our fashions are dowdy and drab, our language is littered with mindless profanity and the popular culture presented to us is shallow and corrosive. Beauty, truth and goodness are in short supply.

It is important that any civilized society pursues these ideals. Beauty, truth and goodness are what Plato called the Transcendentals and are related to our ability to think wish/imagine and feel. Traditionally, these concepts have been represented by the arts (beauty), science (truth) and religion (goodness). However, all three overlap and are intertwined. I want to talk about beauty in particular and why it is important to cultivate, especially for women.

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Beauty, expressed via the arts, represents the realm of the imagination. The imagination is the bridge to the world of Spirit, the Divine realms. Controlling this aspect of a culture is like being in command of a prominent toll bridge or road. It is an important strategic asset. Beauty and art are the bridge between Spirit and Logic. We can receive divine inspiration and guidance through engagement with Spirit, such as via prayer or meditation. Such inspiration often expresses itself through art (the Renaissance period alone is testament to this) and concepts and ideas which flow from this wellspring may be evolved via logic. Leonardo da Vinci  was a master of all three of these processes – he shows what we are capable of when we are fully autonomous and understanding of all three realms.

Over the past century, with the advent of modernism and post-modernism, we’ve seen an active rejection of beauty by the prevailing Globalist culture and the triumph of  dull homogeneity as expressed through art and architecture (nothing means anything). We have lost the value of beauty and its uniqueness, and our culture – in all its forms – has grown increasingly ugly and nihilistic as a result.

The Ancients put a great deal of emphasis on Beauty. It was considered to be important because they believed it fostered a sense of feeling in the individual . It is easy to argue that the lack of beauty we see in the West today has served to deaden the senses – and this has been done deliberately. The implications of the lack of Beauty demonstrate why art and culture are barometers of the surrounding politics and why controlling them is always an important goal. Is part of the reason we have become so inert in the West, so apathetic about the collapse of our culture, because our souls are deadened of feeling? Do we feel less now than we did, say, 100 years ago?

Beauty, as defined by Pythagoras, was predicated upon  sacred geometry and the concepts of proportion, harmony and order/rhythm.Beauty was predictable, it was not random or chaotic. It followed a pattern or rhythm (or as Aristotle put it order, symmetry and definiteness). Obviously, these patterns and rhythms varied a great deal but a rhythm nonetheless. Being built upon the concepts of sacred geometry such as the Golden Ratio (Phi) means they reflected the order of the cosmos. We see these mathematical concepts expressed through great architecture, art and pieces of music. Beauty was an expression of the harmony of nature and the wider universe. This expression of nature also includes us as humans. I think this is an important thing to consider for those of us wishing to reclaim beauty. Indeed, such great classical works show how the Transcendentals are a circle of expression, Logic influences and religion, which influences art. Such great works represent the essence of life.

In my next post, I’ll talk more about beauty and how we can can reclaim it as women.

 

Lent 2.0

As it’s Ash Wednesday today, and the first day of Lent, I wanted to talk about this particular tradition and the meaning we can derive from it in our modern age, as Westerners.

There has been a lot of discussion online recently about how in the West we have become decadent and weakened, and I would agree with that sentiment. Our obesity rates are a testament to that. Historically, in the West we have, in one form or another, either been subjected to, or subjected ourselves to, great pressures which have in turn created power and advancement.

To subject yourself to such great pressure or sacrifice is an old Western tradition (and I’m sure it is in other cultures too, I just don’t know enough about them to comment).  The northern traditions provide not one but two fantastic examples of sacrifice. Not only did Odin, piercing himself with a spear and hanging from Yggdrasil for nine nights to gain the wisdom of the runes, he also gave his right eye to Mimir, who guards a well whose water imparts the wisdom of the ages. Such stories also abound in Celtic and Greek mythology, whereby a young hero forgoes some immediate pleasure to gain greater riches in the future. This ‘tyranny of the future’, as some philosophers have called it, can also be found in Christianity. It was common in the early Church and until medieval times for Christian mystics and Saints to fast, which they believed induced ecstatic states that allowed them to grow closer to God.

Creating pressure for ourselves is quite an alien concept today, where everything can be literally gained at the touch of a button, so I would like to plead a case for a quiet tradition, which is built on a very old European tradition that can help us create pressure in our lives today – Lent.

Lent is the period in the Christian calendar preceding Easter. Christian Lent is a time of penitence, suffering and deprivation to identify with Christ as he spent his time in the desert. Today, Lent is often portrayed by modern Christian churches as a time of deprivation and suffering. I believe that the message of how Jesus went into the desert to gain power and knowledge seems to have slipped quietly under the radar (this power was demonstrated when he was tempted by the Devil, and overcame the temptation).

Over the past century or so, Lent has become a rather tepid affair, with a token vice or pleasure being given up such as smoking, swearing or drinking alcohol being common favourites. I would argue tha, although such actions will no doubt be good for your health, they miss the point of Lent, which was sacrifice and deprivation in order to receive power and insight.

Traditionally, Lentern fasting used to consist of abstinence from meat, butter, eggs and sugar as well as eating only one full meal (plus two smaller meals known as corollaries, which were basically small snacks) taken after midday.

Mothering Sunday (about halfway through Lent) was a celebratory time and fasting was dropped on that day and then resumed again on the Monday.

The Lentern tradition is built upon a much earlier one which was a common practice (give or take some regional differences) across Europe. Sacrifice is part and parcel of who we are in the West. February, for instance, named by the Romans, was known as the month of purification.  The Lentern custom of fasting is built upon an older tradition of fasting and purging the body to receive new life in the spring/Easter/Ostara.

Astrologically, Lent (which means ‘spring period’) occurs roughly under the time of Pisces, which represents the all-that-is, agape and mysticism.  Fasting, not only from food but deliberately turning our attention to matters of spirit and being introspective, allows us to harness the energy of the spring and go forth with new creative vigour. If you think the tides of the seasons have no effect on you, you’re much mistaken.  You too, no matter what your beliefs, are a part of nature, of Creation, and you respond to these impulses as do the birds making their nests and animals rousing from hibernation.

This ancient pagan – for want of a better phrase – culture across Europe is the soil in which Christianity grew.

Now, let me be clear, I am not anti-Christian by any stretch of the imagination. I do not think that Christianity should be thrown out, there are many parts of it that I revere and think are beautiful. Moreover, it’s part of our history and culture – to understand ourselves, we MUST take Christianity on board and understand it.

So, this time of Lent, the early spring period, is an in-between time. Yule is over, winter has usually done its worst, yet the spring is not quite yet begun. Now is the time to prepare for it, to prepare for the new energy that is waiting to be unleashed. In the West, we’ve always been good at preparing and being organised – it’s how our civilizations grew. So let us reclaim this tradition now and use it to propel us forward into the spring.  I think it’s time to revive this custom of fasting and introspection. It’s our original form of detox, which for a short period is good for the body, to clear out any accumulated toxins. We have all the traditions and wisdoms there in our history of how to live in balance but we have forgotten them and they are waiting to be remembered and reclaimed.