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An Extraneous Diversion

February 26, 2010

In his spiritual autobiography, “Surprised by Joy”, C.S. Lewis writes:

For the first time I examined myself with a seriously practical purpose. And there I found what appalled me: a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was legion.

What delicious language Lewis uses to sketch the inhabitants of the shadowlands.

 The phrase, a harem of fondled hatreds gave me pause for thought and how it may apply to a Sabian Symbol degree pair – Virgo 7 “A harem” and its opposing degree –  Pisces 7 “A cross lying on the rocks”.

 The harem, on one hand, a protected, cosseted world for the women; on the other, a seething cauldron and hotbed of intrigue and deceit.  A perfumed parlour of power struggles and passionate political and personal plotting.

7 Virgo - A harem

Most interpretations of the harem degree that I have read only refer to the cloistered comforts of the harem, the confinement and social isolation of women, with the harem being off-limits and entry forbidden to strangers.  The very word harem, evokes images of sex slaves and concubines, lavish clothes and seven veils, and swanning about in silk jim-jams.  There’s no mention, even obliquely, of the dark side of the harem; the conspiracies, intrigues and cold malice.

Consider that a deeper interpretation of the harem degree may point to the addressing and readdressing of the nursing of grudges, the fondling of hatreds and covert hostilities such as passive-aggression. Consider its opposing degree, a cross lying on the rocks, may speak of the solution and the obstacle: soul-centered and heart-felt forgiveness and the refusal, reluctance or inability to do so.

Like Scheherazade, the Sabian Symbols lead to the telling of stories -within- a-story, and stories-within-a-story may disclose the background of characters or events, tell of myths and legends which influence the plot, or even seem to be extraneous diversions from the plot.

 

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One comment

  1. “A harem of fondled hatreds” — whatever its significance in a Sabian sense, it’s got to be one of the great evocative metaphors of English literature!



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