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.



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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