Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Memories, and Hildegard's favorite pop song

Some of my earliest memories of childhood are my making otherworldly creatures such as dragons, ghosts, mummies, and more. I drew them, sculpted them, and told stories with an almost obsessive precocious passion. This was not just at Halloween but all year round. As I see my own kids sketch monsters today, I realize that some of this is only natural, as our culture teaches many popular movie monster forms, and children have a lot of fears to conceptualize and try to conquer in stories and images. I went through some phases of distinct influence, such as drawing griffins and medusas from Greek mythology, vampires and frankensteins from gothic Hollywood, tentacled aliens from science fiction, and bumbling spooks from cartoons like Caspar and Scooby Doo. The dragons did seem to transcend the trends however, as I perennially imagined them in fantastic writhing shimmering scales and soaring on great bat wings, sometimes dreaming of them taking me for rides even to this day. In 1998 soon after I remembered that I’d been Hildegard of Bingen in a past life, a dragon lifted me high above the Earth to show me the future of the planet, as great interlocking chess-like movements of energies and populations would rebalance the world into a great awakening within my lifetime.

As a child I loved to prop the sofa cushions and pillows into not just forts but corridors and chambers of spook houses filled in my mind with eerie delights. I fantasized and sketched for the construction of a haunted house ride in the backyard, perhaps all impossibly contained within the little woodshed that was filled with dusty logs and spiders. At the harvest time county fair I would eye the spook house attractions with great fascination, convincing my dad to take me through them until I decided that they were either too scary or too boring. Nothing would quite satisfy my own imagination. To my surprise, my mother picked up my spook house ambitions in my teenage years, some time after I’d moved on to other things like model railroading and girls. She actually convinced the Presbyterian church to let her convert the fellowship hall into a haunted house, sectioned by black plastic hung on wires into six tableaus of the strange and horrible. Local kids of all denominations thrilled to help her build and animate the sets and costumes, which were not so gory as fantastic, and certainly not like the relentless murderous trends seen in Halloween entertainment today. Still, I and some others questioned the church appropriateness of the popular small-town extravaganza, which ran for several years.

Toward the end of my mother’s spook house run, we started hearing of the Hell House phenomenon, in which evangelicals would stage Halloween attractions in their own churches for a different kind of entertainment. There, biblical gore for deadly sins was piled on gratuitously to torment and terrify the haunted house visitor into fearing for their own upcoming damnation and converting to Jesus (or some church’s version of Him) before the night was over. That marked the end for me of any fright appeal. From that point on I started to fantasize of Heaven houses, complete with inspirational tableaus of angels, fairies, and holy ghosts, within the magnificent homes and lands they surely populated. Rainbow glens, crystal cities, talking forests, dancing lights. I felt certain this would be the seasonal entertainment of the future, and I know now that the annual Mystical Art and Talent Show I’ve run every October since 2001 at the Swedenborg Chapel in Cambridge carries this torch. To the naked eye there may appear but local spiritual artists presenting amateur works of painting, story, dance, and song in a succession of impassioned brief segments, but for the heart we fill to bursting our little gothic chapel with the warmth and taste of each soul’s own Heavenly home. I’d do it monthly if I could - indeed for the first three years it was a triannual event - it is so my idea of church. Sharing visions of the Source!

But this was not the first time I’d felt drawn to stewarding inspirational events. In college in the eighties, I tried being the social chairman for my fraternity. Highlight was the Sixties party, for which I drew ornate psychedelic posters and researched the best authentic heady music at local used record stores. In the mid-nineties, I attempted a world music rave event at my own apartment, for which I planned and built for weeks. I cleared all furnishings into the basement so that K-ral’s Ravelations could feature a dance room with chaser lights and video clips from the greatest otherworldly movies (the deep sea fairy of Abyss, creatures from the Neverending Story), an art room with papered walls and endless crayons, and a kitchen with simmering pots of herbal high teas. Signs welcomed mystified friends and coworkers in two dozen languages – this is when I learned the phrase I so love “Isten Hozott”, Hungarian for “God brought you”.

The energies I opened at my one-night rave event continued to grow within me, so it was at the same apartment over the next two years that I wrote new music, essays, and poetry that culminated in my own shattering revelation that I’d been a 12th century mystic German abbess. Concurrent with this ecstasy was my discovery of Hammond castle in Gloucester, a place to which I’d been intuitively recommended since college by a Germanic girlfriend and travelling companion, but never felt ready to go. When I finally crossed the threshold of this 1930 recreation of a medieval fantasy built from authentic parts by a genius eccentric inventor, I was struck by déjà vu beyond compare. I knew rooms before I entered them, felt totally at home despite the creepy atmosphere that puts off many people, and entertained the grand notion that I must have been not only Hildegard but also John Hayes Hammond Jr., father of radio control and second in number of patents only to Thomas Edison. I’d been through wanna-be inventor phases in my life, and he was known for befriending philosophers and artists within strange creatively staged parties. Hammond so fancied himself a religious hermit underneath it all that he’d sit late at night in monk’s robes in a stone corner of his castle reading obscure texts, so a past life like mine seemed assured. Indeed it would take years to solve the mystery – Hammond is a guide to me as I am to him, and was the monk Volmar, Hildegard’s own trusted scribe. Fortunately at the time, just as I was becoming obsessed for wanting to stage Heaven houses at John’s historic gothic structure, I became more pragmatically invited to hold events at the similarly atmospheric Swedenborg Chapel in Cambridge.

My guide and alter-ego for the Mystical Art and Talent Show continues to be Hildegard, of course. For years I’ve said nothing, but increasingly dropped hints and witnessed the synchronicities, such as the display by one artist a couple years ago of candles marked with words from Hildegard’s secret sacred language, the Lingua Ignota. That bit of inspiration was contributed by a linguist friend with whom I’d talked about Hildegard only a little, before he had dreams of singing with her and knowing that he had to think of something to contribute to the show. Several of the artists were in fact with Hildegard, so I’m happy to just feel the tremendous vibes and remain fairly incognito. A lot of my own dreams have come true, and more will come I know. In 1998 I was too busy experiencing my own inner dimensions to research Hildegard’s historical facts very much, but I soon came across a recording of her Ordo Virtutum that resonated unbelievably.

The “Order of the Virtues” was Hildegard’s most modern and visionary spectacle for which she is quite famous – some would call it the first opera. In a kind of medieval sung morality play, the heavenly angelic virtues personified call to a lost soul in the world, competing with the devil in hopes to guide her home to heaven and God. The singing is quite beautiful, soaring busy melodies as is characteristic of Hildegard’s composing, with the one symbolic exception that the devil only shouts, for he is incapable of harmony with all that is divine. It is believed – and I’ve come to understand this on many levels – that the Ordo Virtutum was written to call a beloved nun of Hildegard’s order back who’d left for another abbey appointment, a temptation that Hildegard considered wrong. As the only man allowed in the abbey, Volmar good naturedly played the part of the devil in any performances of the work, which were private and failed to entice Richardis back before she tragically died. In 1998 however, I could only begin to feel that the opera was calling me home to Hildegard, and so took out the domain name and began a website for which I could write inspirationally to fan my inner flame of the prosaic eternal mystic I was destined to become and always be.

Halloween comes at harvest time and is short for “All Hallows Evening”, meaning the evening before All Hallows, aka All Saints Day, which is itself a religious feast celebrated on November 1 in Western Christianity and in June after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity. Halloween thus has both pagan and Christian roots which interleave rather neatly. On the pagan side, the Celtic festival of Samhain celebrates the summer’s end and the eerie magic of a seasonal transition, considered to be a time when the veil between worlds is thin. Not unlike Day of the Dead rituals as seen in Mexico, Samhain features the invitation of good ancestral spirits and fairies while remaining wary of mischievous ones who may be seeking one last chance to do harm before returning to the other side. Hence the tradition of costumes helps to disguise identities from ego forces, as well as entertaining those from whom donations are sought for feasting (trick or treat). On the Christian side, soul cakes were baked and collected since the 12th century in a ritual of prayer for the souls in purgatory, and costumes would have given similar protection from any evil spirits. Halloween did not take hold in the United States however until the Scottish and Irish waves of immigration in the 1800’s, since the Puritans abhorred the tradition going back to the 1600’s Reformation in England. In America is where the carving of native pumpkins became popular, since they were larger and easier to hollow than the turnips used traditionally in Europe.

While disliking the horror emphasis of modern Halloween, I can still enjoy and see the soul intent of disguising at a time of crossing worlds. The reason most people do not or cannot recall their own past lives is so they can focus on the present ego and how best to shape and polish it toward a more Godly state within a current moral system. Only when a consciousness is ready to embrace an eternal divine role beyond the illusions of free will (since when did choice mean being able to do anything at any time without responsibility!?) may the human mind begin to glimpse it’s longer journey of identity through the halls of time. The Ordo Virtutum is a cornerstone of my soul to me, and has been with me in more than one disguise. This week I was strolling through my ipod’s vast portable music collection (oh, the technology!) and came across a college era favorite, a personal anthem I brought back from my travels in Germany. I burst into weeping to recognize the resonance to Hildegard’s opera that explained why I so unknowingly loved this great classic curiosity of Euro pop and Neue Deutsche Welle (German New Wave). Germans and Austrians will know it well but Americans will not, so as my own trick or treat offering, I’d like to share this with you now.

In 1983, the unlikely alliance of two male Austrian comedians and two female German singers combined forces to make a bizarre catchy hybrid album whose top song defied all expectations to launch the band to a brief international fame. I was in Germany for the first time and just in time to hear “Codo” and weep inexplicably. Of course the title alone could remind my unconscious of “Ordo”, but the similarities do not stop there. I just knew I had to own the album and translate the lyrics, which fascinated me endlessly. A devil character shouts at the coming of a heavenly ship from another world, which carries angelic female voices who sing to the Earth reminding and inviting us to the ultimate joys of pure love.

Oh my God, this *is* the Ordo Virtutum, translated forward nearly nine centuries to the sounds of sweet German pop by a clever inventive band named Deutsch-Österreichisches Feingefühl (or DÖF for short, meaning German-Austrian Good Feelings)! No wonder I cried, and memorized and sang this song for years afterward, as I walked about Boston, MIT, and my hometown in New York state where I tried to convince my German ex-pat father that the words were unbelievably profound. He thought it was only cute of course – he wasn’t there with Hildegard.

Here now I share with you the charming youtube video of the eighties hit Codo, and my own translation of the words below. It’s clear to me that this is one of the great artifacts of Spirit in the world, when an inspired cultural oddity is paved to sudden and great success against all odds and expectations. Some things just have to be made, to bring in the energies upon which the future depends - I’m reminded of another example of love’s breaking into the world that inspired me so, the 2011 movie “The Adjustment Bureau” which I only this summer enjoyed (my own love life was changing, it was time for me). As DÖF band members Josei Prokopetz and Inga Humpe explained when asked the story behind their spectacle of a song:

Codo is an abbreviation for "Cosmic Dolm" or also "Cosmic Depp" (both meaning cosmic idiot). Codo was an extraterrestrial creature without a specific gender, which overcomes hate and brings everything that is missing to us stressed and negatively attuned human beings: a good mood, jokes, charm and above all love.
If that is not the divine androgyne of the soul returning to uplift us all, I do not know what is! Thank you thank you, dearest DÖF! And Happy Halloween dear world, for God is here in you disguised, and sometimes made to shine!


Codo
by DÖF (translation Carl J. Schroeder, aka Hildegard von Bingen)

(narrator)
For two thousand years the Earth has lived without Love.
The men of hate rule.

(male leader speaks)
Hateful, I am so hateful,
so ghastly hateful,
I am hate.

Hating, so horribly hating,
I can't let anything be,
I am hate.

(control tower)
Attention, attention, Unknown flying object appoaching the planet!
Identify unknown flying object.

(woman sings)
Codo the third
from the star center,
I am the third from the left.

(control tower)
Unknown flying object identifies as Codo.

(woman sings)
And I jet, jet, jet, jet,
in such fast steps
and bring the love with me
from my heaven ship.

And the love, love, love, love
makes more fun
far more fun
than anything else.

(male leader speaks)
We do not need any love on this planet
Target Codo, destroy the love!

(control tower)
Target acquired Gamma Delta 7-3-1 overall

(woman sings)
Codo from far away
the brightest star
I jet so happily
past anything.

And I jet, jet, jet, jet,
in such fast steps
and bring the love with me
from my heaven ship.

And the love, love, love, love
makes more fun
far more fun
than anything else.

(control tower)
Object evades the hateful viewscreen!

(male leader speaks)
Corrosive
I am so corrosive
I subvert everything
I am hate.

(woman sings)
And I jet, jet, jet, jet,
in such fast steps
and bring the love with me
from my heaven ship.

And the love, love, love, love
makes more fun
far more fun
than anything else.




Codo
by DÖF (original German words to learn and sing along!)

(Manfred Tauchen:)
Seit 2000 Jahren lebt die Erde ohne Liebe
Es regiert der Herr des Hasses

(Joesi Prokopetz:)
hässlich, ich bin so hässlich
So gräßlich hässlich
Ich bin der Haß
Hassen, ganz hässlich hassen
Ich kann's nicht lassen
Ich bin der Haß

(Anete Humpe:)
Attention, attention
Unknown flying object appoaching the planet

(Manfred Tauchen:)
Identify unknown flying object

(Inga Humpe:)
Codo der Dritte
Aus der Sternenmitte
Bin ich der dritte von links

(Manfred Tauchen:)
Unknown flying object identified as Codo

(Inga Humpe:)
Und ich düse, düse, düse, düse
Im Sauseschritt
Und bring die Liebe mit
Von meinem Himmelritt
Denn die Liebe, Liebe, Liebe, Liebe
Die macht viel Spaß
Viel mehr Spaß
Als irgendwas

(Joesi Prokopetz:)
We do not need any love on this planet
Target Codo, vernichtet die Liebe

(Manfred Tauchen:)
Zielansprache Gamma Delta 7-3-1 Ãœberraum

(Inga Humpe:)
Codo aus der Ferne
Der leuchtenden Sterne
Ich düse gerne
Durch all

Und ich düse, düse, düse, düse
Im Sauseschritt
Und bring die Liebe mit
Von meinem Himmelritt
Denn die Liebe, Liebe, Liebe, Liebe
Die macht viel Spaß
Viel mehr Spaß
Als irgendwas

(Manfred Tauchen:)
Objekt überwindet den Haß-Schirm

(Joesi Prokopetz:)
ätzend
Ich bin so ätzend
Alles zersetzend
Ich bin der Haß

(Inga Humpe:)
Und ich düse, düse, düse, düse
Im Sauseschritt
Und bring die Liebe mit
Von meinem Himmelritt
Denn die Liebe, Liebe, Liebe, Liebe
Die macht viel Spaß
Viel mehr Spaß
Als irgendwas

1 comment:

Linnea Micciulla said...

Thanks for sharing this, Carl!