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Monday, May 4, 2020

Nature's God, Week One

Depiction of Brian Boru from 1723

Week One: Chapter One “Murder at Twilight” (pg. 11-14 Hilaritas edition)

By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger

Brian Boru’s history is said to have been similar to what Robert Anton Wilson writes in his opening chapter but, as is the nature of such matters, there are various disagreements and quibbles about whose perspective we’re examining the matter from. The Brian Caeneddi of Borumu, slayer of Vikings, that we are introduced to seems to be derived from a 12th century manuscript Cogadh Gaedhil re Gallaibh or The War of the Irish with the Foreigners, whose title conveniently explains its contents and which was authored by one of Brian’s many grandsons to puff up his Grandfather’s legend. I also have a suspicion that this is the version of Brian Boru we meet in Finnegans Wake’s Yesodic territories.

This legend of Brian Boru ignores the more likely possibility that the Battle of Clontarf was primarily an internal conflict -- Brian’s rise to power had made him many enemies -- with minor foreign involvement. Consider this: by the time Brian was alive most of the cities in Ireland had been built by the Norse and Danish invaders. RAW and other writers point out that Dublin was itself built by the Danes. The Danish and Norse people in Ireland had been there for roughly two hundred years by the time of Brian Caeneddi’s nativity and should probably be considered Norse-Gaels. Some accounts say that it is likely Brian himself had Norse ancestry. Brian was also the first “High King” of Ireland to really try to put the title to work which pissed off a lot of the other Kings- both Irish and Norse.

Boru, whose title incidentally seems to mean “Lord of cattle-tributes,” had to contend with various disagreements during his time changing his title from King of Munster into King of Ireland. Disagreements between the Kings of Leinster and Dublin were particularly quarrelsome and led to violence. Máel Mórda, King of Leinster, and Sigtrygg Silkbeard, Norse King of Dublin, were made to swear vassalage to Brian after their failed rebellion and he married Gormlaith, who was the sister of Mael Mórda and the mother of Sigtrygg. Gormlaith was one of his many wives.

Like Lady Macbeth, Gormlaith has not been viewed kindly by history. Both the Irish Cogadh Gaedhil re Gallaibh and the Icelandic Njal’s Saga, which was possibly authored by Snorri Sturulsen, portray Gormlaith as a manipulative, resentful, and power-hungry woman. The Irish author points towards her anger at her brother’s vassalage to Brian being her source of ire while the Icelandic account discusses some sort of divorce. Either way, both accounts paint Gormlaith as the driving factor that led Leinster and Dublin to rise up once more against Boru.

If Boru was an early Sinn Feiner it makes almost poetic sense that he would have problems with Ulster. Some accounts say that the Ulstermen, who had given him such a hard time before he declared Armagh as the center of the Church of Ireland, added their forces to Leinster and Dublin’s rebellion. However, it seems that one minor Ulster king sent troops to oppose Boru.

Whether it was, as Njal’s Saga claims, at Gormlaith’s urging or on his own accord, Sigtrygg was the one who involved Norsemen from outside of Ireland. However, the Danes/Norsemen who Sigtrygg turned to for support were relatively close peoples from Orkney and the Isle of Man. And from Man came two brothers: Brodir (Brodar) and Ospak. While Sturulsen might not have much to say about Brodar in his Heimskringla, a history of the Norse Kings which discusses Brian Boru, Njal’s Saga paints Brodar and Ospak as key players in the drama that surrounded Clontarf. Firstly, their story is made interesting as Ospak and Brodar are offered Gormlaith’s hand in marriage and the High King title if they come to the aid of Dublin- Ospak, a heathen, cannot bring himself to oppose a “King so honorable” and departs to fight alongside Boru. Brodar, who had become a Christian and then committed apostasy to practice sorcery (great life choice, I must say), was tempted towards Dublin and Leinster. On Good Friday, the brothers found themselves on diagonally opposite sides of the field.

According to Njal’s Saga, it was Brodar’s sorcery that decided the battle should take place on Good Friday, although the Christian Kings were reluctant to fight on a High Feast Day. The Saga also records plenty of fantastic portents against the Norsemen such as swarms of ravens and ghostly attacks. It’s full of shit but also a lot of fun.

The battle was said to have lasted an entire day. It is debated whether the 64 year old High King actually participated in the battle or if his son led his forces while he observed the proceedings from his tent. It is thus also debated whether Brodar met Brian on the field of battle or was directed to his tent by a traitorous Irishman where he killed the High King during his prayers. It is not debated that Brodar shortly met his own end after slaying Brian Caeneddi of Borumu; Njal’s Saga records that one of Brian’s men, the colorfully named Wolf the Quarrelsome, opened Brodar’s stomach and marched him around a tree, winding and pulling his entrails about the trunk.

Gruoch ingen Boite, one of the characters in Hollingshed’s Chronicles from which Shakespeare sourced much of the “historical” information of his plays, was just that: a character. Very little is known about her life aside from that she was the wife of the historical Macbeth and mothered a son who would become King of the Scots.

One of Brian’s other descendants, mentioned in the penultimate paragraph, was also a Great King who had his head forcibly opened, thus curtailing his reign- albeit the later assassination occurred on November 22nd, not April 23rd. I’m sure the lineage of split skulls was not lost on RAW.

Lesson: maybe just be content being a senator or a regular King.

So, The Earth Will Shake began with an assassination occurring before Sigismundo’s eyes, The Widow’s Son began with four men conspiring to assassinate Sigismundo, and Nature’s God begins with the historic assassination of Brian Boru. So, that leaves us an assassination in the immediate present, an hypothetical assassination for the future, and an assassination in the, even to 18th century readers, distant past. Just can’t shake it. And it doesn’t look like things are going to be any more civil next week as we have an appointment for “Rape Before Lunch.” Gird your loins for a very unpleasant chapter that makes Lady Babcock into a fiercer Mary Wollstonecraft. 

From Eric: “Well, Brian Boru makes think of the Brian Boru harp. It appears on the cap of Guinness bottles. I have always associated that harp with Spock’s Vulcan harp, so .

"Live long and prosper.”


Manic The Doodler said...

"Brian marched around Ireland constructing simulated lunar craters..."

Back in early December I found an abandoned puppy in the park I work in & took him home. A young lady I work with suggested I name him Brian (probably because one of our co-workers is of the same name). Brian is now over six months & is indeed starting to construct his own version of 'simulated lunar craters' in our back yard. As soon as I began reading this chapter & thinking of my puppy Brian I thought right away his name was appropriate!

Also, I heard a bit of AC/DC at the end of that video!

Eric Wagner said...

A Life of Brian.

Oz Fritz said...

All the historical background really fleshes out the scene of the first chapter, great post! Wonderful music selection that answered a long-standing question of where Jimmy Page copped that chord progression. I always suspected it of extraterrestrial origin. Also the Starship Enterprise recalls beginning the Chaos Magic course with Peter Carroll where he compared the group to a Ship voyaging through the course.

The Nietzsche quote on the Title page appears one clear iteration of "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of he law.." It could be seen as RAW beginning his book like Crowley began his letters and many of his essays.

Once again, the reader gets immediately confronted with death, here in the first sentence of the book. As Gregory noted, it's another assassination, this time of the High King, Brian Boru, a legend I knew absolutely nothing about until today. We are told of his heroic exploits and his connection with JFK, another assassinated popular leader. In Cosmic Trigger I RAW compares the JFK death with the archetypal sacrifice of the Divine King. It seems he begins Nature's God recreating an image of that archetype. A short, but quite dark chapter, it seems to join with the current darkness of these pandemic times in mood. I sense something about this killing of the Divine King related to current events. Bob Dylan has this theme in his new song, Murder Most Foul. In Cosmic Trigger RAW writes:

"There was a commotion of primitive terrors loosed upon the national psyche by the Dealy Plaza bullets; Camelot died. the Divine King had been sacrificed; we were caught suddenly in the midst of a Frazer-Freud reenactment of archetypal anthropological ritual. The national psyche veered dizzily toward Chapel Perilous."

Boru also connects with the Divine King by the fact his death occurs on Good Friday, and by his name: B = The Magus, O = Pan, All and Everything, R = The Sun, U = The Hierophant. This also reminds me of the story of how the rock band U2 got signed. The opening words," A Danish Norseman or Norwegian Dane ..." once again points towards reversal of perspective. B = beth, the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Taking the first and last letters of Boru and reversing them, we find U2.

Bill Laswell told me the story of how his friend and patron, Chris Blackwell, former owner of Island Records, signed U2. Friends of Blackwell told him about a hot new band in Dublin and suggested he sign them. Blackwell went and caught their set at a local pub. Afterwards they asked him what he thought. Blackwell said, "I think they're terrible, but I'm going to sign them anyway." (U2 would be the first to admit that they were still learning to play their instruments at the time). "They have absolutely the best name for marketing, I can see it now, U2, up in lights." He proved himself right. U2 became the biggest commercially successful band Blackwell ever signed. Blackwell was also the one who brought Bob Marley to the world.

Oz Fritz said...

"Brian marched around Ireland constructing simulated lunar craters"

This phrase that starts the chapter seems like subtle guerilla ontology - the word "constructing" used to describe severe acts of destruction. I don't know what you call this type of sentence - seems like a metaphor but missing a preposition that would signify it as such. Boru couldn't possibly have been constructing simulated lunar craters in 1014 or earlier. The existence of lunar craters didn't get discovered until Galileo turned his newly invented telescope toward the moon in the 1600s.

The initials of the opening phrase add to 159. 159 = "Surpassing Whiteness (Vide 934); Point. Vide means "look at", checking 934 we find a Latin word, "Coruscatio" meaning "Lightning." Also, "vehementissima" = vehement; "splendor exactissime (exactly) dimeticus". Couldn't find a translation of "dimeticus" - it suggests dime = 10 = Malkuth. The correspondences for 159: Point, Surpassing Whiteness, Lightning suggest the Qabalistic Lightning Flash - a Tree of Life creation myth. This lightning flash begins above Kether (surpassing whiteness) and goes down to Malkuth (dime), creating each Sephiroth in between:

"According to the Kabbala, the act of creation precedes from the primal consciousness through the sephiroth to the final sephiroth, Malkuth. ..." quoted from this blog which describes the whole lightning flash myth:

Obviously, this enumeration perfectly fits its position in the book, just before Chapter 1 (Kether).
More about this phrase when I get the chance.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Gregory is very likely correct when he writes, "This legend of Brian Boru ignores the more likely possibility that the Battle of Clontarf was primarily an internal conflict -- Brian’s rise to power had made him many enemies -- with minor foreign involvement."

I had a blog post about this last year, "RAW's Romantic Irish Nationalism":

Oz Fritz said...

The first phrase of the story: "A Danish Norseman or Norwegian Dane named Brodar,..." - the Gematria of the capital letters = 111. RAW died on 1/11 in 2007. Chapter One is called "Murder at Twilight." This chapter speaks of the death of a Divine King. "Twilight means 'half-light' and the half light of morning or evening is a symbol of dichotomy, representing the dividing-line which at once joins and separates a pair of opposites." (

" ... Danish Norseman or Norwegian Dane ..." N + D = 54. 54 corresponds with Will via Chapter 54 from The Book of Lies which concludes with:

"Each moreover called on the Goddess NINA; for
her number is An Hundred and Eleven.
Yet with all this The Work went awry; for THE WORD OF THE LAW IS THELEMA."

Thelema translates as Will from Greek. The BoL chapter seems to say that you can have the right conditions for love, but that The Work needs Will to power it.

Along these lines, I interpret "D...N... or N... D... as reversal of Will. In the 4th Way it is said that conscious life requires a fight against entropic Nature. This chapter looks at the primitive underbelly of human life in the era of the Eleventh Century. It takes reversing the Will of primate nature to forge a Will for something else more conscious. The second phrase of the story, "who wasn't particularly brilliant or scintillating..." Anyone who has worked with Israel Regardie's cassette tape where he reads the Middle Pillar ritual, as I suspect RAW did, has heard the words "brilliant and scintillating" frequently repeated, of course with reversed meaning.

Oz Fritz said...

Meant to say the usage of "brilliant and scintillating" in the Middle Pillar ritual appears reversed in its action to how RAW uses those adjectives in the book's second phrase.

Oz Fritz said...

I have another interpretation for:

" ... Danish Norseman or Norwegian Dane ..." N + D = 54.

Instead of, or along with, reversal of Will, this could signify a reversal of the number 54 to 45.
Looking at chapter 45 from the Book of Lieswe find one of RAW's favorite AC quotes at the end of it regarding doubt: "I slept with Faith ..." He quotes and discusses this in CT I. Crowley begins the Commentary to this chapter with a subject dear to RAW's heart:

"We now, for the first time, attack the question of doubt.
The Soldier and the Hunchback should be carefully studied in this connection. The attitude recommended is scepticism, but a scepticism under control. Doubt inhibits action, as much as faith binds it ..." The first essay RAW had us examine and discuss in his Crowley 101 course = The Soldier and the Hunchback, consistent with a reference to it at the start of his final novel.

This BoL chapter also has a sentence suggesting the Discordian Law of 5. Coincidentally, the fifth paragraph of the Commentary contains a probable explanation of why RAW freely takes liberty with historical facts in telling his story. I won't quote it here, it can get found online. Anyone motivated like Sherlock Holmes to solve a mystery can look it up.