Order of the Shining Helmet of Athena: Olivia's Vision of Pallas Athena
Order of the Shining Helmet of Pallas Athena
Vision of Pallas Athena
By Olivia Robertson
I was once in a rather curious position. All inspiration had completely shut down. Where once I had been filled with ideas, the usual sources that fueled creativity ceased to inspire. What was the meaning of this shut gate within? After a period of contemplation, the answer appeared – I became acquainted with an Inner Voice, a Muse – Goddess of the Arts.
Artists go through three phases in their work. In the first, everything is poignant, lyrical, as demonstrated by Giorgione of Venice in the High Renaissance. During the second, or middle phase, their work exudes a brooding power, like the works of Titian. At last, the artist must face the depths of their soul and produce works of deep truth – which others perceive as effortless mastery: Michelangelo’s ‘Rondanini Pieta’, the works of Rembrandt. The written works of W. B. Yeats are in this category, the fables of August Strindberg, and of course in music, the posthumous quartets of Beethoven, whose Opus 90 is titled “Conversation with a Loved One”. You will find Her in the myths of the Ancients; you will find Her in Shakespeare, Goethe and Tolstoy. Eventually Her siren song lured even Butler, known as “Diogenes of the Victorians”, who fell in love with Her as Nausicca.
What makes them great is their clarity of vision. They express existence in a different way. One must ask - is the fruit of their effort a result of the world of spirit over the world of matter - or is it the opposite? Is dualism the most accurate measure of truth? I believe this world is a reflection of a greater reality. To understand Truth is the great quest of humankind; to understand Truth, one must know that everything is relative, and the Greater Truth is beyond mundane existence. The role of the Muse, therefore, is to provide a perspective different from our own.
In the Arts, when hand and brain work in conjunction, harmony is produced between spirit and matter. The soul of the artist communes with the Soul of Earth and the Soul of Heaven at the same time. Michelangelo, Tolstoy, Yeats, Beethoven, Shakespeare – they all felt it.
I heard the Call of the Muse as I worked within the slums of Dublin for the Corporation City Playgrounds. I saw chalked lines of children’s drawings on the streets, and heard their voices chanting and singing words that rhymed but seemed nonsensical. Then I realized their games contained hidden symbolism. My Folklore Dictionary suggests Hopscotch comes from the Cretan labyrinth; according to Pliny such a grid was etched on the pavement of the Forum!
Years later, while on the edge of sleep, the atmosphere became charged and taut like the strings of a harp, ready to sound. It was dark, yet my bedroom filled with the likeness of passing gleams caught in the sun. I was immediately, fully awake. This was no fancy of imagination. A portal had opened to a reality that needed no edifice of human logic. Yet before me stood the Goddess of Reason with Her Shining Head – Who is also the Goddess of artists and poets. How to reconcile these opposites and how else could they manifest except within the paradox of Pallas Athena – Who is virgin and mother, warrior and peacemaker? If we turn to Nature we find the same paradox – crystals and snowflakes are geometrical – elsewhere Nature exhibits intricate asymmetry. Yet all, in whatever design, are original.
The Call of the Muse reaches through the vicissitudes of life – for the great and the humble - like the clear-cut mind of Athena. Now, writing is very easy, I find. It just comes.
Transcript of notes taken at the Nesu House, 2011
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