New Year’s Day, and it seems an appropriate day to speak of the Roman god Janus and the paradoxes of time, especially considering that time is the theme of the new mutation of consciousness — the “dimension” that is now disrupting the perspectivist consciousness and its specialist, spacialised three-dimensional ratio.
Janus is the two-faced god, one face looking backwards (or leftwards) and one face looking forwards (or rightwards). In some depictions of Janus, he is also four-faced — peering backwards and forwards and inwards and outwards — in a manner that suggests the Sacred Hoop or the Cross of Reality.
Four-faced Janus brings to mind Ezekial’s vision, as well as the four Zoas of Blake’s fourfold vision (and, correspondingly, the indigenous Sacred Hoop or Rosenstock-Huessy’s “Cross of Reality”)
In Rosenstock-Huessy’s grammatical method and “Cross of Reality”, the four directions or orientations of consciousness are called subjective, objective, prejective, and trajective, or inwards, outwards, forwards, and backwards, respectively. These are the “moods” of the soul, and correspond to the Zoas of Blake’s fourfold vision. They are also implicated in Jean Gebser’s four structures of consciousness — archaic, magical, mythical, and mental-rational. Thus the four faces are expressive of the polarities of the psyche as it relates to the two aspects of time (past and future, or trajective and prejective) and the two aspects of space (inner and outer, or subjective and objective). Their point of intersection, which is called “vital centre”, is also their point of arising as perceptual realities. And it is this point of origination that is called “Eternal Now” or, by Gebser, “Ever-Present Origin” or the Source. Blake has rendered this in his illustration as the Cosmic Egg. Here, we call that Cosmic Egg “the Chrysalis”, although in the Hermetic Philosophy it is frequently symbolised as the Crucible (a word related to cross, crux, crucial, or crisis).
But, today, I want to address two-faced Janus as the soul’s polarity as respect to times — time past and time future. In Greek mythology, the two faces of Janus are named Prometheus and Epimetheus, the brothers whose names mean “forethought” (or foresight) and “afterthought” (or hindsight) respectively. And in relation to that, we may also say that Modern Man or modern consciousness orientation is Promethean, while Post-Modern Man or post-modern consciousness is Epimethean and retrospective. Normally, Janus is depicted as a polarity, but may become a duality, and this is what Shakespeare means in speaking of “times out of joint” — dis-integrative. This is also rendered in the myth of Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus who do have a “falling out”, as they say. But, in effect, foresight and hindsight are normally balanced in the figure of Janus, who are not two but one in two aspects (and even four aspects). This is also the paradoxical vision of Ezekial.
It’s in these terms also that we speak here in The Chrysalis of the “fourfold human” configuration.
When the two faces of Janus, as respective of times as hindsight (and memory) and foresight (and anticipation) forget that they are aspects of the one, you have the dis-integrative condition called “duplicity”, leading to the extreme “polarising” result that one face becomes reactionary and the other revolutionary. It’s like an autoimmune disorder. The reactionary denies and attacks the future, while the revolutionary denies and attacks the past. These are the moods of time broadly meant by the terms “conservative” and “progressive”, respectively. Here, we are speaking of these as “moods” of the soul, and not in their contemporary form as “ideologies”, for it’s truer to say that “conservative” and “progressive” are two names of the Guardians of the Four Directions, and in terms of the East and West axis of the indigenous Sacred Hoop, or as trajective and prejective orientations of Rosenstock-Huessy’s “Cross of Reality”
The same four faces of Janus are represented as the Four Evangelists around the Christian Cross, as illustrated in the form “Agnus Dei” or in many illustrated manuscripts of the Christian Era, where they take their zoomorphic forms as angel, eagle, gryphon, and lion.
This iconography is very similar (as mentioned earlier) to Buddhist iconography. Here, the Buddha is represented as receiving the Guardians of the Four Directions upon his enlightenment, who gift him their own begging bowls “but which he, for the sake of the dharma, integrated with his own”,
In effect, Blake’s “Albion” — the Universal Adam as integral consciousness — is Christ Consciousness or Buddha Nature, and it is also Albion in this sense who is also depicted in the intriguing sculpture of Aeon, who is the fourfold human — as serpent, lion, human, and angel integrated, atop the Cosmic Egg. These become the separate zoomorphic forms of the four Christian evangelists.
(NOTE: this figure of Aeon was very important to me in my teenage years. I never knew really why then, but I drew it many times. For some reason, I added seven stars hovering above his right hand. I didn’t know why either. It just seemed like the right thing to do, but which, in retrospect, I see have something to do with Blake’s “seven eyes” of God.).
We can say with some confidence that there is an affinity between Aeon and Four-Faced Janus, and in this respect also, between all these above mentioned renderings of “fourfold vision”. The name “Aeon”, of course, signals time, or an “Age” or a Yuga. Jung was also impressed by Aeon which, for him, represented the integral “Self” also in the fourfold aspect,
Here, though, two-faced Janus has one face peering back towards Origin, and another face peering forwards towards Destiny. The other two faces of Janus depict one face peering into the soul and another face peering into the World. And this directedness of awareness into Origin, into Destiny, into Soul and into World is called “intentionality” of consciousness.
But that which does and performs this intending backwards and forwards, inwards and outwards, is not itself within the spatial-temporal matrix we call “physical reality”. This is what Blake means in saying “Eternity is in love with the productions of time” or “Eternity in the hour”. Blake also symbolises it as a “fountain” (while the cross of reality would be Blake’s “cistern”). The fountain is symbolised as the “vital centre” of the cruciform structure, while the cistern is the radiant arms of the cross of reality. Buddhism symbolises this as “the Jewel in the Lotus” and is what Gebser also calls “the Itself”. It is also called “the unoriginated” or “the unconditioned”, and is called, in Zen, “the original face before you were born”.
“Stopping the wheel of space and time” (Buddhism) or “stopping the world” (Castaneda) is the return to the Source or the Itself, which is not fully within the spatial-temporal matrix. The spatial=temporal matrix is its “unfolding”, and it is only in this sense that Gebser speaks of “e-volution” — as manifestation of the Itself in the four directions of space and time, and it’s in this sense also, that Rumi writes that “the whole universe is a form of truth”. The “Itself” is what is doing the looking and in its looking it unfolds itself in the directions inwards, outwards, backwards, and forwards. “It’s all in the middle of its happening”, is how Rumi put it. The paradox of time and timelessness that is Blake’s “eternity in the hour”, and which relate to each other as foreground and background. What was called “original sin” was the Fall into Time which Blake calls “Generation”.
“Time-freedom”, as Gebser understands this, is equivalent to “stopping the wheel of space and time” or “stopping the world”, and this is the realisation of the “diaphainon” — the Itself. The diaphainon is the luminescence or radiance that surrounds Blake’s “Albion Rose” which distinguishes it from Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man.
This is a world of Time and Death, and with “time-freedom” these do not actually literally cease, but become transparent in a way they became transparent to the great sages. “Nirvana and samsara are the same” means only what Jill Bolte-Taylor experienced as her “stroke of insight” and what Blake saw as “Heaven in a Wild Flower” and “Eternity in the hour”. The great Sufi sage Rumi is also all about that.
So Janus is a paradox. Time and Death, Origin and Destiny, are what they are but also not as they seem, and what Gebser calls “the transparency of the world”, that comes with the diaphainon, is equivalent to “stopping the world” or “stopping the wheel of space and time”, which is equally what Gebser refers to as “time-freedom” — insight into samsara; insight into Time and Death, which is Maya or Cloud of Unknowing or Blake’s “Ulro” or the Shadow — also called “Mara” or “Prince of Lies” or “Satan” and so on. Blake’s illustration of his Cosmic Egg shows Adam and Satan co-existent because Satan is that aspect of the human that has fallen into time, while Blake’s “Adam” is what is called, in Zen Buddhism, “original face”. For all practical purposes, these correspong to McGilchrist’s “Master” and “Emissary” modes of awareness. Satan is the world’s opaqueness, and is Urizenic Man for Urizen is Satan and both are “Selfhood” in Blake’s terms. Urizen is McGilchrist’s “Emissary”, but only as “usurper” and not as “emissary”. The Emissary, as usurper, is Mara, and is actually what we presently mean by the term “Man” or “human nature”, which is totally circular and self-referential and not transparent at all. This is called “The God of the Left Hemisphere” as far as I can tell, for being equally what Jesus called “Satan” and what Buddha called “Mara” or “Lord of mine own Ego”.
The real issue, then, is opacity versus transparency, and the fall into time was the fall into opacity. If barely a hair separates the false from the true, or that “Satan is every only the ape of God”, that hair is called “opacity” and that ape is called “Mara” or Urizen or Emissary. Nothing is as it seems and yet is exactly as it seems. This paradox resolves to the issue of opacity or transparency, and it’s not that Nature or the World resists this transparency. It’s the ego-consciousness — this Satan or Emissary or Mara — that resists and denies. That’s its “usurpation”.
“Time-freedom” is the transparency of samaric existence, which is to say the transparency of Time and of Death — ie, that they too “have no self-nature”.