Posts Tagged ‘medieval cosmography’

The final two sections of this work have waited a long time to emerge. The exploration of the angelic spheres simply needed arranging, but the final section on the Highest Sphere, I had no idea how to proceed with, until one recent morning, the words flew out of themselves.


Causatum primum esse creatum primum pricipium omnium creaturarum continens in se creaturas. ( First effect, first created being, pricipal of all creatures, containing all creatures within itself)

It has been months now,
Perhaps years, perhaps lifetimes,
Wandering, flying north, reaching upwards.
Lost and dreaming in the folds of space.
Without affirmation, without calibration,
Lost in uncertain geometries,
Torn by laws of motion
And too certain theologies.
Beyond the rational, beyond the poetic,
A mind running regardless,
Generating language, souls and wings.

Materia in potentia (passive receptacle)
Forma in potentia (Pure Act)

Here in the thin silences
Every river has become
Clear white and single streams,
The seven rivers ceased.
Now, a simple irrigation of sound.
A First Cause, before it takes sides,
Turns demons cloaked in thunder
And dark collateral engines of despair,
Innocent and mirroring the forceful
Wells within us, deeper than bone.

Creator omnium Deus -Causa Prima – Voluntas divina – voluntas divina. ( The Creator of All, God, the First Cause, The Divine Will, The Divine Will)

There is nothing grand about the First.
Nothing magnificent, nothing golden.
The smallest shudder, an imperceptible stretch
Before any decision to inflate,
Any smudge of granulation,
Any furrow of rotation.

An indeterminate number of souls –
All the ghosts of past and future –
Holding back, though longing
To explode within:
The only fuel, the only food, the only song.
The geometers approach, but tangle their measures.
The geomancers learn the dance, weigh the odds.
The elders nod and drool.
The angels consume themselves eternally
In flaming passion, revolving.

Only the weeds in the meadow give utterance to it,
And that so sublime, it makes less sense
Than the grasshopper’s click
And geiger song of cicadas.
Doppler shift.
It forms on disappearance,
It shapes and sings with distance.

A flaming torch falling,
A roar through shaped voids.
Cast out, returned, circumferential, pointless.

All the words have emptied out,
And yet more form and flow –
An endless road,
A glistening heaven
Made of rock,
A mistaken sky.


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at last, the final two parts of this piece exploring the medieval vision of the soul travelling through the spheres of existence. As regards angelic hierarchies, they vary considerably in name and number. Biblical references are few. The system seems to have been sturdily spliced with esoteric Judaic traditions, and like the ( much more interesting) demonic hierarchies, show an almost dendochronological accretion of earlier and proscribed spirits and deities. But that’s medieval cosmography for you….


The Ten spheres of Intelligences. The supra-formal spirit.

Here, then,
The taxonomies of dreaming light,
Of three Orders, lowest first:


These bright effulgent hawks,
Down swooping, sharp-eyed angels
Hungry hosts, folded talons.
All have their prey.
A choir of glory at dawn and dusk,
Slipping barefoot over thresholds
A dust of dreadfulness dipped and stuttered,
Swathed, embedded in sultry command,
Ineluctible tides, currents ripping sideways.


The second: they are the rulers,
The judges, the shepherds of nations.
Genii locii redressed, renamed, enthroned,
Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominions:
The light lords of city states,
Osiris and Apollo whispering
In the ears of artists and manipulators,
God’s work on Earth, His paint-loaded brushes.

Ordo senorum (Elders)

Now the highest and closest
To the Source:
Heavenly counselers,
O Seraphim, caretakers of the throne,
Wing-covered, evaporating praise.
Two wings before your face,
Two before your feet,
With two you fly and fly.

O Cherubim, the watchful.
Four wings conjoined, all eyes,
Shaggy muscled lion bodies, upon cloven oxen feet,
Four faced, an elemental hub,
Man, ox, lion, eagle.
They guard the Tree,
They guard the Paradise
They guard the Throne.

Now the Elders on their thrones,
A terrible government, a majority.
Who were they before? To reach so
Stern and high, a multiplicity of divine view?
Strange they mimic men, when all around
Vast eerie visions wheel and burn.

Inconceivable are the Ophanim, mighty wheels.
Green crystal wheels inside greener wheels,
Their spinning rims are all eyes
Where their spirit revolves, gyroscopic.

No place, (you might notice)
For the demons and the lost.
Left off the map, redacted, erased,
A progression of graded lights
Devoid of shade and shadow.
No dissention in this vast ascension,
Corners swept of all obscene doubts,
The unclean and unholy extinguished,
Written out, ignored, irrelevant, unnecessary.
A superior hierarchy chambered in chained gold,
Gently tinkling.


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