This post is the beginning of a more comprehensive exploration of the mystery of iron. Something utterly stupendous manifested for us during the Iron Age when iron was found first in meteorites and then mined from the ground. Our entire mode of being was transformed in response to a cosmic mystery unfolding into actuality through our highly ritualised efforts. This mystery continues today as my essay Transformation of Matter demonstrates. Iron, fire, lightning, thunder, meteor, sword, hammer, anvil, sex, sacrifice, death! These and other primal images have appeared in my dreams and waking life for many years and I see now that these images are all iron dust attracted to the magnet of the central meaning of iron. I experienced this rapid and powerful attraction after I read an astonishing book, The Iron Labyrinth by Merrilee Beckman.
Here is my review of this book:
The central symbol in this wonderful book is the iron labyrinth. I was taken on an immersive journey into the the mystery of iron—a mystery that has gripped our civilisations since the Iron Age. “Uncle” is the ruler of this labyrinth and he conscripts human beings for arduous training in the labyrinth. They must submit to his will in order to later serve in the upper world of ordinary reality. A key question for the human conscript is: Is Uncle trustworthy? He demands complete submission, and appears cruel, unbending, and compelling. Escape seems impossible. This situation would bring the sweat out of any modern human being, as we almost universally distrust any authority today. But clearly Uncle is no mortal. He is a dragon, an elemental being. Trust a dragon? I think the author has put her finger on a deep mystery here. What is being asked of Colum (the protagonist) in the iron labyrinth? Not trust but submission, pure and simple! I don’t think trust has anything to do with the phenomenon Colum is confronted with. Rather I think Colum’s unconditional participation in a process of transformation is called for. It is a “ruthless” process, beyond the human, and a human must be free to choose, without any foreknowledge or the comfort of “trust”, to so participate. This is Colum’s task—to learn how to freely choose to participate in a “cosmic” or non-human process of transformation that somehow needs the human being in order to complete itself.
It can take many years for a dream to work its way into consciousness and Merrilee’s book stimulated a memory of dream I had way back in 1979:
I am in a huge iron foundry. I have travelled to it by bus with A. Huge buckets of steel are about to be poured. Outside it is filthy and muddy. I slip and fall in the mud. Monstrous machines are overhead to dig pits and crush rubbish into them. I just avoid getting crushed myself. I think the men who made the machines deserve a lot of credit and they are so huge and complex.
I could make nothing of this dream at the time but now, many connections from within the rhizome have, as I said, emerged for my attention, including this dream. I’ll pause here as I must continue to gather. I have for example ordered samples of telluric iron, so plentiful here in Australia to function as psychopomp, while I go more deeply into the mystery of iron. I am also seeking a sample of meteorite…
At this point, after being exposed to the mystery of iron for thirty years, I can say this much. The mystery involves nothing less than the creation of matter and its transformation.
The transformation of matter! US also as the matter or substance to be transformed, to the extent that we participate, at the deepest level of our being, in the transformation of matter.
The ultimate mystery I should think.
See my longer essay: The Mystery of Iron on Academia!