The Hermetic Library Goes Spelunking

| July 17, 2011

Yeats on Shelley:

often caves are, he says, symbols of ‘all invisible power; because as caves are obscure and dark, so the essence of all these powers is occult,’ and quotes a lost hymn to Apollo to prove that nymphs living in caves fed men ‘from intellectual fountains’; and he contends that fountains and rivers symbolize generation, and that the word nymph ‘is commonly applied to all souls descending into generation,’ and that the two gates of Homer’s cave are the gate of generation and the gate of ascent through death to the gods, the gate of cold and moisture, and the gate of heat and fire.

Shelley in the Baths of Caracalla by Joseph Severn

via The Hermetic Library

Sorry for getting all esoteric and symbolic on you. I hate that. But witness the strange tension. Obscurity and power, invisibility and intellect, cold and heat. It is not that the cave means something. The cave is the place where meaning doubles, transforms, finds an opposite door, trickles and bubbles up through a sustaining crack. It’s never what it is that’s important, it’s what is being transformed in the dark.

And by caves do we not mean education?