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St. Teresa of Avila writing about "reptiles" in the 1500s

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posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 04:40 AM
I'm listening to an audiobook version of The Interior Castle these days. Its a great classic of old-school Christian mysticism written in 1577 by St. Teresa of Avila.

This is an interesting work for a lot of reasons...its a great spiritual classic that, if approached in the right way, would probably appeal to mystics of a great many traditions. In it, St. Teresa provides an instruction for prayer and contemplation whereby the soul is envisioned as a 7-chambered "Interior Castle." (Many of you will no doubt recognize the symmetry with the Merkaba ideas of 7 nested Heavenly Halls, for example, but I digress...)
By passing through the chambers in the proper succession, one reaches more and more sublime mystical states and eventually approaches the ultimate union with the divine, presumably...I'm not too far into it yet to know exactly how it ends.

At any rate, one thing that caught me off guard was the frequency with which St. Teresa uses the word "reptiles" and the different ways in which she uses it. I was a bit taken aback by some of these metaphors and found them unusual for this type of writing...the book as a whole has a slightly alien cast of mind to it with which I am struggling.

Below are just a few examples I pulled at random from the first chapter alone . I'll give the source below...I would assume there are a number of other examples throughout other parts of the book as well.

"So accustomed have they grown to living all the time with the reptiles and other creatures to be found in the outer court of the castle that they have almost become like them..."

"...Full of a thousand preoccupations as they are, they pray only a few times a month, and as a rule they are thinking all the time of their preoccupations, for they are very much attached to them, and, where their treasure is, there is their heart also. From time to time, however, they shake their minds free of them and it is a great thing that they should know themselves well enough to realize that they are not going the right way to reach the castle door. Eventually they enter the first rooms on the lowest floor, but so many reptiles get in with them that they are unable to appreciate the beauty of the castle or to find any peace within it. Still, they have done a good deal by entering at all..."

"...Humility must always be doing its work like a bee making its honey in the hive: without humility all will be lost. Still, we should remember that the bee is constantly flying about from flower to flower, and in the same way, believe me, the soul must sometimes emerge from self-knowledge and soar aloft in meditation upon the greatness and the majesty of its God. Doing this will help it to realize its own baseness better than thinking of its own nature, and it will be freer from the reptiles which enter the first rooms -- that is, the rooms of self-knowledge..."

"...Our understanding, as I have said, will then be ennobled, and self-knowledge will not make us timorous[35] and fearful; for, although this is only the first Mansion, it contains riches of great price, and any who can elude the reptiles which are to be found in it will not fail to go farther. Terrible are the crafts and wiles which the devil uses to prevent souls from learning to know themselves and understanding his ways..."


[edit on 6/9/09 by silent thunder]

posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 05:10 AM
To me, the metophores seems to represent greed vs spirituality.

Reptiles were oftern used to represent evil the serpent in genesis for example, and greed of money. It seems to explaine how people were distracted from praying to god with making money and rich's. It mentions how we need to gain a certaine amount of money to buy food and feed families (the bee making honey), but how we should not concentrate our whole lives on making more and more money, for if we get to greedy, we shall only be praying a few times a month instead of everyday, hence why it mentions that they will occupy only the first floor, for they are not dedicated to god enough to progress to a further floor, for they can not leave their treasures.


posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 05:34 AM
reply to post by Trolloks

I thought so too but she does refer to entities and evil spirits so I'm thinking its not all metaphor. For instance there seems to be "good guys" called the Wardens.

"It is true that in some of them, the wardens, who, as I think I said, are the faculties, have strength for the fight; but it is most important that we should not cease to be watchful against the devil's wiles, lest he deceive us in the guise of an angel of light"

She seems to make a distinction between sin and reptiles, sin is something we do and the reptiles are the perpetrators or attackers that creates sin in us. I rather like it as it takes away guilt and shame of sin as I believe they are only indicators (feelings) for knowing you have done something wrong and its not something people should wallow in.

"Wise and learned men know them quite well, but we women are slow and need instruction in everything. "

haha! How humble was she!!

posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 09:56 AM
We have to remember the language used is one of symbolism couched in her religious belief.

What I read in her words is talk about your 7 bodily chakra, and the base chakra being the source of your inner power... Kundalini, which you then raise through the top 6 chakras to have the enlightening Oneness experience. This theme runs through so many ancient cultures. The symbolism before organised religions was snake/dragon, which has been usurped by those religions and viewed as evil things relating to pagansim, anything gnosis, etc.

While this lady speaks about gnosis, she uses the word reptiles as meaning the "lowest of things" and could well be referring to what anyone who awakens their Kundalini in self-gnosis has experienced.. the brighter you shine, the more "things" get attracted to you.

Once you wake-up a little, you shine more as you step knowingly on your path. This is countered by the arrival of people and things meant to waylay you. It is part of the higher path for those who choose to walk it.

So I think this is what she is saying. Your power is in your base chakra and once you light it up by entering it knowingly you automatically attract very low vibration interest.... her "reptiles".

[edit on 9-6-2009 by Tayesin]

[edit on 9-6-2009 by Tayesin]

posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 01:36 PM
Interesting the lowest or the most ancient part of the brain is the reptilian brain stem, which could be considered the first area, and it is what hijacks the higher brain centers with the fight or flight response, so it's the area which deals in fear, and if there were external demonic entities, perhaps this is where they attempt to influence a person away from higher states of being and enlightenment..

posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 02:00 PM
If you would like to know about snakes and reptiles.... visit this big thread.... The Rainbow Serpents Almost all you ever wanted to know or not know about reptilian symbolism....

posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 02:14 PM
reply to post by silent thunder

I am working on something very similar from a book called "The Tower of Alchemy."

These castles you develop are amazing metaphors. It really doesn't sink in, until you let the castle itself sink in. It's like a whole new body, and serves as a great metaphor for your physical body as well. There is no better way I can think of to organize every concept into a global structure.

posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 02:18 PM

Originally posted by bsbray11
reply to post by silent thunder

I am working on something very similar from a book called "The Tower of Alchemy."

These castles you develop are amazing metaphors. It really doesn't sink in, until you let the castle itself sink in. It's like a whole new body, and serves as a great metaphor for your physical body as well. There is no better way I can think of to organize every concept into a global structure.
I'd like to poke through your library.. can you expand on it for me? The book?

posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 04:02 PM
reply to post by seagrass

I found a review online that gives a good description of it:

In Western mystical teachings, the analogy of the soul as a castle or palace with myriad chambers has long antecedents. St. Teresa de Avila drew upon this comparison when writing her classic The Interior Castle, and the early mystics of the Kabbalah wrote of journeying in the series of “Heilkhalot” or palaces of the upper worlds. Likewise, in the Western alchemical tradition, there are allusions to towers and castles, which contain important symbolic information about spiritual work. But without the code to unlock this complex and bewildering system of allusions based on the kabbalah (the Jewish mystical tradition), alchemical wisdom remains completely inaccessible.

David Goddard’s most recent book reveals much of the code needed to gain entry into the alchemical mysteries. Specifically, the book explains Western internal alchemy, which is perhaps best understood as a form of kundalini yoga. ...

According to the author, “The principal alchemical operation is thus to transmute a transient, mortal and gross body into a deathless, physical body of pure Enlightenment.” The teachings of the kabbalah, in which Western alchemy is grounded, are designed to accelerate the process of spiritual evolution. Alchemy is the means by which the teachings of kabbalah are actualized, via breathing exercises and visualizations in a way specifically designed to utilize the myths and symbols that pervade Western culture. Goddard situates the practices in The Tower of Alchemy in the mythos of the Holy Grail, seen as a foundation myth of Western esotericism. ...

The key to this form of alchemy is that one does not work directly on the physical body, but instead projects the etheric or subtle body in the form of a castle or tower and works within the edifice’s many rooms and grounds by means of visualization. These rooms correlate to the different sephirot or energy centers on the kabbalistic glyph of the Tree of Life, which in turn correspond to the chakras. After each practice, the subtle body is drawn back into the physical. Goddard notes: “[W]e use an indirect route to make the necessary changes within the astro-etheric body, so that the subconscious will proceed to implement those alterations . . .as it continually builds and maintains the physical body.” The author notes that “no work is done directly upon the physical body—except for relaxation, posture (asana), and breath (pranayama)—because direct concentration on the organs . . . of the body can easily lead to an imbalance of the fine electrical and chemical functions and result in disease.” Working with kundalini energy to transform the body (or arousing the dragon, to use Western terminology) is safely done within this mode. The Tower visualizations become increasingly complex as the book progresses, and the author has recorded a number of them on two CDs (available from Goddard is to be commended for releasing this knowledge in such a thoughtful, ethical and erudite manner.

I was dreading trying to summarize the book, until I found that online. It does a much better job than I probably would.
I emphasized the one part.

The chakras are the most obvious energy centers but not the only ones, and to focus solely upon them, while better than nothing, still leaves a lot of your body out of the equation. To become assumed, every atom of you should be assumed. Your fingers and toes are energy exchange centers, so are your mouth and nose, and the crown of your head. Every part of your body has some function, and is also symbolic like a work of art. Our bodies are works of art, and I would even believe they are "alien technology."

I also personalize the teachings and visualizations to fit my personality and my personal culture better. It's my temple, and a living temple, so it reflects what I am.

posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 06:15 PM
Thank you BSB for taking the time to find the review.

I am finding correlations everywhere I look these days.

posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 07:09 PM
Good stuff, people...thanks for all your input. Some very interesting comments in this thread.

posted on Jun, 15 2009 @ 12:38 AM
I just found this very relevant video.

It's of Darren Brown, famous for his ability to cold read people (he says he doesn't believe in psychics, but I don't think there's any difference with what he does). He shows how he uses a mental technique involving visualizing being in a mansion with "memory objects" to count cards and win a bunch of money at a casino.

posted on Jun, 15 2009 @ 01:40 AM
reply to post by silent thunder

Reptiles and self knowledge.....hmmmmm Garden of Eden and Snake ? forbidden knowledge .......

Connecting dots?


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