We understand and appreciate that fire is a messenger and sign of destruction as well as renewal and new life.
No need to describe the profound impressions and feelings registered while viewing the fiery images broadcast on the evening of April 15th. There was a sense of powerlessness, culmination and death and I’m certain that these were emotions shared by many of us.
However, at a certain point following this first dramatic moment of visual impact, I recognized that another type of feeling and thought had made its way into my consciousness. I understood something was happening that not only had a destructive meaning but was also opening up the way for something new: something that was now ready to emerge into the full light of day. In front of the screen, while hearing the excited voices of the television commentators, I was holding both of these contrasting perceptions.
In particular, I was struck by the collapse of the tall spire which folded in upon itself and fell down in flames – flames that did not come from the outside but arose from within the structure. This was not an insignificant detail. At the same time I sensed something great and ineffable had subtlely been fulfilled and that I was witnessing in this precise moment an event that marked the end of one epoch and the beginning of another.
In the following days I also heard reflections from many friends and listened to their impressions and intepretations. All of this input (both from the Community of Living Ethics and from other parts of the world) is what I now wish to summarize.
First, let me reference the purifying effect of fire – a fact well known to all. On this occasion fire chose to visit a central point inside a famous space of worship. Notre Dame is a cathedral known around the world. It is a magnetic point in one of the great capitals of Europe. If the same thing had happened in some other church in some other city it certainly would not have had the same powerful impact. Instead, the whole world was placed in direct contact with that impetuous and devouring fire. The symbol of fire (central in all the world religions and cultures) emerged from out of the realm of imagination to manifest itself upon the physical plane.
We understand and appreciate that fire is a messenger and sign of destruction as well as renewal and new life. How many times have we spoken of the ‘baptism of fire’?
The flames that day devoured and took with them an entire era: one in which the Church had grown as an institution with all of its distortions and crystallizations and unecessary misuse of power. All of this has now reached the end of its time. A new humanity no longer needs the encumberances of the past that so greatly slows down its progress. However, let us not forget that there is also another aspect – that of faith, pure devotion, elevation, conversion, pilgrimage and contact with the divine that took place over many centuries in that same sanctified space that represented and resulted in a beautiful and vital culture.
The cultural stratifications inside Notre Dame were built up one century at a time to form a large reservoir of ‘accumulations’ (I attribute the precise and positive meaning that Agni Yoga gives to this word: namely, a harvest of the fruits grown through lifetimes of labors) of values and qualities preserved inside the walls that are now liberated and free to irradiate an expanded global space. In the words of a friend, “the images carved into the stone which are part of the ancient alchemical symbolism of the cathedral have been purified by fire: a sacred fire that will give new life and meaning to the transmutation of matter – both inside and outside of us“.
And along with the many symbolic meanings ensconced within the Cathedral there is also, dominant over all others, that of the Christ Consciousness that emerges anew. This profound Consciousness is released into the heavens through the flames and thus places Itself in full view of the world. I believe that this Christ Consciuousness is finally ready to re-emerge from our places of worship. It reaches for the sky, imposing itself with a determination that demands attention from those who are able and open to notice it.
Whenever a physical body dies, the power of the spirit breaks the shell of its crystallized form. This fact applies to everything and everyone. It is true for our own death and the death of all creatures as well as for the death and demise of a building or a work of art. That tall spire devoured by flames, was an excellent example of the function it served of linking the whole physical structure with the sky above. With its destruction the time has now arrived for that linking function to be carried out by the Soul. Our soul on Earth – stretching out towards the Realm of Souls – can act as a living bridge. It is time for each and everyone to turn inside and to make a choice. The call is to aspire and to reach towards the light of the Soul: to construct an ‘internal spire’ with the ‘Inner Christ’ mounted on top.
The firefighters that evening had the arduous task of extinguishing the flames but our task is even more arduous and yet exciting: to light our inner fire of spirit.
There is also a deep meaning inherent in the very name of the Cathedral: Notre Dame, Our Lady. It is a church dedicated to the Mother of the World and to the feminine Principle. Does this fact alone not inform us that it is time for the era of the divine feminine? That the feminine principle lives inside both female and male bodies and is seeking to free itself and take its rightful place in the affairs of the world? Our Lady sacrificed herself just as every good mother does, to push us, her children, to a more refined and elevated human life.
Even the precise effect of the fire upon the structure of the cathedral is not without symbolic value. The walls have held up and the roof has been burned. The supporting structure remains and only needs to be re-modelled, while the roof that symbolically separates the earth from the heaven, has been removed. I confess that perhaps I’m influenced by an image of the beauty of the Basilica of San Galgano. I had a vision of the Cathedral after its reconstruction standing without a solid and darkening roof but with a glass roof or made of equally light and transparent material which protects it from the elements without separating it from the sky. This is how ancient and modern can interpenetrate and cooperate. Maybe an impossible fantasy but you never know …
A final point of interest: April 15th is World Culture Day as proclaimed in recognition of the day that the Roerich Pact was signed in 1935 for the protection of works of art and culture. Coincidentally, the day of the Notre Dame fire falls precisely on the 84th anniversary of the signing of the Pact. 84 years constitutes an entire cycle of the planet Uranus.
Perhaps the fire at Notre Dame is a vivid announcement that an entirely new era is aflame: the epoch of a distant God towards to whom we reach out with great effort is over. This image is reflected in the architecture of the walls of this Gothic structure in Paris that stretches upwards. A new era is being born – that of the God Within and this Presence is to be found inside every single being and manifested through every aspect of our daily life.
Marina Bernardi, April 19th 2019