Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Bonfire of the Vanities

Elizabethan Burghley House in Lincolnshire, England


The Bonfire of the Vanities – the title of this post arrived intuitively, based on the not all too serious idea of illustrating a curious series of images and associations depicting the vanity of the 17th earl of Oxford.

As it turned out, Wikipedia deepens and traces the expression back to 15th century Italy; it was ritual in which sin was consumed by throwing personal belongings associated with vanity into a fire. (Compare today’s borrowing of Hindu thought for the expression “burning karma.”) This original meaning will become apparent for those reading this post to the end. 

For one who has read about Oxford’s love for Italy, it becomes an intriguing coincidence that the blogger’s first thought regarding a suitable heading resonates so well with the contents of the post. Could it be that a mind dwelling on an ARCHETYPE is granted accesses to its skein of attributes from the outer world of physical or psychical instantiations? In this case the knowledge of the late Earl now in custody in the noetic world of archetypes where it – and the memory of him, who gathered this knowledge, lives on for ever?


This blogger recently purchased an obscure, used gramophone record from England online, but whose lousy condition had so been played down in the object description that an irritated conversation ensued. The seller eventually admitted the object had been poorly described, but only after the buyer had sent photos of his earlier copy of the same item – purchased a month before, in much better condition and at only a third of the price this seller asked. (Not talking big money; it was not a collectable, merely rare.)

The buyer considers himself a discerning collector since the first copy, half-decent as it was, sat ill with the rest of his “mintish” record collection.
The failed “upgrade” was too be shipped back to England at the seller’s expense, and answering which one of the two addresses he confusingly had given to use, he ethnocentrically – forgetting the buyer lived in another country – mentioned Lincolnshire as he “no longer spent much time at his London address.” However, the place name didn’t feature in either address so I googled to confirm that the city of Stamford was situated in Lincolnshire.

It was, but the on the map in Wikipedia preview on Google something else immediately caught my attention. Nat far from Stamford there was an historic building called Burghley House. “Not THAT Burghley?” the thought flew through my head. Oh yes, this was the country house (or rather mansion) of Lord Burghley, one time Secretary of the State but later on Queen Elizabeth’s treasurer. Said place had had its name transferred from a town house situated at the Strand in London, a favourite street with the upper classes at the time.

Once again the blogger hit on a subject that has given him endless joy after having had a most peculiar night dream back in 2005, both obviously symbolic but also containing such uncanny realism it drove him to start looking for a certain “Oxford” closely connected with a “Queen” and also a “mother”. Given the typical clothing seen in the dream I had narrowed the dream down to a nobleman of the Elizabethan age I had never heard of before. The important thing I soon discovered is he sometimes informally referred to himself simply as “Oxford,” just like in my dream. (See also the December 2015 blog post Oxford’s leg wound.)

The meaning of this latest piece of a growing puzzle takes some background to appreciate. Oxford became fatherless at 12 and a ward of the State. He moved in with Lord Burghley who practically became the boy’s stepfather (and with whom he would naturally soon develop a strained relationship). Of all the places in England the careless online seller had managed to combine two, both of which the fraudulent Lord Burghley had lived in (he had in fact been born in Lincolnshire, where he subsequently erected his magnificent “country house.”)

It was then I realized I, living in Sweden, had already been introduced to young Oxford’s new London address after becoming fatherless; the first Burghley House on the Strand corresponded to The Strand, the magazine that first published the stories about my childhood idol, Sherlock Holmes. I had noted that fact during ten years of intermittent reading about Oxford but thought nothing of it, it was merely a superficial coincidence. But the two residencies of that English seller rang a bell with me. So it was time for doing some more sleuthing regarding Oxford and his youth spent at the Burghley House in London, initially called the Cecil House before William Cecil was knighted Lord Burghley.

The 17th Earl of Oxford was certainly much into buying and selling, and like yours truly (when it comes to old gramophone records), as a member of the nobility, he must have been very particular. Returning from a year long trip to Italy, loaded with finery (that was the first word that came to mind though I don’t know whether his Italian purchases are now known apart from the Queen’s gloves and maps), he was robbed of most of the luxury items  shortly before reaching the shores of England.

Reading Wikipedia about the first Burghley House, initially called Exeter House and then, as noted, Cecil House), my attention suddenly veers off from the text to lovely pencil drawing of a mature person identified as Lord Bedford, whom the Crown had given Covent Garden in 1552. This was an extensive area bordering on the grounds belonging to Cecil House and thus young Oxfords neighbour during his troublesome teens. I recall having heard “Covent Garden” mentioned numerous times in my life, but I just cannot recall when or in what situations. Possibly during my childhood, since both Ma and Pa had been to England in their early twenties (individually, before they met – Ma went there for classes in Art), and they both loved gardening and landscaping.

Not only did the folk music trio Amazing Blondel on Swedish television give me goose bumps back in 1973 when I was in my early teens thirteen and first heard Elizabethan music  (it really stirred something in me and contrasted wildly with Deep Purple or whatever rock band I was into that particular month). Reading up on the first Burghley House I now recalled in a flash that years before that folk music experience I had owned a toy car that I loved above others because of its name which apparently had struck a deep chord within, similar to that of hearing old English music. Before I reveal that name I must mention that Amazing Blondel’s 1970 debut on ISLAND RECORDS was with an upbeat song containing the line, “I was born in Lincoln” – a city of course situated in Lincolnshire, the shire that started off this chain of events.

Incomprehensibly, as a boy this humble truck was
the blogger's favourite toy car for a long time

Now, that toy car which, since I could not yet read at four or five, Ma must have read to me, was a dumpster truck named BEDFORD, just like young Oxford’s neighbour, the owner of Covent Garden. I can remember how I turned these old Corgi Toys and Dinky Toys cars around, spellbound by the texts (in English) on their underbellies, and I must certainly have been looking long and hard at the word “Bedford” for that strong reaction and instant recall when seeing it on Wikipedia - now as the neighbour to a former address of a historic person earlier having appeared in my dream! This really strains the credibility of naturalists and scientists insisting that nothing according to their view of reality can possibly survive a person’s physical death and that thought transference and other mediumistic gifts are all pure nonsense.

That these odd coincidences points directly to young Oxford’s years at the Cecil House in London is obvious, but for clarity’s sake I will add a few facts gleaned from the detailed Wikipedia articles. The future Lord High Treasurer Cecil moves to his London townhouse in 1560, two years before Edward de Vere becomes fatherless and is put in custody with the Cecils in this very house. He becomes the Queen’s treasurer in 1572 when Oxford is 21 or 22. (The young Lord, a spendthrift if there ever was one, would a few years later embark on his extremely costly trip to Italy.) 

From the years following Oxford’s upbringing in Burghley House and preceding (and following) his trip to Italy correspondence has been preserved that reveals the rather strained relationship between this imposing authority figure and the stepson. In fact, the very formal communication are very similar to this blogger’s problems after about ten to respect his own father and the letters exchanged during his upper teens and early twenties with the father who then had moved abroad (“something rotten in the state of Denmark”). In this correspondence my father, a sales executive, revealed his all-engrossing fixation on money and ownership.

He certainly lived up to the usual characterization of the zodiac’s second sign Taurus (money and property) and in according to the true, sidereal zodiac, in fact was born in that sign. (Just as Oxford, the astrological buff believed himself to have been, although the warlike spirit en love of tournaments and jostling – like some boys I had a similar love for things Arthurian at ten and eleven – perfectly fits Oxford’s true solar sign, the warlike Aries.)

Those letters, I recall, contained sharp reprimands, threatening and pleading, in order to make his put a higher value on money, which I simply could not do. (Astrologically this is obvious, being a solar Air-Libra and having Moon rising in the east in Air-Gemini and thus one but a distinct step ahead of my father’s Gemini ascendant which was held back by his Sun in materialistic Taurus. I can vividly imagine similar discussions between Oxford and his stepfather.
Perhaps the parallelism is seen because it is universal; perhaps this is in itself the archetypal tug of war between the grown-ups trying to teach the young to contain themselves and adopt the materialism of the world. Indeed, this is the reasonable explanation to this blogger’s tendency to identify with the Oxford/Cecil correspondence if just cutting out and removing this piece from the other pieces already enumerated. 

So I must ask the reader to venture a guess on how many kids in Sweden, with a six million population back in the sixties, sat down hypnotized by Bedford, the name of their favourite toy car (in itself one of the lowliest cars in my toy collection – a mundane dumpster truck and really paling, compared to e.g. the Batmobile I received a year or three later and which I also liked a lot, but not with the same fervour as the B E D F O R D). 

The reader should also recall this blogger’s parents having been to England with especially my Ma being something of an anglophile ever since that, or at least an avid reader of British royal gossip (I guess that goes for a great many European women). 

However, in the biographical department one must not fail to add the curious case of me moving at fourteen from the west coast of Sweden to Stockholm at the east coast and during the first year in the capital repeatedly scoring highest in class during the English exams (second language in school). Only to be informed by the teacher that the rules stipulated she only distributed so many A grades in class, and although I clearly had a better command of English than anyone else, I could only receive the second-highest grade since she otherwise had do downgrade some other pupil in the well-to-do neighbourhood. 

The reader may appreciate the dejection this blogger felt at fourteen! Moving on to “high school” the pattern continued. The honourable English teacher, Mr. Glimvik, soon realized who was at the top of his class (and this time gave the highest grade).

A few years later my sister coincidentally had Mr. Glimvik in the same subject, and she too outperformed the other students in her class. Many, many years later mother took a train from Gothenburg to Stockholm and in the seat next to her discovered Mr. Glimvik, who she recognized from parent-teacher meetings. They spent a few hours chatting away and it transpired that my childhood family and Mr. Glimvik (who had once studied at Oxford, to bring in this word again), had unbeknownst to each other moved to same Swedish cites at roughly the same times – THRICE! (A small town called Tranås, then to the second city Gothenburg and finally to Stockholm, capital of Sweden). 

A longtime believer in reincarnation (I was fantasizing about at least one former life as a Chinese already at six), I find this a good if indirect example of “group karma” or the unseen ties (or God’s hand) moving the pieces on the game board collectively for the fulfilment of “the life plan”!

Another curious piece of this puzzle is the fact that Pa changed from the exceedingly common last name Pettersson (Peter’s son) immediately after his trip to England in 1955 and had it registered with the Patent Bureau (so that no one can change to the same name). In an all too verbose afterword in my book summarizing the Swedish astrology blog I noted that his newly adopted last name Aldenryd might be read as a conflation of two tongues (by no means rare), the Old English “alden” (old) and the Old Swedish “ryd” (meaning a manmade clearing in the forest, but not yet put to use for cultivation). 

During one of several revisits on the subject of Earle Oxenford, I noted that Elizabethan London had two gates somewhat redundantly named Aldgate and Aldengate respectively. Outside one of them lay an extensive garden (not Covent Garden). One might almost think Pa spent time perusing old historic maps of London during his visit there and got the idea for his name change that way!

Indeed, maps featured heavily in my childhood during Pa’s subscription to the National Geographic magazine and on my Swedish blog I have attempted to explain Oxford’s trip to Italy in part as his longing for a new father figure after the father’s early demise (and obviously not enamoured by the social climber Cecil as stepfather). The argument, briefly stated, is that the Queen’s astrologer John Dee became one of these role models and it was in the capacity as an avid collector of land maps, Oxford journeyed to the Italian city excelling above others in the art of cartography – all in order (unconsciously, of course) to imitate John Dee. 

One might notice the nobleman being peculiar: not any map drawer sufficed for the nobleman, only the map drawers of highest repute was good enough for him (as John Dee had known Mercator). This blogger is not much of a collector, with one exception, during the past 14 years the astrological interest of his early twenties has awoke anew, and the collection that stopped at 300 charts back then has now increased to 9.300 during his attempts to evaluate the correctness of the ancient sidereal zodiac.

So, in a way, this combines Oxford’s love of astrology (courtesy John Dee) and also land map collecting proclivity (also courtesy John Dee) into one subject: astrological maps, or rather, what they might signify! The reader of course senses what the real issue is: is there some universal scheme recurring over time (even down to the smallest details, as the Greeks thought)? Do we inherit traits from persons that once lived but that we have no blood relations with? Is reincarnation the best explanation for this, or are there other models?

During earlier Internet searches I found mentions of economic documentation showing the Oxford was buying and selling land, among other things a park of some size. Had he not become saturated by the business conducted by his biological father (which it is almost certain he had), the stepfather’s affairs during his teens cannot possibly have escaped him, as for instance buying up a piece of the outermost land belonging to Covent Garden from his neighbour Lord Bedford. 

I can almost imagine young Oxford at a window, looking out from Cecil’s townhouse and taking in the green scenery of that vast garden and with growing resentment dwelling on the lands and building belonging to his family but now seized by his stepfather. Cecil’s extension of his garden in London of course corresponded with this snakelike person's wish to climb in society. De Vere had an older and finer pedigree than Cecil and one must assume a certain stiffness resulting from both being aware of this; Oxford had to assert himself in other ways than contesting the stepfather in charge of his family property - the young man turned to fencing and similar sports. 

Again of archetypal (in the loose sense) or universal character, is the tendency to encroach on other others lots in order to expand one’s own living space. I was not spared this experience either as I cringed from shame at precisely twelve when my father YET AGAIN started a row with a neighbour regarding where his grounds ended and our family’s began. I remember two men and a city ground schema settling the matter of who had the right to the disputed area once and for all. Father habitually thought “outsiders” encroached on his territory and karmically speaking this would imply that he in a former life was the one ruthlessly expanding at other’s expense!

Interesting, however, is the speculative ascending sign I put in Oxford’s horoscope based on the moment I awoke from the dream in 2005. With Gemini rising (coincidentally the same as during both mine and my father's birth), Oxford had the misfortune of having both the benefics Venus and Jupiter put in the 12th house of worldly loss. Born into one of England’s wealthiest families, Edward de Vere appears to have ended his life practically broke!

And thus, in the midst of this sequence of strange coincidences triggered by a English dealer who charges too much for trashy objects and snootily makes a number of possessing two dwellings, one in London and the other not far from the mansion Burghley House, arises the phrase “bonfire of the vanities” in the back of his head. I have not read the book but very vaguely remember the very boring film version. 

The wondrous thing here being of course the Italian background to the phrase, of which I was unaware until now. And also how pertinent the idea of burning sinful items denoting vanity follows so closely in time after having gone a round with an English seller of very scarce records. And this too in a time when that people has finally said "thank you but no thanks" to the rich man’s club EU which has depleted the salt of England’s earth and life much less succulent than before Thatcher and the insane Neo-liberalism with greedy US corporation effectively trying to take over the world. 

Perhaps a personal omen of burning on a pyre what little remains of the “collector” or “hoarder” in this blogger’s psychical constitution, in preparation for the Age of Aquarius? For those who don’t know it yet, this will become a post-capitalist age for mankind, spearheaded by China and all nations wanting to serve the entirety rather than themselves. Good globalism is not yet born, but it will arrive.

From that angle the English might seem to have taken a wrong step towards seclusion but as EU is so corrupted by US and European lobbyists the West will obviously need another turbulent period of narrowing down into nationalism (and possibly another great war) before the New Spirit of Aquarius – the Cosmic Man – will dawn on this benighted part of the world.

As for the question what explanation apart from reincarnation best suits this blogger’s perceived parallels with the life of Oxford, I have discussed that in some depth in my Swedish blog. Possibly I will translate some of it for eventual publication on this sleepy blog.


Post Script

This blogger’s been outside Sweden five times in his entire life – four trips in connection with the childhood family and one at the employer's behest. Countries visited were, in chronological order, Italy (at six), the tourist island Tenerife (at seven), England (at 11) , Denmark (circa 20) and France (at 38). Denmark because my parents had moved there and France because it was a grandiose gesture from the then employer to have the entire staff bond while visiting castles and vine yard abroad). 

Why bring this up? Perhaps Oxford got so burned by his year long and outlandishly expensive tour of Italy - an upper class shopping spree if you so will - only to be robbed on the journey home, that a pronounced negativity to travelling has travelled on in time attaching itself to anything thereafter immersing himself of the soul stuff of the late Earl. Indeed, as this soul stuff encroached upon my dreaming this explanation is insufficient since there is so much more I have found from my life that corresponds to peculiarities in Oxford's life, some of which i have thrown like pearls before swine on the blog in Swedish where no one, this blogger included, reads Shakespeare or hardly even history if it doesn't involve one's own country. Sweden has in recent time suffered the indignity of producing school pupils growing stupider by the year more than any other member of OECD, and this even after removing the war refugees and other type of immigrants from the statistics. 

I hold the dumbing down in Sweden (at the forefront of everything IT) to be caused by the rise of the Internet, computer games and most recently smart phones. (In the news the other week: Facebook's latest algorithm ranks a visual clip higher than the written word! Facebook as the commoners' reinforcement mechanism, taking what little ability to express themselves verbally away from them! Hopefully China will criminalize Facebook after taking control of the world markets, Westerns are really committing cultural suicide in the name of Profit!)

Of these many coincidences (whether or not suspiciously many) I will here only mention briefly a dream from my twenties wherein I had an important task in delivering two ping pong paddles on a satin cushion to a sleeping King and Queen in an old castle to make then communicate again so that would love grow from playing the game. This is strangely reminiscent of Oxford's youthful poem in which he likens love to a game of tennis. Only the ping pong paddles - I loved ping pong as a child -  was tennis rackets in the original Oxford version! 

I have from my Swedish horizon never seen this type of simile for love between the "King" and the "Queen," and while not being much of Royalist - I frankly don't care what the Swedish Royalty is up to and much less today's British - I still have had a few strange dreams involving a King and a Queen, which I suppose Jungian depth psychologist can explain.

Another parallel discussed at length on my Swedish blog was the family trip to southern Italy in 1966 (1 week) och Pa's driving a rental car up through Italy to the Alps for a second week. A few years ago, (after writing the book which devotes on chapter to Oxford's horoscope and the curious event that triggered the dream), I realized this childhood trip to Italy had crossed Oxford's path and then some. It was during that investigation I suddenly realized why Oxford might have been interested in Verona of all places. It was famous for its cartography and the perhaps foremost cartographer keeping shop in Venice (where else?) came from Verona and might even have produced maps there.

Below are a few posts in Swedish involving my perceived resemblances with behaviours or items of interest to Oxford. Some contain links to yet further posts dealing with other perceived resemblances. After being very reticent, one might say I started publishing these musings in order to see more clearly whether the resemblances hold water or are just figments of wishful thinking, though paradoxically I have not the slightest wish to look like a nut who claims himself to have been Napoleon in another life! 

Therefore the importance of understanding what en ego is, and how it is discarded after a life never to return, and what is a soul and whether there is a "Super Soul" in which all the souls' resources are pooled and from which ANY INDIVIDUAL SOUL belonging to that Super Soul may draw, if having the right disposition and inclination...

The long and winding road ("Den långa och vindlande vägen") - July 2013

Regarding the publishing of the long and winding road (an astrological interpretation of the moment) - same day

Radical map on (not of) the winding road - August 2013 (a spin-off mentioning an interesting book I discovered as an aftermath to my look into Oxford's Italian journey in the uppermost link)

The Blogger's Occult Diary - Another name checking heading, now of the Swedish playwright August Strindberg's strangest literary work. Long ago, I worked for a while at the tiny Strindberg Museum (the author's flat in Stockholm City where he lived during his last years) and had the opportunity of studying Strindberg's annotations written in his French translation of the Chinese oracle text I Ching. 

I have that in about 10 English translations (and one with the Chinese just to look and understand the exact phrasing of the original). This cosmological and ethical work absorbed me for a quarter of a century but is now superseded by an renewed interest in the zodiac signs which I find correspond much better to empirical reality if going by the original Babylonian-Indian sidereal variety.

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