A love at once illicit and morally elevating, passionate and disciplined, humiliating and exalting, human and transcendent.
Francis X. Newman, ed. (1968). The Meaning of Courtly Love.
Oh, Leo, Leo, the sign of love, nobility, happiness. The zodiac archetype that will do all in its power to entertain us, make us laugh, create for us, and protect us. Oh, thou mane crowned sign, who rules our hearts, can you also protect us from love? Can any sign defend us from that which we both desire and fear? And if there is a champion that can shield us from the woes of love, would we even consider commissioning him to carry such an ignoble task?
I agree, that paragraph was rather dramatic, but as we are now in the realm of Leo, the drama queen (or king), I wanted to dedicate this email to impossible loves. Especially because according to Kabbalah and ancient Jewish lore, the day of love is the 15th day of the lunar month of Av, which always falls on the Full Moon during Leo (August 10th this year). While Valentine, celebrated in Aquarius, the sign of friendships, is the day best suited for platonic love, the full moon in Leo, called in Hebrew, Tu Be'Av, is energetically designed for the fête of romantic love. After all, Leo rules both love and the heart. In the Talmud, it is mentioned that Tu be'Av was celebrated during the time of the Temple as the commencement of the grape's harvest. Grapes that have the tendency from the time of Noah to reincarnate as wine and intoxicate the lover and the beloved, became the ultimate symbol for passion. August 10th is a great day of a date with your beloved and don't be cheap on the wine...
Now, it is time to get to the point of this email, so here is a question:
Ever had a relationship which was one sided? Ever fell head over heel for a person who turned out to be married? Ever found yourself infatuated with a person who is living on other side of the world, or had a different sexual orientation? Maybe someone who was perfect, but 30 years younger? Or maybe you found your "soul-mate" only to discover they are a "functioning" addict?
Most of us, being humans and reincarnating on earth, have encountered these encounters...
These love affairs, these flings, dalliances, liaisons, and sparks of unreasonable ecstasy, are all too often scorned upon by ourselves, and dismissed by our friends and family. They are judged, classified as impossible loves, or past-lives patterns that must be exorcised. They are explained as father issues, mother issues, midlife-crises issues, Saturn Return (first and second) and other unfaltering categorizations. These loves that vibrate the heart in such fluctuating frequencies are described as destructive, terrible, meaningless, and inevitably leading to a dead-end. And what can I say? Our friends are right. These impossible one-sides, (or three-sided) loves lead nowhere.
However, after experiencing such an impossible love recently, I had a chance to look at these kind of relationships in a more, let us say, personal manner. Usually I am the empath, the counselor, the therapist, doing my best to pick up the pieces and help those who fell into a love with no hope. Suddenly, finding myself in the company of the heartbroken, I realized there is another, more constructive and romantic way to look at these destructive loves. No longer are they impossible, forbidden, and abominate affairs. From now on, I declared them as COURTLY LOVES! A noble love experienced by the greatest and most illustrious men and women in the High Middle Ages of Western Europe. We are no longer addicts, delusional and self-destructive pathetic lovers but knights and ladies, kings and queens who in our pain inspire and conceive countless poems, work of art, music, stories and ballads. Courtly Love was popularized by the godless troubadours who immortalized the sorrows of the mortal coils like constellations of Greek heroes and heroines. These wise storytellers lived and work in the same period when the Kabbalistic wrote the Zohar and when Rumi channeled his poems.
A highly conventionalized medieval tradition of love between a knight and a married noblewoman, first developed by the troubadours of Southern France and extensively employed in European literature of the time. The love of the knight for his lady was regarded as an ennobling passion and the relationship was typically unconsummated.
These courtly loves were impossible loves and they were perfect in their imperfection. Lancelot fell in love with Guinevere who was not only his queen but also married to his best friend, King Arthur. He fought in her name, wrote her poems, and I am sure she visited his more erotic dreams, but their love was kept in the "spiritual ethereal" realm, never materializing in the corporeal sense. Some historians write on the possible influence of the Old Testament book Song of Songs on the form and essence of Courtly Love. The Song of Songs, attributed to Solomon (who had 700 wives and 300 concubines, obviously an authority on love), is full of wonderful erotic prose depicting various tormented impossible loves. Rabbis and Priests, embarrassed by the illicit language of Solomon's rather candid poems, proclaimed these songs of songs must be an allegory for the love between God and his bride: Israel (Judaism) or the Church (Christianity). However, nothing of this far fetched interpretation is even remotely alluded in the actual text. The troubadours might have been influenced by these allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs and transferred back the dysfunctional love between God and Humanity to its original context of men and women.
When you find yourself in an impossible, destructive love, when you KNOW the person you desire is not good for you, unavailable, or does not reciprocate your affections, don't be discouraged. You are not alone. Don't feel like you must pursue it at all price. Let it be, and join the wonderfully creative troubadours who made their imperfect love a perfect story or song. According to the Bible, God also had an impossible love with the ancient Israelites. That codependent love drove God mad. It made him often times jealous, angry, aloof, as well as violent. He could not stand when his love went "whoring" after other sexier and more approachable gods. The Biblical God punishes his people, then they repent, and soon thereafter, resume their flirtation with other deities (7 years itch) and once again God leaves them, slams the door etc. Read the bible...it's all there...So if God has an impossible love, how can we get it right?
Separation is Creation:
A close examination of stories of creation reveals that most creation myths follow the path of separation. Just as one cell breaks into two in order to procreate life, the Genesis story of creation depicts a process of splitting. God divides the light and dark, earth from heaven, the waters below from the above, the dry land from the sea and Adam's rib from his body etc. The message is clear: creation, as in creativity, always follows separation. Even if you find a "possible" love and it ends up being impossible, no worries, the splitting or separation will be followed with a big creation. A Big-Bang of ingenuity will follow your breakup. After separations, always, there is a renewal and a surge of artistic and creative expression.
As I confessed earlier, I also went through a short Impossible, wait, no! We said, Courtly, not impossible, love. And on the weekend after the breakup, I rebooted my music room that has been dormant for a while and recorded a track called "Wrestling Angels," expressing the grey zone of Courtly-Love. Apologies for the low and somewhat primitive production value and lack of sophistication in the lyrics and composition. I recorded it all in a room not a studio, and I did my best to express with my voice what my soul experienced. The first sound you will hear is my Shofar (ram's horn)...Here is the link to the MP3 of the song:
Wishing you lots of courtly and other more tangible Leo loves...
Remember Rumi and his everlasting craving for his beloved (translation Coleman Barks):
The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing, how blind that was...
Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy, absentminded. Someone sober will worry about things going wrong...