I don’t know why I never listened to this 2005 Robert Plant record, but I’m sure glad I did so yesterday — for two reasons.
First, it’s good. Really good. A mixture of blues, world music, and house remix tracks that somehow — to my utter amazement! — manages to homogenize instead of settling into oil and water.
Second, it’s deeply occult. That’s refreshing, especially when actual, quality, mainstream occult rock is as rare as an honest politician. Before you cry foul, I’m know that there’s lots of stuff that has pentacles plastered all over it or that makes overt references to topics and theories that some might call occult. That’s not occult. “Occult” means hidden. You ought to have to dig a little! Mainstream, quality occult rock is on life support.
Thanks to Robert Plant and the Strange Sensations for putting the paddles on it and shocking it back to life.
As proof that the record’s themes are occult I point out that the Wikipedia article totally missed them, saying only that, “It contains a blend of world and Western music influences, with mystical, oblique and somewhat cynical references to religion and destiny.” Cyclical would’ve been a better word than cynical. Clearly the occult material was too well hidden for most listeners to notice.
This record is an esoteric, audio grimoire on the natural, recurring cycles of personal and planetary evolution in general, and on The Fool’s Journey in particular.
- There are twelve tracks — equating to twelve hours in a day, twelve months in a year, twelve houses of the zodiac, and so on.
- After the 12th track there is a hidden 13th track.
- In what way can 13 be said to equal 12? A year isn’t just 12 months — it’s also measurable in 13 cycles of the moon. So this 12-13 album conjures up the 12-13 measurement of a year (a very occult way of looking at a year, to be sure).
- The hidden 13th track is a remix of the second track. So this track pushes us right back into a 12-count cycle, skipping track #1 so that we get 12 steps — over and over and over again, like the ever-spinning wheel of the year.
How it Evokes The Fool’s Journey
What’s the The Fool’s Journey? As Eden Gray said when she coined the phrase “Fool’s Journey,” in her book “The Complete Guide to the Tarot”:
“The Fool represents the soul of everyman, which, after it is clothed in a body, appears on earth and goes through the life experiences depicted in the 21 cards [22 if you count 0 The Fool. -ed.] of the Major Arcana, sometimes thought of as archetypes of the subconscious. Let each reader use his imagination and find here his own map of the soul’s quest, for these are symbols that are deep within each one of us.” [Thanks to Mary K. Greer for the quote.]
Now let’s go spot The Fool’s Journey on the record.
- Each of the 12/13 tracks equates to a kind of abbreviated Tarot, which is just another version of the Fool’s Journey.
- Track #1 is 0 The Fool, Track #2 is XIX The Sun, Track #3 is V The Heirophant (reversed?), Track #4 is The Emperor, Track #5 is IV The Emperor, Track #6 is II The High Priestess, and so on. Don’t believe me? Listen to the record and you can hear all of these characters speaking.
- The hidden 13th track is XII The Hanged Man. Note that XII The Hanged Man is actually the 13th card in the Major Arcana. It’s the sacrificial step, the Christ/Buddha/Savior card that comes right before change (XIII Death). Here we have death, rebirth, and reincarnation.
- And here again we have the 12-13 theme, thereby linking together the players (the 12-13 songs) to the grand repeating play (the 12-13 year).
- What’s the “Mighty ReArranger?” Well that’s God, The One, the Supreme Ultimate. It’s both the original Arranger (notice how the word has a capital “A” part way through?) and the re-arranger — the First Cause-Prime Mover-Creator-Arranger and the Teacher-Savior-Redeemer-ReArranger all rolled into one.
What a truly excellent, thought-provoking, amazing record. Very highly recommended!