30/07/2012

Wrath/Ira: The Seven Sins – part IV of VII


Anger or more precisely wrath or rage is perhaps one of the more complexes of the cardinal sins because its field of identification and expression is so wide, it moves beyond the sphere of self and aim towards usurping parts of the world not naturally pertaining to the one suffering from rage. It can stretch out in the world and then collapse upon the wrathful leading to suicide.

In the 7th canto Dante describes in Inferno that here in the fifth circle where the wrathful ones were found he saw more people than anywhere else, they were clashing against each other in a never ending clash and turmoil, like hungry wolfs taking bites of each other just to be hurled apart and clashed against each other yet again, like a tormented wave of angry flesh.

Wrath can range from destructiveness and hurtfulness of any kind to violence, vengeance and war. In the 7th Canto Dante do speak of the battle between Michael and Satan, but this should not be interpreted as some forms of wrath are good – on the contrary, in this imagery, the Satanic impulse is the wrath of the worlds which the mindful Michael subdue and thus dominate the darker passions with a clear mind. Dante further see wrath as a love for justice that is perverted into spite and vengeance and he have here in mind how history at all times have demonstrated how a desire for justice can lead to violence and feuds that is passed down in families, like ancestral curses. Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ being one tale of the misfortunes of Wrath.

There are some tendencies in modern psychology of a humanist bent to see anger and consequently rage as passions that hold a potential useful and good, that it is simply viewed as energy. But this is not so, anger is a passion that has been given a direction and its quality is violence and destruction. Wrath is Lord Mars falling into the clutches of Moon and Saturn that pervert his energy into something foul (Saturn) or into energy misdirected and misplaced (Moon). Here vengeance and violence upon the world as dictated by mars or the final implosion and self destruction as generated by Moon gives the spectre of wrath.

Anger is a passion caused by some feeling of injustice being committed; it can be towards your personae, towards your principles, towards your ancestry or some cause or value you identify yourself with. It might start as something experienced as a provocation or a wrongdoing done deliberately against you – and in this you take this aerial passion and mould it to a seed that you place in your stomach and from here you allow it to take fire and ignite heart with putrid fumes and thus the mind get cloud in the irrational vapours of negative and destructive passions. Anger that is allowed to grow into wrath will always seek destruction, it will seek to even the scores and it will seek redemption for the perceived attack by the bane of axe and sword. It is the path of cruelty where love has seen its death in the first flicker of poisonous fumes oozing forth from the wrathful one...

Wrath is poison, as William Blake spoke of in his poem, 'A Poison Tree' that speaks of the complexity and bane of wrath:
  
A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend: 
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
 
I was angry with my foe;
 
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I water'd it in fears, 
Night & morning with my tears;
 
And I sunned it with my smiles
 
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night, 
Till it bore an apple bright;
 
And my foe beheld it shine,
 
And he knew that it was mine,
And into my garden stole 
When the night had veil'd the pole:
 
In the morning glad I see
 

My foe outstretch'd beneath the tree