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Gula/Gluttony: The Seven Sins – part V of VII


“Cerberus, cruel monster, fierce and strange,
Through his wide threefold throat, barks as a dog
Over the multitude immersed beneath.
His eyes glare crimson, black his unctuous beard,
His belly large, and claw'd the hands, with which
He tears the spirits, flays them, and their limbs
Piecemeal disports.”

-       Dante; Circle 3 Canto 6

Gluttony is the opposite of temperance and is a vice caused by an affliction of Venus and Moon that take the form of overindulgence and selfishness. Commonly it refers to excess of food and drink leading to another sin, sloth or laziness that in turn opens for a general neglect of soul, body and mind that is replaced by an insatiable and constant hunger. This is why Dante places Cerberus here, the guardian of the circles that lead to more grave sins, a gluttonous monster, representing the beastly nature of black appetites.  It is a warning that one might risk to lose ones divine mind and succumb ones soul to the realm of the beastly.
Gluttony was seen by the Carmelite St. John of the Cross as a great impediment to reach satisfaction and grace because it would eradicate the sight for destiny and purpose and replace it with a desire for the worldly alone, where our prayers would be of personal and material gain and not for serenity and purpose. This form of spiritual gluttony is also showing itself in the erratic appetite some have for searching spiritual authority through the desire for gaining initiations for the sole purpose of status and recognition. The spiritual gluttony has turned into avarice and any satisfaction is getting lost in imbalanced appetites that lead one further away from the guidance of one’s daimons.

Temperance is the virtue that keeps gluttony in check. Temperance is not about denial of the good life and the pleasures of flesh and food, but about recognition of balance and in this a desire to realize ones station in life and in the world. Temperance is the spirit of sharing and caring, to enjoy the gifts of life and the world in conformity with need and pleasure – but with mindful consideration.
The vice of Gluttony is seen in the people who always want more because their axis is rooted in their belly, the abode of appetites and hunger, dislocated from the passion of the heart and the serenity of the mind. Rather it strikes downward and takes the shape of a selfish desire for quenching ones hunger without remorse or reflection.  The gluttonous takes not only his own fill of food and feast - but happily the fill and satisfaction of others... Gluttony is not only about food and drink, it touches upon all areas of human activity where appetites are in motion and the hunger for power and status is perhaps a greater and more blinding vice than the mere overeating or over drinking...or.... allow me to close these musings with a poem by Lonnie Hicks   

Gluttony and I

I have Gluttony's appetite! 
my calories intoxicate. 
Food plumps my mental wit; 
eating slight dulls merriment. 
Fill my tankard now! 
Let Gluttony abound! 

Heave comestibles round my plate! 
Obscure my seat mates stick-thin bags of bones. 
I vowed at 35 to then forsake 
the premature death self-denial brings. 

At death, in a coffin large, perhaps, 
no one will shame or condemn me 
simply because I ate my fill 
and bedded down with Gluttony. 

No one will say at my Wake 
'My he looks beautifully thin' 
rather I fully expect 
they'll ignore the matter of weight 
and comment 'Humm. he looks real good dead.' 

So I ask why should I restrict 
my draught and food intake? 

I hear the cat-calls 
and pleas all around 
'Keep eating that way and you will put your health at 
risk' 
Maybe, but, we will all someday, 
in life, check out through double doors on high 
I for one want to order first 
a burger and some fries! 

Put there, too, in stone 
my final epithet; 
'He had a good time- 
Ate Everything In Sight.' 

PS. While others at the funeral 
debate the yang and ying 
slip over by my coffin top 
won't you 
some spicy chicken wings! 

When they bury me, 
ignore those munching sounds 
you hear 
below the coffin closed. 
Some caviar, an aperitif 
at work, I suspect 
the happy traveler! 

Remember this: 

'Misunderstood he was 
and, too, dear friend Gluttony.' 

So Gluttony smuttony. 
Who gives a care? 
Pass me friend the large ladle 
and an hour from now 
all of this 
will go to the wind! 
Gluttony, Gluttony 
friend to the end!
Lonnie Hicks

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