Bob Dylan: Cooking Up More Mythologies (Part XVI)

An index to the full “Cooking Up More Mythologies” series appears at the end of this article.

by Larry Fyffe

In Greek/Roman mythology, Hera, the wife of the Thunder God, punishes Venus by cursing her, and with Dionysus the Goddess of Love produces an ugly child with a big cock. Biblical lore tells of screech owl Lilith, the first wife of Adam, flying off, and mating with Samael, the Angel of Death; she gives birth to lots of demons.

Some Gnostic writers speak about the figurative Sophia this way –

She’s the female Holy Ghost of Wisdom who decides to reproduce without her rational male binary Christ; He’s eternal, not born in Time; she gives birth to an ugly, ignorant and vengeful Dimiurge, the snake-like Creator of the material Earth, inhabited by flawed (if not downright evil) people, including Adam and Eve.

The Gnostic’s Sophia (Wisdom) is mentioned a number of  times in the Holy Bible.

In the Old Testament as the gnostic-like divine female side of God:

Say unto wisdom, "Thou art my sister"
And call understanding thy kinswoman
That they may keep thee from the strange woman
From the stranger which flattereth with her words
(Proverbs 7: 4,5)

In the New Testament she’s in the heart of Jesus, the apple of his eye. He materializes on Earth to lead Sophia back to the higher angelic  plane:

And the child grew
And waxed strong in spirit
Filled with wisdom
And the grace of God was upon Him
(Luke 2: 40)

Could be said that the previously mentioned song “If You Belonged To Me” takes a humorous poke at how happy Sophia could have been. That is, if she hadn’t desired to know what it’s like to be the mysterious, far-away, hermaphroditic Monad from whom she emanated downwards to the watery plane.

She’s punished for creating chaos, and is only able to leave sparks of light there:

You could feel like a baby again
Sitting on your daddy's knee
Oh how happy you would be
If you belonged to me
(Travelling Wilburys: If You Belonged To Me)

Another piece of biblical lore, rooted in the verse beneath, has Jesus escaping from the crucifixion by exchanging places with a Libyan:

And as they led Him away
They laid hold of one Simon, a Cyrenian
Coming out of the country
And on him they laid the cross
That he might bear it after Jesus
(Luke 23: 26)

From a Gnostic point of view, eternal Jesus can’t be killed or made to feel pain. He simply transfigures Himself into looking like Simon, and watches as the Libyan suffers on the cross.

The song lyrics below might be interpreted from that point of view:

Well, I'm going to Libya
There's a guy I gotta see
He's been living there three years now
In an oil refinery
(Travelling Wilburys: Got My Mind Made Up)

Allegories abounding, Gnostics bespeak of the material plane, and the spiritual plane, of  light and of darkness; some portray Mary Magdalene as the perfect wife for Jesus, she having climbed the gnostic steps to find female purity:

Wisdom, who is called barren, is the mother of angels
The companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene
And he kissed her often on the lips
And the other disciples said to Him
"Why do you love her more than all of us?" 
And the Saviour answered, and said to them 
"If a blind person, and one who can see are both in darkness
There is no difference between them
But when the light comes, the one who can see
Sees the light, and the blind one stays in darkness"
(Gospel Of Philip)

On one level, the double-edged song lyrics below, can be interpreted to have the same meaning as the words spoken above:

Quick, Magdalena, take my gun
Look up in the hills, that flash of light
Aim well my little one
We may not make it through the night
(Bob Dylan: Romance In Durango ~ Dylan/Levy)

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