Interview with Christopher Robert Craddock, Spectacular Saturday Zoom Open Mic, August 20, 2022
By: Carla Joy Martin
The end of summer was celebrated by our local poets on Spectacular Saturday Zoom Open Mic, August 20, 2022. Our featured poet was none other than Christopher Robert Craddock, one of our favorite contributors to Open Mics. We are excited to offer an interview with him about the poem he shared that evening, “The Council of Solace,” written after he had an inspiring meditation session at the Grand Temple at Rosicrucian Park in San Jose, California.
Participants were Christopher Robert Craddock, Christopher Nielsen, Carla Joy Martin, Suzanne Weller, Sandra Hughes, Richard Aguirre and Portia Choi.
SPECTACULAR SATURDAY ZOOM OPEN MIC, Featuring Christopher Robert Craddock
The Council of Solace
Once again, I have come to the temple.
The High Priestess strikes the gong.
As the reverberations diminish
I proceed to my seat, taking care
Not to deviate from a straight and narrow
Path in the slightest. Making deliberate
Turns of precisely 90 degrees. Not 89.
Not 91. Deliberate and intentional
Turns of exactly 90 degrees.
I take the same seat every time.
Second row back on the Southwest side.
Beside the second column from the right.
There are filigrees in the mural
That look like the Eyes of Ra
If gazed at languidly through
Veils of eyelashes and half closed lids.
Ra asks if I am sure the designs
On the murals are filigrees and not
Scrimshaw? But the eyes flash.
They metamorphosize briefly
Into the eyes of Philip Kindred Dick.
He intervenes, contradicting Ra,
Declaring unequivocally that
They are filigrees and most emphatically
NOT scrimshaw. Filigrees. Phil agrees.
The eyes change back to Ra’s and wink.
Now the priestess instructs us to close
Our eyes, placing our feet firmly
On the floor, slightly apart. “Put your hands
In your lap,” says the priestess. We comply.
I choose a mudra that feels good.
Though I haven’t memorized any mudras
I am just guessing by the way the energy
Feels, intuitively. Mudras are where you
Hold your hands with some fingers
Touching your thumbs. It matters
Which fingers because some mudras
Promote clarity and healing while others
Can drive you stark raving–
I wish I had a mood ring so
I could see which mudra–
Which combination of fingers–
Drove you the craziest and
Go with that one. I am in that crazy
Mood today, but I chose my mudra
Sans mood ring, trusting my intuition.
After chanting the invocation
The priestess implores us to
Visualize earth as seen from space.
A blue marble orbiting through the cosmos.
We imagine the earth infused with
Healing light. I am on the bridge
Of the Enterprise with Kirk and Spock.
I suppose I am Chekhov as Spock and Kirk
Are already taken. The guided meditation
Continues with the supplicants being
Asked to give solace, wisdom, and health
To all who are suffering and in need of help.
We are asked to focus on an individual
Who is in dire need but to imagine them
Calm, healthy, and blissful. I focus on
A woman I know whose grave misfortune
It is to be loved by me. I hope to see her
In a few days. She needs me.
Next we focus on a place. Bakersfield
Could use some help but I am thinking of Ukraine
We chant Aum three times. I take a deep
Breath and try to sustain the chant for
As long as possible. I can never last as long
As some others seem to. Nevertheless,
Our Aums resound magnificently.
Our work complete, we departed the temple.
The murals on the walls depict ancient
Egyptians. I feel like I am back in the days
Of Moses when he threw down his staff
Before the Pharaoh’s sorcerers and it
Turned into a serpent–proving that
His magical powers were stronger.
The last panel depicts an Egyptian
Sorcerer smoking some kind of pipe.
I wonder what he is smoking.
Perhaps some burning bush?
Q. What inspired you to write this poem? Where were you and what were you doing that sparked your interest and creative thoughts? (I think you were meditating somewhere…?) How did this experience help or hinder you? Would you recommend it to others?
A. The poem, The Council of Solace, was inspired by a meditation group that I attended while visiting my mother in San Jose. We met in the Grand Temple in Rosicrucian Park, which was walking distance from my mother’s house. I tried to attend Monday through Friday, and they also had a research library containing many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore. There is also a labyrinth, a peace garden with a koi pond, and the most well known feature–The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum.
From the Rosicrucian website I quote the following:
The Council of Solace is a group of people at Rosicrucian Park and throughout the world who meditate daily on behalf of others.
The goal of the Council is to bring cosmic help to all those in need of it. It does this by putting certain spiritual energies into motion and directing them in accordance with mystical law and natural principles.
Metaphysical aid is thus directed to individuals who petition the Council of Solace with health, relationship, financial, or other challenges.
The aid of the Council of Solace operates on the cosmic plane. Its activity is solely metaphysical and in no way interferes with any professional or health-care assistance being received on the physical plane.
As the work of the Council is generated at a high plane of awareness, it is helpful to attune with this plane through the Celestial Sanctum meditation.
The Grand Temple, dedicated as the Supreme Temple of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, in San Jose, California, on July 17, 1949, is a reproduction of two ancient Egyptian temples.
The temple’s imposing exterior, with its massive columns, resembles the temple of Dendera, in which one of the great mystery schools of antiquity was established; while its interior is a reproduction of the processional temple of Medinet Habu, having a central court open to the sky and roofed colonnades flanking two sides. The inner temple, with its exquisite murals, its realistic simulating of moonlight and sunrise, and its authentic architectural design, is a thing of beauty. This new temple replaced an earlier, and much smaller Supreme Temple, constructed by Dr. H. Spencer Lewis in Rosicrucian Park in 1928.
I have included a picture of the mural mentioned in the final stanzas of my poem.
(Image provided by Christopher Robert Craddock)