Definitions of Passion

Just looked up the dictionary definitions of “passion”. Quite interesting range of assocations, worth reflecting on.

From the Oxford Concise Dictionary…

1. Strong, barely controllable emotion
2. An outburst of anger
3. Intense sexual love
4. a) Strong enthusiasm; b) a thing arousing this.
5. (the Passion): a) the suffering of Christ during his last days. b) a narrative of this from the gospels; c) a musical setting of any of these narratives.

The word “passion” actually has its roots in the latin word “passio” meaning “to suffer or endure”. The earlier meanings of passion, are to do with fire and with the suffering of martyrs who die and are resurrected – its association with sexual desire was not attested until 1588. It is also strongly linked to fire from way back, and fire in Chrsitianity is primarily associated with the devil, purgatory, the fires of hell, blame, retribution, suffering and so on. Fire in alchemy, by contrast, gives access to the creative power itself, yet is also dangerous work accessing the power of fire. Remember Prometheus? – he stole fire from the Gods, and, for his enterprise, was chained to rock for eternity with vultures pecking at his immortal liver! It was his passionate love for humanity that motivated him! Jesus, too – we are told it was his passionate love for humanity that ave him the strength to to endure on the cross.

I have called the Aries cycle “The Passion of Spring”, and I think of the passionate endurance required from the life force of nature to break through the shell of winter (encpasulated in the “passion” of the bud) . Through passion comes resurrection, whether we see that as Jesus resurrection or the resurrection of the life force in the natural world. Many religions celebrate a dying and resurrecting god (e.g. Dionysus of Greece, Attis of Phrygia, Osiris of Egypt, etc, etc) and the vernal or spring equiniox is always the time of the year when this god experiences the passion and resurrects. It’s worth considering that these religious traditions may in fact be narrating the story of the fetility of nature, the reawakening of the seed of life, and the resurrection of the life force. Many scholars now attest to this. These gods are all very passionate characters!

And was Jesus really without anger? As passion and anger are so intricately linked, I very much doubt it. Anyone seen The Last Temptation of Christ? – one of my absolute favourite films – really shows a passionate Jesus with very human doubts and fears, not to mention his sexual passion – and a lot of anger – another “must see” for Aries, really!

No wonder the word “passion” generates such an emotional charge for so many of us, and hence the enquiry “what are you passionate about?” may not be quite as straightforward a question as it might have once appeared!

Then, the element of fire is hardly benign!

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