Thursday, 24 November 2011

Let Us Give Thanks

On this day that people in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving, it's a day with a lot of energy, both of thankfulness and of hearth and home, larder and abundance, of friends and family.

It's a day associated with the harvest, like many other days between the Summer and Winter Solstices, though probably the latest harvest festival of the Gregorian year.  It is a day that's the height of increase. It's interesting that this year it falls so close to the New Moon, at a place of decrease, and also that it falls when Mercury is retrograde, a time often associated with things going backwards.  Appropriate since there is a general spiritual climate with the current economy, with the unemployment, with the recent protests, of lack, not abundance.

With the importance of family on this day for most Americans, it begs the question, who are you thankful to?   Is it to the Divine or land spirits, those that bring abundance?   Is it to your living family and friends, those that are part of your life in the now, the present, and all the blessings they give you.  Is it to your ancestors, recent or ancient, blood or spirit, the ones that helped you get where you are today?  I think it's as important to know who you're thankful to as what you're thankful for, for this tells a lot about you.

When you hear the word "ancestor", what do you think of?  You grandfather that died a year or two ago?  Your father that died?  Those who you're descended from who made the crossing to the New World?  Someone sitting in a grass hut in pre-history?  Or do you think of the Might Dead, of the dead of your spiritual line, those who mentored you, who mentored them?  Those form part of the current you ride in your journey?  If you believe in reincarnation, do you only think of the ancestors of this life, or of all lives?

Memory is passed in the blood and is stored in the bones.  Not the memories like what I had for dinner last night, but the ancient memories.  Who we really are, where we really came from.  As the baby grows in the mother, their blood mixes.  Her blood flows through her bones, picking up the memories.  Her blood flows down the umbilical cord, mixing with the baby's, and passes, along with the oxygen and nutrients, the memories in her bones of what came before.  And the baby's blood circulates through his body and those memories join others in his bones.

And other memories come also, memories from the Neshamah, who has lived many lives before.  She passes these memories along the cord, very much like the physical umbilical cord, that connects her to the newly developing Nefesh.  These memories are carried within her in the Threads of Wyrd, of Fate, that lie at her core.  They are passed down that cord to Nefesh.  And Nefesh is closely tied with the blood and the bones, and takes these memories and stores them in the bones to join the others in the baby's bones.

These memories are what ties us to both our physical ancestors and our spiritual ancestors.  And the new born baby knows all things that came before, but can't communicate them, being without words.  But with the coming of words comes restriction of memories, for the memories that he can't put into words no longer hold meaning and are forgotten.  With language comes ignorance and forgetfulness.  And we spend the rest of our lives re-learning, re-discovering, re-remembering.  But the memories are still in our bones, as they are still in the wind that blows across our skin.  So close, yet so far.  Right there, yet they might as well be in the stars.  And they are.

Magic and the craft is in our blood and our bones, for those who aren't clayborn.  It's tied up in those memories.  Call it Witchblood, call it the Witch's Mark, call it whatever you like, but it's there, waiting for use to find it.  As it was in our parents, whether physical or spiritual, and in theirs, all the way back.  And where do we go, looking back?  How far and to whom?

There's a story common in the Craft, and elsewhere, both esoteric and exoteric, both legend and myth,  The story tells of beings descending, seeing the beauty of the Daughters of Man, and having children of them, and teaching them all things, all crafts, all sciences, all arts, all magic.  Some call them Watchers, some call them Guardians, some call the Gods, some call them the Sons of God.  There are different counts of them, seven, eight, twelve, 200, other counts as well.  In many traditions, those with the Witchblood or Mark are those descended from these beings.  The things they taught aren't just passed down from teacher to student, master to apprentice.  They are in those memories, in our blood and our bones.  If we're not taught, still we can learn.  If we just listen to our bones, listen to our blood, listen to the wind.

If we are descended, both physically and spiritually from the Watchers, from the Guardians, they aren't guides or teachers or protectors.  They are our flesh and blood, some of our most ancient ancestors.  They are family.  When we encounter them in the Circle or Compass, or at Dawn or Dusk, yes, they are distant and removed, the ultimate reaches, the stars in the sky.  But they are also family, also our ancestors, the most ancient of the Mighty Dead.  They are distant, but they are also close, in our very blood and bones, just as we were in their loins and seed.  The connection is more than just a teacher and a student, or a protector and witness to our Arte.  They are one with us and us with them.  One blood, one body, one soul.

When we say we're thankful on this day, yes, let us look to the spirits and the Divine, yes, let us look to our friends and families, yes, let us look to our ancestors.  But let us look to all our ancestors, recent and ancient, physical and spiritual, human and stellar.  We are made of stardust, and we also carry it in our blood and bones, in our Nefesh, our Ruach, and our Neshamah, in the very strands of Wyrd that connect us to the past, the present, the future, all that was, all that is, all that will be, all space, all time, all earths, all heavens, the mundane and the sacred, the human and the divine.

"Let us give thanks..."

~Muninn's Kiss

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

What Would You Sacrifice for Knowledge/Da'ath/Gnosis/Power/Mystery/Wisdom?

"The Tempation of Eve"
by William Blake
It's been said that G-d lied to Adam and Eve, that he said they would die if they ate the fruit, but that they didn't...   Oh, but they did die!  But that's part of the point.  First the "small deaths" of leaving the Garden, toiling in the field, and the pains of childbirth, then the "great death" at the end of their lives, Adam at 930 years old.

What would you give up to gain Knowledge?  What would you give up to become "like G-d", to become a god?  Is the immortality of your physical body a sacrifice worth giving?  They traded a posh (Port out, starboard home, around the Cape of Good Hope, for those who don't know) life of ease, caring for the trees but not working hard, but living in ignorance, for a life of toil and hard work and pain and eventual death, but gained Knowledge, Da'ath, Gnosis.

How many Americans living a comfortable, easy life would give that all up for Knowledge/Da'ath/Gnosis?

Essentially, it's Initiation, dying to gain Knowledge/Da'ath/Gnosis/Power/Mystery/Wisdom, then being reborn/remade.  It's like Odin said:
Down to the deepest depths I peered
I know I hung on that windy tree,
Swung there for nine long nights
Wounded by my own blade
Bloodied for Odin.
Myself an offering to myself
Bound to the tree
That no man knows
Wither the roots of it ran.

None gave me bread.
None gave me drink.
Down to the deepest depths I peered
Until I spied the Runes.
With a roaring cry I seized them up
Then dizzy and fainting I fell.

Well-being I won
And wisdom, too.
From a word to a word
I was led to a word.
From a deed to another deed.
It's essentially the same story, sacrificing yourself to yourself on the tree, and gaining  Knowledge/Da'ath/Gnosis/Power/Mystery/Wisdom.

G-d mislead them by creating a taboo that the plan ultimately required to be broken.  The serpent mislead them by making it sound like the promised death was immediate and absolute, rather than in the future and temporary.  But ultimately, Adam and Eve made their own decision, not based only on what G-d said, and not only on the serpent.  They gave up something to gain something else, and though they suffered the consequences, they changed EVERYTHING.  They took their Destiny into their own hands and overcome Fate by breaking the taboo, while G-d and the serpent stood back to see what they would do.

~Muninn's Kiss

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Seed of Inspiriation

In Kabbalah, there are four worlds, the World of Emanations, the World of Creation, the World of Forms (if you know Plato, you'll get that one), and the World of Action.  We live in the World of Action, which is the world change occurs in, and those changes ripple back up to the higher worlds.  Everything in our world begins in the the World of Emanations as seeds of an idea.  You can see these as pre-thoughts, pre-ideas.  This is the Yod floating in the Zoid that will become creation.  In that Yod are all the letters.  It is the seed from which everything comes, the DNA of the universe, if you will.  From the seed of an idea in the World of Emanations grows an idea fully formed.  This idea is in the World of Creation.  This idea grows into a plan, in the World of Forms.  The World of Forms, or Plato's World of the From, is the blueprint for what's in our world.  And the plan is put into action in the World of Action.  All Hebrew roots are verbs, not nouns.

The Gather has spent generations gathering berries, gathering nuts, gathering herbs.  She (or he) has seen that the seed falls to the ground, and that from it grows a new plant.  This is the seed (ha!) of an idea, the World of Emanations.  It dawns on her one day, after all those generations, that maybe the seeds she gathers can be grown, so she doesn't have to worry about where to find them.  This is the idea, the World of Creation.  She decides to try it, decides which seed to try, where to plant them.  This is the plan, the World of Forms (I typed World of Farms; lol).  She gathers them and plants them and they grow.  The action in the World Of Action.  Previous generations might have had the seed, but never had the idea.  They might have had the idea but never formed the plan.  They might have made a plan but never put it into action.

The Gather is now the Farmer.  She watches the plants grow.  And one day, made her, maybe a later generation, notices that when one left or branch becomes sick, it spreads through the plant.  There is another seed.  She realizes maybe she can cut the deceased leaf or branch off to save the rest.  Another idea.  She figures out she can use the knife she uses to skin animals or cut herbs to cut off the leaf or branch.  Another plan.  She does so.  Another action, and pruning becomes part of life.  And so on.

The Hunter has been watching the wolf hunt for generations.  He (or she) has learned from it, improved how he hunts, generation by generation.  One day, he wonders what it would be like to hunt with the wolf instead of watch, instead of hunt apart from the wolf.  This is the seed of an idea, the World of Emanations.  He wonders if he can catch the wolf, and train it to hunt with him.  This is the idea, the World of Creation.  He makes a plan to lure the wolf in with food, get the wolf comfortable with him.  This is the plan, the World of Forms.  He does it, and ends up with a wolf half trusting him, eventually hunting with him, sharing life and food with him.  The action in the World of Action.  And, once again, each step might have happened in previous generations, but it wasn't until him that it was carried out.

And he or his descendant observes the wolf, seeing it's strengths, it's weaknesses.  And they make the connection that with humans, a strong father usually has stronger children, a smart, sunning father usually has smarter children than the ones that aren't as bright.  This is another seed.  He wonders if he got two wolves with the strengths he wants with another one with the same strengths whether the pups would be better than normal. Another idea.  He decides to observe more wolves, either wild ones or the ones he's hunted with, find the ones with the strengths he wants, and get them together to bred.  Another plan.  And he does so.  Another action.  And so on.

A man named J. H. Muller, in 1786, wondered if a mechanical machine, a difference engine, could be designed that could do calculations for him.  This was the seed of an idea, the World of Emanations.  A man named Charles Babbage proposed such a machine in 1822 and set about doing so, designed an analytical engine and an improved difference engine.   They were built but too expensive to manufacture.  This was the idea, the World of Creation.  A man named Konrad Zuse in 1936 designed a new machine from the idea of a difference engine.  His design didn't do one operation, or several operations like the ones before, but could be programmed to do different things.  This was the plan, the world of Forms.  And from there, the modern computer evolves, the action in the World of Action.

I could go on, but my point is that an idea forms that leads eventually to an action.  The idea comes first, not the technology.  Sometimes the idea is successful, sometimes not, but often the failure leads to new seeds, which lead to new ideas.  In scientific terms, the seed is a question, the idea is a hypothesis, the plan is the design of the experiment, and the action is the experiment itself.  And it's our culture, our lifestyle, our setting (which is the term I use in my Social Dynamics) that provides the experiences that bring about the seed of an idea.  Our Gatherer wouldn't have thought to plant seeds if she didn't gather them first.  Our Hunter wouldn't have thought to domesticate a wolf if he hadn't been following the same herds.  Muller, and engineer in the Hessian army, wouldn't have thought of building the difference engine if he hadn't seen the steam powered machines of his time.  He also, by the way, designed and built and improved version of Leibniz' adding machine. Leibniz added division and multiplication to Pascal's calculator and invented the first mass produced calculator.  Without Pascal's seeds, ideas, plans, and actions, Leibniz couldn't have done what he did.  Without Leibniz, Muller couldn't have done what he did.  All this lead to the first computer, which changed the world.  So the seeds that brought about the computer, the ideas, the culture, started at the latest in 1642 with Pascal's mechanical calculator.  The ideas that led to the computer took almost three hundred years to get to the first computer and it's been almost 80 years to get where we are.  Technology comes from ideas.  Then technology spawns new ideas, which spawn new technology, and so one.  A cycle, a process, thought begets change, change begets thought.  Technology doesn't develop apart from thought, in isolation from an idea that came from the culture and the setting of the culture.

The question is, why the 'sudden' change?  Why, after thousands and thousands of years, generations and generations of observing these same things, living this same way, with little change, why, 'suddenly' does someone change all that?  What plants the seed of an idea in the first place, since it never happened before that point?  Around the same time, independently, in at least six places, the change occurs, the seed is planted, germinates, and grows, and the world is never the same.

The changes that occurring in lifestyle and technology (the square house, the domestication, the pottery, the metal working, the walls), and the supposition made from these of the changes in thinking, the changes in world view, all these things are interesting but don't get us to the meat of it.  These things are the elements, the symbols, in the Mystery Traditions, the elements the initiate sees when they're ready, be it the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Dionysian Mysteries, the Arcadian Mysteries (my personal favourite), the Mithraic Mysteries, the Orphic Mysteries, the Isis Mysteries, early Christianity, or even modern Feri.  The element, the symbol, the Key, only has meaning to the initiate because they are ready for the Mystery they point to.  This is the heart of mysticism, moving beyond the symbols and elements to the Mystery behind them.  To me, the societal changes are only interesting in that they point to the changes in thinking to brought them about and that they brought about, and those changes are only interesting because the point to the Mystery that caused the initial change, the Catalyst, the planting of that seed of an idea.

Something changed.  Something in six places (is there a seventh we're missing, I wonder) about the same time, after generations upon generations, thousands upon thousands of years (Carl Sagan is saying billions and billions in my head right now).  Was it greed that lead to stockpiling, and that to the rest?  I think not.  The first things they started stockpiling were food, plants and animals, but you couldn't do that without first domesticating them.  It was the realization that they could domesticate that came first, then the action, and only then did greed come in.

But what changed?  Someone drank from the Welsh Cauldron of Inspiration.  Someone was given fire by Promethius.  Someone gave up an eye to drink of the Well of Wisdom.  Someone saw a burning bush and turned aside.  Someone ate from a forbidden tree and gained knowledge.  Someone was baptised in the River Jordan and had the Spirit descend on them like a dove.  Someone was sitting by a river beneath a tree and realized there was another way.  Someone wrestled with G-d in the night.  Someone was taught by angels.  Something happened, and someone, well, at least six someones, realized there was another way beyond what had always been true, the way things had always been.

Not saying it was G-d or a god coming to them, or anything else particularly, just that something changed, something planted that seed, and everything changed, first with them, then their family, then their neighbours and so on.  Not in everyone, of course, but it rippled out like a still pond when a rock is thrown in.  And once that seed of an idea was planted, nothing could ever go back.

From Cain's, the farmer's, line, not from the nomad line, Lamech's wife Adah gave birth to Jabal and Jubal, and his wife Ziilah gave birth to Tubal-Cain and Naamah.  Jabal is said to be the father of all who live in tents and raise livestock, the nomad herders we've talked about.  Jubal is the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes.  Tubal-Cain to all those who forge tools of bronze and iron (and weapons).  And by Jewish tradition, Naamah is the mother of all demons.  Many British traditions look to this passage.  Hence, the Clan of Tubal-Cain, which the association with metal working.  There's a change here. the beginning of stringed instruments, the beginning of forging.  And these things are in the line of Cain, the farmer, who is contrasted with the line of Seth which is seen as the good line.  The author(s) of Genesis seem to think the change brought about in the Neolithic Revolution was a bad thing, just as eating of the Tree and gaining Knowledge is shown as bad.  But the witchcraft traditions usually look to Cain and the line of Cain.  I find that interesting.

From a 1600s York manuscript:
"Before Noah flood there was a man called Lamech as is written in the Scriptures in ye Chatr of Genesis And this Lamech had two wives ye one named Adah by whome he had two sons ye one named Jabell ye other named Jubell And his other wife was called Zillah by whome he had one son named Tubelcaine & one Daughter named Naamah & these four children founded ye beginnings of all ye Sciences in ye world viz Jabell ye oldest Sone found out ye Science of Geomatre he was a keepr of flocks and sheep Lands in the Fields as it is noted in ye Chaptr before sd And his bother Jubell found ye Science of Musicke Song of the Tongue harpe & organ And ye third brother Tuball Caine found ye Science called Smith Craft of Gold Silvr Iron Coppr & Steele & ye daughter found ye ara of Weaving And these persons knowing right well yt God would take vengencance for sinne either by fire or water wherefore they writt their severall Sciences yt they had found in two pillars of stone yt might be found aftr Noah his Flood And ye one stonbe would not burn wth fire & ye othr called Lternes because it would not dround wth wtr etc."
Four children, the Herdsman or Horseman, the Musician or Bard, the Smith, and the Weaver.  All of these hold importance in the later witchcraft of Europe and the British Isles.

The other common thing in many witchcraft traditions is the Watchers, coming down and teaching mankind all sciences and magic, including the things listed in the previous quote.  The story is of the Watchers watching humans and falling in love with the women (from Genesis and from Sumerian myths) and having children, the giants and men of renown in the Tanakh, the "witchblood" in some witch traditions.  And they taught man these things.  Science and math, forging and weaving, magic and witchcraft, domestication and farming.  Basically, that the Neolithic Revolution came about from their teaching.  The seed of the idea.  The fire from heaven.  The Inspiration.  In Sumerian myth, the Apkallu were seven, associated with seven stars.  They are the Watchers and taught mankind, bringing about the first civilization, Sumer.  In Cochrane's Basic Structure of the Craft, there are seven wind gods, the sons of Night and Man, the seven stars.  In Feri, there are seven Guardians, who are the true teachers of the witch.  They are the watchers, and they are seven stars.

Regardless of whether there were watchers or whatever, that point, that seed, that inspiration, that formed in six places around the same time is ingrained in the psyche, the cultural memory, of the people of the earth, and seems present in one form or another in the myths of people throughout the world.  That moment that began the Neolithic Revolution that is such a Mystery is remembered and engraved in all of us.

And that, I think, is the important part of the study of the Neolithic Revolution.  And the ultimate goal and central pillar of mysticism.  And the essence of witchcraft.

~Muninn's Kiss

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