Archive for the ‘ Cold Albion ’ Category

Cast Down and Raised Up

gobekli

This is probably going to get me a lot of trouble, and probably get me lumped in with the so-called “Piety Posse”of polytheists and magical types who I often violently disagree with, but I need to say this:

There’s a tendency I’ve noticed within the neopagan, magical, and polytheist communities on tumblr and the occult blogosphere – but also offline and on other platforms.

What is this tendency, I hear you ask?

It is, quite simply the tendency to automatically privilege the corporeal over the non corporeal. Because somewhere inside is the subconscious assumption that we can either a) remain inviolate and unaffected by incorporeal things or b) It’s all in the mind and we should be able to somehow ‘control’ our minds.

It’s like the assumption that words can’t hurt you, because they’re only words – when several millennia of war and hatred whipped up against one’s neighbor puts a lie to that.

Now, I can see a legion of people with active spiritual lives nodding their heads here, not to mention those who have intimate connections with gods or spirits, whether that be physically or otherwise.

But if I write the statement that, as an example, runs: People are more important than noncorporeal spirits then something interesting happens.

Because if I write that statement in a piece on spiritual discernment, those people I mention will be there, sagely nodding. Yet, if I write the above example in a piece about dealing with making sacrifices or offerings to one’s gods and spirits, and I suggest that cooking a large meal and then leaving it by the crossroads for the gods/wights/spirits is a waste, and one would be better off donating to a charity?

In that case I suspect many would get hot under the collar, wouldn’t they? After all, how dare I tell them how to practice their religion. How dare I position myself as gatekeeper over the methods by which they interact with their patrons!

Yet, if I wrote that in an article, and swapped out People for Animals then I’d risk the ire of several spiritist religions who perform animal sacrifices. Likewise, if I wrote: Non corporeal spirits are more important than people I would risk the ire of many folk; have messages and rebuttals thrown at me from all directions, from various quarters, not least from those who have suffered abuse by spirits or by so-called religious authorities. Perhaps I’d even be ‘called out’ on it for all the racism and atrocities committed in the name of non-corporeal beings, because actually they’re not real, they’re like, archetypes.

Perhaps, aye.

(Seriously, go and look up what Jung actually meant when he used the term. Really.)

Yet, for all the possibilities and difficulties associated with both versions of the example, we can see that context subtly shifts where the weight of communicated intent lies.

Of course it does – context is king. Blanket statements are by their nature designed to cover all eventualities. A world run on such axioms will soon come unstuck, purely because the actuality of existence is more important and more complex.

So, here is where I lay it on the line, so to speak. You see, it has been my experience that, while human perception is an imperfect metric for judging so-called ‘objective reality’, it seems as if the basis of existence arises out of the interactions between what we have we have previously and perhaps erroneously referred to as non-corporeal spirits.

To boil down the previous mouthful of a paragraph:

Everything we experience appears to be the result of and addition to, the interaction of entities we call spirits/daimones/wights (including gods therein).

Note that this does not, in fact, exclude people. People are wights too:

wight (n.) Old English wiht “living being, creature, person; something, anything,” from Proto-Germanic *wihti- (source also of Old Saxon wiht “thing, demon,” Dutchwicht “a little child,” Old High German wiht “thing, creature, demon,” German Wicht “creature, little child,” Old Norse vettr “thing, creature,” Swedishvätte “spirit of the earth, gnome,” Gothic waihts “something”), from PIE *wekti- “thing, creature” (source also of Old Church Slavonic vešti “a thing”).

Nor does it privilege one particular origin/creation narrative over another. In an Ensouled or animist kosmos, this also means that not only can the four(five?) fundamental forces of physics co-exist with Ymir’s dismemberment, or Qingu’s victory over Tiamat without contradiction, subatomic particles may happily co-exist with maggots-turned-dwarves.

Wights come in a variety of shapes – a variety of forms. Some have skin and hair, others bark and leaf, others are composed of energy fields which when they interact with humans, conjures sensory experience.

In an Ensouled kosmos, the keyboard I am typing on is not “dumb matter” – it exists on multiple levels. The electrons in the molecules of plastic which make up the keys interact with the electrons in the molecules of my fingertips in response to nervous impulses from my brain tensing muscle and tendon – thus is pressure produced.

The plastic itself is a child of the Earth – oil drawn up and polymers arranged just so by the firing neurons of a human mind which designed the machines which give it form. That same plastic is mated with metal, also drawn from Earth, while electrical impulses are converted to radio which is received by my computer, appearing here on the screen. And so on and so on for every object in my room, in my house, in my block, in my town, in my county, in my country, in the soil of my land once again.

And thus you see – not “dumb” matter at all, but myriad paths to recognise; multplicities of action and interaction.

In an Ensouled kosmos, we learn to recognise myriad ways of Being and Becoming. Rather than crude anthropomorphism, we instead open ourselves up to non-human Beingness, and in doing so cannot privilege our form as being more moral or better than another. We must accept that even categorical, axiomatic morality is contextual.

By acknowledging multiplicities, we are no longer hidebound, we are free to say that our morality is not handed to us passively, but by wilful agreement amongst ourselves.

In an Ensouled kosmos, what we conceive of as ourselves is enlarged to a huge, almost terrifying degree. For we are no longer individuals but multiplicities also. Mind and body entwined, together with our ancestors, the land on and in which we dwell, the food we eat, the water we drink and bathe in. All tied together, part knot part interference pattern, we interact-with, and are inter-acted-with. By necessity, in almost a direct confrontation with post modernity, our contact with other wights informs our morality – even going so far as to consult being older and potentially wiser than we.

(As a Heathen, who I am is influenced, not only by my daily life but interactions with my ancestors, spirits and gods. I am composed of all those interactions).

I not only becomes We, but also emerges from We.

In an Ensouled kosmos, I only exists for a moment – for that single duration in localised spacetime – as an event, an Image. We, on the other hand, while constantly coming together and breaking apart, is capable of appearing in all times and all places.

We is eternal – it can exist for ten thousand years, seemingly vanish from sight, only to re-emerge again in a new shape, composed of new body, new blood.

I dies constantly, only to be reborn in the next moment; it emerges from the Fire upon the Deep for the space of a breath, then sinks down again.

But through that unique manifestation of I, one can enter into the realm of an eternal re-Imagining. We are constantly refreshed, made new by that which makes us.

Creation is ongoing.

The sacred reality depicted in myth informs us and shapes us whether we like it or not. Myth-as-Image draws us into that space of Creation, infuses us with living vitality, which we bring forth by story, song, ritual and art.

Those wights we call spirits are part of the ecology of existence. Just like a bear is part of an ecology, and we do not say a person is more important than a bear, automatically, do we?

If this were so, there would be no nature preserves.

Yet even the foregoing resembles a paper tiger, designed to evoke a commodified sense of wilderness.

Instead, might we not say that Earthquakes are part of the ecology of California or Japan?

If this be so, then certainly the assertion that People are more important than earthquakes is ridiculous. Japan at least recognizes this, and builds so called earthquakeproof buildings on rollers.

Because the moment when an earthquake hits is inescapably, brutally real. You just have to ride it out, and see where you end up.

I find myself wondering how many in the neopagan/magical/polytheist community have ever felt that. Like an Earthquake sure, if you’re lucky you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off, maybe file an insurance claim and use it as an anecdote in the future.

But in the moment? It’s inescapable and social rankings and morality are the furthest thing from your mind. Thought vanishes and there is only Being.

How many even truly dare heal the split between mind and body, between song and rain, fire and wind? Far too few, I suspect.

And that, strangely enough, is why and how things like Fascism and Communism fail, where individuality is subsumed by the State or Nation. Because the State is not eternal, and actively resists changing shape and form. The Nazis committed horrific crimes in the name of purity, not realising that the very thing they sought was impossible, being only a momentary temporary thing born of maximum variety. Emerging from it, by Necessity. By nature messy, organic, and virtually, if not completely impossible to predict.

When they tried to turn Nietzsche’s work into a pro-Nazi rallying cry, they misunderstood the nature of the Ubermensch – he was never achievable for Man, because man is the bridge. When Hitler suggested that the best, the most pure, were those who were capable of overcoming, the unstoppable pure,untouched elite, what was forgotten is that Overcoming is but half – the other is Being Overcome.

But Being Overcome does not mean submission – not kowtowing. Rather, it is being seized, enthused.

Raised up and Cast Down. As real as blood. As real as bone. As real as breath

enthusiasm (n.) c. 1600, from Middle French enthousiasme (16c.) and directly from Late Latin enthusiasmus, from Greek enthousiasmos “divine inspiration, enthusiasm (produced by certain kinds of music, etc.),” from enthousiazein “be inspired or possessed by a god, be rapt, be in ecstasy,” from entheos “divinely inspired, possessed by a god,” from en “in” (see en- (2)) + theos “god” (see theo-). Acquired a derogatory sense of “excessive religious emotion through the conceit of special revelation from God” (1650s) under the Puritans.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of furious inspiration the Ensouled kosmos brings to me, rather than any Puritanical disparagement. And if you’re going to argue that’s not ‘Real’ enough to affect you, but the news is – well then I feel deeply sorry for you!

Ymir

I voted Remain in the UK’s EU Referendum. Let’s get that straight, from the beginning.

Let’s get it it straight from the beginning, because it’s the only thing about me, about this, which is. All is otherwise crippled and crooked – bent and labyrinthine are the roads we take now, as they have ever been and ever will be.

Let’s get that straight, because this is in actuality a thing of strange angles and sidelong looks, of visionary corner-glimpses. It’s the kind of thing where, were you to cut off my head in order to shut me up, I would somehow still speak.

It would be your biggest mistake, because freed from the idea of personhood, all you would get would be mad-memory-speech, flowing like a roaring and tumultuous river. Welling up like a freezing burn, it’d never stop, because you’d consigned me to the realms of the Dead.

Let’s get that straight, from the beginning. You would have brought me together with all the mad ones, all the marked ones – signed, sealed and delivered.

consign (v.) early 15c., “to ratify by a sign or seal,” from Middle French consigner (15c.), from Latin consignare “to seal, register,” originally “to mark with a sign,” from com- “together” (see com-) + signare “to sign, mark,” from signum “sign” (see sign (n.)). Commercial sense is from 1650s. Related: Consignee; consignor

sign (n.) early 13c., “gesture or motion of the hand,” especially one meant to communicate something, from Old French signe “sign, mark,” from Latin signum“identifying mark, token, indication, symbol; proof; military standard, ensign; a signal, an omen; sign in the heavens, constellation,” according to Watkins, literally “standard that one follows,” from PIE *sekw-no-, from root *sekw- (1) “to follow” (see sequel).

Ousted native token. Meaning “a mark or device having some special importance” is recorded from late 13c.; that of “a miracle” is from c. 1300. Zodiacal sense in English is from mid-14c. Sense of “characteristic device attached to the front of an inn, shop, etc., to distinguish it from others” is first recorded mid-15c. Meaning “token or signal of some condition” (late 13c.) is behind sign of the times (1520s). In some uses, the word probably is a shortening of ensign. Sign language is recorded from 1847; earlier hand-language (1670s).

And under the banner which remains ever-tattered by the winds of time, we the Followers-And-Foregoers, would mass together; every gesture, every mark, every sign and rune and sigil would bring forth that which follows. A veritable flood of  Memory and Meaning, Thought and Feeling.

person (n.) Look up person at Dictionary.comearly 13c., from Old French persone “human being, anyone, person” (12c., Modern French personne) and directly from Latin persona “human being, person, personage; a part in a drama, assumed character,” originally “mask, false face,” such as those of wood or clay worn by the actors in later Roman theater. OED offers the general 19c. explanation of persona as “related to” Latin personare “to sound through” (i.e. the mask as something spoken through and perhaps amplifying the voice), “but the long o makes a difficulty ….” Klein and Barnhart say it is possibly borrowed from Etruscan phersu “mask.” Klein goes on to say this is ultimately of Greek origin and compares Persephone.

Unmasked as roaring fury that washes away walls and divisions, the time and tide of poets, skalds, shapers and makers bursting its banks and rendering everything sodden with Soul once more.

soul (n.1) Look up soul at Dictionary.com“A substantial entity believed to be that in each person which lives, feels, thinks and wills” [Century Dictionary], Old English sawol “spiritual and emotional part of a person, animate existence; life, living being,” from Proto-Germanic *saiwalo (source also of Old Saxon seola, Old Norse sala, Old Frisian sele, Middle Dutch siele, Dutch ziel, Old High German seula, German Seele, Gothic saiwala), of uncertain origin.

Sometimes said to mean originally “coming from or belonging to the sea,” because that was supposed to be the stopping place of the soul before birth or after death [Barnhart]; if so, it would be from Proto-Germanic *saiwaz (see sea). Klein explains this as “from the lake,” as a dwelling-place of souls in ancient northern Europe.

Meaning “spirit of a deceased person” is attested in Old English from 971. As a synonym for “person, individual, human being” (as in every living soul) it dates from early 14c. Soul-searching (n.) is attested from 1871, from the phrase used as a past participle adjective (1610s). Distinguishing soul from spirit is a matter best left to theologians.

Or perhaps this is not clear, for democracy is a funny thing. I voted Remain, as millions did. Millions more voted Leave, and so we find ourselves as a country, preparing to disengage from a political entity in which we’ve been engaged for 43 years.

So be it.

Now we deal with the consequences, with the waves and ripples, the potential tidal waves and tsunamis. A storm is coming, because there are things beyond politics. Things that connect us all, things that dictate our behaviours and reactions, though they were begun generations before we were born.

A storm is coming, because the storm is always here, living as the All-at-Once. The mask is being removed, the veneer of the political and the personal has cracked, revealing the flux beneath. We have become abruptly aware of the lie contained in the notion of peace and safety; the raw meat of homeostatic maintenance has been revealed.

Of course, in realising the universe has teeth and eyes outside the firelight, fear is a natural reaction. It’s a good reaction in many ways, because it sharpens reflexes, focuses bodily resources, puts the mind on high alert.

But that’s all it’s good for. That kicking things up a notch. Anything else is just fearporn – as much like unto fear as pornography is to sex:

pornography (n.) Look up pornography at Dictionary.com1843, “ancient obscene painting, especially in temples of Bacchus,” from French pornographie, from Greek pornographos “(one) depicting prostitutes,” from porne “prostitute,” originally “bought, purchased” (with an original notion, probably of “female slave sold for prostitution”), related to pernanai “to sell,” from PIE root *per- (5) “to traffic in, to sell” (see price (n.)) + graphein “to write” (see -graphy). A brothel in ancient Greek was a porneion

Fun for a while, but in no way resembling the real thing, and make no mistake, there are indeed Fear-Traffickers out there.

All ready to fill the next two years (as the UK works out how to exit the EU and hurriedly sign new treaties, implement new strategies and statutes etc) with fear and loathing for their own amusement or advantage.

Don’t sign on their dotted lines, don’t sell your Soul for words and counterfeit images. Don’t let them tell you with pious faces that the personal is political, as all the while, they laugh at you behind their masks of righteousness.

Cut off your own heads if you have to. Stare into the eyes of your own skull. Know your own fears, as distinct from those they peddle. Know them intimately, carnally. Know how they taste, how they smell, the colour of their adrenaline-spiking skins, their sharp teeth and lascivious obscene tongues which whisper terrible things to you.

I voted Remain, let’s get that straight in the beginning. Democracy had other ideas.

The Kosmos, on the other hand, the Pandaemonic All, gives little credence to the fear-swung pendulums of politics. It is neither democratic, tyrannical, left or right wing.

remain (v.) early 15c., from Anglo-French remayn-, Old French remain-, stressed stem of remanoir “stay, dwell, remain; be left; hold out,” from Latin remanere “to remain, to stay behind; be left behind; endure, abide, last” (source also of Old Spanish remaner, Italian rimanere), from re- “back” (see re-) + manere “to stay, remain” (see mansion). Related: Remained; remaining.

And:

leave (v.) Old English læfanto allow to remain in the same state or condition; to let remain, allow to survive; to have left (of a deceased person, in reference to heirs, etc.); to bequeath (a heritage),” from Proto-Germanic *laibijan (source also of Old Frisian leva “to leave,” Old Saxon farlebid “left over”), causative of *liban“remain” (source of Old English belifan, German bleiben, Gothic bileiban “to remain”), from root *laf- “remnant, what remains,” from PIE *leip- “to stick, adhere;” also “fat” (cognates: Greek lipos “fat;” Old English lifer “liver,” life).

The Germanic root seems to have had only the sense “remain, continue” (which was in Old English as well but has since become obsolete), which also is in Greek lipares “persevering, importunate.” But this usually is regarded as a development from the primary PIE sense of “adhere, be sticky” (compare Lithuanian lipti, Old Church Slavonic lipet “to adhere,” Greek lipos “grease,” Sanskrit rip-/lip- “to smear, adhere to.”

Originally a strong verb (past participle lifen), it early switched to a weak form. Meaning “go away, take one’s departure, depart from; leave behind” (c. 1200) comes from notion of “leave behind” (as in to leave the earth “to die;” to leave the field “retreat”). From c. 1200 as “to stop, cease; give up, relinquish, abstain from having to do with; discontinue, come to an end;” also “to omit, neglect; to abandon, forsake, desert; divorce;” also “allow (someone) to go.”

Colloquial use for “let, allow” is by 1840, said by OED to be chiefly American English. Not related to leave (n.). To leave out “omit” is from late 15c. To leave (something) alone is from c. 1400; to leave (something) be is from 1825. To leave (something/nothing) to be desired is from 1780. To leave it at that is from 1902. Leave off is from c. 1400 as “cease, desist” (transitive); early 15c. as “stop, make an end” (intransitive)

 

leave (n.) “permission, liberty granted to do something,” Old English leafe “leave, permission, license,” dative and accusative of leaf “permission,” from Proto-Germanic *laubo (source also of Old Norse leyfi “permission,” and, with prefix, Old Saxon orlof, Old Frisian orlof, German Urlaub “leave of absence”). This is conjectured to be from PIE root *leubh- “to care, desire, love, approve” (see love (n.)), the original idea being “approval resulting from pleasure.” It is a noun relative of lief “dear” (adj.); and compare belief. In the military sense, it is attested from 1771.

Note the ‘And’.

1024px-Frigg_and_Fulla_1874

Twin paths, with their roots in the same soil. Now, let us consider this with the eyes of the Soul; that Mercurial solvent rife with Primordial Salt:

This is being written on Friday, the day of either/or/and Freyja and Frigga. One, mistress of magic, battle, sexuality, who loves all comers as she wanders the world, soaring in her falcon-cloak as she has first pick of the battle slain. The latter, mistress of hearth, home, wise far-seeing keeper of her own counsel who knows much and says little; spinner of the weaves and bindings that mark responsibility and frith within kith and kin.

Two great goddesses, one faring forth in freedom, the other the uncontested and free mistress of all she surveys, the Lady of the Estate. Each, when seen with the eyes of the Soul, potent Powers with deep and ancient links to us. The dearly beloved that makes the heart sing; twin poles of inexorable magnetism, each providing us with a place to go forth-from-and-with, and also leave-love-and-return-to.

In the shadow of Them in this place and time, the notion of Where We Are From and Where We Are Going dissolves. We are here and now, with Them. As I said in my last post, we are here on this island, eating and drinking, swallowing its dirt.

Home then, safety even, is found only in confronting the possibility of our destruction, but also in our dissolution, in our liquefaction:

To souls it is death to become water, to water death to become earth, but from earth water is born, and from water soul.
– Heraclitus

Up we come from the earth then, not as persons but souls which are aflame. We emerge from the hidden springs, refreshed and burning, like bright figures springing forth from mounds, transfigured by the stuff of the dwellers in the earth. And what is earth but a giant?

earth (n.) Old English eorþe “ground, soil, dirt, dry land; country, district,” also used (along with middangeard) for “the (material) world, the abode of man” (as opposed to the heavens or the underworld), from Proto-Germanic *ertho (source also of Old Frisian erthe “earth,” Old Saxon ertha, Old Norse jörð, Middle Dutch eerde, Dutch aarde, Old High German erda, German Erde, Gothic airþa), from extended form of PIE root *er- (2) “earth, ground” (source also of Middle Irish -ert “earth”).

We understand then, the Mystery of the Giantborn – the beings sprung from the earth, sourcing our strength from the chthonic roots.

Cut off our heads, and still we speak. Cripple us and we still walk without walking, because we understand the simple fact that we are naught without the combined congeries of Living and Dead. We belong to the earth, not the other way around.

This simple fact frees us from the masks of personhood, from the notion of individuality-as-singular-entity. For those on this island who allow themselves to embrace it, the earth on which we rest, the earth which supports our every endeavour and keeps us close in encircling arms of gravity, becomes numinous power of incomparable beauty and power.

The waves and ripples, the potential tidal waves and tsunamis, which before were so fear-inducing, now become circumstances to be met and dealt with, come what may. And as everyone knows, giants subsist on a very different diet to people, and survive in very different ways.

We Remain, always:

Fee. Fie. Fo. Fum.

 

 

 

Duccio_di_Buoninsegna_-_Christ_and_the_Samaritan_Woman_-_Google_Art_Project

Let me share with you a vision:

A man lies in his bed, unable to move for pain. It consumes his consciousness, snaring thought and perception, cutting into awareness like a barbed wire noose. Like an animal, he seeks to escape, to rid himself of the constriction of a ring of knives and fire, but there is no escape. In fact, all his struggles are for naught; the more he struggles, the more it bites, and the more he becomes frantic in his efforts to escape.  Pain becomes all there is as he throws himself at the walls of his cell, the thorns of the encircling hedge.

All is fire and agony.

And like an animal caught in a trap, he goes limp. The reality of his situation does not so much set in, as wait patiently for the inevitability to dawn on him. Struggling does no good, and he is already exhausted. There is nothing to do but wait for whatever comes next. Which, ultimately, is death.

But here, the man and the animal differ. For the man, death is in the future. For the animal, there is no future. There is only now – escape may be possible, or it may not. This moment may, in fact, be the moment of death. Whatever the case, the animal will make the most of its options.

And in this vision there is a very particular awareness. An awareness of what both animal and man share, and what they do not – the animal does not, after all, possess the much vaunted “human consciousness”, instead being possessed of (by) its own form of Being in the World.  What both share however, is that animating quality we might call Life.

Both are constellations, manifestations, of that quality, though differently arranged in space and time.

animate (v.) Look up animate at Dictionary.com1530s, “to fill with boldness or courage,” from Latin animatus past participle of animare “give breath to,” also “to endow with a particular spirit, to give courage to,” from anima “life, breath” (see animus). Sense of “give life to” in English attested from 1742. Related: Animated; animating.

animus (n.) Look up animus at Dictionary.com1820, “temper” (usually in a hostile sense), from Latin animus “rational soul, mind, life, mental powers; courage, desire,” related to anima “living being, soul, mind, disposition, passion, courage, anger, spirit, feeling,” from PIE root *ane- “to blow, to breathe” (cognates: Greek anemos “wind,” Sanskrit aniti“breathes,” Old Irish anal, Welsh anadl “breath,” Old Irish animm “soul,” Gothic uzanan “to exhale,” Old Norse anda “to breathe,” Old English eðian “to breathe,” Old Church Slavonic vonja “smell, breath,” Armenian anjn “soul”). It has no plural. As a term in Jungian psychology for the masculine component of a feminine personality, it dates from 1923.

Now, what kind of animal is ensnared in this vision, I wonder? What manner of creature do you envisage, lying exhausted and quiescent? Think on that, for a moment. We’ll come back to it

Nornsweaving

Let me share something else, too:

The great difference between Renaissance Neoplatonism and animism is that Man does not stand in the middle of this energetic onion, having all the forces of the universe beaming down into us, with the rest of Creation relegated to supporting cast status or background greenery. (This is incidentally what Bruno railed against and why he thought they were all idiots. An infinite universe, a cosmos lit with countless little lamps extending into infinity is directly opposed to the magical onion worldview of Neoplatonic/planetary spheres. He was a rock star space shaman.)

That’s from Gordon’s post entitled  Gnosticism is the Map. Animism is the Territory. So:

map (n.) Look up map at Dictionary.com1520s, shortening of Middle English mapemounde “map of the world” (late 14c.), and in part from Middle French mappe, shortening of Old Frenchmapemonde, both English and French words from Medieval Latin mappa mundi “map of the world;” first element from Latin mappa “napkin, cloth” (on which maps were drawn), “tablecloth, signal-cloth, flag,” said by Quintilian to be of Punic origin (compare Talmudic Hebrew mappa, contraction of Mishnaic menaphah “a fluttering banner, streaming cloth”) + Latin mundi “of the world,” from mundus “universe, world” (see mundane). Commonly used 17c. in a figurative sense of “epitome; detailed representation.” To put (something) on the map “bring it to wide attention” is from 1913.

territory (n.) Look up territory at Dictionary.comlate 14c., “land under the jurisdiction of a town, state, etc.,” probably from Latin territorium “land around a town, domain, district,” from terra “earth, land” (see terrain) + -orium, suffix denoting place (see -ory). Sense of “any tract of land, district, region” is first attested c. 1600. Specific U.S. sense of “organized self-governing region not yet a state” is from 1799. Of regions defended by animals from 1774.

“Since -torium is a productive suffix only after verbal stems, the rise of terri-torium is unexplained” [Michiel de Vaan, “Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages”]. An alternative theory, somewhat supported by the vowels of the original Latin word, suggests derivation from terrere “to frighten” (see terrible); thus territorium would mean “a place from which people are warned off.” 

The map is a flag, a cloth full of signs and symbols – engines and operators, transporters which work in concert with that much vaunted “human consciousness”. It is a banner, a thing that snaps, moves, shifts, moving and billowing as the breeze dictates. Without that, it hangs slack, meaningless.

It is a cloth, yes.

OrteliusWorldMap1570

A cloth for covering, for laying over the world. What lies beneath, under the colours and signs of human make? When we lay a cloth on a table, on a body, we cover and protect what is covered. We produce a layer that lies-between. Consider then, that such a cloth is a method of distancing, whether by producing distance between objects and experience, or by creating a protective boundary between what lies above/outside the covering, and what lies beneath.

A map produces distance between the world and the perceiver. In effect, it provides a bird’s-eye view, a top-down perception which influences feelings of importance. From On High, we can survey all of our domain – all the enclosed space which is ‘ours’ by virtue of perception. Distant, we have time to prepare, to marshal our resources and operate from a position of “strength” and “might”. The map provides a sense of optionality – it provides us with the illusion of choice, time to plan, the luxury of room-to-move. The cloth provides us with defence against the cold, it breaks the line-of sight, shielding the covered object from prying eyes, so that only the ‘proper’ owner may know what lies beneath (unless it becomes uncovered, of course).

The map is the tyranny of knowledge (tyranny in its technical, philosophical sense, rather than as pejorative). It is the singular view, held in fixity, in stable, easily parsable manner.

The territory, on the other hand, does not imply distance. Even at its most jurisdictional, it deals directly with the land, with the earth itself.

Contrast the heavenly map with the earthly territory.

Consider the place of terror to the distant On High.

There is a vibrancy here, an intimacy born of necessity. Rather than being apart from the world, we are embedded in it. The map gives us a sense of distance from the world, turning us into giants. Distances that would take months to cross might be measured, covered, by the span of a thumb. The world recedes, held at arm’s length, perspective shifting. Provides us with escape-as-optionality, the illusion of freedom.

The map is a cloth, yes.

And cloth is woven, thread taken over and under, in the warp and the weft. The individual spun threads are pulled, tightened – the gaps are closed up, covered. Here is the irony though – the cloth only matters in relation to something outside itself, whether that be what it covers, or what it holds apart. Without the animating breeze, it hangs slack and useless. Without the earth, the very existence of that which it depicts/represents, it has no purpose. All that remains is an illusory echo – the map of the Neoplatonists matters only to those who perceive it. It is useless, unless some benefit is gained from it. To be fair, it must generate some benefit to those who use it – that echo must in some way satisfy an urge or need.

But what distance does it create?

If Man strives to the pinnacle, to refine its consciousness to that of some distant On High, then so be it. If Man seeks to end suffering, so be it. But we must recall that the map is a covering, a machine-for-distance. If it enables us to be giants, to cover thousands of miles with a thumb, so be it. But this does not negate the thousands of miles, the hundreds of microclimates, ecologies, realms and neighbourhoods of beingness which lie beneath the thumb.

No matter how much Man-as-humankind might wish otherwise, the territory exists in all its terrific variety, all its inescapable shapes and forms. It cannot be known from a distance. It must be experienced, come what may. Indeed, it cannot be avoided, no matter what the map says.

Some might skim the variety of Gnostic schools and conclude that all were matter-world hating dualists, the very epitome of those who sought distance from the world. But in that surface skim, they would perhaps miss the sheer variety of Gnostic perspectives, might forget that gnosis is the root of to know.  To know the world as it truly is, this is the gnostic impulse, even if we regard the fact of ultimate certain knowledge as impossible.

To no longer kowtow to those On High who dispense the maps of-how-things-are, but to go out and explore, for ourselves, to get the dirt under our fingernails, to acknowledge our constant lack of knowing and let that drive us, hungry and in love  with the world, to discover and to experience the More which we instinctively feel a call to, which lies covered and hidden.

occult (adj.) Look up occult at Dictionary.com1530s, “secret, not divulged,” from Middle French occulte and directly from Latin occultus “hidden, concealed, secret,” past participle of occulere “cover over, conceal,” from ob “over” (see ob-) + a verb related to celare “to hide,” from PIE root *kel- (2) “to cover, conceal” (see cell). Meaning “not apprehended by the mind, beyond the range of understanding” is from 1540s. The association with the supernatural sciences (magic, alchemy, astrology, etc.) dates from 1630s.

This then, is the knowing, not by maps and distance, but by heart’s-blood, by coming-together with-and-breaking apart. In this, the we resemble less Man possessed of the much vaunted “human intelligence”, than the animal possessed by the animal intelligence.

In a Kosmos filled with Life, it is only sensible to regard the multitude of Forms of Being which we encounter as Beings-In-And-Of-Themselves, precisely because they are constellations of Life. It doesn’t matter whether or not we are ‘projecting’, only that we accord the possibility of Life to all things, since we ourselves are constellations of Life, and are acted upon by the world at large. This is no the same as anthropocentrism – we do not regard all Beings as human, merely possessed of the animating quality we call Life.

In immersing ourselves in the Gnostic impulse, we seek that which lies below/beyond/within the map – the creative impulse, the enthusing Powers which weave the cloth, in ourselves and in the wider world. We do not seek to solely know what lies On High, but those Powers which weave the complex web of interrelations which make up the Kosmos. Not only that, we seek to become aware of our own participation in the weaving – that which we were previously unconscious of.

Faroe_stamp_428_The_Prophet

In various ancient cultures, the importance of weaving and spinning was well understood, and associated with magic. The Norse volva held an iron staff, modelled on a distaff, and the goddess Frigga, wife of Odin and knower of many things, was associated too. All this, and also the Nornir, three giantmaids held to weave the wyrd of men and gods. The classical Fates also come to mind.

In each case, the imagery of threads being woven together applies; the various inputs and responses, interconnexions, relationships and feedbacks come together to form a whole – each Being connected, or entangled with each other – something that quantum physics is showing exists at the very smallest level of existence.

Nor is this notion of interconnection limited to Norse myth – the notion of Indra’s net as a metaphor for the interconnected nature of the universe existed long before the mediaeval transcription of Norse myth:

Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out infinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel in each “eye” of the net, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering “like” stars in the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that there is an infinite reflecting process occurring.

Recall what Gordon said about Bruno?

An infinite universe, a cosmos lit with countless little lamps extending into infinity.

If each of us is a lamp-jewel, reflecting all others in the Kosmos, what then?

 

And so, to return to the vision to the trapped man and animal – I told you we’d be back, didn’t I?

The man lies there, encircled in his agony. He waits for death, but the animal? The animal, possessed by its intelligence in distinction to Man’s distant possessing of  it’s intelligence, does not wait for some imagined future. Instead, it takes events as it comes.

The man lies there exhausted, unable to escape, convinced there is only death to wait for. But, in his agony, he has forgotten he is embedded in the world. Even his cell, even in his pain, there is Life.

In an animistic universe, all is Life – even, and especially, the air we breathe, is full of it. Recall that the root of animate, is breath.

So let us imagine, for a moment, that the man in the vision is quite ordinary, but for one thing – he is a magician.

And as a magician, rather than merely wait  for death, he has made it a habit to regularly contemplate his own demise. On some occasions, he sees and feels himself die violently by war, accident, by flame, drowning or weapon. On others he sees and feels a sickness devour him from within, or the weight of old age drag him into the grave.

And so, to pass the time, as he breathes, he begins to notice the feel of the air against his skin; the way it touches him always, the way it feels and tastes as it enters and exits his lungs, ever-present for every moment of his life. Slowly, surely, he realises he is surrounded cocooned by the breath, by the warmth of the sun and the earth, just as he was surrounded by amniotic fluid in the womb.

It occurs then, that he seems to recall wombtime; floating in warm darkness, life moving in and out of him through the navel, wastes and nutrition passing through him, moving within and without like the tides.

Immersed in that Kosmic ocean, he becomes aware that every piece of him is connected to every other piece, and that all these pieces are connected to everything else in the Kosmos. He knows there are those who wish him and others well, and so, as he abides, he allows his mind to dwell on those connexions, on all those who would wish an end to pain and suffering. He adds his own existence to the weight of all others, allows himself to become enthused with Life. His body adjusts, his pain remaining, but no longer the centre of his world.

Instead. it as if he is entangled with everything else. His every molecule attached to every other, his pain, his thought linked inextricably to all things. To move a hand, his hand, is to alter a world, to stir the waters, sending out ripples. To speak a word is to influence the entire Kosmos.

Understand, in this vision, there is no sense of conventional power, no mighty exertion. Only existing. Only Being. Moment to moment. All thought devoted to experience and flowing, rushing movement as Life enters and exits, runs through its infinite possibility.

1024px-Frigg_and_Fulla_1874

What was a man lays aside the distance of “human intelligence” and becomes as-animal. That is, he allows himself to become fully animated, releasing his grip on any a particular shape of thought and form. He sinks deeper into the Waters, and finds their wellspring. He descends into the Well of Memory, moving beyond his personal history, his personal embodiment.

Perhaps he might be described as one of those jewels in Indra’s net, quietly being reflected upon by, and reflecting back, the Kosmos?

Perhaps he might meet the one of the keepers of the well?

Who can say.

What is able to be spoken is that the breath is in his body and blood. Whether that be mere oxygen or something more esoteric, the fact remains – what lies within, lies without – and vice-versa. In an animist universe, the animation exists within us and without us. And if each of us is a jewel (or a star) reflecting all others, then are we in fact living lamps?

Can we not, if we care to, cultivate that light within our blood, becoming enthused beings who do not seek distance or escape, but rather to meet with and have communion with all experiences, Powers and Beings? Can we not discover the Life in all things, the Pleroma  unveiled?

What use static maps? What use the diktats from distant On High, from monocultural overlords?

Stamp your feet to the rhythm of your blood, to the pulse of Life. The Gnostic impulse is to know things, not on the terms of others, but from your own experience, from the union of yourself with Life in all its terror, beauty and vitality. The Primordial is an existence filled with a Pandaemonium, a cornucopia of Beingness. It is ‘Their’ world only insofar as we are not Them.

Except of course we are as Them. We are as animal, as strange and daemonic, as estranged from “human intelligence” as anything in the Kosmos. Two fingers (or one if you’re American) up to the Archons, be they human, or otherwise.

We’re coming back to the feral banquet, to the furious sabbat of Being. We’re waking up to the orgy of Life.

orgy (n.)Look up orgy at Dictionary.com1560s, orgies (plural) “secret rites in the worship of certain Greek and Roman gods,” especially Dionysus, from Middle French orgies (c. 1500, from Latinorgia), and directly from Greek orgia (plural) “secret rites,” especially those of Bacchus, from PIE root *werg- “to do” (see organ). The singular, orgy, was first used in English 1660s for the extended sense of “any licentious revelry.” OED says of the ancient rites that they were “celebrated with extravagant dancing, singing, drinking, etc.,” which gives “etc.” quite a workout.

Time to remember – and:
partyon