The intellectual work of the last few posts has value in itself, but I undertook as a run-up toward contemplating the tree, i.e., sitting down in the dark and slowly unfurling it. As a rule, sitting with the tree prior to thinking through the Saadia model has turned into a modestly useful intellectual exercise.
This wasn’t that. I only worked with the spare structural dimensions of the tree and it was qualitatively different than the usual intellectual exercise.
In part, that was because I could feel myself actively working to map the tree to my physis. It had presence and plasticity. I had an idea of how to project the tree onto my body, for example, but the act of doing so wasn’t mechanical like previous efforts have been. The centers and channels could find anchorage along different points of the body, though they definitely felt more comfortable in certain relationships. For the lack of a better phrase, it had an objective presence and responsiveness.
It continued past that. This morning I didn’t actively set out to do any work with the form, just went through my usual morning prayers. The sefirot and the channels kept flashing up with the prayers. By the time I got to the ancestral shrine, it was coming on strong and the ancestral presence just embraced it, talked with it like a visionary tongue.
This is a model of how we came to awareness.
“I am the East.”
The horizon spills golden light just before the sun breaks across it. What was in darkness and obscure comes into sharp relief. The warmth spreads through my limbs. Even with eyes closed, I can feel the golden movement as it warms my back, then my crown, then my face.
I can feel my feet on the ground, stretch my arms up, to the sides, reaching to the north and south between which the sun itself will drift across the year. Sometimes it will warm my left side more, other times my right.
Breathing in and out with the sun’s course, it is bright against my face just before it disappears into the west, red cape trailing twilight. It becomes cool and then there is the parade of the lunar phases, then the stars all around, in every direction. I have the dim sense of how the shadows trace the land, of how they might become words and letters.
There is a tug that pulls me down and though I do not move I can feel the coursing of life, can feel my life stretching backward toward my birth, toward a moment when I was then wasn’t, the weight of the blood that joins me to that moment. There is a net being woven and that moment is a knot in it around which what will be me catches.
It takes only a handful of minutes, then I am opening my eyes, then I am proceeding with rest of my prayers. The viscerality of that lingers, an awareness that blossomed and blossoms within the rough immediacy of life on this planet, of its relationship to the sun, of the cycles of the moon, of the lay of the land.
There is a subset of ritual techniques that have as their aim nothing more than the return to that point, to the being within this world from which our life unfurls. As long as we live, this is the axis from which our life begins, from which it refreshes itself and begins again.
The cosmic shadows the personal; play the scales, the tree of heaven refreshes itself, too.