Okay, so I have a few things that I keep thinking about or which are being put forward for me to think about, things that will probably make their way into posts of their own, but right now I want to see what I can do to just get them out of my head and put them in front of my face, see what other connections might arise thereby. Notebooking, so caveat lector.
(1) Something which right now feels bound up with the synchronous/desynchronous talk, I have had a couple things cross my radar distinguishing between the dead and the faerie. The first was a straightforward blog post attempting to provide practical criteria for distinguishing the dead from the faerie (sorry, can’t seem to find the original link). The second was a mention in Dantas’s Nagô Grandma and White Papa featuring a distinction made between ‘Nagô’ and ‘caboclo’ houses of worship, in which the Nagô worship was linked to the dead and to the orixa while the caboclo worship was linked to the caboclo (aka encantado, i.e., the charmed) and the Devil.
Makes me think about the old Mitra-Varuna dynamism of Dumezil, of the flamen and gandharva.
(2) The broader point of Dantas’s book is also sticking with me, namely that one of the troubling dimensions of African purity talk in Brazil is that it has moved out of numerous, embedded, local debates between neighboring spiritual communities into a national category, one that favors state regulation and certification of local practices, a regulation that imposes the conceptual framework of one community upon others. That’s not exactly my business, but it comes to this question of authority and the reinscription of (academic and imperial) expertise into a messier domain, one that can be injured by it.
There is something here about the nature of dreams and symbols, of how terms are used intimately rather than technically, of the way in which communities are formed around the commitment to and contestation of key terms, that tension anchoring communication even in the face of disagreement…here, too, the complicated relationship between a revolt which is not carried out to its most destructive end but becomes a vehicle for breathing new life into old forms…
(3) The elemental lines in the tree of life…whew, so integrating. Look at the mothers or the doubles and you have two sets of parallel lines, look at doubles and mothers together and you get some intersections, but look at the elementals and you get some serious intertwining.
Revelation is gnawing at me again on this point, with the difference between the seven independent and self-enclosed churches and the new Israel in which the twelve doors all open to a common city.
(4) Gnosis as self-realization. That is definitely part of it, so long as we take that very seriously, as the realization of something precious through a complex process, as something bound up with an essence purified and transformed, not so much that perfected according to a rule. Also, though, something that as it is realized is also realizing other things around it. Gnosis as contagion, as magical fountain, as philosopher’s stone.
(5) Jung’s psychological types come back into this for me, as one of the keys in opening this particular sort of self-realization. The development of the personality as one side of the work, just as a magic that plays with your own ideas can still be effective insomuch as it operates through the spirit of your own head, a spirit that is a spirit among others, and which you can appease as such. The silliness starts when we mistake other spirits for our head, or vice versa, a silliness that Jung’s published work often takes (though accounts of his psychological practice suggest something more vital there).
(6) Every once in a while, I see very clearly how one-sided this blog is, how heavily weighted it is toward my introverted strengths. I keep wondering if there is a way to open it up in some fashion that brings in my extroverted strengths, too. I don’t have any deep thoughts on that, and it is possible that this will never be too much more than the whetstone of my introversion, but maybe?
(7) The play of synchs and desynchs, of longing and realization….
(8) These are all basically about the same thing, though I clearly haven’t found my way to expressing that.