Fire Walk with Me?

Rewatching the original run of Twin Peaks is an illuminating experience, especially alongside the third season. The show establishes joins the surreal and magical to an increasingly traumatic series of scenes in a way that suggests the traumatic material forms the axis of the series. More than that, it suggests that there is a kernel of suffering and cruelty at the center of the ‘mysteries’ that distract us from it.

Every time I think I have a handle on what that trauma is, it deepens and broadens itself, encompassing a wider gyre. There is a question that opens here about the nature of time that necessarily entails asking after the particular shape time takes in relationship to human consciousness. Part of the temporal patterns of repetition have their roots in an inability to confront our culpability in suffering, that we repeat certain patterns precisely because we use them as a form of distraction, a dream from which we dread waking. There is a hint of Freud in this, but in many ways Freud performs this distraction more than he is able to grasp it.

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[NB] Distaff of the Heavens

I’m just riffing off of the recent reading and household discussion of Elizabeth Wayland Barber’s Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years. It’s a great book and part of its strength is its strength lies in its tight focus on the archaeological record. That costs her some breadth (though it is still a broad book)—for example, there is little said about Africa, Asia, or the Americas. This is generally fine given her argument that the regions she is studying serve as the cradle of string and subsequently weaving technology. Given her deep time frame, diffusion into Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia is easy enough.

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[NB] Trees In the Forest of Mystery

I picked up a copy of Frisvold’s latest, Ifá: A Forest of Mystery pretty early out of the gate. I started in my usual way, dipping in and out of the book at random or as some specific curiosity prompted me (what does he say about Ogun? What about Òbárá Meji?). That left me with a favorable impression of the text—each time I came away with a sense of having my understanding both confirmed and expanded.

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Time Machines: Get Down and Cut Ups

So, The Get Down. There are some subtle but persistent magical themes going on in the narrative. There are the top-hatted alien and minor characters with names like ‘Thor’*; there is the tension between ecstasy and devotion**; but right now I want to point out the way art, history, and music play out as aspects of time (magic).

Spoilers.

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[NB] John Brown’s Body

A report of Harriet Tubman’s dream:

“She thought she was in a ‘wilderness sort of place, all full of rocks and bushes,’ when she saw a serpent raise its head among the rocks, and as it did so, it became the head of an old man with a long white beard, gazing at her ‘wishful like, just as if he were going to speak to me,’ and then two other heads rose up beside him, younger than he,—and as she stood looking at them, and wondering what they could want with her, a crowd of great men rushed in and struck down the younger heads, and then the head of the old man, still looking at her so ‘wishful.'”

After meeting John Brown in 1958, Tubman knew the dream to be of him, though she appreciated its import only after the failed raid on Harpers Ferry.

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Telling Stories

I was going to sit down and write about history and evolution, but instead the ancestral shrine tugged at me. Have I told you that story? Probably not. A few years ago now, I had the opportunity to participate in an ancestralization ceremony for my maternal grandparents with one of Malidoma Some’s students, Emenike La. It opened many doors to me spiritually. The elevation of my ancestors was like nothing so much as lifting the lintels on a door I didn’t even know was there; a whole world opened up to me.

Hard to talk about some of that stuff, though, because it’s, well, family business. Even if it’s weird family business. Maybe because it is weird family business?

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[NB] Kalunga and the Breath of God, or People Just Float

At some point during the Quimbanda workshop at Viridis Genii, Jesse mentioned that Kalunga, the Kongo term for the great spiritual sea in which the dead swim, is generally thought to begin about handspan from the body. The dead are just that close, and during exceptionally dangerous times, even closer.

I had heard something like this before, but this time it settled against the Kabbalistic thoughts I had been posting (interesting trivia: one of the older strains of spiritualist work that feeds into Quimbanda was called, simply enough, ‘Kabbalah’). What else surrounds the material world, close but not identical with it? Chokmah and Binah, perhaps?

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American Babylon

I often feel like the indigenous American contributions to global occultism get short schrift. In the early phase, they were concealed by the pseudo-ethnographic attitude taken by Europeans, the sort of exciting and titillating tales that fueled occult fantasies (much like the latter New Age fantasises, which are often built atop older layers of European fantasy) but not in a way that could be easily identified. This was compounded by the devestation wrought on the cultures by disease and imperial disruption.

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[NB] Transmissions: Pansophism, Comenius, and the English Americas

Following the ancestor nudging that kicked off an earlier post, I found myself flipping open a book that has been sitting on my shelf. It’s got some useful material about the different ways of conceiving spiritual and intellectual transmission. A little notebooking, then?

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