[NB] Sociability

I have a feeling this is going to continue to be a slow period for this blog, in part because it seems to be an intense period for the rest of my life. Still, there are some fibers that I want to work a little, see if I can get them to catch and start to form some nice woolly yarn. Perhaps gathering a few more thoughts related to the book challenge?

The centrality of communication and community can be rotated, like a gem, to reveal other facets to the pansophist book game. I have talked a few times about how its practical spiritual work is loosely structured and leaves a lot of room for personal exploration and interest.

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Ancestors: Nourishing Fresh from the Oven Necromancy

I’m grooving on Frater Acher’s recent post on closing down his current temple work and releasing it into the earth (thanks, Simon, for linking to it). It reminds me of something quite important that I don’t often see discussed in the current lovefest around necromancy. While there has been a good bit of talk about cultivating your ancestors, it doesn’t seem to have blossomed into a full ancestral reverence. More often than not, that care for the ancestors is put in quite practical terms like “having your ancestors happy means you can call on them more readily for help” or “if your ancestors are unhappy, they can interfere with what you want.”

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[NB] Sex, Embodiment, Gender, Ecstatic Religion

Breathe. Breathe in through your nose, exhale. Breathe in through your mouth, exhale. Consider that with these two breaths you have fed your senses, bringing in the scents that surround you, bringing in the subtle tastes that move through the air. Consider your eyes, your ears, how closely they are to the channels of breath, how they are channels, too, of sights and sounds.

Follow your breath into your lungs, follow your breath out to its sympathy with your heart, pumping the blood, both oxygen and carbon dioxide rich, through your body. Consider how far the sights and sounds that reach you may be, and how close all of this is, how all of this pulls together the world into a tight knot of awareness, whether that awareness be acute or limpid.

Are you in pain? If not, recall the last time you were, recall the last time you felt yourself gathered on sharp jolts or rocked by dull aches. Recall the last time you really wanted something, how similar to pain that can be. Consider, now, the animal roots of all this. Consider what it means to articulate so much of your conscious being through this fleshy vessel organized by animal desire. Consider how rich an instrument this body is, but how few the notes it oft employs.

Because today I want to talk about our bodies, about a peculiar dimension of our embodied experience, gender and sex. That will take me through some terrain which can get a little abstract, but as you follow me through that terrain, I want you to keep in mind this sort of entanglement. I want you to think about how breath, smell, and taste comingle though we casually and technically differentiate them. This is similar.

Keep in mind how viscerally desires express themselves, how difficult it is to fully separate from each other, from our embodied awareness. Consider how entangled those bodies are with subtle realities like our DNA and gross realities like the environment to which our bodies are modeled. Consider how basic sex is to the continuation of the species and how fundamental sexual differentiation is in that. Try to keep an eye, at all times, on the ever-present knot this forms in experience, and how startlingly flexible this anchoring reality can become in conscious experience.

Keep that in mind as I proceed through abstractions. Run the abstractions back down toward this potent knot of your embodiment, because when I think about the Kabbalistic material and its broader gnostic horizon, it is difficult to ignore its gendered dimensions.

The question as to how seriously to take the gendering takes me down into the realities of our embodiment. This is present implicitly in the Saadia diagram, where the sefirot are anchored in direction, in time, in moral behavior. When you look at what the sefirot orient, it is a body. Though it is absent from the sefirot, it manifests in their interaction. This mystery opens into the embodiment of consciousness in other bodies, but I’m going to dive deeply into this human one here.

It will take me in an (surprise) unusual direction, so don’t expect too much familiar terrain here. Or, well, actually do expect familiar terrain but a very different path through it.

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[NB] Inanna, Ereshkigal, and the Land Under the Mountain

I want to make a note of one excerpt from Inanna’s Descent that Dina Katz retranslates. At this point, Inanna has been stripped and stands before Ereshkigal:

“She (Inanna) raised her sister from her throne
And took a seat in her (Ereshkigal’s) throne.
The Anunna, the seven judges, rendered a decision against her.
They looked at her (Inanna), the look of death.
They spoke against her, a speech of wrath.
They shout at her, a shout of guilt.
The ailing woman (Inanna) turned into a corpse.
The corpse was hung on a nail.”
The Image of the Netherworld in Sumerian Sources (261)

Katz admits that it is ambiguous as to whether Inanna forces Ereshkigal from her seat, but that the grammar of the original text makes it a possible interpretation, and gives to us a sense of why Inanna is punished. Up to this point in her descent, Inanna has followed the rules of the netherworld, but here she violates them and is punished by the highest gods for it.

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[NB] Sumerian Diasporas Continued

Since writing this post on burial and necromancy, I have kept tabs on the material I’m reading for evidence about the intersection of the strands of the goetic / magian diasporas. Rereading the Image of the Netherworld in Sumerian Sources put another strand into that, one attached to female mourning traditions.

A recent jaunt through Sarah Iles Johnston’s discussion of the same in Restless Dead suggests some refinements to that account. Like what the Sumerian material suggested, the Greek material suggests a rivalry between masculine necromancers and female mourners. Johnston’s Greece adds a wrinkle to that dynamic, because while the male necromantic traditions are imported into the region, the female mourning traditions seem to be well-established and functionally indigenous.

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