My writing head is mostly at noodle lately. I have been thinking about some bigger things, some of which I have already talked about here, others which are big and sweeping and a little scary. I don’t like to let the practice of writing here languish, so, yep, noodling it is. Let’s talk a little more about that book shrine.
That is the question that has been on my mind. I mean the future in a big way, in the hope of a time different than this one, less walled in by the invasive repetitiveness of the current black iron prison. I mean, too, in the way that opens the door toward that future, the ground which must be forged from the world we have.
There are plenty of ancestral forces that strive to preserve, but there are also the ones that strive to forge, to make something new and better for those that follow. That is tied to the past, but in the past as it seeks outside itself.
That can’t really be about fighting the power because it the nature of the fight to invigorate the forms against which it struggles, to adapt to them even if it is in struggle. This sort of founding has to be firm without opposing. There seems to be a strong vein of this in Chinese thought and it is one of the reasons that I still turn to the I Ching, still read about blandness, and wander down some Taoist alleys. Not precisely for the substance of the thought, but for a way of thinking.
How do you hold a world that might not be? How do you hold a world so that even if it doesn’t come to be, it’s possibility exerts influence upon the one that does exist?
When I think about the afterlife, this is what I think most about, a projection into the ancestral current that keeps whispering and winding into the fabric of the street corners and forest paths.
There’s a dream I had about Dr. Who that has stuck with me. It took place in the future, with the 7th Doctor and Ace. The world was divided between the haves and have-nots, with the haves living in an arcology that was sealed off every night from the degrading cityscape around it.
At the center of the dream were these street children sheltering in a large theater-like structure; the megafauna that roamed the streets made it unsafe to be outdoors at night. On the outside of the structure were signs along the porch to indicate what was going on inside. Inside, there was this elaborate ritual with candles, prayers, offerings, orchestrated around chalk drawings on the floor that fell somewhere between firmas and particle trace diagrams, complete with mathematical formulas purporting to describe the diagrams.
[Edited gently for clarity January 2017]
There are two major contenders for the source of the geomancy’s dispersion in the last couple of millenia: West Africa or the Middle East. It is quite possible that neither are the final origin, that a still older cultural substratum pre-exists both. What we can say about that older substratum, if it exists, will nonetheless require us to pass through its more recent points of transmission.
A blog post really won’t cover this, but I hope to lay out a rough set of orientations, a framework for exploration that might help orient us in the great wide world of spirit work. I don’t think deconstruction and witchcraft are such odd bedfellows, though I suspect few would agree with me. Still, consider the degree to which the sort of structuralism popularized by Claude Levi-Strauss began as an exploration of cognitive foundations of a cosmology. Those cosmologies have a deep tie to myth and rite. Derrida’s deconstruction, responding to this, is also, therefore, responding to a way of approaching myth and rite.
(Oh, and yes, I am using deconstruction to refer mostly to the Derrida-inspired variety, with its decidedly philosophical rather than literary or linguistic bent. Folks like Guyatri Spivak and Rudolph Gasche, yes. Folks like Paul De Man, not so much; though there is surely some overlap. I’m a sucker for the 1960s Derrida, so essays like “Force and Signification” and Of Grammatology loom large–those who know, will see why as I get going.)
The town may be changed,
But the well cannot be changed.
It neither decreases nor increases.
They come and go and draw from the well.
If one gets down almost to the water
And the rope does not go all the way,
Or the jug breaks, it brings misfortune.
(Hexagram 48, I Ching ; Chinese text here)
I know, Wilhelm is far from perfect, but it is ready to hand and sensible enough. I linked to the Chinese just because I could. I can’t read a lick of it, but it was easy to add the link and easy enough for a reader to take a quick look.
Tim Powers writes a lot of fiction about magical topics but is himself a conservatively religious sort of guy. I quite respect that sort of attitude–cautious awareness of the wider spiritual world joined to a serious respect for the very humane spiritual traditions that have traditionally been kind to people qua people. Anyway, I quite like the way he portrays Tarot in his book Last Call (which seems to mirror his own personal distrust of Tarot): when you spread out the cards, the spirit world has a chance to look at you. It is something of a one-way mirror, so that while you see in the reading yourself and your situation, the spirits see you. Like a one-way mirror, you can’t always tell if there is someone on the other side, but there might be.