Revisiting Marija Gimbutas

Being sick last week had the silver lining of getting to spend a fair bit of time with both Marija Gimbutas’s The Living Goddess and The Language of the Goddess. There is enough accumulated opinion around her work that I might not have otherwise done that had not sickness whittled my world down to a spare space around the couch, where her books, fresh from the library, sat within easy reach. That’s more than a little ridiculous, when you think about the scholarship I would otherwise tolerate from within the greater magical community.

Of course, that’s part of it, isn’t it? The magical community has garnered for itself a sense of academic credibility (at least in its own mind) in part by accepting certain fashionable academic opinions as givens, including the ones that basically suggest Gimbutas is full of it. The spirit of seriousness lures us with the promise of acceptance if only, as Michael Serres observed, we exclude this third man from our dialogue. Or, well, pace Serres, not a third man, but a woman.

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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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Under the Aspect of Redemption

I came up philosophically under several phenomenologists. I was reminded of that when I spent some time in Boston where the used bookstores gather in their eddies the excess from students attending bastions of continental thinking like Boston College. It reminded me that there are lessons from that period have left an imprint on my spiritual practice today. Today, I have in mind the roots of phenomenology.

Phenomenology proper begins with Edmund Husserl’s epoche. The epoche is one of those practices that seems simple, even simple-minded, but can be brutally challenging and transformative in practice. Simply stated, the epoche is the suspension of ontological questions in order to more carefully examine the epistemological dimensions of experience. When we undertake the epoche, we stop asking after the existence of a thing and start asking after the nature of our experience of a thing.

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[NB] “A Most Extraordinary Myth”

I just thought I would share this story. It is a thing of beauty, packed tight:

“But in Oturupon Meji Maupoil stumbled upon a most extraordinary myth: Orunmila, beset with melancholia, consulted Ifa for himself. How to renew his zest? He was told to bring a sacrifice to his mother, upon whom all joy in his life depended. She was far away. It was Eshu who volunteered to go find her. When he got there he told the woman that her son was dead and that he would lead her back to perform the funeral if she would give him a certain he-goat, which had been entrusted to her care by Oduduwa—life itself. Reluctantly she agreed to give the animal up. Eshu-Elegba promptly slaughtered it, and the blood that flowed forth, covering Eshu’s body, was fire. Having at that time none of his own, Eshu took he-goat’s indestructible head and placed it in a jar turned upside down upon his shoulders. And worn by Eshu, that jar was discovered to contain the sun. (To the king of death Orunmila’s mother gave a ripe fruit; this became his head.)”—Judith Gleason, A Recitation of Ifa (149; emphasis Gleason’s)

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Friction Oracles, or Tugging on the Elephant

There is a family of oracles in Africa known as ‘friction oracles.’ The most common of these require that the client and diviner hold a sacred object between them and wait for subtle movements between them to indicate spiritual responses. (Yes, the Ouija Board is sort of a distant relative, though I hesitate to say that lest I see even more ads for that F***in’ movie).

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[NB] Philip K. Dick and Gbadu

Let’s make the needle really dance over this record. I’ve been doing some jumping around in time and space, and here I want to close the gap, bring us even closer to the present, but zig-zag a stitch between two superficially disparate blocks of recent time.

“More and more this binary computer model of Valis seems to be the correct one. ‘On’ is the linking of two parts which I saw: ‘on’ equals junction; ‘off’ equals disjunction or not inclusion in the vast assembly which I equate with Valis.”—The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick (498-99)

I won’t repeat my issue with the computer model, but I find it terribly suggestive that this is the model Dick goes for when he tries to grasp the nature of Valis. Suggestive, too, that the I Ching will serve him well in his work.

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