One of the things that I like about Dina Katz’s work on the Sumerian netherworld is that she chips away at the notion that the Sumerians had a rich notion of multiple souls. Reading the material we have on their afterlife closely, we seem to see quite a bit of variance about what exactly the afterlife consisted in and, even, if there was an afterlife to speak of. That kind of minimalist reading is so useful when you’re trying to have a dialogue, however broken and one-sided, with people of another era.
I always enjoy when a post ends up being one point on a wave of posts on a topic, like there is some schooling going on in this enervated blogosphere. Alexandra’s most recent post touches sidelong at something I have wanted to talk about again, a point at which I often feel myself at odds with how people talk about magic, namely the mutability of reality.
Categories are dangerous things. The separation of one kind of thing from another at the conceptual level leads us toward deeper knowledge and deeper ignorance simultaneously. Once we separate one kind from another at the level of concept, we prepare the way for forms of action that treat them as separate in actuality.
I want to leave this series of posts with a brief consideration of the horizon against which all of this plays out. The faculties of will and intellect, mask and body of fate, are not unique to the human world. They can easily be traced into all of the corners of animal, suggested in vegetal life, and even glimpsed in the physio-chemical mechanisms that underpin them, though this is more subtle.