Age of Aquarius

The words of a song echo, a song that came out of the New Age movement, a movement looking to a new age as the answer, as a Utopian time of peace and love. The song is Age of Aquarius but 5th Dimension:

When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age
Of a Aquarius, the age of Aquarius
Aquarius, Aquarius
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the minds true liberation
Aquarius, Aquarius
When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age
Of a Aquarius, the age of Aquarius
Aquarius, Aquarius

The Age of Aquarius is of course based on the progression of equinoxes, Plato’s Great Year, which I’ve discussed before. Twelve ages of 2200 years, give or take 100 years. And one theory, based on Vedic astronomy subdivides each age into sub ages, about 180 years each, with the first subage being of similar nature to the current age, and last sub age in an age having similar nature to the next Age. This would imply that the last subage in a given age is a taste of what the next will be.

The idea that the Age of Aquarius would be peace and harmony and everyone loving everyone is a misconception, as anyone born in Aquarius, or anyone who has known one can attest. Aquarius likes to the be a peacemaker, but is more a leveler. We’re not talking peaceful cooperation and everyone getting along. Aquarius disrupts and brings chaos and complication. It is the destruction of hierarchy and differences, but doesn’t present a solution or restructure. If you are looking for that, that is Capricorn, the age after. Aquarius isn’t described by the verse “he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelations 21:4 RSV) It is described by these verses:

Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
~Isaiah 40:4 RSV

See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.
~Jeremiah 1:10 RSV

It’s important to realise that the Age of Pisces isn’t just defined by the Fish, but by the Virgin, Virgo, across the sky from Pisces. The Fish is the Son of the Virgin, Pisces is the Son of Virgo. When the sun is in Pisces, at midnight Virgo is at height, Pisces occulted and concealed, Virgo plain to see in the night sky. Pisces has no boundaries, no firm borders, it runs over all it encounters, flowing like a flood over the ground. Pisces is the Conqueror, conquering all. “And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” (Revelations 6:2 RSV) And while the age we’ve seen does reflect this, the building of empires through conquest, there is another aspect, the restriction, the restraint, the control. This comes not from Pisces, who would move on to the next thing. It comes instead from the Mother of Pisces, from Virgo, the Virgin. The Water of Pisces brings change, but when the Flood is past, it is the Earth of Virgo that settles, with teh restraint only she can bring. She marks the midpoint, half way through the Age.

Which brings us to Aquarius. While Aquarius does want peace and harmony, it doesn’t know how to bring it. It uproots old orders, like the Fall of the Tower, it brings down the haughty and mighty, the mountains and hills, and raises up the humble and downtrodden, the valleys, but it doesn’t know what to do next and looks for the next injustice or inequality to fix, not leaving a structure. The result isn’t peace but rebellion and disorder, people turning on each other. “And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” (Revelations 6:4 RSV) We are in the subage of Aquarius, and it has had and will have a taste of peace and harmony, this isn’t the main trait. Watch how empires and nations have, are, and will crumble, how Super Powers fail, hierarchies fall, economies splinter. This subage has not been one of piece, but of breakdown, breakdown that takes away peace. This is a taste of the Age of Aquarius.

But once again, that isn’t the whole story. Look across the wheel. Aquarius is the Son of Leo, the Son of Fire. This is the key to understand the Age of Aquarius.

“Son of Fire”

Let he who has ears to hear hear, let she who has eyes to see see.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

Thought on the government shutdown

My thoughts, which I think in this case are touched at least some with the Sight, though I could be looking the wrong direction.

I’m fairly certain a compromise, extension, or some other last minute reprieve will occur, both sides are trying to make a point, but it seems unlikely they will let the US go the way of Greece.

But I think the damage has been done, not in the financial realm or in the ability of the two parties to work together (all the could do on that front is contrast each other anyway, work together for a gridlock that guarantied no successful third party teaching power). The political damage occurred long before I was born.

And on the financial level, we weren’t that far off from this brink during the furloughs in the 70s and 80s or the shutdown in the 90s that didn’t include furlough. The total debt is higher, but when you can’t pay it off, doesn’t much matter if you double or triple it. You’re already screwed if you default. When you’ve spent everything, defaulting on a 3 million dollar house or a 30 thousand dollar house isn’t much different in the end. You’re homeless either way.

The damage they did this time around is more subtle and much deeper and wide reaching. They’ve washed away the last illusion of the people that the government is worth keeping.

Unless I’m looking the wrong direction with the Sight and misunderstanding what I’m seeing, it has begun, the death pangs of the last super power are in progress.

The people have been sleeping in apathy. Speaking and grumbling, but never waking, never voting or rising up for change, true change, instead of a pendulum between two sides that only exist because the other opposes them.

There are some who take action, who try for change, of course. There always is, and there has to be for those in power to remain. No government can long stand without a healthy opposition.

But those sleeping are stirring, the sleeping giant Washington has succeeded in waking is for greater than the one Japan woke with the attack on Pearl Harbor. This sleeping giant, this sleeping Serpent, is relentless and unpredictable, and is hard to subdue once she awakes.

For this is a Serpent born of rebellion, that will not rest as long as one block remains upon another in Washington. And in some parts of the country, the state and local governments will fair no better, though I suspect the Mountain States will respond with, well we can survive like we always do, and firm the borders and carry on. Other states, the people will tear to shreds.

It’s like a blog post I posted not long ago, the foundations are being shaken. We’ll see what stands when the quakes and death rattles have ended.

Welcome to the Age of Aquarius, or at least a taste, the fall of hierarchies and structure, and the chaos, uncertainty, and confusion that results. The Son of the Virgin fades, the Son of Lion’s time approaches.

Just my bleak and troubled thoughts at the moment, take them or leave them.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

Samhain Dumb Supper or Other Get Together

Anyone interested in a dumb supper or other get together around Samhain, in the Northern Frontrange area?

I.E., Denver, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Golden, Ft.Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Longmont, Castle Rock, and surrounding areas, and those within driving distance that are interested.

Feel free to comment if you’re interested, or email me at muninnskiss @ grimr.org.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

The Name of the Dreamer

I walk in the night that is not the night, the darkness that is not the darkness. Dusk was long ago, fading and vanishing, twilight has come and gone, I can hardly see. But this is not night. The clouds hang high in the sky, lit by the city lights. No wind blows. All is stillness as I move away from the places of people, still in the Dreaming, yet not in it, a part but apart, walking the edges, far from the edges.

And I walked, and I crossed a threshold, a gate, a gate in a fence. And I spoke the names of the Guardians of the Edges, the Keepers, the Builders, the Bringers. I spoke them starting with her that wanders the North, the Keeper of the Lost, the Builder of Storms, the Bringer of Tears. I spoke the name of the North, then the East, then the South, then the West. And the First Gate was open.

The Storm Gate stands open,
The Keeper stands aside,
The North Gate is open,
The Stone is moved aside.

And I walked on, and I called the wind, the Wind, the Wind Between Worlds. There is a wind that blows between the worlds. It is a strange wind, like no others. It is all others. Between worlds it blows, and when you feel it, you know. A flag flapped in the wind, straight out, taut. Just before it had hung limp, now a strong wind whipped it.

And I walked, and I crossed a threshold, a boundary, the boundary of a field. And I spoke the names of the Guardians of the Edges, the Keepers, the Builders, the Bringers. I spoke them starting with he that wanders the East, the Keeper of Ways, the Builder of Paths, the Bringer of Dawn. I spoke the name of the East, then the South, then the West, then the North. And the Second Gate was open.

The Dawn Gate stands open,
The Keeper stands aside,
The East Gate is open,
The Stone is moved aside.

And I walked on, and I thought of the Lost. There are those that wander the Veil, those lost in the mist. They have lost themselves, the world has become too strange. They wander the Veil, and in and out of the Dreaming, in and out of the Gleam. You encounter them sometimes, odd encounters, odd conversation, surreal and strange. You’re not sure what you experienced, aren’t sure who they were. Nor are they, for they have lost themselves, these Lost have. I’ve encountered them from time to time, but saw none this night.

And I walked, and I crossed a threshold, an edge, an edge between human fields and wild fields. And I spoke the names of the Guardians of the Edges, the Keepers, the Builders, the Bringers. I spoke them starting with he that wanders the South, the Keeper of Treasure, the Builder of Pleasure, the Bringer of Laughter. I spoke the name of the South, then the West, then the North, then the East. And the Third Gate was open.

The Pleasure Gate stands open,
The Keeper stands aside,
The South Gate is open,
The Stone is moved aside.

And I walked on, and the world was strange, half in, half out, like walking through mist but seeing clearly, like bright sunshine in a rain storm. like dreaming while you’re awake, or waking but still being asleep. Half in, half out. An in between place. Liminal. The Edge of the Veil.

And I walked and crossed a threshold, half wild places to something more, something on the verge of the Gleam, or just on the edge of the Veil. And I spoke the names of the Guardians of the Edges, the Keepers, the Builders, the Bringers. I spoke them starting with she that wanders the West, the Keeper of Secrets, the Builder of Foundations, the Bringer of Dusk. I spoke the name of the West, then the North, then the East, then the South. And the Fourth Gate was open.

The Dusk Gate stand open,
The Keeper stands aside,
The West Gate is open,
The Stone is moved aside.

And I wandered across ground that could be foot thick dry moss, or could be sagebrush, or could be brittle dry bones crumpling under my feet. I wander across dry places and wet, dust and mud.

And I wonder about a name. What is the Name of the Dreamer? What is the Name of the Spinner of Dreams. That young girl who is the oldest of all. What is the Name? How is the Fifth Gate opened? How do you find that path past the Dream Gate, that Gate of Horn and Bone, past the Dream Gate to that Black Altar that sits before the Gate of Life and Death?

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

The Highs and Lows of Magic: A Look at the Terms High Magic and Low Magic and Their Usefulness as Labels

There are two terms tossed around a lot in the occult, esoteric, and pagan communities, sometimes with derision, sometimes in an attempt to explain differences. Sometimes they are used descriptively, to define what is observed, sometimes prescriptively, to try to force a designation and discourage the practice of one or the other. As with all labels, these terms can be restrictive or insulting if used that way, or useful in understanding used a different way. While I discourage the use of any label to restrict or insult another, I find labels useful if they are used to better understand the subject without restricting it. You get a bit of the wave or particle issue in quantum physics. Can you apply the label without changing that which you are applying it to? Can you observe that which you are labeling without changing it?

For a label to be useful, we must first understand the label itself. What is meant by it? The labels in question here are High Magic and Low Magic. What do we mean by them? They can also be called Superior Magic and Inferior Magic, but these terms have even more loaded meaning due to current understanding of the terms. Superior means “above”, inferior “below”. These have taking a meaning of above or below in value or in social power or in strength, but this was not the original meaning. I’d point out a maximum used often at both ends of the spectrum. “As above, so below, as below, so above.” High Magic and Low Magic are different in form, and often in goal, but not in essence, not in principle.

The meanings have changed since the original usage. High/superior does not necessarily mean better or more advanced, nor low/inferior mean lesser or more savage. Those meanings can be blamed on the Victorians. Consider a similar pair of terms (and actually having the same meaning as here), High Church and Low Church.

High Church (n)
(Christianity / Anglicanism) the party or movement within the Church of England stressing continuity with Catholic Christendom, the authority of bishops, and the importance of sacraments, rituals, and ceremonies

Low Church (n)
A group in the Anglican Church that minimizes the episcopacy, priesthood, and sacraments and favors evangelical doctrines, polity, and usages.

Basically, High Church is religion focused around set ritual and ceremony, with a priesthood and hierarchy. Low Church is religion minimizing those aspects, more ab lib and unstructured, more focus on the laity and non-ritualized worship.

Same goes for High Magic and Low Magic. High Magic is ceremonial magic, with set ritual and form, passed down through structured teaching. Low Magic is the more non-structured folk magic.

Another similar set of terms is High Fantasy and Low Fantasy. High Fantasy is a fantasy sub-genre where the events or characters can’t exist in what is considered the laws of physics in our world. Elements like magic, dragons, elves, etc. Lord of the Rings is High Fantasy, as are the Mists of Avalon. Low Fantasy is fantasy that fits within the “real world”, usually historical with minimized supernatural elements. Both Mary Stewart’s Merlin books and Stephen Lawhead’s King Arthur series are closer to the Low Fantasy end of the spectrum. I’m not saying High Magic is impossible fantasy. High Fantasy is more airy, Low Fantasy more earthy. High Fantasy typically uses the fantastic elements to facilitate the story, like High Magic and High Church using ritual to facilitate the worship or magic (and there’s a fine line there), often focusing on inner transformation and more abstract gains and goals. Low Fantasy typically relies less on the fantastic and more on the day-to-day of living, like Low Magic and Low Church rely more of folk belief and practice, more on magic or religion for addressing mundane needs.

High Magic is an expression of ritual form and hierarchy, not a value judgement. Low Magic is an expression of more every-day and less ritualistic practice, not a value judgement. While many might use them as judgement, they are useful designators of two ends of a spectrum of form within magic and occult and esoteric practice.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

*Definitions from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/

Toward a Local Diet

I realized not too long ago that it is important to my practice to eat more local. I am bound to this part of Colorado, and it is bound to me, through my agreements with the local spirits. If it is the land I am called to and connected to, it seems logical that it would be the source of my food, that I would eat food grown in and on the same soil I am now planted in.

There are several caveats that make this important.

First, those that work the land feed the land, so it’s important that I support them doing so as much as possible. Helping support local agriculture helps the land, and I have sworn to help the land of this area as my abilities and opportunities allow. In supporting local agriculture, be it produce or meat or anything else, I am aiding in the process that feeds and strengthens the land.

Second, is a concept I’ve recently come to. The bedrock and foundation of an area breaks down into dirt. Hardy plants that don’t need much grow in that dirt, and are built from that dirt. They are of the stuff of that dirt, so of the stuff of the bedrock and foundation. As they live and as they die, they add nutrients to the dirt, as the process of life changes what is taken in into something else. The end process of growth, life, death, and decay is that the dirt becomes soil, able to support plants that need more than those initial plants. These new plants grow, made of the stuff of the soil, which is made of the stuff of the early plants, which is made of the dirt, which is made of the bedrock and foundation. And these plants grow and live and die and decay as well, adding to the soil. And animals eat the plants, and grow and live and die and decay, adding to the soil. And other animals eat them, and so on. All things in the area are essentially made of the stuff of the bedrock and foundation, and part of the spirit of it. This means, if I eat mostly stuff from other parts of the world or country or region or state, I am becoming part of those areas, but the more I eat local, the more of me is local and the stuff of the bedrock and foundation. By eating local, I become more and more part of the land.

Third, the money I spend on what I eat stays in the local economy. While I have no problem supporting farmers or ranchers in any part of the country, my priority needs to be here, and as much of my money that can stay in the local economy, the more I support the local economy, which is a major part of the human aspect of what I am committed to.

Fourth, local food is fresher and better for me. Because it doesn’t have to be shipped as far, it doesn’t sit as long, so is closer to how it is fresh off the plant or right after slaughter. If it is shipped across the country or world, it doesn’t just sit longer, but has to be harvested or slaughtered with the distance in mind. This means fruits and vegetables have to be picked before they are ripe, so that by the time they get to me, they have ripened to the expected point, not past it. Who would buy over ripe fruits or vegetables? But anyone who has grown their own or got them fresh knows that vine or plant ripened tastes better than shelf ripened. Meat has similar issues, as it has to be kept cold or frozen to ship it, and sits longer. This increases the health risk of bacteria, and decreases the taste. And I have no idea what happens for sure during those trips, or what the growing conditions were.

There are other reasons as well, but I’ll leave it at those four.

I started with honey, as I already knew I could get Clark’s honey at Sprout’s, a health food chain. Clark’s honey comes from Fort Luptin, on the eastern edge of the area I call home, and definitely local. I got a bottle of their wildflower honey, which is quite strong in taste compared to most honey, and made from the nectar gathered from local wildflowers by the bees. I add honey to a lot of things instead of sugar, and quite often eat it in peanut butter on a spoon, so it seemed a good place to start.

A few days later, I did checking at the local grocery store chains. I was told they all have local suppliers, so I figured I’d check what they had.

I started with Sprouts. I figured a chain that totes being health food and has organic and similar type products would also have a lot of local food as well. Wrong. The only thing I could find that was local was Clark’s honey. There was a pamphlet for a local beef farm in Northglenn, but none of the meat had any labels saying that farm’s name, and the only labels on them gave country names (I saw United States, Uruguay, and I thin Ecuador). I asked one of the people at the butcher counter, and he said he has no idea where the meat is from beyond what’s on the label, that they aren’t told where anything is produced or grown. Maybe some of it is local, but they have no idea which, if any. Not helpful.

At Safeway, I had a little better luck. I found a few items in the produce section marked as Colorado grown, and a fair amount of meat marked as such. I talked to a person in the produce section, and while they try to mark the fruits and vegetables, they are only required to give the country of origin, not any more specific. He said there is other local produce, unmarked, but he wasn’t sure which. Also, there was no method to determine if it was truly local or from a different part of the state. Local just meant somewhere in Colorado. More helpful, but not enough.

King Soopers was better. They had a lot of local produce, and they label everything that is from Colorado with Colorado Proud. In addition, almost all the produce that is from Colorado doesn’t just have that, but a sign giving the town it’s from. Unfortunately, almost all of these were outside the Northern Frontrange area. Meat is also always marked, but sparse. I’ve only ever seen one or two items at a time, if that. Safeway has much more.

Walmart uses Colorado Proud labels, as well, but had very few items.

Target, for meat, only had sausage. For produce, they had one end cap of local vegetables, good stuff but not much.

So, basically, for grocery store chains, at least in this area, King Soopers seems best for local produce and Safeway for local meat. But neither completely fit what I was looking for.

I decided that it would be better buying straight from the producers. I figured the farmer’s market was the best place to go to identify which producers I could contact.

I have been used to the farmer’s market in Laramie. It lasts for three months, from the first Friday of July to the last Friday of September. It is only on Fridays, and only for two hours each Friday. I was surprised to find that Longmont’s farmer’s market lasts from the first Saturday of April to the first Saturday of November, seven months. In addition, it is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday, five hours instead of two. Boulder’s farmer’s market is even longer, covering the same span but 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and having a second time, from May until October on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Quite impressive times for both compared to Laramie.

That Saturday, I went down the the farmer’s market in Longmont, which occurs in the Boulder County Fair Grounds. These grounds are huge compared to any county fairgrounds I have seen in Wyoming. It seemed odd to me at first that the county fair grounds would not be in the county seat. I found a sign that told the history, and found out it started out in Boulder, but the county fair grew so big, they looked for a larger location and it moved to Longmont. Thinking about the county, I realised this makes sense on another level. While Boulder is definitely the political and administrative heart of the county, Longmont is definitely the agricultural heart. Boulder started as a gold mining town, and the hills above and Boulder Creek define it. From there, it grew into a university town and the administrative centre. Longmont began life as a farming town, with the Chicago-Colorado Colony. When the railroad came through, it became the place crops were loaded onto the train, so all the grain and produce came into Longmont. It’s never fully lost that character. County fairs, at least in the Mountain West, are primarily agricultural fairs. So the location of the fair grounds makes a lot of sense.

The day I decided to go to the farmer’s market was the day of the 4H Fair. There were a lot of people everywhere. I finally found the farmer’s market on the northern end of the grounds. It was quite a bit larger than Laramie’s, at least in number of stalls. Everything was packed close together, each stall touching, unlike Laramie’s where there is typically a fair amount of space between. But it covered almost the same area total. There was a lot of local farms and ranches represented. I walked through, talked to a fair number of them, got business cards and pamphlet, and bought a bag of basil. It was a lot more fresh basil for only $2 than I had spent $4 for in the store, and fresher and stronger. Pleased with my purchase and the literature I had collected, I went home.

I used the basil that night to make bruschetta. I had had everything I needed for it, but had waited too long and the basil had gone bad. This basil was better basil, cheaper, and local, grown in local soil by locals. the rest of the meal wasn’t local, but it was a step.

It was a lot of basil, so I had a lot left. I cut it up and put it in ice cube trays and added water and froze it. Little basil cubes, perfect for dropping in sauce or soup. No good for things like bruschetta, but available for most other applications without the fear of it going bad. After it was froze, I popped them out and put them in a zip lock bag in the freezer.

Basil Set to Freeze

Basil Set to Freeze

The next Friday, I decided to go visit some places.

The person I bought the basil from had said to come by the farm, Frog Belly Farm, sometime, so I decided to start there. I got out there and it was a beautiful area. There was a field near the gate with a sign saying Parking, so I parked there and walked the rest of the way in. I was amused to see a pepper plant growing beside the road, obviously a volunteer, likely from a pepper that fell off a truck, or similar. I talked briefly with a lady who seemed to be the crew chief or similar and she said to go ahead and wander around and see what they do. They have several areas of rows of vegetables, several greenhouses, a potting area, a barn and other buildings, a corral with swine in it, and likely other things in areas I didn’t see. People were weeding and picking, and there were tractors that were doing something near the barn. Over all, a nice looking farm, well run, well organized. Only thing I saw that my grandpa who was a farmer would have taken issue with was there was a lot of morning glory entwining many plants. He hated the stuff, because once it got into a field it was very hard to remove. One thing I really loved was a domed greenhouse with herbs growing inside. What I wouldn’t give for a greenhouse like that for herbs!

It was interesting walking on soil that has been worked for a long time, soil producing food, grown locally and and in local soil. There is power in that, and I could feel it in the land. This was living land, land that partnered with the people that worked it. Walking that land and feeling it was a treat.

After I finished wandering and looking, I talked to the woman I had at the beginning again. I asked her about buying, and found out it’s a CSA farm, that they were preparing for the delivery to their share holders. They sell at market what doesn’t go to the holders, and sometimes sell at the farm if there’s excess. So I found out going out there wasn’t the best way to buy.

From there, I drove toward a cattle ranch. It was out near Hygiene, I forget the exact name. It sells grass fed beef. When I got there, there was a mailbox with the address, but no sign advertising it, and a cattle gate closed at the road in. This isn’t abnormal for a ranch, but the lack of a sign made me second guess if it was a place to visit. I drove by, then pulled over and parked a bit up the road and pulled up their website. It did talk about coming by, but when I looked at the prices, it was talking price per pound and weights in the 500 pond range, and telling what size freezer is needed for that. I realised buying there would require buying much larger bulk than I could use, so buying there wasn’t the best way either.

I got out of the car and walked back up the road. The ranch was separated from the road by a creek. I took a look at it, and thought about the fact that this was definitely a cattle ranch, not a cattle farm. I’ve mused about this, and talked about ti to a couple people including a friend who grew up on a ranch. My grandpa was a farmer. When i was a kid, he lived on and worked a cattle farm. It felt like a farm. Grass fed, not feed lot, pasture and grazing, but definitely a farm. My friend’s family ranch feels like a ranch to me, not like a farm, and this one I went to visit also did. So what’s the difference? I came to the conclusion that a farm is cultivated and set, domesticated, whereas a ranch is more wild, more changing. My grandpa’s farm was four sections, one with the house, outbuildings, containerizes, barns, sheds, and corrals, one with barley growing, one with hay growing, and one for grazing. I believe he rotated the three without buildings. The cattle were let out into the pasture to graze, but typically spent the night in the corral, in the three sided sheds that backed it. When they were fed hay or oats, it was in feeding troughs build into the corral fence. The ranches I’ve been on, the cattle spend the night in the field, or in open range, not corrals and sheds. Hay is brought out and given in the field, not in troughs. The only crop besides cattle is hay to feed the cattle. Quite a bit different, and the land feels different. A ranch, the land feels wild, barely different from open range. The land on a farm feels domesticated, working with the farmer, but farmland, defined, set.

As I drove back to town, I thought of what I had seen and learned. I realised the farmer’s market was the best bet for local produce and meat, and realised that in times before refrigeration, you likely bought food at a market when you needed it, and that farmers would bring things in to the town where people would buy it. A much different system than we have today, at least in this part of the world with supermarkets and grocery store chains. And everything would have been local, or most everything. The farmer’s market was exactly what I needed and where I needed to find local food items.

The next day, on Saturday, I went to the farmer’s market with the intent to make a meal. I started with meat, looking at what was available and the prices, as more expensive meat would limit the produce I could buy to use with it. I settled on lamb shanks. In addition, I bought garlic, a yellow onion, rosemary, and shiitake and oyster mushrooms. Total came to about $18.

The Monday night, I made it. I seared the lamb shanks in olive oil. While it was searing, I browned the complete head of local garlic in olive oil, chopped up and added a whole local yellow onion, an Anaheim pepper and a jalapeño pepper (both non-local), a large pinch of local rosemary, and almost half a bottle of red Italian wine. I cooked off half the wine, added the local mushrooms, poured the mixture in a pan, put in the shanks, half submerged, covered it with tin foil and baked it for 40 minutes, flipped shanks, 40 more minutes, then uncovered for 15 minutes.. They were absolutely delicious and moist. And the vegetable mixture, mostly mushroom as the onion, garlic, and peppers have shank while I was cooking off the wine, was to die for. A bit too much rosemary in the vegetables, not in taste, but in number, as I had to pick it out, but very good. A good first go at it.

Braised Lamb Shanks

Braised Lamb Shanks

This first experiment, and the process of getting to it, made me think of other, non-food related, ideas. Where does my clothes, my paper products, all the things I get come from? I went to Boulder to shop one day, and wandering around, I thought of all the focus that is put of fair trade and making sure products produces in other countries can be sold in the US at competitive prices, and how few places carry local products. There are quite a few Tibetan, Chinese, and similar stores in the Pearl Street Mall, and several fair trade stores selling imports from Africa and South America and the like, but only one store that focuses on local craftsmen and the like. It is easier to find products from across the world than those made right here where I live. Interestingly, the farmer’s markets are a source for that as well. At the Longmont market are craft stands as well as the produce and meat and other food stands.

This weekend, I made my second mostly local meal from the farmer’s market. My plan is to do one each pay period, plus get as much local besides it as possible. The meat I picked out was a two pound flatiron cut of steak. A lot of meat for $12. In addition, I bought three ears of corn, four small red onions, a head of garlic, a bag of basil, and a bunch of cilantro. Total with the meat came to right around $20. The cilantro wasn’t for this meal, but to use in tacos, and the basil was primarily for bruschetta.

I heated up the grill. It’s one of those no-fire George Foreman grills. While the meat thawed in water (ranches typically store and sell meat frozen), I cut up the onions, a few cloves of garlic, and some of the basil into a bowl. I added some of the wine from the week before, some olive oil, and some Worcestershire sauce, plus cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt. I mixed it all up and let the flavours mix, then when the meat was close to thawed, I poured it into a pan and moved the vegetables to the sides, so that the juice would settle in the middle. I let ti drain a bit until it was about an eighth of an inch deep, and the meat was completely thawed and placed the meat in the juice. Let it marinate for a few minutes, flipped it over, let it marinate for a few more, then took everything out to the grill. I put the steak on, then dumped the vegetables on and spread them (this wouldn’t have worked in a traditional grill, they would have fallen through), and put one ear of corn (which I had removed almost all the husk of, so only a thin layer still covered it) on. Every so often, I stirred the vegetables, rotated the corn (using the stem as a handle), and flipped the steak, pouring a bit more of the juice from the pan on it. I bet it took about fifteen minutes to cook everything. It all tasted wonderful. The thin parts of the steak were a bit over done, but the main bulk was perfect. I put butter and salt on the corn and ate it off the cob, absolutely perfect. And the vegetables were very good. I ate all the corn, but only finished half of the steak and vegetables, putting the rest in the refrigerator. Was definitely a successful meal.

Flatiron Steak and Corn on the Cob

Flatiron Steak and Corn on the Cob

Over all, it is progressing. I’m eating more local than I did before, even if not every meal. I feel more connected, and definitely more aware, because even what I don’t eat local I think about that fact. And I add bits of local things in, herbs, honey, garlic.

A few other things I’ve been considering. I’d like to gather local cat tails, and back flour from them to use in baking. I am contemplating a share in a farm next year, getting weekly or biweekly baskets of produce or meat. I’m considering making an arrangement with one of the local dairies that deliver, for my milk. I need to swing by the local butcher and see what they have for meat. I’d love to find a source for local flour, presuming the cat tail experiment doesn’t work well. For my bruschetta this time, I’m going to make my own french bread, and I made banana bread yesterday and corn bread a few weeks before. If I can use local flour or can use cat tails, these breads would be a good way to eat local.

Time will tell what all I end up doing, but the process and quest to eat more local is opening my eyes to what is around me in new ways and making me more conscious of what I put into my body.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

When Pan Holds Court in the City Streets

Twilight comes early in Boulder, as it’s so close to the mountains that the sun sets and twilight begins about two hours before it does out on the plains, eighty miles to the east. It is an odd place at twilight, when street performers and panhandlers are every ten feet, and people are laying down their beds here and there in the bushes in parks and grounds.

If you walk Pearl Street at twilight, and have eyes to see and ears to hear, you’ll be surprised at what is happening around you. For the Old Gods walk the city streets, and Great Pan holds court in the twilight’s light. I saw him tonight, under the fading sky and almost full moon, I was him on Pearl Street in Boulder as I walked in twilight tonight as my other self. He looked quite human, in human guise, and his dress the same, but his words were honey, and anyone with eyes could see if they watch that gait and sway as he walked on the balls of his bare feet that it was only glamour that hid the goats feet of his true form. And walking behind him, the urge was strong to join his court among the merry throng that were gathered there, and follow him, to dance and ecstasy.

I saw young Artemis, down and out, her dog content but too small and too motivated to join the hunt. She sat there on the sidewalk, it worn clothes, a boot in front of her with a sign, her pack beside her and her dog half snoozing on top of it. I stopped and turned aside and talked to her a moment about her dog, and gave her a dollar before heading on my way.

I spotted Hermes upon a wall holding a sign. He looked serious and like any other panhandler, but his sign was a bit different, and I read it, and couldn’t help but grin. “Slept with Lindsey Lohan, need help.” He spotted my grin and matched it with his own, his eyes passing from serious to mischievous in an instant. He pointed at me and snapped his fingers, and said quite loud but too quiet for anyone but me to hear as I passed almost twenty feet from him, others closer, “Gotcha.” I went on my way.

I spotted Hephaestus, sitting on a bench as an old man, his eyes down, not noticing anyone, lost in his own thoughts and memories. He seemed weak and feeble, but you could feel the strength and power. A hard life, unsure what to make of it.

I saw Athena, sitting on a bench beneath a street light, the thick book in her lap more important than the street performers around her.

I saw Apollo standing on the edge, a guitar instead of his Lyre, his voice singing out an Alternative song from the ’90s, load and clear, but smooth and glorious, a voice that can move the soul.

And I saw Neptune, walking the opposite way as me on a dark sidewalk, empty except the two of us. He was a shadow of an old man, hidden in shadow. He moved off the sidewalk as I passed, giving me room, and I saw a glimpse of his khaki trousers, his Hawaiian shirt, his thick grey beard, his straw hat, the cup of rum in his hands. He didn’t look at me, and we both continued on our way.

If you walk Pearl Street at twilight, and have eyes to see and ears to hear, you’ll be surprised at what is happening around you. For the Old Gods walk the city streets, and Great Pan holds court in the twilight’s light.

Twilight comes early in Boulder, as it’s so close to the mountains that the sun sets and twilight begins about two hours before it does out on the plains, eighty miles to the east. It is an odd place at twilight, when street performers and panhandlers are every ten feet, and people are laying down their beds here and there in the bushes in parks and grounds.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

Mistress Over the Dead: a look at the “Witch of Endor” and related myths

The subject has come up often lately in various places online of the “Witch of Endor”.  This is said as if it was title, and I read a discussion one place that said, was there’s only one witch in Endor, and was there never a witch there before or after?  The very question implies not understanding the passage, so thought I’d dig into it a bit.  ‘Eyn Do’r, or, technically, b’Eyn Do’r, “in ‘Eyn Do’r”.

First off, in case people are confused, we’re not talking about the moon called Endor in Star Wars.  🙂  This is in 1 Samuel in the Jewish Tanakh and Cristian Old Testament.  Endor is the way it’s typically rendered in English, but it’s two words in the Hebrew text.

Here’s the whole verse, from the Revised Standard Version:

Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at Endor.” ~1 Samuel 28:7 RSV

And the Hebrew:

ז  וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל לַעֲבָדָיו בַּקְּשׁוּ-לִי אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב, וְאֵלְכָה אֵלֶיהָ וְאֶדְרְשָׁה-בָּהּ; וַיֹּאמְרוּ עֲבָדָיו אֵלָיו הִנֵּה אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב בְּעֵין דּוֹר

The phrase that matters here is:

Behold, there is a medium at Endor.

אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב בְּעֵין דּוֹר

Breaking it down:

אִשָּׁה – ‘ishshah – woman, wife, female

בַּעֲלָה – ba’alah – mistress, female owner, sorceress, necromancer  From בַּעַל:

בַּעַל – ba’al – owner, husband, citizens, inhabitants, rulers, lords, master of <>, lord.  From בָּעַל:

בָּעַל – ba’al – to marry, rule over, possess, own

אוֹב – ‘owb – water skin bottle, necromancer, one who evokes the dead, ghost, spirit of a dead one, practice of necromancy, one that has a familiar spirit.  From אָב:

אָב – ‘ab – father of an individual, God as father of his people, head or founder of a household, group, family, or clan, ancestor, originator of patron of a class, profession, or art, producer, generator, benevolence and protection, term of respect adn honour, ruler or chief.

בְּעֵין דּוֹר – b ‘eyn do’r – in ‘Eyn Do’r

עֵין־דוֹר – ‘Eyn-Do’r – Endor, Fountain of Dor

עַיִן – ‘ayin – eye, spring, fountain

דּוֹר – dowr – period, generation, habitation, dwelling.  From דּוּר:

דּוּר – duwr – to heap up, pile, to dwell, to remain, to delay, to inhabit, to go around.

דּוּר – duwr – ball, circle

My translation:  “There is a woman that is mistress over the dead at the eye of the circle.”

So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments, and went, he and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit, and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.” ~1 Samuel 28:8

ח  וַיִּתְחַפֵּשׂ שָׁאוּל וַיִּלְבַּשׁ בְּגָדִים אֲחֵרִים וַיֵּלֶךְ הוּא וּשְׁנֵי אֲנָשִׁים עִמּוֹ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה לָיְלָה וַיֹּאמֶר קָסֳמִי-נָא לִי בָּאוֹב וְהַעֲלִי לִי, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-אֹמַר אֵלָיִך

Divine for me by a spirit

קָסֳמִי-נָא לִי בָּאוֹב

קָסַם – qacam – to practice divination, divine.

נָא – na – please, if you please

לִי – li – to, for (first person singular)

בָּאוֹב – conjure up, invoke, in/with + אוֹב (see above)

My translation:  “Please divine by conjuring for me.”

The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land. Why then are you laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?” ~1 Samuel 28:9

ט  וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֵלָיו הִנֵּה אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר-עָשָׂה שָׁאוּל אֲשֶׁר הִכְרִית אֶת-הָאֹבוֹת וְאֶת-הַיִּדְּעֹנִי מִן-הָאָרֶץ וְלָמָה אַתָּה מִתְנַקֵּשׁ בְּנַפְשִׁי לַהֲמִיתֵנִי

cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land

הִכְרִית אֶת-הָאֹבוֹת וְאֶת-הַיִּדְּעֹנִי מִן-הָאָרֶץ

הִכְרִית – hkarath – the + כָּרַת

כָּרַת – karath – to cut, cut off, eliminate, kill, cut a covenant, to hew, to be cut off, to be cut down, to be cut off, to be chewed, to fail, to destroy, to take away, to permit to perish.

אֶת – et – to, with

הָאֹבוֹת – havot – the + אֹבוֹת

אֹבוֹת – avot – plural of אֹב:

אֹב – av – father, male parent, ancestor, forefather, progenitor, originator, prototype

וְאֶת – ‘owb – and + אוֹב (see above)

הַיִּדְּעֹנִי – hyidde’oni – the + יִּדְּעֹנִי

יִּדְּעֹנִי – yidde’oni – a knower, one who has a familiar spirit, soothsayer, necromancer.  From יָדַע:

יָדַע – yada’ – to know, to perceive, to discriminate, to distinguish, to know by experience, to recognise, to consider, to be perceived, to be made known, to be revealed, to cause to know, to be known, to make oneself known, to declare, to reveal oneself.

מִן – men – from

הָאָרֶץ – haarets – the + אָרֶץ

אָרֶץ – erets – country, land, territory, district, earth, ground, soil

My translation:  “removed ancestors and spirit knowers from the ground”

The king said to her, “Have no fear; what do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” ~1 Samuel 28:13

יג  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ הַמֶּלֶךְ אַל-תִּירְאִי כִּי מָה רָאִית וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֶל-שָׁאוּל אֱלֹהִים רָאִיתִי עֹלִים מִן-הָאָרֶץ

a god coming up out of the earth.

אֱלֹהִים רָאִיתִי עֹלִים מִן-הָאָרֶץ

אֱלֹהִים – ‘elohiym – rulers, judges, divine ones, angels, gods, god/goddess, godlike one, works or special possessions of God, God

רָאִיתִי – raiti first person singular past tense of רָאָה:

רָאָה – raa – to see, to have vision, to observe, to look at

עֹלִים – ‘alim – plural indefinite form of עָלֶה:

עָלֶה – ‘alah – to go up, ascend, climb, meet, visit, follow, depart, retreat, spring up, grow, shoot forth, rise, excel, be superior to, be taken up, be brought up, be taken away, to take oneself away, to be exalted

מִן – men – (see above)

הָאָרֶץ – haarets – (see above)

My translation:  “a godlike one I See, rising up from the ground”

As Saul can’t see the shade, raa here is vision, the Sight, not physical mundane sight.

He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up; and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. ~1 Samuel 28:14

יד  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ מַה-תָּאֳרוֹ, וַתֹּאמֶר אִישׁ זָקֵן עֹלֶה וְהוּא עֹטֶה מְעִיל וַיֵּדַע שָׁאוּל כִּי-שְׁמוּאֵל הוּא, וַיִּקֹּד אַפַּיִם אַרְצָה וַיִּשְׁתָּחוּ

And she said, “An old man is coming up; and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew

וַתֹּאמֶר אִישׁ זָקֵן עֹלֶה וְהוּא עֹטֶה מְעִיל וַיֵּדַע

וַתֹּאמֶר – vatomar – and + תֹּאמֶר

תֹּאמֶר – tomar – third-person singular imperfect of אָמַר:

אָמַר – amar – to say, think, pronounce, intend

אִישׁ – ‘ish – man, husband, adult male

זָקֵן – zaqen – old, elderly, aged

עֹלֶה – ‘alah – (see above)

וְהוּא – vakharash – and + הוּא

הוּא – hi – he, it, he is, it is

עֹטֶה – atah – to wrap, cover, veil, clothe, roll, array, be clad, cover, fill, put on, turn aside

מְעִיל – m’il – robe or coat worn over a tunic by men of rank

וַיֵּדַע – vayeda – and + יֵּדַע (see above)

My translation:  And she pronounced, “And an elderly man rises and he is wrapped in a obe” And he knew

Interesting her is that “knew” is the same “knew” from which “knowers” above is derived.  He knew it was Saul when she spoke in the same way that those who had been removed knew spirits.  Insight, intuition, the beginning of Sight.  His eyes were opened, through her words. The story continues with him and Samuel taking directly.  He appears to now be able to both see and hear him.

Then Saul fell at once full length upon the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel; and there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night. ~1 Samuel 28:20

I won’t worry about the Hebrew here, as it doesn’t reveal anything interesting to the discussion.  I will note that “ground” here, “earth” from which Samuel arose, and “land” from which the ancestral spirits and spirit knowers were removed are all the same word.

In summary, Saul asked for a medium and was told there was a mistress over the dead in the eye of the circle.  He seeks her out, and asks her to divine for him by conjuring a shade.  She is fearful because the king (whom she doesn’t yet know is him) had all ancestral spirits and spirit knowers removed from the land/ground/earth.  He reassures her and she calls forth the one he asks for (ingress).  She sees it is a holy man and gets an inkling what is happened, and tells him what she sees.  He asks what the shade looks like and she describes him, and in that description, he Sees and Hears and has congress with him.  After he is gone (egress), Saul falls to the ground, with no strength left. Afterwards she feeds him so he can renew his strength.

This conjuring brings to mind Odin conjuring the volva in Baldrs Draumar (Baldr’s Dreams).  Henry Adams Bellows’ translation (found at http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe13.htm) puts it thus:

1. Once were the gods | together met,

And the goddesses came | and council held,

And the far-famed ones | the truth would find,

Why baleful dreams | to Baldr had come.

2. Then Othin rose, | the enchanter old,

And the saddle he laid | on Sleipnir’s back;

Thence rode he down | to Niflhel deep,

And the hound he met | that came from hell.

3. Bloody he was | on his breast before,

At the father of magic | he howled from afar;

Forward rode Othin, | the earth resounded

Till the house so high | of Hel he reached.

4. Then Othin rode | to the eastern door,

There, he knew well, | was the wise-woman’s grave;

Magic he spoke | and mighty charms,

Till spell-bound she rose, | and in death she spoke:

5. “What is the man, | to me unknown,

That has made me travel | the troublous road?

I was snowed on with snow, | and smitten with rain,

And drenched with dew; | long was I dead.”

Othin spake:

6. “Vegtam my name, | I am Valtam’s son;

Speak thou of hell, | for of heaven I know:

For whom are the benches | bright with rings,

And the platforms gay | bedecked with gold?”

The Wise-Woman spake:

7. “Here for Baldr | the mead is brewed,

The shining drink, | and a shield lies o’er it;

But their hope is gone | from the mighty gods.

Unwilling I spake, | and now would be still.”

Othin spake:

8. “Wise-woman, cease not! | I seek from thee

All to know | that I fain would ask:

Who shall the bane | of Baldr become,

And steal the life | from Othin’s son?”

The Wise-Woman spake:

9. “Hoth thither bears | the far-famed branch,

He shall the bane | of Baldr become,

And steal the life | from Othin’s son.

Unwilling I spake, | and now would be still.”

Othin spake:

10. “Wise-woman, cease not! | I seek from thee

All to know | that I fain would ask:

Who shall vengeance win | for the evil work,

Or bring to the flames | the slayer of Baldr?”

The Wise-Woman spake:

11. “Rind bears Vali | in Vestrsalir,

And one night old | fights Othin’s son;

His hands he shall wash not, | his hair he shall comb not,

Till the slayer of Baldr | he brings to the flames.

Unwilling I spake, | and now would be still.”

Othin spake:

12. “Wise-woman, cease not! | I seek from thee

All to know | that I fain would ask:

What maidens are they | who then shall weep,

And toss to the sky | the yards of the sails?”

The Wise-Woman spake:

13. “Vegtam thou art not, | as erstwhile I thought;

Othin thou art, | the enchanter old.”

Othin spake:

“No wise-woman art thou, | nor wisdom hast;

Of giants three | the mother art thou.”

The Wise-Woman spake:

14. “Home ride, Othin, | be ever proud;

For no one of men | shall seek me more

Till Loki wanders | loose from his bonds,

And to the last strife | the destroyers come.”

We don’t see the weakness at the end, as it ends with her parting speech.  But there’s a feel to the conjuring much similar, with the spirit rising up from the ground, the spirit none to happy to be called and having a threatening tone.  Neither rose willingly, and neither could resist the call.

There is another tale we have of summoning the dead, that of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey.  Book Eleven says:

At the furthest edge of Ocean’s stream is the land to which all journey when they die. Here their spirits endure a fleshless existence. They can’t even talk unless re-animated with blood.

Accordingly, I did as Circe instructed, bleeding a sacrificed lamb into a pit. Tiresias, the blind prophet who had accompanied us to Troy, was the soul I had to talk to. So I held all the other shades at bay with my sword until he had drunk from the pit.

He gave me warnings about my journey home and told me what I must do to ensure a happy death when my time came. I met the shades of many famous women and heroes, including Achilles, best fighter of the Greeks at Troy

~Mythweb – http://www.mythweb.com/odyssey/Odyssey.pdf

While we don’t have the patterns we saw before, no rising from the ground, no hostility, no weakness afterwards, there is a parallel with Odin’s conjuring.  Odin road to just outside Hel to do the conjuring, the place of the dead.  Likewise Odysseus travels to the land of the dead before using blood to allow the dead to talk.

It is interesting to note that Odysseus’ name comes from ὀδύσσομαι, “to be wroth against” or “hate”, from μισώ.  The beginning of the name brings to mind Óð (as in Óðinn).  Many of Odin’s names bring to mind hate or anger.  While it is unlikely there’s a link between the two tales, it’s interesting to entertain.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

Can you feel it shaking?

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.’” ~Haggai 2:6-9 RSV

Do you know what happens to a house when it is shaken, when the very bedrock under it shakes?  What happens to the plaster?  What happens to the walls?

The Dreaming, or I should say the Dreamings, that we live in, those are our house, this house, that reservation set aside, that place we think is all, which we are somewhat safe in, where we won’t be destroyed.

The walls are the Veil, and when the Foundation on which the Dreaming is built shakes, the Veil is rent.

The Veil has held back many things we’ve thirsted for, things we need.  But it has also held back things that thirst for us, the reason the Veil was raised.

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

The Dark One who walks the Desolate Places, she who build the Foundation is also the Keeper of Secrets, among many kennings.  She laid the Foundation, but in it are stored her secrets.  Do you hear them whispering in the dark?  Calling to you?  They awake, as the Foundation shakes.

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

The rolling thunder, the Tongue of Serpents, echoing in the dark, all things lost, all things we hoped we lost.  The Builder of Storms rides, and behind her comes the Wild Hunt.  The Hunt that kills and feeds, that cleanses and make bare, that finds the lost things, and causes other things to be lost.  She rides.  Do you hear her?  Once her storms only came in the winter and spring, but the third Storming has awoken, and with it, the Foundation shakes.

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

And a Wanderer walks, the Tall One, faster than her lightning, more sure than any horse.  There are ways and paths that lead through the Veil, paths and ways that have been closed for a long time, from the Gleam to the Dreaming and back again.  He walks the paths, and builds new ones, as the cracks form.  Do you remember seeing him? Just a moment ago he strolled by, first here, then there.  And the water flows from Dreaming to Dreaming, waterways, paths of water. And water erodes, and tears and rends, and the Veil is ripped.

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

And the Keeper of Treasures and Builder of Pleasures laughs as the house shakes and the Veil rends, and the treasure come, those that will create, those that will destroy, those that will delight, those that bring sorrows.  A box opened, a box that can never be closed.  And he laughs.

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

And lo, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom, and the earth was shaken, and the rocks were rent, and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints fallen asleep arose, and going out of the tombs after his arising, entered into the holy city and appeared unto many. ~Matthew 27:51-53 Darby Translation

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

“Gatekeeper, ho, open thy gate!
Open thy gate that I may enter!
If thou openest not the gate to let me enter,
I will break the door, I will wrench the lock,
I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors.
I will bring up the dead to eat the living.
And the dead will outnumber the living.”
~Descent of the Goddess Ishtar into the Lower World,
Civilization of Babylonia and Assyria, M. Jastrow, 1915

FFF,

~Muninn’s Kiss

Toward a Binary Western Structure

I was re-reading part of The Web That Has No Weaver, and was reading a section on analysis that was essentially about a trigram, External/Internal, Excessive/Deficient, Hot/Cold, each a Yang/Yin pair, eight possible states from three binaries.  My mind wandered and I started thinking of Western magical systems, particularly the four elements.

What follows is an interesting (to me at least) investigation on whether the four elements can be described by two binary pairs.  As much of the following is about systems I seldom work with, Greek classical elements, alchemy, and Western astrology, please bear with me, as this is a bit of a tangent from my own practice and from much of what I post here.  It does, however, lay a groundwork to help others understand another post I’ve been working on but am not yet to a point to publish, my Chthonic Zodiac, and what happens when you turn the sky upside down, and the lore and myth that become obvious with that understanding.  That post will have direct application to my own practice, so this tangent has a use.

Consider for a moment the Western approach over all.  I’m simplified it, and generalizing, but there’s a tendency to break everything down into either the four Classic Greek elements, fire, water, earth, and air, or down into the three alchemical principles, salt, sulfur, and quicksilver.  These two sets provide some unique patterns mathematically, and Western magic seems to always love things that can be expressed mathematically.  Four and three are helpful, because added together, they give seven, which is found so often, with the seven wandering bodies in the sky, the seven days in a week, the seven stars that make up Woden’s Wain, the seven stars seen as the Seven Sisters, the various uses of seven years, and so on.  And multiplied together, they make twelve, another useful number, with twelve Zodiac signs, twelve months, twelve Olympians, twelve apostles and tribes, and so on.

Modern paganism has thrown a wrench in this, though I suspect few have seen it as such.  By combining various holy days in Northern Europe to make eight Sabbats, they have the interesting issue of mapping eight days onto twelve months.  Four works well, but eight is problematic.  This likely isn’t a big issue, but the Northern European concepts don’t map well onto the Southern European concepts.

Looking just at the elements first, we have a pattern that lends well to a binary system.  Earth and Water are considered passive, and Air and Fire active.  This works well for the first pair, very much a Yin = Earth/Water/Passive, Yang = Air/Fire/Active pairing.  So far so good.  But what of the other pair?  What separates Air from Fire and Earth from Water?  What is the same between Air and Earth, and opposite from what is the same between Fire and Water?  The answer isn’t forth coming.  Innately people pair them in that way, considering Air opposite of Earth, not Water, and Fire opposite Water, not Air.  And they obviously are.  Air and Earth can be seen as Sky and Land, above and below.  Fire and Water tend to be universal opposites, as Fire changes Water into Air, and Water puts out Fire, in effect, bringing it to Earth.  But what quality defines these?

Lets look at the Zodiac a moment.  There are three attributes that define each sign, and an understanding of these can help in understanding of the signs.  These are the quality, the mode, and the element.  Qualities are one of three, cardinal, fixed, and mutable.  Modes are active and passive.  Elements are the four classic elements we are discussing.  The signs lay out as follows:

Aries Cardinal Active Fire
Taurus Fixed Passive Earth
Gemini Mutable Active Air
Cancer Cardinal Passive Water
Leo Fixed Active Fire
Virgo Mutable Passive Earth
Libra Cardinal Active Air
Scorpio Fixed Passive Water
Sagittarius Mutable Active Fire
Capricorn Cardinal Passive Earth
Aquarius Fixed Active Air
Pisces Mutable Passive Water

You’ll notice three cycles, the qualities cycling regularly three the three states, the mode cycling regularly through the two states, and the element cycling regularly through the four states.

If you examine the table, you find mode isn’t too useful for this discussion, as it lines up exactly with the passive/active states of the elements we already discussed.  Any give element is always the same mode.  So we will ignore mode for now.

Quality does lend something of interest, as it doesn’t coincide with a specific element.  In fact, if you count, each quality has one sign of each element, and vice versa.  Every quality/element pairing is unique.  This of course makes sense with twelve signs total, because three states means four cycles, and four states means three cycles.

Lets look at the nature of the qualities for a moment.  What do they mean?  Cardinal is a sign that points, a sign that initiates something, starts something.  Fixed is a sign that tries to stay constant, to not change.  Mutable is a sign with a tendency to change and move.  Those that are familiar with alchemy but not with astrology (if you can be familiar with alchemy but not astrology) might find these of interest.  The description of fixed signs instantly brings to mind salt.  Salt is the process of crystallization, just as fixed signs crystallize into a set pattern, not wanting to change.  The other two are harder for me, not being an alchemist.  But reading descriptions, I see quicksilver, mercury, in the mutable signs.  Mercury is of course the messenger of the gods, carrying messages between them and man.  Quicksilver is constantly changing, constantly moving. This leaves sulfur for the cardinal signs.  Does this fit?  Sulfur is seen in alchemy as a seed, or, more graphically, the sperm that is forcibly implanted into the egg.  A seed, a beginning.  Quicksilver is the solution, salt dissolved in it, sulfur added as a seed to bring about change.  This is very much the same as the cardinal signs, so, yes, it does fit.

We have a new table:

Aries Sulfur Fire
Taurus Salt Earth
Gemini Quicksilver Air
Cancer Sulfur Water
Leo Salt Fire
Virgo Quicksilver Earth
Libra Sulfur Air
Scorpio Salt Water
Sagittarius Quicksilver Fire
Capricorn Sulfur Earth
Aquarius Salt Air
Pisces Quicksilver Water

Where this gets interesting is when we rearrange these to show what is across the year, or sky, from them:

Aries Sulfur Fire Libra Sulfur Air
Taurus Salt Earth Scorpio Salt Water
Gemini Quicksilver Air Sagittarius Quicksilver Fire
Cancer Sulfur Water Capricorn Sulfur Earth
Leo Salt Fire Aquarius Salt Air
Virgo Quicksilver Earth Pisces Quicksilver Water

The first thing we notice is that the qualities remain the same on the opposite end of the sky.  Every sign has the same quality as its opposite.  The next we see is that Fire and Air are always opposite, and Earth and Water are always opposite.  This relates back to our earlier question.  What separates Air from Fire and Earth from Water?

Let’s look at the pairings.  Aries/Libra, Taurus/Scorpio, Gemini/Sagittarius, Cancer/Capricorn, Leo/Aquarius, Virgo/Pisces.  In what way are these opposites different?  It isn’t the quality, for each pair shares it.  It isn’t the mode, for each pair is either both passive or both active.  What, then?  Let’s look at some attributes of each one, first the Fire/Air pairs, then the Water/Earth pairs.

Aries and Libra.  Cardinal.  Aries is the Ram lowering its head and charging, beginning without thinking things through, starting is the goal, Aries doesn’t worry about what comes next.  Libra is the scale weighing the options, trying to find balance, only beginning when all outcomes are considered and weighed, Libra won’t act until it knows where the action will lead, and then, and only then, will it begin.  Both cardinal, sulfur.  Both active.  Fire acts immediately, concerned with getting started, Air analyses and acts when the outcome is known.

Gemini and Sagittarius.  Mutable.  Sagittarius is the arrow pointing toward the goal, killing anything that gets in its way.  The end justifies the means, the collateral isn’t important.  Gemini is the twins, identical but opposite, accepting two opposite truths as both true, moving between them, considering them.  Both mutable, quicksilver.  Both active.  Fire is driven toward the goal, concerned with reaching it, not what might be in the way, Air analyzes and cares more about the means than the end, weighing the truth of each side.

Leo and Aquarius.  Fixed.  Leo is a lion, unstoppable, proud, a leader and ruler, what is has, it holds no matter what the damage to others.  Aquarius is the water bearer, pouring out the water of Pisces to allow it to be replaced with air, controlling the flow, controlling the change, maintaining a balance between what was and what is to come, holding to that balance while avoiding upsetting or hurting others.  Both fixed, salt.  Both active.  Fire holds what it has, concerned with keeping it, air controls change, concerned with the balance and peace between parties.

Fire, in all three states, has a specific goal, be it starting, reaching, or holding.  Air, in all three states, weighs and tries for balance, be it starting, negotiating, or holding.

Cancer and Capricorn.  Cardinal.  Cancer is the crab, using its claws to protect what it creates or gives birth to, giving birth with intention to protect what is born immediately upon birthing, going from loving and nurturing to angry and protective at the first sign of danger, willing to hurt anything that seems a threat to the new thing.  Capricorn is the sea-goat, half fish, half goat, the fish half would be fast in the sea without the goat, the goat part would be fast on the land without the fish part, each part slowing the other down, requiring careful planning to get to the goal, so start what is needed, planning and starting early, but knowing how long it will take and what steps are necessary.  Both cardinal, sulfur.  Both passive.  Water begins with the intention to protect, focused on how to protect, not the process, Earth planning and preparing and knowing the whole process before hand.

Virgo and Pisces.  Mutable.  Pisces is two fish, chasing each other’s tails through the water, two emotions, cycling back and forth, it doesn’t analyze the emotions, it accepts them and moves to the next.  Virgo is the Virgin, waiting for the very best before having sex, planning with patience, waiting for the right desire, right moment, not letting emotions get ahead of her, only letting emotions take over when they are needed and not until then.  Both mutable, quicksilver.  Both passive.  Water lets the emotions cycle, doesn’t worry about if they are right or wrong, just lets them come, Earth planning for the moment to let them have control, changing but only when analysis indicates it’s time.

Taurus and Scorpio.  Fixed.  Scorpio is the scorpion with a venomous stinger and snapping claws, and a hard shell to protect the soft, easy to hurt interior, assuming everyone is trying to hurt it, or will given the chance, so ready for a fight, without analyzing who is friend or foe.  Taurus is the bull, standing its ground, not to be moved, and if necessary, will charge and pierce with its horns, but only if it needs to, watching, analyzing.  Both fixed, salt.  Both passive.  Water presumes and fight and strikes, earth watches and observes, and only fights when pressed or it is needed.

Water, in all three states, reacts without analysis, be it protecting the beginning, cycling emotions, or protecting what it holds.  Earth, in all three states, analyzes and decides, be it planning before hand, deciding when best to change, or protecting what it holds.

The three states, cardinal/sulfur, mutable/quicksilver, fixed/salt, give us three views of each of the element pairs and show a common trend.  Both Fire and Water are reactive, responding, not planning.  Both Air and Earth are proactive, planning and analyzing before acting.

So we can define the four elements with two binaries, active/passive and responsive/analytic.  Active and responsive are Yang type qualities.  Passive and analytic are Yin type qualities.

Fire Active-Responsive Yang-Yang
Air Active-Analytic Yang-Yin
Water Passive-Responsive Yin-Yang
Earth Passive-Analytic Yin-Yin

And so we come to a defined binary description of the four elements.  It is interesting to look at these again in the Zodiac cycle, where we have Fire-Earth-Air-Water as the order.  This gives us Yang-Yang/Yin-Yin/Yang-Yin/Yin-Yang.  The first part has a Yang/Yin/Yang/Yin cycling.  The second part as a Yang/Yin/Yin/Yang cycling.  This means the first pair cycles every sign, and the second every two signs, so twelve one month groupings for the first, and six two month groupings for the second.

This provides a new way to look at the Zodiac, as we now see Pisces/Aries as a grouping, Taurus/Gemini, Cancer/Leo, Virgo/Libra, Scorpio/Sagittarius, and Capricorn/Aquarius.  Interesting thoughts and ideas form as you look at those pairings not in the terms we have above, but in the pictures representing them and the similarities within each pair, and where the division between groups lies.

Our final Zodiac table looks like so:

Aries Sulfur Active Responsive
Taurus Salt Passive Analytic
Gemini Quicksilver Active Analytic
Cancer Sulfur Passive Responsive
Leo Salt Active Responsive
Virgo Quicksilver Passive Analytic
Libra Sulfur Active Analytic
Scorpio Salt Passive Responsive
Sagittarius Quicksilver Active Responsive
Capricorn Sulfur Passive Analytic
Aquarius Salt Active Analytic
Pisces Quicksilver Passive Responsive

FFF,

~Muninn’s Kiss