Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Matter is Monstrous, but Nature is Sacred

There is something monstrous about the material world. It began this way, in chaos. The Gods took something monstrous and made it good. We know this for we are told that the Gods dismembered Ymir and reshaped his bones, blood, skull, hair, etc. into our present world-shape and order.

Because of its origins, the world requires the inervention, from time to time, of the Gods' heill to keep it from returning to the monstrous. The Gods bless the world to keep it good, although their original establishing acts took something ungood and made it good and possible to be good.

But even still, it is not perfect ... yet with luck and blessings, good enough ...

The establishing acts reshaped the cosmos to give it new direction and tendency, an arrangement that made for better, more productive, and fertile flows. But it still being an arrangement of flawed matter, there are counter-currents, and sacrifice/worship/offerings are necessary to invoke the needed restorative heill.

It is true that Nature is sacred in this tradition, but nature is not understood as mere molecular particle physics, which partakes of Ymir, but rather that matter which has been domesticated and shaped by the Gods and their nature-servants : dwarves and elves ; dwarves primarily
through tending mineral matter into crystalline arrangement capable of supporting higher life processes ; elves tending vegetable matter and through that animals. That which we call "Nature" is the result of multiples and multiples of beings in their daily work and tending. The acts of the elves' facilitation allows growth to occur. If they were to withdraw from their activity, the world would become winter.

Matter as such is not "sacred" but suspect and subject to monstrosity. When it becomes the material for life, however, which is a higher process, it can then participate in the sacredness of that natural life process.

The world is thus not fallen from a perfect state, but improved from a highly imperfect state, attaining an imperfect goodness that with luck and effort is good enough.

But the improvement requires periodic renewal to counter counter-flows of monstrosity that inevitably leak into the system. The cosmos requires creative activity to renew itself.

The fact that there is a tendency towards monstrosity does not make us or the cosmos "sinful", although it certainly makes us subject to flaw, because we can hardly be blamed for the cosmos' basic matter and tendencies. However, we are responsible for supporting creative activity that renews life-processes, and making sure that we don't increase the levels of monstrosity in the world by supporting the forces of monstrosity.

Gnosticism took this framework one step further, by assuming that matter was irredeemable, even in Nature form. It saw that matter was monstrous, but very little ability for it to be taken up into Blessed forms. Because of this, within Gnosticism, Nature was not sacred.

On the other hand, some modern paganisms, as well as some non-Indo-European paganisms, make simplistic assertions about the sacredness of all things that does not speak to the common-sense reality that many things go wrong in the world, and belie the sometimes nightmarish nature of reality.

The older Indo-European system evidenced in the Norse material demonstrates a common sense compromise between these two positions, whereby Matter, as with the Gnostics, is suspect, and therefore productive of unfortunate circumstances, but which is also, by being
taken up by blessings of the Gods and their Agents, capable of participating in the divine order.

Thus, the universe is, as a friend suggested, a "fixer-upper". The Gods didn't "create" the universe. They organized it. They took something imperfect and gave it shape, a good shape. That establishing act funded all else that followed. They established the zone, then simply ward and renew it. The establishing act of shaping allowed all other possibilities to unfold. Everyone is given a domain in which to bricolage. Everyone gets to try their hand at somethign close by. Everyone is allotted a time and space in which to work, a little sub-domain in which they can experiment and try their workshop creativity ---- sub-domains all made possible by the Gods' great gift of establishment, making all other projects possible.

Part of the blessing of the Worth-ship cycle is the Gods' gifts of heill to confirm and correct, adjusting ancient law to new conditions. Heill enacts what the Lombard King Rothari called renovet et emendet, "renewal and freeing-from-error". The fact that everything is made from Ymir and his kin suggests that periodically, from time to time, the universe must be cleansed of error that slips into the system. Worthship is a part of upholding the good order the Gods brought to the world.


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