Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Learn the Elvish Arts First, If Ye Can

Why do we aspire to elvish arts firstly? One may look upon monotheisms boldly declaring direct intercourse with the deepest, greatest mystery of all, and then glance askance at one's fellow monkey-humans and wonder. There is a certain naivete in expecting those who have not yet mastered beginning algebra to converse with, let alone understand, masters of calculus, and calculus would be but a beginning art for wizards on the advanced path to comprehending the great mysteries.

We are beings who take little babysteps into being spiritual, and even the greatest of our bards and wizards are but beginners in the elvish arts. Our myths tell us the greatest patriarch of old, first king of our kind, was able to struggle with and rival the elves, and even he needed elvish help (and assistance from the Gods) to do so. If one hasn't even mastered elvish arts yet, how can one expect to comprehend let alone translate into human language the greatest mysteries of all?

Revelatory religions have an instant air of hubris to ears long-tuned to autochthonic traditions. The switch in register is profound. We well know the arts of inspiration. Poets working their craft life-long may aspire to finding and shaping words that may open all kinds of doors of magic and mystery. Well done, they are close attunements to deeply felt cosmic connections. They are beautiful "good enough" craftings, and at their masterpiece, the best humans can do.

We have our shamans who go out to caves hearing whispers and who return with visions. But their message is tested over time and must tassle with the strong, earthy moderator of common sense. This is a commitment to the wholeness of experience rather than reductionism to a base bottom line. No dimension of human experience is excluded from sacral power, and thus new revelations must find their place within the weave. Arrogant declarations of penetrations into mystery far beyond human capacities will be treated with appropriate skepticism and even humor, and this community response has a humbling effect that trains nascent wizards to aspire not to the grandiose but the beautifully textured.

Heathen eyes look upon the Bible, for example, not as instant revelation, but long unfolding literature blossoming out of ancient oral tradition, and reworked by craftsmen over generations. Moses' laws are not laws handed down by God in one moment on a mountain, although that makes for a brilliant epic moment in poetry, but quite evidently the common law of old Hebrew folk stretching back into the extended past, revisioned by wise men and poets seeking to update their tradition in the light of renewed enlightenment and inspiration, then put into the mouth of a great figure, as poets do.

We know the great power poets have to open our eyes, and yet we remain humble, always very aware of how little we know. We are daring souls who love and appreciate a big bonfire, but we do not expect even a grand bonfire to illuminate the entire night sky. There is a great deal of fog in existence and we are grateful for the small lights where we may have them. They are brilliant to our human, all too human eyes.

We call upon Gods, Great Gods, who aspire at times to intimacy with us, and yet we know their kisses come through veils so vast their utter countenance we would hardly recognize outside traditional dressings, into which they lovingly step to make some contact with the folk, and yet, our hoard of God-stores, so treasured and guarded, is all things considered a small stash asking literal millennia to slowly be collected. A new revelation might have potential, and at first seem brilliant. But it must then be shaped, reshaped, passed through many hands, passed through the flames, pounded on the forge of generations until it finds its own. New revelations however brilliant simply are immature, and require time to find their own. Beneath their luminescence they are brittle. That is not to say they are not true gifts giving of light and to be treasured, but they must first become heirlooms before they sink to deep levels.

If even the elves do not know everything, and the best of us are apprentices to them, we must be very skeptical of those who claim to speak directly for the highest of powers. The human ego is a very trickable thing, the moreso one actually does have brilliance. Grandiosity is the symptom of an apprentice in training, not a mastery. Master's pieces are as natural facts, like mountains or mesas or long, polished geode slabs, there : and masters let others assess their value, warm and confident in their creation.

In the inchoate, incipient heathen reawakening just beginning to dawn again in this world, it is sometimes grandiosity that draws us on to aspire towards great deeds, and we ought be gentle in our rebuke of those who hear the great call. Yet when I hear folk claim that they have personally travelled to Asgard and heard the direct words of the Gods, I patiently want to smile like the elders of old, pat them on the head affectionately, and explain that they travelled to great places in their imagination, where their ancestral disir, skilled in elvish arts, gave them riddles to puzzle through, little glimpses made of glamour. Those little glimpses are powerful gifts, and ought not be denigrated, yet still it is necessary to pull them back to scale. The community's common sense allows good proportion to reassert itself. A little child's first poem seems to them a spell to control the worlds, and in a certain sense, a poetic sense, it is, and yet as elders, for all its mighty power (and children especially are capable of great poetic power given their closeness to the elvish realms), we must help them fit their great deed into the much larger vastness that continually pulls us on to exploration. How quick would you be to believe that someone you knew simply went to Washington and was able to spontaneously arrange a meeting with President Obama, who then pontificated on how we all might best lead our lives? If the claim raises an eyebrow, with some asking for proof and references and some officially stamped document, along with demonstrations of one's connections or special relatives in the "in", how much more so ought one to meet spiritual claims that seem a bit grandiose.

Even elves can become primadonnas (and they certainly have more of a claim to grandiosity), and we have a tale of this where the world's balance was placed on edge of tipping over for one who thought his gifts the greatest of all, and he was far greater than any human since. We are an earth religion because our stories and customs keep us earthy and humble, tempering our daring with humility. Not false modesty or self-deprecation, but humility borne of appreciation of one's place in the vastness.


Blogger Brainwise said...

More great food for thought. Thanks for this post.

7:37 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Thanks for stopping by!

6:55 PM  

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