Saturday, November 21, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Study the Masters
Look upon a fruiting tree, and see all that might be required of a man, be she male or female, for a man ought craft great works, cultivating doughty arts to culminate in fruition and masterpiece.
And in our birth though we be surrounded by plains, mountains surround us, for of old there were masters who knew their calling into masterpiece, and artists of such stature dwarf even the greatest amongst the young, for we are ever growing in the midst of the shades of taller trees. Yet we ought not let this hinder us, for if we will and with luck and skill, we may in fact grow tall to be elders ourselves.
Still, we are nourished by the leaf-fall fertilizer of the masters, at whose feet gather great stores of wealth and nutrient, at whose feet we ought therefore study, neither neglecting the green sap rising within ourselves, but rather, to remind us, in its glory, of what we have forgotten in our youthful trance upon this earth. Let the elders peel back amnesia to reveal the most ancient of days, dawn-forms glimpsed in dreams and whispered by the winged genius who close follows each man. For the hubbub and clamor soon cover over the soft voice of the angel, which genius in strength push aside all noise to hail the majesty of the mighter, more silent one whispering, and thus reveal to our chagrin what we all ought have known all along, and did, beneath dreaming.
Ones of great stature listen to hills, and valleys, and great expanses of sky, as sung by the elf-maiden who marks them in her close and welcome following. Thus, through their gallantry, giving way and heed to their lady, they gain stature. So to their tomes we go, not for mimicry, but to learn the most ancient ways of singing found in the great daring of their most unheard of craftings.
True, youth need for a time to shun the bright brilliance of the light and shade themselves in its shadow so their own sap stoppeth not, nor marvel at their greening. Yet to study the forms they unearthed, the sculptures they revealed hidden in the stone, the verses caught in the calls of mating birds, the shapes of misty dawn our eyes instant recognize is need if morn would grow towards evening. For these be our bones and sinews of soul-body we must build to grow into larger stature of self rooted in the ages.
The masters hand us great dowsing rods with which we divine the elder pathways and tracks covered over by earth and time, and through their worked and reworked and decades-reworked forms, find the form the strata of the canyons laid down over time, the pathways water travels when it is fresh and spry. In those forms are the echoes of mighty spirits, captured in the well-webbed talisman, whose grooves reveal that spirit's journeys and movements in texture-glyphed tale and magic.
The young truly balk at repeated study needed for mastery. Once learned seems enough, yet in learning and relearning, and etching in the grooves of the grey, soft caverns of skull, over time the song is learned in full.
And then once learned, the mind may first begin to sing. Though songs upon songs it may already have cast, as a potter's novice defective pots in the apprentice, all was prelude : good, needed, nourishing prelude, yet what unfolds after full learning is the first fruition.
Know, and know, and know : the deep study. Holding the riddle before their eyes uncomprehending, again and again, until its secrets spill forth. Of the great works, you go back and back and back some more, each time thinking you comprehend, knowing there is more fullness to find. Go ye forth and drink the lore with reverence, for with reverent hands are learnings learned. Reverent in beholding and full-facet turning to encompass intricacy of the majestic. And not merely to gloss, or in flippant feel to think fullness gulped. Let sink and drip and percolate.
There are flat sieves laid atop sieves atop weft of baskets lying o'er wicker depths, where the quick mind sees only skeins. In the sifting of strata over time you will know. You will know, O student. Study ye well, and know life and greening.
The Prismatic Color of Gods' Glimpses
Yet to every tribe glimpses askance were given, oblique flashes in the dark. These glimpses were true, and full, and of the greatest clarity and splendor any amongst men might know, and yet they were but the merest moment in the majesty of the Gods, whose countenance is beyond comprehension. Only their raiment alone was glimpsed, and that but in sparks, so that the accounts of men differ greatly in their visions, or so it seems.
But there are deeper and darker causes for these rifts, for as the first glimpses were true and clear, there came into the world great corruption that tarnished the visions, and feigning fidelity, mixed itself with the pure, drawing shadow and distortion into the glimpses. Thus around its ember every tribe surrounded priesthoods, to ward the flame from corruption. Alas, amongst many tribes even the wards themselves tasted corruption, and thus from initial diversity of glimpse came strife and division ; from colors, irreconciliability.
Yet Odin asked men to wander wide, that in learning the customs of men, all the glimpses might be gathered and compared. Thus compiled, poetic inspiration itself might synthesize a truer vision, closer in its glimpse, yet still a glimpse.
But to sons of men a true glimpse is as a thousand visions of glory and splendor joined hands and blended. The polishing of the glimpses from the tarnish must continue, for the sons and daughters of men live more through glimpses than most reckon. As the rose unfolds and blossoms, so do our visions evolve.
Yet this does not mean discarding the old, but ever tending out the truth in the ur-glimpses handed down as heirlooms, through the mighty reimagination of inspiration. The goal is not singular unity, but wholeness through diversity and prismatic color, ever evolving through age and dispensation.
To Keep the Strange
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Learn the Elvish Arts First, If Ye Can
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.