Archive for the ‘cycles’ Tag

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Cycle 1 This is the next life, said a friend.

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“It takes night to see fire best”. / Photo by Drew Rae on Pexels.com

You want to know if there’s reincarnation? Well, here it is. This. Yep. You don’t have to believe it. You’re in it. And look: the real question isn’t ‘Is there life after death?’ The real question is ‘What are you gonna do with this life?’ If this one can’t engage you and fulfill you and challenge you, why should any future one do any better? Maybe you’ll bring all that you are right now along with you to the next life (along with a similar forgetting, like what happened this time around) or you’ll be so different in it, that it won’t be “you” in any real sense any longer, so it won’t “matter” either way. Sort of like how it feels when you’re born and start to grow up. Everything’s a mix of brand new and familiar at the same time. And everyone and everything else around us, if we can make a wild guess from the look of things, looks like it’s experiencing something pretty similar, that same strange, fascinating blend.

Cycle 2 “Recycling” isn’t even the right name for it. Nothing’s ever removed from the cycle. It just takes longer or shorter periods of time in its movement through the cycles it’s in, depending on what humans and other forces do with it. We don’t “choose” to recycle or not recycle. We just move things (or try to move them) from one kind of cycle to another for our convenience. Cut and dry wood for a fire. Garden and grow vegetables. Build an aquaduct, a fighter jet, a coffee-maker. Form a political party. Assassinate a rival. Cure a disease. Compose a song. Raise a family. Lick our wounds and hate and love and figure out how to manage another cycle or two. Just like how other things and people are trying to move us from one cycle to another for their benefit. Cycles within cycles.

So you might say the “bestest” thing, the wisest thing to do, is learn about the cycles, and which things move other things in and out of cycles, and how they do that, and how we (can) play a part in that. Sometimes that gets called science, and sometimes religion, and sometimes politics, and all three are pretty much hamstrung by leaving the other ones out. Each plays ‘king of the hill’ and ignores any of the other hills. Kind of like a kid’s version of the real work and play we’re engaged in. Wasn’t it some ancient Greek or Roman who said “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one thing well”? And neither one is (usually) held up as the example of how to tackle this thing called living.

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For here or to go? Paper or plastic? Slab or slot? Trail marker on Mt. Ascutney, Vermont.

Cycle 3 Don’t get trapped in a single cycle. Well, unless you want to. You’ll tend to mirror and match the smaller cycles within that cycle if you do, and spin around several times in it, because it’s mostly a closed loop. People tend to do that, at least till they catch the trick of cycles, and it starts to feel like BTDT — been there done that. The more accurate movement and description of what we usually experience seems to be a spiral — cycle-jumping. Of course, you can spiral down just as easily as up (often more easily), but the usually movement is up. No, the arc of the cosmos doesn’t appear to ‘bend toward justice’. It bends towards equilibrium. It resets, or recalibrates, at the end of a cycle, but it doesn’t “advance” in any consistent way. Of course, it may shift or change. It usually does, just not in a way that we could call meaningful. Only individuals seem to advance or regress (or more often than we think, stay the same). Sorting out the significant and the random changes is a deal of work.

What does a cycle do? It cycles. Life and death, I notice, just keep on cycling, for example. The things in the cycle, they change, not the cycle. Or not much. Cycles cycle, and things “thing”. They’re not usually the same processes, though they move in similar ways. Because things thing by moving through cycles. After a while they can even start to look like cycles because of that. But they seem to hold on to their thing-ness pretty closely over small cycles. Only the bigger cycles show the changes, even make the changes possible. “Rolling with the changes” means using the shape and energy-form of a cycle to change more easily. If you don’t know how a cycle moves, how can you roll with it? Rolling just makes it easier than bumping and banging and thudding, or getting tarred and feathered, or just dragged along. Fewer broken bones and broken lives that way.

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Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

Cycle 4 You can think of a cycle like a song. It begins and ends, you can play or sing it several times, and the pleasure is usually in the movement of the cycle, not in finally “getting to the end”. (Unless you’re finishing a very long run of cycles, and finally leaving, and glad to get out.) Learn a few songs and a larger cycle often opens up. We jump to that cycle — we spiral. The smaller cycles often keep going though, sometimes for us and sometimes they just don’t include us any longer, though they may be alive and engaging for others. It’s not always our choice, either, because other choosers are at play in the cycles — other beings in this being-crammed cosmos. One way to think of it is that every thing is a collection of cycles, a working set of them, a larger cycle collecting and relinquishing smaller ones, something like a card player picking up and putting down cards in the game. A “winning” hand is a set of cards (cycles) that work well together. A set of well-chosen and harmonizing cycles that let the larger cycle spiral for the cycling being.

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Cycle 5 Your game.

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A House between What if? and Impossible

On an online Druid forum I frequent, an atheist Druid recently posted those words. That’s where I aim to live my life, he said (I’m paraphrasing). Between What If? and Impossible. (That part’s verbatim.)

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moss rock in backyard, 9 March 2020

It’s a remarkable space, that interval.

“Knowledge is disinfectant”, notes David Ropeik in today’s USA Today apropos of the virus commanding so much of our attention. True enough: knowledge is also a bridge, a compass, a balm for fears, a great gift passed along from ancestors to descendants, our precious long human heritage, built slowly and often with great effort, against fear and superstition and a disinclination to train and refine and amplify these animal instincts into something more than the survival baseline we’re all granted at birth. (What else are these enormous brains for, if not to play with and improve on the given?)

We add, each of us, to the human tapestry, helping to provide each other with experiences of this world. Hail and welcome, Fellow Catalysts.

Knowledge reaches in both directions, towards the What If, illuminating that terrain with often startling results, and also toward the Impossible, doing the same. In fact, serious work in either direction often illuminates the other just as much. Sometimes they trade places, being the highly fluid things they are. Funny how that works.

What do I know, personally? (persona — the thing the sound –sona comes through per-.)

I know cycles within cycles within cycles. I see the lines of my grandmother’s face written in the face of my 5-year old first cousin twice removed, my grandmother’s great-great grand-daughter, two beings separated by five generations. Are they “the same person”? Of course not — no more than I’m the “same person” I was at five, and I’m still here. Along with what if? and impossible, these identities we cling to are also far more supple and fluid than we commonly suppose. Those of you who do ritual and path-working, meditation and visualization, altered states of consciousness of so many kinds — you know what I mean.

I know the moon waxes to full and wanes to dark every month, whether I’m watching or not. The mourning doves are singing again among the bare branches here in Vermont, as they return to do each spring. I know the years, the decades. I know the snow and the green grass, the summer heat and the frost of January. If these are sometimes poetry it’s because they’re always poetry, our heartbeats the meter of the verse and song we only sometimes notice.

I see the lines on my face and my wife’s keep spreading, our hair graying, our bodies — despite the care we try to take of them — accumulating the signs of a cycle’s eventual close that will sweep them away. Rather than despair, I rejoice we’re here at all. Should we be somehow exempt from the same patterning and transformation and cycle that first brought us into manifestation, along with everything else?

I know the tremendous sustaining and healing power of the love and caring of other beings, having seen it in my life and all around me, and offered my own. We all witness human and beast and “those without their skins on” — TWOTSOs — reach out to us each day and night, in waking and dream and in-between, in the inquiring noses of dogs and cats, the human warmth all of us need, the oxygen-gift of green things, the nudges and hints and humor of dreams and visions, the food that some of these other lives provide to sustain us each day.

I know that between What If? and Impossibility — however you and I choose to label them — are hoards of beings, chances, doorways, moments and passages. (Pick something to marvel at today.)

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Monday’s full moon, night setting on camera: “light within, and light without”

I know that each day I move through so many states and flavors of consciousness — the fluidity that makes creativity and magic possible: sleep, dream, near waking, day-dreaming, full waking, concentration on a task, creative flow, intense experiences of pain or pleasure, intoxications intentional and unintentional provided by medications and “other” substances. And we all know what is fully possible in one state is inconceivable and (therefore) quite literally un-do-able in another. We know this because we’ve been there.

Between the what if and the impossible is where all of us pass our lives.

I know that both the rough-hewn and the refined spiritual technologies we call “religions” and “practices” and “rituals” and the imaginative embrace of Here and Now have deepened and enriched my life in ways I probably can never fully disentangle from all that I am and do and think and feel and suspect (a verb I infinitely prefer to “believe”). A good chunk of evidence for all these assertions is what I write about and attempt to document on this blog.

I  know the wonder and beauty and mystery and love of these things in my own ways, as many of you also do.

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A final word about proportion, because the wisdom I aspire to — the best of what I “know” — doesn’t shy from hard truths, but in the act of looking finds they’re not as hard as we make them (I make them) out to be. Amid the wonder and beauty and mystery and love, a dash of fear, never dominating, just enough of that animal survival heritage of ours to keep us alert and focused on what matters, to keen our senses, prod the pulse if need be, but never dominate the day, or cloud the whole scene.

I know that “I” — this funny little ego with its likes and dislikes, its tempers and distempers and moods and whims — doesn’t “have eternal life” (how could such a flimsy thing?), but that life has me, in ways I keep discovering. Has me, holds me up, keeps sending me into the scene, gives me a part to play.

Sometimes the supporting roles are best of all.

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Thirty Days of Druidry 13: But wait — there’s more!

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“But wait! There’s more!” Whenever any cycle ends, it marks the beginning of another larger cycle that contains it. Time, it appears, curls back on itself, or rests inside its own loops and curves like an infinite series of Russian nesting dolls. If there’s indeed any end to cycles, no one’s seen it yet. Dragons may know, but they’re not telling. (Some suspect they may dip in and out of time at will. Dragon wisdom is well worth pursuing, but it can be a difficult teaching, this lore of fire and music at the heart of the world.)

The sweep of energies surrounding cyclical change can be confusing, and to anyone within the radius of a particular cycle, the opening of the next cycle may be obscured in the debris — physical, emotional, psychic, spiritual — of the closing one. Creation, including the destruction of the ends of the old cycle to clear the way for the new, is messy. Even the birth of the new in the midst of the old, not replacing but augmenting it, can be hard. The two things human dread most: change, and the same old thing.

Those of us outside the cycle may nod or smile knowingly, feeling even a little bit superior to it all, if the ends of the cycle don’t happen to lick our ankles or caress the napes of our necks. Ah, but then it’s our turn.

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The Spring-in Winter of April ’16 in VT

The field of energies at work in the physical cosmos looks to be in rough equilibrium. That doesn’t mean stasis. Change still ripples and tears through from time to time. Yes, we face our storms and floods, earthquakes and volcanoes, and occasional meteors. And yes, they can be devastating and destructive. But overall — and life itself’s the best evidence here — the planet’s remarkably stable, and has been over very long periods of time. How else can a world be a home?

I find myself in a chair set down near a soundstage. The floodlights are off, though there’s a rather dim and diffuse glow coming from some back lighting, and there’s a bustle of stagehands as a scene change gets under way. Next to me a Druid sits at his ease in the director’s chair, sunglasses perched atop his head, flipflops dangling from his outstretched feet. In this short break in the filming he looks to be sleeping, but a moment later he opens his eyes and favors me with a wink. He leans toward me and whispers, “Avoid comparing the raw footage of your own life to other people’s highlight reels.”

 

 

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