Life and death are inescapably intertwined. Life feeds and flourishes upon death, whether directly, as with the cunning predator who feasts upon its slain quarry, or indirectly, as the docile frugivore who consumes the fruits brought forth by the decay of the countless lifeforms that create the loam. Life in turn must eventually surrender itself to its dissolution in death, struck down by the predation of beast, disease, or time’s entropy — the vital substance is transmuted into the sustenance that nourishes new life, and so the cycle continues in perpetuity, so long as life persists in the universal schema.
“Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is…” — Paradise Lost, Milton
One of the questions that unfailingly captivate the philosophical mind is that of the nature of right and wrong — good and evil. This fascination is arguably universal — that is, irrespective of culture, and irrespective of social class, this question of morality inevitably becomes a subject of intense scrutiny to the individual who regularly partakes in deep ruminations of thought. It could be argued as an emergent property of human psychology, this ageless fixation — and its ruptures increase in tandem to the increasing number of people within a society who no longer remember how to “live well.”Read More »
“I would only believe in a god who knew how to dance. And when I saw my devil, there I found him earnest, thorough, deep, and somber: it was the spirit of gravity — through him, all things fall…” —Thus Spake Zarathustra
One should not give much consideration to a “mythology” that does not provoke laughter with some regularity. Myth is — or originally, it was — the story of your blood, the blood of your people, and how it, via its most prominent avatars or champions, has made its way through the world and throughout time. So does the hero, an eponymous ancestor, struggle against and match wits with the best of the non-human powers, be they spirits or flesh-and-blood beasts, forging or negotiating a path forth for his descendants or those of his kin. So does the ancient Trickster, whether as a partly-human ancestor or a totemic creature or power closely aligned with the tribe’s genesis, go about his deeds of fooling the non-human powers in order to (or, at least incidentally) help or uplift the people who cherish his name. And thus the affectionate and filial titles some of these figures will be invoked with — “Father,” “Mother,” “Grandfather,” “Uncle,” “Old Man,” “Elder,” “Auntie,” and so on.
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It is not unfair to assert almost everything good in Christianity and its reign came from paganism. The pageantry picked up by the Church in the Middle Ages and which served as the cultural glue holding together most communities over its glory days were variously pagan or indigenous festivals, devices, and customs which persisted even after conversion, and, as those customs go, they were largely “practical,” i.e. they made sense of, and were derived from, the relevant world that is the local environment, local circumstances, local history. Thus comes the rich tapestry of various local cultures, cults, and customs throughout the Middle Ages — remnants or the legacy of those who lived by the “heath” and, as such, its biodiversity, which demands different cultures to live amongst it and utilise it. The Church merely inserted some of its cosmopolitan detritus into it all, enough to draw authority and tribute unto itself while generally not provoking the locals too much to protest the mythical redactions and the extra or redirected tier of taxation.Read More »