The Darkness, The Light
by Ruby Sara
Blessings of Harvest Home and the Autumnal Equinox, beloveds!
We had a shiny iron gray day here in the pretty-damn-wild urban midwest – the kind that makes the cayenne peppers pop out on the bush in all their outrageous redness. We have a string of them hanging above the radiator – they remind me of the geography of my heart…the great bonelight desert country where I truly belong, but alas, for love and opportunity I stay exiled here for an as yet undetermined length of time. It’s growing on me, though, this weirdly textured, concrete expanse. The Mama is doing her thing no matter how we shake our grown up fists at her, and that’s some comfort. The trees are changing, the rain is smoking in the grass…the darkness grows fat and sits all restless on the rooftops.
With the darkness comes thoughts of Samhain, the next and encroaching Sabbat. And (this isn’t the smoothest seque I’ve ever written), along with that encroaching holiday, one’s thoughts *may* turn to, well, the realm of the Unseen. And….whether or not it exists.
See, I have this ongoing theological conversation with my friend Johnny Rapture, which is really pretty outstanding, and most of the time, we agree on nearly all points. Sometimes, though, he’s wrong. Haha! Okay, fine, maybe he’s not wrong. I could be wrong. Really. But certainly, what’s really true is that there are times when we disagree. This is what makes theological conversations so interesting, really – otherwise, they get kind of tired kind of fast, even with people as consummately entertaining as he and I.
The point is, just the other day, we had a conversation about the questionable existence of things outside our verifiable, tangible, sensate experience. Or more importantly, because arguing about whether or not those things exist is, frankly, silly, we were arguing about the *value* of believing in those things. Johnny was speculating that we might be better off in this world if we didn’t postulate a theology of extra-bodily (that’s his pomo-ism) parts called souls, or a theology of an afterlife for that matter. The idea being that historical overemphasis on these disembodied notions has led to the kind of mental and spiritual hangups that our culture marinates in regarding the the body, the senses, the material/base/physical world/planet (and, by extrapolated association, women, queer folks, persons of color and other marginalized groups) etc. AND that an authentic, useful, grounded and truly rich, earthy spirituality might be more readily actualized if our theologies focused more on our relationships, our sensual experience, etc. (He’ll probably take umbrage somewhere with my cursory summation of his arguments – I’m sure I missed some nuance or wasn’t thorough enough…it’s a complicated, ongoing conversation, and frankly, it may never be finished…also, this is the blogosphere, and I’m free to blunder around here…that’s the beauty of ephemeral media…and the curse.) Yes, I realize that if you’ve been frequenting this blog once upon a time that might sound familiar to you – that’s because I agree whole heartedly with these points. However, I *also* simultaneously believe in those things that cannot be touched, smelled, felt, or seen (I mean, I believe in them for reals, as real beings and not mere fancies from my brain-pan or even egregores and thought-forms and archetypes…but distinct entities – the Good People, my Beloved Ancestors, my Gods, souls, Land-Spirits, Archangels and big effin’ Demons) and I find value in that belief. Articulating why is difficult – another measure of a good conversation, the opportunity to ask your brain to do acrobatics to which it may be unaccustomed (mental hooping, maybe).
I think we Pagani *do* get a little carried away with ourselves on this front, for sure. I admit I balk just a bit when someone tells me they have employed an invisible warrior-dragon spirit to guard their Vespa, for instance. And certainly, when you enter the realm of the Unseen, you’re going to be in woogy-ass territory, where folks will take big bags of money to take invisible creatures off your back on the purposefully shady side, and earnest folks are trying hard to “aspect” a goddess that at some point in history was said to encompass the entire universe so much so that the very stars, great burning balls of immense gas and fiery explosion in the deep of space, were but the dust on her radiant feet…and not surprisingly, failing to do so…on the other.*
BUT, I think what I dislike about a Unified Theory of Only Things I Can Pinch and Lick is that it comes dangerously close to leaving out the Mystery. And no matter where I go and what I do, or how cynical I get, I end up slamming up against that great lovely Beastie anyhow – Mystery crawling out of the dark matter and making my head explode. I’m not down with a world without Mystery. Do I think one can be a kind of David Abrams oriented pantheist with plenty of Mystery on top (and a cherry, please….but not one of the nasty pink ones…I’d like a bing cherry, in season….ooo! ooo! and some freshly whipped cream w/ a bit of honey…..what was I saying?)? Um, yes. But still, a world without even the idea of a cluster of spirits dancing on the head of a pin? A world without the nasties curdling the milk…a world without the Hidden Company? I just don’t know…even if we talk ourselves into saying that they are rich enough as “mere” stories (not that I even really believe in such a thing as a “mere” story), is that enough? What does it mean to believe in the existence of beings you cannot see? What does it mean to NOT believe in them? Questions, questions, and so rarely an answer. My favorite kinds.
So….Johnny may be right on this one (don’t tell him that). But more interestingly, I think we both might be right…sincerely (and only a little bit as a lame attempt to wrap things up on what’s already gotten a little out of hand). Isn’t THAT a fascinating world to think about living in…complex, bizarre, on fire with possibility, and shaking each small singer down to her little pale bones, festering and burning in the wet, and thinkin’ on chili peppers.
Kinda makes me think of Home.
See that? I didn’t even need to resolve a damn thing. I love ephemeral media!
Point is, have some vanilla braided challah. I made it myself. And I wish you all things glorious as the darkness siezes Her due, friends Pagani. Autumnal blessings!
* Don’t take me the wrong way, friend Pagani – I believe in spirit possession. You bet your ass I do. I’ve just seen a lot of NOT-spirit NOT-possession to think that there are plenty of times when we need to be a little more honest with ourselves about what’s goin’ down.