Textual Arachne

A weaver of threads.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Three faces

This year at Midsummer I found myself invoking three aspects of the Goddess. They are still bouncing around in my head.

The first of these was Goddess as Divine Transcendance. This is the universal divine, the response of "God is in everything." All-encompassing and omnipresent, this is divinity at its utmost. It includes evil, suffering, joy, loss, ecstasy, fulfillment, and all of history and all that is to come. Shrinking it into words diminishes it; it's enlightenment and Nirvana and the perception of no-self.

The third of these was Goddess as Divine Immanence. This is relentlessly specific. This is "Goddess in the person next to me, this guy right here, with this color hair and this way of laughing and this past and these quirks and these glories." This is no less divine than the transcendant, and it's the thrills and frustrations of the everyday, of recognizing how my own life and yours, not some generalized "humanity", is part of divinity. This calls out for the immediate emotions of loving *this* person or *this* place, here and now, rather than the perfect equanimity of the transcendant that sees all as one.

The second one, which for some reason I found most confusing, is Goddesses. Deities, plural. More general than specific humans, and generalizable to some extent (such as the many different representations of Athena or Ceridwen), but not universal and definitely not interchangeable.

I don't know how to link these three, but I feel that they are somehow linked. Perhaps I'm just wanting to have it all--pantheism, immanence, polytheism--but each of these makes some sense alone. When brought together, do these aspects just dissolve into contradictions, or do they support and strengthen each other?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Late for Lughnasa

Like last year, I'm slow to celebrate Lughnasa. But unlike last year, I can see what came of my second planting, and can feel the changes that have come about. The wedding? Beautiful and bright and loving. The applications? Starting the PhD program in a month. The quilt? Designed and partly built (the sky, land, and green are attached and await stitching).

But today, celebrating Lughnasa, I am not planting a second harvest. Instead, I am tending.

Let's see how I can extend this agricultural metaphor. Some of what I pray for, work rituals for, and work towards is an annual crop: it nourishes me, it's necessary for survival, it requires renewing every year. The day-to-day work of getting my assignments done, accomplishing short-term goals, and finishing my projects is this kind of crop. It sustains me when I get that boost of a good grade or a project completed.

The results of my second planting last year, however, are more akin to starting an orchard.These are not things that finish neatly with tidy evaluations: "Congrats, you got an A on this wedding!" Tended carefully and treated well, they are long-term, life-long endeavors: love, family, career. Even the quilt, which has a definable endpoint for me (when it goes, eventually, to Ramallah), is a long-term project, one that I hope will reach its full growth far away from me, as people see it and, hopefully, respond to it.

Blessings to you in your second planting, no matter what your crop may be.