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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

October 11th, 2004

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11:10 am - Spiraling down. . .
Recently, I came upon a question that seemed extremely pertinent, though you may disagree.

It appears that part of the idea of the Spiral Dance is to emulate the structure of the universe.** If this is the case, then it's lacking something.

Most importantly, the universe isn't really built on a spiral. At least, no one seems to claim it is. There are open universes and closed universes, universes shaped like saddles and like boxes.

So, really, if the Spiral Dance is emulating anything, it's emulating our own galaxy, not our universe.

If that is the case (and we'll ignore the idea that primitive man was unlikely to have a concept of "galaxies" and "universes" that comes remotely close to modern concepts), then is the Spiral Dance a useful construct for worship in galaxies that are not spiral in shape?

I know, it sounds stupid. I realize that people will consider the question moot, as we aren't in another galaxy; but I think we should think about it anyway, if for no other reason than so we can realise what we're tapping into.

Some ideas I was thinking about:

1) If Paganism truly is earth-based, and perhaps bound to this planet, then the point really is moot.

2) I've never seen Paganism as an Earth-centered spirituality, though. I've always seen it as a cosmically-centered spirituality, in which we order the cosmos around us in ritual, and sometimes including a strong sense of certain locative elements, such as the "Great Chain of Being", the "Seven Planes of Existence", or dealing directly with the sun, moon, and stars. If we're cosmically oriented, perhaps the point is moot again, and we create the cosmos in whatever way we see fit.

3) Part of ritual is a recreation of sacred space, and that might very well mean invoking patterns that are familiar to humans. It's easier to work a rite if we are dealing with these patterns. It's entirely possible that humans, being creatures of this galaxy, will only ever see the patterns of the universe as spirals, and so we may be forced to, even when we're several galaxies away, continue to utilize the same metaphors and ritual keys.

4) Invoking a spiral worldview might be a way to connect to the ancestral homelands that Earth will/has become.

5) Perhaps developing alternate views of the cosmos now might inform our Paganism in a new, more interesting way. Should we consider ways of seeing the universe that reflect, say, binary stars, or nebulae, or black holes? Would these rituals be effective on Earth?

At the moment, it's all kind of half-formed speculation and question, but I find it interesting and fun to think about. Honestly, though, if that last question is fully explored, I think we might see an explosion in magical thought.



p. 17, Starhawk. Spiral Dance. "they became aware of the pulsating rhythm that infuses all life, the dance of the double spiral, of whirling into being and whirling out again."

p. 17, Starhawk. Spiral Dance. "The spiral dance was seen also in the sky: in the moon, who monthly dies and is reborn; in the sun, whose waxing light brings warmth and whose waning brings the chill of winter."
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: "Everlasting Moon", -JB

(18 comments Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2004 01:25 pm (UTC)

Re: Paganism not Earth-centered?

Basically, I believe that the rites and rituals surrounding Paganism are not about making the earth sacred. . . it already is. They're not about connecting with the earth. . . we tend to believe that we cannot be extracted from it and from nature.

Rather, the rituals are about ordering (or dis-ordering, in the case of certain Pagans) the cosmos.

We deal with "Great Chains of Being", which are, if you want a creative visualisation, like big chains that hang down from the planets, and they run up through the spheres, and we pull on those chains in order to affect things on earth.

We deal with the "7 Planes of Existence", in which you move something on another plane, and it ripples through the cosmos with various intensities.

We work in a constant awareness of heavenly bodies and their influences on the earth, not the earth's influences on the bodies.

We point to places that are not of this earth, Otherworlds and Underworlds from whence we derive knowledge and power. These aren't really a part of Earth, they're completely other realms within the cosmos.

And when we're doing magic, we're working on re-shaping our total reality, which includes the entire cosmos, in order to manifest our will.

I've never, ever met a Pagan who claimed to believe that their "power" or magic was derived solely from the earth. Listen to them talk about what ritual does and how magic works, and you'll find them talking about the cosmos, not the earth.
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2004 02:04 pm (UTC)

Re: Paganism not Earth-centered?

I think it depends upon what you emphasize in your expression of Paganism and your point of view - are you emphasizing the working of magic or worship? I also think that the working of magic is not solely the realm of Pagans, though other traditions may call it something differently (anyone who has attended a skillfully done Catholic Mass and not experienced the magical currents in the air is clearly not paying attention, IMO).

While I think that the working of magic taps into universal currents that transend this Earth (and I agree with you on this point), worship or commune with diety is an entirely different thing. As I understand Druidic ritual (and ADF ritual specifically), rites of worship seem to speak to reconnecting to our ancestors or to the gods of specific pantheons, both of which seem to be local to the Earth. They are also very definite about reconnecting modern man with the Earth. The eight festivals we celebrate are Earth bound, at least according to their meanings as I understand them, being harvest festivals or marking the passage of time of a lunar year. What would the marking of a lunar year mean to a being not on the Earth? What would a god of the harvest mean to a being that gains nourishment in an entirely different way? What would a goddess of music mean to a being without the ability to hear?

I concede that various dieties may manifest themselves differently to beings on other worlds, but my own experience with diety, my rites of worship and interactions with them are bound to me being a human being on earth. So, while the working of magic is universal, the experience of worship and commune with diety would be local.

Of course, I could be completly wrong - but it's an interesting line of thinking.

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