It’s my turn in the Other Horizons roster this week, the new weekly feature in which Agonist writers take an opportunity to post on subjects outside the usual diet of politics and foreign policy. I’d been wondering what to write about before Friday, when events forcibly took over and dictated for me what I’d be thinking about and writing about for days, a set of issues that because of experiences I feel very strongly about indeed.
Then last night it came to me that I could write something personal, because it is something I rarely do. That would be a “new horizon” for me. Maybe about some poetry or about my own faith – two other things that have had huge influences on my life and which I never write about because I’m always so busy with politics or foreign affairs. Poetry was my first writing love, my first reading love – if I’m driven to write on a blog daily nowadays its a redirection of that passion to get thoughts to cohere in an economy of the written word. My faith drives my entire life, but its something I rarely talk about in writing except in passing – it is my faith and I don’t expect you to share it, convert to it or even be all that respectful of it. (It seems to me that someone who says they have faith and then gets all booty hurt because others don’t share it, even if they laugh, isn’t showing the kind of faith they say they have.)
So then I thought I might combine the two.
I am what you might call an eclectic pagan, if you had to slap a label on it. I’m a pantheist who believes that there is something we can call Divine and that all the Gods and Goddesses of human religions are but human representations of a fraction of that limitless light, which is not something external to us but is the very sum of all things in all times. as Spinoza would tell us if he’d lived to see modern physics, the only thing large enough to apprehend the entire universe is the universe itself, the observer become the observed in a self-referential loop. Yet if the Divine is the whole enchillada, it’s too big for our human brains.
As one wise woman once put it: imagine the Divine is a mountain and you’re climbing it with your face six inches from the bedrock. You see a patch of grass in a cleft, the roots of a tree, a patterns of rock – and give each feature a name – but it is only by climbing over enough of the mountain that you can begin to build up a mental map of the whole thing, and even then it is an imperfect map because the mountain is just too damn big to hold an accurate map of in the human head. That’s our relationship to the Divine, I believe – each feature of the mountain gets given a name (Zeus, Isis, Jehovah) and an attached mythology as a memnonic for the relationships between that aspect and others, between that aspect and the whole. It’s best, if you are going to express your own appreciation fo such a Divine, if you do so in terms of the imagery which resonates most deeply with you, and that will be different by degrees for each person.
(By the way, feel free to laugh at any point – as I said, this is my faith not yours and my own conception of the Divine is not jealous or petulent. I won’t try to burn you at the stake.)
So, when I first articulated my faith, I chose a set of imagery and motifs that spoke deeply to me: those of the Gods and the Godesses of the celtic pantheon of the British Isles, for I saw echoes and examples everywhere I went. That’s changed, of course, because there’s a lack of ancient stones, wells and landscape features named and shaped to echo the divine aspects of Mabon or Brigid in West Texas. I’ve utilized those deep jungian motifs in their celtic forms for a lot of years though, and they’re very persistent in my mind even as I slowly learn and adapt to the motifs that show through in the local landscape, local legends.
This piece, written in fall last year, is about that as well as an account of my own journey through life’s trials and tribulations. I hope you like it as it is my other horizons submission for this week.
The Ages Of This Man
I came to be, long ages past it seems to me,
In the land of the hidden people,
The painted and tattooed people
Who carved their spirits into stone,
In geometry and animal forms,
But keeping their secrets unwritten,
Rather dying than reveal the drunken poesy
That spilled from the heather onto their lips.
Fields to school me, filled with wheat,
Or fly-buzzed sheep and cattle.
Basket of eggs lined with silver filigree,
Where sea surrounds to fuse with skies
Rarely entirely blue.
Settling in time, for the next long age,
I lived as a young man in the land of Aneirin,
Gododdin, land between the walls.
An age of craft and riches,
Of walking the Lady’s stony breasts,
Meeting with the stag in the deep wood,
Learning the wonders of the trees.
An age of climbing, striving,
Gaining gold and home,
Even a powder blue Lady of Mercy.
An age, as it became, of the Tower,
Building so much on sand, you see –
Wife and work until they broke me.
And so to a new age, and a new land,
Emergent moth, drab and closer to the light.
That light become a new, red, love,
(Still harkening for Celtic shores by blood)
And all begins anew.
Anew in arid, sun-chased places,
Scrubby trees root in sun-dried seas,
Beneath me a league of shellfish stone
And black gold squeezed from life
By geological weights of time.
Petroglyphs tell faintly of the earliest here,
Camped by spring to trade and follow bison,
Soft Jumano whispers on the wind.
Here in this age I have found an oasis, my magic,
Children brought by love, mine now wholehearted.
The littlest Stitch, my flesh, glitched and knows it, alas –
My care and my happy thought.
I’m looking to future aeons.