Samain Bare Aspen Moon
The capon, barded and cooked
And so. Thanksgiving 2017 has entered history. Though. Here’s what I thought about while falling asleep last night.
Working on my kabbalah presentation for December 6th, I’m trying to link up the Great Wheel and the Tree of Life. So, I got to thinking about time. The Great Wheel is a circle and marks cyclical time rather than linear. How to explain this to a chronos saturated worldview?
Here on Shadow Mountain the sun has risen again, Black Mountain is lit up and we can see easily. Daytime has come again, yet we’re in the same spot. Yes, this means that our spot traveled approximately 25,000 miles and has arrived back in the same position relative to the sun. That’s one day. That’s always one day. It’s not the “next” day; it’s the turning of a planet, very rapidly, around its axis. Today is a day just like what we call yesterday and what we’ll tomorrow, but in fact no time has “passed.” Instead we have experienced a physical phenomenon with illumination consequences.
Next. This month. A month marks itself out by the phases of the moon. Forget the calendar, which, confusingly, strings months together as if one month is different from the other. They’re not different. They’re simply the transit of our moon around its planet, changing its phase as presents different aspects to the sun and to our point on earth’s surface. That’s a month. And “next” month will be the same.
A year. Today, this morning, we are at the same point on earth’s orbit we were a year ago. This is true every moment of every day. A year is never completed, it is always underway, bringing us around and around the sun, always, as long as the sun remains its current size. (Yes, I know celestial mechanics can define all of these things much more precisely and that each day, month, year is also in transit as our solar system tracks along in its expanding orbit and our galaxy, and its local group and its super cluster also move at unbelievable speeds. This just ratchets up the thought experiment to cosmic levels, doesn’t change the point.)
In a year the amount of the sun’s energy shining on a particular, let’s say three meter, patch of land changes due to the earth’s current 23.5 degree tilt. This change in energy per three meter square alters the temperatures which in turn drive seasonal changes. The Great Wheel celebrates those seasonal changes, especially in the temperate latitudes, as we go, again and again, through the cycle of growth, harvest and fallow time. This is not a “new” fall; it’s the same season we had last year at this point on the earth’s track around the sun.
So. Each day, each month, each year, each season is not sequential to anything but the human mind. We think of history as in the past, we think of the future as somehow ahead of us, yet each historical occurrence happened on a day, in a month, in a year, not one in the past, but one just like the ones we’ve been through to get this Black Friday. The same will be true of the “future.” The sequencing, the marking of chronological time, is a trick of the mind, a need we have to organize space as if it passes along a linear track, one thing in front of the other, but no. We always only have this day, this time of the month, this point in earth’s orbit, all of which repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat.
I know, it took me awhile to fall asleep.
The tree of life, the kabbalist’s notion, posits a continuous act of creation with divine energy pulsing up and down the tree of life, from the crown, keter, to the physical world, malkuth, passing through the three triads of intellect, emotion and instinct. This understanding does not require chronos as the act of creation never ends and travels along a process of instantiation, into malkuth, and then back up toward the unity of the ein sof, up and down, up and down, until somehow God is repaired.
In the way I’m thinking about it now, the link between the Great Wheel and the Tree of Life goes like this. A day divides into light and dark, a month into new moon and full moon, a year into a fallow time and a time of vitality and growth. Likewise, a human life divides into a time of vitality and growth followed by a period of declining physical strength, then death. Each life not prematurely ended by trauma or disease, follows this path, not just human life.
Just so the seasons. Just so the month. Just so the day. Just so, I think, the flow of divine energy up and down the tree of life. As it becomes instantiated in malkuth, divine energy becomes actual and experiences a time of vitality, a time of being. Note that this applies to the inanimate as well as the animate. Our sun, our planet, Shadow Mountain all have ends, too, a period of existence in their current form that will, as changes occur, cause them to wink out, send their material essence back into the pool of material from which they started.
The Great Wheel is a metaphor for this cyclical reality, one built into the nature of our universe. Matter goes through a fallow time, then a time of growth and vitality, only to return to a fallow time where it can pass back into new forms. This is divine energy on its way up and down the tree of life, winking on, then off, traveling from the physical world which we know, back to the source of matter found in the crown of ongoing creation. Then, back down again.
Yes, that’s what I thought about on my way to dreamland last night, Thanksgiving night.