I’d like to start where we finished last time – with a new definition of magic:
To call or summon into existence what was previously only potential; to breathe together with Mystery.
And this applies to any and all magical technologies: fire, language, flint knapping, agriculture, writing, mathematics, money, metallurgy, history, alphabetic writing, roads, the printing press, the calculus, time keeping, fossil fuels, Portland cement, internal combustion engines, electricity, telephones, radios, television, flight, computers, among many others.
Agriculture, writing, mathematics, metallurgy and money were a pantheon of very powerful magical spells that thousands of years ago gave birth to (or conjured) complex new ecologies we now call civilization. This pantheon gave birth to civilization, but not necessarily to empire. It was the use of these magical spells in ungrounded, ungrateful ways, in ways that didn’t return the power back to the source that, once again, caused each magical spell to take on a life and mind of its own.
What I personally call “empire” is the unbelievable accumulation of miscast, ungrounded magical spells that have now unfortunately done just that - taken on a life of their own. And have they ever. "Empire" is the institutionalization of ingratitude. We will always behave occasionally with ingratitude, or else, we'd have nothing to learn from. It is when our ingratitude becomes institutionalized that give birth to empire.
So how do we bring empire to its end? Well, we re-dedicate ourselves to our apprenticeship, and begin using our magical spells consciously, casting circles so as to orient ourselves, and also grounding our spells by always returning the power back to the source, by giving thanks.
Tracking the history of the unfolding of magical spells and of miscast spells, and telling ourselves a story of how we will bring empire to its end – a story so coherent as to unfold as a map for our troubled future – to that end, I dedicate the rest of this project.
Now, however, before returning to the original three cosmological questions (who are we, where are we, and why are we here), I’d like to make some ridiculously sweeping statements. Now seems like the time to make it even more plainly clear where I’m personally coming from in this evolving writing.
I propose that for us humans, the source is the marriage of heaven and earth. Where the radiance from the heavens, either from our star, the Sun, during the day, or from the Sun’s neighbors at night, falls and meets the earth, either on land or on water – here at the marriage of heaven and earth is the source of our lives.
I propose that our lives here at the marriage of heaven and earth have meaning and purpose. I once heard an indigenous elder say that the meaning of life can simply be stated in two words: give thanks. “Grounding a magical spell”, or “returning the power back to the source” are simply other ways of saying “giving thanks”.
The purpose of life is to reflect and dramatize the cosmos back to itself. I propose that every species on earth has a role of reflecting some otherwise un-manifest aspect of the cosmos back to itself. The role of the human being is not to simply reflect back an aspect of the cosmos, but instead to reflect back the whole freaking thing. We are the primate that stepped out of the forest out into the open, aligned our spines with the axis of the marriage of heaven and earth, faced the horizon, and just gawked. It brought tears to our eyes and laughter to our mouths, and somehow, still does. We are indeed apprentices to the source.
Who are we? We are the sorcerer’s apprentices.
Where are we? We are in the sorcerer’s study – at the marriage of heaven and earth.
Why are we here? We are here to apprentice in magic, so as to reflect and dramatize the cosmos back to itself, to learn how to participate in and unfold the mystery.
Once again, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is the candidate I propose for a frame story that can provide a comprehensive narrative framework for an evolving Open Source Cosmology, that in and of itself could contain numerous, and on the surface seemingly unrelated, stories. There are tribes that have stories that take five days to tell. My dream is for us to craft our own creation story that we look forward to taking 5 days off every year just to tell and hear.
Open Source Cosmology
So how are we going to create such a creation story? I’m certainly not going to do it by myself, simply because of a lack of talent. Most of what I have to personally offer is mostly explanatory, and not allegorical.
Even if one person was talented enough to pull it off, my sense is that this is not the time for a Moses or a messiah to lay it all down for us. That’s too much like waiting for the Sorcerer to come back and clean up our mess. So we’re going to have to do it together.
I’ve been dreaming of this project for quite some time, and have never been able to make a bit of headway because of having what, for a long time, seemed like two mutually exclusive desires. 1) To encourage deep clarifications and discussions on all of these cosmological issues. 2) To discourage the type of stubborn fighting that can come from the likes of fundamentalists who are hell-bent on convincing all others of their own perspective.
Where I was getting stuck was in assuming that there had to be an open source process that continually had one “most finished” or “most edited” version out in front (like a “Wiki”). The breakthrough for me was talking to a friend, Harlan, who said he was working on a web-based computer platform for open source collaborative creative projects that is called “Fork This”. The idea was that the platform would allow multiple parallel versions of a creative project to develop simultaneously.
I thought, “Perfect!” I remembered having heard John Trudell speak back in the early 90’s, and one thing he would always say in his introductions was “And, if you disagree with anything I might say, then well, that’s just what it is - a disagreement.” Meaning - I am here to say some really intense stuff, but I’m not attached to convincing you. Likewise, don’t be attached to convincing me of your perspective. If we disagree, so be it.
For example: with my presentation of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice above, you may have found yourself disagreeing with my perspective that “humans are the primate that stepped out of the forest out into the open and faced the horizon…”, because you don’t believe in evolution. On the contrary, you may have disagreed with my perspective that “every species on earth has a role of reflecting some otherwise un-manifest aspect of the cosmos back to itself”, because you believe in evolution, but don’t believe that anything that seemingly “intentional” has a part to play in the process. Or from even another angle, you may have disagreed with my perspective that the role of the human is to “reflect back the whole freaking thing”, because you believe that dangerously places humans in too “privileged” or “superior” a status within the web of life.
That’s all great. You probably have good reasons to see it the way that you do, and likewise do I. And I want to re-emphasize, those are precisely the conversations and clarifications that I want to encourage in this process. But if after clarifying our perspectives, we still disagree, then “Fork This!” You go your way, and I’ll go mine.
In addition to a “Fork” function, the “Fork This” platform would also have “Diff” (difference) and “Merge” functions. “Diffs” would allow collaborators to see at a glance the difference between two parallel versions of a work. And of course, “Merges” would allow different parallel versions to merge back together.
My sense is that as many of the different parallel perspectives each get to unfold themselves, and delve deeper into their cosmological source, that many of the differences that may have so starkly called for a “Fork This” early on in the process, may turn out to be, in hindsight, not so critical.
On the other hand, after further elaboration and clarification, many of the cosmological differences between people may turn out to be absolutely critical.
Check out the next Clueless Honky Blog for more.
Thanks for your time and attention.