It’s been a bad few weeks. Apparently I’ve entered “burn bridges and do what it takes to get shit done” mode. Oops and/or yay?
subtitled: Damnit Now I Have to Buy 3x as Many Tealights
A book about my recent devotional life.
And the exciting sequel: I Found Another End Table on the Curb. Who is Joining the Party NOW??
With the introduction, How Deity Collecting Became a Thing and I’m Still Sane!
"believe" is such a complicated word for me. Honor, certainly. Work with, yes. Attend-to, of course. Believe? Where’s that Terry Pratchett quotation when one really needs it?
Resident Discworld fanatic TO THE RESCUE! Here:
“I don’t hold with paddlin’ with the occult,” said Granny firmly. “Once you start paddlin’ with the occult you start believing in spirits, and when you start believing in spirits you start believing in demons, and then before you know where you are you’re believing in gods. And then you’re in trouble.”
"But all them things exist," said Nanny Ogg.
"That’s no call to go around believing in them. It only encourages ‘em.”
― Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies
That wasn’t the one I was thinking of, but it’ll do. :-)
See, complicated is the right word, as abwatt says. For me beliefs can be summed up by another Pratchett quote:
“All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”
REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—"
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
"So we can believe the big ones?"
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
"They’re not the same at all!"
YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”
MY POINT EXACTLY.”
― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather
See, right now I’m typing this, on a keyboard, on top of a table. I’m sitting in a chair. All these things I believe to be solid. Except physics tells us that this is not so. The majority of atomic structure is space.
Furthermore, the keys I’m pushing - I’m not actually touching them. There’s no actual contact - just charges interacting. Beliefs are the interfaces we use to navigate existence, like the icons on an operating system, or even the letters we type which induce changes in the electrical systems of our computers.
The secret of magick and spirituality is that these interfaces are far, far more complex and manipulatable than people think. Someone once said that magic is the cheat codes for the universe, but it’s more complex than that.
History and human experience has passed down experiential anecdotes and techniques which seem to give us certain interfacing capabilities, but the fun bit with an interface is that it’s two-way. Whatever interfaces with us affects us and vice-versa.
The modern distinction betwen humans and environment is frankly, absolute balderdash. Things and beings we call gods and spirits are as much part of the kosmos as we are.
As my namesake Mister Six says in The Invisibles:
“I just met the Secret Chiefs of the Invisible Order. They’re as alien as the space between your bloody fingers and I mean that.”
(Yeah, there’s a reason I go by VI.)
Because the gods are precisely that alien, which is to say they are not alien to us at all, but it is we who have been alienated. We are the alien gods of Gnostic myth.
We are the daimonic beings which require certain structures and interfaces to recall our nature. The gods, they are not like us, but we may become once more like them, aware of our nature as part of something larger, something greater.
Something primordial and timeless.
Do you believe in your hand - in the space betwen your fingers? No. Because it’s there, we just don’t always remember what it means, what it implies. It’s not what we believe it is. The map is not the territory.
“Mortals are immortals, and immortals are mortals, the one living the other’s death and dying the other’s life.” - Herakleitos
Or to put it another way, the finger pointing to the moon is not the moon itself. Conversely, the reverse is true also - what is not the finger pointing to the moon is, in fact the moon.
So the rest of all things is in fact the moon, and the moon is everything. But where does your finger start and everything else end?
What separation occurs? Where is the dividing line?
Simple. We only believe there is one. Show me one thing that is not part of the kosmos.
Be seeing you.