Monday, 16 July 2012

Midnight's Labyrinth

My work here at Amid Night Suns -- to which I owe Christopher Loring Knowles a huge debt -- has been a crucible and a touchstone for me over the course of the past two years.  It has helped me face my demons, and revisit strange personal truths that I unwisely attempted to bury long ago.  But the truth is alive somehow; it is multidimensional, pulsing and sentient -- just like we are.  I take the work that I do here very seriously, even though only a small handful of people may be interested.  I try to empower, to create insight and nuance wherever I can.  I try to speak my truth in subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways. But I am also a storyteller, and my stories are usually about stories themselves.  In this sense my work on this blog could be considered meta-textual.  Let those who have eyes see, and let those who have ears hear.

I have always been a warrior, in one way or another.  But I have not always been brave.  There is a great deal of darkness in me.  This was a hard thing for me to admit; the fact that I sometimes didn't have the courage of my convictions -- that my darkness was not always as comfortable or provocative as I'd allowed myself to believe. But making myself aware of these darker, limiting aspects of my psyche created something of a paradigm shift in me.  And I began to see my darkness in a more complex and empowering light.  In short, it reacquainted me with my purpose and allowed me to embrace myself completely.  I rediscovered my creativity, my playfulness and my lust for life.




Since I was a child I've had an interest in puzzles, mazes and labyrinths.  I enjoy them aesthetically as well as intellectually, and find that the process of engaging with them can often lead to insight, growth and new perspectives.  I view my work here at Amid Night Suns as sharing similarities with these kinds of conceptual conundrums.  In the life we know, we habitually use belief systems and analogues in place of experiential  knowledge - we use psychological, cultural and informational short-hands to to convince ourselves that we understand the way things 'work'.  Even the wisest individuals do this often, because it is often necessary.  We need to make our way in the world, and reduce the staggering complexity of our environment into narratives that make life seem understandable.  Usually people don't like to ponder their own short-hands and gaps in knowledge, but puzzles, paradoxes and apparent contradictions help us to evolve by drawing attention to those same blind-spots in our cognition.

I think the ancient practice of Alchemy had some fairly acute puzzle-like qualities intended to expand the consciousness of the practitioner.  After all, the entire concept of Initiation is labyrinthine and very much like a puzzle; the goal of which is renaissance.  I believe that the field of Alchemy was about something far more profound than the transmuting of lead into gold.  I think it hinted at a knowledge of psychology, physics, chemistry and biology that we can scarcely imagine today.  I think it has to do with the chimeric nature of light and sound, shapeshifting and synthesis across various fields and modes of expression and discourse.

When we ponder the nature of paradox, contradiction, puzzles and synthesis, I believe we are also pondering the deepest and most mysterious strata of ourselves.  What are we not seeing, and why are we not seeing it?  What did we once know, and how did we come to know it?  Mainstream science deals in fragments; pieces, bits, data.  Only art can really help us engage with these questions seriously.  Because art is more than mere useless fantasy.  Art is our way of stepping into the labyrinth, our way of pondering and engaging with the numinous, the infinite.  And the ones who have walked in such realms before us consistently remind us that such realms are mercurial, animating, and inhabited.  The shamans know that strange galaxies swirl in our blood, that entire universes pulse within our imaginations.  A shaman would tell you, if he felt you merited such a disclosure, that storytelling and art is evidence of the hand of God - an indwelling, miraculous sentience that can connect and create in ways we can scarcely fathom.  But attempting to fathom them is how emotional, intellectual and spiritual maturity is gained.  And sometimes it's a hard fight, but the alchemical rewards are worth their weight in gold.  

4 comments:

  1. "The shamans know that strange galaxies swirl in our blood, that entire universes pulse within our imaginations. A shaman would tell you, if he felt you merited such a disclosure, that storytelling and art is evidence of the hand of God - an indwelling, miraculous sentience that can connect and create in ways we can scarcely fathom. But attempting to fathom them is how emotional, intellectual and spiritual maturity is gained"...

    I told my first story in the 5th grade...It was my 40's before I began to tell my tales again. Now I understand exactly what you mean, and I know that it will never end. Once again, there is fire in your words for all to hear.

    "A dark black past, is my most valued possession."

    ReplyDelete
  2. "When we ponder the nature of paradox, contradiction, puzzles and synthesis, I believe we are also pondering the deepest and most mysterious strata of ourselves."

    So true!

    As above, so below, the divine is fascinated and reflects by its creation on all levels.

    Thanks Raj for your eloquent story telling!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would have started moving quotes to my reply but everything you wrote resonated like clear truth. Life in this age feels like bits and pieces, fragments and data.
    Bring on the alchemy!
    Since I first started reading your Secret Sun replies, I looked forward to what your insights would bring to what I had just read.
    "Shamanaste"- I honor the alchemical shaman in you.

    ReplyDelete