Issue 9 – 28 April 2017 – rattuos
If there is one word that describes our universe and planet for me it is ‘repetition’. It is endless. Watch a bird feeding and understand every creature doing this throughout its existence. A planet spinning around a star – all processes endlessly repeated. I am watching snooker on TV – and have watched very many, very similar games. I suppose it is something about the human that expects a different result each time. A slightly different restaurant, a meal not tasted before leading to some unanticipated surprise in store.
And sometimes there is. We could wonder where Einstein would have got had he been equipped with a proper computer. He came and went even before the first electronic digital calculators. He was just 76 when he died in 1955. We can only wonder where the human would be had he not survived his childhood:
“On the eve of World War II, he endorsed a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt alerting him to the potential development of “extremely powerful bombs of a new type” and recommending that the U.S. begin similar research. This eventually led to what would become the Manhattan Project. Einstein supported defending the Allied forces, but generally denounced the idea of using the newly discovered nuclear fission as a weapon. Later, with the British philosopher Bertrand Russell, Einstein signed the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, which highlighted the danger of nuclear weapons” Wikipedia
Here is an example of giving a child a new toy and telling him not to play with it. On the other hand we have only had one nuclear war and that was at the end of WW2 (if we ignore depleted uranium). The speed with which the bombs were designed and put to use is extraordinary:
“The project was also charged with gathering intelligence on the German nuclear weapon project. Through Operation Alsos, Manhattan Project personnel served in Europe, sometimes behind enemy lines, where they gathered nuclear materials and documents, and rounded up German scientists. Despite the Manhattan Project’s tight security, Soviet atomic spies still penetrated the program.
The first nuclear device ever detonated was an implosion-type bomb at the Trinity test, conducted at New Mexico’s Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range on 16 July 1945. Little Boy and Fat Man bombs were used a month later in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki…” Wikipedia
The first bomb tests we might conclude were on cities packed with people, mostly innocent civilians. What impression must that have made on the scientists responsible? But what they had done was take a process endlessly repeated above and make it happen down here too. Stars explode and entire systems even galaxies are decimated.
So what is it about repetition that we find so satisfying and why are we so scared to change our habits? One of these habits most difficult to break is keeping our eyes closed to reality. Soap operas on TV do not threaten us, they comfort us. Disasters happen to other people. Even the News is like that. Those I know who get ill steadfastly refuse to look deeper into the conditions they suffer. Doctors discourage that too. Do you want your air analysed? Your car exhaust tested? Do you want to know how many child slaves were involved in making your clothes, providing your dinner? Do you want to know how close we are to WW3? Probably not.
Which in a roundabout way brings me back to ‘as above so below’, this time looked at as the spiritual world and the physical world we inhabit right now. Ragnarok the final battle of the gods is a spiritual war that affects the human. But human wars also affect the gods. Earth is a place both inhabit, as is what we call the afterlife. If the gods are at war we are in trouble unless we can make peace for them. The peacemaker of the Gods is called Thoth (in Egyptian called Djhwty who they claim sprang from the head of the god Sutekh). And we find both those gods involved with ‘boats’.
In the case of Djhwty it is his creational boat in which sit 4 pairs of gods and goddesses – Mr & Mrs infinity, Mr & Mrs primordial waters, Mr & Mrs darkness and Mr & Mrs hidden god. These make up the forces of creation so we might see them as some icy comet spinning through the darkness almost infinitely until one day it crashes onto a rock within the reach of the sunlight of a star. It melts and life starts – photosynthesis creates a primitive algae, thence bacteria which may have been hidden in the ice if it came from some other world. Gradually we became sea snakes, eventually humans.
Really this boat is the ‘Ark’. And the Egyptians depict another boat they call the ‘solar barque’ of the sun god. In its prow stands Sutekh, harpoon in hand, fighting off the vast sea snake Apep who threatens the universe and Re. It is the first depiction of this:
“The motif of Chaoskampf (German: [‘kaːɔsˌkampf], “struggle against chaos”) is ubiquitous in myth and legend, depicting a battle of a culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon. The same term has also been extended to parallel concepts in the religions of the Ancient Near East, such as the abstract conflict of ideas in the Egyptian duality of Maat and Isfet*.
The origins of the Chaoskampf myth most likely lie in the Proto-Indo-European religion whose descendants almost all feature some variation of the story of a storm god fighting a sea serpent representing the clash between the forces of order and chaos. Early work by German academics such as Gunkel and Bousset in comparative mythology popularized translating the mythological sea serpent as a “dragon.” Indo-European examples of this mythic trope include Thor vs. Jörmungandr (Norse), Tarhunt vs. Illuyanka (Hittite), Indra vs. Vritra (Vedic), Fereydun vs. Aži Dahāka (Avestan), and Zeus vs. Typhon (Greek) among others” Wikipedia
Those are not the ‘origins’ as Sutekh came first. Another one missing is the biblical Yahweh against the sea beast Leviathan, also Michael the archangel and the dragon thence St George and the dragon. Another early one is here:
And this one:
The Leviathan of the Book of Job is a reflex of the older Canaanite Lotan, a primeval monster defeated by the god Hadad. Parallels to the role of Mesopotamian Tiamat defeated by Marduk have long been drawn in comparative mythology, as have been wider comparisons to dragon and world serpent narratives such as Indra slaying Vrtra or Thor slaying Jörmungandr. But Leviathan in the Hebrew Bible already figures as a metaphor for a powerful enemy, notably Babylon (Isaiah 27:1), and also more pragmatically of large aquatic creatures, such as the crocodile, and later came to be used as a term for “great whale” as well as of sea monsters in general.” Wikipedia
In the Book of Job in the Bible we find
3.‘8 Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to rouse up leviathan’
40.‘25 Canst thou draw out leviathan with a fish-hook? or press down his tongue with a cord?…..’
Psalm 74 ‘13 Thou didst break the sea in pieces by Thy strength; Thou didst shatter the heads of the sea-monsters in the waters. 14 Thou didst crush the heads of leviathan, Thou gavest him to be food to the folk inhabiting the wilderness….’
Anyway this brings up the figure of the ourobouros which represents in a sense repetition. This is the world snake so big it encircles the globe and catches its own tail:
“The ouroboros (/ˌjʊərə’bɒrəs/; /ʊə’rɒbərəs/; Greek: οὐροβόρος) is an ancient symbol depicting a #HYPERLINK “/wiki/Serpent_(symbolism)”serpent or dragon eating its own tail. Originating in Ancient Egyptian iconography, the ouroboros entered western tradition via Greek magical tradition and was adopted as a symbol in Gnosticism and Hermeticism, and most notably in alchemy. Via medieval alchemical tradition, the symbol entered Renaissance magic and modern symbolism, often taken to symbolize introspection, the eternal return or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself. It also represents the infinite cycle of nature‘s endless creation and destruction, life and death.” Wikipedia
But by 1400BC the snakes no longer represent a threat to the sun god Re, they supposedly protect him
“The first known appearance of the ouroboros motif is in the Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld, an ancient Egyptian funerary text in KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun, in the 14th century BC. The text concerns the actions of the god Ra and his union with Osiris in the underworld. In an illustration from this text, two serpents, holding their tails in their mouths, coil around the head, neck, and feet of an enormous god, who may represent the unified Ra-Osiris. Both serpents are manifestations of the deity Mehen, who in other funerary texts protects Ra in his underworld journey. The whole divine figure represents the beginning and the end of time” Wikipedia
“The earliest references to Mehen occur in the Coffin Texts. Mehen is a protective deity who is depicted as a snake which coils around the sun god Ra during his journey through the night, for instance in the Amduat” Wikipedia
Which is odd as originally:
“Apep (/’æˌpɛp/ or /’ɑːˌpɛp/) or Apophis (/’æpəfᵻs/; Ancient Greek: Ἄποφις; also spelled Apepi or Aapep) was the ancient Egyptian deity who embodied chaos (ı͗zft in Egyptian) and was thus the opponent of light and Ma’at (order/truth). He appears in art as a giant serpent……….Ra was the solar deity, bringer of light, and thus the upholder of Ma’at. Apep was viewed as the greatest enemy of Ra, and thus was given the title Enemy of Ra, and also “the Lord of Chaos”.
As the personification of all that was evil, Apep was seen as a giant snake …Some elaborations said that he stretched 16 yards in length and had a head made of flint. Already on a Naqada I (ca. 4000 BC) C-ware bowl (now in Cairo) a snake was painted on the inside rim combined with other desert and aquatic animals as a possible enemy of a deity, possibly a solar deity, who is invisibly hunting in a big rowing vessel…..Tales of Apep’s battles against Ra were elaborated during the New Kingdom. Storytellers said that every day Apep must lie just below the horizon. This appropriately made him a part of the underworld. In some stories Apep waited for Ra in a western mountain called Bakhu, where the sun set, and in others Apep lurked just before dawn, in the Tenth region of the Night. The wide range of Apep’s possible location gained him the title World Encircler. It was thought that his terrifying roar would cause the underworld to rumble. Myths sometimes say that Apep was trapped there, because he had been the previous chief god overthrown by Ra, or because he was evil and had been imprisoned.
The Coffin Texts imply that Apep used a magical gaze to overwhelm Ra and his entourage. Ra was assisted by a number of defenders who travelled with him, including Set and possibly the Eye of Ra. Apep’s movements were thought to cause earthquakes, and his battles with Set may have been meant to explain the origin of thunderstorms…..As Apep was thought to live in the underworld, he was sometimes thought of as an Eater of Souls. Thus the dead also needed protection, so they were sometimes buried with spells that could destroy Apep.” Wikipedia
The reason is clear. By 1400BC the pharaohs had made Set or Sutekh into a demon because he was something of a democrat which worried the kings, just as the god Amen was there for the poor which caused them some concern too. And the vast snake was already elevated to a position of great authority. In our day and age this is the corporate world. Unless regulated it will destroy us but they do not like to hear that. What we are led to understand is that we owe it our jobs and stability. In reality there is nothing wrong with it until it grows too big. It is always looking for something to eat and lives by the motto ‘grow or die’. This is how shareholders view their assets. Not only must they have dividends from annual profits but their shares’ value must rise every year, and more than inflation. The word sustainability is therefore viewed as the enemy. How can it be sustainable to grow exponentially without end?
Perhaps we could see the analogy in the wolf pack which predates a sheep flock. They will take all the lambs if they can and if they do the flock’s days are numbered. But if they only take some of the older sheep they may play an important part preventing overpopulation, and thus overgrazing, and they will not need to kill so many as these sheep are massive. But they are also tough. In fact sheep are now bred for eating young but they retain the best for breeding. Afox may well do the same thing by hunting ground nesting birds. But what we can note is that the fox if allowed into the henhouse will kill all the hens whether it can eat them or not. That is its nature. It is the nature that needs regulating and the vulnerable that need protecting. Our corporations must not exploit the vulnerable but they are growing so fast and have exhausted so many resources they now are attempting to swallow all our public services like health which the poor cannot afford. They have sold us too many cars, made too many polluting diesel engines, prefer fossil based energy to sell to us than free renewable energy….. etc. and unregulated by an enlightened government they will strangle the world. We all know that but as they employ us all and own our governments we seem to be unable to rein them in a bit.
What we see in those ancient boats is how this is repetitive. Empires get too big. Kings become too powerful. Power they say corrupts especially when unlimited. If we had a million volts of electricity rather than 240 in our homes we would die. The big problem these days is seen by some as the multinational corporation, the one that extends around the globe and bites its own tail. They are very difficult to tax. They are almost impossible to regulate. That is what happens in every cycle everywhere in the universe. A planet gets so big and its gravity so vast that it implodes, explodes. If we don’t cut our hedges they become trees. Our lawns become woodland. Our woodland becomes impenetrable and cuts off the light from the flora on the ground. If we overpopulate our world we starve. When we starve we kill every species for food. We overfish the seas. That is what it means to make war on sustainability. But we can note this too:
*”Isfet or Asfet (meaning “injustice”, “chaos”, or “violence”; as a verb, “to do evil”) is an ancient Egyptian term from Egyptian mythology used in philosophy, which was built on a religious, social and political affected dualism
Isfet was thought to be the counterpart of the term Ma’at (meaning “(world-) order” or “harmony”). According to ancient Egyptian beliefs, Isfet and Ma’at built a complementary and also paradoxical dualism: one could not exist without its counterpart. Isfet and Ma’at balanced each other. An Egyptian king (pharaoh) was appointed to “achieve” Ma’at, which means that he had to keep and protect justice and harmony by destroying Isfet. The principles of the contrariness between Isfet and Ma’at are exemplified in a popular tale from the Middle Kingdom, called “the moaning of the Bedouin”:
Those who destroy the lie promote Ma’at;
those who promote the good will erase the evil.
As fullness casts out appetite,
as clothes cover the nude and
as heaven clears up after a storm.
In the eyes of the Egyptians the world was always ambiguous; the actions and judgments of a king were thought to simplify these principles in order to keep Ma’at by separating order from chaos or good from evil” Wikipedia
They need each other! Of course they do. The light needs the dark. White writing on a white background is invisible. Without elements of dark there is no colour. We need our businesses and our public services. We need our nations and our shepherds. And the blind need the enlightened.