Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sciento-Magick: Re-thinking Correspondences I

"Huathe" from the Celtic Tree Oracle.
My mind is on fire with thought & ideas, but life does not always cooperate with one's creative urges. For me, this is a period of life in non-cooperation with plans & visions. Even The Changeling is colluding against me, slowly weaning himself & taking my precious, uninterrupted writing time with him.

I have a big thought. (Actually, I have many.) It will require much discussion & mental sifting. Given my circumstances, I will have to piece it together, a wee bit at a time, until it has been fully sculpted into words.

This line of thinking originated long ago & has reiterated itself many times since. It always begins like this: I look through my books (or more recently, the internet) for a set of correspondences or symbolic meanings for a given herb, tree, bird, stone, etc. & I find myself asking, "Where the Hellvella did they get that!? Who came up with these things anyway?" I am sure I cannot be alone in this because let's be honest, some "correspondences" are superficial &/or nonsensical, if not absurd.

Generally I just get disgruntled, or ignore it & move on.

"Fearn" from the Celtic Tree Oracle.
The point at which my distaste for certain traditional "meanings" became acute (& very personal) was less than a year ago. At the time I was quite pregnant & confined to bedrest. During those short weeks, the Little Lad would sit beside me & pore over the astrological tables & Celtic tree charts in the back of one of my calendars. (Why this four-year-old preferred this over other activities is beyond me.) One day, whilst studying the tree chart, he turned to me & said, "I think we should name the baby _____." I smiled, nodded & replied with some encouraging but noncommittal words. The name he offered was not one I would choose, but our Little Lad would not relent. Ultimately, Hubby & I decided to grant him license to the baby's middle name.

Then everything was upended.

When The Changeling was born, we were informed that we had a month to formally file a name. Undecided & overwhelmed, we took that option. However, once he was transferred to the NICU, they wanted some kind of moniker -- not a formal commitment, just a name by which to call him, talk about him, to put on his door, to add to the scrapbook pages the nursing staff created for the babies. Hubby had followed the helicopter to the NICU & upon his arrival, he offered an abbreviated version of Little Lad's selection, as a sort of temporary 'NICU nickname.'

"NgEtal" from the Celtic Tree Oracle.
Weeks went by, as they do in the NICU. We found ourselves faced with the task of filing for a name & we could not shake the one chosen by Little Lad. In my agonizing, I researched its "meanings," lore & symbolism. This only made the decision-making process worse. Being nearly 200 miles from home, I did not have access to my library. The internet was my only information source. Every site was a convoluted, plagiarized list of incongruent associations. I collected a laundry list of chaotic symbolism; healing, hope, illness & death, protection, good luck, bad luck... & a list of magickal uses that span the gammut of (random & often contradictory) subjects, among them: marriage, fertility, chastity, craftsmanship, healthy cattle, protection for children, protection from lightning...

I had a hard time swallowing the lore when it simultaneously argued protective qualities & the foreboding of illness & death. Besides, I didn't want to accept that I was well on my way to giving my child a name that might hold negative connotations. 

But in the end, the name prevailed. 

"Nuin" from the Celtic Tree Oracle.
It took me awhile to be comfortable with The Changeling's name, especially since my mind was muddled with ambivalent feelings -- feelings tied to conflicting correspondences. This process of un-muddling prompted me to think carefully about correspondences... & to question them. Where do they come from? From whom do the originate? Why do people take them for granted, hitting their local bookstore, picking up the first book they find & taking the information within as symbolic-gospel? 

Most of our Western lore (mythologies too) was documented by 'outsider males' (my terminology). For me, this leaves a great deal to be questioned. These outsider males may or may not have been benevolent in their efforts, but I am convinced that every one of them had some kind of agenda. In addition, they often had language & cultural barriers, prejudices, assumptions & other roadblocks to clear, accurate information. I have a difficult time believing that the early practitioners of whatever art (midwifery, healing, magick, etc.) were wildly forthcoming with their secrets in the presence of strangers. Feel free to call me a skeptic. 

"Straif" from the Celtic Tree Oracle.
I think we can do better. Authenticity of the present lore, symbolism & correspondences aside, I have been developing a different approach. This is not a throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater approach -- I do not advocate tossing all the established correspondences out the window. Rather, it is an integrative, holistic process based on personal relationship, intuition, research & reflection. I have been attempting to uncover the correspondences, meanings, symbolism of things (for lack of a better term -- when I say "thing" this could mean a stone, lizard, tree, etc.) by using a multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary approach. First & foremost, I feel it is important to develop a personal relationship with the thing. Everyone must do this in their own way. Then, by combining the discoveries from personal connection to the thing with knowledge of its role in mythologies, its occurrence/importance throughout history & (here we get Sciento) the knowledge (as applicable) we have of its biology, physiology, chemistry, etc. combined with its role within ecological systems, we can develop a comprehensive set of associations that truly reflect a thing's rich, complex nature. 


Well, this is what I think anyway. I have been practicing with assorted sticks... with promising results. Results that will have to wait for a later post.

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