In order to even comprehend religion we need to take into account spiritual, personal and social elements. It’s a complex subject.
I am going to have to go on a journey that starts way back in the past. Funnily enough it starts in the place I was born – Kwa zulu Natal, in South Africa. It starts with the Xam san people.
They also had questions of how to make sense of the world around them just like we still do today. There are caves with cool drawings on them with animals and shit( YES, Literally shit or dung if you want to keep it child friendly). We can’t ask them so we can only try and interrupt how they came to believe what they may have believed.
It’s no new concept that we humans try to fathom some reason as to why we have to go through life suffering. In the time of the Xam San people-they lived an arguably more dangerous life . By that I mean there every means of survival was at the mercy of the elements- wind/fire/earth/water. and their need to interpret feelings and desires.
Okay let’s pretend
I am a Xam San person – my father dies.
Where does he go? His body is still present.
Why does the sun still shine and the moon still come out.
Everything moves forward yet I am stuck in stillness,confused and grieving. There must be an invisible world I don’t know about.
I go to sleep and I can’t remember what happens.
Where do I go?
I have a dream about my Father- there must be some other world – he has crossed over into.
I run and tell my people there must be some connection with death and sleep. I don’t know what. But we are going to figure it out. The elements may change but my feelings don’t!
I can’t move on without trying to understand the world around me!
We have all heard of the ‘twilight zone’ that moment where hallucinations take place, dreams occur, altered states of conscious occur.
It is another dimension: A dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. A land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas.
It is easy to see how the unseen world and it’s occupants could have such a persuasion over not only humans minds but also those of animals and objects and natural phenomena like storms .
The San people believed whatever happens in one world has a direct influence over whatever happens in another.
What they believed
They believed that the world was created by a trickster called Kaggen and his family.
They shared this world with what is known as the EARLY RACE – a community of hybrid creatures half- animal half -human and had the power to create, shape and transform.(The earliest discovery of animism)
Pretty powerful shit if you ask me.
Me, in my San persona , thinks
“wow this amazing . What respect for something so unexplainable .”
Yes there was respect for this race but they did not worship them. Instead ,this race became a way to make sense of the world. The San came up with seriously trippy way to access this supernatural world.
And so THE TRANCE DANCE was born 🙂
Shamans enter a state of trance (or altered state of consciousness) by intense dancing, audio-driving and hyperventilation. Unlike many other hunter-gatherer societies around the world, they do not rely on the ingestion of hallucinogens. Shamans both male and female harness spiritual potency by dancing around the campfire while women clap ‘medicine songs’; in this way the shamans are transported to the spirit world.
Sorry ravers but you never came up with this one 😀 You ravers can’t even make a claim over your glow sticks. WHY?
Today San shamans in the Kalahari say that, as potency boils in their stomachs, their muscles contract and they bend forward, often requiring the aid of one or two ‘dancing sticks’. Sometimes when this happens shamans suffer nosebleeds. The San believe that the smearing of nasal blood on people keeps sickness away.
Here are some beautiful concepts they came up with
The trance dance was a way to to launch themselves from the top of their head into the supernatural world and ask for healing powers to cure their beloved ones .
A beautiful belief of theirs is their relationship with the sun and the moon. Obviously there were no microwaves and takeaways just popping up casually– yonder – they had to hunt for their food . They prayed to the moon and sun for super natural powers to help them find a meal.
They believed that when they were unconscious that their hearts became stars – how beautiful is that?
Humans and the stars were so intimately linked, so that when people died
… at the time when our heart falls down,
that is the time when the star also falls down …
For the stars know the time at which we die
WOW! That to me sounds like pure poetry – raw and untamed.
Dead peoples hair turned into clouds and sheltered the San people.
Another beautiful belief they came up with is
that death – was described in the context of being something elemental. It is the wind (energy) that live in all human beings.The wind was believed to blow away the deceased foot prints, which made the transition from the living world to the supernatural world. one that was not in the power of the humans.
“The day we die a soft breeze will wipe out our footprints in the sand. When the wind dies down, who will tell the timelessness that once we walked this way in the dawn of time?”
*If you are religious you may take offence to this post.* Just saying 😀
Ashes as you probably know signal the end of a person life. Nobody really knows when/ what ashes were and are exactly meant to represent. The most common symbolism is mortality.
Come, now people… let’s just accept we are all gonna die.
In a world that often expects us to be perfect, Ash Wednesday gives us an opportunity to freely confess our imperfections. We can let down our pretenses and be truly honest with each other about who we are. We all bear the mark of sin, from the youngest babies to the oldest seniors. We all stand guilty before a holy God. We all are mortal and will someday experience bodily death. Thus we all need a Savior.
My aunt died of Lung cancer on 21/02/ 2015. She wanted to be cremated. We honoured her wish. She was a free-spirited hippy Catholic and she would rather give up her mortality -riddled with illness and attached to this mortal life by an invisible leash – so with courage and dignity she accepted her fate. Morphine may or may not have helped her speed up the process.
IT IS TRUE I FOUND IT ON GOOGLE.
This is a bit of a random story. My twin uncles were supposed to fly out from Miami to the U.K. for her funeral. They do a lot of travelling and were on an upgrade standby.
They didn’t make the funeral – no upgrade. There were no more than 10 people at her funeral. That’s kind of sad, isn’t it?
My aunt wanted her ashes to be spread in the Miami ocean – as close to Key West as possible. One night after having consumed many drinks she said to me all she wanted was to leave the world behind and move to key west and own a bunch of chickens and just be.
Her saying was
‘Eventually’ (as in it will happen, whatever it is you out seek out and work for eventually it will be )
I’m kind of thinking she got her to wish -some of her ashes must have lapped up on to the key west isle shores by now. I don’t know about the chickens ..
When I think about ashes as a symbol of mortality or sin, I am not superstitious. My uncles wanted to get my aunts ashes Fed- exed to Miami.
Yes, that is correct.
They didn’t want to travel with them in case my aunt came back to haunt them or they spilt the ashes or for whatever “rational” reason. Strange men -my uncles-
so, doubly strange. ( I will confirm I love my uncles)
Are they so scared to face up to their own mortality?
Why should they be afraid when they are so religious and God-loving men?
In the end , they paid for a three-week trip, for my Ma to go see them in Miami,as long as she travelled with my Aunts ashes.
I have an eccentric family.
Knowing my aunt like I did, she would have been giving my uncles a few clucks(slaps) around the face telling them to ‘man up’ or ‘put on their big boy boots’ – so maybe she got her chickens in the end.
A double cluck!
I remember going to a catholic school that had a church – my Ma and Pa got married in that church. My family thought it would be a great idea to send me to that school.
No problem, except I, have never been baptised.
So, every ‘ash Wednesday’ we all had to come up and be marked with the ash cross of a sinner. My corruption and evilness were made crystal clear at those times.
Maybe I did need to repent.
I was more bothered about finding out how many Easter eggs I was going to get. No one really explained what all this lent fuss was about to me.
All I cared about was going on an egg hunt. My Ma used to do a pretty impressive empty basket dress up and let me go hunting in the garden.
Ash Wednesday is a day to stare death in the face, to acknowledge our mortality. All of us will die. Christians who observe this holiday get ashes “imposed” on their foreheads, while a minister or lay church worker says, “You have come from dust, and to dust you will return.” In other words, “You are going to die. And here are some ashes to remind you, just in case you’ve forgotten.”
Ha ha! . Okay, this is awesome – Why not come together to confess we are all a bunch of sinners. My main problem with this is: why the hell Catholics( and other faiths) get away with being such hypocrites?
Catholics do have a bit of a reputation of being one of the worst abusers of our kind towards people with ‘the most sin’ – that is people with mental health issues.
My quest for the symbolism has left me with feelings that are a tad flaky.
THIS IS A SHOCKINGLY AWFUL POST. APOLOGIES.
Let me try and redeem myself.
The last thing I want to say about my research on the symbolism of ash is:
I symbolise it with war, hate and crime and greed
Many religions have some form of their own ‘Ash Wednesday’, to hold innocent people accountable for their churches sins. Not sins of the present-day people but the sins of those who were in the past responsible for them (and whose bloodlines are still in power of the Church)-
the blood slaying,
I might not know exactly where I’m going after I leave my mortal body but at least I don’t use some flimsy
‘Ashes to ashes dust to dust’ quote,
to bring people together to acknowledge their so-called sins.
POSSIBLE POST MORTAL DESTINATION ?
If there is going to be any kind of day where people come together to acknowledge their sins. It should start with the highest church orders and governments of this world to repent and who use religion to control and warp our society.
Lead by example?
just going to throw that out there.
I don’t need a day OR a 40 day lent period to know when I have been bad or good.
So, let me be bad and kick the pedestals from those who preach words to the ‘sinners’
Can you tell I’m not buying into this whole ash -religion thing?
I think I would rather curl up to a good book of vampires, witches and wear wolves than carry on.
Monday – a perfect excuse for a short rant. I’m a massive fan of The Originals series. Watched 10 episodes of season three on Saturday – DATE NIGHT – in the Willows household.
It’s a supernatural series so inevitably tarot cards would eventually pop up. What pisses me off is the ‘death’ card; is always seen as the symbolic message that bad things are about to happen for the characters. This applies to every series and movie that uses this symbol to imply upcoming doom and gloom. I know it’s the movie industries way of collectively connecting the viewer. I’m still going to rant and give you a lesson in the true meaning of the ‘Death’ grim reaper symbol used in Tarot card decks.
When I used to read Tarot cards, I didn’t see them as something mystical but something more scientific. -more psychological.
Jung believed that the “collective unconsciousness is the foundation of what the ancients called ‘the sympathy of all things'”. For Jung, the human psyche lived in three separate parts: the conscious, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. Archetypes, powerful universal figures and symbols live in the personal and collective unconscious, shaping our perceptions and experiences.http://indigointentions.com/modern_psychology_tarot.htm
The Tarot is divided into Major and Minor arcana- There are 22 Major arcana which draws on Archetypes- death being but one. For more information UNDERSTANDING TAROT CARDS
*TAROT CARDS ARE NOT EVEN MEANT TO BE USED TO PREDICT THE FUTURE*
In a Tarot reading, these powerful archetypes work together to create a pattern or a message that allows the questioner to understand and sort out their difficulties. Like many other oracles, their powerful symbols can also demonstrate to the reader the feelings or ideas that are lurking just below the surface of their conscious mind. The symbolism of the Tarot can be a gentler way to bring the questioner in touch with feelings they may be refusing to acknowledge.http://indigointentions.com/modern_psychology_tarot.htm
Archetypes can help a reader makes sense of the symbols in their life. It can be a therapeutic method identifying with an Archetype -a person can understand more about their situation and know how to bring out their symbolic strengths and be aware of their symbolic weaknesses.
Major Arcana:DeathThe image of Death can be celebrated or feared depending on your culture or custom. Viewed by some as a punishment and others are a natural part of life, Death (and the Grim Reaper) are symbols that have very strong reactions. Whether you see Death as a force to be fought against or as a marker of change, there is no denying that transformation and renewal are a part of Death.Many modern Tarot decks have changed the name of the 13 card in the Major Arcana from Death to Transformation to make it less worrisome. Whether you view Death as an ending or a time of change, there is still the pain of letting things go and the excitement of new opportunities.