Told you I was feeling contrary.
But the first two articles strike me as an excellent example of why magical target selection takes guts.
Or, to borrow Jason’s terminology: “Emergency Magic”. Giving to Japan is like lighting a candle to pay your rent this month. Giving strategically to MSF is enchanting for wealth.
And, as a related story, the backlash against Microsoft’s donation annoys me because it violates Captain Jack’s rules of enchantment. Read both Freakonomics posts before you start flaming, please. (Note: I have actually donated. We’re talking about a Bigger Idea.)
The rest of the weekend reading is broken into chunks as well, beginning with news from Ancient Britain.
It’s further afield, it’s not from the sacred site everyone thinks it is, and it potentially further corroborates the theory -my favourite theory- that Stonehenge was a sort of Neolithic triage: A centre of healing that people would visit from all across Western and Central Europe. (Bluestone was believed to have restorative properties.)
Okay, so this BBC series was amazing. Watch it when it comes out wherever you are, foreign friends. In the meantime, here are some snippets that aren’t actually from the series for some reason but talk about my beloved Southwest. Here’s the YouTube playlist for the series itself. Watch it.
Turns out they were already being created domestically. Which makes a lot more sense after you have watched the BBC series I just mentioned.
Piece by piece we’re getting our history back from the Victorians and Edwardians who thought the Classical World was where it was at.
Broadening out the links to history in general we have:
Sky burial is something I find immensely beautiful. Definitely in my top three funerary customs. (Have you ranked your favourite funerary customs? No? Pfff… Amateur.)
Like many of you, I’m sure, I find the domestic shamanic elements that went into the various Himalayan Buddhist traditions fascinating and enigmatic. There is something nice about being able to put more pieces of their story into the global shamanic map/narrative/history alongside other indigenous cultures.
Following on from my recent post on the dark side of seasonal festivals, a new study shows that immediate return hunter-gatherers were 50% more productive than the first farmers.
This puts flight to the notion that it somehow “freed us up” to develop things like writing, etc. More and more it’s looking like farming is something we were forced into.
Farming is essentially a weapon. You can stockpile food and simultaneously restrict/destroy (by fire) access to a neighbouring group’s food supply. Social conflict requires uneven distribution of resources. And you can’t have uneven distribution with low populations and an unlimited supply of free food.
It would make the adoption of agriculture a sort of arms race. You had to farm or some fucker from over the hill would come and be all up in your shit.
Someone somewhere -a male I’d speculate although there is no reason why it had to be when you travel this far back- must have looked at wild grass for the first time, looked over at his tribal group sitting happily in the shade of a tree, looked back at the grass, put two and two together and come up with five: I can be king fucking shit with this.
Interestingly, recent research indicates that -in Europe at least- the adoption of agriculture wasn’t either/or. For about a thousand years you would have a hunter-gatherer/agriculture split within a single group. This would suggest farming is something they didn’t wholeheartedly embrace but had to adopt. And, unfortunately, like heroin, it scales quickly into dependence. Farming means your population grows rapidly until it reaches a point that foraging alone can’t provide enough food to sustain everyone. This is the point of no return where you have to stop foraging and switch to full-scale farming to survive and there goes your spare time, sexual freedom and entire way of life forever.
Like I said… Demons, man. Demons.
Yes. I’d say there are several. Just as there likely are in the New Guinean and Indonesian archipelago and a couple of other places where tens of thousands of square kilometres of desirable coastal, food-bearing land was lost at the end of the ice age.
Atlantis is a global memory rather than a specific place. It’s a memory of our first adventure in settling, farming and living in large groups. (It may also have been a specific place but we can group universal flood myths under “Atlantis”.)
This is getting dangerously close to that “whiskey and old maps” rant I told you never to mention so we’ll move quickly along.
Speaking of that first adventure, here’s someone who lived briefly through it. I find it very touching that, after her cremation, her fire pit wasn’t used again. Whether that was a deliberate choice or because the group was moving on for some reason doesn’t really matter. You have to hope it gave her mother some comfort that her little girl got something special and all her own.
Moving into the more sciency stuff:
This is more or less exactly the same my post, The Limits Of Visualisation but it’s still worth a read. Visualisation is the cornerstone of almost all magical technique and there is a lot we could be doing to improve it.
For some reason I find this to be a lovely thought. Almost peaceful… The inside of our eye is built to match the colours of the warm African grasslands…. Even though (my other dangerous rant begins now) the savannah is a ludicrous place for a biped to live: our centre of gravity is much too high to live somewhere flat and open that is also home to fast-moving quadrupeds (with a lower centre of gravity) who will happily eat us.
Staying with Africa… Here is a fantastic BBC slideshow about the history and politics of how we have seen this amazing place over the last few thousand years. Starts of gripping, ends very sadly. All in just a few minutes.
You can also extrapolate out from the discussion in the audio slideshow to magic in general: Your map/model of magic says a lot about you not just for what it includes but what it excludes.
And because you’ve all been so good, here’s some fun to finish off:
It’s possible I have already shared this but it’s cute enough to share again.
Unfortunately this site autoplays the kind of music you’re more likely to find at a closing down sale of a mind/body/spirit shop out by the airport. So hit mute and go and have a play with it…. It’s like making up your own intro sequence to The Big Bang Theory.
Have a good weekend, everyone.