Thursday, January 26, 2012

In the Hands of an Angry Gaia

I know Barbara Walker's The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets can be controversial in some circles, but I have always enjoyed her writing; at the very least she makes me think. Case in point is the entry found under Doomsday,
 The universal idea of the world's end was rooted in ancient Hindu belief in the cyclic alternation of universes, brought about by Kali.
Why is this topic coming up now? Quite simply, because of all the hoopla surrounding the year 2012, specifically, the winter solstice of 2012, thus marking the end of the Mayan Long Count calender. For those not in the know, the Mayan were accomplished daykeepers, and kept calendars for a variety of purposes. Temples were built, commissioned, and the then decommissioned based on specific calendars. Now, those in the American New Age community, looking for some fresh Disaster to focus their thoughts on, have now focused on the Winter of 2012, each promising a variety of outcomes. The novelty that is seized upon, is that the calendar ENDS! This is a terribly novel thought, since our own calendar doesn't ever really end; it simply rotates among seven different templates, with minor corrections made by astronomers every so often.

What is overlooked is that the Mayans tended to view nature and history as made of a series of cycles. What prevents Mayans from creating another Long Count was, previously, the tragic destruction of the Mayan culture by those villains of history, The Castillian Spaniards. The remnants of this ancient culture were forced underground and out of sight. For all we know, qualified daykeepers have already created a new Long Count, and they ain't telling us! Who could blame them?

It turns out though, the Mayans are not the only ones with this peculiar habit. As we read on in our entry, it becomes clear:
Each successive creation was divided into four yugas or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvapara, And Kali, the fourth and last marking the age when Mother turns Destroyer because the race of men become violent and sinful, failing to perceive deity in the feminine principle.
 So the ancient Indians had the same concept. Not just one Long Count Calendar, but four!
An age was supposed to begin when sun, moon, and planets stood in conjunction at the initial point of the ecliptic and to end when they returned to the same point. By Hindu reckoning the present yuga began in 3102 B.C. The chronology of the Central American Maya began in 3113 B.C., only 11 years later, "a discrepancy probably due to some minor miscalculation in reckoning backward from the observed movements of the heavenly bodies."
By Hindu calculations, the age of Kali has already drawn to a close. But I don't think the Universe moves quite so precisely, down to the nanoseconds of our atomic clocks. It is clear, though, the curtain is already parting, or closing, depending on your point of view. What is this act we all are participating in? Its called:
...Kali's doomsday [and when it arrives]..., the gods would slay each other. Earth would be overwhelmed by fire and flood. The Goddess would swallow up everything and un-make it, returning to her primordial state of formless Chaos, as she was before creation. All beings would enter her, because "She devours all existence." After a time that could not be counted because even Time was destroyed, Kali would give birth to a new universe.
Does this familiar? Something from the Scandinavian side of the aisle? Something called Ragnarok? Curiouser and curiouser:
Northern Europeans drew their myths of doomsday or Ragnorok from the same ancient tradition. They said the world's end would be brought about by the Mutspell (Mother's Curse) when violent gods neglected the old laws of peace and blood kinship. The angry Goddess would become Skadi the Destroyer, a great shadow devouring the world, like her Oriental counterpart Kali. The gods would enter that shadow of Gotterdammerung, literally the Going-Into-the-Shadow-of-the-Gods.
What is fascinating is how this idea gets incorporated into Christianity (via the arch-patriarchs the Persians), and therefore into Western Culture, of which North Americans--for some strange reason--seem particularly smitten by its patriarchal version:
Passing through Jewish-Essenic and Roman-Mithraic sects into Christianity, this Persian doomsday became the familiar one in the west, with numerous details borrowed from the older Aryan paganism. The last Trump played on Gabreil's horn was originally played on Rig-Heimdall's "ringing horn" (Gjallarhorn). The Great Serpent slain by Thor in the final battle became identified with Satan. Like paganism's sacred dramas, the final drama of the earth's dissolution was divided into five acts. Christians even translated the Norse "Mother's Curse" as "Judgement Day" when they found it variously rendered Mutspell, Muspell, Muspelle, Mudspeller, or Muspilli.
Come to think of it, that passage in the Bible about there being a war in heaven and Satan being cast down is now starting to make more sense.

Indeed, many things are starting to make sense. It is also amazing, to see just how twisted and convoluted patriarchy can be. I am coming to believe nothing much in Myth and Religion makes sense until we peel back those patriarchal layers.

But before we take leave of this fascinating entry, it should be mentioned why Kali finds it necessary to wreak so much devastation:
"Due to the limited intelligence and lust of men in the Kali Yuga, they will be unable to recognize women as manifestations of the Shakti." Only a few may escape spiritual degeneration: those who are devoted "to the lotus of their mothers' feet and to their own wives."
So there you have it. You now know how to escape The Wrath of Gaia.

Be well!