Tag Archives: other

On Wild Urban Places

One question I see a lot and and take part in a lot of conversation is people living in urban areas desiring to connect with wild or untamed places. Side stepping the discussion of the human world verse the natural world, there is a part of most people that desires wild places. This desire is weaker or stronger in different people, but it’s there for most.

In a lot of parts of the New World, we’re lucky. I can get to mountain forest on land that’s never been cultivated in about half an hour, to set aside Open Spaces in five minutes, and to trail heads in 45 minutes where I can hike up into the wilderness and see maybe a person a day if that and be approached by none. The wild areas change as the landscape changes, but much of this hemisphere has these wild spaces. Much of Australia, Africa, and Asia have the same. Not every place, certainly, but its amazing how much wind space is left.

But I know most of Europe isn’t that lucky, and same for some of the larger urban areas in the rest of the world as well. It’s easy for people to say, well, drive somewhere, take a bus somewhere, etc, but when it’s an eight or twelve hour or more drive to get to the nearest wild place, this is prohibitive for most people. It costs money and requires time off work which can cost more. Those that can afford such, it’s awesome for them, but many people can’t do that, and need other options.

But the “wild” waits at the edge of the “civilized”, waiting to reclaim.

There are wild places in every city, places where the wild has crept back in. While they might not be untamed, they are re-feralled, if you will. Urban places gone feral. You can find them along waterways, in vacant lots or abandoned buildings, in alleys and access ways, at the forgotten ends of parks and cemeteries. Wherever “civilization” stops maintaining and grooming, the “wild” slips back in, takes hold, and slowly grows.

It’s a different type of wild, but it is wild, Other, luminal.

They aren’t easy to find, but looking with the right eyes, paying attention, really seeing, they are there to be found, waiting in the shadows and unnoticed places.

Dangerous places sometimes, with dangers much different from wilderness areas, for what is wild attracts what is wild. But it’s worth the risk, worth risking the dangers, to those who seek such.

Just be sure to keep yourself safe.

~Lorekeeper/Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on March 19, 2017 in muninnskiss


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The Importance of Horror

This time of year, with Halloween approaching, there are a lot more horror films watched, more horror elements in television shows, and more horror books read than any other part of the year. There is a marked focus in this direction, both in those pursuing watching and reading, and in those speaking against the genre. Many of these elements spill into daily life, in costumes worn to work, parties, bars, and anywhere else people can get away with it by using the season as an excuse.

Supernatural horror the only mainstream place where the elements that are often a part of more occult and esoteric interest appear. The very fact the genre (both in film and in literature, and also in art of many other forms) exists is interesting in itself.

The reason for the absence elsewhere is that people don’t want to consider the monstrous and strange, preferring to pretend everything is safe and normal and predictable. So it’s pushed to the edges. On the edges, we don’t have to look at it. We can pretend it’s not there and go about life feeling safe.

But the presence of the supernatural horror genre in all mediums means that while it’s pushed the edges, it’s not pushed out completely. People don’t want to confront it in a “normal” context, but they also can’t completely ignore or forget it either. The genre persists because there is always a part of us that knows that the “normal” by itself is not the whole story, that there would be a lacking if the Other is completely gone.

So people seek out the monstrous and strange and dangerous on occasion, as a reminder not to forget, then return to their “normal” world, content that the stuff they push to the edges is still at the edges, so not hidden closer and waiting.

This is the place not just of the genre, but of the edges themselves. Edges and boundaries define what is part and what is not, what is Self and what is Other, what is society and what is savage, what is cultivated and what is Wasteland or Wilderness. By dividing, they define. There is no boundary or edge if there isn’t something beyond it. There is no Self without Other. There is no civilized without the Monster. If what we don’t like or are afraid of isn’t at the edge, or across the boundary, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it means it has no place to be but here, where I am. If there is no monster out there, the monster is here, or the monster is me.

The separation of worlds, the Edge and the Veil, is a separation of perception, not a gap or abyss between worlds. Our world, our Dreaming, must be safe to us, so we push what isn’t safe to the edge, make it Other, make it the otherworld. And those that live in the otherworld, at the edges by our perception, push what isn’t safe to them to the edge, to their Other, making it the otherworld for them, our world. All things not safe for us, or that we don’t want, is there. All things not safe for them, or that they don’t want, is here. Two worlds mutually populating each other with their monsters, monsters who populate their world with monsters.

But those who walk between are monsters to both worlds, Other to all Selfs. Because they can be either, so are monsters that appear as normal, no matter which world they walk. And appearing normal in both, they also see both as normal, the accept the monstrous and strange as every day, as part of what makes up the whole. They have no edges, no borders, no law, no limits.

Because edges imply two sides, boundaries and borders are between two things. Laws define what can happen and cannot, or, what can happen without being pushed to the edges. Limits define what is possible, but if you approach a limit long enough, you can’t perceive where you are from where it is, and in effect reach it. And once you realize the limit, what stops you from passing it?

~Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on October 29, 2013 in muninnskiss


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Mercy and Judgement, Rules and Transgression: A Look at Left and Right Hands

I addressed this some in my post, Cup of Life, Cup of Death: The Two Hands of the Poisoner, and have touched on it in other posts, but I’d like to talk about it directly.

There is some confusion on the terms “left hand path” and “right hand path” due to misunderstandings of the terms. Ultimately, the terms refer to India Subcontinent practices, not to the Pillars in Kabbalah. The conflation of the two is actually contradictory.

The term in India refers to transgression.

Right hand paths are those that keep the restrictions, denying in order to break from the illusion we live in and escape the reincarnation cycle (another thing that causes confusion, as Western thought most often sees reincarnation as a good thing, but in Buddhism and the religions the West call Hinduism, reincarnation is a trap to be escaped). There are others, but the Vedic traditions are the most popular right hand paths. Those that follow the Vedas, the written rules, basically.

Left hand paths take the opposite approach, breaking free from the cycle through transgression. A set of practices that break the rules to break the illusion, seeing the rules as the framework that binds us into the illusion, and transgression as the way out. The most common left hand paths are the Tantric traditions (which is about far more than sex), which follow a set of Tantras, actions or practices, which are a sequence of deliberate violations of the Vedic restrictions, some traditions symbolically, some literally. But we also have those traditions that go a step further with the eating of rotting human corpses or living in piles of dung.

Now that’s the same application in the West. Right hand path is used to refer to rule-based religions or traditions that seek to be good and follow what is generally seen as acceptable by society. Left hand path is used for religions or traditions that transgress either the rules of a given right hand path or of accepted society.

But it gets confused, as the Kabbalah Pillars have been conflated with these. Because of the masculine nature of the Right Pillar and the feminine nature of the Left Pillar, people assume any path that is matriarchal or worships a female entity must be left hand and all left hand paths are matriarchal and worship the feminine. And that any right hand path is patriarchal and worships the masculine, and that any path meeting those must be right hand. But there are notable examples that contradict this.

Part of the confusion stems from the use of the words, “right” and “left”. It’s important to note the the India use of the words is from the Sanskrit words and is Indo-European in understanding, where as the Kabbalic use is from the Aramaic words (the language the Zohar is written in) and is Semitic in understanding.

The Sanskrit term translated as Left Hand Path is वाममार्ग, Vāmamārga. वाम, vāma does mean left, but more literally means in an opposite or different manner, contrary, or perverse. It also means beautiful or pretty or splendid, and also hard or cruel. मार्ग, mārga, means passage, path, route, way, journey, walk, search, course. The Sanskrit term translated Right Hand Path is दक्षिणमार्ग, Dakṣiṇamārga. Literally it means “southern course”. दक्षिन, dakṣiṇa, means south but also right. This dual definition makes sense if you stand facing the sun at sunrise. South is to your right, north is to you left, the opposite of dakṣiṇa, opposite of south. Consider that India is at the south end of Asia. All of Asia is to the north. The English word north is of Germanic origin, a people on the north part of Europe, with most of Europe to the south. North comes from *ner ultimately, a Proto-Indoeuropean word meaning left, but also below. Standing facing the rising sun, the north is one the left, hence the name. In India, the land people live in is south of the mountains, north of the mountains is other, opposite, different, vāma.

In Hebrew and Aramaic, right hand is יָמִין, yamiyn, and left hand is שְׂמֹאל, semowl. Yamiyn means right hand, the direction right, and south, for the same reason dakṣiṇa means south and right. Likewise, semowl means left hand, the direction left, and north. Yamiyn comes from יָמַן, yaman, meaning to choose the right, go right, use the right hand, be right handed. Yaman is likely connected to אָמַן, ‘aman, to support, confirm, be faithful, to support with an arm, to carry a child. It has the sense of the bare arm used to hold a child, the left being covered with cloth, and in the the sense of swearing an oath or making an agreement, with the right hand reached out, the left hidden. We see similar in semowl, which is likely related to שִׂמְלָה, simlah, meaning wrapper, mantle, covering garment, garments, clothes, raiment, a cloth. It could be argued that the idea of the right hand being used for agreements and the left hand concealed relating directly to the Sanskrit idea of the left being contrary and the right being that which is normal. But this ignores the fact that the Zohar refers to the right hand as יד הגדולה, the great hand, and the left hand as יד החזקה, the strong hand. They are considered the two hands of G-d, though the Zohar refers to a third and fourth hand as well. This contradicts the idea that the right hand is that which is agreeable and good and the left hand the opposite and evil. The symbolism is different. The revealed hand, the right, is the one stretched forth in agreement, but the concealed hand, the left, holds the knife of judgment, which becomes the sword of fire at the gate to the Garden, swinging in all directions.

The other source of confusion comes from Lilith in the Zohar coming from the Left Side. We focus on her as transgressor, so assume the Left Side in the Zohar is transgressive, as with Left Hand Path in India. This, however, is not the case. There’s a second term also used, the Other Side, which does refer to evil and transgression. But it is not the same as the Left Side. Other Side is אַחֵר שְׁטַר, sitra achra or shetar ‘acher, sitra meaning side, achra meaning other or different, very much the sense of vāma. Lilith came from the Left Side in the Zohar. Sammuel might be from the Right, though the similarity between his name and semowl is striking, the two words sharing the same Hebrew letters. But in the Zohar, together they lead the Other Side, Lilith as the Serpent and Sammuel riding on her back. Lilith is from the Left Side, so she finds comfort after Adam and Eve are kicked out near the sword of fire that flashes all directions, Geburah manifest, that guards the Garden.

The Left Side is defined by its centre, Geburah, and the Right Side by its centre, Chesed. Judgement and Mercy. The Left Side is not transgression and allowance, it’s judgement and restriction. It is the rules and their consequences. The Right Side is not rules and denial, it is mercy and expansion. The Left by itself restricts and denies all. The Right by itself expands and allows all. Just the opposite of left hand vāma and right hand.dakṣiṇa.

So conflating the two concepts of left and right just brings confusion.

~Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on March 21, 2013 in muninnskiss


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