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On Veils and Webs and Hedges…

Much folklore, tradition, and mythology talk of a boundary, an edge, a division between worlds. Why this is common should be fairly evident. If there is an Otherworld, Underworld, any type of world beyond ours, if there was no separation, there would be no other world, the two would be one. For the two to be distinct, or function as distinct, something must divide them.

There are different words in different languages and cultures, different meanings, different methods to cross this boundary. But the boundary is constant, because it has to be. If there’s another world, there is a boundary making these worlds distinct.

One common word used in English is the Veil. This is the term I most commonly use. As do many others.

The term brings to mind for some the veils of nuns or brides, the veils of mourners, the veils of Islamic women. For others, it brings to mind the veils of belly dancers, or harems, or erotic chambers. For others still, it brings to mind the curtain between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the temple in Jerusalem, and of the verse in the New Testament of that veil torn in two from top to bottom.

These imaginings of the Veil are useful, of course they are. But how accurate are they? Why do we use the term, and do our images match the reality the term is trying to describe.

Lets start with the meaning of Veil, and it’s origins.

veil (n.)
c.1200, “nun’s head covering,” from Anglo-French and Old North French veil (12c., Modern French voile) “a head-covering,” also “a sail, a curtain,” from Latin vela, plural of velum “sail, curtain, covering,” from PIE root *weg- (1) “to weave a web.” Vela was mistaken in Vulgar Latin for a feminine singular noun. To take the veil “become a nun” is attested from early 14c.
(http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=veil)

The beginning of this description of course is some of the uses we described above, a head covering, a curtain. But note first the Latin vela, velum. Despite it’s use as singular, vela is plural, and that is the word we get veil from, not the singular. Of interest, though, is that the Latin velum also becomes the English velum, which is the soft palate, the roof of the mouth. A veil is thin and covers, but it isn’t necessarily cloth or fragile.

Of more interest is the fact that Velum comes the reconstructed *weg- meaning “to weave a web”. It is the image of a spider’s web across a surface or over an opening. Have you ever walked into a room or cave or cavern or between trees and walked right into a spider web at face level? That is a veil.

Web comes from the same word and so does weave. These two retained that meaning well. Most of the words coming from this root mean something along the lines of entwined, interlaced, woven.

But, as words do change meaning over time, do these meanings hold relevance to our Veil, the way we use it in the context of this discussion?

Consider for a moment, the idea of the endless Web of Fate I have described elsewhere. Each being, human or not, has a knot of Threads at their core, that tie them to everything else. These Threads interconnect with other Threads of those we encounter and interact with, and to our ancestors by blood, lore, or past lives. These form a multidimensional Web, woven by the one who weaves. I describe the web like this:

“Picture a spider web, a huge orb web, threads of web radiating out in all directions on a plane from a central point. Picture those threads connected to other threads between them, forming circles, spirals, curves around that centre. Picture the log thread stretching from the central point out to infinity in all directions, an infinite web. Picture the way the light shines through and across those threads, sometimes making them shine like glass, sometimes hiding them from view. Sometimes you see one thread, or three, or ten, sometimes just the part of the web near you. Lift your head, change the angle. You see the whole web sprawling out to eternity in the direction you are looking.”

What if this Web I describe is the boundary between worlds? What if it is our woven interconnectedness throughout Time and Space that separates us from that which is outside our Time and Space? If this is the case, the Web that binds us together holds us in what we think is reality. This would make crossing over that boundary very difficult, because we ourselves become the sentilils and guards, the Guardians of the Gate if you will. All our experiences and pasts and futures and interactions in this world tie us deeper into the Web and more to what we think is reality. People tend to see what they expect to see.

But, then, crossing that boundary also would mean being disentangled from it. Not necessarily cut free (after the one who cuts cuts our Thread, we cross the Gates of Life and Death; completely cut free of the Web is freedom from this world and our bodies, for the Threads are what knits flesh and spirit, spirit and flesh) but loosed. So, to cross over, the knots that hold us to what we know and expect of reality must be loosened and the Threads allowed to bend. The Threads of Fate but be bent, Fate must be bent.

Consider for a moment the word “warp”. In most common usages in Modern English, it is to “to bend, twist, distort”. This word is believed to come from the reconstructed Proto-Indoeuropian *werp- meaning “to turn or bend”. In weaving, it is used in contrast to “woof”, the woof being the set threads in the loom, the warp twisting and turning through the woof, bending it, to create a fabric. “Woof” comes from *webh- meaning “to weave”, which is the source of both our English weave, web, and wave.

If the Web of Fate is the boundary between worlds, and the All as a loom, and we see it as the woof in that loom, the threads that aren’t connected to the woof that twist and turn between them and bend them become the warp. The warp bends the woof, the weave, the Web. Without a warp in a loom, there is no fabric. Cut the ends and the woof is a pile of strings. But with the warp wove through the woof, a fabric forms. The warp hold the woof in place, and of course gives it colour and pattern. The woof is the foundation, but the warp defines its form.

Some Celtic sources describe the worlds as the Endless Knot, two separate lines interwoven but never connecting. The is of course the two worlds, the world we know, and the Otherworld. The two are seen as being tied together in certain places, and the Veil being thinnest there. Places meaning points on the earth, spatial places, and points in time, temporal places. At certain locations, the Veil is very thin because the worlds are so close. At certain times, liminal times, the worlds draw close, and the Veil thins. This idea of two interwoven worlds fits well the idea of the fabric of the Veil being the interweaving of the woof, our world, and the Threads that connect us, and the warp, the Otherworld and the Threads that connect those that live beyond the Veil, beyond the Gloom out in the endless Gleam.

Then, expanding the metaphor, and the reality it describes, crossing over is a matter of being tied to that other Web, that is the warp, which would mean that those who cross over are tied to both webs, that the Threads at their core run both out into the Woof Web of Fate and the Warp Web of Fate. They span the worlds, are the Gates, and guardians thereof, they are of both worlds, so not fully of either.

It’s by no accident that one of the folk etymologies for “witch” is that it came from a word meaning “to bend or turn”. Especially when we consider that the English “weird”, from the Germanic “wyrd”, urdr, ultimately meaning Fate, and is the name of one of the three Norns in Norse myth, comes from *wert-, from *wer-, the origin of *werp- we discussed above, “to bend or turn”. The warp of the loom, the wyrd, the fate, the Norns who decide the fate of all beings, the Spinner who spins the Thread, the Weaver who weaves it into the Webs, and the Cutter who cuts to on the Black Altar. The Grimr.

Moving on from weaving and webs and veils, let’s consider another common term for the boundary between worlds, the Hedge.

The image here is English style hedgerows of the type that separate fields or surround a residence. These form a living, wild boundary between two fields, or between what is inside and what is outside. For metaphoric purposes, we can use the image of a hedge around a residence, separating the inside and the outside.

Taking this idea back, and looking at the residence with a hedge around as an extension of the hill fort with a baracade or the castle or city with a wall, the inside becomes “us” and the outside “them”, the hedge as protection from the Other beyond it. Inside, we cultivate and control, we build and grow crops, we live life in relative safety. Outside, there’s uncertainty, danger, the settled, civilized farming settlement with the dangerous dark wood beyond, the image of the shift from nomadic to settled life.

The hedge is a wild and dangerous place, but intentionally so. There’s a reason two of the most common hedge trees are the whitethorn (hawthorn) and blackthorn (sloethorn). While pretty trees, and both producing fruit (the haws and sloes) that provide food for those within and without alike, and to birds and rodents and other animals, the thorns are the important part. These are thicket forming trees with long, dangerous thorns. The blackthorn’s thorns will cause nasty infections, and both are long and very sharp. You can’t cross the hedge without a lot of pain and threat to your body. Among the thorns creatures live and other plants, including other trees, grow intermixed. The result is a very dense wild boundary almost impossible to cross.

The hedge, though, being a wild space, also becomes a space where many herbs and other plants grow, giving rise to one of the two major modern usages of the term “hedgewitch”. The second meaning relates more to the hedge metaphor I’m going toward than the mundane hedgerows.

Often stiles are built where passage is needed. Stairs up one side and down the other, these triangular constructions allow passage over the hedge, the only safe passage. And these often can be gated at the top, and also mean limited known ingress and egress points.

Our hedge is like that, a wild space that both keeps us in, we that live in the Dreaming, the reserve if you will, and keeps the Other out, the deadly things that roam the Gleam, dangerous things our hedge protects us from. The hedge itself is dangerous to both, but limited and defined, a wild place that keeps the inward inward and outward outward.

The thin spots we talked about above function similar to stiles, but it should be remembered that what allows one to go outside the hedge also allows one to come inside the hedge. The stiles both allow passage out into the Gleam through the Gloom and become a dangerous gateway for things to possibly come into the Dreaming.

Just like with the mundane hedgerow, there are things in this hedge that can provide healing and nourishment, and things that are poisonous or deadly. Those who enter the hedge can gain much for it, but also must be cautious. And those that cross completely through or over the hedge instead of riding it must be very careful, because there’s a reason we live inside the hedge. The risk can definitely be worth it, though.

FFF,
~Lorekeeper, Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on July 24, 2015 in muninnskiss

 

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The Spider’s Song: I Made an Offering of Wind…

I made an offering of wind upon the altar of dust.  ~Grimr

In the beginning was a song.  The song.  The only song there ever was, and ever will be.  It was a love song, and a song of loneliness.  It was a song of joy and sorrow, of love and loss, of peace and war, of life and death.  It was the song of creation, the song of all things.  It was the spider’s song.

It began with one note, ringing out through the outer darkness, like a single bell rang in a place of silence, or a the first harp string plucked.  It was a pure note, perfect, the only note that could pierce that silence, the silence of the outer dark.  It was the voice of the Nagara, the single note that was all, the love song of the Nagara to the Nagara, deep calling out to deep.  And it hung there in the darkness like a spark of light, like a seed, like a single harp string, or a single thread.  It was the first thread of the web, a single thread in the abyss of the outer darkness, a note ringing for none to hear.

And it echoed.  That single note reflected back on itself, reflecting off that which is not, the dark curve of the darkness.  It echoed back and in doing so, it changed, not the same as it was going out.  It rang in harmony with itself, a perfect harmonic, a perfect fifth.  The danced, round and round, catalyst and nexus, nexus and catalyst.  And so, one note became two, one thread became two, both vibrating in the darkness of the abyss, in the outer darkness, the first two threads of the web.  Two notes, hearing each other, responding to each other, first in dissonance, then in consonance, the dance of the twins.

From their play a third note arose.  It vibrated between them, both notes moving the third, the perfect third, a chord in the silence of the dark.  Three notes ringing out, moving, shifting.  A perfect chord.  Three mothers, three weavers each moving each other.  Three threads hanging in the abyss, the first three threads of the web.

But the song wasn’t finished.  The chord grew and the perfect seventh came forth, four notes, four threads, stretching out into the abyss in four directions, four winds.  And still the song grew, for where there’s a first, a third, a fifth, a seventh, there, too, there’s a second, a fourth, and a sixth.  Seven notes ringing out through the darkness, and a melody formed, the vibrations of the web.  Seven builders, seven keepers, seven guardians.

Breath.  What is breath?  Breath is life, for even many one celled life take in oxygen and need it to live.  Breath is wind, for it is the movement of gas, in or out.  There is no breath in a vacuum.

Breath.  What is breath?  Breath is the most basic of sounds.  From it comes the vowel sounds in all oral languages, the sounds made without obstruction, without build up.  Sound passing through only changed in sound by the narrowness or movement of the side it passes between.  It is outward moving air, unblocked, unfettered, unbound, loosed.

Breath, vowels, are the first notes of music, pure sound, untempered.  They are the notes of the sound of the music, of a song, the song, the first song.  They are the beginning.

Breath bound, tied, constrained, blocked, fettered, becomes consonants.  As the vowels are given form, as the tent pole is raised, the bound vowels becomes first Three Mothers, then Seven Doubles, then Twelve Singles.  22 consonants, 22 letter.  Two Dancers, Three Weavers, Seven Builders, twelve in all, twelve notes, twelve threads, Twelve Watchers.

And consonants gather around vowels, the bound around the loosed, and words form.  Words, symbols of ideas.  And the complexity grows, the song grows.  Three Mothers, Seven Doubles, Twelve Singles, 22 consonants, 29 sounds, become 231 Gates, each gate a pair of consonants, the first and the fifth.  And the 231 Gates are joined by others, 20 consonants added to the beginning, to the middle, to the end, 13,860 roots if none repeat.  And roots combine to be words, and words combine to form sentences, and sentences combine to form paragraphs, and paragraphs combine to form chapters, and chapters combine to form books, and books combine to form sets and series, and sets and series combine to form shelves, and shelves combine to form racks, and racks combine to form rows, and rows combine to form stacks, and stacks combine to form floors, that the whole world is a library, the 10,000 things.

Every note holds power.  Every breath holds power.  Every vowel holds power.  Every sound holds power.  Every consonant holds power.  Every word holds power, every sentence, every paragraph.  And the longer they exist, the more they are used, the more their power grows.

Stand in a used bookstore or library.  Look at all those books.  How many are there?  How many words do they contain? How many letters do those words contain?  Each sound is a note in the song, the song of creation.  Each sound is a vibration in the web that is all, stretched across the face of the deep, the abyss, the outer darkness.  How much power is in those pages?  What secrets?  What notes?

Now think of the world.  How many books are in the world?  Right now.  And how many words in each one?

Now think of all time.  How many books have there been?  How many will there be?  And how many words in each one?

Now realize that books are just the ideas, the thoughts, the words that have been written down.  They are written language.  They have meaning because of the oral language that spawned them, the consonants with bound flow, the vowels with looses flow.  The power is in that oral language, the written is only that small piece that was written down, loosed power bound into a page.  How many words are spoken that are never recorded?  Each is a note in the song, the song of creation, the spider’s song.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.  And God said: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.” ~Genesis 1:1-3 JPS 1917 Edition of the Hebrew Bible in English

“darkness was upon the face of the deep” – וּ וְחֹשֶׁךְ עַל-פְּנֵי תְהוֹם – v choshek ‘al-peniy tehowm

וּ – v – and

וְחֹשֶׁךְ – choshek – darkness, obscurity, secret place

עַל-פְּנֵי – ‘al-peniy – the face, the presence, the person, the surface of, that which is in front of, before, toward

תְהוֹם – tehowm – deep, depths, deep places, abyss, sea, ocean, abyss, grave

“spirit of God” – וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים – Ruwach ‘elohiym – Ruach Elohim

רוּחַ – Ruwach, Ruach – breath, wind, air, gas, spirit, vivacity, vigour, courage, temper, anger, desire, sorrow, will, energy of life

אֱלֹהִים – ‘elohiym, Elohim – rulers, judges, divine ones, angels, gods, god, goddess, godlike one, G-d

“hovered over the face of the waters” – מְרַחֶפֶת עַל-פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם – mrachaphit ‘al-peniy mayim

מְ – m – from

רַחֶפֶת – rachaphit – to grow soft, relax, to hover

עַל-פְּנֵי – ‘al-peniy – the face, the presense, the person, the surface of, that which is in front of, before, toward

הַמָּיִם – mayim – water, waters, urine, springs, fountains, flood

So we could read is as:

“and the secret place was upon the surface of the ocean, and the breath of the rulers settled upon the surface of the water.”

or:

“and that which hides the face of the abyss, the wind of the gods, from the face of the water.”

or:

“and darkness was the presence of the grave, the temper of the gods toward the flood.”

But, a bit of a tangent.

Ruach is breath, but also wind and life.  Ruach is also, in Kabbalah, part of the soul.  In this way, it is the emotions, will, and energy of life.

The Breath.  The Soul.  The Wind.  Life.  Ruach, hovering above the waters of the abyss, in the darkness, is the notes of the song, which are also the threads of the web.

In the beginning was a song.
The song.
The only song there ever was, and ever will be.
It was a love song, and a song of loneliness.
It was a song of joy and sorrow, of love and loss, of peace and war, of life and death.
It was the song of creation, the song of all things.
It was the spider’s song.

I made an offering of wind upon the altar of dust.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2013 in muninnskiss

 

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Picture a Spider Web

<img src='https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-zYlBmiYhGy8/UKfUv_JRFDI/AAAAAAAAAKk/MKRZOl95vHo/s288/1.jpg' border='0' width='281' height='187' align='left' float='left' style='margin:5px' alt='"orb web." Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 17 Nov. 2012.
‘>
Picture a spider web, a huge orb web, threads of web radiating out in all directions on a plane from a central point. Picture those threads connected to other threads between them, forming circles, spirals, curves around that centre. Picture the log thread stretching from the central point out to infinity in all directions, an infinite web. Picture the way the light shines through and across those threads, sometimes making them shine like glass, sometimes hiding them from view. Sometimes you see one thread, or three, or ten, sometimes just the part of the web near you. Lift your head, change the angle. You see the whole web sprawling out to eternity in the direction you are looking.

Now picture a spider, an orb spider with eight hairy legs and eight black shining eyes. She sits at the middle of the web, sits at that centre, all the threads radiating out from her. Her eight legs rest across them, the sensitive hairs on each leg able to detect the slightest vibrations from anywhere on the infinite web. With her eight eyes, she looks out across the shining threads, watching for change. Watch her. When she’s still, she is the web. Everything that touches it touches her. She feels the slightest breeze, the movement of the branches and surfaces holding the infinite web, every piece of dirt or leaf that lands on its sticky threads. And that insect that lands on it? She knows it’s struggles, knows it’s not something large enough to run and hide from. She knows it’s not inanimate like dirt or a leaf. She knows it’s prey, knows what to do with it. She and the web are one. What the web knows, she knows. What the web feels she feels. She is each thread, each junction. She is all.

A thread breaks and she knows, no matter where it is on the infinite web. She moves to that point, knowing where it happened and when, because it is an extension of her. She works quickly to repair it or replace it before the weakness, the unraveling, the damage brings the whole web down. She is a weaver, attaching a new thread, running it over to where it needs to connect. She is a repairman, pulling both ends to herself, lashing thread around a broken thread to repair it. The web is her, if the web is lost, she is lost. She is quick. She is accurate. She is attentive.

Something large hits the web. She knows what it is, or at least that it’s not prey, could be danger. She moves across the web, hides at the borders, waits for whatever it is to leave. She knows it is dangerous and that her life is more important. She waits. She is patient. When the web stops moving and she can feel whatever it was is gone, she ventures out to inspect the web.

A part of the web is damaged. Some object or being fell or moved through it. It doesn’t matter what. The threat is gone. She begins repairs. Replacing the threads, reforming the web. She needs the web and it needs her. It is a time to rebuild, all else can wait.

The web is whole. She returns to the centre and waits. She feels, she watches. She is the web. She feels something hit the bed, something small, something moving. Prey. She moves quickly, bites the prey inflicting her poison, binds the prey, lets it die. She can feed now as she has time.

Picture a spider web, a huge orb web, threads of web radiating out in all directions on a plane from a central point. Picture those threads connected to other threads between them, forming circles, spirals, curves around that centre. Picture the log thread stretching from the central point out to infinity in all directions, an infinite web. Picture the way the light shines through and across those threads, sometimes making them shine like glass, sometimes hiding them from view. Sometimes you see one thread, or three, or ten, sometimes just the part of the web near you. Lift your head, change the angle. You see the whole web sprawling out to eternity in the direction you are looking.

If you can, picture that web not in two dimensions, a infinite web on a plane, but three dimensional, the guide lines stretching not on a plane but in all directions. Picture the threads connecting all of them, not just on a flat plane. Picture an infinite web in all directions, like the light of a star from its centre, with cross threads connecting each ray.

Now, if you can, picture that web in six dimensions, three dimensional in space but also three dimensional in time, infinite in all directions, not just space as we know it. And picture more dimensions and more dimensions, an infinite dimensions of an infinite number of threads, infinite webs, all one web.

Now picture a spider, an orb spider with eight hairy legs and eight black shining eyes. She sits at the middle of the web, sits at that centre, all the threads radiating out from her. Her eight legs rest across them, the sensitive hairs on each leg able to detect the slightest vibrations from anywhere on the infinite web. With her eight eyes, she looks out across the shining threads, watching for change. Watch her. When she’s still, she is the web. Everything that touches it touches her. She feels the slightest breeze, the movement of the branches and surfaces holding the infinite web, every piece of dirt or leaf that lands on its sticky threads. And that insect that lands on it? She knows it’s struggles, knows it’s not something large enough to run and hide from. She knows it’s not inanimate like dirt or a leaf. She knows it’s prey, knows what to do with it. She and the web are one. What the web knows, she knows. What the web feels she feels. She is each thread, each junction. She is all.

That spider is you.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2012 in muninnskiss

 

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