History, Culture & Worship, Quotations on Pre-Christian Spirituality

“Man Fears Time, But Time Fears the Pyramids” (Quotations on Pre-Christian Spirituality)

Pyramid_of_Djoser_2010
The Pyramid Of Djoser

This isn’t exactly a quotation on spirituality per se, but it does appeal to my spiritual sensibilities anyway, so I’m making it part of this series.

Earlier today, I was reading Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, and I came across an Arab proverb that really resonated with me:

Man fears time, but time fears the pyramids.

This proverb reminds me of another quote by Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) that shares the same spirit:

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.

…And this quote in turn reminds me of one by Anita Roddick (October 23, 1942 – September 10, 2007):

If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just.

I interpret the Arab proverb to mean that decay and death are a fact of existence for human beings, but even so, humans can leave legacies that time has difficulty destroying. The earliest pyramid in Egypt is a step pyramid (a pyramid built out of progressively smaller “stepped” platforms, similar to Mesopotamian ziggurats, rather than the later pyramids with smooth sides) called the Pyramid of Djoser, constructed some 4,650 years ago, give or take a decade or so. Today, it still stands.

As the proverb implies, time has been unable to tear down the pyramids of Egypt. Each pyramid alone is a testament to the greatness of human endurance and the power of synergy, but the pyramids together are a testament to humankind’s ability to say “I have achieved inconceivable greatness before, and I will do it again and again.” It takes the concept of “impossible” and barrels through its walls, battering ram in its collective arms and declaring to what exists on the other side, “There is nothing in this universe that I cannot pull down from the heavens and grasp in my own mortal hands.”

Whatever you perceive as being your best, know that you are capable of better. No matter how long you toil, know that you can toil for another moment longer. For each successive piece of greatness that you manage to grasp, know that tomorrow, you will have an opportunity to reach higher. This is the miracle of being human: to be able to achieve the impossible, and then say, “Tomorrow I will achieve more.”

© Alixander F. D. Bragiteilen and Bragiteilen.com, 2018. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alixander F. D. Bragiteilen and Bragiteilen.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Quotations on Pre-Christian Spirituality

“Whatever Their Enlarged and Numerous Senses Could Perceive” (Quotations on Pre-Christian Spirituality)

William Blake - God Judging Adam
God Judging Adam (William Blake)

In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, the visionary poet and painter William Blake gave a succinct and powerful statement of the changes in religious worldview that occurred in the ancient world.

“The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities nations, and whatever their enlarged and numerous senses could perceive. And particularly they studied the genius of each city and country, placing it under its mental deity. Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of & enslaved the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects: thus began Priesthood. Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales. And at length they pronounced that the Gods had ordered such things. Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.”

The poet is talking about a loss of perception: “whatever their enlarged and numerous senses could perceive.” This loss resulted from the gradually increasing emphasis, started by the Greeks and continued with Christianity, on abstract conceptions of deity rather than on the direct, sensory perception of and communication with spirits that was the norm in polytheistic animism. The exceptions are the gnostics, and mystics and clairsentient poets, who cultivated and celebrated direct perception and sensuous awareness of the sacred aliveness of creation.

– Ralph Metzner, The Well of Remembrance: Rediscovering the Earth Wisdom Myths of Northern Europe

This is a perfect illustration of why it is only through a combination of revivalism and reconstructionism that pre-Christian religions will be able to prosper again. This combination will allow us to connect the old deities with the mechanical era in which we find ourselves, and to reconnect them with the natural world that is their homeland. So, if you maintain a UPG (unverified personal gnosis) that a certain deity is connected to traffic lights or factory work, but hesitate to make the connection public without tempering it through a process of more abstract association with pre-existing correspondences, don’t. If you see a god in those traffic lights? Well, all that means is that that’s one more place in the world where they can be found.

© Alixander F. D. Bragiteilen and Bragiteilen.com, 2018. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alixander F. D. Bragiteilen and Bragiteilen.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.