Into the Abyss

Lost in the woods on

My morning jog, I found my

Way and returned home.

But everything had

Changed. My cherished wife was now

My foe, having been

Instructed on the great

Litany of my wrongs by

Some unknown scribe. She

Viewed me askance, and

All my efforts to engage

Were thwarted. Broken,

Dissolute, the streets

I wandered until

The beat of some infernal

Drum summoned me to

March, in a crowd of

Damned like me. We followed the

Rhythm, to our doom.

Rats

I dreamed I was a student or teacher, and had a bucket of rats that were tame and very good pets, as good or better than dogs. They had various patterns to their coats, more like hamsters.

I passed them around to the class, who petted them. I talked about the book “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.”

I remember we had several hamsters when I was growing up. When I was 13, for my science fair, my dad bought thirty white Sprague-Dawley rats for me to keep in the bathroom, to do an experiment about whether their learning would transfer from one maze to another, versus just the specific maze experience.

I was supposed to pet all the rats every day so that the experiment wasn’t confounded by anxiety towards humans.

I didn’t have much experience raising rodents. In their aquarium cage, they knocked over the water dish. Some of the rats got dehydrated, probably died, and were cannibalized by their fellows. I found bones and a tail.

I was horrified. Did I tell my Dad? I don’t remember. But I avoided them. My Dad got mad at me for not socializing them enough, but it was traumatizing.

I got a “Superior” ribbon for the science fair, but wasn’t selected for the State finals.

The dream probably springs from an insight I had yesterday, that I needed to be a super scientist to make up for my failings as a kid to my Dad. I’m a physician repeating my final year of residency, studying for my boards, which I’ve failed twice already. I’ve been pretty depressed for a few years now, and the dynamic with my Dad weighs on me, though he’s pretty supportive now.

The dream was probably some wish fulfillment, about how, since I didn’t socialize the rats, the experiment failed, so now I was making sure all the dream rats were socialized.

Vultures

The vultures are eyeing me, staring me down. They look hungry, ready to rend me limb from limb. I have to keep moving.

I can smell the stench of carrion around me. I cough, I gag, I continue to crawl.

One lands in front of me, and screeches in my face; I reach out to shoo it away, try and scare it off with my last, fading breath. I pick up a branch near me and swat at the bird. It flies away.

I keep one foot in front of the next, lurching onward. The sun beats down upon me, and I swallow, my throat parched, feeling like a single sheet of tissue.

How did I end up like this? Where had I gone wrong? My head spins; I feel like I’ve been walking for my entire life. Fatigue tears at my shoulders, pulling me down. I can’t stop, I have to remember who I am and what I’m trying to do.

I feel the rush of feathers on my back as the vulture comes at my back; I whirl around and smack him with my open hand, and he flies off. Only then do I feel where his beak tore my back, the new hole in my shoulder. The pain staggers me when it comes. I keep moving, and hold the bloody wound closed.

Sweat closes my eyes. I swipe them free with my bloodied hand, and smear my face with blood. God, what’s happened to me?

If I can reach shelter, I can keep the birds away, so they won’t tear my flesh further. I need water, there has to be water here in this desert, somewhere.

Ahead, over the rise, something dark breaks the yellow sand. Rock? There could be moisture on one of its sides, there could be some kind of vegetation.

The vultures flit before me, shading my burned face in alternating moments. I hear them screaming, circling faster and faster.

I kneel at the rock, which is dry and hot to the touch. I snatch at the sharp edges, trying to pull it out, cursing, stomping on it with what’s left of my boot. Finally a sharp shard breaks free, and I stand, with what might be the last of my strength.

The vulture screeches toward me flying faster. I strike out as it gets closer.

I crush its stupid fucking head.

Jonah and Cthulhu

Jonah is a story in the Bible that’s taught frequently in Sunday School. It’s very accessible to kids, because the imagery is concrete. Jonah doesn’t obey God, gets thrown in the ocean, swallowed by a whale, and then obeys God. It’s about doing the right thing even when you don’t want to, and taking your punishment when it’s dished out. For kids, it’s like a lecture from their parents.

There’s more to this story. Think about the Cthulhu mythos of HP Lovecraft. Then, look at the story again. A storm rages in the sea, and a lone boat rocks among the waves. The sailors are begging and pleading with their gods, for someone, something to calm the storm. Finally, they find a stranger, and ask if his god could do anything for them. He says that his god demands a sacrifice. They sacrifice him to the sea.

Three days later, the man comes out of the water, stinking of fish and rot, like a demon from hell. He walks into the King’s court, and demands that they kneel to his god. Everyone expects the king to have him executed. The king bows down, sits in a pile of ashes. He commands no one will eat or drink in his kingdom. The people and the kingdom survives.

It’s a dark, murky tale of brutality and death, a warlike, destroyer god waiting in the wings to wreak havoc. But the message that god sends isn’t, “you will die,” but, “I don’t want you to die.” Jonah is one of the first narratives in the Old Testament to mark the transition from a tribal, nationalist mindset, where each country has their own god, to a religion shared by multiple cultures and nations. It’s a move away from the genocidal mindset in which countries had to be slaughtered by the Hebrews by God’s command. Jonah went through his death and rebirth so that the people of Nineveh could be saved.

“Oannes, in Mesopotamian mythology, an amphibious being who taught mankind wisdom. Oannes, as described by the Babylonian priest Berosus, had the form of a fish but with the head of a man under his fish’s head and under his fish’s tail the feet of a man. In the daytime he came up to the seashore of the Persian Gulf and instructed mankind in writing, the arts, and the sciences. Oannes was probably the emissary of Ea, god of the freshwater deep and of wisdom.” (Encylopedia Britannica)

To me, the story of Jonah and Oannes are very similar. It speaks of a time when people were instructed by an individual who came from the sea in a time of crisis and helped them survive. Jesus references Jonah, and says that he will also die for three days and then return.

Mark Booth, in the Secret History of the World, explains that narratives in scripture and mythology are often depicted with anatomically modern humans. This process distorts the original meaning of the texts, which are symbolic narratives about the history of humanity as a species. Humans and hominids were originally semi-aquatic, and before that were aquatic.

Aquatic Ape Theory | The Aquatic Ape

Saturn and Venus

I’ve been thinking about Saturn and Venus in an astrotheological context, and considering the archetypes present in culture.

In the Avengers movies, Thanos is Saturn. His character originates from Titan, a moon of Saturn. He wants to bring order and balance to the universe, like Saturn, and he will kill his children to do so.

Gamora is Venus, green like new life, alluring and deadly like nature. Saturn must kill life to create order. When his task is finished, he is killed by Thor, the Sun god. Of note, Thor has lost his eye, like his father Odin did for wisdom, and also like Horus.

Here is the Thoth Tarot card of the Universe, followed by stills from Avengers: Infinity War. The imagery of the woman contending with Saturn, crushing the head of the snake, foreshadows the use of time travel to defeat Thanos. Gamora is resurrected by time travel, at the cost of her love for Quill and redemptive arc. Without graves, there would be no resurrection, to quote Nietzsche.

Death is the secret of life. These are ideas I’ve been playing with lately, like in this poem, “Die Daily.” I learned on Monday that I failed my board exam, and that my months of effort had been fruitless, while everyone else in my class passed. I’m going through the grief process, and reconciling myself to retaking it in June, after some intense, transformative study.

I decided to get an apartment near my work, and live apart from my wife and three children for the next three months while I study. It will save me a ninety minute commute daily, and allow me to do what I need to. I can’t help but feel like I’ve let them down. It’s wrenching to think about my kids without me.

But the core of Saturn, Death and order, is diamond. The rain on Saturn is diamonds. Link to article. Extreme pressure turns our dirt into beauty.

Further thought on Saturn and Venus; this passage makes me think that Jesus was Venus to the apostles, and his father was Saturn:

John 15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

Dreams in the Night

The bright boy with problems got separated from his group. He’s alone in a dark tunnel in the frozen winter. I don my winter gear and proceed into the tunnel to attempt a rescue without scaring him off.

The girl is the daughter of the sister, not the mother. The sister warms to her daughter.

Young lovers laugh. The father returns to put an end to what he thinks is mockery, but is actually not about him at all. He drives a nail into the young man’s back though his shoulder armor.

I think of what a relief it would be to have a nail driven into my back.