It’s easy to think of death and life as a binary in perpetual conflict. Something is either dead or alive, and alive things tend to do everything they can to rage, rage against the dying of the light. But, as Roderick notes, this is a peculiarity of Western philosophy and mythology. The Eastern groups tend to view the two as in interplay. Take, for example, the yin-yang symbol, which Roderick notes as depicting “the two aspects of mortal and immortal in natural union and harmony, with light and dark energies wrapped around, embracing one another.”
The spirit, magical realm doesn’t operate on the life/death divide. There’s just energy, and that energy can manifest in any form.
Today Roderick gives a prop filled magical working for the exercise which requires a couple 4×4 pieces of paper, a red pen, a dried evergreen herb, a dried perennial herb, a length of string, and a cauldron.
Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Relax your body completely. Imagine that you stand before two wooden boxes. One box is made of light-colored wood and the other is made of dark wood. Open the dark-wood box and you will find a single word that represents your mortal nature. This word represents the part of you that will pass with time. Remember the word. Now open the light-colored box. Inside you will find a single word that represents your immortal nature. Remember the word.
When you have seen both words, open your eyes. Write each word on a piece of paper. Take a pinch of the perennial herb and place it on the center of the paper with your immortal word written on it. Fold the paper into a tight bundle. Take a pinch of the evergreen herb and place it at the center of the paper with your mortal word written on it. Fold this paper into a tight bundle. Tie the two bundles together. Light a match and set the bundles on fire, allowing them to burn in the cauldron.
Watch as the aspects of both mortal and immortal become one ash. Keep this magical ash for a future ritual working.
I performed the working, and had surprisingly good success with the meditation. I probably should have put more magical “thought” into it, though…I was paying an awful lot of attention to my physical actions. But bundles I made and burn them I did. Now the ashes are contained in a little tea tin, waiting patiently for this future ritual working (though I have no idea when it comes…definitely not Imbolc, at least).
What I found most interesting were the words I found. My mortal box contained the word “Elizabeth,” and I had a strong sense it meant Queen Elizabeth I of England. The immortal box contained the word “adore.”
The fact that a proper name (and a face) was my mortal word unsettled me. It’s not something that can be precisely defined. I looked up some name etymology and found that it derives from the Hebrew Elisheva, which means “my God is an oath” or possibly “God is my abundance.” A Kaballah meaning notes that it contributes creative qualities to the bearer’s nature and that the bearer seeks harmony in her environment and personal associations. Moreover, it creates an urge to understand others, but frustrates response to this understanding and can undermine self-confidence.
I can sort of understand this as my mortal existence. I hold an oath to be one of the most sacrosanct things, and I am definitely the peace-maker in all my relationships. I also want to understand the way the world works, but the more I learn, the less I feel I can say anything substantial about it.
Of course, I also had the impression of a specific Elizabeth, too. Good Queen Bess is best known as the virgin queen and the monarch of a “golden age,” or a near utopia where mankind was pure and the arts and sciences flourished. As a ruler, Elizabeth is noted for her moderation, especially when compared to her father and sister. It saved her from many misfortunes.
Is my mortal nature one that chooses its battles carefully and maintains autonomy? And what of my immortal “adore?” It means “to worship as a deity, to pay honors to, or to regard with the utmost respect and affinity” according to the OED. It almost seems like a progression–in fact, it sort of seems like what happened to the figure of Queen Elizabeth: a flawed ruler practically deified after her death. It’s like the next step.
In any respect, it certainly is interesting.