Friday, 26 February 2010

Temper, Temper!

From The Instructions of Amenemope, Chapter 4:

The truly temperate man sets himself apart,

He is like a tree grown in a sunlit field,

But it flourishes, it doubles its yield,

it stands before its owner;

Its fruit is something sweet, its shade is pleasant.

The name under which this blog is filed, along with the username I chose for this account, are neither accidental nor wholly connected with my current fangirling of the TV series Bones. While it is sometimes true that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, I have also found that the excesses tend to build up intolerably inside the palace, making a muddled mess from which nothing much good ever comes. What I crave these days is restraint, control, moderation: that is, temperance.

I love the imagery of the tarot card you see at the top of the post. It's from a deck I don't own and have never read, but it is evocative in a different way than the more traditional presentation of the card. There are a wealth of layers to the concept of Temperance, beyond those attributes I listed above; it carries with it also the idea of alchemy (yes, Crowley got that one right in the Thoth deck), of the union of seeming opposites, of water-into-wine and wine-into-water, two becoming one becoming more, following the law until the law is broken and the very idea of law has been transcended. (For more, and perhaps more coherent, commentary, I suggest this page at Aeclectic Tarot; it's late and I'm descending into incomprehensibly figurative speech.) It speaks to me powerfully at this stage of my life, so I've made the concept the keynote of this blog--for now, at least, until that exploration leads me elsewhere.

I find that I want to stand apart from the teeming masses of my assorted co-religionists, so much so that it's very difficult some days for me to claim the name of "pagan." I have for most of my life felt apart from others, the odd girl out for various reasons beyond the scope of the present post, but willfully setting myself apart is a rather novel exercise in which I've been engaged now for a few weeks. The experiment thus far has primarily involved altering my appearance: taking more care with it, dressing mindfully and with a specific image in mind, using makeup and hairstyling with intent, and--yes, doing my level best to look like anything but what you might immediately envision when you think of a modern neo-pagan person. I'm starting to feel a pull toward altering my speech, as well; paradoxically, freeing my inner pedant and giving free rein to my love of big words is starting to moderate my tendency toward lax speech and careless profanity. My archaic (that is, weird) speech patterns were one of the things that caused a divide between me and my peers growing up; my written expressions got me accused of plagiarism by more than one teacher who refused to believe an unprepossessing little kid like me could write like that!

Um, note that I never said I planned to exercise moderation in the volume of my discourse!

At any rate, if magic(k) is indeed the art of causing change in conformity with will, then the current exercise is already proving fruitful. The fruit to me is sweet, and my partner concurs. I've long felt my proper place would always be the space between, the middle road, the twilight space where the owl roosts and observes. Temperance is the key to that place, and Amenemope knew it too.

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