Friends like Amber
Haley’s Comet, 1835. Artist: John Martin
“As above, so below.” I thought that was an old bit of wisdom from China, upon further research, I’m not so sure of that. I do try to look up the things I know before blogging about them, because amazingly enough, much of what I was taught in school and picked up here and there through the years turns out to be so much hooey. To be fair, my memory may have garbled some stuff too. I went on Google Earth recently and looked up some of my old haunts as a child, turns out many of those memories are garbled too. We moved around a lot when I was a kid, stuff I thought was near one house was actually in other cities we lived in, etc. Or maybe the theories about alternate universes are true, my memories are correct, but somehow I’ve managed to slip into an alternate universe that is slightly different than the one I grew up in. This line of thought could easily lead to speculation that the real issue is my sanity, to which I answer…one has to be a little bit insane to live on this planet.
The phrase “as above, so below” apparently has a long history in western magical thinking. It’s a meme or idea that runs throughout many cultures. At its core it means what so many philosophers, mystics, and thinkers have discovered. Everything in the universe is connected to everything else, what happens in the heavens is mirrored in the mud so to speak. It’s one of those concepts that seems terribly enlightened and mystical at times, (those who have done hallucinogens will vouch for this I am sure) and seems trite and meaningless at others. All the mystical insight in the world won’t help if one walks in front of a train, at least it won’t help with the getting hit by the train part. Maybe it will help in the afterlife, but people in the afterlife have been really remiss at letting us know what is going on over there, so who knows.
To me the phrase sums up why people thought that comets were portents and omens. It seems perfectly reasonable to assume that signs in the heavens may mirror events on Earth. Which makes it a little alarming that the brightest comet since 1965 just whizzed by almost unnoticed. What happened in 1965? Well, the US intervention in Vietnam began, there were 190,000 troops there by the end of the year. All started by a little snafu called the Gulf of Tonkin incident. So if there is an incident in the Persian Gulf in the near future, I’m going to be very alarmed by the parallels to 1965. Sigh. Moving right along, the Chinese meaning I recall is that what is up with the Emperor is reflected in every person in the realm. This is as much or more a caution on the ultimate responsibilities of the Emperor, rather than a comment on the power of said personage. Which is why I would never want to be president, I might criticize Bush to no end, but I wouldn’t last three days in his shoes.
Sigh, and I so wanted to make this a nice post about cats. The calico is sitting by me now, doing her best to quack like a duck. I don’t even want to speculate what that portends. For those who want an uplifting story to make their day, here is a wonderful little article about how a teenage girl saved her friend’s life. We all could use friends like Amber.
(The above image was painted in the 19th century by John Martin, and is considered public domain under US copyright law.)