by Angeliska on December 31, 2012
The turning of year draws close, we pause, here at the limen between what’s done and what’s to come – the snake’s lips meet its own tail and we ride the circle, blind and naked as babes. The reflexive curl inward, a protective gesture towards completeness: to be a whole and finished being, perfect and inviolable. But I’m not. There is so much left undone and unresolved that I have to just accept – to keep rolling onwards into the new dawn as calmly as I can, trusting that in time I will find a way to mend the broken things, understand the heart’s riddles, knit together what’s unraveled and do the rest of the work. That process is never really completely done though, I think. Nothing’s ever as tidy or as comprehensible as we might like, and I want to be able to sit with that as much as I can: to move forward into the unknown trusting somehow in that essential unknowableness. The ouroboros is the end and the beginning, alpha and omega. I always associate it with the final card in the the tarot: The World, which symbolizes the completion of the journey of The Fool, the moment when he dissolves and becomes one with everything. Solve et Coagula. When the Fool is reborn, the journey begins again – not with one, but with zero. Another circle, a goose egg, an ouroboros. This loop is everything, our eternal return, our journeying that is never finished, always beginning. I feel like I’m starting over like The Fool this year, my arms open, ignorant of what the future holds or what I might encounter on this strange journey. I’ve lost so much this year: so many beloved people and relationships, structures, ideas, belief systems I had constructed and held fast to – more than anything, I’ve lost things I thought were concrete, permanent, lasting. But nothing is. Nothing at all. There is only this moment, and this one, and this one. This process has of course been painful and confusing in the extreme: but I have come to the point where I’m finally resting against the snake’s mouth, the place where I can see the end of the tunnel and start to grasp some of the major lessons this intense cycle has brought me. It will take time for me to work through it all, and as much as I might like to be able to sum it up perfectly right in this moment, I am forcing myself to sit still, to not push, to wait and do the work as it comes. I can honestly say that this has been absolutely one of the hardest and most brutal years of my entire life, in terms of loss and hard lessons. It’s also completely true that I’ve grown exponentially in relation to a lot of that hard change, and that I am working hard every day to be the best possible version of myself. I’ve also gained many treasures – in the form of amazing friends, family and all the people I know who are constantly inspiring me to try and be kinder, wiser, and gentler. I am deeply grateful. Even for the hardest parts – because I am learning so, so much. There is so much I still have to process about this year – I think it will take a long time to express it all the way I want to, but I do intend to try. Right now, I just want to come full circle. I want to go back to the place where my people come from, to the place where my bones will rest when all that I am is gone, I want to bring gifts of fire to the twisty black witch-oaks that burst up through the cracks in pink granite, and as best I can – honor all this change, this turning, the dark road behind me, and the shining one up ahead.
This year was a fierce thing: it burned away everything that could not last.
I am asking for a more tranquil time: to focus on fluidity, on being open, on peace.
Dragons and snakes, circles and ladders, mountains and pits, shadows and stars.
Come, let’s light the foxfires.
A Japanese woodblock print of Hiroshige from 1857 depicts fox Fires on New Year’s Eve at the Garment Nettle Tree at Oji. According to Japanese legend, trickster fox spirits gather once a year at night at an old tree at the Oji shrine, bearing torches, to receive their orders for the following year. One of the two trees depicted can still be seen.
The Ouroboros or Uroborus is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.
The Ouroboros often represents self-reflexivity or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things perceived as cycles that begin anew as soon as they end (compare with phoenix). It can also represent the idea of primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting from the beginning with such force or qualities it cannot be extinguished. The Ouroboros has been important in religious and mythological symbolism, but has also been frequently used in alchemical illustrations, where it symbolizes the circular nature of the alchemist’s opus. It is also often associated with Gnosticism, and Hermeticism. Carl Jung interpreted the Ouroboros as having an archetypal significance to the human psyche. The Jungian psychologist Erich Neumann writes of it as a representation of the pre-ego “dawn state”, depicting the undifferentiated infancy experience of both mankind and the individual child.
“The armadillo girdled lizard possesses an uncommon antipredator adaptation, in which it takes its tail in its mouth and rolls into a ball when frightened. In this shape, it is protected from predators by the thick, squarish scales along its back and the spines on its tail. This behavior, which resembles that of the mammalian armadillo, gives it its English common name. This behavior may have inspired the mythical creature Ouroboros.”
“Plato described a self-eating, circular being as the first living thing in the universe — an immortal, mythologically constructed entity.
‘The living being had no need of eyes because there was nothing outside of him to be seen; nor of ears because there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him. Of design he created thus; his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form which was designed by him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle. All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet.’
In Gnosticism, this serpent symbolized eternity and the soul of the world. The Gnostic text Pistis Sophia describes the disc of the sun as a 12-part dragon with his tail in his mouth”
I want to sleep and dream in the crook of the changing tree. I’m ready to become a different kind of bird. I feel like this coming year is already sparkling and crackling with possibilities.
The egg symbolizes the belief in the Greek Orphic religion that the universe originated from within a silver egg. The first emanation from this egg, described in an ancient hymn, was Phanes-Dionysus, the personification of light. In Greek myth, particularly Orphic thought, Phanes is the golden winged Primordial Being who was hatched from the shining Cosmic Egg that was the source of the universe. Called Protogonos (First-Born) and Eros (Love) — being the seed of gods and men — Phanes means “Manifestor” or “Revealer,” and is related to the Greek words “light” and “to shine forth.” An ancient Orphic hymn addresses him thus: “Ineffable, hidden, brillian scion, whose motion is whirring, you scattered the dark mist that lay before your eyes and, flapping your wings, you whirled about, and through this world you brought pure light.”
This year, I’m headed back out to Lone Grove, to the place where I traditionally prefer to ring in the New Year.
My dear friend Chip Warren is a wonderful photographer who captured so much magic during our celebration in 2011 –
he made this fantastic video to give you an idea of what it was like that year.
His full set of New Year’s Eve 2011 photos are here:
Lone Grove New Years 2011
More words of wisdom from my comrade Dr. Caraway: Ambling in the new year
Some musical mixes from myself and from Lau to honor the turning of the year:
More to read from New Year’s Eves of yore:
✶ FUCK THE PLAN 2012
✶ AN EPICALLY EPIC AND FAIRLY TARDY YEAR IN REVIEW – OR, HOLY SHIT: 2011!
✶ A Bright Blue Wish
✶ New Year’s Redux
✶ Stargazer Honey
✶ Blue Moon
✶ Lone Grove New Year
✶ Pink Moons
✶ The New Year
✶ Lucky Stars and Garters
✶ La Nouvelle Année