Continuing my series of posting answers to questions sent in by readers, which others may find of use:
“There is one thing that I want to ask, though – what is the ‘Eliadian Eternal Return’ you speak of in so many places?”
I have addressed this elsewhere at greater length and depth and detail, but here is the brief reply I had penned in answer:
“Big concept. Like, you’ve got Myth and .. what i call ‘Sidereal’ – regular reality. Eliadian Eternal Return is basically an understanding of Ritual wherein what you’re doing is taking stuff that’s Mythic (Eternal) and re-enacting it out here in the Sidereal to get the stuff to .. well .. radiate, re-occur, the benefits to accrue.
So, for instance, there’s a prominent Vedic Myth wherein Brihasapti goes dragon-slaying. Uses a Mantra, a Rite, to conjure a Vajra in Meteor form – which blasts apart the side of the mountain where Vala, the demon-dragon, has hidden the stolen wealth and some rather important elements for life on earth etc. (Water, Dawn, you get the idea).
Now, what happens is that’s the Myth … and it’s referenced in many RV Hymnals precisely because the Vedic priests are carrying out a resonancy, a re-enactment of this down here on earth. Indeed, it is interesting to note that in some versions of the Myth this is kinda ‘baked in’ – because while Brihaspati is a Priest God , some of the texts also mention Him being accompanied by a group of human priests as well. And then we have invocations again in the liturgy that are effectively exhortations to do what the mighty forebears of the currently-living priests had engaged in – re-make the progression of the narrative, re-live it .. and so, too, the benefits that flow from same.
What are those benefits? Well, as you can see – general smashing of opponent, liberating of wealth (from somebody else who has it – assumedly, although perhaps not necessarily stolenly) , and the re-strengthening of vital elements for, as I said, life here on this globe of ours (the Waters, of course, the Sun’s rays after the Dark of such imprisonment). You get the idea.
So .. those Vedic Priests are engaging in an act of Eternal Return. They are ‘becoming’ bearers of the ‘essences’ of those Mythic ‘original occurrences’ and original actors thereof. They are carrying out, to return to that feverish maxim i came up with and with which i opened this email … Their roles in ‘telling the story’ – telling it so convincingly that Reality Itself ‘goes along with it’.
It reminds sidereal reality of the Pattern, the Narrative, the Template to which it is supposed to be abiding. And gives it a ‘nudge’ (metaphysically speaking – said ‘nudge’ may also involve tapping repeatedly about the head of some beings with a rather per-cussive weapon … until the re-enactment and re-provision improves) to trigger the appropriate chain of events that are and also bring about the desired re-occurrences.
Now, that is a pretty straightforward exemplar. However you also find more ‘involved’ ones – that are not quite so ‘short term’ as the ritual space and duration itself. For example, the Hindu Marriage rite – there are variations, of course, but the prominent one is one wherein what effectively happens is we are ‘re-immanentizing’ the Marriage of Vishnu & Laxmi. The Dulha & Dulhana being, respectively, held to embody these figures – and the participation in the marriage rite meaning that the strength of the union, indeed the metaphysical possibility of the union, is effectively ‘drawing from’ that supernal ‘template’. The one that’s already happened. And yet, at the same time, because Mythic Time is a bit different in many ways to ‘Sidereal Time’, is always yet to happen, or in the process of happening, too, as well.
That is to say – it is there when we need to ‘draw from it’. Even though yeah, most definitely, if we are applying linear time and causality to the realms of myth (always a tricky business) – Vishnu & Laxmi are already married.
As are, of course, Shiva & Parvati .. even though, likewise, we ‘re-enact’ sequences from that sphere of narrative, both which lead up to it and the actual joyous occasion’s saliency itself, every NavRatri and MahaShivRatri.
Now, of course, this opens up an array of intriguing elements. If we are ‘drawing from’ that Realm of Myth , those Mythic Figures, and we are seeking to emulate Them within the ritual context … well, you recall that famed Hindu maxim – “we become more like that which we meditate upon”. It is indubitably true.
And this means, as well, that as the famed author Kurt Vonnegut put it –
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
Now, of course, me being me .. I take this in uh … some ‘different’ directions – or at least some perhaps underexpected ones.
For example –
You’ll get the hang of the concept.
It can also, of course, go the other way – and that is what we would, perhaps, term ‘Apotheosis’. Earning One’s Place ‘Midst The Stars.
Oh, and that is another important ‘caveat’
Nietzsche had that bit about gazing long into an abyss and being aware that the abyss gazes also back into you.
Terry Pratchett refined the concept with the ‘abyss’ “waving back” – much to the surprise of various and sundry.
I would point to ward this occurrence from the Greek canon wherein the Dioscuri [Divo Napata we would say – the Nasatyas, the Asvins, Hengist & Horsa] .. well .. They turned up.
As Yakov Smirnoff’s ‘Soviet Reversal’ / ‘Russian Reversal’ would have it – in regular Eternal Return, you participate in Myth. In this kind .. Myth participates in (or, perhaps, ‘at’) You.
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