The Moon and Death

The Moon and Death

Pentecost 143

In case you are wondering, time has not stood still.  My last post concluded with “tomorrow we will discuss….”.  I am aware that that “tomorrow” became almost an entire week and I do apologize.  Computer updates, Internet service provider equipment updates, utility company outages… It seems as though the fates and the universe conspired to to give me some peace and quiet!  While it is frustrating when technology is abruptly and unexpectedly turned off, it does serve to illustrate our dependency on such technology.  It is also a time to reflect, to regain some “personal time” and to reinforce human connections.

Our last conversation was about the San Bushmen of the Sub-Saharan region of Africa. Pentecost is a season of the Holy Spirit for those who observe it, an arm of the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity.  The Holy Spirit, known for centuries as the Holy Ghost, is said to embody the love and strength of the monotheistic deity Christians call God.

While this blog is more universal than one specific religion or spirituality, I do freely admit/profess to be a member of the Episcopal Church.  Because organization leads to freedom (paraphrasing American Statesman Benjamin Franklin), I opted to use the church calendar as my filing system.  Thus, blog posts have a theme and are numbered according to the day they appear during a particular “season”.  However, those posts are loosely based on that church season…very loosely.  For instance, during Epiphany this year, we explored unusual yet common inventions we all use every day.  These “epiphanies” of their inventors have greatly impacted our lives today.

During Pentecost we have chatted about the spirits of mankind through the stories of mankind – mythologies of the world.  We began as all things do – with beginnings, the creation myths of each culture.  Thus, our explorations of the world’s myths and legends have begun with the retelling of their creation myths. It was the creation myth of the San Bushmen that we examined in our last discussion.  The San Bushmen are a wonderful culture of the Kadahari Desert that has been over thirty thousand years in the making.  Even today, the power of the eland, the deer-like creature created from a portion of a shoe placed in water, is still respected.

The creator deity of the San Bushmen was /Kaggen and according to legend, he threw one of his shoes into the air and that shoe became the moon.  Our last story, Pentecost 142, told of the rebirth of the moon which explained the scientific phases of the moon.  When we last were together, we learned that the myth told of /Kaggen’s hope for all to experience the same rebirth the moon does every twenty-eight days.

Because of a rabbit, however, the San Bushmen do not believe in reincarnation.  The goodwill of the /Kaggen was evident in the moon wanting mankind to experience the same rebirth it achieved.  Unfortunately, as with any religion, the key was that one believed and in this story, someone does not.  The San believe their spiritual leaders, the shamans, could cross from the world of the natural being or reality into a supernatural world, the place of beliefs.  They believe this is done through a dream-like state, a state in which some believe the shaman dies.  Then, legend maintains, the heart of the shaman becomes a star in the night sky.

The myth of death for this culture tells of a human who could change into a rabbit.  As a rabbit, he grieved for his mother who had died.  In agony over never seeing her again, he refused to hear the comfort of moon which promised her rebirth.  The rabbit preferred his grief and misery and argued with the moon, denouncing all it proclaimed.  In anger, the moon is said to have lashed out, scarring the rabbit’s mouth.  “As for men, now they shall die and never return.”

Whether one believes in reincarnation and how one defines it is a personal belief.  We can and should relate to this myth, regardless of our beliefs.  You see, we can be our own worst enemies.  We need to believe in the power of our beliefs.  And then we need to live them.  After all, the whole point of faith is to provide direction and strength. Remember, a compass is only able to help us find our way if we use it.