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2012 --- 2013
Tuesday Decemkber 3rd 2013






WThis morning, Saturday, being the last day of November, and my substituting November for September, I was reminded of this nursery rhyme that we used to chant and skip rope to at the village school I attended in England. Now that I'm grown-up and more prone to thinking about such things, I wondered where on earth this rhyme originated. I've discovered, primarily from Iona and Peter Opie, who have done extensive research on such things, that most nursery rhymes have weird and interesting, historic origins. I couldn't find anything from ourbig ship viewed through and alley stock of Iona and Peter Opie literature about this particular rhyme, so I went to ever reliable Google. It would seem that the rhyme most likely originated with the building of the Manchester canal in the 1890s. Manchester is thirty six miles inland from the sea, and a canal was deemed necessary in order to get away from the high tariffs that the Liverpool docks were charging. Needless to say, Liverpool wasn’t too happy at Manchester's bailing out and building its own connection to the Atlantic Ocean. But the result was that big ships could sail all the way to Manchester along the canal. As someone on Google suggested, it would be quite possible to look down a Manchester alley and see a big ship sailing along. Since you wouldn't be able to see the canal, it might just look as if the big ship was sailing down the alley, or on the alley, as in most versions of the rhyme. I find this explanation completely plausible as Charque and I once saw a big ship sailing along a field in Holland.

We talk a lot about perspective here, in our readings and classes. It is possibly the single most important factor to spiritual awakening. If you don't examine your mind and its perspectives, you will never be aware of what you believe and, more importantly, what you create and experience from those beliefs. Human beings go to war over perspective and belief. As one bumper sticker words it: "Don’t believe everything you think!" On the other hand, open your mind to the possibility of ships sailing down alleys and along fields. After all, Charque and I were in Holland when we saw our big ship in the field. There are canals all over the place in Holland. But we couldn’t see the canal, just the ship seemingly gliding along the edge of the field. No doubt, people saw ships gliding down an alley in much the same fashion in Manchester.

Chariot from Robin Wood TarotThe human mind works within the framework of what it knows. Native peoples in the US used to refer to the railway train as "the iron horse". Our word "car" comes from the initial concept of a "horseless carriage". Note how basic "the horse" is to our collective human experience. We even measure power in horsepower. We have come a long way from horses now but that is where our concepts of progress and power have their Rune Ehwazorigins. There is a Rune called Ehwaz that is all about the relationship between rider and horse or between two horses pulling together and what emerges from those relationships. Like the Chariot card in Tarot, Ehwaz signifies partnerships in general, and the movement that is created when differences or opposites meet and work together to forge a new path. But the meeting requires openness to the perspective of the other side and therefore to new ways of looking at things.

Oppositional facessillouett of a see sawHow do you face and deal with something or someone who is different from you, thinks differently, perceives differently, and often seems to have got it all wrong? How do they deal with you? Do you listen? Do you conflict? More importantly, do you ever consider what you might be projecting onto them from your own mind and what they might be projecting onto you? Recognizing this mirroring effect is often the difference between paranoid fear and a more centred and open mind, or even between war and peace. It is interesting to note the talks that are going on now between Iran and the US, quite a difference from the "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran" of the early 80s and then later of the McCain presidential campaign of 2007. This take-off of the Beach Boys’ song, "Barbara Anne" from the early 60’s was funny to some and downright scary to others. But the opposites have now come together and are at least talking and listening to each other. The I Ching hexagram of "Opposition" (hexagram 38) states that "in general opposition appears as an obstruction but when it represents polarity within a comprehensive whole, it has also its useful and important functions. The opposites of heaven and earth, spirit and nature, man and woman when reconciled bring about the creation and reproduction of life. In the world of visible things the principle of opposites makes possible the differentiation of categories through which order is brought into the world". Just as an aside, there is some interesting discussion going on both scientifically about the Y chromosome and sociologically about the value of men in society. Along these lines, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times has written an informative but humorous article titled: "Why the Y?" Metaphysically, however, there is no question about the value of the masculine principle of creative expression and therefore of the male contribution. But it cannot dominate. It has to learn to work with the feminine principle of receptivity and wisdom/knowledge. In Hexagram 2, "The Receptive", I Ching states that the Receptive, feminine principle is "the perfect complement of the Creative" (masculine principle) and actually "the complement, not the opposite, for the Receptive does not combat the Creative but completes it."

The world thrives on differences as long as they listen to each other and work together and do not try to destroy each other. Opposites make growth possible. The contrast between opposing forces creates a differential that produces movement. In the Big Universe these opposites are all part of the whole. Opposites generate a dynamic balance. The Universe works toward and maintains this balance, even if you don’t see it. Your perspective and beliefs need to be open to understanding the wholeness or oneness that lies behind all physical manifestation, whether it is of Nature, of Nations or of your own personal situations. You need to be open to new ways of looking at things. What looks like a field or an alley in a city can actually have big ships sailing along canals that you may not be able to see, and these ships are often sailing to distant lands. You cannot go around insisting something is not possible, or worse yet, is wrong just because you cannot see its function. Your mind is conditioned by your beliefs and your cultural and religious upbringing. It needs to open up and ask "why" and "what" and "how" in situations that seem and feel oppositional and threatening. A Course in Miracles introduces its workbook with this statement: "The purpose of the workbook is to train your mind in a systematic way to a different perception of everyone and everything in the world." No light undertaking! Frankly, as a lover of all things Tarot, Runish, Qabalish and Nature-ish, I recommend working with the archetypes and symbols that these systems offer, or with the mirrors that Nature shows you to get your mind out of its rut and into new grooves of perception and vision. Only when you understand the dimensions of your own mind, including its limitations, will you understand the world you live in and get some inkling of the wonders of the Big Universe where all is "beautiful" or simply "all is."

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High Priestess
text-with Ruth and Charque

"The big ship sails down the alley-alley-o,
the alley-alley-o, the alley-alley-o,
The big ship sails down the alley-alley-o,
On the last day of September."
a girl skipping a rope held by two others
a group of 8 girls all skipping one ropw at onece. All in the air.
couple in a beautiful dance of opposition with a yin yang symbol at center