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22 June, 2012

M is for Monsters

(Okay, not doing a catchup post. Doing an on-time-ish post.)

Let's take a moment and crack out the OED.

"Monster. [OF. monstre, ad. L. monstrum, monster, something marvellous; orig. a divine portent or warning, f. root of monere, to warn.]"

A marvel. A portent. A warning.

A revelation.

There is monstrousness threaded through myths, and sometimes it is even spoken explicitly: the minotaur, born as a result of cheating Poseidon of His due, perhaps; Fenrir, chained; Balor and his oddly-placed and evil eyes. Warnings. Consequences. Dire circumstances.

Sometimes, people make much of dealing with inner demons, facing the beast within, skirting the edges of the monstrous. Sometimes, they even do the work.

There are deities and powers of the borderlands, and some of us love them. How many tender, tasty witchlings will call upon Lilith as the strong woman who walked away from Adam, a feminist icon rejecting a patriarchy of Abrahamic monotheism well before Abraham, and "forget that the next part after your co-opted icon parts ways with Adam and goes her own way is and she begat monsters, and she becomes terrifying", for example?  Perhaps they are young enough, some of them, to be human children, in Her eyes.  Perhaps they are delicious.

How many happy dancers wish to spin a round with the fairies and never imagine that someone will have to pay a tithe to Hell?  Oh, but we don't believe in the Devil, so obviously those nasty rumors are false and the fey-kind are perfectly safe.  (I have some watching me, these days.  It makes me nervous.) And anyway, they're pretty, right, and monsters have, as they say, a fearsome countenance.

It's like summoning a bannik into your bathroom.  Hope that the people who find that in someone's crap 101 book are, for the most part, not skilled enough to pull it off.

Here is a thing: there is a monstrousness about being pagan.  This is a thing about the present that cannot be dismissed or discarded, and it is not trivial.  Sure, in ancient days, some people had beliefs as a matter of ordinariness that were a lot like these, but then is not now - and calling upon then as a talisman against now is about as effective as sacrificing the wrong bull to Poseidon.  There is a thing about being off the edge of the map, the bogeyman summoned to keep someone else's children in line.  Of worshipping idols and other things forbidden to the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve.  Stepping outside those boundaries makes people something else, and sometimes, in fits and starts, people notice, and get anxious, when one responds to "But of course we want God to bless America!" with "Which one?"  (And thinking of my country, and thinking of my God, I am left with the horrible suspicion that, recently, He has.  He is not one to let people leave their monsters uncontemplated, shall we say.)

(And of course some people revel in the trivialities of their something elseness, lording their super-special distinction in having a goddess and a god, OMG wow, over those "mundanes" or gods-help-us "muggles".  In this, the monstrousness of pagan belief and practice is overwhelmed almost entirely by the different monstrousness of being an asshole.  This is not one of the interesting monsters.)

We are none of us safe.  And you can take that as a statement about personal security, or you can take that as a statement about being mad, bad, and dangerous to know, or you can take it any of a number of other ways: these are all true.  And yet we have the capacity to walk in beauty like the night - at least if we can deal with the unsafeness.  Not by pretending it away; not by conjuring up our Mr. Hyde to get away with the things that Dr. Jekyll would never do, oh gracious no.  By becoming whole.

This is a truth of the world:  the wolf will have his portion.  And if he doesn't get it any other way he will take it off at the wrist.

1 comment:

Tana said...

"the different monstrousness of being an asshole"

I love you.