All hail the great Rot

This. Is God.

As I spent some months away from my house this summer, to fix the cabin, there was a bit of repair work to do when I got back.

I say ‘a bit’ here in the most British sense of the word, as there had been a leak in part of the roof and unusually warm and wet weather where it stood, leading to extensive water damage.

A major difference between living in a house I build myself, rather than a house belonging to someone else, or a bank, is that I’m always faced with the choice of whether to keep rebuilding or not.

On the plus side, I can make the changes I want, when and how I want. I don’t need to wait around for someone else to do things, and it costs a fraction of what a similar repair would be on a typical house.

On the heavier side, I do need to keep making that decision. The question is always there, not only if I should give up, but if it’s worth taking other matter, trees, water, space to keep making this. Does it really need to keep existing?

I find myself more and more adverse to buying materials, it has become frightfully apparent in this process that these materials are corpses of trees, and often healthy habitats have been destroyed to make way for plantations of fast growing woodland. And I don’t think I can convince myself that my house is worth sacrificing all these lives for.

Everything feeds off something else, not only is it inevitable, it’s the only way of keeping life going, the only way of reintroducing matter. If life is to even exist, things need to consume other things and by that not only keep alive themselves, but make sure matter is being brought back properly.

But a dream is not actually needed to live, no matter what popular stories will tell you. And a house is always a dream of some sort. And dreams tend to loose their connection to reality. Not in the sense of whether or not what you want is possible, but in the sense of making that constant choice and the realization that every little bit of reality you take, you take from something else. And sooner or later, all dreams will become monsters if you don’t stop. Sooner or later, everything you have borrowed, will be taken back by the spiral. At some point, your dream, your visions, your life, will take more than it can ever return. And then it’s a monster.

My solution so far is to make use of repurposed materials as much as possible, or use trees that have fallen in storms or been cut down and left. Even then, I’m interfering in some way, keeping a part of the great spiral locked in a form. That choice, I have to keep making and keep considering and hope I’m connected enough to give up before it becomes a travesty.

Eventually, of course, I will also die, and hopefully be quickly taken up in the spiral, and as this summer has showed, it won’t take very long for my house to be reclaimed by nature either, for the most part.

These last few years has also changed how I look at beauty. Where I used to consider things like proportions and integrity, I now also consider the beauty of a thing or creature as linked to the balance of integrity and how easily it will be for nature to reclaim.

In this light, the great Rot in the picture, is the most beautiful creature I have met this summer. It’s origin is a large tree that has fallen in the woods and been let long enough for life to sprout around it, birds to nest it it’s branches, fungi to form neural links to water and other plants and life forms, green vines to bloom at its heart. It lives now in a between state of life and non-life, of decay and growth, of returning and preserving and it can evoke awe in anyone who looks upon it in the forest. This in other words, is now a god.

Vitae vagus est, or, the way of the trickster

hare i flykt
A leaping hare drawn by dead branches. Motion can be in the apparent still also

Life is, indeed, unpredictable. But another meaning of ‘vagus’ is to wander, or be in motion, without a particular goal in mind. Moving of the sake of movement.

Over the past months, a vast number of people have been moving differently than expected. It may be because of travel restrictions, or quarantine, or due to illness. People have been bed ridden and house bound and during this time, how we move has been brought to attention either explicit or implicit.

When you are in motion, you create a pattern. This is obvious in dance, but it’s also true for the motions of daily life.

When you move in the same manner, around the same objects, the pattern is deepened, fixated. Eventually it will become part of your mind and of your body, in the form of muscles and nerves.

Monty Python's Flying Circus
Sometimes silly walks are not silly at all

To fixate and carve out a pattern can be a good thing, a strengthening thing, or it can dig you down in a hole. Repeating a pattern of something you want to enforce, a habit, a spell, a wood carving, can create something beautiful. But at some point, you have to stop repeating the pattern, or it will become a trap, and destroy what you set out to create.

For all our activity, most in western society live very monotonous lives. Motions are carried out in the same manner, in the same patterns, in the same frame of mind, even when you attempt to be ‘mindful’. For it is not the mind that moves the body, but the body that moves the mind.

To move is to change. We have been brought up to consider only the power of the mind, and that changes are made by making your mind up. But I will argue that without a change in how we move, no change is really made.

Moving in a new environment, even a new apartment, creates a from of change. This can be exhausting, and it is wonder most people feel a relief when they come home to their familiar surroundings, where they can make their coffee and bathe without giving a second thought to the physical part of preforming these tasks, because everything you need is placed where you know it will be and your body will remember how to move in these rooms. This is comfortable, for many even needed in order to rest and recharge.

But to stay in such an environment, where everything is familiar and nothing challenges your sense of motion, will also make you deteriorate over time.

While the way of the Trickster is often associated with humor, or practical jokes, at the heart of is is motion and the unpredictable. While the unpredictable certainly can make people laugh, in surprise or relief, it might as well disturb, shock, or make people feel strange.

The way of the Trickster is to be in the constant between- state, to look in all directions and choose none yet always keep moving. It is the living paradox.

And it is in the unpredictable that we find the deepest truths. And by doing something unpredictable, you might find out a lot more about yourself than any amount of pondering or meditation will show you.

It doesn’t take much

It’s just a jump to the left…