Yah, I wanna be Oya to your Chango. No domestic tranquility for me. I was cursed, to tell the truth, so that's how it would be. I think it's worked out pretty well, to tell the truth. And yah, he actually used that word 'curse' — a little dramatic, don't you think? What kind of moron curses in this day and age?
So. I'll be your Oya. We'll have our adventure. We'll ride off and conquer death together. Conquer grief together. You'll raise your battle horn and give a blast. Shofar, the way shofar was meant to be! But at the end of the day, you'll go home. Oshun, with her irresistible smile, awaits you. She'll ground you. She'll hold down the fort for you.
I figured the whole thing out recently. Was trying to explain my worldview, somehow. Not the worldview that I'd like to have. No. The cosmology in which I seem to operate.
I think it was that comment, "Too bad you don't like opera..." that helped me figure it out. See how useful our mothers are? No. I don't want to live inside the opera. It's absolutely true. Opera belongs on the stage, right?
So what kind of hypocrite am I?
A. F. C. Wallace wrote this wonderful article about time. It's published in a fairly recent issue of AOC — Anthropology of Consciousness. Last five years, maybe ten. I don't know, I can't hold on to time. Time-slipping. That's another piece of the puzzle. Wallace talks about three kinds of time.
Linear time: in which events are placed sequentially, and then we call it history. We count in days and months and years. Decades, centuries, millenia. The point is that we count. We keep track. This happened. And then that happened. This is the least interesting of the three, although it does point out that there are consequences to our actions. That's not a bad thing at all. But it makes it sound like this thing led to that thing — if we string the things out just so — and that might not be what's really going on at all. We might have left out a string or two or three in our analysis.
Cyclical time: in which it's never over. In which we have another chance to try it out again. If this cycle doesn't work out so well, hell, we'll just reincarnate, and it'll be better next time. And then we don't have to worry about death so much. Next time, next time — as if there is a next time. As if there are do-overs. As if we get a second chance or third. As if only the truly 'evolved' (spiritually speaking) will get a chance to be released. Then, and only then, are we okay with death.
And then there's:
Mythical time: in which the gods are ever-present. And so is id, ego, and superego. These things do not recycle, and they're not linear, evolving from child to adult; from magical to rational. That's long ago been demonstrated to be absolute nonsense. Mythic time is ever-present. The capricious pantheon of gods — whether Sumerian or Egyptian or Greek or Ugaritic, or the mythic time of the Songhay empire — are archetypic patterns that we play out. We look to the gods and see ourselves. In all our folly, and in our glory too.
Bachofen says that the struggle between the gods takes on a dialectical form. Can we call it dialectical mythology? First, he says, in the earliest myths, the female deities held sway. Goddesses reigned supreme. And in their hubris, they abused their power. The males rose up and conquered them. Gods! And eventually, one god supreme. And when that god becomes so tyrannical that they can no longer stand it, women will rise up, and the goddesses will return. Right.
Bachofen says mythology hands us the pattern. He doesn't say it's historically accurate. He says we carry it all ourselves. Each of us — until we discover our collectivity and rise up — and become gods.
Okay. That's not what he says, that last part. But I like it.
I've inhabited mythic time and space my whole life. I feel more comfortable there.
Teish came over one time. Voodoo queen extraordinaire. Priestess. Dancer. Storyteller... We were working on a project together. She walked into the house. Intake of breath. She walked into my bedroom. Seeing with her expert eye.
"Oya," she said.
It's not the first time I've heard that. Bibbo says it too. Candomblé practitioner from Brazil. He's told me this for years.
Oya, they agree, is the orisha of my head.
There's no Oshun for me.
That. That right there. That was the curse.
Well, fine. I can live with it.
Apparently, my entire house is 'done up' as an altar to Oya. Tribute to her. Her colors. Most of all, her feeling. A place she is at home in.
This does not at all match my mother's description of my home. Early Istanbul whorehouse, is what she calls it. Bordello. Brothel. But my mom, she likes opera. Whereas Teish — well, Teish is just stating the facts. Right?
I don't think I'm as brave as Oya. I don't think I take charge. I don't do battle, that I know for sure. I'm not a goddess of radical transformation. So what the hell are they talking about? But when they say these things, I can feel Oya's heartbeat inside my own. Maybe I don't understand bravery and battle. She's not a man, after all. Maybe Oya's bravery is something else entirely. Maybe I've got it. Maybe I don't.
Maybe Oya takes chances. Maybe Oya says yes, where others would say no. Maybe Oya leaps where others tiptoe.
And maybe Oya is only Oya when she meets her own Chango.