Entropy, Coyote, The Tower Card, and That God Person

A brief exploration of why god didn’t make shit happen.

I have a lot of friends who are atheists.  While I disagree with them (leaning more toward polytheism myself), I can’t blame them for feeling that way.  When humans talk about god they tend to get plumb ridiculous.

It isn’t hard to imagine where the idea of god originated.  We can visualize one of our very ancient ancestors standing beside a tree scratching his crotch when – KABLAM!!! – a giant bolt of lightning hits the tree and blows it into a million smoldering pieces.  Being a thinking primate, our ancestors’ initial reaction was probably deeply profound.  Something along the lines of, “HOLY SHIT!  WHAT IN THE HELL WAS THAT???”

A little later, he probably tried to reason out exactly that question:  “What in the hell was that?”  He would have noticed, of course, that whatever IT was, IT had come from the sky.  From up there, somewhere.  Therefore, he would have arrived at his initial conclusion:  there MUST be a, “somewhere,” up there.  There must be some place up in the sky that the lightning monster came from.  Just for ease of discussion, he thought, let’s call it, “heaven.”

So did the lightning monster fall out of heaven?  Did it slip over the edge and tumble down to earth?  No, he’d reason;  upon consideration it was much more like it was THROWN from the heaven place because it hit really hard.  As he turned this over in his brain cells, it would dawn upon him that if it had been thrown, then there must be someone up there in the heaven place who threw it.  And when we throw something at someone, it’s usually because we’re pissed off.  Therefore, the heaven person must have been pissed off at me, he thought, and he threw a lightning monster at me, but he missed me and hit the tree.  Poor tree.

So just in the space of a few hours, he’d worked out that there was a place in the sky called heaven, that someone lived in it, and that he had a very bad temper that caused him to throw things at people he was pissed off with.  And he decided that, just for ease of discussion, he’d call that heaven person, “god.”

Now, of course, the next step would be to figure out why god was pissed off and, logically, it must have had something to do with what our ancestor had been doing when the god person threw the lightning monster at him.  And when he thought back on it, he realized that he’d been scratching his crotch.  “Aha!” he thought.  “The heaven person must not like crotches because . . . um . . . we use them for sex!  That must be it!’

And just like that, he’d invented the concept of sin.

So we can see that our incredibly wise ancestor was able to come up with the notions of heaven, god, and sin, and deduce all of that from the presence of a lightning bolt that hit a tree.  Brilliant, really.

There were a few flaws in his reasoning about god that would come back to haunt us.  First of all, the god person seems to be a bit on the irrational side.  Why wouldn’t he like crotches?  They’re perfectly nice human apparatuses that make us feel really good, so what’s his problem with them?  Especially as the idea that the god person actually MADE us evolved, it seemed more and more problematic that he wouldn’t like our genitals.  If he didn’t like them that much, why didn’t he just make us with something else between our legs, like, I don’t know, a flower or an extra foot or something?

Second, we can see that god has a really bad temper.  A really, really bad temper.  If he didn’t like what we were doing, he could have just sent a nice angel with a handwritten note that said, “Hey, that’s really irritating, so knock it off.”  But, no, he has to blow up a tree.

Third, we see that this god person is very strongly associated with bad things happening.  If a tree blows up or there’s an earthquake or a flood or a tsunami, it’s because god is PISSED.  It’s a punishment, presumably because we’ve been playing with our genitals again.

We can see that idea pretty clearly illustrated in the Tarot card called The Tower.  Most of the Tower-Being-Hit-By-Lightning myths have to do with punishment for human hubris.  Those idiots were trying to build a tower so high that it would reach to the heaven place and the god person got pissed and blew up the tower, just to show them that HE owned the heaven place and not them.

There’s actually a conundrum hidden in The Tower card that theologians have wrestled with for centuries.  If god loves us, and god’s all powerful, why does all of this bad stuff keep happening to us?  I mean, if he can control everything, why doesn’t he just make good stuff happen to us?  Why is there cancer and fires and floods and why do terrible, terrible things happen to people?

The traditional answer goes right back to the idea that god is an extreme control freak with a really bad temper.  He WANTS for good stuff to happen to us, but we keep doing the wrong things and so he HAS to make bad stuff happen to us.  Because we’re crotch scratching sinners, doncha know?

Native Americans had a slight shift in that perspective that makes a major difference in how we view the world.  They noticed that there is a factor in the universe which physicists would later label as, “entropy.”  The definition for entropy is, “a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.”  Another way of putting it is that any organized system will start to disintegrate.

On a practical level, that means that just as soon as we get things arranged to our satisfaction, they start to fall apart.  It’s like when we clean our houses and then a week later they’re a mess again.  Entropy snuck up and bit us in the ass.

Native Americans built that into their theology and we might call it, “the shit happens,” principle.  Yes, there are loving, benevolent gods who want our lives to go perfectly well and want us to be happy.  But sometimes shit happens.  And when it does, it’s because of the Trickster Gods, like Coyote and Raven.  The benevolent gods are busy weaving a beautiful tapestry of life, but the trickster gods are over there in the corner unraveling it as fast as they can.  They’re entropy and they’re making the system disintegrate.

On the one hand, this allows us to have loving, caring gods.  On the other hand, it explains why shit happens.  In this scenario, the lightning bolt that hit the tree our ancestor was standing next to would have been sent by Raven or Coyote.  And they would have been laughing their asses off when they watched him jump.

That turn in their theology was actually a very important step.  First of all, it acknowledges that shit happens.  Second, it says that shit happens, JUST BECAUSE.  It doesn’t necessarily have a damned thing to do with us or whether we’ve sinned or we’re scratching our crotches again.  It just happens because entropy is a part of the fabric of the Universe.  Coyote or Raven are always there, turning our orderly, sensible worlds upside down, JUST BECAUSE.  So it gets rid of the concept of sin and we don’t have to feel guilty about our genitals anymore.

Most importantly, though, it gets rid of the nutso, bipolar, control freak, mean bastard that we’ve had running heaven.  It’s not OUR fault that shit happens, but we also don’t have to invent a crazy god to explain it.  No more vengeful patriarch who’s just itching to throw us into eternal flames.  No more voyeuristic stalker who’s counting how many times we masturbate so he can punish us for it.    No more crazed Jehovah demanding that Abraham shove a knife into his son’s chest to prove how much he loves god.  

And, all in all, the heaven place is  much nicer without him.

Dan Adair is the author of, “Just the Tarot,” available on Amazon.com at a very reasonable price.

The Law of Attraction, The Magician Card, and Dumping the Scientific Method

Looking at the wonderful messiness of magic.

I love this little section from Genevieve Davis’ Becoming Magic: A Course in Manifesting an Exceptional Life (Book 1)

“Is magic unscientific?  I don’t care two hoots one way or the other.  I have no desire to make what I do fit with a scientific world view.  I don’t give a flying fig whether it does or doesn’t fit in with quantum physics or Newton’s Laws.”

We all grew up learning the scientific method and so we know the general ideas involved with it.  In order for something to be a scientific law, it has to be predictable and verifiable and universal.  In other words, if we’re talking about the Law of Gravity, then we have to be able to predict that when an apple – any apple – falls off of a tree it’s going to come straight down and hit the ground.  Over and over and over again.  And everyone has to be able to see that that’s the way that apples fall and they have to fall the same way in Tierra del Fuego as they fall in Texas.

If some apples fall halfway to the ground, turn sideways, and zip off into the horizon, then we’re fucked as far as gravity being a universal law.  Then we have to go back and re-examine our theories, do thorough, scientific studies on apple-ness, and try again.  That’s called, “revising your hypothesis.”

Now, for some reason, many people who are involved in metaphysics and spirituality have ALWAYS craved the approval of scientists.  I don’t really know why, because most of the scientific folks I’ve met have been pretty boring, one dimensional people with whom I would not care to share a beer or a joint.  Perhaps it’s because scientists are always hopping up and down and screaming, “You can’t PROVE that there are ghosts (or angels or fairies or spirit guides or the astral plane, etc., etc., etc.)”  Perhaps some people who are involved with spirituality have developed a sort of a Stockholm Syndrome where they really, really want their abusers to love them.

Or maybe they just really, really want for magic to be predictable and verifiable and universal.  Which it isn’t.

There’s that word, “magic,” again.  Let’s talk about it a little bit, in terms of the famous, “Law of Attraction.”

The Law of Attraction IS, essentially, magic.  If you can make something appear out of thin air with the power of your mind, that’s magic.

The Law of Attraction is NOT a law, and that’s where a lot of us get screwed up and where a lot of us give up.

The point is that it’s a Not-A-Law that works most of the time, which is why we shouldn’t stop using it and exploring it.

When we first learn about the Law of Attraction, this is how it usually works.  We encounter someone who says something like, “If you only think of good things, then only good things will come into your life.”  And so we try it and it works pretty well and we’re feeling pretty damned jazzed about it.  “Hey, you know, only good things come into MY life!”

Then life turns into a shit sandwich and we go back to the person who told us that we should only think good things and ask them why all of this crap just floated into our lives.  They start suggesting flaws in our approach to only thinking good things, such as:

-Did you write down exactly 25 affirmations in the morning and 22 and ½ before you went to bed?

  • Did you use a vision board?
  • Maybe you were thinking 7 good things and 285 bad things and your bad thoughts overwhelmed your good thoughts.
  • Do you put a lot of emotions into your visualizations?
  • Did you try dancing on one foot when you were visualizing and  holding an amethyst in one hand and a tourmaline in the other?

Again, that’s called, “revising your hypothesis.”  If only good things are supposed to come into our lives when we think good thoughts and bad things start happening, then it must somehow be our fault.  We must be doing something wrong, because the Law of Attraction is a LAW, by god.  And that means it always works and it’s predictable and it’s verifiable.

Eventually a fair number of people become dejected over the fact that the Law of Attraction doesn’t always work and they just quit trying.  Which is a drag.

It’s not a Law.  And that’s okay.  It’s magic.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but a lot of the time it does.  Just like magic.

Let’s take a look at the Magician cards from a couple of different decks.

The first is the Magician from the Waite Deck, which was designed about the turn of the 19th/20th century, the dawn of the Scientific Age. 

He’s dressed in perfect, dramatic ceremonial robes, he’s holding a wand aloft to gather in Universal Energies and he’s directing those energies into manifestation on the material plane, as represented by the four objects on the table.  He’s magnificent, he’s powerful, he’s in control.  His magic is verifiable and predictable because he KNOWS HIS SHIT.  His magic works every single time.

Now let’s take a look at the Magician from the ancient Marseilles deck. 

He’s kind of goofy looking, his clothes look like they were sewn together from rags, and look at all of that weird stuff he’s got spread all over the table!  The expression on his face isn’t so much one of being in command and control as of, “Um . . . did I forget something?  Was there an Eye of Newt in this spell?  I just can’t remember . . .”

The Magician from the Waite deck really exemplifies the type of magic that many purveyors of the Law of Attraction would like us to believe.  The Universe is an orderly, positive place and if we behave in an orderly positive manner, then only orderly, positive things will happen to us.

If I’m doing a magic spell, then I MUST draw a circle that is EXACTLY nine feet across and place four white candles in each of the cardinal directions.  I have to have a knife and a chalice on my altar and a specific kind of incense burning and the spell has to happen at a specific time of the month or IT JUST WON’T WORK.  If I do all of those things just exactly right, though, then my magic will be predictable and verifiable.  You know, like a Law.

The old Magician from the Marseilles deck is much more like what magic is really about.  He’s slinging together odds and ends and making it up as he goes along.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but he’s NOT going to walk away from his table because most of the time it DOES work and he’s having a hell of a lot of fun.

The old Magician recognizes the Sacred Dictum passed down to us from the Ancients:  sometimes weird shit happens.  Magic, like life and emotions and love, is NOT always predictable.  That’s why all of the old cultures had trickster gods like Loki and Coyote and Raven, because sometimes life just jumps up in our faces, yells, “BOO!” and then laughs it’s ass off at us.

Here’s another interesting passage from Genevieve Davis, this one from her book Doing Magic: A Course in Manifesting an Exceptional Life Book 2

“There is a reason that women are particularly good at magic . . . the slightly chaotic nature of women, often negatively deemed ‘irrational,’ is actually a desired trait when doing Magic.  Embrace irrationality, embrace chaos, allow things to just turn out in whatever higgledy-piggledy pattern they please and you will find this SO much easier.”

The Law of Attraction ISN’T a Law.  It’s a general principle that if we act and think in a mostly positive manner then mostly positive things will mostly come into our lives.  Most of the time.

And that’s not only good enough, that’s GREAT!

We don’t need no stinking laws!