Friday, April 11, 2008

The White Heart of the World

Over the past couple of months a thread has loomed across across my path and as I love threads, I have followed it. It leads to Antarctica and it is a journey I encourage you to take.

We won't sail on the HMS Logic, because we'll only get seasick. We'll go by flights of fancy, grasping hold of mythical tails.

The navigator is not with us any more but he left directions. Robert Argod (a name fitted for mythology surely) passionately dedicated 40 years of his life to produce the manuscript for 'Out of Antarctica', the book I have just finished reading. He had an incredible knowledge of myth & was a master mariner (ah, did that get your attention?)

Through my previous post on Erebus, there awoke in me a passion for Antarctica. I decided to continue my searching, something did not feel right, something about the scientific interest in it and at the same time how little attention is called there, how quiet it is. I live in one of the closest countries in the world to this continent, but it is seldom mentioned. Attention is always directed 'up, up, up' to the rest of the world - America, Europe, China, Russia - they're all 'up'. Even on many world maps you don't see her, she's 'the invisible woman'.

So all hands to the spinning wheel.

What if the peoples of the world unravelled from Antarctica.

Argod, a name so reminiscent of Asgard, spun his own rainbow bridge from the 'frozen continent' to the islands of the Pacific. He wondered, as other's have done before, where do the peoples of the Pacific come from?

Now, this is not a book review, I can only highly recommend it. Argod captured my interest with his daring ideas & passion for Antarctica & because on the second page he brilliantly linked NZ (my home) with Easter Island & Hawaii, the two very places I was passionately drawn to last year.

Here was the first time I had come across a wholesome view of Antarctica. Published works on this continent cover topics of conquest, discovery, last frontier, scientific research, media hype visits & loads of 'informative' books for kids. A sort of on going autopsy. My son & I laughed at a picture of two puffed up researchers counting seals, OK I'm not an 'ologist', but the seals had a sort of 'F... off look', and for god's sake, they're murdering them up north.

So lets cast off or on depending on whether you prefer sailing or weaving..

What if the very roots of civilisation came from Antarctica, yes what if even the Ancients came from there. What if the creation & catastrophe myths that are so consistent throughout the world are talking about this place. What if she is the Motherland and what if one or more great cataclysms caused her to move to the position she is in now and make her peoples to flee to all corners of the world.

I am not a scientist, I am a wonderer. I wonder a lot & if a light goes on inside while I ponder then I follow it. Well the lights are blazing. Could Argod be right, I don't know, but 'strange things are afoot at the polar circle'.

The ice is breaking away from Antarctica & each year a huge hole in the ozone layer appears over her. If the heart of the planet was located here, does this equate to a thawing of the heart and can this be related to the thawing of the human heart that is taking place at this time. Alternatively, I am reminded of the monks tonsure located at the crown of the head, the seventh chakra - could the ozone hole be the tonsure of the world, allowing freer flow of energy to the chakras of Earth.

Give me a myth to a newspaper tale any day. And there's so many myths with such similar themes. Catastrophic devastation, flood & fire, destruction of mankind and cold & dark.

Argod gives historical & mythical examples from peoples & civilisations around the world. I have been making my own way through creation myths for children (well they're easier to read & I like the pictures). The Hawaiians refer to the land of their ancestors as a land of cold & shivering. Lolofonua, for Tongans, was 'a vast land situated in the nether regions of the lower hemisphere, surrounded by dark waters of the ocean'. This area was also referred to as the 'earth beneath' or the 'underworld'.

So that leads to more wondering. There's Niflheim ("house of mists") of Norse Mythology, a region of icy fogs and mists, darkness and cold. It has always been believed to be in the north, yet the description is given thus 'It is situated on the lowest level of the universe. The realm of death, Helheim is part of the vast, cold region. Niflheim lies underneath the third root of Yggdrasil, The World Tree - note the downward direction (my emphasis). Helheim is the abode of the dead and fits very nicely with the description of Hades, even having it's own 'hound of hell', Garm.

I wondered about Persephone, she's been popping up a lot for me lately. I wondered about the six months of winter, God I love wondering. What if the abduction of Persephone equates to the abduction of the sun for six months, at the south pole. After all, as Argod asserts, there must have been something very significant to create such monumental stories, and nothing could be more monstrous for humans than the loss of the sun. If such a thing happened it would be emblazoned on the psyche of humanity, and the fear that it could happen again would lead to all types of entreaty. Here perhaps would be a very potent reason for centuries of sacrifices to 'the sun'. Even the Egyptian images of the sun travelling in a barque could be explained by a sun that seems to travel close to the ocean "the course of this infant Sun assumes more & more strength each day, after the spring equinox, and daily hovers up and down just above the horizon, like a ship."

In history, Antarctica has not been a mystery to everyone. A map dating back to the first Babylonian dynasty indicates a land "where the sun no longer rises." The Piri Re'is map pretty well known now, but there are a number of other maps that are too accurate to be lightly dismissed as guesswork.

The Saint Isidore of Seville Map includes lines which translate to 'where the heat of the sun is unknown to us'

I thought again about Erebus (see previous post), and I wondered if her naming might not have been so haphazard after all. What if like Columbus, Ross knew where he was going and what he was going to find and name. The mythic descriptions of an underworld at the the bottom of the world fit Antarctica very well indeed. There is more wondering to be done here.

For a frozen wasteland there sure is a hive of activity down there, lots of scientists doing sciency things apparently. Bases, bases everywhere.

It's pretty much off limits to the rest of us, but luckily there are documentaries & books to save us the trouble. If Antarctica was the land of the creation myths, and that fact was known, then it would be very much sought after by science, and information to the general public ie. you & me, would be kept to a minimum. To deter questions or thinking for oneself, we would be reminded of it's inhospitable conditions through the rumour grapevine, er sorry the media via new-stories and movies like Disney's 8 Below.
While there is a tremendous cohesive quality to mythology from cultures all around the globe we have lacked that same cohesion in our actual history. Humanity seems such a disjointed race, I wonder if a joint homeland that belongs to no one would in some way be freeing.

While reading Argod's books I have had moments of that flicker of joy, the one you get when you're falling in love. Was it a deep psychic memory or wishful thinking, or a symbol of the 'home' I seek...I can't say. Nor could I be satisfied with a geographical address as 'the answer', I leave that to the realm of the half-hearted religion known as science.

For myself, and anyone else who wishes it, I seek the thirst-quenching spiritual dew that is missing from this world. I believe it is trying to return, re mingle, & reinvigorate all creation - maybe it is here already trapped and frozen at the bottom of the world.