Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Cosmic Trickster: Dark Energy
“Your work, projected into the future, is pulled back to earth by dark energy, the glue which binds the cosmos together..” Marilyn Nelson, The Cachoeira Tales And Other Poems
Trick – A device or action designed to achieve an end by deceptive or fraudulent means: stratagem; ruse. 2. A mischievous action; practical joke; prank.
Trickster- One who tricks; a cheater. – American Heritage Dictionary(1969)
The word “trick” is derived from the Latin tricari, “to start difficulties, dally” (ibid) but what really is a trickster? How do we know one when we see one, and who are they? The archetype of trickster exists throughout many cultures throughout history. In his book Trickster and the Paranormal, the author George P. Hansen states that;
The trickster is a character type that appears worldwide in folklore and mythology. The term was probably first introduced in this context in 1885 by Daniel G. Brinton. Virtually all cultures have tricksters, and there are innumerable examples; a few include: coyote of North American Indians, Hermes of the Greeks, Eshu-Elegba of West Africa, and Loki of the Norse. There is considerable diversity among them. At one end are primitive buffoons, at the other gods. (35)
It is my assertion that the idea of “trickster” is very obvious and integral in many cultures, it is often absent or misunderstood in our current 20th century culture of the United States. As a result of this the “trickster” often goes ignored or undervalued as a force that also instigates and creates new paradigms within as a quality that it embodies. Again George Hansen writes;
In some societies, trickster tales are sacred; restrictions and prohibitions surround them. Not just anybody is allowed to tell the stories because they have power of their own. This assertion seems decidedly irrational in Western thought, but this is the crux of the matter. The trickster shows some fundamental limitations of the Western conceits of logic, objectivity, and rationality. (36)
Tricksters can either be intentionally or unwittingly tricky, in either case the energy is always a catalyst for change. Trickster is the desire for nature to reveal itself. It is the universe desire to expand beyond its boundaries. Tricksters remind us of our “edges” the places where there is room for growth. If there is any “truth” in the expression that “nature abhors a vacuumed”, then unconsciously our minds desire to fill space with thoughts and definitions of whom we are as “identity”. Ironically this is also what narrows possibility of expansion. In the trickster story, the trickster is the perpetrator who often initiates an emotional response. Emotional reactivity is intelligent method of maintaining hope or fear in our lives. Hopes and fears maintain the status quo in the universe. Aversion and attachment, repulsion and attraction, all of these are the same forces which drive evolution forward. The trickster interrupts the cycle of hope and fear, and shifts thought into the realm of reversals. Trickster can also embody the converse of this by changing the flow of the moment bringing the practitioner into a state of hope and fear. Basically they hold this role of spontaneous engagement at any moment, especially when one is sure that they understand, and are in a place of clarity, this is where the trickster enjoys themselves the best. Tricksters can often change shapes and forms, leading one to believe it is formless. The instigator never reveals itself until after the trick, and the trick always comes when least expected. Hence the old expression, “Change is constant”, or the converse; “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” These are expressions that comfort the trickster bite, which sometimes worse than its bark.
The largest force of repulsion which we know about is from the theory of the big bang. About 13.7 billion years ago the cosmos as we know it is said to have exploded itself with tremendous force.
In physical cosmology, the Big Bang is the scientific theory that the universe emerged from a tremendously dense and hot state about 13.7 billion years ago. The theory is based on the observations indicating the expansion of space (in accord with the Robertson-Walker model of general relativity) as indicated by the Hubble red shift of distant galaxies taken together with the cosmological principle.
As the current scientific myth has it, after the dense contraction of the early universe there was a repulsion, and explosion of force and matter that under incredible heat which continues to this day. The cooling and spreading on the universe continues to grow, and what plays maybe the most prominent role in this story today is what we call “dark energy.”
The universe today appears to be dominated by a mysterious form of energy known as dark energy. Approximately 70% of the total energy density of today's universe is in this form. This dark energy causes the expansion of the universe to deviate from a linear velocity-distance relationship, observed as a faster than expected expansion at very large distances. Dark energy in its simplest formulation takes the form of a cosmological constant term in Einstein's field equations of general relativity, but its composition is unknown and, more generally, the details of its equation of state and relationship with the standard model of particle physics continue to be investigated both observationally and theoretically. (ibid)
Could this “dark energy” be the greatest trickster of them all? We are only beginning to discover and understand very little about what consumes us the most. Humans are composed from the same “stuff”, as Shakespeare would have it, “it is interred in our bones.” We are walking talking billion year old embodied matter of the universe. As my favorite songwriter Joni Mitchell would say, “We are stardust, made from billion year old carbon, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” In this case, the garden is a void of aversion to which we currently have no explanation. Is this force the embodiment of the cosmic trickster?
The November 17th, edition of The New York Times, reported new information two scientists have discovered on the current thinking of dark energy.
‘We see it doing its thing, starting to fight against ordinary gravity,’ Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute said about the antigravity force, known as dark energy. He is the leader of a team of "dark energy prospectors," as he calls them, who peered, back nine billion years with the Hubble and were able to discern the nascent effects of antigravity. The group reported their observations at a news conference yesterday and in a paper to be published in The Astrophysical Journal.
Dark energy is the force in which continues to separate and expand the universe at what is called the “cosmological constant”.
‘The data suggest that, in fact, dark energy has changed little, if at all, over the course of cosmic history. Though hardly conclusive, that finding lends more support to what has become the conventional theory, that the source of cosmic antigravity is the cosmological constant, a sort of fudge factor that Einstein inserted into his cosmological equations in 1917 to represent a cosmic repulsion embedded in space.’(ibid)
Dark energy was there at the creation of the universe, at the big bang, and will continue until “it overwhelms everything” said article.
In the scientific myth which we are telling in our shared consciousness, we are transparently telling the story which has been told in cultures who never even dreamed of the telescope. We come from darkness, from the void, and that dark presence, or energy is what is pushing us beyond our limitations and edges to this day.
Black is the void. Black is space devoid of vibration, the ‘black hole’, the womb, infinite possibility. Black as the inside of a deep cavern, and is the beginning from where anything is possible. Black is every color, and therefore gives birth to light. To know ourselves, to know history, we journey back to the farthest reaches of our consciousness, beyond time and space to the void in search of our own creation. In this search we uncover myths, statues, idols, folklore, and scripture that leads us further down the ‘worm-hole’ of time. Through our excavation we uncover our past and in doing so make transparent the black from which we all came.
By looking to the past, we uncover the future. In her book, The First Book of the Black Goddess, author Matoma Alesha begins with the eternal, the goddess called ‘Nut’, who also represents the cosmos. Blue and black of the sky which covers the earth, which the early Khemites described as “higher than the stars and the planets.” From Nut, the empty universe, she delves into the stars, Sun, planets as goddess form, from Andromeda, to the earth to the moon. All are considered goddess. The dark moon considered the time of renewal and regeneration, calm and serene. Nut gives birth to the entire universe.
Matoma Alesha brings us back to the root of humankind, the root of our matrilineal line. She begins and ends in the same place with the blackness from which everything came, the blackness that is African. She brings forward this concept of; “from the darkness, light was born” by recreating the evolution of ‘herstory’, and the lineage of the dark mother, throughout time and technology. There is no separation between the concept of ‘blackness’ and the creation of humankind. “The color black is a very important element of growth, development and spiritual cultivation.” (289) “The black goddess is all these things. She is possible and powerful in many forms and all forms. This is important though know when one approaches this archetype.”(37)
I equate this theory with the passage from the book, Principle of Shakti: “To the Shaktas, Shakti is divine; it is Pure Consciousness, Supreme power, that lies inside and out, regulates the world-mechanism and makes itself felt every moment through all efforts-physical and mental.” (66)
Sri Ramakrsna who had an intimate relationship with the form of this ‘energy’ called Kali; a trickster in her own right. He is quoted to say;
The Primordial Power is forever at play. She is creating, preserving, and destroying in play as it were. This Power is called Kali. Kali is verily Brahman, and Brahman is verily Kali. It is one and same Reality. When we think of it as inactive, that is to say, not engaged in the acts of creation, preservation, and destruction, then we call it Brahman. But when it engages in these activities, then we call it Kali or Shakti. The Reality is one and the same; the difference is in name and form.
This force is beyond good or bad. She yields the power to create and to take away. She illuminates the duality of existence by taking away the suffering, with her fire, for her name is derived from the word Kala, time. Overall she is the Great Mother, from which all life is born. In fact if we look at the root form, “Kala” (time) in the scriptures the sages regard as an attribute of “eternal cosmic energy.” As Shyam Ghosh writes about in The Hindu Concept of Life and Death;
‘Kala was the kinetic quality of the self existing supreme force which manifested in several modes, including consciousness in all living beings. As Yama (temporal time) kala regulated the term of manifested existence: it yoked and collected back the same to its unmanifested form.’ (186)
Thus Kali not only is the mistress of time, but also the creatrix given that she is pure potential and consciousness in all-living beings. It is Maya or Moha desire that brings the atma back into prakriti; the soul into form. Kali because of her pure potentiality has the ability to tare through these veils that keep one in the eternal samskara, the reliving of the same patterns of negative behavior again and again.
Mahakala is eternal time. Immortality is Brahman. Immortality is the combination of Agni, (energy) and Mahakala (eternal time) they are at the root of all which exists. Thus they are interchangeable. “I alone turn the Wheel of Time. That indeed is my cosmic form. I quiesce all mortals. I also activate them.” Brahma Purana. LVI.44
Kala is continuum. Immortality as Brahman. The Devi Upanishad explains;
‘I am essentially Brahman. From me has proceeded the world comprising of Prakriti and Purusha, the void and the Plenum. I am bliss and non-bliss. Knowledge and ignorance are Myself.
I am the five elements and also what is different from them, the panchabhutas ( gross elements) and tanmatras (five subtle elements).
I am the entire world.
I am the Veda as well as what is different from it.
I am unknown.
Below and above and around am I.’
It is said that through propitiating her all the gods and goddesses are propitiated. She is the creatrix of the universe to fulfill her lila of creation, preservation, and destruction. She creates the goddesses and destroys them at the time of Universal dissolution. According to the Kalika Upanishad she is the bestower of all possessions of life, and also gives oneness with Brahman, and in this case Brahman is everything, including the void, which everything is birthed.
In conclusion, well, there is no conclusion. Our current reality shifts from on theory to another, science “discovers” or reveals more to this cosmological equation that we call “the universe”, as Her bidding. She plays with us again and again. The trickster is forever at play. Call Her what you will, as China Galland describes in her book, Into the Darkness; “Thus emptiness can be said to be dark or black to us. This is the womb of enlightment. This is Wisdom. This is the mother of All the Buddhas, this is Tara.”(342)