Friday, October 23, 2009

Late October Walk in Cemetery

I couldn't walk today because of rain, but earlier this week, I walked in the Mason cemetery, and the background music was the calls of jays, flickers, and white-breasted nuthatches. Ordinarily, when walking in cemeteries, my attention is drawn to specific things, whether they be individual tombs or inscriptions on tombstones, or features of nature, such as the roots of trees or shelf fungus. However, this time I attempted to take in the big picture, to de-focus on the near-by objects , so I could view the cemetery as a whole, and take it in as a unit.

Scanning the landscape, it is obvious that the oldest part of the cemetery occupies the higher, hillier part, and the newer sections are laid out on the flatter peripheries. I especially noticed the height and massiveness of many of the Victorian monuments. The density and verticality of these monuments suggest the buildings of a city, and of course, a cemetery is often referred to as a necropolis, a “city of the dead.” In the modern necropolis, the newer sections are more like the suburbs, (with their smaller monuments, some of them just flat plaques). Making comparisons to the current and Victorian eras, I wonder if the Victorian era was a more exuberantly optimistic period, because ordinary people could still be a part of world-changing discoveries, and that now our energies and expectations are more reined in, making us a diminished people, to correspond with our diminished tombstones. (It’s not that you can’t explore, and discover, and build, and create anything today, but you generally have to be a member of a highly specialized elite, with officially recognized degrees and licenses.)

If we are living in an age of greater restrictions, that might also restrict the expression of our “chi,” the life energy generated by our minds and bodies. If you live with a greater sense of “possibility,” would you radiate a stronger energy field? One of the reasons I’ve always enjoyed walking in older cemeteries is that tall standing stone monuments seem to project power. Perhaps there are feng shui principles here, with the monuments drawing up earth energies. Credo Mzulu Mutwa, in his book on Zulu shamanism, mentions that people in Africa respect tall standing stones because of the earth energies they channel, and that these stones have a very high polish because of thousands of years of human’s rubbing or anointing them. Of course, if one entertains ideas of earth energies, one might also entertain the possibility that tombstones radiate other metaphysical energies because of their association with the dead, and that a very expressive tombstone might also be able to convey a sense of the presence of the individual it commemorates.

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