Baal's Cedar: Natib Qadish, Canaanite Religion
Natib Qadish, a polytheistic religion which reveres the Canaanite deities, is based on ancient culture and the cuneiform texts found at the city of Ugarit. The Canaanites lived 3200 years ago in the areas of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine.
I share articles and commentary rooted in polytheistic, Near Eastern, Levantine, Middle Eastern, Anatolian, and Natib Qadish perspectives. I teach about the deities, festivals, cultures, divination, magic, divination, and beliefs.
The Gift of Dissolution
Day 12 [Shalamu] (month), Shanatu 84 (year)*
A multiplying mound of books, clothes, stones, CDs, DVDs, videos, toys and tchotchkes gather on the edge of a lush Persian rug and the hardwood floor. Near a shining new shredder nests a box overflowing with obsolete paperwork and junk mail. I’ve rolled up my sleeves and I’m taking responsibility for my surroundings. Everyone has baggage, but it’s up to us to unpack and see if we really want to schlep what’s in those bags. The items that we keep around us reflect the mental state, emotions, memories we choose to value.
I can find no better activity than to engage in an activity which results in self-improvement and in giving to charity simultaneously in preparation for my new year's festival.
In exchange for this purging, I gain more closet space, more file space, more shelf space, more organization, a better understanding of what I have, an appreciation for my many blessings, and a better grasp on where things are. I have found items missing for a year. I’ve removed ink pens and lighters from my endangered species list. The dining room table is a nice dark brown color—who would have guessed? I had the table stacked high with papers that I had been sorting.
It’s a difficult task to go through all worldly possessions and choose which to let go and which to keep. I’ve come up with a list of questions, and “If the answer is no, I let it go.”
Do I like this item? If no, I waste no time in putting it in the charity pile. A plastic whistle from a promotional booth didn’t spend much time in my hot little hand before making it to the let-go pile.
Do I still like this item? Sometimes I used to like an item, but I confuse what I used to like and what I like now. I have learned to give myself permission to like different things than I used to, and to be a different from who I was. I allow myself freedom from the obligation of keeping something in which I no longer have interest. I’ve added a few books and CDs I used to like but do not plan on listening or reading again in the near future. It’s time to let someone else enjoy them as much as I used to. If I still like it, I get to enjoy it anew as if it were a buried treasure.
Have I used this item in a year? If no, I will often consider carefully if I really need it, then it hits the pile.
Am I keeping this because I want to? I’ve carried items with me that were on loan or that I was holding for a friend. If I haven’t seen that friend in ten years, my statute of limitations is up. If I like the item, I’ll keep it. If I need to let go of the item, then I do so. I’ve come across a few things I have felt obligated to keep because they are from a person who was or is important to me—this is when I have to make a tough choice and reconsider if I need the item, if I want it; if it carries good memories or emotional conflict.
Does this add to my collection? Like any other person, I collect some things. What I collect now is not what I used to collect, so if it is part of an old collection I go back to the question, “Do I still like this item?” If the answer is no, I let it go. If I still collect the type of item or I am indecisive, I ask myself “Does this item add value to my existing collection?” I adore Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series and I have since junior high. At an antique and junk store years ago, I found an old hardback copy of the first three novels bound together. It’s not a signed edition and I have sturdy separate paperbacks of all three novels. When I bought the old copy, the dustcover had creases and tears, the binding showed breaks in three places, the lithography had faded, and the pages looked stained and mottled like a heavy tobacco-chewer’s teeth. One day, I may have the luck and good fortune to get a pristine signed first edition. I choose to let go of this ragged, time-eaten copy to make room for something better. Even if nothing better comes along, I will have more space on my shelf for other interests which come and go in the interim.
Is this item still a part of my life? We human beings reside in a constant, dynamic state of flux. We don’t have to be the same person we once were, and we may not have the same needs as once we did. I’ve had eight tarot decks playing hide and seek in my homes. Although I used to read tarot, I haven’t in years. It’s not a form of divination that appeals to me anymore, especially when I have other modes available through ancient Canaanite ways. I have dropped the hammer on five of those decks. The other three I keep because I like the art, but the time may come when I will let them pass too.
Do I need clothes, shoes, commemorative t-shirts, and bags to fill a walk-in closet? When at least half of the world can answer no to that question, I reevaluate my situation. Older western homes have small closets, according to some people’s modern standards. I believe that my ancestors’ practical sensibilities guide me well, and these small closets provide an opportunity for reassessment. More clothes mean more laundry, more upkeep, more mending, more real estate to house them, and more effort organizing. This takes away from what I really value: time with friends and family, time writing, time creating. It takes extra resources: water for washing, electricity for drying, time and money, fields and pesticides for growing cotton, emissions from factories making the items, and often wage slavery in countries with poor labor protection. I let go of items I no longer need, and I let go of the lower-quality items in my wardrobe to make room for a smaller amount of quality pieces preferably made in better conditions.
Is the item in good shape? If a broken item cannot or will not get repaired, it should go. I’ve found this matter difficult: a dear lady gave me a delicate item she had made and I adored the item for years and brought it out seasonally. I have been surprised to see that it has held up, but the last move left it shattered in dozens of irreparable pieces. Even when I know that letting go is necessary, it doesn’t stop the ache of parting ways.
Does this item contribute to order? Too much chaos is counterproductive. If the item is helpful, useful, pleasant, or important to keep, I keep it. If it just sits there collecting dust and adding unwanted clutter, it’s time to kiss it goodbye. I refuse to become that little old lady who lives in the same house for fifty years and never gets rid of anything. If my ancestors could keep track of their entire household inventory, I should endeavor to do likewise. In understanding my inventory, I know exactly what I have and where it is so if anything is lost in flood or fire (deities forbid!), I’ll know what’s missing and what it’s worth to replace it when the insurance representative comes knocking.
Is this paperwork under ten years old? If it is, I keep it. If this paperwork is ten years old or older, does it still have relevance today? If yes, I keep it. As I go through the household, I’ve noticed that the level in the to-be-shredded box varies. For every stack I let go, I find a new junk mail stash. I’ll get through it eventually. I’ve even let go of a few greeting cards. It is of greater benefit for me to call loved ones (and have them call me) so that we can exchange our sentiments. Greeting cards are great, it’s just that for me they have an expiration date. A couple of times when I’ve fed items through the shredder’s slot, I’ve felt nauseous only to realize that an item had some emotional content, whether mine or someone else’s. Afterwards I will feel cleaner and lighter, but in that moment it feels like a case of psychic food poisoning. Other times, I stick a rejection letter, annoying junk mail, or an emotionally distasteful item in the shredder, and I feel a flicker of savage joy—I taste it like hot blood from the hunt.
The tiredness I have felt over the past few days is rivaled by the discomfort: from sore muscles and headaches, to feeling emotionally raw. It’s a gritty, dusty, harsh process which requires no small amount of willpower, ruthlessness, and brutal honesty.
Even when we want change, even when we catalyze it, even when we embrace it like a long-lost lover, it will still leave us feeling exposed, vulnerable, tender, and stripped to the core. I have felt as if my atoms had split away from one another, as if I’m dissolved. As a recent dream taught me, I shift from watered-down, to filtered, then to concentrated. This sense of fragmentation causes that which is unnecessary to scatter like chaff on the wind and brings me into a new understanding of myself and my chosen environment. When the splitting is done, my essence, my napshu (soul), will form itself in a new pattern which will fit who I truly am—not who others want me to be, not what I think I “should” be, not what I once was, but who I am now.
The burning destruction, the smoldering ruins of what once was gives way to realizing and manifesting who I am now, and it is a powerful, humbling, strengthening, and purified state. This is the gift of dissolution, of dis-illusion.
*This date reflects a date in the Canaanite calendar according to Ugaritic texts from 1200 BCE. All we have left of this intercalary month's name is "sh". In the reconstructed calendar, we call this month "Shalamu" which means "peace" and "peace offering." It is the twelfth day from the new moon. Our next holiday falls on the new moon before autumnal equinox, and that holiday is 'Ashuru Mathbati, also spelled 'Ashuru Mothbati, the Festival of Dwellings, which falls on September 15, 2012 of the secular calendar. The coming holiday is our new year.
Image notes: photo is my own. Please do not copy without permission.
Please login first in order for you to submit comments