Creating A Vocabulary: Ancient Science And The Heart

More and more I’m starting to understand the wisdom of ancient science.

I believe in the four elements. Our bodies return to dust and are full of water — therefore we are made of earth and water. And we describe angry people as being fiery, and fire seems to be alive in a sense, so maybe we are also part fire.

You’ll notice that even in modern science these four elements correspond to the four states of matter — solids, liquids, gases and plasmata.

I’ve already written about how I believe in the four personalities, which are tied to these elements. (Interesting links to a series by herbologist Rebecca Altman which keep disappearing and which I will someday plagiarize here, here, here and here.)

Just looking around my room. My television set is made of plastic — which is derived from the earth — and uses electricity — which is a kind of fire. My guitar is made of wood, which is from the earth and was nourished by water and sun — which is a kind of fire. My glass is made from sand — earth — and refined by fire.

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Astrology is retarded, though. Some people claim that it predicted their personality, but those things are written vaguely enough that they will fit most people. Just for kicks and giggles, I took one of those tests. It gave me a Sagitarrius, when actually I’m a Virgo. They connected this to the four personalities, so I looked that up. Virgos are melancholic personalities. My brother and I were both born in early September — I’m a strong choleric and he’s a strong sanguine.

So Astrology is for stupid people looking for truth in a world without God. No surprise there.

Then I looked up what a Virgo personality is specifically. I get that these are just pop websites for bored housewives, but it’s probably rooted in some kind of tradition if there actually is one. It at least correlates to the melancholic personality like Wikipedia said.

So a Virgo has attention to detail and a great memory and is a perfectionist, naturally humble, creative, loyal and patient. Wouldn’t most people describe themselves as that?

I’ve half-assed most things in my life. The only exception I can think of is my writing. I’m not usually described as being humble or patient. Loyalty is just a value, not a personality trait.

I picked the Gemini sign at random to see what its traits are. Would you describe yourself as versatile, smart, not-sensative-to-emotions, playful? Then you might be a Gemini! Maybe I’m a Gemini, and my birth certificate is wrong.

Except that all those describe the choleric personality, and the website says that this is an air (sanguine) personality.

If you want to know the kind of person who is into astrology, it’s the kind of person who would read or write this paragraph:

The hot tip for hot sex for Gemini is Sagittarius (indeed, there isn’t a sign alive that a red-hot Saggie can’t warm up, even chilly Gemmys). Gemmy and Saggie are like two naughty, daredevil, party-hard freaks who will dare each other on and on to greater height of sexual adventures… it’s exciting (but probably not long-lasting)!

Ten bucks says the writer thinks Christianity is outdated.

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St John Damascene had some interesting thoughts on ancient science in his second book of An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, though it seems weirdly off-topic from everything else. The part about the seasons being different levels of heat and dryness was something I had never thought about. He talks a lot about winds; apparently they have names.

I’m not sure how much I believe in all that, but I kind of hate that it’s lost knowledge. Like, we look at the sky, and it’s just a random mess of dots. The same thing with plants. People used to see weeds and trees and know what medicine they were for — now we don’t know the difference between an oak and a hickory. Maybe there’s more to the winds than we realize. I’m not going to judge a topic I know nothing about, unless it’s astrology.

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I don’t know what that means, but the part about winter being the melancholic cold-wet season of nighttime and north is probably something significant that I’ve never thought about. I have no clue what that has to do with the bull, the page, the body and “confusing”.

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Most importantly, I don’t think the heart is an allegory. It’s often thought that any talk about the heart being connected to the soul is just poetic, as though this organ was chosen at random.

I’ve come to accept that there’s more to the heart than pumping blood. I mean this literally.

When you get angry, your blood pumps faster, and you lose your ability to think rationally. When you are in extreme sadness, particularly over love, you can feel the pain in your chest, especially where the heart is.

Something about the heart is connected to your emotions. The line between the spiritual and physical is thinner than we think. It can’t be an accident that the heart has been used poetically for so long.

Nor is this just a Western thing. A friend of the blog is of Eastern Indian descent. (Yes, I have colored friends — I’m just not racist enough to brag about them to prove I’m not racist.) I asked him if this imagery of the heart is also present in his culture. He writes,

To be honest, I really can’t say. I know in Malayalis movies they use language like “He broke my heart”. But I think this is because of westernization more than anything. Like I don’t think that movies 40 years ago would have that sort of language. But in terms the heart being associated with love, I think there is a connection. I know in Kerala Christianity there is, and I’m certain there is a connection in Hinduism. I don’t know about romantic love though.

I looked it up and there is a Sanskrit word for heart called “hṛd”. It can also refer to soul, spirit, and mind as well as the actual organ

I don’t know exactly why or how it works, but I’ve come to believe that the heart is the house of the soul. Why not? Everyone else seems to think so.

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