Sunday, December 19, 2021

Dreaming the Cosmogram

Lucid dreaming from the hypnagogic zone

On the Cosmogram
Something is skimming the surface of wetlands. I can't see it clearly among the rushes. I am told it is a Nightskimmer. The marshes extend as far as the horizon. I wonder whether these are the waters between the worlds of the living and the dead in the Kongo cosmograms.
I see one of them now, drawn with motion signs to show progression from life through death to rebirth. The cycle moves from birth to death as the sun moves from sunrise to sunset. When the sun goes down in the world of the living, it rises in the white clay world of the dead. To die in one world is to be born in the other. To die in the world of the living is to “go upside down”.
Then there is the other arm of the cross within the circle. It is actually a vertical pole. It takes you up or down, between the two worlds. The way is open to the initiate and the sorcerer and the sacred king. In their different ways they stand feet planted in the cosmogram, connected to its points, choosing among its ways, drawing the flash of spirit from above and below.
Feelings: high excitement
Reality check: I am not versed in Kongo tradition or practice. However, I was intrigued by the pictures and commentaries of Kongo ground drawings (Brazilian: pintos riscados) of the cosmos in recent rereading of Robert Farris Thompson's wonderful book Flash of the Spirit.
The traditional cosmograms are usually highly abstract, often basically just a circle cross. In my lucid dream space, one came alive and I saw the parallel life and movement of the two worlds and how an initiate could himself become the vertical axis between them. I gave my figures bird crowns like Yoruba kings. My solar barque sailing both sides of the world-ocean recalls Egypt. In the African diaspora, the traditions stream together.
Since I have made drawing and coloring from dreams a daily practice, my imagery in the HG state is often very painterly, suggesting how to transfer something from the dreaming to a physical surface. I don't have the technical proficiency to bring through more than a small part of what my inner artist is showing me, but I'll go on doing what I can!

The drawing below came from another distinctly African passage in my recent dreaming in the liminal space between sleep and awake.

Bird on the Iron: Staff of Osanyin (Osain)

The bird of mind, the spirit head, floats above six iron spikes. This is the staff of Osanyin, wounded healer, lord of leaves, crippled orisha of medicine and initiation of the Yoruba. I own a staff just like this, in Afro-Brazilian style, that I acquired in Salvador da Bahia several decades ago. The bird, lean and graceful, hovers above the crossroads of the tricky god Eshu and the sharpened iron of the hard god Ogun. The spikes may also be a psychic stockade and the healer's apothecary tree. Look carefully and you may see the serpent energy raised.

Drawings (c) Robert Moss

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