Anda di halaman 1dari 24

INTERLUDES 1 SUMMER 2011

Trigger 93: i nTerludes 1 Editor-in-Chief Art Director Managing Editor Logo Design Ayesha Adamo Bryce Churchill Michele Strevel Juan Ramirez

Cover Photo: Sahure Pyramid at Abusir by Bryce Churchill Subscriptions For subscription information and editorial correspondence, visit: http://www.Trigger93.com or write: Trigger93 Columbia University Station P.O. Box 250777 New York, NY 10025 Trigger93 (ISSN 2159-9289) 2011 Aiwaz Press.

Contents
4 8 20
Retellings of Terror: Stories in Order to Live by Morgan Childs Astrology In Ancient Egypt by Bryce Churchill Each Night In Rapture by Ayesha Adamo

What follows here is the premier issue of Trigger93: Interludes, an online, short-form sampling of the sort of writing and images that appear in the biannual print editions of Trigger93. While our print editions are each organized around a particular subjectsuch as language, the body, or timeTrigger93: Interludes present a collection of work that is juxtaposed in a more anarchic manner, without the declaration of a particular theme. Of course, all issues under the Trigger93 umbrella tend to touch upon the magickal, spiritual, religious or uncanny, and in this respect, the Interludes are no exception. This issue includes some thoughts on the ghosts of Raptures past, an exploration of the role of the storyteller, and an account of astrology in ancient Egypt. Enjoy.

Morgan Childs currently lives in New York City and studied theatre with a focus on Czech and Central European performance at Barnard College, Columbia University. As a playwright, Morgan recently received the Helen Prince Memorial Prize and has been awarded an artist's residency at New York Stage & Film's 2011 Powerhouse Season. She was also a guest artist at the 2010 Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive. She is a native of Texas.

Retellings Of Terrr: StOries in order tO Live


by Mor gan Childs

I had an intense wish to understand, I was constantly pervaded by a curiosity that somebody afterwards did, in fact, deem nothing less than cynical: the curiosity of the naturalist who finds himself transplanted into an environment that is monstrous, but new, monstrously new. Primo Levi 1

We tell ourselves stories in order to live, says Didion, if I remember correctly, though perhaps it wasnt her, it may have been someone else, it may have been Oscar Wilde, it may have been her publisher, it may have been Bartlett, or you, or I, orI suppose it might have been Didion after all, but with an asterisk, a nota bene, hovering over those words to live, which is to say, more likely we tell ourselves stories in order not to die. We tell ourselves stories in order to live, she said, and now weve all said it: this story we have plastered on our brains and our bumper stickers, a story we retell without understanding. But to live is the seducer in a rhetoric that means to have a life, and so we fabulate the notion that our storytelling is something more than a means of preservation, or a deflection of shame, or a method of untangling, or a disablement of terror. We tell ourselves stories in order to live, she says, or perhaps, so we can make some sense of things and get on with our lives. We find shame in the living but art in the retelling. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices, Didion writes.
1

Philip Roth, "Philip Roth talks to the Italian writer Primo Levi about his life and times," London Review of Books 8.18 (1986): 17-19, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v08/ n18/philip-roth/philip-roth-talks-to-the-italian-writer-primo-levi-about-his-lifeand-times (30 September 2010).

Morgan Childs

We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ideas with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.2 Didion said that, Benjamin said that. Taussig said that; also, Freud. Wilde probably said that. Nietzsche said that: Look, isnt our need for knowledge precisely this need for the familiar, the will to uncover under everything strange, unusual, and questionable something that no longer disturbs us?3 We put Didion on our bumper stickers because she looks better with a cigarette. The storyteller takes what he tells from experience, Walter Benjamin writes, his own or that reported by others. And he in turn makes it the experience of those who are listening to his tale.4 We tell ourselves stories in order to surrender them. We tell them in order to transfer them. And what of the unimaginable, inhuman stories, the savage/colonizer, the victim/victimizer, the subjected/ subjugator? The same is true. Joan Didions The White Album should come with a warning: these are yours, no longer mine alone; make of them what you will, take them off my hands, make sense of them. But that label, Didions emblazoned asterisk, would strike such fear in a readers heart that, instead: We tell ourselves stories in order to live (and so we purchase the book, because weve heard that before, and it is beautiful; perhaps Oscar Wilde once said it). And so, the storyteller lives on, having made sense of his stories by means of articulation, parsed the ambiguities in the vocabulary of his own experience; he softens his gaze and settles to rest and shifts his nightmares to the dreamscapes of his listeners, closing his eyes, in order to live. And so we surrender the interpretation of terrorand the terror of interpretationto new raconteurs, whose reflections in
Joan Didion, The White Album (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1979), 11. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books, 1974), 300-301. 4 Walter Benjamin, The Storyteller, Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 87.
2 3

Retellings of Terror: Stories in Order to Live

the mirror of art gently deviate from our own. This re-representation, performance, mimesis of the unthinkable fails to pierce its audience in the same manner achieved by its original, episodic form, though. [W]e are watching the watchers so that with our explanation we can pin them down and then pin down the real meaning of terror, putting it in the stocks of explanation, writes Michael Taussig. Yet in watching in this way we are made blind to the way that terror makes mockery of sensemaking, how it requires sense in order to mock it, and how in that mockery it heightens both sense and sensation.5 A story, pure, remains unkissed by the lips through which it is told. We tell ourselves stories in order to relate them to other people, and yet in their senselessness, the stories tumble out of our mouths leaden with mockery or light with the absence of meaning. A reader, a listener, should thirst for a story in its elemental purity, unexplained, un-understood, untouched by light or air; a story in a vacuum, told in an unspoken language and yet, a universal one, for in all translationGerman to English, parable to novel, experience to retellingmeaning is casualty. And yet therein lies the necessity of the art-in-vain. We tell ourselves stories in order to live, and so, we are able to say the unsayable, for once Benjamins egg of experience is hatched, the dream-bird takes wholly different form.6 We tell ourselves stories in order to lie, and in that certain falsehood, we give them and ourselves a means by which to continue living.

Michael Taussig, Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 132. 6 Walter Benjamin, The Storyteller, Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 91.
5

Bryce Churchill is an audio and visual artist living in Brooklyn, NY. He has been a student and teacher of Thelema for over 20 years. Bryce serves as Imperator of Aiwass Temple in NYC, and is a member of the Ordo Templi Orientis. In his spare time, he studies ancient music and architecture, practices Aikido, and builds vintage amps and analog modular synthesizers. For info about monthly talks on occult topics in NYC, visit www.aiwass.org

AstrolOgy in Ancient Egypt


by Bryce Chur chill

The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs. Worship then the Khabs, and behold my light shed over you! Liber AL vel Legis

As a child I spent many nights in the desert gazing up at the sky, wondering what lies far beyond this terrestrial sphere. At that age of discovery, I was at first intimidated by the vast distance between me and the stars. I felt so insignificant compared to the beauty of the immeasurable heavens. Miles and millennia away, the priestastronomers of ancient Egypt also looked to the sky with wonder and they said: we are a part of this. In ancient Egypt, these star-gazing priests were responsible for objectively interpreting the divine will of the gods, whose influence was thought to determine the fate of all mankind.1 The activities of the neteru, or universal principles of nature, were never hidden nor secret. Any person who cared to gaze up at the celestial bodies in the heavens could observe the motions and judgments of this Divine Governmentthus allowing (clear weather permitting) an absolute administrative transparency. This was the royal art of reflecting the above to the below, the macrocosm to the microcosm, heaven to earth. This was the true and original purpose of ancient astrology. Insurmountable evidence exists showing the importance of astronomical events in ancient Egypt. The earliest example yet discovered is at the Nabta Playa (circa 6000 BC), where stone megalithic circles
1

R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, Sacred Science: The King of Pharonic Theocracy, trans. Andr and Goldian VandenBroeck (New York: Inner Traditions, 1982), 169.

10

Bryce Churchill

were constructed to mark the positions of key stars over a period of possibly thousands of years.2 A granite stone block from the reign of the Second-Dynasty king Khasekhemwy (c. 2650 BC) illustrates the ritual of ped shedj, stretching the chord, which was performed before laying the foundation of a temple or monument and relied on the positions of the Great Bear (possibly the constellation Ursa Major, and associated with Set)3 and Sah (the constellation Orion, associated with Osiris) to determine the cardinal points.4 It symbolically tied the monument to the axis of rotation of the vault of heaven. The pyramids at Giza are a testament to the precision with which they were able to achieve this accuracy (within 0.5%, which was proven by Livio C. Stecchini to be aligned using the stars).5 There are still many other examples of the ancient Egyptians intentionally aligning themselves with the patterns and events in the heavens, and these only await further scientific validation. Prior to the first appearance of the zodiac in ancient Egypt, star charts were the primary record of Egyptians astronomical knowledge. These lists consisted of depictions of the night sky divided into 36 decanates (10 segments of the 360 eclipticor possibly 5 pentades as suggested by Cyril Fagan).6 Examples have survived from as early as 2150 BC in the coffin lids found at Asyut.7 They may have been used as sidereal star clocks, measuring time during the night by observing the stars rising above the horizon. Similar early star charts were also discovered in the tomb of Queen Hatshepsut's superintendent Senmut (c. 1473 BC) near Hatshepsut's temple
J. McK Malville, R. Schild, F. Wendorf, R. Brenmer, Astronomy of the Nabta Playa, African Skies 11 (July 2007): 2. 3 Herman te Velde, Seth, God of Confusion, trans. G. E. van Baaren-Pape (Leiden: Brill Archive, 1977), 86. 4 Michael Rice, Egypt's Making (London: Psychology Press, 2003), 151. 5 Peter Tompkins, Livio Catullo Stecchini, Secrets of the Pyramids (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 416. 6 Cyril Fagan, Astrological Origins (St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1971), 47. 7 A. Pogo, Calendars on Coffin Lids from Asyut, Isis 17.1 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 1932): 6.
2

Astrology In Ancient Egypt in Thebes.8

11

In other examples, these star charts appear to have been idealized placements of the planets and stars as a sort of talisman for good fortune in the afterlife of the deceased. One of the oldest of these is at the Ramesseum in Karnak (c. 1288 BC). It depicts several of the planets: the Moon (bearing the legend In the middle of the Boat), Harakhte (Mars), Har-wep-sheta (Jupiter), Har-pa pet (Saturn), Sebeg (Mercury), and Benu (Venus).9 This type of horoscope appears in many other temples and tombs as wellsuch as Senmut's tomb, the temple of Rameses II at Abydos, the temple of Rameses II at Medinat Habu, the tombs of Rameses VI, VII, IX at Thebes, the sarcophagus of Prince Nectanebo, the coffin of Hor-nef-tef of the Saite period, and two tombs at Alfih of the Ptolemaic period.10 Aside from the planets, it is still debated which exact stars and constellations are listed in these star charts. But the most prominent star in the night sky, Sopdet (or Greek Sothis), known today to be the star Sirius, is one of the few that have been certainly identified. This star was considered the marker for the Opening of the Year. It is often represented as a reclining cow with a star between her horns, and was associated with Isis.11 Her consort was Sah, also known as the neighboring constellation Orion and associated with Osirus. A very extraordinary feature of the star Sirius is that during the time period spanning ancient Egyptian civilizationand from the latitudinal location of Egyptthe date of the annual heliacal rising of Sirius was barely affected by the phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes (the approximately 26,000 year retrograde
Ove von Spaeth, Dating the Oldest Egyptian Star Map, Centaurus International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology 42:3 (July/August 2000): 159. 9 Cyril Fagan, Astrological Origins (St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1971), 65. 10 Ibid, 47. 11 H. E. Winlock, Origin of the Ancient Egyptian Calendar, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 83 (September 1940): 447.
8

12

Bryce Churchill

cycle of the position of the stars relative to Spring Equinox, which is due to the wobble of the earth's axis of rotation). Due to Sirius crossing of the axis between the celestial and ecliptic poles (roughly between 12000 BC and 1000 AD), it was the only star whose annual "rebirth" from the Duat (below the horizon) remained roughly the same number of days apart from the Summer solstice throughout the entire period of Egyptian historyseemingly unaffected by the precessional cycle.12 This would have been a prime reason for ancient Egyptians to rely on Sirius to signal the Nile inundation, and presumes that they were also aware of the difference between the Tropical year (365.2422 days, measured by the solstices), the Sidereal year (365.2563 days, measured by the average amount of time it takes for a star to return to its same position in the sky), and the Sothic year (365.2500 days, measured by the annual heliacal rising of Sirius).13 They must have therefore concluded that using the constellations along the zodiacal ecliptic to mark the beginning of the flooding season was unreliable over time, due to the effect of equinoctial precession. Perhaps youve been hearing those terms Sidereal versus Tropical clamored about in online astrology forums a lot recently. Perhaps youre wondering about the differences between these two zodiacs, and which one is the right one? I'll leave the latter question up to you to decide, but there are a few things about the way ancient Egyptians viewed the stars that you should consider regarding the original use of the zodiac. The most important fact to understand about ancient astrology is that it was essentially observational. This means that primary importance was given to events that could be seen with the naked eye, and (except for those scary solar eclipses) this usually happened durJed Buchwald, Egyptian Stars Under Paris Skies, Engineering & Science 4 (Pasa dena: Caltech, 2003): 30. 13 Dr A.S. von Bomhard, The Egyptian Calendar: A Work for Eternity (London: Periplus, 1999): 28.
12

Astrology In Ancient Egypt

13

ing the night. So if your natural sleeping rhythm has determined you to be a night owl, perhaps you are just a natural astronomer. It was natural for the Egyptians, who placed great importance on death and the afterlife, to view the night as the period when the celestial gods judgments on mankind were communicated. This would imply that some important events were observed acronychally (when they were rising at sunset), instead of heliacally, or at sunrise.14 There are also several other key differences between the astrological practices of the ancient Egyptians and our modern day practices. In ancient Egyptian astrology, the moon was considered to be a New Moon when the first sliver of light in the lunar crescent could be seennot to be confused with what we call a New Moon today, that is, a completely dark moon. This was the first day of the lunar month in ancient Egypt, and is the basis of the oldest religious calendars known in history.15 Keep in mind that the achronycal rising sign (the one first appearing at sunset) is always the sign that the Full Moon occurs in each month, and this was the most important regularly celebrated day in ancient Egypt. The twelve-sign zodiac as we know it today (represented by the Ram, the Bull, the Twins, etc.) did not appear in Egypt until after Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt in 332 BC and the founding of Alexandria.16 Although hotly debated, most academic scholars agree that the zodiac as we know it originated with the Babylonians in ancient Mesopotamia, sometime around 462-453 BC.17 This original zodiac was sidereal (fixed to the positions of the stars, not the seasons), divided into twelve equal portions of 30, and was fiducially defined by the star Aldebaran at 15 Taurus and Antares at 15
Cyril Fagan, Astrological Origins (St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1971), 38. Ibid, 45. 16 Otto Neugebauer, A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy, II (Berlin: Springer, 1975), 565. 17 Robert Powell, History of the Zodiac (San Rafael: Sophia Academic Press, 2007), 100.
14 15

14

Bryce Churchill

Scorpio.18 Any claim otherwise simply goes against the archeological data that currently exists. The earliest Egyptian writings mentioning the twelve-sign zodiac were written in demotic, using uniquely Babylonian mathematical conventions, and were of Greek origin. P 8279 in the Berlin Museum and the Stobart tablets are their corresponding ephemerides (tables of planetary positions computed or observed for regular time intervals). These date from around the first century AD and they indicate that the Egyptians during this period were using a sidereal division of the zodiac into twelve equal zodiacal signs (matching the vernal point at about 4 Aries for those years.)19 From these artifacts, it appears that the Hellenistic Greeks were introducing Babylonian astrology into Egypt around the same time as the founding of Alexandria. The earliest example of a graphical depiction of the twelve-sign zodiac appears at the Temple of Khnum (c. 246180 BC), known as the Esna Zodiac. Unfortunately, this rectangular zodiac relief was completely destroyed shortly after it was discovered, but not before a reproduction was made (available in Neugebauer-Parker's Egyptian Astronomical Texts).20 The zodiacal reliefs at Dendera are the most widely known examples of the twelve-sign zodiac in ancient Egypt. There are three of them at the Temple of Hathor, a late Ptolemaic temple built during the lifetime of Cleopatra (c. 30 BC). The two rectangular ones appear on the ceiling in the portico of the Temple, and have recently been beautifully restored to their original colors. The third zodiac at Dendera is the famous circular stone relief that
Ibid, 101. See also: Fagan, 23. Bartel L. van der Waerden, Science Awakening, II (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974) 308-325. 20 Otto Neugebauer and Richard A. Parker, Egyptian Astronomical Texts, III (Provi dence: Brown University Press, 1969), 62-64.
18 19

Astrology In Ancient Egypt

15

Dendera Rectangular Zodiac, West portico ceiling (left portion) Photos: Bryce Churchill

Bryce Churchill

16

Dendera Rectangular Zodiac, West portico ceiling (center portion)

Astrology In Ancient Egypt

17

Dendera Rectangular Zodiac, West portico ceiling (right portion)

18

Bryce Churchill

Dendera Circular Zodiac, roof chapel ceiling (replica remaining at temple) Photo: Bryce Churchill

Napoleon's soldiers brought back to Paris in 1821,21 which currently resides at the Louvre Museum. In its place at Dendera is a reproduction (even painted to match the soot-covered ceiling, accumulated from centuries of people inhabiting the temple). It shows the constellations arranged to form a spiral, with Leo leadingthe constellation that arose heliacally on that Egyptian New Years Day. The horoscopes at Dendera all show the planets in their traditional
21

Jed Buchwald, Egyptian Stars Under Paris Skies, Engineering & Science 4 (Pasa dena: Caltech, 2003): 28.

Astrology In Ancient Egypt

19

exaltations (the place of a planet's greatest influence). Thus we have Sun in Aries, Moon in Taurus, Mercury in Virgo, Mars in Capricorn, Venus in Pisces, Jupiter in Cancer, and Saturn in Libra. These exaltations originated as the Babylonian concept of qaqqar nisirti (places of secret revelation), and were estimated to have been in use in Babylonia around 670 BC,22 where they were further assigned to specific stars within each constellation. As you can see, there was a distinct demarcation in Egypt between the periods previous to and following the introduction of the Babylonian twelve-sign zodiac by the Hellenistic Greeks. Both periods, however, employed a sidereal system (defined relative to the stars) and represented the planets and stars as neteru, or personifications of the universal principals of nature. The arrival, disappearance, and interaction between the neteru and their celestial counterparts were all observed by the priest-astronomers as oracles concerning the destiny of their kingdom. The priest-astronomers instinct to discover what lies beyond our understanding seems to be a universal trait shared by all cultures, both ancient and modern. We seek an explanation of our placeof where we fit into the grand scheme of thingsexamining both the infinitely small and the infinitely great. We may never be able to know or accurately articulate that answer. But the ancient Egyptians were at least onto something, for we cannot look into the heavens, seeing the perfectly harmonious movements of the celestial bodies, without gaining at least some insight into the true nature of our own being.

22

Robert Powell, History of the Zodiac (San Rafael: Sophia Academic Press, 2007), 84.

Ayesha Adamo is a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University, in Music. She has performed internationally as a singer and DJ, particularly in Taiwan, where she lived and performed as a member of the pop-group Beauty4 (EMI Taiwan). Her spiritual background includes the study of Qigong, Light Body work, and Thelemic ritual. She has been an energy-work assistant to Nancy Mayans, and is a student of Dr. Patricia Fields, Psy.D., in the areas of earthwork and crossover practices. Ayesha currently lives in New York, studies acting with Wynn Handman, and has a band called Loss of Eden. Blogwww.lossofeden.net

Each Night In Rapture


by A yesha Adamo

Admit it: on May 21st, when you checked your facebook friends status updates and saw those photos of neatly-arranged clothing laying flat on stairwells and park benches with tags like, Rapture Victim #418, you laughed and clicked like. And if youre a New Yorker reading this, youre probably just a little bit glad that your transfer from the A train to the 2/3 at Times Square no longer includes a bunch of placards and brochuresthough stress tests and copies of Dianetics still haunt the entrance to the Port Authority. Sure, you pat yourself on the back for knowing that the way out of the manmade mess weve gotten ourselves into might be trickier than the instant solution of a second coming, and this time around, it seems that youre right. Youve won the betno need to shave off the left half of your goatee. But while Harold Campings misplaced mathematics havent found a solid enough home to have realized themselves in our collective material reality, the economic mathematics that his followers are subject to in the aftermath of a Doomsday past are certainly being felt personally by the individuals that took up Campings call. Jobs, money, homes, and educations have all been sacrificed in the name of the Rapture. Most assume that such losses mean disaster to Campings followers now that the big date has come and goneand were all still herebut perhaps their experiences are as much an achievement as a disaster. The situation itself begs the big question: what would you be doing if you knew the world was about to end? As the perceived end approached for those awaiting the Rapture, it appears that the cherished paper tokens we exchange so naturally for things of more actual valueIm referring to those handy things

22

Ayesha Adamo

called dollar billslost their worth for Rapture hopefuls. Some quit their jobs and took on the new assignment of spreading the message that had come to define their lives. Others redirected retirement and college funds into futile ad campaigns for the Doomsday cause, and why? Because in the final countdown, spirit was unquestionably number one and money was rendered nearly meaningless, or meaningful only as an ephemeral means to spread the word about the end. So it seems that at zero hour, those wise old sayings like You cant take it with you become active truths. Perhaps what it takes for people to snap out of their defined notions about the importance of money, or the importance of any of the binding structures that mankind has created and forced upon itself, is precisely the strong medicine of finality that Doomsday has to offer. Perhaps the idea of the Rapture is best applied as a way of tricking ourselves into reevaluating the way that we all prioritize. And maybe we should be even more impressed by these people who were willing to give up all they hadtheir dollars, time, energy, hopein the name of something that deeply moved them, even if that something turned out to be false. No matter the cause, the actions taken by these people werent false. Their actions were as real as anything a human being living in our society could attempt because within the social and financial climate of capitalism, to fearlessly quit ones job and throw all ones capital and time into a group cause surely IS death. So in a way, they were willing to die for it. And its not so easy to criticize people who take action and truly mean itor even people who take action and truly think they mean it. So, if the end was coming and you knew it, how important would it be for you to show up to work? Of course, there are the few who truly love what they do, but for all those who can imagine something else theyd rather be doing, the regimen of employment would likely be the first binding to unravel. Even for those who dont vehemently dislike their work, its meaning and value would certainly need to be

Each Night In Rapture

23

reconsidered in light of a coming disaster or Rapture scenario. At the moment of terror, the moment of awe, all of the meanings shift, and wouldnt we be spiraling closer to greatness if we could challenge ourselves to always live in that moment of terror and awe, making our choices from that place? Perhaps the followers of Camping were unwittingly enacting just the sort of revolution we all so desperately need. These days, walking by the somehow emptier stretch of tunnel under Times Squarea tunnel that once echoed with the booming voices of the Rapture movementit seems that Campings followers have been erased and forgotten in a matter of weeks. This is what Manhattan does to those who have failed to hedge their bets shrewdly. This is what our wireless world does so instantly worldwide: it forgets, burying Camping commentaries under just so many newer status updates, such that within a week, theyve long been scrolled away. Its a kind of Dead Sea out there. And thats the real disappearance of the Rapturefor now. With 2012 looming, we can be sure that there will be plenty of opportunity for all manner of apocalyptic scenarios to be rediscovered. Weve yet to see the final Doomsday. But each night when I walk by the 7 train, on the way to the 1, I remind myself of how Id be living if the world were about to end. I remind myself that maybe I should be living that way right now.