Spinning the Thread of Life

August 25, 2014

That she seventip toe her chrysming, that she spin blue to scarlad till her temple’s veil, that the Mount of Whoam it open it her to shelterer.

James Joyce. Finnegans Wake (562.9-11).

Poised like a mythic ‘mountain mother’, this ‘woman who spins’ embodies for me an image of vitality. She demonstrates the endurance of the colourful mundanity of everyday life, in refuge from the death-dealing spectacle of a religious militancy that is not only contemptuous of earthly life and its pleasures, but even seeks a reward for its anti-human crimes in some immaterial hereafter.


A picture found on twitter. I’m guessing it was taken in a refugee camp in the Kurdish area of Syria, Turkey or Iraq.

A critique of such a one-sided perspective of transcendence, detached as it is from the immanence of lived experience, was articulated in Sumerian mythology over 4000 years ago, when the goddess Ninhursag (‘Lady of the Sacred Mountain’) cursed the god Enki and indicted him as ‘a remote god who did not understand life on the land’. She accused him of ‘abandoning her when her city was attacked, her temple was destroyed, her son the king was taken captive, and she was made a refugee’ (Brock and Parker 2008: 9).

As that ‘prophet against empire’, William Blake, concludes in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:

For every thing that lives is Holy.


Brock, R.N. and R.A. Parker. 2008. Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire. Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press.

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