More about Messages…

Yesterday, I went to this outdoor party fairly near my home here in LA, in a place called Elysian Park.  The Park derives its name from a region in Greek Mythology known as Elysium, or the Elysian Fields.  As with many concepts in large and ancient bodies of lore, descriptions of Elysium vary a bit, but my own early encounters with the fabled region had it that Elysium was a special area of the Underworld where only the finest, noblest, and most heroic of souls could be permitted entry.  And unlike the rest of gloomy Tartarus, Elysium was a happy place, filled with light and joy and beauty — a sort of Underworld-Paradise, and place of Eternal Reward.

You know, aside from people dressing a bit differently, the party I attended yesterday at Elysian Park actually did look kind of like this!  Artwork by Sebastian Vrancx...
You know, aside from people dressing a bit differently, the party I attended yesterday at Elysian Park actually did look kind of like this! Artwork by Sebastian Vrancx…

Anyway, I had the interesting experience of venturing out to a Park named for a place found in Greek Mythology…and then having my attention captured by something drawn from the realm we’d consider more in line with Norse Mythology.  Specifically, there was a young guy hanging out with his pals not far from the spot where my own group staked out a bit of territory, and this young guy was going shirtless, which revealed a good-sized splash of ink across his upper back — a series of related tattoos that were each a Rune drawn from the Elder Futhark, and which, together, seemed pretty clearly intended to spell out the word “Sacrifice.”

Or, to be even more specific, since the old Germanic peoples who first made use of the Elder Futhark had no equivalent for the letter “C” in their group of letters, this young guy’s tattoo actually read “S-A-K-R-I-F-I-S-E,” which I suppose would be about as close as you could come to an exact reproduction of that word, letter by letter, if you were running it through an alphabet that lacked one of the key symbols you’d need.  Incidentally, this does also flag the notion that the letter C is actually a bit of a strange one, assuming as it does, either the properties of a K or an S, and sometimes helping to produce the “Ch-” sound if combined with an H or a second C (like in “cacciatore,” say…), but really lacking much of a distinct identity of its own…

But that’s a semi-digression; the real point of my post is to highlight how there are these messages on display all around us, possibly at all times, but if we’re not wearing the correct decoder ring when one of them flashes in our personal viewscreens, we may miss the message entirely.  We might realize that it is a message, but not understand what it means…or we might not even grasp that it’s a message at all…

The Arecibo Message: beamed out at the M13 star cluster from Earth in 1974, this thing is packed with information...but can you even tell that just by looking at it?  If so...can you extract all the specific meaning...?  If you answer yes to both of these questions, I'd like to sign up to follow *your* blog!
The Arecibo Message: beamed out at the M13 star cluster from Earth in 1974, this thing is packed with information…but can you even tell that just by looking at it? If so…can you extract all the specific meaning…? If you answer yes to both of these questions, I’d like to sign up to follow *your* blog!

For instance, it just so happens that I’ve spent quite a bit of time studying and working with the Runes of the Elder Futhark (so I could read the word inked across this guy’s shoulder-blades)…but a friend I was sitting with yesterday when this Rune-emblazoned, shirtless character happened by, has not (and therefore, could not).  To her, the guy’s tattoo was a random collection of markings that didn’t signify much of anything at all, and hadn’t even registered to her as letters making up a word until I explained about it to her.  This then led to both of us wondering what other messages were happening around us that neither of us was catching…

And I’ve made some mention of things like this before: how the Universe talks to us, but we might miss the conversation.  But I guess I was just struck yesterday with how very many forms messages might take, and how we might lack some critical element needed in order to perceive and interpret them.  Think, for example, about how the air around us is saturated with things like radio waves, but in the absence of certain specialized equipment, we humans can’t even detect those broadcasts, much less understand them.

Then there are situations in which we can perceive the elements of a message with our sensory apparatus, but we don’t at all get that those elements add up to a message of some sort.  Here’s a hypothetical: think about Morse Code.  This is a code in which each letter of the alphabet is given a visual or aural equivalent consisting of one or more “dots” and/or “dashes.”  Imagine someone was recording a song, and they inserted a percussion track that was nothing more than a single phrase in Morse Code being repeatedly banged out on a small hand-drum, over and over again.  The phrase could be anything at all — “Save our ship,” or “I buried Paul,” or whatever you want it to be here — but while any listener would be able to hear that string of drumbeats repeating itself throughout the song, if a given listener didn’t know Morse Code in the first place, she or he would have no clue that the track was conveying some kind of message.  That listener could hear that song a thousand times, and never understand that there was some coded phrase being offered up within it.

Morse Code: if you don't know what the dots and dashes mean, it's all just a weird drum track...
Morse Code: if you don’t know what the dots and dashes mean, it’s all just a weird drum track…

And then there are the situations where we can see that there is, in fact, a message happening…but we simply lack the knowledge of its elements that would be required in order for us to successfully suss out its meaning.  Here, consider if you will, something like sign language.  I don’t know any sign language myself, so when I do encounter it being used out in the world, I understand what it is in general, but any and all meaning its users are conveying to each other is totally lost on me.

Sign language is only "silent" communication when you don't know its components...
Sign language is only “silent” communication when you don’t know its component parts…

So imagine how many messages each of us must be missing every day of our lives!  And obviously, our time here on Earth is limited overall, and we have further restrictions on it (our need to devote much of it toward tending to our basic biological needs, the demands of family and society, pursuit of our true passions — these all eat up so much of the clock!), so it’s not like we can each reasonably expect to learn Morse Code and sign language and Elder Futharks and dozens of spoken languages…  So what do we do?  How do we catch and understand more messages?

No easy answers, I’m afraid.  Part of the battle, though, is maybe just accepting the fact that the myriad of messages does exist out there, and then expressing the basic drive to do better at perceiving and grasping those messages.  Allow for the possibility that things in the world maybe really are messages — Stonehenge, crop circles, Peru’s Nazca Lines, things seen in dreams, the people that keep popping up in your daily life — and just put out the vibe through simple thought that you want to perceive more and understand more.  Quite often, the Universe will respond to our desires like a very user-friendly tour-guide, so it’s worth trying to express this hope of becoming a better receiver of messages.  And concrete action is even more helpful: study a new language or a new set of symbols…read something about codes and code-breaking…or even just get yourself some exposure to things you know you won’t understand but that you also realize are conveying information, such as conversations in languages you don’t speak.  Just be more aware that messages abound…and then that awareness can be the start of the pathway toward understanding more messages in general…

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