First, let us begin with an echo from last week…
‘Hey, Dad, bitcoin went over $4,000 yesterday. An all-time high. I made another $20,000. Not bad.’
Pride goeth before a fall, of course. Profits go before losses. And marriage front-runs marriage counselling.
We have faith in ourselves, our institutions, and our gods. Until we file for divorce.
As we noted last week, cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are still in the experimental stage.
They may become the coin of the realm. We may one day worship them as we revere other forms of mammon today. Or maybe not. We wait to find out along with everyone else.
If bitcoin or one of its rivals turns out to be the 21st-century wampum that proponents suggest, early adopters could become very rich. If they don’t perform as expected, on the other hand, late arrivals will lose money.
Myth and mystery
Meanwhile, we spent the weekend in mud. We laid clay tile — recycled from another old building — in our ‘chapel’.
Clay tile from Bill’s ‘chapel’
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And we raised the level of a chimney hearth in the gatehouse.
Bill does some masonry work over the weekend
[Click to enlarge]
These weekend projects are a source of great satisfaction. The reason is simple: There’s something to show for it. Something real. Something solid.
Monday through Friday is spent in myth, mystery, and misconception. Fed policy. Democracy. Market trends. Taxes. GDP. Declining marginal utility. The invisible hand. The news. The opinions. Trump. Forecasts and false gods. Lies and confusion…vanity and delusion…including things everyone knows to be ‘true’.
If we had a stroke, it would disappear. But our new fireplace hearth would still be there.
In ancient Egypt, people believed the Pharaoh was a god. Then, when Cleopatra put an asp to her chest on 12 August, 30 BC, it was all over.
Cleopatra claimed her son Ptolemy XV, nicknamed Caesarion, was the fruit of her union with Julius Caesar.
After only 11 days as Pharaoh, Octavian — Julius Caesar’s adopted son and heir — had Ptolemy XV executed to make sure the Ptolemaic line was extinguished.
Gods give good service. Often for centuries…or even millennia.
In Egypt, dynasties came and went. But Anubis, Egyptian god of the dead, lived for 3,000 years.
And what happened to Athena, Artemis, Demeter, and Dionysus? They went to join their Egyptian brethren — Amun, Amunet, Anhur, and Anput.
By the first century, the heavens were already full of dead gods.
There were the Assyrians — Adad, Ashur, and Bel…cavorting wickedly with the Babylonians — Marduk, Anu, Apsu, and Enlil. And there were the old Chaldeans — Nisroch, Ea, Sin, and Shamash…rollicking with the Canaanite deities — Astarte, Attar, Asherah, and Anat.
In the corners, the goddesses of love — Qetesh, Cliodhna, and Turan — flirted shamelessly with the gods of fertility — Himeros, Min, and the phallic god Freyr — while the others averted their eyes.
The Hittites had their gods — Hannahannah, Hapantali, and the daughter of the sea Hatepuna. The Celts had their pantheon, too — with Belenus, Borvo, and the god of the winds Borrum.
Somewhere in the bleak, empty spaces of heaven, the gods of war must battle it out, too. From the Semites’ bloody sword swinger, Agasaya, to Zroya, the old Slavonic warrior, we counted 104 gods of slaughter and strategy on a list at the website Thought Catalog.
Every one of them had been slain or forgotten.
Pre-Columbian civilisations of South America alone account for dozens of them, and probably hundreds more who never made it onto the list. Those still alive when the Spanish arrived were soon put to the sword, along with thousands of their flesh-and-blood believers.
The parking lot in heaven must have really filled up with the arrival of so many so fast — Ekeko, Inti, Kuka Mama, Mama Cocha, Illapa, Chasca, Mama Quilla, Pachacamac, Pariacaca, Supay, Viracocha, and the god of rain Kon.
And those were just the Incas.
In came the Aztecs, too. And straggler gods from the Maya, Olmec, Cahokian, Nascan, Zapotec, Toltec, Mixtec, Mazatec, Izapa, Moche…and many more defunct cultures.
We bow to our gods. But we bend to our bricks.
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