a walkabout with the time tiger: time and memory within spiritual practice

Time is an aspect of reality that is rather mind-blowing. The U.S. government is making moves to make daylight saving time permanent — which just goes to show how much of this is made up anyways.

This is the thought I’ve had since childhood. It is a topic of debate among scientists, and has become a common theme in sci-fi/fantasy media. Time is an illusion. What we experience is a concept of time. And more specifically, the time we discuss when agreeing to an appointment, or how long something will take, is something society has agreed to.

Time travel is another popular trope in media, and one of the plot devices I roll my eyes at but always end up loving. Theories such as the butterfly effect show us that even the most minuscule events can have large impacts. It is also demonstrated that sometimes, even when certain events change, the ultimate outcomes are still the same.

As a recovering alcoholic, time and memory is a very touchy subject — how much do I remember? What really happened? How much time passed in that period? Why does it feel like I skipped time? Did I actually blackout, or is my mind simply protecting me from trauma?

Missing time is common for alcoholics, but is also something that comes up a lot alien abduction stories. And while the aliens could be using a drug of some sort to effect the brain — similar to a blackout — it’s possible that the brain is just protecting you. It could be like someone lifted a chunk out of your memory, and it’s literally like when a CD were to skip in your disc-man. The moment simply disappeared.

The cyclical beast circles me

Slowly moving inward

It speeds up the closer it gets

Majestic paws padding softly, white fur rustling

There are blue spirals in its ancient eyes

It’s face: large, fluffy, concerned but removed

Asks that I trust my body

The stardust and earth-crust within me

Knows what to do

To sway slowly to the tigers heartbeat

Match it’s breath; hug it’s neck

Accept its primordial protection

Even as it moves away from me

For a time

A poem by me, Moth Lyn

I recently read The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, and the practice of feruchemy — the act of storing certain attributes in pieces of metal to draw upon later — struck me. Sazed was what was called a Keeper, and he used his coppermind to store memories and histories of mankind. He discusses a couple different times how he must read or listen to someone discuss a subject while wearing the metal in order to store it. He can then reference these memories, much like a library, at his leisure. The memories fade each time they are referenced however; and it seems as though feruchemy reflects some of the human mind’s experience with memory.

Human memory is not reliable. This is why eye-witness testimony is not hard proof of someone’s guilt in court, and how some defendants can be convinced of their guilt even if they are innocent. Time & memory are both relative. They are based on perspective, and our view of the world.

A spiral immediately makes me think of time. This is a common representation. I also think of the rose, significant for me as I continue my veneration of Mother Mary.

Perform this exercise when you have time and space to do so. Share your experience in the comments if you feel called.

When writing the poem above, I channeled the spirit of time, for me: an ancient white and rainbow tiger, twice the size of me, with spiral eyes and primordial wisdom. He circles me — or all of us — reminding us to move within the cycles of earth and space because we are earth and space. Celestial & terrestrial. Our bodies and souls know; our minds simply need to accept and trust.

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