Exploring the Mystery of Ley Lines
Updated: Dec 3, 2020
“Ley lines refer to straight alignments drawn between various historic structures and prominent landmarks. The idea was developed in early 20th-century Europe, with ley line believers arguing that these alignments were recognised by ancient European societies that deliberately erected structures along them.” Wikipedia"
By Mary Strachan Scriver
You can’t see Ley lines. They’re kind of a fantasy takeoff on latitude and longitude and maybe the satellite GPS system that is so useful to us now. When I was the interim minister in Kirkland ’85-86, Karl Thunemann shared some of his writing with me.
He was still reporting for the Bellevue newspaper then, but he had written a story about a man crossing the crowded bottleneck bridge from Kirkland to Seattle when suddenly the Ley Lines became visible. I don’t recall the details but the point was that there are invisible forces all around us and through us, possibly controlling and guiding what happens, and that finding them out — seeing them — is disconcerting.
In a parallel way Daniel J. Siegel, in his book “Mind” uses quantum physics to approach the unseen powerful. We follow science so far as to know that living cells are composed of molecules which are composed of atoms, but Siegel goes on to say that quantum physics claims that atoms are mostly empty space, except for energy — the most basic constituent of everything. Matter is only concentrated energy — E = mc2 remember?
So here I am, rejecting superstition and fantasy theology, but science at the most respected levels has guided me back to something just as unseen and — honestly — unseeable. Both Thunemann and Siegel are meditators and are informed about the Asian understanding of existence, which seems to endorse quantum physics. But Siegel also insists that a mind starts with physical sensation and experience through time which is recorded in code through the bottom (earliest) layer of the cerebral cortex and only reaches system concepts at the sixth (most recent and top) layer. I haven’t learned what happens at the intervening layers. Maybe no one knows yet.
We exist on trust. I’m assuming my ceiling won’t fall on me — at least not today. But can I trust that all precautions won’t save me from Covid 19 and we have just narrowly escaped political disaster — if we did. The popular phrase is “trust but verify.” It’s not a bad policy to apply to religion, or what we call religion, because any attempts to prove the category has privilege is fading. When various styles and denominations began to align with political goals, trust dissolved. I mean both the right-wing mega-churches and a liberal denomination like the UUA, which has aligned more and more with the Democratic party.
Different metaphor. If one walks through an old building or a path in a forest that has a lot of spider filaments across the space, they can be invisible though one can feel them on one’s face. On a foggy morning wet aerosols can condense on those silk lines and then you can see them.
So now when I keep wondering about moments of epiphany am I seeing something like a dew-spangled spider web, or am I feeling the structure of the energy under existence? Human thinking is built around metaphors of what is already known. But alongside the yearning to expand in order to sense more, there is a need to feel that what is already as far up through the cortex layers to be a concept has been true and should be defended. We call this “faith” and it’s supposed to be unchanging.
Those who go to tai chi, meditation, and the Tao -- instead of the Western structures that have grown into controlling power institutions -- don’t depend upon a big supernatural human-type sovereign and equate obedience with faith. Instead their pattern is participation, fittingness with everything else.
We used to see humans as puppets made of flesh-clay, but now we see humans and all other living things as emergent qualities of energy — a technical mathematical concept — unfolding from a molecular code in the context of life.
“In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence occurs when an entity is observed to have properties its parts do not have on their own properties or behaviors which emerge only when the parts interact in a wider whole.
“Emergence plays a central role in theories of integrative levels and of complex systems. For instance, the phenomenon of life as studied in biology is an emergent property of chemistry, and psychological phenomena emerge from the neurobiological phenomena of living things.” (Wikipedia)
Two sources of numinous thought have been suggested, one “transcendent” , coming from the supernatural which is located above in the sky or more recently in outer space; and the other "immanent," welling up from the earth beneath our feet. Emergence clearly comes from our experience on this planet as we walk through it. But it seems more trustworthy now that a computer can describe it mathematically.
There’s a journal and a movement based on emergence theory (cleverly called “emergentism”). Like the rule of law, much depends upon definitions and do they exist.
The common characteristics are:
(1) radical novelty (features not previously observed in systems);
(2) coherence or correlation (meaning integrated wholes that maintain themselves over some period of time);
(3) A global or macro "level" (i.e. there is some property of "wholeness");
(4) it is the product of a dynamical process (it evolves); and
(5) it is "ostensive" (it can be perceived).”
So far I haven’t seen “religion” considered in terms of these qualities, but now they suggest something to do that might be worthwhile, even necessary. We need meaning that is not frozen, that is radically inclusive, new but not bizarre.