The manuscript for Witchcraft, Power, and Transformation: A Magical Mystery School for the 21st Century is done for now, and has been sent to the editor. Segue time—what’s next? Surrounded by possibilities, I imagine them as a never-ending array of doors, elegant, carved, and jeweled, coming off a single hallway.
Most of them are too far away to see clearly, but two are plainly in view and calling me. A third begins to make itself known. What will I choose?
One sits under a nameplate bearing a single, artistically inscribed word. It says ‘Fifth,’ and as I begin to work through what might lie on the other side, a realization hits me. The fifth dimension and the fifth element are different. Are they related? Perhaps, but also distinct. And there are two different kinds of fifth dimensions.
It feels as if concepts relating to the fifth dimension and the fifth element might both apply to changes currently facing humanity. I wonder how similar they are, how different. After searching, will we discover that they’re two different paths to similar conclusions? I can’t have this conversation without respecting the science at the root of distinctions of elements and dimensions. It’s a lot to unpack, and I don’t know if there’s enough payoff to make the investigation worthwhile.
Aristotle validated a commonly-held belief of his time period which identified earth, air, fire, and water as the physical building blocks of matter. He added a fifth, non-physical element he called ‘aether.’ Today, we’re more likely to call it ‘Spirit.’ Science discarded the old system when chemistry led to the discovery of the atom, but mages and occultists of many varieties still use the alchemical elements.
The concept of ‘dimensions’ seems to have been designed as a mathematical convention for computing volumes, since objects on earth have height, width, and depth. The fourth dimension incorporates time, giving us the model of space-time needed for Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Understanding dimensions beyond three requires a discussion of physics. A Swedish physicist named Oskar Klein defined the fifth dimension as “a dimension unseen by humans where the forces of gravity and electromagnetism unite to create a simple but graceful theory of the fundamental forces.” Okay, that seems pretty vague.
Discussing the fifth dimension feels familiar to me, but I’m realizing I only THINK I understand it because of my familiarity with Spirit as the fifth element. Besides, I’ve heard it kicked about in conversations at parties and other gatherings of my hippie tribe. The scientific and metaphysical definitions seem unrelated. Did new-agers simply appropriate the words, or is there a connection?
Of course, ‘fifth’ has another cultural reference. Liquor is often sold in bottles designed to hold a fifth of a gallon. Another word for strong alcoholic drink is ‘spirits.’ Spiritual healers know of the connection between intoxication and portals to nonmaterial realms. Language can take you down some crazy rabbit holes.
Speaking of rabbit holes, another door beckons, painted in glossy black with steampunk hardware, which makes it like a puzzle to open. Get close--you’ll hear strange sounds and odd music and see bizarre lights seeping out. This one has a label too, painted right on it in black matte over shiny enamel. You can read it, but only if you stand where the light is just right. ‘Conspiracy Theories and Fake News,’ it says.
It calls, it’s timely. It may even be pivotal to humanity’s escape from mutual self-destruction. I know before I enter, inside this door thousands of rabbit holes lead to as many wonderlands. Many seekers have lost their heads in each of these obscure little worlds. For some, execution came at the hand of the mad ruler of the land, perhaps the Red Queen or Machiavelli. Many others succumbed to the madness in their own minds.
The third door starts to unfuzz a bit. It may come into focus--or not. It would be a shared project with my husband Robert. He’s been talking for decades about creating blog posts titled “My Conservative Values.”
Those who know Robert and have heard him discuss his political leanings might be a bit confused by that title. It’s a reaction to watching the religious right co-opt language and ideas throughout our adulthood. Conservatism as an ideology seeks to maintain, or conserve, that which is of value. What could be more valuable than justice, compassion, and sustainability?
It calls, it’s timely. It may even be pivotal to humanity’s escape from mutual self-destruction. I know before I enter, inside this door thousands of rabbit holes lead to as many wonderlands. Many seekers have lost their heads in each of these obscure little worlds. For some, the execution came at the hand of the mad ruler of the land, perhaps the Red Queen or Machiavelli. Many others succumbed to the madness in their own minds.
Will other doors come into focus, or will I choose one of these? Though more than two are calling to me, the words from the poem below go through my mind. Feedback welcomed.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth…”
--"The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost