Across Time, Across Identities

Most of us who pursue mystical endeavors read documents that are hundreds or thousands of years old. People pursue writings on meditations and mysticism, looking for strong threads and useful practices. Worshipers of various gods read through translations and historical documents, embracing divinity by trying to understand the past. Human history is the history of the mystical, the spiritual, as that’s part of what we do.

Plus some of us want to make sure we’re not just following something a hack wrote on a page for a quick buck a few decades ago.

As I’ve noted before that in my own Taoist-infused work, I’ve tried to cultivate a mental “ecosystem” of Taoist thought for my practice. I read some of the Tao Te Ching each night and study a hexagram of the I Ching each night. This helps me better understand Taoist practices and have a mindset that is more expansive, having a system of symbols to relate to reality.

However in my practices I also find moments wondering as to the mindset of whatever author of long ago I’m reading. It might be a bit of obscure symbolism, a disturbing bias, or an intimate detail I just don’t get. One moment you’re reading a thousand-year-old document and truly getting the author’s deep point, then you’re wondering what you’re reading.

(And, yes, there’s a specific set of indicdents in my own studies that spawned these speculations).

I think it’s easy for us to forget that those we read and study are people who lived in different times and places. We may relate to them due to shared experience, their exellent writing, and/or a good translator but there will be a gap. At some point, there will be an alienness between us and those of the past we want to learn from.

That’s fine. That’s to be expect.

Remembering these gaps exist helps me get better at learning in my mystical studies. Why is this symbol so important to this one person Where did these strangely-phrased biases come from? What was the political situation at this time? Why did some food get classified this way (a personal one for me, a cooking enthusiast)? This way I can bridge that gap.

In fact, as I noted, my attempts at a “Taoist Mental Ecosystem” are part of that. If I want to understand some of these amazing writings, I have to get into the mindset. Best of all I get to update that mindset for the present, which may mean I can one day help others or write something that helps people appreciate the things I do. Come to think of that, some of that is posts like this.

I also think remembering these gaps helps us appreciate when these gaps are bridged by the effort of authors, translators, and record-keepers. Some works are timeless because someone(s) tried to make a piece of work be accessible to others. Even the smallest spiritual book or meditation guide that has stood the test of time is a monument to the effort that made sure it has.

So let your past authors and translators and so on be a bit alien. It’s OK. They did their part, so let’s do our part to connect to them.


The Bigfoot Discovery Museum

I visited a local Bigfoot museum here in California, the Bigfoot Discovery Museum. I didn’t know what to expect, because once you hear “local Bigfoot museum” I’m pretty much ready to go.

Before I describe it, you may wonder my stance on Bigfoot, because why not. Based on what I’ve seen I don’t think we have an undiscovered apelike cryptid here in the US (or one that’s survived to the modern day). Other “mystery primates” I give credit to on an individual basis. I do think there’s a Bigfoot phenomena that does hint at something weirder and wilder, something that’s more paranormal, psychosocial, or both. You now have an idea of my mindset – but I went in wanting to just see what this was like.

I was not disappointed. The Museum is small, two rooms and a few outdoor exhibits. It’s run by a few people for the most part and has been for years. It’s delightful (and powered by donations and merch so go to the link above).

The first room is mostly pop culture representations of bigfoot, and this was absolutely enthralling. Until you pause and see this small but surprising slice of Bigfoot culture, you don’t realize how much Bigfoot is part of our culture. Honestly, the proprietor could probably have only focused on Bigfoot in culture and built a larger museum.

The rest of the museum are various aged exhibits, the famous video running in a loop, and a small library and merch area. There’s nothing overly surprising to a person like myself who’s had an interest in this, but it’s a nice compilation, especially for California which is big and has many a cryptid. For me it was nostalgia, and a reminder of the enduring story of Bigfoot.

There’s a few outside exhibits, again nothing unusual, just nice to see it all in one place. There’s a diorama and some great wall art to bring it all home, though the diorama wasn’t well lighted.

Of course I got a T-shirt. Of course I donated. How could I not?

Did I learn anything new? Come away with an increased appreciation of Bigfoot? Nothing changed my mind on the phenomena of Bigfoot – but what I did was appreciate the impact on culture and the museum.

This museum was a vision of a small dedicated group They believed in Bigfoot, they were curious about Bigfoot, they wanted to connect on Bigfoot. They had a museum that was a unique and personal. They had made something, something sincere and honest and very much itself.

In the world of the paranormal, of cryptids, and the like there are tons of grifters and obvious scams. There’s crystals and weird testimonies by people whose so-called experiences magically evolve with current fads. Then there’s the Bigfoot Discovery Museum.

Just some people doing their thing. I might not believe in Bigfoot, but I believe in them.