11/11/11

“This one goes to eleven.” This week on the Indie Carnival is the number theme eleven. When presented with a number theme, I have to admit I was stumped. I don’t generally know what date it is from day to day, including people’s birthdays, to my mom’s chagrin, and even to everyone else’s hilarity, my own birthday. So particular dates would often whiz by if I had no social network to mark them.

Yesterday, I gave a talk to my daughter’s first grade class on Mayan myth, and showed a video of the Popul Vuh, the creation myth. After trying to figure out how to explain the occasional theme of sacrifice in the video (I expect I’ll get some interesting comments from fellow parents), one of the things that ran through the myth was the use of numbers. The featured Mayan characters had names like One Hunter and Seven Hunter, Seven Macaw, and so on.  Why? This seems an odd thing to name one’s children, the bizarro world of movie stars notwithstanding. Until you realize that in most cultures, though there are freaks like me who can’t keep track of the passage of time with an atomic clock in front of my face, most cultures place some kind of mystical or metaphysical value on numbers, and certainly on dates.

On the most basic level, dates determined by the number of days the moon progressed through the sky told farmers when to plant and when to sow, so that they and their families could eat. Shepherds whose lives revolved around where to bring their herds or flocks to pasture also had to pay attention to date. This particular date dependence has lost its significance for those of us who can run to the Seven-Eleven (telling us with numbers that it’s almost always open), when we’re low on something. And we tend to forget that somewhere, somehow the people who grow our food, when we’re not eating things like Twinkies, still have to keep track this in some fashion with numbers and dates. By the same token, date is very important when foraging for milk in the refrigerator. This is one of the few food/date anchors for floaters like me.

Then slowly, built upon such agricultural or pastoral date dependence, combined with the belief in what we cannot see, numbers sometimes took on  mystical value. My own culture, Judaism developed a mystical system using the power of numbers when they developed Kabalah. I remember hearing about Kabalah in whispers of awe, and being given the explanation that you had to be an adult who had been studying Torah for years before you could even understand the Kabalah, and that if you tried without the proper training, it would drive you mad. Well, since math drives me mad on a normal basis, this seemed a plausible assumption. Kabalah revolves around the concept that all of the Hebrew letters have both a numeric value, and attached to that, a spiritual meaning. If you accept that principle, then Hebrew words combine meanings to deepen the complexity. Therefore five long books of Hebrew words encompassing the history of our people becomes a universal code containing the history of possibly…well everything. For example, Chai, the Hebrew word for life, contains the letters ‘chet’ and ‘yud’. Together they are the number 18. 18 is considered the number of life, because of this, and the derivatives of 18, 2 and 9 also have significance. At some point which eludes me because, unlike Madonna, I am not ‘a disciple’ of Kabalah, this is diagrammed as a tree of life with different principles, numerically based, at different points of the tree. The principles include Binah, or Compassion etc. The idea, I understand, however, as it resembles so closely many other trees of life, such as Yggdrasil, the central world post of the Aborigines, the poteau-mitan of vodun, and so on. But the mathmatic among us just had to stick numbers in there somewhere. That whole ‘building blocks of the universe’ thing.

As I mentioned earlier, I was stunned and impressed as I learned about the Mayan glyphs such as the symbol for chocolate pods. Here was a number system that didn’t involved what we consider numbers, but encompassed mathematic concepts that would have floored Einstein and on which great buildings were created. I always thought that a society that runs on an economy that values chocolate as currency must be the most advanced in history. But one begins to see from this, from the dizzying Mayan calendar, from the Egyptian calculations for the building of the pyramids, how important dates and numbers are to so many cultures.

Counting years, months, days, hours as we all move toward death, whatever that means to us, maybe numbers become a tool of apotheosis, marking our days, noting changes in different periods of life, and ultimately giving us some sort of guide into the unknown, making order out of chaos.

See what the number 11 holds for our other Indie authors in the carnival. What does it mean to you?

http://www.refractedlightreviews.com Danny Snell’s Refracted Light Reviews

http://pattilarsen.blogspot.com Patti Larsen, Author of The Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House, the Hunted series, and the Hayle Coven novels.

http://courtneycolewrites.wordpress.com Courtney Cole, Author of Every Last Kiss, Fated, Princess, and Guardian. Also a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.
http://wrenemerson.wordpress.com Wren Emerson, Author of I Wish and a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.

http://laurasmagicday.wordpress.com Laura Elliott, Author of Winnemucca.

http://nicoleawilliams.blogspot.com Nichole A. Williams, Author of Eternal Eden, and the upcoming Fallen Eden. She is also participating in the Glassheart Chronicles.
http://fisheramelie.com/blog/ Fisher Amelie, Author of The Understorey, as well as a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.
http://amyjonesyaff.blogspot.com Amy Maurer Jones, Author of The Soul Quest Trilogy as well as a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.
http://thewarriorseries.blogspot.com T. R. Graves, Author of Warriors of the Cross.
http://ctefft.blogspot.com Cyndi Tefft, Author of Between
http://pjhoover.blogspot.com P.J. Hoover, Author of Solstice, The Emerald Tablet, The Navel of the World, The Necropolis.
http://www.aliciamccalla.com Alicia McCalla, Author of the upcoming science-fiction novel Breaking Free.

http://heathercashman.com/better_off_read Heather Cashman, Author of Perception.

http://www.abbiglines.com Abbi Glines, Author of Breathe, and the upcoming Existence and Vincent Boys.

http://cidneyswanson.blogspot.com/ Cidney Swanson, Author of Rippler.

http://cherischmidt.blogspot.com, Cheri Schmidt, Author of Fateful, Fractured, and Fair Maiden, Fire Dancer

http://www.lexusluke.com/, Lexus Luke, Author of Manitou, The Sky People Saga, Fire Breather

http://www.suzyturner.com/, Suzy Turner, Author of December Moon and Raven, Dragonslayer

http://kasi-kcblake.blogspot.com/, K. C. Blake, Author of Vampire Rules, Elephant Trainer

http://hereventuality.blogspot.com/, Gwenn Wright, Author of Filter, Ring-Leader

http://kimberlykinrade.com/, Kimberly Kinrade, Author of Bits of You, Pieces of Me and Forbidden Mind, Prestidigitator

http://jlbryanbooks.blogspot.com/, J.L. Bryan, Author of Paranormals series- Jenny Pox. Tommy Nightmare & Alexander Death

http://darbykarchut.com/ Darby Karchut, Author of Griffin Rising, and soon Griffin Fire

http://puttingpentopage.com/ Heather Self

http://brynabutler.wordpress.com/ Bryna Butler, author of the Midnight Guardian series

And don’t miss what’s new this week in books!

To help honor our veterans this Veterans Day, a few YA Indie Carnis are participating in Blog Tour de Force to give free ebooks to the troops oversees. Click the image to participate with a chance to win 50 free ebooks! Carnis participating include: Kimberly KinradeTG Ayer, &Laura A. H. Elliott. Thanks for supporting the troops!

The Vincent Boys Blog Tour Starts Monday!


Check out The Rippler Blog Tour!

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7 Responses to “11/11/11”

  1. Rachel, you rock! I love this post. ” I always thought that a society that runs on an economy that values chocolate as currency must be the most advanced in history. ” I second that.

    I love your thoughts on the way numbers and words have layered meanings behind them and how you reminded me that “back in the day” people needed to me more in tune to them than we do, my life not depending whether I could grow my crops or the fact that I can’t get away from knowing what day and time it is. Keeping track. It used to be an art form. Very thought provoking post. Thank you! Have a great weekend, and Happy Veterans Day!

    Props to you for using the Spinal Tap intro! Love it:)

  2. Note to self: Google Popul Vuh…later. Thanks so much for sharing and educating and humoring me!

    • Thanks! It really is a very cool video. The kids loved it, I loved it when I was in anthropology class years ago, though I saw a different video then, and this woman who made this particular video did an amazing job.

  3. Because I’m a big , fat history nerd i totally loved this lesson. It was very cool

  4. Fascinating! Thanks for the numbers/history lesson! No matter what the parents might say, those kids are lucky to have you! I love an inquiring mind…

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