The Knot

The Knot


Life is meant for the knot and the knot for life. A life devoid of the knot is not a life worth living. Life is a good strong knot. The course of one’s life should be spent untying it.

Life is a knot. Did you ever try to untangle a very tight, complicated knot? It takes a long time. Life is the most difficult knot you will ever attempt to untie.

Thirteenth century Spanish Kabbalist, Rabbi Abraham Abulafia. R. Abulafia, put forth the idea that the aim of Kabbala is to “unseal the soul, to untie the knots which bind it.” This is the purpose of life, as I see it. This is certainly not achieved overnight! The untying of this knot occupies us throughout our lives.

The basic idea of a knot is a closed link. These links are intertwined in various complex ways for a particular purpose, according to the entanglement inherent within each of us.

Knot myths are very ancient, going back perhaps to the dawn of mankind. One of the oldest knot symbols is the Knot of Isis, also known as “tyet.” It is the ancient symbol of the goddess, Isis. The tyet looks rather like the ankh, a symbol still quite popular in modern culture. Knot myths exist in peoples all over the world. The Celtics are another example of a culture with a very sophisticated knot mythology.

Knowing how to tie knots, as well as untying them properly, was an essential part of ancient life. They were used in basket-making and weaving for millenia. Knots were also necessary for sailors. It is natural that such a crucial art would have great mythological significance. 

Knots are fitting metaphors for the knotted soul. Human life is a knotty problem, indeed. In his Red Book, Carl Jung dialogues with his soul:

The Cabiri: “We hauled things up, we built.  We placed stone
upon stone. Now you stand on solid ground.”

1: “I feel the ground more solid.  I  stretch upward.”
The Cabiri: “We forged a flashing /  sword for you, with which
you can cut the knot that entangles you.”

1:  “I take the sword firmly in my hand. I lift it for the blow.”
The  Cabiri:  “We also  place before you the devilish,  skillfully
twined knot that locks  and seals you.  Strike, only sharpness will cut through it.”

1:  “Let  me  see  it,  the  great knot,  all  wound  round!  Truly a masterpiece of inscrutable nature,  a wily natural tangle of roots grown  through  one  another!  Only  Mother  Nature,  the  blind weaver,  could  work  such  a  tangle!  A  great  snarled  ball  and  a thousand small knots, all artfully tied, intertwined, truly; a human brain! Am I  seeing straight? What did you do? You set my brain before me!  Did you give me a sword so that its flashing sharpness slices through my brain? What were you thinking of?”

The Cabiri: “The womb of nature wove the brain, the womb  of the  earth  gave  the  iron.  So  the  Mother  gave  you  both: entanglement and severing.”  (The Red Book, Liber Novus, by Carl Jung, page 321).

This is a fascinating description of the knotted soul. It is a tangled jumble of inextricable vines and creepers, woven by Mother Nature herself, the “blind weaver.” Apparently, one is to wield a sword in disentangling oneself from this “snarled ball.” It seems sad, though, to destroy such a beautiful mesh of fabric.

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