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Author Topic: Time, cycles, the world, and magic.  (Read 440 times)

Hariti

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Time, cycles, the world, and magic.
« on: October 12, 2018, 11:42:30 pm »
So, I tried my best to summarize what this thread would be about in the title.

So, you may be aware that it's a common trope in popular fiction for magic, the gods, or both, to spontaneously return to the world in a literal way. For Christians and other Abrahamic religions, this often takes the form of a return of the age of miracles, and God's overt interference in the world.

Now, this thread isn't about fiction, but I thought it was useful to mention this trope because it's relevant to what I'm talking about; cyclical reality. Many religions have some form of this in their cosmology; The Mayan system of time can be seen as cyclical, as can the ancient Norse concept of Ragnarok. Some religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Mormonism are overtly cyclical in their understanding of the universe.

I'm sure many modern pagans have such themes in their own cosmology. My question is, do you? That is to say, do you think that god, the gods, magic, or other supernatural elements might someday become more prominent in the world than they are today, as some part of a larger cycle on the universe/multiverse?

If so, it it literal or metaphorical? Do you think that the cosmos cycling around is inherently destructive, or do you think it's something that people might live through? Do you think it might be happening soon?

My personal views below:
I personally DO think the universe is cyclical, and I do think that, quite literally, the Gods will be coming back. Not that they are necessarily gone or absent right now, they aren't, but rather that they will physically, visibly, obviously appear and that a whole host of supernatural things will occur as a result. I've discussed the Hindu view of time elsewhere on this site, and I won't get too in-depth here, but generally the universe and multiverse go through cycles.

One of the most important cycles is the Yuga, which reflects the quality of the universe; there are four Yugas, each with it's own properties, and they are increasingly unpleasant from the first down to the last. The first Yugas is the Satya Yuga, the second is the Treta Yuga, the third is the Dvapara Yuga, and fourth is the Kali Yuga. They are referred to as the "Golden Age," the "Silver Age," the "Bronze Age," and the "Iron Age."

(This has nothing to do with the use of metal tools, though, despite overlapping names; it's a matter of quality, kinda like with Comic Books!)

Most Hindus think that we live in the Kali Yuga today, and that this Yuga began with the death of Krishna, on February 18, 3102 BC. How long it will last is a matter of debate, with some people projecting several hundred more millenia, and others suggesting that it's only a few millenia, or even centuries, away.

Regardless of *when* it happens, I think that it's going to be quite a spectacle. I fully expect that there will be literal Gods and literal demons, waging war on the physical planet earth.

...that's not the point though. Rather, it's what comes *after* that I expect to be fantastic. When the next Satya Yuga, the world will be restored to it's original, magical state. Gods, saints, and sorcerers will walk the earth, Vanara, Nagas, Rakshasas, Asuras and other mythical beings will live and exist side by side with humans, people will live for centuries, warriors will wield weapons of incredible power in battle...

I think it will quite resemble fantasy.

So, to summarize:
I think this will all be literally, materially, real. Does anyone else think such might one day exist, or that such ever existed in the past? Did humans ever, and will humans ever again, share the world with giants, dragons, elves, Djinn, Angels, Oni, or other supernatural beings?
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

ehbowen

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Re: Time, cycles, the world, and magic.
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2018, 05:25:02 am »
So, to summarize:
I think this will all be literally, materially, real. Does anyone else think such might one day exist, or that such ever existed in the past? Did humans ever, and will humans ever again, share the world with giants, dragons, elves, Djinn, Angels, Oni, or other supernatural beings?

Oh, absolutely. I expect to live to see the day when you can walk through downtown Houston and say, "Howdy, ma'am," to a winged angel without anyone paying it any more mind than they otherwise would any other pretty girl.

But my own conception of "cycles" is different from yours. I'm going to use a metaphor, here, of the startup of a nuclear reactor. Understand, I've never actually had my hands on the controls; I tried for officer school, didn't make it, and never went to Prototype. But I did ace Navy Nuclear Power School.

I hope everyone here is familiar with the general concept of a nuclear chain reaction. If not, see here. A nuclear reactor which is "critical" is generating just enough neutrons to exactly sustain its current level of power...whether that be design full power, or one one-millionth of that design power. If the power level is decreasing, the reactor is "subcritical". If the power level is increasing...rapidly or very slowly...it is said to be "supercritical".

Supercritical is not a bad thing; it just means the power level is going up. But how quickly? You see, most of the neutrons in a nuclear chain reaction (~99%) are given off essentially instantaneously. You need them, but you can't do anything about it. However, about one percent of those neutrons are given off through radioactive decay of fission products anywhere from milliseconds to several hours after the uranium (or plutonium) atom splits.

This one percent gives us enough of a knife edge to allow us to control the reaction. It slows down the buildup of power and the response of the reactor enough that we can see it and respond to it. If the power level needs to go up, you add "positive reactivity" to the reactor by withdrawing a control rod or two or by cooling the water (in a water-moderated reactor)...opening the throttle and using steam does this quite nicely. If there is too much power and you need to reduce it, you close the throttle and/or move a control rod in. In the "power range", when the reactor is up to normal operating temperature and you have an ongoing steam demand, you normally don't even have to touch the control rods except very occasionally to bump the coolant temperature up as the nuclear fuel (very slowly) gets used. The steam throttle(s) do all the controlling the reactor requires.

However, the fall down comes if you add so much positive reactivity that the reactor is able to sustain criticality with only those 99% of neutrons which are generated instantaneously. This can happen if a control rod drive gets stuck in the "withdraw" position or if you open a valve to a dead leg of cold water in an off-line steam generator. The sudden surge of positive reactivity brings the reactor to the point where it sustains fission with only the 99% of neutrons...which generate so rapidly that eyes and instrumentation cannot follow.

It does NOT blow up "like a bomb". For a nuclear explosion to occur the geometry has to be just right and the masses have to be driven together with implosion or similar to hold everything together against the force of a nuclear explosion long enough for the reaction to consume enough of the fuel to make the Big Bang. But it does create a power surge which could and would wreck the reactor if it were allowed to continue more than a few milliseconds. Reactors are designed with automatic SCRAM devices which monitor the neutron flux continually, and if they detect a "spike" where there should be a ramp, they release all of the control rods instantly, shutting the reaction down completely. Better hope that you're not maneuvering in battle or in a submarine at test depth at the time....

Now, all of that above was based upon a reactor which is "hot", operating in the power range. What do you do when you're starting up from cold? You don't really have many of those "fission products" to provide the delayed neutrons to help you control your power level...and if you're starting with a fresh core, which has never been operated before, you have essentially none at all (There is a neutron source which helps spark things, but that's another topic). So, what to do?

Well, whatever you do...you want to do it Very Carefully! Nuclear design has gotten mature enough now that the engineers have a good idea as to where the core will go critical...but you don't just take their word for it. You withdraw the rods a couple of inches, and watch your source range meters. They'll jump...and then go back down. Does it match the engineers' predictions? Good, then withdraw another fraction of an inch or two. A bigger jump...and then it goes back down. You keep observing this pattern and matching it to the predictions. Eventually, you get close to the edge of criticality. At that point you make another, very small, control rod movement...and you see your source range meter start to climb, and keep on climbing. You're critical.

Now, you wait. And you wait. You see, the source range and intermediate range meters are logarithmic; every mark is ten times more than the previous mark. So your initial criticality is perhaps one trillionth of a percent of full power...and I'm using the UK/Continental definition of "trillion!" But you definitely do not want to "spike" and go prompt critical...unlikely to cause any damage at this power level, but the reactor will SCRAM, you'll have egg all over your face, probably have to send a report to the Chief Engineer or, god forbid, the Captain...and you'll have to start the whole thing all over. As long as that needle keeps going up, you don't touch those control rods.

It can take several hours. It SHOULD take several hours. Eventually, though, you will notice your coolant loop temperature beginning to trend up as the reaction becomes strong enough to heat the water which is your moderator. Warmer water = negative reactivity. You've arrived at the edge of the Power Range. Now you start moving the control rods again, withdrawing them a little at a time to compensate. As the rods go out, the water temperature goes up. Eventually it gets hot enough (~600F) to make the steam you need for your plant. Now it's time to place your turbogenerators on line, giving your reactor a real load...and now you're controlling power with your steam throttles. Hands off the control rods until/unless the reactor temperature needs a bump one way or the other.

Now that I've bored you to tears, it's time to turn from the material illusion to the Real World. What you see as "cycles," I see as "bumps". I see those long-ago distant stories of magical beings and events as manifestations of "jumps" in activity as this world and universe is slowly, slowly being prepared for its ultimate future. For the past several thousand years it has been "hands off the control rods" as the pieces slowly come into place...for some of those pieces depend upon the present state of things. Consider, now...If we were able to run down and buy flying carpets from Mad Man Hassan (A-Lad-In His Lamp), then would we ever have created Boeing 747s? Or Apollo-Saturn? I don't know about you, but I vote for the Boeing 747 (not to mention the possible forthcoming Starship Enterprise... 8))!

And so I do believe that, when this present order of being has run its course, it will be replaced with something new and better (I have my own suggestions "in the box"... ;)). And I think that the good news is that history is ultimately linear, not cyclical. So, when these "bumps" have served their purpose and run their course, we will never have to go back to the old way of being again.
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!
Computers are like air conditioning. They become useless when you open Windows—Linus Torvalds.

arete

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Re: Time, cycles, the world, and magic.
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2018, 08:40:03 am »
So, I tried my best to summarize what this thread would be about in the title.

So, you may be aware that it's a common trope in popular fiction for magic, the gods, or both, to spontaneously return to the world in a literal way. For Christians and other Abrahamic religions, this often takes the form of a return of the age of miracles, and God's overt interference in the world.

Now, this thread isn't about fiction, but I thought it was useful to mention this trope because it's relevant to what I'm talking about; cyclical reality. Many religions have some form of this in their cosmology; The Mayan system of time can be seen as cyclical, as can the ancient Norse concept of Ragnarok. Some religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Mormonism are overtly cyclical in their understanding of the universe.

I'm sure many modern pagans have such themes in their own cosmology. My question is, do you? That is to say, do you think that god, the gods, magic, or other supernatural elements might someday become more prominent in the world than they are today, as some part of a larger cycle on the universe/multiverse?

If so, it it literal or metaphorical? Do you think that the cosmos cycling around is inherently destructive, or do you think it's something that people might live through? Do you think it might be happening soon?

So, to summarize:
I think this will all be literally, materially, real. Does anyone else think such might one day exist, or that such ever existed in the past? Did humans ever, and will humans ever again, share the world with giants, dragons, elves, Djinn, Angels, Oni, or other supernatural beings?
I honestly don't know. In fact, it baffles me a lot. On one hand, there is the universe that we know. It has Gods and the Gods are supposed to be allpowerful and strong, so they can protect the current universe. BUT pagan religions speak about the end of the universe only to start something new. Why must our current universe die? Has it flaws? Or why should our universe be eternal and not become something new? I welcome both possibilities, it's the only thing I can do.If the universe lives forever so be it. If the current universe dies and a new cosmos will arrive so be it. Our fate is predestined anyway.

Did humans ever, and will humans ever again, share the world with giants, dragons, elves, Djinn, Angels, Oni, or other supernatural beings? This is a possiblity in a new universe, yes. Maybe the universe won't die but it's current state will get ''updated'', so us humans can live the difference.
I pray that religious animosity will end.

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