My Dreams of Gaia Minor Arcana card for today is the Four of Fire. The keywords for this card are action, concentration, focused energy, practice, increased skill, application, impetus, and work ethic. The card tells of a deliberate action that is accomplished by having a mind sharply focused and having skills honed to perfection. And the story of this card is not just about the mind, it is also about physical manifestations of these disciplines. Human beings are not born with the instinctive knowledge needed to survive; instead we learn, slowly but surely, how to prosper both physically and energetically. This learning involves practice and dedication, but eventually the skills are manifested without much forethought. I have to be committed to this learning process for the long term, as these skills are not easily or quickly obtained.
I am still moving back and forth between the Yellow Phase and Fermentation. Each time I feel that I am ready to move forward, I am drawn to once again go back and make certain the Putrefaction has completed and I’ve released what needs to be let go. Perhaps I need to look at these two stages in a different way.
Wikipedia describes Putrefaction as “one of seven stages in the decomposition of the body of a dead animal. It can be viewed, in broad terms, as the decomposition of proteins in a process that results in the eventual breakdown of cohesion between tissues and the liquefaction of most organs. It is caused by bacterial or fungal decomposition of organic matter and results in production of noxious odors.” Putrefaction is the fifth stage of death, following pallor mortis (post mortem paleness), algor mortis (change in body temperature until ambient temperature is matched), rigor mortis (chemical changes in the muscles post mortem which cause the limbs to stiffen), and livor mortis (settling of the blood in the lower portion of the body post mortem, causing a purple/red discoloration), and is followed by decomposition (metabolic breakdown of materials into simpler components by living organisms) and skeletonization (last vestiges of soft tissues have decayed and been eliminated, leaving only bones).
All organic tissues are composed of chemical energy; when we die, the constant biochemical maintenance of the living organism ceases, and the tissues begin to chemically break down. The breakdown of the proteins of a decomposing body is a spontaneous process, and it is accelerated as the bacteria of the digestive tract consume, digest, and excrete the cellular proteins of the body. The bacterial digestion of the cellular proteins weakens the tissues of the body. As the proteins are consumed, the bacteria excrete gases and organic compounds. Initially, the gases of putrefaction are held within the body cavities, but eventually they diffuse through adjacent tissues and then into the circulatory system and the rest of the body. The body bloats as the internal pressure of the continually rising volume of gas stresses, weakens, and separates the tissues holding the gas. In the course of putrefaction, the skin tissues of the body eventually rupture and release the bacterial gas. Ugh.
Fermentation is a metabolic process that converts sugar to acids, gases or alcohol. It occurs in yeast and bacteria. To many people, fermentation simply means the production of alcohol: grains and fruits are fermented to produce beer and wine. If a food has soured, we might say it was “off” or fermented. Fermentation is a common way of preserving things, and often creates flavors that people enjoy.
So basically, fermentation involves the microbial breakdown of sugars, which creates alcohol or acids. Putrefaction involves the microbial breakdown of proteins, which cause the putrid smells associated with cadavers, and are generally NOT something people enjoy. Sugar and starch-rich foods tend to undergo fermentation, while protein rich foods (especially meat) will putrefy. The limited putrefaction that can happen during the aging/fermentation of certain meats MIGHT lead to desirable flavors and tenderness if allowed in very small amounts, but any significant amount of putrefaction is generally considered bad because of the terrible smell.
Hmmm . . . So Fermentation is living inspiration created by the infusion of something totally beyond us, of Godhead or Deity. Fermentation is the rousing of living energy (chi or kundalini) in the body to heal and vivify. It is the evolution of life to produce higher consciousness. Putrefaction can be seen as a sort of “tenderizer,” the same way that putrefaction tenderizes beef. The decomposition creates an environment that is open to the infusion of Deity or the Essence of Deity. From what I’ve found, Fermentation can be achieved through various activities such as intense prayer, a strong desire for mystical union, a breakdown of the personality, psychedelic drugs, and deep meditation. Psychedelic drugs are out, but there are plenty of alternatives.
I think I don’t have anything to worry about despite the jumping back to Putrefaction and forward to Fermentation. Sooner or later, the tenderizing process will be completed enough so that the Essence of the Divine can enter.