I spent an hour trying to get a screaming baby to take a nap today. Usually things are not that hard, but sometimes we get a bad day.
I spent a lot of the time holding her thinking about teeth.
One of the things that’s hard about working with the Nut Cycle, as has been noted recently (and as came up when I was doing my Digging Up The Mysteries talk at Paganicon) is that second hour, the gateway of teeth: knowing that in order to go through the divine rebirth process, one must submit to having the Great Mother bite off one’s head.
It’s hard to get to the point that one can trust that She’ll put the bits back together. Teeth are scary.
(Yes, I am way behind on Nut Cycle summary posts. I am aware of this.)
It is not uncommon for various cultures to connect the process of sleep with the process of death, or to treat sleep as a time when one or more souls is absent from the body (and have taboos about waking sleepers and so on); certainly that is part of the cultural heritage of English-speakers, if for no other reason than Hamlet.
And anyone with experience of small children can recognise that kids don’t want to go through that first gate, maybe missing something in the material world, maybe experiencing terror in dreamland, and perhaps going to sleep is itself frightening – loss of consciousness, loss of time continuity, not knowing who or what will be there after sleep, not necessarily knowing in the body that there is a road back to waking.
That screaming baby who is kicking and clawing rather than go down for a much-needed nap, she’s afraid of the teeth too.
So I wonder: what back in pre-memory teaches us that sleep is an acceptable risk?