The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Monday 1 January 2024

Janus - Looking Forward and Backward

It is a new year and we have found ourselves at the beginning of the month of January. Named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings, gates, and transitions, the month of January was incorporated into the Roman calendar some 2,750 years ago. Janus is frequently depicted as having two faces, one looking forward, the other back.

Today, 2,750 years later, we tend to view the New Year as a celebration of what is to come, as a time to look forward, often with hope, to what is to come.

We have forgotten, or perhaps spurned, Janus’s backward-looking gaze. We now focus all our attention upon the future. In our westernised worldview the past is figuratively behind us, so that we can no longer see it. Looking back is viewed mostly in a negative light. ‘Don’t look back,’ we hear, ‘Focus on the future. Look ahead.’

Time spoken of in this way is metaphorically perceived as an arrow, always flying forward, towards the future. But not all cultures and belief systems perceive time this way. For many traditional and nature-based cultures time is more cyclic in nature.

Such cultures have no issue with looking back. Indeed, even the concept of looking back is an alien notion to some. Time as a cycle means that things repeat. They are not forgotten; they are not consigned to the waste basket of the past.

A corollary of viewing time as cyclic, and the past not forgotten, is that there is no place for one of the pillars of modernity – the great belief and faith in Progress.

Where a cyclic conception of time finds ready analogies in nature – the coming and going of the seasons, the ocean tides, the opening and closing of flowers, day and night … - progress has no analogies in nature. The author and poet, Ramon Elani, claims that progress ‘is an artificial idea, reflected nowhere. It is contrary to the laws of nature.’1

The belief in progress steals from us our appreciation of the present, even if only subtly. Progress informs us that things will be better in the future, and we must strive for that better future. Embedded within such a concept is the insidious image of a past that was worse than it is now, and much worse than it could be. Our lives up to this point have been stolen and we become smitten by a promise of a future of greater happiness. Ironically, such thinking steals our future also.

Yet, it can be argued that the predicament within which we find ourselves today is a direct consequence of … progress. Specifically, it is the effect of thinking of, and creating, technologies that are supposed to be of benefit. The arrow of time flies only toward the future, our eyes are focussed only on the target.

Modernity tells us to keep looking forward, towards the future, for that is where we will find our reward of happiness, prosperity, and greater well-being.

However, when our eyes are rivetted towards this future well-being we become blind to the glaringly obvious truth surrounding us, here and now.

The truth that our well-being in the future depends, not on our visions of the future, nor the innovations and technologies to come, but on the quality of our relationships right here and now.

It is the quality of our relationships with each other and the planet as a whole, in our present, that we should be focussing on.

And to do that, we may need a bit of backward looking. Maybe somewhere, in times before now, there may have been wisdom in viewing time cyclically.


1. Ramon Elani, Wyrd: Against the Modern World. Night Forest Press, Canada, 2021.

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