I think that one of the most difficult Essentialist teachings for Modern people is its teaching on the subject of Evolution. Particularly troubling is the notion that the motion is of decline, rather than progress. In the West, we are educated in the Pseudo-Mythos of the forward progress of humanity, particularly in terms of knowledge of the material world and technology. From an Essentialist standpoint, however, increased knowledge of and interest in the material world and increased technology are signs of decline, not progress.
Technology comes about as a compensation for our decreased mental, physical, and spiritual capacity, and from a Traditionalist perspective is a sign of decline, not progress. Writing, for example, came about because of a decline in memory and the decay of oral tradition. We can see this decline in our own lifetime. Our grandparents were able do many things without technology that we need technology to do. I am often surprised and alarmed that many people younger than myself are unable to perform simple mathematics without a calculator, and that many store clerks are unable to make change without a cash register.
Throughout history, people have worried about the decline in the then current “youth,” and what this would mean for the future. Language has declined throughout history. For example, all of the Romance languages are far simpler than Latin from which they are descended. In many churches, there are movements to “modernize” worship, which often means to make it simpler and more accessible for people. In Christianity, first worship moved from Latin to the vernacular, and now, there are many paraphrased versions of the Judeo-Christian written tradition available, including “The Message.”
With this in mind, we can see historical spiritual and intellectual inventions for what they were, not as advances, but as attempts to make ancient knowledge and wisdom accessible to our reduced capacities. This is inevitable. Inventions, such as writing, started off as quite intricate and complex, and became simpler over time. Early ideographic styles contained rich symbolism of their own. The only significant survivor of these styles is Chinese/Japanese hanzi/kanji.
Will decline continue throughout time? Yes, in a way; however, this decline happens in a spiral not a line. From Ancient wisdom, we can understand that we are at the end of the Iron Age, when decline it at its greatest. We are headed to a new Golden Age. This Golden Age will be lower than the previous Golden Age, but from our perspective, it will be much higher than the age we live in. What will this Golden Age be like? We have no way of knowing that as this Age will be much beyond what we can imagine. It is possible, and even likely, that we will not be physical, manifest beings in the new Golden Age.
When will this happen? Tradition tells us that we are near the end of the Iron Age, but no legitimate Tradition will tell us when that is to occur. Does this have anything to do with the “Age of Aquarius”? I do not know. Perhaps. The Age of Aquarius will be (or is, depending on which calculation one follows) ruled by Saturn, and the following Age, the Age of Capricorn will also be ruled by Saturn. 4,000 years of being under the rule of Saturn seems a bit chilling, but we also know that Saturn is both the builder and the destroyer of the material realm.
This being said, there is a good reason that no legitimate Tradition will tell us when the end of the Age of Iron will be. This is not really information that will help us. Interestingly, though, in many ways, our lives are already becoming much less physical because of the computer and the Internet. Many of us spend a great deal of our time in “virtual reality,” and more and more our economic system is virtual as well.
What does all of this mean as far as Free Will? No matter what Age we find ourselves in, we still have Free Will. As discussed in earlier articles, Free Will is the choice between Dark and Light, between our True and False Selves, and between Good and Evil. Even now, near the end of the Age of Iron, we can still hold on to the Light.
A while back, I wrote an article about a theory that the Outer Planets represented the three poisons of the modern world, atomization, deracination, and deformation. This article can be found here.
I have recently had the occasion to further consider the Outer Planets, and some of the pseudomythos that has arisen surrounding them. In many ways, the pseudomythos* surrounding the Outer Planets is an outgrowth of the pseudomythos of Evolution. Indeed, in New Age astrology, the Outer Planets seem to be almost the agents of evolution, with the belief that the Outer Planets are the “higher octaves” of traditional planets and that they bring about “transcendence,” which is, according to this pseudomythos, a better or higher state of being.
While there are many variations of the “higher octave” theory, the most common one is that Uranus is the “higher octave” of Mercury, Neptune is the “higher octave” of Venus, and Pluto is the “higher octave” of Mars. The first and foremost problem with this theory is that all of the traditional planets are representatives of the Janyati, or aspects of the Divine. The existence of a planet that is a “higher octave” robs these planets of their status as one of the Seven Great Planetary Janyati. Indeed, the associations given to the Outer Planets have been robbed from the traditional planets. For example, the association of genius with Uranus usurps Mercury’s place as the representative of Divine Intelligence. Similarly, the association of Sacrificial Love to Neptune usurps Venus’ place as the representative of Divine Love, which includes Sacrificial Love. Indeed, the associations for both Mercury and Venus have been severely watered down in Modern Astrology.
Interestingly, the associations for Pluto have not seemed to really take anything away from Mars, except of course, the rulership of Scorpio. The associations for Pluto seem to be a combination of the worst Tamasic qualities of Mars and Saturn. Actually, the associations of Pluto seem to be the most honest, in that they are about as malefic as one can get. Yet, there is a strange notion that Pluto is “transformational,” but as Prof. Clark stated in his article, Into the Outer Darkness, “let’s just say that if Pluto is ‘transformational’ so is nuclear war and high levels of toxic radiation.”
Actually, assigning rulerships to the Outer Planets is problematic in and of itself. In the article, Into the Outer Darkness, Prof. Clark explains the traditional system of rulership of the planets to the signs. In this system, each of the non-luminary planets rules two signs, with a day sign and a night sign. The malefics, Mars and Saturn are thought to be better in the signs that are the opposite of their nature. Mars benefits by the coolness of night, and Saturn benefits by the warmth of day. The night sign of Mars is Scorpio, and the day sign of Saturn is Aquarius. In assigning the rulership of Scorpio to Pluto and Aquarius to Uranus, the malefics are stripped of the signs they are the strongest in. There is much more to say about these rulership assignments, but that could be an article in and of itself.
The other main pseudomythos that has arisen surrounding the Outer Planets is the notion of “transcendence.” The notion that transcendence is positive is a Tamasic notion. Transcending means to go beyond the normal boundaries. Yet, in Filianism, and I think in traditional thought in general, boundaries are positive. As it states in the Clew of Love in the feminine Scripture,
And for the existence that has fallen from perfection; truly it is the music of Divine harmony that sustains it in the motion of its wholeness.
It is Love that holds the drop of dew pendent upon the blade of grass, neither flowing forth in watery profusion, but swelling within the unseen urn of its brief harmony.
It is love that holds the stars within their courses, and all of the worlds of the immeasurable cosmos within the harmony of the celestial music.
Truly, all the cycles of the times and the seasons; all the rhythms of the soul and of the mind and of the flesh; truly all these flow from the love of Our Lady, the Maid, that creation may not decompose, each several member flying away into black eternal chaos.
To go higher is to ascend. In the Filianic Mythos of the Daughter, the Daughter ascends to Heaven. Similarly, in the Christian narrative, Jesus ascends to heaven. To go below is to descend. To transcend is to go beyond the boundaries of Love, or to fly away into “black eternal chaos.”
I think that this concept of “transcendence” is similar to the modern assertion of being “spiritual, but not religious.” I do understand the frustration people experience with the overly literal and overly systematized state of modern religion, particularly Christianity. I also understand that the separation of the religious and the secular is rather artificial. On the other hand, what I have found that often when people say they are “spiritual, but not religious,” it is really a form of katte ni suru. Katte ni suru is a Japanese phrase roughly meaning, do what you want, or do your own thing. In Western thought, this is seen as positive, but in Japan, this is quite a scathing insult. This implies that one no longer is a part of the group or the community.
We are also cautioned against this in The Sermon of the Apple Seed, “Dissonant and jarring with eternal Harmony, the little sphere is severed from the great.”
The Outer Planets are also at times called “transpersonal,” meaning that they are beyond or outside of the personal.** Yet, the traditional and Filianic teaching is that maid in a microcosm of the entire Cosmos. As it states in The Secret of the World, “And this is the secret of the world which the world would hide from you: that all things lie within the souls of maid, and only High Dea is without.” Now, one could argue that the “transpersonal” planets are a part of High Dea. The difficulty with that is that High Dea, or the Dark Mother, is by definition beyond anything we can understand from an un-Enlightened state. If we have reached a level of Enlightenment whereby we could understand the Dark Mother, we would have no need of astrology to guide us in our lives.
The Luminaries and the Filianic Trinity
I think that the modern fascination with the Outer Planets and with “transcendence” is part of the phenomenon of Tamasic Dialectic Miss Alice Lucy Trent described in The Feminine Universe. Tamasic (downward) forms take on a resemblance to Sattwic (upward) forms, in part because they both move away from the Rajastic (outward) forms.
I believe that there is a Sattwic form that the notions of “higher octaves” and “transcendence” invert. To explain this, I think an understanding of the Filianic Trinity is helpful. These concepts are certainly not unique to Filianism, and I believe that they are universal in Traditional thought; however, Filianism has a useful Mythos and vocabulary to explain the concept.
In the Filianic Creation Mythos, the Mistress of all Things created all of manifestation in joy and laughter. During this time, Primodial Maid danced and laughed with the Mother and all was golden. Each Maid and all of Creation “became the image of a golden fragment of Her Spirit.” In the cosmos, this is loosely associated with Sai Raya, the Sun, or our Solar Spirit.
After a time that can not be counted, because there “were neither days nor nights, nor moons to tell the month,” Maid was tempted by the Snake, who “had not been shaped by Her, and that was not Her daughter, nor a creature of spirit. But this was the space between the fragments and the nothingness that had been before things were. It had not energy nor delight, but only weight. It had not shape, but could only coil and uncoil itself about the things that were.” The Snake was “not golden, but black.”
In this Mythos, Maid was tempted to embrace rest and created Darkness. Then the Snake tried to destroy Creation with a Flood, but Creation was rescued by the Mother. The aftermath of this turning and Flood is described as follows:
1. And as the rain fell, the light came again, and a rainbow appeared in the sky, shedding its light upon all things. 2. And whereas all things had been golden, now they took on every hue and colour, and the world was beautiful; but it was not so beautiful as it had formerly been.
3. And She set Her seven Powers in the firmament, giving one to rule each colour of the earth.
4 And She said to Her daughter: what you have done may not be undone, for you have acted with My Spirit, and henceforth shall time be divided into day and night that you may rest. 4 But I shall keep watch in the heavens by night, and there shall be silver light that there may never be complete darkness. 6. By this shall I govern the movements of the waters, that the earth may never again be flooded. 7. The golden light of day will bring all goodness, but it will be too bright for your eyes. The silver light of night, that you may look upon.
8. The Snake shall keep the form that you have given it, and you shall be set in governance over it; but remember that it will ever attempt to beguile and destroy you as it has this night.
9. I shall not live as close to you as before, but still I shall pour blessings upon you, and you may give Me gifts — not in every moment as before, for you have learned to tire, but My light shall give you signs in this matter.
10. And the Mistress of All Things withdrew Herself into the sky, until She seemed but a slender crescent of light. 11. And the first daughter of creation fell to her knees and wept. And these were the first tears shed upon the whole of the earth.
As I stated before, in the Filianic Trinity, the Mother is loosely associated with Sai Raya, the Sun, or Solar principle. That which was before and beyond the Mother Creatrix is the Dark Mother, who is the “Darkness beyond the Light, and the Light beyond the Darkness,” but who is also completely beyond our understanding. The Dark Mother is loosely associated with Sai Rhavë, whose planetary representative is Saturn.
The bridge between the Mother and Creation, who has turned from the Mother, is the Daughter, who is loosely associated with Sai Candre, the Moon, or the Lunar principle. She is the “silver light of night, that you may look upon.” The Daughter is also the aspect of the Filianic Trinity that sustains all of Creation.
Interestingly enough, in contemplating the Traditional Model of the Cosmos, one can see that the spheres between the Solar and the Lunar are the Spheres of Sai Mati/Mercury and Sai Sushuri/Venus. These respectively represent the spiritual Way of Light and Way of Love. Both the Matic and the Sushuric principles are seen in a lower form in the Lunar principle and in a higher form in the Solar Principle. The lower form of the Matic principle is Lunar Reason, and the higher form is Solar Intellect. See Mummies and Lunimaries. Sadly, this article has already gotten quite long and involved, so I will have to leave the explanation of how this works with the Sushuric principle for another day. The Way of Love and the Way of Light are intertwined, however. As it says in Scripture, “perfect love is perfect knowledge and perfect knowledge is perfect love.”
Contemplating the Traditional Model of the Cosmos further, one can see that the Sun is in the center. Just beyond the Solar Sphere is the Sphere of Sai Vikhë or Mars. The highest form of the Vikhelic Principle is that of protection and rescue. In the Filianic Mythos, it is the Mother that rescues and defends Creation from the Snake. So, in some ways, I think that one can consider the Solar Principle as the highest form of the Vikhelic principle as well.
Interestingly enough, you can see the Solar Circle in the glyphs for Sai Mati/Mercury, Sai Sushuri/Venus, and Sai Vikhë/Mars.**
So, as you can see, there is no need to reach into “the Outer Darkness” with the Outer Planets for “transcendence.”
*a pseudomyth is a story-picture that falsely replaces traditional myth as the fundamental story of “how things are”
In the first place, let us be clear that the Janyati are not “forces” or “energies” conceived after the model of Newtonian physics (and dearly beloved of New Age movements). They are Intelligences. They are not people like us, it is true. But they are something more than people, not less than people. The greatest force in the universe is less than a person. It cannot think. We are speaking here of Intelligences immeasurably greater than ourselves. They have everything we people have, magnified a thousand times, and they have many qualities we cannot even conceive of. To picture them as something akin to people may not do them justice, but to picture them as something impersonal, like a force of nature, would do them infinitely less justice. They are everything we are and much more.
***if one truly contemplates the glyphs associated with the Outer Planets using the tradition meaning for the symbols of the Circle, the Crescent, and the Cross, the meanings for them are chillingly demonic. One can clearly see how they can not be “higher octaves” of anything!
Currently, there are quite a number of different schools of thought within astrology. Currently, one of the more heated divisions is between Classical/Traditional Astrology and Modern Astrology. To those who do not understand astrology, these divisions can seem confusing. To be honest, these divisions can be confusing even to those who do understand and practice astrology. There are several concrete matters that arise with respect to the difference between these schools, such as whether and how the Outer Planets are used or not used; however, It can be a bit difficult to sort through the debates and discussions regarding these divisions.
I think that an understanding of the gunas of time can be instructive in shedding light on these matters. I have discussed the gunas is quite a bit of detail in a previous article, The Gunas and Societal Choices. As a review, Sattwic (Traditional) Societies are upwardly oriented societies, Rajastic (Normal) Societies are outwardly or materially oriented societies, and Tamasic (Inverted) Societies are neither upwardly or outwardly oriented, so they move downward. Western society began a movement into a Tamasic society in the mid-1960’s.
Interestingly enough, I think that it is likely that the Western practice of astrology began a movement into Tamas at around the Enlightenment, coinciding with the “discovery” of the Outer Planets. I also do not think it is a coincidence that Western society fell into Tamas a few centuries later. One could argue that it is not possible that changes in the craft of astrology could have such a profound effect upon society. That argument would hold if we were taking about just the craft of astrology; however, until the Enlightenment, the fields of cosmology, astronomy, and astrology were not divorced from each other as they are today. The “discovery” of the Outer Planets destroyed what remained of the knowledge of cosmology, severing the knowledge which is the basis for all traditional science. As astronomy and astrology are the sciences that are most directly connected to cosmology, it makes sense that they would be the first plunged into Tamas.
Our understanding of the cosmos very much informs everything in our lives. A very good explanation of this process is found in Chapter One of the Feminine Universe. I believe that the only reason that society as a whole did not fall into Tamas earlier when astrology did is that is people are quite resistant from being severed from their roots.
So, in a very real sense, what we know of as Modern Astrology is probably a bit of a misnomer. It is probably more accurate to think of Modern Astrology as post-Modern Astrology. What we know of as Traditional or Classical Astrology is closer to Modern Astrology, if we were to use this terminology.
To explain this, we need to go back the concept of the gunas with the symbolism of the cross. A Sattwic or a Traditional society is one that is upwardly focused. There is no separation between the Divine and the Mundane. In the history of astrology, it is noted that personal horoscopes were not cast until around the Chaldean period in the West. Conventional wisdom is that this was because there was not enough understanding of astrology to cast individual horoscopes, but I find that unlikely. I think it far more likely that there was no reason for people to have their personal horoscopes drawn in a Sattwic or Traditional Society. Their lives were ordered in an integrated society which was reflective of the Order of the Cosmos. Rulers derived their authority from the Divine, which was seen as the only true source of authority. This required rulers to be obedient to the Divine. One of the sources of information regarding the instruction of the Divine was through the movement of the heavenly bodies.
As there are really few, if any, true Traditional or Sattwic Societies left in the world today, with the possible exception of aboriginal tribes, we really can not be sure of how astrology was practiced. It is likely, though, that astrology was used by the Temples and rulers to determine festivals and omens and to align the societies they were responsible for with the Divine Order of the Cosmos. We really do not have access to astrology as it was practiced in a these societies.
It is for this reason that I started to use the term Classical Astrology rather than Traditional Astrology to refer to the type of astrology I practice. This is the astrology of a Rajastic or Normal Society. The purpose of this type of astrology to assist people in their outward or material existence. The outward or Rajastic uses of astrology are myriad, examples of which are deciding whether when to buy or sell a house, assisting physicians in healing, and determining the best time to plant crops. Even if the higher meaning and purposes were largely forgotten or unconscious, the practice was still rooted in the older Tradition. It is likely that this was the state of astrology until around the 1700’s in the West.
When astrology fell into a Tamasic state, it became cut off from both the older Traditional roots AND from the principles of tried and true practice as materially helpful craft. In some ways, it looked like a Traditional practice, with Psychological and “Spiritual” Astrology. This is often the case in a movement into Tamas. In the Feminine Universe, Miss Trent referred to this phenomenon as the Tamasic Dialectic. Tamasic forms often resemble Sattwic forms, but in an inverted or “diabolical” manner. There is movement away from the material horizontal axis of the cross; however, that movement is below the horizontal level rather than above it. The fascination with the Outer Planets is one example of this.
It is for this reason, that I see the present movement towards the study of Classical Astrology a verypositive development in astrology. In the Feminine Universe, Miss Trent explained that it was not possible to return to a Traditional, Sattwic society directly from an Inverted, Tamasic one. For this reason, the antidote to the Tamasic poisons is a return to healthy material existence in a process termed re-racination, or returning to our roots. There are many articles in the diary section of this blog that are devoted to discussing personal efforts towards re-racination.
In a sense, this blog is devoted to the process of the re-recination of our understanding of the cosmos. This movement has already begun with the recovery and translation of older texts. Of course, we are unable to truly practice the craft as it was practiced, but these texts are artifacts that assist us in returning to a Rajastic practice from a Tamasic one. When reading and analyzing these texts and methodologies, I think it is also helpful to have an understanding of the Traditional and Essentialist principles from which these texts and methodologies are derived. It is a process of returning to our roots.
In the past articles, I have discussed the natural Unfolding of the Ages, and how we as Axial Beings moved through the Age of Gold to the current Age of Iron, and the impact of the Patriarchal Revolution. I explained that the movement from the Age of Gold through the Age of Iron is a natural one, as natural as the changing of the seasons. It is also likely that the Patriarchal Revolution was somewhat inevitable as humanity progressed through the Age of Iron, although, it is just as likely that humanity embraced patriarchy, with its overbalanced Martial/Vikhelic influence, beyond that which was inevitable. That is a matter of speculation rather than doctrine, I think.
Now that we have been exposed to these ideas, however, I think it is time to discuss the gunas, which I believe do, to a large extent, represent choices of various societies. One way to understand the gunas is to refer back to the discussion of the symbolism of the Cross, and how that relates to Free Will. If you recall, humans have the choice day by day, minute by minute to make choices in an Upward, Outward (material), or Downward direction. Just as individuals have that choice, so do societies.
A society moving in an Upward direction is a Sattwic, or Traditional, society. In a Traditional society, every aspect of life has a spiritual dimension. For example, pottery making is as spiritual as the performance of sacred rituals. In a Traditional society, there is no separation between the spiritual and the secular. Everyone knows her place and her role in life in such a society, and these societies are generally Unanimous societies. Everyone understands and agrees on what is right and what is wrong, and it is understood that if a decision is right, everyone will know that and agree. If there is not agreement, then there is something amiss. This would be analogous to a modern scientist getting an anomalous result in an experiment. In the Age of Iron and after the Patriarchal Revolution, even Traditional societies did not fully function in the way that they may have in the past. This is shown by the often cruel and warlike nature of even Traditional societies, such as Medieval Europe. The presence of these cruelties is part of the Age of Iron and an overbalanced Martial/Vikhelic influence. It is by no means intrinsic to Traditional societies, and it is likely that earlier Traditional societies were far gentler and largely harmonious.
A society moving in an Outward direction is a Rajastic, or Normal, society. When a society moves in a Rajastic direction, its focus is on the material, outward side of life. The Classical Hellenistic period and the Renaissance period in Europe were Rajastic societies. It is in these societies that glorious works of art are created. A person from a Traditional society would likely be disturbed by the focus on the material that exists in a Normal society. Indeed, Plato criticized the Hellenistic art of his time as “making copies of copies.” This was because our human and natural form is an imperfect reflection of the Divine Perfect Form, so art imitating the natural form was a poor substitute for art which attempted to imitate the Perfect Form, or the Archetypes. Even so, in a Normal society, the connection to the Divine is not lost. While true knowledge of the higher and spiritual is often lost in the main in a Rajastic society, there is still an unconscious connection with the Divine in the material forms.
An example of this can be seen in the ritual of eating at the table. In addition to eating at a table, often plates are traditionally circles.* Circles are symbolic of the Solar Spirit, or the Divine Creative Force which is both outside of us and deep within us. While most of us do not ritually offer our food first to the Divine, as was done in Traditional societies, eating at the table, putting our food on a circular plate before eating it, and saying a form of thanks or grace, vestigially and unconsciously still invokes a ritual offering.
The connection with the higher Upward direction is quite powerful, and it remains solid as long as it is not severed. We are spiritual, rather than material, beings, so as long as nothing severs our connection with the Upward path, even if we do not understand it, the Upward will still provide a connection and will still come through in an Outward or Rajastic society.
Once the connection with the Upward and the Divine is lost, Rajastic societies are in danger being pulled down into a Tamasic, or Inverted, society. Until around the 1960’s, Western Europe and the United States were Normal societies. They were certainly materialistic, and much understanding of the spiritual meanings behind various traditions were long lost. However, the vestiges of tradition remained. In the mid-1960’s, Western society began to cut itself off from all tradition. Once the connection to the Upward Path was lost, it was only a matter of time before the Downward, Darker, and destructive forces began to take over.
In my WordPress inbox, I saw a picture that was part of a WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words. This picture is a perfect illustration of our current Inverted society. I previously discussed the poisons of our Modern Inverted Society, as explained in The Feminine Universe, in a previous article, The Outer Planets; A Theory. In that article, I gave a brief explanation of these three poisons, atomization, deracination, and deformation. This picture is a perfect illustration of all three of these poisons.
The girl is alone, which is the definition of atomization, or being cut off from other people and the community. The girl’s clothing is deracinated. It is sloppy, with little attention to any tradition or concept of beauty. Compare her clothing to the simple beauty of the Sattwic Egyptian society in the first picture and the elaborate dresses of the Rajastic Victorian Era in the second picture. See also the strange, frightening green creature on the merry-go-round the girl is sitting on. This is an example of deformation. The creature is not a natural form, like the other animals. The creature is also not representative of a Traditional archetype created in a ritual, spiritual manner. Instead, it is an inversion of True Form.
Our current society is not the first Tamasic, or Inverted, Society, and it is likely not the last. For example, the Roman Empire seems to have undergone a Tamasic period, when its focus was on bread and circuses, with bloody gladiatorial fights to entertain the masses. I do believe that individual societies have choices with respect to the gunas. Certainly, in our current world, not every society has entered into the Tamasic period to the same extent or at the same rate. The dominance of the West has spread the Tamasic poisons to the East. It remains to be seen how deep this will spread.
Japan, for example, is an interesting case, in that it has been heavily influenced by the West, but it is also spreading its own influence to the West, particularly in the form of children’s media. Almost all of the nice and sweet video games are made in Japan. Japan is also producing some very healthy and metaphysically sound children’s shows in the form of Anime. Actually, you can see this influence in the clothing worn by the girl in the above picture. On her blue jeans, there is an image of Hello Kitty, which is a sweet and wholesome Japanese image that has spread to the West like wildfire and is quite popular with little girls. Of course, the image is on sloppy and deracinated clothing, but from a feminine essentialist perspective, one can not help but hope that it is a step in the right direction.
*In the East, there are circumstances where a rectangular plate is also used. Examples of that are sushi plates and bento boxes. Given that the East has in general retained tradition where it has been lost in the West, I think we can trust that there is a ritual significance to the rectangular form of sushi plates and bento boxes.