Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Question of the Keys

This is a departure from the usual style, simply because I am tying in with my other blog - which is all to do with keys. It set me wondering how many keys we possess for all sorts of things. Houses, rooms, cars, padlocks and compartments - we need keys for them all. Of course, how many of us throw away keys when we no longer require the object they secured? I'm betting we've all got old keys here and there. So why the reluctance to throw them away? Perhaps it's because they play such an important function in keeping things in and shutting them out, that they possess their own authority - and ultimately power. The Bambara said "all that is said and all that is done to the individual, in the state and in the world at large, is a gate." * To hold the key is to have been initiated. So the key does not only concern access, but implies a spiritual state where one is allowed access. Having the authority to have access or being empowered to have access is the way of the key. Folk tales often feature three keys and they allow access to three different stages of purification and initiation on a journey. In the case of the folk tale, the three keys will help solve a mystery and that is always about enlightenment. There are many keys in the picture above, but I feel they all conform in some way to these general principles.
*Zahan Dominique, "Societies d'initiation Bambara le N'domo, le Kore", Paris and the Hague, 1960