Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Welcome to new visitors from The Higherside Chats!

Welcome to new visitors (and returning friends) from THC! 

I recently had the opportunity to appear as a guest on Greg Carlwood's The Higherside Chats, and it was a real pleasure to hang out with Greg and be on a show that I've come to really enjoy since first learning about it at the Secret Space Program in San Mateo this past June.

I really appreciate Greg's style and the knowledge and preparation he brings to each interview. Greg's funny, he's positive, and he seems like someone who'd be fun to hang around with or go surfing with in San Diego. Plus he's created a great platform for allowing different viewpoints to be aired out and different perspectives offered on important subjects that affect everyone in this critical point in human history. And he's a professional, and one who has shown himself to be a perceptive judge of what's being offered in a genuine manner and what might be "less than completely genuine."

For those coming to this blog for the first time as a result of listening to the interview (or who maybe heard of my work for the first time as a result of THC), welcome!  Below are some links that may be helpful, or links that may elaborate on one or two of the subjects that we covered in the interview:

I also really appreciate the fact that Greg created a show called The Higherside Chats, because he is deliberately creating a counter to the "Fireside Chats" of history, which marked the first time that a US president used the "new technology" of radio to "create reality" and craft a narrative to serve as a lens through which the world would view events in the way that the government wanted the people to view those events.  

Although those original "Fireside Chats" are no more, the governments of the world certainly continue to use various forms of the media and the platforms offered by today's "new technology" to try to "create reality" and shape the narrative: The Higherside Chats is an example of the people using that same "new technology" to question the narratives that are being offered, to examine other possible explanations for what they see going on in the world around them, and in fact to "challenge the reality" that is being created and even to create a new reality for the future!

It's interesting that even before I met Greg in late June or knew about the existence of The Higherside Chats, I created two short videos about "narratives," and used the old "Fireside Chats" as an example of the way narratives are created, handed out, and turned into "reality" by the engines of "reality creation" (you can view those two short videos here, embedded and linked in a blog post called "The importance of challenging false narratives").

Hope everyone enjoys the interview! Feel free to get in touch with me via Twitter or Facebook, and hope you'll come back to visit this blog soon.

above: trying to let my brain unwind after the interview.

Outlaw drums: evidence of the suppression of the shamanic worldview

image: Replica on display of a Saami rune drum, confiscated by government agents in 1691. Wikimedia commons (link).

The previous post presented the argument that the shamanic worldview is an integral part of the shared history of all humanity, but that this worldview has been deliberately stolen and suppressed, beginning at a specific time and place in Western Europe and that the suppression spread from there.

For the purposes of the discussion, this concept of the "shamanic worldview" can be broadly defined (as it was in that previous post) as:
the awareness of an Other Realm (sometimes variously referred to as the realm of the gods, the "seed realm," the realm of the implicate, the realm of potentiality, the hidden world, the Dreamtime) in addition to the world of ordinary reality, and the practice of techniques for actually traveling between the realm of ordinary reality and the Other Realm, in order to obtain knowledge or effect change not possible to obtain or effect through any other method.
While it is no doubt possible to fine-tune and improve the above broad definition, the general components mentioned are arguably some of the most characteristic distinguishing features of the shamanic worldview as it has manifested itself in different cultures around the globe and throughout the ages.

Some readers might wonder at the assertion that this shamanic worldview has actually been deliberately suppressed, and might additionally wonder what possible motive there might be for such suppression throughout history. After all, most criminal investigations demand that some motive be suggested, when someone (such as Sherlock Holmes, or Scooby Doo and the gang) comes up with a theory regarding the perpetrator or perpetrators. 

Any theory alleging a deliberate campaign to stamp out the shamanic worldview, across enormous geographic areas and down through a long series of centuries, should be able to offer some evidence that such targeting has in fact taken place, and to suggest some kind of motive behind such a long-standing campaign.

In fact, the evidence down through the centuries of such suppression is overwhelming. 

It can be seen in the ancient world, with decrees issued by the Christian Roman Emperor Flavius Theodosius shutting down the rites of Eleusis in AD 392, and ordering the destruction of the famous oracular temple at Delphi two years earlier in AD 390 (these are just two extremely important examples: many others could be offered). 

It can be seen in the middle ages, for example with the aggressive destruction of the Irminsul trees and poles of the Germanic peoples by Charlemagne and his armies (these have a direct connection to the World Tree of Yggdrasil, the site of Odin's shamanic self-sacrifice, and to shamanic poles generally, which are an important shamanic symbol worldwide, and may well be directly related to the Djed-column and Ankh-cross). Charlemagne and his armies are widely acknowledged in contemporary records of the period to have "converted" many non-Christian people to the dominant form of literalist Christianity at the point of the sword, as well as to have put to death thousands of men, women, and children in acts of wholesale slaughter, sometimes in the middle of the sacred groves themselves, in the middle of their worship, while the men were unarmed.

And it can be seen all down through the centuries after the middle ages, when shamanic peoples have been violently persecuted, and shamanic cultures have been horribly destroyed. The record of persecutions and attempted cultural suppression runs from as far north as the Saami people of far northern Norway, Sweden and Finnland (sometimes called Lappland) to the far south of Australia, and from as far "east" (from a European perspective) as the shamanic cultures of Mongolia and Siberia to as far "west" as the Americas and out into the islands of the Pacific.

Often this persecution of shamanic cultures has come at the hands of literalist Christianity, aided by the military power of secular authorities and armies. Sometimes it has come at the hands of totalitarian governments. In either case, it is clear that the shamanic worldview was perceived as an extremely potent threat -- to the point that possession of a shamanic drum has in almost every case been outlawed, and a policy of confiscation and destruction of drums implemented.

The sameness of this policy of outlawing drums, whether for ostensibly theological reasons (in literalist-Christian cultures) or political reasons (in officially atheist and communist regimes), and its persistence through several centuries and in many different nations, is astonishing and notable.

Here is a webpage from the site of the University of Texas which describes some aspects of Saami culture, and in particular the Saami drum as it relates to the particular manifestation of the shamanic worldview among the Saami from time immemorial. After extended discussion of the importance of the drum, and its role in inducing a state of ecstasy or trance, the site discusses the response of Christianity when it arrived in the Scandinavian region:
Christianity harshly persecuted those who held to the Sami religion. "From the end of the 17th to the middle of the 18th century much of the confrontation between indigenous Saami religion and Christianity was focused on the drums" (Ahlback and Bergman 29). The church burned most of the confiscated drums; therefore, few drums remain today. "As a powerful and very visible part of the Sami religion, the drum was one of the main focuses of the Christian attempts to eradicate their religion, so most of the older Sami drums have been crushed or burnt by Christian missionaries and their armed escorts" (Jarving). The Sami gave up many of the drums to avoid persecution. Persecution took on many forms, from being questioned and forced to deny the Sami religion, to being put to death as a heretic. 
After this passage follows a block quotation in which a court was convened by the Lutheran authorities for the "witch-trial" of an "old Sami shaman, Anders Poulsen" (who was apparently 100 years old at the time his drum, a replica of which is displayed above, was taken from him and he was put on trial in 1692).

Nearly three hundred years later, in the former Soviet Union, shamans were similarly persecuted, and the shamanic drums were targeted in almost the exact same way. Numerous first-hand accounts exist from those who lived through the period in which the possession of such a drum was forbidden. Here is a link to an article discussing aspects of shamanic culture among the Khanty people of modern Siberia. On page 3 we read that by 1926, "the crime-prevention committee in the Tobolsk region decided to consider shamanism as a crime," and turned militias on shamans. On the same page the author declares that "every manifestation of shamanic culture such as owning a shaman drum was declared illegal and subjected to persecution." 

Here is a link to a different article containing quotations from practicing Tuvan shamans in Mongolia, who were persecuted after their country became part of the Soviet Union in 1944. The article states that prior to being absorbed into the Soviet Union, there were 725 shamans among the Tuvan, with "just under half of them women," but that after annexation shamans were persecuted and often killed.

The shamanic revival of the Ghost Dance among Native Americans of the Pacific northwest and the western plains, and the subsequent brutal massacre of Ghost Dance participants by elements of the US military at Wounded Knee in 1890 is beyond the scope of this particular post to examine properly, but it can clearly be seen as an example of a similarly violent policy of official suppression of the shamanic worldview by the United States government, and evidence that such policies in modern times are not simply a manifestation of "atheistic communism," as some might propose.

Such examples from history should be more than sufficient to establish the presence of a longstanding and deliberate campaign against the shamanic worldview, and one that transcends boundaries of geography, culture, nation, and even century.

But what motive can be offered to explain such terrible suppression? 

The answer may perhaps be suggested by the striking antipathy that shows up over and over regarding the possession of a shamanic drum. 

The reader is no doubt astonished at such a policy: it is almost as though drums have been considered to be more dangerous than guns, and their confiscation more noted in the history than any confiscation or outlawing of any weapon of physical defense.

The same page linked above, from the University of Texas website, discussing the Saami culture and in particular the Saami drum, notes its importance in achieving the trance state, and cites several accounts from different sources regarding its use:
By hammering the drum, the noaidi beat out a rhythm that inspired ecstatic excitation; this then allowed the shaman to achieve a trance state. "In a non-active state -- in a dream, trance or coma -- a free soul may leave the body and take on another form outside the person. The noaidi had the skill to reach this state at will. It is described in different ways. The noaidi in a trance leaves the body and moves as a spirit or breath of wind. They have the ability to change into a wild reindeer or hide under the reindeer's neck or hoof; they can fly over the treetops or travel under the ground; they may swim in the shape of a fishl; and the Sea Sami recount they may even move mountains" (Lehtola 28). This type of shamanistic travel dates back even before any of the existing drums. "In the well-known report of an ecstatic Saami shamanistic seance in Historia Norvegiae, written down in c. AD 1170/90, there is a description of a drum, like a sieve and with some simple figures painted on the drum skin: a whale, a reindeer, a ski and a small boat with oars. With the help of these, the 'gandr' of the shaman, his free soul, could travel over fell and fjord" (Ahlback and Bergman 85). This obviously describes a Sami shaman using a frame drum to achieve a trance and free his spirit to travel along the surface of this world.
What we can surmise from the campaign to impound and destroy shamanic drums is this: that travel to the other world can in fact enable the traveler to obtain knowledge and effect change in this world, or at least it was seen as being able to do so by those who wanted to stamp it out. 

The ability to transcend the apparent boundaries of our material and physical world may, in fact, be extremely threatening to those who want to control or suppress others -- as historic literalist Christianity is clearly shown to have a history of doing (in the above quotations, for sure) and as the totalitarian regime in the Soviet Union was also doing. Previous posts have explored the fact that controlling people through the creation of artificial realities (and thus by mind control, rather than physical control) is far more efficient and ultimately far more effective than controlling them by brute force alone (although most if not all regimes which utilize mind control as the primary means of control are ultimately backstopped by brute force).

Those who are able, like the Shakespearean clown, to reveal the artificiality of these social constructs (most of which are constructed out of words and out of language), can be extremely dangerous to such a system of mind control.

The shaman, with his or her drum, goes one step even further.

The shamanic worldview suggests that, at some level, all of the reality that we experience is in some way a kind of "artificial reality." The shaman's ability to actually transcend the boundaries of the apparently unyielding physical world that we inhabit is even more subversive, and the shaman's ability to alter this reality (and to create new realities) by actions taken or information obtained in the other world is potentially even more threatening to those who wish to control or to oppress. 

If a contemporary movie reference is possibly not inappropriate when discussing a long-running persecution of such violence and ill-intent, perhaps the metaphor of the "divergents" in the popular novels (and now films) of the same name (Divergent) might be helpful to understanding the motive to stamp out shamans and their boundary-transcending techniques. In particular, in this case, the parallel is to the ability of divergents to see when they are in a "simulation" that "isn't real," and then to "alter reality" as needed within the simulation. The shaman is like this, except that the shaman sees that our entire projected material "reality" is in a sense "not real" and even "a simulation," and having seen this the shaman can bend the boundaries of the "simulation" in certain ways that "non-divergents" can neither understand nor believe. In the Divergent movie and novels, those with this ability were seen as a terrible threat and were targeted for elimination.  

The identity of those who have most sought to suppress the shamanic worldview through the centuries, and to seize and destroy the shamans' drums, is most revealing. Those who believe that literalist Christianity is for the most part on the side of individual freedom and self-actualization might want to investigate further as they ask why it appears to have been primarily either oppressive totalitarian governments or ostensibly "Christian" governments (or, in the case of the US in the nineteenth century, "Manifest Destiny" governments) which appear to have been the most active persecutors of the shamanic worldview in history.

At the very least, the information above should cause every reader to ask whether they wouldn't want to  obtain a shamanic drum of their own, and to learn how to use it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Humanity's shared shamanic heritage

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

When considering the subject of shamanism and shamanic experience, many "Westerners" (that is to say, those who have grown up in the parts of the world that were actually ruled by the Roman Empire, specifically the western empire, as well as those parts of the world that the later European states descended from the western empire influenced heavily, and in particular those areas which were deeply committed to literalist forms of Christianity for many centuries in a row) may find the subject to be uncomfortable or even threatening.

This discomfort may be due to a variety of factors. 

Some of it may be due to the complete unfamiliarity of the entire landscape of the shamanic, and a feeling that the concept is so alien as to be almost completely inaccessible to those coming from any of the cultures encompassed by "Western culture" as broadly described above.

Some of it may be due to the heavy stigma which the literalist forms of religion that have dominated Western culture for at least seventeen centuries have placed on forms of human experience involving contact with spirits or the spirit-world -- a stigma which retains some of its force even among descendants of Western culture who no longer accept the literalist interpretation of ancient scriptures or one of the various forms of literalist Christianity which opposed such experience based on specific and overt doctrines or teachings.

And some of it may be due to the idea that there is a deep and nearly impassible divide between different cultures, and especially between "Western" cultures and those retaining some aspect of the shamanic worldview, to the point that it is seen (perhaps by descendants of cultures on both sides of the divide) as "inauthentic" or "invasive" or in some other way "wrong" for anyone from a primarily Western background to wish to explore and especially to practice aspects of shamanic experience.

These barriers to the investigation of shamanic teaching and experience are unfortunate -- especially if it turns out that the outlines of the shamanic world-view are in fact accurate in their description of our universe! That is to say, such rejection of the relevance of the shamanic to everyone in the world (including those from a primarily "Western" background) would be unfortunate indeed if it turns out that there is in fact a realm corresponding to that realm described in various shamanic cultures as the Other World, the Spirit World, the Invisible World, the Dreamtime, or the Realm of the Gods, and if that other realm actually connects to and "interpenetrates" the more familiar or ordinary or material realm in which we spend most of our waking hours, such that changes in one realm can have real and lasting impact on what takes place in the other.

As I explore in The Undying Stars, there is indeed evidence that this situation is in fact the case:  that is to say, that the universe we normally experience and think of as "reality" is in fact interpenetrated by an invisible world, or that the "explicate" world we inhabit somehow "unfolds from" an invisible "implicate" realm of pure potentiality. Modern theoretical physicists have been forced by the outcomes of various experiments conducted since the end of the nineteenth and especially during the twentieth century to radically reshape their models of the universe, and frameworks have been proposed including the "holographic universe" model which closely resemble the shamanic worldview in nearly every detail, other than the labels given to the two different realms of existence (or the two different modes of the "expression of information" or data).

The fact that shamanism anticipated this modern "discovery" by many thousands of years, and that, in addition to understanding it, shamanism has a rich tradition of techniques for actually moving between these different realms of existence in order to gain knowledge and make changes which cannot be effected in any other way, should alone be enough to recommend a careful reconsideration of the profound value and pertinence of shamanic thought and practice for all humanity.

But even more important, perhaps, to breaking down the unfortunate potential sources of "Western discomfort" with the shamanic that I listed above would be the understanding that in fact the shamanic worldview appears to have been deeply ingrained in ancient sacred tradition in all the places we think of today as "the West" and that this knowledge was deliberately stamped out only as recently as the fifth century AD within the Roman Empire -- and even later in other parts of Europe and the West.

In other words, what today we label as "the shamanic" is part of the heritage of all peoples -- but there has for centuries been a deliberate and very effective campaign to steal this heritage from humanity! 

The very fact that we label the worldview broadly described as shamanic with an adjective derived from the Tungusian word shaman reinforces the extent to which this worldview was hunted to near extinction within the regions conquered or heavily influenced by the western Roman Empire and its successor western European states, and only survived in areas outside of that influence (such as eastern Europe, very far northern Europe, most of Africa and Asia -- including the region of modern-day Siberia where the Tungus peoples live -- as well as the continents of North and South America and the islands of the Pacific Ocean including the island-continent of Australia).

In fact, as I labor to demonstrate in The Undying Stars (and many of the posts here on this blog), it can be shown that nearly all the world's sacred myths, teachings and scriptures share a common underlying celestial foundation which actually unites them rather than divides them, and that the purpose of the esoteric celestial allegory employed in all these cases was to convey a vision of the universe and of human experience that is essentially what we today would call shamanic. For more on that possibility, see for example this previous post containing an index of links to posts detailing the celestial aspects of over fifty different myths from different world cultures (including myths in the Old and New Testaments), and also some of the previous posts which have discussed the possible shamanic purpose of these "star myths" such as "Shamanic-Holographic," "The shamanic foundation of the world's ancient wisdom," and "The ancient torch that was lighted for our guidance," among others.  

Although this shamanic worldview took on different forms in cultures such as ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, or the cultures of the Druids, Celts, Norse, and others, it was nevertheless characterized in all of these different cultures by features that are essentially and specifically shamanic: the awareness of "the other realm" or "world of the gods" in addition to the world of ordinary reality, and the practice of techniques for actually traveling between the realm of ordinary reality and the realm of the gods in order to obtain knowledge or effect change not possible to obtain or effect through any other method.

Previous posts have described, for example, the important work of Dr. Jeremy Naydler in demonstrating that what we would call shamanic travel or shamanic journeying was an integral part of ancient Egyptian civilization, and that the pharaoh appears to have regularly and deliberately undertaken out-of-body travel to the realm of the gods or neters in order to provide benefits for the entire society by doing so: see for instance this post, this post and this post. During the 1960s, the authors of Hamlet's Mill also outlined a strong case for a shamanic connection in the myth and practice of ancient Egypt: see for example this post and this post.

Other posts have demonstrated evidence for similarly shamanic worldviews in operation in ancient Greece, including at the oracle at Delphi, and in the long-standing Mysteries of Eleusis, both of which appear to have reinforced the necessity of acknowledging the invisible world and of crossing to the other side even during this life in order to obtain knowledge or make change which could not be accomplished any other way. 

The shamanic aspects of the Norse myths are clear and compelling, and are especially evident in the central sacrifice of Odin, in which knowledge is shown being obtained through a ritual that is essentially shamanic -- knowledge that can be obtained by no other method. And, while Odin's ascent on the World-Tree is perhaps the most obviously shamanic episode in Norse mythology, there are many other Norse myths which can be convincingly shown to contain clear shamanic elements, including the myth of Odin and Gunnlod and the mead of poetry (as well as the many stories of Freya and her ability to transform into a falcon, and of the Valkyries who are also able to ascend to the heavens and who wear garments of feathers in some cases, a characteristic of the shaman's costume the world over).

It can be demonstrated that this shamanic worldview, and the practice of crossing over to the other realm in order to obtain knowledge or effect change, continued in what would become the "Western world" right up through the fifth century AD within the Roman Empire, during the period in which the hierarchy of literalist Christianity was actively suppressing esoteric -- we might even say shamanic -- interpretations of the texts that became the Biblical canon.

In fact, this previous post entitled "The centrality of ecstasy, according to ancient wisdom," cites the analysis of Gerald Massey (1828 - 1907) who concluded that the distinguishing hallmark of all ancient wisdom was "knowledge of trance conditions." This knowledge was found in all the ancient scriptures and cultures in "the West" prior to the advent of literalist Christianity, and this knowledge survived into the modern period in those cultures that were outside the areas that literalist Christianity stamped it out during the ancient period and up through the middle ages. 

Elsewhere in his work, Massey puts forward the important theory (which he backs up with compelling evidence), that the author of the earliest Pauline letters in the New Testament was clearly teaching a worldview we would today call shamanic, including an emphasis on individual experience and direct revelation, and even out-of-the-body travel. Massey believes that this original intent was subverted by later literalist teachers and by the creation of letters (such as the "Pastoral letters") not written by the original author, and which taught an opposite worldview.

This information turns conventional understanding on its head, and should go a long way towards overcoming the three main areas of discomfort or objection cited at the beginning of this post. 

It suggests that what we think of today as the shamanic is actually the heritage of all humanity -- but that this heritage was deliberately stolen from a large segment of mankind many centuries ago, and that the campaigns against other shamanic cultures that took place in more recent centuries may in fact be part of the same "stamping out" that took place in the West long before.

It also suggests that the hunger for the exploration of the shamanic among people descended from Western cultures may represent a longing for something that was once part of their own heritage, but from which they are now separated by long centuries of isolation from such experience.

It further suggests that shamanic practice can and does take on many different cultural forms, even as it retains some central features which characterize the shamanic worldview. The external trappings of that worldview looked very different in ancient Egypt, for example, than it did in Eleusis in ancient Greece, or in northern Europe among the Norse and Germanic peoples -- and these external differences are real and undeniable. However, the core understanding that there is a spirit world or realm of the gods (or realm of the "implicate order," in terms of modern holographic universe theory) and that deliberate travel to that realm is both possible and at times very necessary and potentially very beneficial, is common to all of the pre-Christian "Western" cultures just mentioned, just as it is common to the many different cultures where the shamanic worldview survived to the present or closer to the present day. 

There are real and undeniable differences between more recent shamanic cultures, for instance between those found in the Amazon and those found in Siberia, but there are core similarities as well -- especially the core belief in the possibility of such shamanic travel, its potential benefits, and its necessity in some circumstances.

We might also conclude that, given the number of centuries that have intervened between the time that this worldview was stamped out in "the West" and the present day, anyone coming from a primarily Western culture who wants to investigate traditions where this kind of knowledge has survived is of necessity forced to do so among the knowledge that survived in non-Western cultures. This does not mean that someone who does so is trying to "appropriate" or "steal" from the culture where that knowledge has been preserved, or trying to turn into someone that they are not: it is more a case of  someone from a culture where long generations have now elapsed since this ancient light was put out going to someone where that flame was preserved right up to recent memory.  

We might say it is also like someone from a boat or a ship that has been blown to pieces, and who is now floating in the ocean, paddling over to boats or vessels that may on the outside look very different from the one that they were originally from, but that were also designed with the same primary purpose in mind. Recreating the old boat is pretty much out of the question at this point: Eleusis went silent so many centuries ago that there are now none living who can say with any certainty what techniques were used in their mysteries.

When these refugees learn the techniques that have been preserved in other cultures and other places and then head out to try to navigate the waters of this life using what they have learned, their "boats" and methods of sailing may and probably will have a different look and feel. That fact should not lead to their being criticized or rejected as somehow being inauthentic or counterfeit. The evidence presented above shows that the broadly "shamanic worldview" is the heritage of all humanity, even though it is and probably indeed must be expressed differently by different cultures living in different parts of the world or different centuries and using different technologies. The fact that it will be expressed differently by practitioners in our modern day who have their own different cultural backgrounds and baggage should not be cause for division or criticism or rejection of the desire to follow this ancient path in the circumstances of today's world.

In fact, given some of the evidence touched on above, it could be argued that we do not have the luxury of declaring the pursuit of shamanic experience to be "off limits" to any group or family of humanity. It is clear from evidence stretching all the way back to the Pyramid Texts (and perhaps much further back even than that) that the knowledge of and the ability to enter into altered states of consciousness and in doing so to travel into non-ordinary reality (the other realm, the implicate order) in order to gain information or to effect change that cannot be accomplished any other way is absolutely essential to individual health and to the health of society at large.

If "Western society" and the world at large is dangerously off-track or imbalanced, then this fact itself would argue that the recovery and active practice of that shamanic worldview which was lost (and, it could be argued, deliberately stolen) must be given the highest priority. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The name of the Ankh, continued: Kundalini around the world

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The foregoing series of posts has been exploring the evidence which suggests that the concept of "raising the Djed" is absolutely central to the ancient wisdom which was apparently given to humanity from some pre-historic source and which manifests itself in the world's sacred scriptures and traditions, from the earliest "historical" civilizations of Egypt and Sumer and Vedic India, ancient China, and around the globe to the lands of the Norse, the Americas, Africa, Australia, the islands of the Pacific, and the vast lands of Asia.

We have seen evidence that the raising of the Djed-column has a celestial component, in the cycles of the heavenly bodies of the sun, moon, stars and planets -- especially in the annual sun-cycle and the "Cross" that is created by the equinoxes (where the Djed is "cast down") and the solstices (where the Djed is "raised up"). 

And we have seen evidence which suggests that the same raising of the Djed-column has an individual component, in which each and every one of us has the opportunity to recognize (or even remember) the spiritual, celestial, and in fact divine nature inside ourselves and to raise it up within this material incarnation that we find ourselves in during our earthly sojourn. In doing so, we are connecting with the vertical component of the Cross discussed above, and transforming and transcending the horizontal, material, and animal portion of our human experience, according to the ancient wisdom texts and traditions. 

We have seen that this process of "raising the Djed" was also symbolized by the ancient Egyptians using the Scarab and especially the Ankh, and that the name of the Ankh and the linguistic sound of the N-K has found its way into a myriad of words which are associated with the process of raising our consciousness and restoring our cast-down inner divine nature, including the word Yoga (a derivation of yonga) and the English words king and queen.  

Alvin Boyd Kuhn has demonstrated, in texts referred to in that previous post, that the N-K sound at times shows up as the K-N sound, and sometimes as the N-G sound or the G-N sound.

In light of that fact, it may be instructive to examine still further manifestations of this all-important "sound of the Ankh," and see that they are in almost every case illustrative of the concept of the "raising of the Djed" that the ancient wisdom tells us is so central to our human existence.

Pictured above, for example, is a shrine in a temple in southern India, showing the intertwined and ascending serpents associated with the kundalini, the dormant, primordial, and divine life-force-energy in each of us, described as a serpent coiled at the base of the spine (notice from the quotations in the Norse Eddas found in this related previous post that the World-Tree Yggdrasil is always described as having a serpent or serpents at its base) which should and can be elevated through deliberate practice.

Obviously, the word itself begins with the K-N sound, which Alvin Boyd Kuhn would argue to be a connection to the name of the Ankh and to the concept of the hidden divine force inside each incarnate man and woman.  There is no doubt that the concept of kundalini is closely related to the concepts we have been discussing with the Scarab, Ankh, and Djed in previous posts, and it is hard to deny that the name of kundalini is closely related as well.

Here is a link to an interesting web page tracing the concept of the serpent-force of the kundalini through various world cultures.   

What other manifestations of the "name of the Ankh" can we find around the world which may be similarly instructive to our understanding of this absolutely central ancient teaching? Let's have a look!

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The ancient civilizations of South and Central America share a legend of a benevolent civilizing figure who was described using many different names by the Maya, the Inca, the Aztecs, and other cultures of the Americas, but whose characteristics were largely similar across many different legends from many different peoples, as Graham Hancock documented extensively in Fingerprints of the Gods, and as Thor Heyerdahl documented in previous texts including American Indians in the Pacific.  

Among the names of this divine figure are Conn, Kon-Tiki, Kukulcan, and Quetzlcoatl. The first three clearly contain the "Ankh-sound" in its K-N form. While the fourth does not, its meaning of "Feathered Serpent" (the serpent which can fly, or ascend into the heavens) is clearly related to the concept we have been discussing, and to the upwards motion of the kundalini mentioned previously.

The pyramid of Chichen-Itza (also called the Pyramid of Kukulcan) is well-known for its annual serpent-shadow manifestation, which appears each year on the equinoxes. The equinoxes, of course, create the horizontal line in which the Djed-column is cast-down, and so it is appropriate that the serpent in this case is seen coming down to earth on those days. Note that linguistically, the word Chichen in Chichen-Itza contains the K-N sound in its second syllable (chen), the K-sound in this case being "palatized" to the "ch-sound" (palatization is a linguistic term for the softening of the K-sound into a "ch-sound," as happened in English with the word kirk, that became church in southern parts of the British Isles, when the k-sounds of kirk were palatized into the "ch-sounds" of church).

Along the same lines, the sound found in the sacred name of the Ankh is also found among the Native peoples of North America in the holy name of the Great Spirit, which among different nations has been spoken as Wakhan Tankh, Wakan Tanka, and Omahank-Numakshi. The names of numerous Native American peoples contain this same sacred sound, among them the name of the Kansa or Kanza tribe, the Mohicans, the Mohawk (whose name for their people is the Kaniankenhaka), and many others too numerous to list within the scope of this short essay but which may be found through study by those interested in the subject.

It has already been noted in the previous post about the "name of the Ankh" that the name of the Inca comes from the title given to the kings of that people: he was known as the Inka.

The previous point about the "Feathered Serpent" of Kukulcan or Quetzlcoatl being conceptually (as well as linguistically) related to the kundalini serpent should point us to another "winged serpent," and one who is also a "fire serpent" (Alvin Boyd Kuhn has much to say about the "fire serpent" and about the element of fire, to which he devotes an entire chapter in his masterful 1940 text Lost Light). The "Feathered Serpent" or "Fire Serpent" I am thinking of here is the Phoenix, which traditionally starts out life as a worm or serpent found inside the ashes of the previous Phoenix, and which then grows into the fiery bird that flies upwards and away -- an upwards-rising serpent which is clearly related to the upward-rising motion of the kundalini.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

It is certainly possible to argue that the N-K-S sound at the end of the word Phoenix is related to the N-K sound of the Ankh, despite being commonly spelled -nix. Note also that Chinese legend describes a very important "fire bird" named Feng-huang, also called the "vermillion bird" (more discussion of Phoenix-birds around the world can be found here). That name clearly contains the N-G sound twice.

Along these same lines, we can suspect that the -nx sound at the end of the word Sphinx is, like the -nix sound in the name of the Phoenix, associated with the N-K sound of the Ankh.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The Sphinx was also a mythological creature, like the Phoenix, and is found in many myths in addition to being embodied in the famous Giza Sphinx shown above. In some legends, the Sphinx is also depicted as having wings, and in the myth of Oedipus the Sphinx is depicted asking the "Riddle of the Sphinx," which relates to the lifetime of a man, and hence to the incarnation we are discussing in the general topic of the casting down of the Djed-column and the act of raising it up (in the episode of the Riddle of the Sphinx, she gives the answer in terms of the ages of a man, although it could also of course apply to a woman; in any case, it is interesting that like the Phoenix, the Sphinx in mythology is often female, although sometimes male as well -- we might conclude from this that the message was intended to apply equally to all incarnate men and women).

The monument of the Sphinx at Giza faces due east, looking towards the point of the rising sun on the day of the equinox. In Keeper of Genesis: A Quest for the Hidden Legacy of Mankind, originally published in 1996, Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock articulate their now-famous thesis that the monuments of the Giza Plateau reflect and model the celestial landmarks, specifically the belt of the constellation Orion and the outline of the constellation Leo (see especially pages 58 through 82). 

If so, then they are clearly associated with the "raising up" of the Djed-column (the "Backbone of Osiris"). The Sphinx, who looks towards the rising sun across the north-south watercourse of the River Nile, may also be associated with that "raising up" motion -- and there is reason to believe that the Nile itself was esoterically associated with the kundalini-serpent and the human backbone as well (I articulate some of the mythological evidence for this association in pages 137-147 of The Undying Stars).  And certainly the presence of the N-K sound in the Nile-facing Sphinx upon the Giza Plateau would seem to argue for the validity of this connection.

The connection of the Nile River to the rising "serpent force" is further established by the name of the sacred Nile's counterpart in India -- the sacred River Ganges (Ganga).  

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The sacred nature of the Ganges to Hindu tradition needs no embellishment here -- it is well attested and continues to play a central role to this day. Clearly, the name Ganga can be argued to contain "the name of the Ankh," and the restorative role that the river plays according to sacred tradition would argue that this alleged linguistic connection is not spurious.

It is notable to examine the evidence that there are very profound parallels between the sacred traditions of India and those of ancient Egypt, including the reverence for the Ganges and the Nile but also between the deities Osiris and Vishnu, both of whom are described as being "cast down" (and dismembered) and then subsequently "raised up" (a connection which I explore in this previous post).

Interestingly enough, there is new evidence that the worship of Vishnu is extremely ancient -- including this very significant discovery of Vishnu sculptures in the region of what is modern-day Vietnam, which Graham Hancock posted as an article on his website

While that article is noteworthy on several important levels, one point that should not be missed that is very pertinent to the present discussion is the linguistic connection that the article itself makes between the name of the Ganga in India and the name of the mighty Mekong River in Vietnam. The article calls the Mekong Ma Ganga, which is also the name given to the Ganges in India in the river's role as "Mother Ganga." There is certainly room to argue a connection between the names of the two sacred rivers. Here is a link to a beautiful post describing some of the points the author visited along the Mekong, and the ancient traditions which have been preserved to this day by those who hold the Mekong sacred. 

In light of the connections already shown between Vishnu and Osiris, and in light of the newly-discovered ancient Vishnu statuary in Vietnam, it is certainly plausible to argue a possible connection between the N-K or N-G sound of the Ankh and the N-K and N-G sounds of the Ganga and the Mekong. The reverence given to these rivers through the centuries (and the millennia) suggests the clear connection to the human process of "raising the Djed" and "restoring the cast-down" in our individual journeys as well.

Finally, it is perhaps not inappropriate to point out the undeniable linguistic connection to the Sanskrit word for cannabis or hemp, which is of course the word Ganja. It is well-known that Ganja is viewed as a sacred plant among Rastafarians, and that it is seen as essential to the process of raising consciousness and seeing through illusions. 

It can be argued that here again there may be an ancient connection to the mighty Ankh, and to the central task of raising the Djed.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Note that the varied history of the human experience provides clear evidence that it is definitely possible to achieve states of ecstasy (transcendance of the "static" or physical vehicle of the body) without the use of external plant-derived substances, and that many shamanic cultures use a variety of techniques including drumming, chanting, rhythmic breathing, dancing, and other methods to induce ecstasy without the aid of plants. However, it would be ridiculous to deny that the use of plants, including ganja, peyote, ayahuasca, and mushrooms, has also played a central role in many shamanic cultures in shamanic rituals and techniques of inducing ecstasy.

In light of this, and the assertion in the previous post (which is traced out much more extensively in The Undying Stars) that all of the world's ancient sacred traditions are or were fundamentally shamanic but that there has been a concerted effort to rob humanity of this shamanic heritage, we must wonder whether the strict prohibitions against the use of these plants is not part of the same ancient campaign.

In any event, there is no doubt that the message of the Ankh and the raising of the Djed is absolutely central to our human experience -- and that tracing out the echoes of the N-K name of this ancient symbol can be greatly instructive.

There are certainly many more places where the name of the Ankh is hidden, waiting for you to discover!

Friday, August 29, 2014

The shamanic foundation of the world's ancient wisdom

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The previous post on "The sacrifice of Odin" presented abundant evidence that the important Norse god Odin is a shamanic figure, frequently depicted as undertaking journeys in search of hidden knowledge, and knowledge which specifically can only be obtained through shamanic methods. 

The most central and most shamanic of all of these vision-quest journeys undertaken by Odin is undoubtedly his ascent to hang himself upon Yggdrasil, sacrificing in his own words "myself to myself," wounded with "the spear" which we can assume would likely mean deliberately and with his own spear Gungnir, and through a nine-night-long ordeal eventually obtaining a breakthrough into another reality in which he sees with non-ordinary vision the secret of the runes.

We saw that the power of the runes is far more than "just writing" (as if the power to write, which most of us take for granted, is not incredible enough in and of itself): the ability to see and know and use the runes implies the ability to create worlds through the power of words, sounds, language, speech, and mind. In a very real sense (as Shakespeare, George Orwell, and a host of other thoughtful writers have perceived) we are composed of our thoughts and thought-patterns and narratives, and those thoughts and thought-patterns and narratives are ultimately composed of words and of language, that is to say of symbols -- and we could say of runes.

Students of Old English will know that the very word "spell" which in modern English means a formula to alter reality was the Old English word spel that meant generally "word" or "message" (and hence the English word gospel is derived from the combination of the Old English words god pronounced "gode" and meaning "good" and spel meaning "word"). This fact reflects and illustrates the reality-altering power of words, language, and runes. 

Interestingly enough, in light of the tremendous reality-altering power of words (and runes) is the fact that in order to obtain the knowledge of the runes, Odin had to undertake a journey that is clearly shamanic in its elements, including the ascent up a pole or tree: examples abound of the use of a pole or  "tree" in the ritual shamanic journeys described in Mircea Eliade's compendium of shamanic observations from around the world entitled Shamanism: Archaic techniques of ecstasy (originally published in French in 1951). It is quite clear from the details of many of these shamanic poles that they represent the celestial pole, which is in fact the World-Tree, and thus they correspond directly to the "pole" upon which Odin had to ascend during his own ordeal to transcend ordinary reality and obtain the power of runic reality-creation and reality-manipulation.

Eliade offers numerous examples of shamanic rituals which involve, "as an essential rite, climbing a tree or some other more or less symbolic means of ascending to the sky" (123) including the "South American consecration, that of the machi, the Araucanian shamaness," who undergoes an initiation ceremony centered upon "the ritual climbing of a tree or rather of a tree trunk stripped of bark, called rewe. The rewe is also the particular symbol of the shamanic profession, and every machi keeps it in front of her hut indefinitely" (123). Eliade informs us that the rewe is always nine-feet tall in this particular culture, and that the multi-day ceremony involves drumming, drum circles, dancing, stripping naked, the sacrifice of lambs, falling into trance or the state of ecstasy, and the ritual cutting of the fingers and lips of both the shamaness candidate and the initiating shamaness, using a white quartz knife (123-124).  Eliade then goes on to describe a shamanic initiation rite among the Pomo of North America involving "the climbing of a tree-pole from twenty to thirty feet long and six inches in diameter," and similar (and sometimes even more dangerous) symbolic ascents among shamanic cultures from the regions of Hungary, Iran, Australian aborigines, the Sarawak of Malaysia, and the Carib shamans of Dutch Guiana (125-131).

If the reader is not thoroughly convinced that this most central vision quest undertaken by Odin indicates his shamanic nature -- and is thus additional powerful evidence that all the ancient sacred mythologies are in fact shamanic in their core message -- there is the additional evidence that he is known for riding through the heavens upon his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir (shown in the upper section of the carved runestone above). 

While other Norse gods and goddesses of course had horses too, Odin's was the horse most well-known, most unique, and most associated with his wild journeys through the heavens in the company of the wild band of the Valkyries (in this he resembles Dionysus, who was often accompanied by Maenads -- and whose rites in the hills and wilderness were described in terms indicating that they involved ecstasy). As the authors of Hamlet's Mill point out, the shaman's drum was described as the "horse" that serves to carry him or her into the state of ecstasy and to enable the shaman's soul to ascend to the sky (Hamlet's Mill, 122).

Odin's horse, Sleipnir, was notable for having eight legs -- four in the front and four in the back -- making him twice as fast as any other horse. Celestially, since Odin embodies the characteristics of the planet Mercury (who was also a transcendent god associated with breaking through barriers and with language, as explored in this important previous post), the fact that his swift steed Sleipnir had eight legs may be a mythological embodiment of the fact that Mercury is the swiftest of the planets (by virtue of its being so close to the sun). In fact, as you can easily confirm for yourself, the orbital period of Mercury is . . . 88 earth days! So, of course, Odin's steed would be expected to have eight legs -- what other number would have been appropriate?

But, if we see that Odin is clearly a shamanic figure, and that the shaman's horse is his or her drum, then the rhythmic drumming that would be produced by the hoofbeat of an eight-legged steed would be quite rapid, and quite apropos of the very rapid drumbeat used to produce a state of ecstasy in shamanic cultures around the world. So, the eight-legged nature of Odin's steed works to convey esoteric knowledge to us on many levels.

The previous post also demonstrated that the shamanic nature of Odin's sacrifice upon the Tree has direct parallels to the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross. In The Undying Stars, I explore the ways in which the realization that all the myths of the world (including those found in the Old and New Testaments) unites the world's ancient wisdom, and leads to the possible conclusion that they were all at their very core conveying a message that is essentially and profoundly shamanic (that is, in fact, what I call shamanic-holographic).

This assertion is bolstered by the evidence that the celestial Tree which Odin must ascend (and which the shamans ascend in the ceremonies cited by Eliade) corresponds to the Djed-column of Osiris which must be "raised up" and to the Ankh or Cross of Life of ancient Egypt which has a horizontal component representing the "cast down" nature of our material existence (in which we must go about in an "animal" body), but which also has a vertical component representing our spiritual nature which comes down from above and which is immortal (a fact emphasized on the Ankh itself by the unending loop at the top of the cross), and which represents both the motion of our rise and return to the spiritual realms after each incarnation and also the motion of the raising of the inner spiritual component or fire which we can perform during this life as an essential part of our mission in this earthly existence. 

We have also seen evidence that this "divine spark" in each individual man or woman is associated with the fire brought down from heaven by Prometheus in the ancient Greek mythos, and with the Thunderbolt or Vajra found in the ancient Vedic texts, and that the mission of recognizing this inner divine element and of raising it up is central to our overcoming our cast-down state. 

And -- although "orthodox" (a word that means "straight-teaching" or by implication "right-teaching") and literalist Christianity would strongly object to such an assertion -- this mission of recognizing and the of raising up the divine inner spark can clearly be seen to be a possible interpretation of the message  taught by Paul in some of his early letters urging his listeners to recognize the Christ within (Galatians 1:16,   Colossians 1:27, 2 Corinthians 13:5) and to realize that they themselves undergo the process of being crucified and raised by virtue of this mystical identification with the Christ within (Galatians 2:20). 

This connection advances the strong possibility that the patterns found in the ancient scriptures preserved in the Bible were actually the very same patterns found in the myth-system of ancient Egypt and the Djed-column and Ankh-Cross imagery associated with the Osiris, and the very same patterns found in the myth-system of the Norsemen and the World-Tree sacrifice associated with the shamanic questing of Odin. 

It also supports the conclusion that -- like those other world-myths -- the symbology and esoteric message of the Bible scriptures is in fact deeply shamanic, and pointing towards the same individual ascent and breaking free of the bonds of the material body and the material world undertaken by shamans in the rituals recorded by Eliade and other researchers in the early twentieth century and in the centuries immediately preceding.

Powerful evidence, perhaps even conclusive evidence, to support this conclusion -- the conclusion that the imagery employed by Paul and the other early pre-literalist teachers was actually composed of exquisite metaphors designed to teach a message closely aligned with the message embodied in the Osirian imagery of "the Djed-column cast down" and "the Djed-column raised up," the same message found in the sacrifice of Odin and the Thunderbolt of Indra (the Vajra) and in the ascent to the heavens by the shaman along the celestial tree -- can be seen in the fact that the traditional symbology surrounding the Crucifixion of Christ quite clearly reflects the imagery surrounding the Osirian imagery of the Djed cast down and the Djed raised up.

Below is an image from the temple of Seti I at Abydos which comes from a series of images depicting scenes from the myth-cycle of Osiris, Isis, Set and Horus. Specifically, the image shown below depicts Isis retrieving the casket containing the slain body of Osiris from the King of Byblos. 

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Significantly (as I discuss in some detail in my first book), the casket containing the body of Osiris had lodged in a tamarisk bush and then been concealed when the tamarisk grew into a tree around it, which the King of Byblos then cut down to use as a pillar in his palace, thus connecting the body of Osiris to the World-Tree which is cut down in many myths around the world (including to Yggdrasil, which ultimately cracks apart and falls at Ragnarokk) and thus to the unhinging of the world-axis and to the precession of the equinoxes. 

This aspect of the story links the Djed-column (also called the "Backbone of Osiris") even more strongly to Yggdrasil and the sacrifice of Odin as alleged in the previous post -- and we can see that, sure enough, in the image above the column that the King of Byblos is handing over to Isis has the horizontal "vertebrae" lines that indicate it is a Djed-column and the Backbone of Osiris.  

Although you may see or hear some people describe the image above from the temple of Seti I at Abydos as depicting the "raising of the Djed-column," it actually is not showing the raising of the Djed. In fact, it is showing the "bringing down" of the Djed and the corpse of Osiris, preparatory to his being laid in the tomb (in later scenes). Only later will Osiris be "raised up."

This fact is very important, because it is my assertion that the above scene is analogous to the taking down of the body of Christ from the Cross (sometimes called "the Descent from the Cross")! 

If all the foregoing discussion and analysis is correct, and the myths from around the world (including those found in the Bible) are actually closely connected, and that they teach a shamanic message, and that they often use the absolutely central symbol of the Djed-column/Cruciform Cross/Ankh Cross/World Tree/Shamanic Pole to embody that message (a message of the "divine spark within" or the "Christ in you," as Paul phrases it), then the symbology of the "casting down" of the Christ into the tomb prior to his subsequent "raising up" is another manifestation of the same pattern, and the taking down of Christ from the Cross would parallel the taking down and giving to Isis of the Djed-column containing the corpse of the now-dead Osiris.

The imagery surrounding the Descent from the Cross supports this connection in absolutely breathtaking fashion. See, for example, this collection of images taken from art through the centuries of this event.

Even more striking, however, is the Christian art in the category known as the PietPietà and depicting the Virgin Mary holding the body of Christ after the Crucifixion.

Below is perhaps the most famous such Piet√†, that by Michelangelo situated in the Vatican:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

If we remember from previous posts that the "Djed cast down" corresponds to the horizontal line between the equinoxes, then the imagery of Isis and of Mary receiving the "cast down" or "nearly-horizontal" body of Osiris (ancient Egypt) and of Christ (New Testament) makes perfect sense: the sign of Virgo is positioned at the point of the fall equinox -- when the sun is declining down towards the grave, but just before the exact horizontal point of the equinox!

The "Virgo imagery" in both the above images (of Isis from the temple of Seti I, who died in 1279 BC and of the Virgin Mary from the work of Michelangelo who died in AD 1564) should be quite clear by now to anyone who has read The Undying Stars or looked at some of the images provided in previous posts about the constellation Virgo in the world's mythology (see for instance here, here, here, and here). 

Specifically, look at the "outstretched arm" -- which is one of the most characteristic aspects of the Virgo constellation and which is embodied in ancient myth (and ancient art depicting Virgo-connected figures) over and over and over again. It is most evident in the image of Isis receiving the tilted (descending towards the horizontal) Djed-column from the King of Byblos, but the exact same outstretched hand is also present in Michelangelo's masterpiece:

Now that it is pointed out, you can see that the outstretched arm in the Isis image is over-elongated -- as if to ensure that you do not fail to notice it.

For those who may not be as familiar with the constellation Virgo (again, they can go check out the Virgo discussions above, or any of the others linked on this extensive index of constellations) and the way this constellation overlays on ancient sacred art, take a look at the image below from ancient Greece, circa 440 BC, depicting the Pythia: a priestess whose very role was to go into a trance or state of ecstasy in order to obtain knowledge from the other realm which could not be obtained in "ordinary reality." The outline of Virgo (with distinctive outstretched arm) is superimposed:

What does all this mean?

I would submit that it proves the connection of the world's ancient myths -- from ancient Egypt, to ancient Sumer and Babylon (who also had a central story of a "World-Tree" in the mighty cedar whose top reached to the heavens), to ancient India, to ancient Greece, to the myths found in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, to the myths of the Norse, and the list goes on and on (to Africa, North and South America, the islands of the Pacific, Australia, east Asia . . . ). 

It also proves the connection and close kinship of all these myths, their central symbology, and most importantly their esoteric message with each other and with the world's surviving shamanic cultures and traditions.

This connection suggests an even more radical and even more transformative ramification for what we have discovered above, because the esoteric and shamanic nature of the world's ancient wisdom-texts and traditions indicates that these teachings are meant to be put into practice by each man and woman who is incarnated in a body: by each man and woman who, these ancient scriptures teach, embodies a divine spark, a divine Thunderbolt, a divine "Christ within." 

This evidence above suggests that it is part of our purpose here in this incarnation (perhaps even our central purpose) to recognize and to raise that inner spark of divinity, that "vertical portion of the Ankh," that Djed-column which we each share with Osiris, along that central axis that inside the human microcosm reflects the celestial axis of the World-Tree found in the macrocosm.

Perhaps this can be done through the practice of Yoga (whose name itself we have seen to be connected to the Ankh and hence to the Djed). 

Perhaps this can be done through the practice of Kung Fu (whose name may also be related to the "name of the Ankh," and which is most definitely related to the precession of the equinoxes and the other celestial cycles which allegorize our divine spark cycling back upwards after first plunging downwards). 

Perhaps this can be done through art and the creative force (as eloquently argued by Jon Rappoport, who connects that activity to the smashing of artificial realities embodied by trickster gods including Hermes, and by John Anthony West, who demonstrates that the ancient Egyptians appear to have had strong ideas about the transformative and consciousness-raising power of the artistic process of creating itself).

Perhaps this can be done through meditation, which science has shown can send the brain into a altered state -- perhaps even akin to a shamanic state -- when performed by those who have spent long hours practicing the discipline.

Perhaps this can be done through rhythmic chanting, which appears to have been a central component in the ancient wisdom and which amazingly seems to share a fairly similar form or pattern across many cultures and languages around the world.

Perhaps this can be done through the use of special plants and organisms such as mushrooms, which can be ingested or brewed into teas (please note the strong words of warning regarding the dangers of mistakenly consuming the wrong mushrooms posted on the website of mushroom expert Paul Stamets and repeated on this blog post here).

And certainly this can be done through the practice of what we commonly label as shamanic techniques (deliberately inducing states of ecstasy or the experience of non-ordinary reality, through a variety of methods available to humanity, including shamanic drumming): as we have seen, there is strong evidence to believe that all of the world's ancient wisdom was at one time shamanic, a fact which suggests that part of the world has been deliberately robbed of its shamanic heritage. In other words, the ancient myths were not intended to teach that Osiris "raised the Djed-column" so that we don't have to. The ancient myths were not intended to teach that Christ "raised the Djed-column" so that we don't have to. The ancient myths were not intended to teach that Odin "raised the Djed-column" so that we don't have to.

They contained those stories, and showed that pattern so many times, because it is what we are here to do.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).