Thursday, May 29, 2014

The ancient torch that was lighted for our guidance

image credit: Wikimedia commons,

At the beginning of his nearly 600-page tour de force Lost Light, Alvin Boyd Kuhn declares that his aim is not to attack what he calls at one point "the lovely temple of ancient truth," but rather to restore it.  

He proclaims his reverence for "the Bibles of humanity," by which he means the ancient scriptures and sacred traditions of humanity -- and he includes the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments in that group.  "In them," Kuhn writes, "were given the ordinances of life, the constitution of the cosmos, the laws governing both nature and mind" (2).  

He states that he feels it necessary at the very outset of his work to make this declaration, because he intends to then go on to launch a frontal assault upon the whole "untenable structure" of "ecclesiastical doctrinism" which has grown up to replace the temple of ancient truth found in those Bibles of humanity (1).  He minces no words in calling the literalist interpretation of the ancient truth "an unconscionable perversion of its original significance to gross repulsiveness," and saying that "the errors and distortions perpetrated upon it by those of its own household must be ruthlessly dismantled" (1).  But he is very clear that he reserves his devastating assaults for the interpretations that have been forced upon the ancient texts, and not upon the texts themselves.

This is a critical distinction, and it is one that is all too easily missed, especially by some of those writing today who likewise perceive that the texts are not meant to be taken literally. It is a tremendous error to make the leap from perceiving that the ancient stories describe celestial events and not literal historical earthly events, to the erroneous conclusion that the stories are somehow less profound because of it, or even that they should be criticized or mocked.  

It is perhaps understandable that some, in their anger at what Kuhn calls an "endless train of evils, fanaticisms, bigotries, idiosyncrasies, superstitions, wars and persecutions" that followed inevitably from the near-total destruction of the ancient philosophical knowledge in "about the third century of Christianity's development [. . .] ushering in sixteen centuries of the Dark Ages," to wish to lash out at the texts that the perpetrators of those injustices were citing as an authority for their actions.  But it is a serious mistake to confuse a perversion of the texts with the value of the texts themselves (both quotations are from page 3). Kuhn throughout his work expresses deep reverence for what he calls "the sage tomes of antiquity" and compares their contents, rightly interpreted, to a light for our guidance -- a light which has over the centuries been all but lost (hence the title of his own book).   

He writes of "modern man" that, "The ancient torch that was lighted for his guidance he has let burn out.  This lamp was the body of Ancient Philosophy" (4).  He also refers specifically to the year in which his own book was coming to print, saying: "The present (1940) most frightful of all historical barbarities owes its incidence directly to the decay of ancient philosophical knowledge and the loss of vision and virtue that would have attended its perpetuation" (3).

Again, this reverence for the ancient scriptures (not just those included in the Bible but all the "sage tomes of antiquity" from many different cultures, as well as those ancient scriptures not included in the "canonical" Bible such as the Pistis Sophia and the Hermetic texts, to which he refers in Lost Light) sets Kuhn's work apart from many others who have likewise perceived the errors in the literal approach to those scriptures, but who use those literalistic errors to then wrongly denigrate the texts themselves.

We can perhaps detect in this prologue of Alvin Boyd Kuhn's book a caution against falling from one error into an equally harmful opposing error -- either of which can cause us to miss the ancient torch that was lit for our guidance.  

I have argued that an important aspect of the core message of the ancient scriptures (whether Norse or Vedic or Biblical or Maya) is a "shamanic - holographic" understanding of the nature of the cosmos and the nature of human existence.  If this assertion is correct, and if malevolent forces wanted to suppress this shamanic - holographic understanding (perhaps because it is too empowering to men and women, makes them too difficult to manipulate or enslave or deceive, or for one of many other possible reasons malevolent forces might want to suppress this cosmology), then it would not really matter to them whether the shamanic - holographic was obscured because people took the texts literally and thereby missed their esoteric message, or if they vehemently rejected the literal interpretation and in their vehement rejection went on to denigrate the texts, and thereby missed the esoteric message as well.

There have been some in the past who have written on the celestial allegories which are abundantly evident in the ancient texts -- and some writing today -- who stop there, and do not go on to the "higher message" that these exquisite allegories were intended to convey (this is akin to never teaching the child the connection between the trinomial cube and the trinomial itself, or never teaching Daniel-San the meaning of "wax on, wax off," and leaving him at the mercy of the bullies who continue to physically assault him).

The ancient sacred traditions of all cultures, which share a common system of celestial allegory and which were (I believe) intended to convey a common esoteric knowledge of great power and tremendous benefit to men and women throughout the ages, are indeed an ancient torch that was lighted for our guidance.  It is possible that more than one method has been devised to keep this light from being rekindled.  

One is a literalism which proclaims a high view of ancient scriptures, but which in fact refuses to even entertain the possibility that those scriptures are esoteric and not literal (and, in doing so, also denigrates all the other ancient traditions of mankind, traditions which the literalist approach likewise views strictly literally, and thus labels them the "doctrines of demons," rather than seeing them as esoteric also).  This literalist approach will obviously reject the shamanic - holographic cosmology which the ancient scriptures were designed to convey.

But the other error can be just as damaging, even as it recognizes that the literalist approach is incorrect.  It sees the errors of literalism, and traces these to the texts themselves, which it insults, or mocks, or denigrates.  Those falling into this error may even perceive that the texts contain celestial allegories, but they use this fact to further mock the literalists and -- erroneously -- the texts themselves, saying "it's just a bunch of primitive sun-worship" or words to that effect.  In doing so, they run the risk of also missing the profound and sophisticated cosmology which these ancient texts were designed to teach.

This is a very important subject, and one which deserves careful consideration.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Odin and Gunnlod

In The Undying Stars, I make the argument that all the world's ancient sacred traditions are built upon a common esoteric system of celestial allegory -- and that the message that these esoteric myths intended to convey includes a shamanic-holographic cosmology of tremendous sophistication and profound import.  

Some readers may initially find the claim that essentially all of the world's sacred traditions -- from the Vedas of ancient India to the myths of Osiris and Isis and Horus in Egypt, and from the legends of the North American native peoples to the stories of the Old and New Testaments -- share a common system of celestial allegory to be just too much to swallow.  

However, once one understands the ancient system -- which is expounded in the book as clearly as possible, with accompanying illustrations -- the connections between the ancient sacred traditions are undeniable.

Although Norse myths are not addressed in great detail in The Undying Stars, they are very special and personal to me, having grown up listening to the stories in D'Aulaires' Norse Gods and Giants from before I could read them myself, and reading them over and over once I could read (it is simply one of the best books you can give to a child, and is mentioned in this previous post as well as many others).  Also, of course, my father's father came to America from Norway, and so I always looked upon the Norse myths as the heritage of my ancestors (or, as the Old English word puts it, my "old-fathers").

Currently, the recumbent form of the constellation Virgo is high in the southern sky (for viewers in the northern hemisphere) during the hours of darkness prior to midnight -- it is one of the best times of the year for observing Virgo. Behind her, rising up out of the eastern horizon, one can now see the dazzling sinuous form of Scorpio, and further north along the line of the eastern horizon are now rotating into view the twin forms of the two majestic birds of the Milky Way: Aquila the Eagle and Cygnus the Swan. 

These constellations are incredibly important in the sacred mythologies of the world. Together, they participate in one of the most important stories in the Norse myth-cycle: the stealing of the mead of poetry from Gunnlod, the beautiful daughter of the jotun Suttungr (or Suttung, as his name is rendered in D'Aulaires' version -- the name means "Old Giant," according to a note in the Henry Adams Bellows translation of 1923 of the Elder Edda or Poetic Edda, available to read online here at Project Gutenberg: see note at stanza 104 in the Havamal, on page 49 of the original pagination, which is indicated by numbers inside square brackets, thus [49]).  

The story of the stealing of Gunnlod's mead is told in the Elder Edda in the words of Odin himself, in stanzas 104 through 110. In the Bellows translation linked above, the verses read as follows (Bellows spells Odin as Othin, and Gunnlod as Gunnloth):
I found the old giant, now back have I fared.
Small gain from silence I got;
Full many a word, my will to get,
I spoke in Suttung's hall.
The mouth of Rati made room for my passage,
And space in the stone he gnawed;
Above and below the giants' paths lay,
So rashly I risked my head.
Gunnloth gave on a golden stool
A drink of the marvelous mead;
A harsh reward did I let her have
For her heroic heart,
And her spirit troubled sore.
The well-earned beauty well I enjoyed,
Little the wise man lacks;
So Othrorir now has up been brought
To the midst of the men of earth.
Hardly, methinks, would I home have come,
And left the giants' land,
Had not Gunnloth helped me, the maiden good,
Whose arms about me had been.
The day that followed, the frost-giants came.
Some word of Hor to win,
Of Bolverk they asked, were he back midst the gods,
Or had Suttung slain him there?
On his ring swore Othin the oath, methinks;
Who now his troth shall trust?
Suttung's betrayal he sought with drink,
And Gunnloth to grief he left.
The verses may seem mysterious to one not familiar with the story (again a reason to own D'Aulaires' book!), but some help is found in the so-called "Younger Edda" or Prose Edda of Snorre Sturleson (AD 1178 - AD 1241), which can be found online here. In that translation from Rasmus Anderson, first published in 1879, we find the story of the marvelous mead in Part IV, "The Origin of Poetry."  

The interested reader may wish to follow that link to take in the full account from Snorre, but the short version is that the mead itself traces its origin to a pact of peace between the Aesir gods and the Vanir gods after their terrible battle and subsequent truce, during which truce the Aesir and the Vanir both spit into a jar, out of which mixed spittle they fashioned an entity known as Kvaser, who was so wise that none could ask him any question he could not answer, and who traveled the earth to teach wisdom to human beings. However, two dwarfs treacherously invited him into their house and slew him, letting his blood run into a kettle known as Odrarer (in the anglicization selected by Rasmus Anderson in the Younger Edda translation linked above, or as Othrorir as rendered by Bellows in the translation of the Elder Edda linked above), and into two smaller jars called Bodn and Son. The dwarfs mixed honey with the blood and produced a mead with the magical property of giving to whomever drinks it the gift of becoming a skald and a sage. These three containers of the magic mead eventually came into the possession of the jotun Suttung (who came to avenge the deaths of his mother and father, also killed by the same dwarfs, and who put them on a rock at sea where the tide would rise and finish them; they begged for Suttung to spare their lives and he did so in exchange for the marvelous mead). Here is the rest of the story from the Younger Edda, as translated by Anderson:
Suttung brought the mead home with him, and hid it in a place called Hnitbjorg.  He set his daughter Gunlad to guard it. For these reasons we call songship Kvaser's blood; the drink of the dwarfs; the dwarfs' fill; some kind of liquor of Odrarer, or Bodn, or Son; the ship of the dwarfs (because this mead ransomed their lives from the rocky isle); the mead of Suttung, or the liquor of Hnitbjorg.
[. . .]
Odin called himself Bolverk. He offered to undertake the work of the nine men for Bauge [one of the jotun brothers of Suttung; the nine men were Bauge's field laborers, whom Odin caused to slay one another with a scythe -- probably related to the stars of the Big Dipper], but asked in payment therefor a drink of Suttung's mead. Bauge answered that he had no control over the mead, saying that Suttung was bound to keep that for himself alone. But he agreed to go with Bolverk and try whether they could get the mead. During the summer Bolverk did the work of the nine men for Bauge, but when winter came he asked for his pay. Then they both went to Suttung. Bauge explained to Suttung his bargain with Bolverk, but Suttung stoutly refused to give even a drop of the mead. Bolverk then proposed to Bauge that they should try whether they could not get at the mead by the aid of some trick, and Bauge agreed to this. Then Bolverk drew forth the auger which is called Rate, and requested Bauge to bore a hole through the rock, if the auger was sharp enough.  He did so. [. . .] Now Bolverk changed himself into the likeness of a serpent and crept into the auger-hole. Bauge thrust after him with the auger, but missed him. Bolverk went to where Gunlad was, and shared her couch for three nights. She then promised to give him three draughts from the mead. With the first draught he emptied Odrarer, in the second Bodn, and in the third Son, and thus he had all the mead. Then he took on the guise of an eagle, and flew off as fast as he could. When Suttung saw the flight of the eagle, he also took on the shape of an eagle and flew after him. When the asas [that is, the Aesir] saw Odin coming, they set their jars out in the yard. When Odin reached Asgard, he spewed the mead up into the jars. He was, however, so near being caught by Suttung, that he sent some of the mead after him backward, and as no care was taken of this, anybody that wished might have it. This we call the share of poetasters. But Suttung's mead Odin gave to the asas and to those men who are able to make verses. Hence we call songship Odin's prey, Odin's find, Odin's drink, Odin's gift, and the drink of the asas.
Now, this incident is of tremendous importance, and I would submit that it is also clearly celestial in its major outline. The maiden Gunnlod, placed within the mountain Hnitbjorg by Suttung to guard the precious mead, and whom Odin treacherously deceives into giving him three drinks of her mead (after swearing a troth to her, as indicated in the Poetic Edda, upon his ring), is described in the Elder Edda as sitting upon a golden stool: this detail alone should alert readers of this blog to the possibility that the maiden (or virgin, which the word signifies) is a manifestation of the sign of Virgo the Virgin. See for example the discussion in this previous post (with links to supporting discussions in earlier posts).  

The outline of Virgo in the sky (which you can see this very evening, if you have good weather) clearly resembles a woman seated upon a throne or a golden stool, and goddesses who are related to this constellation are often depicted upon a throne in sacred traditions around the world (see image below of an ancient depiction of the Pythia or priestess at Delphi, seated upon her tripod, along with the outline of the constellation Virgo and a drawing of the titaness or goddess Rhea seated upon a throne):

Further support for the identification of Gunnlod with Virgo comes from the fact that she is described as dwelling within the mountain or rock called the Hnitbjorg, which Maria Kvilhaug (following the analysis of Svava Jacobsdottir) translates as the "Collision Cliffs" or "cliffs which crash together" and identifies them with the Symplegades of Greek mythology, in her important examination of the maiden and mead theme in Norse mythology entitled The Maiden with the Mead (published in 2004; see page 49 for the discussion of Hnitbjorg and the Symplegades).

The Symplegades or "clashing rocks" are almost undoubtedly a myth-metaphor for the equinox, as discussed in some detail in this previous post, and in more detail in Hamlet's Mill (1969; see page 318), by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend (as well as in my previous book, The Mathisen Corollary -- see page 85).  The constellation Virgo, of course, is located at the very gate of one of the equinoxes: in fact, at the fall or autumnal equinox, where the sun is plunging down from the bright world of the summer half of the year, in which days are longer than nights, to the cold world of the winter half of the year, in which nights are longer than days. In other words, Virgo is located at the gates of the metaphorical "underworld," and so (as Maria Kvilhaug convincingly argues in the text linked above) is Gunnlod.

The image below, discussed in previous posts such as this one (which explains how the lower half of the year is allegorized as Hell or the Underworld in various myth-traditions, including those in the Bible), shows Virgo at the edge of the fall equinox and the gateway to the underworld (she is drawn as a queen in the zodiac wheel shown in the image; the two equinoxes are each marked with a red X):

Note also the point included in Snorre's prose version of the event in which we find that Odin (under the name of Bolverk), worked for Bauge all summer, but when winter came he asked for his pay. A clearer indication that we are discussing the transition point between the upper and lower halves of the wheel of the year could not be asked for.

But the identification with Virgo is supported by much more celestial evidence than even this (in case any readers remain skeptical at this point). It is a clear fact that Virgo is situated directly above a constellation known as Hydra, the serpent (the longest constellation in our skies, according to H.A. Rey), upon whose back sits a constellation known as Crater the Cup. This cup features in many ancient myths from around the world, and it is almost certainly the inspiration for the containers of precious mead in the myth of Odin and Gunnlod.

But that's not all, because in the myth of Odin and Gunnlod, we see Odin transform himself into a serpent in order to bore his way into the cave of Gunnlod, and then into an eagle, in order to fly away with the stolen mead after he betrays the beautiful maiden who gave him her trust and shared with him her bed. It hardly needs to be stated at this point that we find both of these constellations in close proximity to Virgo.  

The serpent of Hydra, of course, has already been stated -- although the slithery form of Scorpio (also nearby) was anciently depicted as a serpent in some myths and sacred stories as well.  

The constellation of Aquila the Eagle rises directly above Scorpio as one traces northward from Scorpio along the shining path of the Milky Way. Clearly, then, the Eagle is very close to the Virgin in the sky, flying as it does above the Scorpion, who follows the Virgin in the zodiac (behind the faint scales of Libra, which are between Virgo and Scorpio and can currently be easily located due to the fact that the planet Saturn is located in Libra in the night sky).

The forms of Aquila the Eagle and Cygnus the Swan, flying in close proximity in the belt of the Milky Way, are very important in ancient myth and legend, and they are breathtaking in the night sky (currently they are rather low in the east until after midnight, but later in the summer they will be high in the sky and together with the bright star Vega in Lyra they form the famous Summer Triangle with each of their respective brightest stars). See a diagram of their outlines, along with the outline of the Milky Way, in this previous post, reproduced below. With this image in mind, the next phase of the myth of Odin's acquisition of the mead, in which Suttung also turns into an eagle and chases after the fleeing thief, becomes quite evident: 

If these celestial connections are not enough to convince the skeptical reader, there is yet one more that can be touched upon, and that is the conclusion to the chase, in which Odin spews out the mead that he has carried inside of him, most of which is collected by the Aesir in pots that they set out on the heavenly fields as they see the pair approaching, but some of which falls to earth for the benefit of anyone who finds it. Here is an illustration from an Icelandic manuscript from the 1700s of the pursuit of Odin by Suttung, and the spewing-out of the marvelous mead:

Knowing that the two mighty birds of the celestial realm are both found flying in the midst of the stream of the shining Milky Way, is it not possible that the story of the spewing forth of the mead in this particular myth is connected to the band of the Galaxy, which can be seen descending to earth in a misty ribbon like a silvery waterfall during the time of the year that the constellations Aquila and Cygnus are aloft?

Now, some readers may object that showing the connections from this profound Norse myth, which is full of tremendous drama and pathos and insights into the human condition, to the constellations of the night sky will somehow rob it of its magic (just as Odin himself robbed Gunnlod of her poetic mead).  But I would argue that the opposite is true! For, as Maria Kvilhaug herself has powerfully demonstrated in The Maiden with the Mead, the import of this myth touches upon deep matters of initiation, shamanic transformation, and ecstatic travel across the boundary of this world and into the "other world" (the ecstatic or mystical or shamanic journey). And, as I labor to demonstrate in The Undying Stars, which I wrote and published before I even became aware of Maria's work, this is exactly one of the esoteric teachings which this universal system of celestial allegory was intended to convey (see this and this previous post). The constellations of Eagle and Swan can also be shown to be quite important in shamanic cultures worldwide, as argued in this previous post.

Not wanting to know the esoteric connections hidden in these exquisite and moving ancient myths is like never wanting to be shown how the trinomial cube (itself a beautiful piece of material artwork) relates to the higher concept of the trinomial equation which it represents and which it was intended to teach (see this previous post, entitled "Montessori and 'thinging'").

Finally, it is important to be able to show these connections between the events in a mysterious and austere Norse myth found in the Elder Edda, and the stories found in other sacred traditions -- including the stories of the Old and New Testament (in which Virgo furnishes the original for many Biblical characters, including Eve, Sarah, and Mary, among others). Some of these stories, the reader may note, also involve a deceiving serpent. He just happens to be named "Odin" in the Eddas.

This fact demonstrates that the ancient sacred traditions, as they were originally intended to be understood, were all close kin. It was only when the literalist tradition arose, and the esoteric understanding of the Biblical stories was rejected in favor of a literalist approach which insisted the stories be read primarily as historical accounts of literal persons who walked on earth, that followers of that literalist path declared their faith to be totally unrelated to all the other sacred traditions of the world.

Special Note: This examination of "Odin and Gunnlod" is part of a series which now includes two more related articles . . .

Monday, May 26, 2014

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A Memorial Day meditation on natural universal law

By almost all accounts, Memorial Day began in the United States at the conclusion of the Civil War, or shortly thereafter.  It was originally often called Decoration Day, and was a way to remember those who had lost their lives during that conflict.  Activities almost always included decorating their grave sites.  For some time Memorial Day was celebrated on the 30th of May, when flowers would be in bloom in abundance (according to sources cited here), but was officially changed to the final Monday of the month of May in 1971.

The American Civil War involved two extremely important issues of natural law: whether or not human beings could be held as property, and whether or not human beings could be compelled to "submit to, and support, a government that they do not want" (in the words of abolitionist philosopher and lawyer Lysander Spooner, who was an outspoken proponent of the concept of natural law's superiority in all cases to "artificial" or "human law").

Today, it is generally recognized that the idea that human beings can be held as property is a gross violation of natural (or universal) law.  However, it is not generally recognized that the idea that human beings can be compelled to submit to and support a government that they do not want is also a violation of natural universal law.  

Spooner argued that both are gross violations of natural law, and argued that while it was lawful to use force to stop slavery, and that the American Civil War was lawful to the extent that force was initiated to stop that hideous violation of natural rights, it was not lawful to initiate force to keep someone under a government that they did not want, and that it was regrettable that the justification of the war was usually framed in those terms by those who were arguing for it (rather than as a war against slavery).

Unlike other abolitionists of his day, Spooner argued that the Constitution of the United States did not and could not make slavery legal in any way.  William Lloyd Garrison, one of the most prominent abolitionists of the time, believed that the Constitution did indeed sanction slavery, and for this reason Garrison publicly burned a copy of the Constitution during an anti-slavery rally on July 4, 1854 (150 years ago this July).  He also publicly called the Constitution a "Covenant with Death and an Agreement with Hell."

Spooner, however, argued that no human law could sanction crime, violence, or wrongdoing -- either by governments or by individuals -- and then went on to demonstrate rather conclusively that this proposition was firmly established well before the ratification of the US Constitution, that all of accepted human law was based upon this principle (and here he cited clear quotations from the accepted authorities of the day, including Blackstone), and that both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution could be clearly demonstrated to have "freed every slave in the country" at the time of their signing, even if it could be argued that there were any legal slaves prior to the Declaration or the Constitution (and, he added, he firmly denied that there could have been any legal slaves even prior to those dates).  

Spooner published his argument that slavery is unconstitutional and that the Constitution in no way supports it in The Unconstitutionality of Slavery, 1860.  This important text can be read in its entirety online here (in the form of a pdf) and here on the site of Project Gutenberg (in various online formats).

While these debates may be seen by some to be relics of the nineteenth century, now that the idea that human beings can be legally made into property has been rejected (or has it?), in point of fact the natural law issues Spooner argues in his treatise are every bit as relevant today as they were in 1860 when The Unconstitutionality of Slavery was first published.  

First of all, it is by no means clear that one can separate the proposition that no human being can be made into property (the first important natural-law issue at stake in the American Civil War) from the proposition that no human being can be made to submit to and support a government which he or she does not want (the second important natural-law issue at stake in the same war).  Is holding someone in a club, association, group, or political state against his or her will consistent with human freedom?  Spooner argues persuasively that it is not, and demonstrates that both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution agree with his position.  

Second, while the immoral laws which supposedly made slavery "legal" during the time Spooner was writing his anti-slavery arguments have now been stricken from the books in the United States, his larger argument that illegal laws -- that is to say, those which violate what he on the very first page of his treatise terms "natural, universal, and necessary principle" -- have no true force of law, is still an extremely contentious and important subject for consideration.  Spooner argued that no man or woman has an obligation to obey an immoral -- and hence unlawful -- human statute, and that in fact he or she has an obligation to resist it and to stop it from being immorally enforced in violation of the rights of others.

Spooner's clearest expression of this principle can probably be found in the second chapter of his Defence for Fugitive Slaves, published in 1850, which argues against the law requiring citizens in the northern states to apprehend fugitive slaves or face legal repercussions. There, he writes:
The rescue of a person, who is assaulted, or restrained of his liberty, without authority of law, is not only morally, but legally, a meritorious act; for every body is under obligation to go to the assistance of one who is assailed by assassins, robbers, ravishers, kidnappers, or ruffians of any kind.
An officer of the government is an officer of the law only when he is proceeding according to law.  The moment he steps beyond the law, he, like other men, forfeits its protection, and may be resisted like any other trespasser.  An unconstitutional statute is no law, in the view of the constitution.  It is void, and confers no authority on any one; and whoever attempts to execute it, does so at his peril.  His holding a commission is no legal protection for him.  If this doctrine were not true, and if, (as the supreme court say in the Prigg case,) a man may, if he choose, execute an authority granted by unconstitutional law, congress may authorize whomsoever they please, to ravish women, and butcher children, at pleasure, and the people have no right to resist them.
The constitution contemplates no such submission, on the part of the people, to the usurpation of the government, or to the lawless violence of its officers.  On the contrary it provides that "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."  
 [. . .]
To say that an unconstitutional law must be obeyed until it is repealed, is saying that an unconstitutional law is just as obligatory as a constitutional one,-- for the latter is binding only until it is repealed.  There would therefore be no difference at all between a constitutional and an unconstitutional law, in respect to their binding force; and that would be equivalent to abolishing the constitution, and giving to the government unlimited power.  27-28.
In the Unconstitutionality of Slavery, Spooner reiterates the same argument, saying that if all laws are defined as being legal by the simple fact of their being enacted as a law, then:
Under this definition, law offers no permanent guaranty for the safety, liberty, rights or happiness of anyone.  It licenses all possible crime, both by governments and individuals.  The definition was obviously invented by, and is suited merely to gloss over the purposes of, arbitrary power.  We are therefore compelled to reject it [. . .]. 14.
This is an extremely important subject, worthy of careful consideration, as pertinent today as it was when Spooner published those arguments in 1850 and in 1860.  They should cause us to ask ourselves what "laws" today are actually in violation of natural law, and to what degree we ourselves are guilty of what Spooner called "submission, on the part of the people, to the usurpation of the government, or to the lawless violence of its officers."  

In the United States, it is certainly possible to celebrate on Memorial Day the fact that those who fought to stop slavery were fighting on the side of natural law, but it is also possible to ask whether those who fought to take the lands of the Native Americans, a task that the US Army took up in earnest not long after the Civil War was over, and a task that was led by many former Union generals, were also fighting on the side of natural law (the answer is clearly "No").  The same question can be asked of the use of the US armed forces to take over the Hawaiian Islands or the Philippine Islands in the decades following the subjugation of the remaining Native American tribes in the western US (and the same answer is clearly "No" in both of those of those cases as well).  

More recent history raises similarly disturbing questions, when considered in light of the subject of natural universal law.  Spooner argued that everyone naturally has an innate sense of natural law, and recognizes violations of it.  Most notably, he makes this argument in his 1882 tract entitled "Natural Law, or the Science of Justice."  But if this is the case, we must ask ourselves how egregious and widespread violations of natural law are tolerated by so many?  

If slavery is so obviously a violation of natural law, why was it so widely tolerated in the United States during the years that Spooner was writing his tracts and William Lloyd Garrison was burning copies of the Constitution?  If taking the land of the Native Americans by force, and violating every treaty made with them, is so obviously an example of arbitrary and illegal use of force, then why was it so widely supported in the United States during the years following the Civil War?  The same can be asked of the heinous atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis and by other murderous state entities during the twentieth century, all clear and egregious violations of natural law which were to some degree tolerated before they were stopped.

One answer to that question is the fact that Spooner's argument that "laws" which violate natural law have no actual legal force, and that men and women have a moral obligation to oppose such laws at all times, is not widely understood -- and is even opposed in many circles.  Another answer is given by Spooner himself at the end of the 1882 tract just cited (on page 20), in which he states that human legislation which is in violation of natural universal law almost always makes use of what he calls "pretences and disguises" by which violators of natural law "attempt to hide themselves" (hide the illegality of their actions and usurpations).  

While he does not elaborate upon these "pretences and disguises," it has been argued on the pages of this blog that these pretenses and disguises can be grouped under the heading of "mind control."  The argument that forms of mind control almost always accompany violations of natural law follows the line of argument advanced by Mark Passio, who is cited in previous posts such as "Blackfish and mind control" and "Lysander Spooner, natural law, and human consciousness." 

Such pretenses and disguises often include a "false narrative" or a false history, discussed at some length in this previous post.  An obvious example would be the narrative known as "manifest destiny" which was used to gloss over and attempt to hide the atrocities perpetrated against the Native Americans during the second half of the nineteenth century. Enough people in the United States bought into that narrative to prevent them from opposing the activities taking place in the western states, or even from seeing them as the gross violations of natural law that they so clearly were.

Prior to the Civil War, one of the false narratives which was used in order to disguise the criminality of holding human beings as property (in other words, in a state of slavery) was the argument that slavery was sanctioned by the literal interpretation of ancient scriptures (in particular those in the Old and New Testaments) -- a literal interpretation of the scriptures to which large portions of the populace subscribed.  

While today it is generally assumed (and taught) that the defense of slavery using the Bible was most prevalent in the southern states, the carefully documented study of this question published in 1987 by Professor of History Larry E. Tise entitled Proslavery: A history of the defense of slavery in America, 1707 - 1840 argues that this view lets the rest of the country off the hook, and is in itself a false historical narrative which was created after the war was over.  His research reveals that the institution of slavery was widely accepted and defended across the US prior to the Civil War, notably by members of the clergy in both the north and the south.  The book presents evidence that the clergy in the prewar US were an important "moral elite" and powerfully shaped opinion in the towns and counties across the nation, and that their support of slavery was a major factor in its acceptance by the populace.  

Professor Tise notes on page xvii the unpleasant fact that "ministers wrote almost half of all defenses of slavery published in America" prior to the war (and that this number only counts the defenses of slavery by ministers that were formally published, and does not count the even more widespread support given in sermons or in informal conversations).  Supporting his assertions with tables of evidence, he also demonstrates that the most outspoken of "proslavery clergymen on the whole were among the most successful members of their profession," and that: "Many of the officially designated heads of American churches -- bishops, moderators, and others in the national counsels of almost all churches -- were proslavery ministers.  Among churches with hierarchical structures, they could almost always be found at the top" (162-163).

Today, many would argue that the support found by those ministers for a gross violation of natural law in their interpretations of ancient scriptures were in fact misinterpretations of those texts.  All the more reason, then, to ask whether ancient scriptures, including those in the Old and New Testaments, are still being misinterpreted (albeit in other ways) in the present day -- and to ask whether they are being misinterpreted in ways which gloss over or even provide support for modern-day violations of natural universal law.

Memorial Day reminds us that these issues have real and very grave consequences.  Men and women are asked to fight and even to die for these causes.  In light of that extremely serious fact, the issues raised by Lysander Spooner regarding natural universal law -- and the ways in which pretenses and disguises have been used throughout history to cast a false veil of legitimacy over illegitimate and illegal violations of natural universal law -- are most appropriate for careful reflection on this Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Montessori and "thinging"

The Montessori method, originated by pioneer educator Maria Montessori (1870 - 1952), has a very special place in my heart.  I went through Montessori education from preschool to third grade, my children went through Montessori, my sister teaches at a Montessori school, and my mother has run Montessori schools in California for over thirty years.  Of course, with so much exposure to Montessori, many of our family's close friends and the fantastic individuals I was around while I was growing up also come from the Montessori community. Some of the most influential teachers I ever had were my early Montessori teachers, and I am tremendously grateful to each one of them to this day.

Not only is Montessori a wonderful approach to education, but it is also centered on respect for the child as an individual and a person, and respect for the child's own initiative and ability to learn by himself or herself.  Montessori also inculcates in the child a respect for other children and the ability to work with and help others.  All of these wonderful aspects of Montessori are evident in the above video, entitled "A Montessori Morning," and which shows in about four minutes a series of photographs taken during the course of three hours in the morning of a four-year-old named Jackson, along with his friends at the Dundas Valley Montessori School in Ontario.

In addition to all these outstanding characteristics (and there are many more I have not mentioned), Montessori also provides an excellent example of the esoteric method of enabling the human mind to grasp big or profound concepts (previous discussions of the esoteric include "Wax on, wax off" and "Like a finger, pointing a way to the moon . . .").

Montessori uses ingenious physical materials to represent abstract concepts.  In doing so, it echoes the method employed by the sages responsible for the mythologies which make up the world's ancient sacred traditions, according to thinkers such as Gerald Massey (1828 - 1907) and Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1880 - 1963) -- although most conventional historians and academics erroneously approach ancient sacred texts and traditions as if they were intended to be understood literally.

Gerald Massey vigorously refutes the conventional view that the world's ancient myths were intended or anciently understood to be literal in the second and third sections of his essay "Luniolatry, Ancient and Modern," in which he explains:
They [meaning the conventional historians and professors of mythology, several of whom he cites in the essay] have misrepresented primitive or archaic man as having been idiotically misled from the first by an active but untutored imagination into believing all sorts of fallacies, which were directly and contradicted by his own daily experience; a fool of fancy in the midst of those grim realities that were grinding his experience into him, like the grinding icebergs making their imprints upon the rocks submerged beneath the sea.  It remains to be said, and will one day be acknowledged, that these accepted teachers have been no nearer to the beginnings of mythology and language than Burn's poet Willie had been near to Pegasus.  My reply is, 'Tis but a dream of the metaphysical theorist that mythology was a disease of language, or anything else except his own brain.  The origin and meaning of mythology have been missed altogether by these solarites and weather-mongers!  Mythology was a primitive mode of thinging the early thought.  It was founded on natural facts, and is still verifiable in phenomena. [. . .]
In modern phraseology a statement is sometimes said to be mythical in proportion to its being untrue; but the ancient mythology was not a system or mode of falsifying in that sense.  Its fables were the means of conveying facts; they were neither forgeries nor fictions.  Nor did mythology originate in any intentional double-dealing whatever, although it did assume an aspect of duality when direct expression in words had succeeded the primitive mode of representation by means of things as signs and symbols.
Alvin Boyd Kuhn picks up on the importance of Massey's concept of "thinging" and says:
As Gerald Massey says, thinking is in essence a process of "thinging," since thoughts must rest on the nature of things.  And things are themselves God's thoughts in material form. Lost Light, 42.
This "thinging" that Massey and Kuhn are talking about is perhaps best illustrated by the Montessori materials, some of which can be seen in the beautiful little video above.  For example, in the video above, Jackson works with the Montessori "sensorial material" project known as the trinomial cube beginning at about 2:30 into the video, through about 2:44 in the video (the video moves fast -- you can see the trinomial cube segment following immediately after Jackson and his friends have a snack, at about 2:25 -- immediately following the "window squeegee" scene -- just after Jackson finishes cleaning his dishes from the snack and puts them into a drying rack to air-dry).

The trinomial cube is an example of "thinging" the somewhat abstract algebraic concept of cubing a trinomial (a trinomial is a mathematical expression containing three variables, with the vairables commonly designated as a, b, and c).   If we have a trinomial (a + b + c), and we wish to cube it, we must multiply the trinomial by itself three times (this is the definition of cubing something).  In other words, we must multiply (a + b + c) (a + b + c) (a + b + c).

If you remember your algebra, you will remember that the way to tackle this particular operation is to begin with the first term in the first trinomial, and multiply it by each of the terms in the next two instances of the trinomial, and continue this process all the way through the operation.  The outcome of that process is illustrated rather well on this discussion of the Montessori trinomial cube, on the website of Montessori World Educational Institute.

After multiplying it all the way out, and adding it all together, one finds that the cube of (a + b + c) can be written:

 a+ 3a2b + 3a2c  + 3ab+ 6abc + 3ac+ b3 + 3b2c  +3bc2 + c3

The trinomial cube used in Montessori classrooms makes this rather intimidating-looking formula into a thing, into a model which children such as Jackson can manipulate and explore at a very early age (remember that Jackson is four years old, and he can be seen assembling the trinomial correctly in the video).

The way the model cube "things" the expression of the cubed trinomial shown above is ingenious.  You can see that in the full formula, the cube of each variable appears one time each, a-cubed, b-cubed, and c-cubed appear at the beginning, the "middle," and the end of the formula, respectively.  The  variable a is represented by the largest dimension of the blocks in the cube -- when a is cubed it is represented by the largest cube in the model, painted red on all surfaces, of length a on each side of the cube.  The variable b is the next-largest dimension of the blocks in the cube: when it is cubed it is painted blue on all sides and appears as a cube with sides of length b (a shorter distance than length a).  Finally, the variable c is the shortest of the dimensions represented in the cube; when c appears as a cube (which it does one time in the above formula for a cubed trinomial), it is depicted as a cube in which all faces are painted yellow, and the sides are a length c (shorter than b, which in turn was shorter than a).   

Note that in the solution formula above, the term following  a3  is 3a2b.  The term a2b is "thinged" in the Montessori trinomial cube as a solid with a face that is length a on each side (that is, it is a physical representation of a2 and it is painted red on the square face), but which is only a depth of b (these sides, b in length, are painted black).  Thus, the Montessori trinomial cube represents a2b as a solid with a height and width of a and a depth of b, and it contains three such solids, to match the a2b in the solution to the cubed trinomial.  

The model of the trinomial has solids to represent each of the terms in the full formula above.  It has three that are again a height and width of a but this time only a depth of c, to represent the next term which is 3a2c (and again, the face representing a-squared is painted red).  It has three solids which are b in height and width and a in depth, to represent the 3ab2 (and this time, of course, the face representing b-squared is painted blue, while the depth representing a is painted black -- colors are only used when a term is either squared or cubed, otherwise the side is black).  And it has six solids which have a height of a, a width of b, and a depth of c, which are black on all their sides, and represent the term 6abc.  To help visualize all of this, follow this link to the excellent schematic on the trinomial cube page of Wikisori, which lays it all out visually.

Now, the interesting thing about all of this is that the child learning how to work with the trinomial cube (and its slightly less-complicated cousin, the binomial cube, which represents the binomial a + b multiplied by itself three times) is not taught anything at all about the way that the cube is an ingenious physical representation of a rather advanced and very abstract algebraic concept.  That would not really be helpful to a four-year-old child.  

However, when the child is old enough, and is being introduced to binomials or trinomials in algebra, then the teacher can explain the connection to the old, beloved, familiar binomial cube and trinomial cube, and show the "esoteric" connection between the physical model and the formula they are learning.  What a flash of recognition will go off in the young person's mind!  It is exactly akin to the sudden dawning of recognition experienced by Daniel-san when Mr. Miyagi showed him what "wax on, wax off" was really all about!

You can, in fact, see for yourself that the webpage for the binomial cube on the Montessori World Educational Center website expressly states: "Do not explain to the child why you are setting the cube out in this order, or talk about the mathematics of the cube."  Is this because the Montessori teachers do not want children to know the "esoteric secrets" of the binomial cube?  Of course not!  The whole point is to eventually help the child to learn about binomials, in a way more profound than the child might ever be able to understand otherwise.  But trying to explain it in a "left-brained" way first would just invite confusion and questions as the analytical "left-brain" tries to absorb the abstract and complicated concepts involved, likely causing the brain to "choke" on it (and possibly never feel comfortable around binomials or trinomials ever again).  Instead, the webpage advises: "The math is presented to the children when they are older and are ready for it."

This example from Montessori (and there are many others that could be used, such as the bead-chains which you can see Jackson and his friend working with after the trinomial cube segment, beginning at around 2:47 and going to about 3:00) really illustrates Massey's point about the value of "thinging" an abstract concept (a point Alvin Boyd Kuhn also underscores as being of supreme importance).  It is easy to see the source of Massey's frustration with conventional academics who insist that the myths were simply a bunch of "fallacies" which ancient men and women believed literally.  

Kuhn disagreed with Massey, however, in saying that these exquisite mythical metaphors, which so wonderfully "thinged" profound spiritual concepts, could not have originated as a "primitive mode" of early thought.  He argues that these incredible metaphors betray the handiwork of sages who already understood completely the deepest spiritual truths, saying:
Primitive simplicity could not have concocted what the age-long study of an intelligent world could not fathom.  Not aboriginal naiveté, but exalted spiritual and intellectual acumen, formulated the myths.  Reflection of the realities of a higher world in the phenomena of a lower world could not be detected when only the one world, the lower, was known.  You can not see that nature reflects spiritual truth unless you know the form of spiritual truth.  Lost Light, 71-72.
In other words, no one could start with the physical model and come up with the spiritual truths -- the makers of the model had to know the spiritual truths already.  We can immediately agree that the designer of the trinomial cube had to understand the full formula of

a+ 3a2b + 3a2c  + 3ab+ 6abc + 3ac+ b3 + 3b2c  +3bc2 + c3

before designing the wooden model.  By this analogy, it stands to reason that the designers of the exquisite esoteric myths of the world understood the profound spiritual truth they wished to convey before they ever created the myths -- the myths were not the product of "an active but untutored imagination," as Massey thought.

Furthermore, it is also evident that one could learn the trinomial cube as a child (as a four-year-old, for example), and never fathom the connection to the trinomial expression shown above -- even if they later became quite advanced at mathematics and algebra and learned all about trinomials!  To make the leap from the model with the solid forms painted red, blue, yellow and black on their various sides, to the formula shown above, is not necessarily intuitive until the connection is shown to the student.  This concept is expressed in the New Testament book of Acts, in which a man is depicted reading an Old Testament scroll (Isaiah), and is asked if he understands what he reads.  He replies: "How can I, unless someone guides me?" (Acts 8:31-32).

What a tragedy it would be if the stories in the ancient scriptures were really intended to act as a sort of "trinomial cube" pointing to profound spiritual truths, but those who were able to teach the connection were prohibited from doing so!  It would be as if children were prevented from being shown the true purpose of the Montessori materials, such as how the bead chains teach multiplication and squaring and cubing of the various digits from 1 to 10.

What a tragedy if all those who knew the esoteric connections were, at some point in ancient history, marginalized and suppressed by people who wanted to teach that these stories should all be understood literally first and foremost, and if these literalists did their best to destroy or cast out all the texts which opposed that literal interpretation or said that the scriptures were not really literal but rather esoteric.  

Fortunately for the human race, the finely-crafted "Montessori materials" which are the ancient metaphors of the myths of all the world's cultures (including those which were preserved in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments) are still with us today, and can be turned over in our minds as we might turn over a finely-crafted trinomial cube.  The connections to the spiritual concepts that these stories were intended to teach (via the method of "thinging") were not entirely eradicated by the literalists, but survived in various channels over the long centuries, and have been elucidated by various teachers in various texts.  The connections can be made again.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Shamanic - Holographic

Shamanic poles raised beside Lake Baikal on Olkhon Island, next to Shamanka or Shaman's Rock; 
image credit: Simon Matzinger, Wikimedia commons

Previous posts have made the assertion that virtually all of the world's ancient sacred traditions incorporate celestial allegory, and that this celestial allegory is central to their esoteric message (see list of links in this previous post for discussion of some of these).  

The system of celestial allegory remains the same across traditions which are superficially very different, but which share at their core a common system in which the sun, moon, and the visible planets, along with the silent and majestic backdrop of the fixed stars (and especially those groupings of stars along the ecliptic path, the twelve constellations of the zodiac) have identifiable characteristics which can be used to identify them in the widely varying mythologies from very different cultures and even from different millennia.  As some of the posts linked above assert (and as The Undying Stars argues at some length), the scriptures which were included in the Old and New Testament can be shown to be built upon this same esoteric system of celestial allegory.

This aspect of the Biblical scriptures has been noted in the past, although different authors have advanced widely different arguments regarding the reason that the world's sacred stories would be so fixated upon the motions of the heavenly actors.  One of the more cogent and well-supported arguments  comes from the writings of Alvin Boyd Kuhn, who explored the subject at great length in two major works, Lost Light (1940) and Who is this King of Glory? (1944), as well as in many shorter studies and essays.  His thesis involves the argument that the sacred traditions of the world incorporated examples from nature in order to more clearly convey profound truths regarding spiritual matters -- to use the visible in order to teach the invisible -- and that they fastened upon the motions of the heavens as being among the most majestic natural spectacles in all of physical creation, as well as being ideally suited for allegorizing the aspects of the incarnation of the soul in matter and its eternal survival through endless cycles.  Aspects of Kuhn's argument have been discussed in previous posts such as "A Hymn to the Setting Sun, and the ultimate mystery of life," "The horizon and the scales of judgement," and "The undying stars: what does it mean?" as well as the post linked above regarding the question of whether the Bible in fact teaches reincarnation.

It is possible to agree with Kuhn's arguments, while simultaneously arguing that these celestial metaphors at the heart of the world's ancient traditions go even further -- and indeed, this is the approach taken in The Undying Stars.  While Kuhn was extremely insightful in his analysis, and uncovers profound esoteric teachings while plumbing the depths of the ancient metaphors, there were some scientific developments which had not yet come to light at the time he was doing most of his writing.  One of these was the development of holograms visible to the naked eye, which require the use of a light source producing extremely coherent light such as a laser (discussed in this short YouTube video), and the other was the discoveries by theoretical physicists that our universe actually resembles or behaves like a hologram in many important ways.  

The Undying Stars demonstrates that, in many incredible ways, the system of allegory found in the world's ancient sacred traditions (including the Bible) can be seen to anticipate the "holographic universe" theory which modern physicists only began to discuss in the 1960s (after the invention of lasers and holograms produced using coherent light).

In creating a hologram, a beam of light is first split and one part of the beam is sent to the object being captured on the holographic film, and the other part of the beam is routed is such a manner as to reach the holographic film from a different angle and create an interference pattern with the first beam.  By capturing the interference pattern in the holographic medium, a light source can be used later to create a holographic image of the original object, even though the object is not actually there.  This holographic projection is called a hologram.

As explained for example in Michael Talbot's Holographic Universe (1992), many theoretical physicists have found the metaphor of the hologram to be extremely helpful for describing a model of the universe which fits the often counter-intuitive discoveries of quantum physics, which began to come to light in the first part of the twentieth century and (after much argument and head-scratching) have become widely accepted among the scientific community and are generally regarded as proven.

In this model, physicists posit that in some ways, the information which makes up the universe which we inhabit (or which we think we inhabit) can be said to be stored in a form that is very much like the information stored in the holographic film or holographic medium described above.  According to this model, the universe we inhabit (or believe we inhabit) is in many ways very much like the holographic projection or the hologram.  There are many recorded lectures available on the web in which professional physicists discuss this model, and the evidence which led physicists to begin to propose it (most of them take about an hour -- the explanation in this paragraph is a gross over-simplification). 

The important point for this discussion is the fact that all of the ancient scriptures of the world can be shown to be teaching a cosmology, or a vision of the universe and of the experience of men and women in that universe, which is holographic.  And they convey that teaching esoterically, through the system of allegory described above.

Even more astonishing is the fact that the ancient scriptures of the world not only appear to describe a holographic universe, but they also appear to teach the possibility of crossing over between the ordinary material world of the holographic projection (or hologram), which we normally inhabit (or at least feel like we inhabit) and the hidden, compressed world where the information for that projection is actually stored (the holographic medium or the holographic film, in the metaphor we are using to explain it here).  This ability to cross between these two realms is often described today using the term "shamanic," because this ancient ability survived into modern times primarily among shamanic cultures, but there is strong evidence that all the ancient sacred traditions of the world could be described as shamanic, in that they taught both the possibility and the supreme importance of crossing between those two aspects of our holographic universe.  

The Undying Stars attempts to articulate the connection between the ancient system of celestial allegory and this ancient emphasis on the shamanic.

For more on this subject, see the discussions in "The centrality of ecstasy, according to ancient wisdom," and "The Pythia."  Authors who have demonstrated that the ancient cultures of the world were essentially shamanic include Jeremy Naydler (see this and this previous post) and Lucy Wyatt (see this and this previous post).

Gerald Massey, who declared that all the sacred repositories of ancient wisdom "included a knowledge of trance-conditions," argued in various places (including the essay "Man in search of his soul during fifty thousand years, and how he found it!" which is the source of that "trance-conditions" quotation), believed that the ascent to the other realm was symbolized by the raising of the tat cross (the ancient Egyptian symbol sometimes depicted as the backbone of Osiris, and usually rendered into our alphabet as the Djed column by more modern scholars), which symbolized the ascension of the spirit in a man or a woman, just as the same column lying on its side or horizontally represented the animal nature or the material prison of the body (emblematic of the coffin or the corpse, in which the spirit is imprisoned during the incarnation in this realm, or of the animals and four-footed beasts who go about in a horizontal fashion).  

Massey briefly mentions the tat cross in conjunction with other symbols of spiritual vivification in section 40 of that essay, and dwells in more detail upon its importance as the Tree of Knowledge, a symbol found across many cultures and traditions which is related to the same tat cross or Djed column, often in conjunction with the symbol of the serpent, and often in close vicinity to a body of water or a sacred pool (see for instance Massey's discussion in sections 8 and 9 and 34 through 36).  The same symbology is evident in the photograph above of shamanic poles raised in modern times near Lake Baikal (this previous post includes a photograph from 1904 of a Buryat shaman from the same region). 

We may not be accustomed to thinking of the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as being "shamanic" in nature (in fact, such thinking has been strictly prohibited for many or most of the past seventeen centuries at least), but it can be demonstrated that the same symbology is present and in fact extremely prominent and important in those scriptures, from the first chapters of Genesis right through to the Revelation.

The fact that the ancient sacred traditions of the world can be shown in some sense to be both "holographic" and "shamanic" is extremely significant, especially if (as authors such as Lucy Wyatt and Jeremy Naydler have demonstrated) the techniques of shamanic experience were seen as critical for the health and well-being of the cultures who knew and used them, and as a source for beneficial knowledge and technologies which even today we cannot fully understand.