What model of mind do we use to interpret the bleed-through of symbolism and high strangeness into our current flashpoint of global civilisation?
Chris posted recently about the return of a very specific, inter-related symbol set to both the wider world and his own life; a microcosm/macrocosm/giant-blinking-question-mark situation. Let's add some ghostly historic resonance to Chris's keenly observed crypto-symbolism:
The cradle of democracy is going full rebel alliance against NATO’s technocratic elite. Eurasia, the shamanic birthplace of all western religions is cohering into a political and economic solid. The Bear and the Dragon are joining forces to extract tribute and sacrifice from the feudal lands of the west.
Let's list some potential 'answers' to the question at the top of the post: what ontology of consciousness and mind should we use when your personal symbol-set shows up in a wider world doing its damnedest to pack more Classical metaphors and allusions into reality than a first year philosophy student gets into their final essay.
1. Timewave Zero and the End of History.
Saint McKenna was wrong about 2012, obviously. But there is something about his notion that the UFO is a super-conscious object at the end of history, inspiring and appearing in the imagination of mankind toward a post-earth destiny among the stars that should not be dismissed out of hand.
Okay, that very 'nineties psychedelic utopianism' should be dismissed out of hand. (Man, I miss the nineties.) But the idea of a non-physical concept appearing in and manipulating symbolism through time is about as well corroborated as things in the syncosphere ever can be. Especially when you widen out the cast of characters to include beings/concepts that would otherwise fall outside the traditional definition of the UFO. Terence himself:
“I think we are discovering in our own psychic structure the potential, the possibility, of a relationship with an intelligent species outside ourselves, and this raises for us all the tensions, all the issues, that accompany an adolescent love affair.”
2. Interpreting everything as a communication between God and your soul
Also known as the Crowley approach... one that I have never ever seen anyone alive deploy in a useful way. But it gets points for attempting to solve the unavoidable observation that your own puny little life is in some way reflected in and responsive to much larger events and symbol sets.
This is a challenging enough notion for people to grokk without giving it a description that is too easy for douches to go super-douche with.
3. Various forms of Twilight Language
We can include, shall we call it, 'proto-kabbalah' and practical hermetica. At their base, these systems spring from an awareness that 'some things represent other things'... which is where most paranormal researchers leave it. Ever more
handsome meddlesome, wizards attempt to build utility around this awareness. If you give us building blocks, we will stack them.
Or, at least, we should.
When the sky became familiar
In private discussion with Chris, we have been throwing back and forth satisfactory and unsatisfactory interpretations of this round of crypto-symbolism. At the absolute base of magic's family tree, before it even splits into divination and non-divination, is pattern recognition. When these stars dip below the horizon the sharks start breeding and we should stop fishing, when I dream about Frog a child will die.
How often does your own system of pattern recognition have to yield positive results before it confers a survival advantage on your tribe? 20%? If you are 20% more accurate at locating prey than the shaman from the tribe over the ridge, you boosted your tribe's available calories by orders of magnitude.
When our ancestors left Africa they did so with some form of spirituality. We know this from Witzel's back-engineering of worldwide mythologies and also from the fact that we see very similar spirits in Africa to those we find in the place we raced to within a few thousand years of leaving our homeland: Australia. Both have a giant snake creatrix, the movements of whose body shaped the land. She is also the Milky Way in great swathes of Northern Australia, and carries the souls of the ancestors and those yet to be born in her stellar body.
So what we have are dozens of systems of pattern recognition being user tested across multiple geographies for tens of thousands of years before we met the neighbours in multiple, simultaneous events around the world. Our immediate response?
Art. Depiction. Visual expression that has rarely found its equal or better in the last forty thousand years. Were we depicting the event? Or were we invoking it? Is there a difference when symbols move through culture? If not, what happened to us when Sci Fi had it's own escalating 'Palaeolithic Renaissance' in the twentieth century? What crash landed in the early decades and then spilled its debris over a hundred years?
Shamanism struggles under a similar historiographic challenge that afflicts linguistics: the first place to be studied has been used as the 'template' for analysing both older and more recent spirit traditions across a diversity of landscapes. (This was also racially dubious. Eliade considered Aboriginal shamanic traditions to be 'debased' forms of some original.)
But, for better or worse, it is the word we use to describe the spirit traditions of hunter gatherers in prehistory. It is a system of pattern recognition that resulted in violence and death if the wrong patterns were recognised or if the right ones went unrecognised. Such was the nature of our ancestors' economy and world.
How are things going in your economy and world?
Food for thought.