Group Think

23 Jul 2020

Anthropology is a funny field of science. Lots of waffle. At ... shamanism dates back to an early stage of humanity, we are told (quoting Eliade, 1964). Is this clever stuff or are they getting their bootlaces in a mix. It sounds like clever stuff and it is certainly erudite. However, it occurred to me that it highlights the different way in which a catastrophist, including a Velikovskian, might interpret mythology as opposed to the great and the good. You need to read it to get the feel of what the author is saying in all seriousness. Shamanism, it is said, goes back countless generations into the far reaches of time. It spends a couple of paragraphs outlining the mainstream position, and then we are told, mythological perception in ancient cultures was grounded in their perception of the natural world. In traditional communities, even today, as in prehistoric culture, shamans were selected in order to communicate at an esoteric level of their mythological universe. The fundamentals of cultural mythologies arrived in the Americas from Siberia. What is known or learned is more important than what is seen, or percieved, since only a member of a group, the shaman, fully shares a mental and emotional make up that understand the mythic world. Shamans are the teachers of young shamans so there is substance there. It is what is said after this that caught my eye - 'the mytholology is therefore pure imagination ...'.

Herein lies the difference between an anthropological view and that of catastrophists. To the former mythology is all in the head and not in the real world. The catastrophist takes the view that mythology is primarily a record of what has happened in the past - having been altered over time to a degree but a kernel of fact at the core. This is as true of creation myths as it is of gods in the sky. Mythology is in effect ancient history (but adulterated) not meaningless imagination. Velikovsky even went further in his book, 'Mankind in Amnesia' in which he outlined the manner in which humans tend to rationalise what is chaos in the natural world (death and destruction from the heavens). Humans in that scenario are helpless and all they can do is try and placate the gods. Therefore, shamans are chosen to seek information from the sky gods (as the shaman is said to rise up into the heavens during trance situations) not to placate the gods, as such, but to try and understand what has made those gods angry. In more developed societies religion is used to communicate with the gods, or god, and it works in a very similar fashion. Religion pays homage to god, or gods, with praise poems and hymns, but also there was once a strong element of placating those gods - by offering sacrifices of humans or animals. We shall give you our most prized sons or daughters in order to save the lives of the rest of the tribe. That is a simplistic way of looking at it but it covers the essential nuts and bolts. Sacrifice was carried out by a surprising number of peoples around the world. There should be no recriminations over it as it was a logical way to approach the aftermath of a catastrophic event. Very often religions changed cultic practise as a result of a further catastrophe, and in central Asia and the Far East we have the concept of the mandate of heaven. Same thing. Hyam Maccoby, a one time contributor to SIS, wrote a very interesting book on the subject, 'The Sacred Executioner' and Gunnar Heinsohn has emphasized the role of sacrifice in the emergence of religions.

It is clear that anthropology has a completely different view of mythology to catastrophists of all persuasions. The origin of religion doesn't make sense if it is assumed to be people frightened of the dark. We live in a generation that uses torches when they take the dog for a walk after nightfall. In days of yore people didn't walk around with sheafs of dried vegetation set alight on the camp fire. They allowed their eyes to become adjusted to the darkness. Why would they need to be afraid of the bogeyman. Humans were able to see the night sky and observe what was going on. That is the key to mythology.

There are numerous books on mythology from a catastrophist point of view. See for example the series of books by Marinus Anthony Van der Sluijs, 'Traditional Cosmology' (2011). He is currently writing another series to be published in the near future. See ... mind you isn't at all bad but is mainstream in interpretation.