II. Pedia Sapiens: A Planetary Progeny Comes to Her/His Own Actual Factual Knowledge
1. Indigenous Intimation: Mythic Animism
Nelson, Melissa and Daniel Shilling, eds. Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Learning from Indigenous Practices for Environmental Sustainability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. In these late mechanist years with our house on fire and no water to use, male history has ended up far removed from a spiritual sense of an animate, personified, encoded nature. Into the 2010s, this rare, unique collection revives and enhances original wisdom so that it might advise Earthlings once more so to save persons and planet. Some chapters are Native Science by Gregory Cajete (search), Toward a Philosophical Understanding of TEK and Ecofeminism by Joan McGregor, The Radiant Life with Animals by Linda Hogan and Indigenous Peoples and Cultural Sustainability by Rebecca Tsosie.
This book examines the importance of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and how it can provide models for a time-tested form of sustainability needed in the world today. The essays explore TEK through cases of environmental sustainability from multiple tribal and geographic locations in North America and beyond. Grounded in an understanding of the profound relationship between biological and cultural diversity, this book surveys a holistic and broad disciplinary approach to sustainability, including language, art, and ceremony, as critical ways to maintain healthy human-environment relations.
Peroff, Nicholas. A Window on the Past: Complexity Theory in American Indian Studies. Wildcat, Daniel and Steven Pavlik, eds. Destroying Dogma: Vine Deloria’s Influence on Intellectual America. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2006. A University of Missouri-Kansas City philosopher astutely perceives how indigenous societies, so embedded in their natural habitats, can be appreciated as an archetypal exemplar of complex systems phenomena. As the native American sage Deloria himself well evoked, such a once and hopefully future milieu abided in a more organically dynamic attunement with earthly systems, as opposed to our consumptive, voracious machine.
From the perspective of complexity theory, the Menominee Nation and all other American Indian Tribes are Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS). Beginning with their earliest origins tens of thousands of years ago to the present, Native Nations have exhibited all of the distinguishing features of a CAS including life, self-organization and self-perpetuation, adaptivity, a composition of systems nested within systems, and a memory distributed and retained locally within the parts of the system. (6)
Peroff, Nicholas. Goethe’s Science: An Approach to Research in American Indian Studies. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences. 7/3, 2003. Please also see Peroff 2006 herein. We cite this unique paper for a 21st century appreciation of indigenous peoples as a natural embodiment of self-organizing complex systems, and for their ability to perceive, as if an original holistic right brain, not only objects alone, such as birds in flight, but the immaterial patterns and dynamics that join, sustain and move them. This second, mathematical dimension, escapes, is invisible, to our later left brain deficit, whereof only brute particulate matter exists.
In The Wholeness of Nature (1996), Henri Bortoft shows how a Goethean science of qualitative wholeness complements the analytic and causal explanatory framework that underlies most research in the natural and social sciences. Goethe’s insights and methods suggest that a better understanding of Indian tribes may occur when a tribe is regarded as its own abstraction and its own explanation. In Goethe’s approach to science, the human mind is an “organ of perception” and researchers are active participants in the way they see the world. Consider an Indian tribe and the goal of Goethean science is to intuitively “see” patterns of interpenetrating relationships in a dynamic process of self-organization that is the tribe. While analytic science and Goethe’s science of wholeness are incommensurable, both are true, and neither is comprehensive. (263)
Peterson, Nicolas. Is the Aboriginal Landscape Sentient? Animism, the New Animism and the Warlpiri. Oceania. 81/2, 2011. The Australian National University anthropologist reviews the ways that indigenous peoples are seen to hold beliefs in an innate living, sensitive, ensouled milieu. As a prior example, to Edward Tyler in the 1920s animism meant an endemic presence of spiritual, interactive beings. Recent appreciations, akin to a new vitalist alchemy (search Kevin Chang), by Nurit Bird-David in 1999 (search) go on to perceive an aboriginal “relational epistemology.” Graham Harvey in a 2005 work Animism, cites a primordial sense whence every other creature, and natural feature, from rivers to ravens, exists as a personal entity on their own. While the Warlpiri tribe, some 5,000 in number near Alice Springs, is a good subject with their sensitivities to a life force and animals interchangeably morphing into humans, he demurs on whether this “animistic.”
Portmann, Adolf and Rudolf Ritsema, eds. Correspondences in Man and World. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975. A work in the Eranos series of Jungian and mythic studies that explores the ubiquitous presence of a micro/macro similitude as a built-in device by which the world can be known.
The cosmo-biological universe of the Dogon is based on two postulates, which are in fact common to African thought in general: a) the world is an organic whole and behaves like a being endowed with intelligence, b) man is a reproduction of this world on a very small scale. (236)
Ranseyer, Urs. The Theatre of the Universe: Ritual and Art in Tenganan Pegeringan Bali. Museum der Kulturen, 2009. How impoverished we are in our so modern western culture, when peoples such as these rural Balinese whom in both their village life and performances abide in a mandala space aligned with and guided by a numinous nature. In earlier times this indispensible correspondent guidance, barely comprehended today, was spatially static. How might it be recovered today as a temporal universe unto human gestation?
A comparison with cosmic settlement complexes of India and Nepal, in relation with studies of the ancient architectural and city planning treatises of the Manasara (divine building code) show, indeed, that the model plan chosen for tenganan is about a known mandala and cosmic basic scheme which has willingly been used, especially in India, for the miniaturized representation of the universe and for the establishing of a cosmic relationship between micro- and macrocosm.
Redvers, Nicole, et al. Indigenous Natural and First Law in Planetary Health. Challenges. 11/2, 2020. In this MDPI online journal, a worldwise array of eight coauthors from the University of North Dakota, Nulungu Research Institute, Australia, Bond University Australia, Ogiek People’s Development Program, Kenya, Wangari Githaiga & Co,, Nairobi, Sydney Law School, and Nakazdli Whut’en, British Columbia, and the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation, Canada provide a current binocular vision to sight and light a way forward to a better living Earthsphere future.
Indigenous Peoples associate their own ways with the laws of the natural world, which are formally known as Natural or First Law. These laws come from the Creator and the Land through our ancestral stories. Since colonization, Indigenous Peoples’ Natural Laws have been forcibly replaced by modern-day laws that do not take into account the sacred relationship between the Earth and all of her inhabitants. The force of societies who live outside of Natural Law has caused modern-day devastions. Pandemics, global environmental and climate change, are all result from not holding to the interconnected wisdom of the universe. Here we discuss an Indigenous paradigm and worldview with implications for planetary health and ecological movements around the globe. (Abstract)
At Play in the Fields of Symmetry: Design Structure and Shamanic Therapy in the Upper Amazon.
Washburn, Dorothy and Donald Crowe, eds.
Symmetry Comes of Age: The Role of Pattern in Culture.
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004.
An anthropologist finds in the artistic renderings of the Shipibo Indians a microcosmic representation of an animistic cosmology founded upon a gender complementarity. In contrast to their characteristic aboriginal tradition, where everything is an exemplary manifestation of natural and supernatural realms, “…ours is the only culture that creates meaningless abstraction.” See also Roe's paper in Washburn, Dorothy, ed. Embedded Symmetries Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004, for further thoughts on how the empirical West is so cut off from any deep source of creation and meaning.
Roe, Peter. The Cosmic Zygote. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1982. A sensitive anthropological study of Amazonian mythology in its fecund amniotic imagery:
.… I argue that the central metaphor that unites all the disparate signs and symbols of the model is the fertilized egg. In other words, the universe as South American Indians conceive it to be is a kind of cosmic zygote that postulates existence as a continual and self-generating process of different, antagonistic but complementary forces embodied in the drama of mortality - death yielding up life and life surrendering to death. Further, I hypothesize that this cosmology is both a reflection of and a justification for the pervasive sexual division of labor that sustains the social organization of the tribal societies of the jungle. (4,5)
Rosker, Jana. The Concept of Structure as a Basic Epistemological Paradigm of Traditional Chinese Thought. Asian Philosophy. 20/1, 2010. The University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, Chair of Chinese Studies observes that “Western discourses have still not produced any integral, coherent structural model of epistemology.” A turn is thus proposed to the holistic “classical Chinese logic” of endemic binary analogies. In regard, the concept of qi for extant material form, and li for “idea” or immaterial source is revived, which appears alot like phenotype and genotype ages later. This binary complementarity or universal causality is seen in palliative contrast to an inadequate Cartesian dualism. An East-West bridge is possible if the Greek sense of a creative logos may be again availed.
Schipper, Mineke, et al.
China’s Creation and Origin Myths: Cross-cultural Explorations in Oral and Written Traditions.
An extraordinary refraction of Taosphere and Noosphere across millennia is accomplished in these proceedings of the International Symposium on Creation Myths held in Beijing in 2008. The editors are Schipper, Leiden University, Intercultural Literary Studies; Ye Shuxian, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Comparative Literature; and Yin Hubin, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Ethnic Literature. Although studies of Chinese lore have proceeded for decades, an extensive academic project began in 1985 with the founding of the Chinese Mythology Association. The years since were capped by this conference, which tried to elucidate and recover for our 21st century edification, when urgently needed, this primordial, exemplary heritage and wisdom.
For instance, the idea of creation by a supreme being, as strengthened and propagated in the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity, has been a core concept in western culture. (xi) In the yin-yang system of Laozi’s (Lao Tse) philosophy, the originator of heaven and earth is Dao, the mother of all things. Laozi describes her in a metaphorical way as xuan pin to underling the maternity of the original Dao, while connecting the ways in which the universe is created and a baby is born. (xi) (And here is a primordial Pan-en-theism, Ed.)
Schwaller de Lubicz, R. A. The Temple in Man. Brookline, MA: Autumn Press, 1977. The mythic universe of ancient Egypt is similarly informed by a human resonance which takes ponderable shape in its temple architecture.