II. Pedia Sapiens: A Planetary Progeny Comes to Her/His Own Actual Factual Knowledge
1. Indigenous Intimation: Mythic Animism
Suzuki, David and Peter Knudtson.
Wisdom of the Elders.
New York: Bantam,
A contrast of the holistic, relational, animate “Native Mind” of indigenous peoples with the particularizing, insensate mechanism of a “Scientific Mind.”
The Native Mind tends to view wisdom and environmental ethics as discernible in the very structure and organization of the natural world rather than as the lofty product of human reason far removed from nature….The Native Mind tends to view the universe as the dynamic interplay of elusive and ever-changing natural forces, not as a vast array of static physical objects….It tends to see the entire natural world as somehow alive and animated by a single, unifying life force, whatever its local Native name. It does not reduce the universe to progressively smaller conceptual bits and pieces. (17)
Culture, Thought and Social Action.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
A collection of papers by the Harvard anthropologist. “The Galactic Polity in Southeast Asia,” for example, illustrates how these ancient cultures were founded on an indispensable cosmic-human resonance, whereby the same mandala joined galaxy and society as a guide for daily life.
Metaphors for the Mind.
Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press,
On the “Procreative” cosmic model in Greek thought due to Plato and Aristotle by which they were able to conceive the primordial Trinity of mother, father and child.
Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo.
The Relative Native: Essays on Indigenous Conceptual Worlds.
Chicago: Hau Books,
A two decade collection by the renowned Brazilian anthropologist, including Cosmological Perspectivism on Amazonia, which are seen as an unique appreciation of aboriginal wisdom. As the quotes aver, the primal essence is an identical affinity between human and creaturely life, everyone is ultimately a person, a seamless anthropomorphism. Each entity is to be viewed in their diverse settings, but they altogether with us form a viable animate unity.
In sum, animals are people, or see themselves as persons. Such a notion is virtually always associated with the idea that the manifest forms of each species is a mere envelope ( a “clothing”) which conceals an internal human form, usually only visible to the eyes of the particular species or to certain transpacific beings such as shamans. This internal form is the soul or spirit of the animal: an intentionality or subjectivity formally identical to human consciousness, materializable, let us say, in a human bodily schema concealed behind an animal mask. (198)
Myths are filled with beings whose form, name and behavior inextricably mix human and animal attributes in a common context of intercommunicability, identical to that which defines the present day interhuman world. Myth is thus the vanishing of Amerindian perspectivism, where the differences between points of view are at the same time annulled and exacerbated: this gives it the character of an absolute discourse. (205) The “end” of this primordial immanence is, of course, the well-known separation of culture and nature which (Claude) Levi-Strauss showed to be the central theme of Amerindian mythology. But such separation was not brought out be a process of differentiating the human from the animal, as in our own evolutionary mythology. The original common condition of both humans and animals is not animality, but rather humanity. (205)
Creation and Procreation.
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,
At once an endeavor to deconstruct the masculine bias of myth and to offer from a feminist cosmogony of gestation and parturition as the best way to convey a creative genesis.
The Origins of the World’s Mythologies.
New York: Oxford University Press,
n this lifetime opus, akin to the work of James Frazer and Mircea Eliade, the Wales Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University surveys from our late vantage the course of human imaginaries from their earliest onset. Three historic phases are perceived, named from relative ancient continental forms. Primal Pan-Gaean originates circa 125,000 years ago. Gondwanan ensues 100,000 to 40,000 years ago for lands that moved southward to Africa, Amazonia and Melanesia. A Laurasian era commenced from 40,000 to 25,000 years past to the present day of plates that make up northern European expanses. By copious literature references from Adolf Bastian to Carl Jung and everyone else it seems, cited over 150 pages of notes and bibliography, a major thematic vista can be broached as not before. With eternal archetypes appearing on cue in time and space, a common, unfolding mythic storyline is revealed. While the earlier Gondwana milieu seems more timeless, ovular, maternal in psyche, a Great Mother, later, current Laurasian eras have the “patriarchal bent” of the Sky Father.
From this grand scenario, as humankind’s composite scholarship reconstructs the fantastic history it arose from, a salutary Ur-theme can be gleaned. The constant premise is a deepest mirror affinity between universe and human encompassing nature, earth, starry cosmos, and human life from birth, reproduction, to death, individually and communally. This perennial confluence of micro human (often children) and macro universe (egg-laden or pregnant) resides as the heart secret of wisdom. Gondwana and Laurasia altogether might appear, in retrospect, as a sequential right and left cognitive emphasis, similar to each person. Witzel adds further verifications from the latest sciences of genetics, linguistics, archaeology, anthropology and paleontology. So might Father Heaven and Mother Earth return once more in our worldwide 21st century as a family genesis cosmos to Daughter - Son progeny? An online summary can be found on the Laurasian Academy for Worldwide Comparative Mythology site at www.laurasianacademy.com/ORIGINS.htm.
After the emergence of the earth, dealt with in many variations in the individual mythologies, Laurasian mythology had to explain that of Heaven, who overarches her. There are innumerable variations of this topic, from Iceland to Tierra del Fuego. However, the emergence of heaven and earth from a primordial close union is clearly established feature among most Eurasian mythologies. (128) The (Maori) myth closely fits the distant Indo-European one. Here, Heaven is identified as a male deity, and Earth as female, as “Father Heaven” and “mother Earth.” The Greek Zeus pater and Demeter, the Latin Iu-ppiter, the Rgvedic dyaus pita (Father Heaven) and prthivi mata (the broad [=earth] Mother), the Germanic tiu (as in Tue’s-day), and so on contain the words father heaven and mother earth, collocations that can actually be reconstructed for the Proto-Indo-European parent language at c. 3500 B.C.E. (129)
The Laurasian story line thus is a metaphor of the human condition, of human life from its mysterious beginnings to its impending ominous end. It was the genial stroke of the creator of Laurasian mythology that it correlates and thus explains at the same time both the universe and the human condition, where we came from, why we are here, and where we will go. Laurasian myth is a metaphor applied to everything around us, to the world and to the divine powers that govern it. It answers, in an encoded and shrouded way, and on a symbolic and metaphoric level, the eternal question: why are we here? Viewed from the present vantage point – Laurasian “ideology” seems to be based on a fairly simple idea, the correlation of the “life” of humans and the universe. (422)
Laurasian mythology makes a clear, intelligent distinction between the first amorphous, vegetative origins of the universe and the later, structured, bisexual dichotomy-like world of gods, nature, humans, and human culture. Just as it used the human life cycle, it clearly makes use of the bisexual nature of observable living beings, from fish and reptiles to apes and human beings, in order to explain the nature of the universe, of humans, and often enough, of the dichotomy of cultural constructions. (425)
We all are the direct or less direct children of these gods, similar to them with all their good and bad traits of character, but we also are weaker than the gods and tainted by death, which, generally, is the result of or punishment for some primordial mistake made by our divine or semidivine ancestor. This “explanation” of the origin of death, satisfying as ti may have been in the Stone Age, still is preserved – pathway fashion – by the major world relig9ions today. It thus shapes the outlook on life of billions of fellow humans. Needless to say, this pessimistic attitude is irrational but nevertheless persistent, and it has severe consequences for the more orthodox followers of these religions, especially for women. (426)
In sum, the world of the gods and that of the humans have wide-ranging parallels. Whatever happens in the universe is mirrored here on earth in human life and society. (427) Laurasian mythology views the workings of the universe and human society in a coherent, orderly, and harmonic way. There is a universally underlying, positive, and ordering force at work that affects humans as well as the deities and the universe. (427)
The Macrocosm and the Microcosm.
Stephen Martin, ed.
Cosmic Conversations: Dialogues on the Nature of the Universe and the Search for Reality.
Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Press, 2010.
An interview with Eda Zavala Lopez, a Peruvian Amazon curandera healer, activist, and anthropologist about our deep heritage of native wisdom. But we have long lost and forgotten, to our great peril, an original organic milieu whence every interconnected entity is an image of each other and the animate creation. This volume also contains “The Archetypal Cosmos,” an interview with Richard Tarnas, and Duane Elgin on modern visions of “The Universe as a Living System.”
Eda Zavala: We first see the universe as inside ourselves. Each one of us represents a microcosm of our being that is inside of us, is our essence, and that small microcosm that exists within each one of us is represented outside of us on a universal scale. We are part of something that is huge and beautiful that is in the constellations, in the solar system, and space. (180)
Each living being contains a microcosm that is interconnected and integrated with the outside universe. Everything is alive and everything is energy that moves in this great life and cosmos, always in motion, always moving from one source to the next. There are no single separate objects in nature. Energy is in constant circulation throughout everything, a powerful energy that is always moving to maintain a dynamic balance everywhere and in every living organism. (181)
Richard Tarnas: It was as if the cosmos was ensouled and that the human psyche was in some sense an expression of and grounded in a cosmic psyche, in an anima mundi, or soul of the world. The evidence seemed to point to something that many shamanic, mystical, and esoteric traditions had been suggesting all along, namely, that the cosmos itself is profoundly ensouled and imbued with purposes and meanings within which the human is a co-creative and essential participant, and not simply an isolated oddity in a vast cosmic void. (261)