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Mythological Precedents
Category: Mythic Quest
Last Updated: May 2011

And so is the Golden City blackened
With each step you take in my Hall.
Marvel at perfection, for it is fleeting.
You have brought Sin to Heaven
And doom upon all the world.
- Threnodies 8:13
(Dragon Age: Origins, BioWare)

If we take the view that many of our species' problems are compounded, if not caused, by the excessive misuse of 'language' then it would follow that at some point in the history of the human race - specifically before the invention of abstract verbal labels - this problem would not have existed: and that the mind-set of the Mystic and the Genius would have been 'normal' - the experience of everyone.

We might wonder if some of the earlier myths and legends communicated some kind of understanding or awareness of this verbalising process seen as it was occuring - appearing perhaps as either a 'fall from grace' or an attempt to recreate that 'golden age.'

This page is a short collection of some of the more intriguing.

I do this mainly out of interest and as an occasional source of inspiration - at the risk of blowing my chances at being the next Von Däniken and selling loads of books for mega-$$$, I should say that none of this actually proves anything.

Okay so the original Hebrew of the Old Testament is open to interpretation. So? We can speculate, but we'll never know for sure the precise nuances of what the original writers were trying to convey.

The same goes for all of these notes.


Places of sparkling brightness and opulence, bigger, brighter, more vibrant and more intense in colour, taste and aroma.... Such are the descriptions of these mysterious and magical otherwordly locations.

At one point in time, this 'Fairyland' was seen as being almost coterminous with mundane, normal reality. Anyone could venture into Fairyland by accident - it might always be 'just around the next corner' - and some individuals like Bards and Prophets were believed to be able to move into the 'Otherworld' at will for inspiration.

But as time passed the link between 'our world' and this other grew increasingly tenuous, now relying on a handful of doorways which open once in a blue moon. The inhabitants of Fairyland were also affected - growing physically more diminuitive through the ages.

It's a good bet that our idea of 'Fairyland' is all that's left of very old memories of how Humanity saw the world before the abstract-verbal reality-tunnel took hold - and that the Sidhe / Alvar inhabitants of these realms were actually the last outposts of Humans that were resisting this new reality tunnel. Maybe it's not so much that they disliked iron as intensely disliked iron age humanity.

Many of the descriptions of these Otherworlds are recognisably similar to what happens to the quality of perception after extended mindfulness practice, and the book Creative Intelligence discusses the non-verbal / creative inspiration link thoroughly. Presumably both the distancing of the Otherworld and the 'shrinking' of its inhabitants would have directly mirrored the increasing verbalisation of our culture.

Divine Speech

In the Beginning was the Word, and apparently this 'Word' created the Universe.

One of the Ancient Egyptian 'creation myths' associated with Atum has the Universe being created using a 'sexual' metaphor - which might make more sense but it's a rarity. Ra 'creates the Universe' by naming the different parts and Thoth, inventor of the Written Word, is also sometimes referred to as a Universe Creator.

In light of what we now know, about the effect of excessive pro-verbal conditioning on perception, we might ask which Universe? Because words have indeed 'created a universe' - the intellectual / verbal / cultural / daydreaming universe that people become conditioned to inhabit.

Standing Stones

Throughout Europe there are huge numbers of big blocks of rock placed on their end into the ground by the indigenous peoples. They have been variously dated back to about 3,000 to 2,000 BCE. So far there is no concensus regarding any actual 'purpose' behind these objects beyond 'having some kind of ritual significance.' Sure, many of them do appear to be nicely lined up to allow the monitoring of solar cycles, but you don't need 60 tons of rock just to know when the Summer Equinox will be due.

So what are they all about?

One thing I can tell you is that if someone asked me to create a cheap, low-tech way of keeping people 'anchored' in the here and now then I would get a load of big rocks, drop them into the ground and get people to use them to practise their 'tactile mindfulness'.

It would be interesting to find out if the earliest Standing Stones were only put up in flatland areas - i.e. places with no nearby natural (e.g. cliffs) or anything which could act as metaphors for stability (e.g. mountains, even large trees) - unfortunately these sites are notoriously difficult to date.

It might also be useful to 'cross-index' these sites with the rise of 'specialisations' in society that may have been increasingly 'intellectual.' Farming, hunting and foraging all require intensive visual/physical attention which would help people stay 'in the now', whereas people in other professions might need a little more help.

Marduk & Tiamat

The Old Babylonian Creation Myth also makes for an interesting metaphor for the ascendancy of the verbal-intellectual part of the mind, as a race of 'new gods' anger the 'older gods' with their incessant clamour, in much the same way as the subconscious might resent the endless chattering monologue that passes for 'normal' consciousness nowadays.

The old gods, lead by Tiamat, decide to wipe out the newcomers, but from the 'new gods' comes a champion, Marduk, who single-handedly defeats everything the older gods can throw at him. The battle culminates with Marduk chopping up Tiamat into various bits from which he 'creates the Universe'. The holistic 'experience' of subconscious perception has been destroyed, replaced by a collection of individual elements that have been 'recognised' and 'understood', illustrating the perceptual habits of the verbal-intellectual reality-tunnel.

What would it take to achieve a reconciliation between Marduk and Tiamat? What form would this reconciliation take, and how radically could it improve our thinking and perception?

The Tower of Babel

I guess you probably know the story: some peeps decide to build a Tower that will reach up to Heaven but the local super-deity takes umbrage at this attempt at mega-engineering and makes everyone speak different languages. Nobody can understand each other any more so the Tower is abandoned.

Intriguingly, limitations in our ability to understand some of the original Hebrew means that this is just one possible version of the story.

For example 'language' in the story is inexplicably described as being both singular (one language) and plural (many languages) at the same time - not 'one language, then many languages' but one and many. Now if you've been studying and practising the material in the Language and Communication article then maybe you've already noticed that whilst people might be communicating using the same language, sometimes the disastrous misunderstandings make it seem like they're using different languages. The language is singular, but also suddenly plural as well - the same and also different.

Additionally, if this 'Tower' was a reference to the Ziggurats then quite possibly the purpose of the Tower was not to climb up to Heaven but as a platform to transform the Earth by drawing down some form of Heavenly essence / inspiration.

Maybe the 'Tower of Babel' story is about the collapse of a Babylonian version of a Gateway to a stellar Fairyland. (There is also a possibility that 'Babel' translates as 'Gate of God'...) The actual concept of non-verbally identifying / modelling the 'quintessence' of the Heavens has been lost as the human race becomes increasingly enamoured by the verbal-intellectual reality-tunnel. The StarGate is gone, with only misunderstandings and confusion in its place.

One slightly concerning question that this raises is how come a supposedly benevolent super-deity wants to sabotage our attempts to evolve and develop ourselves? Some of the early 'Gnostic' groups had the idea that the Bible was actually referring to two different super-deities. The New Testament tells us about the 'Good' deity but the Old Testament mainly documents the mis-adventures of some kind of 'deity of illusion / entrapment'... Just in case that wasn't controversial enough they then claimed that the Roman Catholic Church worshipped the 'bad' deity...

Now if only a Renaissance artist had encoded all this into a painting we could write a bestseller.

Ancient Egypt

The King was considered to be an Earthly incarnation of some Divine Power watching over the Realm of Humans.

At face value this sounds the same as the concepts of self-identification / modelling and many of the other thought-experiments involving belief / self-fulfilling prophecy that we are familiar with...

So the Ancient Egyptians did appear to be engaged in an attempt to harness 'the power of belief' to create divinely-inspired rulers. Was this deliberate? Accidental? Or just a thinly-veiled excuse for a dictatorship? We will (probably) never know for sure.

Also of interest is that the Ancient Egyptians may have been aware of some of the problems inherent in language as all their words for any 'abstract concepts' are clearly labelled to differentiate them from words about 'day to day' objects. In other words, the Ancient Egyptians seem to have recognised and dealt with 'nominalizations' several thousand years before Western Civilization even noticed them. Whether this was purely an accidental side-effect of their writing style or a result of actual insight into psycho-linguistics, who knows.