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From: John Rose (
Subject:         Ancient Memories of a Golden Age...
Date: September 20, 2014 at 6:53 am PST

In Reply to: YOU AIN’T GOT NO GUNS!!! :) posted by John Rose on September 20, 2014 at 6:19 am:

“Memories and Visions of Paradise” by Richard Heinberg

Ancient Memories of a Golden Age

The Memory of a Lost Paradise

Once upon a time all human beings lived in friendship and peace, not only among themselves but with all other living things as well. The people of that original Age of Innocence were wise, shining beings who could fly through the air at will, and who were in continual communion with cosmic forces and intelligences. But a tragic disruption brought the first age to an end, and humanity found itself estranged from both Heaven and Nature. Ever since then we have lived in a fragmented way, never really understanding ourselves or our place in the Universe. But occasionally we look back, with longing and regret, and dream of a return to the Paradise we once knew.

Paradise may be the most popular and intensely meaningful idea ever to have gripped the human imagination. We find it everywhere. “In more or less complex forms, the paradisiac myth occurs here and there all over the world,” wrote the great modern authority on comparative religions Mircea Eliade. The Hebraic Garden of Eden, the Greek Golden Age, the Australian Aborigines’ Dreamtime, and the Chinese Taoist Age of Perfect Virtue are but local variants of the universally recalled Time of Beginnings, whose memory has colored all of subsequent history.

The impact of the paradisal image on the collective human consciousness is as deep as it is broad. In no tradition is it a recent or peripheral theme; rather, it is at the very core of the perennial spiritual impulse, reemerging in every generation’s literature, art, and social ideals. Indeed, if one were seeking a motif on which to base an outline summary of human culture, one might well begin with our collective memories of a lost Golden Age and our longings for its return...

The Return of the Sacred

Developments in religious studies in the twentieth century have also played a part in the evolution of the contemporary attitude toward myth. As we have seen, the tendency in the late nineteenth century was to explain religion in social or psychological terms. In 1917, however, psychologist Rudolph Otto published The Idea of the Holy, in which he emphasized the fundamental reality and irreducibility of the religious experience in all its manifestations.

Then, in the 1930s and 1940s, French philosopher Rene’ Guenon pointed to what he called the Primordial Tradition of universal truths that lies at the core of every living religion. All traditions, according to Guenon, are paths for the practical realization of innate spiritual principles in the lives of human beings. Turning nineteenth century cultural evolutionism on its head, Guenon protested in the strongest terms the loss of true spirituality in the modern world. “The material prosperity of the West is incontrovertible,” he wrote, “but it is hardly a cause for envy. Indeed, one can go further; sooner or later this excessive material development threatens to destroy the West if it does not recover itself in time and if it does not consider seriously a ‘return to the source.’”

The Rumanian-American historian of religion Mircea Eliade applied this new attitude toward religion directly to the study of mythology. Eliade refused to reduce myths to economic, social, cultural, psychological, or political meanings; instead, he emphasized the primacy of the experience of the sacred in all traditions. Moreover, he placed tribal religions and the scriptural religions of East and West side by side (rather than arranging them in an evolutionary sequence, as had become customary) in order to reveal and clarify their common motifs.

Like Jung, Eliade saw mythic themes as unconscious archetypes. Going further, he identified the two core themes of world myth as the nostalgia for a Paradise that has been lost because of a primordial tragedy (the Fall), and the initiatory scenario whereby the original golden world is partially restored. Both primitive and scriptural religions, according to Eliade, betray

“…the nostalgia for Paradise, the desire to recover the state of freedom and beatitude before “the Fall”, the will to restore communication between Earth and Heaven; in a word, to abolish all the changes made in the very structure of the Cosmos and in the human mode of being by that primordial disruption.”…

The Mythic Worldview

Through the work of Jung, Otto, Guenon, Campbell, and Eliade runs a current of respect for the sense of the sacred as expressed in all of the world’s religions and mythologies. Through their writings we gain some sense of the worldview of the ancients, in which rocks, trees, rivers, and clouds were living parts of a living whole; in which the Cosmos was alive and conscious, partaking of the same intelligent force by which we ourselves are animated; and in which human beings were the link between Heaven and Earth – between the inner dimension of spirit and the outer world of form. Through them we are reacquainted with the context of ancient thought, in which every event was meaningful and every individual knew that his or her life was the embodiment of principle and purpose. In the archaic vision of reality, even the most mundane activities had an overarching significance and were performed not as personal, private acts but as part of a cosmic drama.

For the ancients, the respect for the sacred derived from an awareness of the creative processes of Nature, and it implied a hesitancy to arbitrarily intrude on those processes. To the sanctified consciousness, time and space were themselves sacred, and every atom of creation was part of one joyful chorus. In the Creation-Time, according to the myths of the native Australians, Africans, and Americans, human beings had a specific responsibility in the whole of Nature, which was to provide a living bridge between levels of being.

To say that a thing or an act is sacred is to imply that it has relevance in a universal plane of values and ideals, and that it is therefore a point of contact between two worlds. To the ancients, all was sacred, because everything had significance in both a mundane and also a cosmic context; matter itself was sacred substance. The role of humankind – established the paradisal age of the first ancestors – was to realize that sacredness by coordinating traffic between Heaven and Earth.

Ancient peoples had an acute sense of responsibility not just to family or tribe, but to the whole of life. Its welfare was the reason for their existence. The Hopi Indians of the American Southwest, for example, knew the spirit of the Earth as Maasauu. They said that their purpose was to be apprentices to Maasauu, to be stewards of the Earth. According to their myths, in the early days Maasauu left his plane of existence, having given the Hopi instructions to carry out ceremonies to keep the Earth in balance and to keep the Plan of Life intact. The Hopi still see their ceremonies as essential to the nourishment of all living things on the planet. There is a ceremony for each kind of plant or animal, and the full cycle of ceremonies may continue for weeks….

In the Beginning

In every mythology, Creation is the first act in a grand cosmic drama. That drama unfolds by stages through a Golden Age of peace and plenty, a Fall or period of degeneration, and a catastrophe that brings the sacred Age of the Gods to an end and initiates the present, profane age of the world…

The spiritual life of all ancient and tribal peoples revolved around the maintenance of sacred rhythms and balances through rituals designed to recapitulate the Creation. Creation was the ultimate sacred act, to be commemorated and symbolically repeated on significant occasions in the life of the individual and in the collective life of the tribe. The creative process was at once a cosmic, historical phenomenon for harmonizing Heaven and Nature. The Creation story was therefore of both universal and immediate significance; it described the nature of absolute reality in a way that was both transcendent (true for all times and places) and immanent (true here and now).

The original Creation marked the beginning of the Age of the Gods. Eliade has written, “It would be impossible to overstress the tendency – observable in every society, however highly developed – to bring back that time, mythical time, the Great Time.” That Great Time was the model for all times, so that accessions of new chiefs or kings, initiation rites, weddings, games, planting, hunting, and, especially, new year celebrations were all occasions for the symbolic reenactment of what had occurred in the beginning. The Aborigines of central Australia practiced rituals of circumcision and fashioned “X-ray” bark paintings in precisely the ways their Creator-Ancestors had taught them in the Dreamtime. The Yurok Indians of northern California performed world-renewing dances that the Immortals had revealed to them when the world was young. And according to Joseph Epes Brown, a modern authority on Native American religions, the Pima and Papago tribes of the American Southwest saw the act basket making as “the ritual recapitulation of the total process of creation.”…

The ancient Hindu sages stated the matter with quintessential brevity: “Thus the gods did; thus men do.”

The nostalgia for origins is, as Eliade says, a desire “to recover the active presence of the gods” and “to live in the world as it came from the Creator’s hands, fresh, pure, and strong.” In every culture, we find the same longing to reenter the sacred time when the gods were immediately present, creating and organizing the world.

…It was only when the people set themselves against the other creatures that God was driven away and the original harmony of Nature was destroyed.

World Ages

If the magical landscape fixes Paradise in space, its position in time is defined by its placement at the beginning of a series of world ages. We have already noted the Greek and Hindu conceptions of the ages or Yugas of the world, respectively; there are also close parallels among other cultures. The Iranians, for example, knew four cosmic ages that, in a lost Mazdaean book, the Sudkar-nask, are referred to as the ages of gold, silver, steel, and “mixed with iron”. In the Iranian conception, as in the Greek and Hindu, each age is a step in the world’s deterioration, a process that is leading to a final apocalyptic cleansing.

The Mayans counted their world ages as consecutive Suns – Water Sun, Earthquake Sun, Hurricane Sun, and Fire Sun – according to the nature of the catastrophe that closed the epoch. The Hopi also spoke of four worlds – Tokpela, Tokpa, Kuskurza, and Tuwaquchi – the first of which is described in paradisal terms…

The Age of Miracles and Wonders

According to virtually all accounts, human beings in the paradisal age were possessed of qualities and abilities that can only be called miraculous. They were wise, all-knowing, and able to communicate easily not only with one another but also with all other living things; moreover, they could fly through the air, and they shone with visible light…

Many traditions say that the first human beings spoke a single language. In Genesis, as in the myths of the Chins and Twyan of Indochina, all people could understand one another’s speech until the collapse of a tower or ladder built in an attempt to reach Heaven. The Mayans likewise say that the First People “had but a single language.” Some traditions go further, suggesting that in Paradise humanity was telepathic; the Hopi, for example, say that the First People “felt as one and understood one another without talking.” [JR’s Comment: High Biophoton Levels]

This one language seems to have extended to the animal kingdom as well. Whether it is said that animals could speak as humans or that human beings could understand the animal languages, the result in either case was a state of trust and friendship between man and beast. Jewish legends say that “in all respects, the animal world had a different relation from their relation to his descendents. Not only did they know the language of man, but they respected the image of God, and they feared the first human couple, all of which changed into the opposite after the fall of man.

The Greek storyteller Aesop wrote wistfully that “during the time of the golden race the…animals had articulate speech and knew the use of words. And they held meetings in the middle of the forest; and the stones spoke, and the needles of the pine tree…and the sparrow spoke wise words to the farmer.”

This ability of human beings and animals to understand one another resulted in a condition in which, according to the fifth century BC Greek philosopher Empedocles, “All were gentle and obedient to men, both animals and birds, and they glowed with kindly affection towards one another.”

In African folklore, as in the myths of the ancient Greeks, the harmony of humanity with the animals is reflected in the vegetarian diet of the First People. That our earliest ancestors shunned the killing of animals for food is also implied in the Bible: God tells Adam and Eve, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree, in which the fruit is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat” (Genesis 1:29). It is not until after the Deluge that God tells Noah, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” But because human beings are now permitted to kill and eat the animals, “The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea” (Genesis 9:2-3).

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