Friday, April 17, 2015
An evolving cosmogony. In the beginning there were spirits, living energies, forces, ghosts, freebeings. They were everywhere. They did not represent, or they were not represented by, concrete things because there were no concrete things. There were no representations. The cosmos was still a chaos. The rules had not been set. Everyplace was a blooming, buzzing confusion. Nobody knew what was going to happen next. There were no distinctions between spirits, people, animals, trees, rocks, rivers and stars. Everyone was in continual contact with these spirits. Paradise. Then, for reasons unknown, spirits began to be associated with distinct objects and places. Meanings became more fixed, boundaries began to form. Eventually these spiritual associations began to be personified. The gods emerged -- the fire god, the earth goddess, the wind god, etc... The cosmos was created. The gods were viewed as maintaining the order of the world and so the gods demanded sacrifices. Sacrificial rituals required a specialized caste to perform the rites. The gods begat newer gods. The newer gods rose up against the older primordial gods. The older gods tended to be associated with the chthonic chaos before names and forms, and were headed by a mother goddess usually associated with the earth or with the primordial waters. Her son or grandson became the leader of the newer generation of gods. This newer generation was associated with order, the sky, patriarchy. The caste of priestesses was forcibly replaced by a caste of priests. Sacrifices became more bloody and the gods demanded more blood. The newer gods defeated the original gods. The Olympians defeated the Titans, and the Devas defeated the Asuras. The memory of the defeated older gods was transformed. The earth goddess became the Beast, a dragon of the dark waters of the underworld. Her older associates became her demonic minions. The victorious sky god and his supporters became all powerful. Eventually the sky god rose in prominence above the others -- Marduk, Indra, Zeus, Yahweh. There came a time when the other gods were not even seen as being gods equal to the Heavenly Father, they were demoted to angelic status. The world was split into two hostile camps. The Sky/Sun God and his angels, who were ultimately all powerful, and the very less powerful, but dangerous Beast/Devil and her (and then his) hoard of demons. Everything associated with the original chaos -- self-rule, the feminine, the dark, the wet, the mysterious, the unconscious -- was associated with the evil powers. The increasingly ordered state of the world, the civilizing power, was a reflection of God -- the Good. Power became more centralized in the hands of God -- the angels and demons were dropped away and the Devil was kept only as a reminder of what would happened if one disobeyed the divine will. God, and only God, became identified as being the source and maintainer of the Laws of the Universe. God was Law. God was Reason. This led the ever crafty priesthood to consider that perhaps God set the Laws into motion but then He allowed them to play their perfectly ordered course. Indeed, the cycles were so regular and perfect that sacrifices no longer seemed to be needed. In fact, maybe God as God was not needed to account for these Laws at all. Maybe Reason was enough to account for everything. God was transformed from a personal ruler to an abstract set of Laws. Finally, the last Spirit was removed form the earth. But things began to break down. The Laws did not seem to account for all things. There were exceptions. There were more exceptions. The Laws grew in complexity to account for the exceptions, but as the exceptions grew in number faith in the Laws began to fade. The Law became laws. Laws became theories. Theories became beliefs. The priesthood splintered into a thousand different factions of Experts each contradicting each other. Some Experts wanted to resurrect the old God. Some wanted to unify all of the laws and theories into One Unified Theory. Both of these projects have failed. The factions of Experts split and resplit so many times that nobody knew who to believe. Eventually nobody believed anybody. All of the old categories and states were overthrown. Chaos reemerged. The spirits began to dance again. Paradise regained.