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Science and culture offer various explanations for our spiritual awareness, and for our vast cultural records of supernatural entities and events.

Apparently contradictory explanations appear in the philosophy, history, myth, ritual, religion, symbols, arts, and lately sciences, of all cultures. Some explanations gain dominance in turn, each imposing its paradigm on science and conscious thought, always at odds with rival paradigms.

Dominant explanations for spirituality could be placed in a roughly chronological order: nature, gods, heroes, ancestors, evolution, technology, trade, an ancient super race, Phoenicians, the collective subconscious, secret societies, aliens, mutants, astronomy, drugs, trance, fluctuating consciousness, or combinations of these. The next paradigm is likely to return to nature and our subconscious, perhaps to be tagged as ‘archetype does it’.

Why are we more than physical entities? Here are some simplified alternative answers, and their best known proponents, with the warning that there is no progression or ‘evolution’ in the sequence, and that all these paradigms always form part of human thought.

Nature did it. Plato and other philosophers probe nature and perception, by matching string lengths and modal octaves to music; political options to morality; caves to minds (as in the shadows on the wall analogy); things and behaviour, to concepts that enable them.

Gods did it. Sumerian and other rituals dramatise creation to impose order on perception (see Ur-Nanshe, and King Gudea’s temple inscriptions). Spirituality is always externalised and personalised.

Heroes did it. Assyrian and other cults appropriate spiritual and physical resources by imposing their legends on times and places. Some places or graves also offer special powers or access, as in shrines and pilgrimage sites.

Ancestors did it. African and other feudal polities use semi-historic forebears (instant legendising of ‘history’ in tribal context) as intermediaries to the spiritual realm.

Evolution did it. Many philosophers assume cultural media and people of their own time to be superior to the meager records of earlier times that they have access to. This paradigm gained European support during colonisation, backed by apparent unprecedented advances in zoology, physiology, and military technology. China was so assured of its supremacy, that it assumed to be more civilised than Europe. Discovery of rival civilisations may have been one of the causes of isolation and the Wall.

Technology and trade did it. Anthropology became a systematic study during colonisation, grafting its paradigm of ‘cultural evolution’ on geological and zoological ideas, via contact and diffusion. Our diet, and thumbs, and brains, and languages, and conscious learning are supposed to have blessed us with minds, which however retain some superstitions (see Ape to Angel).

An ancient super race did it. Atlantis, Aryans, and other former golden age civilisations are sustained by an archetypal myth that all cultures express. Plato used it as an allegory of the ideal state. Every grand ruin seems to confirm it. Its flip side is the myth of our future glory as ‘more evolved’ people with global co-operation. The super race is our self-ideal. Golden age fictions inevitably lead to fixing of blame for our ‘fallen’ state; the devil, the state, our enemies, or someone did it. Instead we do it. All the time.

Phoenicians did it. Every culture has a favoured super ‘race’, usually its own supposed forebears. Evidence of supposed cultural advancement is ascribed to Sumer, or Babylonia, or Greece, or Egypt, or trade intermediaries such as Phoenicians. See Gary David’s Orion books, where the Hopi are the ‘Phoenicians’ of central and north-western America.
As more high civilisations were uncovered in India, China, Arabia, Europe, and the Americas, this paradigm was modified into secret societies within civilisations.

Our subconscious did it. Carl Jung discovered that all people dream the same things. James George Frazer discovered that obscure details in myths of peoples thousands of miles and millennia apart, corroborated and even explained one another. Claude Levi-Strauss discovered that we have an innate tendency to categorise things, behaviours and events by a set of similar templates, without consciously intending, or learning to do so. See Lyall Watson’s Supernature. The depth psychology movement did not demonstrate any detailed content or map of our subconscious landscape, and was overtaken by older and more fundamental paradigms.

Secret societies did it. Craft guilds, political cabals and religions all had esoteric elements in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, all claiming spiritual resources and legitimacy. Masons and other trades, Templars and other militant faith orders, Illuminati and other investors and traders, Rosicrucians and other sects, renovated the usual rituals, initiations, myths, calendars, emblems and lobbies.

Aliens did it. Sumerian and other prophets experience contact with tutelary spirits or angels, usually half-human or amphibian. Since the industrial revolution, these aspects of projected spirituality used carriages and later cars (such as Noddy), wings (as in Ezekiel) and later aircraft, light balls and later UFOs. Fiction writers and Hollywood movies dramatise science, culture, myth, ritual, heroes, evolution and mysteries into entertaining compounds with enduring influence. Erich von Daniken turned this genre into a popular culture of fundamentalist re-interpretation of spiritual artefacts.

Mutants did it. Since Mendel’s experiments with beans, Crick and Watson’s DNA double spiral, and genome applications, Zecheriah Sitchen and other willful mis-interpreters of myths in dead languages, spun entertaining tales of re-creation. The later Sitchen books are classified as novels, but the Aliens genre had already mutated into a cult, including the secret society of half-lizards of David Icke, modeled on tutelary spirits with economic agendas.

Astronomers did it. Astrology is a constant undertone in esoteric crafts in all cultures. However it has been roped in to support some of the other paradigms, as in the ‘three magi from Persia’ tale (see Robert Temple; Sirius mystery).
Prof Alexander Thom used the assumed Newcombe curve of low obliquity variance to compute ancient sunrise and sunset angles in stone circles, deriving fantastically old dates, incidentally feeding the popular UK need for a cultural pedigree other than European, Viking, and Roman. Druids and Merlins, based on Irish and French resistance against Rome, and against Roman Catholicism, became the new version of the popular paradigm of ancient wizards.
Many authors moved from the esoterica, aliens, evolution, conspiracy, psychology and religious genres, into archaeo astronomy. Constellations became a natural cultural 'tutor', via any agency that happens to fit the author’s fancy. 'Alien astronomers stranded on earth' are among the more ridiculous versions.

Drugs did it. Anthropologists reported the use of various psychoactive substances in various spiritual traditions, including the Greek mystery pilgrimage to Eleusis, and the oracle of the dead near Naples (see Robert Temple; Netherworld). However the roles of prophets, priests, healers, artists, and congregants remain confused.
This paradigm gained popular currency in the hippie movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Counter-culture embraces all paradigms that seem to ‘roll the rock around’. Neo-hippies now embrace nature, pilgrimage, personal maturity, and ancient tutors. Their paradigm includes the fiction of the noble savage, and the fiction of commercial access to spiritual realms. Bushmen know better; “Cannabis does not lead to God’.

Trance did it. Cognitive archaeology is an interdisciplinary science founded by Prof David Lewis-Williams, popularised by Graham Hancock in Supernatural. Him and Megan Biesele studied rock art in the context of San (Busman) myth and rituals. They concluded that San artists paint what they see in trance (not supported by studies in other cultures), or what they hear from healers, and that some themes happen to catch on; a kind of spiritual graffiti process. This view is close to the ‘living myth’ of Jung, however cognitive archaeology is a conscious construct about conscious construction of spirituality. Hancock indicates the missing ingredient in the trance hypothesis, by briefly asking ‘where is spiritual consciousness situated?’

Consciousness did it. Freud, Jung and other psychologists, and structural anthropologists, harked back to Greek philosophical concepts to formulate the term archetype. My own research into rock art, art, myth, ritual, cosmology and psychology, extends the multi-disciplinary work of Jung and Levi-Strauss, by identifying and isolating recurrent motifs in all cultural media, and comparing them to a cosmic model of the subconscious structure that we compulsively express.
Demonstrating the five layers of cultural expression is simple
(see my book, Edmond Furter; Mindprint, 2014,;
or my article on Gobekli Tepe and other artworks, on Grahamhancock, under Author of the Month, September 2015;
or posts on,
or posts on trance themes in art on
However the implications of the natural-subconscious paradigm for science (still dominated by ‘cultural evolution’) and popular culture (still dominated by ‘ancient mutants’) are large, and not simplistic.

The consciousness paradigm is rising to general recognition.
Graham Hancock in May 2016 posted on his website: “I want to say a few words about the ‘ancient astronaut’ hypothesis… having spent more than quarter of a century walking the walk across many of the most intriguing ancient archaeological sites on earth, and digging into ancient texts and traditions from all around the world, that NO ancient archaeological site and NO ancient text or tradition that I have yet come across, provides persuasive evidence for the ancient astronaut hypothesis… to give the impression that the sites and texts do support their hypothesis, it is necessary for ancient astronaut theorists… to take the ancient texts out of context, or to misquote them deliberately. Please DON’T send me screeds of the late Zecharia Sitchin’s ‘translations’… you would be horrified by the scale of the illusion that has been created: a gigantic work of science fiction, masquerading as fact, giving rise to something like a New Age religion in which people have faith in the existence of a planet called Nibiru and its advanced, high-tech inhabitants, our creators, no less… Nefilim or Anunnaki… Did Sitchin FIND evidence of alien space tech in the cuneiform texts, or did he PROJECT late 20th century NASA technology onto his imagined ancient astronauts?... all of the anomalies of history and prehistory… are far better and more elegantly explained as emanating from a lost, advanced HUMAN civilization of prehistoric antiquity… I will be hosting a workshop on the ‘consciousness connection’ to… encounter experiences, which I think are evidence of something MUCH more mysterious going on.” [-Graham Hancock]

I agree with this clarification of Graham's view, with the proviso that our former 'advanced civilisation' was never terminated, nor regained via some oral tradition or lost records. We are as advanced today as we ever were, having resurged in numbers and thus in specialisation and capacity, after very low numbers that survived during a lengthy cataclysm or two.
Even during cataclysms, we remained, and will remain, fully human. Culture does not evolve. Culture is infinitely retrievable, since it is inherent in nature and in our perception and behaviour. Spirituality bypasses most of our conscious thought.

Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 27-May-16 08:53 by Edmond.

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Subject Views Written By Posted
Did gods, evolution, Phoenicians, aliens, stars, drugs or trance do it? Natural subconscious does it 1683 Edmond 26-May-16 10:51
Re: Did gods, evolution, Phoenicians, aliens, stars, drugs or trance do it? Natural subconscious does it 320 cladking 26-May-16 17:09
Re: Did gods, evolution, Phoenicians, aliens, stars, drugs or trance do it? Natural subconscious does it 362 Edmond 26-May-16 20:07
Re: Did gods, evolution, Phoenicians, aliens, stars, drugs or trance do it? Natural subconscious does it 305 Freya 27-May-16 05:14
I'd like to add 428 Warwick 27-May-16 06:10

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