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In The Mystery of Skara Brae we discussed how a series of megalithic structures on Orkney in the UK align with a Dogon cosmological traditions that are also closely allied with agriculture. We see progressive symbolic stages of creation represented in stone on Orkney that were both linked to each other in Neolithic times by a road that also led to the Skara Brae farming village.

For the Dogon, the next stage of the progression (in the corresponding scientific view, the stage where particles form against what astrophysicists call "the background field") is symbolized by a figure comparable to a crop circle that is set down in the agricultural field of their highest priest, known as the Arou Priest. In ancient Egypt, a term for an agricultural field was sekhet, and the term Sekhet Aaru referred to the Field of Reeds, a mythical locale situated to the West where the soul of a deceased Pharaoh was depicted as happily working in an agricultural field.

The concept of the Sekhet Aaru plays a central role in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and representations of it in Egyptian art include images of animals that are indigenous to Orkney. The concept survived in ancient Greece in the form of the Elysian Fields. In each of the three cases - Dogon, Egyptian and Greek - the concept is arguably dealt with on two levels simultaneously: both as a cosmological concept, and as a real-world locale. Greek sources place their real-world Elysian Fields as an island where Orkney is situated, describe it using a variety of specific terms that all apply to Orkney, and Pindar even goes so far as to refer to it by the name Okianos.

The point of all of this is that, within an archaic mindset that defined South as Upper and North as Lower, a group of islands situated as Orkney were properly situated to represent an Underworld. In later eras, and in keeping with a broad set of symbolic reversals we understand to have occurred cross-culturally (as a familiar example, matriarchy supplanted by patriarchy), it seems reasonably that by the era of the Maori, a similar group of islands that comprise New Zealand would have also been properly situated to represent an Underworld.

Edward Tregear - the author of the comparative Maori-Polynesian Dictionary - tells that an ancient name for New Zealand aotearoa can be understood to refer to "the first circle of the Underworld."

- Laird


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Subject Views Written By Posted
Symbolic Reversals and Concepts of the Underworld 215 Laird Scranton 08-Sep-18 16:37
Re: Symbolic Reversals and Concepts of the Underworld 34 cladking 09-Sep-18 17:07
Re: Symbolic Reversals and Concepts of the Underworld 46 Laird Scranton 09-Sep-18 19:39


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