Our African Unconscious

The Black Origins of Mysticism and Psychology

Dark Light Consciousness

Melanin, Serpent Power, and the Luminous Matrix of Reality

We warmly welcome Edward Bruce Bynum, author of Our African Unconscious, as one of our featured authors for February. In his book, Edward explores the beginning of early religions and mysticism in Africa, revealing how our shared African ancestry has shaped the history of human culture and spirituality. Drawing on archaeology, DNA research, depth psychology, and the biological and spiritual roots of religion and science, he demonstrates how all modern human beings, regardless of ethnic or racial categorizations, share a common deeper identity through our primordial African unconscious. In his article linked here, he explores the ‘African template’ from which humanity arose.

Interact with Edward on our AoM Forum here.


Every other year it seems we are presented with an exciting new chapter of our human origins by scientists working in the fields unearthing skull fragments, teeth, mud footprints and the lost tibias of some remote ancestor. Its commonly believed that our pre-human and ape lines split off and went their separate ways some 6 million or so years ago after both arose together from a common ancestor. After this family divorce what eventually became our modern human line started out as little Australopithecines of various forms and classifications.

The first we know of today was the demur Sahelananthropos Tchadenis or Toumal. She is perhaps the clearest to stand out at this crucial crossroads within our primate divergence. There were others no doubt. Then came Ardipithecus Ramidus, Anamnesis, Afarensis and so on, all several (3-4) million years ago, mostly in East Africa. All of these forebears were our cousins in some sense and, like us, they dwelled in family units. All arose under the African sun. Out of that African rooted tree-line eventually came our distant “Homo Genus or familial line with Homo Habilis the ‘tool maker’ perhaps a bit more than a million years ago. Then came Boisei, Rudolfensis, Ergaster, etc. Which ones were first out of the gate is a matter of on-going debate. Eventually, however, Homo Erectus arose about a million or so years ago and went through still further refinements in physical form or morphogenesis. There were no doubt parallel mental and cognitive developments occurring. Eventually, a familial group of her descendants walked out of Africa. She is also credited with the discovery and partial mastery of fire. This is the broad testimony so far revealed by modern science with no doubt subtle updates to come in the future as the fossil record bears witness in the field and laboratory.

In those days we were still totally emersed in nature, bodily, in consciousness and in our moment-to-moment concerns. Our story continued to evolve however and a little under a million years ago we eventually tipped over the line and emerged into archaic homo sapiens. This took place in the forms of Heidelbergensis, Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon and so on. Boisei, Robustus and the other australopithecines had by that time faded away for unknown reasons and our root consciousness expressed itself through the homo sapiens lines. They were ‘sapiens’ or ‘thinking’ forms of us albeit at a much more basic level. Yet their mid-brain limbic structures for emotionality were in place as was a highly developed cortex and the first faint glimmers of an emerging neocortex that would later be the seat of our higher executive functioning in reason, science and our capacity for spiritual unfoldment.

The actual physical and phenotypical African roots of our species and, we believe, the roots of our human consciousness itself, emerged and created enough, through branching and cross-fertilization, a real diversity in our species. We were certainly conscious even in the earliest of days and eventually began to reflect back on the nature of all around us in order to survive if nothing else. By our entry into our homo sapiens eras, we noticed that we had consciousness when we slept at night even though we may not have described it as ‘dreaming’. In these nightly adventures we noticed our daily family and social encounters with others, with animals, with the natural forces of the earth, were all animated with an energy of some kind that extended through day and night. We painted our experiences on cave walls and carved them into early artistic and ritualistic behaviors. Gradually we noticed many other cycles and forces around us and eventually cycles within ourselves. We found this all quite mysterious and at some point, began to bury our dead with these rituals and this sense of their energy and continuity through the world. We had collectively reflected on nature enough around us, saw its cycles and patterns outside and within ourselves enough to allow some dim intuition of the spiritual cosmos to emerge into the mystery of our consciousness. Indeed, like the tides, magnetic effects in the world and the sense of gravity, our ancient forebearers did not create spirituality, they discovered it.

In between these developments, there were lots of family tree branching that split off, some no doubt unknown and still buried in the earth. Our pre-human era occurred over a span of millions of years of experimentation with nature, climate changes and the shifting vagaries of fate and chance. Our physical self and mental-emotional selves evolved side by side.

Then maybe anywhere from 150000 to 270000 years ago our own modern type, Homo Sapiens Sapiens or so-called thinking man emerged. Much later she began to travel out of Africa as some of her predecessors had before her. Pieces of her show up in Israeli caves from over a 100,000 years ago. The most recent of these origin reports came, like many others, out of a region in South Africa called Rising Star cave. However, this remote cousin, Homo Naledi, arose much earlier,335000-236000 BCE, flourished, then died out for unknown reasons. Apparently, she had a smaller braincase and was part pre-human with some earlier Australopithecine capacities and features (Berger, 2017). Given the large number of bones stored in the cave it suggests she may have, like the much later distant Neanderthals, developed some early form of funerary rites. So she too must have had the beginnings of some self-reflection and experimented with consciousness.

We are pointing out here again that while our bodies over the millennia experimented with its capacities during these times, our minds and consciousness were also evolving and experimenting in the shifting and demanding environment of the earth from a deep stream of consciousness that moved up through this common African root-work of the species. Bone and teeth fragments, unfortunately, tell us little about the more subtle unfoldment of our brain and consciousness, but surely it was as wide, deep and revolutionary as our bodily adaptation and expansion based on this fundamental African template. This river of consciousness flowed continuously under the surface of our various adaptations and permutations over the eons. It was and is the deep structure and has paralleled our physical or morphological development. It is the tacit cognitive foundation on which, as a species, we learned how to think! This is Our African Unconscious (Bynum, 2021).

Cave drawings, figurines and other artifacts from innumerable cultures demonstrate that we were reflecting on nature, recognized and catalogued other different species, their value, behaviors and meanings, and generally were slowly emerging from our complete submergence in nature. Self-consciousness in this African template was beginning to stabilize.

Out of the Homo Sapiens Sapiens line human culture as we think of it today eventually emerged and flourished. We traveled in family groups gathering food whenever we could. In the intimate context of now deeper and more extended life, we realized and shared how the nightly life of dreaming infused our communal ritual-religious life and how family structure was fundamental to our sense of identity as individuals and as a group beyond any ‘civilization’ we were surrounded by (Bynum, 2021). This further stabilized our emergent sense of self and selfhood. By 18300 BCE among our direct African ancestors, we had learned, after millennia of observation of the tides and cycles of nature, to begin to intentionally grow our own food and plan ahead for the next cycle or year’s crop. Our populations exploded. Our small family units grew and grouped themselves into larger and larger clusters. Soon villages and settlements arose along with structures in society. We were no longer totally emersed in nature but had acquired the capacity to reflect on it and in turn reflect deeper on ourselves. Our conscious observation of nature that we harnessed began to suggest more complex ideas about ourselves and the deeper cycles of nature itself. We progressed from the burial of the dead practiced by earlier homo sapiens to speculation on the patterns of life and consciousness, the subtle continuity between the seen and unseen world. Our consciousness was doing this individually and collectively as it emerged from the deeper stream that is still a mystery today.

We began to ask who are we, who am “I”, and where do we come from, where are we going. We asked these questions as cities appeared, civilizations among us rose and fell, empires came and went, some of which have been totally forgotten except in myth and legend (Schoch,2021; Hancock and Bauval,1999). Great seers appeared from time to time to bring a deeper light into our minds and consciousness. Even today we are still astonished when satellites reveal to us long buried and forgotten temples and pyramids remaining unexcavated below the sands of Egypt holding secrets of our rise and reach for the stars (Tucker,2016). That thin current of warm dark matter that elongates and guides our organ developments in embryogenesis or emerging life and brain in our mother’s womb now allows us to contemplate the cold dark matter that seems to occupy perhaps some 93% of the matter in the universe! This is the cognitive and behavioral saga of the human brain’s capacity to experience an evolved DARK LIGHT CONSCIOUSNESS, which is the actual neural foundation of our noetic and psychospiritual intelligence (Bynum, 2012).

This is in large measure due to the fact that our neural structure itself is rooted in and evolved through a bio-luminous network of neuromelanin infused structures from the earliest days in the womb that are photosensitive or respond to and transduce light (Bynum, 2012; Barr, 1983). This may be why all our advanced spiritual and contemplative disciplines have confessed that the root of our deepest consciousness is light. Across the earth, this republic of common blood and genes sprawls with various representations from within our African template. Today we still ask these same questions amid the rich complexity of science, religion and culture. All the while the deep origins of our roots as a species have been honing and deepening our spirits.

But this should come as no surprise. We have been fascinated by this from times immemorial, with speculations of our origins ranging from the stars to the deepest seas.

Our forebears in civilizations long buried in the sands attributed our origins to all manner of things, some of them pretty wild! Some of us even today believe that woman came from the rib of a man, Adam. These diverse speculations and observations on human origins however still did share the deeper intuition that we all, despite our surface difference and values, arise from a common source or origin. To be human was to embrace these common mythos.

By the time of the great civilizations, these origin stories were codified into myth and legend. The Greeks believed their origins were with the gods of Olympus and their civilization a colony of ancient Egypt. For their part, the ancient Kemetic Egyptians believed they arose from the highlands and interior of Africa at the origins of the Nile, a belief that is now generally confirmed by modern archaeology and anthropology! In both of these, there is an implicit grasp or intuition that their very existence and deeper consciousness itself is an out poring, a flowering from an African template. Despite the surface or mere phenotypical differences and the innumerable conflicting valances among us, there exists this fundamental intuition of a mysterious origin that has something to do with Africa. When we dig deep enough it is the case not only with our physical bodies but with our very consciousness itself.

By the time of the modern era and Charles Darwin, this became the testimony of the greatest religion and mythology ever created by humankind, what we call science! Today, after thousands upon thousands of collected and collated bone and teeth fragments, decades of DNA studies, serological or blood work studies, and morphological comparisons, along with the anthropological data, it is incontestable that we have arisen from an African template. We know today from mitochondrial DNA studies that all human genes crossed in the bloodline of a single African female, the so-called ‘Mitochondrial DNA Mother of humanity ‘Eve’, on the savannahs or highlands of Africa some 150000 to 270000 years ago (Templeton,1991; Vigilant et al,1991; Hedges et al,1991). These genes may have crossed in a single African male perhaps some 188000 years ago.

These are the external markers. The internal markers, the psychic and psychological markers come by way of depth psychology and extrapolation from evolutionary neurobiology. The template of our bodies arose in Africa, worked out their essential contours there such that by the time we branched into Asia, Europe and the Americas, we needed only surface phenological adaptations to survive and flourish in diverse environments. Racial diversification as we think of it today into European, Asian, and their admixtures only began some 25000 to 30000 years ago (Diop,1991). Prior to that, on all the continents, our species Homo Sapiens Sapiens, which had been around at least 150000+ years or so, all looked phenotypically African in one of its varieties. As little as 10000 years ago the Europeans of remote England still had African features as he was adapting to the environment, i.e., thicker build and longer hair and nose to retain heat in the cold, blue and lighter eyes to see better in the fog and mists, but still had discernable African features. This was the so-called Cheddar Man (Rincon, 2018). Some disagree with this but the overall data points in this gradual direction of our originally dark-skinned ancestors as they left Africa (Barras, 2018). Such is the creative adaptive ingenuity of our family line. Yet wherever she went she carried in her genes her African template, the great tree, psychically and physically, of which all the diverse branching are beautiful expressions.

This is our African unconscious, the deep reservoir of our religious and spiritual intuitions. It forms the basis of our cognitive functioning, our dreaming mind and is the bedrock of our tacit categories of scientific intuition and artistic creativity in all its numerable ways.


Barr, F.E. (1983). Melanin: The organizing molecule. Medical Hypotheses ,11.

Barras, C. 2018. Ancient ‘dark skinned’ Briton “cheddar man” find may not be true. New scientist, February 21.

Berger, L. (2017). Almost human: The astonishing tale of a Homo Naledi and the discovery that changed our human story. National Geographic. Washington. DC.

Bynum, E.B., (2021). The African origin of familial consciousness and the dynamics of dreaming. DREAMING, 31(2),91-99.

Bynum, E.B. (2021) Our African unconscious: The black origins of mysticism and psychology. Inner Traditions and Bear Company, Rochester, VT.

Diop, C. A., (1991). Civilization or barbarism: an authentic anthropology. Lawrence Hill and Co. NYC, NY.

Hancock, G and Bauval, R. (1996). The message of the sphinx: quest for the hidden legacy of mankind. Crown Books, NY.

Bynum ,E.B. (2012). DARK LIGHT CONSCIOUSNESS: Melanin, Serpent Power and the Luminous Matrix of Reality. Inner Traditions and Bear Company, Rochester, VT.

Hedges, S.B., Kumar, S., Tamura, K., & Stoneking, M. (1992). Human origins and the analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences. Science. Vol.255, February, 737-739.

Riccon ,P. (2018).Cheddar man: DNA shows early Briton had dark skin. BBC news, February 23.

Schoch, R.M. (2021). Forgotten civilization: The role of solar outbursts in our past and future. Inner traditions. Rochester, VT.

Templeton, A.R. (1991). Human origins and the analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences. Science. Vol. 255, February, 737.

Tucker, A., (2016). Space archaeologist Sarah Parcak uses satellites to uncover ancient Egyptian ruins. Smithsonian Magazine. December.

Vigilant, L., Stoneking, M., Harpending, H., Hawkes, K., Wilson, A.C. African populations and the evolution of human mitochondrial DNA. Science. Vol.253.September.1503-1507


author page/amazon books/Edward-Bruce-Bynum

Edward Bruce Bynum, Ph.D., ABPP is the author of OUR AFRICAN UNCONSCIOUS: The Black Origins of Mysticism and Psychology

Our African Unconscious

The Black Origins of Mysticism and Psychology

Dark Light Consciousness

Melanin, Serpent Power, and the Luminous Matrix of Reality

Edward Bruce Bynum, Ph.D., ABPP is a licensed psychologist and Diplomat in clinical psychology, nationally certified in biofeedback and senior fellow in the National Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Focus is psychosomatic medicine, hypnosis and individual psychotherapy.

He is currently in private practice in Hadley Massachusetts.

He is the author of several books in psychology and poetry.

Most recent books in psychology include DARK LIGHT CONSCIOUSNESS, Our African Unconscious, The Family Unconscious and The Dreamlife of Families. New books in poetry include The First Bird, The Magdalene Poems: Love Letters of Jesus the Christ and Mary Magdalene, The Luminous Heretic, and Gospel of the Dark Orisha.

He received the Abraham H. Maslow Award from APA for “an outstanding and lasting contribution to the exploration of the farther reaches of the human spirit”.

See: Edward Bruce Bynum on Amazon, and Books.com

One thought on “The Roots Of The Human Mind: Our African Unconscious”

  1. J. A. C. says:

    “I come up the river with my laser gun”

    – Devo

    Like all of the Yoruba gods (orishas), Shango is both a deified ancestor and a natural force, both aspects being associated with a cult and a priesthood.

    The ancestral Shango was the fourth king of the town of Oyo. Oral tradition describes him as powerful, with a voice like thunder and a mouth that spewed fire when he spoke. When a subordinate chief challenged his rule, many townspeople were impressed by the subordinate’s feats of magic and deserted Shango. Defeated in the eyes of the majority of his subjects, Shango left Oyo and committed suicide by hanging himself. His faithful followers, however, claimed that he really ascended to the heavens on a chain. They claimed that his disappearance was not death but merely the occasion of his transformation into an orisha. He later took on some of the attributes of a preexisting deity, Jakuta, who represented the wrath of God and whose name continues to be associated with Shango in Cuba. Shango’s followers eventually succeeded in securing a place for their cult in the religious and political system of Oyo, and the Shango cult eventually became integral to the installation of Oyo’s kings.

    The natural forces associated with Shango are fire and lightning. His most prominent ritual symbol is the oshe, a double-headed battle-ax. Statues representing Shango often show the oshe emerging directly from the top of his head, indicating that war and the slaying of enemies are his essential attributes. The oshe is also used by Shango’s priesthood. While dancing, priests hold a wooden oshe close to their chests as protection or swing it in a wide chest-high arc. During Shango’s reign, he selected the bata drum as the specific kind of drum to be played for him. Shango is said to have played bata drums to summon storms; they continue to be used by his devotees for that purpose.

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