Posts Tagged hunter-gatherer

Vision Quests, UFO Abductions, Brainwashings, and Boot Camps: Ritual As Shadow, Part Nine — Initiation, Authentic and Inauthentic

Initiations Are Rituals to Control Experience Into Alignment with a Fear-Ridden Ego, Whereas What Is Meant to Happen WILL Happen

Initiation — Authentic and Inauthentic

The Psyche Does Not Have to Be Coaxed Into Cooperation With Ritual

The point of all this is to say that any experience or event that is meant to happen, that needs to happen, that is important will . . . from a nonmatriarchal/ nonpatriarchal perspective . . . will happen. The psyche does not have to be coaxed into giving up beneficent experiences. The unconscious does not have to be duped into helping us along. It already is us, and so cannot do otherwise. That we thought we were separate from All That Is was our big mistake — our first major fall from grace — the mistake that led to all the others (mistrust, fear, aggression, hostility).

Attempting to Control Experience—Ritual Is an Example of That—Is What Prevents Real Experience/ Spiritual Experience from Happening

So it is that all is provided in our simply allowing ourselves our spontaneous experience. What is required is simple surrender to All That Is — the combined forces of The Totality. What prevents that from happening is our continual attempts to control our experience. Whether through drugs, money, work, or ritual, the effect is the same: to flee from our spontaneity within and the blessings without, which together provide one with all one would need.

Initiation Is an Example of a Ritual Meant to Control Experience Into Alignment with a Fear-Ridden Ego

An example of how we stray from this is in the area of initiations. We feel we are “lacking” in the way we are. And so humans have, with the fallenness from the hunter-gatherer into the matriarchal and patriarchal distortions of natural experience, sought for themselves as well as devised for others, rituals whose intent is to change us in a direction that has been decided ahead of time — with our supposedly “rational” (but actually fear-ridden) ego — is a better state. It is no surprise then — considering the motives that inspire and direct these consciously structured events — that they can be reduced to the same elements of “brainwashing,” which we so deplore when we see it practiced elsewhere.

Vision Quests

Yet this does not need to be this way. This distorted form of “acting out” (which thus needs to be ritualized) our need to be initiated or to be taught into a higher place is found in pure form (minimally or totally unritualized) in the example of the Native American vision quest. In these instances the hopeful initiate simply goes out into Nature and essentially asks to be taught by All That Is.

And (should any one at this point be surprised?) very often when one does not attempt to manipulate the result, to extract or demand the blessing, Nature often does come around and cooperate — giving us exactly what is needed.

Sometimes the blessing is some “embodiment of the natural” — a “power animal” of one sort or other — who appears and does an initiation (and often instructs one in uses of the natural world — giving information on the healing uses of certain plants, for example). That is, one is initiated in a way unforeseen and into knowledge not known ahead of time, by Nature Herself, by All That Is Him/Herself.

A similar kind of thing exists in the form of the walkabout. It is no coincidence that this also is connected primarily with non-agrarian, primal cultures. The essence of these experiences, similar to the vision quest, is to throw oneself into the hands of the Universe, to learn what is deemed one needs to know, to be taught as the Forces That Be decide it . . . completely regardless of one’s egoic desires, wishes, or forethought.

Brainwashings and Boot Camps

Both vision quests and walkabouts are quite a bit different from the type of initiation ritual most often described — in both patriarchal and matriarchal cultures — in which the initiate is forcibly taken, tortured (often mercilessly), and then “indoctrinated” into the prescribed norms and codes of the elite of the culture. This sort of initiation — whether it is termed boot camp, graduate school, “primitive rite of passage,” “Communist brainwashing,” fundamentalist Christian indoctrination, or nkumbi — is an attempt at control. And the only surrendering that goes on is that of the initiate towards the human cultural agents who have taken upon themselves such a godly role of shaping and fashioning someone else’s very psyche (and thus their very experience).

But the example of vision quests, as well as the vision of my own just described and the primal-spiritual experiences of my wife and myself, demonstrate how this sort of forced and inauthentic initiation is not only not required — for the purposes of being taught and of being led into higher states — but actually precludes the real thing from happening! For obviously if one is indoctrinated into a set of societal norms, that preempts the learning of the more individualized set of norms/ instruction/ learning that might be expected to come from The Universe.

UFO Abductions, Psychedelics, and Psilocybin

Another example of what we might call “spontaneous initiation” or “non-ritualized” initiation has to do with the current and rising phenomenon of UFO abductions.

Keith Thompson’s article in the book, Spiritual Emergency, titled “The UFO Encounter Experience As a Crisis of Transformation,” points to another aspect of this idea of authentic versus inauthentic initiations and of “ritual as shadow.” Apparently, higher orders of beings and of realities have active contact with humans and initiate us into ever more evolved levels of experience.

A good example of this traditionally is, as mentioned, the Native American vision quest — where these forms of initiation are actively sought. But a more recent example is the psychedelic experimentation that was so prevalent a few decades ago. For many people this experimentation represented the same sort of active seeking of the initiation “from on high” as we observe in the vision quest.

But now we discover from Thompson and John Mack (for example, in his article, “Other Realities: The “alien abduction” phenomenon”) that UFO abductions and encounters with “extraterrestrials” can also often be seen as initiations by higher others. To this we might add Terence McKenna’s speculations, in The Archaic Revival, that psilocybin ingestion is a specific avenue for such initiation by “the Other.”

Societal Bizarro Initiations

The point is that this sort of spiritual initiation is a true initiation, an authentic initiation; it is the kind we, left to ourselves, naturally evolve to. This is contrasted with the distorted form of this initiation in cultures — especially post-neolithic ones — around the world, in which an individual is initiated into societal norms. In those initiations the true pattern — reflecting truly our real needs to grow, to transcend our selves — is supplanted by a distorted reflection of it, a mirror-image bizarro substitute.

Thus, the ‘inner’ spiritual initiation is the true initiation, and all patriarchal or matriarchal ones into societal norms (including grad schools and boot camps) are distortions of it which unfortunately supplant and therefore prevent the real thing from occurring.

We can make use of this distinction as we go about reversing the mistakes of generations past.

Continue with Consciousness Expansion Is Inevitable in Human Development … We Will Always and Everywhere Do and Be What Is Perfect: Ritual As Shadow, Part Ten — The Psyche Heals Itself

Return to “Don’t Despair. There Are Others Doing It With You, and We’re Here, Too”: Ritual As Shadow Experience, Part Eight — Always Are We Helping You

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The Second Retreat from the Natural Self — Patriarchal Culture: One Gains the World in Exact Proportion to Which One Has Relinquished One’s Soul

Ritual Is the Attempt to Control Something Symbolically, Indirectly That One Has Split Off from and Is a Poor Substitute for the Real Potential of At-one-ment with Reality

It is this attempt to control something symbolically, indirectly that is the basis of ritual…. Ritual is a poor substitute for the real potential of identifying with and acting in accord with that reality…. The tragedy is that the indirect attempt pre-empts and thus makes impossible the true relationship and true accord, the at-one-ment, that could otherwise be.

Ritual and matriarchal religion are thus the “act-outs” of our repressed identification with Nature and not a reattunement with Nature as the Goddess-religion advocates would have it. From this perspective, then, ritual is not a way of tapping into a deeper relationship with feeling and Nature, it is an avoidance of real feeling, a running away from Nature, from one’s natural self, from the real, the authentic, the genuine self, from genuine action, from spontaneous and ever-creative being-in-the-world.

The Second Retreat: Patriarchal Culture

Now, patriarchal cultures, along with their patriarchal religions, follow a parallel but different pattern from the matriarchal ones, as discussed. Whereas matriarchal cultures are associated with agricultural lifeways and thus tied to the Earth and to sedentary living, Patriarchal cultures are said to be associated originally with nomadic lifestyles. I say nomadic, but I do not wish to confuse it with the nomadic ways of the forager and hunter-gatherer cultures. Early lifeways were nomadic in the sense of following the food source. They were not nomadic by choice.

However, the nomadic cultures, and the great patriarchies, evolved on the vast plains of Eurasia where the disconnection from the land involved in animal husbandry, in particular sheep herding, gave rise to nomadic warrior lifestyles and a conquering mentality. But there are other reasons why this sort of consciousness arose.

Parallel to the matriarchal cultures splitting off from true connection with Nature as Mother—that is, adopting agriculture and thus controlling, and alternately appeasing, the Nature which they at one time followed, patriarchal cultures entail a splitting off from oneself as Father, as Spirit, and a consequent need to act out and appease those energies. To understand this better, let us back up a little bit.

In hunter-gatherer cultures, we tend to have shamans as religious practitioners. These shamans can often journey in altered states of consciousness, can journey in the cosmos so to speak. Thus, although such people, as all of us, are ordinarily limited in time and space, they have a freedom of spirit — a spiritual freedom — quite unlike anything we know.

Corresponding to this, it is true that some hunter-gatherer societies focus a great deal more on their inner states and on altered realities — their much noted concern with dreams and their dream life is an example. The notable example of this is the Australian aboriginal culture. And this involves a democratization, if you will, of shamanic experience. Everyone dreams, many go on walkabouts, or as in the case of Native American cultures, on vision quests. Many other examples of profound spiritual journeying—often involving hallucinogens—could be given that are available to most if not all members of indigenous cultures.

However, patriarchal cultures tend to be hierarchical and specialized. This means that spiritual journeying is relegated to a select few, a specialized sect of priests. The vast majority of individuals in patriarchal cultures live onerous and oppressive lives that do not allow much in the way of spiritual journeying.

Is it any wonder then that these cultures are nomadic? The usual pattern is that when some inner potential is split off from and repressed—when one disidentifies with it—that one begins acting it out in the external world. So we find that the inner potential for spiritual journeying and growing is acted out in patriarchal cultures in the form of nomadic wandering. The direct relationship with Spirit, with Father, which characterizes the hunter-gatherer, is repressed in patriarchal cultures; and Spirit and Father are projected outside of oneself where one must now seek to enter into a relationship with It.

In later centuries, nomadic wandering became nomadic invading and conquering, and ultimately imperialism. In all of these an inner journey into the self is replaced by a desire to extend one’s ego boundaries outward over greater and greater expanses of territory. The amount of territory gathered outside is equivalent to the amount relinquished inside, for what one doesn’t know inside one fears. And what one fears, one wishes to control and subjugate. So the fears of inner forces motivate the expansion outward; one projects one’s inner “unknowns” onto the vast unknown outside oneself, in the physical world of land and people, of geography and society. “What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?” is instead: One gains the world in the exact proportion to that which a man has relinquished his soul. (See Enlightenment Lobotomies – White Color Slavery… in Culture War, Class War)

Thus, in patriarchal cultures there are religions which seek to relate to and appease gods which represent their forgotten and repressed inner potentials of fate, destiny, spiritual growth, and adventure—their inner “fire.” The fire or light that one has dimmed within is sought without; one cannot help but do so. Since one cuts oneself off from one’s core creative and authentic decision-making center one feels oneself in the hands of a whimsical fate that is outside of oneself . . . and that is called Father and God, and is that which one must seek to appease.

Summary, Ritual as Symbolic Obfuscation and Addiction to Control

So the pattern is the same in both matriarchal and patriarchal cultures. It is the same pattern of disidentifying with some inner potential, repressing it, being forced to act it out symbolically in the outside world, projecting it outside of oneself as an external force or power, and then seeking to enter into a symbolic relationship with it wherein one can hope to have some indirect control over it since one has lost one’s direct relationship with it. And the reason for doing all this, in either case, is the same: It is fear, mistrust of the Universe, in either the Universe’s maternal or paternal aspects … or, of course, both.

The patriarchal person is fearful of the spiritual forces within him- or herself. Hence she or he disidentifies with them and projects them outside of him- or herself where they must be related to symbolically. The matriarchal person mistrusts the Natural world and disidentifies with It, and with the physical body which is a part of It, in an attempt to control It. In doing so, these natural forces are projected outside of oneself where they can then only be related to symbolically.

In either case, it is this attempt to control something symbolically, indirectly that is the basis of ritual. In both cases ritual is a poor substitute for the real potential of identifying with and acting in accord with that reality. And in each instance, the tragedy is that the indirect attempt pre-empts and thus makes impossible the true relationship and true accord, the at-one-ment, that could otherwise be.

Continue with Ritual As Shadow, Part Four: Ritual Is Hardly Transformation … In Actuality, We “Die” to Our Real Self and Are Remade Into Something Society Can Use

Return to Ritual As Shadow: Magic, Ritual, and Superstition Occur with the Beginnings of Ego and the Agrarian Desire to Control Nature — the Matriarchal Consciousness

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The First Retreat from the Natural Self Was Matriarchal Consciousness; It Should Hardly Be Our Goal: You Cannot “Balance” a Duality … You Can Only Transcend One.


Matriarchy Is Not an Answer to Patriarchy: Is “White Man’s” Pride and Prejudices Keeping Us from Seeing Our Real Solutions, Our Primal Return?


A Golden Age

The question that naturally arises from the preceding chapter’s conclusions on the current state of affairs and their unfortunately intractable response is, What can be done about the present crisis in consciousness? But in order to do anything about our situation, we must delve a little deeper into understanding this state of consciousness and into how it has come to be that way. A more thorough exposition of exactly that endeavor can be found in several other works of mine (The Great Reveal, Apocalypse Emergency, Apocalypse—No!, 21st Century and Its Discontents, and Adzema, 1993a, 1993b).

From Ancient Greece?

images20120115-195400For our purposes here, I would like to point out that similar conclusions to what we have arrived at about our crisis have been coming forth from many quarters of our culture in modern times. Examples are Rupert Sheldrake’s The Rebirth of Nature, Marilyn French’s Beyond Power, Theodore Roszak’s  The Voice of the Earth, Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, Richard Tarnas’s The Passion of the Western Mind, John White’s The Meeting of Science and Spirit, and Ken Wilber’s Up from Eden. Nevertheless, what almost all of these perspectives lack is a well-grounded anthropological perspective (Beyond Power being the notable exception). Their analysis of the historical process that has brought us to this pass is often heavily conditioned by a Western bias towards history which sees humanity as beginning in ancient Greece during a matriarchal “Golden Age.”

Completely overlooking, in this way, the full 99% of our specie’s history that occurred prior to that time — when we truly did live in harmony with Nature, as foragers and then hunter-gatherers — these theorists naturally come to the conclusion that our problems in consciousness arose when we switched over from a matriarchal mode of existence to a patriarchal one: That is, with the advance of nomadic patriarchal conquerors over the pastoral and agricultural “matriarchal” cultures of the Hellenic period of ancient Greece.

Matriarchal Is Not an Answer to Patriarchal

This is unfortunate because to seek to find a Golden Age in the matriarchal period has required of such writers that they completely overlook many of the obvious shortcomings of the matriarchal view. This is not to say that the matriarchal cultures may not have been more harmonious with Nature … and with their inner natures … than their patriarchal successors. That they were less violent is also true. Therefore, that matriarchal cultures were less “fallen from grace” than patriarchal ones is not something I would dispute.

What I think is crucial to make known, however, is that the matriarchal cultures themselves were also “fallen from grace”: from a previous, even more “golden” state — one which was even less violent and more harmonious with Nature. [Footnote 1]


Is “White Man’s” Pride and Prejudices Keeping Us from Seeing Our Real Solutions, Our Primal Return?

But the writers in this area are apparently unaware of the true conditions of cultures outside of or prior to the Western “royal” line. Evidently, they are still to some extent influenced by the Western conditioning which has us scapegoat and denigrate such cultures and viewpoints as “primitive,” “savage,” and “uncivilized.” Thus they have us begin our history with a supposed “Greek miracle,” where we are said to have just “awakened” from a prior collective addiction to superstition, magic, and violence.

Lawlor_iconRobert Lawlor, in his book, Voices of the First Day, is one theorist who has not made such a mistake. In fact, Lawlor’s depiction of the aboriginal Australian world view demonstrate exactly the kind of “unfallenness,” “higher consciousness,” and harmony with Reality that most “matriarchal” theorists think they are espousing. It is one that is more truly in line with what might actually be our Reality — as the cutting edges of our sciences are finally telling us … despite themselves. It is interesting how we have come full circle in this way.

The First Retreat: Matriarchal Consciousness

Nevertheless, in response to the popular “return to the matriarchy” view, it is important to point out that it is not necessarily a good thing to go to matriarchal consciousness as a way of correcting patriarchal consciousness, even if it does represent a marginally better state of affairs.  For one does not correct the problems inherent in a duality by swinging to the other end in that same duality.

You Cannot “Balance” a Duality … You Can Only Transcend One.

That approach simply reinforces that particular split, that particular duality. After all, one would not think it a good idea to go from a period of totalitarian fascism to one of complete anarchy, for example. That would only put in play the forces to create another extreme crackdown. Neither would one consider it wise to swing from an extreme of hedonistic behavior to one of anal-compulsive repression; nor would one wish to order up a period of flood to counter one of drought!

“Balancing” Opposites Is an Impossible Struggle. Only a “Conjunction of Opposites” Brings Transcendence.

Though this pendulum-swinging tendency is often observed, it is hardly a desirable thing.  So, as it turns out, neither is it an ideal solution to go from patriarchality to matriarchality — just to “balance the opposites” . . . as some matriarchal advocates espouse. For doing either of these extremes sets up and reinforces the forces at the opposite extreme, readying them for the next wild swing in the other direction! No, one can only correct a duality by transcending that duality. And transcending, by the way, involves a synthesis — that is, either a going beyond, or a going before, to a state where both elements are not opposed — to a state where there is a “conjunction of opposites,” not their continued opposition.

Primal Consciousness

Hunter-gatherer consciousness — termed paleolithic consciousness by one researcher — and especially the even earlier forager consciousness was characterized by just such a, relatively, non-dualistic acceptance of That Which Is … for the most part. Its way of life, corresponding, has been called the “original affluent society,” in that it is estimated that only four hours a day were needed for attending to survival concerns.

But a mistrust set in.  Fearfulness and intractability in the face of change followed; and hence there arose the desire to attempt to control Nature, rather than to follow Her and conform to Her rhythms.

Continued with Ritual As Shadow: Magic, Ritual, and Superstition Occur with the Beginnings of Ego and the Agrarian Desire to Control Nature — the Matriarchal Consciousness

Return to “Why Did He Do It? White Man.” It Is Only Now That His Own Demise Is at Hand That Rational Man Stops to Reflect — The Primal Return


1.  See also Matriarchy: a real solution to the shift in consciousness?

Continue with Ritual As Shadow: Magic, Ritual, and Superstition Occur with the Beginnings of Ego and the Agrarian Desire to Control Nature — the Matriarchal Consciousness

Return to “Why Did He Do It? White Man.” It Is Only Now That His Own Demise Is at Hand That Rational Man Stops to Reflect — The Primal Return

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