Ancient Physics, Modern Myths: Paul LaViolette’s Pathbreaking “Genesis of the Cosmos”

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How are we to understand such diametrically opposed interpretations of Saturn’s mythological significance? Perhaps the best explanation is that this is a consequence of the transformation of mythic themes both over time and by different cultures.  LaViolette is certainly not alone in his interpretation: In “Matrix of Creation”, Richard Heath also sees Saturn as the analogue of Seth and even Satan, the cruel personification of chaos and the symbol of time. As I’ve said, there is some justification for this view, especially if Greek mythology is our primary source. For many people, the phrases “ancient world” and “ancient mythology” are hardwired to ancient Greece, the place where “it all began”. 

When I speak of the presiding view of the ancient world, however, I am referring principally to cultures that preceded the Greeks. These earlier cultures seemed to maintain a deep commitment to the Egyptian concept of Maat, or Cosmic harmony and Consciousness Itself.  This transition was historically unique and profoundly significant:  Ancient Greece was the first great culture which disconnected from its inheritance and no longer understood its own roots.

The great demiurge or creator God of Athens was Zeus (aka, Jupiter and Marduk) who took control of the universe by overthrowing his father Saturn (aka, Ptah and Ea/Enki).  In my view, the subsequent denigration and demotion of Saturn was, among other things, the work of Athenian propaganda, the same public relations mechanism responsible for misrepresenting the Pythagoreans and the Eleatics, thus paving the way for the ascendancy of Plato (as Peter Kingsley has pointed out). 

I am oversimplifying a very complex matter in order to make the point that mythological traditions predating those that are apparently informing the interpretations of LaViolette and Heath offer a contrary view. Before deciding that these contradictory views of Saturn are ultimately irreconcilable, recall that LaViolette’s matrix of interpretation (the microcosm) is also very different from the cosmological context behind my understanding of Saturn.

Consider, as well, the following: As a composer with a passion for the foundations of mathematics and a dissatisfaction with the metaphorical incoherence of modern mathematics, I have been drawn into a prolonged consideration of number, music tuning theory, the musical mathematics of the ancient world, and ancient cosmologies/mythologies. Wishing to begin at the beginning and to proceed only on the basis of that which is inescapable, I had to unlearn everything I thought I knew.  One of the most valuable things I learned, on the other hand, was an appreciation and respect for the virtue of entertaining more than a few perspectives or viewpoints concerning any given issue. It became quite obvious that none of my “conclusions” could possibly be exclusively true, that no point-of-view could capture or express “all” of reality because all are expressions of a specific focus of attention. An inherently limited focus of attention is that which makes a point-of-view possible in the first place.

This was well-understood in the ancient world. A true spiritual culture has little use for a single, exclusive point-of-view because one point-of-view cannot encapsulate or adequately communicate the intuitive depth that lies at the heart of such a culture. While multiple perspectives cannot do this either, they can be a big improvement—acting, at the very least, as a check upon arrogance and intolerance. The ancients employed the rich multi-layered language of mythology to mirror the depth of reality because it is the most natural and efficient way of simultaneously encoding multiple “points-of-view”.

Multiple perspectives are inevitable and arguably desirable in the case of archaic mythological narratives, driven as they are by often obscure and arcane symbolism and metaphor. This language, while originally quite technical and specific, is also extremely rich, with many layers of meaningful associations. A multitude of anthropomorphic or humanized divine/semi-divine characters strut their stuff on a metaphysical stage, acting out a cosmological (or perhaps microcosmical) drama with obvious stellar implications in even more obvious “historical” garb, but with absolutely no respect for our inbred preference for a tidy chronology and unambiguous causality. Interpreting these tales, as De Santillana would say, is an uninsurable business.

Thus, even mythology cannot say it all because all of It cannot be spoken. Spiritual truth cannot be directly communicated—it can only be pointed to—encircled, so-to-speak, by multiple perspectives. The truth itself, Consciousness Itself, can only be realized by communion. And communion, as they say, is between me and my God and no one else. These days many people feign an ignorance of communion, but anyone who has established and maintained an intimate relationship with his or her cat knows perfectly well what it is.

LaViolette considers ancient mythology in a domain which forces a complete re-evaluation of the concerns and the sophistication of ancient cultures.  Only forty years ago, Hamlet’s Mill argued
that archaic mythology had exclusive cosmographic intent and significance:  it was all about the heavens, the macrocosm.  A pre-historical understanding of the precession of the equinoxes was demonstrated and an unknown, sophisticated proto-culture was cunningly implied.

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Great article Ray! 

I find this subject matter fascinating, and have read a few books on it. I have a particular love of Andrew Collins and Graham Hancock. Andrew’s recent book The Cygnus Mystery is one of my favourites.

It also fascinates me how closely some of the Hindu/Buddhist mythology echoes quantum physics, and astrophysics too. I remember being blown away when reading Capra’s Tao of Physics.
Us modern westerners are so arrogant, aren’t we, to think that we are the first ones to have found the answers.

Being an Aquarian, I am Saturn-ruled, and love structure and order! That goes contrary to what most people believe about Aquarians. I guess our idea of it jsut differs from the rest of you.. ;-)

Posted by Chandira  on  10/08  at  07:50 AM

Ancient Mythology is extremely interesting. Ever since I started playing mmo community type games I find myself wanting to know more about mythical beasts and creatures that the games put up against us. God of War really sparked my interest.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/26  at  11:24 PM
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