Sunday, October 19, 2014

Answers from the land of dreams

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

One very strong reason to suspect that the "Star Myth hypothesis" is correct is the predictive power of the model. If the world's mythologies and sacred traditions are in fact built upon a common system of celestial metaphor, then it should be possible to examine an unfamiliar or previously unexamined myth or sacred story and, based upon knowledge of the general system and familiarity with the types of clues that are typically present (plus familiarity with the general characteristics of the most important constellations and the characteristics of the zodiac signs) tease out the likely celestial correspondence upon which the story is built.

This is the process that I have followed in deconstructing several of the myths examined and discussed in previous posts, including the myth of Ares imprisoned in a brazen cauldron thirteen months (and rescued by Hermes), or the myth of the lustful Zeus pursuing Aphrodite unsuccessfully (and of Hermes successfully seducing Aphrodite), or the Biblical land flowing with milk and honey (heaven or paradise or the promised land).

In each of those cases, I did not know the connections when I first started looking for the celestial foundations. To my knowledge, these particular celestial connections in these particular myths have not been explicated before. When I began the analysis of the story in question, I had to look for the clues in the stories and then look in the most likely direction based upon those clues. In some of the posts linked above, I describe that process or at least indicate where the clues caused me to start looking. The post about the prophet Elisha and the two she-bears discusses the same process of analysis and discovery.

This process is not always instantaneous, and even if you have a lot of familiarity with the process and know the patterns and likely places to look based on the clues, the answer will not always be obvious at first. Sometimes, the answer may seem to elude your grasp. Sometimes, you may despair of ever unlocking the secret, and there may be some which will never divulge their secrets -- although the answer may eventually present itself in unexpected ways.

As an example, in the most recent discussion of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, I began thinking about their identity when I wrote an earlier post in which I wanted to demonstrate how the metaphorical or allegorical or celestial or gnostic understanding of the ancient sacred stories tends to unite humanity (because it teaches that these metaphors demonstrate a truth which applies to each incarnate man or woman), while the literal interpretation which has predominated exegesis of the ancient texts often tends to divide humanity (such as has historically happened with the story of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, with scholars trying to determine which sub-sets of humanity are descended from Shem, which from Ham, and which from Japheth, often using their conclusions to support institutionalized racism -- which would be impossible to do if it were recognized that these three characters are each groups of stars).

In that post showing that the sacred celestial metaphors actually refute racism and sexism, the celestial foundations of the story of Adam and Eve and the Serpent as well as the celestial identity of Noah (the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth) were presented as strong arguments that these stories cannot be used to support racist or sexist ideologies.

However, and at the time that I wrote that particular post, I had not yet reached a conclusion as to the possible celestial identities of Shem, Ham or Japheth! I knew that if Noah was a celestial figure and thus allegorical or metaphorical, then it stands to reason that Shem, Ham and Japheth are also metaphorical and cannot be used to argue for the actual literal origin of one subset of humanity versus another (well, they can and they have been used to argue that way, but if Shem, Ham and Japheth are celestial than it is pretty clear that such arguments are badly mistaken). But as of October 14th, I still did not know which constellations or groups of stars might correspond to Shem, Ham and Japheth. As far as I could tell, there were no discussions of their celestial identity from any of the previous researchers who have examined the celestial connections of the ancient myths.

When I went to sleep on the night of October 14th, I still had no idea what the connection might be.  But then a strange thing happened: I woke up in the morning of October 15th and knew exactly who they were. I had been awake for about fifteen minutes or so and the whole picture presented itself. My mind must have been working on the question through the night, and received the answer from the mysterious world of dreams (or the subconscious, as we usually refer to it today). That solution to the identities of Shem, Ham and Japheth is offered for the reader's consideration in the post entitled "Shem, Ham and Japheth" along with illustrations and reasons why I believe it is probably the celestial pattern for the story.

I have of course heard of other examples of this phenomenon, in which solutions to problems we cannot seem to solve in our waking hours present themselves almost miraculously in a dream, but this particular incident was the first time I have experienced it myself to such a degree that I could say for certain that I did not have the information when I went to sleep and I did have it when I woke up the next morning. Unlike some of the examples from history, I do not remember any actual dreams related to the question at all -- the answer was simply there in the morning, once the fog of sleep started to clear away.

Historical examples abound of people who were trying to solve various questions and report receiving the answer in dreams or in their sleep, or in day-dreams in which they "saw" the answer (suggesting that they were at least partially slipping into the dreamworld or a slightly different state of consciousness than the "alert problem-solving" state). The most famous of these is probably the discovery of the structure of the benzine ring, by August Kekule, who reported that he finally saw the solution to the elusive question of the chemical structure of benzine one day in 1865 when he slipped into a sort of reverie and received a vision of a snake seizing its own tail in its mouth (the famous ancient symbol of the ouroboros, which also has a clear celestial analog, as discussed in The Undying Stars).

Other examples which might be offered of this fairly well-known and accepted phenomenon include the work of the mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887 - 1920), who apparently credited some or even most of his numerous mathematical breakthroughs to visitations in dreams of a particular  manifestation of the goddess Lakshmi (a daughter of Durga or an aspect of Durga) who was his family's protective goddess, and who would appear to him in his sleep and would sometimes write formulas on a sort of "screen formed by flowing blood, as it were" -- formulas which he would remember in the morning and would then verify with his own analysis.

It is interesting to note as an aside that this particular aspect of the goddess Lakshmi has a husband who is a powerful lion-man deity (this is significant because Virgo follows Leo through the night sky, and Durga and many other goddesses who are almost certainly manifestations of the sign of Virgo ride on the backs of a lion or are pulled in a chariot by lions or sit on a throne flanked by one or more lions).

As unbelievable as it may sound that Ramanujan would receive information in his sleep which he would then set to work verifying in an "alert problem-solving" state of consciousness the next day, I can now say that this is very similar to the experience I recently had with the solution I received to the question of the identity of Shem, Ham and Japheth: the solution was there in the morning when I woke up, but I still had to take the time to verify that it made sense given the constellations and the scriptural passage in question (and I believe that it makes perfect sense, based on numerous additional points of confirmation that I discovered in my "waking" examination of the solution that had come to me in the night).

There are many, many more examples that could be offered of this same phenomenon, including musicians who report that memorable songs came to them in dreams, writers of fiction who report gaining inspiration for a novel in dreams, and inventors who report receiving a dream-vision that solved some knotty problem with an invention that they were working on.

I believe that this phenomenon can be clearly seen to be related to the subject of the shamanic worldview discussed in numerous previous posts -- a worldview, in fact, which I believe to lie at the heart of what the world's sacred celestial traditions were trying to convey to us. While it is possible to debate some of the finer points of the shamanic worldview, it is probably safe to assert that it includes the belief in a realm which is beyond the material realm, and the belief that it is sometimes necessary to make contact with the other realm in order to gain information which cannot be gained through other means, or to make changes which will impact the material realm and which cannot be effected through any other method.

It is quite possible that we all encounter some aspect of this other realm when we dream, and even when we "day-dream" or slip into a "reverie" or dream-like state while still technically "awake" (as with the incident reported by August Kekule and the vision of the serpent  biting its own tail). It is notable that the "other realm" of the shamanic worldview is described in many different ways in many different cultures, but that in the Aboriginal cultures of Australia it is most often described by the name of Dreamtime.

I believe that this discussion of solutions which arrive through contact with the non-material realm of dreams or waking reveries also relates directly to the essay on metaphor published over at the Selfless Self Help website (see link and discussion here), because in both cases there is a sort of "sudden crossing" of a barrier or a chasm between "not knowing" and "knowing" -- and what is more, the crossing of that gap depends upon the ability to transcend the strictly literal or material or physical realm. A metaphor requires the mind to "see beyond" the literal sense of the metaphor, to "break free" of the bounds of the literal thing being described by the metaphor. Going into a dream-state, of course, also involves letting go of the conscious grip on the literal or material world, and slipping off into a non-physical and decidedly non-literal world instead.

Even further, it should be noted that this entire subject seems to directly support some of the points that Graham Hancock made in his powerful TED talk entitled "The War on Consciousness," in which he argued that some states of consciousness are accepted and encouraged and "privileged" in modern western society, while others are rejected and ridiculed and marginalized -- and that there is a real danger and a real imbalance in this regrettable situation.

Finally, I must point out that I am not offering this recent experience regarding the receiving of a solution to the celestial identity of Shem, Ham and Japheth overnight in order to try to hold myself or my experience up as special: on the contrary, I find it somewhat embarrassing to have to admit that I was really pretty much stumped on the solution to the riddle and that the answer basically came to me from "somewhere else" with no "conscious effort" on my part. However, I am taking the risk of describing how this happened because I think the entire subject is actually a very important one, and after all if Kekule and Ramanujan (and many others) can admit that their discoveries came from the realm of dreams, we can all feel secure that this phenomenon is nothing that we need to be afraid to talk about.

Perhaps many or even most readers can think of a time in their own lives (or even multiple times) when something similar happened to them. It is a phenomenon which certainly seems to have many important ramifications, and one worth pondering very carefully.