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Subject: Re: Public History (was Re: Cross-influences)
From: John Hooker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.
Date:Fri, 6 Oct 2006 09:53:26 -0600

text/plain (135 lines)

Hi all,

I have been reading these threads with considerable interest and some
amusement. It all seems to have started with some rather wild speculations
about diffusion -- similarities between what is seen as Celtic and remote
Pacific regions. About the only physical connection that I know about is
fairly recent: a 19th century Irish merchant seaman saw that the Yap
islanders had a hard time moving their huge stone discs that served as a
primitive currency. His solution was to suggest that they insert a long
log through the central hole to move them easier. Essentially, he
reinvented the wheel. The islanders appear to have not fully grasped the
concept and lifted the discs with the log instead of rolling them.

One of the strongest connections between Ireland and the South Sea Islands
existed on Malekula in the New Hebrides. There, a megalithic culture
existed that had a boar mythology along with a labyrinth not unlike the
spirals at Newgrange. No serious person would ever suggest a physical
diffusion between Ireland and Malekula, nor between Crete and Malekula.
Joseph Campbell, in _Primitive Mythology_ explains that their ideas about
boars were born out of the appearance and habits of the actual creatures.
They saw them as dark coloured animals fascinated with what was below the
ground, ferocious animals that had tusks shaped like the crescent moon and
so on. This gave the animals an aspect that appeared to be connected with
the underworld.

The other type of "diffusion" has been labelled "evolutionary diffusion".
I am not exactly happy with it as it has been defined, but the central
ideas are sound. People who share a very basic and core psychology whose
basis is species based rather than cultural based will develop some
similar ideas if their lives are somewhat similar and the same things
exist in the two separate environments.

In iconography, this idea is dealt with in some depth by J David
Lewis-Williams as far as the Palaeolithic in _The Mind in the cave_, _A
Cosmos in Stone_ and other works. With David Pearce, he expanded these
concepts in "Inside the Neolithic Mind" and Chapter 8 is entitled "Bru na

He sees the source of this imagery in a combination of cultural elements
and entoptic imges generated in the optic nerves and brought about through
various mmeans such as trance rites, drugs etc. Reading his books, his
personal philosophy of materialism gets in the way and thus he does not
separate brain from mind. He also seeks to explain that abstract thought
was the provenance of Homo Sapiens and did not exist before that. This is
dangerous ground and we are already seeing much in the discoveries about
Neanderthals that suggests that this species was quite capable of
abstraction. Not the least of these discoveries would be the reconstructed
musical scale revealed from the discovery of a Neanderthal flute.

Lewis-Williams ideas were adopted by John Creighton in _Visions of Power:
Imagery and Symbols in Late Iron Age Britain_. I discussed some of these
ideas with John a number of years back and suggested that while some of
the Celtic imagery might have had an entoptic origin, the source of these
icons were earllier and could well have been adopted as icons without the
need of trance by peoples long before the Celts and then transmitted
through regular cultural means. He admitted the possibility.

This brings us up to Jung and his archetypes. Most people who comment on
Jung adversley have had little direct contact with his work and Jung needs
to be studied in great depth as he is not too accessible through his
writings. He realized that and acted as editor in _Man and his Symbols_
where he gathered a number of people that he felt could communicate these
thoughts better to the public in general. The quality of these essays
varied and contained a few glaring errors. Sadly, many people who have
criticized Jung have done so merely on the basis of this popular book.

The archetypes are symbolic manifestations from the unconscious. The
unconscious, in its entirity, has no content. This is a difficult concept
but has become a little easier to understand throught the physics of David
Bohm. In fact, Jung's former student and closest friend Marie-Louise Von
Franz revealed the strong connections bewteen Jung's ideas of
synchronicity and David Bohms "implicate order" in her essay "Some
Reflections on Synchronicity" in her collection _Psyche and Matter_. It
was these principles that were not grasped by David Lewis-Williams in his
philosophically materialistic viewpoints in his studies of the San

Society contributes to the archetypes through the suppression of certain
mythic elements which, nevertheless, have impinged on behaviour and
custom. These elements have to be relatively recent and much of the
imagery that Jung discovered in his patients had its most direct source in
the 16th and 17th centuries. The alchemists, through their philosophical
processes contacted aspects of the "upper" unconscious that were close
enough to the collective consciousness to be revealed symbolically. Some
of these symbols had an earlier genesis but they were transformed
culturally by the times in which they were being experienced. To get a
feel for this processs it is an idea to read Michel Foucault's _The Order
of Things_

The best appreciation of Jung's ideas about alchemy can be obtained
through his _Psychology and Alchemy_ and _Mysterium Coniunctionis_. By
far, the best understanding of the entire phsychological theories can be
obtained through _On the Nature of the Psyche_

The archetypes consist of collections of images that have been relegated
to the unconscious through suppression and disuse. Their effects, however,
have already become part of the fabric of society. If you go deeper into
the unconscious , then you encounter even more abstracted symbols and
concepts -- quarternity, mandelas, and yes, "entoptic" imagery. To say
that these images are generated by the optic nerve and have that as their
source is to actually deny the processes of evolution where habit, over
time, changes structure. Lewis-Williams seems to imply the reverse with
structure changing habit. This is one of the faults with the materialistic
philosophy whose proponents cannot grasp the concepts behind Bohm's
physics. In this way, they are actually closer to creationists in their
mind-set although they would be horrified at the suggestion being, for the
most part, aetheists!

Finally, let's put it all together with the ideas of the triple goddess as
Jungian archetypes. For this all you need to do is to listen to Gearóid Ó
Crualaoich's talks "Hags, Queens and Wise Women: Supernatural Females of
the Irish Otherworld":

The original mythic content becomes changed over time and the archetype,
contrary to the appearance of the word itself does not mean "original
mythic form" but instead to mythic forms that have been changed over time,
through cultural processes then relegated to the upper levels of the
unconscious through disuse in some form where they interact with concepts
somewhat deeper and "energies" that cannot be be expressed at all within
the physical universe which are exactly the same as Bohm's "implicate



John's home page:
Celtic Improvisations (the on line book):
Celtic Coin Index On Line:

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