I have decided to add a tentative conclusion to this blog’s central post: its explanation of Graves’ and Jung’s system. Back before I retired from university, my students often asked questions that amounted to the query: if this is true, what is the big picture it offers. Here is an attempt at that:
If I understand correctly from anecdotes about Graves I have heard, his assumption was that the driving force behind people’s moving to higher levels of complexity was just the failure of the lower ones. When a problem was insoluble at one’s present level, one either went to simpler levels (usually at least as useless against it) or one changed to a higher level, which offered more resources for a solution.
In contrast, Jung saw the process as more mysterious and explicable (if at all) only in the language of myth and metaphor. In his spirit, I am about to launch into a myth or metaphor–or should I call it a meta-myth or meta-metaphor, because it seems to lie behind many actual myths or metaphors.
Once upon a time–back in what the original Australians called the Dream Time–the universe came into existence, moving into perhaps infinite diversity, but still held together by forces of interconnection. Science gives such terms as gravity to the interconnection, but in the language of myth and metaphor, all is presumed to be sentient and so the interconnection receives such titles as Love, God, Truth, etc.
Here’s where the drama arises. Diversity and interconnection conflict. In order to foster the former, one tries to ignore or resist the interconnection which is constantly remaking one to fit the whole. In other words, it can be accepted as love making but is more likely to be resisted as rape.
For most people this conflict remains largely unconscious, but some sensitive souls–we are talking myth so I can use the word “souls”–feel it in varying degrees and more some days than others. Presume that, like most energies, both the interconnection and the resistance come in waves. And the tension thereby produced has a major effect on people’s bodies as well (or worse) an affect on their emotions. In this myth, it is the cause of all disease, war, terrorism, etc. In particular, conservatives are terrified, horrified, disgusted by the threat of being connected to despised others and consequently fight to prevent this.
As we have been seeing from the various stages or levels of complexity, everything is perceived differently at one level than another. So also with this conflict.
Level 1: Being pre-linguistic, this level cannot articulate its internal conflict, but nonetheless probably feels it. We may thus wonder to what extent a dry, well-fed, otherwise physically sound baby’s crying reflects its emotional or even psychic attunement to its environment, certainly to quarrels in the family. But what beyond that in the wider world or universe?
Level 2: Here we find the planet-wide patterns of shamanism. The most common is that the internal call to be a shaman is at first resisted, leading to an almost fatal illness. Recovery requires accepting the interconnection and using it for clairvoyance and healings.
Level 3: Here the fledgling ego particularly resents interconnection, seeing it as possession or abduction. The spirits drive one mad. Zeus takes little Ganymede away to molest him. Comparably, the fairies abduct mortals, often for comparable purposes in the adult versions of the stories.
Level 4: Since Level 4 tends to codify what it inherits from lower levels, it perpetuates fears of demonic possession and turns to exorcisms based on holy texts. But since, like Level 2, Level 4 is an even and thus social Level, some mystics undergo the pains of self-transformation comparable to shamans and become “saints.”
Level 5: As Graham Hancock argues in his book Supernatural, an estimated 2% of the population believe they have had experiences of being abducted and subjected to change, often taking a sexual form, even to the production of hybrid offspring. Hancock points out similarities between reports of these beliefs and those of rustics about being abducted, painfully changed, and used for reproduction by fairies. He finds comparable stories in tribal societies, particularly in connection to shamanic initiation and he interprets cave paintings as records of such shamanic initiations. Alien abduction thus stands as the Level 5 metaphor–its way of ascribing the transforming process of interconnection to extraterrestrials–the primary metaphor of science fiction: L5s mythology.
L6: Here people begin to be more conscious and accepting of interconnection. If they talk of aliens, these are of the E.T. sort. People form support groups and share their metaphors, drawing also on the myths and metaphors of other cultures. They now can ask, is my Kundalini arising? Is that Divine Serpent creeping up my spine, linking me to Universal Creativity, Intelligence and Love? Are my pains at this just my resistance to a process that may not be all bad?
L7 and Beyond: That is what I have been trying to trace in the above–the very large picture, just large enough to exceed easy articulation and always needing more data. If you have contributions to figuring this out, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.