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The Local Images and the Universal Way

“Mythology – and therefore civilization – is a poetic, supernormal image, conceived, like poetry, in depth, but susceptible of interpretation on various levels. The shallowest minds see in it the local scenery; the deepest, the foreground of the void; and between are all the stages of the Way from the ethnic to the elementary idea, the local to the universal being, which is Everyman, as he both knows and is afraid to know. For the human mind in its polarity of the male and female modes of experience, in its passages from infancy to adulthood and old age, in its toughness and tenderness, and in its continuing dialogue with the world, is the ultimate mythogenetic zone – the creator and destroyer, the slave and yet the master, of all the gods.” – The Masks of God Vol. I (pp. 472)

Stories are like striated layers of sediment – bands of ochre bending and curving with grace, showing contours along the manifold of time, eroding from exposure to the elements, composed in the most beautiful manner, revealing hidden patterns of deepest being, interfacing the subtle and the gross, imbuing matter with meaning. As the light begins to fade and the sandstone’s golden glow warms and then cools to crimson. I ponder – most historians agree there was an upsurge in number of paintings created that correlated with the arrival of the Spanish. Many of them seem to be pleas, prayers, made as a last attempt, a way of rectifying the real and tangible fear that came with the impending change on a mass societal scale. The way of life was threatened, a way that stretched back to time immemorial. Their intuition spoke to them and they knew – they prayed and performed their rites and ceremonies. If man is a perceptive organ of nature, what was it that was speaking through the fingertips that made these marks? What is speaking through us now and more importantly – have we forgotten how to listen?

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