Art is intended to guide society. Our early development as a species was principally based upon art, language and imagination. To our ancestors there would have been no barrier between the real and the imagined.
In the first place ‘Art’ was our sacred science, and the guiding force of culture…
Let me explain….
Cave paintings are some of the oldest forms of art in the world. There are many beliefs as to what they represent; including ideas about hunting and ceremonial rites, to the depiction of contact with extraterrestrial species. However, I have had many remarkable experiences with cave paintings, megaliths and petroglyphs, and this has led me to a conclusion regarding the practical nature of these early means of communication.
While man was developing the power of speech and self-reflection – along side there would have been the development of a stronger need to communicate through other forms such as drumming. It is perfectly possible that cave painting developed out of verbalization
The early experience of man was ‘Band’ culture. This is the form of society that existed before tribal societies grew up. From the beginning these societies were hunter-gatherers, but primarily they would have been nomadic in nature. With the need to hunt comes the need to move around with your prey. In north-west Europe – it is a widely documented fact, that the tribes of the British Isles, had very pronounced migration routes. In particular between Ireland, the north of England and Scotland – the Picts, Celts and the Scots, occupying various different regions throughout history. The prehistory of Britain would likely have been no different. This idea of migration can be extended throughout Europe. During the period just after the building of Stonehenge, for instance it is documented that a culture arose of itinerant Magi. Travelling around Europe with brass conical hats (much like wizards hats) these druids, possessed information regarding the movement of the heavens – knowledge which prior to this point would have been built inherently into the megalithic structures. These events happened upon the entering of the agrarian age, where for the first time societies were focusing more on growing crops and as such had the need to settle in one place for the first time. Prior to this the tribes of north west europe would have been no strangers to migration. The megalithic structures that were built before this time were generally aligned with stars. In fact most ancient monuments have some connection with the heavens. But whatever the nature of the knowledge these Structures were a means of relaying information – art represented a means of communication. But communicating what exactly?
In the first place – the very earliest form of art were handprints on cave walls. These were dated to some 40,000 years ago. Hand stencils have been found in various parts of the world from, Timpuseng cave Sulawesi, Indonesia to Cueva de las Manos located Perito Moreno, Argentina. The earliest known cave paintings/drawings of animals were at least 35,000 years old, these too found in caves in the district of Maros, located in Bantimurung district, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. The earliest figurative paintings in Europe date back to the Aurignacian period, approximately 30,000 to 32,000 years ago, and are found in the Chauvet Cave in France, and in the Coliboaia Cave in Romania.
There are also similar later paintings in Africa, Australia and South America, continuing until recent times in some places. There is a tendency worldwide for open air rock art to supersede deep cave paintings.
However these hand stencils, were more than just a means of self-reflection and self-identification. Rather they were a means of identifying yourself to others. They were a signature to allow others to know who had been present at a specific place at a specific time. People who knew you, would have also know your handprint, and from this your whereabouts. Keeping track of each others movements in this early age would have been of vital importance. This information could have been mapped by leaving these markings. Also the movements and quantity of availability of game – marked in codes known only to the other members of the tribe. This would account for animal depictions seen in some of the earliest paintings.
To some extent there would have been a link to the spiritual side of the existence for the tribe. In as much as these stencils and paintings were a description of their outer world – they would have undoubtedly been also a representation of the inner world. Perhaps visions of prey, hunting and actual places or event were depicted as the same reality. For our ancestors there was no little or no separation from the spirit; very different from our postmodernist approach of seeing spiritual practice as something separate from the rest of your life. Early man would have lived in accordance with the spirit – an existence uncorrupted and undivided by the passage of time.
So knowing where your friends family and allies were – would been an essential strategy for survival. I have no doubt – that this ritual became quite a developed science and subsequently an “art”, to the people of the Neolithic period. It would have developed alongside the growth and development of their civilisation. Bringing in more elements of ritualistic practice into sacred space. Making it more a representation of the abstract rather than the physical world. The need to map the outer world becoming less important over time as the balance tipped towards the metaphysical, as man’s success was assured.
But for the early ancestors looking to the stars for guidance – was also a cause and inspiration for how they decorated their world – perhaps they imagined messages from the gods written into the code of the celestial bodies and mapped the heavens as a direct guidance for their well-being and development too.
~ Toltec Warrior
Yopo snuff or Anadenanthera peregrina is a psycho-active substance prepared and used by The Yanomamo (Yah-no-mah-muh) tribe of the Amazon regions of Brazil and Venezuela. Also called the Yanomami, and Yanomama, they are deep jungle Indians believed to be the most primitive, culturally intact people in existence in the world. They are literally a stone age tribe.
I was in Nevada visiting friends. We had spoken about doing a Yopo trip when I came out to visit them. And just as planned we headed out to the desert at night fall. Arriving at the canyon were going to stay we set up camp and lit a fire. This particular Canyon just outside Las Vegas, is noted for it Petroglyphs and cave paintings, it seems like a very ancient site.
After sorting some food and a hot drink, we sat by the fire. The mood was quiet and medative. I could feel the energy of this place and my feeling was that this was a sacred place. I listened to the silence and entered into slight trance which I saw as a positive omen. I used the opportunity to pray to the ancestors and to the spirit of the Yopo herself.
After asking for advice, guidance and protection, we set about discussing how much Yopo we were going to take. My companion had tried this batch on a previously occasion but it became clear that the dose had been too large. So I placed a small amount of the substance on a flat surface and snorted it. Not wanting to make the same mistake, my companion took half the amount.
At first nothing seemed to happen but then in a wave which seemed to come sweeping across the desert floor from in front of me – Yopo came and gripped me. I felt like I was suddenly covered in a blanket. The next thing I noticed was that we were surrounded by something like a caged dome although it was not to imprison. It rested on the desert floor and we were somehow inside this huge structure. The cactus and plants that were around were all dancing in the fire light. The cactus’ took the appearance of somehow not being real but rather cardboard cut outs. It was at this point I also noticed we were not alone. A host of different entities had come to call. The first type I notice due to their unmistakable size was that Atlantean giants were moving in. Passing right through where we were sat near the fire, these beings were 18ft tall, dark stony figures obvious against the night sky. I was a little unnerved at this point but recollected myself and I gazed at the scene once more. These Atlantean Toltec giants were so exactly like the giants that stand at top of Quetzalcoatl’s Pyramid in Tula Mexico, as to be indistinguishable from them.
I was then rushed by a different type of inorganic being smaller and brighter. This seemed to open me up even further and in astonishment, I realised just how many beings had gathered around us. As I focused on each type of inorganic being the next would reveal itself to me. There were a host of different entities maybe 5 or 6 types including the giants. But also on the edge of the firelight I saw the ancestors gathered. These were smallish red people, wearing red squares of material covering their private parts and painted up ceremonially – they were sort of checking me out whenever I remembered them and turned to look. They peeked out at me from the desert night making odd gesture now and again, as I took turn to look at them.
I looked into the sky and saw what was like a mother ship sliding in from the north – it was kind of like a sheet or film that covered the sky but had definite size, direction and purpose. It was like a diamond shape. The MATRIX was then lowered down over me and what seemed like a probe of a luminous fibre came down and engulfed me making me puke. I snorted out the Yopo from my nostrils and within about 20 minutes I was down completely. We explored the caves and the canyon. The really extraordinary thing that we discovered was that within the cave a short distance from where we were camped there was a stone approximately the shape of the matrix that had descended. It was pitted with carved regular sized indentures all over the surface. There was also a square on the cave wall, carved with the same indentures and cave paintings of what looked like beings.
I was surprisingly calm throughout the experience; probably the overwhelming nature of the Yopo. But even when the Atlanteans Toltec warriors decided it would be fun to pick the fire up to demonstrate their size I was not afraid. Throughout the experience, I was constantly reassured: “there is nothing here that is going to harm you”.