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
“It is getting dark. The world is very strange at this time of the day. We are very noticeable here and something is coming to us. It may seem to be wind to you, because wind is all you know. Here it comes. Look how it is searching for us. It’s something that hides in the wind and looks like a whorl, a cloud, a mist, a face that twirls around. It moves in a specific direction. It either tumbles or it twirls. A hunter must know all that in order to move correctly.
To believe that the world is only as you think it is, is stupid. The world is a mysterious place. Especially in the twilight. This can follow us. It can make us tired or it might even kill us. At this time of the day, in the twilight, there is no wind. At this time there is only power.
If you would live out here in the wilderness you would know that during the twilight the wind becomes power. A hunter that is worth his salt knows that, and acts accordingly. He uses the twilight and that power hidden in the wind. If it is convenient to him, the hunter hides from the power by covering himself and remaining motionless until the twilight is gone and the power has sealed him into its protection.
The protection of the power seals you like in a cocoon. A hunter can stay out in the open and no puma or coyote or slimy bug could bother him. A mountain lion could come up to the hunters nose and sniff him, and if the hunter does not move, the lion would leave. I can guarantee you that.
If the hunter, on the other hand, wants to be noticed all he has to do is to stand on a hilltop at the time of the twilight and the power will nag him and seek him all night. Therefore, if a hunter wants to travel at night or if he wants to be kept awake he must make himself available to the wind.”
Journey to Ixtlan Carlos Castaneda
In the first place to see beyond the illusion, is to not trust perception. To understand that the world is a description; a form of language created by the thought of self-reflection. And knowing that by ending this internal dialogue, in order to enter into inner silence and create a shift in awareness, that gives rise to a new perspective and an altered consciousness is to break the ties with perception.
While I am capable of dreaming, stalking is my predilection. I have probably dreamed to the sixth gate of dreaming, in as much as I have woken up in a place I did not go to sleep. Waking up in broad day light some where you did not go to bed is a surprising act to say the least.
Within dreaming we learn much about ourselves and the world – the message as it is received is metaphorical, a reflection of our waking experience; a prognostication. The same being said of our waking experience of course. But only by bringing these worlds together can we hope to understand the message that nature sends…
..seeing energy as it flows through the universe
with the techniques that Don Juan taught this is all possible,
Don Juan stated that man exists within just one world; foolish to believe otherwise. And yet this world is constructed of many layers like an onion each layer an entirely separate world within itself. The “whole” is fragmented and broken down into myriad layers creating separate worlds of perception. And everything we experience is polar opposites – light and dark, night and day, male and female, waking and dreaming and so on.
This is the unravelling – the questioning of reality: are we experiencing duality or non-duality in actual fact? Well the trickster mind sees only a separation.
Everything is in reality is “ONE PARTICLE”- The original thought – the particle splits creating the infinite whole. Creation is a convergence and the splitting of the aspect of the ONE – ONE CONSCIOUSNESS so to speak, the ONE AWARENESS – broken down and fractured into myriad of layers – where ever you look the divergence occurs – the light is sent through a prism and we no longer experience everything as it is.
INTENT is the driving force of evolution, the unfolding of reality and the nature of the UNIVERSE/MULTI-VERSE
Once we start tapping into intent – we are twirled – picked up by the force of the Spirit and flung into entirely new worlds – a difference attention then with a changed awareness – this is the shift; the movement into the 2nd attention. For me the world of the “tonal” or 1st attention as it is called ceased at this point. It fell away became unfamiliar, no longer home. With this shift, I was then in the world of the ‘unknown’ the 2nd attention or the “nagual.” And this is the place one must make your stand! We are confronted with the thought – of arrival and no way back. Only by realizing this can we make a viable experience of our existence. And knowing this we must continue into the unknowable with a chance at freedom – the ultimate goal. So relentlessly we press on. Until there is another break and shift in reality – I found myself in the 3rd attention, the place of “silent knowledge” through stalking in the waking moment – as is my predilection.
But we occupy only one world. Dreaming then is an extension of the waking reality and only by merging these experiencing into ONE is there a way to continue back into the light of being. Reversing the prism, working back through to the beginning – sending the dreaming double the other way!
It is in dreaming that we discover our potential – and so in dreaming we realize the infinite nature of our being. But waking reality is the place where we stop the world – through a repeated breaking down and reconstituting of our existence. By collapsing the world – stopping the internal dialogue – smashing the mirror of our self-reflection and a great deal of recapitulation – we break the ties with perception. With detachment and sobriety we push on; personal power lending the force required to bring ourselves back together again. The waking and dreaming experience merge as we remember – recapitulating the whole of our being into the one. Creating an existence in both places. And bringing back integrity to the self.
The road is long and hard, and as with any long journey the only way is to put your head down and keep going. Perhaps with an initial burst of energy in the beginning – a blessing from the earth; a wishing you well and on your way to the place of infinity.
The shaman is by no means the chief of the tribe. He is the one who is somewhat removed, even commonly living separately from the rest of the community. This person has the responsibility for the spiritual well-being of the group. Shamans are intermediaries between the human world and that of the spirits. Shamans treat individuals by healing the soul, alleviating traumas and removing foreign bodies that afflict the spirit and restoring the physical body to balance and well-being. Shamans may visit other worlds or dimensions to obtain guidance from the spirits, bringing back information that will benefit the whole community.
“Shamanism is really applied animism, or animism in practice. Because Nature is alive with gods and spirits, because all aspects of the cosmos are perceived as interconnected – the universe consisting of a veritable network of energies, forms and vibrations – the shaman is required as an intermediary between the different planes of being….
…We can define shamanism as a person who is able to perceive this world of souls, spirits and gods, and who, in a state of ecstatic trance, is able to travel amongst them, gaining special knowledge of the supernatural realm. He or she is ever alert to the intrinsic perils of human existence, of the magic forces which lie waiting to trap the unwary, or which give rise to disease, famine or misfortune. But the shaman also takes the role of an active intermediary – a negotiator in both directions. As American anthropologist Joan Halifax points out: ‘Only the shaman is able to behave as both a god and a human. The shaman then is an inter species being, as well as a channel for the gods. He or she effects the interpretation of the diverse realms.'”
Shamans are called to their vocation in differing ways. For some it is a matter of ancestral lineage or hereditary bonds which bring them in to the position to seek initiation from an already established shaman. In other cases it would seem that the spirits rather choose the shaman. To begin with, as children or young adults, shamans are often of a nervous disposition and may be strangely withdrawn from society. Anthropologist Ralph Linton is quoted as saying: “The shaman as a child usually shows marked introvert tendencies. When the inclinations become manifest they are encouraged by society. The budding shaman often wanders off and spends a long time by himself. He is rather anti-social in his attitudes and is frequently seized by mysterious illnesses of one sort or another”.
The Cukchee peoples of Siberia believe that a future shaman can be recognised by ‘the look in the eyes’ which are not directed towards a listener during a conversation but seemed fixed on something beyond. The eyes also have a strange quality of light, a peculiar brightness which allows them to see the spirits and those things hidden form the ordinary person. Waldemar Bogoras, who studied the Chukchee at first hand, provides a context for this occurrence: “The shamanistic call may come during some great misfortune, dangerous and protracted illness, sudden loss of family or property. Then the person, having no other services, turns to the spirits and claims their assistance.”
With the concept of the vocation of the shaman being born out of trial and crisis, a natural comparison can be drawn from the experience of the shaman compared to that of a Schizophrenic. The parallels between shaman and schizophrenic are obvious, and it is the view of Julian Silverman, a leading proponent of this theory that suggests the difference between the Schizophrenic and the Shaman is that in some way the Shaman is sanctioned by the community; ‘institutionally supported’ where as the condition of the Schizophrenic is seen as an aberration. A description of Schizophrenia makes clear the striking similarity between the two cases: “The experience which the patient undergoes is of the most awesome, universal character; he seems to be living in the midst of struggle between personified cosmic forces of good and evil, surrounded by animistic enlivened natural objects which are engaged in ominous performances that it is terribly necessary – and impossible – to understand.” The clear distinction between the shaman and the schizophrenic however seems to be that although they both share the same ability to move between different states of consciousness, the shaman is able to integrate these states into his role within the community and as such is able to bring this ability under control.
Mircea Elaide a scholar of comparative religion is quoted as saying: “The primitive magician, the medicine man, or the shaman is not only a sick man; he is, above all, a sick man who has been cured, who has succeeded in curing himself. Often when the shaman’s or medicine man’s vocation is revealed through an illness or epileptoid attack, the initiation of the candidate is equivalent to a cure.” Elaide also goes on to say in hiss book ‘Birth and rebirth’: “The shamans and the mystics of primitive societies are considered – and rightly – to be superior beings; their magico-religious powers also find expression in an extension of their mental capabilities. The shaman is the man who knows and remembers, that is, who understands the mysteries of life and death.”
Ancient man came together in tribal social groups. ‘Tribe’ is described by theorists as representative of a stage in social evolution intermediate between bands and states. A Band society being the simplest form of human society. Tribalism had a very adaptive effect on human evolution as humans are social animals, and ill-equipped to live on their own. Neolithic man gathered himself into these small groups to provide himself with the greatest opportunities for survival. Through anthropology we know these ancient societies are the basis for the modern indigenous shamanic cultures of today. The means by which a successful hunt was achieved was through the shaman who would enter into states of non-ordinary reality/states of ecstasy, in order to deliver information to the tribe about the hunt from omens gained from the spirit world. The hunt was of utmost importance to Neolithic man living in these tribal/shamanic societies and cave paintings are an early example of a means by which the shaman could present these omens in a practical pictorial form to the rest of the tribe. The shaman is then the ancient of EVOLUTION, he is the catalyst to our early development. He is the one who saw us through these difficult times and enabled man to grow and develop. In a sense the foundation of modern culture itself. Had we not survived these harder times there would be no civilization to this day.
There is a genetic predisposition for both the calling of the shaman and the schizophrenic – two sides of the same coin if you like. People with mental illnesses are renowned for their artistic ability, it almost seen in some cases as their only redeeming factor. There are examples of success stories where mental illness is concerned. Generally in cases where the person seems to have ‘found their niche’ – the mental illness is deemed controlled and can even it seems be of benefit to the community, if not the sufferer. Like for instance the case of perhaps an executive with bi-polar disorder who for at least a period is able to make incredibly courageous decisions that benefit the company. Think also of the many artists who have suffered mental illness, Van Gogh is an obvious example. Surely a throw back to a time when the creation of art would have been an absolute necessity to the survival and guidance of the group. Art is fundamentally a means of pushing back the barriers of reality – a way of exploring the world and the universe. It is a means of communicating the very nature of reality and by pointing out its flaws a means of correction of culture and civilization. Modern art still performs the function of informing and enriching society, perhaps now in a more sophisticated way but still the purpose to heal the community in some way in these abundant times as well; as it was in the beginning with early man.
Modern man has the same dispositions as he always had namely:- the same instincts for survival, the same genetic make up and the same needs and requirements for living on the planet. People with mental health disorders especially schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, I believe are those who possess this same genetic disposition to altered states of consciousness that were so beneficial to early man. They are the link to our past and the spirit yet they are diagnosed as unwell, locked up in mental institutions, and medicated being shunned by society. It was this very connection with the spirit that was established by such people who enabled us to survive ice ages, cross the ice floes and allowed civilisation to flourish as it has. What a difference from the role of the shaman in tribal society where they are still revered and esteemed – The Catalyst of our Evolution is being rejected.
Most aspects of human biology involve both genetic (inherited) and non-genetic environmental) factors. The mapping the human genome has allowed an exploration of subtle genetic influences on many common diseases. Schizophrenia is one of those illness that has been investigated as having possible genetic cause. It is suggested that schizophrenia is a condition of complex inheritance, with many potential genes each of which has a small effect, with different pathways for different individuals. Due to difficulties of diagnosis and the complex nature of the condition, involving many genetic and environmental factors, there is some disagreement in particular cases whether it can be termed a genetic disorder. Some have suggested that several genetic and other risk factors need to be present before a person becomes affected but this is still uncertain. Schizophrenia is identified by abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality. It most commonly manifests as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking with significant social or occupational dysfunction. Onset of symptoms typically occurs in young adulthood, with around 0.4-0.6% of the population affected. Diagnosis is based on the patients self-reported experiences and observed behavior. No laboratory test for schizophrenia currently exists.