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Six thousand years ago humanity witnessed a gigantic stellar explosion in the southern constellation of Vela. It’s luminosity was of such a magnitude that for many months its brilliance was to even outshine the moon, appearing, depending upon the season, as either an awesome light source by night or as a smaller second sun by day.
As cosmic gamma rays unleashed by this cataclysm rained down on Earth, subtle spontaneous genetic mutations began to show themselves in the form of new hybrid plants such as the cherry and apricot tree, and in a broadening out of variations within such breeds of livestock as the boar and goat, giving rise to what today we would recognise as the pig and sheep.
The increase in the level of X-ray bombardment was sufficient to produce a significant rise in the temperature of the atmosphere, enough to cause substantial melting of the polar ice caps and a rising of global sea levels. It is entirely feasible that this climatic change was so dramatic in its effects that large portions of the antarctic ice shelf may have slid over the lubricant of melted water, causing gigantic tidal waves across the southern oceans.
The psychological impact of the mere apparition of this stellar outburst would have undoubtedly been overwhelming; indeed it has been speculated that perhaps we owe the very birth of modern civilisation to its occurance. For contemporaneous with this event came bursting forth the first and greatest of the ancient civilisations, the Sumerians, followed in quick succession by similar flowerings in Egypt, India and China. This development being further nourished by waves of technological innovation sweeping down from the peoples of the north, none more transcendant than breakthroughs in the science of metallurgy.
“With stunning abruptness there appears in this little Sumerian mud garden – as though the flowers of its tiny cities were suddenly bursting into bloom – the whole cultural syndrome that has since constituted the germinal unit of all the high civilisations of the world. And we cannot attribute this event to any achievement of the mentality of simple peasants. It was actually and clearly the highly conscious creation (this much can be asserted with complete assurance) of the mind and science of a new order of humanity, which had never before appeared in the history of mankind; namely the professional, full-time, initiated, strictly regimented temple priest.”
Joseph Campbell The Masks of God
The Sumerians gave us all the basic building blocks of modern civilisation.
“Indeed, as we contemplate the great Sumerian civilisation, we find that not only are our morals and our sense of justice, our laws and architecture and arts and technology rooted in Sumer, but the Sumerian institutions are as familiar, so close. At heart, it would seem, we are all Sumerians.”
Zecharia Sitchin The Twelfth Planet
For the Sumerians, and one has to understand that its city states contained ten of thousands of free citizens, the largest known settlement prior to this being at Catyl Hyak where we estimate no more than eight or nine hundred, the impetus for this leap forward came through directly felt, divine intervention.
Beside the light from the supernova exploding in Vela …. which incidentally is now the small pulsating radio source Vela X, whose discovery by modern astonomers initially caused world wide speculation of contact with extraterrestials …. the Sumerians record the landing of the Nefilim , the first of whom was named Enki or Ea, the serpent god, mankind’s benefactor and bringer of knowledge. According to the Sumerians he, initially a she, was the first emmisary of an immortal race of beings whose task it was to aid humanity in the preparation of a garden fit for gods to walk in. A scout for a fleeing party of extraterrestrials no doubt? Seeking a port of call safe from the deadly radiation of the supernova.
According to the Babylonians, three or four millenia later, Enki, the first of the many guises of the Trickster and messenger god, had unfortunately overstepped the brief. When Enlil, the God of wrath and lightning, Zeus, Thor and the God of Mount Sinai, finally arrives on the scene, he is so appalled at what he finds that ‘lest they eat also of the tree of life and live forever’ decides to bring on the deluge and to begin the project afresh.
The Sumerians built their cities after the flood, the first of which was the port of Ur, founded on the site where Enki emerged from the Southern sea silhouetted by the light of Vela X, now situated many miles inland of course. For the Sumerians Ur was the first of the many cities, one for each of the Gods, that offered proof that the Garden existed and they were its guardians.
In response to Enlil’s expropriation of the deluge, Enki, who is bound by oath on pain of death not to tell of the impending doom, nevertheless sends mysterious instructions to his protege Ziusudra. Advising him to construct a large, sealed, submersible ark. Not exactly breaking his word but good as, and of course as events unfold the subterfuge is inevitably found out. Fortunately, unlike Enlil, Enki is no fool. For on witnessing the destruction it only then occurs to Enlil that they now have no source of sustenance; ‘calamity upon calamity what are they to do?’. Enki’s reward for saving the gene pool from annihilation is to commute the sentence and merely banish Ea/Enki to the underworld, and I guess we all know the rest.
The myths of betrayal by both humanity and the gods, of destruction and the fall, of smashed tablets and all the rest, only come after the Sumerians own demise, not before.
But what do we know of the Sumerian world view? Their existance was only confirmed in the 1930′s. Decipherment of their writings is more inferred than actual. We’ve barely begun to index let alone interpret their huge depository of records. One city appeared to have been devoted solely to the recording of data, where we’ve uncovered tens of thousands of cylinder seals. Unfortunately when their civilisation was finally put to the sword their language and people vanish from history. The effect was to precipitate a thousand year dark age before the local peoples dared resuscitate a taste for monumental civilisations.
We know that we are dealing with a race of sophisticates who operated a form of anarchistic theocracy. Their nobility possessed no temporal power, were no more than sacrificial lambs, serving the function of representing the ideal human being, ritualistically killed by the priesthood in accordance with certain pre-ordained astrological configurations. A function willingly entered into by these chosen ones, their reward in the after-life being a release from a return to mortality and eternal life in the company of the Gods.
The prime function of the Sumerian social structure was to lift humanity up by its bootstraps. The priesthood organised the logistics of building cities as servants not masters of the people. Their reward lay in the ziggurat or holy mountain at the heart of the city, on whose summit, on completion of the initiation rites, they would come face to face with the god whose home it now was. The completion of each new city heralding the entrapment of yet one more God. Free to fly from summit to summit, the top tier being roofless, but ever bound to return for nourishment by the people.
Sumerian culture had no need for coercion and control. Through the utilisation of division of labour and economies of scale, a quantum leap in productivity had been affected, releasing substantial amounts of surplus time for leisure, philisophical debate and scientific enquiry. Humanity had truly entered the garden. The semi-nomadic, itinerant peoples had finally arrived at a place and time where roots could be established. Whether the top tier of the temple linking heaven to earth actually contained a living diety is to miss the point perhaps. For the initiate the deity was no more than a personalised metaphor for the project going on down below.
And the success of the project drew in the semi-nomadic semitic tribes out of Asia, who are gradually assimilated in as they, in turn, gradually corrupt the core enterprise. It took a millenium for the veneer of authority to become imposed upon the social structure. The warring Tribal Patriarchs elevate themselves to the status of Kings over and above the priesthood. The division of labour, once liberating, now offers a lever for compliance. Reward and punishment finally enters the dynamic. The only innovations now discernable are standing armies, the invention of money and the use of slavery. Little wonder then that when the last of the cities is finally built, the one fit for Enlil himself, the last and greatest of the gods; and no god arrives; that the mythology is rebranded, put in the past tense and takes on catastrophic proportions.
In the original Sumerian world view the temporal and spiritual realms had been co-joined, inseperable and as one. The experience of dichotomy between the mundane and transcendant being rendered illusory through the action of creativity or ritual marriage, whereby consciousness is able to subjugate material reality to its own ends rather than be subject to its constraints, merely surviving.
On considering the nature of this meeting place or “plane of juncture” the Sumerians “represent “Earth and Heaven, the goddess and the god, as appearing to be two, but which are in being, one. For, as we know from an ancient Sumerian myth, Heaven (An) and the Earth (Ki) were in the beginning a single undivided mountain (An-Ki), of which the lower part, the Earth, was female, and the upper, Heaven, male. But the two were seperated (as Adam into Adam and Eve) by their son Enlil (in the Bible by their ‘creator’, Yahweh), whereupon the world of temporality appeared (as it did when Eve ate the apple). The ritual marriage and connubium was to be understood as a reconstruction of the primal undifferentiated state, both in meditation (psychological aspect) for the refreshment of the soul, and in act (magical aspect) for the fertilisation and renovation of nature …. whereby it was also to be recognised that there is a plane or mode of being where that primal state is ever present, though to the mind and eye of day all seems to be otherwise.”
Joseph Campbell The Masks of God
We have all seen a rainbow but few experience the phenomena as a sensation in the mind not outside it. Yet rainbows aren’t solely external phenomena but rely upon a subject to witness them, each witness seeing a marginally different rainbow from the next, in accordance with their location in the relationship between eye, light and raindrops.
The experience of separation between self and objective reality is based on a failure to see the relativity between voluntary and involuntary behaviour. Thus the reliance in many self-improvement programmes on techniques involving breathing exercises. Once mind is brought to bear on autonomous, non-conscious behaviour an ironic loss of spontaneity occurs. The question of ‘free will’ or ‘determinism’, of fate or destiny, is at the heart of the human condition. For most people consciousness is equated with ‘being’ in a self-reflective state. In truth it is surely that state of ‘non-being’ when we are seemingly oblivious of our sense of consciousness, that is the more real?
“We feel that our actions are voluntary when they follow a decision, and involuntary when they happen without decision. But if decision itself were voluntary, every decision would have to be preceded by a decision to decide – an infinite regression which fortunately does not occur. Oddly enough, if we had to decide to decide, we would not be free to decide. We are free to decide because decision ‘happens’. We just decide without having the faintest understanding of how we do it. In fact, it is neither voluntary nor involuntary.
“Ridding oneself of the subjective distinction between ‘me’ and ‘my experience’ – through seeing that my idea of myself is not myself – is to discover the actual relationship between myself and the ‘outside’ world. The individual, on the one hand, and the world, on the other, are simply the abstract limits or terms of a concrete reality, which is ‘between’ them, as the concrete coin is ‘between’ the abstract, Euclidean surfaces of its two sides. Similarly, the reality of all ‘inseparable opposites’ – life and death, good and evil, pleasure and pain, gain and loss – is that ‘between’ for which we have no words.”
Alan Watts The Way of Zen
The Sumerian’s use of Gods and Goddesses was a metaphor, not to be taken literally. From the undifferentiated state of consciousness Ea/Enki and Enlil were taught to be the one, as are Adam and Eve and the Trees of life and Knowledge, each binary couplet a reverberation of the one theme. As Hermes Trismagistes, the contemporary of Pythagoras, put it: ‘As above so below’. At the top of this hierarchy they placed An-Ki, the mystical mountain, whose personification was always portrayed, simply, as an empty throne. As with the precepts of Taoism,
“the state of the ultimate bull, that is to say, is invisible; black, pitch black.”
Joseph Campbell The Masks of God
To reiterate: we began from the smallest of all things and arrived at a cypher for it all, a source for everything, the universe at large. From a ’0′ we arrived at a ’1′. From these two we discerned an ongoing relationship, ‘between’ the positive and the negative, adjudicated by a third, a neutral interface that brings the two back together again into a state of reunified consciousness. The binary structure or tree, is a triangle with an apex of no fixed description, neither ’0′ nor ’1′. The two binary states of ’0′ and ’1′ residing midway down the two descending sides. Above this level resides the unknowable terrain of godhood, the unconsciously divine. Below, arranged in ever diminishing tiers, each half way between the last and the base, occur a doubling of the points, ’4′, ’8′, ’16′ and so on to infinity. The realm of everday consciousness of material reality. At the lowest level, ‘ground zero’, a place never reached, the points are so numerous as to have transcended the concept of a point, being now a line of infinite length and of infinitessimal thickness.
In my exploration of what such an exercise might throw up various esoteric representations of the Tree of Life . The search for an objective scientific description of reality has been with us from the beginning. The hubris of today’s knowledge seekers is not a new phenomenon, perhaps attributable to the atheistic nature of modern society. In the past the task was to attain communion with the Gods. Today we are a little more open and honest about the project. Far from viewing ourselves in the image of God, we had been viewing the Gods in the image of ourselves.
Today the face of God and the name that shall be nameless is finally revealed in the icon of a double helix. The Tree of Life is now DNA. The Tree of Knowledge is now RNA. In terms of the ancient and sacred symbology, the helix of a snake, the caduceus of Mercury, the ever present mnemonics for drawing out the inevitable double helix, all point to the converse. The Tree of Life always was DNA. And in viewing the spaces between the sacred images, in seeing the continuum and progression from one to the next, and in having it made comprehensible as a play on number and form, it is clear that the patterns behind the ability of matter to give rise to life has always been known, that it is an unavoidable aspect of the journey, all pervasive and ever present, clear for all to see who have a mind to see it.