Mirror To The Universe
– Spiritual Panorama
By Rob Mohr
“. . . one of the most spiritual things you can do is embrace your humanity. Connect with those around you today – say, ‘I love you,’ ‘I’m sorry,’ ‘I appreciate you,’ ‘I’m proud of you’ . . . and give plenty of hugs.”
Scientists are convinced a conscious universal mind predates the big bang and the creation of matter. This nonmaterial mind “intended” our expanding cosmos. Everything in creation, including humans, is connected with that universal mind. During the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods an animistic worldview enabled human interaction in both physical and spiritual dimensions. Unfortunately, the ancient animistic belief that humans, animals, plants, rivers, mountains, stars, moon, and sun are conscious and have souls, remained unnoticed in today’s world until nanophysics confirmed its validity.
During the last fifty thousand years of the Paleolithic period, anthropologists have uncovered evidence that women facilitated tribal animistic rituals. The Venus of Hohle Fels (40,000 BCE), and later the Goddess of Laussel (25,000 BCE), with her bison-horn trumpet, nurtured humanity’s spiritual connection with the natural world.
Architectural, nonresidential ritual sites like Göbekli Tepe in Turkey (12,000 BCE), Aguada Fenix in Mexico (Maya, 1,000 BCE), and Poverty Point in Louisiana (1,500 BCE), all reveal extensive ritual spaces designed to accommodate hundreds of participants. The Olmecs in La Viente and later in a transitional site, Takelik
Abaj, in southern Guatemala (4,000 BCE until 400 CE), reveal ritual spaces for the community. The collapse of the Classical Maya, during the terminal classic period (850–1,000 CE), was the result of exclusion of the community from the rituals. Wide plazas and accessible temples had been replaced by architecture for the elite, which excluded the community from rituals.
Throughout Latin America, community ceremonies included numerous individuals who physically became manifestations of Neolithic animism. Many dressed and acted like anthropomorphic beings. This marriage of animal and human was formalized in unique ways. The Maya, for example, used a three-wheel cogged calendar where each unique day combination occurred only once in each 52-year cycle. Each child at birth is given the attributes of animals that correspond with their unique day in the cycle. For example, my friend Victor at birth was named and assigned the attributes of a Batz (monkey), his anthropomorphic brother.
Contemporary thoughts on historic spirituality have focused on shamanism, a Middle Ages concept imported by the Spanish invaders, while actual pre-Columbian spiritual activities remain communal in nature. The natural world was, for participants, an inclusive community that linked all of creation. Science and our own instincts challenge us to re-evaluate animism as a foundation of our spiritual exploration of what life means in a world where everything is part of the same spiritual and physical structure.
But, supreme individualism, and the idea that spirituality is personal, undermines communal exploration and shared enlightenment within spiritual communities. Equally, dogma structured by organized religions severely limits the range of spiritual exploration and discovery. Also, the pseudo religious philosophy of Rene Descartes’s Cartesian Dualism—the functional separation of spirit and body—caused contemporary misunderstanding.
We all, whether defined or not, have a spiritual existence. From our prehistoric beginnings, humans have bumped against a thin permeable membrane that separates us from the mystery of life. Sacred ground, thin places, and portals into parallel dimensions, places and times, have throughout history sparked our curiosity. Our integrated body/spirit seeks engagement with the nonmaterial dimensions that fill the earth and cosmos.
The question many of us face is where, and in what community, may we find safe, intellectual space to explore spiritual dimensions and the dimensions of life. Perhaps, as we search for answers, art, writing, and study groups, through intellectual stimulation, mutual support, and shared development, might seed and nurture spiritual exploration. Creative answers are needed.