Discourses on an Alien Sky #3 | Cosmic Catastrophe & Cultural Obsession


You’ve just entered the
theater of an alien sky. If the words and images seem strange
to you, there’s a reason for this. Our world was once a
vastly different place. To experience this, won’t hurt you and there is nothing to fear. It’s a simple question we’ve been asking. Has the sky changed? Has the sky changed so radically that
this could be the most important question a scientist could ask? Important because for centuries we’ve
projected our familiar sky onto the past. Call it the uniformity principal;
as today, so before. Caught in the wake of this sweeping misperception,
we didn’t hear the ancient messages. We paid no heed to remembered
earth-altering catastrophes that transformed human
consciousness globally. Our early ancestors the world over drew remarkably similar pictures of
things never seen in our sky today. Incessantly, they reenacted celestial dramas, all with a desperate urge to remember …
to maintain their connection to the gods of a former time. And yet we see only the magic, the
superstition and the absurdity of it all, ignoring the profound questions
of cause and effect. Extraordinary planetary violence in a
highly electrified environment was the cause, and the effect was an
outpouring of myths and symbols. How could it happen if human beings, whose
lives depended on living close to nature, could so clearly remember events if
nothing actually occurred to provoke these remarkable memories. A golden mountain rising
to the center of heaven, a cosmic ladder connecting
the earth and the sky, a fire-breathing serpent or dragon
threatening to destroy the world? The mystery arises from
identical absurdities found on every habitable continent.
Rising above all else, was a pervasive fear. Could the greatest catastrophe,
the prototype of Doomsday, occur once more? As before, so again? Around the world
stargazers searched the sky for signs and symbols, for portents
of the things they feared the most. This cultural response, punctuated
by finger-pointing and scapegoating, drove ancient nations to
see sacrifice and war as sacred obligations. It was this fear, this Doomsday anxiety,
that hung like a cloud over every culture for thousands of years. The archaic memories did indeed grow
confused across the millennia. Yet the ancient nightmares
continue to haunt us, reawakening anxiety with
every symbolic pointer to past events. When planets move
into a conjunction. Or a comet comes into view. Or the zeros lineup on a calendar. A
collective dream of Doomsday passed from generation to generation, all fed by memories never sufficiently
understood in our own time. I hope you’ll stay with us, and if you
do I can promise a new and radical perspective on the ancient experience, based entirely on the bedrock of fact. The sky above our early forebears, and
it’s connection to ancient myths and symbols and magical practices need not remain obscure to us. 0