It's easy to look back at fallen civilisations and think that their beliefs in gods were just superstitions or myths. But what can their beliefs teach us about what we believe? Tribes of the past believed in totems and power animals. Today, we believe in nations such as the USA, its flag, and the bald eagle, and we talk about nations as if they have agency. Are we still living under totemic religions without knowing it?
We've got this nasty habit of looking back at things or looking at things that we don't believe in. I will look back at say, the belief in Zeus and we'll say "What was that? Oh no we can write it off; we can stop thinking about it - that was superstition; that was mythology." And this is a nice little catch-all. But if you actually stand firm in your materialist convictions and look at it and ask again "What was Zeus? What was people's experience of Zeus?" Well Zeus was a shared imagination - at least we can agree on that. Everyone agreed what his gender was, for example. He had a name. He had attributes, he had character traits. He had representatives. If you were a kid growing up in ancient Greece or the Athenian empire, you've got men talking about Zeus as if he exists casually like he can do stuff or whatever, completely reified into this this this agent from your perspective.
Then you can actually start studying it and saying maybe let's look at some other entity and ask what it is objectively - let's look at Mexico. What is Mexico? What's a Mexico? It's a shared imagination.
Right, there's no clear point where it begins or ends.
Yeah, there's a geographical area that's associated with it, just like there's a power animal that's associated with it, and there's a name that's associated with it, an agenda that's associated with it.
The eagle... Eagles tend to pop up a lot as power animals.
They do and that's understandable. I think the thing with eagles is, they've got a top-down view on the world and that another reason why if you can use owls a lot in secret societies and symbolism is because they can see in the dark that's an indication of wisdom - see things other people can't.
Like Big Brother?
Yeah sure, always watching, never blinking.
About symbolism, it really has to start with looking at totemic deities, because that's about the furthest back I think we can reasonably go. We recently encountered and still encounter totemic tribes.
You mean literal ones, like in the Amazon?
Oh yeah, even in Zambia you have the Bantu people for example and they're totems are - as they typically are - plants and animals. They've got the crocodile and I believe the ash tree.
When they came across the territory that they decided to inhabit they found the crocodile, ash trees, and they started identifying with these these totemic objects. A totemic object is typically a plant or an animal.
Doesn't have to be exclusive, but what it really is, is a representation of the people. This is quite easy to illustrate: if you're in a totemic tribe and you wake up in the morning and go for a piss on the totem... One of your tribesmen peeks out of his tent and sees you pissing on the totem, he's gonna be very very offended, personally, and he's gonna feel like everyone else in the tribe should be personally offended. Why? Because you're assaulting a crocodile or an eagle or a wolf?
It's what it represents. The shared hallucination.
Yeah yeah. But who does it really represent? When they praise the totem, when they meditate on its characteristics. Like the wolf is really good at hunting in packs, it's a very crafty animal, resourceful, whatever. Really applying these characteristics to themselves, so the people of the wolf will start identifying with the attributes of the wolf, and then identify the wolf with a symbol of the tribe. So essentially the the totem is a representation of the unity of the group that's why your tribemate's pissed off when he sees you pissing on the totem.
Not because you're desecrating a wolf or an eagle, but because you're desecrating the unity of the group.
Fast forward all the way now to modern totemic deities, also known as countries, nation-states, and what are they? They're
these shared imaginations that are assigned a gender and a power animal, a name and a set of rules to follow and a bunch of representatives to interpret what the totemic deity wants. I think it was really quite an inevitable and also quite brave that in these old totemic tribes you invariably got some brave soul disappearing into the wilderness, usually with some trippy shit for a few days, and comes back with stories of visions. Just when the tribe thinks he's dead, he shows up out of nowhere and says "I've spoken to the fucking totem guys"
The example that comes to mind is with the Wixarika or the Huichol people in Mexico. The story was, they were going through a famine and so they basically had no food and they didn't know what to eat so they sent two brave young men off into the desert to try to look
for something and after a few days without food or water they saw this blue deer hopping off into the distance and eating peyote. So after that, the whole tribe started consuming peyote and now it's kind of sacrament for the tribe and some of them eat it every day. The blue deer is prominent in that artwork when they make bracelets and things.
Right, yeah that's awesome.
So that might have been a real experience I would say, but it's also, even if it's just completely made up, you cannot deny the appeal that it must have to a certain type of personality that thinks "Hmm... Let's see, everyone's trying to appease this totem" - maybe he doesn't really believe in, or maybe he does. Maybe that's why he gets the vision. He goes off and he's tripping balls on his peyote or whatever, because he's grown up with this
image of this deity in his mind and how the wolf is looking after him in his sleep and all these things, that's what he sees when he hallucinates - possibly. It's also possible that he comes back with a fat tale, basically claiming that he's spoken to the deity as a ploy to gain control over his fellow tribesmen, and to not have to
go hunting anymore or do their difficult work. As soon as your tribesmen believed that the deity has spoken to you, that you've got its ear and that it's got yours then they look to you to interpret what it wants and then your time is obviously better spent in commune with the deity than doing the mundane tasks of living like everyone else.
So it's a position of power that you get when you claim to represent the deity and you get people to believe you. It's extremely risky - if they don't believe they'll probably kill you in a totemic tribe.
Sure, they'll say you're a heretic. Those people are forgotten, but the ones that stay are prophets.
You see the same sort of thing today where you can get a bunch of cohorts together and form a party and claim to represent "what America really wants" for example, or like what what the what the deity intends for you or expects of you, and so on. You see a lot of these religious overtones, especially in the in the early founding of America where they have things like "manifest destiny". Just look at the Wikipedia page for manifest destiny and you'll see
paintings of this feminine deity flying above the settlers and driving back the beasts and the savages, then the pilgrims coming along with the light of day. It's all very religious.
The overtones are there. "In God we trust" on the notes and not to mention the temple architecture of all the government buildings and the courthouses and things like that.
Now all of these things confused me when I was leaving religion and noticed that, it seemed like all of our Dear Leaders are very very very much into some sort of mysticism. There's shitloads of symbology. There's shitloads of members of secret societies and allegedly occult knowledge and so on.
None of that made sense to me if we really live in a godless world. You'd expect the most, let's say, street-smart world-weary people among us to be the least religious if that were the case but yet they seem to be steeped in this shit. You can't scratch politics with a fingernail without find the dark occult underneath the surface. Ask Mark Passio about this. Or just try it yourself -
go visit any government building around have a look at the symbolism, have a look at the lions guarding the entrance in Zambia they have there at the Supreme Court.
It all starts to make a little more sense when you actually model them as running a compulsory religion.
So you've mentioned to me the examples of in Washington DC they have the Oval Office which is like the Divine Feminine and thenyou have the Washington Monument down the road which is the Divine Masculine just like in India or something - the lingam and the yoni.
Yeah, it's primeval AF, I mean that's their symbolism behind a lot of mystic religions. Basically the sex divide is ancient, and even if you look at the Washington Monument from the top, it's positioned within two interlocking circles. When two circles interlock that area in the middle is called the "vesica pisces".
The fish bladder?
It's like the yoni really. The Washington Monument's rising up out of that. The symbolism is just -
The circles don't represent the testes?
They could. It would look like a cock and balls from on high from the mighty eagle's perspective.
There's no shortage of occultic symbolism and I think in the case of DC - it's obviously the District of Columbia - the statue that's on the roof of the oval office is a statue of Columbia the 60 something feet idol in the New York Bay, of Libertas.
The one they call "the Statue of Liberty".
Yeah because it's Libertas. The roman goddess, you can trace that back, it's the same personality as Columbia.
Columbia is the poetic name for the Americas.
Yes, the idea being that America really is the deity Columbia.
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