Thursday, April 19, 2018

Looking Back in Time

How to review your own work

The waitress who gave up and left the Celtic Knot before our C.A.S. diners arrived, would say that my presentation was too long, but I did not notice anyone sleeping. The best part was the You Tube two minute virtual journey through the last part of the Cave of Lascaux. The imagining of the number of objects needed to be carried by a few painters, helpers and shamans through the difficult darkness of the cave with beautiful and sometimes bizarre animals leaping out at you was most effective. It was just luck that I happened upon the video. If you were late look for it on YouTube.

Later I showed the gorgeous big fish in the Cave of Pileta with the double-lined outlines and explained that one line was a wish for Spring and a return or increase of fish; and the repeat line was a thanks to the gods when they reappeared. Or did I? This could be called sympathetic magic. Instead I think that I went unto the problem that nearby caves were presenting by claiming that their silhouetted hands were probably made by Neanderthals because they were dated by a new method (uranium thorium) as older than 40,000 BCE or before the time of Cro-Magnon.

Since all the archaeologists were marveling over man's state of brain and mind development which allowed Cro-Magnon to be so unique, the upgrading of Neanderthal's ability from tool-making to artist would be menacing to all they had written and claimed. Could Cro-Magnon have arrived earlier? Perhaps the Neanderthal learned from Cro-Magnon, or some other species were present in Europe but died out. Jean Clottes, the current most prodigious and active investigator has responded that every point dated with uranium thorium should be tested simultaneously with carbon dating.

Sympathetic Magic used for hunting was rebutted by those who claimed that the diets of Cro-Magnon did not include the numerous bison and hundreds of horses, but the lesser depicted reindeer and rabbit and smaller animals were eaten. Claude Levi Strauss, referred to as the Father of Structuralism, remarked, "Some animals are to eat, some to imagine." He suggested looking for the structure in the caves. Structuralists looked for opposites to reconcile in the patterning of the horse and the bison for meaning.

But the idea grew that caves were temples and the animals painted were either gods or spirit guides for rituals by medicine men, sorcerer's, wizards or shamans. But this was not accepted by all archaeologists, who did not agree with those who used ethnological similarities, mythologies and religious histories being advocated by many archaeologists influenced by historians of religion, philosophers and sometimes, psychologists. Paul Bahn was a noted archaeologist who has written sarcastically about such influences.

Taking a page out of the methods of others, I decided to examine Olmec and Maya shamans to make comparisons with Paleolithic shape-shifters, but had an advantage over hunter gatherer cultures, since the Maya had a language, and even a glyph for shape shifting into a jaguar. The famous scene depicted at the base of the shaft at Lascaux has been interpreted by many so-called experts.

I think that I made a case for the possibility of some form of auto sacrifice or pain infliction by a birdheaded shaman in ecstatic flight and sacrifice of the spirit of the bison for the tribe.

This would be experienced by the initiate brought into the carbon dioxide infested lowest depth of the cave temple.

But the investigations of David Lewis-Williams into the minds of the shamanic cave dwellers using psychoneurological experiments are providing more convincing evidence that the minds of the caveman were wired in the same manner as ours and that they were wired for a belief in religion. You would have to read The Mind in the Cave to understand it.

> Deb Stelton

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