Mystical Atheism

058a Artwork by Harry Smith


great works of imagination

give to each person

everything they are capable of receiving

they have the freedom of the vagabond

they question all values

they are an affront to enterprise and competition

they have a saintly detached objectivity

like the great Mississippi

they receive everything that flows into them

deriving character from the muddy Missouri

the clear flowing Ohio

the rebel rivers of Tennessee

until disappearing into endless deltas

no longer there

except where it was before

we observe its flow

live along its shores

commit ourselves to its currents

where change

is the only constant

056a Artwork by Harry Smith

“O Earth O Earth return!”   Wm Blake


those dowsing for realizations

that re-enliven the entire universe

with the cosmic pattern

common to all things

call for the creation of new music

that makes the walls of the city fall

and frees the suppressed desecration

of the accretion of reason

that encrusts imagination

closing the doors of perception

to justify murdering indigenous original inhabitants

enslaving other races

eliminating other species

poisoning the food

and threatening the global ecology

with the hypnotic




of materialistic greed

until the great call

of self initiating poetry

with genuine gnostic prophecy

and the primal pragmatic mindfulness

of aesthetic vision

calls for apocalypse now

to mutate new forms of social economic survival

that overcome self defeating stupid catastrophic extinction

with the evidence of ecstatic awareness

one with the all living nature



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Anthony Blake in Nashville

anthony blake seminar

DuVersity sponsored Anthony Blake for a weekend seminar held at Scarritt-Bennett center in Nashville.  Along with the lectures embracing the theme of “The Resurrection of the 4th Way in the 21st Century” there was music including oboe, santor, Chapman stick and guitar with musicical interludes before and after the lectures, Anthony also read T.S. Eliot’s Ash Wednesday accompanied by the musicians, and we had Turkish folk dance by Travis Jarrell.  Here are the aphorisms derived from notes taken during the event.

explanations kill

music has an intimacy that can’t be found in words

true understanding embraces the whole


risk is the key

allow contradiction

open new doors

step into the unknown


if you want to play by the rules

this game is not for you


real understanding

disrupts the equilibrium

embraces new experiences

and creates different ways of describing


intelligence is in your ears

in your sex organs

in your skin

in your actions

feed your feelings

your thoughts

and your movements

not just your body


“Never do things like other people.”  the last words Gurdjieff’s grandmother spoke to him.


the intellect

is a rusty machine

unable to perceive uncomfortable truth


we are imprisoned

in the dream

of the conditioned mind


think the unthinkable


unless a truth is in your bones

you don’t get it


the school of ignorance

recognizes all truth is an error

all facts are fictions

if you can’t use it

it will poison you


use your whole body

as an organ of perception


ordinary movements are a habit

repeating a repertoire of gestures

ordinary emotions are a habit

mired in reactivity

ordinary thinking is a habit

stuck in repetition


practice makes you a slave

to your slavery


exercise your awareness

invest in it


the burden of belief

is the illusion of existence


what you say

and what you do

typically have nothing to do with each other


the approach

is better than the arrival


expect the unexpected

pay attention to the gaps


the perfection of doing

is when the doer disappears

the doer eats the energy


yes but

is the typical form of discourse

yes and

amplifies the understanding


“Only that is true which everyone knows.”  Goethe


tune to the matrix



come to presence


the condition of complete simplicity

costs not less than everything


there is no initiation

except self initiation


meaning happens in the gaps

between expectations and reality


feel the nothingness at the heart of your being

if you get depressed

you missed it


seek out the parts of yourself

you didn’t know exist


understanding is lost

in information

that which is ignored

is the most precious part


books are agents of entropy


you can never be sure of anything





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William Burroughs’ aesthetics


(Artwork by William Burroughs)

In William Burroughs’ theory of art he invokes Pan, the god of panic, whom he identifies with the awareness that everything is alive. He contends that the birth of Christ was the death of Pan. Pan represents the primitive belief that there is no distinction between the reality of ordinary waking consciousness and the reality in dreams, fantasies or vision. After the introduction of Christianity the celebration of Pandemonium was no longer a public event. As Christianity spread, Pandemonium was relegated to mythology. In art pandemonium is allowed back in and then make-believe and illusion run the show. For the artist, like the primitive, no distinctions are drawn between the sense of reality of the imagination and the sense of reality of ordinary awareness. When both are illusion and both are real, then art happens. All art creates what Burroughs calls, “a basic disruption of reality.” He cites Duchamp placing an ordinary object in a frame and making it art, but he wants to reverse the process. He wants to take the frame off the art and let the reality of art be as real as the ordinary. That is apocalypse, letting the belief that everything is illusion overcome the belief in the separation of dream and reality. Art screams out, “The illusion is real, and the real is illusion.” Remove the frame and everything is art. Recognize the illusory nature of the ordinary and art leaps off the walls and becomes a way of seeing instead of something seen.
When art comes out of the frame the assigned categories no longer hold. From this time on the basis of conceptualization is no longer valid. In the apocalypse thinking grinds to a halt and is replaced by silence, the great silence of pure unobstructed observation where everything shows itself for just what it is. Things are revealed outside the conceptualized categories built on previous perception. When art comes out of the frame and off the wall the page is torn in two. The words no longer work; they are no longer functional in the same way. Now words play across the silence like fireworks in the night sky.
This is the last act, the end of everything as we know it. We are born into silence, not the silence of the deaf but the silence of seeing without the imposition of words. Then, what you see in your dreams is as real as what you see any other time, everything is real and alive. When Pan appears even the inorganic is vital and flowing, there is “mineral lust”. In the apocalypse art runs amok, the planet is loosed from its axis, everything is spilled into the void. The fabric of reality is torn, Pan runs wild in the streets, cities are attacked by graffiti artists and household appliances revolt.


(Artwork by Brion Gysin)

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Esoteric training


abide in the spaciousness of mind
your true home
live in solitude
your true consolation
realize the essential radiance of reality
your true vision
remain mindful in the fields of perception
your true awareness
gather the wealth of loving kindness
your true treasure
meditate without distraction
your true consort
devour the nature of reality
your true feast
cultivate the creativity of pure presence
your true work
look into the empty mirror
your true nature
free yourself of all pretense
your true crusade
work for the good of all beings
your true profession


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The Fourth Way with Anthony Blake


I just spent the weekend with Anthony Blake and on the plane ride back from Washington, DC I took my notes and pulled out the following quotes which summarize his teaching given on Summer Solstice.

there is no separation

between your eye

and the furthest star


everytime you do anything

it changes all future potentials


the circle

the symbol of wholeness

also represents zero

the symbol of nothingness


there are a totally unacceptable

number of gods


when you add it all up

the energy of the universe

equals zero

the all of everything

is nothing

this upsets some people

and delights others


don’t explain it

experience it


if it matters to you

do it


to create a new reality

make yourself a cooking pot

throw in lots of different ingredients

and turn up the heat


you only see what you expect to see

your mind creates your reality

nothing else even registers

your beliefs blind you


it’s not easy being human

if you dare interrupt a talk on love

you’re immediately hated

if you want to be right

you’re wrong

you want cooperation and agreement

but only on your own terms

if it doesn’t justify your world view

it makes no sense to you

our minds are a bundle of recurrent ideas

with a preconceived narrative


if you’re not thinking

with the whole of your body

you’re not thinking


before we accepted the principle of ignorance

we had to invent gods

otherwise we were faced

with an unaccountable infinity


we are thrown into awareness

there is no map

and no manual

all the rules are made up

you have to create your own path


the cosmology of the whole

is the logosphere of ideas

created from a limited perspective

where time meets meaning


we all serve great nature

in a process of reciprocal maintenance


freedom is real

in spite of all appearances


the opposite of time

is eternity

the opposite of space

is infinity


to come to a place of completion

will cost you everything


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The Green Corn Dance


The Green Corn dance at San Felipe is a spectacle as great, as wondrous, as magnificent as any I have witnessed.  In fact it is incomparable, unlike anything in our modern life.  No football NFL game, no world class Soccer game, no movie, no opera, no ballet, no megachurch service or revival, no rock concert can begin to compare.  I had no idea what I was walking into on a hot dry day in early May.

It was a short drive from I-25 over to the pueblo.  We crossed the Rio Grande River and were in a line of cars leading into the pueblo.  Cars were parked all along the road and the road was full of slow moving traffic making their way into the pueblo.  We found a place to park and fell in with a crowd of young Indians walking along.  I could feel the excitement before we heard the first drum beat and then as we followed a growing stream of people, nearly all of them Indians, the deep booming sound of the drum seemed to be coming up out of the earth, then in a couple more minutes it seemed to clarify and with it we could hear a resonate chant of voices in a singsong verse of unknown sounds, completely unrecognizable sounds that adamantly refused to constitute itself into words, they were sounds of the ancient world, sounds from the earth, sounds in a tongue that could not be configured into words, even in their own pueblo language. They were singing songs of the ancient earth, it sounded like the sound of the corn growing, the sound of the rain falling, the sound of the midst rising, the sound of distant thunder, the sound of the river running, the sound of man and woman in intimate deep embrace, the sound of the horse, the sound of the bison, of the lion, the sound of the sun rising, the sound of moonlight falling on the desert and then there they were, hundreds of them, a spectacle of color and sound.  A sight beyond words, beyond comprehension, beyond the frame of our modern abstract understanding. What a feeling.  I wanted to cry tears of joy at being there, tears of sorrow at what we as white people had lost so long ago, tears of immense sadness at how these people had been treated for hundreds of years, tears for the lives and land they had lost, tears like the rain to join in the cycle of nature, tears of union with something so primordial, so primeval, so pristine, so immediately present that words could not express it, I could not even begin to say what I was feeling, since the saying put the feeling into another realm of experience that alienated from its source it so that the words fell away unable to give expression to the sights, the sounds, the feelings that arose.

We made our way through a line of vendors to where we had a good view.  It was a plaza in front of an adobe church, the plaza was defined by the tents of vendors, a large space completely filled with movement and sound, men and women who were no longer themselves but rather were the movement and the sound and the color and the spirit of the forces of the spring time earth, of the growing corn, of the falling rain.  The men were painted with earth tones, browns and grays, their long black hair shining in the sun, with white skirts, with green juniper boughs tied to their arms, a fox skin hanging down behind them, its tail just touching the ground, their white moccasins fringed with black and white skunk skin, a rattle in one hand, a turtle shell attached to their knees, a long necklace of seashells around their necks.  The women had on dark dresses, knee length, drawn in with a belt at the waist, one shoulder bare, no moccasins on their bare feet, and a tablita on their heads, blue with stair steeped design cut out on the top and white clouds painted on it, each hand holding the pine boughs which they waved up and down in time with the music.  The men’s bodies moving bent over, the women more upright.  In the center of the plaza is a group of men in colorful ribbon shirts bunched together around a drummer chanting as the dancers moved like a huge chorus around them.  Then another figure appeared holding a tall pole with a long flag attached to it, the flag decorated with painted stylized corn stocks bright green against the yellow cloth of the flag and at the top of the pole a garnish of feather.  The pole was moving through the crowd, swooping low from time to time.  There was a movement from the man holding the pole and then I noticed one of the men dancers, a young man with long black hair made a distinctive sound with his rattle and then the sound was echoed by each man down the line so it quickly traveled around the circle and when the sound had moved around the entire circle they all sounded their rattles together while the drum beat hastened to a crescendo and then it appeared to be over.  All the movement stopped and the lines of dancers broke up and started drifting off to the corners of the plaza.

Being there is a beautiful and moving experience, the movement and the sound and the visual impact of watching it all combine into an ethereal, otherworldly experience like stepping outside time, outside the typical American frame, outside all the norms of day to day life, at least for us.  The Green Corn dance brings us closer to the origin of things, to the origin of dance, of music, of song, of the land, of the rain, even of life itself, to the plants which transform into the life of our flesh.  Just as the adobe of the pueblos rises up out of the earth and eventually settles back into it, so the life of the people, individually and collectively rise up out of and fall back into the self same earth.  The corn dance is primal and creative in ways that our dance and music have long lost.  It is the heartbeat of the earth calling for the rain to fall, to flow in its veins and to rise to form the clouds in the great cycles repeated and reflected in the cycles of the dance.  The cycle of dance is a fractal of the cycle of the seasons which is a fractal of the cycle of the movement of the earth around the sun which is a fractal of even larger cosmic cycles that extend beyond our universe, beyond our imagination.  An infinite act of fertility from the seasonal planting of the corn seed, to the planting of the human seed to the seed of the earth, the ancient seed of the sun.

Finally it is time for us to go.  We walk through the pueblo to where the car is parked.  In a matter of a few minutes we are back on I-25 heading toward Santa Fe, everyone is very quiet, tired from being out in the sun all day, but astonished and unable to speak, still glowing, basking in the experience, not wanting to even try to put it into words.  That will certainly come soon enough and then when we get back to our homes and have to describe the trip to friends and family.  One of the purposes of the Green Corn dance is to bring the rain and when we left the dance at the San Felipe pueblo we pulled onto I-25 and headed north towards Santa Fe and there were dark rain clouds on the horizon and a few rain drops fell on the windshield.


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The consolation of art


Standing in front of the artwork in Lascaux cave I can feel the seldom found sublime consolation of art, its silent solace splurging across the immensity of time. It has a supernatural candor and a dream-like improbability. It feels like a mineshaft into a different dimension. The art is a projection of a precocious imagination, of a will too powerful, too deliberate, too intimate to be ignored, it is an exemplar of art itself. It is as if the artist or artists were possessed by a insatiable desire to communicate experiences which far transcend the range of thought or cognition. Words could only debauch the experience, even the oceanic splendors of poetry can only pollute the purity of the experience. The artist has captured something inherent in the human spirit and sealed it with a lambence that fatigues abstract thought and renders it impotent. The art has an aura of stillness and motion at the same time and a deep melodious sense of concentrated insight into something buried in the pre-conscious. There is much to be learned here, but what it is is still a mystery that requires a bravery unafraid to map new spiritual latitudes. It is a mirror which when looked upon reflects a different time, a different face. There is a haunting illumination unbound by time or mental categories. It is outside the typical  order imposed by the mind and leaves us befuddled with an anguished curiosity and sensual wonder far greater than the order of any self-knowledge. It is a powerful blow which is stunning, as if time has been fermenting in this underground cauldron.  It is a mystery play for which we are uninitiated.  All the raw material of life has not prepared us for this, it has all been only the barest potential compared to the vertiginous insights deployed in this art.  We are only allowed to remain in the reproduction for forty minutes and the time has sped by and I can’t believe it is time to leave.  Then we are abruptly facing a door and follow the crowd out suddenly leaving the cave, stepping from this reproduction of the ancient gallery into the hot nude sky we are looking out over the Vezere River valley in the distance.  A sidewalk leads us around the edge of the hill and back to the parking lot.  I shake my head in wonderment, what have we seen here? It is a profound mystery, a dramatic time shift,  a captivating work of art, which leaves me speechless, unable to articulate, to find words to express the emotions and the aesthetic shock of it.  It will take some time to absorb.

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Literary archaeology


Literary archaeology quarries for messages that lie buried in the depths of human experience.  On the surface these messages seem as lost to us as the names of the dead who have been left behind eons before. Yet, like in a dream, they can be heard in the fugitive memories found in the deep subterranean passages of the mind.  It can be dangerous to dig so deeply trenching into the stratrigraphy of  consciousness.  There are labyrinthine tenebrous tunnels, corridors shrouded in darkness, many which turn back on themselves or lead nowhere.  These intimations of distant mythologies are difficult to navigate, they run like quicksilver, illuminated by a soft dazed obstinate light insistent on its own truth.  Even time itself cannot yet deprive us of these distant visages. There is an enormous fund of memories, an affectionate familiarity in the images found in the caves, especially the abstract forms, which have been taken to be a code language for the preliterate cultures of the Paleolithic. These images correspond to the inner structure of their psyche, the fons signatus of their creators reflecting some coherences, some inherent order in their universe still unrecognized.

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Strange Synchronicities

By a wonderful twist of fate I was friends with the great Southern writer William Gay and when he passed away his children asked me to compile and edit his papers. William had published three novels and three collections of short stories but when I got his papers I discovered that he had been writing continuously all his life and there were four unpublished novels and enough unpublished short stories for another collection. However they were all in handwritten notebooks and required a major effort to get them typed and ready for publication. A group of William’s friends worked with me to accomplish this and in the midst of this effort a fan of William’s from Wisconsin, Paul Nitsche, got in touch with me and offered to help. He was a huge help and we spend many evenings on the phone working over the typescripts.
One evening he mentioned that he was going to get married in September and that they were planning a trip to France for their honeymoon. He asked if I had ever heard of the painted caves in the south of France and said he was reading a book called Stepping Stones about the caves. I couldn’t believe my ears. Paul and I had never met but had become good friends on the phone. He said they were going to visit the caves as part of their honeymoon and would be there in mid September. When I told him that Susan and I were planning a trip to study the cave art and would be there at the same time we were both blown away. As the time got closer we figured out what days our trips would overlap and made plans for a get together. Susan did a lot of research on line and picked out a restaurant in Eyzies and we set a date to meet for dinner at six in the evening. We had wanted to have more time together but they were tied up planning their wedding and weren’t sure of exactly what they were doing when they arrived and it looked like it would only work out to meet for dinner.
The day of our meeting was the day we were to visit Font-de-Gaume. In order to visit the cave you had to show up early and stand in line. Only sixty tickets are available each day and if you don’t get there early you can lose out. However Susan had figured out a way to make reservations for tickets on line at the Ministry of Culture so we had our tickets waiting for us. The ticket booth opens at nine in the morning and we pull into the parking lot and see a long line of people waiting in a cue. It was obviously way more than sixty people. But we went right to the head of line and were there about ten minutes before opening. I was standing there at the door beside the ticket window and could overhear the conversations of the people in the line. The second person in line was talking in English and as I stood there I heard him say something about the winters in Wisconsin. I looked over at him and said, “Paul?”. He looked back and said, “Michael?”. So there we were, we embraced and couldn’t believe our luck. We were actually scheduled to be at this cave a few days before this but they had closed the cave due to some training the guides had to attend and we had found a sign telling us to come back on this day. So there we were. We got to spend a good part of the day together and had a great dinner that evening.
When we were planning our trip I knew that one of the most renowned of all contemporary Tibetan Buddhist teachers, a man named Dudjom Rinpoche, had founded a retreat center in the Vezere Valley. He had died in 1987 but I had actually gotten to see him once in New York City a year or so before he died and then spent many years studying with one of his closest students, Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche. I found the retreat center in one of the guidebooks and looked it up on line and was amazed to learn it was located about mid way between Montignac and Eyzies and we would be driving by it several times. We put it on the itinerary and was delighted to find it hidden in a small village back some narrow country roads from the river. It was a beautiful spot and we spent some time exploring and meditating.
The next day after our visit to the Buddhist center we were staying in Montignac and when we were sitting eating breakfast some people came and sat down across the room from us. One man stood out from the rest, he looked to be about five and a half feet tall and had dark skin and long black hair tied back in a ponytail and a sparse beard. I immediately sensed something special about him. He was joined at his table by a couple of younger men who looked to be Americans and then a woman whose dark skin and black hair matched his. I thought maybe he was Chinese or Mongolian but it was impossible to tell except he clearly stood out from the other tourists. We finished our meal and headed out for our day of adventures.
That evening about dark we made our way back to the hotel and walked along the river and found a restaurant with tables looking out over the river. The dark water slipped by, flocks of ducks worked their way along the concourse. We sat and enjoyed our meal and a glass of wine and as we were finishing in walks the exotic looking man from the hotel and the two Americans who had accompanied him. They sat down at the table right beside us. We had finished eating and when they finished ordering their meal I leaned over and started a conversation with one of the Americans. He quickly told me he was from San Francisco and was there to accompany his Tibetan teacher who was on the way to teach at a retreat in Germany and they had stopped here to visit Dudjom Rinpoche’s center. I told him that I was a student of Tibetan Buddhism and had been at Dudjom’s center the day before myself. He invited me to join them for a few minutes and introduced me to the dark skinned man I had seen at the hotel and said his name was Loppon Jigme Rinpoche. I couldn’t believe it, Rinpoche is a title given to teachers who are fully trained to provide students with initiations and empowerments and Loppon is scholarly title something like the head of a department at a college. I shook hands with the Rinpoche in total amazement. We started talking, he spoke great English, and I told him that I had studied for many years with Khenchen Palden Rinpoche and he said that he had also studied with him for many years in India. Suddenly we were bonded, we had the same root teacher. Khenchen had taught at the Nyingma Insitute in Sarnath, India and was the head of the Buddhist Studies Department there before he came to America. Jigme Rinpoche had been a student there as a young monk and had been guided for much of his education by Khenchen. We shared stories about him and then shared our experiences with Dudjom Rinpoche both our personal experiences studying with him and then visiting at the retreat center and how Susan and I had been there yesterday and he was there today. When their food arrived I excused myself and we wandered back to the hotel in surprise and astonishment at finding such an unexpected and unusual connection in such an out of the way location.

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The Psychopomps


In the high Himalayan Mountains ancient ways were preserved especially in area above 14,000.  In the eighth century writing came to this area and among the first things they recorded were books of instruction for conducting funeral rituals.  One of these texts is titled, The Transport Horse Ritual, this along with other texts discovered in ancient libraries at Dunhuang or hidden in ancient monuments, outline funeral rituals for all sorts of occasions. The leading scholar in this field, John Vincent Bellezza says,“It appears that the early historic-period Tibetans were among the last people in Eurasia to systematically record in their literature widely distributed funerary materials that do not bear the mark of modern religions.” (P 255)

Different rituals were needed, depending on the manner of your death.  These rituals were to divine the cause of your death then to summons you to deal with the problem that caused your demise.  This involves bringing your spirit back from the underworld and sending you on your way to afterlife with the ancestors who lived among the stars in the night sky.  The transport horse ritual deals with one aspect of this scenario and that is getting your spirit from the ritual place to which you have been summons to the afterlife in the stars.  This ascension of the deceased requires a vehicle to get them from here to there and in this case it is called the transport horse.  There are obstacles between the earth and the sky that could toss you back into the underworld, you need all the help you can muster and your best bet is to have a good strong horse to ride.  The ritual includes a recitation of your genealogy placing you in a lineage from your ancient forebearers establishing your position in the ranks of the ancestors and the proper burial procedures to assure your successful transition.  The dead are compared to a broken egg shell or a chipped turquoise, things that you are unable to make whole again.  The passage to the otherworld is dependent on your transport horse who must ford the waters of the dead and must know the right place to cross the river which is marked by a rainbow in the sky.  In other ritual contexts the deer and the yak can serve as transport animals.

Funerary rituals were performed as part of the preparation of the corpse and construction of a tomb. If death was premature or violent, if you were poisoned, or died in warfare, or in a fire, or were drowned, or died accidentally; these can result in your being cast into the  underworld, pulled down by demonic forces which must then be propitiated to facilitate your rescue and reinstatement in the afterlife. It appears that in the eschatology of the ancients the dead are immediately set upon by a variety of demons associated with death who then attempt to pull you down into the underworld. Upon death your spirit, which consists of several distinct parts, must be reconditioned and convinced as to its death.  This involved retrieval of the deceased from the underworld with required ransom offerings  Then there is an evocation, calling forth the dead so that the soul can be placed in a special receptacle like a standing stone or mirror. The ritualist has to prepare a tabernacle for the deceased, a receptacle to attract and hold the consciousness of the departed so they can recover from the traumas of the underworld in a safe and protected environment outside the domain of the demonic forces that would pull you back downward.  With proper ritual protection the soul is protected by spiritual forces inherent in the region which are apotropaic, having the power to avert evil influences. During this time the soul can be provided the necessary assistance with a spirit animal which will help it make the final journey. The ritualist prepares the transport animals and gets you ready to move on to the celestial realm.  The remaining rituals were conducted to send the spirit on its way upward. These could include divination, prognostication, diagnosis, and even therapeutic advise, which can send the dead on their way.  The funerary ritual served many functions, first protecting the living from the malefic forces that caused the death of their kin then from certain negative demonic uranic beings that require propitiation followed by genealogical recounting of the dead.  Then the ritualist must assure that the dead recognizes they are dead and prepares them to move on with the help of a transport animal. These transport animals act as a surrogate to help the deceased as they traverse the postmortem terrain.  The horses are outfitted with the proper ritual equipment to assure they reach the celestial empyrean. They can then deliver the soul across a river and through a pass to find a rainbow that marks the entrance to the stellar realm of the ancestors.

Much of the ritual activity involves a pantheon of funerary deities, these elemental representatives include warrior gods, mountain gods and territorial gods.  All these beings need  offerings if you want them to intervene on your behalf.  The ritual enactment involves invocation, appeasement and exploitation with offering such as barley flour, incense, vermillion and butter.  The offering are transformed into smoke which was the preferred food of the gods or the means by which gods could be ransomed to provide their services to make sure the funerary transport animal made a safe passage.  The transport animals act as a guide and propector to help the deceased as they traverse the postmortem terrain.  The horses are outfitted with the proper ritual equipment to assure they reach the celestial empyrean. Maircea Eliade in his book Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy indicates that the horse is, “Pre-eminently the funerary animal and psychopomp, the “horse” is employed by the shaman, in various contexts, as a means of achieving ecstasy, that is, the “coming out of oneself” that makes the mystical journey possible. ..The dominant aspect of the mythology of the horse is not infernal but funerary; the horse is a mythical image of death and hence is incorporated into the ideologies and techniques of the break-through in plane,” the passage from this world to other worlds.” (P 467)  He reported some archaic tribes that, “carve horsemen on wooden tablets which they place by graves…a funeral is accompanied by ritual songs announcing the deceased’s arrival in the other world on horseback.” (P 469) “Psychopomp and funerary animal, the horse facilitated trance, the ecstatic flight of the soul to forbidden regions.  The symbolic “ride” expressed leaving the body,” (p 470) However, horses were not the only psychopomps, animal helpers can include bison, deer,  sheep, ibex, gazelle, antelope and all the wild ungulates of the area which all serve equally well as psychopomps.

The animals found in the Paleolithic caves of France were a pictorial script found on the cave walls  The horses and bison and deer painted on the cave walls could have served as envoys and guides to the other world of the ancestors. To invoke these creatures involved leaving behind the light of the sun to enter a subterranean darkness that required crawling on your stomach through a narrow tunnel to a vast cavern decorated with animals and abstract designs where the myths and legends, rituals and ceremonies, initiations and rites of passage were enacted by the beat of the drum, the song of the flute, the rattle and the bullroarer. The animals depicted on the cave walls were the animal helpers who added in these ceremonies.


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