Ancient Cosmology: A Path to the Future?

From New Dawn 135 (Nov-Dec 2012)

We all know the two celestial motions that have a profound effect on life and consciousness. The first, the diurnal motion or Earth rotating on its axis, causes mankind to move from a waking state to a subconscious sleep state and back again every 24 hours. Our bodies have adapted to the Earth’s rotation so well that it produces these regular changes in consciousness without us even thinking the process remarkable. 

The second celestial motion as defined by Copernicus – the Earth’s revolution around the Sun – has an equally significant effect, prompting trillions of life forms to spring out of the ground, bloom, fruit, and then decay while billions of other species hibernate, spawn, or migrate en mass. Our visible world literally springs to life, completely changes its colour and stride, and then reverses with every waxing and waning of this second celestial motion.

The third celestial motion, the precession of the equinox, is less understood than the first two, but if we are to believe ancient cultures from around the world, it is equally transformative in its effect. What disguises the impact of this motion is its timescale. Like the mayfly that lives but one day a year and knows nothing of the seasons, so the average lifespan of a human being comprises just one 360th of the roughly 24,000-year precessional cycle. And as the mayfly born on an overcast windless day might have no idea that there is anything as splendid as sunshine or a breeze, so might we, born in an era of materialistic rationality, have little knowledge of a Golden Age or higher states of consciousness, yet that is the ancestral message.

Giorgio de Santillana, the former professor of the history of science at MIT, tells us that most ancient cultures believed consciousness and history were not linear but cyclical, meaning they would rise and fall over long periods of time. In his landmark work, Hamlet’s Mill, de Santillana and co-author Hertha von Dechend, showed that the myth and folklore of over 30 ancient cultures around the world spoke of a vast cycle of time with alternating Dark and Golden Ages that move with the precession of the equinox. Plato called this the Great Year. 

Although the idea of a great cycle linked to the slow precession of the equinox was common to multiple cultures before the Christian era, most of us were taught that this is just a fairytale; there was no Golden Age. However, an increasing body of new astronomical and archaeological evidence suggests the cycle may have a basis in fact. More importantly, understanding the cycle might provide insight into where society is headed at this time and why consciousness may be expanding at an exponential rate in the not-too-distant future. If this is so, then concepts like 2012 may have real significance. Understanding the cause of precession is key to understanding the cycle.

Precession Observed

The observation of the Earth’s three motions is really quite simple. In the first rotation we see the Sun and stars rise in the east and set in the west every 24 hours. And if we looked at the stars just once a day, we would see a similar pattern over a year: they rise in the east and set in the west, with all twelve constellations of the zodiac (those ancient markers of time that lie along the ecliptic – the Sun’s path) passing overhead at the rate of about one per month until we return to our starting point in the sky at the end of the year. And if we looked just once a year, say on the autumnal equinox, we would notice the stars move retrograde (opposite to the first two motions) at the rate of about one degree every 70 years. At this pace, the equinox falls on a different constellation approximately once every 2,000 years, taking about 24,000 years to complete its cycle through the twelve constellations. This is called the precession (backward motion) of the equinox, relative to the fixed stars.

The standard theory of precession says it is principally the Moon’s gravity acting upon the oblate Earth that must be the cause of the Earth’s changing orientation to inertial space, a.k.a. “precession.” However, this theory was developed at a time before astronomers knew the solar system could move and has now been found by the International Astronomical Union to be “inconsistent with dynamical theory.” Ancient oriental astronomy teaches that the observable of an equinox slowly moving or “precessing” through the twelve constellations of the zodiac is simply due to the motion of the Sun curving through space around another star (changing our viewpoint of the stars from Earth). Here at the Binary Research Institute, we have modelled a moving solar system and found it does indeed better produce the precession observable while resolving a number of solar system anomalies. This strongly suggests the ancient explanation may be the most plausible, even though astronomers have not yet discovered a companion star to the Sun.

Beyond the technical considerations, a moving solar system appears to provide a logical reason why we might have a Great Year with alternating Dark and Golden Ages. That is, if the solar system carrying the Earth actually moves in a huge orbit, subjecting the Earth to the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum of another star or EM source along the way, we could expect this would affect our magnetosphere, ionosphere, and indirectly all life in a pattern commensurate with that orbit. Just as the Earth’s smaller diurnal and annual motions produce the cycles of day and night and the seasons of the year (both due to the Earth’s changing position in relation to the EM spectrum [light] of the Sun), so might the larger celestial motion be expected to produce a cycle that affects life and consciousness on a grand scale.

A hypothesis for how consciousness might be affected in such a celestial cycle can be built on the work of Dr. Valerie Hunt, the former professor of physiology at UCLA. In a number of studies she has found that changes in the ambient EM field (that surrounds us all the time) can dramatically affect human cognition and performance. In short, consciousness appears to be affected by subtle fields of light. Or as quantum physicist Dr. Amit Goswami would say, “Consciousness prefers light.” Consequently, the concept behind the Great Year or cyclical model of history, consistent with myth and folklore, is based on the Sun’s motion through space, subjecting the Earth to waxing and waning stellar fields (all stars are huge generators of EM spectrum), resulting in the legendary rise and fall of the ages over great epochs of time.

Historical Perspective

Current theories of history generally ignore myth and folklore and do not consider any macro external influences on consciousness. For the most part, modern history theory teaches that consciousness (or history) moves in a linear pattern from primitive to modern with few exceptions. Its tenets include:

  • Mankind evolved out of Africa.
  • People were hunter-gatherers until about 5,000 years ago.
  • Tribes first banded together for protection from other warring parties.
  • Written communication must precede any large engineered structures or populous civilisations.

The problem with this widely accepted paradigm is that it is not consistent with the evolving interpretation of recently discovered ancient cultures and anomalous artefacts. In the last hundred years, major discoveries have been made in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, South America, and many other regions that break the rules of history theory and push back the time of advanced human development. Specifically, they show that ancient man was, in many ways, far more proficient and civilised nearly 5,000 years ago than he was during the more recent Dark Ages of just five hundred to a thousand years ago.

In Caral, an ancient complex of unknown origin on the west coast of Peru, we find six pyramids that are carbon dated to 2700 BCE, a date contemporaneous with Egyptian pyramids and rivalling the time of the first major structures found in the so called “Cradle of Civilisation” in Mesopotamia. However, Caral is an ocean away from the “cradle,” and we find no evidence of any writing or weaponry, two of the so-called necessities of civilisation. What we do find is beautiful musical instruments, astronomically aligned structures, and evidence of commerce with distant lands, all signs of a peaceful and prosperous culture.

Gobekli Tepe presents an even greater challenge to current accounts of history. This site in Turkey, dated to 9000 BCE, contains dramatic architecture including carved pillars of huge proportions. To find something so large and complex long before the dates accepted for the invention of agriculture and pottery is an archaeological enigma. These sites defy the standard historical paradigm. But what is stranger still is that so many of these civilisations seemed to decline en mass.

In ancient Mesopotamia, Pakistan, Jiroft, and adjacent lands we see knowledge of astronomy, geometry, advanced building techniques, sophisticated plumbing and water systems, incredible art, dyes and fabrics, surgery, medicine, and many other refinements of a civilised culture that seemed to arise from nowhere yet were completely lost over the next few thousand years. By the time of the worldwide Dark Ages, every one of these civilisations including the big ones, Egypt and the Indus Valley, had largely turned to dust or nomadic ways of life. Near the depths of the downturn there were ruins and little else, while the local populace knew nothing of the builders except through legend. And in some areas where larger populations still remained, such as throughout parts of Europe, poverty, plague, and disease were often rampant and the ability to read, write, or duplicate any of the earlier engineering or scientific feats had essentially disappeared. What happened?

While records of this period are still very spotty, the archeological evidence indicates that consciousness, reflected as human ingenuity and capability, was greatly diminished. We seemed to have lost the ability to do the things we used to do. Ironically, this is just what many ancient cultures predicted. The world’s foremost Assyrianologist, Stefan Maul, shed light on this phenomenon in his Stanford Presidential Lecture where he tells us that the Akkadians knew they lived in a declining era; they revered the past as a higher time and tried to hang on to it but at the same time lamented and predicted the Dark Ages that would follow. His etymological studies of cuneiform tablets show the ancient words for “past” have now become our words for “future,” whereas their words for the “future” have now become our words for the “past.” It is almost as if mankind orients his motion through time depending on whether he is going towards or away from the Golden Age.

This principle of waxing and waning epochs of time is depicted in numerous bas-reliefs found in ancient Mithraic “mystery school” temples. The famed Tauroctany, or bull-slaying scene, is usually surrounded by two boys, Cautes and Cautopetes, with one holding a torch up on the ascending side of the zodiac, indicating it is a time of light; the other holds a torch down on the descending side of the zodiac, indicating it is a time of darkness (see example on page 48). As the chart on the opposite page shows, these time periods correspond with the Greek description of when the Earth goes through periods of rising and falling consciousness.

Mithras and the Bull. This fresco from the mithraeum at Marino, Italy (third century) shows the Tauroctony and the celestial lining of Mithras’ cape. On Mithras’ left and right are the two boys Cautes and Cautopetes, with one holding a torch up on the ascending side of the zodiac, indicating it is a time of light; the other holds a torch down on the descending side of the zodiac, indicating it is a time of darkness.

Jarred Diamond, the well-known historian-anthropologist and author of Guns, Germs and Steel, makes a good case that it is primarily local geographic and environmental advantages on the planet Earth that determine which group of humans succeeds or fails versus another. Those that have the steel, guns, and bad germs win. While this helps explain many regional differences of the last few thousand years, it does not address the macro trends that seemed to have affected all cultures (including China and the Americas) as they collectively slipped into the last worldwide Dark Age. The cyclical or Great Year model overlays and augments Diamond’s observations, giving a reason for the widespread downturn. It suggests that it is not just the geography and environment of man on Earth that determines his relative success but also the geography and environment of the Earth in space that affects mankind on a macroscopic scale. Just as small celestial motions dramatically affect life over the short term so it appears that large celestial motions colour life over the long term, resulting in the seasons of the Great Year. 

Understanding that consciousness may indeed rise and fall with the motions of the heavens gives meaning to ancient myth and folklore and puts anomalous cultures and artefacts (such as the Antikythera device and the Babylon battery) into an historical context that makes sense. It speaks to why so many ancient cultures might have been fascinated with the stars and it provides us with a workable paradigm in which to understand history. It could also help us identify the forces that propelled the renaissance and that may be accelerating consciousness in the current era. Myth and folklore, the scientific language of yore, provide a deeper look at consciousness throughout the different ages.

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An Ancient Look at the Future

The Greek historian Hesiod tells us of the wonderful nature of the last Golden Age when “peace and plenty” abounded. Hopi myths tell us of cities on the bottom of the sea. Typically ancient peoples broke the great cycle into an ascending and descending phase, each with four periods. The Vedic culture tells us that when the Autumnal Equinox moves from Virgo to Aires, we go through the ascending Kali, Dwapara, Treta, and Satya “Yugas” (the latter being their Golden Era) before slowly declining in reverse order as the equinox completes its journey. The Greeks and other early Mediterranean civilisations used like periods and labelled them the Iron, Bronze, Silver, and Golden Ages. More distant cultures such as the Maya or Hopi used still other names such as “worlds” or “Suns” and numbered them to identify specific epochs.

Whatever the language used, the concept is the same. The sage, Swami Sri Yukteswar, in his book The Holy Science (1894), illustrates that when our solar system is at a point farthest from its companion star, mankind’s consciousness is at its lowest point (last occurring around 500 CE), and when the Sun is at its closest point (next occurring in 12,500 CE) consciousness will reach its highest point of this cycle. The points are seen in the sky by where the autumnal equinox Sun intersects one of the twelve constellations of the zodiac (the celestial clock). When the AE Sun is in Aries, which is almost always placed in the 12 o’clock position of the zodiac, then the Earth is in the best possible stellar environment, making it easy for many people to experience an awakened state of consciousness. And when the AE Sun is in the constellation Libra, conditions are at their worst and a Dark Age, a period of deluded consciousness, prevails. 

Presently we are just a few hundred years into the ascending age, crossing over from what the Greeks would call the Age of Man (Iron) to the Age of the Hero (Bronze), yet still very far from the Age of the Demigods (Silver) or the Age of the Gods (Gold), which are utterly inconceivable to us at this time. This means we are now awakening from a time when individual consciousness perceives itself as purely a physical form living in a strictly physical universe to a time when we begin to see ourselves and the universe as more transparent mostly made up of subtle energy. This began with the discoveries of the Renaissance (principles of electricity, laws of gravitation, microscopes, telescopes, and other inventions that expand our awareness) and has accelerated since with quantum physics that teach us that matter and energy are interchangeable, and Einstein’s concepts that even time and space are relative. In short, we are back on the upswing just beginning to “re-member” ourselves as pure consciousness living in a world of undreamed possibilities.

According to Paramahansa Yogananda, the author of Autobiography of a Yogi, by the year 4100 CE (when we cross into the Treta yuga proper) “telepathy and clairvoyance will once again be common knowledge.” It may seem far-fetched but according to myth and folklore there was such a time on Earth before, in about 3100 BCE, the last Treta yuga. That is what Genesis would call the pre-Babel age, when mankind communed freely with nature before God “confused the tongues.”

People often forget what the world was like just 500 years ago when every nation was at war with one another, plagues and poverty regularly decimated large populations of the Earth, lifespans were half what they are today, individual rights were nonexistent, and justice was doled out by torture, inquisition or burning at the stake. Yes, the world still has problems but consciousness is now expanding rapidly. According to Time magazine over 17 million people are now meditating in the US alone. Increasing awareness manifests in many ways, most visibly as technology, with many believing we are now approaching a point of singularity, but it is so much more. Can there be any doubt our improvements across all areas of society over the next 500 years will be off the charts compared to the last 500?

This article was published in New Dawn 135.

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