Fear and Panic versus... Common Sense and Fact.
When a natural disaster happens, we watch the news with fascinated shock. Earthquakes, Tsunami’s, landslides and volcanic eruptions. Mother Earth again was in the process towards giving birth.
Like a Queen bee, the moment she started to give birth she never stopped. Every year, the earth shakes with contractions. Every year new land somewhere on our blue planet is ‘being’ born.
However, Mother Earth’s newly born come at a price. She gives, she nurtures and she certainly takes... a lot. While the world’s human population is worrying about the outbreak of swine flu that has so far killed 49 people worldwide (of which 45 were in Mexico) our great planet steadily continues to claim thousands.
We get extremely concerned when it concerns a different type of virus, especially considering the fact that the common flu is still claiming on average hundreds of thousands of lives world wide a year?
According to statistics published by Reuters an estimated 250,000 – 500,000 people die of common flu every year. The fear for a pandemic may well have risen because of the high claim of lives caused by the Spanish flu which killed globally around 50 million people.
However, if we put it back in its proper historical place we will find that it hit the world just after the First World War (1981 – 1920). The human population was still recovering from the damage caused by the war which made us very vulnerable based on humanitarian as well as technical reasons.
We deal with the common flu rather casually; we shrug our shoulders annoyed with our runny noses and sore throats; we take some Lemsip and continue to go to work passing the bug on to our colleagues. We don’t panic; we sulk instead for feeling miserable. Not once does it cross our mind that the flu can kill us, we are more concerned about keeping a good reputation with our employer in order to secure the continuation of our employment.
Just to put forward another perspective concerning the global death rate and our casual acceptance.
A research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health for the year 2000 revealed that the largest killer of the human population is smoking!
For the year 2000 between 4.83 (uncertainty range 3.94-5.93) million premature deaths in the world were attributable to smoking.
Do we see panic in the eyes of a person lighting up their next cigarette?
Who knows, the occasional thought may pass within their minds that it may shorten their life expectancy but many are not concerned at all and continue the habit despite the numerous warnings.
We can observe a similar response when it comes to the possibility of being killed by natural disasters.
Since the year 2000, an estimated average of 46,000 deaths a year have been caused by earth quakes alone. One could argue that the claim of lives caused by the Tsunami has increased the average significantly but, check throughout history and you’ll find that the average doesn’t change that much.
The Tsunami in 2004 was caused by an earthquake that took place in the sea and indeed it was the water in the end that claimed lives (est. 225,000). We only have to go back to 1976 and we’ll find that the claim of lives in China was an estimated 650,000 people.
Billions of people are living on the known fault lines which are the high risk areas. Some of the wealthier countries have taken steps to improve the building methods to reduce the mortality rate in the ‘likely’ event of an earth quake. However these improvements are minimal to avoid a large death rate.
Many people are aware though that they are living in a high risk zone; some still occupy land near working volcanoes. Do they seem worried?
After a natural disaster, the first thing that happens after the recovery exercise is the rebuilding of the villages and towns. Most people that used to live in these towns simply return to pick up the threads of their lives again. Are they worried for another Earth Quake? Did they improve the structure of the new buildings to avoid a high mortality rate for a possible future earth quake? Is there fear or panic in their eyes?
Our death can come to us in many ways. But some roads that lead to our passing seem to cause more panic than others.
Why is there an almost casual acceptance when it comes to death by natural disasters, or self imposed health risks (such as smoking) but panic when it comes to the risk of viral diseases?
We may find the answer in the history of our own psychological evolution. The development of our human psyche can be found through interpretation of World Religion. This includes the Myths as well as the modern main stream religions. One of those entrepreneurs in the study of the human psyche is Carl Gustav Jung. His most notable work was based on psychological archetypes (myth and religion) as well as the collective unconsciousness and synchronicity.
His work on the collective unconsciousness explains his findings concerning the religious aspects that have shaped our human psyche.
According to Jung we spend as much time in the ‘dark’ (unconscious state) as that we reside in the ‘light’ (conscious state). Modern man due to historical political events adapted to integrate a new religion and therefore repressed the older spiritual knowledge.
Although, change can be enforced overnight but that what has been recorded in the ‘ether’ so to speak remains unchanged for a very long time and will adapt slowly.
This ‘ether’ Carl Jung called the Collective Unconsciousness, a kind of record of all processes of human evolution; including basic animal instinct to social and emotional developments. We all contribute to the Collective through our own conscious developments in our earthly lives.
Some examples for contemplation:
Constantine the Great enforced Christianity between 325 – 600 AD. This ‘Christian’ influence to our ‘conscious’ psyche has been in existence for a mere 1700 or 1400 years. But the underlying unconscious mythological psyche outweighs it by hundreds and thousands of years.
Another example is the breaking away of the Spiritual aspect from Alchemy.
This separation created the now modern form called ‘Science’. This is even a more recent introduction to the human conscious psyche. The development towards modern science started to truly take off in the 18th century which is compared to the Collective Unconsciousness a pin prick of time in order for the human population to adept.
The collective unconsciousness influences us through dreams and always lies in waiting in our conscious state. It represents itself in our conscious state as a ‘shadow’. A name Carl Jung gave to describe our ‘not so pleasant’ negative self. This ‘shadow’ personality is also known in Western esotericism as the ‘Dweller on the Threshold’ or the ‘Watcher/Guardian of the Threshold’.
An alter ego we often unawares tap into, especially at moments when it comes to instinctive self preservation.
It represents itself in many ways.
For example when asked to do somebody a favour, our shadow may influence us with disinterest and laziness. It is our intellect and love that will overcome that dark beast and offer our services to that person with a loving smile.
The same way that our intellect will tell us that eating too much sugar would be bad for our health, our dark self will tell us that a chocolate bar for lunch instead of a sandwich will be ‘ok’ because for our ‘shadow-self’ food is food.
It is in our instinct (part of the shadow personality) to run away from a house or forest fire and seek safety, if we let this instinct rule we may well run away in a blind panic and in the process step in front of a fast moving car. It is by overcoming our instinctive self that we jump into a burning house to save our loved ones or a neighbour. Our base emotions are also part of the shadow and can cause us to put ourselves at risk.
The tragic story springs to mind of the couple who jumped in a river with a dangerous current to save their beloved dogs. They both died in the effort and left their young children without their parents.
Our intellect controls the basic instincts and emotions. It allows us to judge a situation more accurately. It monitors our feelings and puts it in perspective to what is the ‘greater good’.
The shadow is selfish in the way of ‘instinctive’ self preservation. It simply has not evolved quick enough to have integrated the new risks within our modern lives; it allows us to be greedy, selfish, deceitful and a host of other unpleasant traits, an ancient survival of the fittest.
It is in all of us, we only have to look at the British Government and their expense claims!
So what has this theory to do with the way we react when it comes to the mortal risks of natural disasters versus viral disease?
Let’s take into consideration that Carl Jung based his philosophy on spirituality. He was of the opinion that modern people rely too heavily on modern science and logic and like the Alchemists of Old was of the opinion that humankind would benefit from integrating spirituality and appreciation of unconscious realms.
Instead Spirituality and Science both have evolved separately and became for lack of a better word: Unbalanced.
To apply Jung’s theory to the question raised in this article, the way we react to Natural or Self inflicted death versus death through disease, we only have to look into some of the ancient mysteries and philosophies to gain an understanding.
As explained in my previous article through the philosophy of Pythagoras we find one example out of many to how important astrology/astronomy was to the ancient sages. This art can be found back in all religions, even in the modern mainstream religions. The proof can be found in the way churches, mosques and other religious buildings have been placed or even just the dates of important religious holidays. All have been influenced by astrology through the solstices, equinoxes or alignment of certain planets (for example Venus and Mercury), the rising of the sun etc, etc.
The planets were the Gods and Goddesses of the ancients. If each planet has according to for example Pythag
orian philosophy a ‘soul’ then so has the one that we live on: Mother Earth.
The earliest humans lived around 200,000 years ago. They were more Ape than Human and the environment they lived in was challenging in different ways than we certainly face now. We can thank them for our instinctive fear for predatory or poisonous animals. But we can also thank them for our casual acceptance when it comes to natural disasters and seasonal diseases or even self inflicted harm.
Early humans certainly saw the Earth as the Mother that had given birth to all living beings including rocks and stone. Stone was also seen as having a spirit.
Not surprising considering that through erupting volcanoes they saw the birth of new land. Through Earthquakes they witnessed the old land being ‘swallowed up’. The womb of Mother Earth is always moving. Her womb is known by us modern folk as ‘tectonic plates’. Along the edge of the plates we’ll experience the Earthquakes or we’ll find the many volcanoes. These together we could consider as her birth canal. When her giant plates move; over a long period of time our planet creates, destroys and reforms continents and oceans. When her plates collide, she creates mountains, island arcs, coastal volcanoes and when her plates move apart, molten rock rises and creates for example new ocean floors.
Over the hundreds and thousands of years our ancestors witnessed the same cycle over and over again. Old land was making place for new fertile land, the volcanoes in some cases created completely new islands.
For modern human it is probably strange to compare our Planet Earth with human traits. To see her as a woman that is giving birth. However, what we may find strange in our ‘modern’ society was normal for our ancient ancestors.
The creation Myths are a great example to how our ancestors passed their knowledge on and how they created an acceptance to death. For them reincarnation or the continuation of live in some shape or form was as clear as glass. There was no doubt that the spirit would live on.
The seed of doubt in our human psyche came in existence when politics, power and modern science became more important than humanity and spirituality.
In some of these myths we learn about mothers eating their children. Almost all of the children are swallowed whole. Those myths where the mother succeeds she gives birth to the same children again or they are regurgitated. These children were more pure of soul and often described as half-gods. You can find here a good description to our earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. What she takes, she recreates.
In some later myths we’ll find a similar thing happening with fathers eating their children.
One of these myths is about father Saturn (or the Greek equivalent Kronos) eating his children.
This may come as a surprise but again looking at the estimated date of this myth, we’ll find that humankind has learned that it takes male influence to reproduce.
The male aspect of the planet Saturn we find symbolised in archetypes such as Father Time or the Grim reaper. The female aspect of Saturn is the ’Womb of the Mother’, the place where all the souls go, awaiting rebirth. The Father influence represents the seed.
Where is the link between Saturn and Earth?
The key to understanding is Astrology and Alchemy. Rhea also known as Gaia was an Earth Goddess and wife of Saturn. She was also given the title of being the mother of all Gods and Goddesses. In this myth we find described the astrological influence of the planet Saturn on Earth and the beginnings of the philosophy of the creation of our solar system.
The term ‘As above so Below’ should be taken in mind when considering the symbolism that comes with Father Time: the Hourglass.
The hourglass is a representation of the exchange between the material world and the spiritual world.
A death in the world of Spirit is a birth in the material world and vice versa. Each particle of sand that drops down into the bottom of the hourglass takes the place of the unseen air that filled that space previously which is a symbolic separation of the spirit from the material body.
The material goes back to the ‘underworld’ the material womb of Mother Earth to be purified for a new material creation that is so well symbolised by the volcanoes spouting out new land. The spirit like air rises up to the spiritual womb of the Goddess associated with birth and also with the planet Saturn: Hecate.
As quoted by Manly P. Hall concerning the Mysteries:
‘the spirits of men are the powdered bones of Saturn’. The bones are the framework, the foundation which supports the composite framework of mind, soul and body. Hence another symbol for Saturn is the Grim reaper, a skeleton holding a scythe.
The framework of Mother Earth or the Goddess Rhea/Gaia is therefore symbolised in Stone which also takes on the meaning of ‘rebirth’. We find this in the myth of Deacalion and Pyrrha. This Myth tells us that the Gods destroyed mankind, only Deacalion and Pyrrha are left alive. They entered a ruined sanctuary to pray. The oracle directed them to cast behind them the ‘bones of their mother’. Construed that the cryptic message of the God to mean that the Earth was the Great Mother of all creatures, Deucalion picked up loose rocks and bidding Pyrrha to do likewise, cast them behind him. From these rocks sprang forth a new race of human beings. A woman sprung up for each stone casted by Phyrra and a man for each stone casted by Deucalion.
As explained by Manly P. Hall: ‘In this a allegory is epitomized the mystery of human evolution; for spirit, by ensouling matter, becomes that indwelling power which gradually but sequentially raises the mineral to the states of plant; the plant to the plane of animal; the animal to the dignity of man; and man to the estate of Gods’.
Through mythological philosophy we can see how human thought evolved concerning ‘Mother Earth’.
Those that are interested into studying myth will find that the Gods and Goddesses were not monogamous or predominantly heterosexual when it came to relationships. Myths were written to pass on a host of different types of knowledge, like historical/political events, ethics, morality, spirituality etc. etc. The variety of relationships either highlighted the positioning of the planets and stars, or the conquest of one ruler over another.
In our modern world we are in many ways still following ancient rituals. Now you have read this article you probably will have a different perspective on our own death rituals be it burial or cremation, we are in fact returning the material body back to the great mother and place ‘stone’ marker on the grave or we gather the ashes and keep them in a 'clay' urn. Both methods are ancient symbols of ‘rebirth’.
Considering the knowledge and understanding of early human it doesn’t come as a surprise that, death through natural disasters causes less panic as hidden away in our psyche lurks the understanding of the ancients concerning rebirth. (Of course we react when we are experiencing a quake but only those that have and survived it will be able to tell in their own words how they responded. The way the local people reacted to the tsunami was for example very different to the western people).
Do take in account though that it was for the ancients of great significance that the body had to remain ‘together’. Hence the children were swallowed whole and in some myths we find that if a God or Goddess was carved into pieces that all pieces were necessary to complete a perfect ‘rebirth’.
This may well explain that we have an instinctive fear for viral diseases as they in one way or another ‘deform’ the body (such as leprosy) and make it therefore incomplete. According to ancient philosophy rebirth would still take place but it would show the missing body part as a deformity in the new physical body.
As for self-inflicted harm through for example ‘smoking’, again it is only a recent modern discovery that the habit causes disease in the body. Our ancestors perceived smoke as sacred; it never occurred to them that it would affect their health. One could assume that the ancients were of the opinion that smoking is good for you and this information has become also part of our shadow-self. Therefore our fear for disease caused by smoking doesn’t kick in naturally in fact our shadow-self may even try to convince us that there is absolutely no harm in it.
Here you will find an ongoing battle that is taking place in many smokers. Who is the most likely one to win, common sense or ancestral complacency?
It will take many future generations to update and balance the ‘Collective Un-conscious’. Modern man however is living in a ‘quick fix’ age. We want to swim before we can walk. Some of us try to convince ourselves that continuation of live after death exists but are in despite our words in doubt, others will completely abolish the thought of an afterlife. This conscious doubt makes many of us live our life as if it is the only one we’ll ever have.
It can make us tip into impatience, greed and disrespect for our environment and all other living creatures. The fear of the Atheist for the ending of their ‘one’ live can be found back in the desperate scientific attempts and millions of pounds invested in the research for prolonging the one live and finding a cure against aging.
We truly live in a material age, an age that has successfully encouraged our greedy instincts to rule.
Modern economy designed to encourage greedy opportunists to rule with the majority gaining wealth through complete disregard to our environment, health, emotional, spiritual and social welfare.
The Modern condition: Stress and Depression and how are we taught to conquest this? Anti-depresants and a host of other expensive pharmaceuticals.
Ah, Great Mother Earth where will you decide to swallow up 'corrupted' land next?
After all she’s made corrupted Atlantis disappear, so judging by some of our World’s Governments...
she has a lot of choice.
But...who knows modern scientist may be able to buy us some more time to make amends and invent an epidural for Mother Earth!
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