Our innate impulse to divide, rule, demonise and kill ‘others’, is legitimised by competing polities and nations. Mainstream Divide and Kill culture is measurable by defence budgets, news headlines, and war game addiction (Gervasi et al 2017). But Divide and Kill culture, and its creeds of ego, elite ops units, spies and glory-or-death gamble; prompts counter-cults of defection, gangs, gurus, and gambling on a mumbled oracle. Dissent serves our innate impulse to seek peace, spiritual competence, maturity and meaning via universal ethics and gnosis. Oracles of the Dead offer to invoke the Great Equaliser; to seek subconscious justice against physical might; to conjure ancestors and enemies; to gamble or bargain with heaven; perhaps to ruin hell; to judge self and others; rescue the righteous; purge; and live to tell the tale. Ayahuasca tours and suburban cells worldwide is our current oracle of ghosts, apparently offering a shortcut to the difficult quest for integration via outer and inner Egos, Shadows, Animas and Self. But necromancy requires as much strategy as war.
This article is Part I of three parts of a draft chapter for the planned book, Cult and Culture Code, by Edmond Furter, author of Mindprint; and of Stoneprint; and editor of Stoneprint Journal.
Conscious culture is destructive
Our exploding population entrusts our resources and fates to ever larger polities, under fewer and more distant leaders; against ever larger and more distant enemies. Populist, fundamentalist socio-economic politics reduces identity, humanity and meaning itself to stereotypes (Giunta et al 2018, citing Jung 1916, 1975; Winnicott 1968; Zoja 2009; Pergola 2010; Sideli et al 2018). As our institutions grow larger, they trade in shorter terms and lower levels of material and spiritual aspirations; and offer justifications, recognitions, escape mechanisms, projections, and mild penalties for excesses. Patriotism is an addictive habit.
Subconscious culture hints at a map
Ayahuasca’s visionary variability, uncertain outcomes, and apparently ‘exotic’ pedigree, are part and parcel of its gambler’s allure. But aya visions also induce many character features that recur in all cultures and cults (see the Subconscious Keys section below). This article demonstrates that the source of culture and cult is archetype, not supposed ‘invention and diffusion of cumulative cultural memory’ (see the Trance Dance section below). The main difference between aya and other drugs (see the Drugs section below), is that aya prompts visions of life and death, heaven and hell, culture and cult, in surreal mixtures. Trippers may encounter a god recognisable from a myth, after spies, goons and sexy models recognisable from psycho-drama movies (Traveler 2009). Trippers have little control of visionary episodes. McKenna (1989; New maps of Hyperspace) noted the need to map the subconscious landscape. Some websites invite reports for collating and comparison (DMT Times; Manifesto). This article notes clues to physical, ritual and Gnostic preparation for the trip, in sources ancient (see Gilgamesh, and Osiris below), classical (see Odysseus, Eleusis, Pandora, and Vedas below), religious (see Canaan below) and anthropological (see Recurrent Features below). Structuralist analyses of the layers of subconscious behaviour in artworks in this article, and the tables of archetypal features, offer a format for this unfolding map of behaviour, perception, nature, and ultimately parts of archetype itself. Physical, spiritual and social risks and hazards of the long journey to maturity, are multiplied in the apparent quick fixes of war or necromancy. Spirit houses in Thailand (Brown et al 2017) are among many examples of the need to separate the living and the dead, and to ritualise any breaches in the great divide between life and death. The Tibetan Book of Life and Death (Book of the Dead, Bardo Todol) offers prayers to guide a departing soul, and to prepare still living relatives, to safely cross the Shadow land of startling masks and monsters. The philosophical, Gnostic and psychological ideal is to understand and tame Ego, Shadow, Anima /Animus and Inner Self, not to get stuck or lost in the subconscious.
Wrestling personal and social Shadows
Oracles of the dead support our eternal quest for self-discovery, from Gilgamesh’s trip to pre-Flood Utnapishtim; via Egypt’s Hall of Judgement; pre-Etruscan tunnels in the Bay of Naples at Baia; Homer’s Odyssey; Ephyra; Hades; Eleusis; Pandora; alchemy from China to Europe; Maccabees; Crusades; Mayan vision snakes; Dante’s Inferno; Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili; and psychedelia, to Death Rap rhymes. Certain plants, mites or fungi are used in elixirs of fume, smoke, steam, ferment, urine or blood, to prompt a parallel psychic process. The quest starts in conscious darkness. ‘Enlightenment is not from imagining figures of light, but from making darkness conscious,” noted Jung (1945). Even rational Western culture recognises that Inner Self, collective subconscious, and utopia lie beyond Ego, Shadow and Anima, in the realm of angels, gods and archetypes. Getting there requires quest, judgment, and purge of a vault of repressed, unsocial, unbalanced, un-integrated, supposedly ‘externalised and outsourced’ health and environmental debit.
To tip the environmental and economic scale in favour of the necessary global co-operation, Giunta et al (2018) propose self-knowledge, to “expand our visions of interaction, and configure a common living space to share gifts and privileges.” Some eras in the Indus Valley (Pakistan), India, China (Chou or Djou dynasty, when philosophers formulated natural structure into the I Ching or Jee Jing archetype oracle), Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere, demonstrate that national utopias remain attainable. Other eras, particularly in the Mideast, Europe, and Easter Island, demonstrate that living hell is our default condition. It takes more than education and popular psychology; and strong leadership, to tame the inherent greed by which dominant cultures degrade the average quality of life. We divide and rule ourselves by re-styling the same behaviour to look like different ‘cultures’; and by layering each ‘culture’ into classes. We rally against ‘foreigners’ while our sheer numbers demand global economy, as the EU recognised. It may take supernatural masters or ‘alien’ enemies to enforce collaboration, and to recognise that we all share the same culture with different branding.
Subconscious keys to behaviour and meaning
Raising subconscious behaviour to conscious understanding, requires a map of perception and meaning itself. Since ‘the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name,’ as Confucius noted about BC 400 (Traveler 2009), then we should identify the content and source of recurrent behaviour. A multi-disciplinary study of psychology, structuralist anthropology, sociology, philosophy and art history, applied to the global cultural record from the Ice Age to Gobekli Tepe and modern data (Furter 2014; 2016, revealed archetypal structure as the source or ‘periodic table’ of nature, culture and meaning itself. This article cites archetypes identified in legends, by their Aarne -Thompson -Uther (ATU) catalogue numbers, after Uther (2011). The ATU catalogue still excludes major myths, and is Euro-centric (Le Quellec et al 2019). This article also cites archetypes in cultural media worldwide, by mindprint numbers and labels (see the table in the Recurrent motifs sections below). We subconsciously express sixteen clusters of features, attached to cultural characters which have their eyes or focal points on an axial grid (Furter 2016; 2018. And in structuralist artwork analysis examples in this article). Death and oracle features in cultural media often express two axial opposites, or flip sides, in one; such as 5 Priest or Ritual, versus 13 Heart or Death. This 5 versus13 or 5v13 axis frequently interchanges their features, indicating that integration of opposites is inherent to ritual, oracle and death themes. Oracle themes also often express the four half-types (c-types) and four galactic features (two p-types and two g-types. See the table in the Recurrent motif section below).
War types and oracle types
Persistent motifs in afterlife quest myths, reveal the archetype and source of Death cults as a cluster of meanings, including death oracle (Grateful Dead legend, ATU catalogue number 505; archetype 13c Basket Head); and reincarnation (ATU E600 -E699; type 12 Heart or Inverse); and hat, lid, weave, tree or time. These features, often cited in Hyperspace ‘tour’ reports (Mc Kenna 1989), are now identifiable and measurable as part of archetypal structure.
Mainstream Divide and Kill culture also has a cluster of repetitive features. ”An average American youth sees 200 000 violent acts on TV before age 18,” reported AAFP (2019). ‘Action’ series body counts run over 20 per episode (Funeralwise 2019). Shakespeare demonstrates the limitations of virtual tragedy in his play Titus Andronicus. War ethic is grand tragedy, but in ‘entertainment’ it is dumbed down to panoramic voyeurist violence, thinly justified by revenge for an ancestor (ATU E200 -E599; type 12/13 Heart or Death, inversion, weapons, war, water-work, or angel); or by territorial gain; or by uncertainty of peace (such as the Cold War); and by ‘license’ to kill. Culture and counter-cult both manifest within the bounds that eternal archetype lays down for matter, energy, nature, behaviour and meaning itself.
Gilgamesh found a herb, oracle, and ancestral tale
The oldest known story in the world, Sumeria’s Gilgamesh epic, starts with a king weary of war and his own domestic exploitation, setting out to seek an inner Self. He breaks the taboo against looking back (ATU C961.1; type 2, twisted posture), to visit a swamp in Aratta, northern hills, Land of the Dead, to talk to the Ultra Wise, Utnapishtim, who had survived the Flood. Parts of the Noah story in the Bible continue Sumerian via Babylonian versions, sustained more by archetype than imitation. King Gilgamesh, nicknamed ‘Heart (type 13 Heart) of the People’ (type 5, assembly), dug up tablets to read of former civilisations. He is the first known anthropologist. He lives beyond his city’s means when his uncle dies (godfather’s death, ATU 332, KHM 44; type 12 Heart Invert). His reminder of death, or memento mori (ATU 2021 -2024; 13c Head) sparks early midlife crisis. Consoled by a new friend, bull-man Enkidu (type 1, bovid), he takes a grand tour or quest; tames animals (ATU 1115 -1144; type 15 Maker); finds a herb of immortality in a pool (AT 2044; 5Cv13c); but a snake steals the herb (ATU 554, KHM 17; 9c Basket Lid). They are consoled by beer (type 14 Mixer, transformer). Through a reed wall oracle (AT 480; 2c Basket) Gilgamesh hears of judgement (types 5Av12), catastrophe (AT 20 C, A1000 -A1099; type 1), and survival or resurrection (types 5Bv13). Similar features play identical roles in trance and ayahuasca visions.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead includes 42 Declarations of Innocence, as preparation for negotiating the land of the Dead. Religious reformer Thomas Cranmer had incidentally declared 42 Articles of faith; the last being against eternal damnation (he probably did not have access to the Egyptian text, as we have now). Cranmer was burned in the real world for his efforts. In the nonsense poem Hunting of the Snark (see another post on www.edmondfurter.wordpress.com at Archetypes in Hunting of the Snark), the Baker has 42 boxes; is abducted by a spirit; pays a ransom; but loses logic and disappears in ash.
The Egyptian Innocence text is a precaution to enable return and not being captured by spirits; “a multitude will arm themselves against you to seize you… three sit there as toll collectors… and take away souls by theft.” This resembles episodes in Homer’s Odysseus (see below); and temptations of saints such as St Anthony (see Part II). “Their guard will say to you, ‘Who are you or where are you from? This challenge resembles aya tour reports by McKenna, and on DMT Nexus (2009). The recommended answer from this Egyptian wisdom literature is: “Say to him, ‘I am from the Pre-existent [archetypal] Father, and a son in the Pre-existent [archetypal] One’… say to him, ‘They are not entirely alien [foreign], but from Achamoth, the female. These she produced as she brought down [manifested] the race from the Pre-existent [archetypal] One. So then they are not foreign, they are ours… and she is from the Pre-existent [archetypal] One. At the same time they are also foreign, because the Pre-existent One [archetype] did not have intercourse with her, when she produced them.’ (Incidentally, this text is one of the extant models for the Gnostic and Christian allegorical mystery of virgin birth.)
Ayahuasca users should expect similar challenges by ‘tollgate keepers’, yet few make any kind of preparation at all (as Barbelo challenged one user in a comment on an aya thread on Grahamhancock.com). Oracles are not merely pharmacies. The supposedly short or fast route to the land of death, requires as much effort as the tedious self-search, integration, maturity, spiritual practices and rituals that it seeks to bypass. Since ayahuasca is currently the major counter-cult, anthropology should study aspects of behaviour (religion, ritual, gods, angels, spirits, icons, archetypes) that all the human sciences have studiously avoided, fragmented, and even ignored. Popular ayahuasca literature should include all the Books of the Dead (Egyptian; Tibetan; Mayan and more), and studies of archetype as explored by Plato, alchemists, Jung, Levi-Strauss, and structuralist anthropology.
God of the Dead, dissected soul, Osiris
Egyptian God of the Dead, Osiris, expresses several types (Cavalli 2010), thus including transformation (AT 514; type 14 Mixer). He is tricked into a coffin (container 13c, interior 13, womb 11) by his brother (doubled 15) or uncle, who is underworld god Seth (15 Maker, soul churner); thrown in the Nile; drifts to sea (water-work 12) and underworld (11p); mates with his second sister Nephthys, washes up at Byblos in a cedar tree (ATU 1052; 14 Mixer. And man to object D200 -D299; type 14), used as pillar (9 Healer) for a palace roof (9c Lid). Seth dismembers him (13 Heart, dissection) and scatters fourteen (time, calendar, 14 Mixer) pieces over the world (5b v13), which his sister-wife Isis collects to transform (D 10-99; 14 Mixer). Jackal-man Anubis (canid 15) helps to rebuild (re-create A2600 -A2699, E0 –E199; 5v12, 7v15) him, but his genitals (4p, 5c Tail), eaten by fish (4p), are replaced by wood (tree 6). Isis and Osiris’ ghost (ancestor 13) beget strong Horus (bird 2, former spring 2) and crippled Harpocrates (child v doubled, 7v15; unfold 7g v15g]. Osiris’ ghost (ancestor E200 -E599, type 13) trains Horus for eternal battle against Seth in marshes (borders 7g v15g); and judges (5a) souls of the dead; and shares immortality (Osiris summary after Erdinger, cited in ARAS 2019). Osiris expresses two processes (double 15); leaving and returning to Egypt; as well as physical and psychic deaths and resurrections (re-create, end-start 15, 15g).
The Osiris myth cycle has counterparts in all cultures, including Greece. When Hades abducts Persephone, Demeter searches for her, and she spends half the year on either side of death or consciousness. Erdinger notes iconic episodes in myth, that depth psychology equates with integration of four parts of Self; Ego (double, 15 Maker) encounters misfortune (15/0) on meeting its devil brother /sister or Shadow (double 15); Ego enters a chest (womb 11) at sea (11p); is dismembered (limb-joints 7g), dissolved (formless, buck bag 7), decapitated (7); Ego and Shadow via Anima /Animus is collected, embalmed, immortalised (manifest 7); to become Self or Djed pillar, tree, obelisk, spine (4p). This Egyptian myth expresses four types analogous to the four galactic points or crossroads (as in Peruvian myth), consisting of two galactic poles (4p v11p) and two galactic gates (7g v15g).
Alchemy expresses the same archetypal process, but anchored at the four ‘large’ types (2v9 and 5v13). In the alchemical text Splendor Solis, for example, a swordsman (weapon, scythe 13) dismembers (12) a body, as conscious assimilates subconscious for integration and individuation.
Popular pseudo-official afterlife guides
Every culture claims some knowledge of, and influence over the afterlife, using myths, scenes, maps and rituals. Guidance to departing spirits include Egyptian Book of the Dead (Manifesting by Day); Tibetan book of the Dead or Bardo Todol (‘Do not be deceived by terrifying masks, they are harmless, stay calm and continue to heaven.’); Revelation in the Bible; angelic and demonic hierarchies; or Hyperspace (McKenna 1989). At Abydos, Egyptian gods of the dead were revered at the tomb of king Seti I, named for Seth, a re-creator (15 Maker). Osiris (see above) persisted at Abydos up to AD 75. Serapis (snake 9c Lid, 10 Teacher) was invoked here, and lived on in Roman Empire marketplaces (trade 10). In Egypt and Greece, Osiris and Serapis were partly replaced by Bes (monster 2c v9c), whose Abydos oracle (revelation 9c) was closed by Romans in AD 359. Despite official theology and guidance, there is always a market for first-hand glimpses of heavenly pleasures or hellish horrors, and oracles sell such otherworld glimpses (F0 -F199; types 2c v9c, 5c v13c, 7g v15g, 4p v11p).
Counter-cults use oracles of the dead
The Oracle of the Dead in the Bay of Naples at Baia or Pouzzouli was one of the famous spiritual pilgrimage sites that the Greek world inherited from an unknown culture (Paget 1967. Temple 2003). Perhaps an outpost of Sumer, Egypt, ‘Amazonian’ steppe nomads, or proto-Etruscans, these precise tunnels run through hard volcanic tufa to an underground stream named Styx. The short entrance tunnel is aligned to midsummer sunrise, the long final section deep underground aligned to midsummer sunset (Paget 1967). These alignments may date to Age Taurus, when the spring sun was at Pleiades, and midsummer sun at Leo heart star Regulus. Odysseus stopped here on his way home from the Trojan War.
In Greece, Delphi issued riddles to promote learning, philosophy and diplomacy, and hosted treasuries and monuments as a kind of UN campus. But in Greek Italy, Baia took wealthy, troubled clients via purging potions, vivid mural paintings, herbal drug baths, sleep deprivation and fumes, down long passages, across an underground steam in a barge, to see actors dressed as shades of departed spirits (Temple 2003). As the practice commercialised, the trips became more profitable, more standardised, less well prepared, leaving clients dazed, intimidated and melancholy for the rest of their questing lives. In Roman times, Baia became an elite suburb of senators and emperors. Caesar left home from here on his fateful day in March BC 44. Slaves in Italy from many parts adopted the Oracle of the Dead as their spiritual centre. Early Christianity gave them struggle theology, ironically based in a ‘chosen race’ narrative. Rome was tolerant, but two emperors suppressed death cults and firmly blocked up the Baia oracle.
Odysseus tours the underworld, his son follows
The Land of the Dead plays several roles in the Odyssey. The crew visit Kirke or Circe (type 3 Queen), nymph of Aiaia Island, daughter of Helios, Sun (4 King) and Okeanid Perse (2c decan Perseus), mistress of drug potions (2c Basket, decan Algol). Her song calls lions, wolves and monsters (dragons pairs 3). Her drug and wand (perhaps wheat ergot) changes men into pigs. Odysseus, ’Child of Anger, Pain Giver’, is a wronged ancestor (13), justifying revenge (invert 12 Heart). Telemakhos, ‘Far Warrior, Bowman’ (weapon 12), or ‘Last Mouth, Travelling Poet’ (oracle 13c Head), heir to the ancestral tale, as the compiler Homer was; becomes stepson of Telegonus, ‘Born Afar, Foreigner’, perhaps a suitor, who had killed his father Odysseus. The son conjures or is possessed by his dead father to fight off suitors to his mother Penelope; the archetypal multiple personality disorder or Oedipus complex (Gutchess 2001). Telemakhos kills and condemns (judge 5a Priest) suitors’ souls to the underworld (4p), and marries underworld queen Circe (3 Queen), who had helped Odysseus to enter while still alive (Homer; Odyssey 10.480-541). Thus the son projects an ideal but ‘dead’ mother and a myth, onto his bride.
Homer tells a vivid story: ‘At the furthest end of Ocean is Cimmeria in mist and cloud… I sprinkle white barley-grains (powdered wheat ergot?)… From Erebos come spirits; brides, boys, old men, innocent girls in grief, wounded, men killed in battle, terrible… Teiresias comes with a golden sceptre (15 Maker), drinks some blood, and foretells: ‘Earthshaker (storm, quake, type 1 Builder or Ruiner) will bother you for blinding his son Cyclops (15 1 2 3); at Thrinakia Island (perhaps Sicily), do not eat the Sun’s cattle or sheep; sail in an alien ship (ship monster, AT 1179; 15g), kill suitors at home; carry a balanced oar (arms up, staff 10 Teacher) inland, away from salt, to where travellers name it a winnowing fan (wheat 11 Womb), plant it there; offer to Poseidon… return home and sacrifice hecatombs [herds, eight or twelve or more cattle] to the gods… (now) return to the light fast. (Live to) tell your wife.’
Persephone (3 Queen) sends a parade of great women (3 Queen), and king Minos, now judging and ruling the dead with a golden sceptre (5, 15), including heroes, criminals, victims of temptation (Tantalos is in eternal thirst and hunger despite a lake and fruit trees, perhaps an image of conscious and subconscious, eternally out of reach); and souls in purgatory (Hercules in perpetual battle (war 13) and misery for labours set by an inferior man, including a trip to hell to fetch the dog (9c decan Lupus) of Hades (9c Lid). Persephone (2, 3) may release the Gorgon monster head (2c Basket, decan Algol). Her man is Hermes (3, 15) of the underworld, with a golden rod (sceptre 15) of sleep and wake, herding souls past Ocean streams (15g) and sun gates (15g Gate) in earth’s cellars. As Odysseus descends to see the spirit of his mother Antikleia, via Circe and Persephone; so his son Telemakhos projects his mother Penelope via Circe, Calypso, Polycaste or Nausicaa (rescued princess, AT 506; 3).
Death oracles (type 9c Lid) reveal ironic ‘riches’
Necromanteia or death oracles were dedicated to Hades, who takes Persephone to the underworld, where they keep life to sprout again like seeds. His trident staff (metal 10); triple-headed dog (canid 9); and oracles (9c Lid), reveal his role as inspiration (10 Teacher) via trance (9 Healer). His father is Chronos or Saturn (death 13, 13c Head, and time 14). Time is a feature of all four half-types. As in Sumer, Babylonia and Egypt, Greek querents summoned departed souls at certain sites. This peculiar quest is part of quarter-life and midlife crisis, typically at about ages 26, 54, 80 and 112, the last possible Saturnian rite of passage (TheCut 2018).
Hades had only one city, at Elis, Eleia or Ilida (now Amaliada) on the Peloponnese in southern Greece, dedicated to the Dead, mines and metals (10). It was a neutral trade city, west of Arcadia’s yearly wildfire hell. Many Elians were free travellers, Perioeci. Hades feast and games were hosted every 100 years, about the Saturn return. The first Olympic Games were here in BC 776, and every eight years or five Venus cycles, symbolic of a king’s death and a prince’s succession; and of bridal abduction. Elis temples opened once a year, but only a priest enters (Bellingham 1998). Hades was commonly named Plouton, Wealth (metals 10), in Rome renamed Dis, Riches (irony for Poverty). Supplicants pray to him not standing with hands raised, but kneeling (bent forward 9), pounding earth with hands or short staffs for souls to hear. His cult offered good seats in the underworld.
Eleusis offers archetypal vision; easy to recognise, hard to re-tell
Greek counter-culture was a serious business. Solemn torch processions from Athens to Eleusis symbolised the Arcadian Elysian Fields, destination of souls. Initiants share a drink, an oath of silence on pain of death, and feel individual inspiration. The drink may have been ergot from Rarian plain rye or Water Couch grass; or psilocybin from Amanita Muscaria mushroom; or a mixture. Tales circulated of two divulgers found dead at the wall, perhaps a cover story for occasional deaths by overdose, or by the wrong strain of ergot. Syrian or Mediterranean Paspalum distichum grass mites contain only hallucinogenic alkaloids, used directly in powder form, linked to visions of Demeter, Kore and Triptolemus as progenitors of barley and wheat (Wasson, Hoffmann & Ruck 1978). Wasson et al noted that “the best comprehension of archetypes was inspired by this non-fatal strain of natural LSD”. Plato had noted that archetype lies behind fleeting and imperfect experience, an Ideal, original, true, eternal pattern. Wasson believed that Plato’s insight came with a vision at Eleusis. Philosophers and poets, including I Ching developers, and Paracelsus, acknowledge and use archetype, but had no list. Jung had isolated some types, but proposed no comprehensive model or format (see Furter 2014, 2016).
Pure LSD does not induce ergotism disease, but is no picnic either. Chemist Albert Hofmann at his Sandoz lab noted in 1943: “0.5 cc of half pro mil aqueous solution of diethylamide tartrate orally, or 0.25mg tartrate, diluted with ten cc water. Tasteless… dizziness, anxiety, visual distortions, symptons of paralysis, desire to laugh… Home by bicycle… most severe crisis.” Then his notes become scrawled, pseudo prophetic, his personality dissolved in sensory assault, kaleidoscopic images in flux from a central point (vortex 7g), like Gothic buttresses, vaults, pillars, ferocious flowers (buck bag 7), masts, ropes (7) and flight (Neurokunst.com)…
See Parts II and III of Ayahuasca oracle of the dead as counter-cult, on this website. This is an extract from a draft chapter for the planned book, Culture and counter-cult code, by Edmond Furter, author of Mindprint; and of Stoneprint; and editor of Stoneprint Journal.