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Ask For the Ancient Paths

by: taBu

       The natural world is our greatest teacher. I like to think of the Creator as a master artist. Artists who are masters can reveal beauty, help us to feel and tell the truth in ways that speak to our soul and minds and hearts more profoundly than any lecture or "civilized" way of learning. 

Most of the lessons i consider the most valuable to my learning process have come from artists i have been moved by. If someone reveals something to me--the true meaning of apocalypse--to reveal or unveil--i long to understand their processes more so i can feel and know and understand more--because i know i am veiled and cannot see and feel the true existence.--so i read about the artists that have inspired me and listen to what inspired them and try to find out everything i can about them--through studying their art or music and having relationships with the people who have created the reflections--in order to get more of that unveiling to happen---ultimately a deep longing for the "world" i know to end.

God's art is the natural world. The Creator has revealed and embedded everything about the character of truth, beauty and real existence in what has been created. To know the Creator truly, we cannot be separated from what has been made.

but we do not listen.

we are separated from it and are forced to continue to separate ourselves from it.

the prophet Jeremiah reminds us:

This is what the LORD says:
       "Stand at the crossroads and look;
       ask for the ancient paths,
       ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
       and you will find rest for your souls.
       But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'---------Jer. 6:16

We are finally becoming aware in this culture that we are at the crossroads: One way goes towards civilization--(domestication, patriarchy, division of labor, technology, production, alienation, objectification, control, the destruction of life).

 The other way is what the prophet says are the ancient paths--the good way, the way that indigenous cultures have lived and died defending ever since the "civilized" came a knocking.

For far too long christianity has been antagonistic and wrongfully hostile to the old ways of the "pagan cultures". when their traditions and lifeways embody and reveal the truths of god and the call of the Gospel far more than any "civlized  pseudo-christian culture"--no matter how many times it uses the name of christ to justify its ways.

if we can ask for those ancient ways and listen to creation and to the ones who have been listening again, i believe we will hear the deep harmony that reveals and unmasks the lies that are desperately clinging to their illusions because they know their time has come, for the earth's groans are too loud to be ignored any longer.

There is death coming. but there is also resurrection promised--and always has been.

listen to the ancient ways.

The resurrection of Jesus was "forth-told" not only by the prophets.  The pagan myths do not necessarily explain the resurrection of Jesus, but the resurrection of Jesus validates the core of pagan myths, the resurrection archetype, and universal human experience of the resurrection theme. This interpretation, it is suggested, will help in the rehabilitation of the Christian imagination shown through the ancient ways of listening and living.

The Resurrection Archetype Carl Jung wrote of a resurrection archetype. I do not use the concept precisely in a Jungian sense. For me, the resurrection archetype is a meaning structure in the human psyche based on universal human experience. It is not something innate as Jung averred. Nor is the resurrection archetype limited to psychological applications.

As theologian Leon McKenzie has laid out:  "This meaning structure, furthermore, is the primary model for the death-revival myths of antiquity. The resurrection archetype began developing in the memory of the human race, I suggest, from ancient times. Resurrection myths also began emerging early on out of this archetypal matrix.
Experience of the resurrection theme in the natural world led to the formation of a resurrection archetype in the collective unconscious of the human race. This archetype is the source of myths of dying and reviving pagan gods.  In God’s providence the resurrection archetype prepared human beings for God’s decisive action within human history: the bodily resurrection of Jesus from death--seen, felt and understood as deeply true long before through what Creation has always revealed.

The Resurrection Theme in the Created World

Out of what frequently repeated human experiences did the resurrection archetype originate? There are at least seven major and often-occurring phenomena that shaped our collective unconscious. "Death and resurrection" themes were associated by the ancients with: 1) vegetation; 2) the sun and climate on an annual basis; 3) the sun on a daily basis; 4) constellations in the night skies; 5) awakened states from sleep; 6) tribal fortunes; and 7) human moods.
Many other resurrection motifs manifest themselves in the created world. It is relatively easy to identify these motifs when someone begins looking for them. The seven listed here seem to be the most significant.

Seven Resurrection Themes


Concern for the success of the harvest in ancient times was suffused with a powerful sense of wonder. Not much was known about why things died and grew again. All that was known was that the planting - the burial - of seeds in the Spring conduced later to a harvest, if other conditions such as weather were congenial. For the pagans (our ancestors who were also God’s children), if the gods took care to "resurrect" mere buried seeds, might the gods not also be solicitous for dead members of the tribe who were buried? One of the effects of this focus on the mysteries of the decay and growth of vegetation was the construction of the resurrection archetype.


It did not take long for our ancient ancestors to associate agricultural cycles with climatic cycles. When the sun seemed to die at the end of the year, vegetation also died. The death and resurrection of the crops had something to do with the annual death and resurrection of the sun god. Did the death and rising again of the sun god on a yearly basis have anything to do with the genesis of the resurrection archetype? I think this repeated universal human experience helped fashion the meaning structure we call the resurrection archetype.

The Daily Death and Rising of the Sun

The sun god died and lived again, on an annual basis. The sun god also died every evening and arose again every morning, according to the perceptions of ancient peoples. The demise of the solar disk and its reappearance each day must have had a tremendous impact in the unconscious realms of the human psyche. This daily reminder of the death and resurrection of the powerful sun etched the resurrection archetype in the collective unconscious of the human race.

Stellar Phenomena

One of the great pastimes of the ancient world was the study of the night skies. Navigators, shepherds and sages marveled at the starry vault. They took particular interest in the constellations. A constellation is a configuration of relatively bright stars based on imaginary figures. These constellations, at particular seasons and from particular perspectives on the earth, died each night but were born again on the following night. The wonders of the night skies disclosed - as so many other experiences revealed - the resurrection motif in the cosmos. The resurrection archetype that came into being was based on our ancient ancestors’ reflective experience of repeated resurrection patterns in nature.

Sleep and Wakefulness

Sleep has been compared to death in many literary works. We lose our consciousness in sleep and regain it when we wake. During thousands of years this pattern of losing oneself in sleep and gaining a new, refreshed self in the morning, has been an essential component of shared human experience. Sleep and the awakening from sleep reinforced the emergence of the resurrection archetype. This experience of the death and resurrection motif each night and morning was a powerful occasion for the development of the resurrection archetype.

Tribal Fortunes

For untold years every tribe and/or local community experienced the wane and wax of good fortune. Durations of drought or defeat in battle could mean the death of an entire community. A fruitful harvest or victory in tribal combat could mean literally the continuation of the life of the community. The community was especially important in the ancient world. Without a community a person could not live physically or emotionally. Rugged individualism was unthinkable. The making of the resurrection archetype was something that affected everyone.

Mood Changes

The world each of us sees each day depends to a certain extent on our moods. Our moods, Martin Heidegger claimed, affect our very being-in-the-world. If I have a dark mood, the world appears to be a melancholy place. When my mood changes from sad to glad, the world becomes a joyful place. The taste of renewal that comes from a sad to glad mood change may well be compared to a sense of deliverance from the belly of the beast. This taste of "death" and "resurrection" in respect to moods may be likened to a foretaste of one’s own resurrection. Even mood changes, then, contributed to the formation of the resurrection archetype.

Pagan Myths as Proleptic

The resurrection archetype has been operative for unnumbered ages in the psyche of the race. This archetype exerted a great influence over tribal myth makers and story tellers. This fact is central to any informed understanding of the origin of myths of death and revival. Sometimes such myths were constructed around the deeds of a local hero who brought great boons to the community after undergoing severe tests. That is, years after the death of a local hero, myth makers embellished his legend with stories of some kind of revival from the dead.
This, according to the late Joseph Campbell, is the great monomyth, the myth that sums up the lesson of all myths. Later, the myths were redacted and retold regionally. Some of the myths of so-called dying and rising gods became accepted by entire peoples in larger geographical areas.
Pagan revival myths, in their own ways, prepared the way for the message of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The word prolepsis is attributed to anything that represents a future event as if it had already taken place. Myths of dying and reviving pagan gods (which are essentially different from the announcement of Jesus’ resurrection in crucial ways), were products of the common human experience of the death and resurrection themes manifested in the natural world.
Yet something good can be said about the myths that grew out of the thematic resurrectional structure of the natural world via the resurrection archetype. Pagan myths, along with their lifeways--like the ancient  jewish people and their myths--when they do not get co-opted by empire or civilization--but continue to listen to the themes of the natural world-- pointed the way obscurely - by way of hint and insinuation - to the key event of history, the resurrection of Jesus.

The Credibility of the Kerygma

When people heard the Good News heralded for the first time, many were moved by the ideas and images of the resurrection archetype - under the prompting of the Holy Spirit - to affirm the message they heard. They might well have said to themselves, "Yes, the announcement of the resurrection of Jesus is in accord with what I have sensed deep down in my heart all of my life. Also, the resurrection of the Son of God seems very real because of the intimations contained in ancient myths that preceded Jesus’ resurrection. These myths were faint and garbled whispers of what was to occur at a central point in history. The resurrection of Jesus is worthy of belief because of the truthfulness of those who bear the message and because the message itself has about it the ring of truth. The Good News finds resonance in my soul. The resurrection of Jesus validates my lifelong experience of the world and the seeming ’messages’ the world has often spoken to me."
A young man once stated at a conference that he accepted God and morality, but could not accept the resurrection of Jesus since it was redolent of ancient structures of imagination and thinking. The resurrection of Jesus may be unacceptable to some because it evokes ancient meaning structures at a time when only the newest ideas are assumed to be correct. The resurrection of Jesus, however, would be unacceptable to many of us, if it was not redolent of ancient meaning structures.
The same God who raised Jesus from the dead is the God who created the ancient structures of imagining and thinking. He is the same God who filled the cosmos with images of death and resurrection and enabled us to interpret these images in terms of Jesus’ resurrection.

Why Resurrection Motifs in Nature?

There remains one more interesting question raised by this brief summary. Why was the world created containing, as it were, the death-resurrection motifs that appear everywhere in nature? Here is an answer worth pondering: The very act by which God created the world was an act referable to the death-resurrection theme. He created the world out of a nothingness similar to death and brought it into a dynamic being comparable to life.
The very act of resurrecting cosmos out of chaos is the fundamental pattern of death-resurrection that is repeated everywhere in the workings of the cosmos. 
The Creation is telling us what is real. The ancient ways and their vision keepers are under attack by civilization.
whose side will we be on? who will we listen to? which way will we go?

Stand at the crossroads and look.