“The Roman Catholic Church was an alien institution lying heavily across the soil and the soul of Western European men and women.”—Me
Heavy stuff. And isolating too.
I mean, who has the temerity to fly in the face of everything we’ve been taught— and continue to be taught—about the foundation of our culture and civilization?
Christianity? Sacrosanct. Not to be touched. Taboo.
Pseudomorphosis? Abstruse. Why bother? Like relativity in physics: what has it to do with us?
But imagine a young man or woman with music in their souls. Instead of taking music lessons to develop and mature the natural inclination of their beings, mommy and daddy send them off to law school because it promises status and money. The neglected music withers and dies and the man or woman, adult now, wander through their life, perhaps outwardly successful, inwardly lost and yearning for something forgotten. Not an uncommon tale today.
That example of what can happen on a personal level can and does occur on the collective as well, to entire communities such as the Blackfoot Nation I wrote about in the last two posts.
And that is precisely what has happened to us, you and I, or at least our ancestors in Western Europe, some thousand to fourteen hundred years ago.
That’s the idea I carried around for over ten years. Alone. For who is discussing even the possibility that Christianity, rather than being one of the foundational stones in the entire construct of Western Civilization, was an alien institution derived from an entirely different civilization which impeded and stunted our development, our full and integrated blossoming as human beings? Who indeed?
Dark times they were. A wilderness.
But then it happened.
I had read and thoroughly enjoyed Joseph Campbell’s The Power Of Myth. Even watched the PBS videos.
One day I picked up volume four of his Masks Of God series, titled Creative Mythology. Starting to read, I was immediately captivated. He was reviewing the ground covered in the first three volumes, the meaning and purpose of myth from the very dawn of our human, all too human epoch to the present era. And he was retracing the giant strides that had been made in our understanding of the universe, from Copernicus to Einstein.
Then, on page thirty-one, was this:
“Oswald Spengler, in The Decline Of The West, coined the term ‘historical pseudomorphosis’ to designate, as he explained, ‘those cases in which an older alien culture lies so massively over a land that a younger culture, born in this land, cannot get its breath and fails not only to achieve pure and specific forms, but even to develop fully it’s own self consciousness.'”—Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology
Oh boy, I was electrified! Someone else out there had read and pondered the idea of pseudomorphosis! And someone no less than Joseph Campbell!
And then…on the very next page…cue the chorus of elves, trolls, and angels…
He was reviewing the case of what Spengler termed ‘the Magian pseudomorphosis’, when…
“…and in like manner the North European culture developed throughout its Gothic period under an overlay of both classical Greco-Roman and Levantine biblical forms, in each of which there was the idea of a single law for mankind, from which notion we are only now beginning to break free.” (italics mine)—Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology
Life is ALL there is. Wondrous, beauteous Life!
Right here and right now!