Ancient Animal Envoys From Caves And Cosmos

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Great Hall of the Bulls, 15,000–13,000 BC, Paleolithic rock painting, Lascaux, France

Ancient Animal Envoys From Caves And Cosmos

“The animal envoys of the Unseen Power no longer serve, as in primeval times, to teach and guide mankind. Bears, lions, elephants, ibexes and gazelles are in cages in our zoos. Man is no longer the newcomer in a world of unexplored plains and forests, and our immediate neighbors are not the wild beasts but other human beings, contending for goods and space on a planet that is whirling without end around the fireball of a star. Neither in body nor in mind do we inhabit the world of those hunting races of the Paleolithic millennia, to whose lives and life ways we nevertheless owe the very forms of our bodies and structures of our minds. Memories of their animal envoys still must sleep, somehow, within us; for they wake a little and stir when we venture into wilderness. They wake in terror to thunder. And again, they wake, with a sense of recognition, when we enter any one of those great painted caves. Whatever the inward darkness may have been to which the shamans of those caves descended in their trances, the same must lie within ourselves, nightly visited in sleep.” (Joseph Campbell in The Way of the Animal Powers).

Exploring the Paleolithic Cathedrals ( Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock)

Exploring the Paleolithic Cathedrals ( Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock)

Paleolithic Cathedrals: The Caves

To enter a great cave is to enter another world. Nowadays most people cross such thresholds in guided groups, walking on manufactured paths while traversing shored-up passageways lit by strings of electric lights. In ancient times the journey was quite different. The underworld cathedrals of Paleolithic times were dark, dangerous, dank, and depressing. There were no enlarged, government-inspected, certified passageways. The ancients had to crawl through small openings carrying torches or some other light source, fully aware that if it went out, leaving them in darkness so profound they could not even see their hand in front of their face, they would probably die there. The sharp, ragged rocks scraped their backs and knees, and unfathomable drop-offs opened up suddenly before them at every turn. They risked their lives and sanity every time. Who would do such a thing? As it turns out, artists did. Again, and again. For thousands of years.

A modern person can visualize the ancient experience by imagining a secret world beyond the human perception realm. Scientists have discovered its existence, right there on the other side of the Higgs Field. It is the quantum world of reality that exists outside human senses, above and below the range of sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. This world exists. It can be traced through use of the scientific method and complex mathematics. Its existence can be deduced by reading thousands upon thousands of years’ worth of mythology about elves and fairies, leprechauns, magic, and earth energies.

The majority of those who inhabit the modern world seem to have forgotten that such a world even exists. But those who get down on proverbial hands and knees and make the effort to crawl through the tunnel, as Alice traveled down into the rabbit hole, discover a world where much is familiar, even though it appears in a seemingly distorted manner. There lies a world of spirit, a world of alternate realities, the Multiverse, the place of alternative perceptions. Alas, it is far easier just to claim that such ideas are superstitious nonsense.

Lions Panel  Pont d'Arc cave, Chauvet Cave (Claude Valette/ CC BY-SA 4.0)

Lions Panel  Pont d'Arc cave, Chauvet Cave (Claude Valette/ CC BY-SA 4.0)

What did the ancients find when they crawled down into those subterranean Meccas of magic? They were greeted by mystical messengers. To enter the famous European caves of El Castillo, Lascaux, Chauvet, Pech Merle, Altamira or more than 300 others, all containing magnificent rock art, is to be greeted by a whole menagerie of hauntingly beautiful representations of animal envoys. Bison, mammoths, bear, deer, and sea creatures abound, painted in such as a way that the very rock formations of walls and ceiling accentuate their features. The famous Hall of the Bulls in Lascaux is a gallery that will easily accommodate up to 50 people.

Lascaux Cave Art: Bison

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