John Anthony West, Author of the Month for March 2008
Consider the Kali Yuga: Prelude to a new book (cont.)
By John Anthony West
The descent is ascribed to a combination of factors: years of famine and failed Nile floods may have brought on the end of the Old Kingdom ca. 2300 BC (an interesting alternative theory: it was a asteroid or comet strike…some sort of major but localized event that destroyed not just Egypt but much of the Middle East along with it.) Then, Egypt's early military superiority was eventually challenged and then defeated by the more warlike (read 'progressive and advanced') civilizations of Anatolia (modern Turkey) then later Mesopotamia to the east and still later Greece to the north. Concurrently, her internal centralized political, artistic, moral and religious authority was eroding from within. One complementary (and attractive) theory claims that the use and abuse of black magic played a significant role. There can be no doubt that magic was rife in ancient Egypt (and actually still is!).
Civilizations come and go; we know that. Roman, Holy Roman (about as holy as Lehner's COMPLETE PYRAMIDS is complete), Mongol, Mogul, Dutch, French, British … all have established themselves, invariably by force, held sway briefly (by ancient Egyptian standards), weakened and ultimately fallen. So where is the alleged mystery?
It lies in recognizing the fallacy of the standard scholarly assessment of Egyptian sophistication - which is actually a deliberate exercise in academic malpractice. As long as Egypt is seen as a kind of magnificent (but primitive) dry run for Greece, leading eventually (by discrete but identifiable stages) to our current state of technological expertise, there is no problem and no mystery. But as soon as that assessment corresponds to reality then the problems arise and the mystery surfaces.
Through the work of Schwaller de Lubicz, Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend (HAMLET'S MILL) and many other careful scholars over the past fifty years or so, it is now clear that not just ancient Egypt, but ancient civilizations worldwide, were far more sophisticated than the societies that followed them. In other words, for a few thousand years at least, what is called progress is actually regress. Indeed, it is only the major advances in our current cosmological and scientific understanding that have allowed these scholars to recognize that the ancients had this knowledge as well; and that it is written into their mythology and symbolism, their understanding of mathematics, their astronomy/astrology and their religion.
Since Egypt's Old Kingdom, up until very recently (and then it gets very interesting indeed … as we shall see) civilization has been going down, not up; simple as that.
We can follow that degenerative process physically in Egypt; it is written into the stones and it is unmistakable. The same tale is told in the mythologies and legends of virtually all other societies and civilizations the world over.
This is the ultimate heresy to our Church of Progress. Progress does not go in a straight line from primitive ancestors to smart old Us with our bobblehead dolls and weapons of mass destruction; our traffic jams and our polluted seas, skies and lands. There is another, and far more realistic way to view history. Plato talked about a cycle of Ages: Golden, Silver, Bronze and Iron (or Dark) Age; a cycle, a wave form - not a straight line. A similar understanding is reflected by virtually all other ancient accounts.
The best known and by far the most elaborately developed of these systems is the Hindu, with its Yuga Cycle, which corresponds to the Platonic idea of four definable Ages (the Hindu Kali Yuga -our current Age- corresponding to Plato's Iron, or Dark Age.) The problem with the Hindu version, however, is the time frame traditionally applied to the separate ages: hundreds of thousands, even millions of years.
No matter how wrong archeologists may be in their chronologies as well as in their interpretations of the ancients, it is hard to imagine they can be that wrong! But not long ago, a little known work on the Yuga Cycle came my way that fits the four stage cycle within the more managable 20-odd thousand year cycle of the Precession of the Equinoxes. There can be no doubt that the ancients were fully aware of the phenomenon of Precession, and that they regarded it as a matter of commanding importance. But it is difficult to see why. I now believe that integrating the Yuga cycle to Precession may hold the key to understanding why the ancients considered it so important, and also, just possibly, to figuring out with some accuracy just where we stand within that cycle.
Of Myth and Meaning
Microsoft Word's in-pc thesaurus lists two meanings or synonyms for 'myth': 1) Legend and 2) Falsehood. Interestingly, the synonyms for 'legend' do not include 'falsehood', while the synonyms for 'falsehood' do not include 'legend'. Nevertheless, in common usage, both definitions are used, often indiscriminately, and in some cases both actually apply. Utterances made by George W. Bush, for example, achieve legendary status instantly, and in most cases, they are also falsehoods. But in dealing with the myths of the ancients, it is wise to exercise caution before summarily equating a legend with a falsehood, no matter that it generally does not correspond to our modern manner of communicating fact. The ancients, obviously, did not think of their legends as falsehoods. That negative meaning is a contemporary judgment, promulgated by Victorian proto-anthropologists of the 19th Century and turned into dogma by Church of Progress devotees in the 20th. (James Frazier's exhaustive, contemptuous GOLDEN BOUGH was probably the most influential single work of the genre.)
Though still prevalent, especially in academia, that Victorian assessment has been under attack almost since its beginning. It is now becoming clear that these strange, seemingly haphazard and irrational ancient tales contain within them forgotten history and profound psychology, but also, amazingly, astronomy, cosmology, physics, genetics and an understanding of the workings of the universe so advanced and comprehensive that it is only the most recent advances in our own sciences that allow us to begin to understand what knowledge was available in the very distant past -- at a time when, according to our 'experts', there was no civilization to speak of at all.
In short, it is time for a total re-evaluation of the knowledge of the ancients. Not only did they know more than we thought they knew; it is also very possible they had knowledge we do not yet have, and that might be extremely useful, even crucial for us to acquire.
An Egyptian myth may be one place to start looking