Godpyre: The Cosmology of North African Paleovolcanism
By R. Avry Wilson @2005-2006
Our planet is a pretty big place. It would take many lifetimes to travel the globe just to visit every square mile of it, and many more to take the time to sit and contemplate the things we see along the way. There are places of such extreme beauty so as to boggle poets into fervent scripting, but are evidently balanced by spots and specks of some of the most dangerous and fear-inspiring formations and events we can imagine. Of these are majestic volcanic peaks occurring the world over, and for the most part they rest silent, towering above us like massive stone gods commanding us to live in peaceful harmony under their slopes. Here at the foot of these great, relatively docile beasts can be found some of the most fertile soils in the world. So if it isn’t the sheer adoration of the sight that draws us to them, it is the basic human observation that rich earth can provide the best in food sustenance, fresh shadowed air and a focused mountain community. Put simply, it’s a nice place to live … until, of course, the most powerful geologic event known on Earth decides slowly to make its rumbling energy and thrust felt from miles beneath the surface, ending in unspeakable catastrophe.
Just as these violent scenarios have played out most recently at locations such as Mount St Helen in America’s northwest Cascade mountain range or the eruptions of Pinatubo, Pelee and Nevado El Ruiz around the world, they also occurred at other remote (and not so remote) locations over the course of recorded history, through the Holocene and on into the distant past before, during and after the dinosaurs ruled the Earth. An eruption – large or small – can hardly have gone unnoticed by any living creature at any time. And since our human capacities allow us to blend cosmologies into what we see much deeper than the average member of the animal world would, it should come as no surprise that when we look to the roots of human psyche (be it historic or prehistoric) we find remnant allusions to and accounts of volcanism.
The intent of this work is to therefore investigate and consider the influence of volcanic events and how they relate to historic beliefs of ancient peoples, in which case an excellent historical candidate is the group residing in northeast Africa, namely (but not limited to) the ancient Egyptians. By examining their texts – focusing on their chief creation myth – and by looking at the pyramid form itself we find there are quite evident markers for volcanological influences. Given time frames of eruptions in the surrounding regions (especially those of a greener Saharan environment), more recent continuous activity of the Bayuda Volcano Field (and others), plus migration routes of people on the African continent as related to environmental changes of the past 10-20 thousand years, there can be little doubt of the people of the Holocene having witnessed such cataclysms, eventually incorporating them into their lore.