In our previous show on Witzel's book Origins of the World's Mythologies, we learned that the vast majority of world mythologies share the same narrative structure or overall storyline. But what does it mean, and why has it endured for so long, among so many peoples? Today we look at the final chapter of Witzel's book, where he ties it all together, along with our own expansions on his ideas. With reference to psychology (including Jordan Peterson and Kazimierz Dabrowski), generational history (the so-called "fourth turning"), and a hint at a future discussion: the history of earth's encounters with cataclysm-causing cometary encounters.

Running Time: 01:03:18

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Here's the transcript of the show:

Harrison: Hi everyone and welcome back to Mind Matters. Today we're going to be returning to the discussion a couple of weeks ago that we had on Witzel's Origins of the World's Mythologies. Here's that book again. We're going to talk about the last chapter, the one that we hadn't read yet when we did that show. {laughter} So for all those listeners and viewers who are upset that we hadn't finished the book, well we finished the book and now we will talk about that.

That's actually what I find to be some of the most interesting things. We talked about the basics of the skeleton of what the book is about in the previous show, which is the majority of the book, just making his case for those two contemporary systems of mythology that stretch back 50 or 60 thousand years to their original forms back then and all the evidence for that. He gets into all of the comparative mythology from all different kinds of regions, oral and textual sources for all of these myths.

So he pretty much makes his case over several hundred pages of the book and it's kind of hard to discuss all that without getting into all the minutiae, the minor details. So if you're interested in that, then you really have to read the book to see how he makes the case with all that data. What he does in the last chapter is to sum it up and give his thoughts on the overall meaning and significance of these mythological systems.

So in that chapter, he highlights about six areas and themes that account for that, not only the longevity but the possible reasons for that longevity, what made this system of mythology, this narrative structure, this story line survivable, the reason why it has stuck around for so long, why it wasn't just a story? If you look in contemporary culture, you look at the number of books published, for instance, every year and you go back 100 years and you look at all the books published, the vast majority of them, no one reads anymore. They're out of print. They've just fallen off the face of the earth.

So what makes something last, essentially? This is what Nassim Nicholas Taleb would call the Lindy effect. It's something that has something about it that makes it last, that makes it relevant today, even though it might have been written thousands of years ago. That's why he talks about how that's one of the important things that used to be in education with the study of the classics because you were reading things that were still relevant today, that have stood the test of time and are still relevant, still meaningful. That is a kind of test of a sort in the history of human culture. What lasts and what doesn't? There's an almost Darwinian process with ideas where bad ideas, maybe some good ideas too, but there's something about some ideas that makes them not last, makes them very situational and context dependent and after a generation or two they're just discarded. They're not remembered. They don't make any impact.

Taleb would argue that chances are if something doesn't survive, then it didn't have very much value. But there's always going to be exceptions. There's always going to be the forgotten classic, the book or piece of music that was written hundreds of years ago or 100 years ago that fell out of favour and no one remembered it and then someone re-discovers it and says, "Oh wow! This is a forgotten masterpiece that our current culture has neglected!" It may experience a kind of renaissance but probably in most cases that's not what's happening. Things get forgotten for a reason; it's because not everything that gets produced can be exceptional, by definition. Whether it's in the arts or any kind of writing or academia, there's going to be the vast majority of stuff that is just blah, that's not really even worth remembering just because it doesn't make an impact, it's not saying anything original. But there's going to be that small minority of cultural productions that are relevant then and will continue to be relevant.

So that's what he's saying about the Laurasian mythological system, that there must have been something about it that was significant because it has lasted, arguably, for 50,000 years in its overall structure. Some of the details have changed and morphed over time but for sure there's something in that structure that has allowed it to withstand the test of time.

Before we get into the six areas that he focuses on, one of the reasons that he gives for this longevity is that you can read this mythological story line, this narrative as a metaphor for life. It will be relevant in some way, even in a symbolic way, perhaps even in an unconscious way, to every human being because it's representative of their life in its universal aspects. I'm going to read a couple of paragraphs on that to give an idea where he's going to go with this discussion. He writes,

"The Laurasian storyline thus, is a metaphor of the human condition, of human life from its mysterious beginnings to its impending ominous end. It was the genial stroke of the creator of Laurasian mythology that it correlates and thus explains at the same time, both the universe and the human condition, where we came from, why we are here and where we will go. Laurasian myth is a metaphor applied to everything around us, to the world and to the divine powers that govern it. It answers in an encoded and shrouded way and on a symbolic and metaphoric level, the eternal question 'why are we here?'

Viewed from the present vantage point after detecting the Laurasian storyline, Laurasian ideology seems to be based on a fairly simple idea, the correlation of the life of humans and the universe. But someone about 40,000 years ago had to come up with it first and it is closely related to the concepts of the Paleolithic hunt, the rebirth of animals and shamanism. As it is closely related to these things, it must have been a shaman who did so."

So he's giving his thought on what individual or group of individuals must have come up with it given the historical context of the time. So he links that to shamanism. That is supported by various other parts in the book where he's talking about the hunter-gatherer systems and cultures and how they were shaman-centered and the shaman would be the one who passed on the mythological tradition, all the stories and myths. It makes sense that it would be the shaman that came up with it in the first place.

One other thing, on the next page he adds,

"Yet there is more to the Laurasian novel.Iit's myths work on many levels as all well-constructed myths and other artistic creations should indeed do. Laurasian myth, (he then lists bullet points).

1. Is an interesting story in itself, one that people like to retell constantly and elaborate on.

2. Is based throughout on common human experience, something that, due to common human brain structure, is easily translatable, understandable and applicable by correlation to the world around us.

3. Offers an explanation of the human condition and of the world around us in our own human terms.

So just in there, we've got this overall explanation for why it's so universal and why it's universally applicable and therefore maybe why it has lasted for 40,000 years or more. This is where what he's saying might have the most resonance with a Jungian approach or Jordan Peterson. Like we said in the last show, he doesn't really give much credence to Jung's hypothesis that the universals in the world mythologies come down to this shared, instinctive, collective unconscious because it's demonstrably not true that all cultures share all of these elements. There are only a few features, like he argues in the sections on Gondwana - and before that the Pangean myth system - there are only a few features that are shared universally and it doesn't much resemble much the Jungian approach.

I read a couple of Jung's books, one on psychology and alchemy, where he's looking at Wolfgang Pauli's alchemical dreams and that's one of his arguments for this collective unconscious, that Pauli couldn't have known about these alchemical symbols and images and that it must come from the collective unconscious, the implication being that anyone, at any point, at any time in human history could have had the same dreams and the same alchemical images. Well Witzel would say that's probably a stretch if you look at the actual history and the actual record of what mythological systems, symbols and images there actually are.

That's what he wouldn't agree with about Jung but what he would agree with is that there is a shared human nature, essentially, that these myths can speak to and account for and be applied to. So this is where Jordan Peterson's approach in Maps of Meaning is relevant, where he tries to find the really true universals and relate them to basic psychological processes and brain chemistry on another level. So there's this multilevel approach.

I mentioned this in the last show that we did on it. There's the literal storyline but then there's the hidden meanings and the suggested meanings that speak more to the subconscious, that don't speak in literal words but speak on this more symbolic, metaphorical level. People do respond to that. If you do any study into filmmaking, for instance, a good filmmaker understands this. Not only a filmmaker but film score composers. They understand that there are certain techniques and certain ways that people respond, to either certain types of music or the combination of certain types of images, even directional things. People respond to symmetry or things in or out of perspective or left/right dichotomies, up/down and certain kinds of cutting and all this stuff that's speaking on a non-verbal level, that's saying something on a non-verbal level.

So there's going to be that going on in this myth too. That's what he gets into with his six subsections in this bit.

Elan: Just a quick note on the subject of films and filmmaking, I recently watched a movie called King Kong: Skull Island.

Harrison: That's a great one.

Elan: And I was thinking about Witzel's point about local cultures depending on millennia of path dependencies that have made their way into modern realizations. Arguably, most screen writers are influenced by other film, stories and novels. If they've read any religious literature obviously that's going to be an influence. But there are certainly a number of elements to that one film, and probably a lot of others, that include the conflict of monsters, the incorporation of the rituals of the native people, which seem to be a kind of modern day, watered-down pop culture translation of Laurasian myth-making, or the first great novel as Witzel likes to call it.

But aside from that Harrison, I was wondering where he would go with all of this because, like you said, this is a few hundred pages of comparative mythology where he's breaking down the mytho themes and motifs of all of these different cultures that span throughout the world and thousands of years and says, "Well yes, Indo-Iranian mythology also had this dragon-slaying myth that's in common with the Japanese myth except with this discrepancy."

But still there are so many correspondences over time and space that you're forced to pay attention to all of these and to think on the fact that there is this larger story that has perpetuated itself through thousands of years and that arguably has influenced what is now the world's three or four largest religions. He even traces those thousands of year-old myths to the new testament, the old testament, Islam...

Harrison: And even as far forward as the secular myths like communism, Maoism. He's got some references there, how the same things are going on with these modern movements. He gives a funny example. I don't know if I can find it quickly, but he's talking about these modern versions and the ways in which they've been adapted in modern culture. He gives the example - I should be able to find it quickly here - I'll just read this paragraph because I thought it was pretty interesting.

"Myth reasserts itself even in societies that propose to do away with traditional culture such as the former Soviet Union and communist Korea and China. Merely new myths or new versions of existent myths are created. Again, in Casseret's words, they were brought into being by the word of command of the political leaders. We have the Stakhanov myth of the successful worker in the Soviet Union and the miraculous birth of Kim Il-sung on a mountain in North Korea. Instead he was born near Pyongyang and his transformation into a war hero. Instead, he stayed away from the front in the Soviet Union during WWII.

Or the various stories in picture books of the '60s and '70s about young Chinese heroes who Mao style, overcame all natural and human-made difficulties, relying on Mao in their heart. Just like others have Jesus or Rama in their hearts. During the Chinese cultural revolution, dozens of such tales were created and propagated in comic books, theatre, films and so on."

Elan: Right. Witzel seems to be making the point that these new socialist and communist political movements have mythologized themselves but have appropriated the lone rider mythology that is so common in a lot of mythologies that Campbell would talk about, towards their own ends where they're doing away with so much of the old traditional religious tribal myths that have come down and that they have recordings of and in their place vaunted themselves into this new position.

What was so interesting also is Witzel bringing all of this wealth of knowledge and insight he has, to the current day and saying for his readers, for his audience, for his students, that there is something of value in looking back at the greatest story ever told, arguably and not discarding it in the way that these political movements and in the way that fundamentalist thinking has taken over many of the world's religions in their way. So he said that that presents itself as something of a threat, that the polytheism, the traditions of cultures that have taken all of these stories to heart and have revivified them over many years by re-enacting the rituals, by sharing the stories, by even adding their own spin or cultural interpretation of them. That's what helped keep many societies and cultures cohesive and has arguably given meaning to their existence in trying to answer the age old questions that you presented at the top of the show.

So he's really thought about it in a holistic way. He even presents, toward the very end, the possibility that we may have to, as a human race, come up with new mythology. But somehow you think that given the long lasting effects and pertinence of the Laurasian story, that it would somehow I think, fit into this newer mythology or it would need to fit into it considering how significant they are.

Harrison: That's the problem with the modern myths, especially the modern secular myths. This is something that Peterson talks about as well in Maps of Meaning. There's a reason that they lead to disaster in every case. It's because they're missing something essential. They've chopped out essential portions of the previous mythology and you're left with a caricature of the original system that applies to all of life, as Witzel says, a complete story and explanation of all the facts. Whereas the modern scientific world view and the modern fake ideologies are like anorexic versions of these other myths. They're missing the meat of what makes these myths work, what made them work.

I'll talk about the reasons that he gives for the things that make these original myths work, in particular the one that I just mentioned, the total explanatory force of them. This is the sixth point that he makes. That's the reason that they were so effective; they did cover everything or they attempted to at least. They provided an answer. Whether that answer was true or not in the sense that we think of as truth, scientific truth, at least it was a coherent answer. There was an entire world view into which everything fit, from the physical facts to the spiritual facts to the moral structure and the societal structure of everything and that is what gives meaning.

So when you have a system that is lacking, let's say, the spiritual element which is tied to the moral element, the actual force for what should be done in the world, what true and good, right action should be, when that's missing, you don't have a compass for where you're going. You don't have a direction for where you're going and that leaves open the possibility that you're going to go in a very wrong direction. I want to read one quote on that point that Witzel makes. He writes,

"Laurasian mythology achieves this by a framework familiar to early humans, that of human life, of birth and death, of several generations and of clan interaction. The human life cycle, bisexuality, (by that he means male and female) family and small scale society are woven into a well-built structure with many levels of meaningful tales, a novel that explains our origins and that of everything around us in the anthropomorphic image of procreation, birth, growing up, aging and death. Significantly, the scheme also holds out the hope, even the certainty, for rebirth, both for one's self and for the world."

He calls this overall framework a garden of symbols. It's a nice image of the whole mythological structure. So he summarizes there, the points he makes in the other five. These are the symbolic features of this whole system. Just to summarize from the last show for those who either haven't seen it or have forgotten, the main overall Laurasian storyline is the creation of the earth, the generations of the gods, the descent of humans from one of those gods, the origin of the human society leading then to a catastrophe, a cataclysm where the earth is destroyed and preparing it for a new birth. That's the Laurasian storyline in a nutshell.

Within that you have all the individual myths. You've got stories like the flood story or tales of cosmic and divine destruction and the generations of the gods, the different types of gods and various systems like the Titans in the Greek system or the Azores in one of the ancient Indian systems.

So that's the overall framework and storyline and the way he interprets that is, like I've said before, a kind of symbol and metaphor for life. I'd just say that that's just one correspondence, even if it might be the biggest one. We're going to get into some of the other correspondences as we go on today.

The first correspondence that he talks about is the life cycle. What you have in this mythological storyline is the life cycle of the universe, the birth and death of the world. You see that in the origin myths, the creation myths for the world. Oftentimes the world is born out of an egg, like animals, whether a bird egg or an ovum. Life is birthed and comes from an egg. So the early universe was perceived the same way and sometimes with the combination of two fluids like the salty sea and blood, representative of the seed and blood produced by humans in those regions of their bodies.

So there's this very organic imagery of the creation of the universe, of the origin of the universe that will, for anyone familiar with being a human, resonate on some level. It will pluck at those metaphorical strings that we have somewhere in our consciousness. It rings a bell. But not only that. There's another metaphor or analogy that that speaks to. Getting back to some of the shows that we've done previously on Dabrowski, this idea of positive disintegration. Now this seems to me to be one of these fundamental things that isn't explicitly recognized by most people in general, including academics, that there is this process of positive disintegration that is inherent in the structure of reality, not just in human consciousness like Dabrowski points out in psychological positive disintegration, but the only reason that something can grow, change or develop is by a destruction of the pre-existent thing.

So in this mythology that shows up in the overall framework of the final destruction, creating the soil for the growth of the new world, but also in individual myths, with the slaying of the dragon which shows up all over in Laurasian myth, and then the most resonant example for western culture, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. That is this process of the death of something resulting in a rebirth. This is a universal symbol that applies, not only to all myths, but to something about human nature, but also about the structure of reality itself. When you look at chemistry and physics there's this destructive element, even the interaction between different elements and molecules, where its previous form is destroyed in some way to make way for the new form, losing electrons or neutrons or protons. There are these processes of transformation that go on that are necessary for the production of new things, whether it's a new isotope, new molecule or up to macroscopic objects like anything that you create with your hands. You have to deform the old shape in order to create a new shape.

It's the same thing with psychology, with personality. In order to refine your personality, in order to develop your character, there are things about your old character or your present character that have to be destroyed, or reshaped or reformed. That means chopping some parts off, burning some parts or killing them. That's where that imagery comes into play. So there's something universal about not just the life cycle but about experience itself that is summed up in this overall storyline.

The second correspondence he gives is the duality of nature. At the very beginning often you have Father Heaven and Mother Earth or Mother Nature. So there's a split of reality into this duality and you see that not only in sexuality with the male and the female, but combined in those two divine figures you have the heaven and the earth. There's a duality between the above and the below. That too is applicable on so many levels, to all types of duality and those themes are explored in all these myths. I'll get to how that applies in these other ones.

The third correspondence he lists is the universality of the relations between people, but not just between people. I'd say the universality of relation, of the relational nature of the universe I guess. And that applies on the level of individuals, families and clans, and the social responsibilities and relational nature of life, especially when you look back in a hunter gatherer society - what would the phrase be? - where the extreme individualism wouldn't work. You can't isolate yourself and elevate yourself from other people in such a situation. You have to cooperate to some degree because your survival is dependent on other people and other people's survival is dependent on you. You have to be operating to some degree, as a collective with mutual social responsibility.

Elan: Just to add to that, a couple of the things he gives credence to is the fact that this tribe, family or group unit is in microcosm, a symbol or representation of the relationship between the gods and deities.

Harrison: Right.

Elan: And that it's this incorporation, it's this saying, "I am at my level but I do have something in common in my function, in my relevance, in the meaning of my life, when I not necessarily identify with the gods in a way that would suggest hubris, but that as part of a unit, my function is important and that I don't function outside of this tribe or in relation to other people who share a connection and a reverence for the relations between the gods and the deities and the conflicts and struggles that they have been presented as having, through the stories, the mythologies.

So in that way, I think he also says that there is a great amount of meaning that's been incorporated by this - for lack of a better word - identification with or connection to, the way that the gods have had to go on their adventures and engage in their struggles and do the things that they do in order to exist, in order to bring the story forward.

Harrison: That relates to some of the further points. They all mix together. I mentioned the above/below duality. One of the main themes of this system is that everything within the lower part of creation, like the earth, everything on the earth, all of nature and human interactions, are mirror images in some sense of what's going on in the heavens, in the upper regions of the universe. So there's this correlation between the divine realm and the earthly realm. It works in all these different directions.

There's this relationship with the above, but also our interactions on earth, on our level will also mirror something within that other realm too. There's an implication here that is one of the main themes of Laurasian myth, the way I see it. It embeds this recognition of cause and effect and the idea of responsibility and this is found often in the destruction myths. So there's a moral element here. This is like an injunction to 'do this and don't do this because bad things will happen if you do this'. Again, that's just something universally true about human nature, about experience itself, that some things work and some things don't.

The way the Laurasian myth spells it out, often in the flood myth, is that someone does something wrong. It might be a woman or a man. In the bible it's Eve that gets to see by that dastardly snake and then influences Adam to eat that apple and bad things happen. But that same theme shows up all over the place so there's something that some human does wrong, often violating a taboo, eating something they shouldn't, doing something they shouldn't, that brings the wrath of the gods, of the heavens upon them and causes its destruction.

Within that there's the overall theme I think of this cause and effect and responsibility. What you do matters. There are certain things that if you do them, you'll be setting yourself up for disaster and you might be setting up more than just yourself for disaster. There's this aspect almost of collective responsibility where humanity is on the wrong path, doing the wrong thing and bad things will happen as a result of that. The moral of that story is to do the right thing.

Now whether any specific moral statement or ethical statement in any of these things is true or not is an open question. That's for humans I think, to discern and develop on our own, to figure out what are the right things to do. But the idea is there that there are right and wrong things to do. Some things do lead to disaster. Some things lead to better outcomes than others. Some things work and some things don't.

So in religious terms you could call that the doctrine of sin. There are certain things that you can do that miss the mark. Hamartia, the Greek word for sin tracing back to the root for missing the mark in an archery competition. There are certain cases where you miss the target. What you want to do is hit the target because that's when things are right in the world. That's when you're acting according to your nature, to get into some scholastic or Aristotlean philosophy. Humans have a nature and Laurasian myth would agree with that. So there are certain things within that nature that you do that will be right not only with your nature but that nature in the context of its mirroring with the higher realms.

There's that sweet spot of action and behaviour where you're in line with the way things should be, where you're doing the right thing, which will lead to success of one sort, not necessarily success in the terms in which you might automatically think of success, but cosmic success. You might have a horrible end like Jesus or something like that. You might have this tragic end but you might have been doing the right thing. That might have been the right decision to make in that case. Again, that's up to individuals and groups to discover the specifics on their own to see if any of these cultural systems are actually correct. But that's the overall theme there.

The next correspondence that he gets is related to that, and that's the four generations of the gods, because there is that correlation between above and below, that mirroring, there's human action that is mirrored in the actions of the gods or whatever's going up in those heavenly spheres. The correlation, the mirroring aspect is you have these four generations of the gods but the mirroring in our world is the four generations of life, the four seasons of life. There's this symbolic or metaphorical relationship between the two.

So you have these four generations of the gods. Well what can that possibly say about human life? There are a couple of different directions, well there are probably multiple, but the two that came to mind were because in 2016 we did a Truth Perspective show. I think it was on Ponerology, but we talked about this idea, The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe and the reason we brought this up was because Steve Bannon was talking about it. "The Fourth Turning is coming" and going Alex Jones on everyone about the disaster that's coming to American society and the world society, there's going to be a war with China and all this stuff.

But I was interested because I had this book so I wanted to know what it was all about. You don't have to be a fan of Steve Bannon to appreciate the stuff in this book. What they're basically saying is that there is this four generation theme that seems to show up. They trace it back to mythology too. They're talking about all of these different myth systems, like the Romans, the Greeks, the Chinese, Babylonians, making the same observation that Witzel did about the almost near-universality of this four generations theme.

Like I said, there are these two applications of it. What they're arguing is that there is a recurring pattern in history of four generations. One generation has a certain character. The next generation after that, their children will have a different character and so on, for four different generations and in that fourth generation there will usually be a crisis of some sort. Then the cycle repeats. That fourth generation has children and their character happens to resemble the character four generations ago and it just repeats. These four archetypal generational patterns keep repeating. So you can divide history into 80-90 year segments and find these recurring patterns. That's essentially what this book is, finding these patterns in American history, finding these different sequences of generations.

The Romans called them siculla, a rotation. I can't remember what siculla actually means but they find what they call quaternities in all these different cultures, like the Buddhists, the Maya, the Dakota, the Bible. So it was often called a great year. A great year was divided into four seasons. The great year might be thousands of years but these cultures also had this idea of the great generations which kind of corresponds to the life cycle of one person.

So what Witzel does is bring this down to the basic human experience of your family relations because the most common number of ancestors or relations that you have is often three or four. So if you imagine yourself as a young adult, you'll have children, you'll have parents and grandparents. So your children will have great grandparents. Four generations. So unless you're lucky enough to have some great-great grandparents that stick around, that's probably a more modern phenomenon when you have people living into their 90s or their 100s. For the most part, most people will only ever have experience of their grandparents or their great-grandparents and within that family structure you've got all four generations represented.

So it's like an interlocking, interweaving system of generations. So in one life you've got experience of all these generations but it plays out over the entire 90-year cycle that's going like this throughout all of history. That's how Witzel connects it. The four generations of the gods relate to the four seasons of man, the childhood, young adulthood, mid-life and elderhood. That's a common thing among most cultures too, the division of the individual life into those four stages of life, essentially.

In Witzel's system, the Laurasian myth is the overall storyline that applies to birth and death, so the life cycle of a human, the four generations are also a symbolic or higher metaphorical, symbolic representation of the four generations within one cycle, within one great generation and the four stages of life from infanthood to old age. There's this universality to the human experience, again, to the individual life cycle divided into four but also in that individual life in relationship to the other generations, the ones before you and the ones that come after you.

So you start out as an infant with your three generations before you and then as you get older, you become the great-grandparent with the great-grandchildren. So all interactions between those four generations are represented and experienced over the course of a life, if you're one of the humans that manages to have children because historically and presently not all do and not all are able to or have historically been able to. But overall, it's like this universally applicable system that will resonate with people whether they consciously realize it or not, just because it matches in some non-verbal way often, some kind of analogical way, that speaks to the unconscious as opposed to just spelling it out. A myth wouldn't work if you just said, "There are great-grandparents, grandparents, parents and children and there is a 90 year cycle where we all do these things."

Elan: It works on multiple levels and it doesn't have a direct, literal interpretation necessarily. But you know, when you were describing that it reminded me a little bit of this interview I recently watched with Charles Nenner who's one of these trends forecasters. He talks about cycles quite a bit as well. I haven't read all that much about him and his website is terribly unimpressive but one of the things that he mentioned in this interview is that he was invited by Putin to speak to him about the cycles of war and conflict in the world and about the conflict that is likely to occur within the United States as well as the United States and other countries in the world as well.

Nenner's gripe was that few people in US media were paying attention at the time when he was meeting Putin in I think 2012 to discuss this. As a religious man, maybe it's part and parcel of Putin's reverence for larger trends and cycles of things to occur, but he sought out Nenner's insight into these cycles of human experience and it seems to be what has informed the current government of Russia in its approach to geopolitics and conflict.

But I did want to get back to a couple of things that occurred to me as you were describing Witzel's implications for Laurasian mythology as it has come to manifest in today's world. Again, bringing this to current events, I was listening to a critique of CNN's climate crisis town hall which is seven hours of CNN interviewing democratic politicians on what they were prepared to do to stave off the climate crisis and what they were prepared to do to uphold this postmodern, nihilistic, ideologically possessed set of policies that many of them seem to be onboard with. Taken out of the equation completely was any sense of morality or god, but put in there was the anthropomorphizing of human beings onto all of these earth changes that we're seeing right now and onto climate change.

Witzel's book does describe a lot of anthropomorphizing, that there is a lot of projection and responsibility taken through these myths on the part of individuals and tribes, for how the crop goes, what the state of affairs is on earth. But it seems to me that this idea has been twisted and subverted by people who have taken out the deity or the god out of the equation and they're misplacing natural processes in the world with their own political ideology, i.e., the extinction rebellion idea.

The other thing that occurred to me was that Witzel says that one of the great values of the mythology, this story, is that it holds out the hope for rebirth, as you were saying earlier Harrison, that there is more to all of this, that there is the possibility of regeneration, of life afterward. But inherent in that is this death of some kind that may exist on the personal or macro level and it seems like this idea too has been pathologized in the way that, for instance, Christian Zionism would seek to bring out the eschaton and the end days in the Middle East by supporting the militant approach on the part of Israel and creating a great Middle Eastern conflagration that would somehow bring on the second coming.

How is it appropriated? With what intent? Are we forcing the issue in many cases? I think we are, where the mythologies would seek to view them as a natural process and something that shouldn't be forced. There were those ideas as well that I thought of throwing into the mix.

Harrison: I don't think anthropomorphize is the right word to use because that would be ascribing human qualities to climate change, as if climate change were a human shaped god or something that had intentions. It's that they're...

Elan: Well human-induced.

Harrison: Yeah, anthropogenic.

Elan: Anthropogenic, thank you.

Harrison: Yeah. So in the Laurasian mythology, everything in one degree or another is anthropogenic because human actions are intrinsically intertwined and related to everything that happens in the universe. So there's this importance first of all in speech. This is in the fifth point that he makes about the structure of society and the universe, that it is often speech that brings order to chaos and that creates - again, something that Jordan Peterson points out in his study of mythology - so the cosmos is the cosmos because it's not a chaos. There's a chaos that is unstructured and unordered and then a cosmos is something that is structured and ordered.

So every human action will have an effect on the world, both in the sense that we think of it today in the scientific mindset as a causal relationship. The climate change people would say, "We make too much CO2 and that CO2 is causing climate change. But in addition to that, the Laurasian myths would say that there's almost a spooky action at a distance, that human attentions and behaviours will influence the heavenly realms and what goes on in the world in a way that's on top of that. So it's the human sin, it's the human mistakes and bad choices that we make that will bring on catastrophe, not necessarily through any of the causal mechanisms that science describes.

One example is the Chinese myth of the mandate of heaven where everything's right in the world when the leadership is in line with god or the heavens and everything is right in the world. When something gets corrupted it breaks and pollutes the connection so things are not right in the world anymore and that's when things start to get shaken up. It's like when something goes wrong with your car, one thing fails and then another thing fails and things just fall apart. It's this entropic process.

Elan: Well I just wanted to interrupt and say real quickly that that seems to be part of the issue here. If this relationship exists where the universe, the cosmos, the order of things, responds to the sin of human beings, to not doing things in the right way, to not obeying the moral code of the universe, it would seem to be that we're killing lots of people unnecessarily. How much more obvious can it be? That under the guise of neo-liberalism and bringing freedom and democracy to the world and sanctions, millions of people are losing their lives. They're suffering horribly because of it. And yet all of this energy gets diverted towards protesting CO2 or some other such nonsense.

So again, if there is such a relationship, and there very well may be, between the cosmos and its relationship to individual behaviour or the behaviour of humanity as a mass, in ignoring these really glaring sins and wrong actions, it would seem to be the fact that we're ignoring the fact that we're slaughtering ourselves under the umbrella of lies and politics and leadership that people are following blindly.

Harrison: Even though I don't agree with the extinction protocol or any of that and I agree with you in most of that stuff on principle, I'm just going to take their perspective and try to give the most charitable interpretation I can to them. I agree that there's all this important stuff going on and all these bad things that we're doing, primarily in regard to warfare. On the other hand, I think that there are other reasons not to like pollution, for instance. Even if anthropogenic global warming is a hoax and CO2 isn't as big a deal as they're making it out to be, there's still no good reason to pollute more than is absolutely necessary, given current technologies.

Elan: Absolutely!

Harrison: So they may be right in a certain sense, that even if their projections and models aren't correct and the disaster they see coming isn't the disaster that will be coming, there is still a moral behind having a sound ecological perspective on the way to live on the earth. On the most micro level, the person who just throws their trash outside their window when they're driving in the car, there's something that's just wrong about that.

Elan: It's repulsive.

Harrison: Yeah. So on an individual and collective level, there are all kinds of things that we do as individuals that are just missing the mark and I think a lot of forms of pollution are like that. Again, not necessarily to the degree that the extinction protocol radicals would think they are. But there's still a kernel of something in there that even would apply to this larger Laurasian perspective. I just wanted to throw that out there.

Elan: I couldn't agree more. When you think about oceans of plastic, when you think of the Exxon Valdez and the Gulf spills, when you think about the nuclear testing that has made our atmosphere filled with various things that are causing cancers at a crazy rate, there's absolutely something to be said about the crime of poisoning the Earth Mother.

Harrison: Yeah.

Elan: So no question. And I'm glad you mentioned that, because that's a big part of it too, I'm sure.

Harrison: And the solution that both sides of the debate can get on is fourth generation nuclear because no CO2 and lots of cheap and efficient energy. That's the way to go. {laughter} Well that was half in jest but true at the same time.

Elan: Just don't build it on any fault lines.

Harrison: Well even then the fourth gen, apparently from what I've been reading, are safe in the regard that you can't have a meltdown like you have in older nuclear power technology. So it's something to consider, something to talk to your local representative about. {laughter} No, sorry. I'm not paid by the nuclear industry, I can assure you of that.

We're going to end the show. We're running out of time. But one thing that I want to get to maybe next week or further on, are some more connections. I've started reading this book I mentioned in the show we did on our favourite books of the year. This is one that just came out this year that I hadn't gotten to yet, Graham Hancock's new one, America Before. I'll just give a quick tease on it.

Basically there's some stuff in this book that we'll talk about that really applies to some of the things in Laurasian mythology. Some things we didn't get to talk about today are the actual role of real destructions in human history like cometary bombardments and the impact of natural disasters, real catastrophic apocalypses that have happened in human history and their influence on mythology. So we'll get to that and ancient cultures and the actual practices that they used to maintain the connection between the above and the below and that mirroring of events and structures on earth and in the heavens. I'll just leave it at that. Specifically in this book it's in reference to pre-Columbian American cultures, so North and South America, the mound building cultures in North and South America, Amazonian, Mississippian, these cultures, the history several tens of thousands of years ago and what was going on with these mound building cultures and what they were actually doing. I think there's some interesting connections to be made there.

So make sure to tune in when we do that show and with that, thanks for watching today and we'll see you later.

Elan: Take care everyone.