chapter  20
16 Pages

Ritual and consciousness in the historical era

Already our review of the history of consciousness supports Jung’s theory about our human tendency away from the eternal wisdom of the collective unconscious and toward empirical, ego-centered obsession with control, and we are only now approaching the people Jung considered the ancients. Attempts by elites to control the content and interpretation of myth did not end with the Neolithic. It became even more pronounced and exaggerated in the Bronze and Iron Ages. The dates for these techno-cultural periods differ by location. Bronze casting was well established in the Near East by 3500 BC, while the British Isles were still building megaliths. But apparently the move from stone tools to metal ones was not accompanied by an immediate change in mythology-surely the gods did not change much. Hayden (2003) notes that the warrior sun-and bull-gods of the Near East and the Mediterranean very likely had their origins in the earliest Neolithic pre-pottery cults. He mentions the Bull of Ugarit, the ancient city on Syria’s Mediterranean coast (ca. 1540-1200 BC); the Phoenician Baal; and the Roman Mithras, who was allied with Helios, the sun-god, and whose ritual killing of the bull formed the central mystery of his cult (Hayden 2003: 203). The main feature of daily life that changed was the complexity of the social order and the size of the gap between those in power and those who performed the labor.