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Native-mind people of many lands believe that they can communicate directly with ancestral spirits, often pictured as magical animals who possess the traits of distinct species such as possum, lizard and owl. The possibility of interspecies communication, now becoming recognized by some scientists, seems to have long been a reality to many indigenous peoples. See animism.
(Dreamtime Ancestor by Djawida, 1985 in Aboriginal Art by Wally Caruana, Thames & Hudson, 1993.)

abo sapiens: Neologism proposed by ethologist John Bleibtreu for the human species considered as a primate endowed with self-guiding capacities. (The Parable of the Beast, p. 258) Abo is short for Latin ab origine, “from the beginning.”

The neologism suggests that the human species can be guided on its course of evolution by principles inborn to it from the outset, from the very inception of its journey, ab origine. In other species, these guiding principles are present as instincts, inherited behavioral patterns that operate automatically once they are triggered. While the term homo sapiens is male-biased, the Latin root homo- being commonly suggestive of “man,” the abo sapiens is neutral and inclusive. It allows for the belief that both the male and female of the species carry essential elements of the inborn knowingness (sapience) originally present in the biological potential of the human race.

The operation of instinct in homo sapiens appears problematic. Indeed, this may be the decisive issue central to anthropology and psychology, the sphinx-like riddle that unites these two branches of inquiry. In the sense suggested by Bliebtreu, abo sapiens would be an animal guided by its exceptional capacity to learn. Ideally, this learning process would be goal-oriented, its aim being to produce a harmonious social order adapted to the Gaian habitat. The tried-and-proven capacity of human beings to learn behavior and adaptive skills has favored the argument that learning* replaces instinct in our species. This may well be so, but if it is, it challenges us to imagine how homo sapiens might be possessed of an inborn instinct to learn. If such exists, it would contrast to the endowment of other animals whose capacity to learn is rigorously restricted, although enactment of their instinctual programs is so exact and infallible that they hardly seem to need to learn anything extraneous to what they innately know.

Can the instinct that makes us distinctly human be identified in an advanced capacity to acquire, organize and communicate knowledge? This question may well represent the master riddle of our species.

aborigines: Synonymous with indigenous peoples, first peoples and native-mind peoples. When capitalized, it refers to tribes native to Australia, people who represent a culture of great antiquity.

“Traditional archeological evidence holds that Aboriginal culture has existed in Australia for 60,000 years, but more recent evidence indicates that the period is more like 120,000 to 150,000 years. The Aborigines’ rituals, beliefs, and cosmology may represent the deepest collective memory of our race.” (Lawlor, 9) The first peoples from Down Under occupy a key role in metahistorical discourse, because they represent an outstanding example of the importance of stories in preserving the directive wisdom of human experience. Their millennial traditions are preserved by rich oral culture. Histories of tribe and place are ritually remembered in long narratives called “songlines” which record and even imitate the deeds of Sacred Ancestors who sang the world into existence. The ritual and narrative content of these oral histories defines the culture of the people and guides the experience of both individual and community. See also Dreamtime.

Abrahamic faiths Inclusive term for the three world-scale religions that trace their origin to the Biblical patriarch, Abraham, a quasi-historical individual who may have lived in Asia Minor around 1800 BCE.

From Abraham descend “the twelve tribes of Israel”, legendary ancestors of the Jews. With his concubine, Hagar, Abraham produced a rejected heir, Ishmael, who is believed to be the ancestor of the ancient Hamite peoples and, by extension, modern Arabs. Although it rejects some aspects of its Judaic roots, Christianity sees in Abraham a man chosen by the creator god, Yahweh, believed to be the celestial father of Jesus, the Christian messiah. Due to the narrative fusion of the Old and New Testaments, the coming of the god-man, Jesus Christ, is believed to be an inevitable result of the historical progress that begins with Abraham’s departure from Ur in the Chaldees (southern Iraq). In its entirety, this narrative is the foundation story of the Judaic-Christian-Islamic religious complex, though each of the three component faiths selects and highlights different aspects of the narrative. See also Sacred History.

acquired traits In evolutionary theory proposed by French naturalist, Jean Baptiste Lamarck [1744 ­ 1829], traits believed to be acquired through trial-and-error and somehow transmitted by genetic programming. For example, the giraffe acquires a long neck because generations of shorter-necked ancestors strained to eat leaves from the limbs of high trees.

In the vast debate over evolutionary theory, there remains a wavering fault-line between the denial and the acceptance of acquired traits. Larmarckian theory has often been represented as heresy, flatly opposed to Darwinian theory, yet Darwin himself accepted a moderate version of it. More recently Nobel laureate Sir Peter Medawar has argued that at least one of the main characteristics of a “distinctively human form of evolution” would be “Lamarckian in style,” because the human way of evolving “embodies a learning process.” (“Does Ethology Throw Any Light on Human Behaviour?


The issue is crucial in metahistory because acquisition may determine how human beings transmit the lessons of experience over time. How we learn and transmit learning is essential to our sense of humanity. It largely determines how we define ourselves as a species. It may also be the key factor in the baffling question of guidance.

act Human engagement in an event, distinguished from the mere event itself. An act is something done by a human being, not merely an action or event that happens by itself, like rainfall. Acts were originally recounted in long oral narratives such as the Homeric epics. The record of human experience was preserved and transmitted orally for thousands of years before writing.

Since Herodotus, the Greek writer usually recognized as the first genuine historian, acts have been recorded in textual form in historical narratives. The act written down can be called a fact. One problem with written history is that the bare record of facts is opaque: it tells what happened at a certain time and place, yet it tells little or nothing about the true nature of human acts. Also, there may have been many acts that crucially determined the course of human experience but were not recorded. Written history fosters the illusion that if we know a select number of facts about the past, we will be able to understand their consequences in the present. The present situation of a society, or of humanity as a whole, has certainly been affected by human acts that were never recorded. This means that the historical record must remain perpetually incomplete, and so it is in the final sense inadequate to explain what’s happening now on the basis of what happened before.

Aeon Gk "emanation, divine power, cosmic time cycle. " Pronounced A-ON,. Adjective, Aeonic. E.g., "Reefs of Aeonic dreaming." (Gaia Mythos)

This essential term in Gnostic cosmology might be useful in getting away from the awkward terms God and gods. An Aeon is a god understood, not in theological terms, but in terms of the physics of consciousness. Aeons are not entities but processes that may best be conceptualized as immense currents, but currents that are alive, self-aware, sensuous. The Goddess Sophia who becomes embodied as Gaia is an Aeon, hence the Aeon Sophia. Aeons are gendered. In some Gnostic scenarios the male counterpart to the female Aeon Sophia is the Aeon Christos. See also Generators in the Commentaries on the Gaia Mythos.

agenda A program for behavior, usually defined by a belief about what is right or wrong in a particular context or setting.

Most religious creeds propose an agenda in the form of a moral code, a set of behavioral rules: for instance, the Ten Commandments. To enforce the agenda, proponents of the creed insist that obedience to the rules ensures a reward from God, the supra-human source of the rules, and disobedience results in some form of punishment. Thus, the very notion of a behavioral agenda is closely linked with the belief that morality is a reward-and-punishment system. In fundamentalist religions, this belief is enforced by stories that illustrate the omniscience of God. Needless to say, if God does not know what we’re doing, He cannot reward or punish us for doing it.

alien Derived from L alius, Gr allo, “other”. The term loosely applied to any non-terrestrial species, popularly known as ETs or EBEs, exo-biological entities, but not to any non-human species, such as bears and bees.

The question of contact between humanity and non-human species has generated a number of conflicting scripts, some of which represent the aliens are god-like benefactors, while others represent them as malicious predators. See also Archons, Annunaki, Biblical UFOlogy, and intervention

alienation According to religious belief, separation of humanity from the creator, God. According to humanism, separation of humanity from its authentic form of existence.

In the Biblical narrative, alienation of humanity from God is recounted in the story of the Fall. This script encodes the belief that woman, represented by Eve, is responsible for tempting man, represented by Adam, to deviate from the will of God. Ultimately, the deviance is due to the serpent who tempts Eve, but she does give in to it (rather like Oscar Wilde, who admitted, “I can resist everything except temptation.”) The belief that the serpent represents Evil or something satanic was challenged by Gnostics who argued with the first Christians over the meaning of the Eden scenario. Gnostics were heretics who believed that the serpent in the Garden of Even was a benefactor to humanity, rather than an enemy. On this plot reversal, see Fall.

In the sacred history common to Judaic, Christian and Islamic religion, alienation is not exactly our own fault, because it is due to a primal act of disobedience. The belief that all subsequent generations inherit the sin of Adam and Eve has been central to Christian theology since St. Augustine.

According to humanist criteria, alienation is separation from ourselves, a split within our humanity rather than a separation of humanity from God.

R. D. Laing wrote that “the condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of the normal man.” (P, 28) This rupture within the human soul is reflected outwardly in a distancing between individuals, causing communities to dissolve and society at large to disintegrate. The rupture of the inter-human bond becomes gravely exacerbated in industrial and post-industrial society. Alienation is widely thought to be a primary symptom of the pathology of modern life.

In the Cybernetic Age, alienation may be approaching its outer limit. Electronic media present the means for people to plunge into cyberspace and cocoon themselves in “virtual reality,” hence to ignore the real world populated with flesh-and-blood individuals. This retreat into another dimension appears to be a real desire in many people who feel so alienated from others that they see nothing to lose by migrating permanently into cyberspace. This trend is the ultimate consequence of what some have described as the first and supreme alienation: the separation of humanity from Sacred Nature, or desacralization*.

If this is indeed the story now unfolding, the error of our primal parents might have to be reinterpreted according to a different story line: We were not rejected by God from the Garden, we rejected the Garden.

According to a much-debated theory, it is the culture humans make that alienates them from nature. See also culture.

aligned belief: chosen after careful consideration of options or alternatives.

Example: if I am ill and find that I cannot be cured by conventional medicine, I may choose to investigate other systems of healing such as laying-on-of-hands, Ayurveda or Biological Medicine. After informing myself of the options and evaluating whether or not they suit me, I am in a position to adopt a belief about healing aligned to my experience, rather than imposed on it.

Aligned belief always involves the consideration of alternatives. Curiously, when it comes to what are seemingly the most important issues in human life -- namely, religious issues, one's relation to God, etc - most people prefer to accept the beliefs given to them rather than go through a process of evaluation leading to alignment. The aim of Metahistory.org is to encourage the process of developing aligned beliefs, and not to endorse any particular belief, although metacritique does assume that certain beliefs may be insane and inhumane. Obviously, metahistory does not encourage alignment to such beliefs.

For a complete list of permutations of belief see Modes of Believing.

alignment: The path of choice based on deliberated belief.

This is a definition specific to metahistory. Most people live by beliefs that were either imposed on them without the option to consider alternatives, or inherited through family, race and culture. In such cases individuals are driven by what they believe, even though they may not fully understand the beliefs they hold. To live by beliefs chosen from a range of carefully deliberated options is to be aligned, rather than driven.

The question of whether or not aligned beliefs are more true than received beliefs is left open in metahistory. For instance, after assessing a range of beliefs concerning the spiritual guidance of the human species, I might choose to believe that Elvis works along with Jesus from a higher plane to lead humanity toward a better world. If I have chosen this belief from a range of options, it is by definition an aligned belief. Likewise, someone who looks to science for the ultimate answers might survey a variety of theories and choose the belief that brute animal instinct is what guides humanity, for good or ill. This would also be an aligned choice of belief.

Is belief in guidance by instinct in some way “more true” than belief in guidance by Elvis? It may be more rational but that’s all that can be said, because the ultimate value of a belief cannot be determined by criteria external to the experience of the believer. At most, it can be said that aligned beliefs are more authentic than received beliefs. True or not, rational or not, they belong more to the authentic personal reality of the believer than beliefs that come from outside the sovereign and subjective experience of the individual.

alternative history: A version of history that differs from the accepted or conventional version held by the world at large and taught in schools and universities. One of the most well known versions of alternative history is the Atlantis scenario, the subject of thousands of books and endless speculation.

Alternative histories are considered in metahistory, but developing them is not the final aim here. Whether or not its existence can be proven in scientific or archeological terms, the belief that Atlantis existed is a powerful catalyst for debate, and a trigger for imagination. Metahistorical inquiry looks at all versions of alternative history to see what beliefs they carry, and looks especially closely at beliefs about our essential humanity implied in different scenarios of history. The essential question posed by any alternative history is, How will we view humanity differently if we adopt this story?

ancient astronauts: A scenario made famous by Erich von Daniken, author of Chariots of the Gods? (1970).

Von Daniken’s claim that Paleolithic cave art depicts spaceman in NASA-style suits and helmets has been widely debunked, but his notion that the gods of previous ages were extra-terrestrials from advanced civilizations in outer space remains deeply embedded in popular imagination. Other writers before him present more solid research and a more sober treatment of evidence. For instance, W. Raymond Blake (Gods and Spacemen in the Ancient East, 1968) finds in Asian texts such as the Chinese Shu King, the Japanese Hihongi, and the Hindu Mahabharata, a wealth of vivid passages that could well describe sophisticated spacecraft and nuclear weapons. By far the most extensive and sophisticated version of the ancient astronaut scenario is the one developed by Zecharia Sitchin in eight volumes of densely researched writing.

Whatever the evidence presented, the fact remains that belief in alien intervention (past and current) is widespread in modern society, especially in America. See also Biblical UFOlogy.

animism The belief that external nature is animated by entities that are in some manner conscious and able to communicate with each other as well as with human beings.

The current anthropological theory of animism was formally defined in 1871 by E. B. Tylor, who considered animistic experience to be the basis of all later religions. Strictly speaking, it is incorrect to say that people such as the Hopi of North America or the Inuit of Greenland hold animistic beliefs. For them, animism is not a belief-system but a fact of experience.

Defined by those who reject it as foolish superstition, animism is the belief in all kinds of vague spirits that inhabit nature. Animists are accused of suffering the illusion that vague invisible spirits mysteriously permeate the natural world, but this view misrepresents the true meaning of animism: namely, that conscious intelligence lives manifestly in nature. Those who believe in animism are convinced that the earth is indeed highly “animated” by the myriad species that share the habitat with homo sapiens. The great shift that has occurred over the last two thousand years has steered humanity away from contact and communion with other species in nature toward exclusive dependency on a creator god imagined to exist outside the sensorial realm. With this shift, animism has come to be viewed as decadent and delusional. Because it is so central to our way of relating to nature, and even more significantly, to our way of dissociating ourselves from nature, what we believe about animism ­ i.e., whether it is indeed a valid and verifiable mode of experience ­ may determine our future as a species.

Totemic ancestors (like the one represented in the modern Aboriginal painting that heads this section of the Lexicon) are universally conceived as magical entities endowed with supernatural power who create the natural world and instruct the native peoples. The totem pole of Native American peoples may indicate a long-standing recognition “that human beings possess in the code-structure of DNA a genetic memory of all previous stages of evolution” (Lash, T, 70). If so, it would bear witness to a profound conscious sense of the kinship of all species and the dependence of the human family on extra-species links.

Animism assumes that a broad range of communications can occur between humanity and other species, for the totemic and tutelary connection with “animal powers” can take many forms; but inter-species rapport is not limited to communication with animals. It also includes communication with plant species, especially those characterized in shamanistic traditions as sacred plants or “teacher plants.” Animism encompasses the entire range of such contacts and indigenous lore abounds with vivid stories of these interactions. By asserting that our place in the greater order of Nature depends on inter-species rapport, animist belief provides a crucial factor in the metahistorical view of learning, a capacity that may represent the distinctive mark of the human species.

Annunaki A name found in Sumerian myth dating in written form from 1800 BCE, but preserving a much older tradition. Translated as “those who from Heaven to Earth descended” by Zecharia Sitchin, who proposes that the Annunaki were ancient astronauts from a doomed planet called Niburu. Their Biblical equivalents are the Anakim , “celestials,” and the Nefilim , “cloud-men.”

ET/Archon Navigator

For a rare Gnostic interpretation of the Annunaki see Alien Dreaming.

Aquarian Age One of the three As of metahistory, the other two being Atlantis and Aryan.

The Aquarian Age is what Giorgio de Santillana called an “implex,” an obscure or baffling idea in which a great many associated ideas are implied or implanted. When the musical Hair, celebrating the Hippie lifestyle opened in 1968, a year before Hamlet’s Mill was published, its theme song announced “the dawning of the Age of Aquarius” and became an instant popular anthem. Consistent with the cultural perception of Hippie philosophy at that time, the Aquarian Age came to be imagined as an era of equality and sharing that will celebrate the oneness of the human family, yet there is no clear basis for these elements of collective fantasy. After more than 30 years, three questions regarding this obscure notion remain to be answered: What is the nature of the Age? What is the timing of the Age?, and What (if any) is the astronomical basis of the timing?

It might be appropriate here to insert a personal note: I have spent over thirty years investigating the model of the Zodiacal Ages and its relation to astronomical science. So far, I have found no shred of evidence, no historical precedent of any kind, to explain the popular conception of the Aquarian Age as an era of peace and harmony. No textual or archeological data supports this attribution. There is plenty of evidence that the ancients had advanced astronomical knowledge of World Ages registered in the Zodiac, a scheme in which the Aquarian Age would have been included, but no evidence that they conceived of the character of the Age in this manner. The emphasis on humanitarian ideals seems to come from astrology, for the Sun Sign Aquarius is widely associated with social idealism and altruism. Even if the roots of the fantasy go no deeper than the astrological profile of that Sign, the Aquarian Age has come to focalize the belief in a more humane society and a better, more compassionate world. This implies, if not exactly the dream of a utopia, the wish for improved living conditions and safety for the global community. In short, the Aquarian fantasy may be a kind of magnet for a vast collective longing for a better, more peaceful world. As such, it would represent the belief of humanism that our species can indeed create a humane and egalitarian society, purely out of its own resources.

As for the timing of the Age and its definition in astronomical terms, these two issues go together. Over 80 estimates of the timing have been proposed, but the extent of the Aquarian Age can be (and, I believe, ought to be) determined by strict astronomical calculations. By this standard, there are almost 800 years before the Age begins. That’s a long dawn by any count. We are currently living in the Piscean Age, an epoch of continuous religious strife that began around 120 BCE.

The pattern of Ages based on the constellations of the Zodiac is an attested feature of ancient astronomical science. My research indicates that ancient astronomers in Egypt, India, and Central America understood the entire cycle of Zodiacal timing that encompasses a period of 26,000 years, the full cycle of “precession of the equinoxes.” If this is so, and if astronomer-priests of the past were able to compute the various Ages and somehow determine their character (Zeitgeist, “the spirit of the times”), then they might have possessed the framework for a long-term agenda of human evolution. This is the belief of advocates of alternative history, those who argue that the sacred science of timekeeping involved a millennial overview of human experience -- quite literally, “the wisdom of the Ages.”

Aquarius is one of the three A-words of metahistory because the mere mention of this word introduces an alternative scenario of history. The Aquarian motif reflects the belief that humanity can achieve an ideal social order on the global scale. It may do so out of its own innate goodness, or it may be guided to do so by an elite corps of initiates or Masters who can plot the learning curve of the species over millennial epochs of time. The belief in the overseeing role of such Masters is common to esoteric movements such as Theosophy and Rosicrucianism. For more on this problematic theme, see guidance.

archetype From Latin, “primordial or original pattern.” A term widely associated with the psychological theories of C. G. Jung, although it does not originate with him.

The Jungian conception of the archetype is almost identical with the notion of instinct in biology. It could be said that the archetypes in the human psyche are directive patterns, comparable to instincts in other species.

In the metahistorical perspective, archetypes are fascinating mainly due to the beliefs that have become attached to them since the birth of modern psychology after 1900. The main belief promulgated by Jung is that the archetypes determine how the psyche functions at an unconscious level, but when they are brought into relation with the conscious self (through a process Jung called individuation), they empower the personality with spiritual insight, creative inspiration, charisma, and exceptional moral incentive. The archetypes are thus like hidden batteries charged with god-like “numinosity” (spiritual power).

In the Jungian movement and in the variety of psychotherapies it has spawned, archetypes are viewed as divine properties residing in the human soul. The archetypes of the Hero, the Mother and the Trickster (among others) can be identified with the gods of pagan religion. This is consistent with the Jungian outlook that regards psychology as a modern form of religion. The conversion of religious beliefs into tools for self-initiated psychological growth accounts for the widespread appeal of Jungian ideas among people who have lost their faith in the doctrines and practices of traditional religion.

Archon From Greek archai, "origins, beginning things, prior in time." In the classical Mediterranean world, archon was commonly used for the governor of a province, or, more loosely, any religious or governmental authority. Hence the plural, Archons, is often translated in Gnostic texts as "the Authorities." (There is no Coptic word for Archon, so Gnostic texts use the Greek term in Coptic transliteration.) Pronounced Ar-kon. Adjective, Archontic (Ar-KON-tik).

In my usual habit of attempting the impossible, I propose three definitions, or three levels of definition:

Level One: Cosmological

In Gnostic cosmology, Archons are a species of inorganic beings that emerged in the solar system prior to the formation of the earth. They are cyborgs inhabiting the planetary system (exclusive of the earth, sun and moon), which is described as a virtual world (stereoma) they construct by imitating the geometric forms emanated from the Pleroma, the realm of the Generators, the Cosmic Gods. The Archons are a genuine species with their own proper habitat, and may even be considered to be god-like, but they lack intentionality (ennoia: self-directive capacity), and they have a nasty tendency to stray from their boundaries and intrude on the human realm. Archons are said to feel intense envy toward humanity because we possess the intentionality they lack

The Gaia Mythos describes how the Archons were produced by fractal impact in the dense elementary field arrays (dema) of the galactic limbs, when the Aeon Sophia plunged unilaterally from the galactic core. See especially Episode 10. This event is also described in detail in Alien Dreaming.

Level Two: Noetic-Psychological

In Gnostic psychology, the noetic science of the Mystery Schools, Archons are an alien force that intrudes subliminally upon the human mind and deviates our intelligence away from its proper and sane applications. They are not what makes us act inhumanely, for we all have the potential to go against our innate humanity, violating the truth in our hearts, but they make us play out inhumane behavior to weird and violent extremes. Left to our own devices, we would sometimes act inhumanely and then correct it, contain the aberration. Obviously, we do not always do so. In the exaggeration of our insane and inhumane tendencies, and in extreme, uncorrected deviance from our innate intelligence, Gnostics saw the signature of an alien species that piggy-backs on the worst human failings.

Hence, Archons are psycho-spiritual parasites. Yet as offspring of the Aeon Sophia, they are also our cosmic kin.

As inorganic entities of two types, embryonic and reptilian, Archons can at moments penetrate the terrestrial atmosphere and terrorize humans, although there is no reason or order to these forays, for the aliens cannot remain for very long in the biosphere and, anyway, they have no master plan to accomplish here. The ontological status of the Archons is dual: they exist both as an alien species independent of humankind, and as a presence in our minds, rather like a set of programs operating in our mental environment. The risk they pose by invading our mental software is far greater than any physical risk they might pose by erratically breaching the biosphere.

Working through telepathy and suggestion, the Archons attempt to deviate us from our proper course of evolution. Their most successful technique is to use religious ideology to insinuate their way of thinking and, in effect, substitute their mind-set for ours. According to the Gnostics, Judeo-Christian salvationism is the primary ploy of the Archons, an alien implant.

Our capacity to discern alien forces working in our minds is crucial to survival and co-evolution with Gaia who, as Sophia, accidentally produced the Archons in the first place. (This comment belongs to Level One, the cosmological definition, but as so often happens with Gnostic teachings, noetic and cosmic elements tend to merge.) By recognizing and repelling the Archons, we claim our power, define our boundaries in the cosmic framework, and establish our purpose relative to Gaia, the indwelling intelligence of the planet.

Level three: Sociological

In the Gnostic view of human society, the Archons are alien forces that act through authoritarian systems, including belief-systems, in ways that cause human beings to turn against their innate potential and violate the symbiosis of nature. LIVE spelled backwards is EVIL, but the Archons are not evil in the sense that they possess autonomous powers of destruction, able to be applied directly upon humanity. They are agents of error rather than evil — but human error, when it goes uncorrected and runs beyond the scale of correction, turns into evil and works against the universal plan of life. Gnostics taught that the Archons exploit our tendency to let our mistakes go uncorrected.

Because the Archons need human complicity to gain power over humankind, any one who assists them can be considered a kind of Archon, an accessory. How do humans assist the Archons? One way (suggested in the Level Two definition) is by accepting the mental programs of the Archons — that is, adopting the alien intelligence as if it were human-based — and implementing those programs by actually enforcing them in society. Another way is by actively or passively conforming to the agendas so proposed and imposed.

Jacques Lacarriere suggests that Gnostics detected the humanized face of the Archons in all authoritarian structures and and systems that deny authenticity and self-determination to the individual. He argues that Gnostics recognized "the fundamentally corrupt character of all human enterprises and institutions: time, history, powers,states, religions, races, nations..." (The Gnostics, p. 24) Corruption occurs, not because we make errors, but because the errors we make go uncorrected and extrapolate beyond the scale of correction. Lacarriere says that Gnostics reached this conclusion “out of rational observation of the natural world and human behavior.” Ultimately, they asserted the “contention that all power – whatever kind it may be – is a source of alienation... All institutions, laws, religions, churches and powers are nothing but a sham and a trap, the perpetuation of an age-old deception.” (p. 28-29) This may seem like a dark view of human affairs, but given the evidence of history (not to mention current events), it cannot be said to be unfair or exaggerated.

For an intimate glimpse of Gnostic teaching on the Archons, including advice on how to act when directly confronted by them, consider the passage from The First Apocalypse of James, cited in A Gnostic Catechism (forthcoming).

[Archon/ET Navigator]

Archon/ET theory Proposed interpretation of ET/UFO phenomenon based on Gnostic teachings. See the trilogy, The Promise of a Lonely Planet in Gnostic Folk Medicine.

Archontic Heaven. Stereomic projection of spiritual kitsch.

Riddle: Does Archons play harps in their version of heaven?

Answer: Perhaps not, but they are playing with a huge one in Alaska.

Armageddon The name of the great battlefield where, on Judgement Day, the powers of evil will be overcome by the powers of good and God will judge the world. See Armadeggon Politics.

aryan One of the three As of metahistory, the other two being Aquarius and Atlantis.

The word aryan is a cue charged with momentous implications, especially when capitalized. In Arktos (Basic Reading) Jocelyn Godwin explains how the term Aryan was introduced around 1820 by speculative historians who were pondering the origin of the diversity of human races. Some Romantic philosophers of the time, such as Friedrich von Schlegel [1767 ­ 1845] were deeply affected by Sanskrit religious texts that were just then coming to be read in the West, and they saw in the ancient Indian culture a kind of apex of humanity. Schlegel theorized that the ancient Hindus belonged to a root-race originally united with the Nordic or Scandinavian peoples. He called this Indian-Nordic mix “Aryan.” (Godwin, 38ff) Quite soon other myth-making historians took up the clue. With a few decades Aryan came to indicate a “master race” that had existed in primordial times and may have established a lost civilization in the region of the North Pole.

The belief in a master race was promoted by Gobineau’s tract On the Inequality of Human Races, published in 1853. The author, a French diplomat, endorsed the belief in the natural superiority of the White Man and warned that the purity of the bloodline had been tainted by centuries of mixed marriage. This belief later became a central factor in Nazi political theory. It remains to this day a cherished and violently defended principle of self-styled Aryan brotherhoods such as the Aryan Nations of Utah in the USA.

In parallel with the emergence of Nazi racial ideology, another concept of Aryan was developing. In Theosophy, the spiritual movement founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky in 1875, Aryan was the name given to a lineage of super-evolved human beings who were believed to oversee and guide the human race. Theosophists argued that the word derives from the Sanskrit arya, “noble, advanced.” The Aryan Masters of Blavatsky were the Mahatmas, “great spirits” who represent the evolutional avant-garde of the human species. Collectively, they are called the Great White Brotherhood. In the teachings of theosophy, these benevolent spiritual guides are selflessly dedicated to serve humanity, quite unlike Nazis megalomaniacs intent upon imposing upon the world the ideology of a Master Race. Rarely has a term been charged with such diametrically conflicting beliefs as Aryan.

assemblage point Bizarre concept introduced by Carlos Castaneda for a point in the "luminous egg" or auric field that surrounds each human being.

In some obscure manner, the egg is attached to the physical body via the assemblage point. The mechanism of the assemblage point is one of the more baffling matters to be presented by don Juan in the entire series of Castaneda books.

It might seem that we are facing here something unique to Carlos Castaneda, an item of his idiosyncratic imagination. A pure contrivance on his part. But no. Consider the following trail of clues:

The last dean of the School of Athens, a man named Damascius (c. 530 CE), left an account of activities at the Royal Library in Alexandria in the previous century. Damascius' original writings are lost, but survive in quotes. He descibes teachings of the Mystery Schools said to have been written down by Isidorus, the husband of the Alexandrian Gnostic teacher, Hypatia, who was murdered in 415 CE by a Christian mob. The works of Isidorus are also lost (read: destroyed by Christian converts), but the second-hand fragments of Damascius allow us to reconstruct them. (See G. R. S. Mead, The Subtle Body)

The teachings state that each human being is enclosed in an auric body called the augoeides or “radiant sphere.” This description matches the “luminous egg” of Castaneda. Isodorus wrote that in the Mysteries initiates were shown how the augoeides is fastened to the physical body at a point on the right shoulder blade (Mead, p. 60). According to Castaneda, the luminous egg is locked to the physical body by the “assemblage point,” located at arm’s length off the right shoulder blade, behind the back.

This is one of fourteen clear correlations between Mystery School teachings and the neo-shamanic lore developed by Castaneda.

assessing belief One of the three main practices of metacritique, the other two being defusing belief and dereasoning belief.

Belief is assessed by observing the behavior it produces. Since the same belief can produce different behaviors in different people, it may seem unfair and even incorrect to judge beliefs on behavioural grounds, rather than the individuals who commit the behavior. But in metahistory we dearly wish to avoid judging individuals on their behaviour. The rule of assessment requires that we recognize and respect the autonomous power of beliefs. So great is this power that it may exceed the power of the individual person who adopts the belief. Therefore we attribute behavior first to the dynamic of belief, and second to the individual who holds the belief and enacts it.

Metahistorical assessment of beliefs shows that they are often capable of driving humans to insane and inhumane acts. This prompts us to inquire if there is something in the belief that may be insane and inhumane, even though many people who hold it do not enact it along those lines. Since we are assessing belief and not individuals, we look for the cause of insanity in the beliefs. This approach is unique to metacritique.

assigned belief A belief acquired from one’s familial, cultural and religious background and accepted like a task or role assigned to the believer, rather than chosen on a voluntary basis.

The ranks of the mass-scale religions are filled by adherents who hold assigned beliefs yet defend them as if they were voluntarily adopted. It could be said, for instance, that Christianity is a creed embraced by millions but rarely chosen by anyone. Because assigned belief enables an individual to realize an identity within a community of other believers, the beliefs held seem to belong intrinsically to the believer, who will defend them against all opposition. Since lapse of belief would be tantamount to loss of identity, adherents are often willing to die for what they believe, even though they have not freely chosen to believe it in the first place.

In millions of cases the Christian faith is assigned to the believer by parents, educators and other authority figures. Assignment implies that no other choice was ever considered, because no other valid choice is admitted by those who do the assigning. In the case of conversion, which accounts for millions of adherents to Christianity, the believer may have held an optional creed or belief-system before being converted, so there is an element of choice in switching from one set of beliefs to the other. This is an extremely generous view of conversion, however. Due to the atmosphere of emotional contagion typical of religious rallies, the factor of choice may be almost totally overwhelmed. Beliefs adopted due to conversion usually exhibit the three marks of assigned belief: they are (1) unilaterally imposed, (2) uncritically accepted, and (3) validated by the power of consensus. In many cases, conversion is hardly more than re-assignment from one belief-system to another.

For a complete list of permutations of belief see Modes of Believing.

Atlantis Legendary civilization described by Plato but not corroborated by other references in classical sources. Along with Aquarian and Aryan, the third A-word of metahistory.

The A-words are cues to alternative historical scenarios. Each one triggers a set of notions that rapidly build into a controversial story, if not of human origins, then certainly of human civilization. In its most succinct form, the Atlantis scenario proposes that civilization in the historical period since 4500 BCE did not develop from scratch but was inherited from a preceding civilization that existed before the last Ice Age ­ that is, previous to 9000 BCE. The Atlantis introduces the possibility of a highly developed maritime civilization that existed “before the Flood.” This is the thesis of Charles Hapgood, revised by Graham Hancock in Fingerprints of the Gods (Suggested reading for Origins.)

autopoesis Literally, "self-making." Extremely chic notion in avant-garde biology and complexity theory, though perhaps overrated.

Self-organization is now recognized to be a prominent feature of terrestrial nature at all levels, and of the cosmos at large. In Gnostic language the autopoetic function is called Autogenes, "self-generating." (Pronounced Awe-TOE-gen-KNEES.) As the biospheric system is understood so far, Gaia is autopoetic. It is widely accepted that the Gaian system, the biosphere, is autopoetic. This may sound like a lofty pronouncement but James Lovelock himself plays it down: "Scientists are usually condemned to lead urban lives, but I find that country folk still living close ot the earth often seem puzzled that anyone should need to make a formal proposition of anything as obvious as the Gaia hypothesis." (Cited by Jon Turney in Lovelock & Gaia, p. 52-3)

At the cosmic level, autopoesis is the configuring action that arises spontaneously in the presence of a living cosmic current or Aeon. When this torrential outpouring encounters elemental matter (in scientific terms, atomic states), it configures those states. The mere presence of Sophia in the outer limbs organizes the chaos of the elements (described in the Gaia Mythos, beginning in Episode 9.)

Axial Age Term introduced by German philosopher Karl Jaspers for the pivotal period of civilization around 600 BCE that produced a vast shift in culture and consciousness. See also World Ages.