Some science behind the scenes

Sacred geography - physical caves

Physical caves carry both the symbolism of the cave, but may also mark a place once used to obtain spiritual experience.  Many caves are ideal places to obtain such experiences being places that allow sensory deprivation, and which even contain occasionally stones to support resonance.  

Caves containing rock art have been discovered in south west France, the French Pyrenees, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Sicily with some in eastern Europe and Russia.  Most of it is now recognised as being prehistoric.  There are over 300 paleolithic painted cave sites known.  Most of this rock art describes shamanic out of body travel, shape shifting , orans and so on.

The Mind in the Cave – David Lewis-Williams
The Upper Paleolithic subterranean passages and chambers were therefore places that afforded close contact with, even penetration of, a spiritual, nether tier of the cosmos.  The images that people made there related to that chthonic subterranean realm.  Images were not so much taken underground – pictures of the world above lodged in people’s memories – and placed there; they were both obtained and fixed there.  The hallucinatory or spirit world together with its painted and engraved imagery, was thus invested with materiality and precisely situated cosmologically; it was not something that existed merely in people’s thoughts and minds.  The spiritual nether world was there, tangible and material – and some people could empirically verify it by entering the caves and seeing for themselves the ‘fixed’ visions of the spirit animals that empowered the shamans of the community and also be experiencing visions, perhaps even in those underground spaces

The Cave as the place of rebirth

In the days of considerable shamanic activity, souls were believed to be delivered by a ‘Mother’ figure – the Mother figuratively gave birth to the souls and the Father created the systems stored in the Mother database.

Although the Moon was the best symbolic way of describing the birth of souls, the cave also took on a special significance as the ‘womb’ of the Mother.  It was dark, could have a narrow entrance [the birth canal], could be shaped like a womb, often figuratively had ‘trees of life’ in it [stalagmites and stalactites], adding to the symbolic value, and was dark.  If it contained streams and water even better.  And if the rock of which it was made happened to be red,  then added symbolism occurred as the ‘birth’ could be accompanied by a flow of red ‘blood’.

Observations

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