Behind every origin story of ancient cultures and civilizations…behind every myth, every fairy tale and folklore and every religious text is an underlying layer of truth that describes the scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom of the time. These amazing stories and myths may also hold a storehouse of hidden knowledge that matches today’s most cutting edge theories and discoveries. To those that came before us, where language was in its infancy and lacked today’s sophistication, the facts were, in fact, the story, and somehow, that story had to be considered important enough to go “viral” and spread from one culture to the next.
From the implicate and secret knowledge embedded in fairy tales, folklore and cosmogenesis stories, to the amazing science behind myth and religious writings from all over the world, what we have come to know as story contains more fact, more information, than we ever imagined. But that fact is often hidden behind a beginning, middle and an end, with a message, or a theme…a story meant to impart information even as it entertains or continues a heritage and legacy of a people from generation to generation.
Our ancient religious texts, myths and folklore show how even the most primitive cultures understood the world around them far more than we give them credit for, and may have actually contained common beliefs, concepts and understandings of the times. These are examples of “monomyth,” the common structures found in all myth and ancient stories. These common elements are surprising when we consider that people in those days had no simple means of spreading ideas. How, then, did such distant cultures share so many similar ideas?
Aside from common themes, we also must ask, how did they know what they knew? Historians, anthropologists and archeologists all stand in awe of the sophistication of various monuments built around celestial activities our primitive ancestors could not have known about…or could they? Scientists are amazed at the intricate knowledge our ancestors had, made evident in their drawings, maps, writings and oral traditions, of the natural world they existed in, long before computers and Google and wikis were invented.
We still struggle to understand how ancient cultures could achieve what they did minus the advances we take for granted.
But the ancients didn’t just communicate their knowledge and information via the stories they told. They also utilized art and architecture, ripe with intriguing common themes and elements, motifs and iconography and symbolism. Information can come to us in pictures, as rock and cave art of our primitive ancestors tell of their close connection with nature and natural cycles and phenomena, and even potentially supernatural phenomena. Across the globe, both primitive and ancient art and architecture often present elements so similar to one another, it suggests that certain themes were archetypal to the entirety of humanity. Why did so many diverse civilizations, separated by thousands of miles, with no real means or methods of communication, all use the same symbolic imagery, with only slight regionally influenced variations? Was there some outside influence spreading these common themes, or were these cultures tapping into a field of ideas and information that existed in the collective subconscious?
The highly popular “ancient astronaut theory” is one way we attempt to explain the leaps in knowledge, as well as how that knowledge spread over large distances so quickly. Other theories include the science of memetics; the field/Grid theory of an invisible and implicate clearinghouse of information available to everyone at any time; and even good old word of mouth! All of these theories have validity and merit, and might help us better understand what our ancestors wanted to tell us, including those things we continue to argue, even kill each other, over, such as religious beliefs, traditions and historical events.
How information spread and went “viral” long before we possessed cell phones and social networking and the Internet speaks volumes about how communication itself evolved in ancient times, and what was important enough for them to communicate in the first place. Whether their modus operandi was fairy tales or folk legends, myth or religious parable, rock art or vase paintings, mosaic tile floors or lavish cathedrals built to precise sacred geometric measurements, pyramids or stone henges, or those strange objects out of time and place we call “archeoenigmas,” our ancient ancestors communicate with us, today, in so many ways. It is up to us, though, to correctly interpret their “viral mythology” and what it meant to them, as well as what they hope it will mean to us.
What it all comes down to, though, is about the way our ancestors often communicated information by encoding and embedding it in the creativity, art, architecture and the imagination of the times, out of direct sight of those who might not want that truth revealed. Even as we look back into the past, we see that viral mythology is also about how the stories we tell today, and the art and architecture we imagine and build into form, will embed the information we want to communicate to future generations, and create and shape our future in the same manner. The tales we tell today become the viral mythology of tomorrow. What are we leaving behind and what will it say about who we were and what was important to us? What will future descendants think of us when, one day on an archeological dig, they find our cell phones, our computers, our toys and comic books and temples and mosques and churches, our television shows and movies, our novels and plastic water bottles and houses and mansions and tent cities and trash dumps and ghettos, our jewelry and tattoos and texts and emails and pet clothing…
It all starts with “In the beginning…,” “Once upon a time…,” “Long ago and far away…,” and “Every picture tells a story….”
© Marie D. Jones and Larry Flaxman. Jones and Flaxman are the authors of Viral Mythology: How the Truth of the Ancients was Encoded and Passed Down through Legend, Art, and Architecture published by New Page. ISBN: 978-1-60163-295-1 List Price: US $15.99.