‘If Everything is Important, Then Nothing is Important’: The Cult of the White Panther

Pic: Image derived from public domain source.

Pic: Image derived from public domain source.

Here’s a great little piece from EsoterX on heirophany, religious revelation in the modern world, and the rise of the cult of the white panther:

Via EsoterX

Our modern, interconnected world is so saturated with significance that its seems highly unlikely that a new religion could find purchase, so we look upon the historical rise and fall of alternate theologies as quaint museum pieces, worthy of examination, but no more vested with cosmological import that the latest political scandal.  But all religions begin somewhere.  Nail a guy to a cross these days, and you better be ready to invoke “stand-your-ground” laws.  Renouncing your princely heritage and travelling South Asia as an ascetic philosopher seems like an exceptionally bad career move.  If you see a burning bush, you’d better call the fire department.  It’s not that these sorts of events go unremarked in the modern world, rather that absolutely everything is steeped in significance worthy of endless hours of commentary, social media exposure, and documentation for future generations.  If everything is important, then nothing is important.  There is simply no room for what Mircea Eliade termed a hierophany, that is “the manifestation of something of a wholly different order, a reality that does not belong to our world, in objects that are an integral part of our natural ‘profane’ world” (Eliade, 1959, p11).  This leaves us completely unprepared for an encounter with the mysterium tremendum (“the awe-inspiring mystery”), and in fact we have invented a whole category of “Weird News” that ensures the profane nature of any paranormal experience is maintained.  This self-conscious desacrilization of incongruous experience was the exception rather than the rule for most of human history, where a single manifestation of something wholly other could reverberate across millennia.  Consider what you would do if you ran across a white panther in a river these days. Easy.  Snap a picture on your Iphone, and post it to reddit/r/cats for a sense of community.  The Native American Wyandott (also called the Huron) of the 17-19th Century couldn’t get a decent cell phone signal, so an encounter with a mysterious white panther went very differently, resulting in the Cult of the White Panther.

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    if nothing is important
    then everything is nothing

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