David Mathisen is changing the way we think about Hercules |337|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    great point! this seems to be a frequent characteristic of shoddy skepticism... i.e. inability to fairly compare with accepted/orthodox theories/paradigms. The whole Mind=Brain materialism thing for example :)
     
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  2. dwm

    dwm Member

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    Thank you Nelson for the positive words about my work -- and the constructive suggestions --

    I do think that if those interested were to tackle the Star Myths of the World series in order, beginning with Volume One, they'd find that I try to arrange a systematic progression, beginning with "simple grammar" and building to more and more complex celestial allegories as one progresses through the volumes.

    That said, I also believe that it is possible to jump right in at the Greek myths (Volume Two) or the Bible (Volume Three), if one is particularly interested in a certain area of study.

    I think I spend more time on the Odyssey in this series of books than on just about any other set of myths. It is in Volume Two, and there are 6+6 chapters on the Odyssey there (while there are only 3+3 chapters on the Iliad). I say "6+6" because in the entire Star Myths series of books, each chapter has "two halves" -- one, in the front section of the book, in which the mythical events are discussed, and then a counterpart in the second half of the book, in which celestial interpretations are explored. And, after reading those chapters, I think most will agree with me that the Odyssey is founded upon inspired celestial metaphor from first to last!

    I agree with you that the "foot-washing episodes" in the Odyssey and in the gospel accounts have numerous startling parallels -- both are discussed in some detail in Star Myths Volumes Two and Three (first in regards to the Odyssey, and then in regards to the gospel accounts), and the significance of the parallels is also explored.

    There are many other startling parallels between the Odyssey and the gospel accounts. I believe the baptism scene at the beginning of Jesus' ministry has strong parallels with the "baptism" Odysseus receives at the beginning of his adventures, when Poseidon sends a raging storm that threatens to destroy his ship, and a goddess descends in the form of a bird to save Odysseus (after which he plunges into the deep, wearing nothing but a sash around his waist, given to him by the goddess -- a pattern which surfaces in many other myths and legends). I write about that a little in a blog post here, and more extensively in the book Star Myths of the World, Volume Two.

    Also, aficionados of the Odyssey may enjoy this post about "the octopus of twists and turns."

    I do agree that all this star-myth material is not so easy to grasp immediately, nor is it easy to present in books or even in videos (best would be to discuss it underneath the actual dome of the heavens, in a dark desert with clear skies, using laser pointers and discussing the stories associated with each constellation). And, it isn't something that everyone is interested in! However, even if only "one in a billion" finds it helpful in some way, that is gratifying to me!

    Cheers
     
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  3. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    Hi David,

    Just to be clear: The critique I wrote in the previous posts was that (as I and others have said), a concise and convincing introduction to your work is lacking. I want to buy your book on Greek myth, and the one on Germanic myth when it comes out, and I think your writing style is beautiful. But (thinking of newcomers to your work) as George wrote above in this thread, people have limits of time and energy to dive into books; for instance, a short video presentation and/or article of "best"/most convincing evidence would help newcomers...

    I'm sure there are many people from academic and other backgrounds who'd be interested in your work, and who can also see the shortcomings of other modern works on mythology. I'm reminded of this review on Amazon I read a few years ago (note that I really like Graves' work, but I think you'd appreciate the frustration that the heavens are left out of Graves' book, not to mention virtually every other modern work on Greek mythology!):

    Here's just one line of the review:
    "Graves' immediate failure is that he remains oblivious to the ouranographic nature of Greek myth: their myths were related to the heavens."

    The full review is here (worth reading for others too, as it dovetails with many things David Mathisen has been talking about):
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-...=cm_cr_getr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0736621121
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
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  4. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    PS: Just edited my above comment to make it clearer. And just to say as well, that the reason why I keep on about having a concise article & video with the most convincing evidence, including a comparison with standard works which skim over or ignore the star-connection, is that I think your work is such a necessary contribution to our understanding of mythology.

    All the best,
    Nelson
     
  5. dwm

    dwm Member

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    Thanks Nelson -- point well taken -- a concise and clear video would be a worthy project and I will add it to my plans. My skills and resources as an amateur video-maker are not superlative, but I have made a few that are available on the "video" section of my website at Star Myth World (dot com). The very first one listed there is one of my earlier efforts, but has been one about which I have gotten some good feedback in the past (even though I was just learning how to use some of the editing tools at that point). It's entitled "Star Myths: 1,000 times more precious . . . " For those who wish to give it a view, there's an added bonus at this time of year (end of January as I write this, or beginning of February in some parts of our globe) in that this is a particularly excellent time of year for viewing the Beehive Cluster in the night sky.

    If anyone would like to write to the TED talks committee if you think this material is "worth spreading" to those who might benefit from it, you can send them a message to that effect here: https://www.ted.com/participate/nominate That would undoubtedly produce a good concise video containing some of my "most convincing evidence."

    However, they have a full contingent of great ideas to choose from at any given time, so I will see about putting together a concise article and video as you've described on my own one of these days -- I appreciate the suggestion!

    Thanks again to everyone for the very high quality of interaction here on the Skeptiko site, and to Alex for having me over.
     
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  6. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    Good idea. Just nominated you for a TED talk! :)
    FYI, here's what I sent describing you and your work:
    "David Mathisen has an extremely broad knowledge of myths around the world. He has a fascinating theory that the myths are a metaphor for the heavens (i.e. constellations, planets, etc.). His theory is based on the very solid foundation that many of the myths are explicitly based on certain constellations (such as Orion, Hercules, etc.). I think a TED talk would contribute greatly to our understanding of mythology, not least because the standard view in mythology is to skim over or ignore the planetary and stellar connection. "
     
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  7. dwm

    dwm Member

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    Thanks, Nelson! Cheers!
     
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  8. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    Hey David, just thought of something. Like any good theory, your one has tremendous explanatory power, in that the more one looks at otherwise "inexplicable" references, the more they make sense according to the new interpretation.

    As I understand it, you're in the process of writing your next book, on Norse/Germanic mythology. As you may know, many modern scholars (most of whom seem to be cultural marxists) go to unbelievable lengths to undermine Tacitus' Germania as a reliable source. One of the ways they do this is through references Tacitus makes to Hercules.

    Tacitus wrote of the Germanics (emphasis added, and as usual I'll flesh it out so everyone can follow): http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/source/tacitus1.html

    "They [the Germanics] say that Hercules, too, once visited them; and when going into battle, they sing of him FIRST OF ALL HEROES."

    "Mercury is the deity whom they chiefly worship, and on certain days they deem it right to sacrifice to him even with human victims. Hercules and Mars they appease with more lawful offerings. Some of the Suevi also sacrifice to Isis. Of the occasion and origin of this foreign rite I have discovered nothing, but that the image, which is fashioned like a light galley, indicates an imported worship. The Germans, however, do not consider it consistent with the GRANDEUR OF CELESTIAL BEINGS to confine the gods within walls, or to liken them to the form of any human countenance. They consecrate woods and groves, and they apply the names of deities to the abstraction which they see only in spiritual worship."

    "We have moreover even ventured out from thence into the ocean, and upon its coasts common fame has reported the pillars of Hercules to be still standing: whether it be that Hercules ever visited these parts, or that to his renowned name we are wont to ascribe whatever is grand and glorious EVERYWHERE. Neither did Drusus who made the attempt, want boldness to pursue it: but the roughness of the ocean withstood him, nor would suffer discoveries to be made about itself, no more than about Hercules. Thenceforward the enterprise was dropped: nay, more pious and reverential it seemed, to believe the marvellous feats of the Gods than to know and to prove them."

    ...Such are the references to Hercules in Tacitus' Germania. It appears that Tacitus himself is open about whether Hercules is meant as a literal person, or if he is somehow celestial, or if Hercules was both literally a person and a celestial being. But it is revealing that Tacitus and the Romans were content to leave it as an open question (a typically tolerant characteristic of the polytheistic mindset)...

    Yet if we DO use a literalist lens, then it makes little sense (even if there were some imported aspects in the Hercules cult). After all, why would Germanic tribes, so far from the Mediterranean, revere Hercules as their foremost hero if he were a real person? (The odds seem very low that one person traveled so far through the world AND became the FIRST OF ALL HEROES EVERYWHERE...) In contrast, a celestial interpretation makes total sense, especially in light of the text that surrounds it, such as what was quoted above -- as Tacitus wrote:

    "Mercury [i.e. Woden*] is the deity whom they chiefly worship, and on certain days they deem it right to sacrifice to him even with human victims. Hercules and Mars [Tiu**] they appease with more lawful offerings."

    *Compare Mercredi/Mercury's day in French = Wednesday/Woden's day in English
    **Compare Mardi/Mars' day in French vs Tuesday/Tiu's day in English

    I think many sacred stories could have had a kernel of historical truth, and such might have been the case with a Hercules character; but in the following case, only someone looking for strawmen would interpret this literally: AuĂ°umbla, the giant cow in the sky...

    And I find it fascinating that despite all the purposeful cultural destruction under the Church, that we nevertheless still use terms such as "The Milky Way" and the days of the week named after planets/gods... These sacred stories must really strike a chord with us!

    Looking forward to your next book!
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
  9. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    And no doubt our Northern European ancestors had various other names for Hercules (as he was known in Latin), Herakles (as transliterated from Greek), etc. But these names must have been considered mainly differences in languages, because Tacitus is a very careful and reliable author, yet he always simply gives the Latin name "Hercules" (likewise for "Mars" and "Mercury" too)...

    Some Latin by Tacitus follows (as quoted above in English translation); but even for those who don't understand it, if you skip to the next post there is an amazing conclusion that can be reached by looking at the linguistics:

    Fuisse apud eos et Herculem memorant, primumque omnium virorum fortium ituri in proelia canunt.
    [...]
    Deorum maxime Mercurium colunt, cui certis diebus humanis quoque hostiis litare fas habent. Herculem et Martem concessis animalibus placant.
    [...]
    Ipsum quin etiam Oceanum illa temptavimus: et superesse adhuc Herculis columnas fama vulgavit, sive adiit Hercules, seu quidquid ubique magnificum est, in claritatem eius referre consensimus. Nec defuit audentia Druso Germanico, sed obstitit Oceanus in se simul atque in Herculem inquiri. Mox nemo temptavit, sanctiusque ac reverentius visum de actis deorum credere quam scire.
     
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  10. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    The emphasized text by Tacitus in the original Latin is this:
    magnitudine caelestium = GRANDEUR OF CELESTIAL BEINGS

    As my Collins Latin-English dictionary revealingly states: caelestis, -is adj of the sky, heavenly; divine; glorious; mpl the gods; ntpl the heavenly bodies.

    So magnitudine caelestium could be translated as:
    GRANDEUR OF CELESTIAL BEINGS
    GRANDEUR OF THE HEAVENLY BODIES
    GRANDEUR OF THE GODS

    So in just a few lines of Tacitus, one can find beautiful and compelling support for the divine-celestial connection in myth and religion, across cultures and spanning thousands of years...
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
  11. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    One other aspect I've been pondering... when reading the ancient writings I often had the feeling that there was something HUGE I was missing, as if the ancient authors weren't mentioning the proverbial elephant in the living-room.

    But I think the celestial bodies = gods connection clears this up. Indeed, when reading Tacitus in this new light, it seems to be one of his "givens" that the stars and planets are gods. Tacitus doesn't even need to explicitly state this, as he and his audience knew it so well. Instead, what Tacitus (and other ancient Greek and Roman authors) question is whether an actual person called Hercules/Herakles actually did certain things. And that's where the ancient debate was.

    Then I was wondering, that considering this knowledge was so deep, so taken for granted, how did it get lost?... For despite the Church's destruction of our cultural heritage, at least SOME ancient polytheistic texts survived the Church's censorship. For example, Tacitus' Germania didn't get disclosed to the public eye until the Renaissance. So considering such ancient ethnographic texts survived, how did this celestial metaphor knowledge get lost?......

    But since thinking about this I've come to the conclusion that it could get lost precisely BECAUSE in ancient times this knowledge of the celestial metaphor was taken for granted.

    I was looking for a modern equivalent, and a somewhat similar example might be the way celebrities nowadays are referred to as "stars". Nobody in the countless literature on these "celebrities"/"stars" needs to explain that these people are not really heavenly bodies, because everyone knows it already!

    But let's say in thousands of years time, archaeologists are sifting through the remains of this present civilization, and they come upon these texts where certain people are being called "stars" and the archaeologists find no textual explanation that these people AREN'T really stars. This of course isn't evidence that these people were really heavenly bodies or even thought to be heavenly bodies! That would be very unlikely indeed. Instead, what one might find is a NON-literary tradition/passed-down memory, that there were these famous people who were called "stars" but the term "star" was just a metaphor...

    The example of modern "celebrities" = "stars" is crass and back-to-front, but I think it illustrates the point about losing knowledge.

    Anyway, the upshot is that we wouldn't expect extremely obvious knowledge to be explained in the literary tradition. Moreover, if an organization, in the case of Antiquity, the Church, wanted to squelch that knowledge, then there would be relatively few texts that would need to be censored that explained this baseline knowledge anyway. So instead the Church censors could focus most of their attention on the carriers of the NON-literary tradition. This would take centuries of iconoclasm, persecution, and ridicule of the ancient traditions... Yet this is PRECISELY what happened.

    Disturbingly, in a more subtle way this is still happening to this day, with the MSM and others trying to change the very meaning of our word for sacred story: "myth". As we all know, according to the social engineers, a "myth" is something false and misleading -- something that needs to be done away with...
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
  12. dwm

    dwm Member

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    Thanks Nelson! Very happy to see that the celestial connections have apparently "struck a chord" and are resonating with what you've already perceived in your own study of ancient myth.

    All those are excellent insights. Perhaps you will also be publishing some books on myths and stars in the near future! (and art). That would be excellent.

    I present some discussion of how this information may have been (as you say) squelched in what became known as "the west" in my 2014 book Undying Stars.

    The points you offer above regarding Tacitus as well as the Norse and Germanic mythology are excellent ones. The fact that ancient writers were very confident in proclaiming the parallels between gods they encountered from one culture to another (Thor corresponds to Jupiter, or Odin corresponds to Mercury) and that the designations of the days of the week seem to bear out the same perceived connections (Odin's or Wotan's day, Wednesday, corresponding to Mercury's day or Miercoles etc) is touched upon briefly in a blog post from early 2014 entitled "Buddha, Odin, Mushrooms" -- which also points to some interesting connections to the figure of the Buddha (also traditionally associated with Mercury).

    Other early posts discussing Odin include

    "Odin and Gunnlod"

    "The Sacrifice of Odin"

    and

    "The shamanic foundation of the world's ancient wisdom" (in which I muse upon the fact that the orbit of the planet Mercury takes 88 earth days -- and the horse of Odin is remarkable, of course, for having eight legs, making him a very swift celestial steed, indeed).
     
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  13. Nelson

    Nelson Member

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    Thanks for the vote of confidence, David! :)

    As usual I really enjoyed the articles and videos you've linked to. Amazing research you've built up, and imposing too in its breadth and depth... And as usual I have about a dozen points of discussion that come to mind after each of your posts. ;)

    But just a couple of points, and if you want to address any of them you can; otherwise I'll just write them down here to keep them on the back-burner:
    Since hearing what you said about Olympus and Mount Sinai, I started to think about Mount Meru and Asgard, and about living on other planets (see Bhagavad Gita, esp. 9.21, with the Sanskrit words transliterated as: martya-lokam: "to the Earth, the planet of death")...

    There are so many new vistas in these myths you've opened up for me with the toolkit you've provided. It's amazing! :)

    When I've more time I'll get into the books you've written.

    But just to leave on a pessimistic note, from experience there are still some university faculties that haven't succumbed to the Orwellian Memory Hole. Where I studied I was fortunate enough to have refreshing professors, for whom the material was most important and they loved their field ("follow the data" as Alex Tsakiris would say). One of my professors said that two articles I wrote (one on the Stoic philosopher Epictetus and the other on The Trojan Women by Euripides) were the best undergraduate essays he'd ever read. I entered one into an essay competition, but judging from the previous year's winner (who had openly stated multiple times that Greek religion was "superstition"), I didn't have a hope. Where I taught just after graduation it was also loggerheads. For example, their courses on mythology amounted to Freudian psychology and trashing the ancient Greeks as phobia-ridden. Evidence was secondary to them and you had to agree with Freudian psychology to even begin. Before I arrived they had reportedly fired all faculty members (tenure be damned!), and they'd rehired the ones who fit their "perspective" (i.e. trashing and sensationalizing the myths in the most base ways). And come to think of it, they did however honor a late Roman emperor who helped bring about the dark ages... Almost a modern version of what Joe Atwill was getting at!

    Anyway, these are the gatekeepers of one faculty. At an anthropology faculty it was a similar story, not allowing one to focus on the amazing work of Mircea Eliade, for instance, which I specifically requested, and whom you of course often mention in your articles...

    Anyway, enough ranting ;) ...I guess you know what you may be up against when it comes to getting your work published at an academic institution.

    May the gods/planets and stars be with you! :D
     
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  14. dwm

    dwm Member

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    In response to the excellent suggestions from the forum, I've recently created a video that attempts to give some overview to what is admittedly a vast subject, in order to try to give an idea of my overall thesis in less than 16 minutes. Those interested can check that out here:



    Thanks again to everyone for your insightful comments and questions and suggestions. Please feel free to communicate with me via twitter, facebook, the feedback section under any of my videos on youtube, or through my website.
    _/\_
     
  15. Alex

    Alex New

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    thx for this, David. well done... especially the beginning. I'm still mulling over questions:
    1. you always loose me a bit with the Bible stories... are you claiming these stories were engineered top-to-bottom to carry forward "star wisdom" (i.e. the collection of great truths you believe was passed to us thru the constellation stories)? or do you think it's possible that masterful writers interweaved this "star wisdom" along with historical, and semi-historical accounts, and with other wisdom passed down thru the ages? which way do you lean?

    2. do you think "star wisdom" (awkward term, pls find a better one :)) was unique/special/different from what mystics (and even ordinary people) have received thru channeling, medium communication, spiritually transformative experiences?
     
  16. Larry

    Larry Member

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    I don't know if we are on the same track here or not. I guess I have trouble discerning whether these archetypes and mythic structures are common psychological features in the human psyche and projected out onto a random panoply of stars or whether there is some direct correspondence or causal determinant that connects our psyche's with what appears to be a random distribution of rocks in a void.
     
  17. Alex

    Alex New

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    I think David has addressed "random distribution of rocks in a void" thing quite convincingly. I'm on board with his general premise... picking at the edges.
     
  18. Larry

    Larry Member

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    Did you think he addressed it convincingly in the short video? or somewhere you might point me to in the podcast or subsequent posts. Sorry if I'm slow to get this. I'm just having trouble wrapping my head around it. Maybe I need to listen to the podcast again Thanks
     
  19. Far.From.Here

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  20. dwm

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    Thanks Alex --

    Let me reply in reverse order:

    2. My short answer would be "no -- I personally believe it is the same information / knowledge / gnosis." I usually refer to this body of knowledge as simply the "ancient wisdom." Hertha von Dechend and Giorgio de Santillana in Hamlet's Mill credit Aristotle with referring to it as an "ancient treasure" (from a passage in Metaphysics XII.8). I believe this knowledge involves the awareness of an Other Realm or Invisible Realm, which the myths use the stars and constellations and heavenly cycles to explain or illustrate, and with which the mystics, shamans, mediums, ancient Egyptian priests and priestesses, etc are able to connect. I also believe there is evidence that virtually everyone, including "even ordinary people" as you say, can connect with this realm (note for example that in many traditional Native American cultures it seems that almost everyone would embark upon a type of spirit-vision quest upon reaching a certain age, withdrawing into solitude somewhere in order to seek such contact, often as part of the transition into adulthood but also for other occasions). I myself have also called this worldview, which appears to be found worldwide and even to inform the myths in the Bible (although later literalists suppressed or denied this worldview) a "shamanic-holographic" vision of the cosmos and of the human condition -- a term which is at least as much of a mouthful as the one you are proposing!!

    1. This is a difficult question because what we have is a pile of evidence that the myths from around the world encode the movements of the stars and heavenly cycles, as well as compelling evidence to conclude that they all appear to be using the same system. How this situation came about is not really evident and thus we can only formulate possible scenarios or hypotheses and then go looking for evidence to confirm or deny those scenarios. I believe that the investigation is complicated by the fact that the New Testament itself may have been introduced at a later date (first or second centuries AD / CE in my opinion, although there are some analysts who are proposing more radical interpretations and arguing that it was somewhat later than that), by people who understood the ancient system and "updated" the stories (updating ancient an Egyptian framework in light of the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament, which eventually came to be known as the "New" Testament, even though the content in the New Testament is really quite as "Old" as any of this other Star Myth content).

    I believe we could propose several hypotheses regarding the origin of the "original" system that underlies the world's myths. It could be that there was an extremely ancient "predecessor culture" (or cultures) or "predecessor civilization" (or civilizations) which used this system, but which was impacted by a global catastrophe (possibly involving increased solar activity / coronal mass ejection activity) and that the survivors of that catastrophe had to "go underground" for several thousand years, popping back up later when the solar activity stabilized, and that after this interim period the original material was remembered in different ways in different parts of the world, or that it started to alter in different cultures as humanity "got back on its feet" again. A different possibility is that this type of system is obtained through shamanic activity / vision-seeking activity / interaction with certain psychedelic plants and fungi, etc., and that those who are most adept at "going to the Spirit World" bring back this type of system somehow, so that it all has the "same source" (in the Other Realm) but was accessed by different cultures "independently" and thus has different forms around the globe. It could be a combination of these two hypotheses as well -- or a completely different explanation (ancient aliens could also be an explanation, although by no means a necessary explanation, as I have said before -- especially since most "ancient alien" theories rely on these very same myths as "evidence" of literal visits -- likely a misinterpretation in my opinion).

    Cheers!

    David
     
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