Saturday, March 21, 2009

Julian Walker - The Masks of God: New Introduction to My Forthcoming Book!

Pretty damn cool - Julian Walker is a very interesting man. I look forward to seeing the book.

The Masks of God: New Introduction to My Forthcoming Book!

Posted on Mar 19th, 2009 by Julian : integral healer Julian
Introduction: Masks of God

masks of god

Spirituality has to do with the core of our lives, with how our minds and hearts experience meaning, create values and open themselves to expansive states of consciousness. Throughout human history spirituality has been infused with mythology and this serves a dual purpose:

1) It attempts explain what is mysterious to us, and
2) It attempts to bring us into a sense of deep communion with our society, our inner depths, and the natural world as doorways into and awe-filled experience of that mystery.

Mythologies are the dream-like stories used by different cultures to explain what is beyond their knowledge. Myths exist in relationship to ritual. Rituals can be ways both of:

1) Enacting an attempted control of both the scary and beautiful faces of the mystery, and
2) Opening us to a sense of insight, healing, expansion or freedom.

But myth and ritual are man-made. They rise out of the collective psyches like elaborate, vividly remembered dreams. They carry our darkest fears, our deepest longings, our hidden secrets, highest potentials and most creative imaginings. They are in equal measure light-filled and shadowy – because spirituality is the mirror to both self and culture.


All religion, story-telling, literature, visual art (including cinema) and philosophy can be traced back to myth, and all spiritual practice, psychology, music and dance can be traced back to ritual.

The church service, the wailing wall, the graduation, ceremonial prostrations, the yoga class, the nightclub, the meditation hall, the rock concert, the Academy Awards, the therapy couch, the candle-lit bedroom are all examples of arenas in which contemporary humans still participate in forms of ritual. But for many of us the mythologies of the past no longer serve their function – they don’t feel relevant or impacting, and we have either given up on conventional ritual altogether or sought out alternative forms because the old traditions began at some point to feel empty.


The spiritual dimension of our human lives has to do with the meeting place between our inner and outer, personal and collective worlds. Mythology - like a collective dream, carries potent symbolic energy and information back and forth. Ritual has served to take us into the state of mind where we have access to that inner language – one of rich feeling and imagery, symbol and metaphor, insight and meaning. Myth gives the tribe a story and ritual allows the tribe to enter a shared experience of that story.

One more thing though - from the heightened state of consciousness created in the ritual the story will, over time, keep transforming to meet the needs and reflect the reality of the tribe. Or so it should.

This introduction takes you on a short journey through the evolving history of the spiritual dimension of human life. Great mythology scholar Joseph Campbell called myths the “masks of God.” He said “when myths function correctly they become transparent to transcendence.” We start then with the earliest known forms of myth and ritual and follow a thread all the way to our present spiritual situation. Think of it as a creative tour of the evolving perspectives, concerns and experiences that have held central meaning to human societies and individuals.

In this creative offering you will experience some remarkably consistent themes as well as others that will be quite different. You will also see ideas and practice disappear and then return. This is not intended to be a complete and final history, but it does include many of the most significant expressions of our evolving spirituality. As such it includes both the sublime and the grotesque, for such are the forces we have always been seeking to reconcile. It is also not a strictly linear process, as growth evolution occurs in part through both a kind of spiral motion and the punctuated equilibrium of sudden change.

As you take the journey consider humanity’s ongoing relationship to four essential things:


The Swiss Alps – 49, 000 B.C.E.

cave bear skull

We gather in the cave as the sun rises, before the bones of the bear. The light comes in through the high opening and casts shadowy figures on the wall. We are alive and the animals offer their meat and fur, but we have to fight hard for it. We open the stone chest to reveal the seven bear skulls, muzzles facing the cave’s opening, and thank the Great Sky Bear as we sharpen our thrusting spears and stone axes – preparing for the hunt. We survive mainly on meat from the red deer, bear, bison, and occasionally – the great wooly mammoth. We speak in a simple sing-song cadence and wear hide coverings. Ours is a world of instincts, primal needs, magical forces, animal spirits, and a spirituality that deals with the hunt and the animals we depend on for life.

France – 20,000 B.C.E.


I go down into the deep cave. The paintings on the wall tell the story of my journey into the spirit world. I fly there. Fly to the place where the animals gather, to find out where they will be when we hunt. The paintings are about the shaman - the birdman, and our tribe’s sacred relations with the animal-people. The animals are our friends - they bleed like us and cry out in pain like us, our faces are not so different. We must honor the deer and bison and put their bodies back together after we have taken them apart. When we gather in the cave we sing and dance with the animal spirits. In this way we know it is good that we eat them and feel strong when we go out to hunt. When we bury the dead we include the body of a sacrificed animal – for we will still be together in the world beyond.

Kenya – 15,000 B.C.E.

The invading gods have taken us from our mothers. Taken us from the village to this strange place. They looked like monstrous animals and our mothers wailed and clutched us close – but they dragged us away. I know the other boys are in here with me, but it is pitch black and we have been told not to make a sound. We can hear the screams of individual boys who have been dragged from the hut to be killed as the deep loud songs are sung. When I feel the rough hands on me I go limp, surely I will die now and never see my mother or the village again. My eyes are covered. The pain is unbearably intense, but right when I am convinced the end is near and I will be food for the hyenas on the way to the spirit world – they pull the blindfold from my face. The men of the tribe take off their scary masks and lead me in procession to where the other boys are standing, blood still drying on their thighs, exposed swollen penis heads, fresh burn scars – one on each cheek. You are a man now, a warrior - says my uncle’s voice close to my head as I join the others. You have survived the death of your boyhood, you have a new face and a new penis. Now you can hunt and fight and take your place in the tribe – and you are worthy to be with your bride.

Circumcision History 4

Egypt - 8,000 B.C.E.

karnyak pilars

We gather in the stone circles of the temple, surrounded by pillars carved with animals, insects and birds. It is time for the sacrifice. The priests have used the stars to calculate the Winter Solstice and we know we must give sacred blood back to the Earth to participate in the arrival of Spring. The ritual dagger and bowl lie in wait on the north-facing altar. The goats are led in to be slain. They will be cut up and buried in the earth. The sacred bowl is used to pour warm blood first on the hearth and then into my priestess mouth taking me into the trance. Then we feast and dance. We survive by agriculture, our spirituality has to do with the cycles of the Earth, fertility and the growing of crops.
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