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TitleMaps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief
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Table of Contents
                            BOOKCOVER
HALF-TITLE
TITLE
COPYRIGHT
CONTENTS
FIGURES
PREFACE
1  MAPS OF EXPERIENCE
2  MAPS OF MEANING
3  APPRENTICESHIP AND ENCULTURATION
4  THE APPEARANCE OF ANOMALY
5  THE HOSTILE BROTHERS
CONCLUSION: THE DIVINITY OF INTEREST
NOTES
REFERENCES
PERMISSIONS
INDEX
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 1

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Mikhaila: Julian pieces and the bones failed out too then a hole got him and there was
water in it and when he came out he was big

Mom: (Julian isn’t a baby anymore?)
Mikhaila: No he’s a big boy and a bug with legs got him out ’cause bugs can swim and

the hole was in the park and it moved into the back yard and he failed in it a tree
burned and left the hole.

It was the partial “dissolution” of Julian’s previous infantile personality that was causing
his emotional distress. Mikhaila, upset by his trouble (and curious about the
disappearance of her “baby”) was trying to understand what her brother was going
through. Her dream represented his transformation as a “death” and rebirth: First his eyes
fell out, then he fell into pieces, then his bones came out. Everything went into a “hole,”
which originally inhabited the nearby park. (The park by our house was forty wooded
acres; the children and I had gone there at night several times. They found it spooky, but
exciting. For them, it was the nearest manifestation of the unknown, outside explored and
familiar territory—prime locale for metaphoric application as source of the “hole,” in
which transformation takes place.) The hole was full of water, whose symbolism we have
partially discussed (as the rejuvenating/ destroying “water of life”). The “bug with legs”
that could “swim” was, I think, a theriomorphized representation of the very archaic
intrapsychic systems that guide or underlie the transformation of more sophisticated
cortical or personality “contents.” The notion that a “tree” burned and left the hole is very
complex. A tree, at minimum, is a sophisticated structure that emerges from basic
material (from the “ground”). It is also commonly used as a metaphoric representative of
the essence of the individual human—even of the nervous sys-tem itself428—as we shall
see. The tree in this case was therefore also representative of Julian, but in a more
impersonal way. It stood for, among other things, the personality that was currently
undergoing transformation.

Adaptive ability remains necessarily limited to the domain encompassed by a single
set of principles—a single pattern of action, a single mode of apprehension—in the
absence of capacity to reconfigure present conceptualizations of morality (morality:
description of unbearable present, ideal future and means of transformation). Such
limitation—which is the inability to play games with the rules of the games—means
dangerous restriction of behavioral and representational flexibility, and increased
susceptibility to the dangers posed by inevitable “environmental” shift (that is, by
inevitable re-emergence of the dragon of the unknown). Biologically determined capacity
for such dissolution—and for its satisfactory resolution—provides the necessary
precondition for the existence of human capacity for qualitative alteration in adaptation.
Resolution of crisis—symbolic rebirth—follows, attendant upon initiatory dissolution,
dismemberment and death. Eliade states:

The initiatory operations proper always include the renewal of the organs
and viscera, the cleaning of the bones, and the insertion of magical
substances—quartz crystals, or pearl shell, or “spirit snakes.” Quartz is
connected with the “sky world and with the rainbow”; pearl shell is
similarly connected with the “rainbow serpent,” that is, in sum, still with
the sky. This sky symbolism goes along with ecstatic ascents to Heaven;

Maps of meaning 280

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for in many regions the candidate is believed to visit the sky, whether by
his own power (for example, by climbing a rope) or carried by a snake. In
the sky he converses with the Supernatural Beings and mythical Heroes.
Other initiations involve a descent to the realm of the dead; for example,
the future medicine man goes to sleep by the burying ground, or enters a
cave, or is transported underground or to the bottom of a lake. Among
some tribes, the initiation also includes the novice’s being “roasted” in or
at a fire. Finally, the candidate is resuscitated by the same Supernatural
Beings who had killed him, and he is now “a man of Power.” During and
after his initiation he meets with spirits, Heroes of the mythical Times,
and souls of the dead—and in a certain sense they all instruct him in the
secrets of the medicine man’s profession. Naturally, the training proper is
concluded under the direction of the older masters. In short, the candidate
becomes a medicine man through a ritual of initiatory death, followed by
a resurrection to a new and superhuman condition.429

The shaman travels up and down the axis mundi, the central pole of the world, the tree of
life connecting the lower, chthonic reptilian and the upper, celestial avian worlds with the
central domain of man. This is the “constituent elements of experience” conceived in an
alternative but familiar arrangement, as heaven above (father above), underworld/matter/
earth below (mother below)—conceived in the configuration arranged originally by the
cosmos-creating hero. The shaman’s success at completing the journey “from earth to the
domain of the gods” allows him to serve the role of psychopomp, intermediary between
man and god; to aid the members of his community in adjusting to what remains outside
of conditional adaptation, when such adaptation fails. The shaman therefore serves his
society as active intermediary with the unknown; as the conduit, so to speak, through
which the unknown speaks to man; as the agent through which the information which
compels adaptive change flows. It is important to note that the shaman’s journey into
“unknown lands” must be bounded by return to the community for the voyage to be of
value. Otherwise, the prototypal ecstatic experience—central to the shamanic vocation
(and to creative thought and action in general)—is mere insanity; will be regarded
socially and experienced intrapsychically as such. Resolution is psychological
reconstruction, reincorporation, rebirth “on a higher level”—with redemptive personal
experience intact, but reintegrated in the corpus of current sociocultural myth and history.

The ineradicable anomaly that comprises an eternal aspect of existence periodically
undermines the stability of a subset of unfortunate but gifted individuals. Those who
maintain their heads during the “journey into the underworld” return, contaminated by
that underworld, from the perspective of their compatriots, but rife with possibility for
reordering the world. Such recovery is in essence the transformation of assumption and
value—individual, then cultural. History is an invaluable storehouse of the creative
experience and wisdom of the past. Past wisdom is not always sufficient to render present
potentiality habitable. If the structure of experience itself was static and finite, like the
past, all things would have been conquered long ago, and the lives of the ancestors and
their children would differ little in kind. But the structure of experience is dynamic and
infinite in possibility. The nature of experience itself varies with time. New challenges
and dangers appear out of the future, into the present, where none existed before. History,

The Appearance of Anomaly 281

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vulture, 161, 296
Vyazma, 366


WAIS-R, 450
Waley, 16
wall, 35, 83, 94, 200, 215, 235, 244, 259, 279, 285, 351, 358, 412, 419
war, xv, xviii, xix, xx, 27, 30, 36, 41, 85, 87, 100, 114, 128, 151, 153, 160, 161, 163, 178, 182, 187,
189, 190, 191, 192, 194, 205, 215, 218, 244, 250, 264, 267, 312, 314, 340, 342, 350, 352, 354, 361,
362, 431, 432, 435, 441, 451, 452, 457, 458, 460, 463
warden, 33, 354
Washington, 246
Washya, 415
wastrel, 429
water, xix, 4, 7, 36, 37, 38, 103, 104, 147, 163, 164, 183, 198–206, 225, 230, 232, 247, 276, 286,
296, 299, 303, 307, 322, 331, 335, 340, 349, 351, 375, 376, 377, 397, 408, 424, 429, 430, 439, 461,

see also sea, water of life
water of life, 232, 247, 276, 307, 331, 340, 424,

see also sea, water
water-serpent, 184
waveform, 51
Westerners, 6
whale, 62, 64, 182, 183, 296, 441
what is, xxi, 1–28, 36, 39–70, 80, 81, 94, 98, 99, 105, 113, 128, 135, 138, 139, 143, 145, 150, 152,
167, 170, 177, 179, 182, 188, 195, 197, 203, 206, 210, 224, 230, 231, 236, 238, 240, 246, 254, 256,
264, 265, 269, 292, 295, 296, 308, 310, 319, 322, 324–332, 337, 338, 340, 344, 360, 361, 365, 373,
387, 391, 398, 409, 412, 417, 428, 430, 431, 454, 465, 469
what should be, xxi, 1, 10, 13, 14, 38, 55, 69, 256, 270, 375, 382, 387, 388, 465
whore, 164, 181, 350, 430
Wigan Pier, xiii
wilderness, 144, 211, 375, 381, 456
William, 138, 257, 382
wind, 25, 34, 114, 122, 210, 349, 350, 404, 461
wine, 4, 118, 121, 211, 321, 340
wisdom, xxi, 12, 48, 73–81, 90, 93, 94, 102, 117, 126, 131, 133, 164–167, 187, 191, 196, 221, 226,
229, 232, 254, 264, 269, 278, 294–298, 306, 321, 326, 327, 329, 334, 357, 360, 373, 375, 379, 387,
394, 406, 420, 430, 436, 440, 442, 445, 447, 469
Wisdom, vi, 81, 165, 166, 168, 206, 250, 281, 296, 340
wish, 11, 33, 40, 67, 71, 174, 199, 256, 258, 260, 263, 302, 308, 314, 327, 331, 332, 354, 359, 365,
406, 450, 457, 469
wish-fulfillments, xix
witch, 183, 418
wolf, 433, 435
Wolfgang, 258, 404
woman, xviii, 25, 117, 142, 160, 161, 169, 183, 194, 202, 253, 254, 255, 286, 292, 294, 295, 302,
303, 305, 321, 374, 393, 405, 430, 448, 449
womb, 161, 225, 410, 414, 440,

see also creation, destruction, femininity, Great Mother, Terrible Mother
word, xiii, 16, 51, 66, 77, 94, 100, 111, 117, 119, 121, 169, 186, 210, 253, 254, 255, 270, 342, 346,
364, 376, 380, 402, 434, 461
Word, viii, xxi, xxii, 90, 111, 123, 127, 135, 158, 171, 175, 246, 252, 288, 316, 371, 385
word-association, 402

Index 583

Page 607

world of the familiar, 32, 90
world parents, 89, 105, 107, 114, 145
world-annihilating, 451
world-creating, xxi, 148, 186, 371
world-destroying, 97
world-engendering, 201
world-picture, 1, 358
world-redemption, 397
World-Tree, viii, 297, 398
worldview, 466
world-view, 1, 30, 274, 305, 335, 413, 427, 466
worship, 76, 151, 196, 230, 232, 244, 296, 369, 381, 390, 445, 449


Xshathra, 318


Yahweh, 114, 142, 147
yang, 48, 100, 104, 144, 185, 339, 457
Yasna, 318, 319
Yggdrasill, 296, 297
yin, 48, 100, 104, 144, 185, 339
Yugoslavia, 153, 347


Zacharias, 395
Zaddik, 287
zagmuk, 125
Zarathustra, 318
Zeus, 140, 193
Zimmer, 171
Zola-Morgan, 73
Zoroastrianism, 318
Zoroastrians, 147, 318, 319


Index 584

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