Mythological Steam

A dear friend asked what I mean by Age of the Daughter, a construct I mentioned in a previous Counterpunch essay.“For instance, if we went into town tomorrow and what you call the Age of the Daughter had appeared overnight, what would we see? What would be different?”

I tried to tell my friend there’s a familiar but serious misconception built into his query. The Daughter’s Age does not arrive by instantaneous magic. It’s a process not a product.

But, since there also are millennial energies tucked inside the construct, it’s necessary to first explain the legitimacy of those millennial energies.

There are a couple major things to assert about the enlargement of Joachim of Floris’s ages of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to Mother, Father, Son, and Daughter. Tucking Mother in front of Father is a perfectly logical and historical innovation that beautifully resolves and fully completes what is otherwise an unfinished and distorted mythological puzzle. That is, the twelfth-century Italian monk didn’t know of the pre-civilized Mother when he took Trinity out of the sky and unfolded the religious construct as three historical ages of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

But putting Mother in first position—Mother, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—not only expands the construct to four figures, it also explodes the orthodox convention of the godhead  as totally male. Contemplating the expanded configuration, with a very female Mother in first position, makes one look with puzzled attention at the anomaly of three gendered figures followed by a ghost. Consistency demands a new understanding here. If there’s to be a Mother, a Father, and a Son, then the Holy Ghost gets to drop Her Halloween Lazarus costume and come out dressed in new clothing.

And, since the entire construct is a depiction of successive historical phases or ages, the resolution can be recognized as the worldwide women’s movement—or uprising—removing the ghostly male disguise from Holy Ghost and revealing that figure as Daughter. Transition from a three- to a four-dimensional figure shifts and enlarges our mythological comprehension in ways that feel new, exciting, uncomfortable, and (for some) threatening. It’s not so much a different way of seeing (though it is that, too) as it is a deeper layer of comprehension brought to consciousness by—if nothing else—the exigencies of our troubled times.

I take as true Arnold Toynbee’s diagnosis of civilization’s blind righteousness as the refusal to either acknowledge or relinquish the cherished congenital diseases of Class and War. Those diseases now have the accrued lethality by which to permanently mutate evolutionary biology on Earth. Exterminate a lot and mutate what’s left.

So the uber-religious terminology of End Times is perfectly apt. That is, the millennial energies are also amazingly appropriate or they are only the idiotic smiley face on an illusion of spurious escapism.

We—most of us, it seems—come to global crisis either Blue in the face or Red in the neck. Blues are only easing out of a kind of consciousness that’s been both liberated and boxed in by the various strands of skepticism associated with the secularization of culture, a kind of everyday, practical, existential atheism. Reds live in this world of existential commercial atheism too, but for them (largely due to the temperament of class) there’s an urgent need to believe in something familiar. And, of course, the right-wing propaganda machine tosses out an endless supply of belief life jackets, free for the wearing. Make America float again.

Blues sort of get it that we’re in a deep evolutionary crisis. Reds don’t believe any of that wussy scaremonger bullshit. God—or Donald Trump—will straighten this shit out, pronto. One or the other may even need a little rednik second amendment help getting the job done.

So we’re in a profound evolutionary crisis and only some of the crew even acknowledges the pickle we’re in. The politics, needless to say, is polarized, hamstrung, and sliding for the most part between liberal cliché and “conservative” middle finger, even as the evolutionary crisis grows steadily in intensity. (I put conservative in life jacket quotation flotation devices because the ecology wreckers who call themselves conservative most decidedly are not. Arsonists, maybe. Definitely not conservative.)

Reds are in many ways the most secular of all the crew. This may seem paradoxical, at best, because church-going Christians constitute a big hunk of the Red voting base. But secularization is only another way of talking about the steady cultural evaporation of a felt spirituality, or a quality of consciousness, that has explicit linkage to the lives of most people prior to the crushing of rural cultures associated, more or less, with the spread of the Industrial Revolution. Secularization proceeded with the extermination of both indigenous and peasant cultures, with an unprecedented forced removal of human life lived far more fully in the real outdoor natural world. This spirituality in lives and cultures was constantly conversant with nature. What was left after this uprooting was the City of God, a god of civis. Civilization or die.

Red evangelical Christianity has shrunk to fierce god-frightened islands of rigid fundamentalist belief. It clings to an aristocratic spirituality of cosmic male supremacy. And it holds its convictions not as cultural myths but as religious facts.

Reds are clinging to various rotten ropes of old time religion, while Blues—some of them—drive to Buddhist retreat center in their yuppie Volvos to have, you know, a real meditation experience.

I’m sort of sliding around the edges of something difficult to express, something a bit volatile and disturbing. It may be close to impossible to embrace Mother Father Son Daughter as a viable mythological construct without being a little gobsmacked by the apocalyptic logic of its spirituality. The construct exudes a certain spiritual energy, perhaps even a millennial aura. It hints at a spirituality with a capital S Spirit lurking in it, a spirituality that’s moved beyond the supremacy and hubris of male City of God righteous sadism and is leaning in to lift beaten pagus out of the ditch into which it’s been tossed. Or into which She’s been tossed.

Don’t forget the Mother’s divinity was Earth Goddess. The women’s movement at its core represents the rise of female divinity. The Daughter. Joachim’s magnificent construct enlarged also hints (if hints is what to call it) of spiritual intelligence at work in evolution. And why not? If we believe human intelligence capable of altering the quality of human culture, and we are only one species among thousands and even millions of species on Earth, and all of these species (including our own) are extrusions of Life, why in the world do we imagine it’s only we who have that creative potential and power? How about the evolutionary life-force of which we are a “product”? Are we so convinced of our unique and special status? What are the proofs of that conviction? If we’re so creative and smart, how about if we recognize—perhaps it’s time we recognized—that we are an evolved life form emerging out of the totality of life forms? That our intelligence is only a small sliver of Life intelligence?

So, back to my friend’s query: What does the Daughter’s social structure look like? First, there is no overnight Federal Express transformation magic here, at least not in the sense implied in the question. The Daughter’s new and transformed social structures will emerge as our lives are transformed. This—hopefully—will be achieved with a speed that’s incredibly fast in evolutionary time, but its pace is not determined by any external or extraterrestrial god or goddess wand. The rate and pace of change—and, yes, major changes in political policy will absolutely accelerate that rate and pace—matches perfectly the changes in behavior and consciousness in our daily, boring, and seemingly inconsequential lives. It’s up to us to get it on.

So, we’re at an End Times culmination of the accrued lethality of the congenital diseases of Class and War. We’ve now got an enlarged and revised mythology by which a mass shift in consciousness, spirituality, personal behavior, and culture can be achieved. To embrace this shift is to discern and dissolve institutional male belligerence and to share the necessities of life—plus a few luxuries—with sustained ecological reverence.

I honestly do not know, in fact I rather doubt, whether human beings, totally on our own rational clarity and will power, could or can or will make the changes necessary to our survival. We’re a lot more stupid and stubborn than we like to admit. We’re dumber than we look. Righteous pride thinks it has nothing to repent or let go of. Our ego weaknesses are amazingly strong and incredibly clever at rationalizing resistances. It could well be, if there’s no Spirit working its way through evolutionary intelligence, working its way in and through our evolutionary intelligence, that disaster will pile on disaster until the hubris of radioactive suicide finally wins the day. Freud’s death instinct proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. So I’m not exactly goo-ga over our reputed rationality. Or our highly regarded morality.

The survival question is a mythological question is a spiritual question is a question for us all: Are we open to a far more pervasive influence of Spirit in our lives, in our innards? Are we humble enough to open ourselves to that influence even as our rational skepticism scoffs at the insinuation of occult bullshit? Or recoils from an implicit “paganism”?

The descending religious trajectory within Christian civilization begins with theism, noodles around with deism, wallows in agnosticism, and ends up in the bleak cellar of atheism. Meanwhile, Christian civilization’s chief spiritual enemy and economic victim has been pagus even as civilizational theism has both protected and enabled the congenital diseases of Class and War. As Augustine asserted, it’s God who allocates kingdoms and empires. That paradigm has reached its ecology-destroying dystopian denouement. Getting off the God train—from its theism engine all the way to its atheism coal car—is crucial to our survival.

When Blues get over their sterile atheism and Reds get past their sterile theism is when transformation gets on a roll. I don’t know how to measure its velocity, but I sure as hell hope it’s picking up some mythological—and political—steam.

Paul Gilk lives in the woods of northern Wisconsin. His home is a reconstructed nineteenth-century log cabin, without electricity or running water. He is the author of several books including Green Politics is Eutopian, Nature’s Unruly Mob: Farming and the Crisis in Rural Culture, and Picking Fights with the Gods: A Spiritual Psychoanalysis of Civilization’s Superego.