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A schematic of successive branching in an originally one-dimensional filament (left),
producing heteromacs (centre), turning the filament into a fractal (right).
© A. B. Kukushkin and V. A. Rantsev-Kartinov, Moscow, Russia.


The First 'People' in Space
Jul 10, 2009

According to some traditions, in a previous era, before the flood or some other global disaster, the earth was inhabited by a race of strange creatures exhibiting a mixture of human and animal traits.

This abstruse tradition once prevailed in virtually every culture. Myths and legends frequently describe these hybrid beings as ancestors, portrayed as animals acting in the way of ‘people’. For example, the Kato people, of Mendocino County, California, related that the first people “all had animal names, and later, when Indians came to live on this earth, these ‘first people’ were changed into the animals which bear their names.”

The Huichol, of central Mexico, concurred: “In the beginning of time people were mostly animals, serpents, jaguars, and mountain lions … – gods, animals, and ancient people being one”. The Mocoví, of Argentina, averred: “In primeval times animals were people and they spoke. Later they were transformed.” The Shilluk, of the Upper Nile region, stated that there was an early time when “men were masquerading as animals,” and so on. Examples can be multiplied ad infinitum.

Mythologists with a taste for gene-borne ‘racial memories’ might lean towards the view that such traditions commemorate mankind’s evolutionary kinship with primates and other mammals. However, this would violate the integrity of the mythical theme, for the primordial race of myth is of a wholly different order. The creatures are often depicted as repulsive monstrosities, far removed from any biological reality. In western New Mexico, for instance, the Zuñi specified a number of amphibian and reptilian features in the countenance of these first ‘people’:

“Men and the creatures were nearer alike then than now: black were our fathers the late born of creation … cold and scaly their skins like those of mud-creatures; goggled their eyes like those of an owl; membranous their ears like those of cave-bats; webbed their feet like those of walkers in wet and soft places; and according as they were elder or younger, they had tails, longer or shorter. They crouched when they walked, often indeed, crawling along the ground like toads, lizards and newts; like infants who still fear to walk straight, they crouched …”

These curious ‘ancestors’ are frequently accorded the faculty of great magical power, like that of gods or mighty shamans. A “very widespread” tradition among the tribes of New South Wales, Australia, was “that the earth was originally peopled by a race much more powerful, especially in the arts magic, than that which now inhabits it. … The Wathi-wathi call them Bookoomuri, and say they were famous for fighting, hunting, &c., and were eventually changed into animals …” Along the Thompson River, of British Columbia, one used to be told that, “The beings who inhabited the world during the mythological age, until the time of the transformers, were called spêtā´kL. They were men with animal characteristics. They were gifted in magic, and their children reached maturity in a few months.”

In comparative mythology, cross-cultural patterns lead the way. A vital clue to the nature of these mystifying – and apparently radiant – beings is the complete interchangeability of the first ‘animals’ or ‘people’ with stars. Practically universal is the conviction that the ‘stars’, including the sun and the moon, dwelled on earth before taking up residence in the sky. The Makiritare, of Venezuela, provide an example in case: “In the beginning, the night sky was empty, black. The Stars were people. They lived on the Earth …” The Chamacoco, of Paraguay, recall “the time when the sky was near … There was no sun and no stars; all these were living among the people. Sun and Moon lived like human beings …” “In those days the sun and the moon and everyone were human beings and lived on this earth” – add the Sikuani, of eastern Colombia.

Yet, such stories are neither about real animals nor about actual celestial bodies. A Mongolian variant of a Buddhist creation myth portrays the first ‘living beings’, amoeba-like, as luminous floating entities, blessed with the gift of longevity, that multiplied through a simple process of splitting: ‘Though the people lived on the surface of the earth, they did not employ feet when moving about, but floated through the air. They did not feed on the impure terrestrial foods, but on the pure Ssamādhi-food, and they were not born from the body of a mother, as there was yet no gender distinction between male and female, but through emanation. For seeing they required neither the sun nor the moon, as they saw everything by means of their own radiation. Nor was the designation ‘human’ used for them at the time, as their common name was ‘living beings’.’

Perhaps even more perplexing, though a crucial piece of the puzzle, is the widespread tradition that all forms of life originally jostled for space on a narrow piece of ‘earth’ dominated by the axis mundi, in its form as a sky-reaching tree, mountain, pillar, and so on. The Waorani, of equatorial Amazonia, contended that bobehuè or the giant Ceiba tree (Ceiba pentandra) “contains all forms of life … All that was alive dwelled in the giant tree …” Prominent in the mythology of Kiribati, Micronesia, was “the First Tree, the Ancestor Sun, and ancestors grew from it … these heroic beings, sprung from the branches and roots of a single ancestral tree”. On Sumatra, the Toba Batak knew a tree of life, “reaching from the underworld into the upperworld … and at the same time we read that all men, animals, birds, fishes, etc., have originated from it.” What is more, these entities derived their sustenance from the sky column, earning it the familiar title of ‘tree of life’; Sikuani storytellers, for instance, would point out that Kalievírnae, the tree of life, was once the only repository of food in the world.

Traditions of this kind, though all preposterous at first, make sense as attempts to describe certain curious plasma forms that appeared on the screen of the sky at a time when the earth experienced intense electromagnetic disturbances. Over the past decade, scientists at Russia’s Kurchatov Institute have made much headway in the modeling of so-called “self-similar skeletal structures” that arise in electrically discharging plasmas in various fusion devices, in space and during “severe weather phenomena”. They defined heteromacs as “strongly twisted magnetic flux ropes”, almost closed, that emerge in heterogeneous magneto-plasma configurations and turn an initially single filament into “a fractal, dendritic structure”. Kukushkin and Rantsev-Kartinov envisioned the development of “cellular, and bubble-like clusters” from these heteromacs as a possible concomitant effect of a highly enhanced aurora such as might have developed during the Neolithic or the Early Bronze Age. If true, these forms might be the bizarre creatures universally identified in mythology as the ‘ancestors’. The physical attachment of the heteromacs to the central z-pinch plasma column strongly reminds of the universal belief that the first ‘people’ dwelled in the direct vicinity of the axis mundi, while their battle for space reflects the fractal capacity of infinite growth. The same disaster that caused the collapse of the plasma column also annihilated this first brand of ‘people’.

Rens Van der Sluijs

Further Reading:

The Mythology of the World Axis; Exploring the Role of Plasma in World Mythology

The World Axis as an Atmospheric Phenomenon



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