Here’s how initiates in Las Geaux and Les Trois-Freres did it 10,000 years ago: they left the outside world behind — sunlight bright of day, or midnight, whatever — and went into the pitch dark caves. In Switzerland too, millennia before that — high in Neanderthal Alps. Dark caves and the bones of the great bear. And that’s like just about yesterday compared to the Australian Eden peoples, who told their stories like x-ray visions all across their magic land, and even in the secret heart of Uluru.
But in Las Geaux, and the caverns of Spain, torchlight must have flickered over the paintings on the cave walls — the beasts, the part beast, part human shamans– must have danced over the stone while the initiates circled there to drum beats in the womb of mother earth. What visions they must have seen glittering on the walls — their souls’ dreams projected there in the glittering shadows.
And where there weren’t caves they built temples, pyramids, mounds and stone circles — all to be like the caves, and like the dark glades beneath the columns of cathedral trees at the heart of ancient forests. And seekers would gather in these places too for the same mysteries. Enter, die, emerge anew, leaving behind the corpse shades of worn-out selves and broken egos.
Now in Greece, in modern times, a mere two thousand years ago, they got all civilized, and just went to the theater — well, actually, the amphitheater. Just a little lazy maybe, but not too much: they’d let a few special ones touched by the gods play them — their lives — up on the flagstoned stage. Do their life and death dance for them. And they’d watch.
But it was more than watching. Because if you’d been there and you had that eye, you’d have seen, or felt, that wild golden fiery web they all — the watchers and the players — were spinning together and got all caught up in. So when the hero died because of that one great thing — got blind-sided by his epic curse — you just know this wasn’t some solo act. They all died — the extras, the chorus, and the watchers too.
And after everybody staggered off to home and hearth except the clean-up crew, it wasn’t candy wrappers and spilt popcorn these guys swept up — not yet anyway. It was the husks of worn-out dreams and the crumbs of false selves the audience had left behind.