The Shape of History

In the mythic past, before the current age of technology and invention and so-called civilisation, humankind led a more pastoral existence, a part of (not apart from) nature and the surrounding world. Individuals were connected to the group, part of the herd, in touch with the deeper rhythms of life.
In symbolic terms, the pastoral, mythic consciousness is an earthly/lunar consciousness. The earthly part comes from a connection to the body and the land beneath our feet. The lunar part is the fluid consciousness of the nighttime realm: the dreamworld, a magical realm of symbols and archetypes. The mythic consciousness is often seen as female, in touch with the cycles of nature, with the goddess wisdom, with intuition and instinct.
At some point, from the collective consciousness there began to develop the ego, the part of the mind that recognises the self as different from those around it. The individual began to rise above the collective.
The rise of the ego is a solar consciousness: it is linear, rational, analytical, just as the bright light of the sun throws everything into sharp relief. There is no room here for ambiguity, for mystery, for myth. This is world of literal facts, of objective reasoning, of science and logic. Definites hold more sway than possibilities.
For this to occur, the instinctive mind, the sense of oneness, was suppressed.
As the solar ‘male’ consciousness rose, so the earthly/lunar ‘female’ consciousness was pushed under.
It was a necessary part of human evolution.
Had the collective consciousness not been suppressed, the pull of the group mind would have been too strong: the still-developing ego would have sunk back into the sea of oneness.
However, it came at a price: separation from the surrounding world, disconnection from a deeper wisdom.
This happened on an individual as well as on a global scale, resulting in an imbalance: a period of male-dominance. The rise of the patriarchal religions and the priesthood, the subjugation of womankind and the witch hunts of the middle ages: these are all symptoms of the new solar order.
Once the ego has reached maturity, on an individual and global scale, it becomes strong enough to reconnect with that which has been lost. There then occurs a re-synthesis, resulting in wholeness.
In a healthy system, male and female are not pitched against each other but are complementary ways of thinking. The challenge is not for one to win out over the other, but for the two to come together and work in unity.
The evidence of this process can be found throughout history.


The last two-and-a-half thousand years has seen the rise of what is commonly referred to as Western Civilisation. While labels are simplistic and history necessarily selective, the pursuit of one particular thread in the rich tapestry of creation offers an interesting perspective, particularly when viewed through the symbolism of the Reforged Sword.

Boundaries blur, exceptions abound and exact dates are debatable, but about this two-and-a-half thousand year period a few tentative observations can be ventured. Roughly speaking (i.e. give or take a century or so) the time coincides with the evolution of rational thought, the rise of the patriarchal religions and the age deemed in astrological circles to be Piscean.

Rational thought is characterized by the ability to differentiate, to separate in order to analyse, a prevailing theme of this period. It has been a time of division and distinction, a time of duality. The duality can be seen in the symbols of this time: in the red and white dragons of alchemy, the yin-yang of Taoism and the two fish of Pisces.

The shape of history can be viewed through the lens of this common symbolism. Regarding the particular thread of history we are following, we can trace two strands: a surface, “exoteric” strand and a hidden, “esoteric” strand. The upper strand is about outer power and the building of empires; the lower strand is about inner wisdom. One we might call Western Civilisation, the other the Underground Stream.

The upper strand is masculine, active, objective, forceful, imposing its vision on the outer world. The lower strand is feminine, receptive, subjective, a reservoir of divine wisdom. The upper is fire and air, the lower water and earth.

The duality can also be seen in the imagery of the Caduceus.

The Caduceus presents two useful ways of perceiving duality. The first is found in the symbol's vertical polarity - the duality between wings above and snakes below. This gives a 'static' appraisal, a snapshot of opposing forces: the wings in this instance representing the 'upper' masculine principle, the snakes the 'lower' feminine principle. The pairing of bird and snake found in many mythologies reflects this duality.

The second is found in the symbol's horizontal polarity - the duality between the two serpents. One serpent represents masculine energy, the other feminine. In this case, the wings of the Caduceus represent unity (compared with the duality of the snakes). This second perspective offers a 'dynamic' view of the symbol, transforming it from a static snapshot into the representation of a process. Starting at the base, where the two serpents separate, we move up through their duality to the point at which they reconnect, whereupon we enter a realm of unity, represented by the wings. (A more in-depth appraisal of this perspective (as it relates to another, shorter time period) is given here.)

The Caduceus therefore gives us a useful method of visualising the process outlined in OVERVIEW above. The base of the symbol - where the serpents separate - marks the point where the two strands of history diverge, where the ego begins to rise above the group mind, rationality above instinct. From this point on, there are two forces at play in the evolution of human consciousness: one masculine and solar; the other feminine and lunar.

The symbolism of the Reforged Sword then becomes a model of reality, a structure stretching through time, a shape in history. In the diagram below (read from left to right) the Caduceus is laid on its side, the snakes teased apart to create the 'upper' and 'lower' strands. The Sword falls across the imagery to create a timeline, its tip marking the division of the two strands: the beginnings of Western Civilisation.

In this model, the Sword is a sword of division, separating upper and lower, keeping male and female apart.

But the division between the two strands is not permanent; it is merely part of a process which culminates in their reunion. When the two strands come together, humanity moves into a new phase of balance and unity.

The Sword is a sword of division because it is not yet complete. Humanity stands at the point of union, the marriage of male and female, where blade meets hilt and the two strands reconverge.

We are in the process of reforging the Sword.

Using this framework, the developments of the last two and a half thousand years of Western Civilisation can be given structure, placed in a wider context.

The separation between the two strands - Western Civilisation and the Underground Stream - begins in ancient Greece. This account begins with the great civilisation that came before.