Certain times, certain epochs, live on in the imagination as more than what they ‘actually’ were, and there is always a price to pay for them. They are, if you look close, times when the boundary between mythology and everyday life is blurred. The archetypes break out of prison, as it were, and by some collective consent we or many of us, simply choose a myth and live it, heedless of the restrictions of the so-called ‘real world’. Or we are somehow chosen by the myth we were born to live. Sometimes with deadly rapidity.
This meeting of world and myth is where we all thought we were going. Where we thought we wanted to be; it was so beautiful. Vivid, bright, and deadly, like some tropical flowers. Not human. Not cut to our measure.
But we – we couldn’t see that. Thought we were gods …
‘The 60s’ are often referred to as such a time, though what is usually meant by the term is merely ‘The Summer of Love’ and its aftermath: 1967 and 68. Tip of the iceburg, if you ask me.
For me most of the 1960s, and on to about 1976, was a time bathed in the mythic. It was a time when the archetypes stalked the streets of Manhattan, numinous and often deadly. When angels, incubi, and other dreams of what could be settled in your hair and refused to be brushed aside. When we see the creatures that lived in the fog worlds of San Francisco as casually as you see your corner grocery.
We had struggled so long and so furiously to find, reach into, the world of our feelings, our secret knowledges, and intuitions, and it was as if Something had caught us up, caught the hand we had slipped through the gap, and that Something was now pulling us in. Pulling us under. For as certainly as we knew that behind the facades our parents had lived there was the world of human feeling, behind that world was yet another that sought to claim us. What I have called the World of Archetypes. Inexorable bundles of soul purpose, often wearing human or humanoid form, sometimes walking among us. Without conscience and without regret. And so beautiful!
As I can tell you now, behind the Archetypes are vast impersonal patterns or textures of energies we might call Orisha. Or Yidam.
And behind that, perhaps the Void dances, not black, cold, or empty as we have believed, but dancing with light, sheet lightnings spread as a series of surfaces over nothing. And moving faster than the eye can register. Even the eye of the mind.
Our downfall was – it was so beautiful. For us, who had replaced religion, family, society, ethics with Beauty, who saw ourselves as in the service of Beauty, no warnings were understood, no traps anticipated. To go down in the servive of That – that was the ultimate grace.
But archetypes have their own drama: a vast uncharted cycle of Comedia dell’Arte, which they play out through us, without our informed concent. And with, ultimate, no concern for human purpose.
And it is not without reason that we have been handed by the science of our time the image, the fact or metaphor, of tectonic plates. Earth continents floating on a core of molten magma. As we ourselves float, melting a little, changing shape. Bumping against each other, lifted by, dependent on, in total chemical exchange with, the molten soul stuff I have here called Archetypes. That seeks to brek through to the surface wherever the plates are thin.
The plates were very thin in 1964.