Prehistoric wisdom

One of the false notions modern civilization embraces is that humankind has a superior intellect to that of former times—especially prehistoric times.

But Emanuel Swedenborg and George Gurdjieff both disputed this contemporary assumption. They insisted that the human intellect has actually atrophied since remote times. Proof of this seemingly anti-intuitive position is that modern academics have great difficulty interpreting prehistoric and cave artwork. An element of mystery always surrounds ancient art.

Scholars try to interpret these images in purely natural terms, believing that ancient humans were merely trying to understand the physical world and habitat around them. They do leave some room for abstract thought and primitive religious expression. However, this abstract thought is seen as an early expression of human fantasy and superstition.

Not so!

What is misjudged is the depth of intellectual abstraction portrayed in the images used by prehistoric humans. These ancient images represent supra-natural (other-worldly) knowledge and wisdom!

Swedenborg called this superior knowledge the science of correspondences. Ancient civilizations based this science on the premise that all things and processes in the visible terrestrial world were analogs of things existing in the invisible spiritual realm. Ancient artists, therefore, used objects and animals found in nature to represent heavenly and theological realities.

Swedenborg went to great lengths to reintroduce this knowledge to the modern world.

For instance, a stag (like the one above) depicted not simply “food on the hoof,” but intellectual freedom. The antlers represented the intellectual power obtained from this freedom. (Gurdjieff maintained that the number of “forks” or branching displayed by the antlers represented a particular level of spiritual development enjoyed by either the artist or those of the tribe.)

Hunters with spears or bows and arrows represented those who had the persuasive power to teach spiritual lessons for the human heart. Killing an animal represented the death of an inferior state of mind and its transformation into a nobler level by becoming the food, which would support and maintain the higher qualities of the spiritual hunters. (If this idea seems strange, remember that Jesus told His disciples to become “fishers” of men.)

Not only did Jesus use this symbolic language (He only spoke in parables), Swedenborg claimed that all the narratives of the Lord God’s Holy Word contains the same symbolic language as that depicted by ancient artwork! (This revelation will eventually turn the modern worldview on its head.)

Grasping this sacred symbolic language requires opening a level of the human mind, which modern neuroscientists have yet to detect. This higher level of understanding in the human mind has been gradually closed off by the increased propensity of researchers to embrace merely natural philosophy and reductionist thinking.

About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at
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6 Responses to Prehistoric wisdom

  1. Steve Tanner says:

    Reblogged this on Meanderings and commented:
    I’m not normally into reblogging, but this post is too precious. It also reflects some things I have been learning in Kabbalah. I hope everyone enjoys this!

  2. Brilliant summation of what ancient wisdom means. We, today look at the past through the lens of our understanding of the world. A Japanese team tried to build a 1/6 replica of the pyramid at Giza and failed. Begs the question what did we forget?

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear Grandfathersky,

      We (humankind) forgot about cosmic and universal laws which are ruled by spiritual principles. Thankfully, this forgotten knowledge is not entirely lost. It still exists within the higher (and undeveloped) functions of the human mind! According to Emanuel Swedenborg, this knowledge is connate – but it is more adequately described as angelic knowledge and is accessed only by a highly developed conscience resulting from spiritual transformation.

      Spiritually yours,

  3. Domenic says:

    I have always had a deep love for animals, and could never understand when others mistreated them, or were indifferent to them. I know I have often felt my spirit diminished by their indifference.
    whats so noble about eating animals, i belive that you really cant grow spiritually by eating animals. the celestial people did not eat animals, by making them fishers of men, does not imply hunters, but making them knowledgeable, in respect to spiritual understanding, part of the lords mission was to save animals also from there cruel and senceless suffering, the lord was never pleased by animal sacrafice, the reason he allowed it, cause that was the only link they had with the lord, in those days, if he abolished it they would end up worshiping idol Gods, or even consider sacraficing humans.

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear Domenic,

      Your response is back on topic. Animal sacrifice was indeed savagery and eating meat was seen as an act of cruelty during the Golden Age.

      Spiritually yours,

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