Digging into History

Generations of historians work and rework old texts, re-contexting to continually make history contemporary. When the revelation and emergence of previously-hidden facts opens a new understanding or interpretation, all history is rewritten in new light.

The Aztec Templo Major re-emerged in the very centre of Mexico City, buried unseen after the conquistadors and clergy force-built the great cathedral on top of it. Yet near the end of the last century it was discovered once again, disrupting traffic and inserting history into the present.

I’m always excited to see the bits of news confirming that the hand of the past is reaching into the present to help us understand life better.

Today’s climate shifts, droughts, and fires are revealing unknown ancient artifacts and buried cities the world over, once again revising history. Everyone is working hard to figure it all out. Science is giving proof to tales told by first peoples, moving them from the realm of the mythic into the truth of passed-on knowledge records. Recognition of something they have always known but their voices were not heard.

I was randomly listening to an obscure podcast of a lovely couple reading a book by an old 19th century historian on Celtic History and Mythology. It was a very weird thing to hear. The viewpoint so linear, colonial, seemingly objective, bordering on eugenics, with detailed phrenological mentions of all the European races and their roots. Lists. Long physical descriptions of skull form, height, colouring. The author even went so far as to mention Aryan as the evolutionary peak, with varied gradations of “primitive” seen below this. He analyzed language forms and went on to describe the Gods of Rome in relation to the gods and goddesses of the Celts, offering clues relating to the Earth Mother - a white goddess, no doubt.

No wonder they said, “History is the story of something that never happened, told by someone who wasn’t there.”

Still, I’m curious to hear this stuffy old historian’s analysis of the Celtic festivals. He was influenced as everyone in those days was to some extent, by the “exotic” revelations of the East, the Egyptian Pyramids, whose discovery transformed and excited European minds, especially those tuned to esoteric matters.

I’m not just looking at how history is based in the limited view of the times, but at how it relates to me, now. I’m carrying family history in myself as I move, glance, think, dream, sleep, or imagine. The ancestors of my ancestors do all that along with me, in some way, kind of like persistence of vision. There is a resonance in them all. I don’t know what my connection is to these people who lived before me, all the great-great-greats, but I sense that I am living their patterns. The influences of my own quest for knowledge and understanding burst me out of that web of ancestral activity into a wider world, where I chose or was connected to others throughout time with similar interests, quests and callings.

As I think about these things, I feel that within my heart, a Templo Major of my own is being excavated and revealed. The imposed cathedral with its city square where people gathered for centuries is certainly on shaky ground. The actual old Templo Major was built to last, in harmony with the conditions of the place.

If I imagine that I lie on my back on the floor, with arms and legs outstretched like the Da Vinci measure of a (hu)man, my heart is open, harmonious and under construction. The cathedral in its square is nominally in place, while beneath it anthropological tunnels and archeological digs are in progress night and day. Oh, the cathedral’s still there, standing in its square, but more and more it is an empty shell, a relic of the past, a historical artifact. Beside and beneath is where all the action happens.

It is a poetic undertaking. When the dig is complete, a newly-exposed pyramid in the heart will be revealed. It points to the guiding stars. New patterns will transmit this starlight from the pyramid top throughout the whole body and mind.

Photo: from the Diego Rivera Anahuacalli

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