Archaeology of the Soul
Is there such a Thing?
I received a book written by two American friends, a man and a lady, the
book discusses Archeology of the Soul called Showing Up! They asked me to write
a preface for this book. When I first began to read the book, I mistook it for
just another New Age work of imagination. There are many writers and books that
claim to base their own theories upon the wisdom and the practices of the
ancients, but they have little or no foundation. Upon a closer examination of
the book I began to see elements in Showing Up! that set it apart from that
The word archaeology means simply the study of things ancient. Such a broad definition leaves the discipline open to investigate any aspect of an ancient civilization. Traditionally, archaeologists base their studies upon hard, tangible, verifiable evidence. Archaeology is grounded in scientific method, that is a careful and methodical examination, interpretation and preservation of the physical remains of ancient civilizations. It makes use of the skills of many scientific disciplines to shed light upon the physical evidence unearthed from the ground. All evidence, however, is subject to interpretation, and the clues left for by our ancestors rely upon the wisdom and senses of the archaeologist to communicate their meaning and importance to the world. Communicating the importance of a find is fairly direct. Communicating its meaning is quite another matter. True understanding of the religious or spiritual practices of an ancient people often eludes us as we endeavor to interpret and reconstruct them through only the physical remains of temple walls, votive objects and inscriptions. We continue the practices but the impact and effect of the actual people often remains a mystery. As I once heard Mme Perreault say in reference to working with pottery shards, "without the soul of the person who drank from it, it’s just a broken cup".
Brian Fagan, anthropologist at UC Santa Barbara, in his recent book, From
Black Land to the Fifth Sun, called this yet uncharted pursuit, the archaeology
of the intangible, a new, somewhat gray area of our profession that dares to ask
hard questions that were considered taboo just a decade or two ago. “How did
ancient peoples actually relate to the world around them, what were their true
beliefs and attitudes?” In what ways can traditional archaeology discover
these answers? These questions walk a fine line between our established
scientific approach and what Fagan calls the free-for-all world of imagination
And yet, while archaeologist will publish only which they can prove with
tangible evidence, there is an almost magical inner feeling that goes along with
archaeological work. The feeling of wonder that accompanies any new discovery is
virtually indescribable. People often ask me, Well, it’s not really as
exciting as Indiana Jones, now is it? And I reply that to the archaeologist,
yes, it certainly is. So where do we draw the line? At some point in time, a
body of work may arise that bridges these gaps.
Unlike other works of this kind that I have seen, in Showing Up!, Mme
Perreault’s early studies in archaeology coupled with Mr. Horres practice as
an attorney give each of them the ability to examine and experience the
questions and issues raised in their work free of prejudice or preconceived
expectation that seem to pervade other works of this nature. Their experiences
in the various ancient way which they have gathered comparative information from
a host of ancient cultures and then worked to corroborate it, albeit their own
experiences, is admirable. With respect to the Egyptian elements of Showing Up!,
the meaning they attach to the sky goddess Nut, the daily cycle she governs and
how deeply ancient Egyptians may have embraced it is not something that can be
verified archaeologically, but, it is not out of the realm of possibility.
Their spiritual interpretation of the New Kingdom temples is radical, but raises
interesting questions about the depth of information that may be gathered from
the remains of the monument. The temple as a model for healing and spiritual
growth is, once again, beyond the scope of archaeology to assess. However, if
Schwaller de Lubicz’s claim proves to be correct, that the same mathematical
functions used to build medieval cathedrals are also found at the Temple of Amon
in Luxor, that matter may indeed deserve further study.
So, archaeology of the soul? Is there such a thing? I leave that to you, the reader, to decide. Do the work and make your own discoveries. Showing Up! Certainly makes a good and solid case for it.
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