FRAGMENTATION OF BEING and the Path Beyond the Void by Kent D. Palmer

copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved. Not for Distribution.


Our goal is not just to produce yet another theory of time in the unfolding dialectic of Western philosophy. Instead, our goal is to find the still point in the center of that tornado and follow it to the point where the tornado touches the ground. Of course, for Western philosophy the ground is always discovered to be an abyss. However, unless we trace back the still point in the dialectic to the abyss, there is no way to understand who we really are. So the next step is to attempt to understand the significance of the deep temporality uncovered by the phenomenon of emergence. This means attempting to construct a primal scene which points back toward, yet still covers up the always already lost origin of the socio-technical system. This is equivalent to constructing a myth, or discovering a myth, about the origins of time. Yet we want our myth to be more than a fantasy. Our myth must be founded on archaeological evidence. Our myth must be a plausible reconstruction which leads to a new understanding of deep temporality uncovered by the phenomenon of emergence. Thus, the next step might be called an "archaeology of time." We know that time is experienced differently in different cultures. Different languages treat time in different manners. However, what is less often noted is that time has not always been experienced the same in Western culture itself. So let us go back into our own past in search of our own primal myth concerning time and attempt to see how the experience of time was different in our own past.

The key to this exploration in the archaeology of time is provided by a book called The Well And The Tree1 by Paul C. Bauschatz . This book is an attempt to reconstruct the ancient Germanic conception of time which predates the later Latinized temporality exemplified by the confessions of St. Augustine. The later Western view of temporality will be viewed here as a surface layer which covers over the more primordial layer of temporal comprehension from a totally different source. Instead of the usual view of history in which everything starts with the Greeks coming to us through Roman culture, and finally filtered through Christian editing until the Renaissance, we will attempt to go back further to the real roots of Western culture. Those roots trace Western culture back almost 6000 years to the origin of the Indo-European peoples who spoke a lost language called proto-Indo-European that originated perhaps somewhere between the Black and the Caspian Seas. They migrated in a large spiral out toward Asia and then up toward central Russia to become the so-called Kurgen peoples around 4000 B.C. Then over the next thousand years they invaded Europe in waves, displacing and incorporating the Old European culture. The Greeks, Romans and Germans are just a few nations that have sprung from the Indo-European root. The reconstruction of the languages and customs of the original Indo-Europeans has been an academic industry for over one hundred years. For the most part, this research has been recognized to be the great lost cause of Western academia. Philology was once a prestigious career. But eventually it was recognized that the remnants of the proto-Indo-European language could not be reconstructed completely from extant languages. Recent archaeological evidence, however, has greatly expanded our knowledge of Indo-European culture. Thus, from archaeological and linguistic perspectives, it is clear what the general outlines of proto-Indo-European society must have been, even though it is not possible to get very specific. There are many tantalizing clues, but they may be pieced together in several ways, depending on the scholars inclinations.

In this essay the lost origin of European culture in proto-Indo-European culture will be explored. This lost origin is indeed the true origin which is obscured and not made any clearer by our fascination with the Greeks. It turns out that Greek culture was highly influenced by various Semite nations and their cultures. Thus, Greek culture is an amalgam which misleads us when we attempt to reconstruct the essential characteristics of Western culture from its origins. In fact, the Germanic culture is far closer to the heart of Indo-European culture than either the Greeks or the Romans. Thus, when we consider the Germanic view of time along with Mr. Bauschatz, we are approaching closer to our own true roots than is possible through the dominant Greek and Latin cultural matrices that overlay the core Indo-European cultural well spring. That source must be approached through the scarce materials which are left from Christian censorship and from language and archaeological evidence. Mr. Bauschatz has considered all these sources in his reconstruction, and we will attempt to think through the implications of his reconstruction rather than to reiterate it. Our purpose is to explore the implications of the old Germanic experience of time for our own theory of deep temporality.

At this point a mythic element will be introduced to our argument. It is important to recognize that myth is an ancient form of thought, as well an an old story. For us the deep meaning of mythic thought will be a source of amazement and wonder. Mythic thought attempts to render visible the proto-gestalt. It goes deep toward the heart of all manifest phenomena which appear in various gestalt regimes. Mythic thought is intersubjective thought, and thus archetypal, expressing directly the collective unconscious of the proto-gestalt. Mythic thought cannot be understood by discursive thought which makes up the bulk of philosophical thinking. Mythic thought is understood directly in a manner prior to the arising of discursive thought. Thus, discursive thought is always at a loss for words when it attempts to explain the hold mythic thought has over us. Entering into the ream of mythic thought, we move from the arena of mere significance to deeper levels of meaning. They open up to envelop us. We must release ourselves into this now alien path of thinking, for it thinks us through and takes us back to our lost origin that is always carried along with us in the unfolding of our own most possibilities.

What is interesting about Paul Bauschatz's approach to Germanic mythology is that he focuses on the central motif and then identifies the resonances of that motif throughout the remains of Germanic culture. The motif is encapsulated in his title The Well And The Tree. The tree is Yggdrasil, the world tree of Norse mythology. The well is Urth's well below one of the roots of the tree Yggdrasil form which the tree draws its life.

An ash I know, Yggdrasil its name with water white is the great tree wet Thence come the dews that fill the dales Green by Urth's well does it ever grow

Thence come the maidens mighty in wisdom Three from the dwelling down `neath the tree; Urth is one named, Verthandi the next -- On the wood they scored, -- and Skuld the third. Laws they made there, and life allotted To the sons of man and set their fates2

This is the primal scene to which all other aspects of Norse mythology is subservient. It is to us a strange scene -- a well from which the three fates take water to sustain the tree of the world. By this action the decree of fate belongs to them giving them the highest degree of wisdom which even Odin must sacrifice to attain. The action of continually watering the tree of the world from a magical and secret source is the means by which the universe is maintained, as well as the source of all wisdom in the world. Ned Lukacher calls this a "primal scene:"

... the primal scene comes to signify an ontological undecidable intertextual event that is situated in the differential space between historical memory and imaginative construction, between archival verification and interpretive free play. Bringing together Freud's notion of the primal scene into conjunction with Heidegger's "history of Being," I use the expression "primal scene" to describe the interpretive impasse that arises when a reader has good reason to believe that the meaning of one text is historically dependent on the meaning of another text, or on a previously unnoticed set of criteria, even though there is no conclusive evidential or archival means of establishing the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The primal scene is, thus, the figure of an always-divided interpretive strategy that points toward the Real in the very act of establishing its inaccessibility; it becomes the name for the dispossessive function of language that constitutes the undisclosed essence of language.

I propose this definition of the primal scene as a step toward solving the crisis of interpretation that emerges when the question of the origin becomes at once unavoidable and unanswerable; when the origin must be remembered, but memory utterly fails; when all the evidence points toward an origin that nevertheless remains unverifiable. The primal scene is the figure of an interpretive dilemma; it is a constellation of forgotten intertextual events offered in lieu of a demonstrable, unquestionable origin.3

I propose that we treat the constellation of men, tree of the world, the wells that lie at its roots, and Norns which take the water to keep the tree alive as the primal scene for the Indo-European consciousness of time. As such, it covers over the real origin of the Indo-Europeans which can never be known. The scene, preserved as it is in myth, both reveals and hides simultaneously that always already lost original. In turn, this primal image has been covered over by the modern concept of time first stated for the West by St. Augustine. When we go back to the mythic primal scene of Indo-European temporality, we are confronting the image of deep temporality. That image is very different from the surface temporality which we are used to from our cultural heritage. The primal scene of deep temporality is the latent image of the proto-gestalt. Let us explore that latent image and attempt to see it as clearly as possible in contrast to the image of "progress" within the modern techno-culture.

Paul Bauschatz summarizes his analysis of the well and the tree primal image in the following words:

I know an Ash standing called Yggdrasil A high tree sprinkled with a snow white clay; thence are the dews in the dale that fall -- It stands ever green above Urth's well.

That dew which falls from it onto the earth is called by men honey-dew, and thereon are the Bees nourished (Brodeur 1929: 30)

The "falling" of the dew reunites the waters form the tree with those of the well, into which the roots of the tree extended. The cyclic nature of this process with the well as both source and goal, beginning and ending of the nutritive process, combines all of the structural semantic elements of BRUNU, representing both an active, natural, welling source and a collecting, storing source. The myth presents a continuous cycle of activity.

The well is named for Urth; her name represents the "past." This past includes the actions of all beings who exist within the enclosing branches of Yggdrasil: men, gods, giants, elves, etc. Like the water, these actions find their way back into the collecting source. As this happens, all actions become known, fixed, accomplished. In one sense, it is such actions that form the layers of strata that are daily laid in the well by the speaking of the ORLOG. The coming into the well is orderly and ordered; events are clearly related to each other, and there is pattern and structure in their storage. This pattern of events is ever changing, ever growing, and daily, as the ORLOG is said, new events, new actions come into the well. The process of occurrence of events, and the continual accumulation of more and more of them into the pattern of the past, present a system of growth that is never finished. As the Norns daily bring their nurture to the tree, they express the power of this sequence or pattern of the past up and out into and upon the world of men; as these "past" events sustain and feed the tree, they bring into being the events of the here and now; as "present day" events occur, they fall from the tree back into the well and join themselves into the ever-increasing complexities of the past, restructuring it, reinterpreting it, continually expressing more and more about the interrelations of all actions.4

The primal scene of the well and the tree is dynamic. The tree stands by the well. The tree contains all the worlds that exist. It is alive, and its life comes from the waters of the well. Those magical waters are taken form the well and placed on the tree along with white clay -- presumably building up layers on the tree. Waters also come onto the tree as dew from an unknown source -- perhaps also evaporation from the well. These waters mingle and return from the tree to the well, carrying sediments that build up in the well. The waters are then taken from the well again and, the cycle continues. The tree lives from the waters, and probably all the living creatures within the worlds of the tree live from these waters. They are the waters of life.

Notice that this is similar to the Biblical (and Quranic} myth concerning man being made by God from earth and water. Here the Norns take earth and water and plaster the world tree from which all creatures arise. The well and the tree are interposed between the maker and the made creature. Miles Groth discusses the use of a similar mythic scene by Heidegger to motivate the central concepts of Being And Time. In Heidegger's philosophical myth, "Care" molds man form earth. There arises a dispute over the name of the new creature which is settled by Saturn, or Time. Saturn says that the spirit will return to Zeus, the body will return to earth, and Care, or Fate, shall rule its life. The name will be "Homo" deriving from "Humus" or earth. In this pseudo-myth fate molds man as creature. Spirit and body are brought together in the creature's form. The name of the creature is given by time and signifies the lowest aspect of the elements melded together in its creation. Groth points out that Care in the myth is the fate whose name means both ailment and cure. This double meaning is very significant for Heidegger who explicitly refers to it. Man's nature is determined by sorrow as "Cura" ("Sorge").

In the "double meaning" of "cura," what we have in view is a single basic state in its essentially two-fold structure of an abandoned project.5

Notice that the peudo-myth used by Heidegger to ground the analytic of Dasein has the Norn or Fate fashioning man and taking possession of his life. Jupiter and Earth give spirit and matter to this creature, but essentially lose control over what they have given until the creature's death. Time, as Saturn, names the creature. That naming imprints the structure of temporality on the creature. Saturn/Kronos is the father of Jupiter/Zeus who ate his own children to prevent his ouster. He had ousted his father, Uranus/Ouranos, and attempted to prevent that same fate for himself issuing from his own children. Thus, Saturn attempted to prevent the circular cycle of fate in which his own act comes back on himself. Saturn failed. He became identified with infinite time in traditional mythology. That is, he is identified with the impossibility of stopping the cycle of fate, returning one's own actions to one's self. That cycle assures us that the past will shape the future. Nietzsche calls this Eternal Return of the Same. It defines the present as the time of waiting for our past actions toward others to come back on us. Thus, our sorrow is the knowledge that our past unjust actions will return to haunt us. This is also the cure because knowledge of this Karmic cycle of Samsara as it is known in the East, allows us to control our own actions in order to prevent the disastrous results they will eventually have back on ourselves. This is a kind of temporal golden rule. Heidegger's pseudo-myth stamps the imprint of St. Augustine's time of past-present-future on man. Heidegger's pseudo-myth attempts to give some mythic depth to surface temporality by connecting it implicitly to the concept of eternal return embodied by Saturn.


By contrast, the well and the tree primal scene has a more complex structure that separates the maker, Fate, from the made, creature. Some meditation on the complexity presented by the true myth is indicated. As with any primal image which at once reveals and conceals the always already lost origin, we must be circumspect because this image has many facets and ramifications. The fact that it is more complex than the pseudo-myth used by Heidegger to ground his work on Being And TimE is itself of interest. What we need to understand is the direction the internal structure of the primal scene takes in, and how it reveals a greater depth for our perspective on temporality.

Let's take a hint from a completely different source. R.B. Onians in The Origins Of European Thought has attempted to look at many anomalies in the Greek classics which indicate that they thought in ways totally different from the way we project on them concerning many fundamental concepts. One of those anomalies is where they thought consciousness resided. They did not think it was in the head or heart or in any organ. They thought consciousness resided in the diaphragm; "the pink muscular sheet dividing the organs of the thorax from those of the abdomen" [page 23]. Onians goes on to attempt to explain this anomaly away. It seems so unreasonable to us that consciousness would not reside in any organ. However, there is a lot of evidence that this is what the early Greeks (read Indo-Europeans) thought. If we connect this isolated fact to Germanic mythology, we get an interesting picture. Germanic mythology describes the body. The branches of the tree might be the brain, and the trunk becomes the neck, while the taproot is the spinal column. The roots of the tree are the nervous system's paths throughout the body. As in the body, there is only one nervous system; so it is with the tree -- there is only one tree. However, there are three wells: Urth's well; Mimir's well; and Hevergelmer's well. Mr. Bauschatz attempts to minimize the importance of three wells and three Norns. But the fact that there is one tree with three roots going to three wells is important. We will connect those wells to quasi-physiological locuses in the body.

FIGURE 22 The body in Norse mythology. {FIGURE 226}

The highest well Uruth might be connected to the heart. It is the major organ lying above the diaphragm which is an obvious choice. Mirmir's well might be connected to the kidney which is the gate from which all body energy enters, according to the ancient Chinese medical system. The lowest well in which there arises turmoil might be connected with the scrotum/ovum from which arises the seed of life. The dragon which gnaws at the root would then immediately be recognized as the Kundalini energy -- the fire from the earth which certain tantric practices attempt to channel. It should be noticed in this schema the head would be identified with the element of fire and the lungs with the element of air. Both of these in the body lie above the diaphragm. Below the diaphragm lie the water of the guts and the earth of the seat and legs. These four traditional elements describe, fairly accurately, the qualitative aspect of each quadrant of the body. What is interesting is that opposite qualities are kept apart by interposing other opposites.

FIGURE 23 Opposites in the body model. {FIGURE 227}

Another anomaly from the ancient Greek worldview explained by this model of the Mythic Body6 is the relation of daemons to the head. The ancient Greeks thought that daemons possessed people causing them to do all sorts of things. Their experiencing self was not in their head, but some "other." These others, according to our schema, are the Asir and Vanir of Norse Mythology. They live in Asgard or the upper reaches of the tree branches (the brain). They come down to Urth's well (the heart) to hold council and make judgments. Within those branches also live the eagle and the squirrel. In fact, all the known worlds exist in the branches of that tree. Our knowledge of the brain would allow us to affirm that statement. The brain is the organ that makes knowledge of all realms possible. There is one tree/one nervous system within the mythbody. Yet, there are three approaches to the ultimate reality underlying the tree structure. These are signified by the three wells at different depths within the mythbody in relation to the diaphragm or seat of consciousness. The excellence of Urth's well -- the heart -- the seat of desire is made clear by the existence of lower murkier wells. Not all wells are equally pure. The well in the midst of "Hel" is the source of turmoil. We can imagine that Mirmir's well is somewhere between that well and Urth's well in purity. It is highly significant that Odin pledges his eye to drink from the middle well. He is a creature from above who wished to have knowledge of a source below the diaphragm. Man, of course, as a whole being encompasses all these sources. Man is made of earth and water -- the elements below the diaphragm. But man has spirit, the eagle that nests in the tree branches, which in Heidegger's pseudo-myth comes from Zeus. But man, besides his spirit, also has sorrow/worry/care which can be seen as embodied in the squirrel, Ratatosk, which scurries up and down the tree delivering banterings between the eagle and the snake/worm/dragon. The snake and the eagle are opposite tendencies in man toward higher and lower aspects of existence. The squirrel is the intermediate that worries over the contest between these divergent impulses. Higher impulses come into the heart, while lower impulses enter from the ream of "Hel" through the impure well. Mirmir is between these two. It is the well in which Odin sought ultimate wisdom and gave his eye to achieve. Thus, although Urth's well is important as the source of fate or the Wyrd, it is Mirmir which is the doorway to wisdom. In the Chinese conception, this is the gate of body energy which may be raised or lowered based on tendencies followed by the person in his life. The well spring of life energies is, in some ways, more fundamental than the impulses toward higher or lower aspects of existence. For Odin, a creature of air and fire -- known as a Jinn in Islamic parlance -- an understanding of his opposite -- the merger of earth and water would be a fundamental kind of wisdom. Men's life energies come from this animate combination of earth and water represented by Mirmir. This energy is of a higher form than the baser energies arising from within the earth itself known in Asia as the Kundalini energies. This is the energy manifest in the lower animals, which is purely generative or reproductive energy talked about by Dawkins in The Selfish Gene. The cells of reproduction are qualitatively different from all other body cells. The other body cells are merely a host for the reproductive energies of the hosted generative cells. This impetus to reproduce is the prime directive for all creatures. Man, however, rises above this prime directive, creating the nature/culture distinction for the first time. This nature/culture distinction is dependent on a completely different kind of imperative and energy. The Chinese call this energy CHI. It is the holistic body energy that animates the mythbody, dreambody, and shows up in the qualities of the physical body. Once the nature/culture dichotomy has been established and energized with Chi, then the tug of war between the eagle and the snake begins, with the squirrel carrying messages and worrying over the outcome of the contest.

This exploration of the mythbody may seem like a divergence except that it has given a concrete aspect of Norse mythology by relating it to our whole lived body as mythbody and dreambody. It has also connected this picture to certain anomalies in the Greek concept of how humans are constituted with haunted minds and consciousness in the diaphragm. However, this picture of the mythbody allows us to reapproach the well and the tree primal scene from an entirely new perspective. It calls into question Mr. Bauschatz's disregard for the triple nature of the wells and Norns. What is important in that respect is not so much that there are three wells, as much as there is one tree, and access to the underlying ultimate reality is splintered into three sources. This tips us off concerning the importance of the tree as a unifying element. Not the wells, but the tree is the source of unity. Thus, we need to look at the tree with new eyes motivated by our understanding of the details of the primal scene.

The tree Yggdrasil is comparable to what has been called the proto-gestalt in the previous essay. The proto-gestalt unifies all the different gestalts in a way similar to how Yggdrasil unifies all the different worlds of men, giants, jinn, animals, etc. Each of these worlds forms a different gestalt within an overall structure which is the infrastructure called the proto-gestalt. As Mr. Bauschatz points out, these worlds are relatively independent, and although they interact, this is rare. Only anomalous events take place across worlds or in multiple worlds at once. The tree embraces all these separate coexisting worlds and unifies them into a single structure, a supra-whole or uni-verse. Within each world are special figures -- the main gods, heros, special animals. These are the figures on the backgrounds of these world gestalts. They all live within the tree together, each figure embedded in its own world, occasionally experiencing anomalous interactions with other realms. But for the most part figures are trapped in their own gestalt. The human being is the template which contains all these worlds as part of his myth body. The proto-gestalt -- tree -- is in some sense his own nervous system. In this way the pattern of the whole is embedded in the part. Where the tree breaks ground is the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the seat of consciousness. The tree branches and roots are symmetrical around this interface. This means that the proto-gestalt is not just a core infrastructure, but is also a grounding and foundational element. The proto-gestalt has deep roots which we cannot see because they go deep below the ground level of consciousness. They delve into unconsciousness realms. This means that the proto-gestalt not only holds the different worlds apart, yet together, in its branches, but also binds these worlds to the earth by traversing the interspace of consciousness (as diaphragm and as ground level). In all that we have said before about the proto-gestalt, this root structure has remained hidden. This is because what is underground is undifferentiated. It does not appear within the worlds or in anomalies between the worlds. We must accept this new dimension of the proto-gestalt on faith for the moment in other to continue thinking along with the path of mythic thought embedded in the primal scene.

The well is something different again from the tree. It is a source of life, of wisdom, of reproductive capacity. The source is fragmented, while the proto-gestalt is one. This tells us that the source is fundamentally obscured. We know that the ultimate source must be one. But within the primal scene the source is split, while the proto-gestalt, holding the universe together, is one. That life, wisdom, and reproductive capacity arise from a single source, but become split into multiple sources in the process of manifesting, is a thought-provoking insight. The water of life wells up from an unknown source and is used within the pluriverse/universe of the proto-gestalt tree. This offers a view of existence in which the tree arises form unknown roots, as well as the water that sustains the tree, and all the gestalt worlds within the tree.

FIGURE 24 Yggdrasil. {FIGURE 235}

The well and the tree are two complementary opposites arising from the same unknown source. The obvious male/female sexual symbolism, ala The Chalice And The Blade, need not be belabored. What this myth tells us is that there is a deeper unity to existence which manifests as tree and wells. These two manifest structures are complementary opposites. The tree represents the unity of the proto-gestalt which unifies all the worlds/gestalts of manifest existence, both hidden and visible. The well signifies the opposite of the tree, which is inherently fragmented, which is opposed to the unity of the tree. The unknown aspect of the tree is its roots, whereas the unknown aspect of the wells are the single source of their waters. The source is assumed to be singular because the liquid is the same in all cases, differing only in purity. The wells are then the opposite of the proto-gestalt. We might hypothesize that this is the origin of difference in the world. What gives us diversity of species which have clear reproductive boundaries? From the perspective of mythic thought, each species has its own source which all go back ultimately to the well in "Hel" called Hevergelmer from which all reproductive energy springs. The source of each species is different, but united, in that it is all reproductive energy. Likewise, the Chinese recognize many different forms of Chi, or body energetics. All of our environment is made up of these various kinds of energies. Yet they are all ultimately Chi -- undifferentiated qualitative energy. The Chinese speak of Li as the opposite of Chi. Li is the patterning templates for the channeling of Chi energies. When Chi stops moving, it is the traces of Li that are left as grains in the wood or jade. The undifferentiated body energy issues from Mirmir and becomes a myriad of different kinds of energies. The differentiation and channeling of these energies cause an interference pattern which is the Li. Yet all Chi energies ultimately go back to th primal Chi form the well of Mirmir itself. Finally, the heart is the purest source where angelic inspiration occurs. Why else would the Jinn congregate there to take council and make decisions? The Quran speaks of the Jinn as listening into the decrees in the upper heavens until they were prevented from doing so. The decrees manifest in the heart, and are carried out by messenger angels. This is probably the original prototype for the Norns. The Norns are "becoming," "being," and "necessity." They are abstract principles, rather than beings with personality like the jinn or men. The water of life comes out of the pure source of the heart. If it is coming out, then it manifests as becoming similar to Husserl's concept of retention. What has completed its becoming becomes a fully decreed facticity within existence. This manifestation of the decree is called the "wyrd." The wyrd places one in tune with the workings of the hidden source of both the well and the tree. That single source beyond manifestation, which determines what will become manifest, including the wells and tree themselves. In the Islamic reality this is the Pen and the Tablet.

Ibn Abbas said: The first thing God created was the preserved tablet, on which was preserved all that has been and ever shall be until the day of resurrection. What is contained thereon no one knows but God. It is made of white pearl.

Then, from a gem, He created a pen, the length of which would take five hundred years to traverse. The end of it is cloven, and from it light flows as ink flows from the pens of the people of this world. The pen was told "write" and as the pen trembled because of the awesomeness of the proclamation, it began to reverberate. In exaltation, as thunder reverberates, moved by God, it flowed across the tablet, writing what is to be until the last day, whereat he who is happy shall be, and he who is to be wretched shall be.7

The differentiation of the pen and the tablet is similar to the tree and the well. They set up a primal scene, explaining yet hiding the workings of time for all time. Only in the Germanic version the tablet becomes active as wells, while the pen becomes passive as the world tree. Yet there is an isomorphism between the elements of these two primal scenes which allows us to see the same fundamental structure despite differences. In both, Necessity is an important concept, and that is not Karmic necessity of repayment. Instead, it is the necessity of the decree of the patterning of events by a single invisible source of all causation. Becoming and necessity are key points in the process of manifestation. In becoming, the full pattern is not yet clear. Once the patterning is completed, its necessity is seen as the template for the laid down pattern. The midpoint is the completion which Urth signifies. Completion is the fulcrum between the indeterminacy of becoming and the recognition of internal necessity within the completed pattern of the emerging temporal gestalt. The point of completion stands for the submission of the one whose fate is being decreed before the transcendence of the recognition of the internal necessity that inhabits that completed ordaining of decreed fate. The fact that "completion" is the key stage is very significant. It is like the one who repeats the decrees of the king. The king decrees the scribe's, or announcer's, own death. There is a moment when the announcer has repeated the order of his own death before he realizes the meaning of what he has said. The moment of completion before intuiting the meaning is very subtlety differentiated in the Germanic primal scene. This is speaking the ORLOG.

In Voluspa 20 the Norns are said "to make laws" (logleggja), "to chose life" (lif Kjosa) for the sons of men, and "to set or mark fate" (or log segja). With this can be included the probably interpolated action of "scoring the wood."

"Log leggia" is, then, to lay down that which is laid down or to lay down or implant strata. There is a strong feeling of the physical here (additionally picked up in the action of scoring wood). Of course "log" occurs again in "orlog" sagja: to say or speak the or-strata, the or-things-laid-down, the or-law.

What exactly is it that the Norns speak in saying the "or-log." The prefix "or" signifies something that is beyond or above the ordinary. It suggests something of a first or primary significance, but it does not indicate the scale upon which the significance is to be measured; hence the rather vague above or beyond quality it imparts. The orlog is, then, primal law (in importance), a highest law (in elevation), an earliest law (in time), a first law (in any numerical sequence) and so forth. To take the more literal reading of log, orlog is the most significant things laid down; the earliest things accomplished.8

Standing in the arena of "completion" is listening to the speech of the ORLOG -- experiencing the wyrd directly as decree for its own sake regardless of the outcome or meaning. In this reading the well is not the past, but an invisible single source of the decree, and the orientation of man is not toward the part, but toward the decree itself regardless of the outcome, pattern, or meaning. This is pure submission to the decree without one iota of self reflection or attempt to deflect or hurry the speech which lays down the decree. And why submit to the decree for its own sake? Because it aligns one with the hidden origin and makes one privy to the primal experience of first and last things.

The Norns water the tree of the proto-gestalt from the well of destiny. This image preserves a deep insight into the nature of existence. The wells and the single tree are two aspects of the same thing. The midpoint between the unity of the tree and the intrinsic diversity of the wells is the experience of submission to the decree. From the welling up of the decree there is a movement from a single source through multiple sources to supply the multiplicity needed to sustain all the creatures of the worlds.


Each world is a gestalt itself which thrives on differences between the different aspects that give it internal differentiation. Yet, each gestalt is held apart from other gestalts by the tree proto-gestalt which itself has internal structure. That internal structure merges together into a trunk of the tree and disappears underground as a root going back to the single source. This lattice-like structure, arising from one differentiating and then merging back into one, is important. The tetrahedron and all more complex polyhedra form these same structural lattices.


The structural lattice arises from one and differentiates, then merges back to one. The one of the beginning is different form the one of the ending. They are complementary opposites. Their difference is like the difference between the pearl and the coral stone.9 Both are unities, but the unity of the pearl is homogeneous layers, whereas the unity of the coral stone is made up of millions of dead coral clumped together. The pearl is like the many layers of wells within wells from which differentiation first arises; whereas the coral stone is like the unity of all the worlds with their creatures in the tree. The proto-gestalt is a form which is composed of conglomerations of forms. These two types of unity are different, and they express the process of becoming of existence as it works out the decree. We stand as the midpoint in the on-rushing wave of the ORLOG of the decree. If we step forward, we see the indeterminacy of becoming; or if we step back, we see the meaning or pattern of the decree. Stepping further forward, we see the multiple wells or sources of differentiation. Stepping further back, we see the many worlds. Stepping even further forward we see the single well lying beyond all the multiple instantiated wells. While stepping even further back, we see the proto-gestalt which becomes a single trunk. Stepping even further forward we look down the well to see the upsurging waters from an unknown source; while stepping even further back we see the trunk disappear below ground to become a taproot. The source of the waters and the root of the proto-gestalt are one, but in a way we cannot fathom. We either experience the oneness of the pearl or the oneness of the coral stone. True oneness is beyond comprehension and lost from view.

The primal scene from Germanic myth gives us a deeper insight into the deep temporality discovered in the last essay. We thought then that the proto-gestalt was deep. Now we have uncovered even deeper conceptions of time and the structuring of existence. This is the difference between real mythic thought and the pseudo-myth used by Heidegger to ground his work on Being And Time. Real mythic thought takes us beyond our own superficial preconceptions concerning the structure of time, and invites us on an untrod path of thought.

This deeper picture of temporal unfolding has implications for our concept of emergence. In the Germanic primal scene anomalous events occur when the different worlds within the tree come into contact. When men meet giants, or jinn, or speak with animals, these anomalous events are directly analogous to the events of genuine emergence. Now the picture here is that the multiple worlds emanating from the proto-gestalt exist simultaneously, and that anomalies come form occasional interaction. In the picture presented earlier concerning emergence, we thought of each gestalt as a temporal phase which occasionally becomes repatterned. In other words from the point of view of emergence, it is as if we were taking a tour of the multiple simultaneous worlds existing within the tree. It is as if the tree were revolving instead of static. However, the conception of the interaction of worlds producing anomalies is precisely the same.

So the question becomes what set the proto-gestalt to revolving so that we experience the phase changes as we tour the gestalts that grow from the proto-gestalt. In the Germanic picture there is a myriad of worlds, each inhabited by its own race of creatures living their own lives and rarely coming into contact. In our world picture there is only ourselves. We no longer believe in giants, or speaking animals, or jinn. The Germanic picture is Copernican in the sense that the tree/proto-gestalt is the center of all the worlds, whereas in our world picture we are the center of everything. Somehow when we accepted the sun as the center of the solar system instead of the earth, we also decided we were the center of all the worlds instead of just a part of a universe of many living worlds. We accept that our earth is just one world in the vast expanses of space with trillions of galaxies. But simultaneously, our world has become one dimensional, with ourselves as the only inhabitants of the physico-material universe that matter. Bauschatz speaks of this shift from a multidimensional world to a UNI-verse as a shift from a hot to a cold culture (using Levi-Strauss's terminology). The Germanic culture is hot because it is exploring and open to discovery, whereas contemporary Western culture is cold because the pluriverse has been reduced to a single man-centered world. Time has been linearized into past, present, and future. There is no more jumping around in time which takes place in the pluriverse. All the doors to the other worlds that coexist with our own here have been closed. The cold uni-verse, or surface time, covers over the hot pluriverse of the ancient Indo-European temporality. But that ancient view of temporality still exists within our collective unconscious and still operates within our closed uni-verse. Now the proto-gestalt trapped within a single gestalt makes itself known by its rotation or precession. Its precessing causes the gestalt to occasionally radically change which makes emergent events occur. Thus, the reduction of the pluriverse to a uni-verse has somehow set the proto-gestalt to revolving beneath the surface temporality of linear time. It is as if the denial of multiplicity, which is the hidden assumption of the surface culture, calls up the phenomena of gestalt change as a reminder of what has been lost. It is the resurfacing of the mythic and fabulous from the ancient culture in another form. Denial of multiplicity to such an extreme in the totalitarian uni-verse calls up the opposite reaction. By claiming identity of all the worlds and reduction of them to our world, we have caused a reaction in which we are forced to become different in our essence. Its not just that the world occasionally changes, but it is we who are forced to radically change who we are. The changes in the world gestalt are forced changes to who we are in our essence. This is completely different from the ancient view. Each type of creature men, jinn, giants, had their own nature that remained the same for all time. By denying the reality of all these other creatures and their worlds, we have been forced to change who we are radically many times. In the universe we become the giants, become the jinn, become the animals. There is no room for other living creatures because we are the only ones that have the right to exist. This is why species disappear from the earth on a daily basis, and why we can destroy our environment with impunity. We see ourselves as the center, and because of that, we are continually forced to be different from ourselves -- constantly forced to change who we are in our essence. We become the scavengers, the dangerous hunters, the wild beasts, the disembodied minds, the terrible monsters, the speaking animals, the giant who crushes the earth without noticing.

But recognizing the importance of deep temporality that continues to operate within our uni-verse, in spite of our reduction or the world to "one world" and of time to linearity, is very important. It tells us that our Indo-European roots are still very much alive within us despite our denial of them. It allows us to understand how the hot aspects of our culture, like scientific discovery, colonialism and free economy came to be what they are and what drives them with such a turbulent dynamic in spite of the cold aspects of our worldview, like linear time and the uni-verse. These hot elements of our culture do not come out of nowhere. They are the repressed Indo-European deep temporality surfacing in spite of suppression by the dominant cold aspects of the culture. They are turbulent because of the totalitarian suppression by cold cultural elements like linear time and the uni-verse. When the elements of deep temporality break out, it is with violence and chaotic turbulence. We have learned to live with these escalating outbreaks which are constantly revising who we are and our whole world. We have learned to submit to the radical changes in our essence. But it is not without violence and destruction on a global scale, and massive dislocations, which cause unimaginable physical and emotional torment for millions. Denial of deep temporality has its costs. And that cost is high. We pay that cost continually. But by attempting to understand the impact of deep temporality from our Indo-European roots, perhaps it is possible to understand what is happening to us and why. By taking the project of forging a totalitarian uni-verse with linear time out of the multi-temporal pluriverse, we have driven ourselves to an extreme, culturally applying the Aristotelian concept of identity. The result is random gigantic outbursts of fundamental differences; differences so deep as to decenter us and our whole uni-verse into something fundamentally different. The emergence of these deep differences which remake the world is a basic dynamic that drives our culture. The proto-gestalt in the primal scene from Germanic antiquity has two guises. It has one guise as the tree which is the internal coherence of the parallel universes of the pluriverse. It has another image as the multiple wells that feed to the tree the water of life. These multiple wells ultimately lead back to a single source just as the tree has a taproot. The proto-gestalt has these dual images -- multiplied sources or single tree. In either case there is the flow of time represented by the Norns -- becoming -> completion -> necessity -- which represents the process of unfolding in time. What is prior to the process of unfolding is the multiple sources, and what is posterior to the unfolding is the core of the pluriverse where the unfolded creatures live in parallel worlds. These multiple sources and the core of the pluriverse are the primal scene which represents the action of deep temporality. The primal scene stands in the place of the opposite of the in-time realm called endlesstime. As finite creatures we cannot comprehend endlesstime. We guard ourselves from that unseen and unknowable reality by the familiar metaphor of the pen and tablet, or well and tree. The primal scene is the interface of endless time within the in-time realm. The primal scene of the well and the tree gives us an image which allows us to deal with the inconceivable.

However, there is an ever deeper reality indicated by this primal scene. The taproot of the tree and the ultimate source of all the wells ultimately flow from the same source. That source is qualitatively different from the two aspects of the image of the primal scene. It is not merely inconceivable like "endlesstime." It is the interface between endlesstime and the in-time realm. We will call it the "out-of-time" difference between timelessness and temporality. The out-of-time is seen as the single source of causation from which the tap root of the tree and the magical waters of the wells both originate from and disappear back into as the waters flow down the bark or the world tree. Notice that the well and tree imagery is dual in the sense that the wells are multiple externally, while the tree has only one trunk externally.

FIGURE 27 The duality of the Tree and the Well. {FIGURE 252}

On the other hand, trees even with taproots have multiple roots below ground, whereas in our interpretation the external wells have only one ultimate source for the waters of life. This is imagined because water is common to all the wells. The duality of this structure revolves around whether the mythic elements of the primal scene is below or above ground. The out-of-time single source of all causation lies hidden beneath the earth. It is a hidden treasure. It is the unity beyond all representation of unity such as the pearl and the coral stone. It is the point toward which every element in the primal scene points. The whole constellation of the primal scene is a sign of this powerful hidden source of reality. The endlesstime primal image points to the out-of-time, and at the same time obscures our sight of what lies beyond that primal scene. Yet, the out-of-time single source of all causality is just as important to the complete constellation of the primal scene as any concrete element in the scene itself. The out-of-time is the missing element which the scene as a whole indicates, but is really only present through its absence. In this case it is the source of the taproot and water of life. The point where these two hidden aspects of deep temporality merge is that single source which lies out-of-time but is the ultimate unspoken origin of everything that happens in-time and in endlesstime.

Our delving into deep temporality has taken us out of the in-time realm into the realm "below ground" of endlesstime, and ultimately to the point of recognizing the out of time single source of all causation in the worlds. When Bauschatz says the Germans were oriented toward the past rather than the future, there is a slight but significant point that must be made. The Germanic orientation was toward completion. Uthr stands for completion. It is in completion that the Wyrd of fate is experienced most directly. The wyrd is the experience of the completion of what has been destined. The causation of destiny comes from the single source out-of-time of all causation. Out-of-time does not mean transcendental to time, but from a realm to which the conceptions of time do not apply. Time and its opposite, timelessness, both have an opposite which is out-of-time completely; it is neither eternal nor in-time, but beyond all conception in terms of time. This realm to which our imaginings based on our hard won experience of temporality do not apply is the source beyond time and its opposite. We can conceive of the opposite of time because we experience time and can imagine "eternity" as the opposite of time. But the "eternity" we imagine is itself inconceivable because of our finitude and inherent limitations. The out-of-time source of the root and water of life, however, is some matter to which our experience of time does not apply. We can say, using Buddhist and Hindu logic, that the single source is both in-time and endlesstime, or we can say it is neither in-time nor endlesstime. We can connect it to everything we know (tanzi) or disconnect it from everything we know (tashbi). We can only imagine pure connection or pure disconnection to the out-of-time single source. Ultimately we must admit that it is both of these things independently and simultaneously. We have come up against a matter totally beyond description. The metaphor leads us to a precipice beyond which there is no guide from this side of the void. The precipice of the void is exactly what we wish to approach in this series of essays. Our primal scene has indicated the way to that point. It has taken us to the ultimate level of existence that we can approach from within the realm of form. The void is called "sunyata," "emptiness," by the Buddhist tradition. The out-of-time single source lies beyond the void. But, of course, this is only a manner of speaking because the reality is truly indescribable in terms of anything we know.

The causation of all completed matters within the world arises from the single out-of-time source. The position of the point of completion is symmetrically opposite the single source in the Germanic (Indo-European) primal scene. At that position where completion of emerging events occurs before necessity or meaning is apprehended, one is most in tune with the "wyrd" of destiny arising from the single source of all causation. That orientation toward the single source is not an orientation toward the past or future. It is an orientation toward the source of all past and future events outside time or eternity or any other conceptual framework. This makes the "wyrd" a powerful concept because it means one may be in tune with the single source which all causation arises, even inside of time this side of eternity. By orienting one's self toward the sources of unfolding and submitting to what is completed through becoming, one gains an inner core, the taproot of which goes deep and returns to the single source. Developing this kind of submission to completed destiny which leads to the development of inner core that allows an alignment with the single source is the way one takes the path beyond the void.

1U. Mass. Press, 1982

2 THE WELL AND THE TREE; page 3; from Voluspa

3 PRIMAL SCENE; Ned Lukacher; page 24-25

4 THE WELL AND THE TREE; Bauschatz; Page 20-21



6See COMA A. Mindell

7 THE TALES OF THE PROPHETS OF AL-KISAI; W.M. Thackston Jr.; Twayne Pub 1987; page 5

8WELL & TREE; page 6-7

9Nb Quran: Sura Rahman


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