Immanence is an ancient concept. The archeologist Marija Gimbutas explored in detail excavations of ancient goddess cultures in Eastern Europe. She and others have concluded that the spiritual foundation of these people involved experiences of the gods and goddesses as always present, or immanent. This is in contrast to the later Indo-European interventions and subjugations that included the introduction of the transcendental god.

Science reasonably rejects this transcendental God. God comes with lots of baggage. Modernity, after devoting lots of time to sorting through God’s luggage, gave way to this post-modern era where we’ve decided to just store it in museums. God’s dirty underwear is on display in climate-controlled, beautifully lit exhibitions in the West’s museums and learning institutions.

Also on display are the remnants and revelations of the ancient goddess religions. Though later raped, tamed and domesticated by the Indo-Europeans, the ancient goddess was no shrinking violet. Excavated cities with no walls suggest that warfare was relatively rare. Yet, human sacrifice was not uncommon. The goddess was immanent. Life was not gentle. The serpent was her familiar.

An immanent goddess preceded the Indo-Europeans and exists today in the third world and in the East. Characteristic of the ancient immanent religions was magical thinking, or the belief that powers can be manipulated by adjusting personal behavior. The Indo-Europeans performed sacrifice, exhibiting aspects of magical mind. In contemporary times, most of us carry with us remnants of these ancient orientations as we unconsciously withdraw from taking responsibility for our lives as we wait for outside intervention to make our lives better. Many of us make quasi-conscious deals with the deities–or our unconscious–that if we do such and such we should be rewarded with thus and thus. It doesn’t matter what the powers are called, we negotiate with them as if they control our lives.

We behave like we’re invested in being powerless like the ancient immanence believers and the more recent worshippers in a transcendental God. Behaving like we’re powerless, we often similarly offer homage to the Freudian trinity and the humanists that followed.

I would suggest that science, an Indo-European invention, get over its transcendental self and consider exploring consciousness instead of making believe we humans acquired it as an accidental result of evolution. This change would also involve withdrawing from magical thinking and our constant mind dance with the deities we’ve evidently not rejected.

Immanence has its origins in magical thinking. Stripped of this skewed, cause-and-effect, co-dependent relationship, immanence emerges as a not unreasonable way to explore the ground of evolution’s unfolding. Immanence plus interconnection, minus magical thinking and compulsion to see things in single-thread, cause-and-effect relations, offer alternative ways to explore societal transformation, human development and evolution.


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