Our objective is to study historical
information regarding the structure, workings and
origins of nature, with special emphasis on transient
events. As scientists now recognise plasma
as the dominant state of matter in the universe, the
subject is conveniently referred to as plasma mythology.
This eye-catching term serves to distinguish the present
approach from more traditional schools of 'nature mythology',
that did not acknowledge the significant role of transient
events in human traditions.
the plasma universe
Space is not a vacuum punctuated by isolated bodies
on perpetually stable courses, as defined by the law
of gravity. Since the beginning of the Space Age, it
has gradually been discovered that space consists for
99.99% of matter in the plasma state and is threaded
with electric filaments and magnetic fields spanning
over many orders of magnitude. This new paradigm is
known as plasma-universe theory or plasma
cosmology and was pioneered by the Swedish scientist,
Hannes Alfvén (1908-1995). Plasma is a partially
ionised gas regarded as the 'fourth state of matter',
that responds with great sensitivity to changes in magnetic
fields and becomes visible to the human eye when it
is pervaded by a sufficiently strong electrical current.
The solid rock, the oceans and the lower regions of
the earth's atmosphere belong to the minute segment
of the cosmos that is not in the plasma state. Yet the
earth itself is bathed in an electromagnetic environment.
This consists of the magnetic shell that shields
the planet from the enveloping solar wind and other
external features impinging on it, such as Near-Earth
Objects (NEOs) and, far less frequently, cometary intruders
into the solar system. In addition, plasma penetrates
and controls a range of terrestrial phenomena, such
as the aurorae, lightning, fire, tornadoes and lava
The term 'historical information' is a broad denominator
including a great diversity of materials. 'Traditional
information' refers to any ideas or practices that
were passed on collectively within one or more societies,
often imbued with a sense of sacrality and veridicality.
Myths and legends, rituals, religious and metaphysical
notions, artefacts and iconography (such as petroglyphs,
geoglyphs, designs on pottery and religious statuary),
costume, architecture, ranging from stone circles and
pyramids to stūpas and cathedrals, and 'proto-scientific'
cosmologies are replete with references to the natural
world and its past. A second repository of data consists
of historical records concerning observations
of the sky, the atmosphere or the landscape, or historical
As far as the celestial aspect of nature is concerned,
such historical sources have been the subject of disciplines
variously labelled archaeoastronomy, cultural
astronomy, the history of astronomy and the
history of ideas or of religion, depending
on geographical and chronological scope.
The study of historical information about the natural
world is useful in a variety of ways. It is of interest
in its own right, facilitating our understanding of
past cultures and their outlook on the world. This is
especially felt in cases where recent discoveries concerning
the plasma universe shed fresh light on historical data
that had previously been inscrutable. On a deeper level,
a study of historical information about the natural
world also helps to clarify the nature and origin of
religion as a whole. Conversely, historical sources
have much to contribute to modern science, as they can
complement the scientific reconstruction of the past,
specifically the recent history of planet Earth.
a new theory of myth
Beginning with some of the classical philosophers, scholars
have pondered the nature and origin of mythology
for centuries. Yet while respectable disciplines such
as geology, astronomy, physics, biology, archaeology
and linguistics gradually matured, the subject of mythology
continued to lack a consensus core of method and direction.
Employing structural, historical and comparative methods
of reconstruction akin to those applied in linguistics
and evolutionary biology, it is possible to establish
a theoretical foundation for 'plasma mythology' as a
new direction in the discipline of comparative mythology.
Within the history of ideas, 'plasma mythology', with
its emphasis on transient natural phenomena, can be
seen as a modern successor to the 'introspective'
and structuralist psychosociological models preferred
during most of the 20th century, that were
championed by thinkers such as Sigmund Freud,
Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Émile Durkheim,
Georges Dumézil, and Claude Lévi-Strauss.
The exploitation of scientific knowledge of geological,
atmospheric and astronomical events as potentially the
ultimate inspiration for numerous mythical themes can
be regarded as a modern continuation of the old 'nature
school' of mythology, which beginning in
the late 19th century and eventually supplanted
by the 'psychosociological' theories sought to
invoke the behaviour of the sun, the moon, vegetal life,
and so forth as the inspirational source of prominent
mythical themes. Yet unlike the old school, the modern
||places far less emphasis
on elaborate metaphors and the linguistic aspect
of the names of mythical characters;
||concentrates on short-lived,
dramatic events instead of less 'awe-inspiring'
spectacles such as the sunrise or the lunar cycle;
||and benefits from the
immensely improved state of geophysics, plasma physics,
climatology, and related scientific disciplines.
The impact of cutting-edge science on the humanities
is most palpable in the field of astronomy. Before the
Space Age, scientists still described the solar system
as a relatively uneventful 'vacuum', in which only planets,
asteroids and the occasional comet moved on fixed courses
with Aristotelian or Ptolemaic precision. As a consequence,
scholars in the humanities investigating the reflections
of astronomical concepts in ancient traditions were
very much restricted to this straightjacket. The modern
understanding of the solar system as a highly complex
web of combined gravitational and electromagnetic forces,
in which the solar wind interacts with interplanetary
space and planetary magnetospheres, injects a new lease
of life into the obsolete pre-1950 understanding of
the solar system, allowing theorists to account for
a much greater variety of traditional observations at
a higher level of intellectual satisfaction.
earlier theories incorporated
The 'plasma-physical' approach to historical information
about nature, notably creation mythology, does not simply
deny or ignore older mythological theories such as those
espoused by Edward Tylor, Sir James Frazer,
Émile Durkheim, Carl Jung, Mircea Eliade,
Georges Dumézil, and Claude Lévi-Strauss.
Instead, while acknowledging their value, it places
them in a different perspective, provided by a comprehensive,
contention that many mythical and other traditions
describe familiar natural phenomena (symbolic
from a modern point of view, often meant literally
in traditional societies) is often correct, insofar
as the comparison of gods and ancestors to the sun,
the moon, the rainbow or a certain plant or animal
can be seen as an adaptation of earlier narrative
material to the present, 'tranquil' condition of
the natural world.
||Durkheim's and Dumézil's
assertion that many myths reflect aspects of human
society are on target, although they were not
inspired by those aspects, but acted as models for
||Jung's archetypes and
Lévi-Strauss' binary structure of the mind
exist and operate in the mind as suggested,
but were also the imprint rather than the origin
of the myths.
The synthesis that arises recognises that mythology
and religion are parts of a single system; that the
ideational input of this system is primarily derived
from experiential or observational evidence, which
subsequently informs and shapes the psychological,
sociological and artistic dimensions of the tradition;
and that this raw content is predominantly supplied
by external or natural observations on one hand and
internal or psychological experiences on the other.
Typically, sensory experiences concerning the external
world of the sky, the atmosphere or the landscape informed
the mythology of origins or creation and the wider cosmological
setting of a belief system. That framework is then modified,
coloured and endowed with an ethical or moral dimension
by the internal experiences of individual human
beings, as in visions obtained by holy men, Near-Death
Experiences (NDEs), and so forth.
In an on-going project, we develop a methodology to
distinguish between traditions based on external, physical
phenomena and on internal, psychological phenomena.
Global motifs embedded in the cycle of creation myths
tend to originate in collective experiences of the physical
world. More isolated motifs, motifs concerning human
souls and ancestors instead of deities, and motifs that
continue to be experienced by individuals today likely
betray a psychological source. The celestial provenance
of the original contents of many creation myths may
account for the remarkable uniformity of human tradition.
Plasma certainly plays a defining role in the physical
half of the equation and may well prove to do so, too,
in the psychological half.
Unlike many previous theories of myth, the interdisciplinary
connection with plasma science adds the invaluable benefit
of testability: controlled laboratory experiments
are capable of testing the theory by replicating structures
presented in myth and traditional art. Another test
might consist in a comparison of the geographic distribution
of specific mythical motifs to the way a hypothetical
natural phenomenon would have manifested to terrestrial
stargazers, allowing for latitude, longitude and altitude,
local climates, the orbital motion of the earth, the
state of the geomagnetic field, solar weather and other
factors possibly involved. This line of investigation
might be referred to as mythogeography.