Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

Two Past Life Regressions From This Book I'm Reading That made Me Go "Hang On A Minute"

1. A young man from the country gets lured into living the fast life in Pompeii and then- when he's killed in the eruption- is afraid to move onto the astral because of his fear of hellfire.

2. A young shaman (period unspecified) prepares to take a leading part in a solstice ritual at Stonehenge, only to have a Viking raiding party spoil everything by executing him in a ritual of their own.

But- I thought to myself- would a young Roman have shared the beliefs of a medieval Christian and was Stonehenge still a ritual site at the time of the Viking incursions?

In both cases my instinct- based on nothing more than a vague impression of the two historical periods- was to shake my head. But then I did some thinking and some reading- and swung round 90 degrees. Actually both are entirely plausible.

1. So where do you think the Christians got their doctrine of hellfire from? Why, from the cultures that surrounded them, of course. Many classical writers- from Aristotle to St Augustine (of all people) talk of hell as having been invented in the dim and distant past by the then power elite as a way of keeping the lower class in order. They are united in regarding this as a wizard wheeze though, of course, they don't believe in the fables themselves. Therefore an unsophisticated Roman  country boy in AD79 could well have imagined that his gambling and drinking would land him in hell- only he wouldn't have called it that; he'd have called it Tartarus.

2. Historians assume that Stonehenge had fallen out of use by the time of the Roman invasion but it's only an assumption. In 1999 a skeleton buried at the henge during the Roman or Anglo-Saxon periods (dating very approximate) was found to have been decapitated- which raises the possibility that the place continued to be used- at the very least as an execution site- well into the Christian era.

The larger point is that most of what we think we know about the past (especially the distant past) is an assumption based on scanty evidence. For the Romans we have archaeology and a few elite authors, for Stonehenge- through all of its active history- we only have archaeology. How did a Roman country boy think? Such people have left no record. What was Stonehenge all about? Nobody- but nobody- knows.

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