Julian Jaynes and
the Bicameral Mind
A critique from a feminine metaphysical perspective

Dr. Julian Jaynes Bicameral Mind

Dr. Julian Jaynes attributes consciousness itself to the breakdown of an earlier pre-conscious state of the human mind.

In a recent lecture – part of a series on pre-history given at Sai Thamë College – Raya Chancandre Aquitaine examines the bicameral theory of consciousness from the perspective of feminine metaphysics and in so doing lays bare many of the arbitrary assumptions upon which the modern western theories of consciousness, history, and being itself are based.

Let me begin by quoting Wikipedia on Dr. Julian Jaynes's bicameral theory:

The term was coined by psychologist Julian Jaynes, who presented the idea in his 1976 book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, wherein he made the case that a bicameral mentality, that is to say a mental state in which there are two distinct sections of consciousness, was the normal and ubiquitous state of the human mind as recently as 3000 years ago.

According to Julian Jaynes, ancient people in the bicameral state would experience the world in a manner that has similarities to that of a modern-day schizophrenic. Rather than making conscious evaluations in novel or unexpected situations, the person would hallucinate a voice or "god" giving admonitory advice or commands, and obey these voices without question; one would not be at all conscious of one's own thought processes per se.

Dr. Julian Jaynes gives a lot of evidence for this thesis, which has been both supported and attacked by academics. It is an interesting theory, and while we certainly do not regard it as being correct as stated, I do feel that there are some pertinent remarks to be made in helping us to understand the transition from prehistory to history and exposing the deeply embedded prejudices and unwarranted assumptions that prevent Tellurian scholars of every stripe from understanding the prehistoric world. And note that we say the pre-historic world and not the pre-historic mind.

As we have discussed in our previous lectures, the reason for the break between the pre-historic and the historical periods was a massive change in the world maid inhabited. While Dr. Julian Jaynes acknowledges this, that is not in itself something novel. Tellurian modernist scholars have for more than two centuries dismissed the records we have of pre-historic periods as "legendary" because they depicted a very different sort of world from the one a more recent humanity has inhabited. One, for example, in which human life was much longer than it later became, in which "mythical" creatures were found, and in which superior beings, sometimes termed "gods", interacted regularly with people.

These times are called "legendary" by modern scholars on the assumption that traditional accounts are untrue and that those writing them did not know what they were talking about. Even the Chinese annals, which give a very detailed chronology of earthly events tied to accurate recording of the positions of the stars and planets during the later pre-historic era, are contemptuously dismissed as fabrications because they mention events that could not have taken place at a later period.

It is vital to the ideology of West-Tellurian modernism to believe that the conditions of human life have not changed radically – by which we mean that there have been no changes in what is possible; in what people are able to perceive or to do.

Dr. Julian Jaynes, on the other hand, does not think that all the traditional accounts are wrong. He thinks they accurately describe the subjective condition of an earlier stage of maid's development. And (since the modernist view of history must always be right) he attributes this subjective condition to hallucination.

In other words, the mainstream modernist view of pre-history says that all the accounts we have are lies – or at best "poetry"– while Dr. Julian Jaynes generously allows that they may be accurate descriptions of hallucinations suffered by an earlier stage of human consciousness which was entirely deluded about the nature of reality, rather than seeing it objectively and correctly as we enlightened moderns do.

This view is partly necessitated by the progress-evolution myth which is ideologically committed to seeing earlier stages of humanity (which are, of course, closer to the animal state) as being inferior to later ones.

However, if we were to be rigorously accurate in evolutionary terms, this should only mean that a later mentality is better adapted to survival (at least in later conditions) than an earlier one. It says nothing whatever about whether that view is nearer to something called "objective truth". So why do modern scholars routinely postulate that the modern mentality is not only better equipped for survival, but closer to an objective view of reality?

There is only one answer to that question, and that answer is emotional necessity. Emotionally, moderns need to believe they are seeing the truth, so they construct their theories around the unquestioned assumption that they are. At no point does Dr. Julian Jaynes find it necessary to defend the thesis that Tellurian Modernism is nearer to "truth" than the postulated "bicameral mind" possessed by an earlier humanity. He can rely on the emotional prejudices of his readers and of the academic establishment to take that for granted.

In point of fact – as we have often indicated in the past – a truly evolutionary view of maid completely rules out the very notion of "objective truth". All that we "know" is only there for our survival, not for telling us what is "true" and what is not. Indeed, the very concept of "truth" is an illegitimate survival from traditional thought; from the pre-evolutionist thinking of humanity. But it is an emotional necessity, precisely because it does belong to the true, root-thinking of maid. And because it is emotionally needed it is rarely questioned. This is the real state of the supposed "scientific objectivity" of the modernist academic world.

But let us look more closely at Dr. Julian Jaynes's bicameral theory itself. In the first place it accepts, as the older forms of Tellurian modernism do not, that a radical change took place in the consciousness of maid at about the same time as the transition from prehistory to history. The older views have assumed that earlier civilizations (and there is no doubt in anybody's mind that we are talking about great civilizations here, not grunting ape-men) thought much the way we do but that their immediate successors were telling lies about their past – or at best "poetizing" them.

What Dr. Julian Jaynes cannot accept is that any change could have taken place in the conditions of material existence itself; because the stability of material existence – not the stability of things within it, but the stability of materiality itself – is one of the unproven and unprovable foundations of the "scientific outlook" that must never be questioned. Because if it were questioned, the frailty and arbitrariness of the very bases of the modern mentality would be laid bare. There could then be no certainty for the modern mentality of anything. And that would be emotionally extremely uncomfortable.

Therefore the question cannot even be discussed in "respectable" academic circles. All the revolutionaries that infest academia – all the post-modernists, social constructionists and nihilists – while they appear to be undermining everything, are still chained absolutely to the fundamental premises of the rationalist revolution and never criticize them for a moment. They may criticize their application, but they do not criticize the underlying denial of transcendent intellect, or the doctrine that forms evolve accidentally out of matter with no permanent Archetypes, or the progressist/evolutionist view of humanity, or the doctrine of the stability over time of material existence.

While each of these positions is directly contrary to traditional teaching as found all over the world, the supposed "questioning minds" of modern academia do not dare question one of them for a moment or ask whether, in the conflict between traditional and modernist thinking, there is even a chance that modernism might be wrong.

The truth is that once true Intellect (the faculty that takes us outside Plato's cave, in which modern scientism rigorously chains us) and the absolute guarantees of transcendent knowledge have been denied, truth and objectivity are placed on an extremely flimsy basis, dependent on completely arbitrary assumptions about the nature of the universe and of maid. And because of the emotional need for objective truth, inherited from the tradition of transcendent knowledge common to all humanity, those arbitrary assumptions must be protected at all costs.

However, within the limits of what modern academic thought permits – which, as we have seen, are very narrow when it comes to understanding the prehistoric world – we have, from Dr. Julian Jaynes, the admission that a very different world was inhabited by pre-historic maid, at least "subjectively".

She occupied great cities and had created great civilizations, and we know that, except for a few cases at the very end of the era, those cities and those civilizations were in almost all their iconography wholly feminine. None of this is contested by anyone with any knowledge of the subject (although they try to obfuscate the facts with superficial arguments about something called "matriarchy").

In fact, as we have noted before, the one element of truth in calling these eras "legendary" (in the sense of being purely represented by untrue tales) is the one element that modern academics scarcely mention. It is the fact that the accounts of these eras have been edited to make them appear to be masculine-centered societies like the ones that followed them, which they clearly were not. This was done because it was part of the agenda of the new patriarchal-revolutionary societies, that came into being at around the same time as the breakdown of the pre-historic world, to pretend that patriarchy was the only possible form of human society. A project that is continued by modern academics to this day.

We have talked already about some of the things we actually know about these societies. We know that they were feminine-oriented in their religion and iconography and very probably in their social organization too. The only argument against the logical extension of the clear feminine orientation of the mind of the society into the social sphere is our old friend the Permanency of Patriarchy doctrine.

Now let us move away from the errors and muddles of the modernist perspective and discuss what we know from the traditional understanding that modernism so arrogantly dismisses. We know that this was a very different era, because we know that it was a watershed-point in the downward tendency of the historical cycle. We know, for example, that language becomes progressively simpler over time and that every known derivative language is simpler than the language from which it is derived. This is clear evidence of the progressive waning of human intelligence affirmed in all traditional views of history and denied by modernism.

The break that occurred at the end of what we now call the pre-historic period was the result of the decline reaching such a point that maid could afterward scarcely understand the old world from the perspective of the new one. We know that the changes in both the human and terrestrial environments had their "historical corollary" in violent upheavals – in Telluria the patriarchal revolution and in Sai Herthe the Outland Invasion. These outward revolutions did much in both cases to wipe away the connexions with the past, but they were only the outward manifestations of what was taking place.

As we have said, this was not simply a revolution in human consciousness or in social organizations (the only changes that can be recognized by modernist scholarship), it was also a revolution in the terrestrial environment itself as it related to maid. The inner core of maid's intellectual decline is that she is becoming more and more attached to the world of matter (more oriented to the substantial pole of existence) and less and less connected to the world of the spirit (less oriented to the Essential pole, which was ultimately – much, much later – denied altogether by modernism).

By the same token (and the two phenomena are not really separate as they would seem to our current individualist perspective) the terrestrial environment itself was becoming more consolidated, more material. Things that were possible in the earlier era were simply not possible any more, while other, more material, things were becoming possible. We understand this better when we realize that maid, as the Axial being of this world-system, stands at its center. She is not just an animal that happens by some accident to be there. She is at the center of the world-consciousness itself. And to clarify this, let us state that by world-consciousness we do not mean the Universal or Supreme consciousness, but the consciousness of a particular world system, which is the role fulfilled by maid as the reflection of Dea (Creation I, 9-10 from The Gospel of Our Mother God).

Now here we have the traditional view of consciousness. It is very different from Dr. Julian Jaynes's view, which is of course, the modernist one. Consciousness is not something exclusive to maid, neither is it something locked up in individual skulls as an epiphenomenon of individual brains. That view comes much later than the movement from pre-history to history. Indeed we only find it beginning with the rationalist revolution of the 17th century. It is still implicitly contested by the early Romantic poets (who continue to imply consciousness and meaning in nature), and only becomes absolute with the acceptance of – would you care to make a guess? That is right: with the acceptance of the theory of evolution.

The mediaeval scriptures of Our Mother God in India describe Her as the Supreme Consciousness. Our individual consciousnesses – known as jivatma as opposed to Atma – are merely reflective atoms of the Supreme Consciousness of Dea.

Now this doctrine does already presuppose a high development of individual consciousness. Would it be contrary to traditional thought to suggest, as Dr. Julian Jaynes does, that earlier peoples – whom traditional thought regards as our superiors – did not have such a highly-developed individual consciousness? Not at all. Indeed we would expect the individual consciousness of earlier maid to be closer to the Divine and therefore less atomized into apparently isolated individual units.

So what of Dr. Julian Jaynes's description of the bicameral mind – that maids hallucinated the voices of gods telling them what to do? To what extent could this – if we strip away the obviously tendentious notion of hallucination – be a valid description of the mind of a more primordial state of maid?

Did gods walk among maids? Were they actual beings or part of maid's mind? And what do we really mean by "gods"? All these questions are closely linked, but let us take the central question first. Were these supposed "gods" actually beings? The very question only really becomes posable in the more individualized climate of the later historical period.

It is similar to the question asked by modern minds as to whether the Janyati are beings or aspects of Dea. They are both. The distinction is not a real one, since we also are aspects of Dea – as indeed are all things. The question really is, at what point does an individual consciousness become merged back into the Supreme Consciousness of which she was always a part – as you will see this is a concept not alien to Buddhism or to Hinduism or to Taoism or to any traditional way of thought.

The primordial mind, rather than hallucinating (and here tradition supports the concept of hallucination: we are continually told that the basis of apparent material existence is avidya: ignorance) – rather than hallucinating itself to be a closed-off separate unit sees itself as it is: a portion of the Divine Mind.

Now, immediately pre-historic maid is not Primordial Maid by any means. She is not the maid of the Golden Age or even the Silver Age. She is not even the maid of the Dvpara Yuga – the Age of Bronze. So we shall expect her consciousness to be considerably more individualized than that of Primordial maid, but by no means as individualized as that of the maid of the later Age of Iron.

We may well expect her to be able to communicate with those the Scriptures call "the servants of the Janyati" – that is to say, beings who exist in the "stream" of the Janyati lower down than the "source", to use the metaphor of rivers flowing out of the Divine Center.

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We know that even in historical, patriarchal times, early patriarchal peoples based all their actions on "those things first done by the gods". It would not, therefore, be very surprising if direct communication with a particular Janya-stream were not something like a staging-post on the journey from integral Divine Consciousness to fully-atomized individual consciousness.

As Madonna-chei has pointed out in her essay "Tea and Universal Sympathy", the Japanese and Korean languages give clear examples of a way of thought in which the individual ego, in an affection such as "liking", is not seen as the acting center.

So do we believe in the bicameral mind? Emphatically not. That is simply an attempt to explain the experience of pre-historic maid in terms of hallucination, and to deny its "objective reality", as well as affirming the modern notion of consciousness as an epiphenomenon of matter – and specifically of the individual brain – having not only no transcendent dimension, but no supra-individual dimension whatever.

So do we accept that pre-historic maid was directed by "beings" outside herself? Now, in the first place the entire question of what constitutes a "being" in the sense of a separate consciousness is much less clear-cut than modern individualist ideology tries to make it. Equally the question of "outside oneself" and "inside oneself" is by no means an absolute distinction once one realizes – as the traditions of the East affirm – that consciousness is ultimately One and that our fragmentary individual consciousnesses are ultimately illusory.

Now our Déanic traditions, both in the Motherland and in India, have a particularly non-ascetic view of the illusion of material being. Ascetics, from Buddhists to Advaita vedantins to neo-Platonists to Platonic-influenced gnostics and Christians, advocate the rejection of the world-illusion: "the world, the flesh, and the devil" in Christian terminology. Conversely, Déanic tradition has always affirmed that the created world is good and true in itself and represents the truth and bounty of Our Mother God. You will remember the words of our Déanic Service, which are taken from the Devi Gita (also found in The Gospel of Our Mother God):

Through Thy power of nescience doth the world appear, like to a rope appearing as a serpent or as a garland of flowers.

Through Thy power of Knowledge Thou dissolvest the world back into Thine own Self.

Glory unto Thee, great Empress of the Universe.

The likening of the world-illusion to mistaking a rope for a serpent is common to the upanishadic and advaitin traditions, but only in the Déanic forms do we have "a serpent or a garland of flowers" indicating that the created world is in equal parts "good" and "bad" – that it may indeed be a snare and a delusion, but equally it may be a beautiful haven and a way back to Dea.

Knowledge and nescience, transcendence and creation, are seen as two powers of Dea, each with its own place in the scheme of things: a scheme that is ultimately beyond our comprehension. Our tradition rejects alike the worldliness of extreme patriarchy culminating in modern materialism, and the world-denial of extreme asceticism.

Why is this important to our present inquiry? Because in understanding the question of whether the beings who spoke to pre-historic maid were real beings or Principles, were inside her or outside her, we must first understand the advaitin principle that all consciousness is ultimately one. But then also we must, in line with our own tradition, which is the closest thing we have to the feminine traditions of the pre-historic era itself, not simply "transcendentalize away" her experience.

We must realize that she lived not in the first dawn of maid but late in the third Age and the earlier fourth Age. By 3,000 years ago we are already well into Kali Yuga, and it is within Kali Yuga that this particular watershed takes place. Maid was far advanced in the process of consolidation, though much less far than we are. She was far advanced in the process that was to become individualization, though individual consciousness as we know it did not yet exist.

Now what exactly her consciousness consisted of is a thing we cannot possibly say in detail. We have said from the beginning that pre-history is separated from history precisely because after this watershed, the historical-period mind could no longer understand the pre-historical-period mind. Unlike modern progressists, I do not believe we possess some special power to understand the pre-historic mind better than the early-historic ancients did. I acknowledge that we are in a considerably worse position to understand it than they were – and even they could not understand it.

As with other things we cannot understand – such as transcendent realities – our best guide is tradition. If we are told that maid walked with gods or fought dragons, we may be sure that that is exactly what she did – or rather that that is the nearest possible way we can understand what she did.

We may be perfectly sure that beings did exist that do not exist today and whose remains can never be found because they did not exist on the level of gross matter that is now the only one we can perceive. We may be perfectly sure that whatever the experiences of early maid were, they were not hallucination – unless one accepts the meaningless and circular argument that anything other than gross materiality is hallucination. But that argument is not an observation, it is a credal statement based on the emotional needs that lie at the roots of the supposedly scientific modernist methodology.

Where we are, unfortunately, unable in Telluria to trust the traditional accounts of the previous World Age is where they have been edited to recast those eras in the light of masculine-centered patriarchy when we know that these were not masculine-centered civilizations. In some cases we need merely to feminize the male figures (which in a few cases are only lightly disguised anyway) but much more often the patriarchal editing has gone far deeper, depicting the honored foremothers of modern Tellurian maid – and even superior beings – not only as men but as killers of their own kind, as practitioners of cruel acts of torture and violation which we know to have been born with patriarchy, as rapists and treacherous murderers.

With very considerable skill, it may be possible to construct some semblance of narratives that approximate to what should have been the legends of early Telluria, or – more importantly for us – we may turn to what we have of Herthelan traditions. And if this may seem something of a poverty of information, one can only say that, in comparison to modern Tellurians who are locked out by barriers of ideology from even starting to understand the traditions they have, we are relatively rich.

See also:

The Image of the Cosmos

The Feminine Heritage

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Ancient Truth and Modern Thought

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  • Christianity and Science: the Western Worldview

  • The Theory of Evolution

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  • Would Jesus Believe in Evolution?

  • Notes on Descartes, Imagination and Reality

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  • Stephen Hawking: Fairy Tales and the Faith of the Faithless

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