Thursday, February 09, 2006

Necessity and the Orphic creation myth

Going back to the Presocratics and their appeal to the force of Necessity I have read a little more and picked up a thread which leads back to the Orphic Mystery Cult. The Necessity that frequents the Presocratic fragments is actually Ananke/Adrasteia, partner of Khronos in the Orphic Creation Myth. I am aware of the danger of going too far and committing a genetic fallacy here but it is nonetheless interesting to think that any theories which incorporate a concept of necessity, such as the laws of physics, are indebted, in however small a measure, to the secret wisdom of a mystery cult.

A point I wish to make is that, looking back on these stories, we can easily imagine how one may have taken an abstract concept such as 'necessity' and 'personified' it yet we have little reason to favour that interpretation over its opposite, i.e., that the abstract concept of necessity was derived from the story of Ananke. I say this because I will be looking at the Indian origins of causation and it will be interesting to see if they have an exact equivalent of Ananke in their mythos.

This is a brief introduction to the Orphic creation myth, the full article is referenced by a url below.

In the beginning, there was Time, which the Greeks called Chronus or Khronos. This was a period called the Unaging Time, when nothing existed and nothing grew old; indeterminate and (almost) limitless time, which some people would call Aeon. Existing at the same time as Chronus was Adrasteia, or Ananke, meaning "Necessity".

Chronus and Adrasteia combined to create primordial Spirit and Matter, which were called Aether and Chaos. (Hesiod had referred to Aether as the upper atmosphere, where the air was clean and pure; he referred to Aether as male entity, while in the Orphic myth, Aether was seen as female being. Chaos was fathomless void, abyss or the yawning gap. With Hesiod, Chaos was a male primordial being, whereas in Orphic myth, the role had changed.) A third primordial being came out of Time and Necessity, Erebus – "Darkness". Chronus then combined with Aether, or possibly with Chaos and Aether, so the primeval beings caused mists to form and solidify into a Cosmic Egg.

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