1. We begin spontaneously in contact with the gods, with the spiritual realm - dwelling immersed-in it; passive to it. Such is early childhood.
2. The gods recede as self-consciousness develops - spiritual specialists begin to be selected from those who have a spontaneous 'gift' for contacting the gods and spirits: shamanism among 'animistic' hunter-gatherers.
3. As well as selection, there is a period of training (or 'initiation') leading to a profession of god-spirit specialists: the priesthood among the 'totemic' religions of agriculturalists (including herders).*
4. Self-consciousness reaches a maximum and the gods and spirit realm become inaccessible: the alienation of modern materialism.
5. The conscious-self deliberately-chooses, again-spontaneously, to interact with gods and spirit beings: this is Final Participation (the aim of Romantic Christianity).
*Totemism is what most modern people know as 'traditional religion - that which grew and reached its peak among literate agriculturalists; indeed some would assume that this is the only 'real' religion since the founders of the great world religions all emerged in agrarian societies. Yet such religion - although better than the alienation of materialism - is far from wholly-satisfactory. Its basic stance is one of an intrinsically hostile world, with hostile gods and spiritual beings that require appeasement; and this appeasement can only come from a 'priesthood'. Therefore, there is absolute dependence on priests to avert the innate malevolence of reality. The laity may crave contact with the gods and spirits, but the deities are leaving man's consciousness because in order to gain freedom consciousness is creating a barrier against direct perception and knowledge. The state of absolute dependence on an organised and initiated priesthood leads to growing-child-/parent-like state of resentment and superiority variably mixed-with gratitude and an ethic of service. In such a situation of at-least-partial hostility, religion often darkens as self-consciousness increases: religion becomes based around the management of fear.
Totemic religion exists on a continuum of structural rigidity in the definition of the priesthood. At the more rigid end, access to the priesthood is restricted in ways that are mainly geared towards protecting the economic benefits enjoyed by the priest, while at the looser end the priesthood is largely similar to shamanism.
Our experience of traditional religion mostly being at the far end where the priesthood is basically an ultimate closed-shop protectionist monopoly, and drawing a direct line back to the other end of the continuum where it touches shamanic spirituality, we assume that the entire course of traditional religion are a straightforward progress of monopolization for economic security.
That is incorrect. God is also a priest. The gods are all good (in some way), but not all are friends to humanity, and there are beings other than gods. Including the ultimate evil over which one can even argue whether it is a being as such, since it has no positive existence, but exists as the logical necessity of the impossibility of the pervasiveness of 'good'. That is, all gods fulfill desire (though not always human desires), but must do so against the background of a fundamental unresponsiveness of reality to desire. It is not enough to desire, one must do, and what one must do is often counterintuitive. So even among entities that desire, they may not be able to fulfill desires (even their own, let alone for anyone else), and in fact most don't.
The fact of incapacity to fulfill desires means that effective spirituality has always been under the necessity of a system of credentialization. In infancy, the child does not participate in discerning 'good' entities from 'bad' ones. That is carried out by the authorized agents of the good of the child (hopefully parents). But growth from infancy requires that the child develop autonomy in this discernment.
The initial basis is cognition of 'nice' and 'nasty', an immediate impression of whether an entity is 'good' or 'bad' in the immediate perception of the child's nascent sense of ordinate desires. But there is a strong element of superficiality in this. Clinical narcissists are largely incapable of seeming "nice" to small children (or animals), and so many people attribute superlative powers of perception to children and animals. But really, it is simply that they ignore the 'distraction' of intermediate utility that adults can see in having dealings with someone who does not have an enjoyable personality so as to gain access to something that person has for 'adult reasons' (property law, business connections, political influence, etc.).
Psychopaths, on the other hand, are often exceptionally charming to both children and animals, because unlike narcissists (who are exclusively concerned with their own desires), psychopaths care very much about the desires of others, because without knowing those desires they cannot engaged in the active sabotage of them nor enjoy the resulting despair.
Psychopaths are real. They do exist. And the vast majority of beings that could be characterized as essentially psychopathic are not human.
Shamanism is wholly insufficient for dealing with that reality.
Then again, so is contemporary 'traditional religion', in which the priesthood has largely been taken over and exploited by psychopaths for their own ends. But the insufficiency of shamanism is structural, the system of credentialization doesn't really exist. Whereas the system of credentialization in traditional religion developed originally to distinguish that which was capable of satisfying desires from that which would only frustrate them, the corruption comes later.
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