“What we see and try to understand as natural is the divine“.
It is known that the worldview of our ancestors was permeated by sorcery, understood according to two principles included in the same definition of “sympathetic sorcery”:
–The similar generates the similar, the effect resembles the cause.
–The things that have been at least once in reciprocal contact will continue to influence each other even after the interruption of the physical contact.
Many archaic traditions were clearly permeated by the sorcerous mindset, and it is significant that degenerate residues of it clearly and obstinately survive, still today, in the mental structure of the inhabitants of modern and technological societies, like a sort of insuppressible instinct ready to manifest itself at the first propitious circumstance.
So the sorcerer believed of being able to support, through the application of the principles described above, even the spirits of nature, which consisted in invisible vital essences that governed the cosmic becoming and its cycles, elusive forces that manifested their existence through the effects they caused. The word “spirit” comes from Latin spiritus, with the main meaning of “breath, breathing”, perhaps from PIE*(s)peis- “to blow”, in relation to the fact that the air, simbolically understood as breath, in addition to its fundamental function in the biological processes is also an invisible and intangible force that manifests itself in the material world altering it: analogously the spirits were understood as the sacred breath or blow that caused all the cyclical changes typical of the reality that surrounds us.
If archaically for our ancestors it was the concept of “spirit” what animated and governed the laws of the universal manifestation, it was only after a long time and following a process of spiritual degeneration and atrophy that the concept of “deity” took the upper hand on their worldview. This change of perspective is known as anthropomorphism, a phenomenon consisting in the attribution of an increasing number of human characteristics to the spiritual realities: a clear example of this transition comes to us from Rome, where the numen was over time conceived as deus.
“The numen, unlike the deus (as it was later conceived), is not a being or a person, but a bare force, defining itself with its ability to produce effects, to act, to manifest itself – and the meaning of the real presence of such powers, of such <numina>, as something transcendent and immanent, at the same time marvelous and fearsome, constituted the essence of the original experience of the <sacred>”.
“Compared to the world conceived in terms of <<powers>> and numina, already the world of <<animism>> marks a fall, an attenuation. And this will grow when from the world of the <<souls>> of things and elements we will move on to that of the gods as persons in an objectivistic sense, not as a figurative allusion to non-human states, forces and possibilities. Indeed, when the efficacy of the rite decayed, man was pushed to to give a mythological individuality to those forces that he had previously treated according to simple technical relations or, at best, had conceived as symbols. Later on he conceived them according to his own image, already in itself a limit with respect to the human possibilities; he saw in them more powerful personal beings to which with humility, faith, hope and awe they had by now to turn not even for a protection and a success, but also for a release and for <<health>>.
After all our ancestors knew and understood perfectly, exactly like us today, the cyclical and immutable laws and the certain and regular succession of the cosmic becoming, and they never thought they could manipulate this to their liking: simply, they felt in solidarity with the cosmos and harmoniously participated to the cyclical metamorphoses that characterize it. The cosmos, as well as the human body, is an organism made up of organisms that operate hierarchically and concordantly in order to ensure the harmonic and orderly existence of the organism hierarchically superior to them, which in turn plays an analogous role with respect to an organism that is even higher on the hierarchical scale: this is the correct perspective in which to place oneself in order to understand our role as human beings in relation to what is above us.
When our ancestors began to address each spirit individually, instead of operating in an impersonal and detached way in order to support them, they necessitated to call them by name and ended up idealizing them in anthropomorphic form, giving life to the deities as we still understand them today, each having as attributes the realities (elements, animals, trees, plants, ecc.) that were archaically associated to the corresponding spirit. It is the transition that from the forms of pure spirituality progressively led to the birth of religions (which in turn will experience a downward spiral resulting in the pernicious devotional religions): the spirits became the deities, the sorcerer and sorceress became the priest and priestess, but the traditional worldview permeated by sorcery never completely vanished, that’s way, for example, the Sacred Kings and Queens of Europe ended up impersonating specific deities, respectively the Sky or Sun God and the Earth or Moon Goddess, simply by imitating them, i.e. assuming their names, roles, functions and attributes.