Jun 11, 1998 04:13 PM
by K Paul Johnson
In response to Kym's and others' remarks about expectations of
apocalypse, I suggest that there are powerful archetypes in the
collective unconscious that easily take possession of people in
certain circumstances. I just read a marvellously funny and
intelligent novel, Imaginary Friends by Alison Lurie, just
reprinted in paperback. Originally published in 1967, it seems
very contemporary. It's about two sociologists who infiltrate a
UFO cult in the name of science, but end up getting sucked into
the phenomenon they're supposed to be studying. After they join
the group incognito, its teenage prophetess Verena, who channels Ro of
the planet Varga, announces that the Vargans are coming to earth
to transform civilization.
Why is it that prophet after prophet feels compelled to predict
some catastrophic or at least intensely dramatic "end times"
scenario, despite the fact that every previous one has been
totally wrong? Wouldn't you think they'd learn from past
mistakes? Re: my own research, I can't help wondering why Edgar
Cayce, normally someone who gave very sound therapeutic and
spiritual advice to people, occasionally lapsed into
cataclysm-mongering. I lean toward concluding that he was simply
channeling material that wells up in many people under the right
circumstances. Nostradamus, for example, had many catastrophic visions.
Deep down, we all know we're going to die. But we repress that
knowledge, keep it out of consciousness. We also know that this
planet and everything on it will be destroyed someday; another
thing we avoid thinking about. Perhaps 6 billion people
desperately avoiding the thought of their own death, or that of
their planet, forces so much death-anxiety into the
unconscious that it has to well up through archetypal images of
But what's hardest to understand is the joy that some people seem
to take in imagining huge-scale catastrophes befalling humanity.
You get the impression that such folks, some of them Cayceans,
will actually be disappointed if California never slides under
the sea, or atomic war never kills millions of people, or
whatever other predicted catastrophes don't get fulfilled.
Indeed, sometimes I feel alone in discussions with Cayce people
when I say "I certainly hope this is wrong!" Like they would
rather have Cayce proved right than spare millions of lives.
(Note that the ARE leadership has been quite lowkey about the
dramatic predictions, and acts as if it expects nonfulfillment,
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