“THE GREATEST OF ALL THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF 20TH-CENTURY SCIENCE has been the discovery of human ignorance.” Lewis Thomas, Lives of a Cell. “OUR IGNORANCE, OF COURSE, HAS ALWAYS BEEN WITH US, AND ALWAYS WILL BE. What is new is our awareness of it, our awakening to its fathomless dimensions, and it is this, more than anything else, that marks the coming of age of our species.” Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Eve, the Original Human

The archetype of the Great Goddess calls to mind a truth from the field of embryology: The female form is the primary biological form, the template of all vertebrate embryos. That is, every male body develops from a modification of the primary biological form, which is female. If this conversion from female to male is blocked for any reasons, the fetus does not change from its basic form, and is born as a female, by default. Sterile, to be sure, but morphologically female.

In the case of human beings, between the fifth and seventh week after conception, embryos of either sex develop generic gonads that later become either ovaries or testicles. If these generic sex cells are removed from a female embryo, the baby will still be born a female; completely female in outward appearance, but sterile because of the lack of uterus and ovaries.

What is more fascinating, if you remove the generic sex cells of a normal male fetus, the baby also will be born as a sterile female, vagina included. Therefore, the female form is recognized as biologically innate. This fact applies not only to all mammals, but as well to all fish, reptiles, amphibians and birds: All vertebrate embryos are intrinsically female.

To further illustrate this female-to-male conversion process in the case of human embryos, let us examine what happens naturally (if you do not tamper with the generic sex cells). In the case of a male embryo, the generic gonads begin turning into testes around the eighth week; otherwise, they begin turning into ovaries around the thirteenth week. Nothing is needed for them to change into ovaries—they do that by default. However, something has to intervene—genes on the Y-chromosome—to make the gonads change into testes.

Many things can go askew in the transformation process. Such accidents lead to genetic males, called pseudohermaphrodites, who show a mix of incomplete male and incomplete female structures.

In fact, there is one type of genetic male who perfectly resembles a woman. No chest hair or masculine build, no deep voice, and of course, no penis. They are missing a cell receptor for testosterone, so although they have internal testicles making normal serum levels of male hormone, they never grow any of the male equipment that depends on that hormone for development. The “girl” does not suspect any abnormality until she reaches puberty and worries, “How come I’m not menstruating?” A trip to the doctor leads to the discovery that she has no female internal organs, just a vagina that dead-ends, and testicles hidden in the abdomen, where the ovaries belong.

As it happens, these blocked-androgen-receptor males tend to be strikingly beautiful “women.” They have got the long-legged height of males, large breasts and flawless skin (testosterone is a major cause of oily skin and acne). According to my research in a number of medical journals, more than a few pseudohermaphrodites have turned up among female fashion models!

Androgen-blocked males nearly always choose to continue their lives as women. They often get married to men and raise adopted kids, as the mom. Without the receptor for testosterone they are women, by default.

Devotees of Devi will be tempted to interpret this fact of nature—that the female form is the fundamental embryonic form—as scientific evidence of the primacy of the Goddess. A psychological analysis might ask, does this biological principle (in some deeply subconscious way) give rise to the Goddess archetype? In either case, every male vertebrate on this planet has been developed from the female template, not the other way around!


The interrobang is a nonstandard punctuation mark that superimposes a question mark (also called the interrogative point) and exclamation point (called, in printer’s jargon, a “bang”). It is a humorous symbol for The Way of Wonder, for it pairs the meanings/values of Wonder (?) and Radiance (!), Mystery and Power, Freedom and Love, Shiva and Shakti—the archetypal Complements. 

Aspects of This Moment

IS (Now-Ever Present)
BRIGHT (Illuminated, All-Light, All-Power)
INEXHAUSTIBLE (Eternal, and beyond time; cannot be depleted.)
COMPLETE (Unbroken, Unbreakable, Irreducible. Cannot be added to or subtracted from.)
ALL-GIVEN (Spontaneously arising.)
SURPRISING (Not memory, not imagination. Astonishing!)
OPEN (No object, no entity—no separated “I” and no “other.”)
UNCREATED/INDESTRUCTIBLE (Cannot be annihilated or even diminished.)
NO KNOWING (Only do not know.)
NO GAINING (Never can grab hold and keep.)

NO DILEMMA (No opponent. No alternative. No war.)

Yahweh, or the Highway!

“No matter where you touched this God, he bellowed. If you said a kind word to him he lifted his fist and shouted, ‘I want meat!’ If you offered a lamb or your firstborn son as a sacrifice, he screamed, ‘I don't want meat. Do not rend your clothes; rend your hearts. Turn your flesh into spirit, your spirit into prayer, and scatter it to the winds!’” (Nikos Kazantzakis The Last Temptation)

I Am a Mystery, and the Mystery Is Bright

I am a pantheist. As such, I am a student of human cultures, but even more a lover of the wilderness that supports and informs human culture. I am a pragmatic phenomenologist (i.e., a scientist). I am a trans-rational (but not irrational or anti-rational) mystic. I am not a believer; I do not mistake mythologies, imaginings, and pseudo-sciences for reality.

I am a Mystery (I am even The Mystery), and The Mystery is irreducibly whole and inexhaustibly bright. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Note to Narcissus

When you gaze into a mirror you see reflected a surface image that is merely a tiny fraction of your completeness. Don’t get stuck on the image in the mirror.