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Open letter to science editors


Roger Williams Wescott

The assigned title of my oral presentation to the 1994 Kronia Symposium was
"Velikovsky: The Big Picture." In it, I called attention to the etymological
fact that Immanuel Velikovsky's surname is a patronymic derivative of the
Russian adjective velik, "great." This Slavic word, in turn, comes, by way of
Proto-Indo-European, from a reconstructed Nostratic root *wal-, "strong."
Among the English derivatives of this root are three words that come to us
through Latin (rather than through early Germanic): valor, value, and
validity. This lexical material gives us even more reason-if more is needed-
to esteem Velikovsky's scholarly valor and to assert both the spiritual value
and the scientific validity of his work.

During the early days of the United States' National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, its Research Director, Tom Paine (a lineal descendant of the
Revolutionary pamphleteer), declared his intention to hire only what he
called "T-men." By this, he meant personnel who were simultaneously deep in
one discipline and broad in a range of disciplines. Paine's criterion, I
think, is applicable to experts in more than rocketry. One could extend it
to all investigatory enterprises. And, doing so, one would find Velikovsky to
epitomize the T-man ideal. As a specialist, he was in the forefront of
psychiatric exploration, having been the first to postulate the electrical
nature of epilepsy. Yet, as a generalist, he spanned the academic spectrum
from physical science to global mythology.

Turning again to etymology, I see significance in the fact that the literal
meanings of the two Greek-derived words physicist and physician are the same;
both mean "naturist," or one who studies nature in order to deal more
effectively with it. Velikovsky was not only a scientist in the contemporary
sense but also a natural philosopher in the Renaissance sense-naturally
philosophical and philosophically nature-oriented.

It is virtually a truism to say that Velikovsky was a cross-disciplinary
scholar. But it may not be realized that he was cross-disciplinary in each
of three somewhat different senses: First, he was multi-disciplinary. He
worked in the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities.
Second, he was inter-disciplinary. He worked productively in the interface
between sciences. Since psychiatry is the interface between psychology and
medicine, he had to be thoroughly conversant (as he was) with both fields in
order to build serviceable bridges between them. And third, he was trans-
disciplinary. That is, he developed an overarching perspective on the
various disciplines in which he was unavoidably involved. This perspective,
which transcended the topical viewpoints of the disciplines themselves, was
the catastrophist paradigm, based on the assumption that ancient disruptions
of a previously long-established order had transformed all aspects of human
life on earth.

Before proceeding to put catastrophism itself in perspective, let us briefly
face a problem that no discussion of Velikovsky's thought can long avoid; and
this is the fact that Velikovsky himself is widely regarded as a pseudo-
scientist and his exposition of pre-Achaemenid history and evolution as
unscientific. Why is this? The reason for his stigmatization, I believe, is
scholarly parochialism-the growing tendency in most disciplines, but
especially the more prestigious natural sciences, to identify the discipline
itself with the most recent school of thought within the discipline. In the
earth sciences, for example, geologists have tended since the 1960's to
equate "scientific" geology with plate tectonics (which assumes gradual
continental drift). Prior to the 1960's, however, the decades-old theory of
continental drift was widely regarded as pseudo-science. To a student of
comparative paradigmatics, the most that could be said about the scientific
status of continental drift is that, having been intellectually
unfashionable, it had become fashionable.

The theory of continental drift, introduced by meteorologist Alfred Wegener
before World War I, took a half century to become an accepted "scientific"
paradigm. Velikovskian theory, introduced during and after World War II,
remains under a half-century cloud. Yet Velikovskians may well be justified in
expecting that, by the turn of the century, Velikovskian ideas will
analogously attain scientific acceptance.

In any case, much of what my fellow symposiasts and I are doing, both orally
and in writing, is supplying what might be referred to as "footnotes to
Velikovsky." By so doing, however, we are in no way demeaning ourselves or
confessing to a lack of originality. For it has been repeatedly maintained
that most of European philosophy since the Age of Alexander has consisted of
"footnotes to Plato." Even if we include in the Velikovskian corpus not only
Velikovsky's published writings but also his unpublished manuscripts, that
corpus, large as it is, is only a fragment of the Velikovskiana that could and
should yet flow from many pens.


On the other hand, even among Europe's idealist philosophers, there are
thinkers whose ideas are other than Plato's. Cartesian and Kantian concepts
stretch the Platonic mold. By the same token, there are non-uniformitarian
ways of thinking that either anticipate or go beyond those of Velikovsky. As
William Mullen points out , there are varieties of catastrophism.

The two types of catastrophism distinguished by Mullen are:
palaeocatastrophism and caenocatastrophism . Palaeocatastrophism is the
theory that, although our planet has undergone disruptions of global extent,
none of these disruptions have occurred since the appearance of human beings.
Caenocatastrophism is the theory that global disruptions have occurred within
the memory of mankind. Palaeocatastrophism, though long out of favor, has
made an undeniable come-back in recent years as a consequence of the Alvarez
theory that a late Cretaceous asteroid strike brought about the extinction of
the dinosaurs and related fauna . Caenocatastrophism, however, has yet to
regain the acceptability that it enjoyed in the 18th century.

To the temporal distinction between palaeocatastrophism and
caenocatastrophism, I would like to add an etiological distinction between
endocatastrophism and exocatastrophism. Endocatastrophism is the theory, set
forth by Brendan Stannard , that global disruptions-at least those which have
occurred within human memory-have been produced solely by processes, such as
seismicity, internal to the earth itself. Exocatastrophism is the theory,
dating back at least to the time Giordano Bruno, that whatever global
disruptions have occurred were due exclusively to forces external to our
planet .

Of these four types of catastrophism, one at least has subtypes. For,
theoretically at any rate, exocatastrophism could itself be any one of the

1. planetary
2. asteroidal
3. cometary
4. meteoric

In practice, however, subplanetary bodies such as asteroids, comets, and
meteors are difficult to distinguish. I will therefore take Victor Clube as
representative of all three subtypes of non-planetary catastrophism .

In terms of the preceding distinctions, some of which cross-cut one another,
Velikovsky may be classified as a planetary caenocatastrophist.

Recognizing, then, that catastrophism has many varieties, I am nonetheless
dissatisfied with the term catastrophism as a blanket antonym to
uniformitarianism (or uniformism, for short). For uniformism itself has at
least two major conceptual components: gradualism and actualism. Gradualism
is probably best represented by Charles Darwin's geological mentor Charles
Lyell. Actualism is perhaps best represented by Lyell's older contemporary,
the German geologist Leopold von Buch .

Catastrophism, as I understand the term, should not be placed in opposition to
uniformism generally but only to one of its two components-viz., actualism,
which is the theory that the forces which shaped our planet and its
inhabitants in the past are the same as those which are shaping it today. For
the other component, gradualism, another antithesis should, I think, be
postulated. The term which I prefer as the antonym to gradualism (the theory
that major planetary changes occur so slowly as to be undetectable within a
life-time) is saltationism. Saltationism was the term used by Thomas Huxley
for evolution at a discontinuous rate, sometimes rapid and sometimes not .
Although the term preferred by Stephen Gould for such evolution in spurts is
punctuationism . I feel that the common rules of terminological priority
require us to honor Huxley's earlier usage.

The most dramatic manifestation of global catastrophe is probably biotic
extinction, as exemplified by the relatively sudden disappearance of the
Pleistocene megafanna, notably mammoths and mastodons. The most dramatic
manifestation of its converse is, of course, speciation, as exemplified by the
relatively sudden appearance of the Pleistocene genus Homo, to which our
modern human species belongs . While it is true that Velikovsky sought to
differentiate speciation from biotic catastrophe by referring to the former as
"cataclysmic evolution," it seems to me that cataclysm is no less negative in
connotation than catastrophe. For, in both words, the prefix cata- has the
literal meaning "down." In discussing the creation of new species and
genera, our need is for vocabulary that suggests rising rather than falling.
I therefore prefer resuscitation and employment of Huxley's regrettably
neglected term saltation to describe positive and creative evolutionary
developments. Accordingly, I would depict the relations between the above
terms as below:

uniformism | quantalism
gradualism | saltationism
actualism | catastrophism

Where gradualism emphasizes incremental change, saltationism emphasizes abrupt
change. And, where actualism emphasizes constancy of condition,
catastrophism emphasizes mutability of condition.

Quantalism, obviously, subsumes saltationism and catastrophism in the same way
that uniformism subsumes gradualism and actualism. But what is its
terminological source? I employed it orally in a number of presentations to
the Society for Historical Research and the Canadian Society for
Interdisciplinary Studies to designate adherence to the hypothesis which some
Velikovskians, in an effort to avoid the devolutionary aura of the phrase
cataclysmic evolution, called "quantum evolution." Ultimately, the quantal
concept derives from the Quantum Theory of Max Planck and other physicists,
who referred to photons and comparable units of energy as being "quantized"-
that is, occurring as discrete packets rather than as gradient emanations.

Quantalism, however, is not conceptually restricted to the physical sciences.
It plays a part in the life sciences, the social sciences, and what some
continental European scholars call the "spiritual sciences" (humanities and
religious studies). In zoology, the term species itself is quantal, in the
sense that, genetically-and hence operationally-speaking, every animal can be
unambiguously assigned to a species and no animal falls between species. In
this sense, species contrast with subspecies, such as human races or canine
breeds, which can and do both intergrade and interbreed. Analogously, in
linguistics, the subdiscipline of phonology makes extensive use of what is
called "the quantum principle," in accordance with which at some levels
speech-sounds are overlapping and hence non-quantal, whereas at other levels
they are distinctive and hence quantal. (The technical term used for
intergrading and non-quantal speech-sounds is allophones. The corresponding
term for contrastive and quantal speech-sounds is phonemes.)


Velikovsky's intellectual ecumenism was well exemplified, I believe, by the
fact that he offered behavioral as well as physical evidence for ancient
catastrophes. In Mankind in Amnesia, he detailed the psychopathology
involved in mankind's self-repressive denial of collective trauma .

To the best of my knowledge, however, neither he nor most of his ideological
heirs have given any attention to those pathologies of animal behavior which
may reasonably be attributed to these same global disruptions. If only
briefly, I should like to do so now. My assumption is that the catastrophes
which led to distortions in human behavior had a similar effect on animal
behavior and that the more animals resembled us, the greater that effect was.
Consequently, I shall deal only with two groups of animals-those which are
genealogically closest to us (the mammals, especially placental mammals) and
those which are typologically closest to us (the insects, especially social
insects.) The behavioral disturbances which will be covered below are:

1. violence
2. coercion
3. exclusionary behavior
4. overcompensatory behavior
5. endopathy (internal disturbance)

Of all forms of animal violence, the most conspicuous is predation, which
appears in many animal groups. If it is objected that predation is not only
natural but necessary for carnivores, the answer, of course, is that only
meat-eating is necessary. Scavenging alone provides adequate edible flesh for
small populations of carnivores. (And, compared to herbivorous populations,
carnivorous populations always are small.) Ironically, it is now recognized
by paleontologists that the giant carnivore Tyrannosaurus rex, which used to
be taken as the archetype of the monstrously ferocious predator, had
forelimbs so small and spindly that it could not have used them to seize
prey. Instead, it probably employed its long teeth alone to slice out large
chunks from big corpses.

One form of violence which comes closer than does ordinary predation to being
self-destructive is cannibalism. Not surprisingly, it is common among
predators, such as lions, which often kill and eat alien cubs. But it turns
out also that omnivores as closely related to us as chimpanzees occasionally
kill and eat members of troops to which they are hostile.

Such behavior should probably be referred to as ambushing or raiding rather
than as warfare. The term war, however, is commonly used by entomologists to
describe mass assaults by the members of one ant-nest on the members of

Sexual coercion is not as common among animals as laymen tend to assume. But
the manner in which our near kinsmen, male orang-utans, obtain sexual access
to females is actually described as rape by some primatologists.

The only non-human animals that enslave members of related species are ants.
Ants also domesticate other insects, such as aphids, which are often referred
to as "ant-cows," since herder ants relish the sweet nectar which they exude.

The commonest form of exclusionary behavior is the xenophobic aversion to
members of rival communities that is exhibited by most social mammals and
insects. A dramatically audible illustration of it is provided by Latin
American howler monkeys, whose bellowed "keep out!" warnings may be heard for

Territorialism is, if anything, even commoner than xenophobia. For solitary
animals are just as jealously possessive of their individual territories as
social animals are of their collective territories. It is difficult to think
of any mammal or insect that is not, at least in its adult form, territorial
in one or the other of these two senses.

Among placental mammals, male monopolization of accessible females is so
common as not to require illustration. Those species, like the great apes of
Africa, which do not prevent sexual access by fellow males, are exceptional.

Hierarchy (partially equivalent to what, among birds, is called "peck order")
is typical of placental mammals and social insects. But it takes different
forms in the two groups. Among mammals, it is usually a system of ranking
individuals, which superordinates sustain by continuous intimidation of
subordinates. Among insects, it is a ranking of groups rather than of
individuals. This group ranking, moreover, is physiologically and
anatomically rather than psychosocially determined. When anatomically
determined, it separates reproductives from workers and workers from
soldiers, as among termites. But, when physiologically determined, it
separates builders from nurses and nurses from foragers, as among age-graded

A form of exclusionary behavior that is rarely thought of in negative terms is
familialism. Quite apart from the recent politicization of "family values,"
most of us have traditionally thought of family feeling in terms of emotional
warmth and nurturant behavior. Those few scholars who have spoken
disparagingly of the family, as did psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich when he
coined the phrase "compulsive familitis," are often dismissed as cynics.

Yet the family, whether institutionalized, as among human beings, or merely
habitualized, as among animals, not only focuses love on relatives (surely a
positive effect) but also, and perhaps more often, withdraws love from non-
-relatives (at least potentially a negative effect), frequently replacing it
with xenophobia, or hostility to outsiders.

Surprisingly, perhaps, family attachments seem to be both stronger and more
extensive among social insects than among the higher mammals. Among most
mammals, the family is restricted in scope, consisting only of a mother and
her offspring. And usually it is restricted in duration as well, ending, at
least in behavioral terms, after the weaning of the young.

Among social insects, on the other hand, familial behavior is complex and
life-long. Not only do mothers protect and feed offspring till pupation, but
adult daughters reciprocate, tending and feeding mothers when the latter
become virtual egg-laying machines. Moreover, older daughters also take over
the tasks of feeding and tending their younger sisters until these sisters
too pupate. So it is quite appropriate to speak of maternal, filial, and
sororal devotion among such hymenopterans as wasps, bees, and ants.

Among termites, furthermore, this devotion extends equally to males. Male
reproductives remain with their mates, and male workers and soldiers exhibit
fraternal solicitude equal to the sororal solicitude of their female

By using the term "colonies" to refer to the habitations of most hymenopteran
and all isopteran species, we misleadingly suggest that these are
communities-that is, groups of cooperating families (such as primate troops
or ungulate herds). In fact, however, nearly all of them are families,
exhibiting just as much hostility toward other families within their species
as toward insects of other species. When, as in the case of some ant-nest
complexes, the habitation is a multi-family community, this community exhibits
the same in-group attachment and out-group aversion as do the families of
non-communal insects.

In concluding this consideration of animal familiality, the point which I wish
to make is that, overall, what may be most significant about families is not
the small number of individuals that each includes but the large number that
it excludes.

No less important than exclusionary behavior is overcompensatory behavior.
Exclusionary behavior seems to be an implicit (non-verbal and probably
unconscious) response to a feeling that the environment is, or has at least
become, so penurious that its resources cannot be relied on to supply the
needs of all; with the result that one must, as far as possible, exclude from
those resources all individuals but oneself or all groups but one's own.
Overcompensatory behavior seems to be an equally implicit response to an even
more distressing sense that the environment threatens extinction to oneself
and one's progeny, actual or potential.

The most salient response to the felt threat of extinction is increased
reproduction, resulting in overpopulation. So many animal species reproduce
in a geometrically progressive manner that biodemographers frequently take it
for granted that each would replace most competing species were it not for
countervailing forces that limit or reduce its rate of self-replacement. Be
that as it may, we know that some mammals, most notably rodents, periodically
experience population surges so extreme that some species, including lemmings
and "mad migrant" mice, undergo seemingly suicidal mass expansions into
wholly inhospitable areas, such as open waters.

The migrations of nomadic insects, such as army ants, are not self-destructive
in the same way as those of overcrowded rodents. But it can be argued that
the local populations of some sedentary insects, ants as well as termites,
numbering in the tens of millions, are so dense as to verge on the

Pathology, of course, can be psychological as well as social-that is, internal
to the individual as well as external, occurring between individuals within a
group. Among mammals, one of the conditions most widely accepted as being
pathological is musth among elephants. Musth is a state of agitation,
commonest among mature adult males in the rutting season, in which some
become "rogue elephants," attacking other elephants, trees, houses, and even

All felines, but especially smaller cat species, exhibit a jumpiness out of
keeping with their prowess as predators. This hypersensitivity is well
expressed by the common locution "nervous as a cat."

Canines-not only dogs but also wolves, coyotes, and jackals-all exhibit a
behavioral trait whose pathology is debatable. This trait is
conscientiousness, definable as a tendency to reproach or punish oneself for
disobedience or disloyalty to authority. Among canines, the authority
involved is that of the hunting pack or the pack-leader (who, for dogs, is
usually a human master). It characteristically takes the form of cringing or
otherwise exhibiting a "hang-dog" attitude. The chief reason why some
comparative psychologists deny the pathology of this behavior is that human
conscience is widely regarded as an asset and human loyalty as a virtue. But
I concur with Arthur Koestler and others in seeing voluntary self-
subordination to group authority as the indispensable enabling factor in the
genesis of wars and other forms of punitive destruction.

One of the most distinctive traits of our anxious and trammatized species is
deceptiveness, which, not surprisingly, is most commonly expressed as
prevarication. Since other species do not verbalize, their deceptions
naturally take other forms. Although mammals exhibit no close analog of the
"broken-wing ploy" by which birds divert potential predators from their nests
and fledglings, they can and do deceive in other ways. Our nearest genetic
kinsmen, the chimpanzees for example, learn early in life to suppress their
inherent tendency to alert their fellows to unexpectedly discovered food
sources. Even when not hungry, they remain inexpressive in the presence of
such finds if potential competitors are nearby, giving in to the expression of
excitement only when they feel sure of being unobserved.

Before concluding this rather melancholy catalog of animal pathologies,
putative or actual, we should probably palliate it by noting what appears to
be an ecological exception. Aquatic mammals, particularly otters, seals, and
dolphins, seem far more good-natured and high-spirited than their terrestrial
congeners, some of whom, like bears, buffaloes, and rhinoceroses, strike us
as surly and ill-tempered. Author Herman Melville, who spent years at sea,
was perennially delighted by what he called "the godly gamesomeness" of
porpoises. And he observed that some of the larger whales, like hump-backs,
were, despite their bulk, amusingly playful creatures. The best explanation
for the sportive good humor of aquatic mammals may well be that water affords
them a buoyancy that their land-lubber cousins lack. The catastrophist
consensus suggests that pre-catastrophic gravity was appreciably less than
post-catastrophic gravity. If this is so, we may reasonably infer that the
levity, both literal and behavioral, which all creatures enjoyed before "the
fall" no longer sustained land mammals. Aquatic mammals, however, may be
presumed to have retained that levity-or at least to have lost far less of it
than those of their congeners who found themselves suddenly weighed down.


Since the nineteenth century, it has been recognized that historical
linguistics and evolutionary theory present striking parallels. Foremost
among these is the fact that both fields of study employ the dendrogram, or
family tree, model of diachronic development: in historical linguistics, the
language family is the trunk and languages are its branches; in evolutionary
theory, the genus is the trunk and species are its branches.

Nevertheless, linguistic contributions to evolutionary theory have been
constricted by consistent, if usually inexplicit, reliance on uniformist
assumptions. The result is that many etymological, semantic, and stylistic
sources of evidence for early human experience are unjustifiably neglected.

Foremost among these sources of evidence is the occurrence, among many ancient
and reconstructed languages, of large numbers of "coincidental" homophones.
(Homophones are forms, like English be and bee, which sound the same but
have divergent, and presumably unrelated, meanings.) In no few of these
cases, the homophony is coincidental only in uniformist terms. In quantalist
terms, the homophony may be indicative of an aboriginal synonymy. Examples
of such potential synonymy follow:

1. Greek okeanós, "ocean," looks as though its root is the same as that of
Greek okús, "swift." But, because oceans move slowly compared with rivers,
it has long been assumed that the root resemblance is accidental. The
ancient Greeks, however, said that okeanós circled the earth. If we assume
that okeanós originally designated not a body of salt-water but a circum-
planetary ring like Saturn's, the contradiction disappears. One would
expect a stratospheric ring around our planet, provided that its motion was
not geosynchronous, to seem swift-moving when viewed from earth's surface.

2. Sanskrit asman can mean either "heaven" or "stone." Most etymologists
have assumed that they were here dealing with two unconnected words. But, if
we may assume a protohistoric frequency of meteorite falls that greatly
exceeded that of our day, the disconnection vanishes. The sky could be
thought of as a store-house of stones and stones as missiles from the sky.

3. Latin caelum can mean either "heaven" or "chisel." As in the case of the
Sanskrit diseme above, these two Latin meanings have been regarded as
lexically distinct. Celestial missiles, however, can cut or reshape whatever
they strike and, in so doing, give the impression of being hand-tools of the

4. Proto-Indo-European *petro- could mean either "that which flies" (and
hence "bird," "wing," or "feather") or "rock." As in the two preceding
cases, these meanings have been consensually dissociated. Yet, again as
above, they can be re-associated by noting the likelihood that stony bolides
were frequently observed to fly or fall through the air before striking the

5. In a different semantic context, Proto-Indo-European *leugh-could mean
either "take an oath" or "tell lies." These apparent antonyms have generally
been regarded as unrelated to one another. But, from the view-point of a pre-
lapsarian ethos, whether residual or resuscitated, the two might be
considered inseparable, since oaths are imposed only on those who are thought
likely to lie. (And, in a post-catastrophic world, all members of "fallen
humanity" are thought to be at least capable of deceiving one another, if not
indeed strongly inclined to do so.)

Homophony aside, many traditional etymologies are susceptible to
reinterpretation from a quantalistic perspective. One such word is the
English noun planet, derived from a Greek verb meaning "wander." The
conventional interpretation of this nomenclature is that planets, which
visibly orbit, change their celestial positions in a way in which the so-
called fixed stars seem not to. But the Greek verb planáo did not only mean
"wander." It also meant "stray," "err," and even "deceive." To a quantalist,
this suggests that the pre-Greeks perceived the planets as deviating from
their accustomed orbits and thereby confusing observers about the time of day
or the season of the year.

The Greek epithet for Hermes (known in Latin as Mercury) was trismégistos,
literally "thrice greatest." Most Classicists have taken this superlative
nominal to be an instance of poetic hyperbole analogous to Shakespeare's
"most unkindest cut" and have semantically normalized its translation into
English as "thrice great." Many, furthermore, have treated the adverb trís
as a conventional numerical, in the tradition of (pre-Christian) religious
trinitarianism, with the result that the entire compound, shorn of verbal
extravagance, comes to mean little more than "very great." Quantalistically
speaking, however, this epithet may be taken at face value to indicate that,
on three separate prehistoric occasions, the planet Mercury approached the
earth so closely as to appear to be the largest object in the sky.

During the 3rd century of our era, the leading deity of the Roman Empire was
Sol Invictus, "the unconquered sun." Its cult was promoted by the Syrian-
born emperor Elagabalus, whose Semitic name meant "the god of the pinnacle."
The common assumption about this theonymic phrase is that it could be loosely
equated with "the invincible sun." But, as a quantalist, I am inclined
rather to take it literally, in which case there exists an implied contrast
with the phrase Sol Victus, "the conquered sun." Although this latter phrase
does not occur in Roman literature, the phrase Sol Indigetes is found,
referring to an older sun-god. One possible translation for the word
indigites is "driven thence." This semantic polarity leaves open the
possibility (which Saturnians may regard as a probability) that the
unconquered sun is the star Sol itself, whereas the banished sun is the
smaller star or larger planet of which the earth was once a satellite.

The Gaulish noun Druid- (morphemically construed as dru-wid-), when literally
translated, means "tree-seer." It is usually assumed that this title for
pre-Christian Celtic priests is merely a synonym for "forest magician." If,
however, we rely on catastrophist mythology to help us reconstruct a vanished
solar system, we can re-interpret the compound to mean someone who
visualizes the tree-that is, the Cosmic Tree or World-Axis-and thereby, at
least spiritually, reincarnates primal humanity.

The English adjective Lenten (from which the noun Lent is a back-formation)
comes from the Old English noun lengten, meaning "spring-time fast."
Etymologically, the modifier leng- means "long," and the bound form -ten
means "day." To me, it seems evasive not to identify this "long day" with the
pre-Christian disturbance of earth's rotation referred to in ancient
literature and theorized about in recent catastrophist publications.

To be sure, nearly all of the preceding linguistic materials has been drawn
from Indo-European languages. This fact might understandably lead to the
suspicion that our investigation has been skewed by ethnocentrism, especially
if it can shown that early Indo-European peoples were more inclined than
others to exaggerate or dramatize natural disasters. As evidence that there
is little reason for this suspicion, I shall select material from two other
language-families: the Semitic family of south-west Asia and the Kwa family of
west Africa.

The name Eve, for the Biblical mother of mankind, had, in Classical Hebrew,
the form hawwah, meaning "one living." This name has generally been
interpreted as indicating that Eve was the source of all human life.
Following the quantalist principle, however, that all mythic creations should
be construed as re-creations or re-directions, I prefer to interpret the name
of Eve as having meant "one (of the only pair still) living (in their
locale)"-an onomastic comment on the astonishing good fortune that anyone at
all survived a recent catastrophe.

In Bini, the language of the former Empire of Benin in southern Nigeria, the
name for the planet Venus is Agukisinmwin'ogie, which means "the Moon's
rival." Hearing this, most Europeans have apparently interpreted it as a
hyperbolic way of noting that Venus looks brighter than the other planets.
But, in quantalist terms, the name can be taken as evidence that, at an
earlier time, Venus loomed as large as the Moon in our sky.


Thus far, we have cited reconstructed forms only from Proto-Indo-European, the
postulated parent language of most of the extant languages of Europe, Iran,
and India. Historical linguists have been citing versions of these forms for
a century and a half. But historical linguists do not stop with Proto-Indo-
-European. For the past three decades, they have been reconstructing forms
from Proto-Nostratic, a still older unwritten language held to be ancestral
not only to Indo-European but also to most other European languages.

Of the 477 reconstructible Proto-Nostratic forms cited by Allan Bomhard in his
"Lexical Parallels between Proto-Indo-European and Other Languages," 24%,
by my count, are glossed by such meanings as "damage, injure, twist, burn,
crush, hurl" and the like. Furthermore, large though this vocabulary of
violence seems, I suspect that it is an underestimate. For many of the verbs
with the seemingly non-violent meanings "shine," "blow," and the like may
actually have been muted in later times. It is quite possible that, in the
immediate post-catastrophic period, some of the forms denoting brightness may
have referred to light that was dazzling, if not literally blinding; and some
of those denoting wind may have referred to hurricanes or even more violent
atmospheric disturbances.


Those who accept the probability of global catastrophe in early times often
conceive of its psychological effects in terms of a complete Nietzschean
transvaluation of positive into negative feelings. They are inclined to
think of panic replacing assurance, hatred replacing love, and misery
replacing joy. Yet the characteristic emotional tone of post-lapsarian
humanity, I believe, has been-at least in historical times-not one of unmixed
aversiveness but one of ambivalence: feeling partially attracted by what
repels us and partially repelled by what attracts us.

Nowhere is this mixture of strongly positive and strongly negative emotions
better expressed, I think, than in contemporary American English slang. Here
we encounter metaphors not only physical violence but also of terror,
madness, and general loss of control. Examples follow:

category: violence
example #1: "a smash hit"
literal meaning: a shattering blow
effective meaning: a theatrical success
example #2: "get stoned"
literal meaning: be injured by flying rocks
effective meaning: get happily drunk

category: terror
example #1: "terrific"
literal meaning: terrifying
effective meaning: extremely good
example #2: "frightfully smart"
literal meaning: terrifyingly painful
effective meaning: unusually intelligent

category: madness
example #1: "madly in love"
literal meaning: psychotically infatuated
effective meaning: maximally romantic
example #2: "all the rage"
literal meaning: total fury
effective meaning: most popular

category: loss of control
example #1: "fall for her"
literal meaning: lose one's footing with regard to her
effective meaning: love her uncritically
example #2: "give him a tumble"
literal meaning: make him fall
effective meaning: lead him on romantically

Equivalent expressions may be encountered in French, German, and other modern


Both Immanuel Velikovsky and Wilhelm Reich were East European Jewish
physicians who became psychoanalysts and sought to apply Freudian concepts to
the investigation not only of individual pathology but also of collective

The major difference between them was that Velikovsky adhered to the
consensual psychoanalytic view (Jungian as well as Freudian) that human
problems are primarily mental in nature, whether the analyst confronts
emotional conflict within individuals or dissociation of memory in our species
as a whole. Reich, by contrast, came increasingly to regard the proper
subject-matter of psychology as being not ideas in the mind but energies in
the body. For him, psychological health was inseparable from physiological
health. Within the healthy individual, according to Reich, energy flows
freely, and the musculature, while toned, is relaxed. The unhealthy
individual, however, exhibits what may be called, in psychological terms,
character armor and, in physiological terms, muscular armor. This "armor" is
actually chronic bodily hypertension, attributable to a collectively
inherited state of apprehension. The apprehension, Reich held, can be
dispelled only by discharge of the bound muscular energy which both results
from it and, in turn, re-generates it. Reich termed such discharge the
orgasm reflex. He distinguished this reflex both from the ejaculatory reflex,
which can discharge reproductive material without de-tensioning the
musculature, and from the climactic reflex, which can relax the genital
organs without relaxing the rest of the body. Only the orgasm reflex, he
held, purges the entire body of hypertension and fully revitalizes the

Being, like Freud, basically Victorian with regard to sensuality, Velikovsky
could never accept the Reichian vision of healthy functioning, which seemed
to him more orgiastic than orgastic and hence subversive of social order.
Reich, on the other hand, was open to catastrophic hypotheses regarding the
genesis of muscular armoring. Unfortunately for him, however, Velikovsky's
Worlds in Collision did not appear till the 1950's, when he was beginning to
be subject to professional attacks from more orthodox psychiatrists and
increasingly scrutinized by governmental authorities. His situation no
longer afforded him the opportunity for leisurely investigation that he would
earlier have welcomed.

My own feeling is that Velikovskian theory and Reichian theory are naturally
complementary. The former provides an explanation of humanity's self-
deprivatory behavior, while the latter gives us a picture of human physical
and emotional fulfillment as it may have existed before the catastrophes and
might exist again.


Just as Reichian theory supplements Velikovskian theory by filling in some of
its gaps, mythological material may supplement Reichian theory in an
analogous manner. For myth strongly suggests that there was a fundamental
difference between pre-lapsarian and post-lapsarian consciousness. In
historic times, consciousness has, apart from dubious examples of extra-
sensory perception, been exclusively individual in its focus. So lacking are
we in direct access to other people's minds as to permit the development of
such exclusionary but logically unassailable philosophies as solipsism. In
pre-historic times, however, consciousness may well have been what many myths
imply: collective. Under conditions of shared awareness, secret thoughts
would have been impossible and probably unwanted. Such collective
consciousness would have gone far beyond Jung's collective unconscious, in
that Jung's formulation presupposes repression, or the banishment of
unaccepted thoughts into a realm of at least partial or temporary

Both Velikovsky and Reich acknowledged the likelihood that the tradition of a
Golden Age preceding the inhumanities recorded by historians reflected a
prehistoric reality rather than a wishful fantasy. But only Reich took the
further step of specifying physical as well as psychological dissociations
resulting from the Time of Troubles inferred to have separated the Golden Age
from the historic era. Among these dissociations was the bioenergetic
separation of intellectual function, centered in the head, and of libidinal
function, centered in the genitals, from the holosomatic function of the rest
of the body, involving manipulation, locomotion, and nutrition.

Further exploration of global mythology additionally suggests that the
internal fragmentation of individual function that takes the form of neurosis
and "conversion symptoms" (organic malfunction) is parellelled and
potentiated by an internal fragmentation of collective function which
previously split a harmonious humanity into disconnected and often mutually
destructive communities and then split the communities into equally
disconnected and antagonistic individuals.


Aquaticism, better known as "the Aquatic Ape Theory," is the hypothesis that,
between the Miocene Epoch, when our ancestors probably lived in trees, and
the Pleistocene Epoch, when they almost certainly lived in grasslands, they
may well have lived, at least part of the time, in shallow water. Although
the hypothesis was first advanced by Sir Alister Hardy, Lineacre Professor of
Zoology at Oxford University, it has been most widely popularized by science
writer Elaine Morgan of Wales.

Aquaticism is so divergent from the consensual view of human evolution that
most anthropologists have ignored it rather than bothering to attack it.
Consensus aside, however, the evidence for ancestral hominids' having been
at least semi-aquatic is strong. In terms of anatomy alone, we find that
human physique resembles that of aquatic vertebrates generally far more than
it does that of other primates or of most purely terrestrial mammals. A
cursory overview of our anatomical peculiarities is indicative:

human trait | aquatic species in
which an analog occurs
————————————————————- -
bipedal stance | penguin
limb proportions | marine iguana
smooth skin | porpoise
bust | manatee
foot shape | sea-lion
brain size | dolphin
subcutaneous fat | dugong
jaw shape | frog

While there is nothing catastrophic about a shift in habitat, there is
something saltatory about it. And, while we remain genetically very close to
our nearest phylogenetic kinsmen, the great apes, we are phenotypically very
unlike them.

The environmental zigzag evident in a hominid detour from Miocene forests
through Pliocene waters to Pleistocene savannas exhibits striking
evolutionary discontinuity. In this sense, the aquatic hypothesis is highly
compatible with the theory of quantalism.


The terms "pontophilia" and "pontophobia" are neologisms. Based on common
Classical Greek forms, the former word means "love of the sea" and the
latter, "fear of the sea." The Greek noun póntos, "sea," is cognate with
Latin pons (genitive pontis), "bridge," and Old Prussian pintis, "road." It
referred primarily to those seas, like the Black Sea north of Anatolia, which
frequently served as pathways to other lands.

In practice, the word pontophilia has two distinct meanings, which, however,
may overlap. The first is a more behavioral meaning: enjoyment of travel by
sea. The second is a more theoretical meaning: belief that even the earliest
human beings traveled by sea. Predictably, the word pontophobia has
correspondingly overlapping meanings: aversion to travel by sea; and
disbelief that prehistoric humanity took part in sea voyages. In each case,
the behavioral orientation is likely to determine the theoretical orientation.
Since few scholars are mariners, few scholars have accepted the likelihood-or
even the possibility-that human transoceanic travel is ancient.

But I see a direct link between early human aquaticism and early human
transoceanism. The second, I think, follows expectably from the first. If
our Pliocene ancestors were habitual swimmers, they probably enjoyed riding
on logs and other floating debris, at first playfully and later purposefully.
And it is unlikely, in my view, that their Pleistocene descendants developed
an aversion to salt water which they subsequently overcame and reversed in
the Holocene Epoch of recent millennia. It accords far better with the
principle of intellectual parsimony, I should say, to assume that our hominid
ancestors were always water-prone and that, as their tool-using proficiency
increased, so did their ability to navigate broader watery expanses between

Catastrophists may object that our species has always been subject to global
disasters and that these disasters must inevitably have made people
profoundly fearful of natural trauma. Yet it may be that proto-hominids
initially adopted an aquatic (or at least semi-aquatic) way of life because
shallow water afforded them better protection from forest-fires and woodland
predators than did an arboreal existence. If so, the predominantly smooth
surface of open waters might well have appeared to them to be more inviting
than the mountains, cliffs, and canyons produced by tectonic disruptions,
which constituted relatively permanent barriers to easy migration.

It must be reiterated that quantal events are not solely catastrophic in
effect. If they were, the biosphere would long since have vanished. Quantal
events are also saltatory. Saltatory events, in tern, are not restricted to
such genetic occurrences as speciation. Many-perhaps most-of them are
behavioral in nature, comprising new adaptations to changed circumstances.
Our human adaptation to the waters of the world, unique in the primate order,
is what enabled us, in prehistoric times, to occupy and exploit all of our
planet's continents and most of its islands as well.


Allan R. Bomhard and John C. Kerns, The Nostratic Macrofamily: A Study in
Distant Linguistic Relationship, Mouton De Gruyter, Berlin and New York, 1994
"Cenocatastrophism," a paper presented at the Kronia Communications'
Symposium on Velikovsky, Portland, Oregon, November 1994
I here use the older spelling of the prepositive "ceno-" to indicate that
it reflects Greek kaino-, "recent," rather than koino-, "common," or keno-,
Luis Alvarez, Walter Alvarez, et al., "Extraterrestrial Cause for the
Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction," Science, 208: 1095-1108, 1980
The Origins of Israel and Mankind: A Unified Cosmogonic Theory, Carib
Publishing Co., Lancaster, England (distributed by Cambridge University
Press), 1984
Alfred de Grazia, Chaos and Creation: An Introduction to Quantavolution in
Human and Natural History, Metron Publications, Princeton, NJ, 1981
Victor Clube and Bill Napier, The Cosmic Serpent: A Catastrophist View of
Earth History, Universe Books, New York, 1992
The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Chicago and London, 1974
The Oxford English Dictionary, Compact Edition, Clarendon Press, Oxford
University Press, Oxford and London, 1971
Stephen J. Gould and Niles Eldredge, "Punctuated Equilibria: The Tempo and
Mode of Evolution Reconsidered," Paleobiology 3: 115-151, 1977
Bernard Campbell, Human Evolution, Aldine, Chicago, 1966
Immanuel Velikovsky, Mankind in Amnesia, Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1982
Kim A. McDonald, "The Iconoclastic Fossil Hunter [John R. Horner]," The
Chronicle of Higher Education, A9 and A14-17, November 16, 1994
Jane Goodall, "Infant Killing and Cannibalism in Free-Living Chimpanzees,"
Folia Primatologica, 28, 259-282, 1977
Edward H. Wilson, The Insect Societies, Belknap Press, Harvard University
Press, Cambridge, MA, 1971; pp. 353-371
Jeffrey H. Schwartz, The Red Ape: Orang-utans and Human Origins, Houghton
Mifflin Co., Boston, 1987.
Wilson, op. cit., pp. 353-371
Ibid., pp. 429-423
Phyllis C. Jay, editor, Primates: Studies in Adaptation and Variability,
Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York and Chicago, 1968
David A. Hamburg and Elizabeth R. McCown, editors, The Great Apes,
Benjamin/Cummings, Menlo Park, CA, 1979.
Wilson, op. cit., 168-179.
Ibid., pp. 103-119.
Ivan T. Sanderson, The Dynasty of Abu: A History of the Elephants and Their
Relatives, Alfred Knopf, New York, 1962
Jane Van Lawick-Goodall, My Friends the Wild Chimpanzees, The National
Geographic Society, Washington, DC, 1967
Craig Christy, Uniformitarianism in Linguistics, Benjamins, Philadelphia,
Isaac N. Vail, Waters Above the Firmament (edited by Donald L. Cyr),
Stonehenge Viewpoint, Santa Barbara, CA, 1874/1988
Roger W. Wescott, "Polymathics and Catastrophism: A Multidisciplinary
Approach to Problems of Evolutionary Theory," Kronos, Glassboro, NJ, fall
Roger W. Wescott, "The Golden Age," Kronos, fall 1984 and winter 1985
Roger W. Wescott, "Aster and Disaster: Toward a Catastrophist Mode of
Mythological Interpretation," Kronos, fall 1983
Donald W. Patten, Ronald R. Hatch, and Loren C. Steinhauer, The Long Day of
Joshua and Six Other Catastrophes, Pacific Meridian, Seattle, WA (distributed
by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI), 1973
Immanuel Velikovsky, op. cit.
Roger W. Wescott, "The Golden Age" (as in footnote 28)
Wilhelm Reich, The Function of the Orgasm, Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, New
York, 1948
Roger W. Wescott, ibid.
Elaine Morgan, The Aquatic Ape, Stein and Day, New York, 1982
Roger W. Wescott, "The Paradoxical Primate," Kronos, winter 1984
Roger W. Wescott, "Types of Cultural Diffusion," The Journal of the New
England Antiquities Research Association, forthcoming

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