culture is subconscious

Debate: Are cultural correspondences due to diffusion, or archetype?

Author Alistair Coombs posted a link to some Ice Age engravings in support of his correspondence theory of the diffusion of attributes of the Pleiades and Ursa asterisms (,1128408,1128408#msg-1128408). Mindprint author Edmond Furter demonstrates that correspondences run much deeper than a few hearsay tales. Here is an extract of part of the debate.
“Alistair, you affirm your view that “cultural diffusion routes… reflect DNA migration trails”, traceable in asterism personification variants.
But DNA is mixed, with few links to localised culture. The only inborn culture is universal.
You cite songlines “associated with astronomy at a national level” of scale in Australia.
But diffusion and standardisation of asterisms does not imply that incidental details of personification are developmental; nor that culture arises from diffusion.
You link my work to “David Lewis-Williams… mythic patterns neurologically generated rather than observed in culturally isolated traditions, which might account for similarities, like Jungian archetypes.”
But Lewis-Williams never uses any concepts or terms related to archetype or Jung. He summarised his recent position (2012) on ethnography as ‘individual idiosyncrasy, within a cultural framework’. He cites Megan Biesele on cultural motifs that may or may not ‘catch on’. This agrees with your paradigm of development and diffusion.
My research findings support and develop Plato, Jung and Levi-Strauss, not the cognitive trance dance rationalisation school.
You write that cognitive archaeology ignores astronomy.
But there is very little astronomy in cultural media. Babylonian, Sumerian, Indian, Chinese and Arabic decans and artworks, for example, are all mutating sets of calendric characters (Neugebauer and Parker 1996), useless for observational astronomy except as more or less arbitrary labels. Culture does not come from the sky, and is not sustained by the sky.
We agree that “zodiacal conceptions are not entirely neurologically generated,” but for different reasons. My research indicates that layers of archetypal meaning and structure are inherent in nature and in perception, with some inherent options allowing economic polities some differences, and a thick layer of stylisation (such as different sound strings in languages).
You doubt my finding of a “universal, subconscious, compulsive impulse” for “sounding elaborate”.
But the human sciences have fallen behind natural sciences partly due to populist simplification. I had found the ‘periodic table’ of culture, which simplifies the study of culture, by charting its quirks and structural complexities. Your diffusionist paradigm sounds like alchemical correspondence theory, before discovery and eventual acceptance of the periodic table. And it sounds generally true, meaning that it is not testable, in Popper’s definition of science.
You found that ‘the Pleiades came to be associated with flood… after being seven pursued maidens… more abstract parts of Taurus… both remain in cultural memory.’
But there is no secure way of dating the various attributes of this archetype. I listed about five or six attributes of type 2 Builder or Taurus, in my initial comment above. These attributes have always appeared at fixed average frequencies in artworks and building sites worldwide, anciently and in modern times, and will continue to do so. Archetypes are not man-made, and do not arise from major events. Events express archetype.
You found Taurus and Orion “less problematic than Ursa and the Pleiades, because Taurus [Hyades] reasonably resembles a bull or horned beast; and Orion resembles a man.”
But V-shaped buccrania are rare in art (see Gobekli Tepe images in the link I gave in my initial comment). Hyades and Orion-Auriga star lore is complex (Allen 1899).
You note that “Ursa and the Pleiades resemble each other in shape.”
But culture is more complex than visual gestalt (making wholes from suggestive parts based on relative proximity and magnitude). Egyptian myth links them since they are 90 degrees apart, former spring to former midsummer, equinox to celestial pole; and both have seven major stars. That common knowledge prompted conscious recognition of the archetypal motif of spring sacrifice, at the time of a bull foreleg, cast to the polar region as a severed foreleg-bull, and later a smaller one when the celestial pole and thus midsummer moved closer to Ursa Minor.
We agree that “Ursa does not suggest a bear, and Pleiades do not suggest a group of women.” But archetype prompts the rest of the picture, ritual, calendar, myth map, and compromises with peculiarities of diffused crafts, such as religion and legend.
You found that asterisms “came to represent different things to different cultures across time and space, which may not warrant input from an archetypal paradigm.”
But most star lore (Allen list all the known features from classical and modern sources) expresses almost all the elements of cultural structure, and few superfluous ones (which are often due to conscious correspondence theory ambiguation, or interference, and to a few inherent ambiguities, of which I have identified five, in Mindprint 2014). The archetypal paradigm confirms that asterisms and other cultural features do not “become”, and do not “represent things”. Star lore, myth, calendar, ritual and building sites did not start on blank canvases, and do not rest on idiosyncratic foundations (which do not eventually “become” cultural frameworks, as the current “scientific” paradigm assumes).
You note that ‘sevens might be archetypal, but also [arise from] language systems… meaningless [in the] Palaeolithic era.’
But language, which you probably equate with evolving cognition, does not dictate art, calendar, ritual or practical crafts. My research indicates that cultural media do not, and thus did not ‘evolve’. Paleolithic assemblages are complex and complete (textiles, needles, buttons, jewellery, cosmetics, fire, art, ritual, calendar, myth), lacking only metals, probably due to lack of population. Stone Age language was probably equal to any language, with stone, bone and mastic terminology instead of metallurgy.
You found that “The Pleaides came to represent a central role in the cosmologies of different cultures.”
But the function of every part of cosmology depends on the other parts. The Pleiades are meaningless without Sirius in Gemini, Hydra under Cancer, Regulus in Leo, Spica in Virgo, Antares in Scorpius, the three visible poles, three equators, and the rest of the ‘story’.
There is only one cosmology, with several different format options (ecliptic, celestial, galactic; months or hours; geometric or mythic; and so on).
Your partly agree with me, that “co-incidences of migration and trade routes with cultural elements, form a circular argument that reveals nothing about culture or humanity, unless it is studied in the archetypal paradigm,” but you remain in the conscious, developmental, diffusionist paradigm: “how ancient or extinct people storied their skies.” But our species is not extinct. Neanderthal, Denisovan, Flores and other mutational variants could re-appear.
You are working on “an early observational history… and genetic trail linking Siberia, North America, Melanesia and Australia… how such identities might remain in isolated groups for unexpectedly long periods… looking at the same constellations.”
But the same dots in the sky alone do not account for the correspondences, as you acknowledge. Nor does cultural contact. Archetypal expression of culture in various media is a simpler explanation.
We agree that the Seven Sisters and other characters “likely stem from very deep, archaic sources,” but you add the term “from observation”.
If our sky was as opaque as that of Venus, we would have used other canvases, such as long lines, geoglyphs, landmarks and building sites more extensively.
You do not see archetype at work in “what determines what we see in an asterism, other than resemblances.”
But Plato and many other philosophers found archetype to be inherent in nature. Your assumed detailed diffusion does not even explain all the visible correspondences between cultures separated in time and space. And you offer no explanation for the five layers and about 75 features of identical structural in 600 artworks and building sites, many of which I have posted a link to above.
For the Pleiades, you propose “a cosmic hunt theme, reformulated into a flood narrative, retaining earlier actors or depictions of space.”
But some Pleiades lore and images do not involve a hunt. And some flood stories do not single out the Pleiades.
On Ursa, you cite Asiatic-American parallels of Ursa as a bear “of immense antiquity”. Meaning Ice Age art.
But Ursa is not always a bear. And bear images do not all express Ursa. See the structuralist analysis of a doubled mindprint in the Trois Frere cave engraving, Mindprint p150-151, also via my link above, or in my GH AOM September 2015 article, where a bear frontal face, top left, subconsciously expresses type 15 Maker or Gemini.

Ice Age engraving in Trois Frere cave ‘sanctuary’ (After Donsmaps. Structuralist analysis by Edmond Furter).

Or see the structuralist analysis of the Trois Frere ‘Sanctuary’ engraving to which you posted a link, where a baby bear frontal face expresses an extra type 1 Builder or Taurus [here labelled 2Ta in error, it should be 1Ta, as the 1Ta elephant on the same axis], which the sky expresses as Auriga and Orion. Its outer eye expresses type 15g, which in the sky is the Galactic Gate and Polaris at the Ursa Minor (Small Bear) ‘hoof’. Art is not cosmology or astronomy of course, but all media express aspects of archetypal structure. The frontal face does not seem to be graffito, since this panel has some unusual false starts or later additions (mostly between types 8 and 9 Healer or Scorpius). [UPDATE; If it is graffiti, it does not disrupt any of the five layers of archetypal structure that artists and sometimes collaborators express.]
You warn researchers to ignore ethnographic sources of the last 100 years, to avoid contamination by “the information bubble”; and you cast suspicion that archetypal theories are contaminated by mass media, and thus diffusion mistaken as subconscious inspiration.
But standardisation had started in the Egyptian empire, and the Greek world, and the Chinese empires, and expanded in the Roman Empire; thus the last century is a random number. Notable recent ‘savage’ exceptions include the Picts in Scotland (see Stoneprint Journal 1; Pictish beasts, at, yet even there some Germanic, Scandinavian and Norse influences are visible.
The level of archetypal detail that I have isolated in cultural media, rises above diffusion and imitation. And in some examples, diffusion is entirely ruled out (as in the faint engraving in the recently opened Berriruata cave in Spain, sealed off for millennia, see my article in the anthropology journal Expression).
There is probably no diffusion between the Trois Frere examples and anybody anywhere, yet several artworks in that cave express mindprint in as much detail as any artwork anywhere, at any time. The list of archetypes that I give above, could be used to write a caption for the artwork (that you chose to support one of your points), by simply deleting the features that are not expressed; but are expressed in other Ice Age artworks. The same applies to Gobekli Tepe, Sumer, Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Picts, and about ten artists whom I know personally. They were all astonished when I demonstrated to them the extent of their subconscious repertoire. But they remain calm and keep on ‘designing’ artworks. As I expect that correspondence theorists will keep calm and keep on calculating diffusion routes, until a hundred of them have seen a hundred examples of mindprint in their data.
The explanation for this over-determined set of correspondences, and the study of culture, and the implications for who we are, has to involve archetype.
Alistair, I believe our irreconcilable differences are all paradigmatic. We look at the same data from different perspectives.

Mindprint in ayahuasca art

Archetypal structure or mindprint in ayahuasca art

Here are some examples of the standard mindprint typology, sequence, and axial structure, in ayahuasca art, or artworks styled after ayahuasca visions; compared to five Lapp shamanic drums.

An Age Aquarius world skambha

Pablo Amaringo; Spinning dome. Mindprint labels and axial grid by Edmond Furter.

Pablo Amaringo; Spinning dome (after Mindprint labels and axial grid by Edmond Furter, updated 2019). A dome with geometric texture and various colours, indicates entry to visionary hyperspace, typical of oto-visual emissions by the visual cortex and other brain functions, if stimulated by certain practices or chemicals. All experience is indirect, via senses, nervous system, and the brain, thus internal experience seems as real as conventional ‘reality’. Some oto-visuals and sensations agree with archetypal features that artists in all places and times, subconsciously express in complex artworks.

Type Label; Character (archetypal features):

1 Builder; Water angel D (twist, bird, spring, rain, cluster).

2 Builder; Water angel C (twist, bird, spring, rain, cluster).

2c Basket; Crowd (cluster) on the cliff at left.

3 Queen; Water angel B as rain (queen?, spring, pool).

3 QueenB; Rain? Dragon?

4 King; Water angel A as cloud.

5a Priest; Ritualist B (priest, assembly) with feathers (winged, colours, sash, reptile, hyperactive, tailcoat, large), consulting (judge).

5b Priest; Ritualist C (priest, assembly) with feathers (winged, colours, sash, reptile, hyperactive, tailcoat, large), consulting (judge).

5c Basket Tail; Feather B (weave, tail). And sunburst (disc).

6 Exile; Ritualist D. And angel B on a vine trunk (tree), far out (egress).

7 Child; Water angel E as cloud (bag, unfold).

7g Gal.Centre; Water angel F at waterfall (water).

8 Healer; Hermit? under waterfall (heal, trance).

9 Healer; Waterfall head (bent forward?, heal, trance).

9c Basket Lid; Crowd on plain at vine trunk (pillar, snake) of angel B (leglink).

10 Teacher; Crowd member far right (council, ecology, school).

11 Womb; Crowd woman’s midriff (womb).

12 Heart; Man in green spinning a dome (rounded). And his chest (heart). And man in blue. And his chest (heart).

13 Heart; Levitator’s chest (heart), over dome (rounded), over a roof (‘invert’, angel). And dome (rounded, interior).

13c Basket Head; Spinning dome (oracle, hat, lid, weave). And ayahuasca pot (tree, oracle). And person D at broken pots (death, of 13).

14 Mixer; Person C, further out (egress).

15 Maker; Person B, with A (doubled).

15g Gal.Gate; Person A.

Axial centre; Wrist grip (limb joints).

04p Gal.S.Pole; Ritualist A’s jaw (limb joint).

11p Gal.Pole; Crowd woman’s hand? (limb joint).

Cel. Pole or Midsummer; Levitator’s jaw (limb joint). Cel. South Pole or Midwinter; unmarked. The solstice axle is on the vertical plane, confirming midsummer in 13-14, analogous to Leo-Cancer, thus spring and the cultural time-frame in Age Taurus-Aries. But the top central position of types 5, analogous to Aquarius, and the general themes of types 5v13, indicate that the time-frame may not express the spring point as usual, but the Age Aquarius midsummer point, which is in Taurus. This subtle iconographic ‘slippage’ may indicate that the usual Taurean time-frame of works themed on transformation and alchemy, may in future be moved to an Aquarian time-frame.

Structuralist features of expression are universal, and subconscious to artists, architects, builders, crafters and members of any culture.

General themes in Pablo Amaringo’s cosmic vision of a spinning dome, many-coloured cover, or skambha, are indicated by extra features of type 5 Priest, typical of colours, priests, hyper-activity, tailcoats or sashes (here feathers), assembly (here rituals, and crowds), water (here waterfalls and pots), reptile (here serpentine forms), winged (here angels); and of the opposite type 13 Heart, typical of death (here broken pots on the left), rounded (here the top, and pots), waterwork (here waterfalls), and angel (here angels, and feathered priests). Icelandic cosmology myth used similar icons in epic poetry (De Santillana 1969).

Type 13 Heart or Leo is levitating in the lotus position, a feature more usual at its opposite, 5b Priest or Aquarius. Icelandic myths of a ‘many-coloured cover’ and salt mill (reviewed by De Santillana and Von Deschend in Hamlet’s mill), here churn in dayglow colours. The equator of eyes forms an outline of butterfly wings, incidental with the theme of transformation and flickering motion.

Symmetry in the equator, named ecliptic in this study for convenience, is uncommon in art, and usually subtracts from galactic symmetry, as it does here, as if expression were projected through either one or the other.

UPDATE; See my 2019 May article on how ayahuasca art confirms mindprint, on

An Age Aquarius world tree

Lapp cosmology trance drum (archetypal social function labels and axial grid by Edmond Furter).

Type 5b Priest or Aquarius as an underworld guide (Lapp drum skin drawing with ritual celebrants. Archetypal labels and axial grid by Edmond Furter). The drum cosmogram healing and trance tradition had updated its visions with Christian elements, but the cosmic tree is rooted between 4 King or Pisces, and 5 Priest or Aquarius, as spring now is, in our current axial era.

Here the flanking figures both have double staffs to calibrate the spring equinox, subconsciously in anticipation of the axial era. The ritual officials are named Juksakka, Sakarakka and Madderakka. Their fish pond or ice fishing hole has an astronomy counterpart in 5 Priest or Aquarius, decan Pegasus, here displaced to the 2c Basket position (see a Roman sarcophagus in Mindprint Chapter 11), the only sequence irregularity in the work. See Nordic Amlethus myths of a ‘many-coloured cover’ and salt mill (De Santillana and Von Deschend; Hamlet’s mill).

Type 10 Teacher or Libra here is a tree or branch, as it is in a South African Amatola work (see Mindprint examples in chapter 5), but branches are more usual at its cardinals, 14 Mixer or Cancer, and at 6 Exile or Capricornus (see Egyptian and Mexican palettes, and the Externsteine carving, in Mindprint examples in chapter 4).

Lapp shamanic drums, Minusinsk variants (cosmology labels and axial grids by Edmond Furter). Each is different, but the structuralist features of character and spatial design are the same as in all culture and eras. The designs are not star maps or calendars, and could not be used as such. Blue ovals indicate one of two curves of limb joints, analogous to the galactic equator. These are unusually symmetrical in these drums, partly due to the round format. Subconscious expression of universal structure is sustained by archetypal inspiration. Each design is equally original, despite some borrowings from other artists, media, and cultures.

This study adopts the principle that there is no limit to what artists, and thus all people, subconsciously know; and that language, art, music and conscious or semi-conscious symbolic codes are all inadequate to fully express human experience. Structuralist analysis now raises about 100 optional features to conscious understanding; of which an average of about 60 (40 to 75) are expressed in complex works.

Individual experience could only partly comprehend nature or archetype. Display of art supports the human need to express, create, celebrate and share inspiration, cast in terms of experience, as the ritual celebrants in the image imply. This drum and its mindprint, with its implied social ritual, are as adequate or inadequate as any myth or art could be.

Celestial polar markers on a calibrated ladder, as a gauge, tag a series of Ages, up to the hand of the central celebrant and the hand of World man (yet another 5b Priest or Aquarius stand-in) at the Age Aquarius start, perhaps an error due to the offset galactic register (level), or an inspiration of our immanent iconographic future. This is one of very few works in this study probably tagged to Age Aquarius.

Angels pulling spring into Aquarius

Pablo Amaringo; (Ayahuasca hut and vision of angels and tutors). Mindprint labels and grid added by Edmond Furter 2011.
Pablo Amaringo; Ayahuasca hut with vision of angels, tutors and a snake in the field (cosmology labels with archetypal numbers, and axial grid by Edmond Furter 2011).

Type 7g Galactic Centre is expressed centre left, as two globes and a tutelary spirit pointing to a scroll. Parts of the features analogous to the cosmic galactic equators across the sphere (forming a fish shape), are marked by a string of angels in a horizontal S shape, as if figuring half of the one half, then half of the other half, in turn. Their central S-shaped flip section also mark midsummer, and thus celestial polar positions in a gauge from the Leo axis on the vertical plane (thus Age Taurus spring), through Cancer (Age Aries spring), Gemini (Age Pisces spring), to the first Taurus axis on the horizontal plane (Age Aquarius spring, slightly ‘prophetic’ for the work, but typical of ayahuasca visions).

Type 5a Priest or Aquarius is a focal group in the ayahuasca brewing hut, as a spring marker. 12 Heart or Leo is a lion (top centre), taking the place of the usual 1 Builder or Taurus bull of most mindprints and of alchemy of the last 6000 years. 1 Builder or Taurus with its gate and churn, here is a grail (mid right) dragged from 12 Heart or Leo, decan Crater (Grail). The summer sun and celestial poles are also dragged from 12 Heart or Leo, to 1 Builder or Taurus.

Type 8 Healer or Scorpius, formerly an eagle, now acquires the Aquarian angel. 4 King or Pisces is a snake with reared head, formerly of 3 Queen or Aries, adding the smaller cog change of about 30 degrees as the spring equinox is about to move from Pisces into Aquarius. 3 Queen or Aries becomes devoid of cosmic drama, here just six children in a pool (the seventh invisible), a former 2 Builder or Taurus, decan Pleiades icon. The two Amaringo snake paintings in this study express sweeping forthcoming Age Aquarius iconographic adjustments, each artwork using different figures and orientations to do so.

Pablo Amaringo (city and fields). Mindprint labelling and axes added by Edmond Furter 2012.
Pablo Amaringo; City and fields (after Cosmology labels and axial grid Edmond Furter, 2012).

[Caption to follow….]

See an adjacent post on mindprint in peyote or mescaline art.

Art does not come from drugs, and art does not come from number, myth, decans, zodiacs or any media in particular.

See more examples of how the mindprint list of types, and the irregular axial ocular (eye to eye) grid, are used to raise the subconscious structure of visual expression within reach of conscious understanding;

See an article about mindprint in Ice Age and Gobekli Tepe art, on under Author of the Month, September 2015.

Order the book Mindprint (Furter, E. 2014) from; 200 illustrations demonstrating the identical visual ‘grammar’ or ‘cultural DNA’, in all the known cultures and eras of the world.

Building sites express the same structure

See structuralist analyses of buildings, villages, temples, complexes, pyramid fields, geoglyphs and cities at

My second book, Stoneprint, the human code in art, buildings and cities (400 pages, 130 illustrations), demonstrates that cultural grammar is innate, and readable in all our works, including building sites.]