Be gone Mr Pearson’s correlations coefficient! – Statistics and the Dead Poet’s Society

“Rip, Rip, Rip … this is a battle, a war, and the casualties could be your heart and soul!” exclaims Mr. Keating (Robin Williams).

The book ripping scene in the Dead Poet’s Society is a classic. A class of young men, quietly await to have their minds filled with instructions on how to interpret the rhyme and meter of poems using precise methodology but instead get told: “Be gone J. Evans Pritchard, PhD!”

If it’s been a while or you haven’t seen the scene you can watch it here.

There are times when I’m going over statistics for psychology when I feel like embracing Mr Keating’s ethos. My brain says: “Be gone Mr Pearson’s correlations coefficient!” And it doesn’t stop there, it continues with “rip out those pages on p-values, sum of squares, and sample standard deviation!”

It’s a war between seeing the humanity in people and reducing them to data points. I do not like judging people by finite constructs and numbers.

As the storyline in Dead Poet’s Society develops, the students learn to appreciate emotions and see things from new perspectives. This is what I want from psychology, to understand the variation and uniqueness of people.

In the movie, the young men learn to “suck the marrow out of life”. Then it all comes crashing down when constraints of reality gain too much ground on the battlefield. So too, the reality that statistics is an unavoidable part of psychology confronts me.

In the final scene of Dead Poet’s Society the class is faced with learning J. Evans Pritchard’s rhyme and meter, but, as the credit roll, the audience is left with the inference that those formulas will not stoically imprint upon their minds. Thanks to the Captain’s embodied teaching strategies, interpretation based purely on intellectual analysis is offset by a knowing that our inner world of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviour have an intangible quality. So too, I face psychology statistics with an appreciation of their usefulness that is offset by a knowing that they cannot define the heart and soul of a person.

The Big Bang Theory in Egyptian Mythology

According to the NASA website, the Big Bang Theory of how the universe started stipulates that in the beginning there was a very small single point that grew. Below is cut and paste of the process as theorised by Georges Lemaître and Edwin Hubble in 1927 & 1929 respectively.

When the universe began, it was just hot, tiny particles mixed with light and energy. It was nothing like what we see now. As everything expanded and took up more space, it cooled down.

The tiny particles grouped together. They formed atoms. Then those atoms grouped together. Over lots of time, atoms came together to form stars and galaxies.

The first stars created bigger atoms and groups of atoms called molecules. That led to more stars being born. At the same time, galaxies were crashing and grouping together. As new stars were being born and dying, then things like asteroids, comets, planets, and black holes formed!

Now what would you say if I told you that Lemaître’s and Hubble’s ideas were far from original? What would you say if I told you that the Ancient Egyptians said the same thing at least 5000 year ago? Well guess what, they did. Except the Egyptians used different wording.

According to the Egyptians, the void of nothingness at the start of time had four pairs of qualities. The names of these qualities were Naunet and Nu who represented the primeval water; Hauhet and Huh who represented infinity; Kauket and Kek who represented darkness, and; Amaunet and Amun who represented the hidden unknowable nature of the void. In case you didn’t guess it, each of these qualities was personified as a Goddess or God. Moreover, each pair had a female and male component – to use a modern analogy, it was kind of like pairs of female and male electrical circuitry; nothing was literally feminine or masculine, we humans just sometimes use a boorish of way describing things that interlock with each. (Imagine the joy your mobile charger gets when its studly male part makes love to the sexy female socket every night while its charging, and you’ll get the idea that thinking of the Egyptian deities as literally having it on, is humorous.)

The Egyptians expressed their version of the time before the ‘big bang’ wonderfully in their pictorial writing style of hieroglyphics.

Erroneously, some people, e.g., Jordan Peterson, refer to this description of the beginning of time as chaos, moreover, a feminine chaos. There are many reasons why this assumption is wrong, one of which is that it neglects etymology. The original meaning of the word ‘chaos’ was void.


Etymology is the study of the history of words. Language is constantly evolving which means the meanings of words is not static – like all of the universe, meanings are constantly expanding. Sometimes the meanings of a word get so big that they break into pieces and new words and new meanings are formed.

Common examples of words that have changed include ‘awesome’ and ‘awful’ which used to be synonyms that referred to fearful respect, i.e. ‘awe’ for God. Each word has slowly developed over the past few hundred years to point in which awesome means something wonderful and awful means something terrible.

Colloquially, ‘totally sick’ means something is great, but historically, a person would only use the term if someone was extremely ill.

Not so long ago, ‘gay’ meant happy or joyful, now it means homosexual. Imagine reading an Enid Blyton book and thinking the children were homosexual because you didn’t know the old meaning of the word. That is exactly the same situation we have with ‘chaos’.

Up until the 1600’s chaos had nothing to do with confusion or disarray. Hence, associating that meaning with the primeval waters of life is equally ridiculous. To use modern language, the primeval waters were a void.

Now, as the tiny particles, i.e. Naunet, Nu, Hauhet, Huh, Kauket, Kek, Amaunet, and Amun, got the jiggy on, excitement began to build. Georges Lemaître and Edwin Hubble phrase that this part of the process as leading to the creation of a big BANG. Personally, I think the Egyptian’s had a bit more class, they called it RA!

BANG or RA, or whatever you want to call it, it was BIG! And a great light appeared!

The Egyptians poetically describe this beautiful new light as blooming on a lotus flower. He sat there, ever so quietly, with His finger posed lightly upon His lips, in silence. Alas, the energy of this light was so powerful that it began to expand, and as it did Ra got excited; so excited in fact that He masterbated! Holy moly, the great God miraculously produced two offspring called Shu and Tefnut. Ra was new to this parenting thing; moreover, He was a single dad and wasn’t sure what He should be doing (I’m tempted to say Ra was a little bit Chaotic and struggled to find Order but I don’t want to get ahead of myself). So anyway, we’ll forgive Ra for not watching what the children were doing (some versions of the story say He lost an eye, so we’ll give the the poor man some empathy). While Ra was trying to get a hang on this parenting thing (if only He had some sex education before He masterbated!), there must have been a few moments where He wasn’t watching what the kids were doing because, lo and behold, the next thing you know, Shu and Tefnut are having kids with each other! Their offspring were called Nut and Geb. Please don’t judge Shu and Tefnut too harshly, they may have been siblings but their children were made with love, nonetheless. Besides, its not their fault Ra was an absent father figure who did not give any moral guidance (actually, I don’t think morals had been created yet – they came latter when the Goddess Maat arrived on the scene – bloody typical, the universe was immoral till a woman took on that leadership role). Family trauma set in quick. Nut and Geb had to be separated to stop the shenanigans. Nut was placed in the sky and Geb on the earth. The story goes on a bit with siblings having kids with each other (awkward, I know), and this keeps on going until Isis abstracts some of Ra’s power and begins the process of sorting out this family mayhem. Fortunately, after Isis has a child with her brother Osiris the incest theme dies down a bit. (The story of Isis is really cool, so I’m going to save the details for another time.)

Now I realise this Egyptian narrative is a bit raunchy and may not be appropriate for young children, so we’ll say the same thing in Lemaître’s and Hubble’s stiff upper-lipped scientific tone: Everything expanded and took up more space and then it cooled down. The tiny particles grouped together (that’s the incest part of the Egyptian story). They formed atoms (grand-kiddies were born!) Then those atoms grouped together (family tree was growing!) Over lots of time, atoms came together to form stars and galaxies.

I’m sorry, is it just me, or is the Egyptian version way more exciting? I know which drama enactment I’d buy tickets to see … I love learning but if the lesson is too boring then my attention is gone … just saying.

So there you have it. The Egyptian Big Bang theory. Presented to you in Renaissance Wellbeing’s style.

On a serious note, I have used some gender-stereotypes in my storytelling which are not necessarily part of the ancient Egyptian versions. Further, my stereotypes are not fair to real women or men. I mean no offence by my satirically expression. The point I’m making is that mythologies are an amalgamation of sociocultural influences and key concepts that have been personified. This is one of the reasons why there are so many different versions of the same myths. (FYI there are many variations of the Egyptian creation myth – what I’ve written here is a harmonisation of themes from serval versions.) Storytellers of different times and places imprinted upon narratives social codes and conventions that correlate to the cultures in which they are presented. Same thing happens in contemporary mediums of storytelling like novel writing and Hollywood movie scripts.

Overall, interpreting any ancient mythology needs to be approached with care and consideration of its themes and context. Creativity also needs to be duly acknowledged. For these reasons, myths cannot be completely generalised to have universal meanings, however, there is the caveat that common themes, like world beginning with a void, and theological beliefs, like the four elements, that can appear across a number of cultures. The reason for this is that there was a lot of sharing of stories, especially at ancient libraries. For example, Philo (20BCE – c. 50CE) was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who harmonised Greek and Jewish themes into his writing. Likewise, Ovid (43BC – c.18CE) was Roman scholar who harmonised Greek and Roman mythology. And Iamblichus (245 – c.325CE) brought together Egyptian, Chaldean, and Assyrian beliefs. The extent that storytelling was shared between groups of people prior to written records is unclear. Although, there is evidence cross-cultural influences did occur, for example Egyptian artefacts have been found in Crete that date back to at least 1500BCE.

When mythology is viewed in appropriate sociocultural contexts, psychoanalytical theory that proposes myths have universal symbols looses validity. Psychoanalysis interpretations of mythology do not present genuine understandings of ancient stories nor do they reveal any unconscious truths about so-called archetypes. Freud’s invention of psychoanalysis is nothing more than surface level interpretations of mythological themes that reflect Victorian era values. They are not applicable to antiquity and they are not applicable to today’s societies. Moreover, the psychological effect of believing myths are literal truths about gender and behaviour can harmful to mental wellbeing. As individuals we are not doing ourselves justice if we compare ourselves to personifications of concepts. There are no ultimate masculine or feminine traits that anyone needs to affiliate with based purely on whether they are women or men. We are all human. We are all in a state of expansion, development, and creation, just like the universe.

To end, I’d like to thank Kathy for inspiring me to write this blog based on a social media comment that she made:

I wouldn't want to get lost in the idea that chaos is feminine when it is both. Much in nurturing is calming and bringing order. Nurturing has been stereotyped as a feminine role. So, that in itself is a contradiction to chaos as feminine.


chaos | Origin and meaning of chaos by Online Etymology Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2020, from

NASA. (n.d.). What Is the Big Bang? | NASA Space Place – NASA Science for Kids. Spaceplace.Nasa.Gov.

The connection between symbolism and mental wellbeing: The basics

Human beings are visual creatures. Generally, we rely upon our eyesight more than any other sense. On a daily basis we look around our environments detecting colour, motion, shapes, contours, and gauge distance. We interpret body language, admire beauty, and we respond to the things we look at in a myriad of ways. When doing so, our mind is also constantly interpreting symbols. Even right now, while you are reading this blog, the letters that make up words are symbols that need interpreting. And the words themselves represent sounds and pictures which symbolise concepts that your mind can translate into meaning.

The definition of symbols is quite broad. To summarise, I’ve chosen the most concise and inclusive description from Cambridge online dictionary, along with a few examples:

  • something that is used to represent a quality or idea, for example:
    • Heart shape for the symbol of love
    • Water, a symbol of life, recurs as an image throughout her poems
    • The Berlin Wall was a potent symbol of the Cold War
    • She’s a symbol of hope for people living with this condition
    • The private jet is a symbol of wealth
    • The symbol © shows that something is protected by copyright
    • Symbols for mathematics ➕➖➗✖️, science μx, music 𝄢 🎶 etc.

Symbols aren’t always easy to decipher. To help, I find Charles Peirce’s (1839–1914) three levels of reference useful:

  1. Iconic = where a thing literally means what it is;
    • For example, a bird means a bird
  2. Indexical = where a thing brings to mind other things;
    • For example, a bird brings to mind flying, tweeting sounds, nests, other animals, etc.
  3. Symbolic = where a thing represents another thing, with referential connections to iconic and indexical levels;
    • For example, a bird brings to mind abstract concepts like nature, beauty, freedom, peace, and so forth.

If you want to develop a deeper sense of how the three levels of reference build up in the mind to form of semantic networks, then I highly recommend you check out Small World of Words. It is an online research platform in which you can type in a word and ‘visualize’ via a graphic presentation the common associations people have with that particular word. If you’re bilingual, an extra cool feature is that you can alter the language settings and compare word associations from one language with another. For example, in English, the word ‘dog’ is commonly associated with walking, barking, cats, friends, love, and more. In contrast, in German, the word ‘Hund’ (dog in German) has associations with mouse and wolf, which are not found in English associations of dog.

In art education, the skills associated with interpreting symbols is called visual literacy, and in a world saturated with visuals from advertising, social media, and other digital entertainment, comprehending what we see is more important than ever.

In a nutshell, thinking and communication are based on symbols. That’s pretty much the basics of why symbolism is important to mental wellbeing – the brain is constantly using and interpreting symbols. There is a lot of great science out there about symbolism, but unfortunately, thanks to Freud, there is also a lot of psychological myths about so-called universal symbols. I won’t harp on about him right now, but if you want the full deal on why I think he was wrong just about everything, you can read my peer reviewed paper Freud’s Oedipus Complex in the #MeToo Era: A Discussion of the Validity of Psychoanalysis in Light of Contemporary Research.


Cambridge Dictionary. (2019, November 20). SYMBOL | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary.

Science Direct – Visual Literacy. (n.d.). Visual Literacy – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from

Terrence William Deacon, & International Society For Science And Religion. (2007). The symbolic species : the co-evolution of language and the brain. International Society For Science And Religion.

Did the White Horseman have a bow, bow, or bow?

Symbols in the Bible are not always easy to decipher. Over the past two thousand years there have been numerous writings and re-writings of the Holy Scriptures. In order to keep the Word alive and comprehensible, scholars have continually strived to perfect the Bible’s language to align with their respective cultures and language.

There have been many debates, clashes, and arguments amongst Christians as to how the Word of God should be interpreted. Given how many developments there have been over the past two thousand years I like to keep an open mind. Therefore, to come across an evangelist, or to be precise, a Christian cult leader (FYI, the term cult leader is not used lightly), who believes that they have the capacity to interpret the Bible in a superior manner to all others intrigues me.

I do not want to unduly direct people to this man’s cult so I won’t mention them by name, however, I will give a little description of one their YouTube propaganda videos in which they discuss the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. They suggest the White Horse represents Jesus – which I dispute on the grounds that it is more probable that the ‘lamb’ in Revelations 6:1 who opens the seals and witnesses the horses is Christ. Therefore, how can Jesus be both the opener and the contents of the first seal? My greater curiosity, however, is in their point regarding how the word ‘bow’ should be interpreted.

In the video produced by the cult leader, they reference the White Horseman as depicted in Revelations 6:2:

And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

King James Version – BibleHub, 2020

Initially, the commentator, known as “the Voice”, considers ‘bow’ may be a reference to a weapon, which is a common inference.

Archer holding a ‘bow’ and arrow. Picture: ClipartMax

However, he isn’t too sure about associating Jesus with a weapon, so it’s suggested ‘bow’ is better interpreted as a ribbon. The video clip then flashes to a piece of fabric and the Voice says that Jesus’ has the miraculous capacity to save the world with a flimsy piece of cloth.

Floating piece of ribbon as a ‘bow’. Picture: PNGWING

A point overlooked with the bow as fabric interpretation is that it could be a ‘bow’ that represents status, like soldiers who receive ribbons of honour.

Ribbon of honour. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

The Greek word for ‘bow’ in Revelations 6:2 is τόξον [toxon] and there is some legitimacy to the interpretation of it being a ribbon of some sort. There are a number of Christian’s who share the opinion that the White Horseman’s bow is a simple piece of fabric. Justification for this view includes there being no mention of arrows in the Bible verse which is a point I appreciate, but I’m still not convinced about ribbon hypothesis. To investigate further I looked at a few other versions:

And I saw: and behold, a white horse, and he that sat upon it having a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went forth conquering and that he might conquer.

Darby Bible Translation – BibleHub, 2020

And I looked and a white horse appeared, and its rider carried a bow; and a victor’s wreath was given to him; and he went out conquering and in order to conquer.

Weymouth New Testament – BibleHub, 2020

I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

New International Version – BibleHub, 2020

Quick recap:

  • King James Version (1611) – Rider of white horse had a bow
  • Darby Bible Translation (1890) – Rider of white horse having a bow
  • Weymouth New Testament (1903) – Rider of white horse carried a bow
  • New International Version (1973) – Rider of white horse held a bow

It is interesting to note that between 1611 to 1973 the proposition of ‘had’ evolves into ‘held’. It’s only a little detail, but the semantics of the phrasing drastically alters the potential meaning of the overall symbolism.

In each of the interpretations I can see how the propositions ‘had’, ‘having’, ‘carried’ and ‘held’ can lead to the interpretation of ‘bow’ being a noun that refers to a physical object like a bow and arrow or piece of ribbon. But what if ‘bow’ was actually a verb? Could it be that the rider of the White Horse bowed their head to receive the crown?

‘Bow’ as a verb describing the act of bowing down to someone. Picture: PNGWING

In accordance with the King James Version, it makes sense: “He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him … “. I do not believe the King James Version of the Bible is perfect (future blog about the terms Hell and Hades will highlight why), however, it is a very concise Old English version. Crudely, it can be perceived as being written closer to the primary source by roughly four hundred years, and the reference material of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew versions of the Bible were also in an earlier form. Hence, I give credence the proposition of ‘had’ over ‘having’, ‘carried’ or ‘held’.

Admittedly, I am partial to the interpretation that the bow in Revelations 6:2 is a reference to someone taking a bow, as in bending over to show honour. However, I’m also aware that someone participating in a bow does not linguistically flow in the phrase “had a bow”. Rather, it’s more likely that they ‘gave’ a bow than ‘had’ one.

Perhaps the term “had a bow” would suit better if whomever was giving the White Horseman the crown (i.e. the Christ-like figure) was the one who bowed? In order to read this interpretation, it needs to be understood that the Old Greek script did not have punctuation. Likewise, Old Hebrew was also written in a continuous script. All full stops, commas, paragraphs, and other punctuations have been added over the years. Hence, if the King James Version is read without the semi-colon: “He who sat on it had a bow and a crown was given to him and he went out conquering and to conquer“, the interpretation that a bowing gesture was given to the White Horseman before he received is crown becomes plausible.

Complicating the matter is that the word ‘bow’ appears in English versions of the bible about 248 times, however, Revelations 6:2 is the only time τόξον [toxon] is used (other Greek words used in reference to ‘bow’ include υποκλίνομαι [ypoklinomai], υπόκλιση [ypoklisi], τόξο [toxo], δοξάρι [doxari]). Like the English word bow, τόξον [toxon] can be a reference to a weapon, a ribbon, a bending gesture, and more.

Interestingly, the word τόξον [toxon] in ancient Greek also refers to a rainbow. It’s plausible this is an another option for how the Bible verse should be read. The symbolic image of a rainbow doesn’t fit the overall vibe of terror presented in Revelations, although it does have connotations of peace that nicely juxtaposes with the idea of the White Horseman representing goodness. Personally, I quite like the idea of a rainbow conquering the world … that is so long as I don’t think too deeply about the other reference in the Bible where a rainbow was used as symbol of God’s harsh judgment of the earth’s inhabitants … then again, perhaps there is a symbolic link between the of rainbow in the Old Testament and Revelations?

Rainbow. Picture: Kiss Clipart

If τόξον [toxon] has been used to portray a rainbow, then the next question is whether the rainbow is an object or an allegory? While pondering those possibilities, there are additional options of what ‘bow’ might mean.

In Hebrew word for bow is קשת. In the context of Revelations 6:2 it means much the same as is English and Greek in that is it has multiple meanings of reference which include a weapon, ribbon, bending gesture, and rainbow. Further, קשת has the additional meaning of oxbow which refers to curved wood that goes around the neck of an ox. Perhaps the White Horseman was wearing an oxbow?

Oxbow. Picture: Wikipedia

To seek clarity around what ‘bow’ in Revelations 6:2 is all about, I decided to look for clues in the propositions of ‘had’, ‘having’, ‘held’, and ‘carry’. The Greek word of interest in this instance is ἔχον [echon]. I compared its usage throughout other Bible verses (see below) but again this didn’t help because it appears the interpretation of ἔχον [echon] can have different connotations depending on the context, therefore, ‘had’ and ‘having’ are both technically correct.

ἔχον [echon] can refer to the verb of possessing or getting possession of something; therefore, the term ‘held’ in the New International Version and ‘carrying’ in Weymouth New Testament are interpretations that can’t be definitely perceived as correct. Subsequently, they create subtle alterations to the mental imagery of the scene that may not be appropriate if bow is a verb or adjective, opposed to a noun.

Verses from KJV Bible that illustrate different usages of the Greek term ἔχον [echon] in contextual situations:

Matthew 12:10 And, behold, there was a man which had [ἔχων – echōn] hand withered. 

Mark 1:22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had [ἔχων – echōn] authority, and not as the scribes.

Luke: 33 And in the synagogue there was a man, which had [ἔχων – echōn] a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,

Luke 7:2 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was [ἔχων – echōn] sick, and ready to die.

Luke 7:8 For I also am a man set under authority, having [ἔχων – echōn] under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth;

John 5:5 And a certain man was there, which had [ἔχων – echōn] an infirmity thirty and eight years.

John 18:10 Then Simon Peter having [ἔχων – echōn] a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear.

Revelations 14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had [ἔχων – echōn] power over fire;

Revelations 17:7 And here the mind which hath [ἔχων – echōn] wisdom. 

To add a final layer of complexity to what ‘bow’ might mean, it’s possible that the colloquialisms of the Greek τόξον [toxon] have been lost to time. For example the word “sick” literally refers to something that is unwell, however, it can also be used colloquially (particularly among younger people) to mean something which is great. Language constantly evolves and the meanings of words can also change, especially if they are tied to cultural influences. Therefore, does the term ‘bow’, or rather the Greek τόξον [toxon], have a colloquial meaning that is no longer known?

Overall, the most popular interpretation of ‘bow’ for centuries has been the idea that it is a reference to a weapon, as notable in Dürer’s woodcut from the fifteenth century. I have great admiration for Dürer. Still, with my recent experience of the flat earth myth, I wonder how valid it is to rely upon popular opinions. 

Albrecht Dürer, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1498, woodcut. (White Horseman is depicted in the background, right side of composition) Picture: Smart History

It is worthy to note, that Dürer’s woodcut is not a literal representation of the book of Revelations. He applied creative licensing in an imaginative manner that combines various elements of the narrative into a single scene, plus he has added details like the Fourth Horseman holding a pitchfork which is not mentioned in the Bible. A lot can be learned from appreciating Dürer’s work, however, ultimately, it is an expression of his personal opinions. Pictures can be very persuasive but they are not always truthful.

So what does this all matter? Symbolically, it matters a lot. The mental representation of a rider on a White Horse armed for war, compared to one fashioning a ribbon, bending in reverence to receive a crown, or having the glow of a rainbow, all carry very different meanings.

Holistically, examining how the interpretation of a single word can drastically alter the meaning of text is a prudent reminder that making inferences from the Bible are not easy. 

Whether or not the Bible is the true word of God remains a matter of faith. As for translations and interpretations, they appear to be a matter of human choice. Further, cult leaders who assert they are authorities on interpreting words and symbols need to brush up on their history of linguistics.

For an in extended analysis see Interpreting The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse In A Historical Context

P.S. ‘Bow’ is an extremely interesting word, in addition to all the meanings explored in this blog, it also can be used to refer to a curved piece of wood with horse hair used to play a musical instrument, the fore-end of ship, or anything with a curved shape.


BibleHub. (2020a). Revelation 6:2 So I looked and saw a white horse, and its rider had a bow. And he was given a crown, and he rode out to overcome and conquer.

BibleHub. (n.d.). Bow (248 Occurrences). Retrieved November 12, 2020, from

BOW. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2020, from

Kiss Clipart. (n.d.). Download Rainbow Line. KissClipart. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from

Messie2vie. (n.d.). echo – Strong’s number G2192 – Greek Lexicon | Bible Tools – Messie2vie. Messie2vie. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from

Parsing and Strongs Definition. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2020, from

Smart History. (2015). Albrecht Dürer, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Smarthistory.

toxon – Strong’s number G5115 – Greek Lexicon | Bible Tools – Messie2vie. (n.d.). Messie2vie. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from

What does קשת mean in Hebrew? (n.d.). WordHippo. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from

Wikipedia Contributors. (2018, November 28). King James Version. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation.

Flat Earth Myth

The other day I was doing some causal reading of Thomas Aquinas (not everyone’s choice, I know, but I’m like that) and I found myself surprised to see him speak candidly about the earth being round. He wrote:

… the astronomer and the physicist both may prove the same conclusion: that the earth, for instance, is round: the astronomer by means of mathematics (i.e. abstracting from matter), but the physicist by means of matter itself.

(Aquinas, c.1265-1273)

The reason why I was surprised was because I had been taught that our ancestors were a bit daft. So much so, that they thought Christopher Columbus was going to fall off the edge of the world when he embark upon his epic journey that ended in the Americas. Hence, if it were not for those brave souls who ventured off into the unknown, the human race would have been none the wiser for a lot longer.

Realising that something was a miss, my mind went into conspiracy theory mode – perhaps the Catholic church with all their bishops and priests had deliberately kept the truth from the plebs but Aquinas was one of the privileged men of his age who knew the secret? I had to check this out.

Turns out that the Columbus and flat earth myth, is a myth. A relatively new one at that, give or take a hundred years. Moreover, it is us modern beings who are the daft ones. In the 1490s when Columbus and his crew set out for China (which he missed and finished up in present-day Venezuela) nobody believed the earth was flat. The myth was invented in 1828, by an author named Washington Irving who did a bit of ’embellishing’ when writing The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus. Maybe he didn’t expect his book to sell so it wouldn’t matter if he dropped in that little comment about people believing the earth was flat before Columbus? Well, the joke was on him … or us … or was it really funny? Anyway, Irving’s book finished up being a smashing success and with the help from others, e.g., a French author called Antoine-Jean Letronne who perpetuated the myth, Columbus’ name became associated with a whole new legacy.

In my impromptu researching I was also staggered to learn that a good proportion of people (in particular, young adults in American; maybe elsewhere as well but that’s the only place I read statistics on) still believe the world is round … and that the United Nations logo is representational what our planet looks like …

United Nations logo. Picture: Freebie supply

I never realised I was lucky to have grown up with a home that owned a small model globe, likewise, that the schools I attended also did. Then again, it was also from my schooling, in Australia – which is a considerable distance from America and France – that I heard about Columbus proving the world was round. Maybe I need to refrain how much praise I give my education.

My conspiracy mind had to yield defeat. There was no evil plot to keep anyone in the dark about the earth’s spherical nature. On a jovial note, it was simply a bit of sensationalism that caught people’s imagination. More seriously, a great lesson can be learnt from Irving’s example, that being how easy it is to create a myth.

The unsensational truth is that Greeks had worked out the earth was round by at least 600BCE. Aquinas, like his contemporaries and most of the scholars in the prior two thousand years, were well versed in literature of antiquity, so it is no wonder he spoke about the subject so matter of factly.

Now that’s sorted, I can go back to my leisurely reading of Aquinas and see what he has to say about whether or not Jesus’ had a soul.


Aquinas, T. (c.1265-1273). Summa Theologica. Translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province (Benziger Bros. edition, 1947)

Blakemore, E. (2018, August 31). Christopher Columbus Never Set Out to Prove the Earth was Round. HISTORY.

Furze, A., & University of Melbourne. (2019, January 11). Why do some people believe the Earth is flat? Pursuit. Editors. (2019, February 25). Columbus lands in South America. HISTORY.

The Four Elements in Theology and Ancient Texts

Ancient philosophers often referred to a hierarchy of the cosmos as fire, air, water, and earth. References to this framework can be found throughout many ancient texts such as those written by Plato (c.425 – c.347BCE) and Aristotle (c.384–322BCE). 

Empedocles (c.494 – c.434BCE) is sometimes credited as being the inventor of the four elements, however, it’s more probable he is just the oldest, clear Greek record of the theology. Pythagoras (c.570 – c.495BCE) predates Empedocles and there are subtle references to the elements in his work. Likewise, we know from Aristotle that Anaxagoras (c.500 – c.428BCE) knew of the four elements. (Aristotle insists that there are five elements but I’ll leave that story for another blog). 

Zoracasterian’s claim they have references to the four elements that pre-date the Greeks, hence, it is from the Persians that the Greeks became aware of the “sacred” elements. Given that the Babylonians had devised the Zodiac by 1500BCE, and the twelve constellations are subdivided into the four elemental groups this is more than likely to be the case. 

Nevertheless, it is in Empedocles’ poem On Nature that we have an eloquent expression of earth, water, air, and fire as the roots of life. Below are a couple of quotes: 

And first the fourfold root of all things hear! — White gleaming Zeus, life-bringing Here, Dis, And Nestis whose tears bedew mortality.

Empedocles & Leonard, c.450BCE/1908CE, Verse 6

I will report a twofold truth. Now grows The One from Many into being, now Even from the One disparting come the Many, — Fire, Water, Earth and awful* heights of Air

Empedocles & Leonard, c.450BCE/1908CE, Verse 22

* In this context the term awful is best interpreted in the antiquated definition of: “Inspiring awe; filling with profound reverence, or with fear and admiration; fitted to inspire reverential fear; profoundly impressive” (Merriam, 1913)

To conceptualize Empedocles’ hierarchy, here is a visual: 

Empedocles further indicates that the root elements of earth, water, air, and fire relate to everything in the world, which can be described in the harmonised terms of form, life-force, soul, and spirit, and in turn, these relate to minerals, plants, animals, and humans:

From the bottom-up, minerals represent form that can exist in non-living material, examples being sand, dirt, and rocks, i.e. minerals of the physical earth. In living forms, minerals move up to the next root level in which minerals are blended with a life-force, e.g. plants and trees. Animals are forms that have a mineral and life-force component, plus a soul. Human beings are at the top of the hierarchy because their composition includes minerals, a life-force, soul, and spirit – spirit also represents mind, therefore, human cognition is the distinguishing feature between humans and animals. 

According to creation mythology – as reflected in Empedocles (Verse 22) where he describes the One as creating the Many –  the hierarchy began top-down with spirit creating soul, then the dyad of spirit and soul created life-force, and the triad of spirit, soul, and life-force created form. 

Empedocles specifies that Zeus, Hera, Nestis (aka Persephone), and Aidoneus (Hades first name) are representatives of the root elements fire, air, water, and earth respectively. I.e., Zeus is fire/spirit/intellect – the all powerful creator god, Hera is air/soul/emotion, Nestis/Persephone is water/life-force/energy – the essence of form, and Aidoneus/Hades is earth/form/physical matter – form. By following this code, mythologies can be read on a symbolic level. 

The Greek language, and many others, is gendered, hence, it is logical that categorisations of symbolic codes developed around dualities of the spoken word.

The tradition of personifying spiritual concepts is evident across mythologies, as notable in the Greek influences of first century poet, Ovid. (43 BC – 17/18CE). Ovid was a Roman scholar who blended Greek and Roman influences by writing poems that included the names of Gods and Goddesses from both traditions). His description of the elements echo Empedocles sentiments that were written nearly five hundred years earlier:

It was a rude and undeveloped mass, that nothing made except a ponderous weight; and all discordant elements confused, were there congested in a shapeless heap

Ovid & Moore, c.15CE/1922/ 2017, Verse 5

The fiery element of convex heaven leaped from the mass devoid of dragging weight, and chose the summit arch to which the air as next in quality was next in place

Ovid & Moore, c.15CE/1922/ 2017, Verse 21

From the above quotes, it is evident that Ovid identifies a similar train of thought to Empedocles in which all the elements are reported as coming from the One, as expressed in ‘all discordant elements confused, were there congested in a shapeless heap’. Followed by the ‘fiery element’ emerging first, then the ‘air as the next quality’. However, rather than referring to Zeus as a ruling force of fire, Ovid refers to Jove as having this power. Likewise, other Roman deities replace some of the Greek characters.

In both Empedocles’ and Ovid’s (and other Greeks like Plato and Aristotle) descriptions, fire/spirit are represented as masculine and air/soul as feminine, thus it can be asserted that these were standard methods of defining spiritual theology in narrative contexts. Gendered descriptions of water/life-force and earth/form are a little more nuanced and ambiguous. 

The concept of the four elements can be identified beyond Greek and Roman spheres in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Aquinas, 1947; Habashi, 2000; Mirsky, 2004; Murata, 1989). Interestingly, an element of secrecy surrounding the four elements has been maintained for thousands of years. Subsequently, lack of understanding of the beliefs and structure behind ancient texts has led to many misinterpretations of the elements, from being interpreted as literally representing fire, air, water, and earth, through to their personifications as Gods and Goddesses being viewed as evidence to support patriarchal values.

Neglecting creative figurative speech in ancient verses has lead to the forming of institutionalised beliefs in of so-called archetypes which misrepresents the original philosophies. Psychoanalytical principles are a bit like saying all dogs are male (like in German, der Hund) and all cats female (die Katzte; German). Just as there are male and female dogs and cats, so too the masculinity and femininity in Spirit and Soul does not relate to biological men and women. On the whole the genderizations of spiritual concepts are arbitrary; Fire, Air, Water, and Earth don’t have real genders.

In sum, the secret to interpreting ancient myths does not lie in trying to decipher outer features of symbolism, rather, meaning is best inferred by recognising the underpinning theology. The four elements (or five as Aristotle and others assert) is an underlying belief system within Ancient Greek mythology. This concept can be extended to other theological systems, however, generalization needs to be conducted with care so as to avoid overlooking subtle differences between religions, cultures, and timeframes. 


Aquinas, T. (1947). Summa Theologica.

Aristotle. (350 B.C.E.). The Internet Classics Archive | On the Heavens by Aristotle. Classics.Mit.Edu.

Aristotle. (350 B.C.E.). The Internet Classics Archive | On the Soul by Aristotle. Mit.Edu.

Empedocles, & Leonard, W. E. (1908). The fragments of Empedocles; In Internet Archive. Chicago : The Open Court Publishing Company.

Habashi, F. (2000). Zorocaster and the theory of the four Elements. Bull. Hist. Chem, 25(2).

Kenney, E. J. (2019). Ovid | Roman poet. In Encyclopædia Britannica.

Merriam G. & C. (1913) “awful” in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary,, Accessed 10 November 2020.

Mirsky, Y. (2004). Feminine images of God. Www.Academia.Edu.

Murata, S. (1989). Masculine Feminine Complementarity in the Spiritual Psychology of Islam. Www.Academia.Edu.

Ovid & Moore, B. c.15CE/1922/ 2017. Ovid, Metamorphoses 1 – Theoi Classical Texts Library.
Translated by Brookes More, 1922.

Plato. (360 B.C.E.). Plato, Republic, Book 1. http://Www.Perseus.Tufts.Edu; The Annenberg CPB/Project provided support for entering this text.

Plato. Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vols. 5 & 6 translated by Paul Shorey. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1969.

‌Schweizer, E. (1988). Slaves of the Elements and Worshipers of Angels: Gal 4:3, 9 and Col 2:8, 18, 20. Journal of Biblical Literature, 107(3), 455–468.

Waxman, O. B. (2018, June 21). Where Do Zodiac Signs Come From? Here’s the True History Behind Your Horoscope. Time; Time.

St Mark’s Lion: What does it mean?

Christianity did not evolve in a vacuum. It emerged from a conglomerate of Jewish, Greek, and other influences that impacted its formation. In this blog I’m going to touch upon theological issues that outside influences had on Christianity’s development, but mostly I’m going to keep focus on some of it’s symbolism, namely, St Mark’s winged lion.

Legend has it that Mark, an apostle of Jesus, travelled around the Roman Empire evangelising. Of note, he went to Venice in Italy and Alexandria in Egypt. These two destinations are of interest because Mark apparently travelled to Venice, converted some people to Christianity, then went on to Alexandria where he lived for a few years before being killed by a mob of pagans (at the time they were simply average people who believed in the common religious practices of the day). In 828 Mark’s remains are believed to have been stolen from Alexandria and taken to Venice. It is speculated that Mark’s head is still in Alexandria (the thieves apparently only did a partial job of stilling the 800 year old corpse).

In 2011 I had the privilege of travelling to Venice (happy snaps below) and while I was there, one of the things that struck me was all the depictions of St Mark as a winged lion holding a book.

My knowledge of history and mythology wasn’t as strong back then as it is now, so the best I could do was stare in awe and wonder at the marvellous artworks like the ones below.

As I admired these images, I tried to decode their deeper meaning. There was clearly some symbolic and mystical meaning behind the decision to represent St Mark in this manner but I could not work out what it was. Lion = courage = heart. Wings = angelic = saint. Book = words = word of God. That was pretty much all I could decipher.

Venice left a lasting impression on me, even though we (my kids and I) only stayed there three days. St Mark’s Basilica was so amazing that I shed a tear when admiring the interior with all its paintings, arches, marble, stained glass, gold, and other trimmings. We were there during winter, it was cold, but it was fabulous. Even my son, then nine, felt the urge to be poetic and he coined the phrase ‘the luscious, humble waters of Venice!’

It was extraordinary to be travelling via boat to and from our accommodation. I observed the locals going about their everyday life such as pushing prams, attending to everyday business like grocery shopping, and riding bikes along the side walks – cars are forbidden in Venice but we saw one or two little exceptions, and I mean little exceptions as in little cars – and I was curious as to what it was like be to be born and raised in such a spectacular place. Everything was so different to my sense of normal suburbia but to the Venetian locals my extraordinary experience was their normal. It made me wonder how living in an environment like Venice would impact a person’s mind and behaviour.

But anyway, I’m getting distracted. This isn’t supposed to be a travel blog or reminiscent prose. From the Cathedral to the Doge’s palace, the Medieval and Renaissance artworks depicting St Mark’s signature symbol had me curious. The motif was clearly significant but its deeper meaning alluded me.

Not too long ago, my curiosity was sparked anew when I noticed how similar the symbol for St Mark’s was to Ancient Greek sphinxes.

Image from Ancient Greek vase c.510BCE

The main differences between St Mark’s winged lion and a Greek sphinx is that the latter is usually depicted with a book (but not always) and the former has a feminine head. Still, the similarity between the two symbols is remarkable.

Winged animals can be found in other traditions too, like the in Ancient Babylonian cultures which had female Lamma and male Lamassu.

Lamassu c.21–705 BCE

It’s difficult to speak of sphinxes without considering Ancient Egyptian too. These majestic icons don’t have wings but they do have the body of a lion and the head of a human (usually male).

Great sphinx bearing the names of Amenemhat II (12th Dynasty), Merneptah (19th Dynasty) and Shoshenq I (22nd Dynasty). c.2600BCE

Given the tradition of lion representations throughout the ancient worlds, I am curious as to why the Christians chose to adapt the symbol to their purposes. To explore this further, some insight can be obtained by the identification of each of the four Gospels within the tetramorph that aligns four winged entities with the four evangelists.

In the course of Christianity’s development, the harmonisation of the tetramorph with the four apostles has been disputed. The most common pattern being that proposed by Jerome (c.342-347 – 420CE) who aligned Mark with the lion, Luke with an ox, John with an eagle, and Matthew with a man.

From the Book of Kells, an Illuminated manuscript of the Gospels written in Latin, c. 800CE (Image from Wikipedia)

Justification of the representation of the apostles with animals comes from a few biblical sources, such as Ezekiel 1:10 (Old Testament/Torah) which reads:

As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

King James Version, BibleHub, 2020

References to symbolisms of the animals can also be found in the Book of Revolutions:

Revelation 4:7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.”

King James Version, BibleHub, 2020


Revelation 5:5 “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”

King James Version, BibleHub, 2020

As suggested above, the symbol of a lion in Christianity can be traced back to the Jewish tradition of the Lion of Judah which represents the Israelite tribe of Judah. The reference for this comes from Genesis 49:9:

Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?

King James Version*, BibleHub, 2020

The bible references are useful, however, the tetramorph also represents the four classical elements of fire, air, water, and fire. Further, the four elements have a connection to numerous other connotations such as the Sumerian zodiac, seasons of the year, equinoxes and solstice, cardinal directions, and Ancient Greek mythology. I struggle to imagine the Christians not knowing about other applications of the tetramorph and the use of winged animals in other traditions. Or as Origen (c.184 – c.253) pointed out, the Christians are best viewed in the context of their intellect being in accordance with the spiritual theories of their age (Roberts, 1949). However, simply applying the meanings of older symbols to Christian context does not seem appropriate because the nature of Christianity was to form a new religion and move away from older religions, i.e., what we now call paganism. Then again, the classic four elements were also considered serious scientific principles all the way up to at least the fifteenth century, so perhaps the conjecture that Christianity borrowed ‘pagan’ symbols is not the correct paradigm to use.

I should add, that I am uncertain as to when and where exactly the symbol of St Mark as a winged lion holding a book first emerged. Establishing this could help decode why the symbolism was applied.

Russell (1997) presents an interesting assessment of the four elements and their interconnectedness in an article titled The Four Elements and the Cross in Armenian Spirituality, with an Excursus on the Descent in Merkavah Mysticism. He makes the point that different cultures in differing times and locations re-interpreted the four elements in accordance with their prior customs, knowledge and experiences. After reading his paper I began to formulate the analogy that perhaps St Mark’s winged lion symbol needs to be viewed as being like football. Weird I know, just stick with me for a minute I’ll make this work. What I mean is, there are many different types of football, for example soccer, rugby, and Aussie rules. Essentially, there is one main aim in all these variations, that is to kick a ball to score goals. Rules like how many players on each team, scoring protocols, and markings on the field can differ from one variation of football to the next. Further, there can be different leagues within the same genre of sport. Comparatively, the four elements are like ‘football’ in that there are different ways of approaching a central aim which, arguably, is to explain spiritual principles of Life. Different leagues of religion can have different emphasises, rules, and customs. Hence, generalising all ancient symbols as having the same meaning is a bit like generalising and saying that all the rules across football variants are the same. To continue this metaphor a little further, just as each football genre uses a different type of ball, the application of lions and/or winged animals has differing significance in accordance to the belief system which it belongs to. Alternatively, the symbols could be viewed as simply being mascots.

In sum, identifying visual similarities between St Mark’s symbolism as a winged lion with older traditions is relatively easy, so too is tracing sources of lion symbols in Judea-Christian, Greco-Roman, and Zoroastrian traditions. However, all the scattered references don’t fully explain exactly what they all mean. Do the Ancient Greek sphinx have the same significance as lion forms in Ancient Babylon, and in turn, can their meaning be transferred to St Mark? Or does St Mark’s representation align purely with the Jewish symbolism of a lion? Are the Jewish representations of lions completely different to that of Ancient Greek, Babylonia, and Egypt? I’m always cautious about over generalising the meanings of symbols (as indicated in this blog) but at the same time the morphing of symbols from one culture into another is fascinating to contemplate. I will continue to ponder …

* A side interest of mine is to compare Bible entries to see how much they differ from each other, in the case of Genesis 49:9 there are many differences with can completely alter how the passage is interpreted. Below are three examples; the first includes a reference to a lioness and well as a lion and proposes the simile as a question, the second emphasises killing, and the third has no reference to Judah.

New International Version – “You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness–who dares to rouse him?”

Good News Translation – “Judah is like a lion, Killing his victim and returning to his den, Stretching out and lying down. No one dares disturb him.”

Contemporary English Version – “My son, you are a lion ready to eat your victim! You are terribly fierce; no one will bother you.”


Barnard, L. W. (1964). St. Mark and Alexandria. The Harvard Theological Review57(2), 145–150.

Carolina Sparavigna, A. (2013). Robert Grosseteste and the Four Elements. International Journal of Sciences1(12), 42–45.

Roberts, C. H. (1949). The Christian Book and The Greek Papyri. The Journal of Theological Studies50(199/200), 155–168.

Russell, J. R. (1997). The Four Elements and the Cross in Armenian Spirituality, with an Excursus on the Descent in Merkavah Mysticism. Jewish Studies Quarterly4(4), 357–379.

Werner, M. (1969). The Four Evangelist Symbols Page in the Book of Durrow. Gesta8(1), 3–17.

No Peterson, Chaos is not a universal feminine trait found across mythology.

I am not a fan of Jordan Peterson (I’ve written about him before here). In brief, he states half-truths as scientific facts. I find it frustrating to listen to him talk because one moment I’ll be agreeing with what he says and then the next I’ll be cringing at his inaccuracies. Essentially, the problem lies in his support of psychoanalytical theories which translate to personal opinions based on poor research practices.

Psychoanalysis is a belief system akin to religious doctrines. Its fundamental creed is that symbols in ancient mythologies have unconscious universal meanings. Freud was the inventor of the “holy scriptures” and his cult endures through personalities like Peterson.

Today I am inspired to say a few words in response to the YouTube: Jordan Peterson – Why is Chaos symbolised as feminine?

I’m going to keep my rebuttal short and sweet: the Greek personification of Chaos is MASCULINE or NEUTRAL. (In Latin, Chaos is neutral.) In creation mythology Chaos creates Erebus (darkness) and Nyx (night).

My knowledge of Greek linguistics isn’t fantastic but from my research it appears that χάος (chaos) is a masculine and χάους (chaos) and is the feminine. In early texts (Homer and Hesiod) Chaos is represented as a male deity and it is only in later texts (Orpheus and Aristophanes) that it is suggested that Chaos might be feminine.

Coincidentally, in the older Greek eras when stories were told by word of mouth, prior to 700BCE, there is evidence of matriarchal and/or egalitarian Greek societies. Whereas Orpheus and Aristophanes’ writings are dated later (c.600-400BCE) when Greece had become a patriarchal society. In other words, sociocultural structures influenced the presentation of themes presented in creation myths from one era to another.

This is not unusual. The identification of cultural codes and conventions in media productions is a well recognised aspect of contemporary analyses of narratives. All Peterson needs to do is google “Media Codes and Conventions” and he’ll find an abundance of academic literature about the subject.

Psychoanalytical theory loves to suggest metaphors are based on universal truths but this simply is not the case. The representation of concepts as personifications is complex, and nuanced by various factors of sociocultural considerations that should be addressed in case to case circumstances.

Peterson tries to support his arguments by promoting masculine mythological characters as representations of order, as he does in Jordan Peterson – Men as order and Women as chaos. Again, he is picking and choosing “facts” to suit his arguments.

In Greek mythology, Veritas is a goddess of truth, Eunomia is a goddess of law and legislation (her name literally means ‘good order’), Aletheia is a goddess of truth and sincerity, one of Athena’s virtues is practical reason, and Themis is a goddess of order, justice, wisdom, and good counsel. In contrast, Perses is a god of destruction, Ares is a god of war and violence, Apollo is responsible for plagues, and Dionysus is associated with drunken chaos.

Moving onto Egyptian mythology, Seth is a god of chaos, likewise Apep is a god of chaos and an opponent of Ma’at who is the goddess of truth and order. Thmei is also a goddess of truth and Merit establishes cosmic order with her music.

In Hindu mythology, Durga Devi is a goddess of moral order and Vritra is male demon (represented by a snake or dragon) who causes adversary. And let’s not forget that Christianity has Satan as it’s masculine representative of chaos.

Granted, there are some feminine deities who represent chaos, e.g. Eris (Greek), Kali (Hindu), and Kek (Egyptian; to be precise, Ancient Egyptian mythology refers to eight deities, four male, four female, that represent the primordial waters of chaos). Masculine deities who represent order include Weneg (Egyptian), and Vishnu (Indian), and Zeus (Greek; Zeus is also known to cause some chaotic situations, e.g. the story of Demeter and Persephone, but I’m putting him down because I’m having troubles finding a Greek god specifically dedicated to order – creating order and harmony appears to be a role dominated by Greek goddesses).

As for Taoism, which Peterson bases his arguments upon, an alignment of masculine as order and feminine as chaos can be read into the philosophies of yin and yang. However, generalisations of symbolic codes and conventions for concepts is not universal across all ancient belief systems.

Moreover, the spiritual psychology of yin and yang is not as simple as Peterson proposes. Personally, I find Sachiko Murata’s discussions much more thorough and detailed but I’ll avoid going off on a tangent and discuss Murata’s work in a future blog.

In sum, interpreting mythology is not always a simple, straightforward task. Generalising is thwarted with challenges and the results are prone to error if sociocultural considerations of when, where, why, and how stories are told are not taken into account. Further, the polarisation of concepts distracts from what myths are often trying to convey, that being the variability and shades of grey between black and white, male and female, good and bad, chaos and order.

Confronting misinterpretations of ancient myths is an important step forward in developing sound psychological theories. Likewise, psychoanalytical mythology and misogynistic stereotypes disguised as “science” need to be recognised as being nothing more than Freudian fables.

More about Chaos and Order in ancient myths: The Big Bang theory and Egyptian mythology

UPDATE 11/1/22: I’ve written an article about Eris. She is mostly associated as being the manifestation of strife and discord which, in a way, could be interpreted as causing chaos: Exploring Ancient Myths: Defining Beauty, According to Homer’s Helen of Troy.