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Barring shamanistic experiences resulting specifically from drug use, dreams were taken very seriously and considered very important and significant in the past. My dreams, personally, are typically very vivid and some combination of highly abstract, fantastical, and/or nonsensical. I've had a fair number of dreams that were just as profound and "mystical/spiritual" as my hardest trips. I've also got a lot of experiences with dream-like altered states, like hypnagogia, sleep paralysis/REM Atonia, and other between-waking states. I've encountered beings and visuals quite similar to those I've experienced in trips.
Because not all of these experiences took place before ever having tripped, it's hard to counter the notion that it's just my mind producing familiar imagery, but I started getting into drugs later than most, around 18/19. and have been having these kinds of dreams and dream-like altered states of consciousness since before having first tripped sometime around the age of 19 or 20. I think something related to the structure of the central nervous systems in human beings in general makes this type of imagery fundamental to the human experience in some manner.
Then again, going back to the hypothesis that it's just the brain latching on to familiar imagery, most if not all surviving religions today have roots in one another. Many trace their mythology back to the greeks/romans, then to the egyptians, then to the sumerians, then further back to what seems to be whatever was practiced by the people who built Gobekli Tepe. Even then I left out how the greeks and romans got tons from nordic mythology, which also shared and took from Celtic mythology. South and North America (native americans and mexicans/latin americans) share a shitload of stuff, and all of Asia is steeped in their shared culture which obviously would've crossed paths with European mythology at some point to.
Thing is, most of the images of Gods from other cultures are either very simplistic, generalized images (watch some Ancient Aliens and they point out how you see shit that looks like the same basic type of aliens with big heads and eyes and spindly fuckin legs and arms and shit all over the place, represented rather crudely as what are essentially stick figures). Other depictions are typically more modern interpretations based on the oral description of a god's characteristics. By the point trade was becoming available world wide, people would've been exposed to all kinds of visual depictions of other culture's gods, and that would effectively influence any further depictions of even their own gods or others gods that would be created. we have all been so connected on a social level that all this shit exists within humanity's collective unconscious mind in one form or another for centuries and even millennia.
i mean, said "collective unconscious" may have been more fragmented and localized in the past (specific to landlocked regions or other natural barriers), then after the development of global trade using ships and whatnot, that collective unconscious became more or less united. after that, the natural barrier present in the collective unconscious was each individual person lacking a means of instantaneous or otherwise very quick communication with the rest of the population around the world (lacking phones, television, and the internet), as well as socioeconomic status and what that allowed people to afford in the way of the media that actually did exist at the time. assuming the global trend continues (the trend in first world countries in particular), with the average person having access to television and high speed internet, the collective conscious becomes progressively less and less fragmented and continuously updating and being interacted with. the only problem right now is bandwidth, where there is so much input that our inability to directly interface with the internet on a neural level is preventing us from consuming the output at sufficient speeds to meet demand. once we work around this, we will be on the way to an actual global consciousness of sorts that isn't simply a collective unconscious minds as a whole, one that acts almost like a hivemind. after which, all our cultural identities will pretty much cease to exist, meaning all our god imagery is going to be pretty much identical. essentially, the world will become like Serial Experiments Lane. That show is pretty prophetic really.
goddamn i started going on an adderall'd out tangent there. oh well, fuck it