The Problem of Understanding Ancient Language: On Hieroglyphs and Runes

Scholars and archaeologists alike make it their work to apply ‘facts’ to what can only ever be biased study. On magical systems such as the Tarot, the Runa, or the ancient Mayan and Egyptian hieroglyphs, there always comes the problem of perspective and inserting our modern rationalities or assumptions into the picture and postulating it as truth.

As my wanderings have now taken me to Mexico, and I have had time to explore some of the Mayan pyramids, such as Chichen Itza, and taking close looks at the pictographs and hieroglyphs on these old blocks of stone, I do not see simply a language waiting to be decoded. How can this be in the first place when the Mayans did not know other languages and therefore there can be no English, Latin, or Spanish translations, or in the case of the Vikings, English or other Germanic language codes. Because this is not the real meaning of these pictures.
It may be a symbolic language, but not in the sense of being linear, or necessarily even spoken, but portraying something far more grand, and mythic. This is because we forget that these cultures, the Scythians, the Vikings, the Picts, Mayans and Egyptians did not have strict oral language. They communicated a story that was to be told, that was divined and lived rather than recorded. These people thought in cosmic terms, the ancient mayan pictoglyphs simply can’t mean ‘this and that god did this for that reason’, the pictures are like landscapes of time, put down permanently in local materials and objects. Telling the heroic myths, legends or failures of their lives. It seems far fetched to try to attach specific meanings when all we have is broken manuscripts and lost fragments of syntax to give them relevance. The problem is not in the deciphering but the view or outlook of the decipherable. I think if we are to tap into the more esoteric meanings of these streams and relics of communication left behind, we must approach them in a more subtle way, without the repeated formula of finding sure answers.

One thought on “The Problem of Understanding Ancient Language: On Hieroglyphs and Runes

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