Cultures, languages and why ancient wisdom matters in the modern world

“A language […] is not merely a set of grammatical rules or a vocabulary. It is a flash of the human spirit, the vehicle by which the soul of each particular culture comes into the material world. Every language is an old-growth forest of the mind, a watershed of thought, an ecosystem of spiritual possibilities.”
– Wade Davis –

Last Wednesday, I attended a fantastic talk with Wade Davis, award-winning anthropologist, bestselling author of several books, ethnobotanist, filmmaker, photographer, National Geographic explorer-in-residence, who led us on a thrilling journey to celebrate the wisdom of the worlds indigenous cultures – and languages.

His book, The Wayfinders – Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World is simply spellbinding and well worth a read for anyone interested in languages and cultures. It’s available both as a book, e-book and audio book under this link.

Here’s one of my favourite bits from the first chapter of the book:

“The brilliance of scientific research and the revelations of modern genetics have affirmed in an astonishing way the essential connectedness of humanity. We share a sacred endowment, a common history written in our bones. […]

The myriad of cultures of the world are not failed attempts at modernity, let alone failed attempts to be us. They are unique expressions of the human imagination and heart, unique answers to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive?

When asked this question, the cultures of the world respond in 7000 different voices, and these collectively comprise our human repertoire for dealing with all the challenges that will confront us as a species over the next 2500 generations, even as we continue this never-ending journey.”

When learning a new language, we immerse ourselves in a whole new world of culture too, we get to know a different point of view, different mindsets and opinions, different ways of thinking. Watch this 40 mins video with Wade Davis, summing up what he writes about in his book so brilliantly.

Wade’s talk and his book had a huge impact on me and how I see the world, and helped me re-discover a new appreciation for the diversity of the human spirit.

Once you’ve watched the video and/or read the book, I’d love to hear from you. Which insight or aha moment was most impactful to you and why?

Important: share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comments. Links to other posts, videos, etc. will be deleted as they come across as spammy.

Looking forward to hearing your voice on this one.


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  1. What I find interesting with consciousness, what Wade terms the ethono-sphere, or the dawn of consciousness, is when awareness was turned inward and we recognized how the human mind naturally speaks, and used that self understanding to speak across the ages, in the language of the ages. The same language we dream in –archetypes.

    That embodied language of the human mind, that is, the First-Language, and its virtualization, is what afforded the human mind an amazing social clarity of vision. It’s our core-tech. Because that’s what the externalization of the human mind was/is, technological.

    IOWs, I do not see a spiritual component to the social-mind. It’s our core-tech that binds us all. The fact that we speak thousands of different vocal aspects of language is irrelevant, because the First-Language, that is, our embodied language, our intelligence is a visual phenomena. That marriage of consciousness with self consciousness and its subsequent virtualization, was the the exodus from the garden, if you will.

    Unfortunately, over the millenniums, the embodied language’s growing complexity evolved into what can only be called a systematic language and the subsequent training of the conscious human mind in said Third-Language, rendered it illiterate to its embodied language.

    Talk about irony … this is where the problem lies. We lost control of our core-tech.


    1. Dear Edmund, thank you very much for your comment. Very thought-provoking, and I’d love to understand your point more clearly. Would you mind explaining a bit more? I think I feel what you mean but want to make sure that I really get it. Are you saying that our first language is visual, and what we mean by language today is a secondary element, a secondary manifestation of our core?
      I’m really curious and want to understand what you mean by core-tech, and virtualization of the marriage of consciousness and self consciousness. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog and to write such a great comment.


  2. Oops, Sorry for Misspelling your name Gabriella!

    When I use the phrase Core-Tech, I am referring to our MOJO. You know, imagination. Because that is what the first ancient human expression on the cave walls were, technological. That is, the externalization of the creative human mind! The ancients were the first to become self aware as to how the human mind naturally dialogues with itself (archetypes, like water, fire, horse, bird, root, etc…) and they used that self-awareness to speak across the ages in a timeless social context (caves).

    The ancient caves of Chauvet, Altamira, Lascaux, etc, are packed with amazing knowledge. Maps of the sky, Multiplication, Geometry, Historical events, Stellar Calendar systems that measured ages and the years.

    However, today, after untold millenniums, such virtual knowledge is no longer metaphorically recognized or comprehended. As such, belief in the voluminous knowledge the ancients built was adopted as an expedient social system. Thus, belief in knowledge severed meaning from the experiential, which is where meaning resides.

    We are now trained to believe that this symbol holds that meaning, without any metaphorical comprehension whatsoever. IOW’s from the virtualization and augmentation of the complexity of our collective ideas, we have rendered ourselves illiterate to metaphorical thinking.

    Hope that, and the previous article helps.

    Edmund Dalpe, MFA.

    BTW, I just notice your post today. Sorry for being so late to respond.

    Liked by 1 person

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