This is a major multidisciplinary study of cult and myth, which embraces archaeology, comparative linguistics and mythology as well as sociological analysis. To the many scholars studying cult and myth, York presents a viable hypothesis in an area of great scholarly dispute.
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This work came about through a desire to understand the religious sentiments of our earliest linguistic ancestors: the Indo-European or even proto-Indo-European speaking peoples. From the Vedic peoples of India to the Celts of Western Europe, along with the classical civilisations of Greece and Rome, and including the Anatolians, Germanic-speaking tribes, the Baltic peoples, Slavs, Iranians, etc., I embarked to understand the contributions of each to the mythical register and then, through a comparative mythology between them, discern common features, underlying patterns and aboriginal perceptions of a worldview. Mythography was further complemented and expanded through research into the patterns of sacred geography and whatever archaeology has been able to uncover in terms of cultic practices. What I was able to find through these endeavours is what I would contend had been the conception of the world held by those from whom the various Indo-European-speaking peoples have descended. This worldview saw the divine (itself a polarity between the positive and negative) emerging from but locked in a battle with annihilative urges that operate on a cosmic as well as terrestrial scale. These last I have designated the 'asurian' (a term that has been adopted from the Vedic asuras and the Iranian ahuras and cognate with the Nordic aesir). The divine, by contrast, is affirmative, organic, regenerative (even through the destructive sides of nature), embracing of multiplicity as well as of progress, advance and the ascent of consciousness through the human medium. To put this worldview together became for me someting akin to working with a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. Pieces to the over all picture have been scattered across different cultures and geographic regions. Some have been lost altogether. But enough remain that, despite the still existing lacunae, an over all idea of the fuller picture may be appreciated and even used as a grounding heritage. These are not the patriarchal war-mongering hordes condemned by Marija Gimbutas nor the 'tripartists' of George Dumézil but more akin to the early agriculturalist culture-bearers portrayed by Colin Renfrew. Military options obviously became a feature of subsequent Indo-Aryan and European civilizations, and our cultural inheritance possesses more than its fair share of warts and perversions. But my final argument is that, in order to move forward into a place of global and cosmopolitan harmony and ecological equilibrium, we cannot hide from our pasts but need to face them honestly to understand our mistakes and more infantile errors. Yet, in this cultural soul-searching, we ought not throw out the baby with the bathwater. The reconstructed aboriginal Indo-European world picture is progressively confirmatory in both advancing the primoridal desire of the universe to see itself and providing ultimately something that is intrinsically worthwhile to be seen.
The book appears to be currently out of print, and Rowman and Littlefield, who acquired it from International Scholars Publications as the original publisher through Robert West, no longer appears to have it listed among its available offerings. An internet search, however, should locate for those who might be interested an available copy.