About This Book

The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and The Origins of Knowledge - By Jeremy Narby

"This meant that the gaze of the Western specialist was too narrow to see the two pieces that fit together to resolve the puzzle. The distance between molecular biology and shamanism/mythology was an optical illusion produced by the rational gaze that separates things ahead of time, and as objectivism fails to objectivity its objectifying relationship, it also finds it difficult to consider its presuppositions." (p.78-79)

"DNA is a master of transformation, just like mythical serpents. The cell-based life DNA informs made the air we breathe, the landscape we see, and the mind-boggling diversity of living beings of which we are a part. In 4 billion years, it has multiplied itself into an incalculable number of species, while remaining exactly the same." (p.92)

"In biology…DNA is “just a chemical,” deoxyribonucleic acid, to be precise. Biologists describe it as both a molecule and a language, making it the informational substance of life, but they do not consider it to be conscious, or alive, because chemicals are inert by definition. How, I wondered, could biology presuppose that DNA is not conscious, if it does not even understand the human brain, which is the seat of our consciousness and which is built according to the instructions in our DNA? How could nature not be conscious if our own consciousness is produced by nature?" (p.138)

"The connections with DNA are obvious and work on all levels: DNA is indeed shaped like a long, single and double serpent, or a wick of twisted flax; it is a double vital force that develops from one to several; its place is water. What else could the Ancient Egyptians have meant when they talked of a double serpent, provider of attributes and key of life, if not what scientists call "DNA? Why are these metaphors so consistently and so frequently used unless they mean what they say?" (p.102)

"The DNA molecule, which excels at stocking and duplicating information, is incapable of building itself on its own. Proteins do this, but they are incapable of reproducing themselves without the information contained in the DNA. Life, therefore, is a seemingly inescapable synthesis of these two molecular systems. Moving beyond the famous question of the chicken and the egg, Crick calculates the probability of the chance emergence of one single protein (which could then go on to build the first DNA molecule). In all living species, proteins are made up of exactly the same 20 amino acids, which are small molecules. The average protein is a long chain made up of approximately 200 amino acids, chosen from those 20, and strung together in the right order. According to the laws of combinatorials, there is 1 chance in 20 multiplied by itself 200 times for a single specific protein to emerge fortuitously. This figure, which can be written 20200, and which is roughly equivalent to 10260, is enormously greater than the number of atoms in the observerable universe (estimated at 1080)." (p.75)

"My investigation had led me to formulate the following working hypothesis: In their visions, shamans take their consciousness down to the molecular level and gain access to information related to DNA, which they call “animate essences” or “spirits.” This is where they see double helixes, twisted ladders, and chromosome shapes. This is how shamanic cultures have known for millennia that the vital principle is the same for all living beings and is shaped like two entwined serpents (or a vine, a rope, a ladder…). DNA is the source of their astonishing botanical and medicinal knowledge, which can be attained only in defocalized and “nonrational” states of consciousness, though its results are empirically verifiable. The myths of these cultures are filled with biological imagery. And the shamans’ metaphoric explanations correspond quite precisely to the descriptions that biologists are starting to provide. " (p.117)

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