Rankian psychoanalytic theory proposes the Birth Trauma as the Primal Trauma, and the universal religious belief in blissful afterlife existence as the socially approved religious "sublimation" of the psycho-biological return-to-womb fantasy (the neurotic being the individual who unable to find socially approved defense mechanisms resorts to socially ill-adaptive alternative mechanisms).
Redolent, therefore, in the religious culture of the father-god fixated (according to Rank) are unconscious incestuous mother-goddess wish fantasies represented in the symbolic motifs of afterlife bliss in heaven.
The "phantastic" quest for return-to-womb by incestuous union with "The Mother" is expressed most remarkably in the development of the Hindu and Buddhist Oriental systems of transcendental meditation. In the practice of "Yogic" meditation, the final or ultimate aim is the attainment of "Nirvana," the pleasurable state of blissful "Nothingness" compared to the intrauterine state of the unborn (the Buddhist refrain "O thou jewel in the flower of lotus," is understood to refer to the fetus in blissful intra-uterine repose).
In the practice of the ancient Brahmins, the "Brahmacarin"(that is, the student-initiate) is pictured as descending into the "mystical womb" of his teacher, who like a mother "carries" the initiate in his "spiritual" womb for three days. It is believed that in the ancient practice, the initiate was kept in a darkened room for three days in an embryonic position: the hut being symbolic of the maternal womb. In the womb, the initiate or "Diksita" is covered with a robe representing the amnion. An antelope skin is placed over his head representing the chorion.
Rankian psychoanalytic theory correlates psychosis with the "mythical" worldview, and obsessional states with religion and philosophic speculation. The fact that at the end of every religious doctrine or philosophical speculation is a libidinal-incestuous symbolic representation of mother-womb bliss, challenges the proponents of Westermarck theory who deny repressed incestuous urges in the human psyche. So strong is the urge to return to maternal womb via incestuous union with "The Mother" that even death is interpreted in terms of intrauterine "Nirvana."
In the Indian Rigveda, the dead are exhorted to "creep now into the mother earth," and the mother earth is exhorted to "press not downward, be accessible, and as the mother covers her son, cover him also, O Earth."
The guilt-complex associated with the incest taboo often leads to an expression of the return-to-womb fantasy in the language of hell, purgatory and masochistic self-flagellating and mortifying rituals. Thus, the passage of the Christian Jesus Christ, via the mother's vaginal canal, back into the womb-earth, to be reborn, like the Hindu "Diksita," after three days is expressed in the familiar mythical crucifixion motif of punishment. The mythical-symbolic significance of the masochistic orgy at Golgotha is indicated partly by the fact that the mourning audience was a bevy of "Marys"(from ancient root of the word "earth" in connection with the Mother Goddess as Mother Earth).
In all cultures, the mourning of the dead, pictured as returning to pre-natal intrauterine life, is the special ritual function of women absorbed(as in the ancient fertility cult ritual of mourning for "Tammuz") into the cyclical lunar period with which the woman's ovulation cycle coincides roughly in duration.
The compulsion of guilt feeling associated with repressed incestuous urges has been proffered in explanation of the obsessional interest in father-god systems with graphic depictions of the torments of hell. The crime of the "sinner" is invariably that of aspiring incestuously to possession of The Mother. Thus, Zeus punishes the incestuous ambitions of Ixion by crucifixion: Ixion is bound with snakes onto a winged, fiery, four spoked wheel. Tantalus is punished by eternal hunger and thirst, and Sisyphus is condemned to eternal rolling back of a stone on an incline.
The obsessional state of mind of the puritanical father-god fixated, in the face of unconscious or repressed incestuous libidinal desire for "The Mother," is expressed in the reaction formation pattern to "Witchcraft," for instance: burning, torture, quartering of "witches," in the Middle Ages. The mother becomes an object of fear, anxiety and consequently intense hatred for the father-god worshiper who must deny his libidinal mother-fixation to salvation!
JohnThomas Didymus is the author of "Confessions of God: The Gospel According to St. JohnThomas Didymus."