Perhaps more than any other Old Testament tale, it is the story of Noah and the Flood with which individuals of all ages and religious backgrounds are most familiar. In Christian, Jewish, and Islamic literature, the story of the Deluge plays an important role. There are actually more than 200 “Great Flood” traditions scattered throughout the world. With this in mind, coupled with the fact that I have been a Noah’s Ark enthusiast for more than 30 years, I have to admit to disappointment in the movie Noah for missing numerous details of this archetypal tale and failing to bring to public awareness the fact that this story has relevance for all humankind.In the Christian world, the story of Noah has played an important role for 2,000 years. Between the Middle Ages and the 19th century, the fact that fossilized bones of sea creatures could be found on mountain ranges throughout the world was generally believed to be proof that a great flood had occurred.
In Christian medieval towns, while biblical mystery-morality plays were making the circuit, the story of Noah and his family was a frequent favorite. Even with the discovery of plate tectonics in the 1800s, and the knowledge that ice sheets had once covered much of the Northern Hemisphere—challenging the medieval belief that “fish bones on mountaintops equals world-wide deluge”—the belief in Noah’s flood was never doubted by those faithful to scripture.
Further confirmation of the existence of the ark even after the 19th century came in the form of eyewitness accounts of the craft upon Mount Ararat in Turkey, near the borders of Armenia and Iran, by many reputable investigators, scholars, military professionals, and theologians. In fact, there have been more recorded sightings of Noah’s Ark since 1840 than during any other period of recorded history! Historical references to the discovery of the ark are traceable at least as far back as the third century BCE.
Over the years, what has fascinated me the most about this story is the fact that it can be explored from various unrelated perspectives—a process that will lead to the discovery that a number of source materials describe complementary aspects of Noah’s tale and expand it. For example, because of the information contained in Genesis 2:5-6, some Christians believe that rain was absent from pre-deluge earth and that the planet received moisture from a water vapor canopy that engulfed it: “…for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth…But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” This same premise was also advanced by Austrian-born philosopher, educator and clairvoyant, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the founder of the Anthroposophical Society. In describing the pre-deluge earth, Steiner stated:
…at that time the air was saturated with water mist vapors. Man lived in the water mist, which in certain regions never lifted to the point where the air was completely clear. Sun and moon could not be seen as they are today, but were surrounded by colored coronas. A distribution of rain and sunshine, such as occurs at present, did not exist at that time…
Steiner, “Cosmic Memory”
Some individuals contend that it was the disappearance of the water vapor canopy and the resulting influx of solar radiation that was responsible for the tremendous decrease in humankind’s longevity—from almost 1,000 years to the present lifespan of 7-10 decades. Scripture further supports this premise in that, immediately after the flood, lifespans begin to decrease with each subsequent generation.
According to the Old Testament, the ark’s incredible dimensions measured 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. Historically, a cubit is thought to be the length of a man’s forearm, or somewhere between 18 and 22 inches. It is interesting to note that the ark’s dimensions of 6-to-1 (length-to-width) were considered so seaworthy that Marine architect George W. Dickie purposefully used the same ratio when constructing the U.S.S. Oregon, which was launched in 1898, and was considered the flagship of the American fleet and one of the most stable vessels ever constructed.
The Edgar Cayce readings add more information to the story of the flood. First of all, Noah and his family were not the only individuals saved from the destruction. The eight souls were saved to preserve the consciousness that had been brought into the earth through Adam and the followers of the Law of One, and to continue the spiritual and mental evolution of mankind. However, all over the earth other individuals found safety in crafts of their own making—lending credence to the fact that flood traditions exist worldwide. In fact, the readings suggest that the flood occurred during the second destruction of Atlantis, causing migrations of individuals from Atlantis to other parts of the world.
From the readings standpoint, God did not send the deluge; instead, God intervened to prevent mankind from completely destroying itself. (Interestingly enough, Jewish historian Josephus was also convinced that God did not send the flood and believed that the flood was brought about by humankind.) Apparently, some of the Atlanteans had gotten hold of the energy crystal that supplied power to the continent, misused the energy source, and caused an explosion that tore the continent apart—condensing the water vapor mist that completely surrounded the earth (much like the planet of Venus is surrounded by a cloud canopy).
From a psychological perspective, the Great Flood Myth symbolizes the pattern of being overwhelmed by personal transformation and change and yet somehow becoming a more enlightened individual because of that experience. What is fascinating about the archetypal significance of this tale is that in the last decade of the 20th century, the story of Noah experienced a tremendous rise in popularity. Almost overnight the market seemed flooded with numerous children’s toys, night lights, magnets, collector’s plates, ornaments, clothing, figurines and even several movies about Noah’s Ark. The archetypal reason was not because for some inexplicable reason this man and his family suddenly fascinated society. Instead, because so many individuals now feel in the midst of personal transformation and change this archetype has resurfaced. People feel motivated to put a Noah’s magnet on their fridge because subconsciously it resonates to something they are experiencing deep within themselves.
Jungian psychologist Eleanor Bertine (ca 1944) found much archetypal significance in the flood story and suggested that the flood epic itself was far older than either the biblical or Gilgamesh accounts. Like many researchers, she pointed to a Sumerian version and its Ziusudra Noah that is traceable to at least the third millennium BCE. The biblical and Gilgamesh tales agree with all essential details of the Sumerian version. Bertine was convinced that both the Gilgamesh and the biblical accounts were traceable to the Sumerian version; however, she was also certain that the Sumerian version had been based on something even earlier: “dating back so far that the bottom falls out of time…” (Rohrbach, Pg. 197) Back so far that it corresponds with Cayce’s timing of Atlantis?
In the end, what may be most inspiring for me about the tale is the fact that there is an ancient Armenian legend which states that a gopher-wood craft, enormous in proportions, rests high upon the mountains just waiting until the moment is right for its discovery. According to the tale, God in His omnipotent wisdom, hid the craft, for He knew a time would come in the history of humankind when all the peoples of the world would need the chance to believe.