When you die your whole life flashes before you eyes. Such an old wive's tale is a piece of vestigial wisdom left in a Western collective mind otherwise suffering a case of severe amnesia. In our fall from God and into the ego we have forgotten our divine nature. We think we are separated from God and Nature, but we are not. An old wives tale is a reminder, a thread connecting us back.
Tracing the origin of old wive's tales backwards through the fall into history, we see them passed to us through Midwifery. In a culture of separation, women are separated from men, and the women tend to their own needs. Midwives were the doctors of the feminine community; aiding in births, treating the ill, and comforting the dying. They were suppressed and persecuted by the Church as witches. In native cultures, such witch-doctors are known as Shamans. In the roll of the Shaman we can trace the thread back one more turn in the spiral of history.
This step back is also a step up; a step up and out of the ego and into the mind of culture. In this state of less separation, and greater connection, women are worshipped instead of owned. Women not only bring forth new life, but in cycle with the heavenly bodies, the clock of the Universe, a woman bleeds but does not die. Feminine Wisdom is thus the power over life, time, and death. Each woman is regarded as a gateway to the infinite, a micro-cosm of the Universe, and worshipped as an incarnation of Goddess, the sublime Genetrix of Being. Women are the natural link connecting the culture back to God; and that is the role of Shaman, to serve as middleman between worlds.
To breach the separation from God, the ego must die. A man on the path of the Shaman must overcome his fear of death, for he must die and be born again to experience the feminine power over time and death. Jesus is the proto-typical Shaman of our culture. While on the cross he receives the final wound in his side demonstrating to all the world he has passed to the other side. But he does not die, and bears the wound as a sign of his feminine power over time and death. Medieval artists often portrayed Jesus exposing the flesh of his labial wound, emphasizing the feminine nature of the Shamanic role he has taken.
Like the women of the lost global culture, Jesus is worshipped as an incarnation of Sophia, the all pervading Spirit of God. Sophia became Sapientia in Latin, and here is another mystical thread, placed to remind us of man as micro-cosm of the Universe, made in the image of God: The Scientific name for man is Homo Sapiens- "Same Wisdom". The Medieval "doctors" who originated modern Science are telling us that We are One, sharing an origin and a Being in the unifying Spirit of God.
Before the separation of Science and Philosophy, these Medieval doctors were also Alchemists, the Shamans of their day. They operated their researches in secret to avoid Church persecution. This is the modern origin of the Occult as well as Science, as Occult simply means hidden from view. In England, these philosophers were known as "The Invisible College." The Invisible College eventually became the Royal Society. The Occult nature of their researches can be seen in work of their most famous early president, Isaac Newton. Newton viewed the Universe as a riddle in the mind of God, a "cryptogram set by the Almighty." He spent his life searching the Bible for a hidden code, and Keynes said of him, "Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians." Today, the Science has become exoteric while the Theology has remained esoteric.
When we understand that Newton saw the Universe as a riddle, it becomes clear that he was on the Shamanic path. For to die and be born again is to see the universe as a riddle with no answer, to come face to face with a sublime paradox at the edge of Being.