Clarissa Hughes

Caught in a net and loving it

Sometimes an insight knocks you off your feet so hard that it takes a while to articulate it. Making the connections intuitively doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to share it with the outside world. Sometimes a revelation needs to be nurtured in the dark womb of your own imagination before you’re ready to introduce it to the glare of public scrutiny.

And like a small child this truth has been gently offered to one, then two, then a few more people, until now, when I’m confident enough to share it publicly. So here goes.

I’ve written before about Driekopseiland and the remarkable rock art there. I came to the conclusion that what was significant about the location for the artists were the striations on the glacial rock of the river bed. The striations create a mesh template over the canvas.

A calabash I acquired in Zambia also has a mesh pattern etched into its dry skin.

Yet it wasn’t until I saw a picture of the piece of ochre discovered at Blombos Cave that I really got thinking about the significance of the pattern. 


The Blombos Cave piece is reckoned to be 70,000 to 100,000 years old. What got archaeologists really excited is that it is the first known example of abstract art. And, yes, that image is a mesh pattern.

So what is the importance of this net?

Here we can turn to the living repositories of ancient knowledge – the Bushmen.

The Ju!hoansi of Botswana and Namibia say that all living creatures are connected by Soul Ropes. They say that there are chords of soul connecting every single human to every other human, and every human to every other form of life, and so on.

They go even further to say that every form of life on earth is connected by ropes of soul to the stars above – an extraordinary assertion when one knows that all element atoms on earth have been through one stellar burning already.

The net of the ancients is what we now call the Web of Life.

The Bushmen, however, are far more poetic. They say that arrows of soul are shot between living creatures. In other words the life force pumps through the ropes from one form of life to another.

I’ll settle for being caught up in a web of Soul Ropes any day.

So next time you see a geometric pattern, in African or other indigenous art, remember from whence it comes – an articulated spiritual connection with Life itself.  



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