“The ancient system of knowledge did not come about in the course of evolution,but first appeared in its highest and most perfect form as an instant revelation from the gods. …Nowhere in antiquity is that belief challenged. … The theory of the gradual evolution of consciousness is absent from the Hawaiian cosmogony, and in its place was substituted the belief that lesser gods had been created by God and that these came down to inhabit the bodies of animal men. … the arts and sciences are said to have been established through divine revelation. … For this reason, the gift of prophecy was highly esteemed. … However, it is a fact beyond dispute that .. the knowledge that produced the first and most perfect institution of the Temple has been in a state of decline.” ~John Michell
While there are many kinds of knowledge, Michell is talking specifically about the knowledge of sacred numbers and proportion which he refers to as “the Temple” since the temple, whether physical or mental, was designed according to that ancient knowledge. He goes into another aspect of it in the quote, however. Specifically, he points out that according to records of ancient mystery and spiritual schools, including those of Hawaii which was once a very spiritual place, consciousness didn’t evolve gradually.
There is a lot of confusion about consciousness. Some think it simply means the conscious human mind. Dictionaries define it simply as awareness of self or other beings and objects. That is a limited definition that to spiritual people is putting the card before the horse. It is basically saying that lifeforms evolve until they become self-aware. Then they have consciousness, but not before.
The spiritual concept of consciousness is different. We say that if you are conscious of a toad on the ground, then both you and the toad must be conscious, otherwise such a shared experience would be impossible. In this view of consciousness, in order for any being or object to be conscious of another, that being or object must itself be part of consciousness. In short, consciousness can only be aware of itself. Therefore, anything we are aware of is part of consciousness.
Also, consciousness is a mental thing. I don’t think anyone would deny that. We also know that before a thing can be brought into physical reality (manifested), it has to be though of by some being. So none of the physical realm could have existed until after consciousness came into existence. Which means that consciousness is spiritual, not physical. As such, consciousness is outside the limitations of time and space. It is everywhere, always. And there is but one consciousness, though it has many levels or layers.
Gift of Prophecy
It is assumed by most modern materialistic and scientific types that the ancients learned primarily by trial and error. If someone in a village ate poisonous mushrooms and died, the others now knew better than to eat them. But more spiritual people don’t accept this idea. For one thing, with trial and error almost everyone would end up dead. But most places had a better way.
Whether they were called Shaman, prophets, witch doctors, or something else doesn’t matter. These spiritual leaders of villages and tribes were responsible for making such decisions as which plants and mushrooms were safe to eat. The evidence indicates they were usually right. If they made too many mistakes, they would have lost their job or been killed.
How they know what was safe and what was a healing plant is open to debate, but it may be that they could see the energy bodies or spirits around the plant or animal and that helped. Another possibility is that they had access by some means to this ancient knowledge that has been mostly lost to modern man. They didn’t have to guess, they simply knew.
Source of Knowledge
At least some shaman and prophets had access to great knowledge and wisdom. There is only one way to get this knowledge. They had to awaken their spirit and soul. The awakened soul has access to the great source of all ancient knowledge. This is what Gnosis is all about. It has nothing to do with learning from books, or even from teachers. It is the universal knowledge that the soul automatically has access to when it becomes fully awakened. What the spiritual schools taught is how to awaken the soul. The good news is this ancient knowledge is making a comeback.