The Evolutionary Tree of Myth & Religions, v2.0, by Simon Davies, is an awesome look at how human belief has shifted over the course of history.
A while back, we posted Simon E. Davies’ original Evolutionary Tree of Religion from his Human Odyssey group (check it out here). Davies wrote to us to say that the image we posted is actually out of date—and he’s back with a new, more detailed version, linked below, with more detail and more religions added.
I’m a huge fan of this image, for several reasons. One, it condenses almost the entirety of human thinking into a single image, rather than a library. Second, it shows how belief systems flow into each other, cross-pollinating with each other and giving birth to new forms as time goes on.
It also, perhaps most interestingly of all, shows syncretic neopagan religions developing as the current edge of religion—Asatru, Wicca, Thelema, Anthroposophy, the African disapora religions and several more. Whether one lends credence to or is even familiar with these largely counterculture religious streams, it’s fascinating to think about our current cultural moment—in which such belief forms are largely considered worthless—within the broader context of history.
Today’s outsider cult, after all, can easily become tomorrow’s mainstream religion, given the right economic and political pressures. Consider how within the space of only three centuries Christianity—a religion that started as a tiny, persecuted group of cultists that had to meet in mausoleums and were often fed to lions—became the binding force of an empire. Fast-forward through history, and watch Christianity in its various forms become a global empire, with 2.2 billion adherents—one third of the total human beings on Earth.
Of course—and this may actually come as a shock to many Americans!—there are religions beyond just Christianity. Though perhaps not dwarfed in numbers, Christianity only represents a very small range on the broad spectrum of human beliefs.
Check out the image below for a look at our massive spiritual heritage as a species. Every one of the dots on this tree, I believe, has a huge amount to teach us about who we are. (Only one quip, however—Davies left out Chaos Magick! Luckily, you can find out more about Chaos Magick here.)
The image below will expand on clicking.