(See our music video for “Nascent” for some background information concerning the concept)
Noumina portrays the immortal man’s experience within the second stage of Spiral Dynamics: the “Purple” mode of consciousness.
Purple arose as the loose bands of hunter gathers of Beige began to form into larger, more-stable groups or “tribes”. The stages of Spiral Dynamics alternate between an “express-self” orientation and a “sacrifice-self” orientation (“I” versus “we” mentalities), and Purple represents the first sacrifice-self stage in which the needs of the group supersede the needs of the individual. In Purple, one sacrifices their own desires for the good of The Tribe.
As Purple arose historically, the communal way of living within The Tribe provided an easier means of survival than Beige hunting and gathering, and this newfound stability liberated mental energy for matters of the mind. As control over nature and the ability to manipulate the environment improved, humans sought means of explaining the many forces of nature which remained outside of our control, such as the onset of famine and drought or the outbreak of disease. An animistic view of reality developed in order to explain these mysterious cause and effect relationships. Nature was understood as being imbued with magical or mystical forces which determine events, and these forces must be pacified and appeased in order to gain favor on behalf of The Tribe.
In Purple, The Tribe circles around certain objects, places, and events, and endows them with sacred significance. Rituals and ceremonies serve both to facilitate a sense of group unity and to placate the spiritual forces of nature. The awakening of Purple marked the emergence of human culture with the development of mythology, oral history, and art. The shaman, elders, and chieftain were revered for their ability to heal, maintain contact with the past, and facilitate group decision making.
It is easy to overlook how Purple continues to pervade modern society today. Disney has made its fortune by tapping into the magical way of thinking of Purple which dominates the mind in early childhood. Sporting events provide a means for adults to express Purple urges by creating a temporary “tribal” experience: fans gather together, paint their faces, perform superstitious rituals, engage in chanting, and send their best warriors onto the battlefield to compete against other tribes. In the US, we tend to be remarkably Purple when it comes to the American Flag. This symbol of our nation has been imbued with sacred significance, and desecrating or tarnishing it is taken by many as a seriously offensive transgression. Other superstitions and customs, such as thinking twice when crossing the path of a black cat, saying “bless you” when someone sneezes, and carrying a rabbit’s foot or knocking on wood for good luck, are largely the result of the Purple system at play within our minds.
“Noumina” represents the immortal man’s journey through the era of human history dominated by Purple thinking. During this period, he comes to recognize his need for community, and finds safety and acceptance within the tribal lifestyle. The lyrics capture The Tribe’s intent to bring an end to a drought by joining together to appease the forces at work in nature. Here, the immortal man fully appreciates his dependence on others, as well as on forces outside of his control.
One of the implications of Purple is the importance of receiving a sense of unconditional love and acceptance within one’s closest social communities. Early humans achieved this sense of belonging within the tribal community, but it usually one’s immediate family which provides a Purple foundation in modern societies. Without a strong sense of acceptance and love from one’s immediate family, the rest of the Spiral rests on shaky ground. This can result in many forms of destructive imbalances and overcompensations, such as urban youth joining gangs to fulfill their Purple need for belonging. Thus, Spiral Dynamics adds a new layer of insight into the importance of ending the continuous cycle of children growing up in broken homes where they do not feel secure and accepted.