In the beginning there was chaos; heaven and earth were an undifferentiated cavernous space. Nothing was yet formed. It is the Great Oneness.
decoded in a myriad of ways depending on the context of the story and the environment of the observer.
Ancient cultures regarded caves as places where transcendental experiences occurred: they were the first sanctuaries; they were gateways to the underworld, to the interior of the Earth itself. In the beginning there was chaos and wilderness, where the earliest humans took to the caves for survival, regarding them as sacred shelters. The epitome of this cave-shelter symbol is that of the womb of the Mother Earth, a place of solace—a common motif across times and cultures.
The cave evokes the feminine: the wondrous maternal womb wherein new beings are formed and nourished, the deities of ancestral worship (Mother Earth). The cave lies at the heart of the metaphor of life: it represents a sanctuary of renewal and continuity, a place of enlightenment, a space for rest and healing.
The cave—be it a troglodyte's dwelling or a symbol—consists of a vault with an opening, where the smoke of bonfires, sunlight, or souls of the deceased or of shamans were believed to pass through. To our ancestors, the hole in the cave was the pathway of the soul, the gaze of the cosmos upon the Earth, and the portal to life and light.
Inside the cave, the path ahead recedes in darkness as light dies out. The cave is hence both the spiritual nucleus of the macrocosm and that of the microcosm—the human heart. The cave is a place of birth, regeneration, and initiation, a rite that symbolizes a new birth. In Plato’s Cave—a purgatory of sorts—anguished souls await redemption in a place where light could only be perceived through reflections, and the self only be known through shadows.