Original Participation
The "primitive" awareness or consciousness in which mankind once believed--in a pre-logical, pre-mythical manner--that "there stands behind the phenomena, and on the other side of them from me, a represented which is of the same nature as me . . . of the same nature as the perceiving self, inasmuch as it is not mechanical or accidental, but psychic and voluntary" (SA 42), a mindset in which we feel ourselves to be "functioning member[s] of the natural world, as a finger is a member of the physical body" (RCA 230)--original participation has been eliminated by the evolution of consciousness.

"A perspective which reveals more and more of perception and less and less of thought" (HGH 24), original participation is, Barfield explains in History, Guilt and Habit,

a kind of consciousness for which it was impossible to perceive unfiguratively. But what does one mean when one speaks of perceiving figuratively? One means a kind of consciousness which does not, which cannot, perceive the material merely as such, which in perceiving its environment, perceives at the same time an immaterial within or through, or expressed by it. . . . a kind of consciousness for which there is no such thing as a merely "outer" world" (46).1

Evidence of the existence of original participation is apparent in the testament of language: "The farther back language as a whole is traced," Barfield notes in History in English Words, "the more poetical and animated do its sources appear, until it seems at last to dissolve into a kind of mist of myth. The beneficence or malignance--which might be called soul-qualities--of natural phenomena, such as clouds, plants or animals, make a more vivid impression at this time than their outer shapes and appearances" (83-84).

In original participation "the represented is felt to be on the other side of the phenomena from the perceiving self. At the same time, it is felt to be linked with, or related to, that self otherwise than through the senses. The self, so far as there yet is one, is still aware that it and the phenomena derive from the same supersensible source" (SA 122-23).

See in particular Saving the Appearances, Chaps. IV, V, VI.
1For 20th Century minds the "logic" of Original Participation seems unfathomable. As Barfield notes in Saving the Appearances, "To make no class distinction between the sun and a white cockatoo, but to feel instantly and sharply a world of difference between both of these natural phenomena and a black cockatoo is, it is felt, a state of mind at which it would be difficult to arrive by inference" (SA 30).