The Prophetic Tradition and the Immortal Feminine
Shamanism, Samadhi and the Tao
gathered for Educational purpose from http://www.dhushara.com/book/genesis2.htm by Sedna Joansi - 2001 – pgg.~ 375
Dedicated to the authors of “Genesis of Eden Diversity “ Web-site.
Members of the big Gaia-net community who is involved to produce and sharing knowledge for benefit of this our Planet Earth..
As body is to mind,
so the immortal Garden is to the eternal Kingdom.
In Eden we were deprived of the Garden.
Through the Passion we were offered the Kingdom.
The Kingdom without the Garden is a violation of the Tao.
Now the time has come to get our feet on the ground
and give thanks to Eve for the immortal Garden of life.
Preface: This is a long chapter covering a wide sweep of ground including Old Testament, Christian, Islamic, Aztec, and 20th century ideas. Here is a brief contents so you don't get lost:
Shostack, Marjorie 1981 NISA Penguin Books, London.
NOTE: This extract is included as an essential reading for transforming the world. You are requested to purchase the book yourself as it is, without question, essential reading material.
On !Kung Life
The !Kung are not exceptional among gathering and hunting peoples. According to scientists who have compared the social and economic organization in different groups of contemporary gatherer-hunters, these societies have more in common with each other than with their agricultural, pastoral, and industrial neighbors. Wherever it is practiced, whatever the climate, whatever the terrain, there is an undeniable "master plan" in contemporary gatherer-hunter life. The best explanation for the similarities among these groups is that within the gathering and hunting mode, there is a limited set of alternatives to choose from. Any group of people who had to live off the land would face similar ecological problems and would probably invent a roughly similar system. It seems reasonable to suggest, then, that this pattern, or more properly, this range of patterns-prevailed in most human societies before the agricultural revolution and during much of the course of human evolution. But what relevance does all this have for us? What do we gain from knowing about our gathering and hunting past? Most important, perhaps, is the knowledge that the gatherer-hunter legacy is a rich one. Life for our prehistoric ancestors was not characterized by constant deprivation, but rather by usually adequate food and nutrition, modest work effort, fair amounts of leisure, and sharing of resources, with both women and men contributing substantially to the family, the economy, and the social world. Today, gatherers and hunters, the !Kung included, live in the most marginal areas, whereas prehistoric gatherers and hunters occupied areas abundant with water, plant food, and game. If there is any bias in the data from modern-day gatherer-hunters, therefore, it probably leads to an underestimate of the quality of life of their-and our-predecessors.
The day-to-day organization of subsistence is as complex as the seasonal round. !Kung women contribute the majority (from 60 to 80 percent by weight) of the total food consumed. Averaging little more than two days a week in the quest for food, they gather from among 105 species of wild plant foods, including nuts, beans, bulbs and roots, leafy greens, tree resin, berries, and an assortment of other vegetables and fruits. They also collect honey from beehives, and occasionally small mammals, tortoises, snakes, caterpillars, insects, and birds' eggs. Intact ostrich eggs are sought both for their nutritional value equivalent to about two dozen hens' eggs-and for their shells. After the egg is extracted through a hole bored in one end, the shell makes an excellent container for carrying or storing water. Broken eggshells found at old nesting sites are fashioned into beads, to be strung or sewn into necklaces, headbands, and aprons. The staple of !Kung nutrition is the abundant mongongo (or mangetti) nut, which constitutes more than half of the vegetable diet. lt is prized both for its inner kernel and for its sweet outer fruit. Other important plant foods are baobab fruits, marula nuts, sour plums, tsama melons, tsin beans, water roots, and a variety of berries. Most women share what they bring home, but there are no formal rules for distribution of gathered foods and those with large families may have little left over to give others. Although food resources are located at variable distances from the villages, they are fairly reliable. Groups of about three to five women leave, usually early in the morning, and head for an agreed-upon area. They proceed at a leisurely pace, filling their karosses with a variety of foods as they travel, and return to camp by mid-to-late afternoon. After a brief rest, they sort their piles of food, setting some aside to be given as gifts.
Most of the food is distributed and consumed within forty-eight hours. !Kung women also care for children and perform a variety of daily domestic chores. They average close to four hours a day in maintaining their subsistence tools and in housework: fetching water, collecting firewood, maintaining fires, making huts (frame and thatching), arranging bedding, and preparing and serving food (including cracking nuts for themselves and their youn(' children). Men average three hours a day in making and repairing tools and in domestic work: they chop trees for fires and for building huts, help collect firewood, and butcher, prepare, and serve meat. Devoted and loving fathers, they also participate in child care, though their contribution, in terms of time spent, is minor. Women's status in the community is high and their influence considerable. They are often prominent in major family and band decisions, such as where and when to move and whom their children will marry. Many also share core leadership in a band and ownership of water holes and foraging areas. Just how influential they really are and how their status compares with that of men is a complicated question: women may, in fact, be nearly equal to men, but the culture seems to define them as less powerful. In other words, their influence may be greater than the !Kung-.of either sex-like to admit. Men's principal food contribution is hunted meat, which is very highly valued-perhaps because it is so unpredictable-and which, when brought into the village, is often the cause of great excitement, even dancing. Men average slightly less than three days a week in hunting. They, too, leave early in the morning, alone or in pairs, and usually return by sunset, although overnight stays are possible. Although accomplished hunters, they only succeed about one day in every four that they hunt. Game is sparsely distributed in the northern Kalahari-a marked contrast to the herds of thousands of animals in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve farther south-and has become scarcer over the last fifty years. Bows, arrows, and spears of minimal size and weight make up the basic hunting kit, along with a variety of bags and implements. But the hunters depend most on a lethal poison extracted from beetle larvae. It is so potent that an antelope, or even a giraffe, is likely to die within a day of being struck with a wellplaced arrow. Harmless to people ingesting the meat, the poison works on the animal's central nervous system; it becomes harmful only when it enters an animal's or a person's-bloodstream. In the village, poisoned arrows are stored in closed quivers hung out of the way of adults and the reach of children. For additional safety, poison is applied only to the shaft, not to the sharp arrow point, to avoid poisoning from accidental cuts. The arrows are periodically checked and fresh poison applied.
Unlike women, who maintain a fairly constant gathering routine, men rarely adhere to strict hunting schedules. They often hunt intensively for a few weeks, then follow with a period of inactivity. Because success in the hunt is so variable, meat accounts for only 20 to 40 percent of the !Kung diet, depending on the time of year and the number of hunters residing in a camp. Men are as knowledgeable as women in plant lore, but they collect plants only infrequently and account for about 20 percent of all food gathered. Their primary contribution to subsistence is in the animals they hunt. Most prominent are the large game animals (kudu, wildebeest, gemsbok, eland, roan antelope, hartebeest, and giraffe) and the smaller ones (warthog, steenbok, duiker, and hares). Men also coliect reptiles (snakes and tortoises), amphibians, and insects, trap hole-dwelling animals(porcupine, antbear, springhare, and anteater), and snare birds (guinea fowl, francolin, kori and korhaan bustards, sand-grouse, and doves). Honey, a great favorite, is extracted from beehives, often with the help of women. Distribution of all but the smallest game is tied to more formal rules than is the cas,e for gathered foods, but the result is similar. Perhaps because of the limitations of their hunting methods, the !Kung kill only what they need and use every part of the animal. Bones and hooves are cracked for marrow; skins are either eaten or tanned for blankets; sinew is made into thread or strung on a hunting bow. Even the tails of some animals are used: the hair may become the strings of a musical instrument or be braided into a bracelet, or the entire tail may be carried as a spiritual object in a medicinal trance dance. Food is rarely stored for any length of time. The environment can be depended on to act as a kind of natural storehouse, with food being gathered only when needed. There are occasional scarcities in some of the important wild vegetable foods, but rarely has there been a shortage in the mongongo nut, which is so well adapted to the Dobe area that even in most years of drought hundreds of thousands of nuts are left on the ground to rot.
Dietary quality is excellent. Richard Lee studied the !Kung diet in 1968 and found their average intake of calories and protein to exceed the United Nations recommendations for people of their size and stature. Their diet is extremely low in salt, saturated fats, and carbohydrates, particularly sugar, and high in polyunsaturated oils, roughage, and vitamins and minerals. In fact, it conforms to most contemporary ideas of good nutrition. The dry season of 1968 was one of the most severe droughts in southern Africa in recent history; thus it is likely that the !Kung diet is even better in normal years. (More recent studies have indicated that during the dry season many !Kung lose weight, suggesting an insufficient calorie intake. They usually regain the weight, however, when the dry season is over. Whatever the actual deficit during this period, the diet remains wide-ranging and high in nutrients.) Their diet, along with their relaxed pace of life, seems to have protected the !Kung from some of the diseases common in our society: they do not suffer from high blood pressure, hypertensive heart disease or atherosclerosis, hearing loss or senility, varicose veins, or stress-related diseases such as ulcers or colitis. This does not mean that !Kung health is, in general, good. It is not: nearly 50 percent of children die before the age of fifteen; 20 percent die in their first year, mostly from gastrointestinal infections. Life expectancy at birth is only thirty years, while the average life expectancy at age fifteen is fifty-five. One reason that the illnesses we associate with aging seem to have little impact on them is that only 10 percent of the population is over sixty years old-the age at which they would begin to be more vulnerable to such illnesses. Respiratory infections and malaria are major killers of adults. !Kung health nevertheless compares favorably with that of many nonindustrial societies, and of our own society before the advent of modern public health and medicines. Given the circumstances the !Kung face, they have been remarkably successful. They survive even thrive in an environment that is hospitable only to those who know it intimately. Their traditions, distilled from thousands of years of experience, have been passed on through hundreds of generations. There is neither memory nor legend regarding a time when, for example, the poison they use on their arrows, or their trance ritual, did not exist. They know nearly five hundred species of plants and animals: which are edible, and which have medicinal, toxic, cosmetic., or various other uses. Their skill in exploiting their environment allows them free time in which to concentrate on family ties, social life, and spiritual development. Their life is rich in human warmth and aesthetic experience and offers an enviable balance of work and love, ritual and play.
Wives and Co-wives
ONCE A MARRIAGE has survived a few years beyond the young wife's first menstruation, the relationship between the spouses becomes more pleasant and more equal. Communication is open, and opinions on all subjects are easily shared. The more mature a woman becomes and the more children she has, the more likely it is that her personal talents and attributes will find expression. If she is strong, intelligent, and inclined to leadership, she is also likely to exert a substantial influence on group life. Other strong women in the village will serve as role models. Equality between the sexes is probably greater among gatherers and hunters, including the !Kung, than in most other societies around the world. Despite the prominence of !Kung women, however, men generally' have the edge. One reflection of their dominance is the pressure they can exert on their wives to accept other women as co-wives in marriage. Polygynous marriage is something many men want and about 5 percent have at any one time. The advantages for the man are obvious: he gains a new sexual partner, he is likely to have additional children, and he adds a substantial new provider of food to his family. The usual advantages of obtaining a first wife also apply: he gains recognition and status in the community, and he extends his social and political influence to include his new in-laws, their village, and their foraging grounds. Therefore, if a man has proved himself to be a good hunter and if life has treated him and his first family well, he may seriously think about taking a second wife. If his first wife has a younger, unmarried sister, she will be a likely choice. The wife of a deceased brother is another logical candidate.
Most women, however, do not want to become involved in such relationships. Many become furious when their husbands suggest it. They claim that sexual jealousy, rivalry, subtle (and not so subtle) favoritism, and disputes over chores and other responsibilities make the polygynous life a very unpleasant one. Co-wives either share the same hut or have separate huts only a few feet apart; either way, each woman's life with the husband is carried on in full view of the other. If the second wife is neither a close relative nor a friend, this enforced intimacy is even harder to tolerate.
Sisters are more likely to remain at peace with each other, so the !Kung say, because they are already used to living in close contact and cooperation. For co-wives who get along, the arrangement does offer benefits: constant companionship, someone to share chores and child care, someone to take over in the event of illness or disability, and a possible ally in struggles with the husband. The outcome of such marriages is largely dependent not only on the strong consent but on the personalities of the women involved. if they are compatible and work well together, they may even form intensely loyal bonds.
One woman who was very close to her sister argued that the polygynous life was preferable to the monogamous one: "I love my sister. If she hadn't married my husband, she would have married someone else and I probably wouldn't see her very often." This woman, however, had married first and was well aware of the advantage this circumstance offered her: "I am in the stronger position because I am older and because I married our husband first. Even if I had had no children it would have been this way. Because now, if I want, I can tell my sister to get water, but she never tells that to me. Sometimes, she goes gathering without me. But I never go without her." In answer to another question she said, "Yes, if she had married our husband first, it would have been the reverse."
Although many polygynous marriages actually last a long time, the delicate balance sometimes gives way to bitter argument and conflict. Fights between co-wives, even between sisters, are fairly common. When co-wives have agreed to the marriage halfheartedly, their motivation to make it work is not usually great enough to stand up to the strains. If the senior wife decides to make life unbearable for her co-wife and their husband, she is likely to succeed in forcing the newcomer to leave. Many men, no matter how prominent, would not entertain the notion of entering such a marriage, especially with two young wives. Polygynous marriages are difficult to manage, both economically and socially; food and material goods, as well as attention and sexual favors, must be meted out more or less equally to prevent jealousy. The tensions characteristic of any marriage involve, in this case, three people instead of two, three relationships instead of one. Men say, "There is never any peace in a household with two women in it," and this observation is usually correct. The woman who was so pleased with her own polygynous marriage was less optimistic when asked whether a similar arrangement would suit her two daughters when the time came for them to marry. She responded, "I would refuse for either of them to be a co-wife with a cousin, because only sisters get along in this situation. But even sisters beat each other on the head. My sister and 1, of course, don't-we no longer have.our mother and father, and we depend on each other. But if my two daughters married one man? lt wouldn't work. They would fight."
Unlike many other problems in !Kung life, most of those arising from polygynous marriages are seen as being brought on by the people themselves rather than by an uncaring or vengeful God. Telling stories of the complications resulting from these three-way matches is an endless source of amusement for the 95 percent of the !Kung who live monogamously-and more stably-married.
WHEN A MAN MARRIES one woman, then marries another and sets her down beside the first so there are three of them together, at night, the husband changes from one wife to another. First he has sex with the older wife, then with the younger. But when he goes to the younger wife, the older one is jealous and grabs him and bites him. The two women start to fight and bite each other. The older woman goes to the fire and throws burning wood at them, yelling, "What told you that when 1, your first wife, am lying here that you should go and sleep with another woman? Don't I have a vagina? So why do you just leave it and go without having sex with me? Instead you go and have sex with that young girl!" Sometimes, they fight like that all night, until dawn breaks. A co-wife is truly a terrible thing!
My father never really had two wives, only once for two nights. All my father had told my mother was that he and his brother were going to go and sleep at another village and exchange presents. What he didn't tell her was that he was also going to get Saglai, another wife. The two men left together, and when they arrived at the other village, they exchanged presents and slept. The next day my father took Saglai with him, and when the sun was low in the afternoon sky they arrived back in our village. My mother, my aunt, and I had been gathering mongongo nuts that day in the nearby nut groves. On our way back, we stopped at the well. That's where my aunt saw Saglai's footprints in the sand; my aunt had known her and recognized her tracks.' She said, "Chuko, here's where a woman sat and here's where your husband sat." My mother said, "Oh? What did Gau do over there? Didn't he say he was going to ask for some presents of beads? Yet you say he came back with a woman?" My mother was very angry.
We walked back, carrying the mongongo nuts with us to the village. When my mother saw my father, she was drinking anger. She punched him with her fists and said, "is this your true wife sitting by the hut? Why didn't you tell me you were going away to get another wife, to get Saglai with the big vagina; Saglai, the woman for the cold." My mother insulted her until Saglai was so afraid of her that she wouldn't enter the hut. When night sat, she just slept outside. The next morning, my father, still fearful of my mother, was quiet. His younger brother said, "Why don't you tell your wife that you'll leave Saglai? When we were still at her village, I told you not to take her right away. You even told me that when you came home, Chuko would object. But you said you would tell her that you had already married Saglai and were giving Saglai to her as another wife. Yet, you didn't tell her that. When Chuko spoke as she did, you should have told her that Saglai was going to sleep inside the hut. You shouldn't have let her sleep outside." My father said, "This is defeating me. Chuko keeps yelling at us and insulting us. She told Saglai to sleep outside the hut. How could I possibly have brought her inside the hut after that?" My mother told my father, "If I myself had said to you, 'Gau, as I am, I'm getting old and walking slowly. So, go, get yourself another wife and bring her here. She will get water and give it to me and get firewood that we ca ' n use and sit beside.' If I had,taken you-and had said that, then you, having listened to me, could have taken another wife. But you acted deceitfully and forced something on me, and that's why I am making you feel ashamed." We slept that night. The next morning, when the rooster first crowed, Saglai got up and went back to her village alone. She was in our village for two nights and the next morning, she left. My uncle told my father, "Get up. Follow her tracks and take her back to her village. My father said, "I'm not going to. I went and got her and brought her here, but Chuko refused her. Why should I follow after her now?" His younger brother said, "What? You don't know? If, while on her way from here, Saglai comes upon something and it kills her, or even if she arrives safely in her village, her relatives will come here and ask about your responsibility in having taken her and having married her." My father said, "I'm not going to follow her. She is an adult and she just left. What would I be doing if I started to cry over that?"
My grandfather Tuka, my father's father, he married many women! First he married one, then another, and then another.2 He would go to his first wife, then to his second wife, and then to his third. One slept alone and the other two ' shared a hut together. He'd live with the two of them for a while, then stay with the other one, then go back to the two of them and live with them again. Sometimes, when he was sleeping in the hut with his two wives, he'd get up very quietly to go to his third wife. His first wife, the oldest, would yell, "Tuka, what are you,looking for over there?" Because she was very jealous. So Tuka would leave his third wife and lie down beside his first wife again. He'd lie there, waiting for her to go to sleep. When she started sleeping, he'd get up and look at her. He'd whisper, "Are you going to be getting up again?" If she didn't answer, he'd go over to his third wife and they'd stay together the rest of the night. When the rooster first crowed, he'd go back to the other hut. His first wife would ask, "Where did you go?" And he'd say, "Uhn uhn. I just went to urinate." But one night, after he had been with his first wife and had left her to go to his third wife, his first wife woke and said, "Tuka, what are you doing up and about? Why aren't you sleeping? What are you looking for in the middle of the night?" That's when he said, "My wife, as I am, I am also married to others. What do you think I have married them for? I married them and I want to make love to them. I also will make love to you. Are you the only one who has something for me? All women have it. Are you saying that if I am married to another woman, I shouldn't sleep with her? That I should only sleep with you? Your talk is nonsense!"
I did it once. Before I had children with Tashay, he brought another wife into our marriage. I was still a young girl and his other wife, Tiknay, was also a young girl. He married both of us and brought us up together. When he first asked me, I refused. He kept asking me. Again and again and again. Finally, I said, "All right, go ahead, marry her and bring her here." But when he came with her, I didn't want her there; I wouldn't even greet her. The three of us lived together for less than a year. During that time, I wouldn't let Tashay near me and I wouldn't let him have sex with me. I said he would give me her dirtiness; that he would come to me with her vaginal wetness and give it to me. I didn't want any of that. We fought a lot, especially at night. In the middle of the night, when everyone else was dead asleep, Tashay would make love to her, but while they were having sex they'd bump into me and push against me. I'd wake up. One time, I thought, "What's pushing me around like this and not letting me sleep?" I got up, grabbed their blanket and threw it out toward the fire. I yelled, "Get up, both of you! Go to the bush and screw! Let me lie here-and sleep!" Tiknay got up and we started to fight. We fought until Tashay separated us. Later, we all lay down and tried to sleep. The next morning, I grabbed a knife and tried to stab Tashay with it. Tiknay pulled it away from me. That's when my heart rose into m@ words, "Tiknay, get out of here! Get up and go back to your village! How come there are so many men but you didn't marry any of them? Why did you marry my husband?" Tiknay said, "That's not the way it was-your husband brought me here. I didn't come myself." I said, "I don't care how you came here. There are lots of other men and I have no need to share my husband with you! Is he the only one with a penis? Don't all men have penises? With this one, am I supposed to have it and then you're also supposed to have it? Now, get up and go back to your village!" Finally, I chased her away and she went back to her parents. Only after she was gone did-I let Tashay touch me again; only after I had chased her away did we start to live with each other again and make love together.
Women and Men
THE POSITION OF WOMEN in !Kung society has been of great interest to anthropologists and others trying to understand the variation in women's roles and status found in the world's cultures. Despite the substantial differences in how women live and what they do, one generalization can be made: in the overwhelming majority of societies, women have a lower status than men-by their own accounts and by observation of the culture as a whole-and their activities are less highly valued than men's activities. Margaret Mead recognized this in 1949 when she wrote, "in every known society, the males' need for achievement can be recognized. Men may cook or weave or dress dolls or hunt hummingbirds, but if such activities are appropriate occupations for men, then the whole society, men and women alike, votes them important. When the same occupations are performed by women, they are regarded as less important." In relation to this pattern, the !Kung are something of an anomaly. Here, in a society of ancient traditions, men and women live together in a nonexploitative manner, displaying a striking degree of equality between the sexes-perhaps a lesson for our own society. !Kung men, however, do seem to have the upper hand. They more often hold positions of influence as spokespeople for the group or as healers-and their somewhat greater authority over many areas of !Kung life is acknowledged 'by men and women alike. A close look at this balance is not of merely academic interest. Other contemporary gathering and hunting societies have a similar high level of equality between the sexes-higher, at least, than that of most agricultural or herding societies. This observation has led to the suggestion that the relations between the sexes that prevailed during the majority of human prehistory were comparable to those seen among the !Kung today. Perhaps the extremes of subordination of women by men found in many of today's more socioeconomically "advanced" cultures are only a relatively recent aberratio in our long human calendar.
!Kung women assume roles of great practical importance, both in the family and in the economy. They have maximum influence over decisions affecting their children for years, starting with birth. !Kung men are usually discouraged from being present at a birth, and women have complete control over the process, including the decision for or against infanticide. The sex of the child seems to have no influence over this decision, and the !Kung express no preference for either sex before the child's birth. Mothers are responsible for close to 90 percent of child care, but the public nature of village life-the fact that most activities take place outside and in groups rather than behind closed door ases this burden and frees women for other pursuits as well. Mothers are rarely alone and children rarely lack playmates. The isolated mother burdened with bored small children is not a scene that has parallels in !Kung daily life. Older children can be left behind in the village with other adults while their mothers go gathering, so women with large families are able to make as much of an economic contribution as those with small families.
!Kung fathers have been shown to provide more care for infants and young children than fathers in many societies, even though they spend much less time in contact with children than mothers do. !Kung children seem to be very comfortable with either parent, and are frequently seen touching, sitting with, or talking with their fathers. The father is not set up as an authority whose wrath must be feared; both parents guide their children ' and a father's word seems to carry about the same weight as a mother's. Children probably misbehave equally with both, but parents avoid direct confrontations and physical punishment. The lack of privacy in !Kung life also protects women from being battered by their husbands, and children from being abused by either parent. Arguments between husbands and wives occur within sight of their neighbors. If a fight becomes physical, other people are always there and ready to intervene. In some cultures, a mother's influence is thought to pose a threat to her son's masculinity or ability to attain full male status, and boys are separated from their mothers to counteract this feminizing influence. The !Kung, in contrast, allow both boys and girls to sleep in their parents' hut, often beside their mothers, for so-many years that the child is usually the one who decides to sleep elsewhere. The only time !Kung boys are deliberately isolated from women is for a few weeks between the ages of fifteen and twenty, when they participate in Choma, the male initiation ceremony. During this intense and rigorous ritual the initiates experience hunger, cold, thirst, and the extreme fatigue that comes from continuous dancing. lt takes place over a period of six weeks and is considered sacred time, when the ritual knowledge of male matters is passed from one generation to the next. When Choma is over, however, boys resume village life as before eating, sleeping and working amid the typical absence of segregation by sex. Village space is basically communal, and no one is denied access to any of it. Although there are certain prohibitions against women's touching men's arrows, especially while menstruating, and to engaging in sex during the height of the menstrual flow, these prohibitions do not extend to sleeping beside each other during the same time. Some men say it is bad to have sexual intercourse before a hunt, but this seems to be related as much to ideas about their own strength as to fear of being polluted by women. Also, menstruating and pregnant women and women with newborn infants are not isolated from the rest of the community as they so often are in other cultures. Thus the few taboos that do exist in !Kung life do not exclude women from the highly valued social, political, or economic life of the community. Women are not considered a threat to the ability of !Kung men to maintain their male identities and functions.
!Kung women's influence increases as their children grow older. (A barren woman is not ostracized or looked down upon, although, having missed out on a major part of life, she may be pitied.) When daughters or sons reach marriageable age, mothers play a major role in deciding whom they will marry and when. The choice of a spouse has a far-reaching impact on the family's social and economic life, and often on that of the entire group. Marriage ties together a couple's families in intimate rounds of visiting, mutual obligations, and gift exchange, and sometimes even in the establishment of permanent living arrangements. After marriage a couple is as likely to live near the wife's family as near the husband's. This fact further assures daughters the same loving treatment as sons, since both are equally likely to enhance their family's standing in the community.
Parents often arrange marriages for their daughters, usually with adult men while the girls are still in their early teens. These marriages, not surprisingly, are quite unstable. The husband may not live LIP to his in-laws' expectations, or he may not have the patience to wait for his wife, who may be uncooperative and rejecting, to grow up. Usually, however, it is the girl who initiates divorce in these early marriages, which are otherwise essentially unequal relationships. The man is physically larger and stronger; although the girl is protected by her family, the threat of his exercising his will or power against her-especially in sex-is always there. Later marriages are generally more equal, especially those in which the couple are close in age. (In the 20 percent of marriages in which the husband is younger than his wife, the wife's influence is often greater than his.) The control !Kung women retain over this part of their lives is a marked contrast to other cultures where girls have no choice but to comply with the wishes of their parents and husbands.
!Kung women are recognized by men and women alike as the primary economic providers of the group. They gather vegetable foods from the wild about three days a week, providing the majority of the daily diet of their families and other dependents.
Their economic activity is an autonomous undertaking. Men do not regulate women's schedules, do not tell them which foods to gather or where to go, and do not control the distribution of gathered foods. Women tell their husbands when they plan to be gone for the day, but this is as much a courtesy as a potential restraint, and it is what men usually do as well. If a husband were to forbid his wife to go, saying that there were chores to be done near the village or that they should go visiting together, she would probably listen to him. But men cannot afford to restrain their wives much, since they also depend on the women's efforts for food. Although women occasionally gather alone, most prefer the company of others, for social reasons as well as for safety. Even the few miles between villages should preferably be traveled in groups. Fear of occasional predators, strangers, or even encounters with familiar men who might suggest romance, make solitary travel a moderately anxiety-provoking experience. If a male prerogative were in need of justification, the argument that !Kung women should have men's protection while traveling in the bush or between villages could gain a foothold. !Kung men do not exploit this possibility, however; women travel up to five miles away from camp, into the uninhabited wilderness, unprotected by men or their weapons. Loud talking creates a noisy enough progression as women advance from one gathering !ocation to another so that large animals avoid them, and poisonous snakes are killed easily enough with digging sticks. The only significant difference in mobility between !Kung men and women is in overnight absences. Women usually return to the village at the end of a day of gathering. If an overnight gathering trip seems necessary, the entire group will move. In contrast, while hunting, men are often away from camp for a few days at a time (although they prefer not to be). A male bias may underlie this difference, but it is not difficult to postulate more practical reasons. Success in the hunt is unpredictable, and it often takes several days to make a kill. With gathering, by contrast, one day or even part of a day is usually enough time to collect as much as can be carried home. Also, women are responsible for the care of the children, and overnight trips would involve either coping with children in an unfamiliar and perhaps dangerous area or leaving them behind in someone else's care.
As a subsistence strategy, gathering for a living is quite satisfying. It can be energetically engaged in, no matter what the size of a woman's family. The schedule is flexible, the pace is self-determined, and the work is accomplished in the company of others. Although each woman basically gathers for herself, this does not isolate her from other women. Women present choice findings to each other as offerings of good will and solidarity. The work is challenging: each expedition taps a woman's ability to discern, among the more than two hundred plants known by name and in the general tangle of vegetation, which plants are edible, which-are ripe for harvesting, and which are most worthy of her efforts. It is also efficient: a day's work is usually enough to feed a family for a few days. Unlike !Kung hunters, !Kung gatherers have the solid assurance that when their families are hungry they will be able to find food-an assurance that fills them with pride. As one woman explained, "I like to gather. If I just sit, my children have nothing to eat. If I gather, my children are full." Finally, although gathering requires considerable stamina, the four days a week that women are not gathering afford them abundant time for visiting and for leisure.
When a woman returns to the village, she determines how much of her gatherings, if any, will be given away, and to whom. She sets aside piles of food for those she feels inclined to give to, and places the rest in the back of her hut or beside her family's fire. The food she and her family eat that night, the next day, and perhaps even the next, will consist primarily of the things she has brought home. From start to finish, her labor and its product remain under her own control. Another indication of the high standing of !Kung women is their relationship to the gift-giving network called hxaro. All !Kung adults (and some children) are part of this network; each has a discrete number,of partners with whom certain goods are exchanged. Women's participation in hxaro is basically the same as that of men, with no significant difference in the number of exchange partners or in the quality or quantity of exchanges.
In addition, core membership in a band, as well as "ownership" of water holes and other resources, is inherited through women as well as men. No male prerogative can be exercised in relation to this important source of influence in !Kung society. This picture of !Kung women's lives might seem to challenge Margaret Mead's observation about the universality of the male bias. Unfortunately, though, the !Kung are not the exception they at first appear to be. !Kung women do have a formidable degree of autonomy, but !Kung men enjoy certain distinct advantages-in the way the culture values their activities, both economic and spiritual, and in their somewhat greater influence over decisions affecting the life of the group. Meat, the economic contribution of men, is considered more valuable than gathered foods. Most gathered foods, except the mongongo nut, are described as "things comparable to nothing," while meat is so highly valued that it is often used as a synonym for "food." Squeals of delighted children may greet women as they return from gathering, but when men walk into the village balancing meat on sticks held high on their shoulders, everyone celebrates, young and old alike. lt may even precipitate a trance dance. The one thing women can bring in that causes a comparable reaction is honey, but the finding of honey is a much rarer event and one that men are usually enlisted to help with. !Kung women may control the distribution of their gathered products, but the distribution of meat, while more constrained by formal rules, involves men in a wider sphere of influence. !Kung men also provide women with their basic gathering kit and other implements: tanned skins to make carrying devices (infant slings, karosses, clothing, and pouches), digging sticks, mortars and pestles, sinew for mending and for stringing and sewing beads and'ornaments, and shoes. These items are durable, however, and women assume their maintenance and upkeep. In contrast, women provide none of the articles associated with hunting. In fact, the opposite is true: women are prohibited from handling hunting equipment and from participating in the hunt, especially during menstruation-although this taboo seems to have few practical consequences. The economic picture becomes more complex when hunting and gathering activities are looked at more closely. Animal protein is not brought into the village only by men. Women Collect lizards, snakes, tortoises' and birds' eggs, and insects and caterpillars, as well as occasional small or immature mammals. They also provide men with crucial information on animal tracks and animal movement that they observe while they travel in the bush. But !Kung women cannot be considered hunters in any serious way. The one prominent exception I heard about was a middle-aged woman who allegedly craved meat so intensely and was so tired of complaining that her husband was lazy that she decided to go out and hunt for herself. I was, unfortunately, never able to meet her. Those who knew her (including men) said that she was a fairly proficient hunter, but it was clear that she was considered eccentric and was in no way seen as a model for other women to emulate. She earned far less respect for her accomplishments than a man would have, as was evident from the snickering that accompanied discussions about her. No one actually said that what she was doing was wrong, but it was repeatedly pointed out that she was the only one. She was, however, considered accountable for her actions primarily in relation to herself, rather than in relation to her husband; her behavior was not seen as emphasizing his shortcomings or publicly emasculating him. This would probably not have been the case in many other societies, including our own.
!Kung men have an easier relationship to gathering than !Kung women have to hunting. No social prohibitions comparable to the taboo against menstruating women's touching arrows implicate men as a negative influence on the success of women gatherers; nor are men's efforts at gathering seen as unusual, out of character, or even worthy of comment. (This is in contrast to many cultures in which men feel ashamed 6f performing tasks usually associated with women.) Men's knowledge about plants is comparable to that of women, and gathering is something men do whenever they want to. Men can account for as much as 20 percent of all foods gathered.
The male prerogative is more clearly exhibited in !Kung spiritual life, the central expression of which is the traditional medicine dance (described in Chapter 13), in which healers tap their healing power by entering trance. Most healers are men. An occasional woman has mastered the art of healing, especially in the context of the women's drum dance, but women most often use their healing skill in response to the need of a close family member and not in a ritual setting. The status and respect that go with being a healer are, therefore, only minimally available to women; unquestionably, men have traditionally dominated this realm of !Kung life. Perhaps the most crucial aspect of the balance of power is the process of leadership and decisionmaking. Determining how the !Kung actually make important decisions is quite difficult. With no formal leaders or hierarchies, and no political or legal institutions to convey authority, decisions are made on the basis of group consensus. Each group has individuals whose opinions carry more weight than those of others-because of age, of having ancestors who have lived in the area longer, or of personal attributes such as intelligence, knowledge, or charisma. These people tend to be more prominent in group discussions, to make their opinions known and their suggestions clear, and to articulate the consensus once it is determined. Despite their lack of formal authority, they function very much as group leaders. !Kung men occupy these positions more frequently than women do, although older women, especially those with large extended families, occasionally assume such roles. Men are also generally more vocal in group discussions. As contact with other cultures increases, and as the demand for spokespeople to represent the group thus intensifies, !Kung men are stepping forward more prominently. They are the ones who learn foreign languages, who attend government meetings, and who speak out on behalf of the regional !Kung communities. Further evidence of male bias can be found: it is men who initiate sex, for example, and male initiation rites are secret while female initiation rites are public. !Kung women themselves refer to, and do not seem to reject, male dominance. The fact that this bias exists is important and should not be miniriiized-but it should also not be exaggerated. !Kung culture downplays many of the attitudes that encourage male dominance in other societies. Competition, ranking of individuals, boastfulness, and self-aggrandizement are all discouraged. Formalized aggression of any kind-in most cultures the province of men-is absent, and preparations for fighting do not occupy men's time or boys' education. Wealth differentials are also minimized, by sharing food and possessions and by giving presents. The division of labor by sex is not rigidly defined. Village life is so intimate that a division between domestic and public life-an apt distinction for many other cultures-is largely meaningless for the !Kung, a fact that helps to promote sexual equality. All in all, !Kung women maintain a status that is higher than that of women in many agricultural and industrial societies around the world. They exercise a striking degree of autonomy and of influence over their own and their children's lives. Brought up to respect their own importance in community life, !Kung women become multifaceted adults, and are likely to be competent and assertive as well as nurturant and cooperative.
WHEN THE, GODS GAVE PEOPLE SEX, say the !Kung, they gave us a wonderful thing. Sex is often referred to as food: just as people cannot survive without eating, the !Kung say, hunger for sex can cause people to die. For a population whose food resources are unpredictable and of constant concern, this analogy is significant indeed. Talk about sex seems to be of almost equal importance. When women are in the village or out gathering, or when men and women are together, they spend hours recounting details of sexual exploits. Joking about all aspects of sexual experience is commonplace except between people who maintain "respect" rela tionships and are forbidden to make sexual references in each other's presence. Those in "joking" relationships often exchange uproariously funny insults referring to each other's genitals or sexual behavior: "Your penis is huge!" "Your testicles hang down to your knees and smell!" "Your labia are long, dark, and ugly!" "Screw sand!" "Ejaculate on yourself!" (Most sexual expressions can be employed both in jokes and when serious insults are intended; the context determines how they are received.) Descriptive gestures are likely to accompany insults made in jest. Some exchanges even attract an enthusiastic audience. Onlookers cheer as men pretend to grab each other's testicles and throw them into the air, to be left hanging in the trees. Lurid details of what vultures or other creatures will do to them become part of the general entertainment.
The !Kung sometimes use sexual joking in a deliberate way to dispel tension. While I was in the field, a man was trying to rout a spitting cobra from the grass thatching of a hut. He apparently came too close, and the snake shot venom into his eyes. Water was brought to wash out the poison; then there was nothing to do but wait until his vision, which had become blurred, would return. During the next half-hour, while everyone sat and watched, two men began describing the incident in an especially graphic and dramatic way, to distract the man and to help keep up his spirits. Telling and retelling the story, their hand gestures became exaggerated and increasingly suggestive. The last depictions of the snake rising up and spitting were blatantly (and hilariously) pornographic. Laughter started to sweep through the group. The injured man, still nursing his eyes, was unable to resist the energy of the moment and joined in. As others followed, the remaining tension dissolved in the highspirited, infectious repartee. (A few days later the man's vision had returned almost to normal.)
Not everything about sex, of course, is amenable to light talking and joking. Sex is also recognized as tapping sotne of the most intense and potentially explosive of human emotionsespecially where extramarital attractions are concerned. In such cases, sex is considered outright dangerous: many aff airs that become known lead to violence, which, in the past, sometimes resulted in death. Except for those who intend to goad their spouses, therefore, people who participate in such relationships are extremely careful and discreet.
Love exists in !Kung marriages and is expressed in a variety of ways: couples make a point of going off alone to gather and hunt, sometimes for days at a time; make presents for one another; and assist in each other's daily chores. Women readily acknowledge their intense emotional involvements with their husbands. Nevertheless, quite early on in marriage, many women start having lovers. Affairs are often long-term, from a few months to a few years, and some continue throughout a lifetime.
There is some question as to whether extramarital relationships were common in traditional !Kung life, or whether the phenomenon results from the influence of Herero and Tswana settlements. Considerable disagreement exists on this question even among the !Kung. But infidelity is frequent in !Kung oral history and myth, and it was acknowledged and talked about in the early 1950s when the Marshall family studied a group of traditional !Kung living in Nyae Nyae, thirty miles west of Dobe. lt is therefore not likely to be of recent origin. The best insurance against complications arising from love affairs is not to be found out. Great care must be taken to arrange meetings at safe times and places, away from the eyes of others. First-person testimony from those who "see with their own eyes" is taken very seriously, but those who know may choose to remain silent. Those who tell what they know may become central figures in fights that ensue; they may even be held partially responsible for the outcome. It is also important to maintain some emotional r6straint in relation to a lover. One's spouse must always come first, no matter how romantic and exciting an affair may be. The slightest indication of infidelity-the rejection of a husband's sexual advances, being unusually argumentative or angry, or spending too much time away from the villag an easily provoke angry accusations and jealousy. But controlling these feelings can be difficult, especially when a new lover becomes a central preoccupation (at least temporarily). In rare instances, long-term marriages are actually terminated when feelings between lovers become very strong. At other times (also rare), it is because the woman is pregnant: if the husband has been away, it is clear who the father is. In such cases, the lovers may try to dissolve their prior relationships and marry each other. Even if violence does not occur, the emotional cost for everyone involved makes this situation decidedly not preferred. To succeed at and to benefit from extramarital affairs, one must accept that one's feelings for one's husband@'the important one...... the one from inside the hut"-and for one's lover"the little one," "the one from the bush"-are necessarily different. One is rich, warm and secure. The other is passionate and exciting, although often fleeting and undependable. Some !Kung women (and men) think it ideal to have both. The appeal of affairs, they say, is not merely sexual; secret glances, stolen kisses, and brief encounters make for a more complex enticement. Often described as thrilling adventures, these relationships are one of'the subjects women spend much time discussing among themselves. Partly because of the lack of privacy in !Kung life, actual extramarital sexual encounters seem to be infrequent. Also, not all !Kung adults have affairs: some are deterred by the danger of discovery, others by fear of venereal disease, which is recent in the area. For others, however, love affairs have great appeal. I talked with a young man who was the lover of a woman I had been interviewing. lt took place a few days after the lovers had exchanged gifts-a candid acknowledgment of their bond-in my presence. There was little activity in the camp that day until late afternoon, when squeals and shouts of excitement brought me out of my hut. A young couple, recently married, were playing chase, running after each other. As I stood watching, I noticed the young man sitting in the shade of a tree, also watching. I said, "They're very much in love, aren't they?" He answered, "Yes, they are." After a pause, he added, "For now." I asked him to explain, and he said, "When two people are first together, their hearts are on fire and their passion is very great. After a while, the fire cools and that's how it stays." I asked him to explain further. "They continue to love each other, but it's in a different waywarm and dependable." Seeing my questioning expression, he continued, "Look, after you marry, you sit together by your hut, cooking food and giving it to each other-just as you did when you were growing up in your parents' home. Your wife becomes like your mother and you, her father." How long did this take? "It varies among couples. A few months, usually; sometimes longer. But it always happens." Was it also true for a lover? "No," he explained, "feelings for a lover stay intense much longer, sometimes for years." What did he feel for the woman I had been interviewing-hadn't they been lovers for a long time?
' As soon as I mentioned her name, his manner changed and a smile crossed his face,. He described what an exceptional and beautiful woman she was and how deeply he loved her, "With a burning heart." He confirmed what she had already told me that they often fantasized about running away together. I asked, "What would it be like?" A dreamy look came over his face, then he smiled again and said, "The first few months would be wonderful!" Since such affairs are not openly condoned, it is most important that a lover have "sense"-that he be discreet and play by the rules. He should also show his affection-by arranging rendezvous, by being faithful, and by giving gifts. Gift exchange between lovers is quite common, although by no means necessary. (The man usually gives presents to the woman, although the exchange often works in both directions.) A man, to be considered attractive, should have a slim, strong body with a small behind and stomach, but men of different appearances also attract women as wives and lovers. Another requirement is that a man be a capable lover: he should be concerned about the woman's pleasure, be small to moderate in genital size, and have a "strong back" (that is, be virile). If there is sufficient time, he should also be willing to engage in additional acts of sexual intercourse to ensure that the woman's "work" is "finished" and that she is satisfied. Most !Kung are proud of bearing and possess a self-confidence that seems to be the natural outcome of the way they grow up. One clear instance of this is the social environment in which young girls make the transition from childhood to adulthood. The small size of villages means that girls approaching puberty have few, if any, peers to compare themselves to. Thus they do not develop to maturity in a context of intense comparison and competition. Each young girl is likely to be the center of attention for a number of years. As a girl begins to mature, the men of the village offer running commentaries on the changes in her body@bvious in a culture where the breasts are not covered-and joke about wanting to marry her or to run away with her. Some may seriously propose that she marry them as a second wife. It is unlikely that the attention will have to be shared. This experience seems to inspire self-esteem. One day I noticed a twelve-year-old girl, whose breasts had just started to develop, looking into the small mirror beside the driver's window of our Land Rover. She looked intently at her face, then, on tiptoe, examined her breasts and as much of her body as she could see, then went to her face again. She stepped back to see more, moved in again for a closer look. She was a lovely girl, although not outstanding in any way except by being in the full health and beauty of youth. She saw me watching. I teased in the !Kung t manner I had by then thoroughly learned, "So ugly! How is such a young girl already so ugly?" She laughed. I asked, "You don't agree?" She beamed, "No, not at all. I'm beautiful!" She continued to look at herself. I said, "Beautiful? Perhaps my eyes have become broken with age that I can't see where it is?" She said, "Everywhere-my face, my body. There's no ugliness at all. These remarks were said easily, with a broad smile, but without arrogance. The pleasure she felt in her changing body was as evident as the absence of conflict about it. The self-possession !Kung women gain in childhood and young adulthood continues throughout life. In contrast to the experience of many women in our own culture, this feeling is not worn down by cultural ideals of "perfect" beauty to which women are constantly comparing themselves. Differences in innate physical attractiveness are generally recognized by the !Kung, and some @individuals are acknowledged as being particularly good-looking or beautiful, but the culture does not elaborate much on these differences. The opportunity to make oneself attractive is available to everyone: one simply dons one's best clothes-a traditional leather kaross with beaded designs or, more recently, a brightly colored cloth dress-after washing and oiling one's face and body and applying cosmetics made from wild plants. Except for those who are sick, "too thin" or very old, most women think of themselves as attractive. The phrase most often heard to describe their sense of self-esteem can be translated as "I have work," "I am productive," or even, "I have worth." Having lovers, therefore, is an option most !Kung women feel is available to them, although not all choose it. As for attracting a husband and marrying, that goal is achieved by all !Kung women without exception.
MARJORIE, those people who tell you that when people live in the bush they don't have lovers, or that people only learned about it recently from the blacks, they are deceiving you. They are giving you lies and are trying to fool you with their cl6verness. But 1, I am like your mother and don't offer you deceit; only the truth is what I give you. I am an old woman and when I see what other people tell you, I can see through them. Because affairs - one married person making love to another not her husband-is something that even people from long ago knew. Even my father's father's father's father knew. There have also always been fights where poison arrows are shot and people are killed because of that. Having affairs is one of the things God gave us.
I have told you about my lovers, but I haven't finished telling you about all of them, because they are as many as my fingers and toes.' Some have died and others are still alive' Me, I'm a bad one. I'm not like you who have no lovers. Because, when you are a woman, you don't just sit still and do nothing-you have lovers. You don't just sit with the man of your hut, with just one man. One man can give you very little. One man gives you only one kind of food to eat. But when you have lovers, one brings you something and another brings you something else. One comes at night with meat, another with money, another with beads. Your husband also does things and gives them to you. But sitting with just one man? We don't do that. Does one man have enough thoughts for you? There are many kinds of work a woman has to do, and she should have lovers wherever she goes. If she goes somewhere to visit and is alone, then someone there will give her beads, someone else will give her meat, and someone else will give her other food. When she returns to her village, she will hav6 been well taken care of. Even if she goes with her husband, she should still have a few lovers. Because each one gives her something. She gathers from one man one thing, from another man something else, and from another, yet something else. It is as though her genitals were worth money Pounds! Rands! Shillings (laughs)! She collects her gatherings from each different place until she has filled her kaross with beads and pubic aprons and money. When she returns home, she confides in her friends, "One of my lovers gave me this, another gave me that, and another gave me this . . ." Her friends say, "Oh, the place you went has such wonderful lovers. They treated you very well ' " She says, "Listen, if all of you are as beautiful as I think you are and if you also went there, the men would see you and like you, too. Then just as they treated me, they would also treat you." It's the same when a woman remains home. One day when she and her husband are living as usual, her husband says, "I'm going away for a few days." She stays behind, and that's when she sees her lovers. If one of her lovers lives in a village nearby and an animal is killed, he'll cut some meat and bring it to her. It will be beautiful meat, full of juice and fat. He'll sit with her, cooking it until the broth is rich and heavy. She will drink it and her heart will be happy. She'll think, "Oh, my husband has just left and here I am, drinking this wonderful broth." Another day, perhaps he comes to her and they sleep together. He asks, "When is your husband coming back?" She says, "Not for a while. My leg hasn't started to shake," meaning her husband isn't coming home yet. They make love, and when the rooster crows before dawn breaks, he leaves. Another day, perhaps he comes again. The two of them lie down together and he asks, "I'd really like to stay with you the rest of the night. The last time I came to you, I left right after we made love. Now, today ... what is your leg telling you?" She says, "This morning as I was sitting around, my thighs started to tremble, ever so slightly. Perhaps my husband will come back later. Perhaps he will come in the middle of the night. I don't know when he planned to come back. But my leg was shaking, so it may be tonight." Her lover says, "All right, I will only lie with you a short time.
Then I will leave." The two of them lie together and then separate. He leaves, and soon after, her husband comes back. The next morning, when she is about doing things, perhaps getting water at the well, her lover meets her and asks if her husband came back. She says, "Yes, he arrived soon after you left. Didn't I tell you that my leg was trembling in the morning? It .was a true warning." Her lover says, "Now that your husband is here, my heart feels pain! lt really hurts! Later, when the sun is low in the sky and after you've finished your work, let's meet somewhere." She says, "Fine, but only if my work is finished. I have a lot of things to do. After I finish with the water, I have to do things for my husband, because he has just now come back. Only much later, when the sun is near to setting, will I be able to leave his work and meet you." The next day, she and her husband stay together. She works ior him, washing and cooking. She thinks, "My lover told me we will meet again today." She spends the whole day doing the things she has to do. She works so hard that the time she was supposed to meet him passes. She works until shergoes to sleep. She thinks, "Oh, when my lover sees me tomorrow, he's going to be angry!" She's afraid. Then she thinks, "T . here's no reason for him to be angry. I didn't meet him because I was working for my husband." The next day, as she is filling her water containers at the well, her lover sees her and says, "What did I tell you the other day? Didn't I say we would meet?" She says, "I told you I had all my husband's work to do--washing and cooking. When he told me to get firewood, he also wanted me to do other things when I came back. He had me work very hard and I wasn't even aware of when it was time to meet you. That's why I worked past it." Her lover is angry and says, "if it was because of your husband, that's all right. But if you do it again, I'll beat you! What's the matter with your genitals? Are they too old to care?" She says, "What did I do that I should be hit? I was doing things for my husband."
After that, she lives as usual. She continues to work for her husband and works hard. Then, one day, she says, "I'm going to look for some firewood. Why don't you watch the pot of food that's cooking?" She leaves and walks far from the village, looking for wood. She meets her lover, lies down with him, and makes love. She leaves and returns to the village, carrying firewood. Her heart is happy because she's been with her lover and her husband doesn't know. And she lives on like that. For another woman, it may be different. Her lover may have been away. But when he comes back and she sees him, her heart knows that he is around once again. She lives, waiting until she has a chance to be alone with him. When they meet, he says, "Perhaps you didn't think about me?" He asks, "As you were living, day after day, did you ever think about me?" She says, "What? I thought about you often. What could have stopped me? What could I have been doing that I wouldn't? Am I not a person?" Because when you are human, you think about each other. He says, "I thought maybe you had forgotten." She says, "No, I thought about you often and with strength." He says, "Mm, that's why I came to talk to you, to see what you were thinking." She says, "And how do you feel now that you have seen?" He says, "You ... you really made me miserable! The month I left, my heart pained for you and wanted you very much." She says, "It's been the same with me. I also wanted you and my heart also pained for you." They wait until her husband goes away and meet far from the village. Then they do their work.
Sometimes, a woman may even meet her lover at night, after she and her husband have gone to sleep. Her lover will have already told her to meet him that night. When he arrives in the village, he goes to one of her friends and tells the friend to wake her up. The friend goes to the hut and whispers, "Your person is here. Get up and go to him." She thinks, "Oh! What shall I do with my husband? How can I do this?" She wakes her husband and says, "I'm going to visit the hut where all the people are talking. I'll come back later and lie down." She and her lover meet and do their work. When they are finished and her lover leaves, she sits and talks with the others. Then she goes back and lies down beside her husband. Yes, women have cleverness!
Even my mother had lovers. I'd be with her when she met them. But my father, if he had them, I didn't know. Because he didn't take me around with him; I only followed the women. So, even if he had lovers, I never saw anything. But the women ... when I was a child, I knew aij of their lover@ven my mother's and my aunt's. I remember, when I was still small, seeing my mother with one man. He met her, took her, and made love to he'r. I sat nearby and waited. When she came back carrying firewood, I thought, "I'm going to tell!" Then I thought, "Should I tell Daddy or shouldn't I?" But when we arrived back at the village, I didn't say anything. I thought if I told, my father would kill my mother. Except Toma, he was the only one I told about. That was after my younger sister, Kxamshe, died and my mother's older sister came from the East to take us back with her. I was still very young, without breasts, when we went to live with her there. It was soon after that, that Toma, her sister's husband, started with my mother. Much later, he even took her away from my father; he tricked her into leaving with him. I watched it happen. He told her, "I want to make love to you and take you away with me. I want to marry a new woman." When they first became lovers, my father didn't know about it. They would meet in the bush. Mother would set me down and go off, nearby, with him. I'd sit and wait. Sometimes, I'd stand there and cry. Once I said, very loudly, "When Daddy comes back, I'm going to tell. Mommy, now you tell that person to stop ruining you. Tell him we have to go. I'll tell Daddy he had sex with you!" When my mother came back, she said, "You must understand that if you tell your father, he'll kill me. Now don't tell or you won't see me any more." I listened to what she said, and when we returned I didn't say anything. But the time I did tell, they had kept me waiting for a very long time. I was tired and unhappy. I thought, "I want to go home. What's the matter with this man that he's not letting us go home? How come someone else is with Mother, anyway? When Daddy comes back from the bush, I'm going to tell him." When we returned, that's just what I did. I said, "Daddy, when Mommy and I went for firewood, Toma was there. He took Mommy away from me and went and had sex with her. I just sat there and waited." My parents started to fight and my father hit my mother. I thought, "Why did I tell? Mommy's going to die. I did a bad thing, telling; I'll never do that again. Even if I see her with a man, I'll just sit there. I won't tell again." Sometimes Toma stayed with us when my father was away hunting and we'd all lie down together, My heart would be miserable and I'd think, "What is this?" But when my father came home, I wouldn't say anything. lt was like that for a long time. Then came the fighting. I remember one time, my father yelled at my mother, "Chuko, I'm going to kill you with poison arrows and then kill Toma the same way. What kind of thing is he 2 that he isn't staying with his wife and taking care of her, or that he took you and isn't giving you back? What do you possess that no one else has?" Later, he yelled at Toma, "When something happens that defeats me, I do something. I am a person of the bush, unlike you who are a person of the villages; I will just grab you and kill you. Then I'll go back to the bush with my children. Now take your own wife again and leave here; I'll stay with the woman I've been married to." Other days, it was my brothers who fought with Toma. When my olde ' r brother stopped, my younger brother started. Was he not fairly old by then? Kumsa would say, "Give my mother back to my father. What makes you think you can just take us to the East and turn my mother away from my father?" One time Kumsa grabbed him and threw him down on the ground ' They fought until people separated them. Another time Kumsa screamed at my mother, "Get up and go over to my father! Why are you sitting with this other person? What are you looking for? If you don't go over to Father, I'll kill you." Then he said, "What are you doing? Why did you start up with yo ur sister's husband and why do you now refuse to leave him? How come you like this old Zhun/twa, anyway?" He grabbed something and hit her. He yelled at her, and kept insulting her until people took him away. They said, "Your mother has no sense, now leave her alone. Your mother is a woman. If you keep hitting her like that you'll kill her. This other one, he's a man, fight with him." Then they said, "What is Toma doing, anyway? His first wife, an older woman, is still alive. When she dies, he won't go and bury her. All he's set on doing is taking your mother away from your father. So stop hitting her; he's the one-go, fight with him." Kumsa went over to Toma and they started to fight. When it was over, we kept on living. Until one day, Toma took my mother and they left. Earlier, there had been a lot of fighting. My older brother had yelled at my mother and had hit her, "You're going to drop Father? You're going to leave him and go off with Toma? What about your youngest son who has been sitting around, day after day from sunrise to sunset, crying? How can you drop your children and not take care of them?" But they left. Toma tricked my mother away from my father. I thought, "Mommy is wrong, dropping my father and marrying another man." Kumsa and I cried and cried. We just stayed with my father and cried. Not long after, my father followed them to their village. When he saw my mother, he said, "Chuko, what are you doing? Why aren't you sitting with me? The two of us could still be beside each other."
Again, there was a lot of fighting. My mother's older sister said, "Chuko, go back with your husband and take care of your children. Why have you hung yourself on top of my husband, going wherever he goes, like this?" My mother left with us that time, leaving Toma behind. She had come back again, had come back to me. We lived and lived, a very long time. Then, one day, Toma came again. I thought, "is this the way the two of them are going to live with my mother?" Again my father tried to keep my mother, but it was no use. My father yelled at them, insulted them, and fought with them. He even bit my mother's hand while they were fighting. I said, "If you keep on like this, when you're finished, you'll have killed her. Let her go." Finally, he did; he gave up and left my mother for Toma to have. He thought, "Eh-hey, so this is what this man is like? Then I will leave this woman. I'll give her to him and will find a young girl to marry." He told them, "All right, take that thing of yours and do whatever you like with her." Toma had succeeded in winning my mother again, so my father just dropped the whole thing. He finally let Toma have her. Soon after, my father took me, Kumsa, and Dau with him and we went away; Toma and my mother stayed in the East. We went to one village where we stayed for a while, then to another. We lived and lived, and after more time passed, my father left us in the care of others, saying he wanted to get some of his things, elsewhere. When he came back, he brought an older woman with him. She was his new wife. Then he took us and we went to live in her village. Toma's first wife didn't marry again. And just as the others had said, she lived for a while and then she died, somewhere else. She had refused to have my mother as a cowife, so she left them and went away. When she died, Toma wasn't with her; he was with my mother. He didn't even go to see where she was buried.
We lived and lived, staying with our father, growing up beside him. Then one day, Toma died and my mother came back to us, came back to where we were living. My brothers and I were happy that he had died. We praised God and said that he had done well by us. But my father refused her. She had wanted my father to sleep beside her again. But he said she had refused him and now he didn't want her: "I won't have you because you already left me. And even though your husband is dead, I won't marry you and have you with me. Today you will just sleep by yourself. If you marry again, it will be no concern of mine. Because, after you left, I married and today I have another wife. Did you think you were the only woman? Today you will lie separately, because that which used to be ours, our marriage, no longer exists." Then he said, "But the children we gave birth to, they will just live between the two of us, because they are both of ours. And we will live as before. We can continue to exchange presents and do hxaro. If you have beads, you can give them to me and I will give something else back to you. There's no problem with that. Or food. If I prepare something or if you gather, you'll give me and I'll give you. Even the woman I married, my wife, she will give you food and meat to eat and beads to have." H@ continued, "We've had our children together-those who didn't live are dead and those who did live are here with us now. But you pulled apart the bonds of marriage that were between us. So today, you will lie separately froin me. And whatever happens will happen. Until God kills us, or until he kills you or me, this is the way we will continue to live." After that, my mother just stayed with us. She lived in her hut and my father and his wife lived in theirs. Nothing more happened. Kumsa, Dau, and I would sit for a while by our father's fire, then get up and sit at our mother's fire. We'd eat with her, then go back to our father and eat with him. And we just continued to live.
I like having lovers, but their ways are to ruin my heart and to spill semen all over me.
There was one man I once had as my lover, and after we had made love he went and told his wife. The next time we were together, he told her again. That's when his wife came looking for me, and when she found me she started yelling. I thought, "What kind of man is this? When he steals with a woman, he tells his wife?" I told her, "Your husband is lying. We aren't lovers." But I was angry, "if that's the reason you've come to me, it makes me want to kill you. Even though you are a large woman and I am tiny, as I am. Your husband is crazy, saying something like that, because he and I haven't made love."
The next time I saw him, I said, "You're the one who wanted me and spoke to me about love. I didn't come to you. I am a woman; you are a man and you yourself came to me. Only then did I agree to you. So, what did you see that
you went and told your wife? If that's how you want it, I'll go and tell my husband. Is there no sense in your head that you told her?'@ But after that, whenever his wife saw me, she would come to wherever I was sitting and start yelling at me. I'd yell back at her. One day, I finally said, "My heart is fed up with our fighting all the time. Every day you come and insult me; every day I listen to your remarks. So, today, I'm going to tell you: your husband is and always will be my lover. That should keep you quiet. Now, what are you going to do to me? I'd like to see. Probably nothing."
There were others sitting around in the shade of the tree, including my husband. The next time she started in again, insulting and cursing me, I didn't say anything. I thought, "This woman ... I'm going to get her today!" She kept on insulting me; still, I didn't answer. But when she came over and stood very close to me shouting, I said, "By my own mother! How I would love to hit you and leave you hanging over there!" I started to laugh. Then I asked, "What d ' o you think you can possibly take away from me by insulting me this way?" Then added, "But, since this is how you've come to me, I think there's going to be a fight." I pulled off my bracelets and hit her, hit her in the stomach, and she fell down. She got up and came at me, but I hit her again and again she fell. When she got up and came at me again, I called her name and said, "This time, I'll kill you." I started to laugh again, "I'll kill you, so you'd better go and sit down. If you come back, I'll hit you so hard that it will leave you dead. You'd better go and sit down." One of the women grabbed her and sat her down. I was furious! I continued to yell at her, then jumped up and bit her hand. She yelled out, "Ouw! Nisa bit me ... Nisa bit me I said, "I'd like to beat you until you shit! Do you think because I , m so small I can't fight? I can fight, even agaiwt someone big like you. My bones, my very bones here will grab you and make you shit! Am I the child of your mother's relatives that I shouldn't answer your insults? I am of one family and you are of another. Your husband is yours and my husband is mine." Finally, the elders said, "Talk of having affairs is bad talk. This has to stop now." We listened and stopped. She and her husband went back to their village. After that, he and I were no longer lovers. I saw what a bad one he was and how he caused people to want to kill each other. He had no sense at all. He wasn't like other men.
Sometimes the women talk. After a woman has been with her lover, she says, "That one, my lover, he came to me last night." Her friend says, "He came and slept with you?" The first woman answers, "Yes, he lay with me and had sex with me until morning broke. Then we separated and he left." Her friend says, "Uhn, uhn ... last night, when darkness just started to sit and everyone was talking and then went to sleep, my lover also came to me and had sex with me. But it was just one time. After, we lay beside one another and fell asleep. I don't really understand what happened. Perhaps it was the way we were sleeping, but he didn't have sex with me again. Now I don't know. Perhaps he doesn't really like me or why did he come to me at all?" The first woman says, "Mine wasn't like that. Mine had sex with me until we separated and we both went to sleep. He wants me to meet him tonight in another hut and make love again."
Women talk to each other about men and enjoy their talk. One woman asks, "What about that man over there ... what's he like?" Another woman says, "Mm ... that one over there? His penis is huge! His penis is so big he almost killed me with pain. If he comes to me again, I'll refuse. He really hurts!"
Women talk in other ways, too. One woman may say, "What's happening to me? Are my genitals already old? Because-, even if a man sleeps with me, I can't seem to find any excitement within myself. Am I so old that my genitals are exhausted? lt was like that for him, as well. We didn't find any pleasure in each other."
Sometimes that happens when a woman is too wide and the man is too small for her. Then she can't hold him well. The man just moves about inside, but she is too big. Although he may be virile, they do not have good sex together. After, the man says, "It's all right. It's really not that important."
The next morning, the woman asks her friends, "What am I going to do? My friends, my genitals have become old. The man who lay beside me last night broke the dawn open having sex with me, but he didn't receive any pleasure."
Even the man, he will tell other men, "That woman there, she killed all the strength I had. She's too big; her insides are stretched. Last night I slept with her and even though I made love all night, I didn't feel any pleasure. She's so wide, she's like a Herero's mouth! I just flounced around inside, but I couldn't feel anything. I don't know what it was like for her, but today my back hurts and I'm exhausted. Today, I won't be going back to her."
Zhun/twa women also tell each other about their problems with men and their complaints. A woman may tell about her husband and about how he hasn't satisfied her. She'll tell what she said to him, "What's happening to us? You, my own husband, sleep with me and finish your work. But when you e,top and leave me, I haven't finished mine.' Why should it be like this when we're married? When you sleep with me and finish your work, my work should also be finished. Don't you know you'll make me sick? We have to make love so that we both finish." Her friend says, "By the time you start to feel pleasure, your husband has finished? Why does he leave you before you feel any real pleasure?" Women sometimes talk that way about their husbands, but not usually about their lovers. Because lovers know how to satisfy. When a woman is with a lover, he usually does very well. Those are the things Zhun/twa women talk to each other about. Don't all women ask each other about those things?
There are many different kinds of lovers. Some men have s,mall penises and some, their penises are large. Other men, .their penises are full with lots of semen. A man like that doesn't do very well because when he has sex he spills his wetness over everything. You think, "This man's semen is so plentiful he's ruining my clothing. This is the first time I've slept with him, yet why does he have so much semen?" After that, you refuse to see him again and you find another man, a man whose semen is small. That's a good man to have as your lover. If a man's penis is too big, it also isn't good. A man like that makes your genitals hurt. You think, "No, his penis is so big he'll kill. me and cause sickness to enter my insides." A man with a small penis is the best kind. A man like that doesn't make you sick. Most men have strength in their backs and many, when they are old, still have sexual vigor. Those men, even if they aren't aroused at first, when you touch them, their penises become strong and you help them inside. But there are others whose penises stay soft. Their hearts desire you, but their penises are dead. When you lie down with a man like that, although he tries, he never really becomes erect and doesn't enter you well. Even when he does, it is only a little and he finishes very quickly. A man like that, his back has no strength. It happens to young men as well as to old. Their penises are soft, like cloth.
When a man is with a woman who agrees to be with him and his penis stays soft, he thinks, "What's doing this to me?" He touches himself, "What's happening to me?" He touches himself again, "What am I going to do?" The woman asks, "What's wrong? Don't you want me? What is it doing ... let me feel ... what? Has your penis died?" They both touch it and try to have sex, but the spilling of semen is all that happens. lt never really becomes erect because, although the woman was excited, the man wasn't. The woman finally says, "We've been lovers for a long time and have had th@ chance to be together again. But even though we tried to make it work, your penis refused. I don't understand why. Our hearts made love well but your penis didn't do any work and didn't help me at all. You'd better leave now, because you've made me feel very bad."
I was once with a young man like that. He's given birth to a number of children since then. That really surprised me! What was he able to make his wife pregnant with? Perhaps he took some medicine to strengthen his back. Because, before he married her, he was soft as cloth. We were lying down together and my genitals were right there. But no matter how we tried (and we tried!), it refused. I asked, "What's the matter? What's your penis doing? Doesn't it want something to eat?" We kept trying but nothing happened. I said, "Uhn, uhn. I thought when I agreed to you, that perhaps you were a man with strength. But ... is this the way you are ?" He said, "I don't know what's happening. Why is my penis refusing?" I said, "if we stay here any longer, my husband will find us. If you had had the strength, we would already have finished. But, without strength, how can you be of any help to me?" He finally did it, but he finished immediately.
The next day, he went to his friends, "Hey, all of you. I'm feeling very bad. Even if I speak to a woman and she agrees, when I go to her, I can't sleep with her. I try to make it erect, but it refuses. I beg you, give me some medicine so I can help myself. My back has no more strength Won't you help Me?
He explained, "Yesterday, the woman I asked was willing. She is truly beautiful! But when I went to her, we just touched bodies. I couldn't make love to her. My heart wanted to sleep with her, but my penis refused. But I really like her and want to go back to her. My friends, won't you give me medicine? I like women the same as the rest of you, but you're all having sex and I'm notl" A man asks his friends things like that. His friends ask, "If she's as beautiful as you say, why couldn't you have sex with her? We also visited women in that village yesterday. But we had sex with them; we didn't just play The man says, "I beg you, won't you please help? This woman is so beautiful! When I look at her face, it's so lovely! I like her so much. Yet, when we lay down, I couldn't do it. Me, a man, I couldn't do it. Today I feel terrible. In the name of ail this , I'm asking for some medicine to take this very day. if I had had strength in my back yesterday, I would have stayed beside her, a woman that beautiful, and had sex with her until dawn." One of the men gives him medicine. He drinks it and it makes his penis strong and hard again. After, he lies with women very well. A man who is strong, a man with a strong back ... his penis is hard! He becomes very erect. When a man like that speaks to a woman, speaks to her from his heart ... when a man like that speak's about his heart and looks right at her standing near her hut ... it is already becoming erect! That man is one with a strong back. That man, when he talks to a woman about making love, it just rises.
The woman thinks, "I see that what his heart is saying his penis is also saying. I'd like to be with this one," and she agrees. Then, just as you and I are inside this hut together, Marjorie, the two of them go alone inside a hut where he takes her and has sex with her.
When two people make love, the woman moves and the man moves. When they share desire for each other and they both work hard, that's when both become full with pleasure. But if the woman doesn't really want the man and only he works, they enjoy each other only very little. Sometimes the woman finishes first and the man, after. Sometimes they finish together. Both ways are equally good. The only way it is bad is when the woman hasn't finished and the man has. That sometimes happens when a man is sleeping with a woman for the first time. She is so pleasurable and so good ... she's like sugar. Or honey! That's why, when he is just getting started, he is already finished. The woman, still holding full with excitement, thinks, "This man has just made love to me and has finished his work. But I haven't finished mine. Why is he leaving me like this?" They lie around together for a while. When he becomes aroused, he goes to her again. She thinks, "Yes, I'll be able to finish now." They start to make love again and this time, he goes for a long time, a very long time. Perhaps she finishes first and he is the only one to continue, or perhaps, when he is full, she is also full. Then they go to sleep. Other times, it's the woman's heart that hasn't fully agreed. If she feels no desire, if her heart hasn't risen and only the man's has and he makes love to her, she thinks, "Even though he is making love to me, my heart isn't rising. Why is this happening?" When the man finishes, she doesn't. But then her heart changes. Her heart rises and the next time he comes to her, they both finish. I mean even if her hqart hadn't wanted it at first. Because a woman's sexual desire is always with her and even if she doesn't want a certain man, she still feels her desire inside. That's why there are no medicines to make women want men as there are to make men want women: it comes directly from inside a woman's heart. But there is medicine that a woman can take to make men like her. lt is sweet smelling, and when she rubs it on, her husband and other men will want her. Men have one, too. If a man rubs this medicine on, it changes a woman's heart toward him. When he lies down with her, she will like him and they won't refuse each other's wanting.
All women know sexual pleasure. Some women, those who really like sex, if they haven't finished and the man has, will wait until the man has rested, then get up and make love to him. Because she wants to finish, too. She'll have sex with the man until she is also satisfied. Otherwise she could get sick. Because, if a woman doesn't finish her work, sickness can enter her back. Only rarely, if a woman is really frustrated, will she touch herself. Adult men also touch themselves, either in the bush or sometimes, even in their huts. But only if they are refused by women.
Women don't take men's genitals into their mouths nor do men kiss women's genitals. Men only kiss women's mouths. Because a woman's genitals could burn a man's mouth. So he just kisses her mouth and when he gets hard he lies with her. When little girls play sexually together, they don't know about what their genitals can do; they just make believe they are having sex. But adults know, adults know how to touch a woman's genitals just right. When a man lies with a woman, he touches her genital S,4 and has sex with her, and touches her genitals, and has sex with her. That's how he finishes and how she also finishes.
Yes, knowing how is very important!
Sex with a lover a woman really likes is very pleasurable. So is sex with her husband, the man of her house. The pleasure they both give is equal. Except if a woman has pulled her heart away from her lover, then there is little pleasure with him. When a woman has a lover, her heart goes out to him and also to her husband. Her heart feels strong toward both men. But if her heart is small for the important man and big for the other one, if her heart feels passion only for her lover and is cold toward her husband, that is very bad. Her husband will know and will want to kill her and the lover.
A woman has to want her husband and her lover equally; that is when it is good. Women are strong; women are important. Zhun/twa men say that women are the chiefs, the rich ones, the wise ones. Because women possess something very important, something that enables men to live: their genitals. A woman can bring a man life, even if he is almost dead. She can give him sex and make him alive again. If she were to refuse, he would die! If there were no women around, their semen would kill men. Did you know that? If there were only men, they would all die. Women make it possible for them to live. Women have something so good that if a man takes it and moves about inside it, he climaxes and is sustained.
On the Origins of Sexual Inequality, Cambridge Univ. Pr., Cambridge.ISBN 0-521-28075-3
Sanday, Peggy Reeves 1981
NOTE: This extract is included as an essential reading for transforming the world. You are requested to purchase the book yourself as it is, without question, essential reading material.
In this book, Professor Peggy Sanday provides a ground-breaking examination of power and dominance in male-female relationships. How does the culturally approved interaction between the sexes originate? Why are women viewed as a necessary part of political, economic, and religious affairs in some societies but not in others? Why do some societies clothe sacred symbols of creative power in the guise of one sex and not of the other? Professor Sanday offers solutions to these cultural puzzles by using cross-cultural research on over I 50 tribal societies. She systematically establishes the full range of variation in male and female power roles and then suggests a theoretical framework for explaining this variation. Rejecting the argument of universal female subordination, Professor Sanday argues that male dominance is not inherent in human relations but is a solution to various kinds of cultural strain. Those who are thought to embody, be in touch with, or control the creative forces of nature are perceived as powerful. In isolating the behavioral and symbolic mechanisms that institute male dominance, Professor Sanday shows that a people's secular power roles are partly derived from ancient concepts of power, as exemplified by their origin myths. Power and dominance are further determined by a people's adaptation to their environment, social conflict, and emotional stress. This is illustrated through case studies of the effects of European colonialism, migration, and food stress, and supported by numerous statistical associations between sexual inequality and various cultural stresses. In the Epilogue Professor Sanday examines the roots of Western male dominance and suggests that the forces contributing to the predominantly masculine system of beliefs characteristic of the Judaic and Christian traditions are similar to the forces that accompanied the development of male dominance in other cultural traditions. Female Power and Male Dominance provides a new explanation of the origins and perpetuation of sexual inequality by using large-scale cross-cultural research on tribal societies. Yet the relevance of its discoveries extends to modern society, revealing the deep psychological and social roots of current sex-role expectations.
"My child, the obi is the head of the men, and I am the head of the women. I and my cabinet represent the women in any important town gatherings and deliberations. If decisions arrived at are such that the womenfolk are to be told about them, I get a woman to sound the gong to assemble the women. On less important occasions, my cabinet members pass the word around among the women by word of mouth."Igbo female monarch speaking to Kamene Okonjo, a sociologist "We are not so happy as we were before... Our grievance is that the land is changed - we are all dying." Igbo women speaking to British colonial officials
The Mbuti Minimal differentiation of sex roles also exists among the Mbuti, who form the largest single group of pygmy hunters and gatherers in Africa. Their habitat and their heaven is the Ituri Forest. The Mbuti have no creation myth per se. The forest is their godhead, and different individuals address it as "father," "mother," "lover," and/or "friend." The Mbuti say that the forest is everything: the provider of food, shelter, warmth, clothing, and affection. Each person and animal is endowed with some spiritual power that "derives from a single source whose physical manifestation is the forest itself." Disembodied spirits deriving from this same source of power are also believed to inhabit the forest; they are considered to be independent manifestations of the forest.22 The forest lives for the Mbuti. It is both natural and supernatural, something that is depended upon, respected, trusted, obeyed, and loved. 23 The forest is a good provider. At all times of the year men and women can gather an abundant supply of mushrooms, roots, berries, nuts, herbs, fruits, and leafy vegetables. The forest also provides animal food. There's little division of labor by sex. The hunt is frequently a joint effort. A man is not ashamed to pick mushrooms and nuts if he finds them or to wash and clean a baby. In general, leadership is minimal and there is no attempt to control or dominate either the geographical or human environment. Decision making is by common consent: Men and women have equal say because hunting and gathering are both important to the economy.25 The forest is the ultimate authority. It expresses its feelings through storms, falling trees, poor hunting all of which are taken as signs of its displeasure. But often the forest remains silent, and this is when the people must sound out its feelings through discussion. Diversity of opinion may be expressed, but prolonged disagreement is considered to be "noise" and offensive to the forest. Certain individuals may be recognized as having the right and the ability to interpret the pleasure of the forest. In this sense there is individual authority, which simply means effective participation in discussions. The three major areas for discussion are economic, ritual, and legal matters having to do with dispute settlement. Participation in discussions is evenly divided between the sexes and among all adult age levels.26 The avoidance of differentiation between the sexes is consistent with the principle of egalitarianism that rules Mbuti life in the forest. Some sexual differentiation, however, occurs in the emotional connotations associated with mother and father and is acted out in one of the most important Mbuti ceremonies. Motherhood is associated with food and love, and fatherhood with authority, although fathers physically nurture their children. The mother is regarded as the source of food; all food that is collected or hunted is cooked and distributed by women. Hungry children look to their mothers for food, not to their fathers.27 Sexual differentiation is acted out in the molimo ceremony, which is held irregularly, when someone dies or when conditions of life are generally poor. Its goal is to awaken and "to rejoice the forest." The festival symbolizes the triumph of life over death. The central ceremonial symbols are the molimo fire and the molimo trumpets. Both are associated with life, regeneration, and fertility. Both are believed to have been once owned by women and stolen from them by the men. The trumpet is sometimes referred to as an animal" of the forest: It is symbolically fed, it is passed through the fire, and during a dance it is used by a young man to imitate the male and female parts in the sexual act. The trumpet is the only sign of the presence of a supernatural power during the molimo festival. The trumpet is supposed to sing and to pass on the song of the Mbuti into the forest. It is kept out of the sight of women and children, who are supposedly forbidden to see it. The Mbuti do not consider the trumpet to be sacred in itself-, it is simply a vehicle for transferring power between the Mbuti and the forest. 28 The molimo festival includes two rituals that separate male from female. Both focus on an old woman who symbolically kills and scatters the molimo fire (the symbol of life) and later ties all the men together with a roll of twine. The old woman dances the fire dance led by a chorus of women singing molimo songs (supposedly known only by men). The men follow in obedient chorus. The high point of the dance comes when the old woman jumps into the flames, whirls around, and scatters the molimo fire in all directions within the circle of men surrounding her. The men, still singing, gather the scattered embers, throw them back onto the coals, and dance while the flames begin to rise again as if they had brought the fire back to life. The old woman repeats her dance, each time seeming to stamp the fire out of existence, after which the dance of the men gives it new life. Finally the old woman and the women leave the scene. A little later the old woman comes back alone. The men continue singing while she ties them all together, looping a roll of twine around their necks. Once all are tied they stop singing. The men then admit to having been bound and to the necessity of giving the woman something as a token of their defeat, so that she'll let them go. After a certain quantity of food has been agreed upon, the old woman unties each man. No one attempts to untie himself, but as each man is untied he begins to sing once more. This signifies that the molimo is free. The old woman receives her gifts, and before leaving several weeks later, she goes to every man, giving him her hand to touch as though it were some kind of blessing. These are indeed fascinating acts. Colin Turnbull, the major ethnographer of the Mbuti, suggests that in the fire dance women assert their prior claim to the fire of life and their ability to destroy and extinguish life. However, he asks, was the old woman really destroying the fire? Perhaps when she kicked the fire in all directions among the men she was giving it to them, to gather, rebuild, and revitalize the fire with the dance of life.29 In discussing these ceremonies, Turnbull suggested to me the possibility that they symbolized the transference of power from women to men. As he put it, "Women have the power which they give to men for them to control" (personal communication). If this is indeed the case, and it is difficult to be sure, then whereas in some societies men take power from women (see the description of Mundurucu in the next chapter), Mbuti women give power to men. The Mbuti attitude toward blood is similar to that of the Semang. Blood symbolizes both life and death. Menstrual blood in particular symbolizes life. Between husband and wife it is not a frightening thing as it is in so many societies. The blood that comes for the first time to the young girl comes as a gift, received with gratitude and rejoicing, because she is now a potential mother and can proudly take a husband. The girl enters seclusion, taking with her all of her friends. Here they celebrate the happy event and are taught the arts and crafts of motherhood by an old and respected relative. They learn to live like adults and to sing the songs of adult women. Pygmies from all around come to pay their respects, because for them this occasion is "one of the happiest, most joyful occasions in their lives.
Until recently, the prevailing consensus among anthropologists was that male dominance is universal. It has been noted, for example, "that all contemporary societies are to some extent male-dominated," and that "sexual asymmetry is presently a universal fact of human social life. "l The more extreme expression of this underlying premise contends that "male supremacism" is "well-nigh universal" and "not a shred of evidence, historical or contemporary, supports the existence of a single society in which women controlled the political and economic lives of men."2 This consensus is a reaction to the nineteenth-century argument proposed by Johann Bachofen and Lewis Henry Morgan that there was a time in human cultural evolution when women ruled. Bachofen based his beliefs on archeological remains indicating the importance of female goddesses and queens and on the mythology of ancient civilizations in which females were depicted as powerful. Morgan based his argument on his knowledge of societies like the Iroquois where, he argued, women were in charge of the economic arena, descent was reckoned through women (called matriliny), and women played a crucial role in ritual and political activities. Because the matriarchy theory has been resurrected as a historical fact by contemporary feminists, anthropologists have searched for societies "in which women have publicly recognized power and authority surpassing that of men. "3 Finding no society in which women occupy the main positions of leadership, anthropologists argue that male dominance is universal. 7 There is a certain bias to this point of view, a bias that is understandable given the Western equation of dominance with public leadership. By defining dominance differently, one can show that in many societies male leadership is balanced by female authority For example, among the Ashanti, Iroquois, and Dahomeans, though women were not as visible as men in external public affairs, their right to veto male actions suggests a bipartite system of checks and balances in which neither sex dominated the other. Alice Schlegel makes this point when she notes that the power of Iroquois women to make or replace political appointments, to veto warfare, and to control appropriations is "like many of the powers vested in contemporary positions of centralized authority, from the United States presidency on down to the local level! 114 Karen Sacks adds that to view male and female authority in societies like that of the Iroquois as unequal rather than different reflects a "state bias" in Western anthropological interpretation of pre-state politics. 5
The chapters of this section examine the bases for female political and economic power or authority. Power refers to "the ability to act effectively on persons or things, to take or secure favourable decisions which are not of right allocated to the individuals or their roles." Authority is defined as "the right to make a particular decision and to command obedience. 116 Economic power or authority refers to the ability or right to control the distribution of goods, food, or services beyond the household level. Political power or authority refers to the ability or right to control or influence group decision making, including the assignment of leadership roles beyond the household level. Females achieve economic and political power or authority when environmental or historical circumstances grant them economic autonomy and make men dependent on female activities. Female economic and political power or authority is ascribed as a natural right due the female sex when a long-standing magico-religious association between maternity and fertility of the soil associates women with social continuity and the social good. The rights and duties attached to this emphasis give women formal power and control at the local level as well as the right to influence male actions and decision making beyond the local level. Male power and authority, on the other hand, is part of the social and ritual equation of hunting, warfare, fertility, social continuity, and the social good. The rights and duties associated with this emphasis give men formal power and control at the local and non-local levels. These rights and duties, however, do not necessarily exclude women from the realm of control.
The ascribed bases for female economic and political authority
Irrespective of cultural configuration, of the ascribed or achieved bases for female power, women rarely hold the focal leadership roles. Women either delegate leadership positions to the men they select or such positions are assigned by men alone. In those cases where women delegate such authority, they retain the power to veto the actions of those they have selected. A question frequently asked of anthropologists is why women would choose to delegate leadership rather than seize such authority for themselves. The answer lies in the proposition, presented in Chapter 4, that it is more efficient for women to delegate than to monopolize power. Since women are the potential bearers of new additions to the population, it would scarcely be expedient to place them on the front line at the hunt and in warfare. In addition, there are such questions as: What would there be for men to do if women hunted, warred,'or ruled? How would men acquire the "reason for being" that comes to women automatically? In certain sectors of our own society and others, these questions are easily answered: Men gamble. Because men must sometimes gamble with their lives, power and prestige are the incentive that motivates them to hunt and defend territory and are the reward for being very nearly expendable in terms of the group's ultimate survival. In many societies, as bearers of children and nurturers of plant life, women occupy a focal position in the realm of final authority. "Whether the male chief is big or small," say the women of a West African female solidarity group, "what matters is that he was given birth by a woman. "7 Such women protest a chiefs action by treating him like a child. They either rely on shame or ridicule to get their way or, if pushed to an extreme, will march scantily clad with bared breasts while men stand by in a state of embarrassed silence and passivity, as if they had been overcome by a superior military force. This strategy can only be employed successfully among peoples who believe in the power and invincibility of womanhood. The power and invincibility of womanhood underlies the operation of the "women's world" in West African dual-sex political systems. The importance of this world in the governance of everyday life is illustrated in the following statement made by the omu ("mother") of one of the Igbo political units in midwestern Nigeria mentioned in Chapter 4. In an interview with the omu, or Obamkpa, Kamene Okonjo asked, "Our Mother, what part do you play in the running of this town?" She replied:
My child, the obi is the head of the men, and I am the head of the women. I and my cabinet represent the women in any important town gatherings and deliberations. If decisions arrived at are such that the womenfolk are to be told about them, I get a woman (onye oga) to sound the gong (ekwe) to assemble the women. On less important occasions, my cabinet members pass the word around among the women by word of mouth. If there is drought, we curse whoever caused it. If there is sickness and people are dying, my cabinet goes naked in the night with live brands to , curse whoever brought it. If there is sickness in the next town, I do something with my cabinet to insure that sickness does not enter this town. There are medicines we make at the entrance to the town. These are just a few of my duties. I am the mother of the people, you know, and I have to insure in any way I can that they enjoy continued good health and happiness.11
In dual-sex political systems like Obamkpa each sex has its own autonomous sphere of authority and an area of shared responsibility. The relationships of the greatest solidarity are among men and among women. In other societies the village-level relationships of the greatest solidarity are among women or among persons related through women. Societies in which the primary solidarity relations involve women are frequently referred to as matrifocal. Comparing matrifocal societies in Southeast Asia, Nancy Tanner finds a commonality in the female role. Women are generally the producers and control economic resources. Kinswomen are in frequent contact through mutual aid groups. Women are decision makers and are at least as assertive as men. In all cases, women occupy central kin positions. The role of "mother" is ritually elaborated and is more important than the role of wife. Although the financial contribution of men, be they husbands, brothers, or sons, is important, women can effectively support and care for their children with very little input from men.9 The most persistent male-female bond in matrifocal societies is between mother and son. Sons are welcomed when they return from their external pursuits, but husbands are barely tolerated. Among the Atjehnese of Sumatra, Tanner says, husbands and fathers do not figure in women's image of the hereafter. Paradise is thought of as a place of abundance where women are reunited with their children and mothers. 10 In another Sumatran society (the Minangkabau), Tanner notes that heaven is thought to be beneath the sole of a mother's foot. The mythical queen mother of this group is referred to by a term that, literally translated, means "Own Mother." Her importance is celebrated in women's ceremonial dress, in weddings, and in parades. She had no husband, and her brother is not mentioned; her son, however, plays an important role in the tales about her." The importance of women in the Seneca origin myth and their centrality in Iroquoian ritual, economic, and political affairs were noted in Chapter 1. During the two centuries of the Colonial period, Anthony F. C. Wallace says, the Iroquois were a population divided into two parts: sedentary females and nomadic males. The men were absent in small or large groups for months or even years on hunting, trading, war, and diplomatic expeditions. Although their activities were peripheral to the village affairs (which women largely ran), men were responsible for the economic and political welfare of the Six Nations. 12 Iroquoian female power was part of a centuries-old tradition - based first on custom and later codified in the Constitution of the Five Nations - in which women were officially proclaimed the progenitors of the people and the owners of the land and the soil. Although they bore a resemblance to the Hebrew tribes in the minds of early missionaries, the Iroquois were not a migrating people; they did not move en masse from one territory to another. For centuries they remained settled in the general area where they first cultivated what they called "the three sisters" (corn, beans, and squash). The power of women and their title to the land evolved naturally from cultural circumstances in which wandering men followed game and stationary women developed early agriculture. During the early Colonial period, the Iroquois could be described as matrifocal at the village level and patrifocal at the level of League and inter-village affairs. Before the establishment of the League and the tribal units that united to form the League, the Iroquois could perhaps be described as matriarchal, if this term is redefined to mean female economic and ritual centrality and not female rule. Archeological excavations of pre-Iroquoian village sites show that they were unfortified, suggesting that if there was an emphasis on warfare, it lacked major economic motivation, and conquest was an unknown objective. In these sites, horticulture clearly takes precedence over fishing and hunting, which would have been male activities. Houses contained several hearths and appeared to be early prototypes of the longhouse, in which families related through women lived. One can infer from this evidence that the village was the primary sociopolitical unit and that matrifocality superseded patrifocality. 13 When matrifocal activities override the importance of male activities and correspond to the largest socio-political unit, the use of the term matriarchy is appropriate in order to signify the greater importance of females. The evidence for the primacy of matrifocality among some of the prehistoric Iroquoian ethnic units is strong. The same possibility is posed by the peripherality of the male in the Southeast Asian societies mentioned previously. Unfortunately, in these cases and in so many others where female economic and ritual centrality is evident, we do not have the archeological evidence that would allow for the reconstruction of prehistoric patterns showing that the primary domain of influence may have once coincided with a group of economically self-sufficient women. If prior matriarchies did exist, they were probably a consequence of the evolution of plant domestication from the plant-gathering activities of women. This would have given women economic and ritual centrality and, hence, a primary voice in decision making. As with the Iroquois, the position of Ashanti women can be traced to a long-standing ritual tie with the soil, which may have been based on indigenous early farming. The basis of the Ashanti regard for women (described in Chapter 1) can be seen in their ritual interconnection of earth-life-ancestors-blood-females. The Ashanti believe that the lineage and the clan that incorporates several lineages is synonymous with blood and that only women can transmit blood to descendants. 14 It is said that some Ashanti originated from the earth. The earth is believed to be filled with the spirits of the departed forebearers of the clan. These spirits are thought to be the real landowners, who still continue to take a lively interest in the land from which they had their origin or that they once owned. The Golden Stool (the male symbol of leadership), which is believed to have originated from the sky, cannot come into direct contact with the earth; it is always placed upon an elephant's skin. The feet of the king of Ashanti can never touch the ground, "lest a great famine should come upon the nation." He is always followed by a servant bearing a spare pair of sandals, in case the band across the instep of those he is wearing breaks. " There is a sacred grove in a forest that is marked as the most hallowed spot in all Ashanti territory. At this spot, it is said, some clan forebearers belonging to certain ruling clans "came forth from the ground, and settling near by, increased and multiplied, learned to use fire and other arts, till eventually, compelled by increasing numbers, they scattered and became the clan or 'blood' from which the rulers of the united nation later chose their kings and queens." 16 Near this spot there are a number of mounds containing "ancient pottery" and "neolithic instruments." R. S. Rattray says that the whole of this area must "at some remote period, have been the site of a great settlement, larger by far than any Ashanti towns or villages of the present day." The names of the people supposed to have come from the ground of the sacred grove were given to Rattray by the Queen Mother. Some of them are the forebearers of the royal Oyoko clan. The notion that the forebearers of certain clans came forth out of a hole in the ground is a belief in many parts of Ashanti. Rattray thinks that the Ashanti adopted these beliefs from an indigenous people, because the Ashanti "are a people from the North and not the indigenous inhabitants of the country they now occupy."17 If the Ashanti did come from another land, they did so long ago, probably in a series of uncoordinated movements of related groups of people in response to the introduction, via maritime trade with the Americas, of new food crops. 18 Yams play an important part in Ashanti ritual and daily diet. Yams could have been introduced from the Americas or domesticated in West Africa. 19 Whether or not the Ashanti acquired yams or participated in the cultural tradition responsible for their domestication, all the evidence suggests an ancient tradition of farming. This tradition may account for their deification of the earth; or the personification of the earth may have been the motivation for domesticating plants. If people believe, as the Ashanti do, that the earth is the repository and the origin of their important ancestral spirits, they are likely to pay more attention to products of the earth.
To conclude, the ascribed basis for female power and authority in the secular domain is found in a ritual orientation to plants, the earth, maternity, and fertility. This orientation is probably part of a historical tradition that began when the detailed knowledge of wild plants led to simple farming. More than likely, women were responsible for this development. Dorothy Hammond and Alta Jablow say that there is little doubt that farming in the form of horticulture developed from the practice of gathering, and therefore it was the invention of women.20 The invention of domestication undoubtedly gave women the right to control the fruits of their efforts just as men controlled the product of the hunt. Peoples who carried their crops with them as they emigrated or who remained in an area where their ancestresses first experimented with plant domestication probably maintained the web of meanings that mediate female social and ritual authority. To break the equation of maternity with fertility of the soil would, in the minds of such peoples, threaten the wellspring of plant and human life. Maternity and fertility of the soil are equated because as women bring forth new life from their bodies, plants burst forth from the earth. The earth spirit is female; certain crops are revered and associated with children or women. It is said in some societies, for example, that yams are "like women, they give birth to children. "21 Yams are used in much of Ashanti ritual. Before tilling the soil, a farmer offers mashed yams sprinkled with the blood of a fowl to the earth spirit. Like the Ashanti, the Iroquois respected and revered the female virtues of food provision and the fertility of the earth, especially for corn, a crop that the Iroquois grew early in their culture history. In both societies, female secular power and authority are inseparable from the system of meanings in which the past is tied to the present, and the sources of life are tied to the reproductive and productive functions of women.
It would be misleading to assume that female economic and political rights are based solely on female social and ritual principles like those described in the previous section. In many societies it is clear that female influence is based on a sexual division of labor that gives women access to rights and duties and brings them economic self-sufficiency. Often ,in these cases, men are absent for long periods engaged in hunting, warfare, trading, or migrant labor. In the absence of males, the regulation and conduct of local affairs may be in the hands of women. The Abipon represent one of the most striking examples of female power in the face of male absence. While men hunted and warred, Abipon women did most of the work.22 Women were also almost solely responsible for the rites of propitiation involving the Abipon celestial supreme being called "Grandfather." The Abipon deserve attention not just because they exemplify female power in an outer-oriented society. Our knowledge of the Abipon comes largely from the work of Martin Dobrizhoffer, a Jesuit missionary who lived among them from 1750 to 1762. His book, published in 1784, is described as "one of the most famous monographs ever written on any South American tribe. Thus, Dobrizhoffer's description affords a rare glimpse of tribal life before prolonged European contact. The Abipon were one of many aboriginal tribes of the Gran Chaco, a vast plain 'm the center of the South American continent between the fringe of the Matto Grosso Plateau and the Argentine Pampa. This area is described as depressed, a dry country hardly suitable for human settlement were it not for the lagoons and water holes scattered throughout.24 The Spanish settled in the area during the sixteenth century, not because it had any special appeal, but because it was on the route leading to the silver and gold of western South America. For the Indians, the most important consequence of this contact was the introduction of the horse. The Abipon may have been the first Chaco Indians to turn Acquisition of the horse enabled them to fight the equestrian. 25 Spaniards on an equal footing. It also changed the aboriginal economy. Agriculture was abandoned and the Indians became expert cattle, sheep, and horse raiders. The Abipon stole thousands of cattle and horses from Spanish ranches. Dobrizhoffer reports that from some raids a warrior would come back with at least 400 horses, and that 100,000 horses were captured by the Abipon within about 50 years.26 Warfare and hunting consumed the lives of men. They were as successful in killing Spaniards, taking heads, scalping, or capturing slaves as they were at acquiring horses. They eluded Spanish retaliation because they were continually moving from place to place. Competition.was evident and there were clear distinctions between superior and lesser sorts. Dobrizhoffer refers to noblemen and noblewomen. Personal ornamentation signified distinctions in wealth. Men wore necklaces, women tattooed their faces, breasts, and arms. The number and variety of tattoo patterns indicated a woman's status. A woman with only three or four black lines on her face was either a captive or of low birth .27 Their wealth, social distinctions, and warlike nature might suggest that the Abipon would treat women as chattel, as did other equestrian societies described in the nineteenth century. For example Hoebel, who reconstructs the life of the equestrian Comanche in 1870, writes that women, horses, and dogs were classified as private property .28 This was emphatically not so with the Abipon. Abipon women were neither subordinated nor considered inferior. They were fierce, dominant, and, in their own sphere, as aggressive and competitive as were Abipon men. The activities of Abipon men and women usually did not overlap, except in the ritual sphere, where women were perhaps more important than men. Females were powerful both collectively and individually. In a vivid description of the cooperative work of the female collective, Dobrizhoffer says:
Above a hundred women often go out to distant plains together to collect various fruits, roots, colours, and other useful things, and remain four or eight days in the country, without having any male to accompany them on their journey, assist them in their Tabours, take care of the horses, or guard them amidst the perils of wild beasts, or of enemies. Those amazons are sufficient to themselves, and think they are safer alone. I never heard of a single woman being torn to pieces by a tiger, or bitten by a serpent, but I knew many men who were killed in both ways.
Although they frequently operated as a collective, this did not prevent women from engaging in bloody battles among themselves. A quarrel between two women or two sets of women who had independently arrived at separate decisions about certain events could degenerate into a blood bath in which all women participated. Men stood by, calmly watching these fights without interfering, because this was women's way. 30 Women would also, at times, inflict their blows on men and engage in ceremonial wrestling with other women. After a chief s son was born, the strongest woman in the camp would lead a group of girls in whipping all the men. The same strong woman would challenge all the "stout women" to wrestle.31 Dobrizhoffer uses the term horde to designate the group of families following a cacique or chief. A horde consisted of extended families, any group of which might leave a horde whenever it suited them to join some other chief. A chief was usually a man judged to be properly noble and warlike. His main task was to be the war leader. The position could be inherited or achieved through skill and valor. Females could and did become chiefs. Dobrizhoffer remarks:
I must not omit to mention that the Abipones do not scorn to be governed by women of noble birth; for at the time I resided in Paraguay, there was a highborn matron, to whom the Abipones gave the title Nelareycaee, and who numbered some families in her horde. Her origin, and the merits of her ancestors, procured her the veneration of others. Since families could break away from a horde and join another whenever they chose, it would appear that the "chief' was not powerful in the sense of controlling the actions of others. Much more influential were the "jugglers" (shamans). They were believed to have innumerable powers to inflict disease and death, cure, forsee the future, cause rain and tempests, call up the spirits of the dead, change into a "tiger," and handle snakes. Their power was acquired in a vision quest from a supernatural relative, or sky-being, called "Grandfather," who was associated with the Pleiades. jugglers accompanied all hunting and war expeditions. They advised on where to hunt and how to conduct a battle.33 A juggler could be of either sex, but females may have outnumbered males. Dobrizhoffer, at least, seemed quite impressed with the number of female jugglers: He says that they "abound to such a degree, that they almost outnumber the gnats of Egypt."34 Female jugglers formed groups, often led by an old woman. Their major task was to consult the "evil spirit," take charge of certain ceremonies in connection with "Grandfather," and conduct all mourning ceremonies. The highest-ranking female juggler was responsible for inaugurating a new chief. A female ' juggler was in charge of the ceremony that welcomed the Pleiades back when this constellation became visible in the southern sky during the month of May. It was believed that when the Pleiades could not be seen it was because "Grandfather" was sick. During the welcoming ceremony an old woman danced with a gourd rattle while "military trumpets" blared at intervals. She rubbed the thighs of some men with her gourds, and in the name of "Grandfather" promised them swiftness in hunting and warfare.35 It is not known what happened to the Abipon. In 1750 Dobrizhoffer says they numbered about 5,000. In 1767 they had been reduced to 2,000. According to Metraux, after the expulsion of the Jesuits the Abipon disappeared and ceased to play any historic role. 36 The advance of the military posts in the Chaco during the nineteenth century restricted their hunting grounds and forced numerous bands into submission. Many were slaughtered and others were absorbed into the Creole population.37
The achieved bases for female economic and political power
In foraging societies like that of the Abipon, women achieve power when social survival rests on their economic self-sufficiency as well as on the hunting activities of men. Although hunting is the most prestigious activity in these cases, the gathering activities of women often supply the bulk of the food. In addition, hunting success may depend on the knowledge women supply of the whereabouts of animals. For example, Patricia Draper, who accompanied !Kung women of the Kalahari Desert in Africa on gathering expeditions, describes the dependence of male hunters on the information women bring back about the "state of the bush." Although !Kung women do not hunt, they act as intelligence agents for the men. If on a gathering expedition women discover fresh tracks, they send an older child to deliver the report to the men in camp. Since women are skilled in reading the signs of the bush, upon their return to camp, men query them about evidence of game movements, the age of animal tracks they may have encountered, the location of water, and the like. All !Kung agree that meat is the most desirable and most prestigious food. But the hunters cannot always provide it, and the vegetable food gathered by women is the staple, contributing about 60% to 80% of the daily food intake by weight. In addition to demonstrating how important women's gathering activities are to male hunting, Draper challenges the common point of view that gathering is a monotonous routine requiring no more than subnormal intelligence. Successful gathering among the !Kung involves the ability to discriminate among hundreds of edible and inedible species of plants at various stages of growth. This kind of intelligence is fully as important to !Kung survival as the physical strength, dexterity, and endurance required for success in hunting.38 The foraging !Kung are described by Draper as sexually egalitarian. Draper says that !Kung females are autonomous and participate in group decisions because they do not need the assistance of men at any stage in the production of gathered foods. Nor do they need the permission of men to use any natural resources entering into this production. !Kung men and women live in a public world, sleeping and eating in a small circular clearing, within which all activities are visible. There are inherited positions, such as the "headman," among the !Kung, but these are said to be essentially empty of behavioral content.39 There are many similar examples of the self-sufficiency and autonomy of women in foraging societies. In some cases, women take over the hunting activities of men. Descriptions of female hunting in several North American Indian societies have been provided by Regina Flannery, Ruth Landes, and Louise Spindler. In the cases cited by them, certain females adopted "masculine styles" that they learned from men and performed out of necessity. When she lived among the Eastern Cree of the James Bay region of Canada during the summers of 1933 and 1935, Regina Flannery came to know several old women reputed to have been excellent hunters in the old days. They hunted either because of the illness or death of their male relatives or, as the women said but no man ever admitted, because of "just plain incompetence of the men at hunting. While living among the Mescalero Apache in the mountains of southeastern New Mexico, Flannery was told by a "shriveled-up, decrepit old woman" that in the past "young married women might go hunting with their husbands, not merely to accompany them, but actually to take part in the chase." Flannery found it hard to believe that such a woman "was once active and skilled enough to rope a buffalo, wind the rope around a tree, and kill the animal with an axe." However, she received corroborating information from others that in the past this was not an uncommon feat for women who, if they needed food, would kill whatever animals they came upon.41
Ruth Landes and Louise Spindler were informed about similar customs by Ojibwa and Menomini women. Landes describes Ojibwa women who, learning the appropriate skills from male relatives, became successful hunters and trappers.42 Spindler says that in aboriginal Menomini culture, "a woman who fished well, raced well, hunted well, or danced like a man was highly respected." She refers to such a woman as a deviant who chose to "perform a wide range of male activities which might appeal to her" rather than to stay "at home, performing women's tasks, and listening by the hour to the tales of her grandmother." In recent years, she adds, women have continued to fill male roles, such as judge, advisory council members, political offices, and consultants in the mill office.43 Thus, these North American Indian women are depicted as having deviated from the feminine lifestyle to adopt the masculine style. They do so largely for pragmatic reasons, and some women achieve great success in the male role. In more advanced, agricultural societies, female trading activities have provided women with economic autonomy and, in some cases, with a significant power base. Women traders predominate in West Africa, the non-Hispanic Caribbean, and parts of mainland Latin America. Ester Boserup suggests an association between female farming and female trade. She says that where market trade is dominated by men, men do most of the agricultural work. On the other hand, she says, "where women are actively engaged in producing the crops, and particularly when they are farmers on their own account, they also take the crops to the market where they may also sell articles which they have not produced themselves. 1144 Many exceptions to this generalization can be cited. Boserup notes that Vietnamese men regard trade as debasing for men and think that women are more economical and thrifty. Philippine men regard themselves as being too sensitive for the coarse language and aggressive behavior necessary in trading activities and let their wives handle small-scale market trade, leaving large-scale trade to foreigners.45 In a survey of the role of women as traders, Sidney Mintz notes that who trades may be related to "civil security" and to which sex produces the marketable commodity. For example, Afikpo Igbo women, who unlike Igbo women of midwestern Nigeria do not enjoy equal status. with men, are discouraged from engaging in long-distance trade due to lack of "civil security." Afikpo Igbo men engage in long-distance trade, leaving women to run the internal market system in which they market their agricultural produce. An important economic innovation, increasing the capacity of Afikpo Igbo women to deal as equals with men, was the introduction of cassava processing and cultivation, apparently from Yoruba groups of Western Nigeria. Since men would only grow yams, and all other crops were cultivated by women, cassava cultivation fell to women. Men rejected cassava cultivation as beneath them. Control over the production and marketing of cassava, which gained rapid acceptance as a subsistence crop, became a major source of economic independence for women. Mintz cites Ottenberg, who comments on the reaction of women to cassava cultivation:
Nowadays women do not care if the husband does not give them any food, for they can go to the farm and get cassava. If a woman has any money she buys [rents] land and plants cassava. The year after she does this she can have a crop for cassava meal, which she can sell and have her own money. Then she can say, "What is man? I have my own money! Thus, female trading activities may be inspired by events surrounding Europeanization. In a lengthy description of Haitian marketing, which is monopolized by women, Mintz suggests that Haitian women took over marketing because men were in danger of conscription by Haiti's military regimes after independence in 1804. At least as important, he remarks, was the gradual accumulation of land by an expanding peasantry and the concentration of males in agricultural production. The acquisition of land may h;ave been "land enough to free women from cultivation but not land enough to produce a yield sufficiently large to make it profitable for the peasant cultivator to go regularly to market himself. 1147 Full-time Haitian market women are not restricted by familial obligations or by rigid patterns of male authority. Many Haitian market women are single or live in common-law relationships that permit them maximum mobility. These women are nomadic and their husbands remain sedentary. Many of the most active rural trading women are away from their homes for 4 days in 7. It has been said "that some Haitian farmers are left at such a loss by their marketer wives' absence that they 'fast stoically for two or three days' until their spouses return."48 Though market women may use their profits to help their husbands' agricultural efforts, Mintz says that these husbands have no recognized claim on their wives' capital.49 To conclude, female economic power is sometimes a result of a sexual division of labor in which women achieve self-sufficiency and establish an independent control sphere. This sphere need not be supported or legitimized by a system of magico-religious or legal tides. However, in the absence of such tides, female power is more vulnerable to change. This can be seen in female trading, especially in the face of "Westernization." Mintz notes that the traditional predominance of female traders in Africa, for example, is threatened by the opportunities available to men to expand commercial activities 'n the European economy and by the exclusion of women from export commodity activity.50 Similarly, in Haiti there are upper limits to the expansion of female trading activities because the larger Haitian economy is male dominated and controlled, giving women little or no opportunity to reinvest their capital in new forms of production. 51 The effects of Western culture on the public power and authority of tribal women are examined in more detail in the next chapter.
The ascribed and achieved bases for female public power and authority and increasing technological complexity
The previous discussion of the bases for female economic and political power and authority can be related to the cultural configurations described in Chapters 3 and 4. In these chapters the discussion focused on environmental circumstances leading to an inner/plant as opposed to an outer/animal cultural configuration. Feminine or couple origin symbolism was associated with plant economies, whereas masculine symbolism was associated with animal economies. Since feminine symbolic principles are more evident in plant than in animal economies, we would expect a corresponding greater representation of women in the secular power activities of plant economies. This expectation is supported by the data presented in Table 6. 1. Females wield political and economic power in a higher proportion of plant than animal economies.
The data presented in Table 6.1 show, however, that in the more advanced plant economies females are less likely to wield such power, just as feminine origin symbolism is less likely to be represented in these economies, as was shown 'm Chapter 3 (see Table 3.5). Thus, technological complexity appears to inhibit the expression of feminine political, economic, and symbolic power. These facts can be interpreted in several ways. First, there is Eleanor Leacock's argument that in foraging and pre-colonial simple agricultural societies, the sexes were equal and women functioned publicly in making economic and social decisions. Drawing on propositions advanced by Engels, Leacock argues that with increased technological specialization, production for consumption changes to production of commodities for exchange. The latter form of production, she says, takes the direct control of produce out of the hands of the producers and creates new economic ties that undermine the collectivity of joint households. Women lose control of their production because they are relegated to individual households, where they become the private dispensers of services and producers of children. This process, Leacock says, was thwarted where women "were organized to maintain and protect their rights. Confining her discussion to Africa, Ester Boserup presents a similar argument in saying that the simultaneous introduction by Europeans of intensive agricultural techniques and cash crops undermined traditional female farming and, hence, female control of production. Although women continued to cultivate food crops in some societies, Boserup says, this activity was no longer accorded the same social significance. The prestige of men was enhanced because they were introduced to the technology of the colonial society and became the intermediaries between the old and the new traditions. Where men were recruited into industry and women remained the primary producers for village households, female production did not necessarily mean female economic power. As men became more dependent on the colonial economy, women, in turn, became more dependent on men. Thus, as Kay Martin and Barbara Voorhies say in their summary of Boserup's argument, "As males begin to consistently exchange goods and services for part or all of the domestic necessities, the cultivative labor of women diminishes in scope and importance. "53
These arguments are compelling and to a large degree correct, as will become evident in the discussion of the effect of colonialism on traditional female power in the next chapter. However, p these arguments do not explain why women hold political and economic power or authority in 53% of the advanced agricultural societies (see Table 6. 1). Leacock, Boserup, and Martin and Voorhies do not distinguish between the ascribed and achieved bases for female public power. The introduction of cash crops or intensive agricultural techniques surely must have a differential impact on secular female status, depending on whether this status is ascribed or achieved. Where female power is a natural right accorded women and part of a long-standing cultural configuration, it is less likely that technological complexity will greatly undermine the importance of women. In these kinds of societies the organization by women to protect their rights is facilitated by cultural tradition. On the other hand, in societies where women have traditionally achieved power, it is more likely that technological complexity will have the effect described by Leacock and Boserup. If female power is related to feminine symbolism and in situ cultural development, we can assume that the authority of women is an integral part of the fabric of a people's social identity and, as such, less easily destroyed by colonial influence. If females live in a world where power is determined by might as opposed to right, it seems reasonable to suppose that the outside influence that disturbs the relative access of males and females to scarce or valued resources will have a corresponding effect on the relative balance of power between males and females. In some cases the balance of power may shift in favor of females. This happened in some areas of Africa where the outlawing of warfare by colonial administrations gave women greater opportunity for trade and, hence, access to wealth than their husbands and brothers had.54 In most cases, however, in the absence of a historical tradition extolling the right of women to control, it is logical to assume that women will lose access to strategic resources in the face of increased technological complexity for the reasons advanced by Leacock and Boserup. The data of this study support these suggestions. First, Leacock is right that women are more likely to function publicly in making economic and social decisions in foraging than in non-foraging societies.
Women enjoy economic and political power or authority in 67% of the foraging societies of this study as compared with 52% of the non-foraging societies (see Table 6.2). The dimension of symbolism does appear to affect the impact of technological complexity. Among the more technologically advanced non-foragers, women are more likely to hold economic and political power or authority if feminine symbolic principles (in origin stories) are also present (see Table 6.2). A long and stable association with one place is also important. Women play a more prominent role in societies described either as "aboriginal" to the area or as having "migrated long ago" than they do among peoples believed to be recent migrants to an area (see Table 6.3).
Migration clearly has a negative effect on the expression of female power and authority in many societies (see Table 6.3). However, as the following chapters argue, the experience of migration, like technological complexity, has a differential impact on peoples with a tradition of ascribed female power as compared with peoples without such a tradition. To conclude, women exercise economic and political power in the majority of foraging societies. In gathering and fishing societies especially, women wield secular power. 'Technological complexity is likely to undermine the political and economic autonomy of women if the traditional sex-role plan does not incorporate feminine symbolic principles. Ancient metaphors for female power give women a basis upon which to organize to protect their rights during social disruption. Sometimes, in the face of unrelenting external pressure, such as that exerted by a male-dominated colonial power, the traditional symbols that define the women's world may fall. As people combat such outside influences, the power of women may disintegrate as new metaphors for sexual identities replace the old. Some examples of the effect of European colonialism on the women's world are presented in the next chapter.
"Men stand superior to women in that God hath preferred the one over the other ... Those whose perverseness ye fear, admonish them and remove them into bed-chambers and beat them; but if they submit to you then do not seek a way against them." Sura 4:34, The Quran
"Every attitude, emotion, thought, has its opposite held in balance out of sight but there all the time. Push any one of them to an extreme, and . . . over you go into its opposite." Doris Lessing, The Four-gated City, p. 601
Sex-role plans are part of the system of meanings by which a people explain their success, come to terms with their fears, enshrine their past, and stamp themselves with a sense of "people-hood." The unique identity people weave for themselves, the cup they mold from which to drink of life, mediates sexual identities. Hence, sex roles must be viewed as an interdependent part of the logico-meaningful system that defines and gives direction to a people's life. If this system of meanings develops in the absence of forces threatening social survival, women wield economic and political power or authority and the power relationship between the sexes is balanced. If the system of meanings that defines sexual identities is threatened by internal or external forces, meanings may be recombined, with the result that sexual identities are revised or new ones fabricated. If the whole complex of traditional roles is undermined, people will fight as if they were struggling to hold on to life itself. As the Igbo women said in the aftermath of the women's war, (twe are all dying." When the cup of life that defines the male world is broken, men organize to protect their traditional rights, as the Igbo women organized to protect theirs. Sometimes the struggle against hostile forces includes controlling and manipulating women as if they were objects in a game played only by men. The circumstances under which men attempt to make women pawns in their struggle are discussed in this chapter. As will be seen, however, women do not always accept subordination by men.
Male dominance: mythical and real Anthropologists have proposed various, partially overlapping definitions of male dominance. Ernestine Friedl defines male dominance as "a situation in which men have highly preferential access, although not always exclusive rights, to those activities to which the society accords the greatest value, and the exercise of which permits a measure of control over others."Friedl's definition is more specific than the one employed by William Divale and Marvin Harris in their discussion of the "male supremacist complex." These authors define male dominance in terms of an "Institutionalized complex" consisting of "asymmetrical frequencies of sex-linked practices and beliefs," such as post-marital residence, descent I ideology, form of marriage, bride price, the sexual division of labor, and sex roles in leadership.2 Thus, Divale and Harris assume that any social institution or practice that is oriented to the male principle implies domination by men. The definition of male dominance used here is more narrow. Male dominance is restricted in this study to the two general types of behaviors that have been described in previous chapters. First, there is the exclusion of women from political and economic decision making. Second, there is male aggression against women, which is measured here by the following five traits: the expectation that males should be tough, brave, and aggressive; the presence of men's houses or specific places where only men may congregate; frequent quarrelling, fighting, or wife beating; the institutionalization or regular occurrence of rape; and raiding other groups for wives. The presence of all five traits in a society indicates a high degree of male aggression; the absence of all five indicates that male aggression is weakly developed@ The extent to which traits measuring male aggression and female power overlap in some societies is shown in Table 8.1. Twenty-eight percent of the societies in which females wield political and economic power or authority are characterized by the extremes of male aggression. Looking at the societies in which females have economic control but no political power, it can be seen that over half (53%) are prone to male aggression. The Mundurucu fit into the latter category: Women enjoy economic autonomy and males display aggression against women. Despite efforts by men to control them by force, Mundurucu women neither accept nor agree with the male assessment of their inferior status. The relation between the Mundurucu sexes, Murphy and Murphy say, is not, then, one of simple domination and submissiveness, but one of ideological dissonance and real opposition. 114
The Mundurucu case illustrates that male aggression against is not necessarily joined with female passivity. In some societies it is expected that women will fight back. In others, it is assumed that women will adopt the submissive role. The following quote from the Quran, for example, codifies real male dominance and female subordination: "Men stand superior to women in that God hath preferred the one over the other . . . Those whose perverseness ye fear, admonish them and remove them into bed-chambers and beat them; but if they submit to you then do not seek a way against them. "5 The frequency (see Table 8. 1) with which female economic or political power coexists with male aggression against women shows that the Mundurucu sex-role plan is not unusual. In discussing the bases for male dominance, it is essential to distinguish male aggression against women from the exercise by women of political and economic power. Where the former exists in the presence of the latter, the term mythical male dominance will be employed to describe the relationship between the sexes. Where males turn aggression against women and/or women are excluded from economic and political decision making, the relationship between the sexes will be defined as unequal. Finally, where males do not display aggression against women and women exercise political and economic authority or power, the relationship between the sexes will be defined as equal. Employing these criteria as guidelines, the relationship between the sexes is classified as equal in 32% of the societies of this study and unequal in 28% (see Table 8.2). The remaining 40% of the societies either fit the criteria expressive of "mythical" male dominance or represent cases in which women exercise economic but no political power.6 The notion of "mythical" male dominance was adopted from Susan Carol Rogers's discussion of the "myth of male dominance in peasant societies. Rogers gives examples of peasant societies in which there is a balance between formal male authority and informal female power. She argues that a non-hierarchical power relationship between the categories "male" and "female" is maintained by "the acting out of a 'myth' of male dominance." The myth of male dominance, she says, is expressed "in patterns of public deference toward men, as well as their monopolization of positions of authority and prestige." She shows, however, that males do not actually dominate, nor do males or females literally believe males to be dominant.
The perpetuation of the myth, she says, is in the interests of both peasant women and men, because it gives the latter the appearance of power and control over all sectors of village life, while at the same time giving to the former actual power over those sectors of life in the community which may be controlled by villagers.117 A claim for nearly universal sexual asymmetry could be made if mythical male dominance is defined as a form of sexual asymmetry. However, if mythical male dominance is understood as representing a form of balanced sexual opposition, as Rogers argues and as I have argued for societies like that of the Mundurucu, such a claim is unwarranted. The criteria for classifying societies as sexually equal deserves comment in light of the universal sexual asymmetry argument. Louise Lamphere, who articulates the latter position, defines sexual equality as a situation "in which all men and women (regardless of social group or strata) could and actually did make decisions over the same range of activities and people, that is, exercise the same kinds of control" (emphasis mine). Sexual inequality, she says, would be a situation "where there were some decisions which women could not and did not make, some activities from which they were excluded, and some resources which they did not control."8 By this definition, in all human societies men are unequal in some respects and women are unequal in others. There is no society I know of in which the sexes give equal energy to exactly the same activities and decisions. Nor are there many societies in which both sexes have the same access to the same resources. My position regarding the definition of sexual equality falls in what Lamphere defines as the "complementary but equal" argument, which she attributes to Alice Schlegel, Jean Briggs, Carolyn Matthiasson, and others.9 Given Lamphere's definition of equality, it is not surprising that she disagrees with these authors. For example, referring to Schlegel's description of Hopi sexual balance, dualism, and interdependence, Lamphere interprets the exclusion of women from the Kachina cult and from participation in facets of male ceremonialism as evidence for sexual asymmetry, whereas Schlegel interprets the Hopi ceremonial cycle as bringing together the different functions equated with masculinity and femininity into an expression of unity. Schlegel's description of the function of the Hopi ceremonial cycle suggests sexual symmetry. Hopi male ceremonialism is more exclusive and more prevalent because of the double nature of men, as conceived by the Hopi, as opposed to the single nature of women. The duality of masculinity is represented in ceremonial symbolism expressing the male role as germinator, activator, and guardian of life, on the one hand, and the predatory nature of males needed in their roles as warriors on the other. These antithetical roles, she shows, are expressed in different ceremonies and associated with different men's fraternities. Hopi women have only one function: to give life. As Schlegel says, "Women, however, do not partake of this dual role of life givers and life destroyers; their single nature is to give and keep life."10 The Hopi ceremonial cycle contrasts the double nature of men with the single nature of women, and in so doing ceremonies appear to be more male than female oriented. However, women play a vital role in these ceremonies. They grind the sacred cornmeal, the symbol of natural and spiritual life and a necessary ingredient in almost all ceremonies. Women can and will refuse to play their appointed role in male ceremonies as a way of exercising veto power over male political decisions."
Thus, Hopi sexes do not participate in the same way in Hopi ceremonial life, nor do they participate in the same way in Hopi social life. However, the interdependence between the sexes shows that both are required for the functioning of the whole in a way not found in sexually unequal societies, where males may independently conduct public social and ceremonial affairs. It is clear that Lamphere and Schlegel employ different definitions of equality. One uses equality in the sense of sameness, the other uses equality in the sense of interdependence and balance. Since equality can mean both, perhaps the solution would be to employ an altogether different label, such as sexual symmetry.
The correlates of male dominance and sexual inequality
Male dominance is associated with increasing technological complexity, an animal economy, sexual segregation in work, a symbolic orientation to the male creative principle, and stress. Table 8.3 shows that the sexes are most likely to be equal in gathering, fi'shfrig, and shifting cultivation economies. The sexes tend to be unequal in animal husbandry societies. The intermediate category of male dominance (which includes mythical male dominance) is prevalent among advanced agriculturalists, hunters, and horticulturalists. Table 8.4 shows that feminine or couple origin symbolism is more frequently found in sexually equal than in sexually unequal societies. This table also shows that sexual segregation is positively associated with male dominance and sexual integration is-negatively associated with male dominance. Male dominance is significantly associated with environmental and-historical conditions, suggesting that the dominance of women is a response to stress. The results displayed in Table 8.5 show that in favorable environments and in autochthonous cultural conditions, sexual equality (or symmetry) flourishes, whereas in unfavorable environments or in the face of cultural disruption (measured by the experience of recent migration), mythical male dominance or sexual inequality prevails. For nearly three-fourths of the sexually equal societies (71 %), migration is reported as occurring very early," "long ago," or it is said that the people are "aboriginal to the area." Approximately the same proportion of sexually unequal societies (70%) are reported as being recent arrivals in their area within the last 100-150 years or the people are said to be expansionist oriented. In support of the importance of a favorable environment (as measured by the nature of the food supply), Table 8.5 shows also that sexually equal societies are less likely to be faced with periods of famine than sexually unequal societies. Other sources of stress related to male dominance are endemic warfare and chronic hunger (see Table 8.6).
Anthropological explanations for male dominance
In recent years anthropologists have paid considerable attention to the etiology of male dominance. Several explanations that have been offered are supported by the results discussed in the preceding section. These explanations and others are reviewed here before addressing what seems to me one of the most important questions of this study: Why does the human solution to stress elevate males to a position of dominance and not females? Marvin Harris presents one answer to this question when he argues that male supremacism is caused by an imbalance between protein sources and population density. Female infanticide, he says, occurs with greater frequency in regions of protein deficiency because of the need to produce hunters and warriors to compete for the available protein supplies. This slows population growth. The resulting shortage of marriageable women, however, requires men to take them from hostile groups. Polygyny, the mark of a successful and powerful hunter and warrior, exacerbates the shortage of women and, hence, the competition for women. A cycle of violence is established which, Harris argues, supplies the key for understanding the etiology of male supremacism.
According to Harris, male supremacist institutions arise as a "by-product of warfare, of the male monopoly over weapons, and of the use of sex for the nurturance of aggressive male personalities." Warfare "is not the expression of human nature, but a response to reproductive and ecological pressures. Therefore, male supremacy is no more natural than warfare. "12 Harris argues that male supremacism is a result of the male monopoly over weapons, but Ernestine Friedl emphasizes the greater control men have over strategic resources because men are the hunters and the expendable sex in activities endangering lives. Friedl argues that among foragers men have greater control than women over the extra-domestic distribution and exchange of valued goods and services because of the male monopoly on hunting large game. Among shifting agriculturalists, she says, men have this control because of the male monopoly on the clearing of land and its allocation. Women do not hunt large game because of the difficulties of carrying burdens, food, or children while searching for the game. Men rather than women clear land because new lands often border territories of other peoples with whom warfare poses a potential threat. Warfare, she argues, is primarily the responsibility of males because "a population can survive the loss of men more easily than that of women." Thus, men, by virtue of their control of warfare and land allocation, "are more deeply involved than women in economic and political alliances which are extra-domestic and which require for their maintenance the distribution and exchange of goods and services."13 Friedl concludes that a degree of male dominance exists in all known societies if male dominance is defined as the measure of control over others accorded men because of their preferential access to valued activities. 14 Nothing in the results displayed in this chapter contradicts either Harris or Friedl. Male dominance is associated with warlikeness and ecological stress, as Harris suggests. Friedl's argument that male dominance is characteristic of foragers is correct for those foragers who rely mainly on hunting. Her argument does not apply to foragers relying mainly on gathering (see Table 8.3). What she has to say about the greater expendability of men is consistent with the discussion Presented in Chapter 4. Her definition of male dominance excludes consideration of the interdependence of the male and female worlds. Although she recognizes the ways in which men control people and resources, Friedl does not recognize the ways in which women exercise power and control. Sherry Ortner argues for universal male dominance on ideational rather than materialist grounds. Women are associated with nature, she says, because a woman's body and its functions are more involved more often with "species life" in contrast to 11 man's physiology which frees him more completely to take up the projects of culture." Following Simone de Beauvoir, Ortner contends that although a "woman's body seems to doom her to mere reproduction of life; the male, in contrast, lacking natural creative functions, must . . . assert his creativity externally, 'artificially,' through the medium of technology and symbols." In addition, male activities involving the destruction of life are given more prestige than the female's ability to create life. In the words of de Beauvoir, "It is not in giving life but in risking life that man is raised above the animal; that is why superiority has been accorded in humanity not to the sex that brings forth but to that which kills."15
Ortner's analysis strikes a responsive chord in those who have no knowledge of the superior and supernatural importance attached to the creation of life in societies like those of the Iroquois, Hopi, Dahomeans, and Ashanti, to mention but a few. In Western society, or in any society dominated by the outer/animal configuration, Ortner's analysis appears particularly applicable. However, with more thought one begins to wonder. Do all societies make a distinction between nature and culture? What about the instances in which men are associated with animals and women with "a civilizing influence"? For example, the Dahomeans are said to have been concerned about their animal-oriented cults because humans were giving birth to animals; thus they adopted the nature and dual-sex-oriented cult of Mawu-Lisa because it enabled them to give birth to humans (see discussion in Chapter 3). "Even in American culture," as Susan Carol Rogers points out in a critical analysis of Ortner's position, "women are by no means always associated with nature!" American sexual imagery portrays men as lustful and animalistic, subdued by the more responsible and civilized woman. The idea of rowdy, anti-social males who would revert to animality in the absence of the "gentler sex" can be traced far back in Western thought. 16 Harris, Friedl, and Ortner assume universal sexual asymmetry for different reasons. Other anthropologists begin their discussion of male dominance by pointing out that prior sexual egalitarianism was displaced by male dominance. In addition to the work of Eleanor Leacock, who has argued this point longer than any other modern anthropologist, the research of Kay Martin and Barbara Voorhies is relevant. Martin and Voorhies's argument for the conditions associated with feminine and masculine forms of social structure is remarkably similar to the viewpoint advanced here for the bases of male dominance and female power. These authors contend that descent and residence rules oriented to the maternal line are adaptive in favorable environments where conquest has not subjugated peoples, whereas descent and residence rules oriented to the paternal line are adaptive where resources are scarce or 'A,here populations have been subjugated by "patrilineal invaders."17 "While matrilineal structures are accommodating and integrative," Martin and Voorhies say, "patrilineal ones are acquisitive and internally divisive." The accommodating nature of matrilineal forms results from the dispersion of related men due to the practice of matrilocality, a practice that promotes widespread cooperation and coordination of groups. The latter form of organization, I would add, encourages integrative political structures, such as the Ashanti and Iroquois confederacies. Because patrilineality and pat 'locality consolidate related men, this form of social organization promotes stable political systems in circumstances where competition for scarce resources is the basis for sociocultural survival or expansion. 18 Martin and Voorhies imply that patrilineality is more likely to be associated with sexual inequality and matrilineality with sexual equality. Based on the societies of this study, these authors are correct. Fifty-two percent of the matrilineal societies as compared to 19% of the patrilineal societies are sexually equal (see Table 8.7). Similarly, 50% of the matrilocal societies as compared with 21% of the strictly patrilocal societies are sexually equal (see Table 8.7). Table 8.7 shows that there are many fewer matrilineal and matrilocal societies which has been amply documented by previous cross-cultural studies. 19 Martin and Voorhies attribute the low frequency of matrilineal systems in the ethnographic present to their replacement by more expansive, exploitative patrilineal systems. They note the change from matrilineal to patrilineal forms over wide regions of Africa documented by George P. Murdock. They refer to the example of the Tumbuka, who before 1780 "resembled most of the neighboring tribes in adhering to matrilineal descent, inheritance, and succession, in requiring matri-local bride-service rather than a bride-price, and in permitting an ultimate shift to avunculocal residence," according to Murdock. Between 1780 and 1800 the Tumbuka came under the influence of "patrilineal invaders." Around 1855, the Tumbuka were subjugated by new rulers "with even stronger patrilineal institutions."
"In consequence of their influence," Murdock says, "the Tumbuka abandoned even nominal bride-service, adopted the full-fledged South African bridepiece, or lobola, substituted the eldest son for the younger brother as the preferred heir and successor, and transformed what had originally been matrisibs into indubitable exogamous patrisibs."20 From this and other examples, Martin and Voorhies conclude that the replacement of matrilineal systems "by more expansive exploitative ones, has occurred widely in the primitive world." Matrilineal systems are under-represented in the ethnographic present because "the ecological adaptations and niches that this type of organization fosters and sustains have all but disappeared in the modern world. "21 If there has been a widespread transition from female-centered or sexually equal social systems to male-centered or sexually unequal systems, as Martin and Voorhies and Leacock suggest, one wonders how the transition may have come about in everyday behavior. Some of the ways by which male dominance supersedes female power have been discussed in previous chapters, and other ways will be discussed in the next chapter. The myth of male dominance is one way in which the sexes deal with changing circumstances. According to Rogers, the myth of male dominance enables women to retain control of their own sphere, which in the case of the peasant societies she describes is the central unit of the community and the only sphere over which villagers have much control. 22 Mythical male dominance represents a waystation where opposing and conflicting sexual power principles may coexist. Rogers describes the kinds of conditions that would, logically, cause a shift favoring the male or female end of the power spectrum. She says that if the bases for female power are retained and the activities by which men express authority are lost, women's power will increase and the myth of male dominance will no longer be expressed. If, however, the reverse occurs, male dominance can become a reality, as happens when the center of female power vanishes, women become more dependent on men, and males retain their access to formal rights and duties. The system can collapse completely, with neither sex achieving dominance over the other, if neither sex no longer depends on the other or if either sex is forced to recognize publicly that men are not actually dominant.23
In light of the variety of anthropological views regarding the development of male dominance, it is interesting to discover that in many societies explanations for "rule by men" exist. These explanations are found in stories recorded by anthropologists in many parts of the world that tell about the time when females ruled and men were forced to seize power from women. Usually the reasoning behind the male rebellion against women is female tyranny or gross incompetence. Women are depicted as the source of unbearable stress and men as being forced to dominate women in order to combat oppression, which is perceived in gigantic proportions. For example, there is a South American tale about the time "before the Giants wandered through the woods with their heads above the treetops," when "all the forest was evergreen . . . the Sun and Moon walked the earth as man and wife, and many of the great sleepy mountains were human beings." Women were powerful and men "lived in abject fear and subjection," because even though men had "bows and arrows with which to supply the camp with meat," only women had the power "to bring sickness and even death to all those who displeased them." Later, in the mythical sequence of events, the men decide to end the tyranny by killing all women; "there ensued a great massacre, from which not one woman escaped in human form." When the young girl children, untouched by the killing frolic, matured, they replaced the wives who had been killed. In order to maintain the upper hand, men instituted a secret male society and "banished forever the women's lodge." Women were not allowed to participate in the activities of the male society under penalty of death .24 This myth can be interpreted as a fantasized explanation for the disorder following Europeanization. The Giants who walk with their heads above the treetops symbolize something that is out of order a powerful force that stalks the land. Before they came, life was more easily meshed with nature and women were more powerful. The coming of the Europeans to the part of South America where this myth was recorded could easily be perceived in these terms. The Europeans introduced the horse and musketry, causing drastic changes in the way Indians lived. Slaughter and massacre were not limited to conflict between Europeans and Indians. Indians raided other groups for horses, captives, and wives. In this tale, it is women who become the symbols of oppression, not Europeans or warring Indians. In the tale, men win the struggle against the oppressive force by subjugating women. Perhaps the struggle between men and women is a metaphor for the struggle between Indians and Europeans. In other tales of former female power, the source of oppression is conceived differently but the response is the same: Men seize power from incompetent or power-hungry females. The Kikuyu of Africa have a tale that explains that men were forced to seize power because women became too domineering and ruthless in their capacity as rulers. The Mundurucu tale (see Chapter 2) explains male dominance as resulting from women's inability to hunt meat to feed the trumpet (i.e., fertility) spirits. Male dominance in a tale recorded from the Bambara of Africa is said to have been established in order to bring sanity into a world tom by the actions of a jealous female spirit and the power-hungry exploits of her male counterpart. In this tale order is introduced into the world through the establishment of a supreme being who controls sex antagonism. What can happen if the tension between male and female is not resolved is shown by a tale recorded from the Jivaro of South America. In this tale the origin of just about everything is based on the antagonism between male and female spirits. When the tension between the sexes becomes intolerable, the embodiment of war is introduced, whose purpose is to ensure that the various factions generated from the antagonism between male and female remain in perpetual conflict.25 Generally, myths of former female power are found in societies in which there is both male dominance and female power. This is true for the Mundurucu, Bambara, Kikuyu, and Fore. In all of these societies women have considerable autonomy. Naomi Quinn points out that male status among the Mundurucu is insecure and thus their ideology of dominance is defensive and uneasy.26 Myths of former female power provide men with a rationale for segregating themselves from women and a reason for dominating "tyrannical" women. Wherever men perceive women in such terms, it is likely that women have considerable informal power. Thus, myths of former female power mirror the paradoxical relationship between the sexes that actually exists.
Male dominance: part of a cultural configuration or a solution to stress
In this chapter a distinction has been drawn between
mythical and real male dominance. Real male dominance is likely to be found
where survival rests more on male than on female actions. It is easy to imagine
dependence on the male world evolving when expansion, migration, or social
stress puts men in the position of fighting literally and figuratively to
maintain an old or to forge a new sociocultural identity in the face of
pressures threatening to destroy this identity. In such circumstances, both men
and women work to protect the larger identity and supporting world view that
mediates sexual identities. For the sake of social and cultural survival, women
accept real male domination. Their lives and those of their children may rest
on their willingness to do so. The Cheyenne, and probably the Hebrews,
represent examples of male dominance in the face of real threats to
sociocultural survival.27 These are the kinds of societies where the greater
access of men to valued resources gives men a measure of control over others.
Male dominance as conceived by Friedl applies in these instances. Women
willingly accept domination in exchange for protection and food. Mythical male
dominance is less easy to comprehend. First, the bases for mythical male
dominance are not self-evident. Why do men perceive women as tyrannical and
needing to be subjugated in the face of their own felt lack of power?
"Why," I have been asked, "do women become the metaphorical
lightning rod during times of stress and colonial disruption?" Why not men
also? Answers to such questions are found in Marvin Harris's explanation for
male supremacism. Another kind of answer is provided by the work of John and
Beatrice Whiting, who argue that male aggression is motivated by the need to
break a primary identity with powerful women. A boy who grows up in a household
in which his mother and other adult women control the resources will envy the
female status, covertly practice the female role, and develop what they call a
"feminine optative identity." If, upon reaching adulthood, the boy
discovers that his childhood view of the relative power of males and females
was distorted, that the balance of power between the sexes favors men beyond
the domestic sphere, the boy will develop "a strong need to reject his
underlying female identity." This need will lead to "an
over-determined attempt to prove his masculinity, manifested by a preoccupation
with physical strength and athletic prowess, or attempts to demonstrate daring
and valor, or behavior that is violent and aggressive. " 28 Thus, the
Whitings contend that male dominance displays are a reaction to a perception of
female power. Which answer one chooses to the question is ultimately a matter
of individual taste. Harris has uncovered the external conditions that lead to
male violence and the Whitings provide a framework for viewing the
psychodynamics that may be involved. For reasons to be advanced in the next
chapter, though I have no quarrel with these solutions to the puzzle of male
aggression, I prefer a different approach.
To understand the evolving nature of the Old Testament notion of god, it is essential to look closely at the wider and more ancient field of Canaanite deities of Syria-Palestine, for in these, we will find, not only the "god behind God", the Ancient of Days worshipped by Abraham and Jacob and revived by Daniel and the apocalyptics, but also the continuing archetypes which take us all the way back to the primal fertility Gods and Goddesses from which our concepts of deity originally stem. The Semites are broadly divided into the Eastern, represented by the Assyrians and Babylonians and the Western divided between the Southern in Arabia and Ethiopia and the Northern in Palestine and Syria. The term 'ca-na-na-um' was used by the inhabitants as early as 3500 BC (Aubet). The Hebrew "cana'ani" meant merchant, but the original meaning may have come from Akkadian kinahhu - red-colored wool, which may have in turn given their descendents the name Phoenician.
Central to the Semitic notion of deity is El, the old fatherly creator god and his consort, Athirat or Asherah. "Both were primordial beings, they had been there always." El, whose name simply meant 'god' was the creator and procreator, overseer of conception, who sired the gods, thus being also called 'Bull El' in continuity with the ancient bull god of fertility. Asherah and El thus form a creation hieros-gamos of male and female, representing the bull and the earth goddess we see emerging from the ancient continuum at Catal Huyuk. El is supposed to have gone out to sea and asked two Goddesses, one presumably being Athirat and the other possibly Anath to choose between being his spouses and being his daughters. They chose the former. Their offspring are Shaher and Shalem, the morning and evening stars, from which Lucifer, the light-bearer, takes his name.
Many of the archetypes we now perceive in Yahweh have their origin in El. He is an original creator god - the 'Creator of Created things', which definitely includes fertility, but may also include the creation of Heaven and Earth as with the Mesopotamian Marduk and Tiamat, whose own mythology may be partly derived from the older Canaanite myths. El was the proberbial old man who is both a father and judge. He was a kingly and kindly figure, benevolent but not uninvolved. He was the god of decrees and the father of the reigning king. "It was his responsibility to ensure that equilibrium was preserved among all the conflicting and competing powers within it." He thus was respected by the other Gods - "Your decree El is wise, your wisdom is everlasting." "It was not for nothing that El was called 'the kindly and compassionate' - a design strangely reminiscent of 'Allah the Merciful, the Compassionate' in Islam. Not that El was inccapable of anger: transgressions in the community ... could provoke him - and then he would prompt neighbouring powers to invade and conquer. To avert such calamities the king had to perform rites of expiation and offer sacrifices" (Cohn 1993 119)
Asherah, the Semitic name of the Great Goddess, whose origin differs from Astarte, was "in wisdom the Mistress of the Gods", called by the Sumerians Ashnan "the strength of all things", a "kindly and beautiful maiden." The Canaanites called her "She who gives birth to the Gods" and as the "Lady who traverses the Sea" she is Goddess of both the Sea and Moon. In the Old Testament she is identified with her sacred groves. Although Canaanite mythology varies from city to city, the discovery of extensive records at Ras Shamra of the city of Ugarit, gives us a uniquely detailed view of Canaanite Gods and Goddesses, dating from the author Elimelek around 1370 BC. Kings traditionally ruled as intermediaries of the Gods in maintaining the fertility of the land.
Despite siring the Gods and Goddesses, El and Asherah, no longer remain the only key players in the cosmic drama. As with Sumerian and many other mythologies a cosmic struggle for supremacy arises in which mortal combat occurs. This weaves themes both of maintaining the cosmic order against the turbulent waters of chaos and the barren season of death and of combat associated with new deities arising from social and political change.
In the Canaanite myth, a new and possibly Akkadian outsider, whose name is Ba'al Haddad or Lord enters the situation in hated competition with Asherah and her children by El. He is a young, warlike god of wind and thunderstorms and thus fertility itself. Unlike El, he is not judicious, frequently figuring in situations from which he must be saved. In this respect he displays a significant parallel to Dumuzi (Tammuz) among the Mesopotamians, which will prove to be of significance. He also has the hideous attribute of devouring his own children, consistent with infanticide practices of several semitic patron gods.
Initially Ba'al and Anat are members of El's court. Ba'al attacks El by surprise and castrates him, assuming the power of his fertility. In effect, Ba'al becomes the central intermediary of paternal cosmic order ... "it is Ba'al's responsibility to ensure El's benevolent intention is realized", but he does not replace the primal creative power of El.
El, who loves all the Gods, now calls on his children as chaos gods to avenge his displacement. His son Yamm, Lord of the Sea and the mythical ocean of chaos lying beyond the ordered world, terrorizes the gods into giving up Baal. But Ba'al refuses and conquers Yamm, Ba'al now emerging as the God who overcomes the waters of chaos.
Mot, the next offspring, who is Lord of the Underworld and the barren season then defeats Ba'al, enraging Ba'al's consort Anath, who ironically in the Ugarit form of the myth enters the fray as a Death Goddess upholding the paternal order. When Mot refuses to revive Ba'al, Anath kills and dismembers him, scattering his remains over the land. Baal, now revived, undertakes a full-scale war against all the other gods, who are now referred to as the "Sons of Asherah," and is victorious. The death of Mot is conceived in a seven year cycle as representing the end of seven years of drought and famine.
In her role of Goddess of War and Death , Anath's lust for blood is unbounded: "Anat kills the people living in valleys, in cities and on the seashore and in the land of sunrise, until the cut off heads of soldiers were reaching to her belt and she was wading up to her waist in blood. Violently she smites and gloats, Anat cuts them down and gazes; her liver exhaults in mirth ... for she plunges her knees in the blood of soldiers, her loins in the gore of warriors, till she has had her fill of slaughtering in the house, of cleaving among the tables." After which, she, the Progenetress of Nations washed her hands of the blood of the slain, in dew and rain supplied by her brother Ba'al." (Walker 29, Cohn 1993 126)
"Anath was fertilized by the blood of men, rather than semen, because her worship dated all the way back to the neolithic, when fatherhood was unknown and blood was considered the only substance which could transmit life. Hecatombs of  men seem to have been sacrificed to Anath when her image was reddened with rouge and henna for the occasion. Like the Lady of the Serpent Skirt, Anath hung the shorn penises of her victims on her goatskin apron or aegis." "Anath's capacity to curse and kill made even the Heavenly Father afraid of her. When El seemed reluctant to do her bidding, she threatened to smash his head and cover his grey hair and beard with gore. He hastily gave her everything she asked, saying 'Whoever hinders thee will be crushed' " (Walker 30).
In the mythical cycle, "Mot too is [now] revived and once again challenges Baal to single combat. In the midst of the fighting, however, the sun-goddess, Spsi (Shapash), intervenes, advising Mot that no further combat is needed because El is now on the side of Baal. El, always patriarchal and judicious, has discerned that Baal in his defeat and resurrection has manifested a new form of order; as a patriarchal deity El must uphold this new order. The decree is made that Baal will rule during the seasons of fertility and Mot during the seasons of sterility and drought." - Grollier
There are many implications of this mythical cycle that underly the events of the Bible and overshadow and cast the die for the Christian heritage (Grollier Multimedia Encyclopedia 1993):
"Anath annually cast her death-curse anathema on the Canaanite god", fulfilling Mot's slaying of Ba'al and his destruction in turn by her. Mot stood for the barren season that slew its own fertile twin Aleyin, the son of Ba'al. "In typical sacred-king style Mot-Aleyin was the son of the virgin Anath and also the bridegroom of his own mother. Like Jesus the Lamb of God, Aleyin said 'I am the lamb which is made ready with pure wheat to be sacrificed in expiation.' " (Walker 31 [Larousse]).
"After Aleyin's death, Anath resurrects him and sacrifices Mot, telling him he has been forsaken by his heavenly father El." This is precisely the same father to whom Jesus cried " 'Eloi Eloi lama sabaschthani' - El El why hast thou forsaken me? ... and some said 'Behold he calleth for Elias' and one ran and filled a sponge with vinegar and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink saying, 'Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down'. And Jesus cried with a loud voice and gave up the ghost." (Walker 31, Mark 15:34
"The sacred drama included a moment when Anath broke Mot's reed scepter, to signify his castration, again foreshadowing a detail of the Christian Gospels. ... Naturally the god-killing Anath was much diabolized in patriarchial legends. Abyssinian Christians called her Aynat "the evil eye of earth". They said she was an old witch destroyed by Jesus, who commanded that she must be burned and her ashes scattered on the wind." (Walker 31)
St. Paul's excommunication curse "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha derives from the more ancient curse of Anath:
Ana-tithenai: to set up, dedicate [a curse], maranatha: Our Lord [bridegroom], come.
Another pertinent deity, because of his relationship to Sin, or Nannar, the God of Abraham is Yarikh the moon god. 'The illuminator of myriads (of stars)', 'lamp of heaven', possibly also the crescent moon and 'lord of the sicle' and thereby the father of the Kotharat. He is patron of the city Qart-Abilim. Like Sin, he is a dedicated courtier. After sunset he embraces Nikkal-and-Ib (Ningal) and becomes determined to marry her. He refuses the daughters of Baal and presents a lavish brideprice to Nikkal-and-Ib's family and the two are wed. Baal-Hadad's creatures devour his handmaidens, so he sends them to El. El tells them to go into the wilderness and there birth horned buffalo, which will distract Baal-Hadad.
Nikkal-and-Ib 'great lady and clear/bright/fruit' or 'Great goddess of fruit'. She is possibly the daughter of Dagon of Tuttul, or else of Khirkhib. She is romanced by Yarikh and marries him after Yarikh aranges a brideprice with Khirkhib and pays it to her parents.
Kotharat (was thought to be Kathirat) 'skillful'. They are a group of goddesses associated with conception and childbirth. '...The swallow-like daughters of the crescent moon.' They are also associated with the new moon. They attend Daniel for seven days to aid in the conception of Aqhat and recieve his sacrifice.
The earliest reliable historical records of the Jews date from around 1200 BC in unfortified villages in hill country far from Canaanite coastal cities. These may have been immigrants from Edom and Moab. The term Hapiru in Egyptian or Hibri (Hebrew) means "the people from beyond" those living on the fringes of society. It is a social rather than an ethnic tern. Rameses II (1304-1237) coopted Hapiru to work on his new capital. Some of these may have migrated in a way mythically described in Exodus. (Cohn 1993 129 Reinach 181)
The Pentateuch, the first five chapters of the Old Testament are unfortunately a collection which was edited between 600 and 100 BC to fit the beliefs and experiences of the current authors, so one can only take them as a figurative account. A variety of ages are given for four original authors listed as J (Jahweh) 9th cent, E (Elohim) 8th cent, D (Dueteronomy) 7th, and P(Priestly) 5th century. All these dates are historically long after the events, however the juxtaposed accounts of these disparate authors gives an underlying account of changing attitudes to generation, sacrifice and deity. The early ages of the Old Testament, before about 1200 BC, including Noah. who has a clear precedent in Sumerian Utnapishtim, illustrated below, Abraham, Jacob and even Moses must thus be regarded as mythical. (Cohn 44, Jay 94)
"Disturbed by the sounds of mankind, the gods, led by Enlil, set forth a deluge. Enki (or Ea) saves the world by warning Ziusudra (Utnapishtim), a dedicated king constantly seeking divine revelations in dreams or incantations, to make an ark and to "make every kind of living creature go up into the ship". The flood frightens even the Gods. The Godess Inanna (Ishtar) laments for man, sending lightning and the coveneant of the rainbow against Enlil. "
With regard to the return from exile, Lysimachus (360-281 BC) also mentions an Egyptian expulsion of Hapiru after the outbreak of a disfiguring disease. Tacitus (56-115 AD) mentions that one Moyses led such a band and "warned them not to look for any relief from god or man, but to trust themselves, taking for their heaven-sent leader that man who should first help them to be quit of their present misery". He records that they successfully displaced another people and founded a city and temple. (Walker 676)
Nevertheless these early writings do reveal a great deal about the transition that occurred early in the founding history of the twelve tribes of Israel. In addition to this involving evolution and change in their ideas of deity, this also emerged from a dynamic tension during a transition between matrilinieal and patrilineal lines of generation, which underly the evolution of paternal diety.
Briffault (v1 372) comments: "the Jewish rabbis themselves, at a comparatively late date acknowledged that the four matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah had occupied a more important position than the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. According to Robertson Smith the tribe of Levi was originally metronymous (matrilineal), being the tribe of Leah."
Dedicated to my
namesake and alter-ego Christine
"If it were not for you this work would have been a place of poverty"
The moon is rightly
believed to be the star of the spirit
that saturates the earth and fills bodies by its approach
and empties them by its departure
the blood even of humans increases and diminishes with its light
and leaves and herbage are sensitive to it
the same force penetrating into all things.
Pliny. (Allegro 1970 70).
Preface: This is a large chapter in several sections dealing with a very long sweep of cultural change. To avoid your getting lost at the beginning, here are some links to further stages:
It is difficult for people living in the shadow of the patriarchal monotheistic heritage to understand how the paternal creator god we associate with the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions has evolved naturally from more ancient traditions in polytheism. The tendency is to perceive polytheistic deities as debased objects of idol worship, either empty of real content because they are false man-made gods, as mere projections of human personality, or at best representing only one aspect of primitive nature such as fertility, or astral bodies such as the moon or sun. In fact the converse is the case. Yahweh is a tribal patron form of a more ancient cosmic deity, who only regains a semblance of his original cosmic nature in the Christian form many centuries later, although now without his divine consort, and their sacred garden of immortality.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is a particular tendency to see the aniconic aspect of Yahweh as intrinsically superior to the idolised deities of polytheism, and to infer that this "true" God of his people has appeared paradoxically as a revealed "God of History", first to Abraham in the starlight and later to Moses out of a cloudy pillar. Despite clearly manifesting in Yahweh as a tribal patron god, rather than a cosmic god of all and only later being vested by pre-exilic Jewish culture with strict monotheistic attributes, this deity finally appears as a cosmic deity in the Christian and Islamic form with the full dimensions of an aniconic, monotheistic, cosmic, paternal creator deity - the "one true God of all", who has revealed his nature in ever deeper stages to his followers.
This description is patently incorrect. It is calculated to reinforce the unquestioned acceptance of the patriarchal creator deity, despite his mottled history, and mask the evolutionary nature of all deities as projections of conscious awareness and human culture. Long before Yahweh made his dubious entry onto the stage of history as a jealous patron deity, ancient astral deities had already encompassed the major advances later seen in the Christian idea of the supreme creator god, who is both the god of reality and the god of the mind.
In rediscovering the underlying nature of this "God behind God" and his complementary relationship with the Goddess, with whom he is inextricably fused in deep union, just as Shiva and Shakti, we will not only discover our true origins of deity in the joyful marriage of complements - male and female mind and body, but also our much more ancient roots in the links between the conscious mind and the immortal unfolding of fertility which were already discovered 20,000 years ago with the first developments of human culture. In a real sense these ancient traditions, far from being more primitive, capture in archetypal form realities towards which our modern scientific society is only now converging after a long period of imbalance and confusion.
In finding our true cultural roots of deity, we can finally come to a position in which we can discover in a vastly older tradition the continuity of vision that will sustain us in a closed but living ecosystem in which we have unparalleled powers of stewardship of nature.
El - the kind old fatherly God of Canaan, archetypal
of the fatherly aspect of the Christian trinity is horned (Willis).
Ancient Roots of the Moon God
Briffault notes that the Moon as a deity is in its ancient form male, the male nature complementing the natural moon-related cycle of female fertility. This can be appreciated when we consider that a common thread runs from the ancient Venus of Laussel dating from around 18,000 - 20,000 BC, with her 13 notched upheld moon horn, representing the lunar months, through Catal Huyuk with the horned Bulls and pregnant fertility goddesses, to the golden calves of Ur and of Israel and the bull-horned El of Canaan, who although no longer specifically a Moon God retains his ancient fertility symbol. the human menstrual cycle.
The association of the Bull's horns with fertility expresses in one image the virility of the bull and the moon-driven rebirth of human fertility in the blood flow of the menses. This association has also become cyclically steeped in the blood of sacrifice, for it was perceived that out of blood came new life. In this parallel truth of the fertilized soil came endless cycles of animal and human sacrifice to the fertility goddess so that the harvest would spring forth anew and nourish the agricultural peoples. The moon deity, as a waxing and waning god. This causes the moon to be associated both with the dead and the underworld and with immortal life. It also became associated with the agricultural sacrificial cycle and the resurrection on the third day of the new moon.
The period in which the Moon completes an orbit around the Earth and returns to the same position in the sky--the sidereal month - is 27 days, 7 h, 43 min. Because the Earth is moving in its orbit around the Sun in the same direction as the Moon, the time needed to return to the same phase--the synodic month - is longer: 29 days, 12 h, 44 min. This period is the time interval that, for example, elapses between two successive full moons, a period that was known within a second even in ancient times (Grollier). The natural period of the human menstrual cycle is about 28 days, the nominal month we still use of four seven day weeks. 13 such 28 day months constitute just one day short of a year, however they lose synch with the moon, as the number of synodic lunar months is 12.38 per year, enough for 13 notches, but not for 13 revolutions. A transition thus occurred in history from a 13 month year to a 12 month year and 13 became the unlucky number.
Something of the idea of how fundamental the moon deity is to our cultural evolution can be understood from the fact that 'men' - the moon is the source of both 'menses' - the blood flow of human fertility and 'mens' - the mind. The association between moon and mind thus extends from the fringes of lunacy across the entire mental realm. The moon is thus specifically associated with both fertility and the mind itself. You could say the ancient moon god was both the god of the cosmic mind and the cause of menstruation - the source of conception! His widespread name Sin means God of Wisdom. The collection of the major heavenly bodies , the houses of the moon, around the seven names of the week is also a lunar-centred description, emphasizing the central role played by the moon among the astronomical bodies.
The Sleeping Gypsy - Henri Rousseau
"But while the moon, as 'the real husband of all women', is thought of as a male, it is at the same time associated with the functions, not of men, but of women. It is the source not only of their reproductive powers but all their other powers, especially their magic powers. Furthermore the moon stands in primitive thought for perpetual renewal, immortality, eternity" (Briffault v2 583). The moon is the real measure of time. It its three days of darkness is the origin of myths of descent and resurrection in the new moon on the third day. "In primitive thought the eternal time-creating nature of the moon imparts to it an inexorable character, setting it above all other powers" (ibid). The resurrecting moon has an inextricable link with the serpent which sheds its skin. So intimate is this association that ... wherever we find the serpent, ... we may expect to find a lunar cult . This link is accentuated by the idea that menstruation is caused by union between a woman and a serpent. The great leviathan of the deeps is also naturally the moon tide.
"The moon is the regulator and cause of menstruation, which is frequently regarded as being the result of actual intercourse between the moon and women. ... The dangerous character ascribed to women is also attributed to that celestial body which is everywhere associated with women, the moon."Belief that the moon, or moonlight can precipitate conception is culturally widespread." (Briffault v2 585).
The moon deity thus combines an astral cosmic and mental aspect with the the core principles of female fertility in a way in which the genders form a natural and meaningful complement. It is simplistic to attempt to identify the Moon God as being merely the God of the Moon, because his aspects extend into the core aspects of meaning and being.
In Anatolia and Northern Aegean the son of the Great Mother is Men, common to all Indo European languages. That in fact, and not Selene is the proper Greek term for the moon and as in all other languages it is masculine. ... In spite of the general feminizationof the moon in Hellenic mythology, the primitive mystics and Homer alike refer to the moon as masculine Men. He is associated with Anaitis the moon goddess represented by Hekate, Artemis and Diana (Briffault v3 120)
Just as the fertility Goddess is one although she has many names, the Moon God comes in a variety of names which span many cultures, Nanna of the Sumerians patron of Ur, Yerah of Ugarit, Sin patron of Harran, Kusuh of the Hurrians, Ilumquh of the Sabeans of Yemen, Soma of the Indo-Aryans, Yaho and many others. Although he was the patron deity of two specific cities of the Sumerian empire, Ur in the South and Harran in the far North, his worship is astral and cross-cultural.
Four candidates for Soma: Amanita muscaria, Psilocybe sp., Peganum harmala, Cannabis
(Schultes & Hofmann 1979)
The association between the mind and the moon is very ancient and also lies at the source of Indo-Aryan myth. In the Hymn of Man, the primordial Adam is sacrificed to become the diversity of the world. Although the sun is his eye, it is the moon who is his mind.(O'Flaherty 29)
Both the Persian and Indian sources of the Indo-Aryan tradition speak of an ancient visionary drink of a ruddy complexion, pressed from a plant or fungus. Soma is at once the source of immortal knowledge and the Moon God of the Indo-Aryan mind, as portrayed in the Hymn of Man. The similarity of the eternally reproducing fruit is notable and suggests the two themes could have had a common origin. Although many plants from Cannabis through to a penetrating case for Peganum harmala (Rudgley 43), both of which are psychoactive, have been suggested, two fungi, Amanita muscaria and Psilocybe species have also been considered to be Soma. The presence of mushroom icons in both the Konja plain and Europe lends support for early use in Europe as is the case in America. Psilocybe species in particular have been discovered across the entire spread of temperate lands believed to be the origin of the Indo-Aryans (Stamets 64).
Soma had the first claim to all women. They only came afterwards into the possession of men (Briffault v3 239). Soma, like other Moon Gods is regarded as the sacred bull which is sacrificed. "The killing of Soma ... symbolizes the pressing of the sacred plant Soma, which causes rain, and consequently the growth of plants; Soma is the elixir of life, which after dropping to earth as rain, mounts to the moon and is drunk out of the moon by the gods, who use the moon as a cup. The animal representing the moon is the bull." (Briffault v3 130) Mithra's murder of the bull is pre-Zarathustrian myth. Ahriman replaced him in Zoroastrian times (Gershevitch 62).
"Much controversy surrounds Zarathustra's attitude towards the drink haoma. In a somewhat unclear passage, he condemns "the piss of this drunkenness" (Yasna 48:10 ) in connection with the karapans and the misrule. Indra is a deva demonized in the Vendidad. But the central ritual, the yasna, is essentially a haoma sacrifice." (Malandra 15)
"We have drunk
we are become Immortals,
We arrived at the light,
we have found the Gods" (Wasson 1972).
Soma is the 'body' of the sacrament. The soma is the corpus.
The Moon God has always been complemented by a feminine counterpart. Nanna loved his consort the moon goddess Ningal. "Nanna fell in love with Ningal and she with him. It was from this joyful and impetuous union that Inanna, the morning and evening star and Utu the Sun God were born." (Wolkenstein and Kramer 141).
The Ziggurat of Nannar and the Temple of Ningal (Internet, Woolley 1954 201)
Nanna was worshipped in the ziggurat of Ur. There was also a smaller temple for Ningal the moon goddess. Nanna was worshipped both by a High Priestes and priests. Great Kings throughout history from Sargon 2600 BC to Nabonidus 550 BC had their daughters officiate as high-priestess of Nanna at Ur. The tradition begins with the first dynasties of Ur around 3400 BC and continued through to the fall of Ur around the time of Nabonidus, a period of some 3000 years. As we shall see this tradition continued for another 1700 years at Harran and still underlies the Islam of today.
It is clear that Ur-Nammu the founder of the great Third Dynasty of Ur had a female familiar spirit or shekina, which is shown in the stele below in which the King offers libations to the Tree of Life, before both Nanna and Ningal, to preserve the fertility of the garden, and that this was a central ritual in founding the great ziggurat of Ur. Ur-nammu saved the garden of fertility.
For Nannar, his King
the mighty man, king of Ur, Sumer and Akkad
who built the temple of Nannar ...
he saved the plants of the garden ...
once lodged as a king should be
Nannar will guarantee the earth's increase.
Ur-Nammu with Shekina (female spirit) offers libations to the Tree of Life
to both the Moon Goddess Ningal and the Moon God Nannar (Woolley 1954 pl 22).
In the fragmentary registers on the reverse of the stone [Stele of Ur-Nammu] we have a scene of sacrifice in which a priest cuts open the prostrate body of a bull so as to read the omens on its liver; and a scene of sacrifice in which it is possible that the king himself is figured as a god. ... Ur-Nammu was deified after death if not in his lifetime." (Woolley 1954 159).
"At no time in its long history was the city of Ur so important as in the days of the third dynasty, about 2300 - 2180 BC, when it was the capital of the Sumerian empire. The founder of the dynasty was Ur-Nammu, and he founded a royal house of which four generations after him were to sit on the throne; he was a great conqueror and a great ruler, famous for his justice and his good works, whose dominions extended from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean." (Woolley 1938 80.)
Sin or Nannar " is described as a young bull (the strong bull of heaven) perfect in every part: his beard is said to be of lapis lazuli ( cf Mesopotamian men): his orb is a giant self-propagating fruit. The god's horns are taken to be a reference to the crescent moon, although they are also sometimes regarded as the boat in which he skims through the midst of the heavens." An exorcist priest or ashipu joined in prayer and incantation when Sin was attacked and oppressed by demons during an eclipse. (Contenau 248, 292)
Father Nannar, lord,
moon-god, prince of the gods,
Father Nannar, lord of Uru, prince of the gods.
Lord, thy deity fills the far-off heavens,
like the vast sea, with reverential fear! ...
Father, begetter of gods and men,
who establishest for them dwellings
and institutest for them that which is good. ...
Chief, mighty, whose heart is great,
god whom no one can name, ...
In heaven, who is supreme ?
As for thee, it is thou alone who art supreme! ...
As for thee, thy decree is made known upon earth,
and the spirits of the abyss kiss the dust!
As for thee, thy decree blows above like the wind,
and stall and pasture become fertile!
As for thee, thy decree is accomplished upon earth below,
and the grass and green things grow! ...
As for thee, thy decree has called into being equity and justice,
and the peoples have promulgated thy law! ...
O Lord, mighty in heaven, sovereign upon earth,
among the gods thy brothers, thou hast no rival!"
(Dawn Civ 654)
Controversy continues over the status of the Royal Tombs of Ur, which are famous for the fact that, like several other ancient cultures, whole courts were buried with great ceremony on the death of the sacred king. Although it is suggested that these Kings and Queens may have been sacrificed priests in fertility rites, the magnificence and extensive nature of the tombs suggest they reflect a royal suttee rite, in which the whole court departed with their deified king to accompany him on his astral journey. This is consistent with the prominence of the Moon God in worship of departed ancestors.
The early archaeological remains at Ur indicate a very prominent early flood. In the King list the kings reigned before the flood for a millennium. Then the flood came [before 3200 BC.] Afterwards kingship was sent down from on high. There was a dynasty at Kish, one at Erech and then the first Dynasty at Ur.
"Nabonidus (555-538 BC), last of the Babylonian kings appointed his daughter high priestess of the moon god at Ur, and the king states that in so-doing, he was following a precedent set by Kudur-Mabug, one of the Larsa kings who had reigned some 1500 years before - about 2000 B.C. Sargon (2630 - 2575 BC ) had done the same, and the limestone slab of the period of Entemena... carries the precedent further back still : all through history such importance was attached to the great temple of Nannar the Moon-god at Ur ... that the reigning king, though a foreigner, might hold it worth his while to send his daughter as High Priestess there; in one case at least a king's son was High Priest of the Moon-goddess." (Woolley 1954 216)
Nannar with the 'three muses' and Eternally Fruiting Orb - Ur-Nammu (Maspero 655)
Nannar "was thought to have arisen from a god of nomads and a protector of cattle, related to the masculine cult of the moon god in early Arabia. His daughter Ishtar in time overshadowed all other female deities, as did her counterpart Isis in Egypt. As father, or source, of the Goddess, it is fitting that Sin wears head gear suggestive of a mushroom. No other deity in the Babylonian pantheon has this headgear ... which is an identifier for the god." (McKenna 114) Contenau suggestively describes Sin's characteristic orb as an "eternal self-reproducing fruit", which is also identifiable with the regenerating moon.
Ningal, who in Akkadian texts is referred to as "the Mother of the Great Gods" was also Moon Goddess. Her temple was second in importance only to the of Sin. Her temple was likewise rebuilt many times. Ishme-Dagan's daughter Enannatum, high priestess of Nannar rebuilte the entire mud brick temple of burned brick (Wolley 1954, 166). Ningal laments the destruction of Ur in her lament:
I mourned the Day of
the Storm, fated for me
My burden predestined for me as a goddess
The cause of my tears
I could not flee the cruel violence of that day
Its fury was greater than all the joys of my life
The land of Ur is filled with sorrow
Should I scream for the life of my calf,
Cry out for its release?
When the storm
subsided, the city lay in ruins
The Temple of Nannar lay in ruins
Where crowds once celebrated festivals
Bodies lay in every street (Matthews and Benjamin 169).
Babylonian deities surmounted by Sin,
surrounded by Shamash and Ishtar
and ascended by Nabu the wise serpent (Contineau 261).
King Naram-sin is horned as a god in victory (Mellenkoff).
In early Babylonia the moon-cult was the national religion: the name Chaldeans means 'moon-worshippers'. (Briffault v3 79) In the bible Ur is referred to as Ur of the Chaldees.
In the Babylonian cosmology Sin, Shamash and Ishtar formed the second trinity of deities. The first trinity of gods were also absorbed into the lunar cycle becoming phases of the moon, thus giving the moon a supreme role as the connecting principle between the deities and mankind. "The moon is during the period of his visibility, in the first five days, the god Anu ; from the sixth to the tenth day, the god Ea from the eleventh to the fifteenth day, the god En-Lil" (Briffault v3 85). This trintiy was also adopted by the Assyrians and the Hurrians alongside their patron deities.
The Sumerian form of the Geneaology of the Deities (Wolkenstein).
Sin (Nannar) as father of both the Sun (Utu or Shamash) and of Inanna (Ishtar) the Queen of Heaven was the central astral deity. The sun was generally a subservient deity, despite being officially recognised during the time of Hammurabi, being identified with, the hot, burning, sterile season (Briffault v3 85). This astral scheme extended to the seven "planets" of the lunar week, and the twelve signs of the zodiac, the 'girdle of Ishtar', representing the months. It is from this heritage that astronomy and astrology for which the Chaldeans became renowned developed.
The name Sin is the Semitic form of Sumerian Enzu meaning lord of knowledge. The Mesopotamians ascribed very great importance to him. It was he who governed the passing of the months through his waxing and waning. ... The unvarying lunar cycle gave Sin a special connection with order and wisdom and with immortality. The number seven is lunar in origin and is applied to the seven days of creation, the seven levels of hell and the seven great planets, Moon, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
The Babylonian lunar calendar was said to be invented by Nabu-Rimmani (Walker 646). Nabu is the god of writing, who bears the tablets of the gods and is identifiable with Mercury. Rimmon the pomegranite is a symbol of the enclosed fruit of the Yoni, thus also representing phallic male fertility (Walker 805). Nabu is also the wise serpent (Graves 470), the soothsayer and prophet, who knew and foresaw everything and was willing to give advice on any subject. The inventor of tablets and writing (Maspero 670). The features of Sin as moon god and Lord of Wisdom naturally complement those of Nabu and they come to have a close relationship, personified in Egypt in one god, Thoth.
The theme of love between the Moon God and his consort appears in Canaan in the form of Yerah and Nikkal and their marriage ceremony, echoing with fertility. When advised to court Baal's sister by Nikkal's father the Summer King, Yerah insists on his love and rejoins "Nay but let Nikkal answer" (Gray).
Temple of the Moon God Hazor Palestine (Gray)
The Moon, the
Luminary of Heaven sends
To Hrhb, the Summer's King;
Give Nikkal; the Moon will pay the brideprice-,
Let the Fruitful One enter his house,
And I will give her brideprice to her father,
A thousand pieces of silver, yea ten thousand of gold;
I will send gems of lapis lazuli;
I will make her fallow field into a vineyard,
The fallow fields of her love into orchards.
These overtures are met with becoming reluctance:
Then replied Hrhb,
the Summer's King:
Gracious One among the Gods,
Affiance thyself to Baal,
Wed the Plump Maiden, Daughter of Mist
I will introduce thee to her father Baal ...
Nay but let Nikkal
Then afterwards make me thy son,in,law.
The Moon paid the
brideprice for Nikkal,
Her father set the beam of the balances,
Her mother set the pan of the balances (Gray 113)
Sin and Ishtar: Rumblings of Descent
The relationship between the Moon God and his daughter Inanna of the Sumerians, Ishtar of Babylon, Athirat of Canaan, al-Uzza of Arabia, Hathor of Egypt and Hekate of Greece is complex and holds the key to the gender difficulties that have accompanied the emergence of the monotheism of Yahweh, the downfall from Eden and ultimately the patriarchal tradition of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Inanna, or Ishtar, although she is Queen of Heaven arose out of the sea as did Aphrodite the Canaanite Athirat and Mari the Goddess of the Sea from Cyprus, Crete and Syria, identifiable with Anath, so Sin is also in this sense God the father of the 'virgin' Mary.
Of course father and daughter indicate that an evolution took place in which the daughter underwent a resurgence, just as with El and Ba'al in Canaan. Nannar appears very early in the history of Ur, consistent with an origin as a nomadic God of the Shepherd Kings who formed a cultural complementation to the planter Queens in the emergence of the Sumerian civilization. Although associated with ancestor worship and sacred tombs, the courtship of Nannar and Ningal is not characterised by seasonal male human sacrifice. Subsequently this position shifted back towards sacrifice of the agrarian Fertility Goddess, who was originally a chthonic deity of the earth and underworld. With the rise of Uruk Inanna (Ishtar) wrested the seve me or sacred power objects and began the descent of the seasonal sacrifice and resurrection of Dumuzzi (Tammuz). In this respect, she becomes the goddess making her journey from heaven to earth and finally to the realms of death - the almighty woman of the three spheres.
"[Sin's] supreme character passed in later times to his female counterpart, who finally replaced him. When the female aspect of the lunar deity came to displace the male, the wife of the moon-god became identified with the moon itself, while the goddess Ishtar maintained her association with the planet Venus. This identification is symbolically represented by the lunar crescent, enclosing the star within its horns, which is still the crest of Islam" (Briffault v3 78).
This identification of Ishtar with the moon and the evening star throws an interesting light on the origin of goddesses. It ... derives from the common idea, ... that the morning and evening stars are the two wives of the moon . When the morning and evening star came to be identified they became in Ishtar her two complementary aspects: love in the evening and death in the morning (Briffault v3 82).
The relationship between the male and female counterpart of the moon was, however, variable. Ishtar is sometimes the daughter of the moon god. Sometimes he is her son and male avatar. In one liturgy, Tammuz is expressly addressed as the moon-god. Ishtar was horned, and was brought up out of the foam by water-gods, like Aphrodite, thus explaining her close connection with Mari, goddess of the sea. The votaries of Harran, despite worshipping the Queen of Heaven alongside the Moon God had a pertinent saying: 'if they were to honour the moon as a female they would become subject to their women' (Briffault v2 596).
This diverging relationship between the Moon God and the Fertility Goddess becomes pivotal in understanding the breakdown in relations between Yahweh and his Asherah later in Old Testament times. The Fall from Eden is specifically associated with the sacrificial cycle of Inanna and Dumuzi. Dumuzi becomes the dying Adam, doomed to mortality by the original sin of Eve, in accepting the advice of the Serpent and eating the Fruit. This re-fomented the link between male death and sex, the original sin of Eve, human sacrifice, which reverberated in the vulnerable line of patriarchal inheritance. In the above cylinder seal we see the four key components of the Eden myth, Dumuzzi and the Horned Inanna, the serpent and the seven-limbed Tree of Life from which the Menorah is derived, both reflected in the seven days of the lunar week and the seven levels of the descent. The three days of the descent also represent the three days between the old and new moon. Sin himself is the chythonic 'green one' (Briffault v3 90) and is threatened by the seven devils of the underworld (Green T 196).
The 'Temptation Seal' Akkadian circa 2200 BC (Wolkenstein and Kramer 3)
It is difficult to decide whether this is Sin (Naramsin) and Ningal (consort) performing
the rite of the sacred tree as did Ur Nammu or whether it is Inanna and Dumuzzi.
The seven branched tree echoes the menorah, the serpent Nabu.
While the story of Nannar and Ningal is the story of continuing love and marriage unto death, the descent instead elaborates male mortality in the face of the sexual fertility rites and sacrificial cycle of the Goddess. Neither Nannar nor the Egyptian Moon God Thoth approved of the descent. Nannar would not help his daughter. Thoth would not weep for Osiris. A close link is thus made between the sexual rites, male mortality and the reaction of the jealous male Godhead - banishment from the garden of fertility. Having become a root myth in the Old Testament world view, the downfall became portrayed in the apocalyptic vision many centuries later as a theme to be finally undone by the Son of Man in ushering in the Kingdom of Immortality by undoing the mortal sin of Eve. There is thus a close and intimate link between the sacrifice of Dumuzzi by Inanna and the crucifixion of Jesus of Mary.
At the Presentation of Mary, the budding Moon Goddess is introduced to the Moon-horn Priest.
In the Assumption of Mary, the Moon Goddess ascendant rides to Heaven on the crescent moon.
Titian and El Greco (Benard)
The Lunar Passion
The Jewish month begins with the new moon. The passover, falling mid-Nissan is always in the full moon. Hence the date of Easter is determined by the moon: "Easter Day is currently determined as the first Sunday after the full moon on or after March 21. The Eastern Orthodox churches, however, follow the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar, so their celebration usually falls several weeks later than the Western Easter" (Grollier). There was a similar conflict in the time of Jesus between the Essenes, who followed the old Jubilees calendar and the Greek lunar calendar of Jerusalem. The Jubilees calendar had 364 days composed of 12 30 day months and four seasonal days. It was thus neither lunar nor solar, but similar to the Sumerian calendar and the 360 idols around the Ka'aba. Ironically, it was said that there was an eclipse of the sun in the crucifixion, something that happens only in the three dark days before the moon rises again from the dead! The body and blood of Christ is the bread of Tammuz and the wine of Dionysos. He is hung in his death in the tree of adonis, the cross of the four woods.
Just as there was seven levels to Innana's descent, there are said to be seven stations of the cross: the scourging, the delivery, the crown and reed sceptre, the spitting and beating, the removing of the robe, the bearing of the cross, the myrrh and vinegar. The tribulation of Mary is also portrayed as a seven act play: The Annunciation, the Nativity, the Transfiguration, the Passion, the Resurrection, the Ascention, the Coronation of Mary. John the Baptist was similarly beheaded after Salome danced the dance of the Seven Veils (the descent) for Herod's guests.
There is an uncanny link between this episode and the Nabataeans who populated Edom across the Jordan. John the Baptist was beheaded at the behest of Herodias who was accused by John of adultery, because she was the wife of Herod's brother Philip. Herod was stated by Josephus to have come from an Idumaean (Edomian) line. Herod's previous wife, the daughter of Aretas IV King of Nabatea (Edom) had to escape for her life and a series of hostilites resulted between the states.
Jesus is said to have come in fulfillment of the following prophecy: Isiah 63:1 "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. ...I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come." This prophecy is alternatively transferred to the second coming in Revelation 19.
While this could be interpreted as Yahweh wreaking venegance on the Edomites for celebrating the fall of Jerusalem, this is nevertheless a stunningly Dionysian passage and can refer to none other than Duchares of Edom. It is significant that Jesus performed the Dionysian miracle at the marriage at Cana - the water into wine - at Mary's request a full year before he was baptised by John in the Jordan. One manifestation of the Nabataean Aphrodite al-Uzza was as a dolphin- crested sea goddess - Mari. Dionysus turned pirates into dolphins, Jesus was a fisher of men. St. Jerome stated that Jesus was born in the grotto of Aphrodite at Bethlehem. He is the Christ of the three-fold Mary, born of Mary, anointed both on his feet by Mary of Bethany and on his head to his doom by Mary Magdalene 'out of whom were cast seven devils'. Likewise the Marys, along with Salome, attended his burial.
The passing of the virgin Mary was supposed to have occurred in Ephesus on 13 th August the day of the festival of the Moon Goddess Artemis, accompanied by all 12 apostles. Her Assumption to heaven is celebrated two days later. Mary is subsequently portrayed as either standing or riding on the moon. We thus see that for all the blood shed, the Jewish priests gave away the moon to the goddess without realizing it, repeating the mortal mistake of Sin while trying to undo that of Adam! Mary likewise became trapped inside he own descent.
The merging into Jewish vision of the Zoroastrian opposition between of dark and light and its apocalypse of cosmic renovation thus drove the Messianic prophesy towards a cosmic form. Sacrificial atonement exploded from a cyclic renewal into a single culmination - the crucifixion of the Christ of Mary-Anath as sacred king, to undo the works of Eve and bring in the Age of Immortality of the Father. Although the Jews had rejected the Queen of Heaven, the age old concepts of tabu, attonement and sacrifice remained true, as prophecied in the paslms and the prophets. Moses had himself suffered the same fate. By performing the pagan sacrifical rite as a consummation of Yahwistic and Zoroastrian apocalyptic thought, Christianity became a global religion, striking a universal mortal chord, but at severe cost to the Queen of Heaven and to the spiritual integrity of womankind.
'Ilumquh of the Sabeans
Sheba is the Hebrew spelling of Saba, the name of an ancient southwest Arabian kingdom roughly corresponding to the modern territory of Yemen, originally settled by Semites from western or central Arabia during the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. Excavations at Ma'rib, its capital, during the 20th century have revealed an imposing temple to the moon god.
Temple of 'Ilumquh at Marib Yemen, Sabean Moon Bull,
Incense Holder Aksum, Moon and Orb of Venus Sabean wall frieze (Doe).
"The South Arabians before Islam were polytheists and revered a large number of deities. Most of these were astral in concept but the significance of only a few is known. It was essentially a planetary system in which the moon as a masculine deity prevailed. This, combined with the use of a star calendar by the agriculturists of certain parts, particularly in the Hadramaut, indicates that there was an early reverence for the night sky. Amongst the South Arabians the worship of the moon continued, and it is almost certain that their religious calendar was also lunar and that their years were calculated by the position of the moon. The national god of each of the kingdoms or states was the Moon-god known by various names: 'Ilumquh by the Sabaeans, 'Amm and 'Anbay by the Qatabanians, Wadd (love) by the Minaeans, and Sin by the Hadramis". The term 'God is Love' is characteristic of Wadd (Briffault 3/85). 'the Merciful' ascribed to Allah is also South Arabian (Pritchard).
The sun-goddess was the moon's consort; she was perhaps best known in South Arabia as Dhat Hamym, 'she who sends forth strong rays of benevolence'. Another dominant deity was the male god known as Athtar corresponding to Phoenician Astarte (Doe 25). Pritchard (61) claims their pantheon included the the moon god Sin etc., Shams (Shamash) and Athtar or Astarte as in the Semitic trinity, however it would appear that the sun was female as the Canaanite Shapash who figures in Ugarit myth alongside Athtar (Driver 110).
The earliest temple known is the Mahram Bilquis or Harem of the Queen of Sheba, previously called the Awwam the temple of the Moon God 'Ilumquh which dates from around 700 BC, although its lower levels may be substantially older. Sabean moon worship extended through a long period of time to around 400 AD when it was overtaken be rescendent Judaism and Christianity around a century before Muhammad.
From the 4th century AD, Christian bishops made notable conversions of the Kings of Himyar , Aksum and of Ethiopia generally. Narjan, an ancient pagan pilgrimage spot in a fertile valley on the trade route became a Christian stronghold. Medina became a centre of Jewish influence. Christianity and Judaism entered into competition in Arabia, encouraged by the Persians. In 522, King Dhu Nawas Yusaf "Lord of Curls" became the last elected Himyar king, descendent of a Jewish hero, who made war on the Christians. He offered the citizens of Naryan the choice of Jewry or death. When they refused he burned them all in a great trench. Afterwards Narjan as named "the trench". In response the Ethiopians overcame them and Abraha made San'a a Christian pilgrimage point which rivalled Mecca. This led to an expeditionary force of Christians to try to destroy the Ka'aba. In turn Persia invaded and for a short time the country became a Persian satrapy. This confused situation laid the seeds for the emergence of Islam.
Bilqis the Sun-worshipper of Islam
Bilquis was the Queen of the Sabeans in Solomons time. Pre-Islamic poetry describes Solomon as a king of universal kingdom of men, djinn and winds etc. nine angels stand before him. He built the castle al-Ablaq near Taima.
"The great civilization of South Arabia was little known to the Arabs of Muhammad's time [although] any of the Arab tribes of Muhammad's day still had a tradition that they had lived in South Arabia before taking to the desert when the old civilization declined." Some tribes retained a memory of being settled there before conditions worsened, apparently connected with the Marib dam bursting and a return to nomadic life. Restorations were know to have been carried out in 450 and 542 which puts a final date on the demise (Pritchard 1974 88).
Sura 34:15 states: "Certainly there was a sign for Saba in their abode; two gardens on the right and the left; eat of the sustenance of your Lord and give thanks to Him: a good land and a Forgiving Lord! But they turned aside, so We sent upon them a torrent of which the rush could not be withstood, and in place of their two gardens We gave to them two gardens yielding bitter fruit and (growing) tamarisk and a few lote-trees."
Sura 27:15-44 relates many of the episodes already found for example in the Targum Sheni, a further indication of the familiarity Muhammad had with details of Jewish literature outside the Pentateuch. Rather than Bilqis being portrayed as a demon, Solomon is portrayed as a great man of God and master of the Djinn to whom Bilquis submits in acknowledgement of al-Llah. The story of the Hoopoe is told. The people of Sheba are said to be sun-worshippers. Her throne is disguised and placed before her as a test. She says "It is like it' evasively. As she walks on to the palace: 44 "She though it a pool and uncovered her legs. Solomon said 'It is a place paved with glass.' She sadi 'I have wronged myself to God, Lord of the worlds, with Solomon I make submission.' "
Moon and Sun deities surmounted by the Eagle. Al-Uzza as Moon Goddess commands the Zodiac surmounted by the moon and carrying a moon staff. The temple of Manatu at Petra.
Dionysian tragic mask with dolphins. Grape freeze (centre). Aretas IV and Shaqilat II (Glueck).
Al-Lat, al-Uzza and Duchares: the Deities of Nabatea
A second prominent Arab culture had sprung up from Southern Sinai around 600 BC and from around 400 BC in the land of the Edomites in Jordan. The Nabateans had a close relationship with the Edomites as they each claim a female line of descent from Ishmael, through Bashemath one of the three wives of Esau and her sister Nabaioth respectively (Browning 32), conditions favourable to integration. This also gave the Edomites descent from Isaac through Esau. The son of Esau and Bashemath was Ruel the Midianite father in Law of Moses.
The Nabateans migrated from Arabia as shepherds and caravan traders who benefited from horse breeding and settled adaptably to form rich irrigated productive land with a prominent trade, centred on the previously unpopulated area round Petra - 'a rose red city half as old as time'. During the time of Jesus, Nabatea was an independent Kingdom with influence spreading to Damascus. Herod was involved in hostilities with Aretas IV the King of Nabatea because Herodias displaced Aretas's daughter as Herod's wife. Although they were annexed by the Romans they continued to be a significant Arab power to the time of Muhammad.
Herodotus says of the Arabs: "They deem no other to be gods save Dionysus and Heavenly Aphrodite ... they call Dionysus Orotalt and Aphrodite Alilat" (Negev 101). In Sumeria Allatu or 'goddess' is an epithet of Ereshkigal the chthonic goddess of the underworld. Like El and al-Llah which simply means god, al-Lat 'goddess' could be identified with many female deities, and indeed Allat is identified with Aphrodite-Venus (Negev 112). It is said that when Allat became the goddess of the Nabateans, she bacame al-Uzza the 'mighty one' as she evolved from a local deity into a patron of an expanding culture (Browning 47). We have seen that al-Uzza is also referred to in connection with the Bedouins at Harran (Green T 62).
Horned stele with Qos-allah, Seal attributed to Edomite Qaush, Djin block (Glueck, Browning).
Nabatean inscriptions in Sinai and other places display widespread references to names including Allah, El and Allat (god and goddess) , with regional references to al-Uzza, Baal and Manutu (Manat) (Negev 11). Allat is also found in Sinai in South Arabian language. Allah occurs particularly as Garm-'allahi - god dedided (Greek Garamelos) and Aush-allahi - 'gods covenant' (Greek Ausallos). We find both Shalm-lahi 'Allah is peace' and Shalm-allat, 'the peace of the goddess'. We also find Amat-allahi 'she-servant of god' and Halaf-llahi 'the successor of Allah'.
A stele is dedicated to Qos-allah 'Qos is Allah' or 'Qos the god', by Qosmilk (melech - king) is found at Petra (Glueck 516). Qos is identifiable with Kaush (Qaush) the God of the older Edomites. The stele is horned and the a seal from Edomite Tawilan near Petra identified with Kaush displays a star and crescent (Browning 28), both consistent with a moon diety. It is conceivable the latter could have resulted from trade with Harran (Bartlett 194). There is continuing debate about the nature of Qos (qaus - bow) who has been identified both with a hunting bow (hunting god) and a rainbow (weather god) although the crescent above is alsao a bow. There is no reference to Qos in the Old Testament, but Seir is one of the domains of Yahweh, suggesting a close relationship. His attributes in inscriptions include knowing, striking down, giving and light (Bartlett203). Attempts have been made to also explain the existence of this scarab in the light of trade with Harran for which evidence has been found in cuneiform tablets (Bartlett 194).
The Nabateans had two principal gods in their pantheon, and a whole range of djinns, personal gods and spirits similar to angels. These deities were Dhu Shara, or Duchares and al-Uzza. Duchares means Lord of Shera (Seir), a local mountain and thunder god who was worshipped at a rock high place as a block of stone frequently squared, just as Hermes was the four-square god. Suidas in the tenth century AD described it as a 'cubic' black stone of dimension 4x2x1 (Browning 44). All the deities male and female were represented as stones or god-blocks.
The treasury at Petra. Al-Uzza as grain goddess and as Mari the sea goddess crowned by dolphins.
Duchares was a Zeus-like mountain deity of Jebel Shara, with associations with sacred kingship whose rites took a prominent place in the scheme of worship. Notably King Obodas became Zeus Oboda (Negev 111). He is described on a dam inscription as 'Dushara the god of Gaia' (Negev 107). He was celebrated as a god of immortality celebrated by a Dionysian tragic mask of death, in which its wearer became united with him, thus escaping the limitations of the mortal span (Glueck 242). He is surrounded by dolphins as was Dionysus.
Al-Uzza was a deity of springs and water, as befits a fertility goddess, and as such she would have been reverenced in Petra with particular devotion" (Browning 47). Manathu (the Manat of Islam) was the patron goddess of Petra, being Fortuna having a similar role to Semitic Gad (Browning 48). As Moon Goddess Tyche she was also Fortune holding a cornucopia of overflowing fruit.
The Nabateans originally were tent-dwelling shepherds renowned, like their fellow tribe the Recchabites, for eschewing houses, planted crops or wine, in their case on penalty of death (Negev 101), a sentiment shared by Muhammad, who looked with contempt upon the Kuryshites and Ansari "for they employ themselves with sowing seeds" ... "The divine glory is among the shepherds, vanity and impudence among the agricultural peoples" (Briffault 3/111).
However agricultural settlement brought changes and the Greek period produced a hybrid culture. Al-Uzza became identified with Atargatis-Aphrodite and Duchares with Dionysus. Freezes including grape vines are prominent, consistent with Dionysian rites, which Browning (47) concedes may have become the "pornographic pop concerts which came to debase the once-glorious cult of Dionysos." Glueck (166) is even more forthright: "Rich food in plenty and strong wine without stint helped bring the deities and ther worshippers into fervid relationship. Bar-Hebraeus quoted Psalm 12:8 of Nabatean women "the wicked walk on every side while vileness is exhalted among the sons of men". The scope and nature of the temples supports both males and females being worshippers of the cults.
The Nabateans, like the Harranians, followed a complex system of astral worship, involving the sun and moon and seven major planets, in which in her varying forms, the Goddess represented Venus and the Moon (Glueck 453). As Moon Goddess she is identifiable with Tyche, Selene and Atargatis-Artemis of Hierapolis. Selene was worshipped in the new and full moon. She stands prima inter pares at the centre of the main dieties of the Nabatean pantheon the seven planets and the zodiac, although sometimes displaced by Zeus. The snake twined eagle is shown in at least one relief standing above both the sun and moon at Jebel Druze. However the fertility goddess, who was also in her aspects the dolphin-crowned Sea Goddess (Aphrodite-Mari) of seafarers and the Moon Goddess clearly dominates the sculptures at Khirbet Tannur, the outstanding Nabataean high sanctuary, archetypal of the biblical high places (Glueck).
Women played a significant role in Nabatean society. Aretas IV was on coinage with Shaqilat I, while Malichus II was alongside Shaqilat II. "Married women could bequeath and hold property and genealogy was sometimes traced through the maternal line. Pagan temples, whether inside or outside the Nabataean kingdom were dedicated to both Dushara and Allat or to localized equivalents of Zues Hadad and Atargatis. Indeed in general, Atargatis seems to have outranked her consort by far" (Glueck 166).
National Star and Crescent Symbols of the Islamic World
Allah and his three Daughters of Destiny
The Nabatean findings are consistent with the idea that Sin is also the progenitor of the ancient Arabian high God al-Llah, which like El simply means God, who is still represented by the crescent moon. It has already been noted that the star and crescent of Islam is prefigured both in the coinage of Harran and the symbolic relationship between the crescent moon of Sin and the evening star of Ishtar, seen also among the Sabeans.
Muhammad's very purpose was to return to the God of Abraham, recognising the tension between the Christians and the Jews indicated things had gone awry with both Moses and Jesus. Had the monotheistic heritage not become so dominant in Arabia in the century before Muhammad, he might well have remained true to the ancient Moon deity which had been the God of the Arabs since time immemorial and was the true source of al-Lah.
Just as it was diminished by Yahweh, the moon was made subservient by Muhammad. "The moon had descended from heaven and had bowed down doing homage to Muhammad. He was transfigured in its rays, which penetrated his garment and filled his body with light" (Briffault v3 78).
Sura 29.61 "And
if you ask them,
Who created the heavens and the earth
and made the sun and the moon subservient,
they will certainly say, Allah."
Muhammad is concerned to deny that Abraham would worship the sun, moon or Ishtar. Sura 6.75 And thus did We show Ibrahim the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and that he might be of those who are sure. So when the night over-shadowed him, he saw a star; said he: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: I do not love the setting ones. Then when he saw the moon rising, he said: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: If my Lord had not guided me I should certainly be of the erring people. Then when he saw the sun rising, he said: Is this my Lord? Is this the greatest? So when it set, he said: O my people! surely I am clear of what you set up (with Allah). Surely I have turned myself, being upright, wholly to Him Who originated the heavens and the earth, and I am not of the polytheists."
However polytheists did not make such a literal identification. The image or astronomical form a deity was symbolic - a realization of their nature. As we have seen, the followers of the high moon god perceived the deity in very much the same terms Muhammad describes al-Llah., even questioning whether a mere human prophet can act as an intermediary withthe cosmic godhead. The ancients all knew the sun and moon rose and set. Some were very great astronomers.
Nevertheless Muhammad does read considerable significance into the Moon. He swears three times by the Moon in the Koran. They reasons are serious - hell and the disbvelievers:
Sura 74.32 "I
swear by the moon,
And the night when it departs,
And the daybreak when it shines;
Surely it (hell) is one of the gravest (misfortunes)"
Sura 84.16 But nay! I
swear by the sunset redness,
And the night and that which it drives on,
And the moon when it grows full,
That you shall most certainly enter one state after another.
But what is the matter with them that they do not believe,
And when the Qur'an is recited to them they do not make obeisance?
The prophet cites the moon rending asunder:
Sura 54: The Moon
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful.
The hour drew nigh and the moon did rend asunder.
And if they see a miracle they turn aside and say:
Transient magic. And they call (it) a lie,
and follow their low desires;
and every affair has its appointed term.
"Many of the Arab tribes of Muhammad's day still had a tradition that they had lived in South Arabia before taking to the desert when the old civilization declined." The term ascribed above to Allah - "the Merciful" ar-Rahman originates from South Arabia, (Pritchard 89) suggesting that Allah, the ancient male deity worshipped at the Ka'aba long before the lifetime of Muhammad, has a direct link with 'Ilumquh, the Arabic Moon God of the Sabeans.
The moon aligning with the sun in a solar eclipse signifies the day of ressurection:
Sura 75.6 He asks:
When is the day of resurrection?
So when the sight becomes dazed,
And the moon becomes dark,
And the sun and the moon are brought together,
Man shall say on that day: Whither to fly to?
By no means! there shall be no place of refuge!
With your Lord alone shall on that.day be the place of rest.
In Sura 2.189 the prophet sets off the new crescent moon as a sacred period: "They ask you concerning the new moon. Say: They are times appointed for (the benefit of) men, and (for) the pilgrimage." The month-long fast of Ramadan begins and ends with the new moon. The Arabic calendar is exclusively lunar, ignoring the solar cycle completely. There are 12 lunar months of alternate 30 and 29 days, closely averaging the 29 d 12.7 h lunar cycle, making the year only 354 days long, so the months move backward through all the seasons and complete a cycle every 32 1/2 years, emphasizing the pivotal position of the moon in the Arabic consciousness.
"Blessed is He Who made the constellations in the heavens
and made therein a lamp and a shining moon.
And He it is Who made the night and the day to follow each other
for him who desires to be mindful or desires to be thankful."
"The moon was the 'protector of women', and was associated with a feminine counterpart". Allah was originally paired with his daughters - the banat al-Lah.. "This Arabian goddess was triune, being also known as the three Holy Virgins". The Manat consisted of al-Lat "the goddess", Q're (possibly Kore) the Virgin, and al-Uzza the 'powerful one' (Briffault). Al-Uzza was the moon. Manat was bringer of good and bad luck, just as the Greek Moria the three fates and the Arabic term mana.
Occhigrosso (1996) affirms the moon God association and the astronomical basis of the black stone: "Before Muhammad appeared, the Kaaba was surrounded by 360 idols, and every Arab house had its god. Arabs also believed in jinn (subtle beings), and some vague divinity with many offspring. Among the major deities of the pre-Islamic era were al-Lat ("the Goddess"), worshiped in the shape of a square stone; al-Uzzah ("the Mighty"), a goddess identified with the morning star and worshiped as a thigh-bone-shaped slab of granite between al Talf and Mecca; Manat, the goddess of destiny, worshiped as a black stone on the road between Mecca and Medina; and the moon god, Hubal, whose worship was connected with the Black Stone of the Kaaba. The stones were said to have fallen from the sun, moon, stars, and planets and to represent cosmic forces. The so-called Black Stone (actually the color of burnt umber) that Muslims revere today is the same one that their forebears had worshiped well before Muhammad and that they believed had come from the moon. (No scientific investigation has ever been performed on the stone. In 930, the stone was removed and shattered by an Iraqi sect of Qarmatians, but the pieces were later returned. The pieces, sealed in pitch and held in place by silver wire, measure about 10 inches in diameter altogether and several feet high; they are venerated today in patched-together form.)"
"The Quraysh had settled in Mecca towards the end of the fifth century. Their ancestor Qusayy, had settled in the Meccan valley beside the Sanctuary. Legend has it that Qusayy had travelled in Syria and brought the three goddesses al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat to the Hijaz and enthroned the Nabatean god Hubal in the Ka'aba. In a campaign that combined trickery and force, the Quraysh managed to take control of Mecca and expel the Khuza'ah, its guardian tribe who were considered to have failed their sacred trust" (Armstrong 1991). There are several difficulties with this legend. We have seen that al-Uzza and before her al-Lat have a considerable history as Arab deities, stretching all the way back to Sumeria."
Hubal in al-Kalbi's 'Book of Idols (Faris 23) is described as a red-agate statue of a male figure. One passage of al-Kalbi suggests however more of an identification with forms of arrow oracle known throughout the Near East, which are more consistent with Persian influence: "In front of [the idol] were seven divination arrows ". To make a decison or resolve a conflict "they would proceed to the idol and shuffle the divination arrows before it." In Exekiel 21:21 it is noted "For the King of Babylon stands at the parting of the ways he shakes the arrows, he consults the teraphim, he looks at the liver". Such oracles, the urim and tummim were also a vehicle of the Torah (Snaith 146).
Nevertheless the Ka'aba was a sacred sanctuary which displayed tolerance to many paths, containing no less than 360 images and many pictures including those of Jesus and Mary. It was the sacred rule that the faithful should have access to the sanctuary without discrimination and there should be no conflict within 10 miles. The seven circumambulations and the 360 images appear to be related to worship of the seven planets of the Babylonian system and the 360 days of the Sumerian calendar, which was also shared by the Hebrew jubilees calendar. Each Arab tribe had their protecting star from among the Houses of the Moon (Briffault 3/81). The Ka'aba appears to be aligned for lunar and stellar observation. Another noted Ka'aba was sited at Najran, the previously mentioned site of the trench massacre, which was probably in pre-Christian times of similar fame to Mecca. The remains of this Ka'aba contain an inscription to Wadd 'Ab the Moon God of the Mineans.
The hajj itself was originally an Autumn rite apparently persecuting the dying sun to bring on the winter rains. Pilgrims would rush in a body to the hollow of Muzdalifa, the abode of the Thunder God, make an all-night vigil on the plain by Mt. Arafat, hurl pebbles at the three sacred pillars of Mina and offer an animal sacrifice". One should pause to consider the following fact: The Ka'aba was holy ground and a great measure of the holiness was its religious tolerance. The Ka'aba was a place where all the faithful could assemble to honour a time-immemorial tradition. All forms of violence between any parties were forbidden in Mecca for four months during the hajj. The worshippers of al-Llah, al-Lat and even the Christian Arabs could all come together at the Ka'aba. If the hands of Allah and Allat could again be united across the Ka'aba, as are the hands of particle and wave in the physical universe, the world could know eternal peace.
Al-Lat had a shrine at Taif, which was in a cooler and more fertile part of the Hijaz, and al-Uzza had one Naklah to the south east of Mecca and that Manat, the fateful one had her shrine at Qudayd on the Red Sea coast (Armstrong 1991). As Mecca had the Ka'aba, so these places were also centres of pilgrimage, as described in detail by al-Kalbi
"The banat al-Llah may well simply have been 'divine beings'. They were represented in their shrines not by a personalised statue or portrait but by large standing stones, rather like the fertility symbols used by the Canaanites which are so often described in the Bible. When the Arabs venerated these stones they were not worshipping them in any crude, simplistic way but were seeing them as a focus of divinity. It has also been suggested that these three goddesses were related to the Semitic fertility goddesses Anat and Ishtar, so their cultus may have begun before the Arabs adopted the nomadic life, while they were still farmers and living on the land. The Arabs may not have worshipped al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat in a personalised way, but ... they felt very passionate about the shrines of the banat al-Lah " (Armstrong 1991).
The banat al-Lah were overthrown by Muhammad, along with other pagan deities. Tabari quotes an early tradition of about seventy years after the prophet's death. ... "As long as he preached the cult of al-Llah, with its concern for the poor and needy, everybody in Mecca had been ready to accommodate this reformed cult of the old High God. But once he affirmed that the worship of al-Llah must preclude the worship of all the other ancestral gods, the Quraysh 'rebutted him with vehemence, not approving what he said, and aroused against him those who had followed him, except those whom God kept safe and they were few in number'. Overnight, Islam became a despised minority sect."
The historians Ibn Sa'd and Tabari (who quotes two versions) mention the satanic verses. In one the prophet is approached by Qur'ash to make a deal and persuaded to utter the verses in return for promise of admission to Mecca's inner circles. In the other, the prophet genuinely tries to find a place for the goddesses without compromising his monothesim. "When the apostle saw that his people had tumed their backs on him and he was pained by their estrangement from what he brought them from God, he longed that there should come to him from God a message that would reconcile his people to him. One day, Tabari says, while he was meditating in the Ka'aba, the answer seemed to come in a revelation that gave a place to the three 'goddesses' without compromising his monotheistic vision.
Sura 53.19 "Have
you then considered the Lat and the Uzza,
And Manat, the third, the last?
these are the exhalted birds [gharaniq]
whose intercession is approved"
According to this version of the story, the Quraysh were delighted with the new revelation, which in al-Kalbi's words was the traditional invocation made by the Qura'sh to the goddesses as they circumambulated the Ka'aba (Faris 17). The gharaniq were probably Numidian cranes which were thought to fly higher than any other bird. Muhammad, may have believed in the existence of the banat - al-Llah as he believed in the existence of angels and jinn, was giving the 'goddesses' a delicate compliment, without compromising his message. ... The Quraysh spread the good news throughout the city: 'Muhammad has spoken of our gods in splendid fashion. He alleged in what he recited that they are the exalted gharaniq whose intercession is approved" (Armstrong 1993 112).
Muhammad later removed these verses because he was later told by Gabriel they were "Satan inspired". The rejection of the Manat led to the historic conflict with the Qur'ash which resulted in the flight to Medina.
Sura 53.19 "Have
you then considered the Lat and the Uzza,
And Manat, the third, the last?
What! for you the males and for Him the females!
This indeed is an unjust division!
They are naught but names which you have named,
you and your fathers;
Allah has not sent for them any authority.
They follow naught but conjecture and their low desires."
This statement comes the very line after the Prophet's sole report of his night journey down the axis Mundi, very possibly under the inspiration of isfand. It would thus appear that the Prophet has a vision on the sacred plant which directly led him, by contrast, to perceive the idols as mere wood and stone.
He continues in this vein specifically disclaiming female angels:
"53.26 And how
many an angel is there in the heavens
whose intercession does not avail at all
except after Allah has given permission to whom He pleases and chooses.
Most surely they who do not believe in the hereafter
name the angels with female names."
A hint of the reversal of the satanic verses can be gleaned in the following passage:
"We sent not
ever any Messenger
or Prophet before thee, but that Satan
cast into his fancy, when he was fancying:
but God annuls what Satan casts, then
God confirms his signs."
When he abolished the idols, of the old religion, Muhammad, whose dominating ideal was to, unite all Arabian tribes into a single political body bound by a common cult, felt it to be undesirable or impracticable to do away with the most sacrosanct object or symbol of the old religion". Briffault (3/79) notes "Al-Kindy says that Al-Uzza was the moon, her chief shrine being the Ka'aba at Mecca, where she was worshipped in the form of a sacred stone, ... the very stone which the pilgrims to this day visit Mecca to kiss". In doing so the pilgrims recite Caliph Omar's warning declaration : "I know well that you are a stone that can neither do good nor evil, and unless I had seen the prophet , on whom be prayer and the blessings of god kiss you, I would not kiss you".
The identity of the Black Stone with the Great Goddess and with the moon is recognised bythe Hulama - the rationalist school of Islam (Briffault 3/80). "As in most other shrines in Semitic and also in Greek lands, the aniconic stone of the deity stood by a sacred spring, or well, the Zemzem, whose sacred waters are drunk by all good Muslims. It is noted above the al-Uzza was the goddess of springs. She was also represented in-the form of three samura palms, which stood, and still stand, by her stone" (Briffault). Legend says the sacred stone fell as a meteorite (Armstrong 1991), although it has also been suggested to be of volcanic origin (Browning).
The guardians are still called the Beni Shaybah, or sons of the old woman (Briffault 3/80). Popular tradition relates how Abraham, when he founded the Ka'aba brought the ground from an old woman to which it belonged. She however consented to part with it only on the condition that she and her descendents should have the key of the place in their keeping" (Briffault). The Hajira or 'sudden departure' although applied to the events following 622 bears the same name as Hajira (Hagar) , who discovered the spring of Zam Zam flowing by Ishmael's foot when searching for water for him after the 'sudden departure' of Ibrahim (Shad 48).
Al-Quba Medina the first Mosque crowned by the crescent moon.
The sacred stone of the Ka'aba - the "Navel of the World".
A Minaret at the Ka'aba crowned by the crescent moon(Stewart).
Muhammad then mounted a singular rejection of the daughters of al-Lah. Muhammad was offered a pact of mutual religious toleration between Allah and Allat which was entirely in keeping with the holy place it was: "the Muslims could go on worshipping al-Lllah in their religion, and the others could go on worshipping al-Lat al-Uzza and Manat. In response Muhammad recited the Sura of Rejection:
Sura 109 "Say O
unbelievers, I serve not what you serve
and you are not serving what I serve,
Nor am I serving what you have served.
To you your religion and to me my religion!"
The attitude of the other side is frankly portrayed by Muhammad: 23.24 "And the chiefs of those who disbelieved from among his people said: 'He is nothing but a mortal like yourselves who desires that he may have superiority over you, and if Allah had pleased, He could certainly have sent down angels. We have not heard of this among our fathers of yore: He is naught but a man bedevilled.' "
Circumstances became steadily worse. A ban was imposed which led to much hardship. Khadja died. Muhammad was asked a difficult question by Abu Lahab: "Would Muhammad's father have gone to hell because he was a pagan?" (Armstrong 1991 136). Muhammad ended up having to retreat to Medina. It is significant that of the pilgrims to Mecca from Medina in 622, 73 of the men, but only 3 of the women were followers of the Prophet (Armstrong 1991 149).
The subsequent rise of jihad after the Pledge of War at the hajj of 622 resulted later in the notorious souk of Medina in which 700 Jews were needlessly beheaded, only to end in a historic compromise - the Haj, the ancient pilgrimage to the sacred stone, would continue if Mecca accepted Islam. Thus the beheading of 700 Jews was unnecessary and jihad was not fulfilled.
"When Muhammad overthrew the old religion of Arabia, he was not strong enough to defy and offend the immemorial sentiment of the Arab people. The divine mission of the prophet was reconciled with the old religion by Islam receiving the sanction of the immemorial deity" (Briffault v3 78).
His first attempt to return to Mecca was met with stiff opposition for which he displayed prophetic forebearance. He agreed to reconciliation, not war at Hudaybiyah. He displays his considerable knowledge of Jewish tradition when he invokes the Sakina or Spirit of Tranquillity - Armstrong says: "The sakina it will also be recalled, seems to be related to the Hebrew Shekhinah, the term for God's presence in the world""
"It is He who
sent down the sakina
into the hearts of the believers,
that they might add faith to their faith."
(Armstrong 1991 224)
Muhammad's second return to the Ka'aba was the Lesser Pilgrimage negotiated through the treaty at Hudaybiyah. "The huge crowd of pilgrims in their white garments filed slowly into their holy city, led by Muhammad riding on Qaswa, and the valley resounded with their cry: 'Here I am at your service, 0 God!' When he reached the Ka'aba, Muhammad dismounted and kissed the Black Stone, embracing and stroking it, and then began to make the circumambulations followed by the whole pilgrim body."
On his next return to Mecca, he came in triumph. "He rose, performed the ritual ablutions and offered the prayer. Then, mounted on Qaswa, he rode round the Ka'aba seven times, touching the Black Stone each time and crying 'al-Llahu Akbar!' The shout was taken up by his 10,000 soldiers and soon the whole city resounded with the words that symbolised the final victory of Islam. Next Muhammad turned his attention to the 360 idols around the shrine: crowded on to their roofs and balconies, the Quraysh watched him smash each idol while he recited the verse: 'the truth has come, and falsehood has vanished'. Inside the Ka'aba the walls had been decorated with pictures of the pagan deities and Muhammad ordered them all to be obliterated, though it is said that he allowed frescoes of Jesus and Mary to remain. Eventually Islam would forbid the use of all imagery in its worship because it distracts the mind from God by allowing it to dwell on purely human symbols of the divine (Armstrong 1991).
The notion that idols are powerless by comparison with the true divine source is a very materialistic perspective. Christianity has continued to be steeped in every form of idol worship in the understanding that images of Jesus and Mary are merely metaphors for the transcendent deity. It is precisely in this sense that the idols of Sin and Ishtar and the other astral and chthonic deities were worshipped. Moreover, monotheistic religion is itself spiritually idolatrous because it thrusts compulsively one fixed image of the transcendent, particularly as a male creator with a jealous reactive ego who punishes the unbeliever and upholds a strict unchanging rule of order. Although 'the Tao that can be told is not the countless Tao', extending this truth to a tabu against forming an image of the transcendent on pain of death is idolatory of the most tryanical sort, contrasting sadly with the tradition of spiritual tolerance for which the ancient Ka'aba stands.
Of course it was easy for the Prophet with the conscious vision of isfand to portray the stone and wooden idols as inert, but to say that force of political revolution made these deities powerless is a worldly and profane argument.
The facts are that each temple was demolished or burned to the ground, and the priests and priestesses put to the sword. Indeed when the banu-Umahmah were slaughtered for defending dhu-al-Khalasah which stood half way to Sana, a certain woman cried (Faris 31):
banu-Umamah, each wielding his spear,
Were slaughtered at al-Waliyah, their abode;
They came to defend their shrine only to find
Lions with brandished swords clamouring for blood.
The women of Khath'am were then humiliated
by the men of Ahmas and debased".
It is said by al-Bukhari that the Prophet himself said: "This world shall not pass away until the buttocks of the women of Daws wiggle [again] around the dhu-al-Khalasah and they worship it as they were want to do [before Islam]" (Faris 32).
A measure of Muhammad's limited knowledge of the ancient traditions of the Arab deities is gained from the fact that the Qur'an states that the Queen of Sheba was converted to the true god from the sun-worship of her people (Pritchard 1974 14), while all the evidence at Marib suggests that the Moon God, the very source of the crescent of Islam, was always the predominant deity.
Sura 27.22 "I have brought to you a sure information from Sheba. Surely I found a woman ruling over them, and she has been given abundance and she has a mighty throne: I found her and her people adoring the sun instead of Allah, and the Shaitan has made their deeds fair-seeming to them and thus turned them from the way, so they do not go aright. That they do not make obeisance to Allah, Who brings forth what is hidden in the heavens and the earth and knows what you hide and what you make manifest: Allah, there is no god but He: He is the Lord of mighty power."
Had Hilkiah not entered into his "discovery" of the Deuteronomic revision, and Arabia not been subjected to two paternal montheistic religions Judaism and Christianity, vying for ascendancy, Islam might well have become a religion of peace and harmony between man and woman and included the missing principle of fertility upon which the future of the world now depends.
Te Kooti's flag showing marama, the moon, the cross of the archangel Michael
and WI the Holy Spirit represented in the tenth holy day.
When the Christian missionaries set foot in Aotearoa - New Zealand - the 'land of the long white cloud' they believed they were taking the gospel to the last shore before the Christian work was completed in the Parousia or Advent of the Second Coming. However, the Maori to their consternation identified with the Jews and the majority of Maori prophetic movements came to identify with Zion as a lost tribe of Israel.
The Maori regarded the moon as the husband of all women and indeed regarded mortal husbands as only subsidiary co-husbands (Briffault v2 584). The 'heitiki' which represents a foetus, is said to have been given women by the moon. The Hindu Soma laid similar claim to be the husband of all women (Briffault v2 585).
When the Tainui canoe reached Tamaki, Marama kikohura went ashore with a slave. When the canoe became stuck being ported across the isthmus, Marama sttod by the prow and sang the chant that begins
tapatu ki te moana ...
and confessing that she had misbehaved with her slave. This loostened the canoe and it began to move smoothly. "Marama is the name for the moon. Some say it was the moon who assisted with the dragging with her tides" (Alpers 179-80).
Te Matenga a follower of Te Kooti who, along with Rua, claimed the title of Te Kooti's prophecy that a second 'messiah' who would follow him founded the Kohititanga Marama movement - the 'first appearance of the moon'. He spent years with his followers hewing twelve pillars for the tempera of unity named after the twelve tribes. But when a prayed for flood carried all but Joseph to the temple site on the coast, Te Matenga pronounced that the movement would wait for another generation when another prophet would come when the people joined in harmony between Maori and Pakeha and played harps in the new moon to form the 'Church of the New World' in fulfillment of Revelation 14:2
"And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth."
Both male circumcision and before it female circumcision have been an ancient custom among Semitic peoples from very early times (Briffault 3/323), however Jewish circumcision did not assume its present form until as late as the Maccabees (165 BC). Previous to that time it was so minor (possibly merely an incision) that "the jibes of the Gentile women could be evaded, little trace of the operation being perceptible" (Briffault 3/331).
It is notable that the Harranians were not circumcised. This casts doubt on Abraham's circumcision as an invention of post-exilic Jewish writers, although it may be considered a sin offering for male fertility to the phallic god: Gen 17:9 "And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you." Snaith (81) comments "There is no reference to circumcision in the earlier lawsand the rite is nowhere enjoined before the Priestly Code as having any particular significance."
Circumcision is not part of the decalogue. Moses did not yield so easily to circumcision, specifically postponing it in the case of his second son, and it was probably neither a practice of Zipporah. Exod 4:24 "And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, 'Surely a bloody husband art thou to me ... because of the circumcision.' "
One of the most bizarre episodes of purported circumcision is the 'second circumcision rite' in Joshua 5:2 "At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. ... Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised. ... And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole. And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day". However the longer Greek version tells us that the very flint knives used were buried in his grave at Timnath-serah and remained there 'unto this day'. However artefacts discovered there in 1870 date from the stone-age casting the whole episode as one of fantastic myth invented at the sight of the artefacts
Strabo claimed that "the Egyptians circumcised their boys and girls as do the Jews". The Virgin Mary was likewise said to have been circumcised (Briffault 3/324).
Islamic tradition also says it was practised by Sarah on Hagar and that afterwards both Sarah and Abraham circumcised themselves by order of Allah . Circumcision is not provided for in the Qur'an, although Muhammad is suposed to have pronounced circumcision to be "an ordinance for men" and "honourable for women" for whom he is supposed to have said "reduce but do not destroy" in the face of severe practices of female circumcision and infibulation (Briffault 3/323). There is no evidence that any of Muhammad's wives or daughters were circumcised. Men and women of Egypt and the horn of Africa for God's sake stop it! It is an unspoken and unspeakable cycle of opression. 127 million girls worldwide have undergone some form of mutilation and 2 million a year are at risk. As disapproval of the practice mounts, girls at ever younger ages are being subjected to circumcision.
In the face of male (and occasional female) sacrifice, castration, gruesome female circumcision and infibulation and male circumcision, which is sometimes also accompanied by debilitating and very painful mutilation and flaying. A simple civilized commandment: "Thou shalt not mutilate another person, nor encourage nor allow genital or other self-mutilation for religious sexual or moral purposes".
Please - the 'sunna' is not necessary. Muhammad actually said 'Do not destroy'. If a Jew is really keen to make a blood sacrifice to the God of Virility let him cut himself, but leave no visible scar as a reminder of the shame, that by this act some other person may justify clitorectomy
Female Circumcision: A Summary - (Jan Goodwin Price of Honour)
A major campaign of Saadawi's organization before the government closed it was to halt female circumcision. "The majority of rural Egyptian women are still circumcised. Here they remove only the clitoris; they do not do the much more extensive procedure, but even so, there are many problems. Infection, bleeding, damage to the urinary tract, sepsis, even death. Later, it may cause pain during coitus, and psychological damage. In the villages it is performed on girls just before puberty, by untrained village midwives using any kind of knife or razor, without painkillers, and in unsanitary conditions. In the middle and upper classes, it may be carried out by a doctor. The reasons given for clitoridectomies in Egypt are 'cleanliness,' and 'so that girls will not run after men."' In many societies, it is also believed that if the baby's head touches the clitoris during delivery, the infant will die.
Female circumcision is frequently described as an "age-old Muslim ritual," when in fact it predates Islam and is even believed to be pre-Judaic. There is no mention of it in the Koran, and only a brief mention in the authentic hadiths, which states: "A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet said to her: 'Do not cut severely, as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.' But because of this still debated hadz'th, some scholars of the Shari school of Islam, found mostly in East Africa, consider female circumcision obligatory. 'I'he Hanafi and most other schools maintain it is merely recommended, not essential. In the nineteenth century, women in the United States and Europe were sometimes circumcised because it was believed to relieve epilepsy, hysteria, and insanity.
Today, an estimated one hundred million women have undergone the sexual mutilation. It is performed in many African countries, including Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Chad. It is also a tradition among Muslims in Malaysia and Indonesia, and in a number of countries in the Middle East, including Egypt, the UAE, and parts of rural Saudi Arabia. Coptic Christians in Egypt and animist tribes in Africa as well as Muslims, undergo the ritual. More than 90 percent of Sudanese women undergo the most severe form of circumcision, known as "pharaonic," or infibulation, at the age of seven or eight, which removes all of the clitoris, the labia minora, and the labia majora. The sides are then sutured together, often with thorns, and only a small matchstick-diameter opening is left for urine and menstrual flow. The girl's legs are tied together and liquids are heavily rationed until the incision is healed. During this primitive yet major surgery, it is not uncommon for girls, who are held down by female relatives, to die from shock or hemorrhage of the vagina, urethra, bladder, and rectal area may also be damaged, and massive keloid scarring can obstruct walking for life. After marriage, women who have been infibulated must be forcibly penetrated.
"This may take up to forty days, and when men are impatient, a knife is used," recounted Sudanese women at a conference that I attended several years ago in Cairo on the "Development of Women in the Islamic World." They also told of special honeymoon centers built outside communities so that the "screams of the brides will not be heard." At this time also, the risks of infection and hemorrhaging are high. During childbirth, the scar tissue must be cut and the opening enlarged, otherwise mother and child may die. In the mid-eighties, American Nursing magazine began advising medical practitioners in the United States how to treat such patients, since the influx of women from countries where circumcision is standard meant that U.S. health-care providers were now seeing them in hospitals here. And if such cases are not handled correctly, major complications can ensue. The tradition of female circuincis'on in many countries is so strong that circumcised women even in the United States usually request reinfibulation after each delivery.
The female human has naturally evolved to have at least as intense an orgasm as the male.
Sexual arousal is accompained by blood flow to the labia and clitoris just as it is to the penis.
This is central to the nature of human courtship and the expression of bonding between the sexes.
It is not something 'unclean' or 'inappropriate' about the female anatomy.
The most thorough method of securing the virginity of the bride is by the operation of infibulation (see below). This is a variety of female circumcision. As with innumerable other primitive practices, it has become adapted to a purpose the very opposite of that which originally led to its adoption. Unless special means are employed, as is done in all primitive societies by the introduction of a foreign body or by immediate sexual intercourse, female circumcision, when completely carried out in its original form, results in an occlusion by cicatricial tissue more complete than that presented by the hymeneal membrane. In Egypt, where, in the lower classes, the operation is usually carried out by a barber, who, seizing all the soft parts in one hand, cuts them at one stroke with a razor, adhesions invariably result which necessitate considerable cutting at the time of the first delivery. The original intention of the operation having long since become obsolete, the cicatricial closure has been utilised as a means of securing virginity; the formation of adhesions is encouraged by immobilising the parts or by stitches, only a small opening being contrived by inserting a quill during the healing process. The practice is universal in Nubia, south of Gebel Silsineh and in the Sudan, and is also in use in Abyssinia, Somaliland and West Africa. In some parts of Darfur and Kordofan no girl can find a husband unless she has undergone the operation. The assistance of a midwife has generally to be invoked in order to render possible the consummation of the marriage, and the operation is frequently repeated after each confinement. In some places the husband ceremonially rushes through the streets with a bloodied knife to announce he has impregnated his wife. The introduction of the practice is generally set down by writers to the Arabs; but this is denied both by the Arabs and by the natives. Infibulation is condemned by Muslims.
Togo bans female genital mutilation Nov 98 LOME, Togo (Reuters) - Parliament in the west African nation of Togo has passed a law banning female genital mutilation and setting prison terms or fines for those who carry out or encourage it. The parliamentary human rights commission said studies concluded the practice, known as female circumcision, was not supported on religious or cultural grounds and was an attack on its victims' physical integrity. It said the mutilation, which typically involves removal of all or part of the clitoris, was particularly widely practiced among the country's Muslims, affecting two women out of three. New Zealand passed a private members bill to ban female circumcision at the behest of Christine Fletcher. Jan 99 Senegal joins Burkino Faso, Central African Republic, Dijbouti, Ghana, Guinea Conkery, and Togo in outlawing circumcision.
Matriarchal Origins of the Patriarchs
Despite the characterization of the Jews as archetypally patriarchal, the era of the patriarchs is noted for its strong independent women. The prominence and independence of Sarah the queen as well as Rebecca and Rachel and Leah is notable. Briffault (v1 372) comments: "the Jewish rabbis themselves, at a comparatively late date acknowledged that the four matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah had occupied a more important position than the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. According to Robertson Smith the tribe of Levi was originally metronymous (matrilineal), being the tribe of Leah."
Sarah is portrayed as the concubine of both a pharoah and a Phillistine king, doubling as the sister and secret spouse of Abraham, as is Rebecca with Isaac (Gen 26:6). Rachel and Leah stand as the founding matriarchs of the two tribes of Joseph and Judah which represented the exilic and wilderness Semites and their differing histories and became the dominant tribes of the North (Israel) and the South (Judah) (Spong 1994 165). Account needs to be taken here of the posibillity that the Yahwistic autor J was a woman.
Jacob was Rebecca's boy and dwelt in tents, a symbol of the female, just as the bridegroom moves to the tent of the bride on marriage. "And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob" (Gen 25:27). Jacob is blessed over Esau by Rebecca's design (Gen 27:6) and journeys to Harran to seek a wife at Rebecca's insistance to avoid the daughters of Heth (Gen 27:46). One could thus say that the entire foundation of the twelve tribes stands under Rebeccas skirts. The theft by Rachel of Laban's Teraphim and her crafty hiding of them under her menstrual skirt illustrates the continuing significance of the matriarchy. Jacob "the artful dodger" accepts that she does not have to honour his pledge that 'whoever is found' to have them must return them because she is not actually 'found' with them (Fox R 405).
The Jewish Patriarchs Isaac and Jacob, according to tradition, married into a family of strong women - the family of Rivkah, Rahel, and Leah. It was, by the way, the family of Lavan - a name for the pale-white moon, as in kiddush levana, the ceremony of hallowing the moon. These women had strong associations with a well - and of Rivkah there is a traditional midrash that when she met Abraham's servant Eliezer at the well, the writer rose to meet lier.' When would water do this? When it is attracted by the moon. Is it possible that the household teraphim that Rahel took from Lavan's household when she left with Jacob were sacred moon-symbols, and it was no mere accident or trick that led her to conceal them from Lavan by explaining she was in the time of her menstrual flow? (Genesis 31:19, 31:30-35) Was it necessary for those women to become the mothers of Israel precisely because they carried a strong "feminist," moon-centered religious tradition, but were not moon worshipers? (Waskow 263) This tradition continued in the exodus.
The Geneaology of the Twelve Tribes
Marduk defeating Tiamat
This page is heal the long-standing combat myth of the ultimate battle between God and the Devil and the notion of final war or Armageddon. This is a story in which our culture has become deeply embedded. It is a story which leads from our cosmological beginnings to our culminating future and thus even or particularly in our modern world of nuclear weapons and run-away genetic technology speaks with a voice of impending doom. This story is so pervasive on our consciousness that one could say it has led us to the brink of anihilation and still could do so. It is a story that cries for healing in making the world a living paradise instead of destroying it in a torched battleground of cosmic conflict. This is the reconciliation of Holy Matrimony.
In many cosmologies, from Maori to Judeo-Christian, there is a an origin struggle often invovling a sexual conflict, in which an older generation of deities, sometimes involving a female agent of Chaos, is vanquished by a male hero of order. In Eden the female is Eve and the male is the Lord-God Yaveh-Adonai, confirming Eve's divine status as "mother of all living" is really that of an ancient Goddess.
Babylonian cosmology follows on from the Sumerian ancient origin myths to pit the civilization hero-God Marduk against the forces of chaos and darkness in female Tiamat the leviathan of the salt sea. Tiamat had a difficult birth being the mother of many Gods who was effectively slain by her own offspring. In a not dissimilar way in Maori myth, Tane the Kauri tree and God of forests, pushes apart his parents Papa and Rangi Earth and Sky, leading to a similar struggle of the second-generation Gods against the older generation. In these accounts we see the 'other' often other neighbouring civilizations portrayed as the agents of chaos and the state as the divine instrument of order.
The Enuma Elish, the Babylonian creation epic tells how Marduk, the god of Babylon, was chosen king of the gods to defeat Tiamat, the personified sea representing chaotic evil. After killing her, Marduk split her in two, created the world from her corpse, and stationed the various gods in their appropriate spheres. Then he created the human race from the blood of the rebel god Kingu to be the slaves of the gods. Many of the mythological motifs in the story appear to source from earlier Canaanite myths about Ba'al, who is likewise a conquering hero who defeats the older pantheon of El and Athirat and her offspring. The birth of the gods begins from the commingling of Apsu, the fresh waters underground, and Tiamat, the salt water in the sea. From these waters Lahmu and Lahamu come forth. They engender Anshar and Kishar, who give birth to Anu, god of heaven. Anu makes Nudimmud, or Ea, god of earth, in his own image. Tiamat and Apsu remain in repose; the offspring move about and their activity creates a noise in heaven that disturbs Apsu. Tiamat takes the side of her offspring and attempts to allay the anger of Apsu. Apsu is inclined to forbear until his servant, Mummu, persuades him to insist on quieting the noisy offspring. Expecting an attack, Ea casts a magical spell over Apsu and, while he is sleeping, slays him. Ea then builds a dwelling over the place of Apsu's grave and lives with his wife, Damkina; their first son is Marduk.
Later in the story a group of the younger deities plot to avenge Apsu's death. They choose Kingu, the second husband of Tiamat, to lead them. The other younger deities meet and choose Marduk as their leader in battle against the forces of Tiamat and Kingu. Kingu becomes cowed at the sight of Marduk, but Tiamat is unafraid and the battle ensues with Marduk and Tiamat as combatants. Marduk slays Tiamat, cuts up her body into two pieces, making heaven out one part and earth out of the other. He then fashions the other parts of the cosmos and assigns the other deities to rule over the cosmos. In this myth a new basis for the cosmos is given; it emerges out of the activity of the younger deities who have destroyed the quiescence of the older deities. Inherent in the myth is also the notion of tragedy and vulnerability; the new world has emerged from the death of the senior members of the kinship system. In these accounts, Marduk is very much the God of civic order of one particular civilization. The battleground is very much that of Babylon against other states and the ancient mother-chaos of the Seas is adapted to represent the other in cultural terms as a military threat rather than an actual cosmic force.
The Sacrifice (Campbell)
The Descent Cycle as Mortal Combat
The descent of Inanna and the pursuit of Dumuzi by the galla is a very different myth of lethal interaction between female and male, but in this cycle, it is the male who is ritually sacrificed. While Inanna rots on Ereskigal's peg for three days in the waning moon of Taurus, she ascends pursued by seven galla which she allows lay claim to Dumuzi. He is then relentlessly pursued unto anihilation. While this is not a combat myth, it forms a counterpoint to the Marduk-Tiamat saga, in which a supreme young male God vanquishes an ancient creation Goddess.
Although the sacrificial cycle of the descent does not represent a combat myth it does represent a lethal interaction between the underworld of darkness and the living and even heavenly worlds. Inanna in fact becomes the ruler of the underworld, Eath and the Queen of Heaven by making this traverse between all the worlds. Moreover Dumuzi does not enter combat but simply runs harrowed by the galla of Ereskigal. However this conflict has been woven into later male combat myth in a way which is reinterpreted as a conflict between dark and light forces and particularly violence against the male hero, beginning with Gilgamesh's rejection of Ishtar for her mistreatment of men.
Although the descent involves grizzly aspects of male sacrifice, it attempts to reconcile the negative experience of death with the positive experience of new life in the spring season. It is also a journey uniting all the worlds heaven, the underworld, and finally earth. However it is a repetitious cycle without a sense of history. It is this sense of history in the conflict of dark and light which emerges from the male combat myth.
Indra and Vritra
In the battle of Indra and Vritra we see the classic male combat myth emerging from the Aryan warior culture which brought him the the borders of India. Indra is born of the sky and the Earth he is the youngest of the Gods and strongly represents in warrior from the culture of dominion which brough him forth. He then drinks three great draughts of the sacred Soma and swelled to the size of the universe. Terrified his parents flew apart and once separated could never be reunited again. Indra agrees to do battle for the Gods held in check by the enemy Vritra.
A mortal combat ensues in which Vritra is beaten decapitated and destroyed, despite breaking Indra's jaw. Indra then enters combat with the demonic allies, female and male of Vritra and sets up a regime of worldly dominion in the manner of a feudal king. Nornan Cohn in "Cosmos Chaos" (1993 65) notes that this myth is widespread as far as Scandinavia in the form of Thor (105) and Russia and thus may represent a central cultural motif of the patriarchal Aryain invaders across the sweep of their incursions into Europe and the Near East. The role of Soma as divine source of supernatural power and vision - the drink which is also a God - remains potent and intriguing in this context.
In the Zoroastrian myth of cosmic eschatology we find two agents which are now both male entering into competition and combat in classic male warrior competition. However these have now become warring abstract principles of darkness and light, not mere agents of civil order and the supremacy of the urban state. Moreover, these principles are now part of a culminating sense of history of heaven and Earth in which the future life of everyone, instead of merely being a bleak and shadowy existence under the earth, became a moral testing in the afterlife in which the righteous went to heaven and the wicked, or more particularly the ignorant or confused agents of the dark were subject to trial by fire as disembodied spirits.
Finally in this picture at the end of time, God would perform cosmic renovation, effectively a de-novo re-creation in which the disembodied dead would finally be purged of all evil by trial by fire and restored to their divine state. This ordeal, involving rivers of molten metal in the fire and the spirit of healing would appear only as warm milk to the virtuous but as molten metal to the wicked. Cohn (1993 97) notes the formative role this purgation has played in the vision of the Day of Judgement: "That requital which Thou wilt assign to the two parties, O Mazda, by the bright blazing fire of molten metal , is a sign to be given by all living beings, to destroy the wicked man, to save the just". Cohn further notes that the more benificent idea that the wicked are simply to have their sins burned away , so that they become fit to join the righteous comes in the literature some 2000 years after Zoroaster's actual time of the sixth century BC in later Zoroastrian writings. The message of the prophet, however, was that Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord, was the sole creator and lord of the world and that the worship of the daevas was the worship of evil. In Zoroaster's theology the Amesha Spentas, or Bountiful Immortals, were divine beings who acted essentially as agents of the power of Ahura Mazda; they were traditionally seven in number: Bounteous Spirit, Good Mind, Truth, Right-mindedness, Dominion, Health, and Life. The first of these, Spenta Mainyu, is of special importance in that he is paired with a "twin," Angra Mainyu, or Hostile Spirit. When given a choice between good and evil, or truth and the lie, Bounteous Spirit chose truth and Hostile Spirit the lie. Creation becomes a battleground, with the demoted ahuras invoked for the doing of good and the daevas enlisted by Angra Mainyu in the doing of evil. Nevertheless, Ahura Mazda has decreed that truth will triumph, and the old world will be destroyed by fire and a new creation instituted.
Zoroaster, like Jesus became the subject of creation myth in which fire and light accompanied his grandparents and his parents in coceiving him mixed sacred haoma and cows milk. The heavens rejoiced at his coming but the dark demons,just as in the slaughter of the innocents by Herod strove to harm him.
The future period is also heralded by the even more illustrious Saoshyant, or 'future benefactor'. He is preceded by a time when the forces of darkness are ascendant "all men will become deceivers and the covenants will be altered ... the sun's rays will be low-slanted a... the people will be born stunted and have little skill or energy". Hot and cold winds will cause famine and the seasons and weather will be out of course (Cohn 1993 100).
Now Zoroaster's seed which lies protected by good spirits will return when a virgin bathes in the lake and becomes pregnant. Saoshant will for 57 years before the 'making wonderful' resurrect the Dead and give them back their bodies. Cohn notes this prophecy is very ancient (pre-Achaemenian). This description is different from the classic combat myth of Indra in that there is no direct combat between the Gods. Neverthless as Cohn (105) notes "At the heart of Zoroaster's teaching is a sense of cosmic war: a conviction that a mighty spiritual power intent on manitaining and furthering life in an ordered world is locked in struggle with a spiritual power, scarecely less mighty, intent on destroying life and reducing the ordered world to chaos."
"What Ahura Mazda does goes far beyond anything
known in traditional myth. The war that he fights is a spiritual war, and its
aim is not simply to ensure the fertility of the land and the military victory
of his people, it is not even the mere maintenance of the ordered world. It is
to remove every form of disorder from the world , wholly and for ever to bring
about a state in which the cosmoc will no longer be threatened by chaos"
The history of Judaism is the relationship of Yahweh as Lord Adonai, a tribal protector deity to his people through covenant and the threat of retribution if these covenants were not adhered to. Yahweh, in addition to his own features of jealousy and retribution, absorbed many of the features of gods such as Canaanite Ba'al, a warrior and storm god who can both calm the waters and raise tempest on his opponents. Yaweh was the Lord of Hosts - a clearly military title of the Lord of war. Conflict in the form of jealousy and deviation is thus central to the Old Testament, sourcing from the earliest jealousies of the Lord God in the Fall. Yahweh is a god acting in history and the affinity between Jewish and Zoroastrian visions became politically manifest in the relationship of Cyrus to Jewish culture and the refounding of the temple in Jerusalem, for which Cyrus attained the messianic title of anointed. The Zorosatrian vision of the end of days thus became woven into the Jewish prophetic tradition over the ensuing centuries. The Jewish apocalyptic vision became engrossed by the dark-light renovation concepts already expressed in Zoroastrian religion. These combined with the Jewish idea of the God acting in history to lead to the full-blown concept of the Apocalyptic End of Days. In Armageddon, one can see the expression of what is Mazda's trial by fire as a cosmic Ritual Passion. Apocalypse as 'unveiling' became the revelation of secrets hitherto known only in heaven in which the future of the living world stands on the brink of a final and total transformation decreed in heaven (Cohn 163). "Behind the pronouncements of the prophets ... lay a hidden meaning, which was understood only imperfectly by the prophets themselves . Only to a few sages had God revealed that meaning truly - and only now with the unsealing of the writing of these sages would the true import of Biblical prophecy become plain.
We thus enter the themes of the apocalypses of Daniel, and the later apocalyptic psueudonymous authors. The Daniel dream apocalypses were written long after the first six chapters of exilic times, in the space between 169 and 165 BC (Cohn 168). In these we see the statue with the gold head which will fall with feet of clay commenting in obvious terms about political events of the time and particularly Antiochus, and the white haired El-like ancient of days and 'one like the son of man' coming on the clouds. Cohn (172) notes that although this figure is often construed to be a human figure of history, such as Moses or Maccabeus, the messianic stature of this human figure of the 'one in likeness' carries him into the territory of the angels and saints or the prophesied messiah, noting that 'sovereignty and glory and kingly power are given to him so that all peoples and nations of every language should serve him'. Daniel notably also includes the chaos monsters and many of the previous features of the war of order agains chaos.
Important in this perspective is that this will all happen on this Earth. "The future empire , which will also be the kingdom of God, will be as purely terestrial as the pagan empires of the past ... yet the future empire will be utterly different ... with the realization of the kingdom of God rightness will obtain on Earth also the divinely appointed order will have become all-embracing. The righteous, having endured inner refinement and purgation will become 'shining white' the elite who know the eschatological interpretation of the Torah. Finally we have the specific overturning of the ancient Jewish concept of sheol in the resurrection Zoroastrian manner "many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to everlasting life and some to the reproach of eternal abhorrence".
These themes are carried through even further in Essenes writings and in the Book of Jubilees and 1 Enoch. Cohn (179) notes "more clearly than any passage in the Hebrew Bible Jubilees and 1 Enoch tell of a Last Judgement which is to come at the consummation of time. In the early chapters of Enoch (3rd century BC) the sage sees in a vision how at that time God will come down from heaven, accompanied by ten thousand angels, take his stand on Mt. Sinai and pronounce judgement." Woven into this judgement is also the arboreal themes of the Tree of Life and parables of 'how the trees are covered in green leaves and bear fruit'. It should be noted that in older Jewish writings, there is no role for an evil force. In Exodus it is God himself who thinks of killing Moses. In Numbers it is an angel of God who 'opposes' Balaam thus being the 'satan': "And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him" (22:22 ).
Elaine Pagels (1995 40) quotes Neil Forsyth "If the path is bad an obstruction is good". In Job, God and Satan are in confidential communication and when Satan challenges God, God sends him forth to test Job sorely: "Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. ... And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown" (2:1). Pagels (43) notes a change in theme of the satan to become a force of opposition either against Israel "And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel" (1 Chron 21:1 ) or as a division between factions within Judaism, as when Zechariah sides with the returning exiles against the rural inhabitants in the choice of High Priest "And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" (3:1). Isaiah elaborates on the concept by introducing the fallen star as Lucifer: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, ... Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit" (14:12). Pagels (49) notes "this greatest and most dangerous enemy did not originate, as one might expect, as an outside, an alien or a stranger. Satan is not the distant enemy but the intimate enemy - one's trusted colleague, close associate, brother ... who turns unexpectedly jealous and hostile."
Jubilees completely rewrites the Exodus story of God thinking of killing Moses in the manner of mastema a force of darkness. Cohn (182) notes "The few scattered phrases in Jubilees stand at the head of a mighty tradition that was to subsist for some two thousand years and still subsists today.
Mastema, or Belial, brings in a host of demons which are typified in the fall of the angels in seducing the daughters of men (Cohn 184, Pagels 48), clearly harking back to reproductive purity and its relationship to pagan ways. "The author of Jubilees is persuaded [like the Zoroastrian end of Days] that ever since the flood, peoples health and vitality have been deteriorating, generation by generation." (Cohn 184) Thus reducing the almost thousand years of Adam to a miserable fraught three score and ten. This theme is continued in the Qumran scrolls of the Dead Sea, typified by the community rule (Cohn 190): "Those born of truth spring from a fountain of light, but those born from falsehood spring from a source of darkness. All the children of righteousness are ruled by the Prince of Light and walk in the ways of light , but the children of falsehood are ruled by the Angel of Darkness and walk in the ways of darkness."
The 'sons of light' were of course the members of the sect, the eschatologial elect and the sons of darkness often ordinary Jews lying outside the particular sect. Pagels(58) notes: "The Essenes called themselves the 'sons of light' and indicted the majority as the 'sons of darkness', the 'congregation of traitors', as people who 'depart from the way, having transgressed the law and violated the precept'. The Essenes retell the whole story of Israel in terms of this cosmic war."
"While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light" (John 12:36)
"In him was
life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness;
and the darkness comprehended it not." (John 1:4)
These words of John indicate a deep continuity between the Essene and Christian traditions. Although such writings of John were often thought to be Hellenistic extravagances, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the war of the sons of light and darkness, the whole vision of John came to be recognised as part of a continuity of vision from Jewish apocalypse to the Christian.
John's passage is also making a transition from a purely human figure into a transcendent supernatural being. This picture is elaborated also in the similtudes of Enoch which may post-date Jesus and is absent from the Aramaic fragments found at Qumran. In this the 'son of man' or 'elect one' is 'designated, chosen for his unique destiny before the sun or stars or Earth were created'. In the simultudes, this messiah pronounces judgement on the living and the dead from a throne of glory as in Revelation's vision. "On the transformed earth, under a transformed heaven the righteous including the resurrected righteous will enjoy unchanging bliss. "The Earth will rejoice and the righteous will dwell upon it and the chosen will go an walk upon it".
The son of man in some sayings attributed to Jesus is no less exraordinary. He too will be sent down from heaven to judge mankind, accompanied by angels, and those who have denied him will be condemned as surely as surely as those who have denied God himself. ... Applied to Jesus, the notion of transcendent, supernatural Messiah was indeed well adapted to expalin and justify the paradox of his wretched death (Cohn 206). This paradox remains deep ing the Christian psyche, for Jesus said " "Some of those standing here ... will not taste death until they have seen the kingdom of God already come in power". This is echoed in 1 Thessalonians, the earliest Christian text " For this we shall tell you as the Lord's word: we who are left alive until the Lord comes shall not forestall those who have died; because at the word of command, at the sound of the archangel's voice and God's trumpet call, the Lord himself shall descend from heaven; first the Christian dead will rise, then we who are left alive shall join them, caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." - the proverbial Rapture incarnate in born-again Paul.
Although Paul admittedly expected a purely spiritual kingdom 'in the air', Jesus himself seems rather, to have looked forward to a transformed Earth. This tradition continues all the way to Augustine "... this heaven and this Earth shall cease and a new world shall begin. But the old one shall not be utterly consumed, it shall only pass through a universal change ..." thus keeping himself on the practical level of bio-apocalypse (Cohn 200). In Luke, the theme of light and dark is woven into the birth:
"To give light
to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace" (1:79 ).
The theme of light and darkness also pervades the synoptics in Jesus' own parables:
"For there is
nothing covered, that shall not be revealed;
neither hid, that shall not be known.
Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness
shall be heard in the light;
and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets
shall be proclaimed upon the housetops" (Luke 12:2).
The light of the body
is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single,
thy whole body also is full of light;
but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness" (Luke 11:34 ).
The references to Satan and the Devil in the four gospels are remarkably compact, given regard to the prominent role satan has played since in the human psyche. Elaine Pagels (1995 12) has the reasons abundantly clear: "Satan, although he seldom appears onstage in these gospel accounts, nevertheless plays a central role in the divine drama, for the gospel writers realize thaqt the story they would have to tell would make little sense without Satan. How, after all, could anyone claim that that a man betrayed by one of his own followers, and brutally executed on charges of treason against Rome, not ony was but still is God's appointed Messiah, unless his capture and death were, as the gospels suggest, not a final defeat but only a preliminary skirmish in a vast cosmic conflict now enveloping the universe?"
John's gospel has Jesus saying these things himself: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God" (3:19).
In Mark the references are scant, merely a brief reference to temptation in the desert and to the passage common to the synoptics in which Jesus is accused of being devil-inspired: "Out of Ba'al Zebul he casteth out devils.", to which Jesus replies "How can Satan cast out Satan?", a reference to Satan distracting the followers "And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts" and finally the classic retort to Peter "Get thee behind me, Satan."
Luke and Matthew describe the temptations in the desert in more imaginative terms. Jesus hungers and Satan suggests he commands stones to be bread. Jesus answers that man shall live by the word alone. The Devil takes him on a mountain and shows him all the kingdoms of history in a moment and offers him the power and the glory if he will worship him and Jesus says he will worship only God. He then invites Jesus as Son of God to cast himself from the Temple pinnacles for the angels will save him and Jesus says not to tempt him. Satan duly departs.
There are a few additional comments in which Jesus says he saw Satan fall as lightning from heaven when the seventy can cure the 'devils' of malady and he gives them the power over serpents which is sometimes celebrated in modern Christian sects.
In John the Jews who are offended by Jesus claiming "Before Abraham was I am" are accused of being the agents of the 'lie' in very Zoroastrian terms:"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not" .
As we come towards the crucifixion scenario we see in Luke, Satan entering into Judas, and in John the same as the sop is passed to him. This is the crux of the rentry of Satan into the mission at its climax in the intended cosmic struggle of light and dark. Judas is portrayed as an agent of evil and betrayal, but his role is central and essential to bringing the forces of light and dark into opposition in the ceremonial atonement of the "righteous man" in the tradition of the wounded messiah. It is an act clearly chosen by Jesus when he says "one of you will betray me". John places a dark emphasis on Judas in the midst of conflict over his claim to be the flesh and the blood: "Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?". This suggests Jesus literally goaded Judas into the dark role by condemning him in advance as the traitor. We thus see in the confrontation of light and darkness Jesus as the light and Judas the dark. In the Gospel of Thomas the narrator is by contrast Didymos Judas Thomas, the gnostic twin of Jesus who reveals gnosis thrrough the transmission.
The interplay of Satan as the power of darkness emerges in Luke: "Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness" (22:52). "And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour" (23:44).
Just before Jesus says to his disciples that in two days he shall be betrayed in this way at the Passover, he pronounces the eschatological second coming of the son of man with power: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: ... Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: ... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: ... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal" (Matt 25:31).
An important aspect of this dialogue is that it depends solely on membership in Israel but on justice combined with generosity and compassion Pagels (86): "I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me" (25:35).
It should be noted that this eschatological superman role for the returning Christ is not manifest in the same way in the oldest gnostic sources such as the Gospel of Thomas. When Jesus asks Peter in the synoptic who he is Peters says "You are the Christ", but in Thomas Jesus says "I am not your master for you have drunk from the bubbling stream I have measured out .. whoever drinks from my mouth will become as I am." Likewise when aked when the new world will come he says "It stands before you but men do not see it."
Despite the paucity of specific detail about Satan in the gospels, Pagels (1995) exposes the many themes of conflict and opposition in the gospels from the family difficulties with his mother and brothers to the challenges to the establishment over his pretentions to being the son of God while abrogating the sabbath, hand-washing and the very process of healing by casting out 'devils', which itself came close enough to the black arts to cause his charge of blasphemy, culminating in the raising of Lazarus in John. These themes of opposition rise to a crescendo as the mission unfolds, involving the Herodians, the Pharisees, the chief priests and Sadducees and of course the Romans. All of these lead to an interpretation of the history of the mission as a gathering collision course under the storm clouds of intrigue and opposition.
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on Earth, no rather division" (Luke 12:51)
These themes are of course carried on into fine apocalyptic grandeur in the combat myth of Revelation, in which Rome has assumed the role of arch-ememy, probably because of its coincidence with the persecution of Christians by Domitian (Cohn 215). It is a work in frank Jewish apocalypse for Jewish imagination dotted with over 300 references to Daniel, Isaiah, Second Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Zecchariah. It is however a Chrtistian work, which in identifying the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles as both inscribes on the heavenly city which descends to Earth on the twelve gates and the twelve foundation stones of the city wall, is saying that Christianity as the destined Jewish sect is the elect. By the descent of the heavenly Jerusalem, heaven and Earth are finally made one.
Jesus mission, partly because of its sacrificial heaviness, but also because of the End of Days scenario of the mission, became not simply an healing of the existential condition, but a polarization of reality as much orented to Satan as to God. His entire mission of light is pitted against the unravelling work of the devil, who invites him to the riches of the world and invites him to dash himself from the temple pinnacles, finally seizing his moment in the evil hour of crucifixion in bringing to a white-heat the male comabat between God and the devil in his own immolation and the birth of the Kingdom.
In this sense Christ's God is tragically cut down the middle by dark and light in final ultimate conflict. This diabolical streak is the dark side of Christianity itself and has literally led to the darkening of the light in which the Christian Church has become itself the purveyor of the concept of the Devil and of just and final war leading to genocide and the potential destruction of the Earth.
Elaine Pagels (1995) in discussing the themes of conflict and opposition in the gospels is writing the first episodes of the way this theme of conflict of dark and light has been elaborated into a continuing philosophy of repression of the 'other' in social terms which has led to escalating violence and conflict in society since. Her analysis begins with the early Jewish Christians as a group not participating fully inthe Jewish revolt and perceiving in their own social struggle the dark forces in the 'other' just as the Essenes had done before them. These escalate as the gospels proceed from Mark through Matthew spilling the blood of the prophets and Luke to John.
"Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? ... And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. ... Then Peter said unto his wife [Sapphira], How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband".
The Christian polarization of the world order into cosmic battle rapidly became a living reality. The corruption and violence of pagan Rome and the moral rectitude and the violent example of the Crucifixion as an example of unflinching commitment to God caused Christians to enter into a collision course with the Rome of the divine emperors such as Domitian and Nero. Christians had by Jesus' own purported statements dividing two against three in a family preached social division and social insurrection as well. In the face of Roman repression, these divisions became literal as family members faced capital trial and violent demise. The battle of dark and light thus became a continuing saga of the slaughter of the innocents, exemplified by Perpetua and Blandina. In this struggle, the Christians and their Roman persecutors become two sides of one violent picture, and while the Christians prayed for their persecutors, they also firnly believed in the power of evil in them. It was this polarized view of reality that many Romans found most offensive and intolerant in the Christian view. On the other hand the Christians preached a doctrine of love and equality within a confined moral setting, which cast the Roman corruption, moral expediancy, casual attitude to the sanctity of individual life and raw violence bestial in Christian eyes. In a real sense the two energies fed oneanother, the Christian End of Days expectation leading to an equally casual disregard for the martyrs' own individual lives in sacrificing themselves to the heavenly Kingdom.
Later as the Christian church became an established order of bishops as opposed to a loose-knit protest movement, the pendulum swung the other way and the orthodox chuch then began the process of persecution in the name of God that has harrowed the field of Christianity since and continues to threaten our living future. The gnostics, who themselves were sincere Chrsitians became heretics, imbued themselves with the devil, despite having among their diverse followings keys of reconciliation of dark and light.
This situation worsened as the Christian church itself became tarnished with greed in assuming the crown of Rome, the very beast of Revelation's prophecies. Although the Catholic church has seen itself as the very ecclesia fulfilling the prophesied Kingdom in abnegation of Christ's second coming, the realities have been closer to the evil empire.
In sequence we have the phenomena of Crusade, Inquisition and Witch-burning, which is itself part of the former 600 year rule of the tyrany of the Beast. Although the Witch hunts were by no means exclusive to the Catholic church, it was a pope, Urban II who ordered the first Crusade, plunging Christianity into a religion of frank jihad, when Jesus pivotal statement is to love your enemies, and it was a pope, Gregory IX in 1231 who instituted an Inquisition to repress the Cathars, leading from crusade against devout Christian gnostics to a permanent state of Holy War against the Christian population.
Overthrowing the shaitan from the cover of "Satanic Verses"
The role of Iblis the Shaitan in Islam is a quaint mixture of old Jewish folklore and the harbinger of jihad and violence in the Islamic tradition, yet Iblis' role is not entirely distanced from the older Jewish traditions of the satan as tester. Iblis represnts the chief angel who is reluctant to give obesiance to Adam because he is a mere mortal made of dust.
"And certainly We created you, then We fashioned you, then We said to the angels: Make obeisance to Adam. So they did obeisance except Iblis; he was not of those who did obeisance. He said: What hindered you so that you did not make obeisance when I commanded you? He said: I am better than he: Thou hast created me of fire, while him Thou didst create of dust. He said: Then get forth from this (state), for it does not befit you to behave proudly therein. Go forth, therefore, surely you are of the abject ones. He said: Respite me until the day when they are raised up. He said: Surely you are of the respited ones. He said: As Thou hast caused me to remain disappointed I will certainly lie in wait for them in Thy straight path. Then I will certainly come to them from before them and from behind them, and from their right-hand side and from their left-hand side; and Thou shalt not find most of them thankful. He said: Get out of this (state), despised, driven away; whoever of them will follow you, I will certainly fill hell with you all (Sura 7.11).
Two points emerge from this dialogue. Firstly al-Llah is a God of both Hell and of the Day of Judgement as in the Zoroastrian tradition, and secondly Iblis is redeemed by God because his sin was not against the heavenly host itself but merely pride when asked to do obesiance to frail and mortal man of dust.
There is a lesson here for the violence within Islam, for while Iblis the very devil is counted among the redeemed in the Day of Requital the mortals who are lured by him are cast into hell fire. Islam retains the death curse fatwa, jihad and practices atrocious sentences such as stoning women to death and dismemberment.
Richard the Lionheart commiting genocide at Acre in the name of Christ (Campbell)
Three 'peoples of the book' Juaism, Christianity and Islam, despite all worshipping ostensibly the same abstract father creator God, each treat the others as false heresies. We have here the ultimate paradox of monotheism - the eternal war against the 'other' - despite all claiming to worship the one God. In this none has escaped. It was a Jewish Prince of Curls who set the tradition for genocide which Muhammad followed in the souk of Medina in burning the Christians at Naryan.
Violence in the name of God also became a central part of Islam, from the gruesome battles and genocide of the period at Medina including the notorious souk in which 700 Jewish men were needlessly slaughtered and expressed in conversion by the sword and jihad. However one should recognise that the origin of this culture of violence to non-believers lies directly in the Old Testament tradition in episodes of divine slaughter such as the rape of Jericho.
As pagan or frank agents of the devil ,or those who killed Jesus (despite his Roman crucifixion), Christianity was particularly undisciplined in its violence towards both Jews and Moslem peoples as ripe for undisciplined slaughter at a time when Islam was a cultured society. Jerusalen was sacked and Saladin outraged at the bestial behaviour of the Christian armies.
Once the Christian church became an establishment power, the polarization of good and evil became an instrument of corruption and power of the institutional church, whose opponents were consigned to Inquisitorial torture and death, often for financial gain, because conficated lands could be claimed by the church. This became a virtual gendercide of the European woman. The very term 'witch hunt' means unjust persecution as a term in the English language.
We also have the continuing problem of Christian anti-semitism. Although Jesus' death was foretold and apparently planned by himself in passing the sop, the Christian church has continued to hold the Jews to blame for Jesus' Roman crucifixion for insurgency. We thus have the deathly irony of the very beast of Rome committing centuries of effective genocide and humiliation of Jews. Hitler's holocaust of this century was by no means the first and was espoused in terms of the crucifixion as a symbol and justification by Hitler himself.
The Christian Church has effectively become the institution of both God and the Devil for it is the Church who pervades the idea of the dark force. It is a force which has been wielded in diverse forms from Papal corruption through the Inquisition to the Salem Witch trials.
Pope as antichrist (Cohn 1993).
The conflict between Catholicism and the Protestant movements exemplifies the final contradiction of the war of light and darkness, in which each became in a sense the devil of the other. The Protestants rightly called the Pope the anti-christ, but themselves indulged in fundamentalist campaigns of exorcism by death. This continuing saga of combat raises deep questions. Is there such a thing as intrinsic evil? Is evil just a form of ignorance, or is there a dark force? Nature speaks to this question. There are all types of niche. Some are devastating to the victim. But it is out of this seeting process of diversity and consumption that humanity has evolved to witness the wonders of the galaxy. Nature contains malign influences such as disease and predator as well as accidental injury and sheer degenerative change, of which age the ultimate march of entropy is the ultimate Kali - time.
It is clear that nature shall have animals and fungi as well as plants and carnivores as well as herbivores. Humans are one of the few species which can be either. The fact that animals sometimes eat oneanother is not a product of the devil but the diversity of ecosystemic niches permitted by life. Natural 'evil', despite being awesomely terrifying when faced by a tiger is necessary evil too, because by adopting these niches, a climax diversity ecology results.
We all admire the extraordinary species diversity of key tropical forest hotspots with as many species per hectare as exist in whole temperate continents. These climax ecologies spell out the fallacy of evil as tooth and claw. The same climax diversity that arises through the fractal penetration of many species into one habitat applies also to the animals. There are fewer carniveroes than herbivores, and many herbivores suffer more from parasites than predators. Humanity in particular has seen 100,000 years of evolution into cultural diversity as gatherer-hunters who had only occasional predators such as lions because of human social cooperativity. Rather than tooth and claw, human evolution seems to have been characterized by long periods of leisure and social intrigue.
Texcatlipoca overthrowing Quetzalcoatl
Our abhorrence of the bloodthirsty sacrifices of the Aztecs has to be seen simply as a counterpoint to the implicit violence of cosmic war and flesh and blood sacrifice in our own religious tradition. The history of Aztec sacrificial violence and social militarization is precisely a parallel sotry of combat myth. Just as Zoroastrian religion centred on the sun as light principle, so the sacrifices of the Aztecs of living beating hearts was designed to keep the sun continuing in its course. We thus need to see in the horrors of Aztec blood sacrifice a true reflection of our own vision of cosmic war, of crucifixion, martyrdom, crusade and Inquisition, in learning to reconcile in love and peace in consummating human history in the living natural world.
The perils of cosmic combat myth are perilous and devastating. Rather than the interplay between light and dark in the passage from birth to death of the descent cycle of Inanna, the male form of the combat myth fails to resolve the complements until the final confronation between the two male principles of dark and light divided just as the lethal tree of knowledge of good and evil attests. This is a very dangerous scenario because the believers of this scenario are prepared to envisage destroying the world or allowing it to be destroyed so that the new heavenly kingdom or Rapture can come into being in the final battle. It is an incitement to anihilate the Earth to achieve the divine order. It is antithetic to our survival and the survival of the biosphere. It is even more dangerous than the nihilism of the mechanitic Newtonian world-view and has combined with it to form a relationship of exploitive domination.
We are the inheritors of a two-millenia tradition of cosmic war and violence in the name of male combat extended to final cosmic war. It is in the name of this fight of good against evil that the wilderness and diversity of nature has been conquered as a debased realm in the name of civilized order. It is in the name of this cosmic struggle for order that the mutually-assured destruction of nuclear weapons has been unleashed upon our culture, it is in the name of opposing the "evil empire" in the form of communism that unveiled "starwars" as an anti-missile defence system to out-manouvere the 'other' and create an 'invulnerable' umbrella for nuclear theatre war. There is no end yet in sight to this end of days scenario invented by men in fulfillment of the final combat myth, pushing the stakes to ultimate anihilation.
It is in the name of this holy war that the situations in the Balkans, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Israel and more widely in the Middle East have continued to simmer and which fundamentalist terrorism of all types continues to foment.
The myths of final combat and of male combat permeate the violence of the televised media. Violence is accepted as a sort of emotional aphrodisiac, a 'cathartic', based partly on adrelalin habituation and partly on the riveting attention death and the fear of impending death possesses. This purveying of the culture of violence and final war of the good against the malign is an integral part of patriarchal dominion.
This existential dilemma is a product of culture driven purely by profit rather than wisdom. To say that the media is violent and abets a patriarchal materialistic culture of exploitation of women is not a question of censorship, but of true love. It is not a question of forbidding, but of positive encouragement to dwell on the vision of survival and flowering rather than the culture of violence, the fear and pleasure of violence and sexual exploitation, simply because it makes a quick buck come quicker in the male stereotype of venture exploitation. We need to take a new ethical initiative in terms of Western society and the media, not to encourage a big brother moral majority, but to refertilize wisdom and the ongoing flowering of life rather than meaningles violence, sexual bravado, blood-splattered anihilation, conflict and exploitation in a meaningless world of selfish advantage.
Only by reconciling this war of dark and light and healing it once and for all in all patriarchal traditions can we have any hope of living in a sustainable living world. In this lies the restoration of the other fogotten tree, concealed since the foundation of the world in the Fall. It is through the unifying reconciliation of the Tree of Life that holiness returns and the myth of combat is healed in world peace and the flowering of the Earth in visionary evolution.
This is the spirit of Sakina, the Shekhinah and of Sophia - matrimonial concord. Holy Matrimony is a condition in which the feminine strategy of long-term reproductive investment is manifest in a susatinable just society transformaing patriarchal dominion and winner-take-all greed. Holy matrimony is the completion of the cosmic fabric of complementarity between Kingdom and Garden - embodied mind - unfolding the living heritage in divine reunion.
The Second Law, Quantum Complementarity and Armageddon
One important observation about male combat myth is that it is an extension of sociobiology into cosmology or theology. God versus the devil are two males in combat. The natural condition of male competition is thus blown into a fundamental confrontation between opposites - good and evil - dark and light. Now the difficulty with this approach is that these opposites and indeed all forms of evil result ultimately from the second law of thermodynamics - the disruptive influence of entropy. But the evolutionary condition and biodiversity itself is a complex system close to the edge of chaos. Chaos is thus necessary to the transformationof order and indeed an increasing entropy universe is essential to the existence of life as an island of negentropy. It is only through mutation that we came to be human.
We thus have to again accept the law of complementarity. We can't treat the second law as evil, so neither can we disease nor misfortune. The idea that there is an evil force in opposition to God is the fallacy of opposition arising from male combat. Healing this is holy matrimony - the 'other' is made 'self' in complementary relationship.
This requires completely reconceiving the nature of evil. The original Zoroastrian idea was of ignorance or confusion as darkness, rather than a directed evil force. It requires thinking even of criminality in new ways, because criminality is to law and society as parasite and predator. Healing this natural condition requires removing the conditions of corruption that abet violence. One of the motivating factors for criminality is injustice and inequity. In a truly compassionate society there is far less room for exploitation. In a free society there is little room for oppression. Likewise open, trusting, honest relations in freedom minimise jealously and strife.
The idea that we have original virtue is central to this perspective. Although genetic organisms act to conserve and replicate their genetic identities, the evolution of the mammalian emotional limbic system has set the stage for what amounts to the evolution of love. Although we further our own personal and family interests, we have evolved to be emotionally responsive in a way which gives us all an evolutionary advantage through constructive social cooperation.
Evolutionary game theorists have drawn attantion to the need to realistically picture the evolutionary game theory stability of any strategy and drawn up contests of evolutionary game strategies to test questions of altruism and survival in an environment of cooperators and defectors. Many of these games bear very directly on the central moral teachings of Judaism and Jesus. A very effective game strategy is tit-for-tat. This manifests in positive and negative forms "an eye for and eye" and "do unto others as you would they should do unto you", or as Hillel said before Jesus "Do not do unto others as you would they should not do unto you".
For a time tit-for-tat was extolled as an evolutionarily stable strategy, but it is prone to wasteful internecine strife and can result in costly vendettas. So there are strategies which are more compassionate but don't go so far as saying if you slap me I will always turn my cheek. For example firm-but-fair makes sorties out of tit-for-tat loops to see if cooperation might be insightful to the 'opponent'. This is taking us to territroy right in the grey area between Jesus frank "love you enemies even to the point of martyrdom" and Leviticus' "love your neighbour as yourself".
On the other side there is the question of altruism and selective advantage. Because we share our genes sexually, most species display forms of kin altruism in which for example crocodiles will carefully protect their offspring in their mouths. Obviously if our offspring contains half our genes, our genes' survival are furthered by making a 50% investment in each of your offspring of that in one's own survival. The same argument applies to our siblings. This leads to the expression of kin altruism. Many social animals also enter into forms of reciprocal altruism in which favours are traded and protection received of a reciprocal nature which furthers both parties.
This of course leaves us with a heritage which at face value falls short of the universal love expressed in the notion of divine union. It abets a society where unrelated competing individuals may take the expedient route and try to do away with their competitors, or take advantage of them in hard-nosed competition. It does not immediately lead to humanitarian compassion for the 'other' in plight. However humanity has also evolved in ways which promote a resolution of this social dilemma. Much of human social evolution has been to do with learning when people in our immediate personal lives are trustworthy and distinguishing deceit from sincerity. We are also endowed with a strong urge for meaning and a place in life and for partnership. We are emotional and are wedded by the forces of sexual and filial love.
The idea of preserving and disseminating our genes is central to the passage of life down the generations to where we exist at this moment. Genes are replicated in a feedback loop of amplification which can become a self-directed and hence selfish process. This has led to the myth of the selfish gene and by extrapolation the selfish genome. There are a wealth of examples of selfish genes from sexual killer genes to vagrant transposons, but there are also pivotal examples of genetic symbiosis such as occur in every cell in our bodies in the form of the mitochondria by which we respire. Genomes are generally a set of genes in mutual symbiosis, with a few transposable parasites, unless cancer sets in.
It is true that some people with mutant serotonin or other genes can display genetic abnormalities of a psychopathic nature that give vent to the myth of original sin. This raises the question as to whether we are constitutionally as genetic beings tainted with an original sin coming from genetic selfishness.
However mammals have evolved a new evolutionary response to the question of genetic altruism through the limbic emotional brain. By endowing us with emotions it has become possible for us to respond with an emotional kinship which is far more subtle than instinctual genetic responses. We can respond fully to oneanother as devoted friends, not just because we further direct reciprocal altruism but because the emotional landscape of friendship is a type of resource made possible by emotional bonding, which is a win-win situation for survival and for coexistence.
Although mammals do display shocking behaviour such as a cat playing with a mouse, these generally have a survival explanation for example in maintaining good hunting prowess and motivation that they do not constitute the evil of tooth and claw, but life attuned to the hunt.
The limbic system is capable of experiencing all the states of emotion from the heaven of divine ecstasy to the hell of mortal doom. Within this magnificent and terrifying spectrum lie all the colours of emotion from true love, throught heated infatuation, jealousy, and guilt to anger and hate. We have thus been fully-equipped to experience the entire ecosystemic condition incarnate as cosmic crisis. Within this prospect is a magical thing. We have evolved to be capable of universal love through wisdom, through the co-evolution of the limbic system and neocortex. Through our wisdom we can heal the human condition to make the human passage of incarnation a loving and sacred experience of minimal pain and maximal fulfillment. This does not require moral conditioning and the rule of law and punishment to achieve, but simply an appreciation for the positive power of love as a process by which we have come to be able to experience the universe from a cosmic perspective incarnate and a sense of cosmic responsibility for our incarnation. The universe has evolved to make us capable of love, destined to love even. This love is not locked in endless battle with hate, it is the win-win healing of hate.
The transition to love is however an act of choice for each of us. We are all capable of selfishness and calculated unfeeling expedience. This is the evil within that the Gospel of Philip points out we need to root out in ourselves so that we can fulfill the cosmic unfolding of love incarnate. This is the true sense in which God is love. The evil within is not a positive force of the devil, but that which we know we have the free choice not to exercise - our powers of selfish or unfeeling exploitation or pleasure at the expense of others, which can, if unchecked, become diabolical. The universe has evolved so that we have the free will to love and are genetically-endowed to love as an intimate part of the fabric of the continuity of life.
Human love is multidimensional. We start with falling in love and continue with sexual infatuation to partnership and for many of us, the fulfillment of sexual love in reproduction.
Stay me with apples, for I am sick with love.
These then elaborate down and across the generations in love between parent and child and filial familial love. Sexual love is however more than just reproduction for it is a powerful force of social bonding in humans and not just a programmed reproductive cycle. It is also the himalaya of spiritual physical love in Tantric kundalini the rite of Yab-Yum. Sexuality and socalization are intermingled and society revolves around the power of sexual love both in song and human drama, from comedy through passion to tragedy. It is also the source of patriarchal religious edict, violent oppression and reprobation because of the very nature of the force it is.
Sexuality itself is a physical not necessarily a loving act, as rape and even prostitution confirm, but in sexual love is the complete expression of the complementation of two beings in the immortal continuity of life - this is thus a union of psychic and physical love. The sacred marriage as a complement is also in a deeper sense reconciliation of the complements.
However filial love is a deep spiritual virtue contained in the natural mammalian endowment of the limbic system in human form. Although not all people are moved to tears, many are when faced with emotional situations of life, death separation and reconciliation which betray a deep will to love dwelling in the human psyche. Joseph wept in secret when his brothers came even as he sorely tested them. Jesus wept. People literally weep for love! People are also moved to compassion witnessing the plight of others and some live to serve the greater good as their fulfilment in life. Although the psyche can show great egotism, when the barriers of love come down, we finally become one. Through an unswerving faith to one another, borne of ice and fire, out of free choice in the transaction of love, we all gain our place in the completion of existence. This is filial love at its highest - total love for all humanity and for life in all its forms.
Filial love, like sexual love is true. True to form. Straight as a die. True love is a natural condition of incarnation. True love is accurate, faithful and tough. It is also unswerving of intent. This is the turning the other cheek part. Love to be a source of Truth has to come from the source as giving. It is true love for our enemies too, even though they may seek to harm us. However, turning the other cheek is to heal in peace through true and astute love - firm but fair and compassionate.
Love drives even deeper to a deep soul love for all incarnated beings simply for the mortal tragedy of their eixstence as birds of fire on the endless journey of incarnation. This is also the love of the mystic. The heights of epiphany or samadhi are incomplete without the exhaltation of divine love pouring as a cataract of light, as a flame of joy, through our very being, convulsed by the power, gentily, grace and peace of the divine condition and the utter compassion showed by the universe to all incarnate beings. This is also a journey of infinite sadness for mortality but reconciliation and reunion in at-one-ment for all of us - the homecoming. The mystery of mysteries is that we have evolved into this condition.
Key to this is a cosmic change of perspective. The only living strategy with any real future is to participate in the flowering of evolutionary culture, while experiencing incarnation to the full. We are then fully part of the fabric. This condition of prophetic love is the only mental condition with an immortal future so long as life shall continue. It comes from coming to terms with our cosmic responsibility for our actions as co-creators of the living planet's genetic and conscious future.
Jesus has a reputation as one of the most famous miracle workers in history. Joseph Klausner notes; "Only where mystic faith is yoked with practical prudence does there follow a strong enduring result. And of such a nature was the influence upon his followers" (Klausner 411). In this he was following a tradition of the nabi, the mouthpieces of god among whom the prophets were numbered, and the hasidim or 'devout ones'. This reputation was a necessary manifestation for a person emulating the tradition of Moses and Elisha. However despite their miracles with serpents and flaming offerings for the rain, their cures were only a leper or two (Numbers 12:13, 2 Kings 5:1-4) (Wilson I 99). However Elisha did raise the dead (2 Kings 4:34) and also made the sighted blind (2 Kings 6:18) and cursed to death by a she-bear small boys who mocked his baldness (2 Kings 2:14). Jesus by comparison was a white thaumaturge. One should note that Bar Kochba was later also anointed messiah but there is no evidence he pretended to any miracle apart for the vain one of winning against Rome.
The anticipation of healing miracle is heralded in the prophecy of Isaiah 35:5 "The eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf man unstopped." One can thus expect the Messiah to adopt the practice of the theraputae.
Josephus refers to Jesus' miracles as 'paradoxical deeds'. This perhaps gets to the core of the issue miracles represent. Both the Christian Acts and the Jewish commentray acknowledges Jesus in terms of his miracles, but for very different reasons: Acts 2:22 "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know." The Mishnath "On the Eve of the Passover they hanged Yeshu[a] - because he practised sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray" (Wilson I 62). Crossan (304) points out that the distinction between sorcery and miracle is purely one of social and religious status.
However the evidence for Jesus' miracles is by no means as secure as his sayings in terms of consistent attestation and idiom. There is no reference to them in the Pauline letters. Paul seems even to deny that Jesus worked any miracles (Wilson I 51). It is also clear that the miraculous deeds border on the mythical and that there are obvious motives for gospel writers to attest the divinity of Christ by elevating his miracles to a significance which makes his claims equal to those of other mythical miracle workers.
Crossan (311) has suggested that the miracle stories have become elaborated from a simple five-fold set corresponding to a water miracle, bread breaking and healings including exorcism and raising.
Jesus' miracles also fall into a tradition which was followed by other hasidim . Onias, or Honi the 'circle drawer' was said to have brought torrential rains after being called on to pray during a drought and closing himself in a circle until God obliged. He was later stoned at the Temple in 65 BC for not cursing Aristobalus, when John Hyrcanus beseiged him. A generation after Jesus, Hanina ben Dosa was similarly renowned with a variety of healing miracles, including curing from a distance and mastering the daughter of the queen of demons. "When Hanima ben Dosa died, men of good deeds ceased" Mishnath (Crossan 142-152, Wilson I 83, 108).
Fig 10.1: Woman with the issue of blood touching Chist's hem 3rd Cent Cemetry SS Peter and Marccellinus (Wilson I 100).
Long before Jesus, Aesclepius was a healer hero who may have lived around 1200 BC, but became deified as the God of medicine, carrying Hermes' caduceus which is still the symbol of the medical profession today. Cures involved rest, exercise, diet (including herbals) and magic. Hippocrates (d c 370 BC), father of the Hipocratic oath of medical ethics, and of careful medical practice, came from an Asclepiad family on Kos, one of 500 cultic and healing centres of the god, which became pilgrimage centres like Lourdes is today. Jesus' account of the woman with an issue of blood (Mark 5:25, Matt 9:20, Luke 8:43) has an echo in Aesclepius. A statue presumably of this hero was in Caesaria-Phillipi, complete with a woman kneeling before him with an herb growing to the hem of his cloak, indicative of herbal rather than faith healing. An early Christian tradition of Eusebius Bishop of Caesarea (d339) attached the woman also to Ceasarea and claimed she had erected the statue in Jesus' honour (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 86, Wilson I 100).
Suetonius tells us that in a book by Aesclepius of Mendes, Augustus' mother Atia attended a midnight service of Apollo when a serpent glided up, entered her and glided away again, leaving a serpentine mark which made her ashamed to visit the public baths. She dreamed her intestines were carried up to heaven and overhung the lands and sea. Her husband dreamed the sun rose from between her thighs. The inauguration of Augustus was likewise marked by the passage of a comet (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 24-25). The rumour of a son of god becoming emperor had caused a previous Senate to pass an edict against such a possibility. Augustus was later deified as Son of God (Divi Filius) by the Senate. A 7 BC inscription hails him as "Caesar who reigns over the seas and continents, Jupiter, who holds from Jupiter his father the title of Liberator, Master of Europe and Asia, Star of all Greece, who lifts himself up with the glory of great Jupiter, Saviour.' (Schonfield 199).
Tacitus notes that Vespasian, when entreatied to cure a blind man with his spittle and a man with a withered hand by stepping upon his hand, in honour of Serapis at Alexandria did so after some prevarication, was assured that the event might presage the divine will and that if he succeeded it would bring glory but if he failed, the ridicule would be upon the supplicants. The hand was instantly restored to use and the day shone again for the blind man.
Later, the kings of France would similarly touch the sick, particularly of scrofula (tuberculosis of the lymph glands, or the 'king's evil'), with the cry "May God heal you, the King touches you". Louis XIV touched 2400 in a single day.
Fig 10.2: Shamanic serpent healing (Shaman's Drum 43)
Shamanic healing has been a global practice of virutally every society from the earliest beginnings of human culture. It is by no means unique to Jesus and the theraputae. One aspect of Shamanic healing should be mentioned. Often it does not seek to find the logical cause of the illness, but rather why this person happened to become ill at this particular time. It thus always remains complementary to conventional medicine, looking for the synchronicity rather than the causality. Often the sources are found in bewitchment or the casting of evil spells, just as Jesus' cures were generally associated with exorcising demons. As later belief systems came to centre around established religions, these universal practices became absorbed into the area of faith healing. Just as the pool at Bethsaida was believed to produce good cures before Jesus arrived, so Lourdes today is believed.
Two important points emerge from all these accounts. Firstly it is the patient's expectations, rather than the power of the healer which is the pivotal factor. Crowds didn't stream towards Jesus because he healed many people; rather, because crowds streamed towards him, he healed many people. Secondly peoples expectations are focussed on rulers and other eminent or charismatic personalities. Tacitus observes, a failed cure is not blamed on the thaumaturge; the cause is in all cases sought in the sick person. In the case of Jesus, it is peoples' lack of faith (Mark 9:17) (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 84-5).
Apollonius of Tyana illustrates raising from the dead. He meets the funeral bier of a bride, followed by the grieving bridegroom and the mourners and resurrects the dead woman (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 91). "Let them that bear the bier lay it down, for behold I will stay the tears that are shed for the maiden". He touched her and said some words in secret, so that at once she awakened from what had seemed death, and returned to her father's house. Apollonius is also recorded curing a devil afflicting the son of a woman by writing the devil a threatening letter, of curing a blind man and a man with a withered hand. Hierocles had remarked that Apollonius compared favourably with Jesus because his miraculous accounts were from first-hand intelligent and reliable observers (Graves and Podro 40-1). Apollonius also ascended to heaven in front of witnesses (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 144).
David Friedrich Strauss's Life of Jesus (1835) which earned him an official ban against any career in the Church or academy notes it is a "false premise that the narrator who is more detailed and vivid is the more exact reporter, the eyewitness" (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 92). This is an important theme which we will see is somewhat devastating in its truth in many places. It is exemplified by Matthew's richly allegorical fantasies of angels, and of the dead rising in the crucifixion.
Although rationalist theologians have tended to ignore the miracles as unsubstantiable, however they appear to originate from the earliest traditions, and are told straightforwardly as if they are reported traditions.
The miracles fall into several distinct types which should be understood to be quite different. The first are the acts of healing and exorcism of demons. These two are both central to Jesus' popularity and credibility as one of the theraputae. They are common practices of shamanic healing the world over and stand as a central aspect of Jesus' style and character. The healing miracles should be sharply distinguished from the more incredible nature miracles.
We then have prophetic or ritual 'miracles' such as feeding the five thousand, which look more like an allegorical way of talking about a great teaching, which was in fact, one of the first communion services. They are expounded in symbolic manner, indicating ritual significance for example in the number of baskets.
The third category consist of nature miracles - apparent acts of shamanic power, some of which defy explanation, such as walking on water. Most of the miracles in this category, including Cana, as well as some of the major healing ones such as Lazarus and the woman with the issue of blood appear to be statements of Jesus' powers designed to emulate other known figures in the surrounding cultural landscape. Command of the ocean's chaos was a characteristic both of Ba'al and of Yahweh as gods of order, the water-into-wine of Cana is the central mystery of the miraculous god Dionysus, celebrated on the very day of his festival, and the woman with the issue of blood is a statement of healing to rival Aesclepius, portraying his own statue. All these were cultural figures impinging quite closely on the spiritual life of Palestine, and a response to them was necessary for Christianity to claim their adherents.
Barbara Theiring has an Essene interpretation which deserves consideration. The water and wine are the first baptism and completion of the apprenticeship. By turning water into wine, Jesus is thus metaphorically short-circuiting the process in one gnostic awakening at the feast. Where Mary and by implication Janes and the brothers fit into this Essene gnosticism is a further intriguing question.
Jesus' healing miracles are central to his entire mission. This could not be summed up more accurately than in his conversation with John's dicsciples: Luke 7:22 "the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached." These are all healing feats, not nature miracles.
Noah is the Hebrew Dionysian ancestor of the great flood, who suffered the fate of castration at the hands of his son of Canaan: Gen 9:20 "And Noah began to be an husbandman and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, . And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him."
Jesus, who claimed to be the vine itself, suffered a simlar fate at the hands of the Idumean Herod: John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman." Luke 23:11 "And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate."
The desert in which John the Baptist preached and baptised lay on the border with Edom, the Nabataean kingdom, devoted husbandmen, whose god Duchares the "Lord of the Winepress" of Isaiah 63, was a form of Dionysus.
The earliest and most ancient invocation to Jesus in Christianity is believed to be "Jesus is Lord", and more specifically "Come Lord Jesus." (Spong 1994 144)
In Elis a dancing chorus of women invoked the god with the words: "Come, Lord Dionysus." He is described as "the god who comes, the god of epiphany, whose appearance is far more urgent, far more compelling than that of any other god." (Otto).
There are many, many aspects of the enigma of Jesus, from his epiphany on the Day of the festival of Dionysus, through the "true vine", the Eucharist, his virgin birth from a mortal mother and a transcendental father, his sudden coming and the violence of his death in a tragic passion drama, just as Dionysus was torn to pieces and was the progenitor of Greek tragedy, his magical nature, his band of supporting women, his destiny to be the ruler of the world as the son of the father God, and last but not least the presence of Duchares a form of Dionysus as the God of Edom, which attest to a secret tradition or inner mythology of Dionysus in Jesus.
The winnowing fan is characteristic of both Tammuz and Dionysus the dying gods of bread and wine who are combined in the two substances of the eucharist. Luke 3:16 "John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable."
Fig 12.2: The Miracle at Cana (Wilson I).
John 2:1 "And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him."
The Epiphany is a feast of the Christian calender celebrated on January 6. The word comes from the Greek and means "manifestation," "appearance," or "revelation." The observance originated in the Eastern church, and at first celebrated the total revelation of God in Christ. Later it focused upon two events of Jesus' ministry, his baptism (Mark 1:9-11) and the changing of the water into wine at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-12). Interestingly, a similar festival of Dionysus, the wine god, was kept on this day in the Aegean Islands and Anatolia. When the observance of January 6 spread to the West, it became associated with the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12), an event that in the West originally formed part of the Christmas observance (Grollier).
The date the Church celebrates the feast of the miracle of Cana is 6 January, the feast of the Epiphany. Epiphania means "appearance" in Greek and refers to the revelation of the Lord's power. In pagan antiquity 6 January was the day celebrating the revelation of a different divine power and wine miracles performed by a different god: It was the feast of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine: In fact the motif of the story, the transformation of water into wine, is a typical motif of the Dionysus legend, in which this miracle serves to highlight the god's epiphany. And hence it is timed to coincide with the date of the feast of Dionysus, from January 5 th to 6 th. In the ancient Church this affinity was still understood, when . the 6 th of January was taken to be the day that the marriage feast was celebrated at Cana. . Plainly put, in the legend of the marriage at Cana Jesus reveals his divine power in the same way that stories had told of the Greek god Dionysus (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 81).
The 6th of January became for Christians the feast of the power revelation (epiphany) of their God, thereby displacing the feast of Dionysus's epiphany. As Bultmann says, "No doubt the story [of the marriage feast at Cana] has been borrowed from pagan legends and transferred to Jesus". On his feast day, Dionysus made empty jars fill up with wine in his temple in Elis; and on the island of Andros, wine flowed instead of water from a spring or in his temple. Accordingly, the true miracle of the marriage feast at Cana would not be the transformation by Jesus of water into wine, but the transformation of Jesus into a sort of Christian wine god (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 81). In fact the 'water into wine' is also stated to be one of the first of the many bizarre miracles of Dionysus (Briffault 3 130).
John took the miracle of the wine from a collection of Jesus' miracle stories. . The first one was the wine miracle and is also registered as such in John (2:11: "This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee"). The second miracle in the collection is the cure of the son of the official in Capernaum, and it is likewise labeled in John as number two (4:54: "This was now the second sign that Jesus did").
The Parable of new wine of the sacrificial bridegroom: Mark 2:18 "And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles."
The parable of the vinyard owner: Mark 12:1 Thomas 65: "A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be our's. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others."
Q : Luke 7:31, Matt 11:16, [Thomas 47]: "And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children."
This Nazirite or possibly Essene position of John regarding wine is healded in his birth Luke 1:15 "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." The contrasts declared by Jesus from John's teaching show such considerations do not apply to Jesus.
Thomas 13: Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like." Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a righteous angel." Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher." Thomas said to him, "Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like." Jesus said, "I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out." And he took him and withdrew and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?" Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the things I which he told me, you will pick up stones and I throw them at me; a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up."
Thomas 28: Jesus said, "I took my place in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them intoxicated; found none of them thirsty. And my soul became afflicted for the sons of men, because they are blind in their hearts and do not have sight; for empty they came into the world, and empty too they seek to leave the world. But for the moment they are intoxicated. When they shake off their wine, then they will repent."
Thomas 40: Jesus said, "A grapevine has been planted outside of the father, but being unsound, it will be pulled up by its roots and destroyed. "
Like many other Gods including Ba'al of Canaan, Yahweh smoothed the troubled waters of chaos. However Dionysus is specifically a god of the sea, who miraculously turned pirates into dolphins. Jesus is likewise the fisher of men who not only calms the troubled waters but even walks upon them:
Mark 4:37 "And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." A similar story is told about Jewish boy in the Talmus (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 95).
Mark 6:48 "And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out."
It is notable that the latter event came just after the episode of feeding the five thousand: 6:41 "And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men."
This event can be seen as a massive eucharist of breaking small portions of bread and feeding the flock with good tidings of the Kingdom of God. However, as Spong (1994 195) notes, the link between the loaves, and fishes and walking on the water also falls in the shadow of second Isaiah 51:10 Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over? Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; . The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail. But I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The Lord of hosts is his name." This reference can be considered in relation to the Dionysian references of Isaiah 63.
Fig 12.3: The Last Supper - Leonardo da Vinci
The passover meals in the synoptics and John differ. According to the synoptics , just before his death Jesus celebrated the passover seder with his disciples, and during the meal he instituted the Eucharist. The latter on the one hand belongs to the tradition of the seder, but on the other, as the meal of the "new covenant," is meant to replace the Passover meal of the "old covenant." The Passover meal is seen by the Synoptics as it already had been in Paul very early. Jesus gives himself, his flesh and blood, as a meal:
1 Corinthians 11:23 "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me." The apocalyptic purpose of the eucharist is then revealed "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."
Of course body in this sense is soma.
John Spong (1994 204) notes the four key ritual stages: took, blessed (gave thanks), broke and gave, which are repeated in all but John where he merely took and gave.
The Last Supper: Mark 14:22 "And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
According to John, on the other hand, Jesus never spoke the words instituting the Eucharist before his death. Rather, Jesus himself is the slaughtered paschal lamb. Jesus could not celebrate the Passover seder as the Last Supper, because by that time he was already dead.
Although the Last Supper in John is a pre-Passover non-Eucharist meal, the Jesus is nevertheless the 'bread of heaven' as a greater mana and the 'true vine' and exhorts in the Synagoge of Capernaum to eat his flesh and drink his blood: John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
Fig 12.4: The Eucharist 2nd century fresco Priscilla catacomb (Wilson I).
John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me."
The bread and wine are also blessed in the Jewish Passover, but this is a family affair, wheras the Christian Communion in the tradition of the Last Supper had only men, like the sacred repasts of the Essene new covenant.
Passover is an ancient Jewish feast, but its origins are unknown. It was one of the three greatest Jewish festivals, the so-called pilgrimage festivals, namely, Passover, Shavuoth (Pentecost, fifty days after Passover), and Succoth, the feast of Tabernacles (first half of October). Passover was celebrated among the Jews in memory of their divine rescue during the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12). God spared every house whose doorposts were marked with the blood of a lamb. In all other houses he killed the first-born, both of humans and of animals . Thus blood protected man and beast from being killed. Blood has a redemptive effect. Christianity presses this macabre thought to its macabre limit with the theological interpretation of Jesus' death.
The Jewish Kiddush blessing at the Sabbath, or the eve of a major festival, has close and obvious correspondence to the blessing of the Eucharist:
Passover was celebrated on the 14th and 15th of Nisan, the month when spring began. The months began with the new moon. The first day after the evening when, following the new moon, a bit of the crescent moon was visible once again was the first day of the month. Thus Passover was always celebrated under a full moon. . The Jewish day began, not as it does with us, at midnight, but in the evening, at dusk. The new day was there when the first stars could be seen. This new day was said to have "shone forth." Hence, Passover, too, lasted from evening to evening. By our system of reckoning, which measures days from midnight to midnight, the Passover meal took place on the "eve" of Passover.
Damascus Rule: "Whenever as many as ten shall gather together for a banquet, they shall take their seats in order of precedence, nd the priest and the messiah shall preside. The company may not touch the bread and the wine till the priest has blessed them and taken some - after which the Messiah first takes some, then the others in order of rank."
Luke 22:24 "And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth."
Bultmann assumes that the primitive Christian "meals weren't really cultic celebrations, but an expression and bond of fellowship in the sense of Jewish tradition and the historical Jesus himself. They were transformed into sacramental celebrations by Hellenistic Christianity"(Theologie des Neuen Testament 1951, P. 149). This of course is represented by some researchers as sourcing from the Pauline heresy. However it is only a small movement of position from the celebration of the expected return of the Lord with bread and wine to a full-blooded Dionysian feast - of the flesh and blood of the resurrecting redeemer. John has many quite Essene sayings in his vision of light and dark and still we find this carnivorous motif.
Fig 12.5: The Last Supper - Church of the Nativity Bethlehem (Phaidon)
The Didache or Doctrine of the Two Ways was initially an early Christian text, but reflects strongly the Manual of Discipline. You have the baptism . and you have the sacred repast, which involves broken bread and a cup of wine: "We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the Holy Vine of David thy child . and concerning the broken bread: We give thee thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy child" (Didache, IX, LLC, The Apostolic Fathers, P. 323). The Christian atonement is missing here and although attributed to Jesus may thus have arisen later. Also known as the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, this work was composed in the first half of the 2nd century. The Didache makes no reference to the death of Jesus and has no notion of a divine, sacramental food.
The Ebionites (deserving poor) an ancient Jewish Christian sect closely associated with Jesus' brother James who was the first bishop of Jerusalem interpreted the Eucharist as a memorial of Jesus, substituting a chalice of water for the chalice of blood. They did not view Jesus' death as a bloody act of atonement. Irenaeus observed that in denying the virgin birth - the power of the most high "they deny the heavenly wine and wish to know nought but the water of this world" (Ranke-Heinemann 1992 173, Wilson I 154, Grollier). The Ebionites followed the Elchasaite vision of the Christ as the recurrent 'secret Adam' a supernatural figure which embued Jesus at his baptism (adoptionist) and left him at the crucifixion.
The adherents of Mithraism gathered at cultic meals, which so closely resembled the Christian Eucharist that Justin (d. ca. 165), for example, considered them a diabolical imitation: "The Apostles in their memoirs, which are called Gospels, have handed down what Jesus taught them to do; that He took bread and, after giving thanks, said: 'Do this in remembrance of Me; this is my body.' In like manner, he took also the chalice, gave thanks, and said: 'This is my blood'; . The evil demons, in imitation of this, ordered the same thing to be performed in the Mythraic mysteries" (1 Apology 66). Tertullian (d. after 220) found it diabolical that the followers of Mithra "at the idolatrous goings-on and in so malicious a fashion put into words even the actions by which the sacraments of Christ are performed" (De praescriptione haereticorum 40). The followers of Mithra were in no way imitating the Christian Eucharist; it was the other way around (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 273).
Jesus was called the Sun of Righteousness, the Light to the gentiles. Dionysus is the dark side of the sun, opposite Apollo at Delphi, the tragic aspect of Jesus' passion. Mark 15:33 "And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour." This apparent quotation of a solar eclipse is mythical because passover is on the full moon.
Jesus identification with Mithra including his birth date being attached to the Julian winter solstice is further indication of his link with the sun.
"The people say the sun dances on this day [Easter morning] in joy for a risen Saviour. Old Barbara Macphie at Dreimsdale saw this once, but only once, in her long life. And the good woman, of high natural intelligence, described in poetic language and with religious fervour what she saw or believed she saw from the summit of Benmore: 'The glorious gold- bright sun was after rising on the crests of the great hills, and it was changing colour - green, purple, red, blood-red, white, intense white, and gold-white, like the glory of God of the elements to the children of men. It was dancing up and down in exultation at the joyous resurrection of the beloved Saviour of victory.' To be thus privileged, a person must ascend to the top of the highest hill before sunrise, and believe that the God who makes the small blade of grass to grow is the same God who makes the large, massive sun to move" (Carmichael, Alexander "Carmina Gadelica", Floris 1994)
John Spong (1994 198-209) notes that the sacred meal is not just a ritual instituted by the living Jesus but is also the central motif in the manifestation of the resurrected Christ in which "their eyes were opened" just as did Adam and Eve when they ate the forbidden fruit: Luke 24:30 "And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. . And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, . And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread."
Luke also conveys the sacred meal as a central motif in the coming Kingdom: 22:28 "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom".
Spong comments as follows (1994 205): "Luke was saying, it seems to me that eating and drinking at the Lord's table was part of what it meant to be in the Kingdom of God. That in turn seems to suggest that in the act of eating and drinking in the name of the Lord, here and now, we are sharing a foretaste of that kingdom. Perhaps in such a setting our eyes might well "be opened" to behold the one ."
The epilogue to John likewise shows Jesus revealed by sharing the sacred meal: 21:12 "Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead." Spong (1992suggests the siting of htis event in Galilee is consistent with his mission and manifestation being primarily there.
In Acts likewise, the link between the sacrifice of the accursed and experiencing the resurrected Christ through eating and drinking the sacred substance with the redeemer is the central key : 10:39 "And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead."
In Acts 9:5 we find a remark that Jesus is supposed to have made to Paul as he lay on the ground: "It hurts you to kick against the pricks". This is a quotation from The Bacchae by Euripides (d. 406 B.C.). It's no surprise to find a quotation from ancient literature; the only peculiar thing is that Jesus should quote a Greek proverb to Paul while speaking Aramaic ("in the Hebrew language"). But the really strange thing is that with both Jesus and Euripides we have the same "familiar quotation" and the same situation. In both cases we have a conversation between a persecuted god and his persecutor. In Euripides, the persecuted god is Dionysus, and his persecutor is Pentheus, king of Thebes. Just like Jesus, Dionysus calls his persecutor to account: "You disregard my words of warning . and kick against necessity [literally'against the goads'] a man defying god". . Jesus even uses the same plural form of the noun (kentra) that Euripides needs for the meter of his line (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 163).
In 1 Corinthians 15:8 Paul once again speaks of his encounter with the risen Christ. This passage is usually translated as, "Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. . He means that something happened in which the presence of the Revealer was experienced existentially. This experience means more than an "appearance," more than a miraculous seeing and hearing. There is no way to define such perception and knowledge, which transcend every element of the senses, which embrace all of existence. But it's certain that such an encounter with Jesus, as Paul describes it, has nothing in common with the Damascus Show in Acts. In Galatians 1:15 Paul describes the moment with the words "when he . was pleased to reveal his Son to me".
The Acts of the apostles were mighty . when they prayed, there was an earthquake (4:31). When necessary, it could quake again, so as to free them from their chains and open their prison doors: "But around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's fetters were unfastened" (16:25-26). The scene continues as in The Bacchae (which Jesus had already quoted on the occasion of Paul's conversion). Euripides writes of the maenads who were being kept in the city's prison: "The chains on their legs snapped apart / by themselves. Untouched by any human hand, / the doors swung wide, opening of their own accord" (Euripides, The Bacchae, in Euripides V, 11. 447-48; p. 192; cf 11. 497-98).(Ranke-Heinmann 1992 169).
The Dialogue of the Saviour conveys an image of the destruction of womanhood clearly echoing the birth of Dionysus in the destruction of Semele by Zeus' bolt of lightning, revealing himself to her as he did to Hera: Matthew said: "Destroy the works of womanhood" . The Lord said ."Now a true word is coming forth from the Father [to the abyss] in silence with a [flash of lightning] giving birth]
The key reference to the second coming, in which Christ appears in glory is Revelation 19:11-16 where 'I saw heaven opened . he was clothed in a vesture dipped in blood . out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword . he treadeth the winepress'. This reference is derived from a passage of Isaiah 63:1-4 'Who is this that cometh from Edom that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? . I have trodden the winepress alone . their blood shall be scattered on my garments . and the year of my redeemed has come'.
Both of these references are exclusively Dionysian in character, both in the winepress and the blood of vengeance of the redeemer as we shall see. The reference to Edom also indicates a specific knowledge of the Nabatean Duchares, God of Gaia who was a form of Dionysus.
The territory of the desert round Machaerus where John baptised and was imprisoned is right on the border with Edom. Herod was of Idumean descent. John appears to have been sacrificed as a surrogate king for Herod at a feast after challenging his marriage to Herodias. The cast-off wife was the daughter of King Aretas IV of Edom.
The Talmudicum refers to Jeshu-ha-Notzri [Jesus of Nazareth] by mention of the wicked kingdom of Edom, since that was his nation . he was hanged on a Passover Eve. Likewise the Qur'an refers to Jesus as Isa after Esau the red man of Edom. It thus appears that both the Jews and the Arabs recognised the Edomite character of Jesus' mission in a way not understood by Christians themselves.
Fig 12.9: The Blood of the Redeemer Giovanni Belinni (Hendy 55).
In the Stabat Mater hymn to Mary it says: "Make me drunk with the cross and blood of your son" The Bishop of Aachen comments: "Upon meeting the first person in the morning, I see the Blood of the Redeemer flowing down on him, and I'll know then that we are the redeemed" (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 274-5).
Saint Catherine of Siena (d. 1380) often had visions of blood when the priest raised the chalice during mass. She would see Christ's blood spilling over the altar. Of all drinks she preferred red vinegar, because it reminded her "of the blissfull suffering of Jesus. ' When the host was broken before her eyes, she saw it turn blood red. Upon taking communion she tasted blood in her mouth and had the sense "of receiving Christ, very small and bloody." For Catherine, the wine in the Eucharist was more important than the bread, because it expressed better the sacrificing of a victim. For this reason she always wanted to drink from the chalice at mass.
Although revulsion at the head of Zeus in the Temple of Jerusalem was a cause of the Maccabean uprising, Yahweh shares an affinity with Jove viz Zeus as an ancient weather god of the thunderbolt which is more ancient than identification with any planet. Such an affinity in the minds of the common people in folk festivals continued to underly the new view of Yahweh brought back from the exile. Jerusalem, Absalom and Solomon share a root, common to the Near East from Danaan Greece and Crete (Salmoneus) through the Phoenicians (Selim) to the Assyrians (Salman), which is usually associated with peace - shalom, just as does Aphrodite's dove, appears to represent the sacred king Salmah as the seasonal sun (Graves 1948 332).The Greeks consistently described the rites and worship of the Jewish god as forms of the worship of Zeus Sabazius or Dionysius as the ancient barley god in the Passover and Dionysus Liber god of wine in Tabernacles. Plutarch notes barley sheaves, new wine, torch dances until cock crow, libations, animal sacrifices, and religious ecstasy, noting the prohibition against pork parallels Adonis's killing by a boar. At the end of Tabernacles the priests announced "Our forefathers in this place turned their backs on the sanctuary of god and their faces to the East, adoring the Sun; but we turn to God". Dionysus as the darkened Sun is seasonally resurrected in his solar aspect. Tacitus similarly comments "some maintain the rites of the Jews were founded in honour of Dionysus" (Graves
Mark 14:36 "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me".
The blood of the redeemer set off a spate of Martyrdoms in his followers (Fra Angelico)
the Blood and the Vine, Jesus stands in the buskins of Dionysus
Jesus was miraculous, and he suffered the ultimate violence.
Dionysus was the epiphany of miraculous dread,
who inspired madness in his followers and carnage.
Jesus was the ultimate Dionysus.
His death, gave death dominion
for two thousand years
of religious blood.
The buck stops
Uta Ranke-Heinmann the Prophetess of the Descent from the Cross
As far as it lies in our power we should make Jesus climb down from the cross and go on living. In this way we can erase the image of a terrible God that matches the intellectual void of Christian Theology. This image of a God who wills the death of his own Son for the sake of a holy cause and who would if necessary also the death of other human beings, for other holy causes, grows pale and gives way to another image of deity: the image of gentle deity, a deity of the living and not of killing (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 274).
Protestants and Catholics may disagree about many things but they are bound together in an inexorable blood brotherhood when it comes to the meaning of blood for redemption. They value the execution very highly and refuse to do without it. The human race cannot be redeemend without blood (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 274).
According to Christian tradition even the mother of the victim said yes to his execution: Archbishop Antoninus of Florence (d1459) "Had no one been prepared to carry out the crucifixion through which the world was redeemed, Mary would have been ready to nail her son to the cross herself. We may not assume she was inferior in perfection and obedience to Abraham, who offered his only son as a sacrifice. " Pope Pius X said Mary didn't stand "lost in pain at this painful sight but joyfully by the cross of her son". John Paul II says that Mary "lovingly consented in a maternal spirit ... to the sacrifice of the victim she had borne" (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 272).
"Over twenty years ago when ... ordained a priest, I didn't yet know how closely the clerics' image of God ... resembles the bloodthirsty-yet-bountiful god of the Aztecs Tonatiuh much more than it does the 'Father' of Jesus Christ" - An ex-priest "The heavenly Father does not hold back (as did the god of Abraham), he sacrifices his only son, his dearest and thereby himself for us ... Can anyone deny that the very concept of the sacrifice of reconciliation, at least in the popular mind, often gave rise to downright pagan misunderstandings,: as if God was so cruel , indeed so sadistic, that his rage could be molllified only through the blood of his own son?" - Hans Kung (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 280, 286).
"But the ultimate source of the doctrine of sacrificail death is not only particularly bloody, but also particularly archaic: It derives from the most ancient form of sacrifice, the kind so-long avoided, human sacrifice ... Pitiless righteousness now reckoned up the debts for which payment was demanded, and the Christs of the sacrificial death doctrine paid them with his innocent blood" - Ernst Bloch (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 291).
When Cardinal Ratzinger disclaims: "The principle of sacrifice is not destruction but love ... How should God find joy of his Son" and blames it on the Jews or human sin "The fact that the perfectly just man, when he appeared became crucified ... tells us bluntly what a human being is", Uta makes this reply "Two thousand years of Christian theology ... has froxen the crucifixion and pertified it into dogmatic edifice.It has built substrauctures under and superstructures over this death. It treats the crucifixion as a death without which there is no redemption ... Indeed it is not so certain that Christians are not losing their sense of compassion because of the doctrine of the cross. ... It is not so certain that with its inhuman theology of the cross, Christianity, instead of making humans more humane, hasn't just promoted man's inhumanity to man (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 295).
Jesus' accursed death by 'hanging on a tree' has become an archetypal death symbolizing guilt, attonement, pain and foirgiveness but it should be seen in proportion to the history of his times. Jesus' plight in many ways was only secondary to that of many Pharisees and their entire families: Once when Alexander Jannaeus was officiating as high priest at the feast of Tabernacles the crowd pelted him with citrons which they had brought with them for the celebraton; this riot was quelled by the slaughter of six thousand Jews and resulted in a barrier across the Temple court. Afterwards there was a more serious rebellion. The Seleucid king Demetrius Eucaerus wall called by the opposition to rescue them, but his initial success caused a wave of Jewish revulsion, leading to Alexander re-establishing his position. He celebrated his success with a great banquet at which eight hundred of the Jewish rebels - evidently as the sequel proves members of the Pharisee party - were crucified and their wives and children slaughtered before their eyes while they yet hung living on their crosses.
After his death, Alexander's widow Salome seized power. She had long disapproved of her husband's policy of brutal terrorism, and this fact had been known to the Pharisees. She relied on the support and guidance of the Pharisees allowing the return of exiles and imprisoned. Her reign is recalled in the Talmud as a time of universal properity when 'the rain fell on the night before the Sabbath, so that the grains of wheat were as large kidneys and the grains of barley as olive stones and the beans as gold dinars". But when she was encouraged to put some of those implicated in the crucifixion of the 800 to death, Aristobalus one of those Idumaeans whom John Hyrcannus had converted to Judaism at the point of the sword only two generations before, and others threatened to take service under Aretas of Nabatea, gaining most of the fortresses.
Josephus estimated that 1.1 million people died in the seige of Jerusalem alone. Only 97,000 captives were taken. 11,000 died of starvation awaiting a decision. Combatants, the aged or infirm were dispatched. Many were sent to the mines or to the theatres to be killed by the sword or wild animals.
Galilee, as the home of the Jewish resistance movement, became from end to end a scene of fire and blood. The Romans night and day devastated the plains, pillaged the property and killed all capable of bearing arms reducing the population to servitude. Later in the war in another slaughter "One could see the whole lake red with blood and covered with corpses, for not a man escaped. During the following days the district reeked with a dreadfulstench and presented a spectacle equally horrible. The beaches were strewn with wrecks and swollen carcasses." John 11:50 "Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not."
The true message of Christ's death was to end death. Jesus was the Messiah of Israel. Had more people listened to the message of the Prince of Peace the 'field of blood' would not have become an ocean. You could say this was the Pangs of the Messiah ... but the Kingdom?
At the beginning of the Jewish Revolt in AD 66, the hilltop fortress of Masada was held by a Roman garrison. This garrison was expelled by the Zealots, who maintained control of the fortress until 73, when it was finally conquered by the Romans. During the final siege, 960 Zealot resistors, men and women alike, committed mass suicide rather than live as slaves. Each slew his brother or sister in arms. The Jewish historian Josephus had at first organized the struggle against the Romans and had been a commandant. When the fortress of Jotapata was conquered by the Romans, he and forty companions saved themselves by taking refuge in a cistern. There Josephus argued that they should surrender to the Romans, whereupon his comrades wanted to kill him as a traitor. Then the decision was reached to commit mass suicide. Josephus delivered a speech to his men on the sinfulness of suicide and proposed they draw lots to decide the order in which each one had to kill his comrade. In the end the only two left were Josephus and another man. Since neither of them wanted to kill the other, Josephus convinced his companion to surrender to the Romans. Then Josephus prophesied to the Roman general Vespasian that he and his son would become emperors. When Vespassian did after Nero died in 68 he gave Josephus his freedom and awarded him all sorts of honours. We are as indebted to Josephus' uncanny tenacity for survival as we are to Jesus' uncanny instinct for his own death as sacrificial atonement.
Mary is my quintessential matrix! I am here to free her from bondage and to a miracuous job refitting her clitoris. Is this loving your mother or what? You know the story about Jesus putting the ear back on the man who was struck in the betrayal at Gethsemane. Well to commemorate the unpronouncing of female circumcision, I am putting the beloved clitoris back on Mary, and giving her back her reproductive freedom, the sweet smelling myrrh on the handles of the lock and all. Let's finally respect the Easter egg for what it is - the ovum of renewal. To take Mary's nice soft sexual parts and lop them off to show she can't have had any pleasure conceiving Christ to get back at Eve IS original sin of man incarnate. Her gonads too - she did half the work in this genetic love affair of conceiving me. I am half her. I owe my life to her. She is not the lesser of God. Mary is now a fully sexual being. She is capable of sexual delight and instructing women and men in the divine arts of sexual pleasure. And she isn't going to put up with just being the 'byourlady' intermediary between me and the old man either.
Pope John Paul II under the Black Madonna of
Czestochowa (Gadon 215).
The central purpose of the Roman Church is the male enforcement
of female fertility to the detriment of the Kingdom and the Garden.
This ensures the growth of Christianity, keeps women in their place
and maintains the war on Eve's sin - the enjoyment of sex outside procreation.
Christ to Maria: The Blood of Jesus, Psilcybe mexicana, Mary as Moon Goddess (Maccoby, Riedlinger, Maccoby) The old and new Eucharist prophetically portrayed by Durer . A parallel association between Christ and the moon exists in sacramental use of peyote in the Native American Church.
Agape: the love feast of
the primitive Christians, usually associated with the -
Eucharist: sharing the body and blood of god.
Since early Christian times, the word Eucharist, from the Greek eucharistia ("thanksgiving"), has been used to describe the sacrament that Jesus Christ instituted at the Last Supper. After solemn ritual acts he spoke of the bread as his body and the wine as his blood of the new Covenant. In the earliest written account, that of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, and in Luke, it is recorded that the disciples were instructed to continue the rite in remembrance of their Lord's death. The celebration of the Eucharist was accordingly regarded as an essential part of worship in the early church and has remained a central observance of the Christian church ever since. Christians of all traditions, with very few exceptions, regard the observance of the sacrament as a binding obligation. Despite differences of interpretation and variations in the manner and frequency of the rite, Christ's command, "Do this in remembrance of me," has been obeyed by Christians of every tradition throughout the centuries. Thus the Eucharist has remained a central and universal expression of Christian devotion (Grollier 93).
"God's taking possession of the material world and being manifested in it is [exemplified] ... in the Eucharist. With the envisioned radiance of Christ's presence, the Eucharist takes on for us a planetary dimension. ... It is potentially cosmic too as this passage from an Eastern Christian mystic, Nicholas Arseniev, is used by Mascall to show the Eucharist prefiguring the redemption of a whole cosmos: "It is not only for the individual that the sacrament of the Lord's Supper has a central, living, mystic meaning, but for the whole community, the whole Church, yes, for all mankind. For here the divine mingles with the human, the terrestrial; here in the Eucharist praise and sacrifice are offered to the Lord for the whole world and by the whole world ... and the whole cosmos is hereby potentially ennobled and sanctified in that earthly elements of bread and wine become the glorified body and blood of the Son of God. That is why the idea of all creation assembled in spirit round the Eucharistic altar so constantly recurs in the old liturgies of the East. For through him, through his death and through the glorification of his risen body, here mystically represented, creation partakes of the glory of the redemption." John Morton - 1984 Redeeming Creation, Zealandia, Auckland NZ p77.
Jesus said:"I am
not your master.
Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated
from the bubbling spring I have measured out."
Gospel of Thomas.
The turning of water into wine is celebrated by the church as the second Epiphany of Christ, the manifestation of his deity in the flesh - the revelation of his divine nature. The heritage of Christianity is thus inextricably the dreaded heritage of Dionysus - progenitor of Greek tragedy and the God of Altered States.
In John 2:3 it is clearly related how Mary told Jesus to do the Dionysian trick at the marriage in Cana a full year before he was baptised by John. Jesus was thus the Dionysian saviour before he was given an Essene blessing!
This contrast between the Dionysian Christ and the Essene John continues in Luke 7:33 "For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, 'He hath a devil'. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, 'Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!' But wisdom is justified of all her children."
Robet Graves in writing to Gordon Wasson (Oprey 1984 164) notes that Dionysus like Tlaloc is a god of lightning naturally associated with mushrooms, whose festival took place in the mushroom season, and was called 'Ambrosia' causing madness, who was eaten ceremonially just as the eucharist is Jesus' flesh and blood. He then speculates on the eucharist being an amanita substitute.
Both Gordon Wasson and John Allegro have made the case that the origin of the eucharist lies in mystery rites involving the ingestion of hallucinogenic mushrooms. It has also been suggested that the fruit of the Tree of Genesis is a mistranslation for hallucinogenic fungus.
The living sacrament of Maria is named teonanactl - "the flesh of the gods" of the Aztecs, Toltecs and the Mayas, called by Wasson "the divine mushroom of immortality".
"Then Jesus said
unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,
and drink his blood,
ye have no life in you." (John 6:53)
"Take, eat. This is my body (soma) and blood which is shed for you."
The flesh of the gods reverses the sacrificial cycle, in which the living flesh of man was offered to the gods. The gods are instead offering us their flesh - a neutral gift of the fungal kingdom, which can heal the rift between the planter goddess and the shepherd king, and replace the flesh and blood of human sacrifice with the reward of peace. It forms a convergent ending for two great sacrificial traditions. The lightning of Tlaloc, in which the sky father fertilizes the earth mother is itself the sacred hieros gamos of the cosmos in which the mushroom was mythically created, prophesying its sacred role between the sexes. It is the Dune spice of Gaea. It is the sacrament of the White Goddess of the moon, whose sacred tree, the Alder is the preferred substrate for Ps. cyanescens, widespread in Europe. The Eleusinian rites appear to have used a similar mushroom.
Another ancient living sacrament lies at the founding tradition of the Aryans, for whom the lost Soma, which has been attributed variously to Amanita muscaria, Syrian Rue, Bhang and psilobe species themselves, was the source of both illumination and immortality:
"We have drunk
the Soma, we are become Immortals,
We arrived at the light, we have found the Gods,
What now can hostility do to us, what malice of mortal,
O Immortal Soma!" - Rig Veda (Furst 210).
The mushrooms gathered for the original Mazatec evening ceremony, the velada of Maria Sabina, were picked without having eyes set upon them by a virgin and taken to the local church to be consecrated, before being distributed to the sabios and sabias (wise people). The evening meeting would take place in darkness with chanting :
I am a woman who
I am a woman who thunders, says
I am a spirit woman, say
Ah our Jesus Christ, says
Our Saint Peter woman, says
Our shooting star woman, says
Our whilrling woman of colours, says
Maria Sabina (Estrada 105)
The living sacrament is an esoteric visionary gift requiring very careful use, a sacred attitude, and either a supporting ritual or shamanic techniques of concentration. It is not necessarily appropriate for everyone, and can be profaned like any sacrament, but it is a resource, which will help sustain humanity in caring for the evolution of the living planet, and provide a natural well-spring of mystical inspiration, complementing meditating, stalking and dreaming. It can enable all people to experience gnosis equitably, and span the gulf which has in the past separated the saints and sages from the common folk and given the church the capacity to mystify, instead of illuminate.
And all should cry beware! beware!
His flashing eyes his floating hair
or weave a cirle round him thrice
or close your eyes in mortal dread
for he on honey dew hath fed
and drunk the milk of paradise.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Read 174)
Despite its phallic appearance, the living sacrament is very much of the material character of the earth mother. As food is to the body, so the living sacrament is to the mind. There are other methods of prayer, meditation and shamanism, but the sacrament is a material means, a means through mother - matter to become baptised with the fire of gnosis. The living sacrament is not the only way, or necessarily the central way to gnosis, but it is a covenant with nature, a path of trust. I am not here advocating illicit or uncontrolled use of hallucinogenic drugs. The living sacrament profaned is just another sensory thrill or at worst a terrifying experience of doom and disintegration. What I am suggesting is that society should learn to accept and understand the value of the living sacrament as a vehicle of spiritual integration, and having understood this, should free it from the legal and material defilement it has fallen into, and return it to its sacred religous use. I am aware that this, along with the return to EVE, is as radical a change of perspective as Jesus teachings were.
Three Christian Paths of the living sacraments:
The Agape: is an evening ceremony, lasting from just after sunset until perhaps four in the morning. It is started with a prayer circle and blessing of the sacrament, followed by a light refreshing meal. A fire is lit adjacent to the sacred love-feast table. Those taking the sacrament become committed to remaining under the care and guidance of the group until the ceremony closes. It is highly desirable to have the entire event in a very quiet setting surrounded by a natural expanse. The full moon is a very auspicious and beautiful time.
After an hour, the sacrament is partaken. And a period of prayer, and silence alternating with chanting music or drumming begins. A central group, the circle of the heart, maintains the collective energy, while a more peripheral group, the circle of the mind, can enter quiet contemplation. A "Roadman" and a "Mother Waters" officiate, both to maintain the structure of the meeting and to ensure every participant is protected and cared for. Light rounds of food and drink are taken as the evening goes on, as well as an additional round of the sacrament.
The meeting provides an opportunity also for those in any need of support through emotional crisis, sickness or grief to share their feelings with the circle and receive help and empowerment. The meeting provides an opportunity for all to experience the unity of the one and unity with the living earth. It gives each individual a chance of passing the gates of the dead and being known by the Ultimate Tao. Its form has already been established as a Christian ceremony by the Native American Church.
Lunar Wisdom versus Solar Knowledge:
In understanding the use of the living sacrament, it is critical to appreciate that the hallucinogenic state is not an end in itself, but is a vehicle to a deeper conscious realm which can also be perceived through dreaming, near-death experience, or samadhi.
" I knew and saw God: an immense clock that ticks, the spheres that go slowly around, and inside the stars, the earth, the entire universe, the day and the night, the cry and the smile, the happiness and the pain. He who knows to the end the secret of teonanacatl - can even see that infinite clockwork." - Maria Sabina (Schultes and Hofmann)
Although this an opening to the ultimate cosmic mind, it also has a collective subconscious aspect. "W. B. Yeats accounts for all this by speaking of the 'Anima Mundi described by Platonic philosophers,' a kind of racial memory 'independent of embodied individual memories, though they constantly enrich it with their images and their thoughts ... a memory of Nature that reveals events and symbols of distant centuries. Mystics of many countries and many centuries have spoken of this memory ... Yeats, then, takes the next logical step in the argument - a step taken some years later by Jung himself: that there is a racial memory, which works in terms of symbols. This racial memory can be reached by 'hushing the unquiet mind,' by reaching a certain depth of inner stillness where it becomes accessible to the limited individual memory Yeats goes even further, and suggests that 'magical cures' used by primitive peoples may produce their effect by somehow touching these subliminal depths." (Wilson C 105). This is also the arena of archetypal myth, which is woven into the social dynamics of successive generations. And he defines the real danger of this 'lunar knowledge': 'It is perhaps well that so few believe in it, for if many did many would go out of parliaments and universities and libraries and run into the wilderness to so waste the body, and to so hush the unquiet mind that, still living, they might pass the doors the dead pass daily; for who among the wise would trouble himself with making laws or in writing history or in weighing the earth if the things of eternity seemed ready to hand?' (Wilson C 105). Aldous Huxley makes the same point in speaking of the effects of mescalin in The Doors of Perception: that in a world in which everyone took psychedelics there would be no wars, but no civilisation either" (Huxley 1954).
This is an inexperienced position. A true shaman lives both in the world of vision and in the world of science. Gordon Wasson was a banker who partook the agape of the sacrament. This led to a second career, but not the end of his Wall Street activities. Aldous Huxley himself likewise fertilized his creative writing career as a result of his mescalin experience. The aim is to bring the two worlds together. Nevertheless, the sacrament does have immense power to shift the "assemblage point" of human consciousness into closer harmony with nature, a harmony in which many of the worst aspects of human impact will be alleviated because they will be seen for what they are - a nightmare vision of ignorance and dehumanization.
WB Yeats, like Graves has been another poet caught in the subconscious thrall of Leucothea:
I went out to the
because a fire was in my head
and cut and peeled a Hazel wand
and put a berry to a thread
and when white moths were on the wing
and moth-like stars were flickering out
I put the berry in a stream
and cought a little silver trout
and when I'd laid it on the floor
and gone to set the fire aflame,
something rustled by the door
and something called me by my name.
It had become a
with apple blossoms in her hair,
who called be by my name and ran
and faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with
in hollow lands and hilly lands
I'll find out where she has gone
and kiss her lips and take her hands
and walk her through long dappled grass
and pluck till time and times are done
the silver apples of the moon
the golden apples of the sun. (Read 38)
This relation between the lunar apple of the subconscious and the hard solar rational light of day, which is critical to the subterranian world of the living sacrament was the central theme in Robert Graves discovery of the White Goddess:
" The moon goddess was the goddess of magic, of the subconscious, of poetic inspiration. Human mythology has been 'solarised' and then, in the West, Christianised, and the masculine god of reason has usurped an increasingly important place, armed always with the irresistible argument that you can see a thing more clearly by sunlight than by moonlight. But this is untrue. On the contrary, certain things become invisible in a strong light. Highly conscious, rational modes of thought are like a wide net through which all the smaller fish escape (Wilson C 66)
"What Graves came to discover, through research and a series of strange coincidences, was that the Triple Moon-goddess Leucothea, was a universal symbol in pre-Christian poetry and mythology: Greek, Phoenician, Celtic, Roman, Scandinavian, Hindu, even African. 'The most important single fact in the early history of Western religion and sociology was undoubtedly the gradual suppression of the Lunar Mother-goddess's inspiratory cult, and its supercession . . . by the busy, rational cult of the Solar God Apollo, who rejected the Orphic tree-alphabet in favour of the commercial Phoenician alphabet-the familiar ABC - and initiated European literature and science.' (Wilson C 66)
Despite the equally central role of the Moon God in history, one has to appreciate the truth of this message in terms of lunar and solar consciousness, patriarchial society and the rule of order. When the Moon God lost his lunar nature society also lost the Queen of Heaven.
This concealed nature is also an aspect of the Shekhinah also lunar feminine (Wolkenstein and Kramer xv) or 'indwelling' the manifestation of God on earth both as the visionary aspect of Moses' 'burning bush', the eagle's wings in flight resounding with the spirit of the shaman's nagual, and the matrimonial sense of wholeness and abundance in nature. In this lost 'other' is the healing of the planet in nature.
humble will ultimately cause the Shekihnah to dwell upon this Earth.
Whoever is haughty brings about the defilement of the Earth and the departure of the Shekihnah.
The glow of lovers is a reflection of her presence
She is the flaming jewel of the Torah and the Holy Queen of the Kabbalah
She is the ancient one, the Holy Apple Orchard
She is the immanent indwelling presence of the living God
She is the animating life force of the Earth"
The Shekhinah is defined, in traditional Jewish writings, as the "female aspect of God" or the "presence" of the infinite God in the world. She is introduced in the early rabbinical commentaries as the "immanence" or "indwelling" of the living God, whose role as the animating life force of the earth is to balance the transcendent deity.
She may be distinguished from the 'Canaanite' Mother Goddess Asherah who the ancient Hebrews honored until about 622 B.C.E. when King Josiah removed the Asherah from the Jerusalem temple and destroyed the outlying shrines. While she does not appear by name in the five books of Moses, the explicators of the Old Testament refer to her in interpreting the text. For example, when Moses encounters the buming bush, he is told to remove his shoes and prepare himself to receive the Shekhinah. According to the rabbis, the choice of the simple thom bush as the vehicle for the revelation was to emphasize the Shekhinah's presence, since nothing in nature can exist without her. In Proverbs, we are introduced to the Divine Mother as Chochmah (Wisdom), who was present from the time of creation as the loving consort and coarchitect with the YHVH, who also reflects the association of the Shekinah with humanity.
In the Talmudic view, actions harmful to other human beings or the earth cause the Shechinah to flee, and she rises upward to the Seven Heavens.' On the other side of the scale are the positive actions of humanity which attract her presence downward to the earth.
The other way that the Shechinah is drawn downward is when people are in need of her as a comforting presence. The rabbis tell us she hovers at the bed of all sick individuals and is seen by the dying as they exit the world into the great light. According to tradition, the Shechinah comes to the good and true at death, giving them the opportunity to go straight up the center of the heavenly ladder in a moment of pure consciousness, into the merger with the Divine. The Shechinah is intimately connected with expressions of human love, particularly romantic and marital bliss. It is she who blesses the happy couple; the glow of lovers is considered to be the reflection of her presence, The scholars of the Spanish and Safed schools also understood that the Shechinah could "appear" to inspired individuals (or "Prophets"), and that the form adopted would be a reflection of the divine purpose (Novick 204-14).
Shekhinah is identified with the eagle's wings both in Exodus and Revelation and is thus the ultimate mystery the nagual of the shaman's vision quest exemplified in Moses' 'burning bush'. She is also identified as the feminine moon deity (Wolkenstain and Kramer xv).
"You have seen
what I did to the Egyptians,
and how I bore you on eagles' wings
and brought you to myself" (Exod 19:4)."
"And to the
woman were given two wings of a great eagle,
that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place,
where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time" (Rev 12:14 )
there is no God to hear our prayers or promises,
there are only the Eagle's emanations." (Castaneda1984 100)
Values of Sakina:
Spiritual, Cultural and Ecological
Sakina was conceived as a movement to heal religious violence and dominion over woman and nature and restore natural diversity throughout our generations. The name sakina was chosen because it was the antidote to jihad which Muhammad had to face at Hudaybiyah after the conflict with Mecca over the Goddess , the siege of Medina and its aftermath in the genocide of 700 Jewish men in the Souk. Sakina which is the spirit of tranquillity in the Quran has been noted to be also the Hebrew Shekhinah - or indwelling feminine face of divinity. The name sakina was chosen because it represents the last vestage of the feminine spirit in Islam which is one of the world's most numerous religions, and because it is also the feminine Hebrew face thus carrying the healing spirit of the Olive branch to Israel/Palestine. It is in the return of the lost feminine principle that all the partiarchal religions can find their missing peace in matromonial concord and the flowering of the abundance of diversity in natural paradise.
With the advent of the September 11th attacks in New York, sakina has become a key to resolving an alaready potentially apocalyptic divide between world cultures which cannot be readily rooted out by confrontation in the absence of compassionate justice and respect of all people and for the diversity of nature upon which humanity depends for our future life. We are currently engaging in a dialogue on the future of Jerusalem and of the world in peace through resolving the Israel/Palestine paradox, developing a WED initiative.
An apocalypse, or unveiling is a passion drama with many players. All of us stand as equals, as co-creators of the apocalypse of EVE. The fun part is that the universe is alive and has a sense of humour. The sistrum of synchronicity is acquainting us with the love song of immortality. Here we see some of these multiple strands of prophecy.
'The wild goose
gradually draws near the summit
For three years the woman has no child.
In the end nothing can hinder her
As wave is to particle, so sceptic is to believer, in the Ultimate Tao.
Before embarking on this adventure into prophecy you should take stock of the 'main line' of Biblical prophecy running through Isaih, Daniel and particularly Revelation. Your adventure challenge for the millennium is to figure out which aspects of these prophecies are going to come true in the millennium and just how.
Unfortunately, despite fundamentalist hopes of a 'literal' interpretation of Rapture, Paul confessed "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known" (1 Cor 13:9 ). This means that you are going to have to sort the wheat from the chaff like all good participants in the Day of Requital. Which parts of Revelation are true, which will come true in a twist of poetic irony even the authors would be appalled at, and which are patriarchal fantasy?
To give you encouragement, I can safely tell you that hidden within these very pages are many exciting episodes of Revelation already realised. All you have to do for this phase of the adventure is find them in the Genesis. These include the travail woman with twelve stars standing on the moon, her eagle's wings, which take her to the sanctuary of the wilderness, the harpers, the sharp-tongued figure dipped in the stains from the winevat, the number and mark of the beast, the twelve monthly fruit and last but greatest, the tree of life itself. With such an excellent prophetic head-start, how can you ever put down Revelation again? Well to keep you satisfied, here is a courtesy copy:
"Christ died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!" - The bridegroom has returned, on time, to close the Christian cycle and celebrate the sacred marriage of the biosphere. But there is another saying of Jesus, already quoted from the Gospel of Thomas:
"When you make
the two one,
when you make the inside like the outside,
and the above like the below,
then you will enter the kingdom of heaven."
To heal Armageddon requires 'the God of Doors' - a Janus of Chaos and Order, of light and dark, of left and right. For myself, I am the athiest and the true believer - 'the whore and the holy one' the left-handed chaos master of the healing - Chris and anti-Chris.
Just as Thoth using his logos, the divine word, called back Hathor from the desert of human destruction to become the goddess of fertility, inebriety dance and song - sex, drugs and rock and roll - the lost heritage of Moses teaching, so I am calling back the genetic Eve of original sin, the kundalini, the living sacrament and natural music of eternal life, all in the name of "bestial nature" - the heart of the Mater, so that in 'destroying' the devil we will know only peace.
The Anti-Christ : Preaching at the instigation of the devil (left) and struck down in flight by an angel (above) (Cohn 1957)
Robert Graves suggested that the number 666 left by Revelation was the code of Armageddon - the crucifixion cryptogram - DCXLVI - Domitus (Nero) Caesar Legatos Xti Violenter Interfecit. I will however explain to you the mystery of the number and mark of the beast:
In 1 Kings 10:13 it is noted "And King Solomon gave unto the Queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants. Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold."
The number 666 is the bounty that comes from the wisdom or Sophia of Solomon in "giving unto the queen of Sheba all her desire" - that is in accepting the divine complementation of female and male, Garden and Kingdom, body and mind.. Recall that in Matthew 12:41, Jesus says "The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation."
The reality of history is that the mark of the human beast, "Homo", for all its apocalyptic folly and violence, is "sapiens" - wisdom. Sophia, Sapientia of the Greeks, the shekina of wisdom of the gnostics, has already made her prophetic mark in human destiny. We are named after the shekina, and will stand and fall both by her wisdom and by the heritage of her existence. The number 666 is the number of wisdom and the name of the beast is sapiens. Amen.
Isaac thought something quite profound. It's better than Nostradamus. Actually it is a standard fundamentalist feature of twentieth century prophecy to link the Second Coming to the reformation of the state of Israel. I have refused to set foot in Israel up till now because of the violent racial and cultural divide it has represented and because displaced peoples should understand one-another's diaspora. This change of heart is destiny unravelling!
A: Daniel's 70 weeks is the renewal as clear as a bell - and anointed!
9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
B: Newton realized that Daniel was talking about two messiahs - they are the Zoharic messiah of Joseph (Jesus) and the Davidic messiah prince (Christus Rex). The first is 62 weeks of years after Cyrus founded the second temple in 539 BC (this starts the messianic hope around 100 BC in fact, not the Crucifixion) and the second is seven weeks of years after the command to reunite Israel - 49 years after 1947 = 1996. This also colsely reflects the Zoharic 60 (Joseph) and 6 weeks (David).
Newton even prophesied that Israel would be reunited by another friendly power. That power is Britain - Jerusalem of the green hills through the Davidic Scottish connection and the mandate. The Christmas announcement was 13th Dec 1996. I discovered Newton's prophecy through an August 1997 review.
9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
C: The 62 weeks is clearly Jesus and the fall of Jerusalem
9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
D: The last missing week: 62+7+1=70 starts in 1996 and runs for 7 years. Half-way through - in 2000 we bring down Jesus causing the sacrifice to cease:
9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
This also reflects the Zoharic union of the son of Joseph (Jesus), who dies and is finally brought down from the cross, ceasing the violent sacrifice, and the son of David (Christus Rex) who is the Messiah Prince of Peace. In the process everyone discovers the prophesied feminine Zoharic complement of themselves in the coming down of the Shekhinah.
In the final culmination of the Bible in the last passage of Revelation, is an endearing passage which prophesies the return of the tree of life as the central throne of God, the source of immortal life and the healing of the nations in the new Jerusalem:
And [the angel]
shewed me a pure river of water of life,
clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river,
was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits,
and yielded her fruit every month:
and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
And there shall be no more curse:
but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it.
And this tree is to be the source to the blessed:
Blessed are they that
do his commandments,
that they may have right to the tree of life.
The lunar monthly yielding of fruit reflects more closely the living sacrament than the annual fruits of flowering plants. The twelve sacred fruit are the other great spiritual sacraments of the tree. Around them extend to life-prolonging and anti-cancer properties of a diversity of plants.
This prophecy is of double significance in that it is heralded by an earlier Old Testament vision in Ezekiel 47. "Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward ... And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river. Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. ... And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. ... And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine".
It is further parallelled in the Essene prophesies of the priestly Messiah: "And he shall open the gates of paradise, And shall remove the threatening sword against Adam. And he shall give to the saints to eat from the tree of life, And the spirit of holiness shall be on them."
The Last Temptation of Christ Kazantzakis/Scorsese: "the female abides and cannot be hastened".
As he is dying, guided by a female child-angel of the devil, Christ discovers in a dream the verdant splendour of the Garden, the one woman of many faces, and the immortal in the transitory, celebrating the love of Mary Magdelene and after her Semele-like death in pregnancy, an extended family with Mary and Martha. Magdalene: "Rabbi, why do you talk to me about the future life? ... It is here on this earth that we women live out eternity." A temptation is what Scorsee (following Kazantzakis) calls this dream of humane existence. "But it is no temptation. It's a charge levelled by a victim who has been abandoned by inhuman beings and an inhuman god" (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 274).
The Last Temptation dream is both the 'second coming' and the immortal reality of the feminine prophesied: IN APRIL 1990 five Roman Catholic extremists were jailed for bombing Paris cinemas which had shown The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988. Their fire-bombs, thrown in anger at the film's dream sequence uring which Jesus makes love to a naked Mary Magdalen, injured thirteen people. The bombers were jailed for up to three years ... During the summer of 1988, thirty-one thousand Protestant pastors in the United States threatened to boycott the film, some ... claiming that the film's production company, was engaged in a Jewish plot to debase Jesus' image, staging mock crucifixions outside its chairman's estate. Fundamentalists like ... Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority urged Christians to shun all MCA products, and the Catholic Church declared the film immoral. Feminists ... were up in arms as in the film the 'temptation' which tore 'the son of Mary' from his divine mission is symbolised by an entirely feminine world ... The uproar engendered by the film was a testament to the latent violence which can still be aroused by threats to dogmatic belief - vide the reaction within the Muslim world to Salman Rushdie's novel Satanic Verses in 1989 - and which arguments over the figure of Christ and the interpretation of his ministry still provoke. The film's director Martin Scorsee was [like Jesus] accused of blasphemy. ... Fifteen years before, Barbara Hershey, who played Magdalene had given Scorsee Kazantzakis's 1961 book, asking that should he ever make a film of it she might be cast as Magdalene (Haskins 1993 366-7).
Peyote, the divine cactus Lophophora williamsii is the sacred medicine of the Huichols of Mexico and the Native American Church of the U.S. and Canada. There is a continuing mythology among tribes with a Christian heritage, claiming that peyote is the sacred food provided by Christ in the second coming in the second millennium.
"Just as soon as he - I suppose his soul - came to, he see somebody coming on clouds. There's a cloud; something coming. That's a man coming this way, with a buckskin suit on; he got long hair. He come right straight for him; it's Jesus himself. So he told this boy, 'Well, one time you was crying, and your prayers were answered that time. So I come here. I'm not supposed to come; I said I wasn't going to come before two thousand years,' he said. 'But I come for you, to come tell you' ... So they went up a hill there. There's a tipi there, all ready. So Christ, before he went in it, offered a prayer. So they went in there. Then he showed him the [ritual] ways; the medicine, how to use it, he gave him the songs ... 'Whoever takes this medicine, he will do it in my name.' So that's how it represents almost the first beginning." (Anderson 23)
"When the world ends, it will be like when the names of things are changed during the peyote hunt. All will be different, the opposite of what it is now. Now there are two eyes in the heavens, Dios Sol and Dios Fuego. Then, the moon will open his eye and become brighter. The sun will become dimmer. There will be no more differences. No more men and women. No child and no adult. All will change places..."
Jesus said in the gnostic gospels the Kingdom would come: "when the two become one, when the male with the female is neither male nor female" - Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of the Egyptians
Maria Sabina transmitted the living eucharist to Gordon Wasson in 1952 having had a vision he would come. For her the sacred words of the logs came down to her in a little book. "I see the word fall, coming down from above as though they were little luminous object falling from heaven. The word falls on the Holy Table, on my body, with my hand I catch them word for word." She was the medium of Christ, Mary, tha saints and the Mazatec deities.
"I am a spirit
I am a crying woman, says
I am Jesus Christ, says ...
I'm the heart of the virgin Mary."
He claimed this was holy communion and spoke of Pentecost. Her son was killed and her house burned down. She claimed the tradition now spoke in English instead of her native Mazatec language. The agape of the Eucharist and the falling sacred words evoked to Wasson the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-17 in which the disciples and the women at the burial were "filled with new wine" and appeared in the streets speaking in tongues. As prophesied by the prophet Joel 2:28-32 "In the last days it will be, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams."
I sat up, and the stone went rolling, crashing down the gulfs of space. " I said to myself : I am new man. I am younger than the young and older than the old. Lo! I am unfolded on the stem of time like a flower, I am at the midst of the flower of my manhood. ... The cup of my flowering is unfolded, in its middle the stars float balanced with array. My stem is in the air, my roots are in all the dark, the sun is no more than a cupful within me. Lo! I am neither young nor old, I am the flower unfolded, I am new. " ... And a faint star was hesitating wearily, waiting to pass. I called aloud, saying Who is that?
My name is Jesus, I
am Mary's son.
I am coming home.
My mother the Moon is dark.
Hold back the wild hot sun.
Bind him with shadow while I pass.
Let me come home.
I caught the sun and held him and in my shade the faint star slipped past, going sIowIy into the dark reaches beyond the burning of the sun. Then on the slope of silence he sat down and took off his sandals, and I put them on. ... ' "Then said I : It is good, pass on. I, Quetzalcoatl, will go down. Sleep thou the sleep without dreams. Farewell at the cross-roads, Brother Jesus. "He said : Oh, Quetzalcoatl! They have forgotten thee. The feathered snake ! The serpent-silent bird I They are asking for none of thee. "I said : Go thy way, for the dust of earth is in thy eyes and on tby lips. ... But I, I am lord of two ways. I am master of up and down. I am as a man who is a new man, with new limbs and life, and the light of the Morning Star in his eyes. Lo! I am I! The lord of both ways. Thou wert !ord of the one way. Now it leads thee to the sleep. Farewell ! So Jesus went on towards the sleep. And Mary the Mother of Sorrows lay down on the bed of the white moon, weary beyond any more tears. "And I, I am on the threshold. I am stepping across the border. I am Quetzalcoatl, lord of both ways, star between day and the dark."
John, author of The Dead Sea Scrolls was one of the more controversial researchers to study the scrolls and made some of the more outspoken claims for the idea that Essene belief and ritual formed the precursor to the teachings of Jesus. This controversy was compounded by reluctance to release full details of the source material of the scrolls for many years. His book, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, suggested that a widespread cult of Amanita muscaria underlay the secret teachings of Jesus and many previous mystery cults. While his arguments seem extremely cryptic about the past, his title is prophetic of the future, and is corroborated by Wasson's own accounts concerning both the eucharist and the apple of Eden.
When the Missionaries reached New Zealand they saw themselves as spreading the Christian gospel to the last shore in culmination of the Second Coming, but Maori prophetic movements consistently identified with the Jews and believed themselves to be one of the lost tribes. Kohititanga Marama awaits the prophet who will come and unify Maori and Pakeha when the harps again play in the new moon in the 'Church of the New World".
Millennial Jerusalem Israel warns of pilgrim suicides NZ Herald 17th August 1998
JERUSALEM - The Christian millennium may attract a large number of unstable pilgrims to the Holy Land and Israel should prepare for mass suicides and other unpredictable behaviour, psychiatrists have warned.
"There is a widespread belief in millennial groups that Jesus will return and even that the world will end in the year 2000," psychiatrist Gershon Gorenberg said on Israeli public radio yesterday.
"The disappointment could trigger serious pathological disorders." Israel must be prepared for mass suicides and hospitals should beef up the number of doctors on staff, especially those who speak foreign languages, he added.
The head of Jerusalem's "Givat Shaul psychiatric hospital, Yair Carlos Barel, spoke of a Jerusalem syndrome whereby pilgrims overwhelmed by the city's spiritual significance, announce the coming of the Messiah or believe themselves to be Jesus Christ. The Jerusalem syndrome is characted by "great anguish, followed by an obsessive need to purify oneself" Dr Barel said.
April 98 Many newspapers ran an Associated Press story today on how crazied Christian tourists could stream into Jerusalem during 2000 with notions of a Second Coming, causing possible calamity on the Mount of Olives or elsewhere.
Teilard, a Jesuit priest wrote of evolution from a cosmic Christian perspective. Because of the controversial nature of his teachings, he was forbidden by the Catholic Church from publishing The Phenomenon of Man was written in 1938 but its release had to await his death in 1955. Julian Huxley notes "This caused him much distress, for he was conscious of a prophetic mission : but he faithfully observed his vow of obedience." His concept of the noosphere is realized in the internet. "In a spiritually converging world, this "Christic" energy acquires an urgency and an energy of another order altogether. If the world is convergent and if Christ occupies its centre, then the Christogenesis of St. Paul and St. John is nothing else and nothing less than the extension, both awaited and unhoped for of that noogenesis in which cosmogenesis - as regards our experience culminates." Despite believing in cosmic evolution towards a human Christic omega point through the inner nature of evolving consciousness, Teilard refers to evolution emerging through time in the "universal mother" entitling her Demeter.
The Cosmic Christ worshipping EVE
El Niño: It is the child in us which recognises
the spontaneity of primal chaos. Gaia and God on the Cosmic Christ
"We need today a historical Christ - a living christ who can change history once again and ground that change in a living cosmology. The "historical Christ" of which I speak will combine the historical and incarnational rootedness of Jesus the prophet with the spatial and cosmic mysticism of the Cosmic christ to effect a rennaissance, a change of hearts and ways."
"Divinity and we are co-creators, equally responsible, one might say for the survival of mother earth. A co-creator is one who births the mystic self, or allows it to be born. In allowing the "true self" or mystic to be born, one is already involved in a deep process of birthing the Cosmic Christ." "Worship has a deeply prophetic task to perform. It is meant to nurture prophets, to challenge them, to bring them together for community conviviality and the sustenance and enrichment of a prophetic imagination."
"The Cosmic Christ and the living cosmology that the cosmic Christ ushers into society and psyche have the power to ... unleash the wisdom of all world religions ... this unleashing of wisdom holds the last hope for the survival of the planet we call home ... for there is no such thing as a Lutheran sun and a Taoist moon and a Jewish ocean and a Roman Catholic forest."
The absurd story of Eve's birth is an excellent example of a process that is prevalent in men's treatment of women and their accomplishments throughout the history of patriarchy. I shall simply call this phenomenon reversal. ... I suggest that the mechanism of reversal has been at the root of the idea that the "Antichrist" must be something "evil." What if this is not the case at all? What if the idea has arisen out of the male's unconscious dread that women will rise up and assert the power robbed from us? What if it in fact points to a mode of being and presence that is beyond patriarchy's definitions of good and evil? The Antichrist dreaded by the patriarchs may be the surge of consciousness, the spiritual awakening, that can bring us beyond Christolatry into a fuller stage of conscious participation in the living God. Seen from this perspective the Antichrist and the Second Coming of women are synonymous. This Second Coming is not a return of Christ but a new arrival of female presence, once strong and powerful, but enchained since the dawn of patriarchy. Only this arrival can liberate the memory of Jesus from enchainment to the role of "mankind's most illustrious scapegoat." (Beyond God the Father 95)
Tori is not just a prophetess, she is the angel of the
Take note those sisters who caused her angst!
Every finger in the
room is pointing at me
I wanna spit in their faces
then I get afraid of what that could bring
I got a bowling ball in my stomach,
got a desert in my mouth,
figures that my COURAGE would choose to sell out now.
I've been looking for a saviour in these dirty streets.
I've been looking for a saviour beneath these dirty sheets.
I've been raising up my hands,
drive another nail in,
just that GOD needs, one more victim.
Why do we crucify ourselves, every day ...
and my heart is sick of being in chains ...
got enough guilt
to start my own religion ...
"Our whole Goddess culture has been destroyed, and what has the female deity role model become? The Virgin Mary! And for our Goddess, who is our mother of fertility and passion, to be a virgin - well, what do we have to live up to? From the starting block, from get-go, we're minus ten! The idea of virginity has so affected us. And it's not just Christianity, it's all over the planet."
you just don't come through,
do you need a woman to look after you? ...
I gotta find what youre doing about things here
a few witches burning gets a little toasty here. ...
Will you even tell her,
if you decide to make the sky fall down,
if you decide to make the sky."
"I've written a song called 'God' about patriarchal religion, and how it's just fucked the whole thing up. Basically I say to Him, 'You know, you need a babe and I've got nothing to do Tuesday and Thursday this week!' lt's unacceptable in how it's affected people. And it isn't just women who've been affected. Men have had to cut out a whole part of themselves too, which is why we have to deal with all that shit from our boyfriends! Men and women are going to have to recognise the female energy that we've cut out." Interview.
Jesus, Jesus help me
I'm alone in this world
and a fucked up world it is too
tell me the story
the one about eternity
and the way it's gonna be
WAKE UP DEAD MAN
WAKE UP DEAD MAN
Jesus, were you just
around the corner?
Did you think to try and warn her,
or are you working on something new?
If there's order in all this disorder,
is it like a tape recorder?
Can we rewind it just once more?
WAKE UP DEAD MAN
WAKE UP DEAD MAN
In Sufism is the salvation of Islam. Sufism is the inner garment of the visionary light, free of fundamentalism and unfettered by fixed belief. It is the one in which all outer garments are shed as the layers of the onion and it is the inner garment of which Islam is the traditional outer garment. Its roots are deeper and wider than Islam yet it is the visionary endowment of the prophet's tradition.
Sufis' devotion to realization as a natural state of experience lying beyond all representations including attempts at fixed religious belief and their use of diverse methods of ecstasy and communion from the whirling dervish dance to sheer abandonment to the divine class the tradition as a world source illumination Their independence of outer trappings of belief and the common thread of the unity of knowledge - toward the one give the Sufi tradition a unique heritage of integration of experiential knowing.
Wherever I wandered from Afghanistan to Turkey I was referred to as "Sufi, Sufi". One reflection almost as a completion to the Genesis of Eden, I am now in return paying my respects to the Sufi tradition by carefully selecting these readings from Idres Shah's "Way of the Sufi" to reflect key aspects of my own experential gnosis which I have found more clearly reflected in Sufi wisdom than anywhere else I have found. These are for me Sufism's salient vision.
Sufis as Rough Wool of Integrity
The Sufis, named after their rough woolly garments, are renowned for their love of this inner light and for an inner freedom which stops at nothing to experience the divine in love.
To be a Sufi is to
detach from fixed ideas
and from preconceptions;
and not to try to avoid what is your lot.
Abu-Said, son of Abi-Khair (Shah 1968 )
Sufis appreciated Jesus' unswerving commitment to true love in healing reality.
An Answer of Jesus
reviled Jesus one day
as he was walking through their part of the town.
But he answered by repeating prayers in their name.
Someone said to him: 'You prayed for these men,
did you not feel incensed against them ?'
He answered: 'I could spend only of what I had in my purse.'
- Attar of Nishapur (Shah 69)
Some Sufis identified Jesus gnostically as the prophet of the interior life and even amended the Shahadah to say "There is no God but al-Llah and Jesus is his messenger" (Armstrong 1993 260).
The 'drunken Sufis' exemplified by Bistami (Armstrong 93 261) desired to become one with the beloved in anihilation ('fana): "I gazed upon al-Llah with the eye of truth and said to Him: 'Who is this?" He said "This is neither I nor other than I There is no God but I" Then he changed my out of my identity into his Selfhood. Then I communed with him with the tongue of his face, saying "How fares it with me with Thee? He said "I am through Thee, there is no God but Thou". This was taken to its visionary conclusion by al-Hallaj, the 'wool carder'
I am He whom I love,
and He whom I love is I:
We are two spirits dwelling in one body.
If thou seest me thou seest Him,
And if thou seest Him thou seest us both"
(Armstrong 1993 263).
However when he preached overthrow of the Caliphate and cried "ana al-Haqq - I am the truth" as Jesus did, he was crucified. "When he saw the cross of nails he turned and uttered a prayer: 'And these Thy servants who are gathered to slay me, in zeal for Thy rleigion and in desire to win Thy favours, forgive them O Lord, and have mercy upon them; for verily if Thou hadst revealed to them what thou hast revealed to me, they would not have done what they have done,; and if Thou hadst hidden from me what you have hidden from them, I should not have suffered this tribulation. Glory unto Thee in whatsoever thou doest, and glory unto Thee in whatsoever Thou willest' " (Armstrong 1993 264).
From this beginning has sprung a continuing faithfullness to the wild vision of these masters which goes beyond all traditional bounds:
Mansur el-Hallaj was dismembered while still alive, and is the greatest Sufi martyr. But can you name the person who cut him up? Suhrawardi was murdered by the law, but what was the name of his executioner? Ghazali's books were thrown into the flames, but by the hand of whom? Nobody remembers these people's names, for the Sufis decline to reiterate the names of the infamous. Everyone knows the names of Ghazali, of Mansur and of Suhrawardi. But take it in another way. We remember, and we honour, the names of our great teachers. But do we remember what it was that they taught? How many people, not being Sufis, who revere the very mention of any of these three, as paying the highest penalties for their work, trouble themselves to inquire what these men should have been doing which was so important?
We may not know the names of the miscreants, but their successors have avenged themselves upon us; because they have shrugged aside Hallaj, adopted their opponent Ghazali as one of their own, and pretended that Suhrawardi was merely obsessed. They have avenged themselves on humanity for forgetting them. Are we going to allow them to win, once and for all? Who among us is going to follow the path, and in so doing say to the scholastics and clerks: 'Enough, brother, Ghazali, Suhrawardi and Mansur still live!'? - Itibari (Shah 296) This sense of revolution against religious confinement has never ceased:
What Must Come
To those who seek
truth in conventionalized religion:
Until conege and minaret have crumbled
This holy work of ours will not be done.
Until faith becomes rejection
And rejection becomes belief
There will be no true believer.
Abu Said (Shah 239)
Inner Illumiation - Outer Tradition
From this turbulent beginning greviously intolerant of personal illumination, Sufism became the inner garment which confining its transformation to the interior reality while the outer garment remained Islam, although it could equally be any cultural or religious tradition. This interplay of adaptable outer garment and essential inner garment of truth is elaborated in many Sufi passages.
The Meaning of Culture
The Sufi understanding of culture is not that which is understood by the ordinary man, who limits the meaning. Sheikh Abu Nasr Sarraj speaks of these three forms of culture (Shah 262):
To exist in harmony with the outer world the Sufi is like an adaptable guest within reality who may work as a merchant or scholar playing a conventional constructive role in the outer world almost as a disguise.
The Sufi is in the position of a stranger in a country, of a guest in a house. Anyone in either capacity must think of the local mentality. The real Sufi is a 'changed' man (abdal), change being an essential part of Sufism. The ordinary man is not changed; hence a need for dissimulation.
A man goes into a country where nakedness is honourable, and wearing clothes is considered dishonourable. In order to exist in that country, he must shed his clothes. If he says merely: 'Wearing clothes is best, nakedness is dishonourable,' he puts himself outside the range of the people of the country which he is visiting.
Therefore he will either quit the country or - if he has functions to perform there - he will accept or temporize. If the subject of the excellence or otherwise of wearing clothes comes up in discussion, he will probably have to dissimulate. There is a clash of habits here. There is an even greater clash between habit thought and non-habit thought. The Sufi, because he has experienced, in common with others, so many things, knows a range of existence which he cannot justify by argument, even if only because all arguments have already been tried by someone at one time or another, and ones have prevailed and are considered 'good sense'. His activity, like that of an artist, is reduced to that of illustration. (Chisti Order Shah 135) This inner freedom within the confines of cultural outer garment also allowed for many outer forms:
Now I am called the
shepherd of the desert
Now a Christian monk,
Now a Zoroastrian.
The Beloved is Three, yet One:
just as the three are in reality one.
Ibn El-Arabi (Shah 87)
In this vision quest it is only the person of true knowing who has achieved realization and this goes beyond all fixed belief and clinging to religious forms.
All religion, as theologians - and their opponents - understand the word, is something other than what it is assumed to be. Religion is a vehicle. Its expressions, rituals, moral and other teachings are designed to cause certain elevating effects, at a certain time, upon certain communities. Because of the difficulty of maintaining the science of man, religion was instituted as a means of approaching truth. The means always became, for the shallow, the end, and the vehicle became the idol. Only the man of wisdom, not the man of faith or intellect, can cause the vehicle to move again. - Alauddin Attar (Shah 261)
The Being of God
No human mind can attain an understanding of the form of being which is called God.
This belief in the essence which goes beyond all forms and representations goes much deeper than the traditional Islamic adherence to an abstract God which cannot be represented under pain of death to a koan-like paradox in all religious attempts to define God by name or worship.
The Madman and the Muezzin
"A muezzin in Isfahan had climbed to the top of a minaret and was giving the call to prayer. Meanwhile, a madman was passing by, and someone asked him: 'What is he doing there, in that minaret?' The madman said: 'That man up thcre is in fact shaking a nutshell which has nothing within it.' When you speak the ninety-nine Names of God, you are, similarly, playing with a hollow nutshell. How can God be understood through names? Since you cannot speak in words about the essence of God, best of all speak about nobody at all." - Kitab-Ilahi (Shah 72).
This position acknowledges the relativity in all fixed religious belief in realtion to the essential truth, both traditional Islam and pagan idolatry:
Those Who Worship the Externals
If the Muslim knew
what an idol was,
He would know that there is religion in idolatry.
If the idolater knew what religion was,
He would know where he had gone astray.
He sees in the idol nothing but the obvious creature:
This is why he is, in Islamic Law, a heathen.
Shabistari (Shah 207)
Everyone in the
ordinary world is asleep.
Their religion - the religion of the familiar world -
is emptiness, not religion at all. - Sanai, Hadiqa (Shah 208)
A key point of enlightmenment is the paradox of the divine. While Buddhism denies God as athiest spirituality and traditional monotheism insists on God, the realized Sufi knows the paradox of either position:
through three stages.
First he worships anything: man, woman, money, children, earth and stones.
Then, when he has progressed a little further, he worships God.
Finally he does not say: 'I worship God'; nor: 'I do not worship God.'
He has passed from the first two stages into the last- Rumi
The Sufi position leads almost to an indifference to outer religious form which is freely conceded:
On Your Religion
Throughout the dervish literature you will find us saying repeatedly that we are not concerned with your religion or even with the lack of it. How can this be reconciled with the fact that believers consider themselves the elect?
Man's refinemcnt is the goal, and the inner teaching of all the faiths aims at this. In order to accomplish it, there is always a tradition handed down by a living chain of adepts, who select candidates to whom to impart this knowledge. Among men of all kinds this teaching has been handed down. Because of our dedication to the essence, we have, in the Dervish Path, collected those people who are less concerned about externals, and thus kept pure, in secret, our capacity to continue the succession. In the dogmatic religions of the Jews, the Christians, the Zoroastrians, the Hindus and literalist Islam this precious thing has been lost.
We return this vital principle to all these religions and this is why you will see so many Jews, Christians and others among my followers. The Jews say that we are the real Jews, the Christians, Christians. It is only when you know the Higher Factor that you will know the true situation of the present religions and of unbelief itself. And unbelief itself is a religion with its own form of belief. Ahmad Yasavi - Naqshbandi Order (Shah 171) This approach also cuts through the trappings of asceticism as merely a way station on the road to enlightmnment, thus also espousing creative knowing which transcends ascetic limitations:
First there is knowledge. Then there is asceticism. Then there is the knowledge that comes after asceticism. The ultimate 'knower' is worth a hundred thousand ascetics. - Rumi (Shah 207) We see the same attitude of active creativity in the context of prayer as an activity rather than as pious ritual. This is a concept of healing activism:
People sated with
themselves are so because of their hunger for something else.
They are therefore hungry. Those who turn back from wrongdoing,
they are the ones who are at prayer; not those who mercly seem to bend in prayer.
Prayer is an activity. - Sanai, Hadiqa
Toward the One: The Essential Truth in the Many Cultural Traditions
This adaptability comes from a devoted pursuit of the essential core of experiential knowing the type of personal illumination gnosis means in the early Christian tradition. It is a convergent essence in shedding the layers of the external conditioned reality and fixed belief and moral conformity for the essence.
The Unity of Knowledge
What I have learned as a Sufi is something that man cannot credit because of what he has already been taught. The easiest thing to grasp in Sufism is one of the most difficult for the ordinary thinker. It is this: All religious presentations are varieties of one truth, more or less distorted. This truth manifests itself in various peoples, who become jealous of it, not realizing that its manifestation accords with their needs. It cannot be passed on in the form because of the difference in the minds of different communities. It cannot be reinterpreted, because it must grow afresh. It is presented afresh only by those who can actually experiencee it in every form, religious and otherwise, of man. This experience is quite different from what people take it to be. The person who simply thinks that this must be true as a matter of logic is not the same as the person who experiences that it is true. - Khwaja Salahudin of Bokhara (Shah 287)
"Ibn El-Arabi of Spain instructed his followers in this most ancient dictum (Shah 85):
There are three forms of knowledge.
Scholastics and scientists concentrate upon the first form of knowledge. Emotionalists and experientalists use the second form. Others use the two combined, or either one alternatively. But the people who attain to truth are those who know how to connect themselves with the reality which lies beyond both these forms of knowledge. These are the real Sufis, the Dervishes who have Attained.
Path of the Heart
Sufism is very much a path of the heart, of the love of God as the Beloved. This is a passionate relationship of ecstatic and sometimes tortured love in which the fulfillment is complete union with the divine. Someone went up to a madman who was weeping in the bitterest possible way. He said: 'Why do you cry?' The madman answered: 'I am crying to attract the pity of His heart.' The other told him: 'Your words are nonsense, for He has no physical heart." The madman answered: 'It is you who are wrong, for He is the owner of all the hearts which exist. Through the heart you can make your connection with God.' - Attar of Nishapur (Shah 69).
My Heart Can Take on Any Appearance
My heart can take on any appearance. The heart varies in accordance with variations of the innermost consciousness. It may appear in form as a gazelle meadow, a monkish cloister, an idol-temple, a pilgrim Kaaba, the tablets of the Torah for certain sciences, the bequest of the leaves of the Koran. My duty is the debt of Love. I accept freely and willingly whatever burden is placed upon me. Love is as the love of lovers, except that instead of loving the phenomenon, I love the Essential. That religion, that duty, is mine, and is my faith. A purpose of human love is to demonstrate ultimate, real love. This is the love which is conscious. The other is that which makes man unconscious of himself. -Ibn El-Arabi (Shah 87)
Central to this path of heart is such identification with the divine that union is the reality as it is with the Vedantic self and in Christ nature - the very claim made by al-Hallaj:
One went to the door
of the Beloved and knocked.
A voice asked: 'Who is there?' He answered: 'It is I.'
The voice said: 'There is no room here for me and thee.'
The door was shut.
After a year of
solitude and deprivation
this man returned to the door of the Beloved.
A voice from within asked: 'Who is there?'
The man said: 'It is Thou.'
The door was opened for him.
Rumi (Shah 207)
Divinity, and the Feminine
This communion of love extends into a frank sexually intoned love mysticism in which the femine plays the role of spiritual lover. Sufis are also noted for their clandestine toleration of the feminine spirituality (Armstrong 1993 454).and the term fravashi or 'spirit of the way' represents the female sacred whore who teaches sexual illumination. Elements of the femine appear in surprising and refreshing ways in poetry and in truth.
She has confused all
the learned of Islam,
Everyone who has studied the Psalms
Every Jewish Rabbi,
Every Christian priest.
Ibn El-Arabi (Shah 86)
The Special Love
As the full moon appears from the night, so appears her face amid the tresses.
From sorrow comes the
perception of her: the eyes
crying on the cheek; like the black narcissus shedding tears upon a rose.
More beauties are
silenced: her fair quality is overwhelming.
Even to think of her harms her subtlety (thought is too coarse a thing to perceive her). If this be
so, how can she correctly be seen by such a clumsy
organ as the eye?
Her fleeting wonder
She is beyond the spectrum of sight.
When description tried to explain her, she overcame it.
Whenever such an attempt is made, description is put to flight.
Because it is trying
If someone seeking her lowers his aspirations (to
feel in terms of ordinary love),
there are always others who will not do so.
Ibn El-Arabi (Shah 86)
Sufis also conceive of creation as an ongoing process. This is illustrated delightfully in the following passage on the evolution of man. This is a truly cosmic Adam wandering through evolutionary time and into a cosmic future not yet fully revealed. This is truly a creative vision in the imminent feminine in space-time:
First of all he came into the inert world. From minerality he developed, into the rcalm of vegetation. For years he lived thus. Then he passed into an animal state, yet bereft of any memory of his being vegetable - except for his attraction to Spring and to blossoms. This was something like the innate desire of an infant for its mother's breast. Or like the affinity of disciples for an inus- trious guide. When the shadow is no more, they know the cause of their attachment to the teacher ...
From realm to realm man went, reaching his present reasoning, knowledgeable, robust state; forgetting earlier forms of intelligence. So too shall he pass beyond the current form of perception. There are a thousand other forms of Mind. . . But he has fallen asleep. He will say: 'I had forgotten my fulfilment, ignorant that sleep and fancy were the cause of my sufferings.' He says: 'My sleeping experiences do not matter.' Come, leave such asses to their meadow. Because of necessity, man acquires organs. So, necessitous one, increase your need. Rumi (Shah 272)
Life as Chaos and Transformation
Sufis have correctly identified life as a state of chaos and transformation never quiescent except in death. This correctly identifies life as an endless struggle with entropy, on the edge of chaos through which comes verdant change and unfolding:
We are Alive
We are waves whose
stillness is non-being.
We are alive because of this, that we have no rest.
Abu-Talib Kali (Shah 275)
A key point of the Sufi vision of incarnation is similar to the of Christ nature - the concept of the eternal soul or nagaual - an Elhoistic spirit co-eval with creation and incarnate in man as the soul and the essence of this soul is complete union with the divine gaining everything in union with the divine in losing everything in selfless devotion that goes beyond all hunger and fear of death.
Souls Before the Creation of the Body
Know about the time when there were souls and no bodies. This was a time of a few years, but each of those years was one of our millennia. The souls were all arrayed in line. The world was presented to their sight. Nine out of ten of the souls ran towards it. 'Then paradise was presented to the remaining souls. Out of these, nine out of ten ran towards it. Then hell was shown to the remaining souls. Nine out of ten of them ran away from it in horror. Then there were only a few souls, those who were affected by nothing at all. They had not been attracted by the earth or by paradise, nor had they feared hell. The Celestial Voice spoke to these survivors, saying: 'Idiot souls, what is it that you want?' The souls answered in unison: 'You who know all know that it is You whom we desire, and that we do not desire to leave Your Presence.' The voice said to them: 'Desire of Us is perilous, causes hardship and innumerable perils.' The souls answered him: 'We will gladly experience anything for the sake of being with You, and lose everything in order that we may gain every- thing.' - Ilahi-Nama (Shah 74)
The Two Rings
A man loved two women
They asked him to tell them
which one was his favourite.
He asked them to wait
for a time
until his decision should be known.
Then he had two rings made,
each exactly resembling the other.
To each of the women,
separately, he gave one ring.
Then he called them together and said:
'The one whom I love best is she who has the ring.'
Attar of Nishapur (Shah 80).
Attainments of a Teacher
People think that a
Sheikh should show miracles and manifest illumination.
The requirement in a teacher, however, is only that he should possess all that the disciple needs.
- Ibn El-Arabi (Shah 87).
Dark and Light
Evening precedes morning, and night becomes dawn. - Hafiz (Shah 272)
The honour of man is
Wise people are torches lighting the path of truth.
In knowledge lies man's opportunity for immortality.
While man may die, wisdom lives eternally.
- Ali (Shah 272)
The word shaman comes from the Russian and ultimately Tungusic saman which pervades into Sanscrit as samana ascetic. Shamanism is a form of communication with natural forms of conscious energy which may effect health and disease luck and misfortune and one's state of awareness in relation to natural phenomena, trance states and the souls of natural entities such as power animals and allies.
Shamanism is very widespread across human cultures, but has a distinct strong historical tradition sourcing from the Mongol areas from Siberia south. These traditions are very old, and run back into the paleolithic, having a roughly contempraneous emergence with the earliest fertility goddess figurines, and representing the skills of the hunt as seen in caves such as Lascaux. From this Mongol source area shamanistic practice spread west to Eastern Europe, south to Tibet, where Bön shamanism underlies Tibetan Buddhism and ever east and south, down the Americas. The correspondence between shaman and the ascetic in Sanscrit illustrates the deep relationship also between shamanism and Eastern mysticism. However the world over, in ethic tribal societies, shamanistic practices have been commonplace.
Tikuna shamaness referred to by Schultes as "Old Tikuna Hag" (Schultes 1988)
Intrinsic to Shamanistic practice is the idea of an interaction with nature spirits in ways which can heal, cause other people to become ill or protect the user in battle. Some shamanistic practices involve the use of a power animal or a second soul. For example in Aztec cosmology one has a birth soul called the tonal which represents the persona, and your astrological destiny. To really become a person of pwer, one also has to adopt or become possessed by a second etherial soul, manifested as a power animal ally called the nagual. By relating to the naugal very surprising things may happen. The tonal represents the ordered, bright clear aspect to existence and the nagual the dark, chaotic uncertain, undefinable aspect. This in no way equates with good and evil. Rather the entire cosmology of God good and evil are part of the island of the Tonal. The nagual reigns supreme as the eagle's gift.
Common to shamanistic practice is entering a trance state, which may be indiced by repetitious drumming, dance, hardship and deprivation, illness, madness or a variety of plant substances including the hallucinogens. The Siberian shamans both use drumming and the intoxication of Amanita muchrooms. Every Amer-indian culture which has come in the ecosystemic domain of hallucinogenic plants has adopted them for sacred use in the shamanistic tradition. Mircea Eliade in his seminal work on shamanism made a serious misjudgement which was the product of an academic not being in the subjective condition of the shaman. He then proceeded to describe drumming as the principal source of the shamanic trance and hallucinogens as a degenerate forn of shamanism.
A Kunama magician leads entranced women in a ritual dance after consuming a brew believed to contain among many other plants datura.
The reverse is clearly the case. With the possible exception of the Tibetan Bön, the fullest, deepest and most subtle expressions of shamanism route through the experiences gained on power plants. These include the Shivaic swathe of the Indian sadhu tradition with its sacred ganga, European witching herbs, the diverse varieties of hallucinogens from the ayahuasca and epena snuffs of the Amazon, through peyote and teonanactl, flesh of the Gods of the Mexican tradition. Although these substances are used for casting good and bad spells in ways which can promote conflict and retribution, virtually all of these power plants are also used to give access to deeper strata of conscious experience, accessing the 'spirit world', to heal illness, perceive far of places as if in flight and to discover the path of wisdom.
A central theme of the shaman coming of age is the vision quest, which may be a hardship or a vigil of endurance in which the shaman descends the axis mundi into the abyss. Sometimes, in becoming a shaman, the initiate if they are male takes on a Dionysus-like feminine persona and clothing, but in other cultures the shaman is the traditional spiritual head of the tribe and a central father figure. Often shamans are treated as medicine men - spirit healers who live somewhat apart from the main group and are respected and sometimes feared for their powers.
Shamanism is something sometimes associated with the hunt and with the male hunting figures for example in European cave paintings as opposed to the obvious feminine aspects of the ancient goddess figurines, and with the meditative vision trance associated with stalking and hunting game, however shamanism is not at all confined to men and 'medicine women' have been a recurring feature of widespread cultures, as is illustrated in the pictures.
Finno-ugrian shaman-priestess in an amanita trance, Mbiri worshippers taking iboga to meet the ancestors, Maria Sabina in a sacred mushroom velada (Schultes).
Shamans often display significant psychic faculties of clairvoyance, dreaming of actual events, becoming aware that a relative has died or having uncanny visions of future events or far away places. Some of these 'siddhis' are very similar to those expressed in the traditions of Indian mysticism and Tibetan Buddhism which is founded on the earlier shamanism of the Bön.
A key aspect of shamanism is that it is a way which embraces a deep relationship with nature. It respects nature and the power of natural vision. This tradition is especially valuable in a time of crisis between humanity and nature. If we can learn to rediscover the way of the shaman it may make a critical difference to how we cherish the Earth.
Shamanism is for me a more natural meditative tradition than the rituals of the Eastern tradition. Shamanic trance can be entered into very much as types of mind-brain state which form a natural spectrum through, meditative samadhi, dreaming, hypnogogic trance, hallucinogenic vision and so on. Natural wilderness settings are very evocative of deep reverie and wordless states of sensory awareness, listening to the winds in the grass the crickets and wildlife calls. One may interact with wild animals or have coincidental experiences in the synchronicity of natural events. Some shamanistic techniques use the intensification of senses in the veiled atmosphere of the night to induce vision, even through fright or panic. Shamans often display feats such as jumping dangerous chasms and rain-making in which consciousness and circumstance are attuned.
Eastern techniques also embrace the shamanistic approach particularly Tantric methods of the left-hand path, which includes meditating in dangerous out of the way places, in graveyards and at a variety of Himalayan pilgrimage spots. However Eastern meditation methods often relate more to recitation of mantras, repetition of prostrations and elaborate visualizations. The end is the same but the natural approach is well-tuned to the natural conditions of trance the mind is capable of. Insect song is both synchronous and mesmerizing, as is the chaos in the breezes and the water lapping on the ocean. All these factors combine to a form of conscious merging with nature which has an implicitly different aim than the transcendental meditative path, for instead of surpassing nature, we are merging with it.
The shamanistic path is also a path which embraces and pays respect to the most diverse cultural traditions of any psychic tradition. It thus acknowledges a deeper more universal description of reality which gathers in its orbit the diverse creation myths of many cultures and pays proper respect to the way cultures across the globe have come to terms with existential reality in the natural context. It teaches the major traditions a sense of humility toward so-called 'primitive' cultures and a much deeper intimacy with and reverence for nature and the natural expressions of consciousness.
Shamanism is also implicitly the interaction with the quantum realm in terms of the relation between subjective awareness, free-will and circumstance. Many of the techniques of shamanic trance could also be interpreted as entering into relationship with quantum-nonlocality. In the broadest sense shamanism is the natural science of the subjective condition, a position it shares with gnosticism.
For me shamanism is a continuing state of existence. Everywhere I go I am interacting with the karmic flow. This is something occurring on endless fractal scales. At the same time as often being lost in thought, I try to leave a part of my mind which is somewhere out in the 'atmosphere', echoing with the distant sounds. Both at work and in reverie, the shamanistic state of mind is like a cat ready to pounce, and an eagle soaring , an extended awareness of oneself in the existential flow. Listening, if you like to the sound of quantum non-locality.
In many ways one descends into the inner reality that subtends everyday sensory experience, lying at night listening to the fridge motor chaotically whirring, deep in the eucharistic trance of velada, visions come to a climax of both focus and abandon, losing conscious deeply within its own disembodied vista of existence. Suddenly one exists and are perceiving as from eternity, compassionately as if looking back in on incarnation from the God's eye view, as if a door had swung open and cast you out and back into the totality.
The same abyss expresses itself in dreaming, in precognitive intimations in nightmares, in lucid dreams where the will begins to assume limitless power, and the body floats up almost violently driven by an insatiable psychic levity. And in the gaps between sleeping and waking.
Most of us in the post-modern world are trained to invest all our attention in the 'island of the tonal' and pay hardly any attention to the abyss of the nagual. Modern electronic media are preoccupied with materialistic fantasy. The scientific description of reality omits the subjective state altogether. Careers and fortunes in the everyday world require an absolute committment to the tonal. Many aspects of consciousness which are quite familiar to a so-called 'primitive' shaman are thus esoteric or unavailable, and people have to re-invent such methods by degrees, working from the superficial back down towards the abyss.
The dilemma of post-modern existence is in fact the crisis of free-will. People have been lulled by deterministic science into half-believing that free-will is an illusion, that we are really machines struggling through a sea of randomness. The first step of shamanism is assuming free-will. Once will is assumed - and here I mean actively adopted, it is immediately recognised as the source of historicity. Will is world-changing. This is a fundamentally new and different creative situation.
Aspects of the shamanistic descent trance can be seen in many traditions from Tibetan Buddhism to Sufi and Gnostic illumination. It is also the descent of Orpheus, Dionysus, and of Inanna and Dumuzi.
to Reuben McDavid in saving our immortal heritage together - Chris King
[Above: The Andromeda galaxy - Internet]
This century stands of all centuries at the portal of humanity's great adventure in the cosmos, but it is also the gate of doom, for in this century we have discovered, not only space travel and the marvel of our genetic identity, but also the imminent means of our self-inflicted destruction, both through nuclear holocaust precipitated by our own paranoid vision of the final battle of Armageddon and also through the unthinking genetic holocaust of that cosmic endowment, at whose crest of 3500 million years of evolution we stand. If ever there was a century of 'apocalypse now' it is this one - the century of humanity's coming of age in the universe.
What is the nature of this cosmic doorway in space-time, this unfolding of human consciousness, this Nierika of shamanic adventure? Why are we here? What futures lie in store for us here on Earth, or threading through the trackless vastness of galactic space? How do we as visionaries, who have now become the creative artists of emerging life itself paint a fresco on the face of eternity for which we and our descendents will be proud? How can we emulate nature, so that our inspiration complements and enriches her, rather than subjugating and destroying her beauty and diversity forever?
Listen my children we
are the ones
The path is clear, the danger is gone
Káuyumari will guide us only he knows the way
Light your candles, the gods have come
They were people, yet they were gods
Follow the eagle, see where she goes
From there they come, and the path unfolds
So then the example is set, we must follow along.
Look to the sky, to our Father above,
we are all his children, dance to the song.
As the Ancient Ones knew, the time has come,
The nieríka is opening, and we pass on to the sun.
Don José Matsuwa (Halifax 239)
While some scientists and politicians may look at this era as one of ever expanding abundance and unforeseeable opportunity through undreamed of technologies, both the ecologists and the shamans of many diverse peoples who stand closer to nature are aghast at a process which appears as if humankind has become insane and lost all understanding of life and sense of meaning, direction and groundedness in our own continued existence. It is as if, in our love of the mechanism, which has proved so successful in scientific discovery, we have begun to turn ourselves, and with us the entire biosphere around us, into a reflection of our own mechanistic world view.
In a sense, all the history of Earth up to this point has been evolving towards this one catastrophic climactic transition. For all the vast millions of years that life evolved on earth, the planet has ever so slowly been elaborating an ever increasing diversity and abundance of life. At infrequent intervals this has been punctuated by dramatic species extinctions, often caused by astronomical impacts or major volcanic disturbances, but the rest of time, has seen the unfolding of a steadily enriching evolutionary endowment. Along with this biological unfolding has come an even more awesome unfolding of consciousness, from the simplest sentient organisms into the beauty and terror of the great mammals of the jungle and savannah. With each evolutionary stage has come a greater awareness, until the naked primate of all trades and manifold imaginations, Homo sapiens, appears on the stage.
With the advent of man, a catastrophic change began to occur, as if we had fallen headlong from the natural paradise, just as in the archetypal myth of Eden. Having mastered the hunt and the art of agriculture, we have populated the entire surface of the planet in waves of urban development, military adventure, and environmental degradation. Vast areas have become cultivated, but this has in turn led to society's need for further expansion, to the increasing detriment of biological diversity.
To many of the followers of ancient religions, our life today is but a shadow of greater events from the past dominated by prophetic figures of destiny revered as manifesting the divine intervention of God to save humanity from the error of our ways. In the century of Jesus the world population was only perhaps three times the population of the hunter-gatherers at the dawn of civilization. The devastation of Jerusalem was but a minor military campaign on a great political map. But why would any God of all creation choose a century millennia ago for an unveiling of divinity, so far off focus from the genuine cosmic apocalypse of nuclear and genetic holocaust? The time to unveil the true reality is now if it ever was.
Pioneer 10 was released in March 1972. It was the first spacecraft to visit Jupiter and the first to use a planet's gravity to change its course and reach solar-system escape velocity. On June 13 1983 it became the first man-made object to pass beyond the Solar System. It is now travelling towards the heliopause at 45,000 kph and fading from transmission.
Although population climbed only very slowly during successive centuries up to the beginnings of the medical and scientific revolution of the last four to five hundred years, a sudden explosion then occurred, both of scientific understanding and of human population and human impact on our planet. Although human impact began long back into the primitive era with the loss of large land mammals like the mastodon, the impact has recently accelerated at a devastating rate. The rising crest of human population has now itself become the hand of the doomsday clock ticking to a midnight in which the greatest species extinction yet to occur in the entire history of planet Earth is about to happen, driven not by some cosmic catastrophe but by the very fall of humanity itself from our balance with, and interdependence upon, nature. Under threat are not only the diversity of species and the genetic diversity of our foods and medicines, but the ethnic diversity of humanity, for many of the world's most special peoples are themselves facing extinction and the loss of their cultural identity.
How can it be that, in the midst of this great flowering of understanding of the physical world and its intricacies, from the highways of galactic evolution to the byways of molecular biology, that we, humanity, are becoming the veritable grim reaper of doomsday through our own ignorance? What judgement does this cast on our future adventure through the Nierika of the Cosmos into eternity?
The Nierika or cosmic doorway of the Huichol peyote shaman (Schultes and Hofmann 1971)
In addition to decimating our genetic resources, we are in one or two centuries appropriating much of the mineral resources which have accumulated over hundreds of millions of years, leaving only what cannot be economically extracted for our own descendents and destroying many of the great forests, wetlands and wild savannahs, the taiga and the tundra by exploiting every utilizable piece of the earth's surface for our own selfish purposes.
On the biological front, the advent of new genetic technologies promises to create mutant versions of our food plants designed to thrive on commercial biocides and whole life-forms converted into chemical factories to spin the golden web of any biochemical the heart could desire from insulin to reverse transcriptase. At the same time we are devastating the genetic diversity of our food plants by replacing all their regional variety with a few genetically engineered strains of near-zero diversity.
And each of these changes are happening, like the threat of nuclear holocaust in an ever-shrinking zero-infinity dilemma, for less than five multinational corporations on Earth lay claim to the rights to distribute a major bulk of world commercial seed stock and have the patent rights to coerce the bulk of the productive areas of the planet into biocide resistant genetically-engineered strains. Just as we we are learning to in-vitro fertilize and test for human genetic abnormalities, we are also learning how to tamper with the human germ line in ways which will create pressures to clone a mutant super-race of cybernetically designed humans.
On the communication front we are converging in the flash of an eye towards the 'noosphere' in which we will all find our electronic collective consciousness in mutual communion, while the battle still rages over the freedom of the net from tampering, spying and various forms of double-think generated by big business and the interests of consumer world order against the true and intuitive discovery of who and what we are. Since there can really be only one internet, the freedom of human society could stand or fall on the simple, yet far-from-resolved, issue of 'freedom of information of the net'.
Many books have been written this century concerning the great beyond in space-time - where humanity will head as it grapples with its destiny among the stars. To 2001 it was a technological apocalypse which immediately became a divine resurrection. To Dune it was a visionary jihad, a military saga reminiscent of the early days of Islam, permeated with the prophetic power of worm spice, whose blue eyes bear an uncanny resemblance to the blue tint of hallucinogenic mushrooms. To Star Wars, it has been the Zoroastrian and Essene final battle between the forces of darkness and light revisited in the knife-edge balance of destiny.
2001 A Space Odyssey illustrates in an allegory our shamanic journey to meet the roots of conscious
unfolding in the universe at large. Our purpose is not nuclear or genetic holocaust nor is it material or military domination of the galaxy, but unfolding the conscious realization of the universe,
of which we are but star-dust, through our evolutionary awakening. This is the lesson of 2001.
In the shamanic vision quest, we may come to realize powers of future-insight which span space-time (2001).
But it is we who now on a much greater scale are all embarking on just such an unknown journey in space-time on planet Earth, and although we have for the last twenty years looked outward into space for our inspiration, it is genetic technology and information technology which brings with it the most confounding changes to our future and the greatest horizon of all - the unfathomed mystery of human consciousness and the cosmic mind which remains an untapped abyss awaiting us. Although we may venture short distances into space, and may even detect signs of life elsewhere in the universe, the greatest challenges in the next few millennia are going to come from the impact of genetic technology on evolution and from the understanding of the inner nature of the conscious mind.
Humanity stands like a dinosaur with a butterfly in its hand. That butterfly is the entire evolutionary future of this planet and the wonder it could become, through enlightened stewardship. There are many science fiction stories that could be told about how we create a future cybernetic biosphere with but a few types of weeds, rodents and cockroaches fenced off as far as possible from a genetically-engineered world in which each food plant has become a virtual machine and in which vast vats of designer bacteria and yeasts manufacture all the toxins of chemical technology at the turn of a tap. A dead world in which natural evolution has become supplanted by biotechnology.
There are many stories about how we could slowly, through great ingenuity, selectively breed a super-race of humans with just those characteristics desired by an organized and ordered society. Starting with eliminating obvious defects like diabetes, we could selectively remove various forms of mental retardation and psychopathic behaviour. We could perhaps even ensure that all our citizens are straight-thinking extroverts who have a hearty liking for golf on Saturday and church on Sunday and who abhor any sort of anarchy or chaos, who never take drugs and for whom the black arts are of the devil and alternative philosophies are a subversive element. By such means we could eliminate all the visionaries, all the dissonant poets and drop outs. Slowly society would then converge toward that mechanised state of the android. Rather than building for ourselves robot helpers, by natural convergence we would have reduced ourselves to 'androids of ourselves'.
It is not even that we would have to pass draconian laws to do this, for with the rising costs of medical technology in a capitalist society, all it requires is for insurance companies to establish policy differentials for those who take genetic counselling and thus avoid their insurance companies needless bills for retarded children with genetic diseases, delinquent, or other 'undesirable' genetic profiles.
What would be the consequence of such a civilization heading off into space and populating the galaxy? A kind of terminal disease of order degenerating the potential abundance of life into a mechanistic nightmare. In short, we would have become a Darth Vader civilization, which would very likely through its own paranoia try to destroy any competing civilization it met, or would in turn be destroyed by it.
When I asked Lucas what Star Wars was ultimately about he said "Redemption"
(John Seabrook - New Yorker - Cana Epiphany 1997 CK)
So is there an alternative to this nightmare vision and where does it begin?
The answer in short is that we have fallen out of balance in two ways, and to fulfil our destiny as stewards of Gaia and to become fit to assume our place in the universe, this balance urgently needs to be restored before we pass through the irreversible apocalyptic doorway.
One aspect of this imbalance has been caused by the patriarchal religions and their emphasis on the spermatogenic evolutionary strategy of the male and on the emphasis of the 'heavenly mind' over a 'flawed and sinful natural world' provided by God for humanity to dominate until the day of judgement. Although the fall from nature was the very process of civilization itself, the patriarchal vision broke the essential link of responsibility required to sustain and take proper care of the natural world and thus establish our place as stewards and guardians of nature, responsible for our actions as part of its very fabric.
This male strategy is to make as many impacts as possible, each on an exponential scale, and to examine the consequences only in the event the damage is conclusive, because if one impact fails many others will surely succeed. Along with this comes the principle of free competition and military combat - particulate reality rather than the wholeness of the wave, leading to endless economic exploitation, population growth and environmental degradation. What has been overthrown is the consciousness of careful nurturing for the future, that has from time immemorial been the evolutionary strategy of the female, who can produce only a small number of offspring and requires the confidence of a sustainable environment to ensure the survival of her family. The sky god, far from being a deity of fertility, like the ancient Goddess, is a God of judgement and divine terror.
Paradoxically, following this shift of emphasis from the physical to the mental of the male godhead has come the birth and explosive growth of an exclusively objective mechanistic science of the material world, for which conscious experience and free-will remain illegitimate shadows without objective status. Far from providing the missing link with the physical, lost with the fertility Goddess, science has mechanised human consciousness in the very process of elaborating its stunning detailed description of the physical universe.
The celestial origins of nucleic acids:
B-DNA, Orion nebula with HCN and HCHO clouds around young stars.
Ribose and the bases of nucleic acids are polymers of these two molecules (Watson J et. al., King).
Science, for all its wonders, is a descriptive shell with no ethical content. It cannot comprehend the conscious state, cannot fathom free-will, choice or intent and cannot suggest whether to produce a cybernetic desert or a vibrant living world, because both are in a sense equally valid scientific outcomes. For each devoted ecologist who would save every living species there is a dedicated genetic engineer in the employ of a multinational corporation, who would cast away the entire genetic heritage for a quick buck. For every visionary physicist of quantum non-locality there is a hard-headed Darwinian biologist who sees the entire game, including conscious experience, in terms of the mechanistic rules of DNA.
So where can we look to find the way out of this science fiction cul-de-sac? The answer to the two-fold problem lies in two human developments, both of which are as old as the birth of human culture, and are yet as modern and futuristic as the Tao of wave-particle physics and the yet untapped marvels of consciousness research. They form in a sense complements in the way of life of the hunter-gatherers, for they are the ways of the hunter shaman and the gatherer goddess.
The first of these two changes is to correct the imbalance of the genders which accompanied the fall from nature. The Tao of physics is the law of complementarity between wave and particle. No theory of the universe which violates quantum reality can hope to hold either for biology, for society, or for cosmology. The universe is forever a complementation of natures, of wave and particle, mind and body, female and male. By restoring the balance between female and male we will both achieve a sustainable nurturing society which can look with confidence, not just to centuries to come, nor millennia, but literally millions of years of unfolding wonder.
This balance can be restored in a great adventure, which both recapitulates ancient myth, and consummates it in new archetypes. There are many myths which warn us of the present apocalypse and which can be celebrated in fulfilment of the vision of our forebears. One is the myth of Hathor, who Thoth recalled from searing humanity in the desert to become the Goddess of fertility, inebriety, dance and song. This ancient Egyptian myth foretells closely our environmental dilemma of desertification and climate change and spells out the solution - that man in his wisdom (Thoth) should reach out again to the feminine principle of fertility whose imbalance has led to the crisis and restore the balance. In this way the feminine principle, instead of becoming harsh chaos and climatic bifurcation, is restored to the emergent fecundity upon which we depend for our survival on planet Earth.
Coccolithophorid a principal organism protecting against the greenhouse effect (Margulis and Sagan)
By returning our devotion again to Eve, the figurehead deity of our genetic endowment, we will consummate original sin in immortal life. Just as particle complements wave in quantum mechanics, so biology has evolved into sexuality to enrich the pace and diversity of evolution in the complementation of many 'particulate' sperm competing to fertilize a single 'wave-like' ovum. Contrary to the Eden myth, death does not arise directly from sex, because many simple sexual organisms remain capable of parthenogenesis, but ultimately death of the organism becomes a trade-off in the evolving complexity of organismic design. The solution to this dilemma lies not in escape to the heaven of the father, but in true identification with the immortal genetic endowment of nature for which each of us is but one node on an immortal web of evolution. Do not say we have but three score years and ten - 'before Adam was, I am' - each of us is three thousand million years of age, and by coming together in caring for our heritage of genetic diversity, we literally immortalize ourselves in the very instant we do so. By caring for the planet and ensuring its future, we literally become the gods and goddesses of creation.
The Shekina is also powerful and pertinent because she represents the disembodied visionary manifestation of deity on earth - the feminine principle of synchronicity which complements causality in a form which has no overtones either of the ancient sacrificial Goddess who ritually destroyed her man each season, nor the idolatry despised by monotheists.
Complementing this restoration of the feminine is a second cultural current of equal importance to the unfolding of nature. Throughout the world are a diverse heritage of shamans, many coming from so-called primitive cultures who have retained the tradition of close merging with nature in the conscious vision quest, which was first embraced by the primitive hunters on their silent vigils. Many diverse ethnic peoples still have among them the last practitioners of ancient living traditions of shamanic knowledge handed down from generation to generation by personal contact. Many of these traditions have also reaped the benefit of ancient knowledge of visionary plant sacraments, probably first discovered by their feminine gatherer counterparts, as many origin myths describe. They also include practices of conscious dreaming and their visionary techniques parallel those of the meditative mystics of Eastern traditions and the prophets of Biblical history with one difference. While the prophets and mystics have retreated from their visionary sources in nature to a more abstract mysticism of the cosmic mind or heavenly God, the nature shamans have remained close to the original natural tradition.
It is here where a new generation of shamans, building on this ancient affinity with nature, need to come to our rescue, to add the missing component of visionary awareness, and conscious sensitivity to nature and the unfolding future, we need to express our flowering in its full splendour.
A Vision of the Sustainable planet Earth :
(Cover of the 1995 UNEP Global Biodiversity Assessment Report)
If we try to imagine for a moment a living future for the Earth, it would clearly be one in which flowering of the natural endowment is complemented by the blossoming of human society - where there are ample natural areas, from the tropical Amazon to the Arctic taiga preserved in their ecosystemic fullness, while other areas serve the verdant abundance of enlightened human cultivation - the paradisical garden. A world where the population is large enough to promote a diverse and creative society, yet small enough that large areas of the planet can remain untouched by destructive human impact.
Left: Reconstruction of the collision of Shoemaker-Levy with Jupiter (Internet)
This would be a world where there would be no nuclear weapons, but a good arsenal of extra-terrestrial missiles ready to help avoid a serious impact from a comet or asteroid with early-warning satellites in orbit close to Jupiter. We would set up both a separate small society on the moon as an evolutionary hedge against a major devastating astronomical impact on earth and a second under-Earth society which could also live in the even of a major astronomical crisis such as the explosion of a supernova in the near vicinity of the sun. Eventually such projects would be followed by carefully designed 'generation ships' which could explore nearby stars, carrying with them a key complement of Earth's biodiversity.
It would be a world where genetic technologies are pursued for the good of humankind but with great care and patience in isolated communities and not foisted on whole world populations on an experimental basis, which could in one accidental step undermine the future of ourselves and our unborn descendents. A world where the natural diversity of medicinal species are preserved and enriched by human scientific ingenuity rather than being decimated. A world of long life unshortened by radiation and pollutants, but enriched by the complementation of natural medicines and sensitive medical technology. A living world fit to spread beyond the solar system because it has glimpsed the unifying wonder of conscious realization in space-time, and capable of doing so in some hundreds of millions of years time if and when Earth's habitable era expires, through the approach of the moon or final swelling of the sun to a red giant.
But in such a world, we would be free to evolve in many ways and to promote many novel evolutionary outcomes for the other species in the biosphere as well. It is a difficult dilemma for the poet or artist to express de novo creation on a blank canvas, let alone to usher in a new evolutionary age of life. Without the visionary awareness of the shaman - the dreaming reality of 'future vision' - we are inevitably going to create a mechanistic cul-de-sac. There are many logical ways to protect the evolutionary diversity of the biosphere, including ensuring the survival and continued evolution of each of the most unusual genetic systems. It is also inevitable that the future of evolution will be modified again and again by changes induced by genetic technology, just is already happening with our most productive food and medicinal plants. It is essential that these changes are done with foresight.
It is the foresight and nature-centredness of the shamans of Eden which will stand as society's resource to complement the innovations of genetic and other technologies with a path of heart and vision which keeps humanity truly alive and aware of our visionary potential in space-time.
Through the techniques of conscious dreaming, the experiences of power plants and meditative trance a complementary vision of reality to that of objective science can be maintained, which can help keep us in tune with nature and her future potentialities, free choices which cannot be gauged in their entirety by deductive science alone. This visionary prophetic nature of consciousness has been a long tradition in human culture shared by the biblical prophets, shamans of diverse cultures, Eastern mystics and portrayed in twentieth century visionary writings from Aldous Huxley to Frank Herbert.
Dune illustrates the role of shamanic vision in the scientific quest of conscious existence in the universe.
(Pictures from Dune: Internet, and book cover) Paul and Alia partake of the dune spice attaining visionary insight into the unfolding of future events. Paul also takes the "waters of life." Reverend Mother: "Many men have tried the drug...so many, but none has succeeded.". Paul Atreides: "They tried and failed, all of them?" Reverend Mother (shaking her head): "Oh,no. They tried and died." Paul illustrates the potential of the visionary, through shamanic sacraments, to attain the status of Messiah in a future scientific age. "The problem of leadership is inevitably: Who will play God?"- Muad'Dib (Dune)
"Those who would should take the Way of the Valley" - Chris King
It is the very mind-expanding prescient visionary state of the Bene Gesserit and Paul Atreides of Dune, which was used both to perceive the future contingencies which were yet unrealized in the unfolding of history and to fold space in the art of intergalactic space travel. "Deep in the human unconsciousness is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic". - from the sayings of Muad'Dib'
It is just such a visionary universe that we actually inhabit, for consciousness itself appears to have inherited the space-time encompassing properties of the implicate order of quantum reality in the chaotic phases of neurodynamic excitation. It is this very unfolding of the implicate order that subjective consciousness achieves it's evolutionary purpose - to fill the gap of reality where the chemical machine of the brain remains incomplete - the art of anticipation of the immediate future - the most essential skill for survival in the natural world of wild animals and in the unfolding universe we are about to set out on a voyage into. It is not that history is prefigured for us previously by the hand of God or by an inevitable doom, for it is by the very act of conscious vision that unforeseen contingent futures become realized potentialities. Thus, despite the apparent fatality of Maria Sabina's vision of the Eucharist, the visionary state is here for us to foresee potentialities and to alter history accordingly:
'The more you go inside the world of teonanacatl , the more things are seen. And you also see our past and our future, which are there together as a single thing already achieved, already happened . . . I knew and saw God: an immense clock that ticks, the spheres that go slowly around, and inside the stars, the earth, the entire universe, the day and the night, the cry and the smile, the happiness and the pain. He who knows to the end the secret of teonanacatl - can even see that infinite clockwork'.
This vision is one which could be summed up in the idea that all consciousness throughout the universe is in a sense synchronously aware of its collective existence as in a cosmic hologram, and shares at its core the flame of a great illumination that is to take place far in the future, when evolution reaches a truly cosmic level of awakening. Though we in our individual lives may pass in space-time long before this great event, we are yet still part of it and can feel it already realized in our cosmic awakening through the Nierika, or doorway of the visionary umbilicus. It is to this great awakening that all our actions, the love of life itself and the meaning of existence gravitates. It is both an awesomely joyful and intimately grave reality for which this entire universe we see before us was created to bring into being. We are but a step along that path, yet through our cosmic consciousness can in a sense experience it in essence during our lifetime. Alongside this great vision, there is no evil, only the ignorance of the blind, who have not seen the light of existence, and thus thrash like the nightmare automatons of our android mechanistic vision.
"I do not believe that God is playing dice with the Universe" - Einstein (Scientific American)
"The Lord is subtle, but not malicious" - Einstein (Kauffman 304)
"The most incomprehensible aspect of the world is that it is conprehensible." (Molliner 605)
"One feels as if one is submerged into nature"
"The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense
in which he has attained liberation from the self"
This is why in addition to the heritage of modern science, our Einsteins, Feynmans, Cricks and Watsons, we need for our own survival and natural awakening to accept the heritage of our visionary shamans and shamanesses, our Maria Sabinas and our Don Jose Matsuwas, who we currently put aside as coming from an older era too primitive to emulate modern scientific scepticism. We need to rexamine and cherish the prophetic myths of all cultures which have prophesied an environmental apocalypse. We need to adopt our new shamans of the modern culture on whose shoulders the natural conscious prophetic tradition of the ancients now stands.
For this very reason it is now time for forgiveness between man and woman, time to bring Jesus down from the Cross and with him the violence of sacrifice, the gender polarity of original sin and the dominance of the Kingdom of the Father over the immortal Mother Eve of the Garden of Eden and to accept and learn from his statement "Ye are the gods" in assuming true and full responsibility for our own visionary journey into the cosmic Nierika of eternity.
Mayan mushroom stones 1000 - 300 B.C. (Schultes & Hofmann 1979)
"In the fall of 1952, [Gordon and Valentina Wasson] learned that the sixteenth-century writers describing the Indian cultures of Mexico had recorded that certain mushrooms played a divinatory role in the religion of the natives. "Simultaneously we learned that certain pre-Colombian stone artifacts resembling mushrooms, most of them roughly a foot high, had been turning up, usually in the highlands of Guatemala, in increasing numbers. For want of a better name, the archaeologists called them "mushroom stones," but not one archaeologist had linked them with mushrooms or with the rites described by the sixteenth- century writers in neighbouring Mexico. They were an enigma, and .mushroom stone" was merely a term of convenience. ... this Middle American cult of a divine mushroom, this cult of God's flesh, as the Nahua called it in pre-Hispanic times, can be traced back archaeologically at least to 500 B.C. and probably 1000 B.C. This places the ancestral mushroom cult in the culture of the highland Maya at a time when stone sculpture was making its first appearance in Middle America. Thus we find a mushroom cult in the centre of one of the oldest civilizations in Middle America. " Wasson G. - The Divine Mushroom of Immortality (Furst 188).
There is also circumstantial evidence for the use of similar fungi in Europe.
Tlaloc the provident rain god which dates right back to the La Venta culture is aptly charged with creating mushrooms in a bolt of lightning the bringer of rain and also thefertilization of the earthmother bythe sky father. In a second myth, Quetzalcoatl, the fair-haired man-god, with eyes the colour of jade, ran through Mexico, the sacred mushrooms, teonanacatl , are supposed to have sprung from the blood of his cuts. He is also charged with creating the human race from bones taken in haste by Quetzalcoatl from the underworld and ground by the earth goddess Cichuacoatl, the Snake Woman, with blood from his penis. Quetzalcoatl or Serpent of Precious Feathers (also known as Kukulcan, Gucumatz and Votan) appears similarly in practically in all of the cultures of the precolumbian Mexico from the classical "theocratic" era of Teotihuacan through the Toltec transition to the later "militaristic" cultures. The form of the sky serpent is also common to the La Venta culture (1250 BC to 600 BC) and the Mayas.
Codex Vindobonensis: Nine deities receive instructions from Quetzalcoatl
on the origin and use of sacred mushrooms. - Mixitec kingdom (Schultes and Hofmann 1979).
"Early chroniclers such as Fransisco Hernandez, physician to the King of Spain, described several sacred mushroom species. 'Others when eaten cause madness that on occasion is lasting of which the symptom is a kind of uncontrolled laughter. Usually called teyhuintli , these are deep yellow, acrid of a not displeasing freshness. There are others again, which without inducing laughter bring before the eyes all kind of things such as wars and the likeness of demons. Yet others are not less desired by princes for their fiestas and banquets, of great price. With night-long vigils they are sought, awesome and terrifying" (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 145).
Friar Sahagun, one of the first conquistadors to chronicle teonanacatl , flesh of the gods, remarked of the Aztec mushroom eaters 'when they become excited by them start dancing, singing, weeping. Some do not want to sing but sit down and see themselves dying in a vision; others see themselves being eaten by a wild beast; others imagine they are capturing prisoners of war, that they are rich, that they possess many slaves, that they have committed adultery and were to have their heads crushed for the offence . . . and when the drunken state had passed, they talk over amongst themselves the visions they have seen'(Schultes and Hofmann 1979 146).
"During the coronation feast of Moctezuma in 1502, teonanacatl (the divine mushroom) was used to celebrate the event. War captives were slaughtered in great numbers to honour Moctezuma's accession to the throne. Their flesh was eaten, and a banquet was prepared after the victims' hearts were offered to the gods. After the sacrifice was over, everyone was bathed in human blood. Raw mushrooms were given to the guests, which one writer, Fray Duran (1964), described as causing them to go out of their minds-in a worse state than if they had drunk a great quantity of wine. In his description, these men were so inebriated that many took their own lives. They had visions and revelations about the future, and Duran thought the devil was speaking to them in their madness. When the mushroom ceremony ended, the invited guests left. Moctezuma invited rival rulers to feasts which were held three times a year. One of these important feasts was called the Feast of Revelations, when the invited dignitaries and Moctezuma, or his representative, ate the wild mushrooms. " ... "During the Aztec king Tizoc's enthronement feast, all those present ate wild mushrooms - the kind that made men lose their senses. After four days of feasting, the newly crowned Tizoc gave his guests rich gifts and sacrificed the Metztitlan victims" (Dobkin de Rois 142).
Benavente reported with dark suspicion as a missionary: "They had another way of drunkenness that made them even more cruel and it was with some fungi or small mushrooms, which ixist in this land, as in Castilla; but those of this land are of such a kind that eaten raw and being biitter, they drink after them or eat them with a little bee's honey; and while later they would see a thousand visions, especially serpents, and as they would be out of their senses, it would seem to them that their legs and bodies were full of worms eating them alive, and thus half-rabid they would sally forth from the house, wanting someone to kill them and with this bestial drunkenness and travail that they were feeling, it happened sometimes that they hanged themselves, and also against others they were crueller. These mushrooms they called in their language teonanactlth which means 'flesh of god' or the devil whom they worshipped; and in this wise with that bitter victual by their cruel god they houseled. (Riedlinger 1996 26)."
Tlaloc the rain god [Mixitec] Quetzalcoatl resurrected as Venus (Willis).
This is not without its irony, as the departure of Quetzalcoatl to the east has been suggested to have resulted from the historical overthrow of the Toltec high priest Topiltzin-Quetzalcoatl, whose attempt to replace the warlike incarnation of Quetzalcoatl, Ce Acatl and usher in a new golden age of Tula, supplanting the excesses of human sacrifice with ascetic self-sacrifice and offerings of jade, birds, snakes and butterflies did not suit the vigors of the warrior caste who followed the warrior god Tezcatlipoca, the "lord of the smoking mirror", supposedly with the clandestine involvement of Coatlique, goddess of the Serpent Skirt. He was thus ritually humiliated and banished from Tula in 987 AD and travelled to the Gulf of Mexico where he was supposed to have immolated himself on a funeral pyre to become Venus, thus symbolizing death and ressurrection. In this respect there is a striking parallel with Inanna-Ishtar and the seasonally dying and resurrecting Tammuz and the subsequent crucifiction of Christ of the virgin Mary. This god, that tormented Moctezuma with remorses, is naturally considered the Christ of the precolumbian civilization, a situation which gave the conquering Spaniards significant difficulties to come to terms with, particularly given the conflicts between the central role of the crucifixion and communion as sacrificial bloodshed in Christian destiny and the Aztec excesses of human sacrifice. The "living sacrament" is an antidote to this sacrifice.
The story of the original Quetzalcoatl of the Nahuas who followed the Toltec but predated the Azrtec in the valley of Mexico is told in by Dobkin de Rios (139). They were "quite advanced in their cultural development. Their divinity , Quetzalcoatl was a man of wisdom who gave them a code of ethics and a love for art and science." Acquaintance with the drug plants goes back to 300 BC with the Chicameras the Aztec ancestors and the Toltec.
"The divinatory properties of sacred plants [including mushrooms, peyote, datura, morning glory and tobacco] were of paramount importance to the Aztecs. They believed that whoever ate these sacred plants would receive the power of second sight and prophecy. Thus, one could discover the identity of a thief, find stolen objects, or predict the outcome of a war or the attack of a hostile group. "Sacred mushrooms played such an important part in Aztec life that Indian groups which owed tribute to the Aztec emperor paid it with inebriating mushrooms. One Spanish priest wrote that for the Aztecs, the sacred mushrooms were like the host in the Christian religion: through this bitter nourishment, 'they received their God in communion' " (Doibkin de Rios 143).
"The divine mushroom was taken during ritual ceremonies. Successful Aztec merchants sponsored night banquets. The Florentine Codex records that when the participants ate the mushrooms with honey, and they began to take effect, the Aztecs danced, wept, and saw hallucinations. Others entered their houses in a serious manner and sat nodding. Visions included prophecies of one's own death battle scenes, or war captives that one would take in battle. Others reported visions that they would be rich. All that could possibly happen to a person could be seen under the effects of the mushrooms. After the effect wore off, people would consult among themselves and tell each other about their visions" (Doibkin de Rios 143).
Quetzalcoatl, who had introduced the 55 year calendar of the Mayas to the Toltecs had been prophesied to return to bring in the golden age. Moctezuma had suffered a series of alarming prophecies and portents. Nezahualpilli the chief of the Texcoco had prophecied that strangers were going to rule the land of Anahuac. When Moctezuma challenged him in a ritual ball game, the Texcocan came from two down to win. When a 'bird with the mirror head' was caught Moctezuma saw the reflection of hosts of armed men. Temples were struck by fire and lightning. In all there were six fatal signs. When Cortes appeared in 1519 in the year of 1 Reed (Ce Acatl) the year of Quetzalcoatl's return, he was was ironically assumed to be Quetzalcoatl or his incarnation returning from the east, and handed the god's regalia by Moctezuma's emissaries.
"When the Spanish arrived in Mexico in the sixteenth century, they persecuted those priests and practitioners who used the sacred plants in religious rituals. Whatever the visionary effects that informants attributed to the various hallucinogens, these prelates concluded that the devil himself was involved." "The Spanish, writing about the effects of the mushrooms, always conjured up the devil, but we shall really never know if the Aztecs were seeing anything like the Christian devil. Their visions may indeed have been spirits of their pantheon with whom they were in communication. "The Spanish, culturally mycophobic to begin with, showed great disgust at seeing these mushrooms in use. In Roman Catholicism, communion with the supernatural is based not upon an individual's revealed knowledge, but rather upon [their] membership in a complex hierarchical structure and [the] faith in its doctrines. ... Moreover, Aztec belief that the powers residing in the plants could be controlled by the user was totally alien to Western thought" (Dobkin de Rios 144).
"The Spanish ... were so thorough in their destruction ... that these practices went underground for four centuries. Punished for their alleged superstitions, the Mexicans kept their sacred and magical plants hidden from the conquerors. " (Dobkin de Rios 145).
Magliabecciano Codex: A celebrant ingesting
a pair of sacred mushrooms during a sacred rite (Schultes and Hofmann 1979).
The repression of the sacred mushroom by the conquistadores resulted in its disappearance from the annals of history, except for the troubling appearance of the small mushroom stones dating from 1000 B.C. scattered about the much more ancient ruins of the Mayan civilization. In 1935 the anthropologist Jean Bassett Johnson witnessed an all night mushroom ceremony at Huautla de Jimenez. This report was to lie idle until the night of June 29th 1955 when the mycophiles Gordon and Valentina Wasson, upon a clue from the anthropologist Weitlander, and the encouragement of Robert Graves of the "White Goddess" 'were invited to partake of the agape of the sacred mushrooms' in the hills of Oaxaca, among isolated peasant peoples who used the plant to divine the future and seek a cure of illness, after a long search and a previous unsuccessful season in the town:
'Perhaps you will learn the names of a number of renowned curanderos, and your emissaries will even promise to deliver them to you, but then you wait and wait and they never come. You will brush past them in the market place, and they will know you but you will not know them. The judge in the town hall may be the very man you are seeking and you may pass the time of day with him yet never know that he is your curandero.' - Wasson (Weil et. al. 30).
The sacred mushroom is called by the Mazatec Indians 'the little flowers of the gods' or merely 'that which springs forth'. 'The little mushroom comes of itself we know not whence, like the wind that comes we know not whence or why' (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 144).
Psilocybe Mexicana - Heim (Riedlinger 1992)
Wasson was deeply struck by the spiritual power of the sacred mushroom, which he referred to as 'the divine mushroom of immortality'. 'Ecstasy! The mind harks back to the origin of that word. For the Greek ekstasis , meant flight of the soul from the body. Can a better word be found to describe the bemushroomed state? ... Your very soul is seized and shaken until it tingles, until you feel that you will never recover your equilibrium' (Furst 198) He also noted that Greeks call mushrooms broma theon "the food of the gods" (Furst 194) and specifically likened the experience to the epoptea of Eleusis "For me there is no doubt that the secret of Eleusis lies in hallucinogens".
"On both nights RGW stood up for a long time in Cayetano's room at the foot of the stairway, holding on to the rail transfixed in ecstasy by the visions that he was seeing in the darkness with his open eyes. For the first time that word 'ecstasy' took on a subjective meaning for him. ... There came one moment when it seemed as though the visions themselves were about to be transcended, and dark gates reaching upward beyond sight were about to part, and we were to find ourselves in the presence of the Ultimate. We seemed to be flying at the dark gates as a swallow at a dazzling lighthouse, and the gates were to part and admit us. But they did not open, and with a thud we fell back gasping. We felt disappointed, but also frightened and half relieved, that we had not entered into the presence of the ineffable, whence, it seemed to us at the time, we might not have returned, for we had sensed that a willing extinction in the divine radiance had been awaiting us." Gordon Wasson & Valentina Wasson - Mushrooms Russia & History (Riedlinger 1996 31)
A peculiar synchronicity which will prove to be of account is the fact that Wasson's father Edmund Wasson was a maverick Episcopal priest who wrote a book called "Religion and Drink" and never tired of telling Gordon that Christ's teaching began with the water into wine at Cana and ended with the wine of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Gordon was to interpret his experience in the light of its significance as the agape of the Early Christians. In his Life article he wrote (Riedlinger 1996 26): "On the night of June 29-30 1955 in a Mexican Indian village so remote from the world that most of the people spoke no Spanish, [we] ... shared with a family of Indian 'friends' a celebration of 'holy communion' where 'divine' mushrooms were first adored and then consumed. The Indians mingled Christian and per-Christian elements in their religious practices in a way disconcerting for Christiansbut natural for them. ... We had come from afar to attend a mushroom rite but had expected nothing so staggering as the virtuosity of the performing curanderas and the astonishing effects of the mushrooms. ... We were received and the night's events unrolled in an atmosphere of simple friendliness that reminded us of the agape of early Christian times"
"One can imagine the many trembling confabulations of the friars as they would whisper together how to meet this Satanic enemy. The teonanactl struck at the heart of the Christian religion. I need hardly remind my readers of the parallel, the designation of the Elements in our Eucharist 'Take, eat this is my Body ...' and again "Grant us therefore my gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son ... and to drink His blood ' But the truth was even worse. The orthodox Christian must accept on faith the miracle of the conversion of the bread and wine into God's flesh and blood: that is what is meant by the Doctrine of Transubstantiation. By contrast the sacred mushroom of the Aztecs carries its own conviction: every communicant will testify to the miracle that he has experienced (Furst
" ... geometric patterns, angular not circular in richest colours, such as night adorn textiles or carpets. Then the patterns grew into architectural structures with collonades and architraves, patios of regal splendour, the stone work all in brilliant colours, gold and onyx and ebony, all most harmoniously and ingeniously contrived, in richest magnificence extending beyond the reach of sight, in vistas measureless to man ... They seemed to belong... to the imaginary architecture deescribed by the visionaries of the Bible" (Riedlinger 1996 30)
"Confined though we were in a room without windows or open door, at one point we felt a swish of air, just as if we were really suspended in the great outdoors. Was this not too an hallucination? If so, all shared it, for when the wind blew on us, there was a general excitement, flashlights were switched on, and our Indian friends were sitting up, amazed at being stroked by the Divine Afflatus. ... The spirit of the agape of which we have already spoken was a prelude to a wave of generous tender feelings that the mushroom aroused in everyone ... Twice in the course of the night the Senora reached out her right hand to me and sought contact with my fingers in friendly greeting, across the chasm of the language barrier." Despite Indian reticence "the mushrooms emancipate them from inhibitions of this kind" (Riedlinger 1996 34).
The mushrooms were all consumed before the small altar and that the curandera kept one corner free so that the Holy Ghost could descend in the form of the sacred words that came to her, the words of her little book. "I see the word fall, coming down from above as though they were little luminous object falling from heaven. The word falls on the Holy Table, on my body, with my hand I catch them word for word." (Halifax 134)
The agape of the Eucharist and the falling sacred words evoked to Wasson the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-17 in which the disciples and the women at the burial were "filled with new wine" and appeared in the streets speaking in tongues. As prophesied by the prophet Joel 2:28-32 "In the last days it will be, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams."
The CIA were also in Mexico in search of the mushroom. Within a few days, a Mexican botanist had phoned the CIA to confirm Wassons find and an agent was dispatched as a mole on Wasson's return trip. Soon, with the help of Albert Hofmann, the world was to discover the active ingredients, psilocin and psilocybin. This discovery led Wasson and Graves to conclude that the Soma of the Aryans as well as the Elusian mysteries and Buddha's death may have involved another mushroom, Amanita muscaria (Riedlinger 1992 pl8).
The curandero who opened the secret of the mushroom to Wasson was Maria Sabina. Shortly before his arrival she had had a vision while on the little saints , that non-Mazatec strangers would come to seek nti-si-tho , the little one who springs forth . She had shared her vision with Cayetano García the local sindico or justice who was also a partaker of the agape, and it was he who agreed that the knowledge should be shared and brought Wasson to her. Her life was beset by many tragedies including a macabre vision she had shortly afterward on the little things , which foretold the murder of her son, possibly in vengeance for opening the knowledge of the mushroom. Her house and little shop were also burned (Estrada 71, 79).
Maria Sabina (Organon)
"The father of my-grandfather Pedro Feliciano, my grandfather Juan Feliciano, my father Santo Feliciano - were all shamans - they ate the teonanacatl , and had great visions of the world where everything is known... the mushroom was in my family as a parent, protector, a friend". - Maria Sabina, who lived to the age of 91.
Maria Sabina had sampled sacred mushrooms in abundance as a child. A few days after watching a wise man cure her uncle 'Maria Anna and I were taking care of our chickens in the woods so that they wouldn't become the victims of hawks or foxes. We were seated under a tree when suddenly I saw near me within reach of my hand several mushrooms. "If I eat you, you and you" I said "I know that you will make me sing beautifully". I remembered my grandparents spoke of these mushrooms with great respect. After eating the mushrooms we felt dizzy as if we were drunk and I began to cry, but this dissiness passed and we became content. Later we felt good. It was a new hope in our life. In the days that followed, when we felt hungry we ate the mushrooms. And not only did we feel our stomachs full, but content in spirit as well. I felt that they spoke to me. After eating them I heard voices. Voices that came from another world. It was like the voice of a father who gives advice. Tears rolled down our cheeks abundantly as if we were crying for the poverty in which we lived.' She had a vision of her dead father coming to her. I felt as if everything that surrounded me was god' (Estrada 39).
'Maria Anna and I continued to eat the mushrooms. We ate lots many times, I don't remember how many. Sometimes grandfather and at other times my mother came to the woods and would gather us up from the ground on which we were sprawled or kneeling. "What have you done?" they asked. They picked us up bodily and carried us home. In their arms we continued laughing singing or crying. They never scolded us nor hit us for eating mushrooms. Because they knew it isn't good to scold a person who has eaten the little things , because it causes contrary emotions and it is possible that one might feel one was going crazy' (Estrada 40).
The transmission of the agape (Riedlinger 1992).
After the death of her first husband Maria Sabina performed avelada , for Maria Anna, who was sick with an internal bleeding. After expressing the blood she had a vision of six or eight people who inspired her with respect - 'the Principal Ones of whom my ancestors spoke'. One of the Principal ones spoke to her and showed her the book of wisdom. She realized that she was reading her book. Afterwards she had the contents always in her memory, and became herself one of the Principal Ones who became her dear friends. After this vision, she had another vision of Chicon Nindo the lord of the mountains, a being surrounded by a halo, whose face was like a shadow. She realized that she had become his neighbour. She entered the house and had another vision of a vegetal being covered with leaves and stalks that fell from the sky with a great roar like a lightning bolt. "I realized that I was crying and that my tears were crystals that tinkled when they fell on the ground. I went on crying but I whistled and clapped, sounded and danced. I danced because I knew I was the great Clown woman and the Lord clown woman' (Estrada 49).
Such chanting and clapping is characteristic throughout the mushroom velada :
who thunders am I,
woman who sounds am I.
Spiderwoman am I, says
hummingbird woman am I says
Eagle woman am I, says
important eagle woman am I.
Whirling woman of the whirlwind am I, says
woman of a sacred, enchanted place am I, says
Woman of the shooting stars am I." ...
I'm a birth woman, says
I'm a victorious woman, says
I'm a law woman, says
I'm a thought woman, says
I'm a life woman, says ...
"I am a spirit
I am a crying woman, says
I am Jesus Christ, says ...
I'm the heart of the virgin Mary."
(Mushroom Ceremony - Smithsonian Institute)
Maria Sabina also belonged to the Sisterhood of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For her as both Mazatec shaman and Catholic, the saint children - were the body and blood of Christ.
Robert Graves notes that Maria invokes Tlaloc whose home is sought on the high crags and caves of mountains. Thus Chicon Nindo, as the lord of the mountain, establishes her link to the ancient myth. Brundage notes: "Every mountain around which rain clouds gathered was a Tlaloc" There is also a natural historical link from the Mazatecs to the Mixitecs, who formed a parallel empire to the Aztecs and were renowned for their skill in metalwork and mosaics. They were thus ironically called tolteca - by the Aztecs. The Codex Vindobonensis notes that sacred mushrooms were brought to the gods by Ehecatl (Ce Acatl) the wind-god aspect of Quetzalcoatl who ruled the second era. One of the most prominent of them, the goddess 7 Flower weeps. They are personified by two supernatural women, 4 Lizard and 11 Lizard. Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc had paried temples at the founding classic city of Teotihuacan.
The mushrooms were collected in the forests at the time of the new moon by a virgin girl, then taken to the church to remain briefly on the altar. Those chosen are in out of the way places unseen by human eye. As an adult Maria Sabina had to forgo the saint children - for many years, because her two marriages caused difficulties as it was the custom to adhere to sexual abstinence for four nights before and after the 'night we stayed up' as the mushroom veladas are discretely referred to. After the death of her second husband she took up the practice of the mushroom and became a sabia , or Wise One. Maria Sabina with the living sacrament. Click here for audio file Sabina.AIF.
'There is a world beyond ours, a world that is far away, nearby and invisible. And there is where God lives, where the dead live, the spirits and the saints, a world where everything has already happened and everything is known. That world talks. It has a language of its own. I report what it says. The sacred mushroom takes me by the hand and brings me to the world where everything is known. It is they, the sacred mushrooms that speak in a way I can understand. I ask them and they answer me. When I return from the trip that I have taken with them I tell what they have told me and what they have shown me' (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 144).
'The more you go inside the world of teonanacatl , the more things are seen. And you also see our past and our future, which are there together as a single thing already achieved, already happened . . . I saw stolen horses and buried cities, the existence of which was unknown, and they are going to be brought to light. Millions of things I saw and knew. I knew and saw God: an immense clock that ticks, the spheres that go slowly around, and inside the stars, the earth, the entire universe, the day and the night, the cry and the smile, the happiness and the pain. He who knows to the end the secret of teonanacatl - can even see that infinite clockwork' (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 .
'The final benedictory intercession ends the night-long display of reverence
and adoration which the mushrooms have embued in her very being' (Riedlinger 1992)
Eunice Pike noted to Wasson in 1953 "One of the proofs that it is 'Jesus Christ himself' who talks to them is that anyone who eats the mushroom sees visions. Everyone we have asked suggests that they are seeing into heaven itself. ... Not all Mazatecs believe that the mushroom messages are from Jesus Christ ... Most monolinguals however will either declare that it is Jesus Christ who speaks to them, or they will ask a little doubting 'What do you say, it it true that it is the blood of Jesus'?" (Mushroom Ceremony - Smithsonian Institute).
My God, you who are
master of the whoile world
what we want is to search for and encounter where comes sickness,
from where comes pain and affliction.
We are the ones who speak and cure with medicine.
So without mishap, without difficulty,
lift us to the heights and exalt us (Munn in Harner 1973 90).
Traditionally the mushroom was taken not merely to see god, but to cure physical maladies. The form of a velada consists of the curandero , the patient and the accompanying family each taking the sacred mushroom in the complete dark - even a candle is put out. The curandero - spends the night chanting, seeing the nature of the illness and performing a cure through sucking out the malady, or sacrificing live chickens over the patient, dropping the still beating heart into their mouth.
Consoling a boy who is the subject of a mortal prophecy at Wasson's velada (Riedlinger 1992)
The healing process could be severe and terrifying. At a velada - attended by Wasson, a young boy takes the mushrooms to seek a cure. However Schultes and Hofmann comment: (1979 151) "upon learning from Maria that the mushrooms prognosticate death, the boy falls to the ground in despair. He did in fact die a few days later of undiagnosed, but apparently natural causes".
Maria Sabina describes this somewhat differently: "But there was no remedy for the sick one. His death was near. After I saw Perfecto's appearance, I said to Aurelio 'This child is in a very grave condition'. ... I took the children and began to work. That was how I learned that Perfecto had a frightened spirit. His spirit had been caught by a malevolent being. ... Weeks went by and someone informed me that Perfecto had died. They didn't take care of him like they should have. If they had done several vigils he would certainly have gotten well" (Estrada 72).
Mother of good palms,
Mother of good hands
Your words are medicine, Your breath is remedial ...
That is the work of our flower with sap, our flower of the dew
Our budding children, our sprouting children
Holy Father, You my Father
And you Mother who art in the house of heaven
You, Christ, you my Father
We are going to cure, we are going to cure with herbs
That is what our budding children, our sprouting children are for,
that is the work of our flower with sap, our flower of the dew
That is the work of the lordly one with the vibrant wings,
the sacred one with the vibrant wings
That is what our hummingbird children are for ...
Fresh herbs. Herbs of clarity. Medicinal herbs. Sacred herbs
I bring with me thirteen doctors beneath the water ...
They are children who resound, children torn up out of the ground
Holy Father. You Saint. You Saintess. Ah Jesus Christ. You Saint.
Dew woman, says - Fresh woman
Woman of clarity, says - Woman who prays to heaven
Moon woman - Woman of the day, says
With all the saints, says - With all the saintesses, says
Holy Father, says
Mother Shepherdess, says - Mother Conception, says
Now that you are in your place and present
Woman of sap, woman of the dew, says
Our doll Mother of the Rosary, says
With all the saints, says - Lord of the Sanctuary, says ...
Our doll Virgin of Mazatlan, says ... With all the saints
With as many saints, as many saintesses as there are
Now we bow ourselves down before you, speaking with humility
beneath your shadow, speaking with clarity, says
We speak with tenderness, we speak with clarity, says
We speak with humility, we speak with offshoots, says ...
We speak with freshness, ... Words are medicine ...
Illumination of life, Illumination from on high, says
Illumination of the sap, Illumination of the dew
Holy Father, God the Father, God the Holy Spirit ...
(Mushroom Ceremony - Smithsonian Institute )
The influx of interest in sacred mushrooms had a devastating effect. In Maria Sabina's words - 'Before Wasson, I felt that the saint children - elevated me. I don't feel like that anymore. The force has diminished.' 'These last few years anyone looks at the children - and no care is taken in gathering them'. 'They take the children - at any time and in any place. They don't do it at night or under the direction of the Wise Ones and they don't use them to cure any sickness either'. In the words of the older sabio , Apolonio Terran... 'What is terrible is that the sacred mushroom no longer belong to us. The language has been spoiled and is indecipherable to us ... "What is this new language like?" "Now the mushrooms speak English! Yes it is the tongue the foreigners speak" "What is this change in the language due to?" "The mushrooms have a divine spirit; they have always had it for us but the foreigner arrived and frightened it away ..." "Where was this divine spirit frightened to?" "It wanders without direction in the atmosphere, it goes along in the clouds (Estrada 91).
In Wasson's words 'The sacred mushrooms and the religious feeling concentrated in them through the Sierras of Southern Mexico had to be made known to the world, and worthily so at whatever cost to me personally. If I did mot do this, "consulting the mushroom" would go on for a few years longer, but its extinction was and is inevitable. The world would know only vaguely that such a thing had existed but not the importance of its role. On the other hand worthily presented, its prestige, Maria Sabina's prestige would endure' (Riedlinger 1996 35). The duty of securing the evolution of this sacred tradition and its unspeakable language of existence thus now passes to the illuminati of English, so that the spiritual significance of the living sacrament will be preserved and understood.
Wasson predicted in 1985 that the sacred mushroom would return to popularity in 10 to 30 years, despite legal taboos. He saw in the transmission of the agape of the Eucharist a cultural transfomation into a new form. Maria stated that he and his friends were the first to come seeking the mushrooms "not because they they suffered from any illness" - that is Wasson envisaged a spiritual transformation (Riedlinger 1996 35).
Riedlinger (1996 35) comments: " In light of Wasson's numerous referrals to the original Pentecostal experience, I believe he thought it feasible for modem Christianity to likewise adopt certain elements of this indigenous hybrid, producing an experiential form of Christian worship in the Pentecostal mode which uses hallucinogens as sacraments for calling down the Spirit. Wasson's opinion of what this portends for Christian worship is un- equivocal: '... God's flesh! How those words echo down the centuries of religious experience! (In the Book of Common Prayer, in the Prayer of Humble Access, the faithful are summoned to eat 'the flesh of thy dear son Jesus Christ'.) The Christian doctrine of Transubstantiation is a hard saying, calling for great faith .... The Mexican Indian with his teo-nanactl has no need for Transubstantiation because his mushroom speaks for itself. By comparison with the mushroom, the Element in the [post-Pentecostal] Christian agape seems pallid. The mushroom holds the key to a mystical union with God, whereas only rare souls can attain similar ecstasy and divine communion by intensive contemplation of the miracle of the Mass'."
"And of Joseph
Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven,
... and for the precious things put forth by the moon" - Deut 33:13
A dedication is thereby due to Maria "virgin mother of the agape" :
'A chaos man, says
a quantum-chaos man, says
a consciousness-research man, says
a bellbird man, says, a korimako - man, says
a night owl man, says, a ruru - man, says
a moon man, says
a trickster man, says
the moksha-man, says
a spinning-vision man, says
a sleeper-awakening man, says
an English-speaking man, says
a Quetzalcoatl man, he says
a Christofher man, says
a son of man says...
"Thank you Maria"
- Chris King.
Networking the Entheogenic Transformation: Lycaeum
Mycology: The Mushroom Cultivator Paul Stamets (from Fungi Perfecti)
Materials: Fungi Perfecti. PO Box 7634 Olympia WA 98507 USA firstname.lastname@example.org
Spores: Florida Mycology Research Center, P.O. Box 8104, Pensacola, Florida 32505, USA
Homestead Book Company, Box 31608, Seattle, WA 98103. USA
Syzygy, PO Box 619, Honaunau HI 96726, USA
Maria Sabina: Estrada, Alvaro 1981 Maria Sabina : Her Life and Chants Ross Erickson Santa Barbara.
Mushroom Ceremony of the Mazatec Indians of Mexico 1957 The Smithsonian Institution,
Folkways Cassette Series: 08975