Monday, July 19, 2010

Man the cannibal
Cannibalism is common to mythologies worldwide. Evidence for the sacrifice of objects, animals, foods, and human beings is abundant in archaeological reports, but how could the related practice of cannibalism have originated?

Cannibalism is described in many myths, from the killing and eating of captives, to witches that steal children and boil them for dinner, to fathers who are tricked into eating their own child, which arises from the fear of uncertain paternity. Cannibalism has left physical evidence in the form of human bones opened for marrow and brains. It is not difficult to imagine that in times of hardship, humans may have killed and eaten their own, or preyed on the competition: slower hominids may have been fair game for early man.

An obvious choice for sacrifice during famine would be a (virgin) child who was too young to contribute to the survival of the group. An explanatory idea may have been put forth to persuade the mother to give up her child: the mothers of animals sacrifice their children so that humans have food;  perhaps they will accept one of our children in trade, and thus produce more animals to feed us.

Necessary cannibalism that sustained a group through extreme conditions of famine may have receded in better times in favor of prophylactic human sacrifices meant to postpone hardship or to jump-start a perilous undertaking. Acts of sacrifice would become a component of the culture myth and thus be incorporated into religious ritual. That is, the practical or coincidental came BRFORE the magical. Eating other humans was not 'uncanny' to start with; a simple coincidence, such as plants growing more vigorously above a grave could have started the whole sacrifice myth.

The Last Supper myth is a twisted tale of human sacrifice and cannibalism that Christians reenact, but without recognizing its roots in the annual human sacrifice and cannibalism practiced in agricultural societies. The thirteenth man didn't serve dinner, he was eaten, and his body parts distributed to the fields, where food crops would be resurrected in the coming year - hence the unlucky number thirteen. The twelve apostles replaced the signs of the zodiac, the calendar that set the time of planting and harvest: Christians merely changed an existing yearly ritual into a one-off event. The sacrifice and resurrection of the demigod identified as Jesus was made available to cult members through the shared ritual of eating the sacrificial man and drinking his blood, an act of power transference basic to magic. It's no accident that Christian doctrine banned cremation. Christians copied Egyptian resurrection magic, in which the body must be intact for rebirth to succeed.

In male-dominated cultures, the chief male god is awarded extraordinary talents of procreation, and he often utilizes virgins to secure his paternity. The god can appear in animal form or as a force of nature; he is sometimes hidden by atmospheric effects, such as a storm or beam of light (lightning bolt.) We tend to forget that violation by a god is rape. Recasting a brutal attack into a charming religious story serves to excuse behavior that if committed by a lesser male would be considered a crime, not against the woman but against the dominant male: the worst human behavior is reserved for a Top Male god.

The rape victim will relive the attack, removing details and reducing or accentuating others. This process removes the crime to the supernatural realm, where it may live safely forever, despite the actual attack having had a beginning and an ending. This falsification of reality yields a consequence: once the event is recast as supernatural, it is difficult to bring it into the light of day, and to know that it was real. Real events end: supernatural events are eternal.

Supernatural coping is not coping at all. The victim is stuck with a version of the experience that is eternal, fixed, and not compatible with reality, and which often justifies the crime; guilt is transferred to the victim. Phobias, compulsive behavior, overuse of drugs and alcohol, rage and self-abuse are symptoms of the supernaturalization of reality.

Middle Eastern religion is the expression of psychopathic cultural values. Top Males dominated society; rape, rage, revenge, murder, incest, abandonment, genocide, cannibalism, the over-the-top demand for obedience, and drastic punishments for perceived disrespect characterize unchecked male behavior, then and now.