News from the Pagan Passage on The Gaia Hypothesis BBS 904-383-3301
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The recent tempest over creationism promoted by fundamentalist Christians
in Lake County, Florida raises an opportunity for the public to participate in
a search for the "real" truth. Simply, I suggest the public applies the same
scientific scrutiny, used to determine the validity of evolution, to
Christianity itself. Recent discoveries in archaeology, linguistics, art
history, and chaos theory, have been publicly reported in newspapers & books,
shedding light on a pivotal event in human prehistory. This event, from which
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam derive, is the greatest murder mystery and
cover-up of all time.
The authoritarianism and male dominance that Western fundamentalists
preach to their followers contains a coded message: "Don't think, accept what
is, accept what authority says is true. Above all, do not use your own
intelligence, your own powers of mind, to question us or to seek independent
knowledge. For if you do, your punishment will be horrible indeed." In open
debate, however, the public can decide for itself whether to reject the
"traditional" values of fundamentalists and instead return to the original
values of our ancestors.
We are all familiar with tales of an earlier harmonious and peaceful age.
The Bible tells of a garden where woman and man lived as equal before a male
god decreed that woman be subservient to man. The ancient Greeks wrote of a
"golden race" who tilled the soil in peace before a "lesser race" brought in
their god of war. Ever since Schliemann helped establish the reality of
Homer's Troy, science has slowly changed its perception of myths as sheer
fantasy to a view that myths represent a garbled recollection of actual
Today new archaeological excavations, coupled with reinterpretations of
older digs using more scientific methods, reveal a long period of peace and
prosperity when our social, technological, and cultural evolution progressed.
During this period of peace (measured in millennia, not decades or centuries),
all the basic technologies on which civilization is built were developed in
societies that were not male dominant, violent, or based on ranking.
More evidence that ancient societies were organized very differently from
ours are the many otherwise inexplicable images of the Deity as female in
ancient art, myth, and even historical writings. Indeed, the idea of the
Earth or Universe as an all-giving Mother has survived into our time. In
Christianity, the worship of Mary is widespread. Even though she is regarded
as non-divine by the Catholic church, millions of people pray to her as the
"Mother of God" seeking her compassion, protection, and solace.
It is easier for us to think of divine power in human form as female rather
than male. Our ancestors must have answered the basic questions (Where do we
come from before we are born? Where do we go after we die?) by noting that
life emerges from the body of a woman. It would have been natural for them to
associate the universe with an image of an all-giving Mother from whose womb
emerges all life and to which, like the cycles of vegetation, it returns after
death to be reborn again. Societies with this view of the divine would
naturally be organized much differently than societies which worship a divine
Father who wields a thunderbolt or sword.
Previous scientific analysis stereotyped the societies that worshipped a
Mother Goddess as "matriarchal", in other words, where men were subservient to
women. However, re-examination of the evidence shows that underlying the
great diversity of human culture are two basic models of society. The first
is the "dominator", the ranking of one half of humanity over the other. The
second, in which social relations are based on "linking" rather than ranking,
is best described as a "partnership" model. In this model, differences
between the sexes are not equated with either inferiority or superiority.
During the prehistory of our Western civilization, a cataclysmic turning
point occurred when the direction of our cultural evolution was quite
literally turned around. The progression of the societies that worshipped the
life generating and nurturing powers of the universe was interrupted. From
the peripheral areas of our globe came invaders who ushered in a very
different form of organization for society. As the archaeologist Marija
Gimbutas writes, these were people who worshipped "the lethal power of the
blade" -- the power to take rather than give life that is the ultimate power
to establish and enforce domination.
Although it seems as if humans constantly strive for higher goals in
truth, beauty, and justice, our history instead has been a jagged series of
movement to higher ideals punctuated by massive regressions. The values of
intolerance, brutality, oppression, and warfare, demonstrated all too clearly
in the Greek Dark Age and the Middle Ages, parallel the Biblical view that
Knowledge is Bad, Birth is Dirty, Death is Holy. These values result from the
Orwellian remaking of sacred stories along with the rewriting of codes of law
in the Middle East, largely as the work of male priests. The Great Goddess
was gone, a faint memory living only in the retelling of her rape and murder.
Other stories were absorbed, covered-up, twisted, and reversed.
This process of re-mything has profoundly affected the Western mind in
primarily one sacred book, the first half of the Bible. The re-mything
explains why, despite attempts to give an impression of unity, there are so
many inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible. One well known example
is the two different stories of how God created human beings found in Chapter
1 of Genesis. The first tells that woman and man were simultaneous divine
creations. The second, more elaborate one tells that Eve was created as an
afterthought out of Adam's rib.
We can still read in the Bible of the enormous physical destruction which
accompanied the re-mything. The Hebrews, and later also the Christians and
Muslims, razed temples, cut down sacred groves of trees, and smashed pagan
idols. Up to modern times, not only through book burning, but through the
burning and persecution of heretics, those who did not hold the "correct" view
were killed or converted. This conditioning by fear today dominates all
aspects of life in child rearing, school, and law.
This essay is far too short a medium to document the many sources that
point to the ancient time when partnership, creativity, and caring prevailed,
when tools were more important than weapons, when men and women were equals,
and people lived with more solidarity than aggression. Instead, I encourage
the public to read the scholarly yet passionate study described by Ashley
Montagu as the most important book since Darwin's Origin of Species: The
Chalice & The Blade by Riane Eisler.
My hope for the future is that humans discover our ancient heritage of
partnership. If so, then our children will not learn epics in which men are
honored for being violent or fairy tales about children who are lost in
frightful woods where women are malevolent witches. They will be taught new
myths, epics, and stories in which human beings are good; men are peaceful;
and the power of creativity and love is the governing principle. Our thirst
for knowledge, justice, and equality will at last be freed. After the bloody
detour of the last 3500 years, both women and men will at last find out what
being human means.
/s/ Steve Burton
Comments and feedback welcomed
(Permission granted to distribute this essay in its entirety only)
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