Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ritual connections and stream of consciousness

Wow! Watching "What the Mesopotamians Did For Us", with Adam Hart-Davis.
I just saw a Mesopotamian exorcism. To rid you of a demon thousands of years ago, they would scatter crumbs around you, you would spit on the crumbs, gather them up, and take them out into the DESERT where you would scatter them in all directions for the god of rodents. Id est, the rats would eat the bally crumbs, wouldn't they?

Some of you may remember my presentation last year on Aby Warburg's visit to the Hopi Indians in the Southwestern US. Remember their snake rituals? They would dance and pray for rain at harvest-time (go figure) using serpents and a sand painting on the floor - the snake would hit the ground so hard it would be partly absorbed by the sand, a magic throw intended to force the snake to invoke rain and lightning. After days of this, the serpents are released into the DESERT as messengers to, I guess, the gods of rain.

Compare to the old Judaic scapegoat ritual, in which the sins of the people of Israel were ritually placed on the back of an (I believe) unblemished goat which was sent into the DESERT to make atonement for the sins of the people. The man chosen to send the goat out had to, as always, take a ritual bath before returning to the encampment.

Note that I have continually emphasised the word DESERT in each paragraph. Each culture sends their spiritual detritus and/or messages into the desert, which seems to be an ancient point of contact between man and the divine. No mention of mountains here, eh?
Imagine how many comparable desert/serpent rituals worldwide I haven't mentioned...I bet the Australian aborigines have some good ones. And let's not even start on Africa.
Oh wait, not done yet: In my Warburg report I also made mention of the bronze serpent on the cross which Moses used to HEAL the Israelites when they were suffering from a plague of snakebites.
This is comparable to the caduceus of the messenger god Hermes, once his exclusive entry to audience with Zeus, also attached to Asclepius the god of healing, and today a symbol of the medical profession. Keyword, HEALING.
And what about when St Paul killed the snake that had bitten him by casting it into the fire, and he remained unscathed?
Let's not even get into the serpent in the Garden of Eden, but....consider. The serpent - representing good and evil in every culture, even in the Bible.

I could go on for ages now I've gotten started but will shut up shop and make some tea.

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