Evolution and Meaning.
Physiology, Sex and gender.
Humans have evolved through several stages, physically and
conceptually. Earlier stages are nearly always carried in some way
into later stages. We came, for example, from organisms that
developed not only sex, but gendered sex, which is not necessary
for life (MS). Without gender, however, circumcision would have
lain in the infinity of unactualized possibilities.
The popular view, that males
controlled human evolution and developed human culture out of
their needs, particularly as hunters, does not stand up to
scrutiny. The evidence seems to indicate our hominid ancestors
were mainly plant gatherers. Meat scavenging from carnivore kills
supplied about 15% of their opportunistic diet. Those in the
lineage from which we evolved probably began their theorizing and
ritualistic behavior while they were less than a hundred pounds.
Evidence of ancient bone finds suggests large cats dragged
hominids up into trees to eat them (J). Rather than being hunters,
early people were hunted themselves by large carnivores.
Nature, culture and patrism.
When we differentiated from other primates, we were small bipeds
who met the need to eat and survive by gathering plants and
scavenging. The move from opportunistic dependence on nature, to
some control of nature in significant and predictable ways, is the
beginning of culture. It is second only to our biological
inheritance in influencing the way we think and behave. A third
important development is the change within cultures from prominent
female to dominant male metaphors and control.
Marija Gimbutas makes a strong case
for a Neolithic culture in Europe whose dominant cultural
metaphors were female (G1, G2). Female anatomy was the main source
of the first metaphors used to explain reality. I am inclined to
believe these metaphors, at some level of
AWAREness, have a very long
past, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years.
Metaphor and myth. What
mainly distinguishes humans from other creatures is our ability to
theorize. Yet animal behavior exhibits some ability to draw
conclusions or connections between things, so there is no point at
which hominids began to theorize. Origin myths and psychological
archetypes reveal something universal about human experience and
theorizing that may also say something universal about non-human
Philosophy, as any intellectual
discipline, seeks to find metaphors that explain something about
life. What distinguishes philosophical from other kinds of
explanation is its scope. Metaphors that are, or are assumed to
be, universal or to apply everywhere at all times are
philosophical. But what is taken to be universal depends on one’s
ability to generalize, that is, on one’s
AWAREness. To a child in the
womb, the womb is all there is. “Mother” is always there even
though not conceptualized as such.
Religion and culture. A
metaphor is a comparison of something familiar to something less
familiar. If philosophy seeks the most general metaphors, then
religion seeks to ritually weave these metaphors into the fabric
of our daily activity. These cultural insights, carried more or
less unconsciously by the ritual, continue to shape our mental and
physical existence for better or worse. Circumcision, often denied
to be a religious ritual by Moslems and Christians, is ritual that
cuts deeper than any named religion.
The term “cultural
tradition” is often used to refer to this deeper level.
Just as our physiology developed as a
means to survive in the environment we found ourselves millions of
years ago, so too human culture began and evolved out of beliefs
that certain rituals are essential for survival. The feeling that
life has purpose or meaning is far more a function of ritualized
social behavior than the conceptual
AWAREness intellectuals are inclined to deify. So even when
one is conceptually faced with self-destructive behavior, the
ritual may not change as any NOCIRC activist will attest.
Gender superficial but
influential. One characteristic found in all early theories
of reality and nearly universal yet today, is the role of gender.
Even though gender, from a sophisticated philosophical point of
view, is a superficial aspect of existence, people have taken it
to be a universal part of reality as far back as archeological
evidence gives clues to the human mind. Most things in human
experience, including humans themselves, were male or female.
Generalizing on this experience, gender was applied to things not
obviously gendered, like mountains, bodies of water and ships upon
Metaphors Based in Menstruation.
Female perspective. What
might have been those earliest ritualized metaphors that gave a
sense of order, purpose and understanding to creatures hundreds of
thousands, perhaps more than a million, years ago? What
environmental forces were so unavoidably familiar and startling
they ritualized behavior long before that behavior was in
AWAREness? The wealth of
recent scholarship emphasizing the female role in human
development has brought a new perspective to such questions.
We must be wary of sentimentalizing
the female metaphors used before the age of patriarchy. Rituals
like circumcision and human sacrifice developed before patriarchal
societies. After all, Skadi, the Queen of the Shades had to be
propitiated every year by a human stand-in for Loki whose
testicles were ripped out of his body to land in her loins bathing
them in blood. If she smiled, spring would return.
She, like other death goddesses, collected the severed penises
of her emasculated heroes. (W 941). Echoes of this practice can be
heard in David’s collection of two hundred enemy foreskins
(probably attached to the penises) as a sign of his worthiness to
marry a princess (I Sam. 16-18).
Genetic cosmology. A culture
which worships female functions projects these functions onto
natural events. When theory begins to explain not only our human
origin and structure but nature’s too, cosmology begins. Cosmology
finds order and purpose in previously
uninterrupted experiences of the
world, or at least in a larger world than our “on guard” stance
had previously considered. The first stories of cosmic genesis
were birth stories, that is, genetic or genital cosmologies. Why
did our first philosophical cosmogonies reflect major episodes in
Menstrual blood unavoidable.
Judy Grahn points out that blood may have been the most important
and also the most dangerous substance people faced (GJ). And face
it we must, and especially, face it she must. Women bleed. Women
bleed naturally. Their blood flows from their genitals. A woman is
a flow-er. This unavoidable biological fact and its inevitable
consequences are the basis for the best and the worst in human
culture, for the origin of human culture itself, if Grahn’s
provocative thesis is true.
Blood and predators. Myths
often combine the origin of menstruation and the world by saying a
canine or feline predator was responsible for both. The Maya had
their Jaguar; North American Indians their Coyote; the ancient
Egyptians their Jackal. They rip flesh, draw blood. Predators are
in stories relating birth and its fluids to menstrual blood. They
also make solid ground as Coyote did by bringing dirt up from
beneath the primeval waters (EO 88).
Blood as life. The origin of
our fixation on blood is not so much related to the kill of the
hunt as it is with blood we involuntarily shed, either naturally
with no loss or threat to life, or traumatically when wounded or
killed. Eventually, natural bleeding was discovered to be
necessary for life. Blood was even said to be the stuff of life,
since retained menstrual blood was believed to coagulate into the
fetus itself, just as the heavenly bodies were curds and clots of
mother nature’s milk and blood.
More likely, however, we first became
AWARE of the power of blood
as a major threat to our life. To lose much blood is to die,
except when the flowing blood is the cyclical bleeding of the
moonlike menses. But blood also attracts predators. The
menstruating woman’s life was more endangered because she left a
scent trail of blood. Anyone around her was also at risk. Hatred
of the wolf might come from competition for some of the same
resources, but Little Red Riding Hood’s fear of the wolf likely
stems from its role as a predator attracted to her red blood.
Blood was wondrous, but dangerous.
Appropriate behavior as ritual.
Those who changed their behavior, instinctually or culturally, to
minimize the danger reproduced more than those who didn’t. Ritual
is simply appropriate behavior or behavior believed to be
appropriate. Inappropriate behavior is not just dissocial,
irreligious, or naughty. Originally it was life-threatening. When
individuals presented a danger to their group, such behavior, even
when it was biologically necessary, had to be severely controlled.
A person endangering the group can either be ostracized or
confined to protect the group. Learning self-control through
ritual stands at the divide between instinct and
AWAREness, just as the
meaning of “AWAREness” itself
divides between physical and conceptual concern.
Menstrual isolation. For
everyone’s protection, the menstruating female had to be either
isolated outside the group in some place less accessible or
obvious to predators or isolated within the group. Her isolation
was in a protective sanctuary, or menstrual hut, which is still a
major part of many initiation rites and may have developed into
our temples (B 144, T 100, GJ 243).
Menstruation and the moon.
Not only did our ancestors discover a connection between
predation and menstruation, but also between menstruation and the
cyclical rhythms of the sky. Ancient peoples were obsessed with
astronomical measurements. Among the daily rhythms and the yearly
cycles, among the random events of sunshine and storm, was the
moon’s regular waxing and waning coincident with female menstrual
Moon people, moon cognates. “Moon,”
“month,” “mother,” “mouth,” “menstruation,” “measurement” “math,”
“matter,” “mammaries,” and even “man” which is still pronounced
more like “moon” in some dialects, are linguistic cognates
testifying to a common source. Humans first defined themselves as
“moon people,” as creatures who saw in the moon a basic metaphor
defining who they were. The linkage of these words presents the
metaphorical link between human physiology and cosmogony. If
menstrual blood and birth are linked, then when menstrual blood
and moon are linked, cosmic origin and birth are linked. Birth, an
exclusively female function, gives life to us and the cosmos.
Coincidence as control.
Coincidence is never mere coincidence to the emerging
superstitious mind. The menstruating female was not just
coincidentally in step with the rhythms of the world. She and the
world were in reciprocal control. Since woman’s blood was
powerful, she was powerful, powerful enough to alter nature’s
course. Power is dangerous as well as wondrous. Everything about
her was charged. Her body became a metaphor for the world (GJ).
Body as microcosm. Her
actions were mirrored in the world, as the world was mirrored in
her. Her body fluids, tears, spit, milk, blood and urine, were the
fluids of the world. We are affected by things around us, but
those most powerful among us can cause things in the world to
The affect the menstruant could have
on the world was probably felt to be at first, like all
superstitions or sympathetic magic, just the way the world works.
We just “know” that stepping on cracks breaks backs; we don’t need
a theory as to how or why. No cosmic gods or goddesses need exist
to please or to anger, though they have been feared now for
millennia. Causality in reality was seen as a two-way street.
Storms affect us, but combing her hair could cause storms, a
superstition believed by clergy into the 17th century (W 368).
Gaining control of self and cosmos.
Grahn and Bryk marshal evidence from anthropology and mythology
to show how cultures have treated the menstruant, especially
during her first bleedings. Since her skin was the earth’s
surface, a surface all too unstable, as our California friends
know too well, she could not be allowed to scratch herself. To
scratch open her skin would cause the earth to open. Neither could
she look at the light nor touch the ground so she was elevated on
a chair, bed or platform shoes. She could only drink water from a
straw, and could not even move for days or weeks. She could not
touch her blood to clean herself. She might be whipped with
nettles. All this suffering she had to endure for the welfare of
the clan. She was put through a ritual she could never forget. She
was made AWARE.
These behaviors reflect the extreme
of not wanting to step on the crack that breaks mother’s back.
Mother is the mother of all life, the collective cosmic mother who
is both caring and threatening. She gives birth to her children
from the blood-water of her womb, nurtures reality with the
various saps from her breast and takes us back (despite our
wishes) into her dark, but regenerating tomb-womb.
Success and celebration. At
the end of the menstruant’s seclusion, when the danger was less,
she was washed, coifed, draped and pampered in ways that continue
to protect her and the group from negative influences. Her clothes
and eye make-up protected the clan members from overpowering
direct contact with the charged person.
Jewelry distracted negative
spirits and plugged body openings preventing these spirits from
entering her body. A celebration ensued because once again the
world has not collapsed, the flood of unAWAREness
has once more been held at bay. The group once again had been
brought into a state of AWAREness,
had been put on guard.
But the price to be paid for
AWAREness is blood. The blood
price, according to one mythology,
is first paid by a willing
female, Inanna, as she hangs for three days on the peg (the dark
moon) before being killed and resurrected (to start fresh after
her bleeding) (GJ 212). Payment for the menstrual
AWAREness is passed in later
myth to an unwilling male victim, Dumuzi, which begins the
transfer from female-centered mythologies to male-centered ones
that ends with Christ’s willing sacrifice for his father, and
Mithras’ heroic acts glorifying his father without self-sacrifice
The “world” saved from the flood
refers to the conceptual scheme generated to understand our place
in the world, our ultimate orientation or “east-bearing.” Our
conceptual insights are always in danger of being lost in the
flood of unconsciousness. But Innana’s Boat of Heaven (also known
as “her well-praised vulva” and the crescent moon) rides out the
high water. She keeps her orientation since she possesses the
menstrual laws, the basic insights needed to understand and orient
life, and delivers to her people her cargo of laws that hold
heaven and earth together (WK, GJ 214). The world, apart from a
philosophy, is mere chaos. It is the dream-time before the
IV. Man’s Place in a
Cosmetics and cosmology.
These behaviors, focused around the female’s blood flow and its
dangers, were the beginnings of cosmetics. Altering our body
affects the world around us. The prostitute, originally a function
of the priestess whose body was man’s connection to the divine,
still signals with her make-up and dress, as we all do in our own
way. Grahn suggests the need for tools, clothes and shelter, the
cosmetic items of culture, developed from the proscriptions placed
on women in their menstrual isolation .
As a cosmologist, I wondered what
possible connection cosmetology could have with cosmology. The
connection is between the well-ordered body and the well-ordered
structure of the universe (GJ). They are not disconnected and
parallel orderings. One’s body rituals were thought to order the
cosmos, to hold it in place so life is possible. Suicide is common
when one’s body cannot alter events to make life meaningful. Life
without friends or lovers, an ostracized or uninfluential life, is
Ritual as conceptualization.
What is held in place by rituals is the conceptual framework that
interprets the world for us. Body modification and control is the
first control we have. If we change our mood, or our
vulnerability, we believe we will change the actions of mother
nature, just as we change the actions of our biological mother by
our appropriate behavior when we are pleased or discomforted. The
metaphors which gave us the genesis of the cosmos or uni-verse,
that is, genetic cosmology or cosmogony, were extensions of human
genital functions. “Uni,” one name for the unifying triple
goddess, actually comes from Sanskrit “yoni,” the vulva as source
of reality, symbolized by the fleur-de-lis and the dove (W 543).
Not all genitals were created equal. The genitals that had what it
took, that had “the right stuff,” were female genitals.
Blood, kin and power. The
menstruating woman with her power for construction or destruction,
with her aura of control and her direct connection to cosmic
forces by way of the moon, became the focus of the group. Her
blood was the unity of the group, what made them kin. Even in an
age of genetics we speak of being of the same blood. Her
centrality developed into the powers we now call priestess and
queen. As patriarchy developed, the queen became the king, though
not at first with anything like absolute power. The phantom ideal
of later ages was to unite again the power of priestess and queen,
but then under a kin source who was a male, a divinely
commissioned king. This king was the stand-in for a God whose
changeless kingdom was eventually conceived to be safer outside
the changing cosmos.
Superficial males. In an age
that had not connected male sexuality with reproduction, female
metaphors were the natural ones to explain reality, and females
were naturally the ones to control the rituals that carved a
female’s view of reality into everyone’s mind (and many bodies).
But males did not menstruate, give birth, nor nurse. It was not
from males that we came. Neither did we go to a male tomb-womb in
death to be reborn in whatever form the cosmic female might
determine in her cauldron’s bloody waters.
Male lunatics. For men to be
part of a society defined by moon cycles and moon bleeding, they
had to be brought into ritual relationship with the dominant
cultural metaphors. Men had to acquire “the right stuff,” or at
least imitate it. That “stuff” was genital blood (W, Birthgiving
Male). Occasionally it even meant acquiring a vulva, in the form
of a subincision. For men to move from the periphery of society
into its core,
meant men must acquire more
power. Power ultimately comes from having sacred knowledge. The
nuclear physicist, attorney and surgeon are examples of
high-priestly professions today. The ritual behavior they dictate
for society is believed essential to keep the world from
collapsing, to keep the sky from falling.
Cosmetic surgery for cosmological
knowledge. But only those who bleed, especially genitally,
can have the knowledge, can express the sacred rituals of power.
Just as females had to alter or control their bodies to control
the world, so men had to alter their bodies to become part of the
Ritual male genital bleeding was, as
most circumcisers say today, cosmetic surgery. It was not cosmetic
in the sense of “unnecessary.” It was cosmetic because
circumcision was necessary to gain and maintain cosmological
knowledge and power. This cosmological knowledge, incarnated
cosmetically with the knife, explained the mysteries of the
cosmos. Men became privy to the first philosophical cosmogony
describing the meaning and origin of reality through the sacred
genital ritual. This knowledge of the sacred mysteries, though
mostly subliminal, included the power to create, the power to
generate and give birth to the blood stored as a fetus in the womb
for nine moons.
Circumcision and Menstruation.
Examples of the close tie between menstrual blood and male
genital bleeding are many. The Hindu word “kula” meaning “flower”
or “nectar” was used euphemistically for a maiden’s first
menstrual blood that tied her as a woman to the clan spirit (also
see Lev. 15). And “in Fiji, the same word described a newly
circumcised adolescent boy, whose flow of genital blood during
circumcision was supposed to connect him to the tribe and give him
fertility magic like that of the kula girl” (W 516).
Kaffa boys were taken into a hut much like the menstrual hut (B
84). “Usually a period of seclusion in the loneliness of the
forest or in a special hut precedes circumcision...” (B 268). “On
the way home the boy must allow no drop of blood to fall on the
ground...” (B 75).
In ancient Egypt boys going to be circumcised wore girls’
clothes and were followed by a woman sprinkling salt, a common
substitute for menstrual blood. The Q’eqchi Maya shaman is
initiated by retiring to a hut in the bush for a month with his
I feel millennia melt away as I talk
to those who know circumcision is cosmetic, but still believe it
must be done. Some people also know that circumcision is not valid
if the wound does not bleed. Others say the pain is necessary.
Righting rites of genital blood.
Male circumcision, as we know it, almost certainly was not the
original male rite that righted his wrong organs. Complete
amputation of the foreskin began during the second century to
prevent Jews from hiding their heritage (B, ERE). Nicking or
pricking the organ to make it bleed was probably sufficient. A
later theory, incorporating a purpose for men, said the pricking
of the female (perhaps the tearing of her vaginal veil) by the
male, caused the onset of female bleeding and fertility.
However, the prevalence of eunuchs in
historical times, probably meant that many males went so far as to
completely cut off their inappropriate genitals to show complete
dedication to their divinity (W, Cybele). Eunuchs likely existed
in pre-patriarchal times as a way to find favor as males in the
priestess profession. If only Lorena Bobbitt had lived in an
earlier time, she might have found gainful employment! As
patriarchy developed, men not only took on, but eventually took
over, the priestess’ duties, but even then they often did so
without their genitals, or at least without being sanctioned to
use them (TR 136). The priest-king’s attire originally signaled
the male to be acceptable in a women’s profession as a
transvestite, a transition state from female to male power (W 503)
Male power from female grace.
Other rites developed that focused attention on men’s genitals.
Because women were less mobile with child-bearing and caring
responsibilities, they were more likely to settle down and claim
land. This eventually gave them economic power as agriculture
developed in Neolithic times. Men could then only gain power and
prestige as landlords as a consort of the female (W, Kingship).
The need for hunting for food was declining and the so too the
glory men acquired by hunting, and hunting each other in war was
just catching on. Abraham’s power, for example, came from Sarah
who, as a Mesopotamian priestess not allowed to have children,
took him as her consort rather than being his barren wife,
according to Savina Teubal’s
Mating, contrary to a common
presumption of marriage since patriarchal times, did not give a
man unlimited access to his wife, and she had no obligation to
mate with him for life. As agriculture developed, its cycles of
growth and decay, death and rebirth (similar to the waxing,
waning, disappearing and re-emerging moon cycles) began to be used
as a metaphor to explain the nature of the cosmos and the cycle of
human life, death and rebirth. Just as the seed came from mother
earth, died when planted in her under-ground, was reborn as it
germinated and grew and was sacrificed when eaten or replanted, so
too the male was born of a woman, mated with a woman, died as a
heroic sacrifice for a (cosmic) woman and was reborn as a male
child of a woman.
Heroic life and sacred king.
Part of a hero’s life was to stir up the regenerative powers of
the cosmos in a woman’s womb, and then be offered to the cosmic
female as a token for the abundance given, or as a bribe to the
cosmos to be more giving if times were hard. As a savior, he was a
“sower of seed,” a plower (that is, one who opens up the
He needed to die to fertilize the earth with his body and blood
(not his semen since its function was apparently not yet known).
The act of mating with the high priestess as a ritual to insure
the fertility of land and womb, was called hieros gamos (W,
T). Males were often sacrificed after mating with the
queen-priestess who embodied the divine female’s powers.
Mating gave the heroes the ultimate
blessing, being bled upon by the divine. The menstrual blood was
referred to as nectar or “moon-honey,”
so a honeymoon must last
one lunar or menstrual period to ensure the baptismal blood would
be available (W 408). Even after the relationship between sexual
intercourse and reproduction was understood, the final days of the
menstrual period were considered the most fertile (R).
The original meaning of being
“blessed” was “to be bled upon” (W 110). This blood blessing and
death transformed a hero from a mortal to an immortal.
Those who drank his blood and ate his flesh also gained
immortality. His deified flesh and blood were often scattered over
fields to ensure their fertility, or his body was hung like a
scarecrow in fields as an offering to secure good times. “To the
ancient Maya the blood and spirit given in sacrifice were
constantly recycled between the world of humans and the world of
the gods” (F 206).
The male before and after death was altered cosmetically, that is,
ritually decked-out for the ceremony in order to control the
cosmos, control, that is, our AWAREness
of what the universe is like.
Eventually, substitutes known as
sacred kings were found to satisfy the king’s death ritual (W).
These sacred kings found their way into mythologies of the old
world societies. Virgin mothers no longer gave birth
parthenogenically but required mates. The mate became a mother
giving birth to the reborn hero. The mother then assumed the third
aspect of her trinity, the death crone, who gathered up, or
consumed and gestated the sacred hero, when he was sacrificed.
Finally, the sacred king was reborn from the Janus crone-virgin as
the cycle was renewed with the male coming from and returning to
the female. Later patristic sensitivities required the infant son
come from a father creator, being merely incubated in a female,
and return to him forever when he died. Some myths even had the
gestation take place in the male, in Zeus’ thigh, for example.
The Maya Quetzalcoatal, born of a
virgin, gave blood from his penis to re-create the human race
after the Flood. As one of the “castrated Fathers,” he was
sacrificed, descended into the underworld, rose from the dead and
was expected to return to earth. The Europeans beat him to it.
Odin, the mythic Norse All-Father,
gave himself as a sacrifice to fructify Erda by his blood (not his
semen since its function was apparently not yet known) flowing
from a wound in his side. His nine days (symbolic of the nine
moons of pregnancy) of suffering hanging from the world tree
gave him the feminine
secrets of the wise blood in Erda’s womb-cauldron, Odrerir. He
could then become a saga (female priestess-prophetess), one
who has the power of knowledge and writing with the runes. In
imitation of the divine, human sacrifices were hanging from trees
into the 10th century (W 733).
Genital sacrifice as substitute.
The king’s sacrifice, either as a requirement of the hieros
gamos or because a younger rival killed him (after castrating
him to prevent even his spirit from having retributive power),
seems to have been modified to allow the king to live but only at
the expense of his genitals, a ritual carried well into historical
times. Genital amputation would cause the necessary bleeding and
remove any chance he would trivialize his mating with the
queen-priestess by mating with lesser women. The king’s acquired
holiness dwelt mostly in his genitals since that is his point of
contact with the goddess-queen sacred blood. The Neolithic Ice
Man, recently discovered in the Alps and dated to 3300
BCE, has no genitals. Could
this possibly be one of the “lords who were half woman” as these
emasculated men were called (W 146)?
Likely the first ritual genital mutilations were only done to the
male hero as a representative of all males. It may not have been
necessary for all males to submit to the knife of the
cosmetologist. But just as smoking moved from an occasional act of
communion with the divine to a secular activity of the elite and
then to a common activity of the population as a whole, just as
white flour used by the rich for special occasions came to be the
only flour available for the poorest people, so too genital
mutilations probably moved out of the province of the most
privileged to become a “benefit” for everyone. Social workers and
nurses have been known to tell an unwed mother she can bless her
son with a circumcision before giving him up for adoption. Perhaps
they are carrying on an ancient tradition when women originally
did the circumcisions and dispensed the blessings of
Male separatism. As
patriarchy gained a strong foothold in the middle of the first
millennium BCE, eunuchs were
still in the service of holy orders, but now in male separatist
orders like early Buddhism and Pythagoreanism. Even some
Christians claimed that cutting off genitals was a godsend since
desire for the devil (whose name was “woman”) was diminished
Hierarchical abusers. Abused
people abuse others. Mutilations were still done as a way to
tie-into (the root meaning of “religion”) the divine’s favor or
his earthly representatives. However, the divine was now male and
the ritual took on new meanings. Genital mutilations removed or
exposed a male’s most valued body part. This operation
demonstrated trust and obedient submission to one’s elders who in
many cases took out unbelievable aggression on helpless youth
during their initiation hazing. Initiates were told heroic
endurance of pain was necessary to become a man (B). Obeying the
highest power is still believed by most pious people to be the
same as loving him.
Male re-birthing. Finally,
male genital cosmetics were rationalized in a typical patriarchal
reversal: It became a sign one has left the woman’s world of one’s
birth, rather than an attempt to identify with it. The man’s
covenant with his male gods assured him that his re-birth (by way
of a male) would be into a male’s world of light that saves him
from the female’s world of darkness. Zulu boys wear women’s aprons
until the ritual circumcision is over and they have become men (B
Domination and womb envy.
Females were left out of male covenants except as they were
useful for male ends. This mind-set is still with us. Women end up
as concubines and servants, and subordinate men as guardians in
strongly patriarchal cults, and neither are women acceptable in
positions of influence in the more respected clerical hierarchies
both east and west.
Of course, even as a signature of the male covenant or as males
pleasing male gods, ritual circumcision cannot escape its origin
in envy of the womb’s holy blood. Perhaps someday womb envy, like
penis envy, will be accepted as a clinical diagnosis in
Ritual hunting, war and sports.
Male blood rites go far beyond genital bleeding. Even in the deer
hunt today, the kill and gutting in the field is more important
than any physical sustenance the meat brings, though my
deer-hunting friends always offer some ground venison, like a
communion offering, to those not fortunate enough to kill the holy
flesh themselves. War, of course, is the ultimate high. Only where
all is risked, can awe be most awesome, since it could have been
most awful. Many games and sports are but diluted versions of
full-bodied, heroic blood rites. Other sports are ways of
demonstrating skill and control of one’s self and the cosmic
stand-in, the ball. Self-control controls the cosmos.
Gender and materialism. In a
female-gendered cosmology only women are made in the image of the
divine. The materialistic metaphors men have often used to
describe the cosmos is another way men have sought to remove the
second-class stigma of being male. However, not only do these
metaphors avoid gender, they also treat the cosmos as an “it,” an
object, rather than a person. This depersonalization is now having
disastrous environmental and spiritual consequences.
The flow-er. We are gendered
creatures, whose impregnations take place inside the body of the
female gender only. The preparations for carrying these fertilized
cells internally until they are sufficiently developed to exist on
their own includes a blood flow synchronized with the moon’s
period. The flow-er and the blood flow was wondrous since it
created life, but dangerous since blood attracted predators. As
consciousness increased, the relationship between menstrual blood,
kinship safety, reproduction and cosmic events became more
obvious. The cosmos came from a female, just as humans and other
life-forms, and the universe (that is, our
AWAREness of it) likewise
could sicken and die as other lives do. To decrease the danger to
one’s physical and mental map of the cosmos, the menstruant and
her kin had to increase control of themselves as their means to
control the world. This was done through sympathetic magic. By
controlling her body cosmetically, the cosmos was designed,
controlled and understood metaphorically.
The prick-er. Genital blood
flow became genital blood-letting in various forms for males. The
female is a natural flow-er. The male had to become a prick-er.
Circumcision was just one of the pricking and cutting procedures
used to draw blood. Blood-lettings corrected nature’s mistake:
genitals that did not bleed. By initiating genital blood-flow
could men could more easily identify with the female principles of
the cosmos. Ritual genital bleeding allowed males to participate
in the thought forms giving the world shape and meaning that
brought us out of the flood of pre-consciousness. We are saved by
metaphors stored in our emerging
AWAREness, a levy against the flood threatening our
extinction. Pain was necessary to store them deeply enough to
survive inundations. We were saved from the chaotic flood by
Men became prickers in trying to
become flow-ers. They never truly made it. The vehemence of man’s
blood-letting belies a deep anxiety that he is not truly OK.
Perhaps more blood is the fix. The male circumcision rituals
became parallel rituals that tried to develop their own rationale.
Their blood rites were eventually interpreted to support a sexist
separatist movement, then a sexist dominance movement called
“patriarchy” whose body-penetrating pricking from war and
deflowering, to hunting and circumcision, still preoccupies our
every thought and action.
Genderless cosmic subject.
The resurgence of cosmic female metaphors may correct the mistake
of treating the cosmos as an object, but we have been in that cul
de sac before. Gender equality and environmental sanity will only
be stabilized when we realize we exist within a genderless, but
unsurpassably all-inclusive, living Individual. Humanity’s
challenge now to avoid extinction is twofold: (1) to conceive (or
re-conceive) the universe as a living reality, but (2) to do so
without a gender bias. Our early ancestor’s cosmology was
humanity’s greatest achievement, but its gendered basis lies at
the root of humanity’s greatest evils.