Mon, 26 April 2010
In the beginning, the people of the fertile crescent worshipped a Mother Goddess. She was often paired with one of two Gods: the God of the Sky known as El or Horus, and the God of the Earth known as Baal or Osiris. While the sky God was often represented by a falcon or other winged beast, the earth God was associated with horned beasts, the bovines whose two horns and cloven feet signified that the world and its creatures were the result of a coupling, of savage lustful intercourse. While the Earth god clearly had sex and died and was reborn like the things that rise from the dark soil, the sky God by merit of his association with the vast and unreachable expanse above, grew ever more abstract, separate from the Goddess, above the God of the Earth. The worshippers of El told the story of how he came to their people and commanded that they should have no Gods other than him. In exchange he would give them a land all of their own. He insisted on being the only one, the one that rules from above. As a result of assuming this lonesome position as the only deity in the heavens, without a Goddess to keep him company, El gradually became an asexual entity, beyond desire, beyond passion, beyond lust. The worshipers of El, under the guidance of Moses, set about the task of being faithful to just one God and they sought out the land that they had been promised in exchange for their loyalty. However, old habits do die hard, and in the desert the people slipped naturally back into worshipping the Earth God recognized by their parents. Baal rose once more from the ashes in the form of a golden calf. It fell to Moses to remind the people of their covenant with the sky God. This he did with threats of punishment from above. The Earth God became a tempter, the eternal adversary of El, the locus of evil. When the followers of Moses at last reached the land they had been promised, they settled in and began to cultivate it. They might have remained a small and relatively forgettable cult had they not been conquered and carried away by the Babylonians and then later conquered and carried away by the Romans. In Babylon, they wrote the story of their agreement with the sky God in words weighed with regret and desperation. Sadness and resentment dripped from every letter of their tribal history, a fanciful mythology still popular to this day. When the Persian King conquered Babylon, he was agreeable with the worshipers of El and restored them to their promised land. That first defeat was important to the survival of El’s cult as it gave them the opportunity to to assemble their three ring binder, their linguistic and symbolic genetic code. In the long thick scrolls they established their history and stated their mission. It was, however, their later defeats under the dominion of the Roman empire that helped them to export their cult to the rest of the civilized world. Through the years, decades and centuries, that original cult underwent various mutations and broke off into warring branches: the followers of Jesus, the followers of Mohamed and the followers of Yochanan. But in all these branches, the central tenant remained the same: one God was to be the only God who ruled from the heavens above. El, an incorporeal, inhuman deity, a deity that, without a body, could not have sex and need not have sex, came to have a great following throughout the Middle East and Europe. The great rivalry between the God of the sky and the God of the Earth dictated that one and only one could be held as good. The other would be seen as evil. The more evil that the God of the Earth became, all the more evil was sexuality and the cycles of nature, including menstruation and death. And so we fear the darkness. And so we fear the end that is not the end. And so we fear the earth and the dissolution that comes with it. And so we fear the dissolution of our unity, the moment of openness where the opposites meet and the two Eternal Gods are finally, as always, one and the same. Again as it once was. Again as it would be. For now, El reigns above, lonely and diffuse, an empty void, lacking in meaning or direction, ready to be used by any and all comers for their own purposes and machinations. Baal lurks underneath, at the edges of reason, in the dark spots where language cannot go, the regions that humans avoid for fear of seeing their true nature.