Fertility tradition may well be divided into two cardinal parts; the elements and human survival. It is against this natural background that we can understand the advent and growth of south-western Asian gods and religious beliefs.
By 9000 B.C., as already touched upon, man is generally believed to have evolved from savage hunter-gatherer to settled farmer, but despite extensive irrigation throughout the Mesopotamian alluvial plains, vast areas would continue to prove intractable and much of the Crescent’s natural resources would therefore remain lamentably untapped. Evidently, helplessness and despair must have set in, but like the genetically embedded insecurity that turns the tender child to his parents for guidance and solutions, frustration may well have ultimately moved the imaginative farmer to equally plead and bargain with this unfathomable celestial entity now suspected of causing his misery. In short, he may have pondered its approach and, perhaps, even intuit that his survival hinged on ingratiating schemes and rituals. Although experts cannot ascertain when the Asian farmer got his final act together, they do concur that the Sun was the target at which he aimed his first expressions of reverence and contrition.
According to Mesopotamian and Hellenistic astronomers, the Chaldeans were already making precise the times of the movements of celestial bodies at the time of Nabonassar, the first king of Babylon. The control that the Sun exerts over its entire system was therefore evident to early Mesopotamians. Indeed, these had recognized this star’s ability to transform the landscape, for instance, and had certainly been no strangers to the fact that the fertility of earth is regulated by its energy. The first detectable god in south-western Asia was thus none other than the paternal Sun-God, whose countenance was far “too radiant for mortal eyes to behold,” and whose outpouring rain meant life and salvation. By continuous observation, moreover, the ancients first came to realize that water is the life-blood of the planet and, in due course, they would acknowledge it as the very basis of every bodily and spiritual development.
Mesopotamia’s emergent agrarian fraternity had thus come to regard the Sun as a fatherly penis, because its rain, like semen, was seen to impregnate and regulate earth´s productivity. During times of desiccation, and in some Chinese, Indian, and Greek rural areas, phallic processions (the bequest of their respective ancestors) are still a common occurrence. In some areas of the Yucatan Peninsula we can still find monolithic phallic images dotting the landscape, whilst representational statues of Mother Earth -naked and pregnant- continue to be unearthed throughout the world. Indeed, the cult of Mother Earth in its manifold manifestations is also clearly present in myths and legends, such as those of Phoenicia, India, the Americas, and Africa. These two, then, the Sun and the Earth, are the original deities and the producer and reproducer respectively of all life. Once these parental gods had been firmly established, it would be the turn for lesser gods to emerge and deify the rest of the meteorological and natural elements.
On account of Mesopotamia’s marshy and naturally rich southern region being under the level of the sea and lacking in natural watercourses, it is unable to distribute the seasonal inundations. The aforementioned embryonic fertility beliefs thus found corroboration in the peculiarity of this area´s topography, leading the imaginative ancients to regard this region as the very uterus of Mother Earth and the very point where divine coition was manifested. Consequently, southern Mesopotamia would become a haven for sex-oriented worship, which during the dry summer -the time of the year when the Sun takes a firmer control of the human hormones- saw the faithful holding what would later become known as lamentation ceremonies. These desperate supplications for rain took the form of sexual activities meant to arouse the on-looking Heavenly Penis into outpouring His all-restoring seminal bounty. In pre-Jewish Canaan, we should note, male and female prostitutes had been regularly employed in holy places, where orgies were held and after which the resulting seminal emissions were ceremoniously collected by the presiding priesthood and then offered to God in pursuit of His much needed ´ejaculation´. Such was the ancient reverence attached to rain that semen became most sacred, and its squandering, not surprisingly, consequently deemed unholy. Tantrism, the oldest Indian religion, according to some, therefore warns: “…the seed must not fall…the falling of the seed leads to death and its keeping is life.” Similarly, in the later Bible, we find that “spoiling it on the ground” is a sinful act. 1 Samuel, 13:5, therefore threatens: “….but if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed both you and your king.” If there were no precipitations it was clear that there would be no regeneration, whence again the sententious; “the wages of sin is death.” Spoiling the precious fluid on the ground, or anywhere else for that matter, had become a sinful act, and this practice may well have been the cause of the biblical slaughter of homosexuals in Sodom. This enmeshing creed had held that sin violated the natural laws and that it disrupted the natural process set in motion by the Great Phallus of the Sky. Bible students would do well to note that the word ‘sin’ reaches us via the Greek pan from the original Chaldean hata, generically meaning ‘to miss the mark’, and that its context is evidently not one of archery, as thought in most quarters -given the later connection of this activity with enlightenment in Asian countries- but of sex. This basal idea of sin must thus lie not only at the root of the allegorical satanic image of the multi-orgasmic goat (the Greek god Pan being a case in point), but also, and far more significantly, at the very core of the recently lifted Catholic strictures against contraception and even at the very heart of the Judaeo-Christian condemnation of prostitution, coitus interruptus, masturbation, and practical male homosexuality.
This natural process could not be violated by such illicit sexual activities, and culprits were fervently persecuted by the pandering priesthood. This labyrinthine incontinence scheme, onerous as it was, must have rendered the laity forever trapped and penitent. Conveniently then, initiatives that took the form of blood and burnt offerings to the Great Benefactor were eventually introduced as appeasement and mortification measures by the priesthood to thus ensure both the restoration of the natural balance and the extrication of those countless irrepressible, but yet indispensable sinners. Indeed, unearthed records speak of redemption animal sacrifices offered by the Sumerians as far back as 2,300 B.C. Mosaic Law, in fact, would later speak of the holiness bestowed by Yahweh upon those faithful who would perform blood-rituals exactly as decreed. In this context, and to please his exigent god, Solomon, the biblical Jewish king, had himself assumed full responsibility for the edification in Jerusalem of “the house to the Lord.” The Bible records Yahweh’s response to Solomon: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice.” According to experts, this temple had comprised the Holy Place, where only the priesthood could enter to perform certain duties at stated times, and also the Holy of Holies, accessed exclusively by the high-priest on the Day of Atonement for the sins of the common folk. In fact, Atonement blood is “most holy unto the Lord,” claims Exodus, and in Leviticus, we find: “the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul.” The New Testament adopts the foregoing, adding: “he who eats of my flesh and drinks of my blood shall never perish.” In order to incite the gods into coition, sacrificial blood (the container of life) had often been poured copiously into a devitalized and, by implication, a sex-starved earth. Often, the celebrant priesthood would eat the flesh of sacrificial victims, particularly of the first-born. It would appear that this was an act that allegedly drew priests nearer to the Divinity, enhancing their mediation role in the process. In the Aztec Cult of Tlaloc, numerous children, especially first-born babies at the breast, were forcibly bought from their stumped mothers by the priests for daily sacrifice. Here, the rituals would have climaxed when the bawling suckling shed tears, moving the jubilant spectators to respond by shouting to the top of their voices: “rain is coming, salvation!” Yahweh, the biblical god, would often resort to intimidation and killing over the preparation of the meat destined for the fire of offering. Indeed, this tribal deity was quite finical over these arrangements, and the Book of Numbers and Leviticus both dedicate a few chapters exclusively to these fleshy, mouth-watering recipes, some of which, by the way, had previously pleased the equally capricious Babylonian and Phoenician gods among others. However, when God manifested His Blessings by showering mercies upon the land, the exultant beneficiaries, now feeling redeemed, would proceed to organize convivial events in dedication to their forgiving and magnanimous benefactor.
Anciently, the first gathering of the season’s produce was believed to be more favourably endowed with the source of divine life than the later progeny. Exodus, 4.2, therefore projects Israel as God’s “first-born”, while in 13:2 of the same book, Yahweh enunciates: “all first-born are mine”. The human first-born were the pride of nations, and to lose these precious ones, except in sacrifice, was deemed ignominious and believed to entail religious excommunication and, more often than not, social banishment for the affected families. This is precisely why the Bible features God selecting the Egyptian first-born for the slaughter that would finally secure the release of His people from the tight grips of this nation. In Persian literature, Mithras, the Sun-God, gladly accepts the offering of the first-born, and Genesis likewise depicts a fawning Abel, presenting the firstlings of his flock for sacrifice to his grateful god, whilst Abraham, the biblical Patriarch, almost sacrifices Isaac, his very own first offspring. Although open to interpretation, Exodus includes Yahweh’s demand: “…the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me,” and Proverbs reports that His followers should “…honour the Lord with his substance and with the first fruits of his increase.” Deuteronomy testifies that both the offering of the first fruits and of the first-born to God were popular sacrifices among all those Canaanites who feared Him. Lastly, in Romans, we find Paul, linking the holiness of the first-fruits to the first-fruits of the Spirit, while 1 Corinthians speaks of Christ as “…the first-fruit of all those who sleep,” and Revelations of those fortunate enough to have been redeemed from among men, these being “…the first-fruits unto God.” It is no wonder, then, that Jesus, God’s First and Only Begotten offspring, according to the Bible, should have been sacrificed as atonement for the sins of an evil world.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in