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Discovering the Magic of Rock Pictures

posted May 6, 2010, 8:56 PM by Layne Lawless   [ updated May 6, 2010, 9:02 PM ]


For decades, archaeologists have been fascinated by symbols and pictures on rocks and caves. Almost everyone knows about the pictographs in the caves at Lescaux, even though they may not know how to pronounce the name. Some have even used the rather disparaging term “rock art” to describe the pictures and symbols, as if their creators had nothing better to do than to doodle on the rocks in their "leisure" time.

Rock pictures consist of two different types. Petroglyphs are pecked, abraded, or ground into the surface of the rock, similar to carving one's initials on a tree, but taking much more time. Petroglyphs may be found in concealed rock crevices or out in the open on boulders or cliff faces. Pictographs are painted on the rock, and are usually found inside caves, since weather and the passage of time would tend to obliterate them on the outside. Occasionally, a petroglyph will be found that is also painted.

Rock pictures are broadly divided into several different categories: geometrics or abstracts, animals, human figures, and anthropozoomorphic figures which contain both human and animal elements. Some sites contain only a couple of types, and many contain variations of all the types. Throughout the world, there is an amazing similarity in the pictures.

Dating of Rock Pictures

The age of rock pictures is difficult to determine, but accuracy is increasing as newer dating methods are being developed. In the southwest desert, petroglyphs are dated by the amount of “desert varnish” that has accumulated on the rock face. The petroglyphs are pecked into the desert varnish, and reveal the layer of rock underneath the “varnish” or oxidized face of the rock. The growth of lichen on the rock face can help to date petroglyphs less than 700 years old.

Subject content also is a factor in dating petroglyphs and pictographs. Pictures of extinct animals have been found in European caves. In the Coso range, at China Lake Naval Weapons Center, in Ridgecrest, CA, petroglyphs are partially dated by a change in hunting technology. The transition from atlatl and spears to bows and arrows marked a significant advance, and dates can vary from 1,000 BCE to 300 CE.[1] If pictographs are found along with artifacts in caves, then the date of the artifacts may indicate their approximate age, as well as aid in interpretation of the pictures. Estimates of the age of rock pictures range from 33,000 years old to as little as 200-400 years old.

What Do They Mean?


Many professional archaeologists have studied rock pictures, but not too many choose to interpret their meanings. Unless artifacts are found lying nearby, or are excavated at the site, interpretation is rather speculative. Up until recently, most scholars had chosen to speculate that the rock pictures were some form of sympathetic magic for hunting, fertility, or destruction (in the case of dangerous animals).[2]

Those who preferred a secular explanation to a religious one, have suggested that the symbols and images may be forms of counting, time keeping (as the seasons change), graffiti, directions to good hunting areas or water, or historical records of battles. In the case of historical records, there are some petroglyphs of men on horseback shooting arrows in the American Southwest. It is assumed that they were done by Native Americans, since there were no horses in the New World until Europeans brought them. In this case, dating the petroglyphs is easy. They can’t be more than 400 years old. This is a date considered quite young for most rock pictures.

I believe most rock pictures are thousands of years old, and reflect the spiritual beliefs of their makers. They were made to record a shamanic journey, to aid novices in their vision quests, to curry favor with their deities, and to create magic in the form of plentiful food and good health. We will journey from Europe and Africa to the American Southwest in our quest for the meanings of petroglyphs and pictographs.

Many archeologists are starting to use ethnography from current native groups to interpret the meanings of rock pictures. An older example of this comes from Prehistoric Rock Pictures in Europe and Africa, by Frobenius and Fox, published in 1937. In an effort to interpret pictographs in Europe, the authors tell a story about how their pygmy companions in Africa had to do an elaborate ritual before they could go hunting to feed them. They went to the top of a hill, drew a game animal in the dirt and shot it in the neck with a bow and arrow at sunrise, as another pygmy recited an incantation. Later, the hunting party returned with a bushbok. The next day, at sunrise, they went to the same hill, dabbed hair and blood from the animal on the picture, and then obliterated it. This is an example of the older interpretation of rock pictures being sympathetic magic for hunting.

The authors claim the Paleolithic connection of Europeans and Africans is established by finding cones of African fauna in conjunction with Stone Age implements in Europe.

Seasonal change was very important to early humans. They needed to know when to plant, and when water would be coming to water their crops. Shortening of daylight was a concern—there was less time in which to accomplish tasks, it was harder to stay warm, and there was doubt as to whether supernatural effort might be necessary for the return of the sun. Having good weather was a matter of survival. Accordingly, many Native American groups view the sun, moon, planets, and morning and evening stars as deities.[3] Grace Burkholder asserts: “[Native Americans] assumed a personal responsibility for encouraging their Sun Deity not to stray but to continue on a path which would benefit all the earth’s peoples. This was accomplished through the proper performance of ceremonies and rituals.”[4]

Burkholder surveyed 15 different locations in Nevada for signs of petroglyphs related to important seasonal changes, such as solstices, equinoxes, and midseason. The petroglyphs that were solar markers were often located in small, rocky caverns, or in rock crevices where they were not easily seen. They are usually abstracts or geometrics, or recognized sun symbols, e. g., the culturally universal sphere with rays emanating from it. They often occur where there are other petroglyphs. At certain times, usually sunset or sunrise, a dagger of sunlight will penetrate the petroglyph, the angle of the sun even matching the angle of the petroglyph. This occurs only at these precise times of the year. Since most of the petroglyphs were hidden, it is likely their makers did not want them to be accessible to just anyone. This suggests to me that they were done by shamans, not ordinary tribe members.

What was the purpose of these petroglyphs? Was it to gain power from the sun deity? The occurrence of vulva symbols along with solar markers may indicate a wish for fertility or perhaps worship of a female deity. Ethnographic accounts indicate that harvesting of agave fruit was concurrent with spring, and “a ribbon of sunlight delineating a sacred area” along with an abundance of food allowed “people to participate in the rituals which renewed their faith in the supernatural.”[5] The table of attributes and drawings of petroglyphs are included in Appendix A.


Spirals, Snakes, and the Goddess


Petroglyphs also occur on megaliths or in passage graves, such as that at Newgrange. “During the Neolithic [era] the art becomes abstract. Spirals and geometric designs appear on stones and rock surfaces…”[6] The spiral is a recurring theme, found in the temples of Malta, in passage graves, and upper Paleolithic caves in Europe, as well as in the New World. Marija Gimbutas says: “The spiral, symbol of energy and cyclic time, appears in the Upper Paleolithic, where it is associated with sepentiforms and horned animals.”[7] Even the famous Stonehenge has petroglyphs on it. There are carvings on the stones that symbolize the protectress of the dead; they face the sun at winter solstice.[8]

While it is beyond the scope of this work to interpret every symbol, the spiral seems worthy of a bit more attention. Since I know that bull’s horns and snakes are associated with the Goddess, and as Gimbutas says: “…the [spiral is] both an artistic geometrization and a symbolic abstraction of the dynamic snake…”[9] I’d like to hypothesize here that a journey into a cave or rock shelter was a way for ancient peoples to touch and commune with the Goddess. Even if you were to be strictly Freudian about it, you have to admit that caves have a distinctly female quality. As I shall reveal later, the petroglyph symbols were often associated with a mystical journey.

Ancient Australian Aboriginals believed that the Rainbow Serpent Goddess is the creator of the land and of the people. The Museum of the Northern Territory reports that the earliest rock painting of the Rainbow Serpent is perhaps more than 8,000 years old. “The mythology of the Rainbow Serpent comes to life in the landscape during the expansion of the serpentine waterways when the wet season fills the river banks. The waterways’ crystalline appearance and undulating shape mimic that of a snake and are captured in the glyphs of the area and in the Aboriginal understanding of the human female. The rainbow, shimmering with colors of life, appears in the sky after the fecund rainy season, at a time when fruits, vegetables, insects, and animals appear in droves. The rainbows in the sky are the spirit, soul, or ‘shade’ of the Rainbow Serpent that lives in a deep water hole or underground.”[10]

Spirals and Energy Conduction

Maxine Asher on the spiral symbol: “After I observed the proliferation of the spiral in many archeological sites, I began to hypothesize that it could represent the involution and the evolution of the universe, or the yin and the yang contraction principle believed to operate among all living things. In other words, the ancients may have known that energy is conducted most efficiently through a balance of the forces so they carved those symbols on the monuments to facilitate that balance. In nature we observe that the spiral is the basic form of the DNA molecule, the nautilus shell, and the intricate makeup of many flowers and plants.”[11]

“Wherever [spirals and random dots] were found, I experienced maximum energy flow. The ancients may have concentrated on the symbols in order to produce an altered state of consciousness which allowed for movement and flow. Even when ceremonies were not purposefully undertaken, the symbols kept the energy mass in motion in and around the sacred areas.”[12] (See Appendix B.)

Shamanism and Symbols

posted May 6, 2010, 8:48 PM by Layne Lawless   [ updated May 6, 2010, 8:55 PM ]


A fascinating theory has evolved about the purpose of rock pictures, one that is as old as it is new. Its primary proponents are archaeology professors in South Africa, France, and at UCLA.

The theory suggests that they are “mementoes of shamanic vision quests in which shamans sought to draw on the powers of the world around them by inducing hallucinations. The vision became your spirit helper, which you immortalized with an image.”[13] Clottes and Lewis-Williams draw upon neuropsychological research to explain the trance states of shamans that created the pictographs in caves in Europe and probably the petroglyphs in the New World.

At the beginning of their book, The Shamans of Prehistory--Trance and Magic in the Painted Caves, they show a photo of 2 petroglyphs in North America side by side: a snake and a bird. The snake is symbolic of connecting with the underworld and the spirits, while the bird symbolizes flight into the upper world. (See Appendix C.)

What causes trance states, and what kinds of visions do shamans see? “At all times and in all places [throughout history] people have entered ecstatic or frenzied altered states of consciousness and experienced hallucinations. Indeed, the potential to shift, voluntarily or involuntarily, between states of consciousness is a function of the universal human nervous system.”[14]

“Trance states are caused by a wide range of factors…Including temporal lobe epilepsy, migraines, schizophrenia, ingestion of psychotropic drugs, sensory deprivation, prolonged social isolation, intense pain, vigorous dancing, and insistent, rhythmic sound, such as drumming or chanting.”[15]

“In the first, or lightest, stage of trance people "see" geometric forms, such as dots, zigzags, grids, sets of parallel lines, nested curves, and meandering lines. The forms are brightly colored and flicker, pulsate, enlarge, contract, and blend one with another.”[16] These are the same geometric forms that neuropsychological research has established in laboratory experiments with people from the industrialized world. These experiments used electricity, LSD, and sometimes sensory deprivation to make the subjects hallucinate. These geometric forms are often referred to as entoptics, meaning “within the eye. It’s believed that these patterns derive from the optic system itself…Concentric circles, spirals, and grids are probably generated by neurons firing in the visual cortex and the retina.”[17]

“In the second stage, subjects try to make better sense of the geometric percepts by illusioning them into objects of religious or emotional significance. Shimmering zigzags may be construed as a writhing snake.”[18]

“The third stage is reached via a vortex, or tunnel. Subjects feel themselves drawn into the vortex, at the end of which is a bright light. On the sides of the vortex is a lattice derived from the fometric imagery of Stage One. In the compartments of this lattice are the first true hallucinations of people, animals, and so forth. When subjects emerge from the far end of the tunnel, they find themselves in the bizarre world of trance: monsters, people, and settings are intensely real. With one's eyes open, Stage Three hallucinations are projected onto surrounding surfaces...the surfaces themselves become animated. In Stage Three people feel they can fly and change into birds or animals. One of the frequently reported experiences is transformation into an animal.”[19] (See Appendix D.)

“We emphasize that these 3 stages are universal and wired into the human nervous system, though the meanings given to the geometrics of Stage One, the objects into which they are illusioned in Stage Two, and the hallucinations of Stage Three are all culture-specific; at least in some measure, people hallucinate what they expect to hallucinate.”[20]

“Altered states of consciousness are…interpreted in 1 of 2 ways: spirit-possession or soul-loss. Hunting and gathering societies usually interpret it as soul-loss. All over the world, shamans speak of flying to distant places and to other realms that are inhabited by spirits and monsters. Descent is also part of the shamanic initiation.”[21] Going into a cave most probably was a way of descending into the spirit realm, of touching the Earth Goddess.

Some have suggested that the paintings in the caves in Europe were just “doodling,” or a way of passing the time. Caves were magical—when one went into them, one went on serious business. The people of the Upper Paleolithic were “no longer happy savages with time on their hands. They had to struggle in a hostile world for survival.”[22]

Shamans in hunting and gathering societies enter altered states of consciousness to achieve a variety of ends that include healing the sick, foretelling the future, meeting spirit-animals, changing the weather, and controlling real animals by supernatural means. “The theory of sympathetic magic is based on a relationship or identity postulated between an image and its subject. In acting upon the image, one acts upon the person or animal represented. The more successful the drawing, the more effective the magic.”[23]

The idea that the pictures on the cave walls were for fun or superficial purposes is negated by the portable art found at Enlene and Les Trois-Freres. There were bone objects, spearheads, cone fragments, and teeth, some engraved with diagonal lines, thrust vertically into the floor of the cave. Small bones were found pushed into the cracks in the walls of the cave. Other items found included fossil shell, bear teeth, flints, and a flint-end-scraper. Other areas that were especially difficult to access, where cavities in the rock were filled with clay, were found repeatedly punctured by spears, sticks and fingers.[24]

“It seems as if people were trying to penetrate the surfaces, to reach through the walls…Upper Paleolithic people understandably believed that caves led to the underworld. The walls, ceilings, and floors of the caves were therefore little more than a thin membrane between themselves and the creatures and the happenings of the underworld.”[25]

The way in which the pictographs were created shows a very focused sense of purpose. Animals are drawn out of proportion with their actual size, and exist, floating on the walls, without any natural background or vegetation. After all, “…it was spirit animals that mattered, not the world outside the caves.”[26] The cave's surface was used to create features, e. g., nodules were used for an eyes; some rock reliefs were transformed into faces based on their shapes. Animals sometimes appear to emerge from within the rock, particularly when drawn using a crevice as the point of origin. The animals, for the most part, are unrelated to each other. “These…features are characteristics of the projected hallucinations of the third stage of altered consciousness. The important point here is that the paintings and engravings do not depict real animals that were hunted for food in a real landscape…they are more like visions that were sought in a subterranean spirit realm for their supernatural potency and the help that they could give to shamans.”[27]

Not many of the animals are depicted as being speared or penetrated by arrows (something that would normally indicate hunting magic), and of the few that are, they’re hidden away in secluded areas of the caves where they have a small chance of being seen. Anthropozoomorphic (human/animal) figures suggest images of transformed shamans in stage three hallucination, or they may be manifestations of the Lord or Lady of the animals, what we might call a “beastmaster.”

All around the world, there are pictographs of hands, sometimes done by pressing a hand to the rock and spraying paint around the outline, and at other times by painting the hand and pressing it to the rock. What do these hand paintings mean? Are they more than just a way of saying “I was here?” “It was the act of covering the hand and the immediately adjacent surfaces with (usually red but sometimes black) paint that was important. People were sealing their own or others’ hands into the walls, causing them to disappear beneath what was probably a spiritually powerful and ritually prepared substance…Like the pieces of bone in Enlene [cave], the hands thus reached into the spiritual realm behind the membrane of rock…they established an intimate relationship between the participants and the hidden world of the spirits.”[28]

Imagine what an experience a trance in a cave might have been like if you were alive some 10,000-32,000 years ago (the dates the pictographs were made). It was cold, it was dark, and you were scared, afraid of what you might discover, yet excited to begin. You hoped to meet your spirit guides who would keep you safe on your journey, and you prayed that whoever or whatever you encountered was friendly. Maybe you had a problem and were seeking a solution from your deities. The tiny bit of light you had flickered on the walls, casting eerie shadows. The shapes already drawn or etched on the walls start to undulate and pulsate in the half-light. Your breathing becomes faster, as you anticipate the unknown. Perhaps you have a teacher with you who has done this before, who urges you on, to give in, to relax. As you slow down, time seems to stand still.

Gradually, you see shapes emerge from the darkness…some of them are abstract, geometric. As you go deeper into trance, you see recognizable shapes of everyday things, like your medicine bag, plants, and animals floating by. Then you have a feeling of rushing, leaving your body, while your spirit journeys into the nether realms with your animal guide. You see animals with human heads, and humans with animal heads. You merge with nature, become one with the universe. You are led and shown whatever you need to see by the Goddess, the one who lives in the cave. When it is over, and you have returned to your body, you are sweating and excited. You have the power, you have the answer. You have met your spirit guide and been shown what to do.

Perhaps this is what it may have been like for an ancient shaman in a magical cave. The pictographs in the cave may have been left by other shamans before, or may have been done by her/him, recreating the trance afterward. Descent into the earth is a common shamanic theme, and entry into a cave replicates the stage three sensation of being drawn into the vortex.

Hunting and Other Magic

What about the petroglyphs that don’t fit the model of Clottes and Lewis-Williams? Are the animals in rock pictures merely prey, or are they something else? In the Coso range there are many petroglyphs of bighorn sheep being pierced by arrows, yet out of 10,000 bones found at the site, only 1 was a sheep. The Shoshone ancestors who lived there obviously didn’t eat sheep. “If they were going to make rock art out of what they were eating, there’d be bunnies all over the rock,”[29] UCLA archaeologist Dave Whitley says.

The sheep getting killed is a spirit guide of the shaman who drew him. “Killing the sheep is a metaphor for entering the supernatural through a hallucinogenic trance.”[30]

Many of the petroglyphs show part-man, part-animal figures. In one particular one, a shaman has talons instead of feet. “[They] could be part of a common metaphor for entering supernatural flight. (Many petroglyphs of therianthropes—beings part animal and part human—also have wings in place of arms.) This probably ties in with the feeling of floating up and out of one’s body, as often happens during the third stage of a mind-bending altered state.”[31]

“The humanoid figures that aren’t busy turning into sheep are busy shooting them with bows and arrows. In the mythology of the Native American cultures of the Far West, death is the most prevalent metaphor for entering the supernatural. (At this point, the shaman has become his spirit guide and the two are considered interchangeable.)”[32]

“Not all petroglyphs fit the neuropsychological model of rock art. The Hopi carved clan symbols on rocks during pilgrimages. Northern Plains tribes decorated the landscape with symbolic renderings of their war exploits.”[33]

In Alta, Norway, there are petroglyphs in granite that are between 2,500 and 7,000 years old, located on a site that had been held sacred for more than 4,000 years. The petroglyphs depict hunting and fishing activities and animals: whale, reindeer, halibut, bear and elk. Even though the people ate cod as well, there are no pictures of that fish. Perhaps the hunting magic was needed for prey that was more difficult to catch?

The director of the Alta Museum, Hans Soborg, said this about a bear petroglyph: “Since the bear is shown with tracks, it probably means this image represents a bear emerging in the spring from its hibernation den and leaving tracks in the snow. Its magic meaning could be linked to spring and resurrection. The bear images at Alta were also probably part of a bear cult.”[34] So it appears that the animals which were eaten were also worshipped and perhaps used as spirit guides.

Conclusions


I’d like to put forth a hypothesis: the rock pictures that are more accessible are the least likely ones to have anything to do with shamanic trances. Throughout my reading, I have noticed that the pictographs in the caves, as well as the petroglyphs that seemed most likely to be connected to shamanic trances were hidden in hard-to-reach spots. In The Shamans of Prehistory--Trance and Magic in the Painted Caves, the authors noted that many of the pictographs were difficult to get to, and required constricting oneself in rather tight quarters, climbing a steep rock, going to the far corner of the cave, etc. They suggested that ones in small chambers of the caves were most likely used in personal vision quests. Perhaps the rock pictures that are more accessible were for everyone, not just shamans, and the ones in private, out-of-the-way places were just for the initiated of the tribe.

I would like to see some ground surveying done at petroglyph sites, and some excavation if it is indicated. If any artifacts are recovered, it might be easier to date the petroglyphs. I can’t believe the area surrounding magical symbols wouldn’t be rife with artifacts. I think the archeologists are so in awe of the rock pictures that they have forgotten to look below.

The mana in rock pictures is obvious. Connecting with them in some way, perhaps even just to touch them, is to connect with what they represent, whether it be the power of an animal, a deity, a shaman, or the power of an ancient time and place. For prehistoric peoples, they were a way to stay in touch with the supernatural by picturing it.

Humans are visual creatures, and we are always creating images of the things we hold sacred, as well as the more mundane items in our lives. That is why the prohibition of idolatry in the Bible seems so “off,” so against human nature. We think visually, and having no pictures of what we worship creates a stale, sterile environment devoid of the rich texture of real spirituality.

Shamanism and magic are the only viable explanations for rock pictures that ring true for me. At the time they were created, life was about survival, and using the supernatural to help a tribe survive was part of human nature.

Copyright 2001 by Laine Lawless
All rights reserved--no reproduction without permission
lainelawless@yahoo.com


Bibliography


Asher, Maxine, Ancient Energy—Key to the Universe, 1979, New York
Biemiller, Lawrence, Clambering Up a Cliff to Record the Fading Handiwork of Man. Chronicle of Higher Education, 2/23/01, Vol. 47 Issue 24 pA64
Bruemmer, Fred, Records in the Rock. International Wildlife, Jan/Feb 2001, Vol. 31 Issue 1, p44
Burkholder, Grace, Perceptions of the Past—Solar Phenomena in Southern Nevada, 1994
Clottes and Lewis-Williams, The Shamans of Prehistory--Trance and Magic in the Painted Caves; 1998, New York: Harry Abrams
Enduring Mystery of Stonehenge, World Timeline, The History Channel, broadcast October 28, 2001
Frobenius and Fox, Prehistoric Rock Pictures in Europe and Africa, 1937, Museum of Modern Art
Gimbutas, Marija, The Language of the Goddess, 1989, San Francisco: Harper & Row
Grant, Campbell, Rock Drawings of the Coso Range, 1986, Ridgecrest, Maturango Museum
Grove, Peggy, Myths, Glyphs, and Rituals of a Living Goddess Tradition. ReVision, Winter99, Vol. 21 Issue 3, p6
McMann, Jean, Riddles of the Stone Age, 1980, London: Thames and Hudson
Roach, Mary, Ancient Altered States. Discover, Jun98, Vol. 19 Issue 6, p52


[1] Pg. 58, Grant, Campbell, Rock Drawings of the Coso Range, 1986, Ridgecrest, Maturango Museum
[2] Pg. 66, Clottes and Lewis-Williams, The Shamans of Prehistory--Trance and Magic in the Painted Caves; 1998, New York: Harry Abrams
[3] Pg. 31, Burkholder, Grace, Perceptions of the Past—Solar Phenomena in Southern Nevada, 1994
[4] Pg. 3, Ibid.
[5] Pg. 37, Ibid
[6] Pg. 11, McMann, Jean, Riddles of the Stone Age, 1980, London: Thames and Hudson
[7] Pg. 279, Gimbutas, Marija, The Language of the Goddess, 1989, San Francisco: Harper & Row
[8] Enduring Mystery of Stonehenge, World Timeline, The History Channel, broadcast October 28, 2001
[9] Pg. 279, Gimbutas, Marija, The Language of the Goddess, 1989, San Francisco: Harper & Row
[10] Grove, Peggy, Myths, Glyphs, and Rituals of a Living Goddess Tradition. ReVision, Winter99, Vol. 21 Issue 3, p6
[11] Pg. 21, Asher, Maxine, Ancient Energy—Key to the Universe, 1979, New York
[12] Pg. 43-44, Ibid.
[13] Biemiller, Lawrence, Clambering Up a Cliff to Record the Fading Handiwork of Man. Chronicle of Higher Education, 2/23/01, Vol. 47 Issue 24 pA64
[14] Pg. 12, Clottes and Lewis-Williams, The Shamans of Prehistory--Trance and Magic in the Painted Caves; 1998, New York: Harry Abrams
[15] Pg. 14, Ibid
[16] Pg. 16, Ibid
[17] Roach, Mary, Ancient Altered States. Discover, Jun98, Vol. 19 Issue 6, p52
[18] Pg. 16, Clottes and Lewis-Williams, The Shamans of Prehistory--Trance and Magic in the Painted Caves; 1998, New York: Harry Abrams
[19] Pg. 17, Ibid
[20] Pg. 19, Ibid
[21] Pg. 26-27, Ibid
[22] Pg. 68, Ibid
[23] Pg. 66, Ibid
[24] Pg. 83, Ibid
[25] Pg. 85, Ibid
[26] Pg. 30, Ibid
[27] Pg. 30, Ibid
[28] Pg 95-6, Ibid
[29] Roach, Mary, Ancient Altered States. Discover, Jun98, Vol. 19 Issue 6, p52
[30] Ibid
[31] Ibid
[32] Ibid
[33] Ibid
[34] Bruemmer, Fred, Records in the Rock. International Wildlife, Jan/Feb 2001, Vol. 31 Issue 1, p4

THE GAY DIVORCEE

posted May 6, 2010, 8:31 PM by Layne Lawless   [ updated May 6, 2010, 8:35 PM ]


Friday, April 06, 2007

What's all this clamor I hear from gays wanting marriage? I just don't get it. Do they also want divorce, alimony, child support, and family court trials? I can hardly wait to be *just like* heterosexuals! If we become just like them, will that then make us good enough to be accepted?

I remember when I came out in 1969 (no, that is the actual year, not a joke!) the emphasis was on self-acceptance, and we were just struggling to find our identity in an often hostile society, never mind worrying about being "just as good as..." We fought labels such as butch and femme, and now gays seem to embrace them! Am I showing my age? I just don't get it.

Many years ago, as a teenager, I would have voted for Barry Goldwater for President. At that time, the Civil Rights Act was being passed by Congress. Even then I understood that you cannot legislate morality. (Of course, I did not understand how badly black ppl were treated in the South!) But I still think you cannot FORCE ppl to accept any given group.

Here we are, 37 years later, 33 years after the American Psychological and Psychiatric Assns. declared that homosexuality is not, in and of itself, a mental disorder, and we still have bigoted ppl spouting Bible quotes which they claim "prove" we are perverts, sick puppies, abnormal, immoral, etc. Yet overall, societal acceptance of gays has improved.

The Gay Left is still not happy. A better question should be: Is the Left ever happy with anything? Being able to lead a free life, to associate with others of our own group, to live with relative peace and privacy is still not enough for our "leaders." No, they scream, we still want to be able to get "married." What a crock of shit. I don't need a piece of paper from the government to prove I'm OK, or that I have rights. What's the matter with these gays? Why can't they just "live in sin" like all the straights do now? What's the matter with that? You get together because you want to be, and when you don't, you just split--no laws, no court, no papers. What's the matter with that?

No, I think that there is an incredible amount of self-loathing and a pathetic, dog-like yearning for acceptance within the gay community. "Oh please," the gay puppies plead, as they crawl on their bellies to the straights, "please accept us, so we can be just as good as you!" Considering the amount of drug and alcohol abuse, and suicidal risky sexual practices within the gay community, I wonder what it will take to make the majority of gays appreciate themselves for their uniqueness, and to bolster their self-esteem.

I'm queer. I'm here. I've related to fundamentalist Christians in politics who have accepted me. The rest of you need to get over your "special-ness" and just get on with your lives. You'll be accepted or not on WHO you are, not WHAT you are. And if you are NOT accepted, so what? America is a big place, and there are now (thankfully) many places for us to go; to live, to work, and to have fun.

What the gay community needs to work on is self-acceptance and better public relations with the rest of society, and to stop militantly pushing themselves in others' faces because we are not sure we are "good enough." Gay narcissists, get over yourselves, and get on with your lives! Think more about how you can give to your community, rather than how much you can make them do for you!


Hatred of Women and the Rise of the Black Death

posted May 6, 2010, 8:13 PM by Layne Lawless   [ updated May 6, 2010, 8:47 PM ]


It is no coincidence that the years of the beginning of the Burning Times and the arrival of the Black Death in Europe are the same. Bubonic plague, commonly known as the Black Death, due to the severely dark bruising in its victims, began in 1334 in Constantinople, and spread West, decimating the population of Europe within 20 years. Periodic epidemics followed for the next 400 years.

Estimates of the number of people killed by it range from 30% to 90% of the population. Concurrent with the Black Death were the Crusades, with many knights going to fight and bring Christianity by the sword to the near and Middle East. These returning knights also carried with them the beginnings of the bubonic plague.

As the Crusaders returned home, they brought with them a deadly cargo: rats. The rats themselves were suffering from plague, caused by the Oriental Rat Flea. As the fleas bit them and then jumped off, they found other blood hosts in the nearby humans. Once bitten by the Oriental Rat Flea, a human could become sick, be covered in suppurating boils, and die an agonizing death within 3-4 days. The sicker they got, the more they pulled their clothing around them, providing a virtual cafeteria for the fleas.

The wealthier an individual was, the more clothes he had, and the more likely he was to provide a haven for fleas. People didn’t wash too often back then, and public sanitation was unknown, so every house, ship, and meeting place was a breeding ground for vermin.

At about the same time, the Catholic Church had unleashed its war against women. The Inquisition began, and women were tortured and killed for their alleged association with the devil. As the Church grew increasingly impotent at stopping the plague, it began to accuse women of spreading it, and numbers of women were killed merely for being accused of spreading the plague.

Cats became very unpopular at the same time, probably because of the Church’s view that they were the familiars of the witches. Anything female or feminine in nature became a grotesque exaggeration, a wicked temptation for the weakness of men, incorporating centuries of men’s paranoia about the power of women.

It has been observed by many that cats are very much like women; they are often indirect, and they seem to have a certain aloofness. Dogs are in-your-face, I need you desperately, let-me-be-your-slave, master! Dogs are like men, and cats are more like women.

At the same time that women were being rounded up and killed for being witches, it is my suspicion that the same thing was happening to cats. Anything that was suspected of being in league with the devil was eliminated. I’m sure if we knew the truth, we wouldn’t have to be members of PETA to shrink in horror at the thousands of poor cats who were done away with, simply because they had the misfortune of being felines.

Cats kill rats. If the rats carrying the plague-infested fleas are killed, at some point the plague will die out. Since the powers that be had seen fit to rid themselves of the epidemic-controllers (cats) that they had at the time, the Black Death continued to spread.

Think of it this way: a cat kept on board a ship could kill and eat all the rats; a cat kept in a tavern would have plenty to eat, while protecting its patrons from the deadly Oriental Rat Flea. It makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, cats were often kept to control vermin. It’s only in the 20th century that they began to be pampered and given special food. Before that, they were fed scraps and expected to earn their keep by killing vermin.

As the people began to see that the priests’ prayers were not keeping away the Black Death, they began to fall back into pagan practices and folk remedies to keep away the deadly illness. In one town a protective furrow was plowed around the outskirts by a four oxen plow, drawn by 6 naked virgins and a woman who had been widowed for 7 years. In other towns, the people heaped clothing from the dead onto a scapegoat and sent it out of town, hoping it would carry away the plague.

During the Burning Times, some villages were so reduced in population as to be non-existent. And one asks, how does a village get down to no people? My answer is that between the witch-killing craze and the Black Death, it was very difficult to stay alive in Europe between the years 1300 CE – 1600 CE! And if they hadn’t killed all those cats, plague might not have been such a problem!

Economically, the plague created a chronic and severe labor shortage. Someone had to bury the dead bodies, someone had to tend the fields, and harvest the crops. Ironically, the people who were left were able to hire themselves out for a good wage, as those with money were desperate to get help. Women and small children did very heavy labor, while the burying was left to the lowest strata of society: beggars, vagabonds, and criminals.

Ailurophobia (fear or hatred of cats) and misogyny are kissing cousins.

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