Honey Travels Back in Time to Belly-Button Hill

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January 31, 2012 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground 

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste.)

We live is the era of the Digital Revolution – the age of information. Yet, local, state and federal governmental decision-making may be reaching the apogee of its non-fact-based decision making.  Some politicians decry the possibility human beings contribute to global warming.  One candidate for the job of President claimed homosexuality leads to bestiality.  We have a War Against Drugs that has led to greater real crime, greater addiction, destruction of agricultural land, and a lot of bloodshed.   At least a tenth of our people at any time believe Ronald Reagan served in WWII (because he said so). I had a sobering conversation once with a psychologist who conducted group sessions with people who had been abducted by space aliens.   One of my freshman students at a state university believed the human race is 200 years old.  No one disagreed with her.Because of scientific advances, we can figure out how long people like us — people who have art and music and tell stories and sing songs and know they will die — have been around.  We don’t think we know what it was they thought.

We catch glimpses through the very long tunnel of time of what our more distant ancestors thought.  Muslims slaughter sheep at Ramadan.  You may knock on wood when someone utters something about good fortune.   You may cross your fingers for luck.  You may have a rabbit’s foot for luck, and your children may hunt for Easter eggs.  Some people wear crosses.  The rose is a symbol of the Virgin Mary.

We are beginning to find the evidence of how people used to do things.  That is, there is a lot of written history, which, if we were to read it, would tell us that people did things differently from how we do things.  Our way of doing things can change if we allow ourselves to understand that reality.

Belly-Button Hill is a bright light hung in history’s long tunnel.

Let me start – because Lionel told me I can write anything I want – with the beginning of human beings like us.

Anatomically modern humans evolved from archaic Homo sapiens about 200,000 years ago.  Eighty-five thousand years ago, people crossed the mouth of the Red Sea and traveled as beachcombers along the South Arabian coast towards India.  All non-African people descend from these nomads.  By about 50,000 BP, full behavioral modernity, including music, language and cognition, myth, ritual, the use of magic to influence love, death, misfortune, illness and the environment, developed.

Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough (1890) correlates magic and ritual with the birth of science.  This thesis was concocted around Turner’s picture of The Golden Bough, a sacred grove where there grew a certain tree that grew day and night; a transfigured landscape in a dream-like vision of the little wood-land lake of Nemi — “Diana’s Mirror” where religious ceremonies and the “fulfillment of vows” of priests and kings were held.

The king was the incarnation of a dying and reviving god, a solar deity who underwent a mystic marriage to a goddess of the Earth, who died at the harvest, and was reincarnated in the spring. Frazer claimed this legend is central to almost all of the world’s mythologies.

Because Frazer included Jesus’s crucifixion and rebirth in spring as part of his thesis, his work sparked outrage, and he relegated this theory to a speculative appendix in the second edition in 1900, commenting in a note – which I find false — that there is no doubt about the historical Jesus.

Charles Darwin’s The Origin of the Species (1859), although it did not touch on human evolution, had earlier sparked Christian dissent, because his theory was premised in the idea that all of life is interrelated, and his theory’s corollary is that all species on earth are spiritually connected.

John Steinbeck’s 1933 novel, To A God Unknown (which I first read in Turkish, Bilmeyen Tanri, which means the unknown heaven, godhead, infinite, coming from an Altaic language, and which is related to a Chinese word) sets the dying god in Monterey County.

I had a development with my mother when I was 12 after I read the Golden Bough.   She was sitting in her upholstered reading chair reading a romance novel when I confronted her.  I told her rabbits were a Shamanistic totem who encouraged fertility.   Her eyes popped open.  As, I said, were eggs.  The Easter Bunny has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.  She stopped breathing, not a good sign.  Over my shoulder as I started running out of the living room, I yelled, “Christmas Trees have zero to do with Jesus’s birth!”

(I spent almost all of my adolescence grounded.)

The 1994 recognition that the circular buildings excavated in a mound in southern Anatolia constituted a hunter-gatherer temple turned accepted archeological theories on their head.   That is, the dominant idea had been that organized religion occurred after the development of agriculture.

I find no reasonable explanation for that upset.  Rather, I see that archeological site as proof of Frazer’s theory — which should have been accepted by now as tenable — that our hunter-gather ancestors’ cosmology included reverence for inter-species dependence, and that their beliefs bled into the Christian myth of Jesus, which I see as our ancient memory – an ancient memory encoded in the Biblical story Genesis.

Agriculture began during the Holecene period, which is the geologic age we still inhabit, beginning perhaps 12,000 years ago, as the climate warmed after the last ice age.  Maximum warmth flowed north from south in a period between 11,000 to 7,000 BP. The cultivation of primitive rice and millet occurred in East Asia and in the Fertile Crescent.  Agriculture did not widely disperse for another 2,000 years.

The National Geographic and the New Yorker recently published essays on Göbekli Tepe  — a site, probably a sanctuary, built in Southern Anatolia at the northern end of the Fertile Crescent (Ancient Cappodocia) beginning 12,000 years ago.

In 1994, Klaus Schmidt recognized the place was a Neolithic place of worship.   This recognition turned archeologists’ theory of the role of religion upside down. Scholars thought until this recognition that the earliest monumental architecture was possible only after agriculture provided Neolithic people with food surpluses, which allowed for the existence of a priest-class and highly skilled artists.  Now, it seems the cooperation evinced in cutting and hauling huge stones was the prerequisite for the cooperation needed to invent farming.

Elif Batuman, in her New Yorker essay, writes that Turks believe the nearby city of Urfa started out as Ur, Abraham’s birthplace.  Batuman’s comment that the story of The Fall described in Genesis could be a description of the Neolithic agrarian revolution has its source in Jared Diamond’s description of the agrarian revolution as the worst mistake human beings ever made.

In the third chapter of Genesis, Adam and Eve live in paradise.  They eat the fruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil.

To Eve, God said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

To Adam God said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, you shall not eat of it, cursed on the ground because of you.  In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.  Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you and you shall eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in The Discourse on Human Inequality that farming meant:

“[E]quality disappeared, property came into existence, labor became necessary. Vast forests were transformed into smiling field, which had to be watered with men’s sweat, and in which slavery and misery were soon seen to germinate and grow with the crops.”

Marshall Sahlins described the hunting and gathering society as “the original affluent society” in his Stone Age Economics (1972).

Jarod Diamond argues that the mix of wild plants and animals in the diets of surviving hunter-gatherers provide more protein and a better balance of other nutrients than a grain-based diet.  People became six inches shorter, there was a fifty percent increase in malnutrition a fourfold increase in iron-deficiency anemia, a threefold increase in lesions showing infectious disease, and an increase in degeneration of the spine.  Life expectancy before farming was about 26 years.  In post-agricultural communities, it was 19 years.  Farming, he contended brought about class divisions, with one class living on the labor of others.  (“The Worst Mistake In the History of Mankind,” Jared Diamond, Discover, May 1987, pp 64-68.)

Existing hunter-gatherer populations form egalitarian relationships.  Life is communal, cultural and technical knowledge is shared, there is a low child to adult ratio, and women did the gathering.  .

American writers frequently miss-translate Göbekli tepe as “potbelly hill.”  I don’t know why.  The name means hill-with-a-belly-button in Turkish.   The hill looks from the top like a belly with a navel because the temple — assuming it was a temple — and so far everyone — does is a series of temples built in circles.

There may be another explanation for the name.  Since ancient times, and still in parts of the Middle East, the navel is seen as the center of female sexuality.  It also means simply the center.

Anatolia is the big thumb of Asia Minor that sticks into the Mediterranean.  Most of the Republic of Turkey is in Anatolia.  In Turkish, the name for Anatolia is Anadolu, which means “the full of mother.”  It is the mother-land.  The Amazons (“without breast” women who sliced off one breast to better shoot arrows) purportedly founded Ephesus, a city on the Anatolian coast, and founded the temple of Artemis, which became the temple of Diana.  Their symbol was the bow and arrow.   Saint Paul substituted Jesus’s mother Mary as “the woman.”

In an interview in the Smithsonian Magazine, Andrew Curry wrote the prehistoric people saw herds of gazelle and other wild animals, rivers that attracted migrating birds, fruit and nut trees, and fields of wild barley and wild wheat.

Belly Button Hill structures are supported by T-beams, rather like the T-beams that support freeway overpasses.  The engineering is primitive.  The shear wall support provided by the beams is too narrow by modern standards; nonetheless, Anatolia is earthquake prone, and the temple lasted for over 2,000 years.  The curved roofs over the structures anticipate the architectural dome.  Animals carved into the surface of the T-beams are mostly predators.  Archeologists believe the beams are themselves are anthropomorphic.  If so – keeping in mind the beams had a real engineering purpose – the beams reveal a consciousness of the inter-relationship of other species with our own.

The historic Jesus probably did die on a cross; nonetheless, the T-beams tantalizingly suggest the iconic message predated his death by nine thousand years.  The statue of Artemis in Ephesus suggests the transition from hunter-gathering ideology of human-other species spirituality and magic to agriculture.

Ancient people identified the rose with Isis, Venus and Aphrodite.  Early Christians identified the five petals of the rose with the five wounds of Christ.  According to some Biblical legends, the original rose growing in the Garden of Eden was white but blushed with shame upon Adam and Eve’s fall from grace.

Consider the shape of a rose.  The bud contains all the petals the mature flower will have.  There are exceptions, but most roses open to roughly circular compound arrangements of petals with the smallest ring of petal at the heart.

The site of Belly Button hill contains 20 round structures that have diameters from 30 (the interior structure) to 100 feet (the exterior structure). The patterns of these circles look – not like a belly button, but possibly a collection of belly buttons.  Or, they look like someone was slowly building the component petals of a rose.

The builders built the small interior structures last.  When they were finished — after thousands of years – the people filled in the temple with dirt.

The architecture of Göbekli Tepe manifests our ancestors’ consciousness.   The T shape was male, and it was within the female shape and supported it.  Men and women were equal but with different roles.  The T was the dying god, dying to make the earth fertile. The rose was sexuality and fertility.   Death was not futile.  The earth will renew through love.

People who hoped to live to age 25 built the temple.  Death would have been a constant.  Hunger was not a constant.  They had enough to eat or they couldn’t have lugged those monster stones.  They had time to lug monster stones.  They did not have wheels.

Corn is an old word for “grain.”  (I did not know this until last year and could not figure out how the ancients had corn, when corn came to us from the New World after 1492.)  Corn is mentioned in Deutronomy (“shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil.)  In II Chronicles, “ the children of Israel brought in abundance the first fruits of corn, wine and oil.”

According to Father Jim, of the Spreckles parish in Monterey County– an incredible scholar of religion, unless he made it all up, and one of the reasons I was reluctant to leave the Church — when Diana, previously Artemis, emerged from her temple at Ephesus, she opened her hands to show the mystery.  It was corn.

At Eucharist, we took wafers – paper-thin wheat circles – to symbolize the body of Christ.  We took wine to symbolize his blood.  We ate and drank God.



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