Friday, July 29, 2011

The Binary Distinctions of the Horites



Alice C. Linsley

How Binary Distinctions Shaped Horite Culture


Archaic Nilotic peoples were attuned to the patterns observed in nature and aligned their thinking with those patterns. This is evident in their burial practices and in the astronomical alignments of their monuments and in their binary theological perspective which framed the Biblical worldview.

The binary sets are expressed in the distinctions and separations within "kinds" or essences. The waters (firmament) above are separated from the waters below. Male and female are of the same kind yet distinct. Other binary sets include heaven-earth; God-mankind; day-night, sun-moon, and life-death. One of the entities in the binary set is superior to the other in strength, brilliance, glory, or purpose and its lesser is a reflection of the greater. So humans reflect the image of the Creator, the moon reflects the light of the sun, and Adam recognizes the woman as distinct from him but of his essence, i.e.,  "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh..." (Gen. 2:23)

The superiority of one of the entities of the binary set kept the Horites from slipping into the dualism that characterizes many world religions.

Observed natural entities were associated with gender, numbers and symbols. The sun, for example, was associated with a male ruler over the universe and represented the masculine principle of rule and insemination. It was the emblem of Re, the father of Horus. Hathor, Horus’ virgin mother, was believed to conceive the son of God by the overshadowing of Re. Because of this association of the sun with maleness, the ancient Egyptian rulers exposed themselves to the sun’s rays to turn their skin reddish brown (edom, odam, adam). Their royal wives, on the other hand, were covered with chalk to make them white like the moon.


In the Song of Songs the sister bride praises her beloved whose skin is dark as the tents of Kedar because he, like David, was made to work in the sun by his brothers. The tents of Kedar were woven with the black wool from the Nubian desert goats. His dark skin is associated with the masculine virtues of the sun. The sister bride was "made white" through the application of a white chaulky powder. Her pale skin is associated with the feminine virtues of the moon.

The moon was associated with femaleness or the feminine principle. This intuitive association extends to semen and milk. The sun inseminates the earth and the moon stimulates female reproduction and lactation. Because the moon affects water, tides, and body fluids in a repeating cycle there is a natural association of the moon with the periodicity of the menstrual cycle. Many ancient peoples associated pregnancy with the moon and in France menstruation is called “le moment de la lune.”

In a dualistic view, the sun and the moon are equals so both are worthy of veneration. In a binary view, one of the entities of the binary set is always superior and to venerate the lesser entity is a form of idol worship. This is what stands behind the Joshua 24 criticism of Terah. (Note this is not a criticism of Abraham.) There is no other verse in the Bible to support the view that Terah, a Horite, worshiped the moon god contrary to the practice of his ancestors who regarded the sun as the emblem of the Creator. Abraham's Horite ancestors did not worship Napir/Sin as was done in Ur and Haran and later in Mecca. The Horite ruler-priests were devotees of Horus who was called "son of God," and his emblem was the sun, the same emblem as his father Re.

Genesis 1:16 expresses the binary view in these words: "God made the two great lights; the greater to rule the day and the lesser to rule the night."



Binary Distinctions and Blood

Blood was also viewed according to a binary pattern. A distinction was made between the blood work of men in killing and the blood work of women in birthing. The two bloods represent the binary opposites of life and death. The blood shed in war, hunting and animal sacrifice fell to warriors, hunters and priests. The blood shed in first intercourse, the monthly cycle and in childbirth fell to wives and midwives. The two bloods were never to mix or even to be present in the same space. Women did not participate in war, the hunt, and in ritual sacrifices, and they were isolated during menses. Likewise, men were not present at the circumcision of females or in the birthing hut.

The mixing of life-giving substances with the blood shed in killing was absolutely forbidden among the Afro-Asiatics. This is why the Israelites were commanded never to boil a young goat it its mother’s milk. It also places into context the Judeo-Christian teaching against abortion, which mixes birth blood with killing blood, thus perverting the binary distinction between male and female to a point of desecration. It is also significant that among tribal peoples, brotherhood pacts are formed by the intentional mixing of bloods between two men, but never between male and female. The binary distinctions of male and female are maintained as part of the sacred tradition.

Early man had an intuitive anxiety about blood. We see this in the belief that the blood of Abel cries to God from the ground (Gen. 4:10). Anxiety about the shedding of blood is universal and very old. The sacrificing priesthood likely came into existence the first day that blood was shed and the individual and the community sought relief of blood anxiety and guilt.

As a point of fact, the first blood shed in the Bible was shed by Eve when she gave birth. This is significant because it places life-giving blood ahead of the blood shed when Cain killed Abel.

The second shedding of blood was when God made clothes of animal skins for Adam and Eve. Here we see the first sacrifice of animals for the benefit of humans. This places God at the center between the life-giving blood and the blood shed by Cain when he killed his brother. Between the two bloods (birthing and murder) God sacrifices an animal to provide for the needs of humanity. In this sense, God is the first Priest and that first animal is a symbol of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

According to the cosmology of Abraham’s people what is at the sacred center is of God. The image of blood at the center speaks of the blood of the Incarnate God. We glimpse this mystery of the sacrifice on the mountain where God has Abraham cut into half a 3-year old ram, a three-year old heifer and a three-year old she-goat (Gen. 15:9-21). This story and the story of the Three-Person God apparing to Abraham at Mamre (Gen. 18) are very old. The symbolism of the number 3 suggests the Egyptian/Kushite divine Triad.

When the sun set and it was dark a smoking firepot and a flaming torch passed between the animal pieces. On that day God promised Abraham that "this country" would be given his descendants. Here the descendants are not specified as Jews. As Abraham was a Horite and so were his sons and daughters, he would have understood this to mean that "this land" was to be a Horite possession.

God moved as a fire between the sacrificed animals that Abraham had cut into halves. God trailed across a bloody strip of earth, like a scarlet thread. God passed through it to confirm an unconditional covenant with Abraham concerning the land for his descendants.

The scarlet thread that hung from Rahab’s window brought salvation to her and to her household. The scarlet smudge over the doors in Egypt brought deliverance from the death of the firstborn. These images of blood speak of God’s prevenient grace whereby blessing precedes every human act, thought or intention.


Related reading:  The Horite Ancestry of Jesus Christ; Ontology and the Philosophical ProjectLevi-Strauss and Derrida on Binary Oppositions; God as Male Priest; Blood and Binary Distinctions; Afro-Asiatic vs Aryan Religion: The Horse as Example; The Scarlet Cord Woven Through the Bible




12 comments:

Chris Masterjohn said...

This is very interesting.

Merker (1910) reported that the Masai so strongly prohibited the mixing of meat and milk that they would rarely sell milk to foreigners because they believed that if buyer were to let it touch meat, it could destroy the health of the cow from whom the milk came.

Yet they would bleed their dairy cattle and would mix that blood into their milk, especially during certain times when the nutritional value was considered important, such as during the lactation period.

I suspect this discrepancy is because they considered blood taken from live dairy cattle to be associated with life, birth, and lactation.

Chris

Alice C. Linsley said...

Chris, You would find this article interesting:

http://college-ethics.blogspot.com/2010/06/nadja-knoll-maasai-people-healthy.html

Chris Masterjohn said...

Hi Alice,

That's a great post, thanks! My third post in my Masai series is going to completely destroy the meat-milk-blood myth. Merker was an early observer and he didn't paint this picture of them at all. I think it's more something that people have promoted not because the myth has support in the literature but because they are ignorant of the literature. Merker documented their use of 500 plants. There have been a number of other ethnobotanical reports over the years.

Anonymous said...

Alice,

I understand the blood aspects of the priesthood, but how does this fit into the priest losing his own identity to represent Christ as Spouse to the Church and Father to her spiritual children.

How does the ontology of blood also fit into this?

Savvy

Alice C. Linsley said...

The office/order of priest and the individual who serves as priest are different. The priest is an icon of Christ, but this doesn't mean losing his identity as an individual, anymore than the husband (or wife) loses his (or her) identity as an individual in marriage.

Anonymous said...

Alice,

I brought this up because, would people with conflicted gender identities or homosexuals be able to be priests, given the spousal symbolism ?


Savvy

Alice C. Linsley said...

There are two aspects to your question, as I see it. The question of purity and the question of appropriate candidates.

The priest is to be pure. This purity extends to speech, thoughts, attitudes and sexual relations. Even the marriage bed can be defiled where there are impure thoughts and unloving attitudes. Sex outside of marriage is always impure.

Gender confused persons are not appropriate candidates for the priesthood or any other order of Church ministry.

Homosex is a choice. With rare exception, same sex attraction is a choice. A man who has chosen to go that direction is not qualified to be ordained in any order of Church ministry.

Celibate persons with same-sex attraction that is not by choice and who are not latent pedophiles might be ordained, but these too are not appropriate candidates for the priesthood. When they are ordained, they should be provided with close spiritual direction and close supervision from a superior in the Church.

It is a fact of life that not everyone is fitted to the work they might wish. Some physical difficulties will exclude people from military service. A person who doesn't like to study, read or do research is not going to make it as an academic.

Anonymous said...

Alice,

Thanks for your views and I do understand them, but it's hard to explain these views to a culture that wants everything to be "inclusive".


Savvy

Alice C. Linsley said...

I understand, yet I have confidence in you and I know your heart desires to represent Christ and his Church well.

Inclusion, diversity, and egalitarianism rule the day in Western societies. Together these present the illusion of virtue, but in reality each is a half-truth.

St. Anthony of the Desert said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.’” (The Desert Christian: Sayings of the Desert Fathers, translated by B. Ward, Macmillan, 1975)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that great St. Anthony, quote Alice.


Savvy

nigus said...

In indigenous African spiritualities and indeed in all world indigenous spiritualities, what we call "gay" and "homosexual" orientations did not have the homophobic stigmas as brought about by the Abrahamic religions or text based or holy book based religious traditions. These indigenous transgendered or "other" gendered individuals were and are considered as specially gifted or empowered spiritual conduits to the spirit world. As such they were and are respected and venerated in their societies.

There was a time where African and perhaps even world cultures were matrilineal and matriarchal in orientation instead of the patrilineal and patriarchal orientation as dictated by the holy book religions and societies of the last 4000 years or so. So the binary distinction between the blood work of men in killing and the blood work of women in birthing would appear to be incompatible with the concept of the Amazon woman warriors and the matriarchal cultures of antiquity.

My observation about the distinctions, prohibitions and difference between milk/meat/blood when comparing some African people groups such as the Masai is their use of blood as an article of diet at all since the Abrahamic religions and the Bible in particular forbid the use of blood for anything other than for ritualized purposes, and never as an article of food.

The binary distinction between the portrayal of men as red and women as white is seen in the Egyptian art, but I am not so sure it was so actually, physically or literally because we know that the ancient Egyptians were pitch black Cushite African Bantu Negroes. So it would be interesting to know at what point they would start to bask in the sunlight to tan themselves "red." This is very curious to me.

Alice Linsley said...

What you say about reverse dressers is certainly true in the context of Shamanic tradition. However, the worldview of the Horites is opposed to Shamanism. Horites were forbidden to be involved in shamanic traces, for example.

The Horites traced bloodline through the mothers, as do Jews today.

The white covering of the Kushite and Egyptian women applied only to queens, not to the common women.