Friday, December 18, 2015

Make ready, O Bethlehem!

Make ready, O Bethlehem; for Eden hath been opened for all. Prepare, O Ephratha; for the Tree of life hath blossomed forth in the cave from the Virgin; for her womb did appear as a spiritual paradise, in which is planted the divine Plant, whereof eating we shall live and not die as Adam. Verily, Christ shall be born, raising the likeness that fell of old.

In the icons above, the Nativity takes place within a mountain cave or a rock shelter. The portrayal of Mary with the infant Christ in a cave is a much beloved icon among Orthodox Christians. People often wonder why the Bible doesn't mention a cave, but rather a cattle stable. The connection has to do with the animal totem associated with the Mother of God. From before the time of Abraham this animal was the long horn cow.

Cattle were first domesticated in the Upper Nile Valley about 15,000 years ago. The term for cow nag (Wolog, Fulani), nagge (Hausa), ning (Angas, Ankwe) and ninge (Susu) corresponds to the Egyptian ng.  Cattle were often sheltered in caves along the Nile Valley. Got Agoro in Kitgum District in Northern Uganda has a cave with a painting of Mother Mary holding Jesus. The Shahara of Oman and the Horite Habiru (Hebrew) of Edom also kept their livestock in caves. Abraham is kin to the Horite rulers of Edom who are listed in Genesis 36.

Hathor, the mother of Horus, called the "son" of the Creator

The image of Hathor holding her infant in a cattle stall is found at Nile shrines and temples. Hathor was usually shown wearing the long horns of the Apis bull with the sun cradled in the horns. This image, represented by the Canaanite Y,  indicates her divine appointment and conception by divine overshadowing. The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35)

This is why "Mary was the only one who merited to be called the Mother as Spouse of God", according to St. Augustine of Hippo.

My assertion that the Ra-Horus-Hathor narrative is the Proto-Gospel is based on detailed anthropological investigation. The Christ is not a human invention patterned on the Horus myth. Horus is the pattern by which the Horite Habiru (Hebrew) came to recognize the divine Son who was appointed to rule (Messiah) and who would rise on the third day. Jesus Christ is the only historical figure who fits the pattern. 

Abraham's Proto-Saharan ancestors venerated cattle and left behind engraving of bulls and calves with the solar disc between their horns. This image was associated with Hathor, the virgin who conceived by the overshadowing of the sun, the emblem of the Creator. Her son was Horus. She was the patroness of Habiru metal workers as has been shown by discoveries at Timnah. A temple dedicated to Hathor was discovered at the southwestern edge of the Timnah metal-working site by Professor Beno Rothenberg of Hebrew University.

In the oldest known Messianic tradition the Son of God is born as a calf to Hathor, and the birth took place in a holding place for cattle. Sometimes that was a cave and other times it was a man-made shelter. Horus was portrayed in images as the golden calf appointed to rule by his father the Creator, whose emblem was the sun. the Horites were devotees of Ra, Horus and Hathor and their beliefs were unique in the archaic world. 

One image of Horus is referenced in Exodus 32 which describes the metal-working priest Aaron as the crafter of this image (above). The image incorporates the sun as a representation of the divine overshadowing or visible anointing of the Calf of God. This is the Old Testament version of what was revealed at Jesus' baptism in the Jordan.


J Eppinga said...

Another Nilotic connection. I was perusing the Oromo a while back and stumbled onto a cache of their proverbs. Took one of them to heart that selfsame day.

Here we have the Acholi, another Nolitic people. They also have a high regard for proverbs.

And the high regard seems to extend into modern times, with a self-conscious rejection of a Western rejection of their values, as we see in the Song of Lawino.

(at least one of their proverbs - the one about the handsome adolescent not needing a pillow... well, okay, they're not perfect).

But there seems to be a place, or niche for knowledge that is an inch wide and a mile deep (the Proto Gospel), within a people with a high regard for wisdom, which also seems to have a property of being an inch wide and a mile deep.

They don't have their own Apollo Program. They do have a painting of Mother Mary holding Jesus. And apparently, they are known by the painting.

Again, I wonder, which culture is superior?

Alice Linsley said...

Jay, The more research I do into the activities of archaic peoples, the more I think that their wisdom comes from observation of patterns in nature and observation of daily commonplace activities, like sowing seed in a field, or threshing, or baking bread. The Nativity icons depict Mary holding the Christ Child - the Bread of Life - in a mound shaped like an ancient clay bread oven. Goran Pavlovic, an anthropologist who writes about daily life of ancient peoples, says that the clay ovens represented female fertility and birthing. Read what he has to say here:

The words oven and ovary appear to have a common ancient root.

J Eppinga said...

RE: "The more research I do into the activities of archaic peoples, the more I think that their wisdom comes from observation of patterns in nature and observation of daily commonplace activities,"

I'll be thinking of that a long time.

The 'bun in an oven,' I always thought of as idiom - never thought of where it might have originated.

I'm reminded of another idiom, one which Millennial have no cultural context: "broken record."

One idiom conveys meaning to every generation. The other doesn't make sense after LP's are phased out.

Patterns in nature have an enduring property. One generation 'gets it.' Five more generations, that generation also 'gets it.'

Might this have something to do with how knowledge might be transmitted when there is no benefit of a writing system?

J Eppinga said...

From a culinary and engineering perspective, we might say that, sometimes an oven is just an oven. If I want to make a flatbread (e.g., Naan), I am working with yeast, but not an oven as my heat source is open. If I want to make a loafy sort of bread, then I need yeast as well, but I need to modify how heat is conducted during baking.

Regarding enclosed heat sources (aka, ovens_, the beehive shape shown in Povlavic's article is, from a structural point of view, exactly the shape it needs to be in order not to collapse in on itself (assuming that it is made out of clay and perhaps straw or something else to give it extra strength). There needs to be a door on the side to get the bread in, and out; and the edges of the door need to be reinforced.

The second engineering aspect of a bread oven is heat transfer. A grill primarily uses conduction and convection. An oven primarily uses conduction (i.e., on the bottom of the bread) and radiative (i.e., on the top of the bread).

Probably, the person or people who came up with the oven were tinkerers. The wacky creative processes that go into ideation, observation, and flat-out serendipity aren't 'day-to-day' things per se. And once the first bread oven was built, it may be that there were certain people, perhaps they were not the bakers, whose job was to build ovens (or perhaps bakers also built their own ovens at that point - hard to say).

On the other hand, baking bread itself is very much an everyday sort of activity. If the people who are baking the bread also happen to be people who attend to women during childbirth, then it would be logical for them to make the connection between the oven and a woman giving birth (as Pavlovic points out): "Oh, you know what? That oven kinda looks like..."

Then there is the yeast / rising aspect of making bread (my wife makes the best Spanish Bread) and the rising aspect of pregnancy.


Alice Linsley said...

"Might this have something to do with how knowledge might be transmitted when there is no benefit of a writing system?"

I think so, Jay.

Symbols in rock shelters came first. Many of the letters of later writing systems were originally rock shelter symbols. O and V are among those. The root OV is very ancient: oven, ova, ovary. This is also true for the root OP: ophel (fortified mound), seeing (optic); armed guards (opiltes); walled elevated towns (oppida), and sun shrines (O'piru) served by a caste of priests also known in the ancient world as Ha'piru, Ha'biru (Hebrew) and 'Apiru.

Alice Linsley said...

"Patterns in nature have an enduring property. One generation 'gets it.' Five more generations, that generation also 'gets it.'"

Exactly. St. Paul speaks of this in Romans 1:20, explaining that nobody can claim to be ignorant of God because "since the creation of the world, the invisible existence of God and his everlasting power have been clearly seen by the mind's understanding of created things."(The New Jerusalem Bible)

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." (New International Version)

J Eppinga said...

Great stuff, Alice. Thinking through these things has been a lot of fun.

I figured out too late however, that I may not ever be quite the same. The other day as part of our now, more joyous (and more revelrous ) family Christmas celebrations, we hit one of those very expensive bakery/restaurants. We wanted to get some fancy and exotic bread for our table. I seated my family at an unobstructed table, and went up to the counter. Waited my turn.

My clerk was a young woman, probably early 20's. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that she had red hair. She asked if she could wait on me.

I remembered a game that I saw my Uncle Jake do one time, ordering a piece of pie. I told her to bring me her favorite kind of bread. She asked, "What bread would you like, sir?" Not quite comprehending the game, noticing the line getting backed up behind me, with impatient holiday shoppers.

I asked her to surprise me. She seem horrified. "Well sir, I don't know which bread you like." And thinking on her feet, adding, "Would you like to try some samples?" Her tone was less horrified. She didn't know that she wasn't being let off the hook that easily.

I said, no, that I wanted to be surprised. Her victory dashed, she started stuttering. This time she began again. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that her gaze had shifted to the first bread in her line of view. A quite boring selection. She was suggesting to her own horror, that very unsurprising bread (still not understanding the game, poor girl). When she got to the part where she was to name the bread (French baguette), she realized that she couldn't remember the name of the selection. No doubt, she was thinking of how hard her employer made her work on Day 1, memorizing the names of all the bread selections, by sight.

About the same time as my clerk had realized that her 22 year old mind was being introduced to the concept of forgetfulness (something I started experiencing at age 32), a random stranger bumped into me and spilled half a cup of coffee accidentally on the back of my coat. I looked at my wife, who was not bothered by the stranger but was looking at me. She had one of those looks that strongly suggests that I needed to fish, or cut bait. Very quickly.

I ordered the baguette. My clerk breathed an audible sigh of relief.

I paid and hunkered down at my family's table.

When I sat down, I realized the strangest thing. I had been thinking over this very JG article the whole time: Mary, the Christ Child, the Bread of Life.

I then realized that the whole time I was "ordering," talking with the young woman with red hair about which bread I would like to purchase; That whole time, I couldn't look her in the eye.

J Eppinga said...

On a more serious note...

I remembered what you said about African children, and how they build huts adjacent to their parents huts, and how it sort of gets them ready for adulthood.

Every time I think of that, it reminds me of something similar that my children do, and that I did, and that (other people tell me) their children also did at a very young age. They take blankets and arrange them over couches and chairs and such; make their own personal 'fort.' Won't see 'em for hours on end.

Is there a connection between one activity that occurs in Africa, that is strongly encouraged by a youngster's elders - is there a connection between that activity, and what children in North America do with building 'forts' in their parent's living rooms, an activity that is regarded as play. How can one activity be serious, the other playful, but the activity performed ubiquitously?