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The Serpent's Tale (History)
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Hatty
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Artemis goddess of the hunt and wisdom: your timing-better-than-speed applies to hunting. You could also say timing is better than strength hunting-wise.

Does this image not remind you of the knight in shining armour rescues damsel in distress trope? George was appropriated as the chivalric exemplar. Where does that leave Michael?
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Wile E. Coyote


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Hatty wrote:
Artemis goddess of the hunt and wisdom: your timing-better-than-speed applies to hunting. You could also say timing is better than strength hunting-wise.


You see both sides of the coin, the hunting taboo protectiveness side is the other. (eternal)
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aurelius



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Paradise East

Oppenheimer takes his lead from James George Frazer but updates The Golden Bough with discoveries in genetics and his own take on racial migration within Southeast Asia, mainland and maritime; by all accounts Frazer didn’t get out that much whereas Oppenheimer spent over twenty years doing paediatric work in Oceania and the Far East, his natural curiosity taking him beyond his original vocation. In this he was able to question indigenous people about their mythology directly.

What of Paradise? Oppenheimer repeats the point made by earlier authors that in its broadest sense, ‘Paradise’ may mean the abode of gods, spirits of the worthy dead or worthy persons; a beautiful place where everything was provided for. Austronesian (usually Polynesian) cultures view this as an inaccessible homeland to their west. Significantly the ‘paradise motif’ as such is not prevalent in mainland Southeast Asia; it is more likely to crop up further out from the diaspora in the Pacific, which Oppenheim takes to signify a later development.

However the ‘tree of life’ motif is widespread, from Sichuan (see earlier post), Taiwan and Vietnam to Sarawak, Bali, Sumatra and central Australia. Usually it is accompanied by at least one serpent and bird. I am not surprised by its prevalence because it can be recreated almost anywhere by the local priestly class and from any imposing species. As we have seen, where forests are no longer available an ‘Asherah’ type pole will do.

But back to Paradise, where there are echoes in the Pacific. In one variation of the tri-theistic Hawaiian creation myth they give man

a delightful garden to live in called Ka lana-i-hauola. Then shortly afterward, the three gods make a woman for the man... a law is given him but he breaks the law and is then known as Kane-la’a-uli, ‘a god who fell because of the law. Man breaks the law and is later banished from the paradise garden. In the Kepelino version, the woman is tricked into eating the fruit of the sacred tree, and as a result, she becomes a bird that carries the man out of the garden of paradise.

http://www.agorajournal.org/2005/Stanley.pdf

One might expect a tendency for the glorification of the garden to become stronger the further away from the source of the original homeland one travelled, such as the echoes on Fiji:

Once the first humans were born, they were transferred to a vesi tree where Degei built a shelter for them, fed them and taught them the secrets of nature. But he kept his children separate. He planted trees around them so they could find food, trees like banana trees, dalo and yams. However, humans could only eat from the banana tree and not dalo (or taro) and yams (like sweet potatoes), because they didn’t know the art of fire and the fruits of those trees couldn’t be eaten raw. Dalo and yams were the food of the gods.

http://www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-folklore/creation-myth-fiji-and-serpent-god-00966

Degei is a snake-god and a ‘good’ one for a change. The author of the blog finds the concept strange because he believes there are no snakes on Fiji but there are sea snakes, and a small, rarely sighted, non-venomous land snake. However the sea snakes are generally docile, despite being venomous.

Central Polynesia has a tree of life called Pukatala. Its fruits were said to be better than any on Earth and it produced honey or nectar on which the spirits lived. Also found in this paradise was Vai-ola, a lake containing the water of life that rejuvenated those who bathed in it or drank it. After bathing in this pool, sacred to Waiora, the Polynesian goddess of health, spirits were believed to regain their youthful beauty and live in perfect happiness. Thus Waiora=Hygieia (note snake):

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aurelius



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The Green Alternatives

Flood myths abound around the world, typically among peoples who lived on the coastal plains, or those whose ancestors did. They are not found absolutely everywhere. The floods are often associated with a fabled lost homeland which can now be easily explained by our knowledge of continental shelves.

Now 6000-7000 years ago the Mesopotamian rainfall may have been greater than today’s but nevertheless it is unlikely to have produced as lush an environment as in tropical Southeast Asia. This is probably why the Genesis writer introduces us, I feel, to the concept of an artificially watered and tended area, a garden, in contrast to what surrounds it. This was unnecessary in Southeast Asia because greenery was everywhere, but are there other candidates for Eden?

There is a Middle Eastern precedent; Sumerian Dilmun, the abode of the gods. The god Enki, the helper of mankind and of ‘’sweet water” ensured that Dilmun, lacking fresh water, received a supply from the earth transforming it into a divine garden. Dilmun was vaguely conjectured to be east of Sumer, presenting a challenge to modern historians. The most popular though not unanimous modern location they have come up with for Dilmun is Bahrain, which is indeed watered by subterranean aquifers; another is the Harappan (Indus Valley) civilisation in India. If it were either of these, an explanation would need to be found for the eastwards dispersal and evolution of the tree, snake and bird motifs into Indochina and Indonesia. So far this is not borne out by genetics or anything else.

The lush refuge of Southeast Asia does not seem to be on orthodoxy's radar.
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Wile E. Coyote


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I am pretty impressed with Auro's spider strategy.
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aurelius



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Tree of Life? 6: The Acacia, part 1

In Egyptian mythology the first couple, apart from Shu, Tefnut, Geb and Nut, are Isis and Osiris. They were said to have emerged from an acacia tree belonging to ‘the grandmother of all deities’, Iusaaset. This acacia tree was considered by the ancient Egyptians to be their ‘tree of life’, or more specifically “the tree in which life and death are enclosed”. The actual genus and species of the tree of life – or death - is pretty much what you want it to be, as long as the worshippers in your culture can relate to it - the Egyptians also had a holy sycamore which connected the worlds of the living and the dead.

Acacia wood is agreed to be dense, strong and resistant to decay. It was used, famously, in making the Ark of the Covenant as well as providing much of the wood in the Tabernacle, though Freemasons have their doubts about the species:

...perhaps it is not to be wondered at that we find one Masonic writer speaking of the “spreading leaves of the Acacia tree” and another talking of “the low thorny shrub which is the Acacia.” We have no certainty that the trees and shrubs now growing in Palestine are the same as those which flowered in Solomon’s era. So that it is not impossible that ‘Acacia totilis’ and ‘Acacia Seyal’ grew to greater size three thousand years ago than they do now. But authorities doubt that the Acacia which grows low, as a bush, and which in all probability must have been the plant which one of the three plucked from the ground as the “Sprig of Acacia,” ever grew large enough to supply boards three feet wide.

http://www.masonicworld.com/education/files/artoct02/sprig_of_acacia.htm

Be that as it may, the Hebrews placed a sprig of acacia on the grave of a loved one and the sacredness of the tree is still preserved in ritual Freemasonry for the important ‘Third Degree’ ceremony. It is symbolic for them not just of initiation, but also of innocence (acacia stemming from a Greek word meaning ‘freedom from sin’) and the immortality of the soul. This may not be merely on account of its leaves falling neither in winter or summer either...
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Mick Harper
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a delightful garden to live in called Ka lana-i-hauola. Then shortly afterward, the three gods make a woman for the man... a law is given him but he breaks the law and is then known as Kane-la’a-uli, ‘a god who fell because of the law. Man breaks the law and is later banished from the paradise garden. In the Kepelino version, the woman is tricked into eating the fruit of the sacred tree, and as a result, she becomes a bird that carries the man out of the garden of paradise
.
This sounds suspiciously like a Polynesian tale produced after the first missionary but before the first anthropologist.
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aurelius



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Mick Harper wrote:

This sounds suspiciously like a Polynesian tale produced after the first missionary but before the first anthropologist.


It does. The website's source for this quote was Martha Warren Beckwith,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Warren_Beckwith

Who one would hope could differentiate between the influence of Christianity and the original folk tales.
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Mick Harper
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OK, you're the world's most skilled anthropologist. Tell me how you do this.
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aurelius



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Beckwith published her Hawaiian Mythology in 1940. This was 120 years after the American Protestant missionaries first arrived. So yes, it would be conceivable for her to inherit a mixed mythology.

From http://sacred-texts.com/pac/hm/index.htm

Beckwith utilized numerous texts which are today rare or hard to obtain... she gives all available variants of each myth or legend, including versions from other Pacific islands including Tahiti, Tonga, Samoa and others. This [Hawaiian Mythology ]is primarily a critical edition of the key Hawaiian myths, and Beckwith largely does not attempt to interpret the texts, rather to examine both variant narratives and core folklore motifs. The book covers every significant theme in Hawaiian mythology, from the origin myths of the Hawaiian gods and goddesses, to more recent legends of star-crossed lovers.


I browsed her list of references, one of which is Kepelino. He was a native Hawaiian cultural historian, born c. 1830 and died c.1878 (Wiki).

His father was a descendant of the priestly lineage of Paʻao, and his mother was a daughter of King Kamehameha I, the founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii.[3][4]


Therefore he would have been well familiar with the islands' traditional religion and provided Beckwith with Kepelino's Traditions of Hawaii (1868) which in translation gave her at least one of the slightly varying creation myths. He and his family converted to Roman Catholicism in 1840, so it looks like it was he who blended the two traditions and this is why the Hawaiian creation myth is too close to the Judeo-Christian one to be a coincidence - unfortunately for my argument!
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Mick Harper
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Much more detailed than our own mythos which Hatty and I are currently searching for.
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aurelius



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Wile E. Coyote wrote:

Auro's spider strategy


Well it may be a waste of thread building a massive web if there is no juicy fly to be caught in it. But I'm going to keep on spinning on the off-chance...
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Wile E. Coyote


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aurelius wrote:

Well it may be a waste of thread building a massive web if there is no juicy fly to be caught in it. But I'm going to keep on spinning on the off-chance...


Now there is evidence of a cunning plan, house rules change allowing Wile to start showing his gums (fangs).

Good luck.
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Wile E. Coyote


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Beckwith utilized numerous texts which are today rare or hard to obtain... she gives all available variants of each myth or legend, including versions from other Pacific islands including Tahiti, Tonga, Samoa and others. This [Hawaiian Mythology ]is primarily a critical edition of the key Hawaiian myths, and Beckwith largely does not attempt to interpret the texts, rather to examine both variant narratives and core folklore motifs. The book covers every significant theme in Hawaiian mythology, from the origin myths of the Hawaiian gods and goddesses, to more recent legends of star-crossed lovers.


She didn't just collate or classify she put them in order.

Gods>Children of Gods> Chiefs> Heroes and Lovers.
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aurelius



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Wile wrote:

Gods>Children of Gods> Chiefs> Heroes


Just what the locals did when Christianity became a state religion in Western Europe. Royal genealogies were edited in order for once ethereal gods like Woden to become physical human ancestors...Bede grounds establishment founders Hengist and Horsa in this way: Woden begat Wecta who begat Witta who begat Wictgils who begat H & H.

A similar motivation to give the elite an authority was in linking Brutus to Aeneas.

Unless it was the other way round of course, gods being created from the ancestors of 'heroes' -

North Korean authorities have co-opted portions of Christianity and Buddhism,[17] and adapted them to their own uses, while greatly restricting all religions in general as they are seen as a threat to the regime.[18][19] An example of this can be seen in the description of Kim Il-sung as a god,[20] and Kim Jong-il as the son of a god or "Sun of the Nation",[21] evoking the father-son imagery of Christianity.[
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