The Evolutionary Female Experiencegreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
Will we ever know, with certainty, how our human evolutionary journey began?
In a beast, in an animal, ESSENCE comes before EXISTENCE. Essence is the whole blueprint of a being partly programmed by the coding of the genes and possibly by fields which determine the collective form, habits and memory of a particular species. For an animal, essence heralds existence. The essential blueprint precedes the living organism. The complete program of the life form, its habits, lifestyle tastes, its manner of reproduction and its manner of dying all come with the original package at birth. Our first hominid ancestors, A.afarensis, roaming the savannahs four million years ago, carried their essential blueprint with them. They followed the strict regime of that inbuilt genetic program which cast them as clever but simple beasts.
Let us suppose that somewhere along that long hominid line a critical threshold appeared and the line split in two. The beast took the terminal path to extinction and the first true man stepped across the biological barrier, which was to profoundly alter the evolutionary process. For now man EXISTED FIRST and his whole program followed. The beast had remained a closed being, pre-programmed, dependent upon biological evolution for any change. The new being, however, was suddenly an uncertaintya becoming. HOMO SAPIENS remains that question mark, a movement towards a quest of who he is. In biological terms this situation is created by the vast areas of the cerebral cortex which remain uncommitted. In most animals virtually the whole brain is taken up by particular sense or survival functions, but in man there are large unused areas which are available for other processes, such as learning and thought.
The biblical story of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden takes on a new and poignant significance. Both Adam and Eve lose their beast-like innocence and yet pay for their new-found self-reflective consciousness by being perpetually uncertain of who they are and whether they will continue to be. As far as is known they become the first animals to recognize and be afraid of death.
This conversation is about the FEMALE EXPERIENCE of our evolution. How did external mind BEGIN? What MOVED US OUT of pure instinct? The author is putting forth that it began with the females recognition of her cycle coinciding with the light and dark of the moon. The writings come from the book Blood, Bread and Roses by Judy Grahn.
The first part of this discussion can be found at:
THE FEMALE EXPERIENCE
Lets look at womens lost history. Lets ask if WOMAN was the cause of mankinds downfall or if she was the cause of mankinds becoming aware. Lets keep an open mind and see if this is a possibility.
This is where we left off:
CREATION/ORIGIN stories remember a time before anything was, a time that consisted entirely of darkness, of water, of endless space or of flatness without landscape; a time BEFORE NAME, BEFORE CONSCIOUSNESS; a time described as asleep, or dreaming, or by the Greek word Chaos, meaning yawning.
With origin stories, we think of Chaos as a real geological time. The stories seem to describe the beginnings of the earth and its features, of the sun, moon and the galaxies, in short, those bodies of energy and mass that at some point in geological time did not exist. However (and heres the METAPHOR) the idea of chaos is also a description of human, or more accurately, PREHUMAN, CONSCIOUSNESS.
At one time, our ancestral apes could not see the landscape of the earth, could not recognize the sun and the moon, had no name for water. The ancient stories recall a time when our prehuman ancestors could not perceive shape, color, light, depth, distance, as we do, and had no names for them and no fixed sense of their qualities. This state of being, which we call nature, rules from INSIDE the animal body; emotions, physiological states, estrus, and mating simply happen, they are not up for question, examination, or rearrangement. Seasons change and fur turns white or brown; the animal is moved from within to interaction with life around it, without externalizing much imagery beyond what the body conveys through gesture, smell or sound. Although the inner animal life has its own order, its own integration with the whole, its own rationalism, we rely so much on our culture that the preconscious state before our ancestors learned to think outside themselves was a state we now call chaos, and greatly fear.
When we fall out of external mind as adults, mental and emotional confusion catch us in a whirlpool of broken boundaries and inexpressible emotion, chiefly terror. Children never taught to speak may growl, grunt and scream, but they say no words. Language must be taught; differentiation of shape, of color, of day from night, sun from moon, land from water, up from down must be taught.
The process of learning is a process of separation, and most of the major creation stories describe a change of consciousness through separation. The god, or originating principle creates heaven, earth, light and dark by separating them, or as some myths describe, the first beings emerge from darkness or from a lower world. The act of separating is the act of creation, and also of consciousness, of understanding the imagery, of mental connection.
But how were those connections first made? While myths capture VERBALLY principles of human existence, human ACTIONS are the source of those principles, human ACTIONS that lead to human comprehension. A myth merely holds the information in a verbal memory; tens of thousands of years of repeated actions may go into the making of a single line of its story. Fortunately human actions from times prior to ours have been recorded in ethnography, especially in those accounts gathered before Christianization and other religious and moral views (including feminism) required and enabled an end to some of the more dramatic ritual practices of humankind. Disciplined separation is clearly a major factor of human culture, and the most complex and fundamental separation practice is that of first menstruation, or as it is more formally termed, menarche.
SEPARATING DARK FROM LIGHT Menstrual seclusion rites as recorded over the last few centuries typically include three basic taboos: the menstruating woman must not see light, she must not touch water, and she must not touch the earth. Since these same elements are differentiated in Genesis and other creation stories, we begin to see how menstrual rites might have created the world for ancient peoples, and to wonder whether the sleepers who awoke and saw landscape, who named the elements, who separated the above from the below, and darkness from light, were informed by rites of seclusion that specified these very elements, singled them out for attention through tapua, sacred law of the womans friend.
Human perception began, many creation stories say, when we could distinguish between light and dark. That distant ancestral eyes didnt have the perception of this distinction is easier to comprehend (how could they not see light?) if we remember that until very recently a person could walk for weeks in dense forest without seeing the sky as more than fragments of glitter through a maze of moving leaves. Not only the equatorial girdle, but much of the Northern Hemisphere was covered with dense forest in the age immediately preceding our own; even the stark sand of the Sahara is believed to have once been forested.
In many parts of a dense forest, light never reaches the ground; it lives scattered in the trees, and in constant motion. A band of primates, held to a small forested area by predators and the need for leafy food, lived in a small world, one that didnt need to know the original sources of water or light, merely the keen inner senses to locate water and see with light. For it isnt that the remote ancestors didnt see light, but they saw WITH light, as naturally as breathing. They did not see light as outside of themselves, as having a distinct source, a single place from whence it emanated. They had no origin story of light. Once externalized light was recognized by someone, was perceived as a separate entity, how could she retain and remember it, given that prehumans by definition had no language, no marking system, nothing that we call physical culture. How could they establish noninstinctual knowledge outside of their own bodies? How did we acquire orderly minds of external measurement?
-- Debra (BloodBreadand@Roses.com), June 20, 2000
Acquiring an externally based mind required early humans to connect to something outside of themselves as a frame of reference, to connect PHYSICALLY; and this was accomplished when the females evolved a menstrual cycle capable of synchronous rhythm, or ENTRAINMENT. Entrainment is the quality of two similarly timed beats to link up and become synchronized in each others presence. Non- digital clocks behave this way, and so do drums. This quality of interactive rhythm, being not mechanical, applies as well to the periodicity of menstruation. As has been demonstrated by women volunteers and observers, menstrual periods are highly affected by the environment. Periods are easily disrupted by changes of light, travel through time zones, and severe exercise or dietary deprivation. Menstruation is a malleable cycle, but menstrual periodicity is also able to entrain; women living together and in similar circumstances will often spontaneously synchronize their periods with each other and evidently with any light source that imitates the moons dark and light cycles. Menstruation has been disrupted by the urban environment, with its irregular lighting. The flexibility of menstrual cycles, their ability to entrain to another regular rhythm, gave ancestral females the inner tool to entrain with other females enough to notice the commonality of blood flow, and to entrain with the moon closely enough to notice it as a source of light and to differentiate its effect from the darkness.
This unique cycle in correspondence with the cycles of an outside body, the waxing and waning of the moon far beyond the surface of the earth, taught humans to see from OUTSIDE of their animal bodies, and to display that knowledge externally, in physical culture. The MENSTRUAL MIND became externalized because females were forced to teach its perspective to members of the family who did not menstruate. Males, in learning the pattern, greatly extended it, rearranged it, demonstrated their comprehension one further step, and mirrored back to the females: an ongoing dance of mind between the genders. The consequences of the menstrual/lunar correspondence is what has divided us, for good and ill, from the other animals. Unlike our simian relatives, unlike any other creature, humans use external measurement, the gift of menstruation. We have a lunar/menstrual lever that enables us to move our senses back and forth between the subjective and the objective, and to embody our ideas in external form.
When during the hundreds of thousands of times the ancestral prehumans secluded themselves during what was at least some of the time a collective menstruation at the dark of the moon, they noticed that the light was also hiding. They may also have come to notice that the light at times (dawn) was the same color as their blood. While they were menstruating, they noticed darkness was different from light. Darkness thus had a source: menstruation. At the end of each menstruation, they created light when they emerged from the darkness, from hiding. And to continue its remembrance and to reinforce the principle, they began emerging from seclusion exactly at dawn, emerging into the light. They synchronized with darkness and light. And because of the back-and-forth road that is cause and effect, since menstruation created light as it created dark, so it could destroy them. The menstruant, especially at menarche, was not allowed to look at lightlest in her condition she destroy it, allowing society to fall back into Chaos.
Menstrual separation was the first step to differentiating light from darkness, and of displaying and remembering the knowledge.
-- Debra (BloodBreadand@Roses.com), June 20, 2000.
How terrifying the first ventures into separation must have been, for at the very beginning of the changes from primate to human, archaeologically dated at around four and a half million years ago, there were NO WORDS to describe the vision. WORDLESSLY, a more conscious female pulled her sisters into seclusion with her. WORDLESSLY, they pushed their daughters into seclusion at the first sign of their blood. WORDLESSLY, they sat in the moonless night and saw darkness as a different state than light. They NAMED it with the ACT of separation. They saw that when anyone menstruating was absent from the group, so was the night light. In this seeing, they perceived light and dark as different states. They saw light, like the menstruant, separates, and then emerges.
With the act of sitting together in the dark, the early women entered a new world of consciousness. Their minds became human through an externalized vision that had as yet and perhaps for millennia to come no other expression than menstrual separation, the creation of consciousness by distinguishing menstruation from other activities. This separation endowed both menstruation and light with power, the power of memory and first cause, the power of RITE to create human mind and culture.
The fundamental connection between separation and creation comes through in languages that developed much later, in the word sacred, which means set apart (it also means curse), and in the word sabbath, or sabbat, which can be translated as the divider.
The original meaning of the Sabbath can be understood as menstrual separation, particularly as related to the new moon. As the seventh day, it is also the day of rest of the Genesis creation story, which took place in seven daysso each week is a re-creation of the Beginning. The number of days of menstrual seclusion is specified for Hebrew women in Leviticus 15:19, and it is seven. Menstrual seclusion is implied as well in the Babylonian creation myth, the oldest one known, which lists in its sixth line, after descriptions of Tiamat and Apsu, a special kind of sacred reed hut, the giparu, which can be taken to be a menstrual seclusion hut.
When the ancestress of four and a half million years ago separated in the earliest Sabbats, she stepped out of Chaos, and across a terrifying abyss of mind. What makes the Abyss so ominous is that to enter human mind we step out of the security of instinct, the net of animal mind, and enter the frail social construct of a rite, which is only held in place externally and accessed through cultural memory and repetition. The farther we get from inner knowledge, the more dependent on the external mind we become. The Abyss yawned before those who did not keep the separation, for in their newfound understanding they established a principle correspondence: without menstrual separation, there WAS no light. Menstrual seclusion rites continually created light and separated it from dark.. Without menstrual separation and the emphasis taboo placed on seeing of light, the idea of light having a source would have flickered and gone out. And probably, many times, it did.
By using tapua, women were able to hold the thought still, to capture the perception of the source of light, emphasize its importance, and teach it. Every time a girl began her period for the first time, she separated and was not allowed to see light. Then at the end of her bleeding, she emerged into the light. After a girl emerges from seclusion, the women take her around and show her the earth, bodies of water, flowers, trees as though she is seeing them for the first time. In this way, seclusion reenacts the original awakening human consciousness.
Menstrual seclusion rites reenacted their own discoveries, returning women back along a path of unraveling time, to the chaotic mind before light was seen. Menstrual seclusion accomplished this by a simple taboo: the menstruant was not allowed to see light. On the North American continent, she had to cover her head with a deerskin before going outdoors and was shut away in a dark place for days, even weeks, at a time; in Southeast Asia, she might have been wrapped in a hammock or shut up in a little hut or a square of mats, or she had to lie down in the dark part of a house for days and nights on end. Silence often accompanied the cloistering; she could not speak, or she could not speak above a whisper, or her name could not be spoken during the sacred time as though she was returning deliberately to a preconscious state.
The reasons given for this and the other menstrual taboos were that harm would come to the menstruant; she would sicken or die, her bones would break, she would become infertile. But some peoples held taboos in which the menstruants destructive power affected all life and even the features of the landscape. If a woman broke taboo, not only would she herself be harmed, but harm would come to others, to her family, her village. Her eyes had special power; she could not look at others or they would sicken. She could not drop blood on the path, for someone might step on it and later die or be infertile. She had to avoid talking to her husband or touching his weapons lest harm befall him in the hunt; she was forbidden to cross the path of a hunting party. She was sexually dangerous; harm would come to any partners genitals, and person, so she could not have sex. If she failed to keep her taboos, her community would no longer thrive. Thus, she could not look at the sky or the planets. Nor could she gaze at bodies of water, for fear of causing a flood; if she were to look at trees and plants, they would wither. She had to protect the sources of water, so she could not look at the pond, or it would dry up. Her glance would cause the village cows to sicken and die, or their milk to dry up; it caused crops to wither in the fields. She had, in her blood rites taken as a whole, complete power over all that humans depend on for their lives, all we had deciphered about the universe for, as the author argues, it is menstrual consciousness that first created all these elements. And so many of the rites involved SILENCE, as though they were laid down during the long eras before speech, when ACTION ALONE did the creating.
Hers was the power of raveling and of unraveling, since what consciousness (spirit, mystery, and mind) gives us, it can also take back.
And the power of creation and destruction, as at one time evidently all humanity believed, was in the womans blood.
-- Debra (BloodBreadand@Roses.com), June 20, 2000.
-- Or maybe I am the bore (email@example.com), June 20, 2000.
WOW. I have been called many things in my life but I have never been called boring (your e-mail address). This is a FIRST!
HOWEVER ... getting even this feedback on this thread is better than being completely ignored. Thank you for that. :)
Funny thing is I don't find this boring at all. Actually I find this extremely interesting. Did you ever ask yourself WHAT IF what the bible teaches about women is not true? Let's look at two possibilities of women's history:
1.) God told Adam and Eve NOT to eat the fruit of ONE tree. Eve ignored God, listened to the snake and ate the apple from the Tree of Knowledge. She talked Adam into doing the same. Adam listened to her and ate too.
God evicted them from paradise, taught that the female "caused" the downfall of humans and made ALL women suffer from then on.
2.) At the "dawning" of consciousness, before language, before ANY form of human communication our ancestors used "metaforms" (see post below)to teach one another. As put forth above the female's cycle, entrained to the moon, caused the awareness of the separation of light and dark. She needed to communicate this awareness.
Look at these metaFORMS (metaphors):
Snake = umbilical cord = inside the female Apple = Red color = menstrual blood Tree of Knowledge = real trees = escape from wild animals smelling menstrual blood.
Suppose, just suppose, that our female ancestors spent 7 days, once a month, during the new moon in the trees to escape predators smelling their menstrual blood. Suppose that by being "up" in the trees, removed from the forest floor they were able to "see" the dark of the moon and make the distinction between light and dark.
Now suppose that they needed to communicate this to their mates and sons who had no reason to spend as much time in the trees.
They pointed to the trees where this discovery took place (the Tree of Knowledge?)
They pointed to the snake to communicate that it had to do with the female cycle. (Satan, who "spoke" to Eve?)
They pointed to the red apple in the tree to communicate it had to do with the red menstrual blood. (the famous apple of the bible?)
Now, moving out of animal mind was a frightening thing. How many males and females alike fought becoming aware? How many times were more "conscious" females told: "NO! Don't "eat" of that knowledge!" God?)
Obviously, some (Adam?), listened.
With consciousness we came out of INSTINCTUAL MIND (paradise?) and into EXTERNAL MIND (hell?).
WHAT IF this is closer to the truth than anything we have been taught about the female? WHAT IF this is the real story of Eve? It makes sense to me, much more sense than the story in the bible.
The big question for me is:
How does anyone choose to teach their daughters that their history is the history of Eve and deny them the opportunity to KNOW what their true history may be?
-- Debra (BloodBreadand@Roses.com), June 21, 2000.
I just wanted to let you know that I've printed out and intend to read and respond to your materials; but I'll need some time. What I've seen so far, from just skimming, I find interesting in parts, although I'm not able to connect science with Biblical roots and references, as I feel those references are mythical.
Also, please don't take it personally if people don't respond to your thread. Some subjects "take off," some don't. I know that I've started threads that I was sure would be popular. When I see them float downstream, out of sight, with few or no responses, sure -- I'm surprised and disappointed for a bit, but I try not to let it get to me, and I just come back next time with a different topic.
Debra, you've written and posted some great stuff in the past -- and I think people see this; I know I see it. Hang in there, girl, and don't get discouraged.
Talk to ya soon...
-- eve (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 21, 2000.
I've looked at your materials in more depth and find that I just can't connect enough with them to spend the time on them that they deserve right now. Maybe if you posted a synopsis in your own words (more extensive than the one in your post just above) it would help.
-- eve (email@example.com), June 27, 2000.
-- Someone (ChimingIn@twocents.cam), June 27, 2000.