Man the cannibal
Cannibalism is common to mythologies worldwide. Evidence for the sacrifice of objects, animals, foods, and human beings is abundant in archaeological reports, but how could the related practice of cannibalism have originated?
Cannibalism is described in many myths, from the killing and eating of captives, to witches that steal children and boil them for dinner, to fathers who are tricked into eating their own child, an “accident” which arises from the fear of uncertain paternity. Cannibalism has left physical evidence in the form of human bones opened for marrow and brains. It is not difficult to imagine that in times of hardship, humans may have killed and eaten their own, or preyed on the competition: slower moving relatives may have been fair game for early human species, and more easily “caught” than large and dangerous prey.
Note: There is no reason to assume that “homo” species saw other “similar” species as anything but potential prey, just as our current “cousins” – Chimps – and also monkeys, are hunted as “bush meat”. Archaic hominids had no “species” concepts, nor was Homo sapiens (God’s special creation) anything so grandiose in a hungry world! Homo sapiens was not exempt from becoming food like any other animal – and the reverse is also true: This idea of “‘cannibalism” – eating one’s own species as “taboo” is a recent and modern conceit.
An obvious choice for sacrifice during famine would be a child who was too young to contribute to the survival of the group. (This is a tried and true strategy in nature – more offspring can be produced) A magical idea may have been put forth to persuade the mother to give up her child: the mothers of animals sacrifice their children so that humans have food. Perhaps they will accept one of our children in trade, and thus produce more animals to feed us. Necessary cannibalism that sustained a group through extreme conditions may have receded in better times in favor of prophylactic human sacrifices meant to postpone hardship or to jump-start a perilous undertaking. Acts of sacrifice would become a component of the culture myth and thus be incorporated into religious ritual.
The Last Supper myth is a twisted tale of human sacrifice and cannibalism that Christians reenact, but without recognizing its roots in the annual human sacrifice and cannibalism practiced in agricultural societies. The thirteenth man didn’t serve dinner, he was eaten, and his body parts distributed to the fields, where food crops would be resurrected in the coming year – hence the unlucky number thirteen. The twelve apostles replaced the signs of the zodiac, the calendar that set the time of planting and harvest: Christians merely changed a yearly ritual into a one-off event. The sacrifice and resurrection of the demigod identified as Jesus was made available to cult members through the shared ritual of eating the sacrificial man and drinking his blood, an act of power transference basic to magic. It’s no accident that Christian doctrine banned cremation. Christians copied Egyptian resurrection magic, in which the body must be intact for rebirth to succeed.
In male-dominated cultures, the chief male god is awarded extraordinary talents of procreation, and he often utilizes virgins to secure his paternity. The god can appear in animal form or as a force of nature; he is sometimes hidden by atmospheric effects, such as a storm or beam of light (lightning bolt.) We tend to forget that violation by a god is rape. Recasting a brutal attack into a charming religious story serves to excuse behavior, that if committed by a lesser male would be considered a crime; the worst human behavior is reserved for a Top Male god.
The rape victim will relive the attack, removing details and reducing or accentuating others with the aid of “social” pressure. This process removes the crime to the supernatural realm, where it may live safely forever, despite the actual attack having had a beginning and an ending. This falsification of reality yields a consequence: once the event is recast as supernatural, it is difficult to bring it into the light of day, and to know that it was real. Real events end: supernatural events are eternal.
Supernatural coping is not coping at all. The victim is stuck with a version of the experience that is eternal, fixed, and not compatible with reality, and which often justifies the crime; guilt is transferred to the victim. Phobias, compulsive behavior, overuse of drugs and alcohol, rage and self-abuse are symptoms of the “supernaturalization” of reality.
Ritual cannibalism is central to Christianity
John 6:53-56 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.”
This is not a metaphor; this is a command to perform an actual ritual.
Here we go with archaeo-anthro “narratives again”
It is claimed by many “scientists” that cannibalism was not about “nutrition”. The “fairytale” goes like this:
- A horse, bison or mammoth would provide vastly more calories than a “puny human” so if you killed a human and ate it, it couldn’t be for “food” purposes. (Wow!)
- The reason for cannibalism must be a lot of socio-cultural religious mumbo jumbo, which applies mostly to “socially modern humans” but neglects the obvious; eating humans is emphatically “discouraged” by modern societies: cannibalism is a severe “pathology” and crime today.
- Mortuary practices and ancestor worship rituals that include defleshing and flesh-eating are invoked, but these are specific rituals that are easily identified in the archaeologic record.
- And – a human would be “harder to kill” than a large animal and less “food” per unit of effort. This is so ridiculous! What universe do these folks live in? They obviously have been “well-fed” their entire lives and have never experienced chronic hunger or starvation….
No human ever hunted and ate rats, rabbits, squirrels, bats, insects, and any other small bit of living protein. And no one ever “fished” or gathered sea creatures because, It ain’t worth the trouble.
Magic powers are indeed served in “beheading and displaying heads” as war trophies, which is both an easy way to “count” enemy victims and to scare the bejeezus out of the populace and it is universal magic that the head is a source of power – it does all the talking and cannot be removed without killing the person. Blood also is big magic!