What are the rites behind the rites. When we observe Easter or celebrate May Day, we are actually walking in the ghostly footsteps of men who worshiped plants and murdered kings. James Frazer’s The Golden Bough was a primeval source of interwoven of legends, tales, enigmas and superstitions in the culture of the Western world. … The scene is idyllic at first: a sunlit Italian landscape just outside Rome; a small lake nestling in a hollow of the Alban hills, and by its shore the grove that is the heart of the mystery. Once it was sacred to the goddess Diana, and its guardian in ancient times lived and died by a stranger rule…
James Frazer: “In this sacred grove there grew a certain tree round which at any time of the day, and probably far into the night, a grim figure might be seen to prowl. In his hand he carried a drawn sword, and he kept peering warily about him as if at every instant he expected to be set upon by an enemy. He was a priest and a murderer; and the man for whom he looked was sooner or later to murder him and hold the priesthood in his stead. Such was the rule of the sanctuary. A candidate for the priesthood could only succeed to office by slaying the priest, and having slain him, he retained office till he was himself slain by a stronger or a craftier.” Read More:http://www.templeofearth.com/books/goldenbough.pdf a
The words from the opening of Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough begin a long, bizarre, and exotic detective story. Why was the succession to the priesthood of Diana’s grove at Nemi decided by mortal combat, and why was the victorious priest, while his precarious term lasted, also given the title of king? Why did the challenger, a runaway slave, have first to pluck a branch from a certain sacred tree before he could claim the right of combat?And what could such a rite reveal about the intellectual evolution of humankind with its haunting evocation of practices sanctioned or required by pre-scientific ideas?
These questions set Frazer off on a scholarly quest that conveyed the mystery and poetry inherent in uncovering the dark roots of primitive savagery and superstition that gave The Golden Bough its influence as no other anthropological work has ever had. readers were dazzled by a work that linked ancient Greeks to modern Inuit and the rituals of Central African tribes to the seasonal festivals of English rustics. Everywhere, essentially, the human mind obeyed the same laws; everywhere reason and science were preceded by superstition in its successive forms of magic and religion, often manifested in strange, ludicrous, or appalling ways, but always if approached scientifically and comparatively: ultimately intelligible and coherent.
Frazer made knowledge of primitive ways of thought and behavior part of the common cultural experience of the West. Achieved because he had a vision of a strange world, alien and yet somehow close and almost familiar, which tugged at the imagination and provided poets and literati with fresh and vital images, in a world where technology and urban civilization seemed to offer little but imaginative impoverishment and aridity.Classical scholars of Frazer’s generation were beginning to think strange thoughts and to see the elegant mythology and the sublime Athenian tragedies in a new and startling perspective. Behind the Greek drama and festivals like the Olympic games there seemed to lurk other, more bloody and primitive rituals, performed by actors to whom their performance was a matter of life or death.
The Golden Bough, ostensibly an inquiry into a particular classical rite and legend, was actually an immense comparative study of primitive magic and superstition, culminating in a slightly oblique but unmistakable glance at Christianity. In this world, men, beasts, vegetation, and weather are bound promiscuously together in a magical economy in ways for which science and reason offer no warrant, and the means of controlling nature is by ritual imitation of the desired events. But nature thus treated does not always respond,magic does not always work; so the momentous transition is made from magic to religion.
Natural phenomena are thought of now as capricious deities, who must be made to labor for their worshipers. But the heritage of sympathetic magic is not forgotten. The nature gods are personified in priests or divine kings, who in a sense are the gods and natural forces they represent. The grove at Nemi was sacred to Diana, a goddess of fertility, and her priest was her divine consort, god of the wood and the rain.
In Roman mythology, the bough was a tree branch with golden leaves that enabled the Trojan hero Aeneas to travel through the underworld safely.
They discovered the remains while excavating religious sanctuary built in honour of the goddess Diana near an ancient volcanic lake in the Alban Hills, 20 miles south of Rome.
They believe the enclosure protected a huge Cypress or oak tree which was sacred to the Latins, a powerful tribe which ruled the region before the rise of the Roman Empire.
The tree was central to the myth of Aeneas, who was told by a spirit to pluck a branch bearing golden leaves to protect himself when he ventured into Hades to seek counsel from his dead father.
In a second, more historically credible legend, the Latins believed it symbolised the power of their priest-king. Anyone who broke off a branch, even a fugitive slave, could then challenge the king in a fight to the death. If the king was killed in the battle, the challenger assumed his position as the tribe’s leader.
The discovery was made near the town of Nemi by a team led by Filippo Coarelli, a recently retired professor of archaeology at Perugia University.
After months of excavations in the volcanic soil, they unearthed the remains of a stone enclosure.Read More:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/7258607/Golden-Bough-from-Roman-mythology-found-in-Italy.html
Boris Johnson:He was a martyr, in the sense that Diana was a martyr. Her death evoked an astonishing response, partly because she spoke to every woman who has been let down by a man, every woman who has worried about her weight, every woman who feels the system is unfair to women. That is a lot of women.
Michael Jackson went one better. He spoke to the billions of people the world over who feel that they do not conform in some way to the Hollywood stereotype of good looks – either because they are too fat or thin or the wrong colour or have the wrong sort of eyes or nose. In a world dominated by a demoralising canon of physical perfection, he was the patron saint of dysmorphia.
Never was someone so obviously and so literally unhappy in his own skin, and by his obsessional suffering he earned the potential sympathy of everyone who feels doubtful about their appearance, which is a fair chunk of the human race.
And by his musical triumphs, he proved the essential point, that you can look weird, feel weird, be weird – and still be a genius. In one sense Michael Jackson was beaten by the star system, in that it made demands about how he should look and behave which he felt he could never satisfy. In another sense he beat the system. He beat it by writing Beat It.Read More:http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/people/the-cult-and-martyrdom-of-michael-jackson-20090629-d1qu.html