rites behind rites: the dark gods

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

Turner. The Golden Bough. James Frazer:WHO does not know Turner’s picture of the Golden Bough? The scene, suffused with the golden glow of imagination in which the divine mind of Turner steeped and transfigured even the fairest natural landscape, is a dream-like vision of the little woodland lake of Nemi— “Diana’s Mirror,” as it was called by the ancients. No one who has seen that calm water, lapped in a green hollow of the Alban hills, can ever forget it. The two characteristic Italian villages which slumber on its banks, and the equally Italian palace whose terraced gardens descend steeply to the lake, hardly break the stillness and even the solitariness of the scene. Diana herself might still linger by this lonely shore, still haunt these woodlands wild....Read More:http://www.templeofearth.com/books/goldenbough.pdf image:http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Golden_Bough/The_King_of_the_Wood


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?

Camille Paglia:Frazer's vision is nearly psychedelic; the whole history of humanity is dreamily woven into his sober prose. In his startling juxtapositions, we pass in the blink of an eye from primitive tribal rites to Egyptian cult to Greek myth to rural British folklore. The familiar becomes strange, and the grotesque becomes normal. Frazer's work has epic scale yet mesmerizing fineness of detail. We see the great structures of civilization forming and melting against a background of elemental mystery. The effect is cinematic and sublime. Frazer treats magic and religion with scientific neutrality and refuses to grant Judeo-Christianity or mainstream European culture their ordinary prestige and priority. He is a heretic. ...Read More:http://www.salon.com/it/col/pagl/1999/03/10pagl.html


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.

---Allowing the famous to live in selfdestructive luxury is another method. In his enormous study of ritual and sacrifice, The Golden Bough, which he published in 1890, Sir James Frazer managed to compile many examples of human beings going to the altar having enjoyed a set period of feasting and pleasure, from Aztec Mexico to Ancient Rome. Ever since, we have been able to follow ruinous hedonism in stars such as Amy Winehouse or Lord Byron. Another way to get rid of them is to forget all about them: the beauty, or the talent, or the athletic fitness that made someone glorious will inevitably fade as death approaches, and in our affections we will replace one luminary with another. The observation that “we build them up to knock them down” has become a truism, and something we say in self-reproach, but it’s hard to see how else fame could operate. Many of the sacrifices and slaughters that Frazer collects take the form of “killing the king” — of removing or destroying someone a tribe has previously held in awe. Communities would consider these necessary acts in order to rejuvenate the leadership that drew them together.---Read More:http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article6725304.ece

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.

---Does Jackson fit into this pattern? Did we kill the King of Pop? Well, it’s difficult to fit him into any pattern, and if people felt that they had taken any part in the collective, ritualised offering-up of Michael Jackson, they’d probably want to wash their hands of it. Nor can we see him giving up like the Dinka rain-maker; he was all set to make an audacious comeback, after all. And yet there was something desperate about the way in which he clung to youth — both his own and other people’s — and sought to preserve it in himself; and about his retreat into Neverland, the ranch with the otherworldly name that invokes the boy who would never grow up. It was as if he was staving off that moment when his own youth would pass and he would no longer be any use to the tribe. And that’s the part that fits a pattern. One of the most enduring images of Jackson will remain that of the pale figure with the misshapen eyes and the skin that barely covered his nose. It creepily conjures up Frazer’s discussion of Aztec sacrifice: “In ancient Mexico the human victims who personated gods were often flayed and their bloody skins worn by men who appear to have represented the dead deities come to life again.” ---Read More:http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article6725304.ece image:http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article6725304.ece

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

Read More:http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/jfrazer.htm

Read More:http://jerome23.wordpress.com/2009/03/07/debunking-a-modern-myth-the-conflict-of-religion-science-part-two/

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

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