Inventing the Past — The Great Divorce

So, lately I’ve run into outright attempts to invent the past.

The most egregious is in that course on myth I’m listening to while walking.  He says there is absolutely no proof of a great mother (more or less exclusive) worship before patriarchal gods “pushed” her out.  He says there is no sign that societies that worshiped goddesses treat women better… And then he proceeds for lectures on end to act as though such things were proven.

It is, I suppose, very attractive to the modern mind, with its idea that every Jack and Jill (but mostly Jill) needs a role model that matches his or her external or cultural characteristics that they assume worship of any sort of fertility goddess would mean a great respect for women.

Do I need to tell you this is poppycock?

I shouldn’t need to.  We know almost every ancient religion worshiped at least one (often more) female deities, and we know that compared to us in the present so called “patriarchy” women were not only not respected, but were often used in strictly utilitarian ways as in “Mother, caretaker, etc.”

I see absolutely no reason to imagine that primitive humans were better than that, particularly since we do have archaeological evidence (scant, so non-conclusive) to back up the sort of hard scrabble/winner take all existence the great apes bands have, where the word “family” and “harem” are basically equivalent and the alpha male takes all.

In fact the evidence from modern day primitives, whether or not the worship of a female goddess is present, often leads one to conclude that the presence of a female goddess implies stronger patriarchy.

Things that are taken as support, of a great and happy matriarchy, such as matrilineal descent are actually proof of nothing.  The Zulus have that, which did not stop them being the bamfest bamfs to have stridden through Africa in the 19th century, leaving destruction and desolation in their wake.

Oh, and to minds before our “class, gender, and race” obsessed ones, (partly because of grave mal-education founded in Marxist principles) it’s not necessary to have the same fiddly bits, the same color or even the same general shape as someone else to take them as a role model.  More males were devoted to the Virgin Mary than women, a fact easily verifiable by reading any biography of Christians past.  And more females held Jesus or a male saint in particular affection.

If you go even further back, many devotees of Cybele were male (at least until they ceased being males) and there were female devotees to male gods, too.

Look, I know this is hard to explain, but before we got so incredibly “sophisticated”, males in general liked females and vice versa (even those who didn’t bang fiddly bits with the opposite sex, or, in fact, with anyone.)

But this is merely one of the things to have gotten under my nose recently.  Because evidence of myth making is everywhere, and not just in the far past, when it’s easier to swallow just-so stories.

There seems to be this strange idea that we must tell stories of the world as we wish it to be and then it will automagically become so.  And because no part of the world, and no time in History can compare to Western society in the current times (and very few can compare to the united states of America) the way to bring their stories into existence is to tell us how bad we are in comparison to everyone else.

The fact that this is a blatant lie doesn’t matter.  They still do it.

They are convinced, if they can shame us with these imaginary superior cultures that we will somehow adopt the ways they want us to.

One egregious demonstration of this is the claim that other times and places were more tolerant of different sexual personas.  This one makes me want to SCREAM because… well… define “more tolerant.”

Traditional societies often had niches for sexually different people, including but not limited to those who lived as the opposite sex.  BUT when the ignorant parrots of the western world go on about this stuff, they usually know just enough about the other culture to project all sorts of happy thoughts upon it.  The thing is that assuming the persona and lifestyle of the opposite sex was often not a choice, and not because the person “felt” one way or another.  Certain social circumstances dictated a certain change.  Like, in Romania (I think) a woman whose brothers have been killed was almost required to assume a male persona in order to support the family.  Whether she wanted to or not.  And I have a vague idea that in certain parts of India, a woman who cannot find a husband is allowed to “marry” another woman.  Note there is no mention made of sexual desire for her own gender.  It’s more a matter of fitting neatly into society.

And then there were those priests of Cybele.  What part was choice, and what part what was expected of that particular person in those particular circumstances?

Before modern time, even in Europe, how many second or third sons or daughters were committed to the church and a celibate state whether that was their choice or no?  (And how many did honor to that state, anyway?)

Traditional societies more often than not have less room for the individual than the Western society, which means that projecting our idealized intent onto such societies, and viewing deviation from our norm as “tolerance” is an act of provincial stupidity.

The truth is it has been the Judeo-Christian tradition, flowering into the enlightenment coupled with the material wealth fostered by the industrial revolution and, yes, capitalism (in however small measure it is allowed even in the west) that has allowed our society to develop ideas of self fulfillment, of “pursuit of happiness” which would be considered downright strange in the past.

Note, I’m not implying that we’re perfect.  Being human, we can’t be perfect.  And if we don’t get lost looking for an imaginary past, our grandchildren might look upon us as intolerant barbarians.

HOWEVER I’m implying looking for lessons in the distant and the primitive does nothing for us here and now, particularly when most of those lessons are crazy made-up stuff.

For instance, what good is it saying that women were revered in pre-history, when we know that more than likely women in pre-contraceptive days and particularly in poor times and places were sort of a baby factory whose life was limited and confined by their biological function?  What does it teach women?  That merely letting go and daydreaming about a past that never was will make them superior to men?

Is this what we  want?

It has long been said that the truth will set you free.  This is often true, even when that freedom is the bleak and dry eyed horror of knowing how wrong things can go.  (As in, say, studying totalitarian regimes of the past.)

The corollary is that lies enslave you.  They make the perfect the enemy of the good, and in making current day people long for a past that never was, turn them into the dupes and followers of totalitarians and power seekers.

Or in other words, stop making sh*t up.  It doesn’t help, and it might be hurting.  The future deserves better than your lies about the past.

732 thoughts on “Inventing the Past — The Great Divorce

    1. Not the most…reliable reporter.

      Also I absolutely refuse to buy a book where the paperback is cheaper than the kindle version.

  1. I think Watergate’s lesson – follow the money – applies, even if it isn’t about money. Those who persist in promulgating these views do so because they expect to garner some benefit: added respect, position, influence, etc.. And by playing the game for gain, they imitate the “patriarchal” wrongs they claim were fostered on the females, alt/sex populace. When your argument has to rest on a lie to support your premise, you’ve already lost the case.

  2. I don’t have a problem with what he said. There is no proof of any dominant proto-cult worshipping some mother figure. (About the closest thing I can come up with that might be a surviving echo of such is Mother Damp Earth.) And the evidence is strongly against one such existing that matches the feminist or Wicca mythologies. (Especially when they start the whole “appeal to Atlantis” schtick.)
    He clearly stated his assumptions, the assumptions are perfectly defensible, and then proceeded to act like his assumptions were givens. That’s fine. Must people don’t bother to state their assumptions.

    1. My sister studied Wicca and a few times during visits I’d skim some of the books she had about. I found them quite interesting as I had seen the general message of them before, just not presented in that particular format. It was very much a sort of self-help and even autosuggestion sort of thing. ESR has said that that is about right, and the idea (when done right) is a sort of mental hacking with ritual as a/the programming language. I suppose it makes it easier for some to take than the “clinical” version I was/am more familiar with.

      1. Am I a bad person to find it amusing that “wicca” is a masculine-gender Old English word referring to a male witch or sorcerer? The feminine form is “wicce.”

            1. With a lot of Christian influence.

              Ask any neo-pagan what rituals — and sacrifices! — are mandatory, how to determine what god is annoyed with you when ill luck occurs, how to propitiate said god once you’ve determined it — all the things that paleo-pagans would have considered the essence of religious practice — and you’re lucky if the answer is coherent.

              1. IIRC one of Poul Anderson’s fantasy novels has a Norse king brought down by *Odin* because the king was creating a large kingdom that could create peace in the Norse lands.

                As a god of War, Odin was against a peaceful land.

                Just a fictional story, but I trust Poul Anderson’s views on the Norse Gods over the views of the neo-pagan’s views of the Norse Gods.

                1. That is consistent with archaeological evidence, peat bogs in which the wealth of defeated armies had been dumped in homage to Odin rather than taken as loot. Clearly a balance of power was preferred over an accumulation of strength.

              2. Wicca is wide enough an umbrella nowadays that a good percentage of any neopagans who don’t follow something a bit more strictly defined can fit under that if they wish. Just say you are one, and make up your own tradition. I still use that label sometimes, at least it’s something many people have heard of, and nowadays often in a positive way (kinda modern flower children, maybe woohoos but in general pretty harmless… 😀 )

            2. To be blunt, Wicca is a modern invention. There’s no evidence that it is the “Old Religion”.

              1. Pretty much the creation of Margaret Murray. Pratchett, if I recall correctly, made fun of Murray while he was writing witch characters.

                1. Yep, Margaret Murray started the idea of the “Old Religion” and Gerald Gardner ran with it.

      2. You will notice that the neo-pagan stuff tends to locate all the good stuff in the period of history just before the writer knows anything. Which can be truly silly if this is a period where things are, in fact, known.

        1. Plus a lot of neo-Paganism seems to be “Paganism as it should have been” not “Paganism as it actually was”.

          How many modern worshipers of Odin are going to “give a man to Odin”? [Wink]

          1. Hey, that’s pretty much the idea (whether it’s stated out loud or not…). Create something better by taking the good bits and dropping the not so good. Kinda like the Society for Creative Anachronism. 🙂

            1. Kinda like the Society for Creative Anachronism.

              As long as you don’t wind up in a self-important, cliquish, snobby group of them (fortunately, that does NOT describe the group I am in, but I’ve heard stories…)

                1. It is common for those who have experienced exclusion to form groups in order to exclude others.

                  Examples of this principle in wit include “I wouldn’t belong to any club that would accept me as a member” and “Two Jews are stranded on a desert island; upon their rescue it is noticed they have built three synagogues; in explanation one says: the first is the one I attend, the second is the one he attends. What about the third? Oh, that one nobody attends.”

              1. Well, there was a Wiccan who was very Dogmatic that the “Wiccans” described in a Baen Book WERE NOT REAL WICCANS!

                Sadly the person admitted that there were plenty of Real World Wiccans who didn’t meet the person’s Dogmatic Standards for being a True Wiccan.

                But the person still wanted Baen Books to change that Book so that only True Wiccans were called Wiccans in that Book.

                Oh, I thought it was very humorous that the person was taking that position because there had been plenty of discussions concerning “What is a Christian?” with plenty of people claiming “If they claim that they are Christian, *you* are intolerant to say that they aren’t”.

                Here was this Wiccan being intolerant over “Who is a Wiccan”. [Very Big Evil Grin]

                1. I suspect that True Wiccan would have been outraged over any similar demand from a Muslim that Baen’s depictions of Muslims be similarly circumspect.

                  One advantage of a Pope is that He maintains The Church as catholic. I cannot think of any other Faith that has a similar defining body.

                  1. I cannot think of any other Faith that has a similar defining body.

                    The Patriarchs of the East. They arguably have done a better job as change by committee is much harder than change by one man.

                    You can interestingly think of the Catholic Church and the Protestant sects suffering from the same issue, one man can define the faith, but via different mechanisms. For Catholic’s it is the ability of the Pope to speak as the only valid final arbitrar of the faith. For Protestants it is the individual relationship with God’s ability to claim unique revelation and schism.

                    In the Eastern Orthodox Church such change in dogma require in theory the agreement of the majority of bishops although in reality the real group is probably smaller, either the majority of the Patriarchs of the various autocephalous and probably autonomous Churches although the five senior Patriarchs could probably together set policy.

                    However, one alone cannot as the current fight over the status of the Orthodox Church in America (formerly the Russian Orthodox Church in America) as either autocephalous or autonomous demonstrates given the affect the former would eventually have on the other Orthodox in America.

                    1. The problem is that by definition, the individual can not constitute a body. You can always have another schism.

                    2. “The problem is that by definition, the individual can not constitute a body”

                      Which is, of course, the problem with the Catholic Church. You have an non-divine individual defining the faith for the rest of the body.

                    3. Leaving aside that would not matter for unity*, in what way is having a human being laying down the law a problem? Especially since the Protestants also claim divine guidance for the individuals.

                      * may be of interest.

                    4. “in what way is having a human being laying down the law a problem?”

                      If you can’t see the potential problem in that, I can’t help you.

                      I’ll try to explain, but will point out first, that you were slamming Protestants, so I returned the favor. In actuality, I have only a few fairly minor problems with Catholics, differences in a few beliefs or practices, but not with the core beliefs that make one Christian.

                      The problem with a human laying down divine law, is they are not divine, the specific problems will depend on the specific human laying down the law. We are supposed to follow Christ’s teachings, if the teachings of a later day human agree with Christ’s teachings, well and good, but if they do not, we as Christians should not follow them, even if that human is the Pope.

                      I’m going to use an example that doesn’t actually fit, because it isn’t Catholic, but it is the first thing that came to mind. A couple of years ago, the Episcopalian hierarchy (I don’t recall exactly what it is called) decided that same sex marriage was acceptable, and ordered their priests to perform them. This was against Christ’s teachings, and was a religious law lain down by humans in conflict with Christ’s teachings. I realize that wasn’t a Catholic decision, and as a matter of fact the Catholics gained a whole lot of constituents, as a sizable number of Episcopalian congregations converted to Catholicism, lock stock and barrel. This included the older brother of a guy I graduated with, who was a Episcopalian priest*, and switched to Catholicism, along with his entire congregation.

                      *Which I understand, is one of a couple of ways to have married Catholic priests, he was married before he converted to Catholicism, and from my understanding the Catholic church will accept married priests if they were previously married before becoming Catholic.

                    5. Which I understand, is one of a couple of ways to have married Catholic priests, he was married before he converted to Catholicism, and from my understanding the Catholic church will accept married priests if they were previously married before becoming Catholic.

                      Which in turn relates directly back to Christ’s ruling that the ONLY grounds for divorce is “adultery”: marriage is a contract; if one side breaks it, the faithful side can’t be held to it, and becoming a priest doesn’t qualify.

                    6. How is becoming a Catholic priest “breaking the contract”?

                      I have not heard that a married Anglican Priest who becomes a Catholic Priest *can not* continue to have sexual relations with his wife.

                      Of course, if the wife wants to remain Anglican, that’s another matter.

                    7. “Becoming a priest doesn’t qualify as breaking the contract.

                      Sorry I wasn’t clear. The marriage “contract” is still intact, and the church would have been going against Christ’s intent to make becoming a priest contingent on breaking it.

                    8. I believe that what was meant that becoming a priest doesn’t qualify as breaking the marriage contract.

                    9. True

                      But I got the idea that become a Priest, in and of itself, broke the marriage contract.

                      Might not have had enough coffee.

                    10. “I’ll try to explain, but will point out first, that you were slamming Protestants”

                      I will point out that Protestants are continually prone to schism in a way that Catholics and Orthodox are not. This is not a slam. This is an observation.

                    11. “The problem with a human laying down divine law, is they are not divine, the specific problems will depend on the specific human laying down the law.”

                      You assume what you purport to prove.

                      “We are supposed to follow Christ’s teachings, ”

                      The big problem with this claim is — how do you know what Christ’s teachings were? How do you know you do not need follow those in that recently rediscovered “Gospel of Judas”?

                      If you accept that humans can, with divine guidance, lay down the law about what is canon, you have accepted that humans can lay down the law.

                    12. As I understand it, Christ’s teaching is arguably that we are to follow the instruction of His Church, bequeathed to Peter, aka This Rock, and his properly appointed heirs.

                      Matthew 16:18
                      New Living Translation
                      Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.

                      This is not to say that is the only reasonable understanding of that verse, simply that it is a reasonable understanding. Thus to follow Christ’s teachings is to follow the instruction of Peter and his heirs.

                      If only we could be confident his heirs thought so.

                    13. I have heard it argued that the rock upon which the church was to be built is the answer that Peter has just made to Christ’s question, ‘But whom say ye that I am?’, i.e.: ‘Thou are the Christ, son of the living God.’ Peter is entrusted with the responsibility to the church with this God given insight.

                      Matthew 16:13-20 (NIV)

                      When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
                      They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still other, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
                      “But what about you? he asked. “Who do you say I am?
                      Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
                      Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

                    14. You read the book. You study the history and as much of the original language and culture as possible. You read people like Thomas Aquianas and Francis of Asisi and realize they are men of insight, but they’re not gospel.

                    15. “I will point out that Protestants are continually prone to schism in a way that Catholics and Orthodox are not. ”

                      Actually, if Protestants are all splintered off Catholics, then Catholics are every bit as prone to schism as Protestants. At every schism in the Catholic Church, one side of the schism becomes Protestant, but they WERE Catholic until the split.

                      I read your original statement as being very derogatory of Protestants, which may not have been your intention. But it irritated me, and so I responded in kind. I’m not apologizing, because I believe what I said, but I am explaining that I intended that statement to come across to you as inflammatory, because that is they way yours came across to me.

                    16. Actually, if Protestants are all splintered off Catholics…

                      In many cases the Protestants have broken off of other Protestant branches.

                    17. I get the idea, especially in modern times, that schisms exist within the Catholic Church but have not resulted in groups openly separating from the “main” Catholic Church.

                      It may be a matter that the current Catholic Church has handled these schisms better than they had in the past.

                      Luther didn’t start out wanting to separate from the Catholic Church, he wanted to reform it.

                      The Church leadership of his time wasn’t willing to listen.

                      Of course, IMO schisms are more noticeable where State Religions don’t exist.

                      There’s no State response when one group decides to separate from the “main” group.

                    18. “Actually, if Protestants are all splintered off Catholics, ”

                      Obvious counter-factual. Most Protestant schism have been internal. Witness the numbers that have subtle variations on names such as Baptist or Presbyterian. (Indeed, I have heard of a Presbyterian joke that they are the “split-Ps” because of the proclivity.)

                    19. “Luther didn’t start out wanting to separate from the Catholic Church, he wanted to reform it.

                      The Church leadership of his time wasn’t willing to listen.”

                      Luther had a history of maintaining that he wanted to work with people until it was clear that wouldn’t mean he got what he wanted. Look at his acts in the peasants’ revolt.

                  2. One advantage of a Pope is that He maintains The Church as catholic. I cannot think of any other Faith that has a similar defining body.

                    The French language.

                    *runs away very fast*

                    1. The French have a body that determines what is properly French language. That the French people ignore this body is neither here nor there. Many Catholics ignore the Pope. Consider the several American politicians who have claimed to be in good standing with their church in recent years.

                    2. Regarding American politicians in “good standing” with The Church, I get the impression they are more focused on whether The Church is in “good standing” with them.

                      I will give Joe Biden points for honesty, having admitted that The Church is opposed to abortion even while he opposes imposing his Church’s views on the nation.

                2. So, like the “the Catholics can’t be called Catholic because that means Universal and I am not a member” folks?

                  (I’m suddenly sure there are some Catholics who throw fits about any other Christian group calling themselves Christian, since they’re not in the Church that He founded. Oy.)

                  1. Fortunately, since we are Catholics, we can definitely say that they are wrong. The Catechism of the Catholic Church lays it down in black and white that if they were baptized with water, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, by someone who intended to perform the baptism that Jesus instituted, they are Christian.

                    We might say they are not Christian for other reasons, just as a person who is not Scottish by blood, birth, or residence is no Scotsman, but not because they are in a state of schism.

                    1. That trinitarian issue means the Catholic Church does not consider Mormon baptisms valid, and if you convert you have to be re-baptized.

                      I’ve never heard anyone say that they weren’t Christians however.

                    2. More to the point, Mormons do not think that Jesus instituted something new, that it was the same thing as the baptism of John.

                      Yes, it has been definitely handed down that a Mormon can not just make a profession of faith; a Mormon must be baptized, just as those who had received only the baptism of John had to be baptized anew to be Christians.

                  2. Well, the Orthodox Christians would be annoyed at Roman Catholics over that.

                    Historically, both the Western Church and the Eastern Church were one Church.

                    On the other hand, there are some Protestant Groups who try to claim that they were never part of the Roman Catholic Church. Don’t ask me to explain that one. [Wink]

                    On the Gripping Hand, God Knows His Own. I’m sure that He’ll find His Own within all branches of Christianity and I’m afraid of what He’d say/do to anybody who thinks that His Own won’t include His Chosen People. [Smile]

                    1. “On the other hand, there are some Protestant Groups who try to claim that they were never part of the Roman Catholic Church. Don’t ask me to explain that one. ”

                      I was going to say I could explain that, but then realized that all such groups that I know of, would not describe themselves as Protestant. Because they claim to trace the origins of there worship back to the original Christians of Christ’s day, and those immediately thereafter, prior to the advent of the Catholic Church. Since they predated the Catholic Church, they can claim to have never been a part of it. But, if they were never a part of it, they can’t be Protestants, because they never protested and split from the church.

                      Still, language blurs, and to most people today (but usually excluding most of the members of aforementioned groups) all non-Catholic Christians are considered Protestants.

                    2. Oh, I know that one– “the great falling away.” Biggest problem is pinning down how long dead they figure the apostles were when the Church stopped being the Church. Mostly a problem because of lack of historical detail.

            2. “The modern habit of saying, ‘Every man has a different philosophy; this is my philosophy and it suits me’–the habit of saying this is mere weak mindedness. A cosmic philosophy is not constructed to fit a man; a cosmic philosophy is constructed to fit a cosmos. A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon.”
              –G. K. Chesterton

              1. I wish that was funnier, but there’s a real problem among Protestants where people really do see Jesus that way: as their personal buddy. A lot of worship songs popular in the evangelical movement could have the chorus replaced with “Jesus is my boyfriend” and make just as much sense. Now, there are some good (and I mean seriously good) praise songs being written, like “In Christ Alone” by Getty & Townsend, so it’s not all dreck. But I’ve come across way too many “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs in the Protestant church to laugh at that poster, unfortunately.

                Actually, Foxfier, I’m curious: how’s the situation in the Catholic church? Are Catholics more, or less, prone to “Buddy Christ” / “Jesus is my boyfriend” thinking than Protestants? I’d be interested in talking to you about that, and comparing notes about how our different Christian traditions are doing in that regard. This is a discussion that might not be of great interest to other people, so feel free to contact me by email instead of here if you like: just use my first name – dot – my last name, at Gmail.

                Oh, and on a different subject: I want to thank you for recommending A Net of Dawn and Bones on the Sad Puppies 4 recommendation site. What I’ve seen of it so far is excellent. Which is no surprise: it’s Vathara doing what she does best, after all.

                1. How are your mother and sister progressing on the second part of their story about the town in France that hid Jewish children during WWII?

                  1. Oh, hey, I never mentioned that here. Second book is published, and they’re working on the third book now. Second book is here for anyone interested:

                    1. By which I meant, “I mentioned the second book elsewhere, but I never mentioned it here.” Writing in haste and all that.

          2. Plus a lot of neo-Paganism seems to be “Paganism as it should have been” not “Paganism as it actually was”.

            If you’re going to practice some religion or philosophy, what is wrong with the idea of trying to self-consciously create “X as it should have been, not X as it actually was”?

            1. I suppose it applies more to philosophy. Philosophy is a tool to deal with the world. If there’s something wrong with how it was done back in the day, then fix it! 😛

              1. Actually, from a polytheistic point of view (simulated from my admittedly vague understanding): If you actually believe in many gods, then if one of them is a jerkass, it makes sense to go find another god and leave before the infant sacrifices start.

                If you don’t actually believe in these gods, and it’s all metaphorical (how I imagine modern Neo-Paganism actually works, at least as described by ESR), then it doesn’t make much sense to hold jerkass gods up as moral archetypes to idealize. Why not invent better ones?

                1. Actual polytheists thought that insane. The god doesn’t vanish because you don’t like him. The more of a jerk he is, the more need for you to propitiate him.

                  Remember that Hippolytus’s fatal flaw was concentrating on one goddess, thus offending another.

                2. If you actually believe in many gods, then if one of them is a jerkass, it makes sense to go find another god and leave before the infant sacrifices start.

                  Only works if you can actually *go*. If the Gods are basically people, but massively more powerful– anything you can do, they can do MORE.

                  Think of it as the world being a classroom and the bullies are the gods. And there’s no way you can leave the classroom, or win in a fight.
                  Makes the Greek idea that fighting fate was impossible, but at least sometimes heroically admirable, make a bit more sense.

                  1. I note that there were pagans who denied that the gods were bullies, that the stories about them were human slander, but that meant that the actual gods were better than that, not that they liked other gods better.

                  2. Okay. This worldview is making a bit more sense. I was thinking something along the lines of “pick up stakes and move to some other country where no one has ever heard of $evilgod – they have their own set, and don’t take orders from $evilgod’s priests. Something like moving to another country because your king is an insane tyrant.

                    But I suppose the religion doesn’t look that way from inside. It would depend on what you think the reach of $evilgod is: Is he really omnipresent, or does he just rule within LOS of mount olympus/equivalent. And how much crap are you willing to take to avoid being cursed?

                    1. Or leaving an abusive relationship with one powerful being and counting on the protection of another. As opposed to being at the mercy of all of them all the time with no protection.

                      Worldview translation error on my part.

                    2. And what the gods in the other area are like, and how they’ll treat a random newcomer, this guy may be horrifically bad but that guy may be even WORSE– I got the “ah-HA!” moment for this from, of all things, poking around about the Dresden Files while trying to get the traditional concept of magic.

                      That “genus loci” or whatever he’s named is basically what the gods *are*– a local power. Ditto tree, river and mountain spirits. They’re personification of things that are more powerful than people, and they behave a lot like people… of that time and place, which is what makes it really confusing.

                      If you start there and then grow into the Roman gods, you get a better “feel” for it.

                    3. I was intrigued by the Slavic house spirits that had to move with the family, and if something happened to the household (was broken up for some reason), if the spirit couldn’t find a new relative to assist, then it vanished and the clan was left weaker. Which, if you start with a strong ancestor worship tradition and then graft various bits onto it, makes a good deal of internal sense. Like Elijah getting the attributes of the thunder god – the niche needs to be filled, so why not?

                    4. “That “genus loci” or whatever he’s named is basically what the gods *are*– a local power.”

                      Depends on the treatment. All pagan religions had some gods of this here spot. Egypt’s original treatment of gods was this, apparently the cosmological myths sprang up after conquest to explain why this place’s god beat out that one’s, and shifted through its history owing to conquest. But others had omnipresent gods. Witness the interpretatio graeca go about identifying foreign gods with Greek ones. Hermes was not only Mercury but Odin and Thoth. And an Indian making a sacrifice in the Hellenstic era apparently accepted one identifying Krishna with Pan.

                    5. This is actually a reply to Mary, but the treading is at its end…

                      I’m pretty sure that the ‘origin of the gods’ myth from Greek Mythology is a reflection of that,, too.

            2. If you call it a religion, then you are saying that it is True, unlike a philosophy which is admittedly a “way of thinking about the world”.

              What basis does a modern worshiper of Odin have to claim that his version of Odin worship is “More True” than the past versions of Odin worship?

              1. New revelation from Marvel comics? 😛

                What privileges the way something is practiced in the past, as opposed to the present or the future?

                1. A religion is not a practice. It is practices based on certain assertions. What is “privileged” is whether such assertions correspond to reality.

                  On the face of it, people who muck about with the assertions to make them more palatable are presumed to end up with worse results.

                2. If we assume that Odin is “real”, then the assumption is that Odin has said “how He is to be worshiped”.

                  Generally, we know how Odin was worshiped in the past when Odin-worship was a “living religion”.

                  I have not heard of any modern Odin-Worshipers claiming that Odin told them “Now this is the way I want to be worshiped, those old worshipers got it all wrong”.

                  1. One notes that consulting the soothsayers to figure out what the gods wanted was a pretty standard pagan practice. It is not so common among neo-Pagans.

                3. What privileges the way something is practiced in the past, as opposed to the present or the future?

                  They claim to be following the guy from the past.

                  If I claim I’m making my mom’s beef steak, but the only thing in common is the name and a sort of vague shape impression similarity — it’s actually tofu, it wasn’t fried, and I don’t intend to actually EAT it– then it’s not my mom’s beef steak.
                  If I’m making my mom’s beef stew, but I have to substitute in pork because beef is too dear, and that means I have to add beef broth and adjust the spicing, it might be justifiably described as my mom’s recipe…

                  But it would have to be justified, because the present or future is claiming to BE the past.

                  1. I have actually been in an online discussion where someone had vapors because she said she was Gnostic, and I cited actual, defining Gnostic beliefs. Her idea was that because that was then, and this is now, she could be Gnostic while rejecting Gnosticism entirely.

                    1. Ran into that second-hand– a guy who enjoys being contrary, but not enough to actually find something valid to be contrary about, got all nasty about how a side-mention of the Gnostic fanfiction about Christ was…not really gnosticism, or something.


                    2. Words mean exactly what I mean them to say, nothing more and nothing less?

                      One more step towards a world where communication becomes impossible because words do no longer can be expected to have any shared meaning. Sad.

                    3. Oh, there’s one form of communication that needs no translation; it’s almost as if they want that to be the only option.

                    4. Many contemporary Jews and Christians seem to share a similar premise. That such an interpretation has also been occurring within Islam is reportedly a stimulus for the current “Return to Roots” movement in that Faith.

              2. Heck, that one’s easy! The same basis all worshipers of the War God have: if he can kick your arse and make of you a sacrifice, Odin likes him best.

          1. Heh. I read a story a couple of years ago, “Long ago, Far Away” (and no, it wasn’t a Star Wars-like story – it was a time travel story).

            1. But it was long ago and it was far away
              Oh God it seems so very far
              And if life is just a highway
              Then the soul is just a car

              And objects in the rear view mirror
              May appear closer than they are

              Okay, maybe it applies to this discussion and maybe it doesn’t… but I’ve always liked that imagery from Meat Loaf. 🙂

              1. For no particular reason.

                There’s a diesel on my tail a-making ninety miles an hour
                My reflection in my mirror is mighty pale
                I can hear St.Peter calling I can almost smell the flowers
                Can this compact take the impact there’s a diesel on my tail

                From the Lyrics of Diesel On My Tail by J. Fagan

                1. Youtube offers a surprising number of covers of that song, from Grateful Dead offshoot the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Plainsong (Ian Matthews for you British folk/rock enthusiasts) and its apparent originators, Jim & Jesse.

                  This is one cover, offered for those unfamiliar with the tune.

    2. Gah. Anyone who brings up Atlantis with a straight face makes me long to punch them. Plato straight up said in the thing he wrote that had Atlantis (I forget the name) that it was a MADE UP CITY. Fictional. He was using it as a parable-type thing, dammit.

      Atlantis is an entertaining idea for fiction, but I get so very, very tired of the (unfortunately far too many) people who decide to take it as ‘lost history.’ ::facepalm::

      1. Bah! Next you’ll try telling us that Utopia never existed and that Erewhon is nowhere!

        I’m going out to the garden to eat an apple.

            1. Perhaps this …

              … is what was in mind?

              Especially with the playoffs approaching.

              A little brains, a little talent and whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.

            2. Hey I was just trying to keep on the topic for once — you’re the one who brought up the subject of myths.

      2. No Atlantis? Next you’ll be telling me the Egyptians built the pyramids as tombs for their pharaohs!

          1. No, the pyramids were food preservation facilities perfectly aligned with the Earth’s magnetic fields that interacted with the crystal lining (stripped out by the Roman patriarchal males to make wine goblets) that preserved food taken by the benevolent pharaohs to feed the grateful people in famine times….

                1. Ah, yes. That, too. I also remember some radio call-in show in San Francisco in 1975 during which one caller was proposing pyramid energy to alleviate the oil/energy crisis. I think it was by having the pyramids recharge our batteries, but it’s been a long time.

                    1. Really? Did they work?

                      How about the stories of the 100+ mile per gallon carburetor that the auto industry supposedly suppressed.

                    2. Saw one the other day saying that if the miracle carburetor had not been suppressed, VW wouldn’t be having any problems meeting both EPA standards and good gas mileage.

                      On. A. Diesel. Vehicle.

                      (Some people here have a headache right about now – please pass them their preferred pain relief substance.)

                    3. People like that make me want to bash my head against a big block engine. Or maybe a bridge abutment. Doing it to theirs would no doubt be more enjoyable, but would tend to bring awkward questions.

                    4. 1. I heard tell that we aren’t growing the big pigs anymore, because they were for lard, and we’ve stopped using lard so much.
                      2. There is a bacon fad on now.
                      3. Selling a lot of product fried in lard would be fun. I suspect the health concerns are entirely bullshit.
                      4. I have a very clear picture of the television ads. A guy in fake glasses and a white wig is on a stage out of a patent medicine show. He explains that since pig meridians are so close to those of humans, they adsorb the cosmic energy most beneficial to humans. This energy, Bacone energy, is concentrated in these healthful, revitalizing foodstuffs by a patented process.

                      The last part of the ad explains that, yes, we will get arrested if we don’t admit that it is all lies.

                    5. Pigs and cows have both been selected for lower fat because of the “health” attacks on them for being so high in fat.

                      The change is actually quite impressive, even if I’d rather have a bit more marbling and flavor.

                    6. Bacone energy is just Orgone energy combined with bacon. Orgone energy is another crackpot thing.

                    7. The pigs came from the 100 mpg carburetor. Because if you feed pigs the right food, you can create high enough quality methanol that if you use the same carburetor that the diesel Rabbit has, you can get 100+ miles per gallon.

                      And if the pig happens to be a Russian boor, you can achieve 100+ mph avoiding his company.

          2. Those reflective globes you see in gardens and/or yards? I KNOW for a FACT those are landing lights for the saucer beings. There are more kinds of those beings than you would imagine, without help.

            1. I have the solar blinky kind.

              Better check for a saucer – they’re in big trouble if they landed in the back yard, considering the state it is still in.

              Back in a bit… Maybe…

          1. Not to mention Lemuria. A continent which existed for the sole purpose of distributing lemurs.

                    1. In fairness, Lemuria’s “Q” ratings are underwater.

                      I blame Marvel Comics, with all those canards about Lemurian’s being “Serpent-People.” First off, the preferred term is “Persons of Ambient Temperaturehood.”

                      Second, there is no evidence that Hillary is Lemurian. Lots of Democrats are Serpent-People, I mean, Persons of Ambient Temperaturehood.

                    2. Well… I think Robert Howard used the Lemurian Serpent People first. [Wink]

                  1. Unfortunately, there’s always some small ship stopping by to wake you up. Either mad cultists, or lost Englishmen. Either way, it leaves you cranky and irritable until you can get back to napping.

        1. The pyramids were just some d4s that God forgot to pick up after running a D&D game for some of the angels.

          Jesus saves. Everyone else takes full damage.

    3. The number of “ancient traditions” that actually date to quite recently are mind-boggling. Yoga, for example: Didn’t really exist until B.K.S. Iyengar more or less created the synthesis of poses with “ancient” Ayurvedic tradition, which happened around the turn of the 20th Century or later. From the way it’s been propagandized, you’d think that Yoga went back thousands of years.

      Alistair Crowley created Satanism from the whole cloth, if I remember rightly.

      About all I’m willing to state about any of this stuff is that there are going to be some seriously confused historians, anthropologists, and what-not in a few dozen generations. None of them are going to believe that most of this crap was the fevered imaginings of some nut job contemporaries of ours, and I’ll bet big money that they spend huge amounts of time and work trying to verify things that we’ve come up with that are strictly in the realm of the imaginary. Considering the fragmentary nature of what will likely be left of our datasphere, it would be fun to watch. I would be completely unsurprised if someone doesn’t take Tolkien’s work as being a straight-forward representation of actual history, and use things like the so-called hobbits of Indonesia as corroboration…

      “But… But, the expense, the lavishness of the movies! Who would spend that kind of money, go to that sort of effort, simply recreating fiction? There has to have been some real historical basis for all that… I mean, the languages! The depth! The complexity! Something real has to be behind that, even if we can’t make sense of it… Perhaps the Elves going to the West are allegories for them travelling space, and leaving for another world…”.

      I bet that Plato would be vastly amused, to know how much money, time, and effort has been spent trying to find an historical basis behind Atlantis. It was probably an off-the-cuff reference he made which just happened to be preserved, and he might not even recognize what we’ve turned it into. After all, isn’t it the case that we’ve only got fragments of his works which were preserved by sheerest happenstance? Who knows what contemporaries thought of the whole thing…

      1. Werewolves that are invulnerable except to silver, and influenced by the full moon? Straight from the silver screen, with no earlier presence in the folklore.

        1. Same thing with the thumbs-up gesture. Historically, we know that if the patron of gladiatorial games decided that a gladiator was to die, he made a thrusting motion with his thumb. Fast-forward a couple thousand years and a director decided – more or less arbitrarily – that thumbs-down meant the gladiator died, thumbs-up meant he lived.

          1. I just finished Hard Magic (I’m so far behind on my reading) and Jake Sullivan encountered someone giving him a Thumbs Up gesture, and he wasn’t sure what it meant.

        2. It’s an odd series of folklore. Was it a curse, a gift, something worn or innate. One myth of another has all of these, although the idea that serial killers were werewolves is a common start in western European tradition

          1. did you keep your own mind in the process? though that one seems to be more chivalric romance than folklore.

            1. It varied depending on whether was good or bad. Good typically did such as some skinwalker and some stories of werewolf warriors. When it was alluding to negative aspects of humanity as most European tales did they tended to revert to beast.

              1. There were two main medieval times. The witch types where you made a deal with the devil and got the form — that was obviously really dangerous. And the form in chivalric romance where you were forced to change form regularly but could keep your own mind.

          2. In many of the Eastern European (Transylvanian or other Slavic root) stories, it is a curse. Redheads are prone to being werewolves or vampires, no matter how good of a life they lived, for example. Some people are just fated to be were creatures. Other stories say that anyone born on Dec. 25 is cursed (because their parents had sex on March 25, which was a no-no since Dec. 25th was reserved for the birth of Jesus and no other child.)

            1. And you were supposed to be fasting from sex during Lent, more to the point for most March 25’s. Don’t know if the Feast of the Annunciation was a sex fastday, although presumably Annunciation Eve usually would be.

            2. Don’t you know werewolves become vampires when they die?

              Now there’s an interesting urban fantasy reason for the werewolf/vampire conflict: vampires want to maintain their old status, werewolves want to move up and clear out the dead wood.

              1. I was just dipping into Leonard Wolf’s Annotated “Dracula” yesterday. He says vampire legends changed from region to region, and Stoker mostly made his up.

                1. In the book “Anno Dracula” by Kim Newman, there are comments that there are several Vampire lines with different powers/weaknesses.

                  Dracula’s line was only one of many. [Smile]

                  Oh, that allowed Kim Newman to have many other fictional vampires in the stories. [Wink]

                  Oh, he had one of the “good” vampires go up against a Chinese Vampire who almost “killed” her. The Chinese Vampire commanded deadly butterflies.

                  1. UofA has a class in the Slavic Studies department entitled “Werewolves and Vampires.” In it we watched a late 70’s made for (Serbian) TV movie called “Leptricia,” in the film the vampire could transfer her consciousness from body to body by transforming herself into a butterfly.

                    (I have a friend who is incensed that UofA offers this class, not only on a for credit basis, but it counts as a “non-Western Civilization general ed requirement.)

                    1. Sigh. I was hoping you were talking about Alabama, or Arkansas, or somewhere…

                      No, you have to be a neighbor. University of Arizona.

                      It’s even a 300 level course!

                      Sigh, again. Again.

                    2. As a matter of principle I am willing to stipulate that any subject matter developed with sufficient academic rigor and scholarly approach can appropriate as a 300 Level course.

                      As a matter of pragmatic expectation I rate the probability of this course being such as about on a par with the likelihood of my standing at one side of the Washington Monument and peeing on the other.

                    3. I started college at a little four year liberal arts school in North East Kansas; and every 300 and 400 level course required a term paper. (Except Shakespeare for some reason.)

                      The expectations in Werewolves and Vampires, despite being and overgrown general ed course, weren’t too much below what I was doing in my 300 and 400 level History and Psychology classes at UofA; and none of them required me stepping foot in the Library. I don’t know if this is just a problem at Arizona or if it’s true at other major four year schools across the country.

                      We did cover the origins of the werewolf and vamp myths, starting all the way back with Greece and moving through the Slavic tales; then we veered into Pop Culture with the Victorians and after.

                      (For example, did you know that vampires burning in daylight was an invention for motion pictures, Max Schrenk thought it would be a cool ending for “Nosferatu,” and it stuck.

                    4. except in Europe in the seventies, when they were used as a symbol for gay people. 😛 (No, not actually joking, but not sure how far the symbol went. They used it in Portugal and Germany, but…)

                    5. As the film was in Serbian, without subtitles, they may have even mentioned that.

                      The only part of the dialog I could understand was “Shto” which from context maybe seems to mean the same as it does in Russian.

                2. Oh, yes. If you want to see medieval vampire types, go to a zombie movies.

                  If you want to see folkloric zombies, you are SOL unless you write it yourself. (The horror of a zombie in Haiti was not meeting one.)

                    1. Modern zombies are probably exclusively the result of George Romero, and his movie ‘Night of the Living Dead’.

                  1. Heh. I did read the few Amazon reviews I have for the vampire shorts I have published recently, and one, positive though, says that the reviewer needed to first get over the lore she didn’t much believe. I took a lot more of it from a couple of books about different vampire folklores than from the modern “Dracula” descended movie stuff. Looks like the folkloric vamps are now obsolete or something. 😀 Well, the whole story idea came from “what if they existed, but were more like the ones in some folklore when most who might take them seriously thinks movie vampires…” Folklore being right would make more sense, wouldn’t it? And I am still going to have some more fun with that.

                    1. And yes, since different ones have different vamps, trying to invent something which would fit more of them without clashing too bad with any is bit of a problem, and actually seems to push towards what Bram Stoker already did. (And that is if you stick to just European ones, and ignore everything else).

                      I do find the way after Dracula vamps have been molded towards more and more “superhumans with a few weaknesses and a few nasty habits they can overcome if they really want” irritating, even if I think I know why it happens. Reformed bad guys or bad guys with good qualities and able to overcome their bad sides are usually more interesting characters than always good with no nasty sides to them, and not dying is of course very tempting, and wouldn’t most want a tame monster as a friend – monster in a sense they might not have too many qualms when it comes to punishing your enemies, tame enough that you could stop them if you wanted… power is very tempting too, and it the monster is not you and has a will of his own it’s not really your fault if you fail to stop it in time, right? Or if you become the monster yourself in the end, well, of course you could overcome the hunger for blood or whatever every time it really mattered, and not kill anyone you wouldn’t want to kill, but the other times you would have an excuse for behaving badly because it soo hard not to…

                    2. When I read “vampire shorts” I got a completely different mental image. Rather Little Lord Fauntleroy-ish, actually 🙂

                    3. I love the idea that the vampire’s power is in his shorts, and if you steal the shorts you steal the vamps immortality. It’s almost irresistible. Frowns at half-completed novel. ALMOST.

                    4. Re below – I think that the changes have something to do with the “the right good girl can reform the bad boy” trope. Think Buffy and Angel and… whats-his-name, the blond jerk…

            3. I was thinking this afternoon of the germ of a story (no, I will not write it — germs cause infections) about a person serving life in prison becoming a vampire and bringing suit, demanding release on the grounds of his life being completed.

              1. That could be fun:

                A very junior lawyer at a humungo law firm, assigned to go perform pro bono hours so the partners can get more golf hours in, who lands the case of this crazy dude who says he’s now a vampire and as such has fulfilled the terms of his sentence. Initially skeptical, the lawyer comes to wonder if this well spoken, persuasive, and apparently deeply feared guy is not crazy at all.

                But he is really a vampire, why doesn’t he just stroll out one night? Is he an honorable vamp, having actually been reformed by his time in prison before being turned. Or maybe he’s constrained by the whole “has to be invited in” thing, which given his status when turned prevents him from leaving prison without an invitation from someone in authority to “enter” the non-prison world. Or perhaps he’s playing a deeper game.

                Plot bunnies!!!

        3. Well, there is the Beast of Gevaudan. Maybe one of the hunters actually used silver bullets, and killed a wolf. Or at least claimed having used silver at the time. Who knows.



            The killing of the creature that eventually marked the end of the attacks is credited to a local hunter named Jean Chastel, who shot it during a hunt organized by a local nobleman, the Marquis d’Apcher, on June 19, 1767. Writers later introduced the idea that Chastel shot the creature with a blessed silver bullet of his own manufacture and upon being opened, the animal’s stomach was shown to contain human remains.

            End Quote

            1. Have encountered that story in several different books. Some say the silver bullets were invented later, some that either the hunter or some people at the time or soon after it started the rumor they were used. Never gotten a look at any more serious sources, much less anything even close to original ones.

              1. Some place else I saw that the bullet that killed the Beast was made from a silver Virgin Mary medal. IE not just silver but silver that had been blessed.

                Note, some where out there is a report on the problems of making a *silver* bullet. While it was a silver bullet for a modern weapon, it still wasn’t easy.

                Of course, make a bullet for an older muzzle loading weapon might be easier even using silver.

                  1. And I think the “blessed” is more important in that story too than the material used. Okay, you could kill a werewolf with normal bullets too if a priest has blessed them beforehand, and silver doesn’t work if it’s mere silver? Hm. Does the religion of the priest matter? Catholic and Lutheran blessings work both well, but something that is new enough that it doesn’t yet count as an established religion but only as a cult doesn’t… okay, how about Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu then? Or do European monsters need European… okay, need to think about this.

                    1. Depends on if the “Blessing” has power from the Belief of the person doing the Blessing or if the “Blessing” has power from the deity working through the person doing the Blessing.

                      IIRC there is a folk-belief (not always theologically based) that a Priest has been “given” the ability to “pull” power from the deity (obviously with the deity’s permission) that an ordinary believer in that deity would not have.

                      Of course, a given deity might chose to Bless an object even if a layperson was calling on the deity’s aid.

                      Now, as a Protestant, I could see God blessing a sword, arrows, bullets, etc. when a Believer (Priest or otherwise) asks for His Aid in battling a super-natural foe. Note, a Jewish Believer would also be answered. Not sure if He would consider some Muslim Believers “His Own”. [Smile]

                    2. I think C.S. Lewis answers that last one in ‘The Last Battle’, with the earnest and faithful Calorman.

                    3. I’ve had an idea for a story where crucifixes and only crucifixes avert vampires.

                      The vampires say it’s psychological warfare, they know perfectly well that all of us want to live forever and would be a vampire if we could, so the idea of someone voluntarily dying is obviously psychological warfare. . . they get a bit hysterical about it, actually.

                    4. IIRC in the Stoker Dracula novel, it is the crucifix that Dracula fears, not the cross. Also, in the book, he fears the “communion host” (bread).

                    5. I would think they’d more greatly fear the communion wine, transubstantiated into the Blood of Christ. That is a beverage which, in washing away sin, would leave very little of the vampire.

                    6. Well, *IF* I understand Catholic Doctrine on the Communion Wine becoming the Blood Of Christ, it only happens *as* the Catholic Priest drinks it.

                      The wine still in the bottle hasn’t been changed. It may have been blessed but is not yet the Blood Of Christ.

                    7. I think Drak might be half-remembering when the wine is figured to STOP being the Blood of Christ– I know the Host is figured to stop as soon as anything that’s not the bread itself is introduced.

                      (…pretty sure that tincture doesn’t count. That’s dipping the Body in the Blood. Not commonly practiced in the West, and I only heard of it as an obscure question to Catholic Answers Live. DID NOT expect I’d actually run into an opportunity to use the word before I forgot it.)

                    8. It is actually very common among the Orthodox even in the West. In fact, my parish still does Communion of the masses by spoon…only the priests and deacons consume the Host and the Blood separately.

                    9. IIRC, Jimmy even used the example of an Eastern church in communion with Rome as the only place a Catholic would likely see it during Mass.

                    10. “I would think they’d more greatly fear the communion wine, transubstantiated into the Blood of Christ. That is a beverage which, in washing away sin, would leave very little of the vampire.”

                      I think I’m going to snag that idea…

                    11. One of the reasons Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula won’t attack a person holding the Host was he thought getting blood on the Host would be “profaning” the Host. Oh, Fred Saberhagen didn’t think much of Van Helsing. [Smile]

                      As a very late comment on that article, there’s a third type of “vampire” in fiction. One that is a separate species than humans that feeds on blood (including human blood). Obviously this type can’t turn humans into vampires (although they might let a human servant think they could).

                    12. A house blessing SHOULD work, no? There are several out there, and there’s always the vanilla “walk around splashing holy water in a respectful way” method familiar to D&D characters.

                    13. It should (and probably should be used more often, hmmm). I was wondering about actual anointing oil, which tends not to get mentioned at all in just about any of the legends I have read.

                    14. I can’t think of any legends that mention chrism, either– then again, I can’t think of any that mention priests and aren’t in the mode of “caught by surprise.”

                    15. If vampires existed, I’d think at least some of the priests would not be. (I could see Stubborn Priest, or Preacher since I’m resolutely Protestant, and Young Naive Priest being caught by surprise because they didn’t believe such guff or never thought it through, but surely there is Experienced Senior Priest who saw this coming and keeps something handy just in case. Using the wisdom granted him by long experience and God Almighty… dang it I think I have a new character.)

                    16. The vampires prey on folks they know– so they’d know to avoid the Canny Priest; I just vaguely remember one of the “counting poppy seeds” version of a vampire story involved a priest, in the “guy who knows a lot” slot.

                      You might look at folks traditions that would discomfort vampires, too– like the way that all the old style Catholic houses I’ve been to have a crucifix over the door in the room where they entertain, or the main door.

                    17. Now here’s a tangential question (related at least in the relm of a story I’m working on.) would similar things that repel vampires also work on demons?

                    18. Depends on the type of vampire you’re using, doesn’t it?

                      I favor the “vampires are basically demon inhabiting corpses” version myself, in which case it would be “yes, with maybe some protection from the body itself.”

                      The brew-your-own vampire….yeah, you’d have to go all Tolkien and figure out the method that makes them a vampire, at least generally; my husband’s favored one is basically a curse, and allows for good vampires– but they’re a lot weaker than the evil ones, and tend to die from fighting said evil ones. (Prevents Superman Syndrome.)

                    19. I was leaning towards vampires being one of the things that happen when you sell your soul to the devil. (Story deals with demon hunters, and is trying to morph into more generic monster hunters but I’m not entirely sure I want to go there.) That should leave a lot of the possibilities intact. I also like the long-term possession idea but am somewhat struggling with the ramifications of each possibility.

                    20. Have you dug around exorcism circles for stuff on oppression, possession and… I can’t remember the third one, but the ways demons can screw with folks?

                      I like the idea of most monsters being demonic, and then there being a few that are basically strange people.
                      Of course, you can’t tell when people have been possessed just by looking…..

                    21. There are exorcism circles? (Presuming you mean ‘circles’ in the ‘circle of professionals’ or ‘circle of friends’ sense.) Where would a good place to look be?

                    22. Haven’t you seen those interviews usually billed as “The Vatican’s Exorcist says ____”?

                      He’s not actually the Vatican exorcist, but the Catholic Church does actually have a “circle of professionals” type.

                      Sec, I’ll see what I can find.

                    23. Wise. I thought it was total bunkum until I came around the back end writing a blogpost about demons, and found out…well, it’s like herbal remedies. 90% of the stuff, minimum, is fad and otherwise not to be noticed; some portion of the rest is a mixed bag, but there’s some stuff in there that’s solid.

                      And a lot of crazy, because….well, it’s cool.

                      Freaky note– a lot of the things you see on ghost hunter shows for indicating ghosts are long standing signs of demons…..

                    24. Yeah… I also wonder how many of the ancient pagan ‘Gods’ were actually demons, at least foundationally. Not something I think is likely to be answered.

                    25. Chicken or egg– we already know that demons will disguise themselves as dead prophets, and the Catholic Church has an entire system set up around “figure out if the thing that says it’s from God is actually an Evil thing instead.” (It’s classified as “private revelations”– apparitions, prophecy, visions and miraculous happenings.)

                      If they’ll disguise themselves as our God, why not everyone elses’?

                    26. On ghost hunters: I sometimes wonder if the popularity of ‘ghost’ as an answer to ‘weird’ is from an aversion to acknowledge the possibility that something as dangerous as demons actually exists.

                    27. Look at the problems in the Buffyverse– they’ve got evil, but not good, and it makes for some plotholes.

                      If you admit demons are real, you at least open up questions about unfallen angels, and THEY keep talking about their Boss.

                    28. And if they’re not fallen angels you toss yourself back into the darker less hopeful realms of the Volsunga saga, where you fight valiantly against Ragnarok and the world still ends.

                    29. Do you mind if I quote this stuff? I’ve been trying to find a good topic for my monthly blog post over at Catholic Stand, and exorcism beats the pants off of re-running my old Halloween post.

                    30. Go for it. 🙂 Though I’m not sure what I’ve been saying that’s particularly quote worthy. There really aren’t a lot of places you can go and ask questions about dealing with demons on a practical level for any purpose. Too many people take them as theoretical.

                    31. Exactly why I’d like to use it! We’re discussing the theoretical, but in the context of the real. (Or at least serious theory.) That’s the stuff that’s fun to do.

                      I tend to open with either a quote or a conversation, sometimes ones I have to make myself– but this setup is just about perfect to lead fairly naturally into a three-to-five paragraph article without it coming out like a school essay.

                    32. Heh. When you sell your soul to the Devil you remain in possession of the corporation but a new management team (or Board of Directors) takes over and directs operational goals.

                      Yes, i am a corporate accountant and have witnessed several mergers and acquisitions.

                    33. Much of this has already been discussed, i perceive, but the short answer is: it depends on how you write it.

                      As there is no “corpus factorum” for such matters, no factual basis, the writer is restricted solely by the world-building (as Jim Butcher has shown) as to what rules are followed and which can be bent. If you write it so that readers will buy it, your elves can be great and powerful or small and mischievous.

                    34. Years ago, I read this comic book that had a RC Priest and a Jewish Rabbi facing some super-natural evil (don’t know if it was a vampire or not). The Priest was in full exorcist mode and the Rabbi invoked the Full Name Of God (the comic showed four Hebrew symbols on his hand). The super-natural evil didn’t stand a chance. [Grin]

                    35. Oh, I should have mentioned that I don’t expect fictional books to get the theology correct (Jewish or Christian). [Smile]

                    36. Ah yes, SJW vampires, complaining about micro-aggressions, persons of solar privilege who hoard blood (exacerbating hemoglobin inequality) and a lack of safe spaces for their vampiric caskets.

                    37. Also in Midnight Mass by F. Paul Wilson, it kills vampires. (The short story, not the novel, which doesn’t exist as far as I’m concerned.)
                      Interestingly I have a similar moment (plotted, not yet written) in vampire musketeers, with a different… effect.

                1. The two major problems with silver bullets are weight, silver is much lighter than lead, and without the mass, won’t hold it’s momentum as well, and hardness, silver is too hard to grip rifling at all well.
                  Obviously the issue of weight can be alleviated to some extent, look at the current popularity of the .17’s, where ultralight bullets are fired at very high velocities. Silver bullets will necessarily have lower ballistic coefficients, but these can be compensated for to an extent, and at reasonable ranges, they will still be quite effective. (I’ve very seldom heard of sniping werewolves at long ranges, anyways). The second is hardness, obviously they don’t mushroom well, but a ‘poison’ bullet doesn’t really needto expand. They do however need to grip the rifling in order to be accurate. This is actually not much of an issue for an older muzzle loading weapon. When firing a patched ball, it is the patch that actually engages the rifling, so a patched silver ball ought to be as accurate as a patched lead ball. I suspect a guy could manufacture saboted silver bullets for modern weapons, to circumvent the problem with silver failing to engage the rifling also.

                  1. Accuracy at distance seems unimportant with werewolves; any engagement is likely to be close range. Therefore rifliing likely doesn’t matter.

                    For the same reason mushrooming is not an issue it seems unlikely ballistic coefficients will much matter, unless we postulate that silver bullets might not have sufficient force to pierce hide. Even there, legend asserts that a silver-handled cane can be used to kill the beasts, so it is possible that the effect is silver interfering with the wolf’s ability to regenerate. Accepting that premise we can speculate that almost all werewolves are inherently corrupt and only constant regeneration prevents decay, in which case the ballistic coefficients merely need to ensure the silver contacts the wolf.

                    Alternatively, we might enhance ballistic coefficients by cladding the silver in a heavier, more solid metal (I contemplate here depleted uranium shot with silver core.)

                    Assuming werewolves to have unnaturally quick reflexes we might be better off with some form of shot round, such as a shotgun shell with silver ball shot. (In event of major engagement with such creatures would it be prudent to develop silver-loaded claymore mines?)

                    We might also consider such other forms of weapons against werewolves as silver-banded nunchaku and quarter & bo-staffs, silver-plated bolas (with silver-link chain), silver-plated tonfa, sai and morning stars. A pneumatic “cross bow” bolt gun with wooden bolts behind a silver head would likely be a good general purpose creature-feature weapon.

                    1. Silver jacketed tungsten would likely deliver sufficient cross sectional density to deliver reasonable ballistics even at quite a distance, and the silver jacket would also keep the tungsten core from causing excessive wear on the barrel’s rifling.

                      This would also work on larger caliber weaponry, like the 25mm chain gun on a Bradley or the 30mm gatling on an A-10.

                      And a silver jacketed tungsten penetrator fired from the 120mm main gun on an Abrams would be just rikky-tic on any wherewolf stupid enough to stand still ong enough to get targeted..

                    2. gilding metal-jacketed silver bullet with an unjacketed tip, and the gilding metal is just long enough to engage the rifling- probably an open base, too.

                  2. Hey Larry, what do you think? i also have this idea for a round thing like a slice of a cylinder balanced on edge.

                    lighter weight and harder means it wont self destruct in flight, under size and paper patch, but tune it so it doesn’t overpenetrate

                  3. The hunters in the MHI books use a similar method for delivering a silver dose to the target, though I can’t remember the detail exactly enough to describe it at the moment.

                    1. I believe at least some were a silver ball in a hollowpoint lead bullet, at least for pistol ammo. This would require precise manufacturing to insure accuracy, you could probably do well enough for pistol ammo, casting such in your shop, but not for accuracy at rifle ranges. I seem to recall (possibly the feds, not MHI) someone using copper jacketed bullets with a highly frangible silver tincture core, similar to Varmint Grenade bullets, except with some sort of silver tincture rather than a copper-tin one. Again, not something you are going to manufacture in your spare bedroom.

          2. One of my first short stories, written in junior high, was a fictionalized version of the hunt for the Beast of Gevaudan. I still have that, somewhere. I’m sure it’s amateurish, but I’ve wondered if I should revisit it sometimes.

            1. I wonder if that might have a basis in reality, even before the germ theory of disease was developed. A web search on “antibacterial silver” yields lots of scholarly-looking articles.

      2. “Who knows what contemporaries thought of the whole thing…”

        One of Plato’s contemporaries is said to have said “He who created Atlantis (Plato), destroyed it”.

      3. > “But… But, the expense, the lavishness of the movies! Who would spend that kind of money, go to that sort of effort, simply recreating fiction?

        Someday a civilization may look at Mount Rushmore and a learned archaeologist will discount local legends of ancient politicians. Obviously, no culture would put forth such effort for anything less than an homage to their gods…

        Then they’d start wondering where the city was. Obviously, any such monument would be the centerpiece of a vast city, likely the center of the ancient civilization.

        After failing to find any signs, they would probably declare that it certainly existed, and was crafted of reyclable and sustainable materials, so obviously there would be no evidence of its existence…

        1. In Michael Flynn’s Spiral Arm books (starting with The January Dancer Mount Rushmore is known by the exiled Terrans as “The Mount of Many Faces” but who the faces are is but dimly remembered after a few millenia…

      4. > After all, isn’t it the case that we’ve only got fragments of his works
        > which were preserved by sheerest happenstance? Who knows what
        > contemporaries thought of the whole thing…

        Best estimate is that at most 1/4 of Plato’s total output has come down to us. And some of the things that have survived may not have actually been written by him.

        Its debatable whether or not you can genuinely say “happenstance”, tho. As one of the most read philosophers of ancient times, far more of his work was copied and preserved than most of his contemporaries, And honestly, he was one of the few ancient writers who never was completely forgotten — there are commentaries and references to him all though out the time period between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance. But what has survived has tended to be his most popular works, while his more esoteric output gradually fell to the wayside.

        1. As one of the most read [writers] of ancient times, far more of his work was copied and preserved than most of his contemporaries

          So we can look forward to future historians basing their understanding of us on Louis L’Amour and Jackie Collins?

          Oh, wait … now there’s that Rowling person, too. And Fifty Shades (I still think that must be a ghost story, maybe by Oscar Wilde?)

            1. But the 50 shades would have been haunts. Imagine the humour Wilde would have wrought by having somebody plagued by 50 ghosts.

          1. Probably. Plus Stephen King and Nora Roberts.

            And there will be bitter, acrimonious debates between professional and amateur historians over whether J.K. Rowling actually wrote the Harry Potter series; some will claim she was just used as a front by some else.

              1. Makes sense. Other fragments from that era describe how women were superior to men in all things. It would only make sense for a man to choose a pen name to make it appear the books were written by a woman.

              2. In the news: On Sept 23rd BBC One has announced that they will be adapting Robert Balbraith’s Cormoran Strike Mysteries for TV.

          2. In STAR TREK: SAVE THE WHALES (or some such title) Kirk refers to Harold Robbins and Jacquelyn Suzanne as source material for 20th century life. Spock nods sagely and says “Ah, yes. The giants…

      5. I would be completely unsurprised if someone doesn’t take Tolkien’s work as being a straight-forward representation of actual history …

        In S. M. Stirling’s “Emberverse,” after civilization falls a somewhat-disturbed but highly-competent Tolkien fan takes this theory and founds an elite fighting order, that call themselves the “Rangers,” on this basis. She succeeds at it quite well, too, and the Dunedain become an important part of the culture of the society of the American Northwest.

        1. I wonder if some future civilization will conclude that Tintin was the first man on the Moon, based on such evidence.

      6. Do you realize how hard it is to convince some of these neo-pagans that the Celts didn’t use a calendar developed by the Catholic church?
        It boggles the mind.
        Especially when they get all defensive.

        If you’re going to say you’re imitating my ancestors, at least make an effort at it.

      7. Was in some anthology… “There Will be War”? Story about the eventual endpoint of Scientology.

        Actually was pretty good, IIRC.

      8. Alistair Crowley created Satanism from the whole cloth, if I remember rightly.

        Look at the symbols a satanist uses, you can tell what he’s got some exposure to but no knowledge of…..

        (I’m still amused that the hook’m horns/devil horns are actually a sign to ward off evil, especially the evil eye.)

  3. … and we know that compared to us in the present so called “patriarchy” women were not only not respected, but were often used in strictly utilitarian ways as in “Mother, caretaker, etc.”

    Here’s what lies at the nub of the wishful thinking.

    In most, perhaps all, pre-industrial cultures, the vast majority of people of any particular class and role only got to play their role, which was narrowly-defined compared to the equivalent roles in the modern world. This is because pre-industrial cultures are poor and survival to adulthood, let alone old age, was uncertain compared to industrial and information age cultures. You were doing well if you were merely living another day, another month, another year.

    A woman who was getting to be a wife, mother and caretaker was doing well. She wasn’t being a whore, a spinster or a beggar, which were some of the other obvious alternatives (and ones which left her far more miserable and less powerful). Lest we imagine that this was because of he Evil Patriarchy, take a look at the way that most men lived in those cultures. They weren’t exactly swimming in gravy either. The truth is that living in pre-industrial cultures sucked — by modern standards.

    Before we feel so superior, consider this — a half-millennium from now (assuming that we don’t manage to stop technological progress in its tracks, or freeze society back into some rigid class structure) humans will be immortal and free of any diseases save those we invent to war upon one another. We will pretty much all have tremendous amounts of energy at our command and live better than the wealthy do today. The humans of that time will pursue life choices impossible to us today.

    What the wishful thinkers don’t want to admit is that the Whigs had the right of it. It is technological progress that improves the world, and technological progress is facilitated by Classical Liberal ideas. The “Progressive” (absurd term, in this context!) fantasy of going back to a “sustainable” lower-energy, lower-tech civilization would just throw us back into the Dark Ages. (Perhaps literally, as many of these fantasies have us giving up “unnecessary” lighting). And then, everyone would suffer.

    1. Oh, women didn’t usually get to go on Crusade and fight and die in battle. Hmm. How is this a bad deal for me as a woman, exactly?

      Oh, women got stuck with arranged marriages. And most of the time their new husband didn’t have any more say in it. How is this specifically oppressive to women, exactly?

        1. Chastity belts were incredibly rare. What really happened was that men were assumed to cheat on their wives, while women faced severe social consequences if they did so and were caught at it. That truly was unfair, but at the same time, wives were deemed entitled to more economic support by their husbands than husbands were by their wives, in almost every period of history and social class.

          1. If you are a woman, it doesn’t matter what your husband does in one respect: namely, when you look at the cradle nine months later, you aren’t going to wonder whether that really is your kid.

            1. Unless the midwife pulled a fast one on you…

              One thing I think we tend to overlook, too, is just how the incredibly high child mortality rate likely affected outlook and attitudes. You do enough reading of contemporary sources, from back in Ye Olden Dayes, and the casual attitude towards specific children comes through quite clearly–You weren’t really a “thing” until you’d survived at least early childhood, in many circles. Yes, parents loved the little darlings, but… There was a much less expectant attitude towards their survival. Losing kids was incredibly common, and you can see the outlines of how that was dealt with on an individual and societal basis reading their papers.

              The one that blew me away was reading the letter some wife back in in one of the New England states wrote to her husband, who was out west doing business during the early 19th Century. Page and a half of stuff about the family farm and business operations, and on the back of the page, kind of an “Oh, yeah… Timothy and Sarah died of fever/consumption a few weeks back… Don’t know if the letter I sent with details made it to you, or not…”.

              Atypical? Probably. Some children were cherished and loved, and their deaths were devastating, but when that sort of thing was so common, many people took a practical view of the matter, and just made sure they had lots of kids. I remember seeing another letter where an elder female in the family was writing to one of her contemporaries, and criticized one of the daughters/nieces of another woman, who’d only had four children: “…and, what will they do when they lose some of them? It would be a tragedy to have to raise a child without brothers and sisters…”.

              Different days, different conditions, different values and mores. The past is a truly foreign country…

              1. It is worth considering that a first-born child was primarily important as proof of a) the couple’s joint fertility and b) the wife’s ability to bear a child. In circumstances which rendered helicopter parenting virtually impossible and large families the norm, these two qualities would have been of paramount importance.

                1. I did notice tracing my family tree that an extraordinary number of first births in the 1700 and 1800 eras were premature. Makes sense that in a frontier society you’d want to make sure of reproductive success.

              2. Kind of makes me think of my mother’s reaction to an episode of Little House on the Prairie. The girls saw someone throw a sack in the creek, and heard whines coming from it before it went under. They pulled out the sack and started pulling puppies out. When one of them reached in and found one not moving, they were ready to break down in tears, until they pulled it out and found it was a rock. My mother got angry, yelling at the TV about how people didn’t act like that about random dogs back then, and how that whole scene was a bunch of garbage.

                1. “The Girls”, not the parents.

                  It takes a while for the world to build the callouses. Back then it happened faster than today, but it still took time.

                2. I would have been yelling at the tv too, although I agree that most people didn’t act like that about random dogs back then, I suspect the first thing I would have been yelling about was the idiocy of the screenwriter who assumed someone would grab a… well, rock-hard… rock and mistake it for a soft, squishy, furry, puppy.

                  I COULD see a bunch of young girls saving* a litter of puppies like that, but I’m pretty sure the screenwriter didn’t get the scene right, with their parents reaction to them coming up with a bunch of day old puppies, either.

                  *I very much doubt they were “saved” for more than a couple of hours. I HAVE raised whole litters from newborns without the help of a mother (I had a couple of bitches that didn’t produce milk and/or were atrocious mothers who would manage to kill every puppy within a week if left to their own devices) it takes a lot of time and energy, plus having to develop a suitable milk replacement (I understand sheep milk works quite well, you will lose almost every one on cows milk however, and the commercial “puppy” milk replacer is little if any better.) They would not have had the yogurt, Karo syrup (well, possibly) or mayonnaise, that goes into the recipe I use; on hand.

                    1. These particular three day old kittens are now ten years old. One is under the desk snoozing with her head propped up on my foot.

                    2. the ‘little’* kitty had conjunctivities and the vet told us not to espect her to live.

                      *- little is relative to her sister. she’s about average cat size.

              3. “Unless the midwife pulled a fast one on you…”

                Like I said, regardless of what your husband did. . . .

          2. Not really unfair. As the man was supporting the woman’s children, he needed some assurance that they were also his children. Thus a woman cheating was much much worse than a man cheating.

          3. As an aside, by a curious quirk of English law, bastard children of serfs were born free.

            This was because a bastard was forbidden from inheriting anything, and since serfdom was passed down through the male line, a bastard child was unable to inherit that status and was therefore (legally) born free. This apparently was actually used as the basis for lawsuits in the 16th century, with the object of getting out from various legal obligations (and successfully, I might add).

        2. “chastity belt thing”?

          I seem to remember reading that the “chastity belt thing” is a myth or wasn’t that common.

          1. Chastity belts were made up by porn-minded men of much later centuries than medieval times. Some of them commissioned fetish ironmongery lingerie versions of their fevered imaginings. In other words, they were never actually meant for wearing, even in the feverish imaginings.

            We pee and have periods out of those holes, guys. Any kind of chastity belt would actually be a “die rotting within a couple months” belt.

            1. Didn’t pull any punches on that did you? Blunt, but to the point. A chastity belt would prove a mess for the wearer — short and long term.

              1. I think I’ve now left my blushing girlhood, have accelerated into middle-aged busybodyhood, and am rapidly heading toward plainspeaking old crone. (Mostly propelled by all this political correctness junk and the lack of accurate speech on certain points.)

                    1. Must be about to lay eggs. (Sorry, couldna hep mahsef. Ah usta be in the poultry husbandry business, before they caught me at it.)

                    2. Then probably yer good, unless you’re Debbie Wassername-Schultz, San Fran Nan-cy Peelthisoffme or Diane Fein-I’m-shure-stein.

                      But was you one of them I expect we’d have already nitced.

                1. It just makes you more lovable.

                  No, I really mean that… Best years I spent with my mother were her “declining” years. She was a lot more fun to be around (especially when certain other people were, too).

            2. Y’know, that (as well as the problem of defecation) had occurred to me but when I considered the best means of expressing the thought I concluded I was better off simply putting a cork in it.

              Strolls off, whistling Gypsy Davy …

              N.B., Reportedly this song has the most alternative versions of any traditional song, appearing as “Raggle-Taggle Gypsy” and “Blackjack Davy” among other variants.

            3. Well, some real ones seem to be “wear for short periods” ones not something a woman would have to wear for long periods.

              But yes, most stories about them are bunk.

      1. indeed. Life sucked for both men and women, in roughly complementary ways, in most pre-industrial societies. Or even industrial ones. Consider the worries of a college-age man in the 1960’s, as opposed to those of a college-age woman. Which one of them was afraid of being drafted and sent to fight in Vietnam?

        1. Ah, but it’s not fair that only men got drafted and women were denied the glorious opportunity to prove their equal manliness.

      2. I had a class in Renaissiance history that discussed the marriages…most aristocrats wound up marrying people they knew. Nobody except royalty would try to set up a marriage without consulting the people most intimately involved.

        1. And of course, in the lower classes you almost certainly grew up around your spouse (or your spouse grew up around you). Sarah has described how the boys in her town responded to “poachers” from the next town over. We can safely assume that in older times that response was even more pronounced.

          1. I mean, when most people never traveled more than ten or fifteen miles from their birthplace, it would be kind of hard to NOT know the person you eventually married, wouldn’t it?

            Arranged marriage, for me, had always seemed like a “So what do you think of this list of candidates?” sort of thing, anyway.

            Heh. I’m surprised no one has mentioned “The Burning Times” yet.

            1. Those are kinda assumed by what Sarah was discussing.

              Modern feminism more or less assumes a prehistoric lesbian ruled utopia that was destroyed by evil menfolk, who exterminated a race of actually magical witches. They’ve got to imagine virtue for the sake of borrowing it.

              Societies which practiced slavery and treated wealthy noblewomen with some respect are not, objectively, good models for the treatment of women.

              1. This of course leads to the question of, if these women were so happy and powerful, how did the men manage to overthrow them?

                  1. Man, I wish those magical mind-control powers were real. My love life would have been far more entertaining.

                  2. Ah, that explains the idea so popular (at least, so I am told) in contemporary [smut] about women succumbing to unquenchable lust at the sight of an erect phallus. Just one way in which the true facts of History slip in through the cracks.

                1. … and not just in one specific place. All over the world, male-dominated civilizations outcompeted the hypothetical female-dominated ones so completely that the existence of the female-dominated ones was reduced to legend. The clear implication, if this were true, is that men rule, women drool, to speak in scientific cultural-evolutionary terms.

                  The more plausible theory is that the requirements of childbearing and childcare in pre-industrial societies made ones in which women dominated or were even equal in large-scale politics impractical. Women, of course, continued to be important in familial politics.

              2. Well, consider the fact that the most rabid ones are from the wealthy end of the spectrum. So, they cannot possibly imagine anything else.

            2. It’s still like that in more places than you’d think. The Who has a very touching song called “The Kids are All Right” that’s narrated/sung by a boy who always assumed he’d marry the girl in the neighborhood he grew up with and loved, but her mother for some reason forbade it. So he’s leaving the only place he ever knew, reassuring himself that the kids are all right, and she’ll do fine whichever neighborhood boy she marries.

              1. It gives pause to consider that at least one of The Who’s songs is probably so politically incorrect that it can no longer be played in public.

          2. It is fairly common when doing family history research that you draw a circle 20 miles surrounding the town they were from and look for the ancestor’s in-laws within that circle. Unless it was a market town or had another big draw, like a pilgrimage site, most people didn’t travel very far even into the industrial revolution era if they were already from the area that had factories.

            Even in the US with the wide open spaces to travel and get land, people still tended to move in groups so it wasn’t until the mid 1800s that it was super common that a husband and wife might be from opposite ends of the country. More than likely, it was the parents who migrated and the kids still grew up around each other.

            1. People moved when they had to. Not enough food for whatever reason, not enough jobs, not enough mates (men might go looking, women, of course, not, too dangerous) and they’d go looking, at least some, more if the alternative was starving. It happened, but it wasn’t consistent. If it was good enough where they were, they didn’t. And yep, in earlier times it tended to be as groups.

            2. I am from the mid-west; my wife from the west coast. We met less than 100 miles from where I was born and where I grew up.

            3. Oh, yes. Mom went to Pennsylvania (the “Dutch” side of the family) – she only visited two towns and three graveyards between them, and she was done for five generations (plus several collateral lines).

              There are four generations in North Central Kansas. Actually, mine is the only line that actually really moved out of that region – the majority of my collateral relatives are still there.

              1. My own family tree is odd. It seems that none of my direct line ancestors from their arrival in North America died within 50 miles of where they were born. Going back to the 1600s. Obviously an outlier in statistics.

            4. The most common instances of people marrying who didn’t grow up around each other, at least until modern times, is what was commonly known as a “war-bride.”

              Most primitive cultures have such a tradition, it helps immensely with inbreeding, but it still was always a somewhat unusual exception to the rule of growing up around your spouse.

          3. With one exception. Very isolated communities with limited gene pools were known to try to entice male travelers to marry one of the local women in order to bring fresh genetics into the local pool.

            Or at least get him to father a kid with one of the local girls before he moved on.

        2. Um… not precisely true. In Elizabethan England people purchased the “right” to raise a noble orphan and determine their marriage, often to the person’s kids. While they knew each other, it was still more or less forced, and often led to epic schemes to avoid it.

          1. Those were orphans, and it was recognized as an abuse. (Though Shakespeare didn’t give Bertram much sympathy for it in All’s Well That Ends Well. Ah, well, when you have rich patrons. . . .)

      3. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the chastity belt was something not actually invented until much, much later, like the 1800s later…

        Frankly, I’m of the opinion that most arranged marriages weren’t the hellholes fiction loves to make of them. And in pre-modern society, I actually find myself sympathizing with the parents who were furious about a child (especially a daughter) who insisted on marrying ‘below her station’ and going after the poor fellow she fell in love with. Starvation/freezing to death was still very much a real threat for the poorer folks–and so I find it hard to view a woman’s relationship in that era with a man of significantly lower fortune terribly romantic. If he died, she was SOL…

        1. A lot of the problems with modern views of people in the pre-industrial past is that we tend to automatically-imagine the existence of the safety nets provided by modern medical and production technologies. Many people don’t get that “starvation” and “freezing to death” don’t just mean in this context “missing meals” or “being cold”– they mean literally DYING of these causes.

            1. It’s the same kind of nonsense that says George Zimmerman couldn’t shoot Trayvon Martin because Trayvon didn’t have a gun. As though “Killed by blows from fists / feet” hasn’t ever appeared as “Cause of Death.” Bah!

          1. We also automatically assume they had the same mindset as modern Westerners.

            Jonathan Haigt recounts one of the things that lead to his research into morals was living in India, still a more traditional society, and being exposed to people who really didn’t think like he did. As much as we say we don’t get SJW thinking they have more in common with us in terms of worldview than anyone in a traditional society would. The idea of place and the importance of taking your place are utterly alien to most of us but the life’s blood of traditional society thinking.

            1. We also automatically assume they had the same mindset as modern Westerners.

              Oh, hell, yes! One of my biggest peeves is reading or watching something that makes that assumption for cultures where such a mindset would have either, 1) Caused the destruction of that culture entirely, because of being incompatible with it (if it were the prevailing mindset for most people), or 2) have gotten the person hounded out of town, or even killed (if it were only one or a small minority).

        2. Assuming the parents are the ones arranging the marriage, they kind of have a vested interest in making sure their children are set up for life. After all you don’t want your daughter to end up living in your basement with three kids, do you?

          I’m betting the average arranged marriage was a lot more happy and stable than the average high-school-romance marriage (and I say that as a child of one of the rare successful high-school-romance marriages).

        3. I know that a lot of the “medieval” torture devices were actually invented by the Victorians as a way of demonstrating their superiority over their ancestors.

          1. Truly. Why invent bizarre and cumbersome devices when you can just repurpose (temporarily) the contents of the nearest smithy. Or a couple of sticks.

            1. As a general rule, if you aren’t using items out of the Craftsman section of the Sears catalogue, you aren’t torturing someone.

              1. They sell large rubber bands in the Sears catalog?

                I assume they sell duct tape and really sturdy chairs.

          2. Yes, I gather the Iron Maiden was one of those inventions…Possibly some of the other, even nastier ones? Which leads me to imagine some deeply offended medieval people going “Wha…? No way, we’re not THAT sick. What the hell, man.”

          3. I know a lot of the ones the Inquisition supposedly used were first seen in lurid “the Catholics are evil and will come stalking us at night” style pamphlets in other countries.

            One famous Iron Maiden that was offered as proof that they were used turned out to have been really obviously retrofitted with spikes, and they think it was originally a female version of the stocks. (Considering how much much kinky art uses variations on the stocks, I don’t know why the existence of this startled me.)

        4. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the chastity belt was something not actually invented until much, much later, like the 1800s later…

          A friend of mine in the SCA made a pretty convincing argument some years ago that the “chastity belt” was, in fact, a way for a woman to keep a cloth pad in place during her period. I must see if I can find her article.

              1. I didn’t know they were still up there.

                Of course, my grandmother went to a “normal school,” back when they produced teachers. Main reason I had read all of the Oz books (and several other things), plus knew my addition and multiplication tables before I ever set foot in East Globe Elementary.

                1. My great aunt went to Southern Connecticut State College (later University) when it was still New Britain Normal School. She said it was better then than when it was a college.

        5. Yes, and the drive to be fed, and to be sheltered, is pretty strong in most of us. Not that many would sacrifice their comfort willingly when they know for sure they would be sacrificing them, or at least severely compromising them if they went with that handsome drifter (unless she was an idiot, or maybe really, really hated her family for whatever reason). No matter how many times Beatles or whoever claims all you need is love (okay, I like some of their songs, but always hated that one, it’s irritating).

      4. They also ignore that (in most of the cultures I have studied, which is NOT all encompassing) it was the mothers that made the matches not the fathers.

        1. IMO women were often the main defenders of the “social structure”.

          Likely because women would be the most likely people to suffer when the “social structure” failed.

          Note, the Society Matrons were often the people who decided if another woman are “respectable”.

          A man might marry a “non-respectable” woman but while his male fellows saw no problems, the Society Matrons would not accept her into *their* circles which was as important as the male circles (if not more so).

          1. Minor grammatical nit. Shouldn’t that have been:
            “… the Society Matrons were often the people who decided if another woman am ‘respectable’.”?

            1. “Minor grammatical nit. Shouldn’t that have been: “… the Society Matrons were often the people who decided if another woman am ‘respectable’.”?”

              Nit back. It should be “if another woman *is* ‘respectable'”. [Very Big Evil Grin]

            1. I was going to make some snarky remark using cultural relativism, vis-a-via how our fake patriarchy is worse than their real patriarchy because _________, but I can’t seem to make my brain go Proglodyte this morning.

              1. “Because ours is not out in the open like theirs is, making it harder to fight against.”

            2. It’s true. In places like India, when the dowry is not considered enough, it’s usually the mother-in-law wielding the acid or the boiling water. So much for the sisterhood of women.

        2. Modern “critics” of former times are at least as guilty of devaluing women’s contributions as any of the contemporaries. Look how they write off “just” raising children, tending hearth, and making clothes as though that meant nothing instead of being some of the most important work there was.

          1. Modern feminists are the most sexist people around. They categorically deny feminine power. To them the only metrics of power and value that count are the ones men use.

          2. I suspect they discount women’s contributions more than the contemporaries did.

            The Book of Proverbs included “praises for the good wife” and mentions her deeds and contributions.

            In the past, men may have been the “Head Of The Family” but Good Men always recognized “Good Helpmates” (ie their wives).

            1. One factor in the triumph of Christianity was demographic: pagans were disproportionately male, Christians female, because not only did Christians not kill their children, particularly daughters, they collected abandoned children and raised them. And the result of a Christian mother and a pagan father was Christian children, even though the father had the legal right to kill both mother and children for disobeying him.

              1. Pagan cultures tend to sacrifice unwanted babes to their deity*. Christian culture dedicates such babes to theirs. Draw your own conclusion about which offers the greater long-term benefits.

                *I leave it as an exercise for the reader to discuss what the recent revelations about Planned Parenthood express about their culture and deity.

                1. Planned Parenthood, due to the extremely small size of their souls, would not be of interest to most deities. Likewise, culture would be very limited too. I would suspect, fetuses, money, Lamborghini’s. No room for anything else.

                  1. I was going to say… I don’t think baby sacrifice has ever been super-common in most pagan cultures. Most of them have a story about “we used to do human sacrifice but now we don’t,” and a lot of cultures had baby sacrifice as some kind of occult thing that bad people did. But in most cultures, they just exposed or killed unwanted kids if they were going to do it. No apologies required.

                    Of course, the Aztecs and Mayas tended to throw baby down the well to get some rain, and the Phoenicians and Carthaginians had Moloch. But the Romans were pretty shocked by the idea.

                    1. Yes, they killed the children, but not as sacrifices.

                      One notes that they charged Christians with ritual child sacrifice, to get back the haughty rejoinder that we Christians do not kill children by abortion or exposure, you do, how dare you accuse us of child murder?

              2. There are abandoned children today in China. I wonder what happens to them? Some I know from a post on John Wright’s blog are rescued.

                1. I recall a Sid Harris column from back in the ’70s in which he mentioned a 19th Century Chinese guidebook for Britain in which the guide cautioned that the British were extremely under-populated and very sentimental, so much so that they attempted to keep all their children alive, even those of prostitutes.

              3. ?

                I know the Romans were very “unkeen” on human sacrifice. While they’d practiced it early on, and it may have still existed as an extremely rare practice even into the Empire, it all but disappeared among the Romans during the Republic.

                1. It was acceptable for Roman families to “expose” (leave outside somewhere) unwanted babies (often female) so they would die.

                  True, it wasn’t “human sacrificing” but it happened.

                  It annoyed the Romans when Christians would seek out such unwanted babies and raise them.

                  1. That’s just plain murder — unless the baby was taken up, in which case it was giving the kid to a brothel, usually* — but Romans were sensitive about the distinction.

                    * When Christians were accused of sexual immorality in their secret meetings, they would counter accuse that pagans would expose their children and then go to brothels, even though they knew that was the fate of exposed children; when of murder, that they would kill the children by exposure. This underscores the difficulty of getting stats.

            2. Said deeds and contributions include running businesses and buying & selling land.
              With the result that her husband has time to serve in the government.

            3. Modern folks also forget that the ‘housewife’ in ages past worked every bit as hard as her husband, and was just as great a contributor to the family’s survival. Usually while also packing the kids along.

          3. Yeah, I’ve got a book from the time of Ivan Grosnie (aka Ivan the Terrible) basically the collected letters of a father to his son on ‘How to run a proper noble household in Russia’. There is a substantial amount of advice on how to deal with the lady of the household including repeated confirmations of what he was supposed to be telling the servants to be doing that day so nothing got missed. Even though it didn’t analyze itself, the picture it paints is very clear. There’s too much to be done by one person and winter… winter is a bad thing. someone has to work their fingers to the bone in the fields, someone has to work their fingers to the bone in the house. If one side or the other doesn’t do their job the odds of making it through the winter go down dramatically. Sewing and Laundry? Do you want to loose body parts to frost bite? Raising the kids? Where’s the next generation of productive workers going to come from?

            The modern ‘critics’ also twist the roles of the grandmothers. Sure many of them couldn’t do as much any more, but they KNEW. If they lived that long they KNEW. They remembered that disease that’s coming through, and might remember how people survived it last time. They know the old stories that prevent the men and women from killing each other after 2 weeks with snow all the way up to the 2nd story eves. They knew all the ways to get things done most efficiently and were constantly teaching the younger ones this and that. All the little tricks that meant the household survived. Many ways of contributing that get denigrated.

            1. Grandparents also provided a Court of Appeals, able to take a longer view of (grand)children’s behaviour and adjudicate lighter sentences when parental punishments seemed overly harsh. They frequently were the ones available for instruction of the young in proper behaviour and such training-intensive activities as reading, writing, arithmetic, needlework (with thread and with sword) and other activities for which they might lack stamina to perform at length but had skills worth passing down.

              Parents were often too fully occupied in simply managing the business of daily life to have time or energy for such aspects.

            2. The Domostroi: Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible translated by Carolyn Johnston Pouncy

          4. As we all know, those Spartan wives and mothers had very little to do with their city’s military success.

            Certainly we can all agree that women were seriously deprived by being denied the privilege of idyllic pastoral leisure tending the lovely sheep and the friendly cattle. Just like men to keep the pleasant jobs for themselves while forcing women to stay in the home, with walls and a roof to deny her enjoyment of weather.

            1. There is a corollary to this. The assumption that all families function the same.

              Example: Take a couple — In the household she grew up in every evening, while she and her mother did the dishes, her father took out the kitchen garbage. In the household he grew up in if it had to do with the kitchen it was his mother and sister’s territory alone. They get married and neither one thinks to discuss what is so obvious to them. Each waited for the other to take out the garbage. That is until one of them ran out of patience.

              1. Dang, dang, dang, drat, and double dang dang. This does not belong here. It belongs to a different RES post. Bother me.

                1. (Steps over and places finger about an inch from CACS’ shoulder) “I’m not touching you! (Tilts head back and forth) “I’m not touching you!” Rinse, repeat.

                  And Run Away!

                    1. Pshaw. All women know the evil eye. They’ve given it to me many times.

                      What’s that you say? If I weren’t such a smart-alec, I wouldn’t get it so often? Where’s the fun in that? 🙂

                    2. I have had much practice. Working in the oblivious world of geek cons a strong evil eye comes in very handy.

            2. Damn straight. None of this Progressive “shepherdess” or “dairy maid” nonsense around here! And don’t believe contemporary artwork. Women _never_ worked in the fields.

              They were _forced_ into the early factories. _Forced_ I tell you. They did _not_ flock to them because they were easier and paid better than farm labor.

              1. Reminds me of the mid to late 18th century early French Romantics who formed a subculture in the French court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, playing at being peasants and shepherds.

            1. Growing up, I found some of my older female relatives admirable for being hard people who did what needed to be done, no matter the cost. I’m not supposed to respect that, just because it isn’t what some stranger likes?

            1. There is a theory that extreme sports have caught on in part because as a society we have made the world so safe. In the past life was dangerous and exhausting enough you didn’t really have to look for it.

                1. It isn’t the injury people are after but the adrenaline rush (and other hormones). This explains other extreme activities as well, not just sports. I played some organized football back in the day and plenty of sandlot tackle football (even got my first scar from it). I can promise you the adrenaline rush had nothing on certain extreme activities I’ve done that carried much less risk of injury.

                2. Taken as a whole, probably. After all they’re mostly sports for middle class guys to impress chicks with.

                  But once you start doing wingsuit jumps you’re going to be attending your own funeral inside of 16 months.

              1. Ditto with going to gyms for exercising. My parents didn’t farm so I didn’t really “grow up” on a farm as my parents did. I did work on my uncles’ farms in turn after the first took ill. Even with modern conveniences you burn a lot of calories, and when it’s too wet for the modern conveniences and you had to walk you burn more. I was too slow to ride and prime tobacco (in flue-cured tobacco you don’t harvest the entire stalk at once, even now), but I could hang walking. My sister was quicker; she primed when she got older. She said she found it less aggravating than working at the barn where I usually worked. We would joke that my uncle (the second one) had the best looking primers around, all girls, mostly related.
                Nowadays, four or five people (eight or nine in the ’50s to the 1970s) have been replaced with one driving an automatic priming machine. Some of the other labor is almost as labor intensive as it always was.

                I would put on weight in the winter with the shorter daylight and burn it off in the summer (not just working but wondering around). Now I just put it on working at a desk.

        3. My in-laws have an arranged marriage. His mom set it up with her mom and that was that. 51 years. If I did the math right.

          1. My parents got married because both were still unmarried in the middle 30’s, and wanted a family. Mother said they were not in love, and it was what Finns call something like ‘common sense marriage’ – they liked each other well enough, and seemed a good enough fit otherwise, and neither had found any better prospects so far (from a few things my mother hinted at she may have been in love in her late teens with somebody who died in the war) so why not. They stayed married for close to 30 years, until she died, and it seemed to work well enough for them, and she said they did come to love each other in time.

            I guess the search for the Big Life-Altering Romance is one of the things working against marriages nowadays. Earlier, often enough, if they just got along and sort of liked each other and both did their duties was enough for most people. Sometimes that then could turn into actual love with time.

            1. Speaking as a single woman in my middle 30s…I could totally get behind the kind of marriage your parents had. Friendship seems to me a better and more lasting thing than “romance.” After all, friendship is a form of love, and a very excellent form at that.

              1. Can’t see having a lasting marriage *without* that, really. I mean, I’m not getting any younger or prettier or any less gray. Attraction is great, but for the long term its probably better to have someone who you can trade bad jokes with and talk about anything under the sun with than not much more than liking how each other looks looks.

                Gah. Just noticed I wrote “bester” for better. Definitely time for sleep.

              2. That was my husband’s grandfather’s big advice to him, marry your best friend.

                I can’t imaging wanting to marry someone you’re NOT friends with….

                1. Yeah, in truth the declaration “I married my best friend!” always struck me as a bit…odd. Because why would you marry someone you weren’t friends with?

                  Ironically, this doesn’t appear to apply to dating, in my experience. Most of the men I’m friends with have their female friends, and then the women they date, and very rarely are these the same thing. I’ve seen it in women, too, it makes no sense to me. (Which is possibly why dating and I have never gotten along…)

                  1. It’s possibly why they are still dating, rather than boring married people.

                    I can understand putting a mental divider, though– “she’s my friend” is a useful tool to avoid the biggest objection to men and women being friends, or even co-workers. It might also work to stop some of the less obvious but more poisonous aspects of women working with men. (Think high school posturing stuff.)

                  2. Well, dating is viewed as shopping around a lot nowadays. Often like car shopping, where they expect to take it for a test drive. It used to be more of way to get to know someone of the opposite sex well enough to “become” friends.

      5. you know that come’s up as a beat in entertainment some time’s. that >gasp> the OTHER party might have objections to this as well. Some times it’s kind of annoying slogging through stuff that seam’s to assume that the only bad things that happen are things that happen to woman.

        Real world example in a lot of the coverage of ISIS treatment of non-Muslim woman (primarily the Yazidi sect now but don’t worry there litterateur make’s clear that Christion’s are also fare game for slavery) I can’t help thinking that a lot of the articles kind of glid by just what happens to the “men and older boy’s” when the family’s are separated. Yes the horror of being dragged form your family and sold (real deal here’s a catalog with price points ….don’t worry she’s not pregnant you can start as soon as your payment clears) is hard to rap your mind around…..but the other horrifying part of the story is that your husband/father/son/brother ect ect has been dragged away and ;;murdered.

        1. Why would any Westerner of status (ie, a leftist) care about those husbands/fathers/sons…they are just males and thus not human to most leftists…plus, they expect all right thinking people think like them and thus see the males as animals. If they see them as human then they get what they deserve for such erroneous thinking.

          For those who think I should say feminist instead of leftist watch the video where Hanna Rosin, sitting with her husband and son, claims men are worthless and going away and ask why he doesn’t at least leave.

          1. Keep in mind that most Leftists wear two faces, the political one and the private one. In all probability Rosin’s husband recognized her assertion as a product of her political face, stated to advance an positional agenda and not expressive of her true views.

            This is why Al Gore can fly AF2 cross-country to address a conference on reducing carbon footprints and why ACORN can simultaneously demand a higher minimum wage and an exemption permitting them to pay staff sub-minimum wages.

            It is also why they are so often surprised that those on the Right frequently mean what they say. (For example, the many Leftists who try to argue Limbaugh is just playing to his audience.)

        2. Heck, even if the husband/father/son *isn’t* murdered, there’s horror. Imagine if your wife were kidnapped and sold into slavery and you *survived*, and had absolutely no way to get her back or rescue her, because you have no strength/weapons to do so, or because you have children and *you* are now their only shot at survival. That seems almost more horrifying to me.

          1. A while back, I had an idea for a short story. It was going to involve an American couple traveling in one of the tribal areas of Pakistan. The wife gets kidnapped to become some local’s bride, while the husband is left for dead. He recovers, tracks down his wife, frees her, and then suicide bombs the local community gathering to give her enough time to escape.

            Never did anything with the idea, though. And I’d probably be lynched if I ever did…

    2. I still remember a fantasy work, pseudo-medieval, in which a princess scorns marriage because she doesn’t want to spend her life in embroidery and looking after children.

      Like in a medieval world it was marriage that trapped you into those. Marriage was what liberated you to be in charge of the household (well, often did). She wasn’t going to be a career woman; she was going to spend her life embroidering and looking after other women’s children in another woman’s household.

      1. Oh, good grief. Did that writer not do ANY research? Princesses did not, in fact, spend their lives doing embroidery and looking after children. She would not likely be having much (if anything) to do with the day-to-day care of her children. That was for nurses and servants (and royal children frequently had an entire *household* gifted to them at birth or soon thereafter, with towns and incomes given as gifts along the way to support said household). The princess/queen had a *court* to run, and people who thought royal courts didn’t do anything but stand around and look pretty didn’t do the research.

        1. “people who thought royal courts didn’t do anything but stand around and look pretty”

          … haven’t looked at many portraits of royal courts.

  4. Sarah, I suspect that man was going over-board in fighting the nonsense of “Of Course, Humans Once Worshiped The Great Mother”. But then, I haven’t had enough coffee yet. [Smile]

    1. If I’m reading the original post correctly, he first acknowledged that there was no proof of a Great Mother religion nor that goddess-worshiping societies treated women better, and then proceeded throughout the rest of the course to assume that of course there was a Great Mother religion pushed out by the patriarchy and that goddess-worshipers treated women better. Possibly without, in the interim, offering evidence, even if it fell short of the standard of proof…

        1. Possibly a distinction between “this was not true” and “this has not been proven”?

          Did he say all available evidence contradicts A, or that no available evidence supports A?

  5. It’s the sworn virgins of Albania and Montenegro. Fascinating cultural tradition, especially in what they do (and are NOT allowed to do). They dress as men, cut their hair as men, grammatically spoken of as men, but they are not allowed to vote in the full council as a real man would. There is evidence this tradition is extremely old, too.

    It would also be fun to know more about the role of the Sarmatian female warriors, who were buried with their scale armor, weapons, horse gear, and in one case a male servant. Yet their grave goods always include the “traditional” female mirror, so they weren’t being treated as men either. I think they found at least 25 of these burials, so rare but not completely unheard of either.

    1. Oh, that does sound interesting. Although…weren’t the Sarmatians primarily cavalry? If so, I could see how a woman, with less upper-body strength, might do all right as a warrior in that context? (Not that I’ve ever attempted to do any fighting from horseback myself. I can’t get within ten feet of a horse without swelling up like a balloon…)

      1. Women can *develop* upper body strength with training. (And anyone who has churned butter by hand knows what I am talking about…) I suspect that strength was just one of many important characteristics of being a good horse warrior. Balance, endurance, agility, land navigation, etc. also important. And someone that athletic likely fell below the minimum fat percentage for fertility, too, so whatever she got up to in her off-hours she probably had a much lower chance of getting pregnant 😉 In a small tribe, you might not have enough males with warrior skill–and be desperate enough to survive you have the females who do have the skills become warriors. Losing out on her potential 3-5 kids might be a good trade-off if she keeps everybody else’s kids alive.

        Just being male does not guarantee being a good warrior, and even men who are quite strong can be klutzes, routinely make tactical mistakes, etc. There are lots of variables to take into account.

        1. A lot of steppe cultures had women warriors, mostly because compound bows are awesome multipliers of strength. As for riding, it’s been argued before that women find it easier than men, given women’s lower body strength and lack of dangly bits.

          But you can’t really think of steppe cultures as having “armies” or “cavalry.” It was “us tribespeople who fight as well as doing herding” as opposed to “us tribespeople who don’t fight and tend to stay in camp.”

          1. I’ve read somewhere that part of the Amazon myth came from women who did fight on horseback; horses where not always as big as they are now.

            1. Saw a documentary on Netflix based on the burials where they were looking for descendants of Amazons and concluded these woman married in with Mongols. They even went looking for genetic samples at the end.

            2. One thing that surprised me when I saw the Elgin marbles – centaurs were portrayed as slightly shorter than men, not the height they would be if a man’s torso was attached to a regular-sized (modern?) horse’s body.

          2. As for riding, it’s been argued before that women find it easier than men, given women’s lower body strength and lack of dangly bits.

            The RPG Reign actually ran with the dangly bits reason for one culture which has only female calvary and all men ride sidesaddle to avoid damage to their fertility/virility.

            1. David Brin wrote a novel where the culture developed the same habits, it was also gender segregated.

              1. Interesting…do you remember which one. I read a lot of Brin BITD but kind of drifted away.

                I wonder if that inspired Stotze in Reing.

                1. Probably “Glory Season”; it’s the only one I recall that featured a sex-segregated society. The urs in the Jijo books were seriously sexually dimorphic but basically centauroid, so I don’t think it’d apply there.

                  I used to love Brin, but for some reason bounced *hard* off of Kiln People and just kind of never picked him up again.

                1. If a man is fit, his dangly bits don’t cause problems riding a horse. It’s when you’re fat, and your belly pushes them down beneath you that it’s a problem.

                  1. Well, the problem for a man was if he was wearing a kilt instead of pants. [Wink]

                    1. I believe this subject was the real reason for the invention of stirrups.

                      If you’ve ever trotted a horse while riding bareback, you know what I mean.

                    2. I rather suspect the kilt-wearers did what the Romans did, and put on pants when they had to ride for any length of time. It just wasn’t very stylish. 😉

                2. Well, women’s innards don’t come apart if they exercise, either, even though some of the Victorians thought so. So re: dangly bits, I didn’t say it was a _good_ theory. Just amusing.

                3. There’s also the phrase “Gird your loins for battle”.

                  It’s fairly trivial to arrange to protect your genetic distribution mechanism against such problems.

                  1. I thought that phrase, in biblical use at least, had to do with tucking your robe into your belt so you could move better–sort of like one of the “Blond Commandoes” did with her skirt in A Civil Campaign.

                4. At least some military/cavalry saddles (and presumably some others) were made with a front hole or hollow so that the ..bits.. wouldn’t be squished as readily. How large a problem this was and how necessary a solution, I do not know.

            2. One notes that sidesaddles took a long time to develop.

              Started out in the Middle Ages, when a queen noted that riding astride didn’t show off her skirts to best advantage during a procession. That sidesaddle was just basically sitting sideways, and you couldn’t go over a walk, and you probably needed your horse to be led — all the more impressive in a procession, and for serious riding, women continued to ride astride.

              In the Renaissance, they introduce a kind of hook for the leg, which made it more stable; she could control the horse, and ride somewhat faster. But you still rode astride for serious riding. Indeed, we have official portraits of women, riding astride; it was completely acceptable so that you would adopt it when looking your best.

              In the 19th century, they improved the hook so a woman could basically ride as well as she could astride. But not until then.

          3. Some of those Mongol queens were downright terrifying (in a badass sort of way)…and some of the most terrifying didn’t ever even pick up a weapon, and did all their badassery when they were grandmas, so…yeah. I can see that.

          4. The Sassanid Persians supposedly had warrior women. And they had real armies and real cavalry, as the Romans, and later the Byzantines, could testify.

            Exactly how many warrior women they had, however, is apparently open to debate. Not much more is known than the fact that they existed.

        2. Women CAN develop upper body strength, and OCCASIONALLY individual women have as much as a normal man. but in general even in a muscle power based society women will not be as strong as men. the men have been developing their upper body strength as well.

          its not just strength, its endurance, speed and bloody mindedness that are needed. the balance of testosterone gives greater muscle density and endurance to men. you needed money to buy the arms and armor, its why the ruling/warrior classes were in charge. they had the means to enforce their will on others. why waste that on a daughter? its not a great plan for long term survival of the family.

          and yes just because you are male doesn’t mean you are a warrior, but its a very high statistical probability that if you wore armor and bore arms before the advent of gunpowder you were male. the females are of note because they are exceptions to the rule

      2. Adrienne Mayor’s Book _The Amazons_ is mostly about this, with some neat linguistic evidence for steppe nomad – Greek contacts. Highly recommend.

    2. The thing I haven’t seen being done, as of yet, are comparative studies of the bone structures of these remains. You spend a lifetime swinging a sword, or drawing a bow, and there are going to be signs of that in your skeletal remains. One of the bowmen from the Mary Rose looks positively deformed, with the hypertrophy of his right arm and the effects of that on the rest of his upper body. And, then there are the skeletal remains found in excavations made here in the Americas, where they can clearly differentiate between the fighting men, and everybody else, because of the huge differences in bone structure and development in things like the right wrist and other things. Then, there are the more obvious signs–Healed wounds, etc.

      I’ve seen none of that sort of thing come out of any of the Sarmatian graves, or the Viking shield-maiden ones. All we seem to have documented are cases where there were weapons associated with the burials of women, and from the lack of things like reports that this particular woman buried with bows and swords had healed wounds, embedded arrowpoints, and hyper-developed muscle attachments at key points in her skeletal structure, I’m going to take all this “warrior maiden” stuff with a grain of salt. Maybe a full bag–I know what the exigencies of modern military service did to my female subordinates, and until someone digs up and documents significant numbers of cases where there are obvious signs of overuse and abuse on the skeletons of these reputed female warriors, I’m going to assume that the co-location of weapons as grave goods has another source or purpose, other than that the women buried were “warriors”.

      I just went out and looked again: From appearances in the shallows of the internet, there haven’t been any real studies made to confirm these things, because a search of Google produces exactly nothing confirming female skeletal remains exhibiting signs of skeletal deformations in life resulting from swinging a sword or archery in seriousness. So, either the studies haven’t been done, or… They have, and contravene the exciting meme of the warrior maiden.

      Anyone who can point me at this stuff, if it exists, will be thanked. I’m simply not seeing it, and before I’ll buy off on this whole Amazonian warrior maid thing, I want to see some seriously screwed-up skeletal remains, where Queen Xanthippe has embedded arrow points in her shoulder blades that healed over, and/or significant signs of arthritis in shoulders, elbows, and wrists from a lifetime of shooting a recurve bow from horseback.

      Can’t show skeletal deformations? She was likely a dilettante, and was far less likely to have produced significant battlefield effect. There’s a hell of a difference between serving as a leader/figurehead, and spending a life in the ranks swinging a sword or flinging arrows at the enemy. If the women found in those graves, Viking and Sarmatian were actually regular combatants, the effects of that should be more than visible in their skeletal remains.

      1. So, either the studies haven’t been done, or… They have, and contravene the exciting meme of the warrior maiden.

        I’d say the latter. There are numerous examples of this in recent history, with the most insidious being the burying of the studies showing a very strong correlation of abortion to breast cancer.

        1. Precisely… I have read where they’ve identified actual female gladiators from Roman arena combat through things like bone wear and hypertrophied attachment points for muscles, but I’ve seen none of this work done for the supposed Sarmatian or Viking sites.

          It’s pretty sad when you have to apply Cold War-era analysis technique to academic work, but I think it’s pretty telling that you can’t find anything beyond “They were buried with weapons…”, and they are hanging whole closets worth of assumptions on that one fact. One which I can think of a myriad of reasons for, that all make a hell of a lot more sense than women taking a major role in pre-industrial conflicts, where the weapons were strictly muscle-powered.

          I’m not saying they didn’t, either–Hell, for all we know, they did. But the evidence chain for that being the case simply isn’t being presented. What is being presented are a couple of disconnected facts, and a whole bunch of wishful thinking. The worst case was that whole “Viking Shield Maiden” thing of a year or two ago… Good grief, I could punch holes in the news media-presented stories with both lobes of my brain tied behind my back…

          1. Mayor’s book covers that. And there have been some steppe graves that show hypertrophy and bone deformation you’d expect from women who grew up as mounted archers. One problem is who has done most of the research. No offense to the Russians, but they did not have the resources, expertise, and time that Westerners did to look at that sort of thing when they were doing salvage archaeology, not until very recently.

            1. I can believe there were exceptions like some occasional women fighters because it does make some sense, at least with smaller tribal groups. There are always some outliers, and especially if in a small group at times a few women can cut it better than some of the men it might make more sense to take them as the fighters rather than the weaker men when that might mean you have a slightly larger group of at least sort of competent fighters, and keep rules in their culture which allow for those exceptions. But exceptions are exceptions.

            2. The Russians also actively suppressed–with violence, sometimes–any serious research into the Mongols in particular. There were Mongol scholars highly placed in the Party before the USSR fell who were risking their careers/freedom/lives to try and translate and decode the Secret History of the Mongols, because the Russian Powers that Were had decreed Genghis Khan to be a source of subversive misbehavior and forbade research into him. So they weren’t particularly interested in encouraging these studies, even if they *did* have the resources, etc of the West.

              They (the Soviets) actually built bases, artillery testing sites, and so on around the borders of Inner Mongolia to keep everyone out. Which, hilariously, was right in line with Genghis Khan’s original intention, as he’d closed the homeland off to all but true Mongols centuries before. But the Soviets kept the Mongols themselves out, and destroyed the monastery that held Genghis’ banner (and which, according to their beliefs, held his soul) and the banner was either destroyed by the Soviets or lost when someone tried to rescue it.

              The positive side to this was the fact that, when the USSR fell and the bases were abandoned, Inner Mongolia was a near-pristine wilderness and scholars were able to trace a *lot* of the history on the landscape straight from the Secret History.

                1. Which is kind of a funny rumor, really, because he hasn’t actually got a tomb. The Mongol way was to bury their dead in unmarked graves, and trample the gravesite with animals for good measure so the bodies would be left alone. (And that was if they didn’t just leave the body where it was to decay/get eaten naturally.) For them, the important bit was the soul banner, which was kept. Or, in the case of Genghis Khan’s, eventually given into the care of a Buddhist monastery (which he would have found hilarious, since he was not Buddhist).

                  I suppose it might have been something started in an attempt to get the Soviets to leave the monastery and Genghis’ soul alone, though it didn’t work.

          2. I have read where they’ve identified actual female gladiators from Roman arena combat …

            Sudden image of gladiatorial women wrestling in Roman Jello.

        2. Given that they just realized that they had been misclassifying Viking skeletons as male based on the fact that they were buried with weapons, I have to disagree and say that the studies probably haven’t been done.

          1. Interestingly enough, the studies have been done at least some Viking male skeletons. So if they had previously classified these skeletons erroneously as males, I would be interested to know if any of them were included in those studies; and what the results were.

        1. Precisely. If these women whose skeletons have been found associated with weapons were actual combatants, then the signs of training and weapons use in war should be readily apparent in the bones.

          I’ve seen little or nothing about the work being done to determine anything about this, and I see no reason they shouldn’t be doing it, unless it’s ideological. Either they can’t get funding, or they don’t want to look.

          Which leads me to some rather obvious and pointed conclusions about the reality of the whole “warrior maid” thing. Sexual dimorphism being what it is, along with the lack of a readily available and safe form of ancient birth control or abortifacient, I’m simply not seeing the “warrior maid” being anything more than a modern contrivance/fantasy.

          I’m pretty sure that the ancient woman, asked if she’d like to take part in the shield wall, or ride the horse to glory against her people’s enemies, would have the same response some of my female soldiers had, when asked if they’d go Infantry: “Do I look like I’m fucking crazy? Hell, no…”.

          I think the majority of people fantasizing about this stuff have not the first clue what it would have been like, for someone starting out with the biologically inherent disadvantages most women have, in combat. Sure, there are exceptions, but when you average 20% smaller, and have biological limits on how much muscle mass you can put on, and still be healthy…? Yeah. Sure. Shield maiden.

          Which is not to say that women couldn’t or can’t fight. They do, and did–It’s just that they were the last ditch, wielding the family Naginata when all else had failed, and the homestead was being overrun. That situation, however, is a far cry from putting them on the front lines of Viking raids, or making successful horse archers a la the Mongols out of them–You’ll note a serious dearth of Mongol maids in the tales of the Mongol conquests–They were all at home on the steppe, guarding the flocks, not conducting expeditionary warfare. There are reasons for this, which most don’t want to acknowledge.

          I have half a mind to write the story of a “real female” soldier, and what she’d have to be in order to be successful in that role. I don’t think the SJW types would like her, or the implications of the society she’d have to come from. For one thing, sexual dimorphism would have to go, and all that goes with it. Reproduction might have to be performed by a separate, artificial caste or mechanism, because of the unsuitability of the human normal pelvic girdle to perform both the functions of childbirth and heavy route marching… The resultant person would not be at all what the fantasists imagine, wearing sexy, revealing outfits while daintily swinging her sword against the foe. She’d be about as big as a male, proportioned like a male, and probably have the mental outlook of one, as well. Nurturing mother? Ha… She’d have to be about as bloody-minded as your typical career NCO, whether Centurion or Infantry Platoon Sergeant, and would be about the last person you’d want raising your kids. Well, at least our sort of kid, because the society she represented wouldn’t be our sort of human being, anymore…

          1. unsuitability of the human normal pelvic girdle to perform both the functions of childbirth and heavy route marching

            What is the evidence on this one? One of the things that has become a big issue in the world of running (and those who study runners) is that male speed advantage decreases as distance increases until ultra-marathons have a near toss-up on male vs. female first to finish.

            The best explanation I’ve seen is men, as the hunters in hunter gatherer tribes, needed short speed in a much higher degree than women, who are gatherers. However, as the whole tribe is nomadic the ability of every adult to keep up on a general march limited the sexual dimorphism (when the food is a large quadraped it is easier to move the tribe to where food is than the dead food to the tribe). In such a situation isn’t it likely the women will be just as burdened as the men in relation to overall strength?

            1. Remember that runners are carrying a fairly trivial amount of weight compared to their bodymass. Given where Kirk is coming from, he can only be talking about infantry. Which means heavy route marching involves carrying hundreds of pounds.

              1. Yes, but the underlying theory is the convergence is for large scale movement of populations. The women would be carrying small children or some personal goods. Perhaps not hundreds of pounds but I doubt the men would either.

                1. There are certainly plenty of cultures where women are the bearers of burdens and the men carry the weaponry, so presumably women can march that way.

                  It’s probably not good for the woman’s health, and the women in those cultures tend to look old when they’re still quite young… but there you go.

              2. Not just infantry, heavy infantry.
                Here’s the thing, I backpack. No, the women can’t carry as much, generally speaking. But a twenty-pound load is very doable for them.
                The one place I’ve actually seen this done well is Weber’s Bahzell series, where the Sothoii war maids are very definitely not heavy infantry.
                They are, however, scouts and skirmishers, and very good at both of those.

            2. The evidence? Look at any of the honest comparative studies done, most recently the Marine one. Women do not do well under heavy load, because they break down, and their gaits are far less efficient because of that necessarily wider pelvic girdle. Typically, back when I was young and dumb, running troops, the females I had working for me would have to take two steps to my one, and would wind up running to try to keep up to the slow, steady mile-eating pace you have to maintain in order to keep marching for time and pace. You watch them move, and the inefficiencies are incredibly obvious, especially under heavy loads. There’s a technique to movement, one that can be taught to other men. You can’t teach women to move efficiently under loads like that, because the whole foundation is literally different. I suppose there might be some technique to be taught, but I’ll be damned if I ever saw it, or could figure it out. Inevitably, you wind up wearing out hips, knees, and ankles prematurely. The injury rates are also a hell of a lot higher, mostly because they’re much more unstable when you plop sixty pounds on their backs and tell them to move cross-country.

              Before I actually took part in the fiasco, I, too, believed that women were fundamentally the same, just a little bit smaller. T’aint so, McGee–And, a lot of that has to do with that wider pelvic girdle I mentioned. Which, oh-by-the-way, has a joint in the middle of it that is fused together in males, and not in women–Which can lead to some interesting injuries you don’t see in men. There was a young woman in another unit that I saw medevaced for dislocating her pelvis when she was taking part in, ironically, a casualty evacuation drill. Lifting and twisting as you lift a litter, and then having the opposite party drop their half of the load, while you try to take all of it while fully extended? Doesn’t work so well, for anyone, but for her, it resulted in them having to switch to a real-world medevac op. One of my medics was there, and she was horrified–She’d had no idea such a thing was even possible. Hell, if I hadn’t have sheared my own sacroiliac joint doing something similar years earlier, I wouldn’t have, either…

              The kind of loads I’m talking about are the sort you’d find on the backs of Marian-reform era Roman Legionaries, which are in the range of sixty-seventy pounds per man, carried for twenty-thirty miles a day, for days on end. Modern women can do that kind of thing, for short-term periods, but the wear and tear will leave them worn out and pretty much useless by the time they’re in their late twenties.

              You put women in the front line, that means one thing, and one thing only: You’re losing the war. Period. Anywhere, any time, that’s the evidence–Women repurposed as soldiers indicates they’ve already run through the other parts of the population that are better suited to the exigencies of war. The whole “war maid” thing is basically a fantasy of people who don’t know any better. Any society set up on the basis of having women of childbearing age serve in significant numbers as full-time soldiers/warriors is going to evaporate like ice water in the Saharan summer–They would literally be eating their seed corn, by eliminating significant numbers of young women from the ranks of the child-bearing parts of their population. I can’t see that working, over any long period. You have enough trouble keeping your population up when you don’t have modern medicine or childbirth skills–Using significant numbers of women as cannon fodder won’t end well, demographically speaking.

              You could probably make such a society work, on a small scale, and for a relatively short period, but the costs…? Ye gods… And, why would you want to do something like that in the first place? To prove some point for the SJWs of the future? I really don’t see such an experiment lasting long enough to enable it to become long-held tradition, and I suspect that the reason we have such tales in the first place has more to do with the human tendency to tell tales. Notably, everybody is always talking about how this stuff is going on somewhere else, with the next tribe over the horizon.

              Women fought. Undeniable fact. Using women as professional, full-time warriors or soldiers? Not something that is likely to have happened, unless the people doing so had their backs up against the wall. Hell, even Carthage didn’t arm their women and send them to fight in Spain or Italy, although I’m sure there were plenty of fighters with tits when the Romans came over the walls of Carthage itself, that last time. There is, however, a realm of difference between dropping roof tiles on the heads of men in a testudo, and doing that stuff full-time as a career.

              The whole issue just reeks of modern-day wishful thinking and the deviant belief systems that have developed. Who the hell would want to be a full-time warrior or soldier, in ancient times? What “glory” is there, in dying of a septic wound, or wearing your body out early in a lifetime of abuse and preparation for war? Why the hell can’t these crazy nutjobs making this shit up try to grasp the simple fact that women had better things to do, and probably actually wielded more real power doing them than any man ever would? Appropriating the “male traditions” doesn’t do much to uplift modern women–Indeed, it actually denigrates the very real contributions made to cultures and history by women of the past, who’d likely look at these bright shiny fantasists and laugh their asses off. Right up until they found out how they’d been disparaged by them, and then I don’t even want to know what the crones, matrons, and maidens of yore would likely do to their descendents…

              1. I suspect there are two major causes of the “warrior maid myth”. 1) There actually were a few outliers at certain places and times who did so. They were then talked about constantly, because they were an exception and a novelty. They wouldn’t even have to be very good, just the fact that that Julie woman from the neighboring tribe rode out to battle with the menfolk would make for stories to pass around the campfire of every tribe within a months ride. And we all know how stories grow over time.
                2)Women did often fight to defend their homes, either on their own because the menfolk were gone, or beside their menfolk. After all, their home is what they had, and it wasn’t like they could retreat if they were surrounded anyways. And fighting from a fixed position, is a very different proposition than marching into battle two weeks away. And yes, a woman defending her children is not a foe a wise man takes lightly. Which would tend to develop stories to be told around a campfire, or at a pub, in the future. Also, women often did the work of men, including tending the flocks, while men were gone, and in a pre-industrial society men were often gone much more than they were home. A woman (or often enough an unmarried adolescent girl) tending the flocks would necessarily have to be at least marginally capable of defending it against predators. And likely would attempt defense against human predators as well, after all, raiders would consider her a prize to be rounded up and taken, much the same as the goats she was tending. And none of us have ever heard a man proudly brag about what a wildcat his wife was when he first met her, have we?

                1. I think we have to divorce Viking Shield Maidens from Amazons.

                  The Shield Maidens, if we take from the written legends were most likely outliers in the group. Random females who took up the sword, there have been documented cases throughout early modern history of women who mascaraed as men to fight. It’s possible there could have been enough a time or two to make specialized groups of them, like the Soviet’s female sniper groups; but the Shield Maidens weren’t a distinct warrior society within Viking Culture.

                  Amazons on the other hand, probably legend and for all the reason that Kirk outlined above.

          2. Correction on the Mongol thing: (they’re my current research-obsession) While they did not, as a rule, have warrior-maids, women were heavily involved in the running of the empire. And in the latter days of the empire, there was actually a father-daughter team that led armies, with the daughter being a straight up warrior and involved in the tactics. Admittedly, she was something of an outlier, but to this day she is still a great hero to the Mongols. Otherwise, though, and especially during Genghis Khan’s lifetime, they were the ones given the administrative jobs. Genghis Khan placed great value on his daughters and daughters-in-law (and granddaughters and so on) and his favored tactic when a new kingdom/tribe was brought into the empire was to marry one of his daughters into their leadership (the surviving leadership) and have her take charge. They were the ones who set the cities along the Silk Road in order, and set up many of the bureaucratic systems that ran the empire so well. It was also only ever his first wife or his daughters who ever talked him into showing mercy to traitors or into changing his tactics when dealing with political problems. (And the mercy-to-traitors was, it was made clear, a one time deal. But she made sure they toed the line…)

            But generally no, they weren’t warriors (with a few exceptions). They were leaders, though, at least during Genghis’ life and for a generation or two after before things fell apart.

          3. Reproduction might have to be performed by a separate, artificial caste or mechanism, because of the unsuitability of the human normal pelvic girdle to perform both the functions of childbirth and heavy route marching…

            Realized at some point that this is workable without that, if one assumes technical intervention to fix the sexual dimorphism. Might be lack of sleep talking, but why not just use c-sections?

            It seems just barely feasible for a typical female to have enhanced growth to full size, followed by the womb being turned on, and around four rounds of c-section birth, recovery, and turning the female hormones back off for the military career. Of course, the kids would probably have to go to surviving grandparents.

            As you say, the more plausible societies do seem really unpleasant.

          4. The female pelvic girdle differs from the male’s even before puberty and childbirth enter the equation.

            From InnerBody (

            There are many structural differences between the male and the female pelvis, most of which reflect the role of childbirth in the female. The male pelvis is smaller and narrower with a thinner pubic symphysis. The female, on the other hand, has a much wider and more prominent pelvis that provides extra interior space with a wider, more flexible pubic symphysis.

            Because of the differences in the pelvis the femur sits at a different angle in each sex. If you watch males and females run you should be able to notice the difference this makes.

            1. This is accepted as the cause of girls playing soccer having a much higher incidence of blown knees than do boys.

              Sports also provides a means of comparing upper body strength: just look at the service speeds of top male and female tennis players. According to Wiki, the fastest serve ever recorded by a female, 210.8 km/h (131.0 mph), doesn’t even break into the top fifty fastest serves by men, where the bottom ranked service speed was 225.3 km/h (140 mph).

      2. Certainly the skeletal remains ought give evidence if these women actually were warriors.

        The possibility ought be considered that such warrior women were part of religious rituals performed in preparation for war. Perhaps they were dancers or priestesses who enacted the anticipated victory to embolden the men.

        Stranger things have happened. Of course, it helps if you envision such warrior women as looking less like Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu and more like Marie Dressler and Marjorie Main.

        Of course, it also matters if you envision Conan as less Ahnuld and more Noah Beery.

      3. “comparative studies of the bone structures of these remains…”

        Brief search of the literature doesn’t give much hard facts. I’d love to see the classification data or better yet sift through the bones myself. Not bloody likely to happen, but still. And the thing is, I believe there very likely *were* women warriors in the past. Individuals, almost certainly. Whole cultures, well, we have hints at going back to Herodotus (Scythians, Sarmatians, Amazons…). This isn’t truly my area of expertise, but here’s my thoughts.

        Martial training and wearing of heavy armor- scale mail gets f@#$@^’n heavy, no lie- *will* tell the tale. Compacted vertibrae. Increased rugosity in the long bones. Muscle markings along same. Thicker bones. These tell us what the person *did* in life. Anyone can die from violence, and everyone dies of something. Evidence of perimortal leisons doesn’t cut it. There has to be *something* to suggest a life of war, not merely a death from war.

        And there is such a suggestion. Armor and weapons found as grave goods. That is *only* a suggestion until further evidence backs it up. This is why archaeologists are *very* careful in writing their summations (or should be…). You’ll see headlines that say “Better Identification Of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half The Warriors Were Female.” When you read what the actual ditch-digger wrote, though, you’ll get “… Six female Norse migrants and seven male…” is the key passage. Migrants. As in, they left their homes for better climes, etc.

        Yes, there have been dozens of graves found where we’re *pretty sure* * these are women buried with well used blades and notched shields. But we also find infants and children as well with the same. It’s confirmation bias for some. We can’t assume that *all men* buried with weapons were fighters, either- the evidence, such as it is, does *not* always support this.

        To get convincing evidence of women warriors, I’d like to see those key-shaped cross sections in humeri and femurs, compacted vertibrae (if they actually trained in and wore heavy armor, which ain’t as likely), rugosity in the wrist and ulna/radius (differentiate from common stress markings, i.e. milking, etc), scapula and shoulder density, along with that evidence of violence we already see. This would make the case far more ironclad against doubters.

        Did women fight? You’d darn well better believe it. When raiders swarm the village, I’d say that assuming they’ll spare you is a bad idea. Given evidence from more recent times (where we have actual eyes on and printed record of, for certain degrees of confidence) it’s a pretty fair bet. Indian attacks, anyone? Those are only a few hundred years back.

        In extremis, *everyone* fought. But those who make their profession war stand out, even in death.

        *: Pretty sure: if we’ve got an intact skull and pelvis, of adult size, usually it’s no sweat. Look at the pelvic opening. Can you fit a baby head through there? High probability female. Skull, especially frontal and jaw- rugose, or neotenous? Eyebrow ridge? Thick jaw? Probably male. Looks like a teenager, but bigger? Probably female (neotenous means childlike, more or less. Smooth skull).

        Just noticed above: Mayor’s book I *think* I’ve read, but all I remember offhand were a heavy emphasis on the myths, the tattoos, horses, cannabis, and the Latin references. If she’s got the evidence already in the bones, that solidifies it in my book- if the bones tell the tale, they were indeed warriors. I’ll have to hunt that up at the library sometime to see.

        1. The biggest argument for historical women warriors is the near contemporaneous accounts. Especially with Norse Shieldmaidens. There are the accounts of Saxo Grammaticus and the Irish Sagas about Brian Boru’s war with the foreigners and the . Although these were written a couple of hundred years after the battles they would have been transcribed versions of the oral traditions. Oral traditions can be altered and embellished and that probably did occur but that kernel of the story had to start somewhere other than a drunken bard’s imaginings about his wife and a skillet.

          1. I think the key thing there to pay attention to is that whole “near contemporaneous” thing. People tell tales, and a biggie is “you guys are such wussies, our women can beat your ass…”.

            Find me a case where there are mass graves filled with significant numbers of female skeletal remains, from when they were tipped in after being stripped of armor and weapons after a battle, and then show me that the remains show signs of there being significant time spent by their owners doing heavy military training or practice. We’ve excavated a metric spit-load of those things, and so far as I’ve heard, there haven’t been any such feminine skeletal remains found, or documented.

            This leads me to the conclusion that such skeletons were so vanishingly rare as to be likely to be singled out for special treatment when still covered in flesh, or that they didn’t exist in the first place. Either way–No warrior maids. If they existed, I think we’d have found evidence in the grave mounds, where they would have been buried.

            Unless, of course, one wants to take the position that they were so bad-ass that they didn’t get killed in any battles they participated in, ever… Which, again, I’m not buying.

        2. Those children were actual warriors. Children of seven to nine can be just as effective swordsmen and commanders as a man of twenty six. The adult conspiracy to keep fun stuff from children has systemically concealed this, for fear of the power children might otherwise exercise.

      4. Well, and take into account the fact that weapons, armor, etc were considered part of a household’s wealth. So there’s nothing to say that a relatively wealthy woman *wouldn’t* have these things as part of her burial goods, even if she herself did not use them. It indicated she was wealthy enough to provide these things to her warriors.

      5. Would it be possible to tell life-long bow use for normal hunting from that for war? Because that would be done by women who were out getting other food, too….

        1. Depends on the bow. If you’re talking small game, you don’t need or want a heavier draw. Bigger game, bigger bow. Something man-sized (full sized whitetail, forex) would take a heavier bow, but doesn’t need to be too big. 50lb, as a WAG, could be less with a well placed, close shot. You’d still have to run it down, though.

          War bows tend to be heavier still. You want to kill a man from as far away as possible, you need a bigger bow. English longbows could be 80, 90lb draw weight. Some recurves (Mongolian, I am thinking? Horn bows?) ran up to 130lb and more. That’s some serious power, and would definitely show up in skeletal muscle markings.

          The archer from the Mary Rose Kirk mentioned? That was at least a 90 lb bow, at a guess.

          When you see that kind of weapon and/or that much skeletal evidence, the person did a lot of shooting and was probably hunting something large enough to require that kind of power… or was hunting man. Put together enough evidence, physical skeletal remains, grave goods, and historical record, it becomes pretty likely that individual was an archer.

          1. Why would they use different bows for hunting vs fighting? BEFORE there’s a dedicated military, rather than people who do other stuff but also fight?

            With food, you want to kill it– but with a fight, you just want to disable it. Bonus if he’s laying there either screaming, or taking his friends’ attention off of you.
            If you can shoot well enough to kill a bird, rabbit or other small prey, you can probably blind a man, or otherwise disable him enough that you could finish him with a blade.

            1. At a guess I suspect the difference would be accounted for by the scarcity of game animals wearing boiled-hardened leather, chain mail or armor plate.

              Probably engaged at closer range, as well.

              1. Hard to put boiled leather over your face. By the time plate helms came around, I really hope we’d be able to find decent records instead of trying to look at the bones.

                I know the English assumed that everybody would march out all neat and orderly to meet for battle, but isn’t that a rather historically new idea?

                1. True, but historically archers started shooting at extreme ranges, more suppressive fire and actual aimed fire. When hunting, aim is very important, you know the saw about how a properly placed shot will get you a lot more game, than blazing away with the newest Ultramag. War was a different proposition. They started shooting as soon as they could lob arrows into range of the enemy, the stronger the bow, the farther you could lob arrows, certainly much farther than you could do so accurately. An extremely strong bow, at the limits of your strength is much less accurate than a lighter bow that you can hold at full draw easily for a few moments and take steady aim. But an inaccurate arrow that reaches your target, or has the momentum to punch through your targets armor when it gets there, is more effective than one that can’t reach the enemy, or that you must hit the enemy in his unprotected face or arm, rather than the much larger torso. Remember the enemy is shooting back, which makes aiming a much more Interesting proposition. And if you are using a lighter but more accurate bow, with a corresponding shorter ranger, an intelligent enemy is going to bring Lots of arrows, and stay out of your range, while raining multitudes of inaccurate, but still deadly arrows down on you. So you’d best use a weapon that will match his range.

                  1. “True, but historically archers started shooting at extreme ranges, more suppressive fire and actual aimed fire.”

                    Than, actual aimed fire, not and.

          2. They had a set of bows from the Mary Rose survive as well. the pull on at least some of them I recall was substantially over 100lbs (I want to say 120 but I hesitate since I can’t lay my hands, currently, on a source other than wikipedia. The Cautiously To Be Cited (TM) Wiki puts the pull between 100lbs and 185 varrying by bow. Length was also ~6-7ft long. This all being English Longbows.)

          3. I’ve read accounts that longbows ran up to 150lbs draw. They saw no other way to explain the massive skeletal deformity of some soldiers.

            I have seen a youtube video of a guy shooting a 217lb draw longbow. After hurting my arm falling a couple of years ago, I have enough trouble with 35lbs.

            1. I shoot an 80 lb compound and compounds are much more forgiving than recurves, which are more forgiving than longbows. Now I used to shoot that bow with fingers (no mechanical release) up until a couple of years ago. Even with wearing a leather glove, when I started practicing with it much, my ring finger and sometimes my middle and pinky fingers would go numb from nerves being pinched by the string when drawing that much pull. And if I continued to practice regularly for a long period, they would stay numb, and continue to be numb for three weeks to a month after I quit practicing.

              Realize that I was shooting a much more forgiving bow, at a lighter draw weight, and my practice consisted of shooting an average of about twenty arrows a night, a month or two a year. They practiced year round, shooting many more arrows per day, with much stronger, and harsher bows.

  6. c4c

    Also, on the forced-into-celibacy front: look at the convents in Venice during the Renaissance. Because of some truly stupid cultural traditions that led to men pretty much never, ever marrying (if I recall right, it was a rule that they couldn’t marry out of their class, and the bride *had* to have a ginormous dowry. But nearly all the nobility were broke, so…) there were a ton of ‘spare’ upper-class women. So their families dumped them into convents. They didn’t want to be there. They weren’t happy about it. And so the convents of Venice got a certain ‘reputation’, so to speak, as party-houses…The Church would periodically try to crack down on them, take away the luxuries, ban the boyfriends, etc, but it generally didn’t stick. I’m sure there were plenty of young men (that second-or-third son) who got shoved into a monastery when they didn’t want to. And no doubt there were firstborn sons, or valuable daughters, who had an actual calling and *wanted* to enter that life, but were not allowed to because their family required them in the position of heir, valuable marriage alliance, or both.

    Basically, the lesson to take away from that is: nowadays, nearly anyone of any class can–to a point, but a point much further than it ever has been in history–do whatever they like. They’re not likely to die of starvation/exposure, nor are they likely to be cut off from society so completely that the above will occur. At least, in the developed (mostly Western) countries, this is possible as it never has been in history. All the screaming about ‘oppression’…they have no idea. They should stop whinging and count their blessings…

    1. “And no doubt there were firstborn sons, or valuable daughters, who had an actual calling and *wanted* to enter that life”

      Those are among the better documented ones because some of them managed it. Like Clare of Assisi eloping to become a nun.

      And then there are the ones where the family’s circumstances changed, and the nun or monk was taken — sometimes abducted — from the convent or monastery. In the sphere of the Moon, the sphere of oathbreakers, in The Divine Comedy, Dante meets women who were thus abducting into marriage. (He complains to Beatrice that they were forced; Beatrice mildly points out that they weren’t always forced. Force only counts as absolution if it is never removed, or if, as soon as it is removed, you rush to do what you had vowed to do earlier.)

      1. You could do it legally if your other kids died, by asking for permission to marry from the pope, which was trivially granted. One of the kings of Portugal — a cardinal — died waiting for permission.

    2. What drives me nuts about the myth of the happy matriarchy and the evil males who destroyed it is that it sets up an adversarial situation between men and women, one that makes no sense. My husband and kids are ON MY SIDE, for heaven’s sake.

      1. That’s likely more due to unhappy women in unhappy marriages creating their own mythology about how they could be happier in the past.

      2. Projection.

        Talks-With-Plants as the extreme end. She maintains that women have no independent thoughts, they’ve all been colonized by men (and aren’t to blame) except for that handful of women that totally agrees with her. Since she wants all women to have no thoughts independent of her, she projects it onto men.

        1. Talks-With-Plants? My Google-fu is weak today; I can’t find a blessed thing. Would you have a link or two?

            1. Oy… okay, so apparently she’s in favour of the human race dying out, too. If PIV is always rape, and pregnancy is this horrific thing, how is the next generation, to whom she can pass her (gag) ‘wisdom’, supposed to come into being?

              My brain hurts.

              1. Apparently she believes that there’s some magical way that women can have children without men.

                1. There is parthenogenesis, but there are no documented cases of this occurring in humans.

                  Just one anecdotal case from about two thousand years ago.

                  1. And those who (like me) believe that that case really happened, are also unanimous in the belief that it was: 1) impossible without the intervention of supernatural forces outside the natural realm, and 2) a one-off event that won’t ever happen again.

                    So even given that one example, her “women could get along fine without men” thing is still equivalent to wishing for the end of the human race.

                    1. Since there were only three Star Wars films ever made, I’m really not sure what you’re talking about. 🙂

                  1. As I understood her: Until parthenogenesis is properly developed and/or cloning becomes a viable option men will be maintained, but segregated from the general populace and each other. To justify their upkeep they will be employed in brute manual labor as befitting their being.

                    She is a not a happy person.

                    1. Dangerous brute manual labor. In her “Utopia” essay I liked below, she explicitly cites cleaning up nuclear power plants as one of the tasks.

                    2. Preserving men as sperm donors and utilizing them to clean up nuclear power plants?

                      That’ll produce interesting results.

                    3. …cleaning up nuclear power plants…

                      So she’s also clearly never been in any nuclear power plants. A cleaner industrial workplace is not possible for me to imagine.

                    4. Not the kind of plants she talks with.

                      Everything she knows about nuclear power plants she learned from The China Syndrome … and she fled in tears halfway through that.

                1. Cereal Rapists?

                  I recall reports of Portnoy doing the family dinner (liver, I believe) but I cannot imagine a man so depraved as to violate a bowl of Wheaties! (We ain’t sayin’ nuttin ’bout Shredded Wheat. Wasn’t there, can’t nobody prove a thing.)

          1. Talks-With-Plants is a nickname we gave her here after I poked about on her blogs and reported that the link Sarah just gave you is not her craziest idea: she is certain that she knows women who can talk to plants and learn what sort of properties they have.

      3. Indeed. Normally, the family is a social unit allied against threats from outside, and working together to produce economic success. A family in which the males and females hate one another is pretty dysfunctional!

        1. No kidding. Just look at the Plantaganets…Or the Tudors and the Yorks. Granted, taht wasn’t just males-hating-females and vice-versa, but it seems like some of bloodiest spats in history resulted from families falling into complete dysfunction.

          1. But as a result we did get the movie Lion in Winter with Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn verbally sparring.

    3. Or the tradition that the youngest daughter must remain a spinster to care for her aging mother that served the basis of the novel Like Water for Chocolate and is supposedly a Mexican tradition among wealthier families.

      I say supposedly because I have no evidence beyond the author and her reviewers but it seems plausible as it spares the family one dowery and covers the retirement benefits children have historically provided.

      1. Madeleine L’Engle reported that her neighbors expected her to move back in to take care of her widowed mother after she graduated college. Note that she wasn’t born very late, so we are discussing a woman in her forties (who did not, incidentally, agree with the neighbors).

          1. Her sisters’ family, in my experience. We had a “spinster” aunt when I was knee high to a grasshopper. We called her “Ma’am” as a given name. She stayed with my great-great grandmother till she died, then was took in by her sisters’ family and lived like a second grandmother to the kids for the rest of her life.

            It was normal to have three generations in a house at a time. Or have the smaller grandparents’ home (mostly one room plus a bathroom, smaller than the average garage these days. you can still find them in the South if you know where to look) on the property, if you were rich. Some of the kids moved out on their own, and the oldest got the lions’ share of the property, the youngest got the parents, with some variations, but this was tradition.

            As youngest in my family, I’m still expected to take on my folks rather than shove them into some vile nursing home like *other* folks due (and dire predictions upon my future should I fail to care for the old folks in their dotage!).

            It doesn’t work that way for the “confirmed bachelors” like my Uncle Buzz. He’s never married, never been interested as far as we can tell either, but he’s the reliable one on that side of the family who still shows up whenever help’s needed. When he gets old, who knows? Maybe the cousins will take him in, but one hopes his next closest kin (sister) doesn’t take out all the teasing he’s done to her over the years on him when he’s old, but with the state of technology and medical care these days, he’ll probably be just fine on his own. *grin* Stubborn old cuss he is.

              1. ‘Salright, since great-grandads six boys and two girls, the kids made up for that. I have something on the order of eleven first cousins (ten female) and forty-some-odd other relations my age… over two thirds female. I tend to make assumptions the other way.

            1. When you hear “homeless” statistics, remember that they include people living with other members of their family. Michael Flynn has aimed a few jabs that way because he was “homeless” for the first years of his life — that is, his parents and him and the others lived with his maternal grandparents.

                1. They count you as homeless if you are living with family, or friends, instead of in a home of your own. (Not counting minor children.)

                  Similarly, the last phone survey I answered classified me as a ‘single mother’ and my husband and I as ‘separated’ because he was on a deployment. Yes, they did mean in the marital status sense. I asked. And then I hung up the phone, because my time is too valuable to give it up for totally misleading BS.

            2. It was so common in the 19th century that in Great Britain, church leaders fought tooth-and-nail against the repeal of the prohibition on marrying your dead wife’s sister. Also your dead husband’s brother — but it was the sister they were worried about, they wanted to keep a sexual taboo between the single sister and the master of the house.

              1. That is interesting since I know of at least two incidents in my own family history where the widower married the sister-in-law. In some ways in kind of makes sense. Since a wife would have been needed to run the large household and family remarriage was a necessity and the deceased’s family would be worried about another woman coming in, and if a widow having her own children, and supplanting their progeny’s offspring positions in the family. Yes that evil step mother story was alive and well even then. So it makes sense that the best caretaker for the children would be the aunt.

                There is also the pair of brothers that courted and married the twin daughters of their father’s business partner.

                1. Evil stepparents are a fact. To this day, a stepchild is far more likely to be abused than the parent’s child.

                  1. I’ve seen one bit of research that attributes at least some of that to battered woman syndrome – they lose one abusive bastard, and acquire another one.

                    (And, yes, it is most commonly an abusive stepfather – at least for physical abuse.)

                    1. That’s probably because nowadays the child is much more likely to be resident with the stepfather than the stepmother.

                  1. It is required in some situations and prohibited in others in the Bible. It was forbidden in the Middle Ages by the Church; Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon needed a dispensation for that reason. Naturally, after he claimed to have annulled his marriage, it stuck for a long, long, long time.

      2. I’ve seen several examples in my genealogy research. Sometimes it is the spinster daughter who then marries in her 40s after parents die, but usually the youngest child and his/her family take Mom and Dad in until they die.

  7. There are two basic world views of human behavior that are the root of the issue.
    One group, believe that humans are imperfect and imperfectible. While our society and civilization can support us in wonderful fashion, there is always the underlying bestial desires that have some influence on individual’s actions. The best society is one which uses its wealth and power to minimize the bestial influences and tries to maintain a fair and uniform code of conduct. It additionally creates forms of Government that are aware of the imperfectibility of individuals and provides checks and balances to abuse.
    The other group believes humans are imperfect due to environmental/social reasons and ultimately are perfectible. Kind of like Lennon singing ‘Imagine’. If the glorious ‘world living as one’ is possible, then *something* must be keeping us from attaining this nirvana, this heaven-on-earth. What is that something? Why the evil white man of course! These people vainly search the past for examples of wonderful societies that had to be better than the patriarchy. Since the patriarchy is so bad, there had to have been something better in the past.
    Let us call the first group ‘Realists’ and the second group ‘Progressives’. As long as Progressives believe humans are perfectible, then their nostrums will always fail, and since they can not acknowledge the failure is inherent in their being, they will grasp at anything else to blame.

    1. “The best society is one which uses its wealth and power to minimize the bestial influences…”

      I would clarify that to say that the best society recognizes these influences in all men, and channels them appropriately. There is a time and place for violence in such a society- protecting the weak and innocent, for one. Those who seek power are allowed to do so, but with strict limits (in theory) on what power they can hold, how long they may hold it, and what powers are levied against them should they overstep their bounds.

      The Perfectible folks think that they can eliminate such things as psychopathic tendencies, avarice (I find this one *very* ironic), and apathy with surgery/drugs, increasingly strict regulations/laws, and government programs. The Imperfectibles realize that the carrot and stick work, and work well when you apply them intelligently.

      1. I like the concept of police domestically and army foreign soils. If for nothing else, they are a check and balance against the other. Psychopaths and Progressives grow both domestically and internationally, so we must maintain vigilance. You know, things like secure borders.

        1. Not according to what we have of the Great Author’s plans, at least according to my preferred faith tradition. I get the sense that the Writer in the Sky is more of a polisher and light editor than into wholesale “scrap and start over,” at least after that one major revision early on in the series . . .

        2. Not really. The Maker swaps all the parts of you that you hate–and probably a few of the parts that you love–for stuff that you’ll like even better.
          The Progressives take everything you love, and replace it with everything you hate. .

  8. In a minor scale we often see this tendency at play in kids, where there is a tendency to idealize other kids’ families based on the limited exposure acquired while visiting or playing with them. While we grasp our own families’ internal dynamics entirely too well we fail to project that knowledge accurately when interpreting other families.

    1. This is where I was supposed to post this:

      There is a corollary to this. The assumption that all families function the same.

      Example: Take a couple — In the household she grew up in every evening, while she and her mother did the dishes, her father took out the kitchen garbage. In the household he grew up in if it had to do with the kitchen it was his mother and sister’s territory alone. They get married and neither one thinks to discuss what is so obvious to them. Each waited for the other to take out the garbage. That is until one of them ran out of patience.

      1. Cross-cultural marriages are the worst for this: One member is expecting a certain set of signals, and the other is offering signals that they think are appropriate to the first member, but they aren’t recognizing them…

        I grew up in that sort of environment. Stepfather was from rural Slovenia, and his expectations were that if my mom, white-bread American, were seriously in opposition to something he was doing or proposing, then…There. Would. Be. Drama. Flung frying-pans, broken crockery, and the lot. My mom? She expected refined dialectic, and polite discussion would take place, and if her reasoning didn’t prevail, so be it. But, the reasoned discussion never took place, ‘cos my stepdad wasn’t wired for that…

        To a degree, I think he was very unhappy in an unconscious way that his wife wasn’t displaying the signs he was hard-wired to expect, that she really loved him. After all, if she really cared, she’d be demonstrating that fact by beating him about the head and upper body, no? Mere discussion? That’s a sign of her not caring…

        That’s what he was used to, where he came from, although I’d hesitate to spread that generalization across the entire Slovenian nation–I think his family background was kinda dysfunctional, even for there.

        You marry, you’d better communicate. Even within the same culture, different styles of “family” exist, and you’ll have issues based on made assumptions that simply “aren’t so…” for that particular partner.

        1. Doesn’t have to be that cross-cultural. My parent-in-laws communicated at really high decibel levels quite often. The first time my then girlfriend now wife tried that with me I waited until she was done, and then told her her when she was ready to talk about something, we could talk, and that I hadn’t heard a word she said. I really hadn’t- I turn off when people start screaming instead of communicating. I had to change a little too, but methinks that was the biggest change either of us made.

          1. My sister had problems early in her marriage because her husband “shouted” when something was wrong and our parents weren’t shouters (unless we did something terribly wrong).

            Mind you, things got worked out as they’ve been happily for some time now.

            Note, I’m positive that our parents disagreed. They just discussed things quietly in another room (especially if me or Ruth made a request that one of our parents might not like).

          2. My husband and I had to go through that shake-out, too– he had to realize that working to get me to be quieter was a really bad idea, and I had to realize that his…I’ll call it ‘dodging’ even though that’s totally the wrong sense… was a matter of self control.

            Now he can pretty reliably recognize my “blowing off steam” yelling, and I can pretty reliably recognize his “I am avoiding it because I need space” thing.

            1. I had to realize that his…I’ll call it ‘dodging’ even though that’s totally the wrong sense… was a matter of self control.

              I translate this strategy as, ‘I need to take a bit of time to settle my own thoughts on this matter before I shoot myself in the foot, or far worse, and make things worse than ever for something that does not warrant it.’

        2. You marry, you’d better communicate.

          Heh. Basic tactics–shoot, move, and communicate. Slightly higher level: The four leadership factors are the situation, the leader, the led, and communication with the latter factor often cited as the most important.

          I’ll leave it as an exercise to the interest reader to dig up sources from movies to your choice of Scripture. (Will Smith comes to mind for one.)

          I still need to communicate with my spouse better.

  9. I agree on the whole, but want to point out that the tendency to rework history to order is hardly new. The Victorian British had a veneration for the Romans that the facts hardly supported. And generations of ‘intellectuals’ have tried to make one behavior or another respectable by attributing it to various Native American cultures.

    I’m less clear on the intellectual fads of eras before about 1800, but it would not surprise me to learn that the Summerians wove similar fantasies.

    It seems to be normal.

      1. That’s just silly — it is well established that feminists don’t think men have class. Perhaps you meant “men ‘as a crass’“?

  10. The corollary is that lies enslave you. They make the perfect the enemy of the good, and in making current day people long for a past that never was, turn them into the dupes and followers of totalitarians and power seekers.

    The Germans of the 1920s and 30s were rallied around stories of the Teutonic knights.

    The Americans were taught the story of George Washington and a cherry tree. (Mind you there are plenty of documented incidents in which Washington approached the mythic.)

    Myths of past golden ages have been successfully used to manipulate populations before, and therefore it should not surprise us that it would be tried again. People embrace the stories that make them feel hopeful, that catch their imagination and inspire them. This is why most of us here embrace Human Wave, we believe in liberty and in the individual. Unfortunately those who accept the narrative that Western culture and Capitalism are bereft of any promise are not easily going to accept Human Wave because it will not resonate in their minds.

    1. The irony is that it’s been tested in the lab: telling the kids the story of the cherry tree makes them less likely to lie. (As opposed to “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, which is anything made them more likely.)

      Of course, that’s independent of whether the kids were American, and whether it was about George Washington or some neutral boy, so it can be trimmed of the lying aspect.

      1. There is a reason parables are and have been such an effective teaching tool through the ages. After all, humans are wired to respond to stories better than anything else…

  11. I saw that article.And opened up the other article on the most racially diverse countries, and saw that most of Africa was more racially diverse and less racially tolerant. WTF? So I opened up the CIA factbook, then posted the following on facebook::
    **** Read this first link, and saw the Central African Republic is not as racially tolerant as the U.S. Odd, I thought. So, I went to this link: and saw the CAR was much more ethnically diverse then the U.S. ???? So, I went to the CIA Factbook. The CAR is Baya 33%, Banda 27%, Mandjia 13%, Sara 10%, Mboum 7%, M’Baka 4%, Yakoma 4%, other 2%. So I googled images of all of them. Maybe they can tell each apart. I can’t.
    Those are all tribes, not races. CIA factbook listed the following for non-diverse France: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities. No percentages. But the Celtic, Latin, Teutonic, Slavic and Basque are all white, so they’re not diverse. Clicking from one map to the other and then referencing the CIA factbook for ethnic background is a lesson in liberal thought. All whites are alike and not diverse, all other ethnic groups tribes and divisions are diverse.

    1. Race is not a really well defined concept in any sense. There are multiple biological, cultural, legal, etc. concepts of race that conflict with each other. It may be worse than the concept “species” in this respect. Moreover, “race” has often been used to mean a population group with a sense of identity, especially if they’ve got a nation of their own. For example, speaking of the French and German races. The various groups in the Balkans and Eastern Europe were separate races under such interpretation: Croats, Serbs, Magyars, Germans, Poles, Romanians, Czechs, etc.

      1. Heh. When it comes to genetics, seems it’s possible one of the clearer genetic divides in Europe is between east and west Finland. Not that we notice it that much, at least recently. Funny accents in the east, though. And of course it’s clear mostly because in most ways Finns are a very homogeneous bunch which makes the few genetic differences between eastern and western populations stand out (I’m half Karelian and half Ostrabothnian, but since my parents spend more time with my father’s siblings than with my mother’s relatives I am more comfortable with the western version of being Finnish.) And as I have said before, still up to the beginnings of 20th century Finns were classified as not quite white, and as descended from mongols, partly because language, but the fact that you get somewhat Asian looking Finns (like my mother) occasionally contributed.

        (this is rather interesting, at least to me:

        Keeping races as a concept definitely makes sense in some ways, like as a shorthand to describe looks (makes a lot less time to start by saying somebody looks African or white or Asian, or some subgroup of those, than go the whole litany with brown/white skin etc) and when it comes to diagnosing diseases which are more typical for some groups than others, like sickle-cell disease with African genetic inheritance. In several other ways they are pretty meaningless.

                    1. I thought that the Swedish Chef came to the U.S. because, as was too much of one of a kind, he belong here and not there. Kinda like someone else we know and love here.

          1. Provided without comment, as I seemed to have misplaced my funny bone. I just set it down a moment ago.

    2. Ah, but only if the current day, Western definition of race is used. It wasn’t that long ago that much finer distinctions were used in the United States. Like white, black, Slav, Italian. . . .

        1. Ah, yes, that. CIA Factbook United Kingdom: white 87.2%, black/African/Caribbean/black British 3%, Asian/Asian British: Indian 2.3%, Asian/Asian British: Pakistani 1.9%, mixed 2%, other 3.7%

          That 87.2% white is English, Scotch, Welsh, and Irish, amongst a few others And the diversity map has the UK as being amongst the most ethnically homogeneous.

        2. IMO the origins of “race” are “tribes”. Your “race” was the tribe you belonged in. Other “races” were members of other tribes. An outsider might not see much difference between Tribe A and Tribe B but Tribes A & B would know the differences.

    3. I thought it was pretty suspicious about Africa being highly ethically diverse. I just didn’t go check into it.

    4. Maybe they can tell each apart. I can’t.

      I use to not be able to tell Chinese from Japanese from Korean; now I can’t understand how it wasn’t as obvious as German from Irish from Italian. (arch typically– and we don’t have as bloody of a division between tribes, either)

        1. If they’re archetypal, yes. This happens less as groups marry out, although you’ll still end up with people who are very obviously showing this or that ancestry.

          Talk to some older Europeans for good examples, although it can be hard to find one that will discuss it; one little old English lady in my mom’s home town had accuracy of about 90% on guessing where someone’s surname would be from, in situations where she couldn’t have possibly known.

  12. many devotees of Cybele were male (at least until they ceased being males)

    Where was the “research may cause phantom pains” trigger warning on that one. 🙂

    1. But if Tom and Scott are attracted to one another, presumably that attraction would remain after the surgeries, so aren’t you just replacing a pair of gay males with a pair of trans-sexual lesbians? Or do you only perform surgery on one of them? How do you choose?

      1. I’m not sure if you’re serious or not. That said I don’t know the exact thinking but I figure the logic works something like this:

        Tom and Scott are attracted to each other because they are attracted to me. Is it not normal for men to be attracted to men but to be attracted to women. Women are, likewise, attracted to men. Clearly, Tom and Scott are not men but women based on their attractions (interesting aside in that it would seem under this logic the Iranian regime is actually more open to the idea of transgenderism than homosexuality). By correcting their physical deformations, a male appearance, we match their attractions to their bodies.

        Now that Tom and Scott, who are attracted to men, are women their attraction to each other will be broken. They will move on from their homosexual relationship to form natural relationships with men as women.

        Again, an interesting point where we move into a more traditional, pre-romantic love view of sex as separate from friendship elements. In fact, you could argue the loads put on romantic relationships in the modern West, lover and closest companion, are generally fulfilled by two persons of different sex (opposite sex for lover, same sex for companion) in traditional cultures and even Western culture well into the 20th century (although Westerns have been moving away from this model for at least 300 years). In fact, failing to recognize this pattern is, I believe, behind a lot of the “famous person was gay because of their friendship with someone” confusing the companion role with lover.

        Now, are the Iranians right if my above speculation maps their thinking within margin of error? As modern Westerns most of us would say no. However, it does highlight some issues, historical and current, in modern Western thinking about sex and sexual orientation.

        Homosexuality and various trans-isms (mostly transvestites) have been strongly associated even in Western culture. As recently as the late 70s the idea that one member of a gay couple could get a sex change and they would become a normal couple was a plot point in a TV series, Soap (admittedly played for laughs).

        Also, it makes us look at the conflict between “gender is a construct” and the existence of transgendered individuals (and their lived experiences). Here it is less the surgery than the reported experience that changing hormone balances creates on thoughts and emotions. If gender is merely a construct why do the transgendered report movement of thoughts and emotions during hormone therapy.

  13. The standard idea of modern marriage — a man and a woman meet, fall in love, marry, have children, and are together until one of them dies is only a century or two old. At least the “fall in love” part is. For most of human history, marriage was utilitarian for all social classes. Making a good match was more important than love.
    For all social classes, marriage was primarily about obligations. The idea of courtly love seems to have been invented in the high middle ages. If you were male or female, it was impossible to actually love your spouse, because of the obligations of marriage. Love had to be freely given and received.
    One story concerning Medieval ideas of love and marriage:
    A lord wanted to divorce his lady. She was having an affair. The lady protested that she had to find a lover because the lord would not visit their marriage bed. A religious court decided that the lord could not get a divorce, and more or less ordered him to have sex with his wife.

    1. “A religious court decided that the lord could not get a divorce, and more or less ordered him to have sex with his wife.”

      Those “evil” Puritans thought that way. A man had the Duty of giving his wife sex. Mind you, this was handled by social pressure more than by religious/secular law. Members of his community (including men) would after him for neglecting his wife.

      1. Heh, Jewish law dictates that sex is the woman’s right, not the man’s, with minimum enforceable frequencies based on the man’s job. A sailor or traveling merchant/tradesman could get away with rarely having sex because it was assumed he was frequently away from home.

        A rabbi, on the other hand…

        1. In Mongol culture, it was up to the *woman* to initiate sex, and men were expected to be sexually shy. The attitude that women were the ones in charge of sex was one of the reasons for women frequently being at least a couple of years (and sometimes many years) older than their husbands.

        2. The marriage debt is both sexes’ right in Christianity. After all, it’s better to marry than to burn, and either sex could burn.

    2. One notes that within a century of the invention of courtly love, the chivalric romances were switching from the adulteries of Lancelot and Tristan to tales where the hero and heroine could and did marry in the end.

      And in the very first writings about courtly love, they argue at such prolonged length against the notion one could love one’s spouse that it is obvious that many people thought they could.

      1. I wonder how courtly love could last in an era when there was no birth control? I presume that the object of courtly love was sex, and I believe that any sex that could not lead to children was called sodomy and was a serious sin and act of wickedness.

        1. Often “courtly love” was more about the man doing tasks to “prove his love” than actually having sex.

          1. And thus it passed on from Candlemass until after Easter, that the month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in like wise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May, in something to constrain him to some manner of thing more in that month than in any other month, for divers causes. For then all herbs and trees renew a man and woman, and likewise lovers call again to their mind old gentleness and old service, and many kind deeds that were forgotten by negligence. For like as winter rasure doth alway arase and deface green summer, so fareth it by unstable love in man and woman. For in many persons there is no stability; for we may see all day, for a little blast of winter’s rasure, anon we shall deface and lay apart true love for little or nought, that cost much thing; this is no wisdom nor stability, but it is feebleness of nature and great disworship, whosomever useth this. Therefore, like as May month flowereth and flourisheth in many gardens, so in like wise let every man of worship flourish his heart in this world, first unto God, and next unto the joy of them that he promised his faith unto; for there was never worshipful man or worshipful woman, but they loved one better than another; and worship in arms may never be foiled, but first reserve the honour to God, and secondly the quarrel must come of thy lady: and such love I call virtuous love.

            But nowadays men can not love seven night but they must have all their desires: that love may not endure by reason; for where they be soon accorded and hasty heat, soon it cooleth. Right so fareth love nowadays, soon hot soon cold: this is no stability. But the old love was not so; men and women could love together seven years, and no licours lusts were between them, and then was love, truth, and faithfulness: and lo, in like wise was used love in King Arthur’s days. Wherefore I liken love nowadays unto summer and winter; for like as the one is hot and the other cold, so fareth love nowadays; therefore all ye that be lovers call unto your remembrance the month of May, like as did Queen Guenever, for whom I make here a little mention, that while she lived she was a true lover, and therefore she had a good end.”

            ― Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table

            Emphasis mine.

          1. But . . . then why bother? Why couldn’t two men, or an adult and a child engage in courtly love?
            I remember that some Medieval philosopher (maybe Thos. Aqunas?) wrote that there must have been sex in Eden, because God created Eve to be a helper for Adam, and if God didn’t intend Adam and Eve to have sex, he would have created another man.

            1. Thomas Aquinas held that sex was intended to occur regardless of whether we were fallen because that would be why they were created male and female. Whether it happened before the Fall is another matter — IIRC.

              1. Mormon doctrine is that sex had nothing to do with the Fall at all, but rather the fact that Adam and Eve were given two diametrically opposed Commandments: go forth and multiply, and don’t eat the fruit of that tree. Our belief is that, in the Garden, they couldn’t actually have children at that point, and that in order to fulfill one commandment, they had to break the other (and thus provide a need for a Savior, which was the point of the whole exercise). The Mormon belief is that what Adam and Eve did was a transgression, which isn’t quite the same thing as a sin. 🙂

            2. It was tied in with the Virgin Mary and a whole bunch of civilizational impulses. I learned about this when learning about the poetry of early medieval England. It’s more complex than it seems.

        2. It was targeted precisely for that reason. In The Treasure of the City of Ladies, Christine of Pisa gives a sample letter for a duenna to write to her charge about avoiding courtly love, and one reason was the great peril that her children might be thought bastards. Witness how in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain is subjected to a test of chastity; it was important that a knight not contribute to the perception that the queen’s children were not the king’s. (Notice how neither La Belle Isolde or Guinevere had children.)

        3. I always gathered that the “purest” form of courtly love did not, in fact, involve sex at all….or at least, it wasn’t supposed to. 😉

    3. I was reading about Joanna of Naples, and it seems a court ordered something similar, but going in the other direction, for her grandparents. Grandmama wasn’t keen about not being allowed to join the Poor Claires, and built a wall of waiting women. Grandpa–who at that time needed heirs–went to the Pope, and the Pope went “Really? Knock it off.” to grandmama. She still wasn’t happy about it, and as soon as he had heirs she cut him off again. Other than that, though, they worked really well together and built a very powerful court.

  14. This is as good a post as I have seen about what “The Narrative” is. Progs truely believe that the Narrative controls reality rather than describing it. They believe this to the point where they believe that a fact is false because it contradicts the Narrative no matter how much proof of the fact there is. In this, they are not lying, they truely believe, however delusionally.

    1. Wellllll, the hazard of pagan Irish tribal culture was that most treaties and alliances (and even betrothals) were up for negotiation and renewal on a periodic basis, and were not necessarily permanent.

      Medieval Irish law tends to run to fines and compensation, partly because people also tended to think certain things were a good idea at the time.

  15. It’s interesting, when reading historical documents, to look at how the people of time period [x] imagined time period [y]; this often tells you more about the *imaginers* than it does about the reality of life in the *imagined*.