The Peacock Angel and the Place of Stories

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And in that Garden, where Adam and Even wandered dreaming, there was a peacock…

Wait, what?

In my deep dive for the origins of modern mankind, of modern civilization, of modern stories, I came across the bizarre idea that the Yazidis were devil worshipers. And then I realized they were self-declared Satanists.  Sort of.

Like you, perhaps, I only knew the Yazidis as victims of the Daesh-bags.  Their women were taken away and raped, and sold in slave markets for sex slaves, a portion of them were starved on top of a mountain.  The news reported them as “an ancient religion of fire-worshipers” and they’re not wrong.  But there’s more to it than that.

First and foremost, the Yazidis,whatever they are, are not angels of light and love.  You could have told that, duh, because they’re an ethnic group that has persisted very long in a deeply hostile religion, but they also have some of the bad habits we associate with Muslims (and which to an extent are the sins of desert peoples.)  In my deep dive into “what the heck, the Yazidis, really” I found reference to young women stoned to death for the crime of wanting to marry outside the tribe, so there’s that.

But other than that, which is not exactly a sin unknown to any human tribe, (though the west got over it a few centuries ago and we used to slam them in convents rather than kill them for centuries before that) I found nothing particularly heinous.  There were no baby sacrifices upon stone altars, while a being made entirely of flies buzzed a demand for more blood.

If we’re going to talk what we in the west would associate with devil-worship, we’re more likely to fasten on Inca Aztec (corrected after error pointed out by commenter.  Yeah, the Incas were no angels, but the Aztecs… man.  And sorry, too much blood in my caffeine stream this morning.) ceremonies (or even the “peaceful” Mayans or the ancient Celts than on the Yazidis.) Yes, the Muslims think they’re devil worshipers. But the Muslims also think that the Christian trinity includes the Virgin Mary.  Mahommed had comprehension problems (or perhaps got his ideas from small heretical sects long forgotten.  Or perhaps from some merchant who was neither Christian nor Jew) and Islam has some serious lapses in understanding Judaism or Christianity.  So we’re not obligated to believe what they do about the Yazidis.  Nor, frankly, do we have any reason to think they have any clue about it, though they’ve lived near the Yazidis for so long.

But then we come to that self-declared Satan worship…

….the group consider themselves to be the chosen people of Melek Taus, the “Peacock Angel,” who they also know as Shaitan, or Satan. In Yazidi tradition, this special relationship began when Shaitan visited their ancestor Adam in the garden of Eden, bearing forbidden fruit.

The Yazidis are an ancient rural people from the plain of Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization. Almost forgotten archaeological layers of belief still poke through the surface here, old echoes that stretch religious absolutes held sacred by Muslims, Christians and Jews alike into weird, unsettling shapes.

The parallels between the Peacock Angel and the Satan we’re more familiar with can be baffling—Melek Taus is God’s most important angel, his commander-in-chief in this world, which was also his original role in the Abrahamic traditions. He’s also a fallen angel who rebelled against God and was subsequently cast into Hell; but in the Yazidi cosmology, after 40,000 years his tears quenched Hell’s flames and God forgave and reinstated him.

One of Melek Taus’ symbols is fire, and he can illuminate as well as burn. He’s responsible for granting mankind knowledge and free will, and in an intriguing twist on the familiar Garden of Eden story, he first initiates Adam with forbidden fruit: “[God] commanded Gabriel to escort Adam into Paradise, and to tell him that he could eat from all the trees, but not of wheat. Here Adam remained for a hundred years […] Melek Taus visited Adam and said, ‘Have you eaten of the grain?’ He answered, ‘No, God forbade me.’ Melek Taus replied and said, ‘Eat of the grain and all shall go better with thee.’”

First, if you’re like me and one of your main failings is a perverse sense of humor that last paragraph amused you mightily.  What if it were true?  What if the forbidden fruit, metaphorically speaking was wheat/agriculture/civilization?

It’s actually not that far off what I understand of current, orthodox (meaning the main one, not the Orthodox church) that the paradise was the time of our innocence, the animal state in which we could not sin because we did not think or plan.

And I do get that a lot of people — not me.  Sorry, not buying it.  It’s like the noble Vikings thing who are exactly like NYC professors.  I know fads when I see them — now think that the nomadic state of humanity was better, more egalitarian, less oppressive than agricultural society.

So of course, I grinned like a loon thinking of centuries/millennia of discussion on the apple symbolizing sex or science or–  And here all along, the evil was those golden strands that allowed us to grow and have cities and spread across the face of the world.

But should we take the Yazidis’ origin story as … well… gospel truth?

Why?

Sure, genetically they’re one of the oldest human groups.  Sure, they say and the article linked buys — rolls eyes — that they were there at the beginning at Gobleki Tepe, (if that was the beginning and not the debased state after the fall of the previous civilization.  I will hold out for more findings .)

People say all kinds of things.  And people buy all sorts of stories and incorporate them into their myths and into the “it has always been so.”

Looking for truth in the legends of mankind is even more slippery than looking for truth in human genetics.  You might as well use Napoleon’s Book of Dreams or Nostradamus as a way of interpreting the history of mankind and be done with it, it’s about as reliable.  Or perhaps you should sit quietly in your corner and wait the dawning of the age of Aquarius.

Legends and stories, the place from where humanity dreams, are one of my fascinations, as are the places where those meet, and the places where those diverge.

But every time we dig into a particular story or try to pin down particular details, we find it was borrowed from elsewhere, pre-figured elsewhere, or influenced by people who lived around.

So, yeah, the Yazidis worship the peacock angel, Melek Taus, though worship might be a faulty term.  It’s more like they try to keep him from getting too mad.

Did he have anything to do with paradise as Jews and Christians believe in it?  Or with the temptation in that primeval garden of the soul?

Unlikely.  Is it likely that the Yazidis lived at a religious crossroads, with Muslims and Christians and the various sects that lived only a short time, and didn’t imbibe any of the stories, adapt any of the stories? Borrow any of the symbology?

It’s not written, remember? These are stories granny tells and some grannies (mine, for instance) are novelists who never got around to writing things down, and instead made up elaborate stories, weaving them skillfully with the real world.  (It took me years to figure out the Parish Priest was not in fact a werewolf.)  And then, you know, kids absorb stories imperfectly and through their experience, things they’ve seen and other things that they heard.  For instance, it took me years to figure out my son thought I was the youngest of three, not the younger of two.  This is because my cousin, who was raised with us is called “Aunt.”  And she was raised with us, which means in the childhood stories I tell she figures as a sister.

The “they all steal from each other” Heinlein said of writers applies to all story tellers.  I suspect the Yazidis incorporated their own fire-idol into the cosmogony of their neighbors, however they could.

Someone else I was reading said that people who use birds and serpents as sacred symbols are always bad news and perhaps they’re right.  Except Christians use the holy dove as a symbol of the holy spirit, and the peacock as one of the symbols for the Christ.  (No serpents, though, as far as I know.)

And yes, the Yazidis say that the symbols at Gobleki Tepe are Melek Taus and his friends.  And perhaps they even believe it, but the only reason I would is if they’d said this and talked of creatures that resembled those symbols before Gobleki Tepe was excavated.

I might sound like I’m making the Yadizis out to be deceptive or confused.  I’m not.  They’re just human.  Every time you pursue this sort of mythical (in the sense of where myths live, not in the sense of false, though some obviously are) account down the rabbit hole, you come back with your teeth clenched on nothing.

Take Roots, the myth that American blacks fastened on to, the origin of “we were kings.”  There were so many problems with it that even when it came out as a mini-series, anyone half-educated in the history of Africa went “Wait what?” and the most kindly thing some of us could say was “well, maybe the author’s family history was highly atypical.”  But of course, it wasn’t family history.  It was fiction, based on a totally unsourced fiction book.  But it was what people wanted to believe, and you can never debunk it enough that people will stop believing it.

Or take the great lost matriarchy that makes up so much of the background of both feminism and New Age in the U.S. It’s nonsense, partly based on Marija Gimbutas’ willful misinterpretations of things like bull’s head as uteri. And partly on people wanting to believe and have something to base their dreams upon.  People want to believe that women are peaceful, and that “if women were in charge” everything would be peace and love.  Mostly because people want peace and love, and because they’ve come from another planet and never met any real women.  (What? I spent six years in an all-girls school.  Books positing a peaceful planet of “all women” get walled so hard they dent the brick. It’s not that we didn’t even have physical violence.  In an all-female environment, the strongest and biggest inevitably turn to male-style hooliganism.)

I have no idea why the Yazidis chose to identify themselves as the people of the tempter in the garden, except, well… they were living among Muslims for generations.  So many “we’re on the other side” made some sort of sense.

I don’t particularly credit it more than Arabs being descended of Esau Ishmael (Edit. Really high blood in caffeine stream).  Though that wheat thing is intriguing.  That wheat thing might relate back to something.

Every language has a “fall” built into it, and the assumption we came from on high to our present debased state.  This is explained by the idea that every generation thinks the world is in decline.  But it doesn’t satisfy.  Not quite.

Look, if that were the case, would Latin have that built in?  The Romans were the peacockiest of all races (but no angels) and convinced they were pinnacle of everything.  But their language betrays them.

Perhaps, if there was a higher civilization before, a higher state of being — let’s say that there was a civilization of agriculturalists before the pastoralists of Gobleki Tepe — and it fell in some horrible way.  Nuclear fire is not needed for the fall, though heaven help us, every “historian” who posits ancient civilizations is fascinated with it.  Their own myths of the seventies, their idea we’d all die by fire taints everything they see.  The black plague would suffice and be enough, and quite likely to start rounding the moment humans massed in cities, and take a humanity that wasn’t used to it.

Would that not get incorporated as a “fall”into the legends of long ago?  Before wheat we lived in a state of health and innocence, and then we had wheat and fell from grace.  Indulge not in the tempting agriculture…

The legend need not even have originated with the Yazidis, just was taken by them, at some point, to explain why they were “a people set apart.”

Look not for truth in the legends of mankind.  Not real truth.  We might be made of ape and angel, but we’re mostly made of story, story that weaves into our thoughts, our bodies, our beings, and becomes part of us and makes us who we are, and shapes our being and our choices.

We all steal from each other.  We all make up stuff.

But perhaps some attention needs to be paid to the stories we tell.  This modern myth that humans are always wrong and evil and must disappear is starting to manifest itself in a birth dearth, in young people with no purpose, in a civilizational suicide from which there is no return, not for thousands of years.

In the garden there was a serpent, and he whispered “Humans are uniquely bad. Eat of this fruit of emotional irrationality and you’ll go into the long night with no regrets.”

Do not listen.

Humans are evil compared to what? Who judges absolute evil, or absolute good?  Without us, what is absolute evil or absolute good?

Suicide is never the answer.  Not for a person, not for a civilization, not for a species.

Perhaps out there, in the starts, the good that we do is desperately needed.

Forget the peacock angel and build for the future, and the centuries yet unborn.

The children might believe all sorts of crazy things about themselves and us, but that’s all right, so long as we give them the tools to survive, to build and to go on.

Evil is the negation of the future, of hope, of creation. Evil is the voice that whispers “Kill yourself now and it will be better.”

In the beginning there was chaos, void without form.  We came from it.  We’re not going back.

 

 

 

169 responses to “The Peacock Angel and the Place of Stories

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Minor Nit, I go for the Aztecs as devil worshipers more than the Incas as devil worshipers. The Incas weren’t “angels” but the Aztecs were much worse than them.

    As for the Eden story, in one of my “not really written” Science Fiction universes, the Organian-like aliens are non-Fallen beings that could be mistaken for gods/angels.

    Of course, they don’t like being treated like gods/angels to the point of causing rain-storms in “churches” dedicated to worshiping them. 😈

  2. Humans are evil compared to what? Who judges absolute evil, or absolute good?

    Why, the Absolute Judge, of course! But the faith you and I share holds that He gave Man the potential for both good and evil. Given human history, that makes a lot more sense than any doe-eyed Pollyannaish humanity-worship or sneering, snarling blanket condemnation of our species.

    Apropos of which, note how the usual “Mankind is inherently evil” commentator exempts himself from that judgment.

    • Yes, but from the left there is no one to judge. They don’t believe in an ultimate judge, so the only answer is “Compared to what?”

      • Every time this comes up, I keep thinking about an interpretation I heard about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and ‘you will be as God.’ That the tree really invested mankind with the false idea that their opinions and will held as much objective moral weight as the Almighty’s.

        Hence why God comes down and finds them making clothes for themselves and is just like, “Who told you about this nudity stuff?”

        I’ve found that the really mean authoritarians tend to run towards “unbreakable,” unquestionable pronouncements that are clear as mud and written on air because they want to be able to amend, abrogate, and modify their ‘laws’ as their whims demand.

        Keep in mind that the ancient Hebrews considered the Ten Commandments a great gift. Why? Well, because their God gave them a terms and conditions sheet. Do these things, don’t do these things and we’re square.

        A lot of pagan deities you had to find out who was cheesed at you, for what, and how to deal with it, and their opinions and requirements tended to change frequently and impulsively.

        • Well, except in the Biblical version, God said “the man is become as one of us (us?!) to know good and evil”, (Gen 3:22) just before confirming the death sentence and ejecting Adam and Eve from paradise. (You want to know good and evil, do you? Have some of each.) Perhaps there’s more to this godhood business than just that.

        • I ran across someone today who asserted that thinking you knew absolute truth and the difference between good and evil was wrong, and cited Eden.

          He clearly regarded his assertion as absolutely true and good.

      • Well, yes and no…Their desire — one might call it a self-exaltation — is to be treated as the absolute judges of good and evil. According to standards they define, which they reserve the right to change without notice, and which they exempt themselves from for obvious reasons.

      • “Compared to what?”

        And then they try to shout you down if you make comparisons.

        I’m sorry, Proggies, but if one culture treats their women worse than they treat their animals (anyone ever heard of an Islamotwit throwing acid in the face of a camel? I didn’t think so) and the other is arguing over presumption of innocence and civil rights for accused rapists, I know which culturre is preferable….and if you don’t you are a moral imbecile.

      • Compared to their morally superior and enlightened selves, of course.

        • You mean, the ones who hid sexual abuse of their self-proclaimed lordlings, allowed without protest the reported on treatment of border violators by Obama (but now screech about Trump enforcing laws that were put in by Clinton and other previous presidents), allowed those children to be placed with human traffickers, regularly run interference for the pedophiles in their midst, and refuse to adhere to the law whenever it suits them?

          Those ‘morally superior and enlightened selves’?

          • It’s OK when it’s done by someone on their side.

            They “mean well.” You don’t, of course.

            /sigh

            • Uh huh. Yeah. I wonder how many of ’em let pedos take care of their kids – wait, actually, it’s not a surprise. The thing on Twitter yesterday was someone smearing a vet ICE agent (whose specific job is hunting pedophiles online) as a Nazi, based off his partially seen unit tattoo. It got so spread that Ron Perlman got all over that and helped it spread even more.

              Turns out the guy who did the initial smear is a pedophile who claims that watching child sex videos shouldn’t be a crime, and that *he* has only ever watched, never harmed a child … ‘yet.’

          • That’s Different

            • It always is with them.

              That’s a screenshot of the ‘Abolish ICE’ who was making allegations that an ICE agent is a Nazi – one who is specifically focused on child porn hunting.

              The best part is, even when presented with evidence that they’re wrong, the drooling idiots who are pro-illegals are saying ‘it doesn’t matter, he works for ICE, he imprisons children, he deserves everything.’ The “Abolish ICE” guy is doubling down as well. Naturally.

              These fools have no moral high ground, nor do they care for the children. Ever.

              if they really wanted to fix families, one of the priorities should have been to fix legal immigration, so that Americans are not separated from the family they’ve got stuck overseas, unable to immigrate, because these shitheads keep screaming how criminals need to be given priority over people who want to do things the right way.

      • Compared to the rest of the universe:

        This is explained by the idea that every generation thinks the world is in decline.

        Because it is: entropy.

        Humans are the only thing in all the universe that is stubbornly, creatively, and gloriously counter-entropic.

    • scott2harrison

      The Vodka Judge judges good and evil. It would explain some things tat are in the news lately.

  3. Margaret Ball

    Tell me how Latin has that built in?

    Not questioning the assertion, just want to know more. My Latin is more of the “fight through the word jungle with a Big Dictionary” variety. I don’t pick up subtleties.

    • Oh. Stuff like the word for “ancestors” has from high to low built in. I don’t REMEMBER details, I remember picking up the impression from Dad’s Latin (dad read me poetry in Latin, under the impression I’d acquire it through the toenails)and then when I studied it.

  4. I find the “grain” as forbidden fruit intriguing as well. Also– their myth has echoes of Prometheus.

  5. I thought it was Ishmael the Arabs claim descent from?

    • Yeah, with associated confusion over who went up the mountain with Abraham and wasn’t sacrificed. Jews and Christians go with it being Isaac. Muslims with ishmael.

      Ishmael in the Judeo-Christian aspect was the son born of Abraham and his servant girl Hagar, which is portrayed as a failing on Abraham’s part for distrusting that God would allow him to have issue with his wife. After Isaac comes along, Hagar and Ishmael are forced out by Abraham’s wife, but the bible makes a point of mentioning that as Abraham’s children, ishmael and his off spring are still under the deal God made with Abraham.

      Ishmael in the Muslim aspect is the first born son, who got screwed out of what he deserved. Although they interpret him as a prophet, and there was something about how God kept covering him with copper to prevent Abraham from sacrificing him, and he could make water sprout up, and built the ka’aba or something. I’m not one hundred percent on the details.

      It seems to prop up frequently in the Bible that Grandpa’s mistakes result in problems “today” though. Lot giving into despair, and getting drunk, which let his daughters take advantage of him to “repopulate the earth” after Sodom and Gomorrah go fried supposedly was the origin story for two more tribes who were enemies of the Israelites..

    • Jeesh. You’re correct. I really am low on caffeine.

  6. Seems to me that Victorian Britain/Europe and subsequently the USA up to about 1960 (ish – YMMV etc.) were convinced of their own superiority to the past and current. We lost that confidence in the 1960s

    • The Progressives lost in much earlier. They were convinced that they could build a perfect future, and nothing past or,present (aside from a few ‘pasts’ that were opium dreams) could measure up. And modern Capitalism was just as bad as the antebellum Plantations.

      *spit*

    • Earlier, I would argue.

      The World Wars were a shock to Western civilization, one not seen since the Thirty Years War three centuries earlier. In both cases, civilized Christian men shattered the conventions that had governed warfare and engaged in devastating, no-holds-barred hostilities. And were appalled at what they had done, the depths of savagery they had plumbed.

      After the Thirty Years War, this led to the establishment of Laws of War that held for nearly 300 years. Even in the titanic struggle of the Napoleonic Wars, the only serious breaches were in the insurgency and counterinsurgency on the Iberian Peninsula.

      But after the World Wars, it led to a collapse in the self-confidence of the West. I suspect this was abetted by Soviet propaganda – and, quite frankly, fear of nuclear weapons. Whatever the reason, self-confidence imploded.

      Except in the hearts of a few cantankerous people like me. And anyone else familiar enough with history to recognize that one trait of the West not found in other cultures is self-criticism. Yes, it’s dangerous when it degenerates into self-flagellation, but it’s also the key to improvement. The quest for perfection starts with being dissatisfied with imperfection.

      • I’m pretty much of that opinion, about the West being horrified at what they did to each other and themselves in WWI, which destroyed cultural self-confidence … and that Soviet agit-prop certainly helped it along, after a certain point in the 20ies, or perhaps a bit later.

  7. The bit about agriculture as a source of trouble can be found, at length, in L. Neil Smith’s novel Pallas. An interesting story for many other reasons, but that angle is certainly food for thought.

  8. s/Yadizis/Yazidis/g Apologies for being such a nit-picker!

  9. … partly based on Marija Gimbutas’ willful misinterpretations of things like bull’s head as uteri

    Say what?!?!

    Now, I have seen a swipe at Dodge comparing female reproductive anatomy to the ram logo…. but it *is* recognizably a swipe and quite silly.

  10. I can see the idea of it. Sure the Big Guy made it all… but in so much day-to-day operation, the idea of the Antagonist running things seems to explain perhaps too much.

    “My system is Perfect… or at least as close as Free Will allows.”
    “It has problems.”
    “Oh yeah? Fine, Buster, YOU run it for a few eons.”
    “Alright. At least I know it’s imperfect.”
    etc.

    • This makes a lot of sense. The bible makes reference to the prince of this world not having dominion over Christ. That only holds true if Lucifer is the prince of the world.

      Like you said, now that I think about it more, everything that’s gone on in the past, and is still ongoing today makes SO much more sense.

      • Lewis’ “Out of the Silent Planet” takes this approach. A rebel Oyarsa who keeps all of tellus ‘under one dark wing.’

        Ties in with Lewis’ general idea that earth is ‘occupied territory’ and our job is just to be found manning our posts and fighting the rebels (who claim like like the White Witch to be the true kings and queens of Earth) when the real King shows up to rescue us.

        The Devil was trying to pull a fast one there. Bow before me and I’ll give to You what’s rightfully Yours anyway. Although its an important lesson to not give up on real morals just so you can get ahead.

      • You guys are waxing Cathar. Seriously.

        • Please don’t send in the Inquisition. We’ll be good. Really. Or as close as we can manage.

        • Cathar? May one ask?

          • Catharism was a set of dualistic religious beliefs of the 12th century or so, considered heretical by the Pope, and subject to both inquisitorial intervention and a full scale Crusade. It is also the origin of the quote from which is derived the saying “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”

          • http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03435a.htm

            Catharist principles
            The essential characteristic of the Catharist faith was Dualism, i.e. the belief in a good and an evil principle, of whom the former created the invisible and spiritual universe, while the latter was the author of the material world. A difference of opinion existed as to the nature of these two principles. Their perfect equality was admitted by the absolute Dualists, whereas in the mitigated form of Dualism the beneficent principle alone was eternal and supreme, the evil principle being inferior to him and a mere creature. In the East and the West these two different interpretations of Dualism coexisted. The Bogomili in the East professed it in its modified form. In the West, the Albanenses in Italy and almost all the non-Italian Cathari were rigid Dualists; mitigated Dualism prevailed among the Bagnolenses and Concorrezenses, who were more numerous than the Albanenses in Italy, though but little represented abroad. (For an exposition of absolute Dualism, see ALBIGENSES; on the mitigated form, see BOGOMILI.) Not only were the Albanenses and Concorrezenses opposed to each other to the extent of indulging in mutual condemnations, but there was division among the Albanenses themselves. John of Lugio, or of Bergamo, introduced innovations into the traditional doctrinal system, which was defended by his (perhaps only spiritual) father Balasinansa, or Belesmagra, the Catharist Bishop of Verona. Towards the year 1230 John became the leader of a new party composed of the younger and more independent elements of the sect. In the two coeternal principles of good and evil he sees two contending gods, who limit each other’s liberty. Infinite perfection is no attribute even of the good principle; owing to the genius of evil infused into all its creatures, it can produce only imperfect beings. The Bagnolenses and Concorrezenses also differed on some doctrinal questions. The former maintained that human souls were created and had sinned before the world was formed. The Concorrezenses taught that Satan infused into the body of the first man, his handiwork, an angel who had been guilty of a slight transgression and from whom, by way of generation, all human souls are derived. The moral system, organization, and liturgy of absolute and mitigated Dualism exhibit no substantial difference, and have been treated in the article on the Albigenses.

            ***********************

            baby on arm, typing impacted, sorry for format!

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Among other Heresies, they held that there were two gods. One was the Good god and the other was the Evil god (ie Satan). Basically both gods were equal in power.

            Sarah, I don’t see anybody here saying that Satan is the equal of God.

            The idea is that God has allowed Satan a certain degree of control on Earth for His Own reasons but that Satan’s “power” depends God not taking action against Satan.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catharism

            • depends on the actual interpretation. Catharism wasn’t unified. Some people believed souls were under the control of G-d, but the world (including our bodies) under the control of Satan.

              • Where does the notion that the world under the control of Satan was the case, but only until the Resurrection?

                Dagnabbit, this is really interesting stuff.

                • Even after the resurrection and His Ascension, the world was/is still under Lucifer’s control. That’s the whole point of Revelations and the tribulations in particular. The tribulations are the message “God is coming” presented in such a way that (hopefully) even the dense can understand. The thousand year reign as described in Revelations is when G_d comes back in Christ take over control of the earthly realm.

                  Ah, the things you learn in during family meals when your father-in-law is a theological scholar and baptist minister. One of the knowledgeable men I know in this subject. Now, he gets to argue theology with Christ himself while he waits on the rest of us. Man, is it dusty in here or what?

                  • So… that one is not a subset of Catharism? I’m very weak on most of the names for heresies (Though I do know that Santa punched out the guy who gave us Arianism)

                    I also tuned out nearly everything to do with wossname eschatology in catechism. But it turns out to be more interesting than my 13-year-old self gave it credit for.

                    • It could be a subset, depending on how they interpret it. If the Cathar consider the resurrection and ascension the end of Lucifer’s reign, then it would fall under the heresy.

                      My next statement might be running a little closer to our hostess’s rule on proselytizing than I like. If so, feel free to edit and/or use your carpapult. My cats can use the fish. 😁

                      There is a way to think about the resurrection being the end of Lucifer’s reign on earth, but it is selective (each person has to make the choice to choose Christ) and limited (only the body of believers is affected). It wouldn’t do anything for non-believers or the other physical things under Lucifer’s control (weather, animals, natural disasters, etc.). That would place it, IMO, straight under the heresy label, but not necessarily the Cathar heresy.

                    • If it did nothing for non-believers, they could not become believers. He lost the power to “deceive the nations” — which is why they could go and make believers of all nations.

                  • Even after the resurrection and His Ascension, the world was/is still under Lucifer’s control.

                    Depends on how you interpret Revelation. It speaks of the dragon being bound so that he could no longer deceive the nations. Those of you who note that this is spoken of being a thousand years should also note that the Psalms speaking of God having the beasts on a thousand hills — this is a number representative of completion and perfection. The amillennial interpretation (in which “a-” means not “not” but “in”) is that this period began on Pentecost.

                    • I think there’s a difference here though. The Manichean or Cathar, or Gnostic views all of the physical world as being the domain of the demiurg or the force of evil who mired them in filthy-evil-naughty-matter.

                      So, the idea that Satan rules the world from a gnostic standpoint treats Earth as a prison which one needs to escape.

                      I think what’s being posited here is more that the world is good, matter is fun, and some jerkass came barging in and we’re stuck in here with him because we let him in.

                      So instead of being like a prison, its more like we’re the bank manager who let a robber in, and now he’s holding everyone in our bank hostage (including us) and we’re hoping that when the real authorities arrive and take the bank back they’ll be forgiving of our outrageous screw up.

                      Like I said in another comment ‘occupied territory,’ and the real authority is going to come back and boot the occupier out.

    • I don’t know if he’s actually running things these days, but he’s certainly gumming up the works but good still.

  11. It took me years to figure out the Parish Priest was not in fact a werewolf.

    Okay, your granny was AWESOME. Wish mine (either of them) had told stories like that.

  12. On a tangent, I once ran across an article that had the story of Adam and Eve as the story of sapience coming into the world. (Which also explains where the wives for their sons came in.) Alas, I lost the link for that when my laptop got drowned a few years back.

    • It’s a common belief.

    • Their wives and sons and where the city came from that Cain fled to.

      I figure that if the seeming “problems” of continuity in the story actually were a problem instead of intended that some helpful person would have smoothed them all out millennia ago.

  13. Christopher M. Chupik

    It’s likely that the Peacock Angel was a pre-Islamic deity going undercover.

    “You’re not worshipping any other gods here, are you?”
    “Nope!”
    (squints at idol) “So what’s that?”
    “That’s . . . an angel.”

  14. > (No serpents, though, as far as I know.)

    There is the bronze serpent from Numbers 21, which is also referenced in the Gospel of John as a symbol of Christ.

  15. Rich Rostrom

    “This modern myth that humans are always wrong and evil and must disappear is starting to manifest itself in a birth dearth…”

    The decline in fertility started over two hundred years ago. It is affecting nearly every society on Earth, not just Europe and the US: the MIddle East/North Africa, Latin America, South Asia, and even much of Africa. It is most severe in East Asia (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore).

    The de facto nihilism of the modern left-liberal ethos may have contributed to the fertility decline in Western countries, but I don’t see how it can be the sole or pre-eminent cause everywhere, including many very different cultures.

    • Sure. We’re a scavenger species, and we slow down birth when we are living well. BUT seriously seriously, for most of the modern west, it is nihilism. “I won’t have children because they’re a blight upon the Earth”. Conscious or unconscious.
      And like hell it started over 200 years ago. Not by anything actually visible on the ground. Show your work.

      • “I won’t have children because they’re a blight upon the Earth”.

        Think of it as evolution in action.

        There’s a nasty sub-current of this in the ‘Pro-Choice’ movement. I can’t help but recall that they were so concerned that ‘minority women’ (read; Brown People) have access to ‘abortion services’ that they didn’t close down Kermit Gosnell’s abattoir as soon as they could. They are actually on record as making that excuse.

        I think they STILL don’t grasp what a blunder that was.

        Smells to me as if they were running scared of Blacks having large families, when they don’t have any, or very small ones.

        So, tell me again what the difference between the Progressive Left and the KKK is, regarding race?

        • The Kluckers are honest about it?

        • I’ve made this point to Planned Parenthood solicitors (not sure what they want; I just harangue them) – especially the dark skinned ones. “What are YOU doing working with Planned Parenthood? They were founded to wipe you out.” >blank stare< “Look up Marget Sanger. And leave me alone.”

      • Agree. Might appear to have started 200 years ago, only a few families actually having a large number of kids ‘survive’ & actually have kids of their own. If one doesn’t look at the ones who don’t survive & discount the ones who don’t have kids (either gender) then I can see where there might be that perception. Problem with perception is it is not fact.

    • The decline below replacement rate, at least, is likely due to a certain nihilism.

      • I think the constant nagging about how we shouldn’t have kids because we’re overpopulated on one side, and how basically everybody younger than the whiner is an irresponsible, worthless person who shouldn’t have children because they’re worthless on the other might have more to do with it than a sincere nihilism.

        So, second hand nihilism?

        • Possibly, although if there weren’t some already-existent nihilistic tendencies the reaction to said whining would be “I’m going to prove you wrong. Watch me raise functional human beings who make the world better.”

          • Only if you have reason to believe such a thing is even possible— and even then, when it’s unanimous, the doubt gets in. Especially when people you love and trust do variations on it.

  16. “Melek Taus is God’s most important angel, his commander-in-chief in this world, which was also his original role in the Abrahamic traditions. He’s also a fallen angel who rebelled against God and was subsequently cast into Hell; but in the Yazidi cosmology, after 40,000 years his tears quenched Hell’s flames and God forgave and reinstated him.
    One of Melek Taus’ symbols is fire, and he can illuminate as well as burn. He’s responsible for granting mankind knowledge and free will”

    That sounds an awful lot like the description of Lucifer, as “the Lightbringer”, and yes, also as Prometheus.

  17. Heh. About those Vikings… and most other fascinating old cultures we know anything about by their own words because they left poems and stories which have survived to our time.

    So, I liked to play in SCA, and probably will go back again some day (if I get the time – might have to wait until I retire, working most weekends does not leave much space for those activities), and my persona was a Viking age Finnish woman. But I would not have liked to live then. It’s not just the lack of good medical care, or any of the modern conveniences I have gotten used to like a really warm home during winter without any smoke inside or reliable food supply which includes things like fresh fruits throughout the year – I don’t particularly like salted stiff or dried fish or meat, much less lutefisk. Although they of course matter.

    But the big issue is because when you read those old stories and poems you realize the people in them seem to mostly act like hormone addled teenage thugs. Not much restraint or careful thinking through things before acting by anybody. The men cry a lot, fight a lot, go after whatever catches their fancy, fight anybody who gets in the way to the death, answer any insult by fighting you to the death, take a woman by force if she will not come willingly. And the women can be worse.

    No thanks. I like adults. Thoughtful, restrained adults. Who adult. At least most of the time.

    • Not all that much different from the Greeks. Of Homer’s day, anyway.

    • Ohhh, I like that – “you realize the people in them seem to mostly act like hormone addled teenage thugs. Not much restraint or careful thinking through things before acting by anybody. The men cry a lot, fight a lot, go after whatever catches their fancy, fight anybody who gets in the way to the death, answer any insult by fighting you to the death, take a woman by force if she will not come willingly. ”
      There was an essay a good few years ago, in Atlantic or Harpers, (when I was still reading them, before those publications fell into hopeless SJW-hood) by a scholar and educator, who specialized in teaching the classics to … basically, the inner-city hopeless and badly-educated. The writer – who (g*d bless him – had the courage of his convictions) thought that equipping his students with the very best that the classical Western canon had to offer would help them get some insight and control over their lives. He made the observation that the world of Homer’s Iliad, or Mallory’s Morte d’ Arthur probably made a hell of a lot more sense and was much more relatable to an inner-city gang-banger than to a sheltered upper-class prep school student.

  18. That reversal of polarity is fairly common in myth and religion. The example that I always think of is the Indo-Iranian split, where the Sanskrit deva, god, is cognate with the Iranian deava, devil, and the Iranian ahura, god or angel, is cognate with the Sanskrit asura, demon. Somebody must have gotten mad at somebody back during the Indo-European expansion.

    I’m happy to see you refer to “the youngest of three/the younger of two.” So many native English speakers no longer are even aware of that distinction.

  19. Someone else I was reading said that people who use birds and serpents as sacred symbols are always bad news and perhaps they’re right. Except Christians use the holy dove as a symbol of the holy spirit, and the peacock as one of the symbols for the Christ. (No serpents, though, as far as I know.)

    Snake in a tree is a symbol for resurrection in Christian images; if you include mentions of dragons, which were generally big snakes in ye olde dayes, there’s a lot.
    https://suburbanbanshee.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/more-good-dragons-in-christianity/

  20. And the sheaf of grain and all the underlying requirements of agriculture came in and ruined everything for those humans who want to be mindless wanderer-gatherers. And the deity saw all the work that growing all that new food to feed all the babies that were now not dying in the cradle laid upon the back of humankind, and he took pity, and because he loved humankind and wanted us to be happy, he granted mankind beer.

  21. thewerewife

    These might help muddy the waters a bit more: Melek Taus. Hmm. Close to “malakh,” Hebrew for “angel.” Not to mention that, while none of the Jewish traditional sources identify the forbidden fruit of Eden as an apple, the three favorite nominees are the fig, the citron, and (wait for it!) … wheat (then growing on a tree, debased to growing from the ground). Just saying.

    • The apple thing is a pun on the Latin name for apple, fwiw.

      ****

      Poked around, couldn’t find any answer on if their language is similar to Hebrew, but did find that the Kurds are genetically the closest to Jews of the Arabs, and they’re a Kurdish group.

      Kurdish is relatively similar to Persian, too….hm, but their word for angel looks more like angel than Malachi! (Closed the page, or clicked through something, and lost the link I had.)

      • The Kurds claim descent from the Medes. (Haven’t found enough information to say how likely that claim is.) If it’s accurate, it might be the source of some of the similarities, and quite probably some of the genetic side as well given Darius.

    • For anybody mining for mystic stuff, Taus is pretty similar to Tav or Tau, which use to be written like a cross, and now looks like an N. As in, oh, Nazarene…..

      Probably doesn’t mean anything, but makes my hands itch to make a grand theory from it, symbolically at least. 🙂

  22. Book “Ancient Goddesses” is twenty years old now, but it’s still interesting. Edited by Lucy Goodison and Christine Morris, it’s a collection of chapters written by (mostly) female archaeologists. They re-examine certain sites, re-evaluating the evidence that had been produced in favor of a Great Mother Goddess across Europe, including some sites of Gimbutas. .

  23. Enterprising minds say, “Heck Yeah!”

    Should there be a Space Corps?
    By Sarah Hoyt
    One of the many leftist mental breakdowns I’ve seen lately involves Trump’s announcement of a space corps.

    My quite favorite tweet about it was this:

  24. Great post. Thanks for doing the research, explaining how your background colors your thoughts and writing, and how we need to fight the urge to give up.

  25. What if it were true? What if the forbidden fruit, metaphorically speaking was wheat/agriculture/civilization?

    In God, Sex, and the Kabbalah, Rabbi Maller refers to mankind as having been “elevated” from the Garden of Eden by eating of the tree of knowledge. We don’t like it because look back on how much simpler life was in daycare before we had responsibilities and all that stuff.

  26. So, yeah, the Yazidis worship the peacock angel, Melek Taus, though worship might be a faulty term. It’s more like they try to keep him from getting too mad.

    Journalist John Keel interviewed a Yezidi for a book and the understanding he came away with was that while God was all-powerful, He was also all-forgiving. People living on Earth were better off making sure they didn’t offend Satan.

  27. Someone else I was reading said that people who use birds and serpents as sacred symbols are always bad news and perhaps they’re right. Except Christians use the holy dove as a symbol of the holy spirit, and the peacock as one of the symbols for the Christ. (No serpents, though, as far as I know.)

    I read a fundamentalist Christian rant about some of the modern TV shows for kids and how they were leading children to the Devil. Rainbow Bright was targeted because rainbows are associated with the New Age movement and therefore Satanic.

    Well, as long as Satan keeps his promise not to flood the world again, I’m good with that.

    • Knowing what causes them, I’m not sure if rainbows are more or less amazing than not knowing. Eclipses fall into the same category.

      • I’ve seen several partial eclipses and three full eclipses. Even though I know the science, when I was in the middle of the even, I had some pretty strong feelings… There is the quiet and just a little fear as well as wonder.

  28. I just thought of something– wasn’t there a group (I keep thinking in the 70s and 80s) that told the entire human race to commit suicide for their crimes against the world– and said we were a parasitic race? Anyway the most recent of these is the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. *sigh