Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Secrets of the Ass

See my comments about the bison in this prior post. Here's a quote from Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets:" "After castrating Set, Horus spread his blood on the fields to render them fertile - the usual fructification-by-male-blood found in the oldst sacrificial Mysteries." Eek! The imagery is ghastly, of course, but the concept is there, that of a male blood sacrifice used to sanctify and reinvigorate the land at the start of the growing season. Interestingly, I found this quote under the Encyclopedia's entry on "Ass!" This entry is loaded with information. Ass The ass-god Pales had an extensive cult throughout the ancient world. Palestine, Philistia, and the Palatine Hil in Rome were named for Pales, who was both male and female.(1) [I expect today's "Palestinians" would be rather upset with this bit of etymological history.] The Old Norse word Ass meant both "Asian" and "deity," possibly indicating that the divine ass originated in Asia.(2) The pre-Vedic sacred king Ravbana sported ten crowned human heads surmounted by one ass head, symbolizing the spirit of the ass god incarnate in ten kings.(3) The long ears of the ass seem to have had the same significance of virility in ancient India as the horns of the sacred bull or stag.(4) Tacitus said the Jews worshipped the ass because wild asses were responsible for their survival in the desert.(5) According to Genesis 36:24, it was the tribal matriarch Anah, or Hannah, who first found asses in the wilderness. Balaam's oracular she-ass may have been a manifestation of the spirit of Anah, as Balaam himself was another name for Baal. Samson slew the Philistines with an ass's jawbone, the same bone still regarded as a seat of the soul by some African tribes.(6) Jesus entered Jerusalem on an ass's colt, symbol of the New Year. The lilim or Children of Lilith were ass-haunched, for they were spirits left over from the real source of the Jewish ass-cult: Egypt, home of the ass-headed god Set, or Seth. Set once ruled the dynastic gods, and in token of his sovereignty displayed a pair of ass's ears at the tip of a reed scepter. The Hyksos kings of Egypt revived Set's cult in the 2nd millenium B.C., perhaps because their own ass-eared Midas was a similar god-king. The annual alternation of Set and his brother Osiris (or Horus), who murdered each other in perpetual rivalry for the favors of Isis, refleced constant replacement of sacred kings in pre-dynastic times.(7) Ass-eared Midas, a son of Cybele, died of drinking bull's blood. In other words, he was connected with the Taurobolium or bull-sacrifice made in honor of both Cybele and Isis. Midas has been identified with Mita ("Seed"), a king of the Moschians or "calf-men," who invaded the country of the Hittites from Thrace during the second millenium B.C. Midas's Golden Touch and ass's ears link him with the cult of Set and the Golden Calf (Horus), whose image was worshipped by the Israelites (Exodus 32:2-4). Under Eygpt's Hyksos kings, Set was a god of the hot desert wind, known as the Breath of the Ass. He was "Lord of the Chambers of the South," whence storm winds came.(8) His wind from the desert was supposed to bring pestilence, i.e., typhus, derived from Set's Greek name, Typhon. This name was interlingual and world-wide. It means both the ass god and the wind called tufan in Arabic and Hindustani; t'ai fung in chinese; and tuffoon or Typhoon in the South Pacific.(9) Ass-headed Set was a sacrificial deity in the cult of Horus and Osiris. He was crucified on a furka and wounded in the side.(10) He and Horus were represented as alternating year-gods who fought and castrated one another, each being baptized in the blood the other's "pahllic eye," as the Pyramid Text said" "Horus is purified with the Eye of his brither Set; Set is pruified with the Eye of his brother Horus."(11) (Pyramid Texts: Collections of prayers, hymns, and magic spells inscribed on the inner walls of the pyramids at Saqqarah, dating from the 5th through 7th dynasties.) The Eye or phallus passed from one to the other. A statute of Horus at Coptos carried Set's severed phallus in his hand.(12) After castrating Set, Horus spread his blood on the fields to render them fertile - the usual fructification-by-male-blood found in the oldest sacrificial Mysteries.(13) Thus, Set and Horus were remnants of a primitive sacred-king cult, which the Jews adopted. The story of the rival gods appeared in the Bible as Seth's supplanting of the sacrificed shepherd Abel, evidently the same "Good Shephered" as Osiris-Horus (Genesis 4:25). Their rivalry resolved in Egypt by having the pharaoh unite both gods in himself. Tomb paintings of Ramses IV shoed him as both Set and Horus, two heads set upon one neck.(14) Similarly, the Jewish God uniting both Father and Son was sometimes an ass-headed man crucified on a tree. This was one of the earliest representations of the Messiah's crucifixion. some said Christ was the same as the Jewish ass-god Iao, identified with set.(15) Jews in Rome were said to worship an ass's head as their deity.(16) the Roman cult of the ass apparently originaed in Libya, home of the bisexual Pales, whose temple stood on the Palatine Hill and gave rise to the word "palace."(17) Servius said Pales was a Goddess, the Diva Palatua, a disguise of Vesta. Others said Pales was either a female protectress of hered animals, or Vesta's male consort. In the first two centuries A.D., Pales was worshipped as a priapic god at the festival of the Palilia, traditional date of the founding of Rome, when the Palladium was brought to Vesta's temple.(18) Priests of Pales wore ass-head masks as they danced in honor of the long-eared deity. The Palilia was taken into the Christian calendar as the Feast of St. George. One of its old customs may have given rise to the Halloween game of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey," which recalls Rome's sacrifices of equine tails triumphantly carried to the temple of Vesta.(19) Notes: (1) Larousse, 209. (1) Turville-Petre, 23. (3) Norman, 123. (4) Rawson, E.A., 25. (5) Tacitus, 658. (6) Book of the Dead, 270-71. (7) Graves, G.M. 1, 283-84. (8) Graves, W.G., 301. (9) Encyc. Brit., "Typhoon." (10) Campbell, M.I., 29. (11) Norman, 42. (12) Knight, S.L., 124. (13) Budge, G.E. 2, 59. (14) Norman, 38, 48. (15) M. Smith, 62. (16) Guignebert, 53. (17) Briffault 3, 18. (18) Larousse, 209. (19) Dumezil, 221. *************************************************************************************** Is Walker's interpretation of Genesis 36:24 correct? I checked the three bible translations I have here at home, and a couple more online and found only the King James Version (and New King James Version) agreed with her:
  • The Book (The Living Bible): "The children of Zibeon: Aiah, Anah. (This is the boy who discovered a hot springs in the wasteland while he was grazing his father's donkeys.")
  • The New World Translation put out by the Jehovah's Witnesses: "And these are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah. This is the Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness while he was tending the asses for Zibeon his father."
  • The King James version: "And these are the children of Zibeon: both Ajah, and Anah: this was that Anah that found the mules in the wilderness, as he fed the asses of Zibeon his father."
  • The New International Version (online): "The sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah. This is the Anah who discovered the hot springs in the desert while he was grazing the donkeys of his father Zibeon."
  • English Standard version (online): "These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah; he is the Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness, as he pastured the donkeys of Zibeon his father."
  • The New King James Version: "These were the sons of Zibeon: both Ajah and Anah. This was the Anah who found the water[a] in the wilderness as he pastured the donkeys of his father Zibeon." Footnotes: [a] Following Masoretic Text and Vulgate (hot springs); Septuagint reads Jamin; Targum reads mighty men; Talmud interprets as mules.


Anonymous said...

How curious that this blog entry almost matches Tom Robbins "Skinny Legs and All" word for word... yet he is given no credit. Could it be mere coincidence?

Jan said...


I copied the entry from Barbara Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets," - if you will take a look at prior posts for the past couple of weeks I have been posting entries from her encyclopedia that I find interesting. I don't know who Tom Robbins is but I can assure you, the fact that we posted about the "Ass" is entirely coincidental - perhaps subliminally related to what's been going on in the world of high finance and politics lately.

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