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ANAHITA  January 1999

ANAHITA January 1999

Subject:

Re: Quest for Immortality

From:

Max Dashu <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 13 Jan 1999 21:41:26 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (52 lines)

>        Commenting on the interrupted fire rituals and linking it to the
>baptism
>issue in the church, P. Johanson wrote, "The mother could be acting out of
>concern for, say, the salvation of the child's immortal soul."  Indeed, but
>why would the act be understood as bestowing deathlessness in early texts, but
>interpreted as fatal in later texts which depend on the earlier material?

Perhaps due to a historical trend in which rituals conducted by women are
gradually downgraded and even demonized? Such a process is quite evident in
medieval clerics' interpretation of French peasant women's rites, including
a wilful misinterpretation of the use of fire in blessing rites as
potentially fatal (I'm thinking of Etienne de Bourbon here). Antiquity is
not without precedents.

>Perhaps there were early Greek rituals involving passing an infant through the
>flames without harming the infant.  But memories of this ritual were later
>reformulated under the influence of the contemporary Phoenician/Punic practice
>of child fire sacrifice (which were the rituals mentioned in the Bible as
>well).

I understand that this claim of "child sacrifices" has been debunked.
Perhaps someone else can name a study referencing this.

>        And it is interesting that in the Hymn to Demeter it is the mother who
>misunderstands and interrupts the ritual being performed by the goddess.  Also
>interesting, in the Greek sources it is a female, goddess/mother, who passes
>the infant through the flames or places it on the sacrificial altar.

The Greek and Egyptian stories are quite clear that this was a blessing
rite to endow the child with immortality, not a sacrifice.


Max Dashu

Suppressed Histories Archives           email: [log in to unmask]
                                PO Box 3511 Oakland CA 94609 USA
                >>>International Women's Studies, founded 1970<<<

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