by Jesse Potter aka Elkin Vanaeon
On this ninth day of August in the year of our Lord and Lady 2005 CE
I am presenting this work to expand the horizons of peoples who have viewed history with linear and limited vision. I am a reconstructionist, but not a revisionist of History, wishing merely to point out that much of history has only been portrayed in a mythological context when applied to Paganism or Pagan religions.
I begin by documenting the histories of early peoples and religions while showing the religious bias of the majority of World Religions. You will see the direction of the development and social structure of many different civilizations and examples of their moral and ethical customs, which will allow you to compare the early beginnings of those different cultures to the moral and ethical customs of the world we live in now. You will notice that the laws and customs of each society constantly change over time, that civil and religious liberties had to be fought for and protected since there have always been those willing to take by force the rights and freedoms (both spiritually and physically) of other people.
Within this book you will find the historical documentation, definitions, references, and bibliographies necessary for a better understanding of this material within the scope of its contents. The direction of this work is towards the understanding of the history of many of the various religions of humanity, their effects on society as well as their conflicts with language, laws, archeological evidence, and ethical conflicts!
The Inheritors of the World
The early histories of societies involved constant warfare for food, land, slaves, wealth, and resources. However, the periods of history that involved religious intolerance changed the face of warfare to one of differences of ethical, philosophical, and moral values. All peoples started out Pagan in origin, yet some chose to change the direction of their cultures and heritages claiming they were no longer like other pagans and were instead the true righteous "Inheritors of the World."
These early societies of people considered themselves chosen by deity, over time many other societies would claim they too were chosen by their deity or deities to rule over mankind and began warring with each other as to who would rightfully inherit the world in the name of their god. They armed themselves with such terms as "Swords of Righteousness", "Shields of Purity", the "Mantle of a Jealous God", or simple claiming their people were the "Chosen Ones" as the reasoning behind such actions! Thousands of years have come to pass and the majority of societies and religions of humanity are still locked in battle as to whose philosophies of religion is supreme, still bound by them in today's time.
Throughout history the other various cultures of pagan peoples traded, exchanged and shared with each other the diversity of their beliefs, each having developed their own beliefs and pantheistic earth-centered traditions. They still warred over territories and disputes, but generally not just on religious principles. The world was a harsh place to live in and people faced many hardships in their struggle to raise families and build communities. People had to work together and learn from each other, as well as from nature, in order to survive and build their civilizations. Humanity recognized 'Nature' through the elements of wind, rain (water; oceans, lakes, rivers), heat (sun and fire) and earth as something to be experienced both physically and spiritually and seen as being the elemental forces of Nature. The differences between man and woman and the acts of sexual reproduction, giving birth and having emotionally expressive lives were seen as being a part of nature and viewed as a connection to deity. Gods and Goddesses were worshipped with love and respect. Goddess was seen in the Earth as the Great Mother (from which seeds were planted and crops were grown) and in the Heavens (from which everything in creation was born). The passing of the seasons of fertility, and the planting and gathering of crops were celebrated through various festivals as the wheel of the year turned.
Unfortunately the patriarchal societies who took upon themselves to begin to develop their own linear philosophies of monotheistic religions would not accept or share the diverse values and beliefs of the other peoples of humanity. Religious philosophies then became argued over in values of acceptance or non-acceptance of each others differences based on:
The intolerance of the monotheistic religions brought about the accusations of each other, as well as other pagan peoples, as "Heretics" and "Practitioners of Magic." This included the anti-Semitic attitude towards Jews as being the killers of Christ, the Alchemists of early sciences, as well the Gnostics and Manichiests and other peoples with differences of philosophical and religious views who were to be hunted down and persecuted. Secular authorities began establishing legal systems to determine, secure, and allocate the lands and monies confiscated during conquest and from those they persecuted. This served to pay those involved in the 'Persecutions' and the later 'Inquisitions', which further promoted acceptance of those policies. Women who were healers (herbal and midwifery) were particularly persecuted on biblical grounds of being unclean and temptresses of men, as well as practitioners of magic. This led to the ethical beliefs and moral values of certain monotheistic religions, such as Christianity and Islam, of taking on or becoming the perceived evils that they were attempting to purge - through the actions that they themselves took.
Pagan beliefs and the declared 'Evils of Paganism' were to be totally purged from the face of the earth through conquest, long periods of religious intolerance, oppression, and persecution. 'Womankind', once respected and revered, became viewed as a possession and to be made servile to the needs of mankind. The pagan views of healthy and balanced relationships between the Nature of this world and the nature of humanity became corrupted in how man treated woman within the metaphors of god being man and goddess being woman. In the removal of goddess (woman) by patriarchal monotheistic religions, they created their own schism of domination and submissiveness.
The Periods of purging and repression of the Dark Ages and the medieval period of the religious wars became so great that thousands of year's worth of accumulated knowledge was lost. 'Pagan Artworks' of paintings and sculptures were defaced or destroyed, ancient temples and buildings were torn down, and writings burnt. The most important losses though were the combined studies of the use of plants as herbal medicines (pharmacology) and the early knowledge of biological and physical sciences by humanity.
Food preparation and storage as well as the means of sanitation and waste disposal became either very crude or nonexistent. Illness or ailments of what was termed the 'Holy Fire' ('Saint Anthony's Fire') did not become recognized until the later 1900s as ergot poisoning or the fungal contamination of grains (barley, wheat, and rye). Crop failures, droughts, cattle not producing milk or dying, as well as people dying from plagues and mysterious ailments were blamed on superstitious causes. The Black Plague made it even worse. The Religious reasoning of disease, famine, and many other calamities were considered as either:
The mandates of prayer, meditation, and the belief that only deity could cure disease, as opposed to healers using medicinal cures by herbal remedies, led in part to the reasoning behind the purging called the "Burning Times."
Later as religious faith by itself did not solve the demands of the problems of disease and illness, the practices of herbal medicine became recognized as a necessity and re-instituted as pharmacology. It was a new beginning for medical research requiring the search for new medicines and the need for recognized high ethical and moral standards by all doctors of medicine. The Hippocratic Oath was chosen, having been the creed and oath taught to physicians since the times of ancient Greece. Religious teachings of intolerance were still directed towards women in the educational and medical fields, which led to a long struggle over time to overcome the patriarchal attitudes of society before women would be accepted as the doctors and educators of today.
Paganism never completely died out and the pagans continue to view the metaphors of god (man) and goddess (woman) in a healthy, loving relationship. But I must tell you 'Goddess' is still very much alive and highly pissed about how she has been treated. The descendants of those pagans who survived the earlier persecutions and people who chose to accept and change their beliefs to paganism have begun to rebuild their various cultures and societies (see definitions of Paganism and Wicca). Each may carry a different tradition but most carry the Principles of Earth centered beliefs in that we are born, live our lives, and die on this world called Earth. We are connected not only through the history of our ancestors but in the present history of our families whom we raise on this world. We are connected and reflected in deity through our ancestors, ourselves and of our families, and in the nature of the world itself. Earth-centered cultures realize that this Earth is our only home, until perhaps another world may someday be discovered that we can move to and live on. Though Earth and Nature may be perceived as harsh and cruel at times, they have never been evil. Without the life giving properties of the elements of our Earth, life would have never begun on this planet. Therefore, we consider our earth to be the mother of all life on this Planet and must be treated with respect and cared for with love and compassion. Pagans understand this and are now seen today through their various lifestyles, beliefs and religions to be a welcome alternative by people whom wish to celebrate healthy and natural earth-centered traditions. The monotheistic Religions of the world today still froth at the mouth and see paganism and the pagan cultural forms of lifestyle, beliefs, and worship to be evil and a threat to their beliefs.
The balance of the scale changes when the majority of society incorporates their religious beliefs into the political structure of their particular State, rejecting the beliefs of minority religions of others within that State. This has occurred time and again in the past by individual states that have either formed alliances or warred for control of land and people based on their differences in religious and political philosophies. Political leaders in the past, such as the Emperor Constantine, who adopted the doctrines and dogma of monotheistic religious beliefs into state policy - enabled him to organize a form of leadership that eventually established control over the majority of society in religious and political views. Over time, the swing of the pendulum in the actions of "Civilizing the World" eventually led to the beliefs of people, and societies of people, who accepted that the beliefs of purity should extend to genetics and racism in order to enslave, purify, or purge those viewed as undesirable. This set the stage for the abhorrent racial and religious practices of genocide that marred history.
Whichever the method or the reasoning of justification used in the oppression and purification of people based on intolerance, the results always left devastated populations of peoples who were enslaved or killed on the basis of race, color, gender, ethical religious and social beliefs, and even intelligence. Resulting in the hunting down, persecution and possible eventual extermination of:
Some societies have eventually come to realize in their attempts to establish political and social reform that mixing the authoritative powers of religion and politics leads to conflicts of interest and the potential for extreme ethical violations in basic Human Rights. Historically speaking, this finally led to the reasoning for the separation of church and state in the more democratic forms of today's societies, which eventually led to societies that developed a strained tolerance, recognition and acceptance of the differences of all peoples.
Complete acceptance though would require the desire of people, and societies of people, to want to work together in a harmonious environment separate from the combined bias of religious and political doctrines, which are present in today's world!
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