Thursday, June 27, 2013

witch hunts...

i've been reflecting these last few days on the strange and unusual confluence of events that birthed us science and its allied white coat medicine, "the printing press, steeply rising literacy rates, religious wars, and the witch craze..."

might not the vestiges of these be observed to present day in women's diseases of prominence and their treatments? for these are not so distant in tactic or spirit from the tortures meted out to wise and innocent women during the period in which science "came into its own..."

breasts were the frequent target of inquisitors who used hot pincers to tear them apart or knives to cut them away, and burning at the stake brings to mind radiation treatments and chemotherapies that literally burn you from the inside out.

breast cancers have been around since recorded history but never afflicting such a high percentage of women as in the current era. the physical world of which we now partake has been exclusively defined by thousands of years of patriarchical folly that now returns us to its root creation myth... having excluded the feminine to its detriment, and under the illusion of contemporary women's rights which conditions women to become modified men more than fully emancipated women, we're increasingly invaded by the cancerous miasm of a world out of balance and expected to submit to a contra naturam monopoly not unlike the witch hunts of old...

a radical statement yes, but i feel a delicious quickening when i let myself consider this possibility since it promises a kind of new emancipation, and since it's hardly represented or explored in the culture, i find it irresistible to explore and consider further.

"In earlier times, men and women alike acknowledged the skills of female shamans. The wise woman had tucked in her bag of tricks both ergot root for inducing abortion, and belladonna for preventing miscarriage. Many men readily acknowledged the superiority of the medicine practiced by women healers. Paracelsus (1493-1541), the greatest physician of his age, acknowledged that he 'had learned from the Sorceress all that he knew.' The male chauvinist philosopher Thomas Hobbes admitted that, personally, he would rather take 'the advice or physic from an experienced old woman' than see a Harley Street physician..."

"Science provided people with an alternative explanation to the one espoused by religion. The world is governed by natural laws, scientists proclaimed, and God gave humans the gift of intelligence to discover what they are. With each new mathematically proven revelation, science chipped away at the power of the ecclesiastics. The volume of discord between credos (ie. Protestant vs Catholic) diminished as literacy gained its proper context.

"Unfortunately, science, the prim, non-excitable child of the left brain, did not like women. Evolving from the all-male priesthood that had preceded it, the early scientific community allowed no women within its hallowed halls. Science did not have much use for beauty, either, and it treated nature as an enemy. Francis Bacon, author of the scientific masterpiece Novum Organum, consistently used metaphors derived from the witch hunt torture chambers to describe how scientists should force nature to relinquish her secrets. In the most powerful demonstration of the new scientific paradigm, Nicolaus Copernicus displaced Mother Earth from the center of the universe and replaced her with Father Sun. Copernicus consigned the planet that was once the hub of wheeling constellations to a lonely orbit with only her barren lunar satellite to pay her homage. Science dismissed spirituality, disdained discussions of ethics and philosophy, and demonstrated a disturbing tendency to ally itself with contemporary hunter-killers - the military." 

[Leonard Shlain: The Alphabet versus the Goddess]

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