Articles/Essays From Pagans
March 9th. 2014 ...
Healing the Witch Within
Discovering Wicca as a Young Child
March Pisces Energy: Pre-natal Memories and Standing Upright
March 2nd. 2014 ...
Lessons of Ostara: Six Ways to Move Forward
The Wiccan Priest - The Misunderstood Role
Which is Which? Am I a Warlock or a Witch?
The Secret Teaching: Selected Aspects
February 23rd. 2014 ...
Wicca or Traditional Witchcraft: Some Differences
Everything is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless
The Wonders and Gifts of Paganism and Community
What Makes Us What We Are
February 16th. 2014 ...
Death, Grief, and Psychopomp Work in Shamanic Healing
The Stones of Fear: Anxiety Relief
Spiritual Traveler: Form To Essence
Alternative Medicine – What Is It?
February 9th. 2014 ...
Words of Power!
The Allure of Glamour in the Apocolypse
Lunar Insight Planetary Preponderances: Year of the Horse, Imbolc and Mercury Grazings
February 2nd. 2014 ...
The Magick of Jewelry and Metals
Building a Magick Mirror
The Golden Bough: a Study Guide (Part 2)
January 26th. 2014 ...
Love of Self: The Hardest Thing To Do
The Golden Bough as a Seminal Work in the Neo Pagan Movement (Part 1)
13 Keys: The Mercy of Chesed
Lightworking In The Screen Age: Staying Connected
January 19th. 2014 ...
Open Letter to the Goddess
A Southern Girl's Guide to Hospitality
Social Conventions and the Pagan World
January 12th. 2014 ...
Never Once Was There a An Athame Near My Chalice: My Very Sheltered Occultist Upbringing
One Wiccan's Journey Through Depression
January 5th. 2014 ...
Religion vs Practice: Defining Witchcraft in a Modern Age
Traditional Apprenticeships: Training in the Modern Pagan Abbey
2014's Magickal Magnificent Manifestations!
Lunar Insight Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances: Wise and Wild
December 29th. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 3)
13 Keys: The Might of Geburah
Beyond The Season of Greed
December 22nd. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 2)
December 15th. 2013 ...
The Hex Murder of 1928
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)
Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Hunting, Fires and Parting Shots
December 8th. 2013 ...
Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey
Using Your Wand in Reverse
Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward
The Cry of the Soul
December 1st. 2013 ...
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
The Celtic Tree Calendar
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Neandertal: Not Our Cousin But Our Brother
Article ID: 14310
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,099
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Author: Verda Smedley
Posted: March 6th. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,560
Poor Neandertal (Homo neanderthalsis) , discovered in 1856, has been maligned for more than 150 years. He was a hunter-gatherer and lived in small bands or extended family units. Neandertal’s physical uniqueness is now understood as a consequence of having left Africa for Europe about 400, 000 years ago and finding himself genetically isolated in an exceedingly cold climate, not because he was a different species from us (Homo sapiens) .
Because Europe was entombed in ice from 123, 000 to 195, 000 years one can be pretty certain that Neandertals demand for protein was vastly higher than ours. There is every reason to believe that Neandertal women were regarded as equal partners in hunting to secure their band's nutritional needs. The suggestion that Neandertal was an ogre that abused his women is absurd. Absolutely nothing exists in the historic record to support such an idea.
There is also evidence that suggests that Neandertal had a spiritual bent to his nature. Recent discoveries have revealed that he created decorative pendants from shells complete with processed pigments that contained the sparkling particles of hematite. It is thought that he developed ritual face and body paint as well. Exhumed graves, replete with ochre and offerings, connote his awareness of death, loss, and ceremony was as acute as our own. Neandertals longevity and the treasures he left behind that await re-discovery clearly rule out any possibility that he was a brute completely devoid of intellect and sensitivity to the world around him.
Scientific American has done an exemplary job this year bringing us the latest discoveries about ancient people, especially Neandertal. I quoted one piece by Micheal Shermer from the August 2010 edition for my title here. Recent DNA sequencing shows that 1-4% of our Eurasian DNA is Neandertal. The studies are suggesting that Homo neanderthalsis and Homo sapiens are the same species having departed from Africa for Europe some 320, 000 to 350, 000 years apart. Homo sapiens (once thought to be uniquely us) reached Europe about 50, 000 years ago and apparently interbreeding between these two groups was widespread resulting in, well, us. Shermer contends that Homo neanderthalsis must be renamed Homo sapiens neanderthalsis. As it might turn out Neandertal is nothing more than a subspecies of Homo sapiens, the subtle differences due entirely to the separation of the groups for hundreds of thousands of years. Once believed extinct by 28, 000 years ago it now appears that Neandertal is alive and well within us.
You are probably wondering why in the world would I think Neandertal is in anyway relevant to the Neo-Pagan/Goddess/Shamanic revival. Those who are familiar with my work know full well that I wear a Mesolithic heart on my sleeve, a relatively modern people by comparison of a mere 10, 000 years. The Mesolithic were deeply animistic, shamanic, embraced the Primordial Goddess, the Earth, and worshipped their ancestors. Sound familiar? Apparently so did our brothers, the Neandertal. We can now say with some certainty that we are the direct descendents of hunter-gatherers who have been around for 400, 000 years. I believe that acknowledging our ancestors requires revering our entire line not just the pantheon of characters that have emerged in the last handful of millennia.
It is sobering to have to accept that in the same handful of years we began ransacking the Earth Mother, especially the Greeks and Romans (Neolithic) . The hunter-gatherers that proceeded the Neolithic era made no detrimental impact on our planet that has ever been found. And were it not for their tools and a few of their bones we wouldn’t have known they had even existed. These most ancient of our ancestors have a great deal to teach us about stewardship and their wisdom is rooted in the Earth. The cooperation and harmony with which they lived not only speaks to the sanctity of Earth but is extremely significant to the gender issues elucidated in features of the modern movement as well.
How many times have we heard that men are Neandertals, which haven't evolved? Oops! There seems to be no evidence that we even became ritualistic/shamanic until we met our older brothers, Neandertal, in Europe. It may turn out that he was the icon of Pagan spirituality 350, 000 years before us. So being Neandertal no longer implies lack of evolvement. Another reason that this year has been a good one for men is the discovery that the Y chromosome (male) has been found to be evolving much quicker than the X chromosome (female) . This shoots a lot of holes in the assertion that men are less evolved than women.
The most contentious of all are the claims by some groups that caption their studies with titles such as “Holy Grail = Male Jealousy of Menstrual Blood”. That just crosses some magical line into offensive for me. I don’t think anyone disputes the sacredness or mystical character of menses. It is well documented historically that the most ancient of our ancestors held this belief. Hunter-gatherers and their descendents, alive today, still do. It is no revelation but rather and nothing more than a re-discovering of what we, as a species, have always known. Men have their own medicine, there is no reason for them to be jealous of ours and there isn’t anything that supports the notion. Ancient people and their living descendents regard men and women’s medicine as correspondingly powerful.
Although I admire women’s studies, they, like all studies, move in trends based on social change, evolution, re-evaluation and discovery. Because their theme is often compensatory male blood lust “don’t make it so”. Such a contention raises a red flag that women need to feel superior to men rather than embrace true cooperation and equality once the foundation of our ancestors’ community. So does the idea recently proposed that women were the first shamans. There is simply no evidence that validates this and if there were, I would like to see it. I have spent forty years studying shamanic cultures and thirty of those years among shamanic tribal people; I have never read or experienced any evidence of this. Shamanic cultures recognize that women and men’s medicine is uniquely different and equally imperative. There is no bickering about which gender was the first shaman. I would venture to say that ancient cultures would find the idea confounding if not entirely absurd.
Whether Neandertal or Homo sapiens, both lived in highly cooperative communities of males and females. Every individual was treasured and vital to the survival of the group. There is simply no reason to believe that the first shamans were women when equal cooperation suggests equal power. Isn’t it even remotely possible that the advancement of shamanism might well have been men and women side by side? Is “first” relevant to anything?
Today, men and women find themselves equally lost and confused. Both struggle with identity, balance and living with some semblance of grace in their lives. Who was first, who is superior becomes a moot point in light of an imperiled planet. We may well perish and we will perish together. The sooner we return to some piece of true community, together, as equals, the better chance we have of survival as a species. I think, that our Mother, the Earth, is running out of patience with us.
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