Or, How Our Own Death Wish is Causing Many of Us to Return to the Old Ways.
Let me preface the following by saying I know nothing of genetics and very little of hardcore science in general. I'm probably going to use various, or many, terms incorrectly and miss the intended point of an important theory. So, if any of you science-y people out there spot errors I encourage you to correct me. Okay, on with the wild ramblings.
Have you heard of the Toba Catastrophe Theory? It states that roughly 70,000- 75,000 years ago a volcano on what is now Sumatra, in Indonesia, blew the Hel up and set in motion a series of environmental effects that caused a pretty drastic bottleneck in the human population. What's a bottleneck in population? That's when something pretty big, nasty and scary, like a plague, earthquake, ice age, volcanic eruption, etc., brings about the deaths of so many beings of a certain species that the descendants of the survivors are incredibly close genetically because so few were left to perpetuate the species. In the case of the Toba eruption it's estimated that perhaps as few as 1,000 breeding pairs of humans survived. There are also estimates that go as high as 10,000 pairs but either way, it was a pretty big damn drop in population. And it got me thinking.
It got me thinking about how many people look to religion and spirituality in hard times. Before I started learning about population bottlenecks, and the Toba disaster is just one of many, I had always wondered about the Great Mother Goddesses. Why were they so important to our ancestors? Why were they most likely the first to be crafted into statuettes? Why were they among the first divinities to be worshiped? Why were they, in many lands, cultures and times, the most loved? Why did they, above so many others, spread out from their homelands and find adherents over many continents? What's so special about them? And the most obvious, and somewhat unsatisfying, answer was that they were in charge of the continuance of human life. They were in charge of sexuality that led to conception, pregnancy, birth and growth leading eventually back to sexuality. They were the ultimate creators, the supreme progenitors, they were the mothers of us all.
Seems pretty simple, right? Why then, I ask you, did the worship of said Great Mother Goddesses die out and eventually become despised? What made them so important and then, at best, meaningless and, at worst, evil? I know, I know. It's the fault of the Judeo-Christians and their comparatively new religions. But things must have changed to allow for such a male-centric mythos to take hold. What could it have been? Answer: The population had long since stabilized and the need for Great Mother Goddesses had waned. Which means something major must have happened long, long before that to make the production of children an extremely high priority for nearly everyone alive. But what could that have been? Answer: An extraordinary drop in the population and the resultant desperation.
Now skip ahead a couple thousand years. People began returning to the old ways and the old gods about the time of the Industrial Revolution. Just about the time factories began spewing poison into the air, the water, earth and the bodies of every living creature on the planet a few folks here and there started looking back to the ancient religions. The Great Mother Goddesses become more and more important just as pollutants, pesticides and other chemicals started invading every aspect of life. It's not the same as a massive volcanic eruption, a meteor plowing into the Earth or the plague but we may be creating our next population bottleneck. As the human-made problems of global climate change, industry-induced cancer and infertility, and our own medicines poisoning our drinking water begin to weigh on us more people are turning back to the ancient ways. As our human situation grows ever more precarious the number of Great Mother Goddess, and other pagan, adherents has risen. Coincidence? I think not.
I don't think it's about simple fear either. If it were then many people would just turn to whatever religion is handy, whichever religion is acceptable i.e. the dominant religions, that of the Judeo-Christians. No. More and more people are turning to a form of religion and spirituality that is very much not acceptable to the majority of our fellow citizens. Why? Why would this current threat to our race cause such a thing? It's because the situation is radically different this time. It's something that hasn't happened ever before in the history of our race and our planet. Instead of a volcanic eruption or a plague or other disaster that we have no control over we are putting ourselves at risk. We are killing ourselves.
Our own technological advancement, our "progress" is putting our very existence as a race at risk. And because said progress involves a would-be domination of the Earth, untold and unnecessary cruelty, unparalleled waste and monumental greed many of us are not just turning away from the mainstream way of living, eating, consuming and working. We are returning to the ancient ways because we feel and know, at least subconsciously, that the ways of the Great Mother Goddesses, and their cohorts, are the only things that can save us. If we don't return to living in balance with the land and learn to embrace life, and all its joys and indignities, as sacred then we are doomed to destroy ourselves. If we don't return to the Great Mother Goddesses we are doomed to create the next human population bottleneck.