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Christian Golgotha Crucifixion, the Suffering Servant Leitmotif and the Asherah Pole Symbolism: Hebrew God as Androgynous Deity (Part 5)

Christian Golgotha Crucifixion, the Suffering Servant Leitmotif and the Asherah Pole Symbolism: Hebrew God as Androgynous Deity (Part 5)

crucifixion of Christ

Note: This is the concluding part of a 5-part series of articles

Read Part 1: Hebrew Jehovah Elohim as Androgynous Deity: Jehovah and his Asherah

Read Part 4: Hebrew God Yahweh-Elohim as Androgynous Deity: Christian Crucifixion, Suffering Servant Leitmotif and Asherah "Pole" Symbolism

In the Yoruba/Afro-Brazilian Candomble cult of Sango, we encounter a crucifixion story whose parallels with the Christian Golgotha crucifixion story could not be incidental. The association of trees, sacred poles (the maypole, for instance ), phallic figurines sculptured in wood (Ose-Asherah figurines), wooden mystic torture wheels (Ixion's wheel of torture), wooden cross designs (swastika designs, wheels of life, fire-wheels, Ankh etc.) and crucifix torture implements with springtime (Easter time) regenerative powers of nature and immortality all converge on antique cults of the dead in which trees (especially evergreen trees) were symbols of immortality and afterlife.

In the Yoruba/Afro-Brazilian Candomble cult of Sango, the warlike, hot-tempered deity, Sango, legendary king of Oyo, was deposed by his subjects who had grown weary of the arbitrary tyranny of his rule (the old Freudian parricide motif). Wandering in exile somewhere in "Tapa" country, Sango commits suicide in a fit of depression, by hanging from an Ayan tree. His companions in exile, however, spread the news that the great king had not actually died on the  Ayan but had only been translated to the skies in apotheosis. His death was interpreted along the lines of the popular docetist "heresy" of the Mohammedans and Gnostics with regard to the death of Jesus at Golgotha: Sango had only seemed to hang on the stake; a substitute had been miraculously provided.

The idea of substitute offering is very old in religious tradition, and it informs the universal practice of offering sacrifices to the gods to expiate the sins of religious community or individuals: In Genesis 22, we read of the substitutional sacrifice of a ram for Isaac. In Leviticus 16:20-22, we read of the ceremony of the scapegoat ("Azazel") on which the sins of the entire religious community was laid. The concept of the substitute in sin offering is echoed again in Isaiah 53:6, in reference to the prophetic Suffering Servant: ".. YHWH hath laid on him the iniquity of us all…"

In practically all traditional cultures the religious community seeks to escape the consequences of real and imaginary wrongdoing with substitutional sacrifice: the idea is that the gods will accept a swap, as in trading or mercantile dealing. The prohibitions in relation to hanging of a victim on a tree or stake in cases of capital punishment in Deut. 21:22-23, seems to be associated with particular practices involved in human sacrificial rites in Canaanite tree cults,("for he that hangeth is accursed of deity"). The prohibition that the body should not remain all night upon the tree but be buried on the same day was scrupulously observed at Jesus' crucifixion (John 19: 38-42)

The practice of offering a human individual as substitutional offering to the gods at annual festivals for the sins of the entire community is universal. In many cultures the preferred victim is a "virgin." Early European visitors commented on the common practice of sacrificial ritual impalement of virgins on wooden stakes to ward off evil in communities along the West African coast. Similar practices are reported worldwide: the ancient Celtic tribes had virgin sacrifice customs associated with their Samhuin (Halloween) festivals, the Ancient Romans and Greeks all had antique "virgin" sacrifice traditions. While we do not have any direct reference to the practice of virgin sacrifice among the Ancient Israelites, Judges 11:30, could be an indirect reference to an antique tradition (compare Is 57: 4,5).

The virgin was often chosen from among the virgin priestesses of the deity (there is a cross-cultural association of virginity with "purity" cognate with the Christian belief that Jesus was sinless, "the lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world").

The virgin so chosen was supposed to look upon her choice by deity as rare honor for she was chosen to redeem society by her sacrifice: she was the wife of deity consecrated to deity in suffering and death.

Recommended Reading:

1. Geddes and Grosset(1997); Ancient Egypt: Myth and History.

2. Saul M. Olyan. Asherah and the Cult of Yahweh in Israel. Society of Biblical Literature, 1988

3. Willliam G. Dever. Did God have a Wife? Archeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel. Eerdmans Pub Co, 2008.

JohnThomas Didymus is the author of "Confessions of God: The Gospel According to St. JohnThomas Didymus"

About JohnThomas Didymus

Transmodernist writer and thinker. Author of "Confessions of God: The Gospel According to St. JohnThomas Didymus"
  • http://ifpeakoilwerenoobject.blogspot.com/ Ed-M

    Things do get curioser and curioser, don't they?

    In the Christian crucifixion tradition, we have a wooden phallic pole ("Asherah pole") with Jesus, as Suffering Servant figure, hanging on the pole–literally impaled on the divine phallus of the heavenly Father.

    Exactly.

    We have evidence both in the ancient writings and in the graffiti left behind that the Roman crux was quite literally endowed with a phallus, making the punishment of crucifixion the most humiliating form of impalement: i.e., an ugly parody of anal sex (for men at least). One such graffito scratched into the wall of a taberna in the Puteoli ampitheatre depicts a person, likely male in my opinion, very much aroused and pleasurably "riding" a thorn-shaped impaling stake outrigged to the main pole of his cross with his scourged back to the post.

    • http://johnthomasdidymus.blogspot.com johnthomas didymus

      Thanks Ed-M for this additional bit of detail about the crucifix crux, you bet i'd be going after this new track like a bloodhound!! The element of masochistic sexual ritualism in the entire edifice of religious thought simply fascinates me–it does seem that the paleolithic originators of the entire system on which human religious thought was built thought that the facts of sex and human sexuality (hetero-, homo- and zoosexuaity)coincide with some sort of divine blueprint of "spiritual" truths…and i have always maintained that you can't understand the major themes in religious thought without uncovering the pervasive pattern of sexual metaphor underlying religious thought…

      • http://ifpeakoilwerenoobject.blogspot.com/ Ed-M

        Here are some links to get you started on the trail:

        http://img169.imageshack.us/img169/6475/pozzuolihv3.jpg

        http://www.infotdgeova.it/dottrine/pozzuoli.php (This is in Italian and you'll need an online translator to get the gist of the article unless you know Italian already).

        And The Perseus Digital Library has the texts of Seneca Minor up online: his Ad Lucilium Epistulae Morales 101, v. 10-14 gives the most explicit description of crucifixion and his De Consolatione ad Marciam 20.3 (6.20.3 at the PDL) describes three different kinds of crucifixions; first is Egyptian impalement where one is skewered through the midsection, second is barbarian impalement similar to what Vlad the Impaler did, and the third is what the Romans did.

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