Thursday, June 13, 2013

Proscribing the pig was yet another way to diminish female power

“Pigs are smart, friendly animals that thoroughly enjoy wallowing in the dirt. Deuteronomy forbids members of the Israelite faith from eating or keeping pigs, which is the first time in history a group had, using the force of religious doctrine, collectively condemned this member of the swine family. Apologists have claimed that the Old Testament was protecting the Israelites from eating and animal that commonly carried the trichinosis parasite, but the many other cultures that based their diet on pig meat did not suffer decline. Halfway around the world, the people of the Pacific Rim considered pigs to be sacred because they were so plentiful in sustaining them. The Germanic tribes that overran Rome thrived on ham. The Israelites’ intense animosity toward this domesticated animal cannot be explained on the basis of hygiene alone.

Across the spectrum of cultures, soil has been associated with the Earth Mother. Animals that enjoy immersing themselves in dirt have traditionally been under the aegis of the Goddess. The pig, a symbol of fertility in many cultures, was Demeter’s favorite animal; a sow often appeared at her side. Artists portrayed Isis, the Egyptian goddess of fertility, giving birth on the back of a pig. In the wild, packs of roaming pigs are led by the oldest sow, making pigs one of the few animal societies that are organized as a matriarchy. A rotund animal that thrives in mud, grows quickly, and is very fertile can serve as an appropriate metaphor for pregnancy. Proscribing the pig was yet another way to diminish female power.”

~Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image

1 comment:

  1. Something else to consider: Pigs do not do well in the desert environment.
    They don't sweat so they must have mud and/or shade to stay cool.
    There isn't much of either in the desert.
    Neither do they herd at all well which is also a necessary trait for desert livestock.