BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Well, that's two out of three ...

Finished up the second installment of the "Gods and Heroes of the New World" trilogy (a name that I suspect got tagged onto these books when they went to paperback, as it doesn't appear anywhere in the original hardcover editions, in fact, until the introduction to the third book there was no mention that the books were part of a series) by John Bierhorst.

This one is The Mythology of South America, which, unsurprisingly, deals with myths, etc. from various native groups in said continent. Like the North American volume that preceded it, this has an interesting structure of being based on regions of inter-related tribal groups (by language, societal structure, etc.), and not standard geographical blocks, which sheds a new light on how some myth structures appear and disappear across a given area.

I found one myth element fascinating in this, though ... it was part of a recurring theme in South American myths, of when the Men took over control of society. Now, of course, there is a "truism" in neo-Paganism that at some point in the deep past society was Matriarchic, worshiping a Great Goddess, blah, blah, blah, blah. It is interesting that one set of these myths deals with this, from the men's perspective, of how they "threw off the yoke of female oppression" etc. ... but what is most tantalizing here is the blatant admission that most of the religious systems and rituals are simply fear/reward matrixes for maintaining power structures ... this is the "deep dark secret" of the Men's societies that must never be revealed (under pain of death).

Needless to say, I doubt there is much difference on this level between the purpose of Religion in the Selknam and Yamana tribes of Tierra del Fuego and that manifested by the "tribes" of Rome, Mecca, or any other "cultic authority center"! In one of the Men's initiation rites there's an admonition that would have resonated with P.T. Barnum ... "Never let them know!" ... and people wonder why Pope JP2 had all his personal papers burned before he died!

Oh, once again, if you think you have a hankering to read this ... Amazon has used copies for under a buck ... such a deal!

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Tags: book review
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