Jan 25, 2007

Virgin Mother Gives Birth To Five


ineffable, hidden, brilliant scion,
whose motion is whirring,
you scattered the dark mist
that lay before your eyes and,
flapping your wings,
you whirled about,
and through this world
you brought pure light.

-- Hymn to Phanes-Dionysus


The hotly anticipated Komodo Quints have made their debut. Reports of the virgin mother komodo started circulating this holiday season, in coordination with the birthday of another famous virgin-born child, Jesus. They didn't quite make it in time for Christmas, but they cracked their eggs on January 15th. Babies and mother Flora are reportedly doing fine at Chester Zoo in Great Britain.

Other reptile species reproduce asexually in a process known as parthenogenesis. But Flora's virginal conception, and that of another Komodo dragon earlier this year at the London Zoo, are the first time it has been documented in a Komodo dragon.

Flora joins a proud tradition of virgin mothers, long predating the Madonna. Virgin birth is a recurring theme in goddess traditions from around the world.

Crishna was born of a chaste virgin, called Devaki, who, on account of her purity, was selected to become the "mother of God."

Doane, Bible Myths and Their Parallels in Other Religions

A recurring theme in ancient religion revolves around the manner of the sun god's birth, as well as the chastity of his mother. In a number of instances the sun god is perceived as being born of the inviolable dawn, the virgin moon or earth, or the constellation of Virgo. The virgin status of the mothers of pre-Christian gods and godmen has been asserted for centuries by numerous scholars of mythology and ancient religion.


Snake Goddess from Knossos

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And, curiously, the mother goddesses of ancient mythology have long been associated with serpents.

Serpents were commonly connected to the Mother Goddess; however, the reason for this connection is still quite unclear. It can be seen around the world in such examples as a Gorgon. Notice that the common dragon slayer myths often include a woman to be saved by the valiant knight.10

The theory today states that the societies with a more patriarchal worship came down through the Mediterranean area, where many of the Mother Goddess cults remained, and changed the culture through war and conquest. This can account for the many dragon slaying myths that have been recorded.11 The most common format for the story is something like this: An evil dragon scourges the land, a valiant knight takes up the charge of killing the dragon, and he slays the dragon and wins a bride or saves the virgin sacrifice. While some interpretations may vary, the knight is generally a symbol of all that is good, while the dragon is a symbol of corruption. The knight, which represents the new conquering culture, should be revered by the people while the dragon, which represents the Mother Goddess of the past, should be hated. What is left of the symbolism of women? Well, she's either give over as a prize, or she is a virgin saved by the knight.12

Even before Christianity, the Mother Goddess was devalued. However, she was not tossed aside entirely. There was still a need for a mother figure in religion; her complete "overthrow" did not fully take place until the Christians took their toll upon the religions.13 In the end, the people were left with two major role models for women: the Virgin Mary and Eve.14

Connections between women and serpents and dragons are everywhere. Tiamat was slain by Marduk, a male god. Eve was tempted by a snake; the Gorgons had hair that was writhing with snakes. Apollo slew Python, a serpent of terror. The saints commonly slew dragons to save maidens. Countless connections can be made between dragons and the view of women.15



Mayan Sculpture of Winged Serpent

Serpent lore lies at the heart of creation myths in ancient civilizations all over the world from the Naga Serpents of the Hindus to the snake mounds of the Americas to the great stone circles of Europe.

Now in another twist in the tale of the serpent I uncover one of the ancient truths about dragons, remembering that in myth and in ancient history, dragons and serpents are intertwined like the coils of a pit viper....

Avebury is a huge British Temple and stone monument erected around 2,000 BC in the shape of a serpent when seen from the sky. Once known as Abury which according to Deane [2] is evidently Abiri or Ab-ir (after the Abiri people or Cabiri who were serpent worshippers). Abir incidentally means the solar snake or fire snake.

Although some have argued whether Avebury should ever have been Abury or Aubury (serpent sun) the fact remains that even as far back as the 17th century there was a Mr Aubury who said himself that it should be pronounced and spelt Aubury (found in the legier-book of Malmesbury Abbey.)

Of course even as Ave Bury, the ‘Ave’ reverts back to the root of ‘Eve’ which we know means ‘female serpent.’ The pathway of Avebury passes through a large circular Temple of the sun emerging and then winding again and ending with an oddly, not quite circular head – directly in line with ‘Snakes Head Hill’ (Hackpen.) The central circle is symbolic of the sun, which is the male principle in the creative process and is symbolized elsewhere as a bull or lion. Once the serpent has passed through or around this sun circle it is recharged for new life.
And so we come full circle.

Jan 22, 2007

Got Raw Milk?

Fleur


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There's an excellent article in Salon about the controversy over raw milk. As the article makes clear, the FDA, CDC, and AMA have branded raw milk as dangerous, even though people all over the world have been drinking it that way since time immemorial. How is that the entire population of India didn't become extinct before pasteurization?! Hmmm...

The article is full of valuable info on the health benefits of dairy in its original state, but it is also a reminder of the flaw in allopathic medicine in the broader sense. The dependence on the "disease model" often negates any discussion of true health. The FDA says pasteurized milk is non-pathogenic and therefore healthy. But for some of us the absence of germs in our food is not enough. We require that there also be some nutrients that the body is capable of using. Nature still makes food better than technology does, and raw milk is a prime example.

Among the health benefits of raw milk from pastured (grass fed) cattle is a reduction of allergy symptoms like asthma, hay fever, and eczema. A number of the subjects of the Salon article came to raw milk as a last resort for those afflictions and turned their conditions around. And as reporter Hannah Wallace points out:

A compelling new study, published in the June 2006 issue of the Journal of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, seems to lend support to what these three already know to be true. Researchers at the University of London analyzed the diet of 4,700 children in Shropshire and found that those who lived on farms and drank raw milk had significantly fewer symptoms of asthma, hay fever and eczema. Children who drank raw milk were 40 percent less likely to develop eczema and 10 percent less likely to get hay fever than their non-raw-milk-drinking peers. Blood samples showed that they had 60 percent lower levels of immunoglobulin E, an antibody released by the immune system when it's confronted by allergens. (IgE, in turn, causes cells to release histamines, which is what causes an allergic reaction.) In their conclusion, study authors Michael Perkins and David Strachan surmised that the lactobacilli found in raw milk protect against eczema. They also stated, "Unpasteurized milk is known to be rich in a variety of gram-negative species and their lipopolysaccharides, and it is plausible that a persistent exposure to a diverse milieu of bacteria from an early age is likely to have an effect on the developing immune system."

For some of us the worst allergy is to dairy itself. I was diagnosed as dairy allergic many years ago, and I noticeably react to dairy products... unless they're raw. Allergic reactions to food occur because the body can't digest and process them properly. Pasteurized milk is effectively dead and, in the attempt to kill off any lurking pathogens, all the enzymes necessary to its proper digestion are also killed. Raw dairy, rich in the enzymes and cultures nature intended, is far more digestible, which means the body can actually utilize its protein, vitamins, and nutrients.

Breezing through some of the blog entries and letters in response to this article, I'm unsurprised to find that many people are just terrified of raw milk and sure that it's very, very dangerous. But as the article makes clear, E. Coli and other dangerous pathogens have been found in a number of foods that have not been made illegal; like spinach. Taco Bell hasn't been closed down, despite it's recent traffic in contaminated food. How is that the FDA is so quick to demonize raw milk, but rely on testing and regulation for other foods that are at least as likely to be contaminated? The answer probably lies in the demands of industrial agribusiness. Pasteurization is a blanket solution to the problems of mass produced milk from sick cattle.

"Pasteurization is an excuse to produce dirty milk," says Los Angeles raw milk activist Rahman Dalrymple, citing the outbreaks of salmonella, listeria and Campylobacter that have all been traced to pasteurized milk. In California, accepted bacteria levels for Grade A raw milk are fewer than 15,000 colony-forming units per milliliter; accepted levels for raw milk destined for pasteurization is 50,000. (Post-pasteurization, milk in California can contain 15,000 CFUs per milliliter. States that adopt the FDA's Pasteurized Milk Ordinance allow pasteurized milk 20,000 CFUs per milliliter, one-quarter more than California's raw-milk limit.) Dalrymple, who credits raw milk with curing his asthma, emphasizes that he would never drink raw milk that's destined for pasteurization by a large industrial dairy. Not all raw milk is created equal, Dalrymple says. "Raw milk is dangerous -- if you get it from one of these industrial dairies that have fecal matter and pus and blood in their milk. I would absolutely not drink that!"

This distinction -- between raw milk that's destined for pasteurization and raw milk from a small, spotlessly clean dairy that's kept to higher standards precisely because the milk won't be pasteurized -- is a crucial one, and it's lost on public health officials like Sheehan, who seem to lump all raw milk into the same pathogen-contaminated vat. Industrial farms are dirty -- as the recent agri-exposés "Fast Food Nation" and "The Omnivore's Dilemma" have proved. When Sheehan thinks of raw milk, in other words, he's thinking of milk from cows crowded together in barns, eating a diet of corn, and standing in their own manure. All the raw milk advocates I spoke to are against drinking this type of raw milk.

In fact raw milk may be less likely to be infected with pathogens than it's mass produced, pasteurized counterpart, because pastured cattle, using their four stomachs the way nature intended, produce milk that naturally defends against contamination.

Another reason no pathogens have ever been found in his milk, McAfee believes, is that it contains a host of active antibacterial components -- not just proteins like lactoferrin, but enzymes, bacteriocins, colicins and at least 25 beneficial bacteria, including lactobacillus and bifidus, the same probiotics that are found in most yogurt. And all of those components, McAfee says, are destroyed during pasteurization. (In her book "Nourishing Traditions," WAPF founder Fallon concurs: "Pasteurization destroys these helpful organisms, leaving the finished product devoid of any protective mechanism should undesirable bacteria inadvertently contaminate the supply.") To prove his theory, a few years ago, McAfee sent his milk and colostrum to a private lab and had both injected with high levels of the three pathogens. The bacterial counts of all three bugs decreased over time. And the conclusion of the scientist at BSK Labs? "Raw colostrum and raw milk do not appear to support the growth of Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes," stated the lab report. McAfee is so proud of his below-normal bacteria counts that he posts annual averages on his Web site.

The exact opposite is true of the corn-fed cattle that are the stock-in-trade of big, commercial farms.

Cows, like all other ruminants, are meant to eat grass. Yet, at the vast majority of U.S. dairies -- even organic ones -- cows subsist on corn feed. In "The Omnivore's Dilemma," Pollan explains how eating a high-starch diet acidifies a cow's rumen, making the animal sick and eventually allowing bacteria to enter its bloodstream. A cow's corn diet can also make us sick: E. coli O157:H7 has been around only since the early '80s, when it likely evolved in the acidic guts of corn-fed cattle. (E. coli O157:H7 is so lethal because human stomachs, too, are acidic. We can kill off microbes that evolve in the neutral pH of a grass-fed cow's rumen, but not the acid-resistant strains such as E. coli O157:H7.)

I'm fortunate to live in a state where producing and selling raw dairy products is legal and the farms certified to bring it to market are scrupulously inspected. And let me tell you there is no going back once you've experienced what milk, yogurt, and cheeses are supposed to taste like... and digest like.

Meanwhile, the FDA has just announced that it's safe to eat meat and drink milk from cloned animals. In such an Orwellian universe, where raw milk from cows that have two biological parents is considered dangerous, while pasteurized milk from cloned cows is safe -- is it any wonder that a growing band of consumers don't trust FDA decisions?