Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Connecting the Dots

A few years back I posted this quote about mining and war by Lewis Mumford:

"From the earliest times, as Mircea Eliade points out, blood sacrifice had been a ritual accompaniment of metallurgy. The curse of war and the curse of mining are almost interchangeable: united in death."

Yesterday, on the mail route, I thought of this quote and realized that Martin Prechtel might have some answers in how to lift that curse:

So, just to get the iron, the shaman has to pay for the ore, the fire, the wind, and so on — not in dollars and cents, but in ritual activity equal to what’s been given. Then that iron must be made into steel, and the steel has to be hammered into the shape of a knife, sharpened, and tempered, and a handle must be put on it. There is a deity to be fed for each part of the procedure. When the knife is finished, it is called the “tooth of earth.” It will cut wood, meat, and plants. But if the necessary sacrifices have been ignored in the name of rationalism, literalism, and human superiority, it will cut humans instead.

All of those ritual gifts make the knife enormously “expensive,” and make the process quite involved and time-consuming. The need for ritual makes some things too spiritually expensive to bother with. That’s why the Mayans didn’t invent space shuttles or shopping malls or backhoes. They live as they do not because it’s a romantic way to live — it’s not; it’s enormously hard — but because it works.--Martin Prechtel

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