Monday, December 31, 2007

If you cut off a head, what will grow in its place?

When Herakles (Hercules) was sent to cut off the head of the 9 headed Hydra, he discovered that for every head cut, two more sprung in its place. And cauterization was born. The only way to kill the Hydra was to cauterize the wounds from the sword.

Perseus cut off Medusa's head, by Athena's command. Pegasus and Chrysaor were born from her head. Her blood sprayed the deserts of Libya, becoming snakes; it also became a medicine that could kill or cure.

Azhi Dahaka - the demon of evil in Persian mythology - has two snake heads that guard him at all times. No matter how many times they are cut, they grow back to protect him. And so evil continues on in the world, only by a sea of molten metal will it be vanquished.

Shiva cut off Ganesh's head in a jealous rage; Parvati asked Shiva to fetch their son a new head and Shiva went into the forest and got the head of an elephant. In fact, nothing grew in place of Ganesh's head until it was placed there by his slayer.

The Aztec goddess Coyolxauhqui, beheaded by her brother Huitilopochtli, became the moon in the sky.

There are many monsters, gods and goddesses and mere mortals (MacBeth, Marie Antoinette, Grendel for example) who did not survive their beheadings, nor leave anything in their place but fodder for artists and historians.

And then there are those monsters and gods who beheaded mere mortals, their acts justified by their imm(p)ortality, the beheadings a ritual of mass cleansing. Such as the case with Ogun in Yoruba mythology.

Who then are the gods and monsters of our time?
What will spring up in Benazir Bhutto's place (they say her son has emerged from her blood)? What serpents are forming from the drops of red gold spilled in the sandy soils of Iraq?
Will these serpents become the moon, or is their fate to call forth the molten metals to purify our earth?
Who will betray whom and change our skies forever?
As we prepare to enter 2008, I am worried about the state of the world. No. I'm more than worried. I'm deeply, gravely concerned. And as a result, inspired. To create something beautiful, resonant, healing. Something to balance the wounds of history.

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