|Early Hebrew mythological "Lilith"|
Quote from a discussion thread on use of the term "ginger": "People who have red hair aren't a race, so no, it isn't racist. Plus, gingers always get butthurt over everything, even though they have no souls."
Are you "Ginger-haired" or "a Ginger?" Is there a difference? One is descriptive, but the other implies more, doesn't it? Obviously, the person who made the statement above felt a great deal more... and could not recognize the difference.
Is it equivalent to racial discrimination applied to those of African origins? Perhaps not today, per se. But, has the perception of skin color always been the only characteristic used to discriminate? Are there dangers in the use of terms that may generate similar derogatory behaviors?
One of the reasons given for discrimination based upon skin color was the biblical reference to Ham and his descendants as "black skinned." But, this only began in the 17th century: "[Race was] First used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations; in the 17th century, people began to use the term to relate to observable physical traits."
Through rhetoric, God supported capitalists in their slaving business. Historians cite the beginnings of slavery in America from the needs of this capitalism, or the need for cheap labor and the difficulty in using labor that must necessarily have their rights observed. But, in the seventeenth century, these rights were not always or necessarily tied to skin color. Richard Dunn shows that it developed later... about 1650. Africans became the ultimate answer to capitalists' fiscal problems... supported by the Christian tradition of Ham and his descendants. Of course, equating Africans with the descendants of Ham was a bit of linguistic slight of hand.
However, there are other physical characteristics that have encouraged discrimination as well and are also supported by Christian tradition and recently, historians have begun to realize that the Irish were sometimes enslaved in English plantations as well. Se also: White Cargo.
Why is this? Their skin color is not wholly different from that of the slavers'.
Skin color was not the only determinant of discrimination. Being physically identified as "Irish" also carried racial stigma, also due to English capital needs and also beginning with biblical references. Irish could be distinguished by lighter skin, freckles, or red hair, a common color attributed to these descendants of original Celtic tribes before the Anglo-Saxon invasions of England.
As to the physical attribute of red hair: "Adams first wife Lilith, always depicted as a redhead, is known to have refused to lie beneath Adam during sexual intercourse, and stated 'why should I lie beneath you when I am your equal since both of us were created from dust' –Patai" Afterwards, "Lilith" and its early Jewish associations carried a strong negative connotation:
- Wikipedia: The Hebrew term Lilith or "Lilit" (translated as "Night creatures", "night monster", "night hag", or "screech owl") first occurs in Isaiah 34:14, either singular or plural according to variations in the earliest manuscripts, though in a list of animals. In the Dead Sea Scrolls Songs of the Sage the term first occurs in a list of monsters. In Jewish magical inscriptions on bowls and amulets from the 6th century CE onwards, Lilith is identified as a female demon and the first visual depictions appear.
I'm not sure that Lilith has always been depicted as red-haired, perhaps since we have such depictions available to study in color, maybe since the 6th century BC. I'd say, certainly about the early beginnings of the Roman Catholic church in the first few centuries AD... a time when the Roman Empire needed social controls and began re-interpreting their newly adopted national religion to control the masses in their tremendous empire, reaching all the way to Britain. They also trashed anything to do with the former owners of that religion... the Jews.
This particular Roman need or Judeo-Christianized behavior later translated into "Eves’ red hair is seen as the stain of sin like the original scarlet letter. Later her son, Cain, will bare the red hair and also a fall from grace." In other words, "Celtic tradition is evil... here's God... worship him!" Lilith survived Roman persecution in myth, probably due to the presence of peoples who still favored more primitive religions. Since Lilith was identified with evil aspects of the later Christian religion, she persisted. It might also be that Romans needed a scapegoat and any female figure of the old Jewish religion was prime game, especially one that claimed to be the equal of man. This has to be stopped right away!
Have you witnessed any male-dominated discrimination lately? :)
Different streams of British Traditional Craft have different patron deities, ancestors and spirits. If one is able to oversee this diversity certain strands of commonality may be perceived. If one may seek amongst these strands–amidst the many other kinds of shared features, one may speak about a body of lore that exists in the Old Craft which incorporates a gnostic faith in the Divine Serpent of Light, in the Host of the Gregori, in the Children of Earth sired by the Watchers, in the lineage of descent via Lilith, Mahazael, Cain, Tubal-cain, Naamah, and the Clans of the Wanderers… onward to the present-day Initiates of Arte.Lilith is the Serpent of the Garden of Eden, who seduced Eve and awakened her to the power sleeping within her. The 17th century Qabbalist Bacharach wrote of Lilith’s sexual exploits in the Garden of Eden in his Emeq HaMelekh (Valley of the King, Amsterdam, 1648):
And the Serpent, the Woman of Harlotry, incited and seduced Eve through the husks of Light which in itself is holiness. And the Serpent seduced Holy Eve, and enough said for him who understands. And all this ruination came about because Adam the first man coupled with Eve while she was in her menstrual impurity–this is the filth and the impure seed of the Serpent who mounted Eve before Adam mounted her. Behold, here it is before you: because of the sins of Adam the first man all the things mentioned came into being. For Evil Lilith, when she saw the greatness of his corruption, became strong in her husks, and came to Adam against his will, and became hot from him and bore him many demons and spirits and Lilin." http://hemlockandhawthorn.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/lilith/
|Lilith - Burney Relief.|
Red-headed Lilith was the serpent in Genesis, the cause of all that's evil to befall mankind, the ultimate reason for sin... the feminized embodiment of evil. She, alone, corrupted man, Adam. And, women since Genesis have suffered because of the serpent... suffered because of red-headed Lilith.
The demonization of any red-head occurred later as a result, most likely, with encounters with western Celts in Roman Britain. The paintings of the Roman era, and beyond, display her in vibrant color, although the stone Burney relief is all there is to go on before that. Still, the earliest Christian traditions became associated with the perceived and politically-encouraged weakness of females... and she had red hair. Red-headed stigma was translated to the Celts in Roman Britain.
Lilith was "a ginger," with all the biblical mythological malevolence that came with it and her children were demonized as well, not unlike the descendants of Ham. A demonized Lilith, the "child eater," associated with the serpent and even later with Eve herself (extra anti-feminism there) was also used to elevate male dominance throughout the history of Christianity. Cathars of southern France were known to deviate from this norm by allowing females to become priests, but Christians put an end to that in the 12th century by slaughtering every Cathar they could find in the Albigensian Crusade! Thank you, Pope Innocent III for that little demonstration of anti-democracy/anti-equality.
|Lilith with serpent - reminicent |
Lilith survived! The Romanized version, that is...
"Belief that redheads are witches is a folk belief in Germanic culture. From 1483-1784 thousands of suspected witches were nearly always stripped and searched for “marks of the devil”. These included any “abnormality” such as freckles, moles, warts, and birthmarks. Red hair was certainly considered an abnormality. Considering the freckle factor for redheads this was a deadly and shocking horror. Somewhere around 45,000 women were tortured and murdered usually by burning at the stake or by drowning."
The truly ironic aspect of the demonized Lilith myth is that almost none of these images are ugly. Usually, demons are ugly! There were a few, but most depictions of Lilith were beautiful women... and scantilly-clad, if clothed at all! There has GOT to be some kind of male-oriented psycho-sexual rapist fantasy there! lol
What's more is that this behavior toward red-heads is not isolated to only the Christian world, but to other cultures that have had some Christian neighborly influence as well: "The Egyptians regarded the color as so unlucky that they had a ceremony in which they burned red-headed maidens alive to wipe out the tint- Claudie De Lys." These early Middle-Eastern and their neighbors' beliefs likely influenced each other. http://www.purgatory.net/kornelia/1603/red_hair_facts.htm
America and Slavery:
While Germans still rounded up red heads for torture and burning at the stake, the English made their own political contributions as well. For today, this is the beginnings of a uniquely American tradition, made even more explicit through capitalist desire. Typically, Irish have been identified as "red-headed" and there has been a long tradition of discriminating upon Celts for this reason... also because of their opposition and violent rebellion against English rule... just before settlement of the New World.
John White, famous painter to accompany the Roanoke voyages of Sir Walter Raleigh, painted pictures of his impressions of Native Americans as he saw them in modern-day North Carolina.
Much less well known are his depictions of Celts in Ireland, made only months, maybe a year or so, earlier and also a recent visitation/subjugation/raid of Sir Walter Raleigh... judging from these, White perceived Celts to be much more violent than Native Americans... perhaps most discriminated upon using biblical traditions descended from the demonized Roman version of Lilith. The bluish body painting of White's Celts is much more elaborate than the Native-Americans.. how much of this was true and NOT an aspect of White's discrimination? Certainly, the severed head and shield elicits visions of carnage. This probably represented a general "racial" attitude upon the Irish that resulted in their eventual enslavement beside Africans. Although, it may have been more difficult to biblically justify due to the recessive characteristics of the gene for red hair.
My mother was a person who could be described as having "ginger" hair, my uncle as well... and my grandmother. We are Scots-Irish... Pierces by name. Those characteristics are not obvious on myself nor on my brothers, because my father was brunette and his gene dominated. Skin color was much more obvious and, after three centuries of capitalistic encouragement, it became quite pervasive in America. The brutality of American slavery is unmatched!
Still, racial perceptions about "gingers" generated from the exact same needs and behaviors as those about Africans or Jews.... both political and religious. It is a growing problem, not unlike African discrimination in the 17th century... also found in predominantly rural areas of America where we may also find stronger religious and racial predispositions. The problem, I think, with this word is that "ginger-haired" is merely a descriptive term. Being "a ginger" implies a connection to the old demonizing tendencies of racism. It's subtle and easily accepted. It only sounds like the term used to refer descriptively to the segment of society known as "gingers." For instance a "black" person is generally OK, but "nigger" is not. Still, I imagine that the word "Blackie" might raise an eyebrow or two. "Sambo," "Negro," and "Mammy" weren't always considered bad. If you asked me, "black" is not very descriptive of the various darker hues represented by some humans. Still, we can't easily dispense with descriptive terminology altogether! Africans, by far, became the most discriminated segment of society in America or other former British today.
It could have happened to the Irish as well... and it could yet happen today unless we observe some restraint. In these cases, "racism" is not just about skin and, it is very important to understand that being "racist" is an ongoing conscious, often political, decision. We are not born racist and any use of a term that identifies someone as a member of a particular group is inherently carrying the seeds of a consciously-racist connotation. What do you think?