T H E Babylonian myth of King Gilgamesh and his complex struggles with Queen Ishtar, her underworld, and the epic flood, opens with a special creation story. The goddess Aruru makes a man by pinching a bit of red clay. This act of creation is not one of thought, or of separation, rather it is an act of creation through handcraft, manufacture. The myth anticipates a new era of social organization: the city, whose foundations are in the menstrual economies of farming, herding, and horticulture, but whose ritual emphasis is on the making of crafts --- not only pottery, but metallurgy, jewelry, carving, carpentry, and the multitude of material manipulations that have become engineering. The crafts are given a full listing in the me that Inanna receives into her Boat of Heaven: the woodworker, copper worker, scribe, smith, leather worker, fuller, builder, and reed worker. Craftsmen were so completely integrated into the goddess religion that in India, "five classes of artisans --- the carpenters, the gold smiths, the blacksmiths, the brasssmiths, and masons --- regarded themselves as the original creators of form and called themselves Brahmin kammalars. They insisted on their right to enact the sacred rituals. In village societies, the craftsman was the officiating magician-priest at the shrine of the goddess."
Regardless of how lost my Swedish-born father seems to get in modern America, he is always centered in his skill and love of [p. 230]
wood carving. His craft always brings him back together within himself after another failure of lady luck has shattered him. Whenever he is fired or laid off work, he sits home drinking pots of coffee, humming and carving. He shapes miniature figures and sailing ships, little brass cannon, slender six-inch-long scale models of Civil War rifles. He also reads history books and tells me stories about Europe and other places --- with special attention to the trees and kinds of wood in each location --- so his carvings seem a sort of profound meditation on his own origins.
I don't have the knack of carving, though at twelve I try; the first thing I carve is, oddly enough, a little coiled snake. I give it a hat and bow tie to hide my embarrassment at its simplicity with a bit of humor. But my father still has given me craft: the understanding that creativity comes from concentration and inner stillness --- a kind of listening to and honoring the sources and materials of one's own artful discipline. Very simple tools are all that is needed. He uses a razor-sharp pocket knife, a pencil, scraps of wood, metal, or plastic, found in trash heaps, and tiny bottles of paint. His tool chest is a cardboard box kept under his side of the little bed he shares with my mother. Because of him, I have a deep respect for the making of objects.
If the ancestral protohumans were strange animals who spent millennia learning to wear matted skirts and long hats, how much stranger still that their descendants sat hunched for millions of hours over bits of cord, wood, metal, and clay, forming them into shapes imitative of those they saw in life. Why, they might have wondered, do we do this? To investigate the relationship of crafts and menstruation, I begin by considering one of the oddest of them: the rose. Although it lives, the rose, like a multitude of handmade objects, is a product of human skill. It has been crafted through horticulture. That people would take so much time and trouble to cultivate such a prickly, uncomfortable, inedible plant, dragging it with them to every new place of living, across sea and [p. 230]
land, building hothouses and raised beds simply in order to gaze upon its blooms seems odd behavior indeed.
The rose is a venerable symbol of love and, more fundamentally, of the vulva, blood red. Roses are given on occasions to express love and respect. Thousands of people spend their lives breeding, raising, arranging, and selling roses. The trade in roses and other flowers is itself a small economy as there are over ten thousand varieties of roses. The rose, originating in Persia, stemmed from Arab cultures and spread throughout Christianized Europe. It became a primary symbol of Mary, who is often called "the Rose," "Rose-garden," "Mystic Rose," and the like. Gothic cathedrals featured a rose window, situated in the west, a counterpoint to the male cross in the eastern apse.
Given that a Neanderthal grave contained pollen, suggesting that flowers were sprinkled there, the question arises of why human attention should have turned to such an odd thing as a flower? Flowers are mythically significant worldwide, the tropical reds of Hawaiian flowers, the lotus of India. It is hard to imagine the poems of classical Japan without the image of flowering plum. And for other peoples, the poppy, carnation, tulip, chrysanthemum, poinsettia, and other flowers selected for brilliant red coloring are objects of great attention. Elaborate festivals from India to Southeast Asia are resplendent with flower offerings, and religious altars around the world overflow with flowers.
The rose is thus only one of many metaformic flowers, but it is one of the most powerful. I call the rose a "craft," because though it is something cultivated and harvested, it isn't a food or herb. Its value lies in the significance of its form, in what we call its beauty, its cosmetikos. The smell, color, shape, number of petals and thorns of the rose all contribute to a metaformic statement of the bleeding vulva --- of the plant world.
The gnostic Gospels, dated around four hundred years after Christ, contain an origin story of the rose and of flowers in general that is overtly menstrual. In the context of romantic love, the [p. 231]
story associates the menstruation of humans and "menstruations" of plant life:
But the first Psyche (Soul) loved Eros who was with her, and poured her blood upon him and upon the earth. Then from that blood the rose first sprouted upon the earth out of the thorn bush, for a joy in the light which was to appear in the bramble. After this the beautiful, fragrant flowers sprouted up in the earth according to their kind from the blood of each of the virgins of the daughters of Pronoia. When they had become enamored of Eros, they poured out their blood upon him and upon the earth. After these things, every herb sprouted up in the earth according to kind.
Pronoia is a female substance, translated as "foreknowledge." From the menstrual blood of the daughters of foreknowledge came the rose as token of their love for Eros, god of sexual love. And from the exuberance of their expression came plant life on earth --- which I take to mean human use of, or cultivation of, garden plants.
In Leviticus, the biblical chapter of regulatory laws governing behavior, a woman's period is called her "flowers". "And if her flowers be upon her . . ." or “And of her that is sick of her flowers . . ." On this continent, too, menstruation was called "flowers." A Yurok myth says that Coyote created menstruation and menstrual laws, and the human culture hero helped this process by cutting his ankle and smearing blood on a girl's thigh, whereupon Coyote said, "You got flowers now. " Barbara Walker has pointed out that the word flower is literally "flow-er," menstruator, and in much of the European tradition as well, menstruation was once called "flowers." Old English forms related to blod, "blood," are blowan, blew, and blown, meaning "to bloom, to blossom." In French, fluer means "flow," and fleurs, "flowers." And in German the singular Blut is blood while the plural Blüte is flower; in Hungarian vér is blood, veres is red, and vér-ag is bloom, flower. The Karok of California held a special "flower dance" in summer for girls who had begun to menstruate. An approving Spanish name for lesbians is las flores, "the flowers," used [p.231]
among some families of North America. Women are often named for flowers, and many goddesses have special flowers. The rose was the flower of Sappho's goddess, Aphrodite, a latter-day Inanna. And Inanna's eight-pointed symbol is called a rosette and was sometimes depicted growing on a tree or vine.
The smell of roses is one method of cleaning the taint of shame, associated with the smell of menstrual blood, which has attached itself to the female body. When the rose is worn as a perfume it is cosmetikos, part of female allure that says, "See how well I take care of myself, for your benefit." When the rose is used as a cut flower, carried or worn, it is more of a craft, a metaform replacing and purifying the vulva's image. The bride's entire body is veiled in cloth, her sexuality not even suggested by her garb; yet she may carry the round red bridal bouquet, the collective floral vulva, to pass on to the next most marriageable maiden. No blood needs to show at the modern wedding or festival, but red flowers are a common substitute, their petals torn and scattered over the table, the punch bowl, the carpet, and the bridal chair, like the blood drops scattered on the queenly throne in Inanna's New Year's procession.
The rose was metaformically crafted from menstrual blood and is associated with controlled sexual love. The presentation of a rose is a form of speech, a word passing between any two people who desire connection, but particularly between a man and woman. Traditionally, when men bring roses to women, women feel cherished. The flowers release feelings of tenderness and romance. People also use the scent of flowers to equalize our smells --- perhaps a political necessity as local village populations became mass urban populations, enormous groups of strangers. The rose and similar flowers became prized trade objects. One early capitalist enterprise, in Holland, consisted of speculations in the sale of tulip bulbs. But long before the Dutch discovered the profits of flowers; perfumed oils and rose waters were products of frequent exchange in the shipping trades of Egypt and Phoenicia, Persia and Greece.
The rose is also a token of love, a "payment" to the menstrual/ erotic mind itself and traded between hearts. How did this come [p. 235]
about, that we would use flowers as a kind of payment? And just what do we mean by "payment"?
I discussed earlier how the Dogon's threshing of the fonio grain at night is a way of paying the earth her due for the knowledge of incest and in atonement for (recognition of) the jackal's negative character. Other ideas of payment, trade, and the exchange of crafts are also connected to the menstrual mind at the heart of human culture. The Dogon origin story of trade begins with twins. The very first trade, Ogotemmêli says, began when twins sat down on the red ant mound. The two sat down on the mound of the earth's menstruating vulva and exchanged two kinds of words: cloth and cowrie shells, each of which is a metaform for living language. Twinness is a cornerstone of Dogon philosophy for many reasons, but one is that twins gave the Dogon people the underlying idea of trade, the idea of the essential equality of two unique objects. In trade, the cloth and the cowries are equalized; that is to say, negotiations continue until the two elements are "twinned." Twinness teaches, at the same time it embodies, the mathematical idea of equation. For the Dogon, this idea exists in the context of menstrual balance of powers: the life/death character of the red ant mound.
Cloth, as decorated skin, had unimaginable value to people for whom it was a metaform. In Africa, cloth making reached heights of color and design, especially geometric design, and had ritual significance equaled only in a few other places --- among the indigenous people of Central America and in parts of Asia, for example. Cowrie shells are used for divination in religious rites as well as in trade. Rounded like a pregnant belly on one side and with a deep vulva on the other, the delicate shells are obvious female metaforms, though some peoples consider them male on one side and female on the other. The cowries are a means of divining information from the gods, of calling them through their sacred numbers, [p. 234]
by casting that precise number of shells. The means of barter is also a means of prayer or instruction between human and universal mind, for the cowries are considered words and accompany verbal communication.
In Dogon society, and throughout most of the traditional village world, the most important element of trade is the verbal exchange that precedes the transaction and that establishes price. The Dogon consider that the cloth and the cowries both have spirit and are both alive; they speak to each other through the mouths of the human traders. According to Ogotemmêli, cloth itself is full of words --- from the art of spinning (which comes from the mouths of women) and of weaving (which the men now do, and which has ancestral narrative significance). There are also words in the designs, deriving as they do from cosmetikos. The cowries of payment are thus a form of language, as is the cloth. Trade, then, may be thought of as speaking, a form of communication that spreads the "goods" of words among the population.
Payment for an object owned by someone else cleans it. The Dogon believe that a spirit of the owner attaches to his or her property, so if you borrow something, the owner's essence clings to it and causes future trouble. All tribal peoples understand this, and so do psychics in the West. Trade, or paying fair price for the object, first equalizes the exchange, then wipes out this clinging spirit essence so there is no "debt," no interfering presence of the original owner. The object is washed clean by the exchange of value for value, ready to be enfused with the spirit of the new owner. Payment may be understood as a method of balancing menstrual powers by "cleaning" out old influences, renewing. The original twins of trade sat on the red ant mound and learned the menstrual arts of measuring, speaking, equalizing, and renewing --- establishing a "flow" of trade.
These associations are acknowledged even now in industrial society. When negotiations go wrong, people describe the feeling as "dirty": the deal "smells bad," we got a "raw deal," or there is something "fishy," that is, menstrual, about it. We feel proud when [p. 235]
we can pay for something with our "own" money or when we are "free and clear" of debt. Appropriately paid for objects are "goods." Goods not paid for are stolen, dirtied. They must be paid for in more drastic ways, perhaps in blood, perhaps by restriction-years of forced separation from others, in some societies in small cages where the prisoner is fed "bread and water," the menstrual seclusion food of simple jail fare.
On the tribal California coast, shells, often round white ones, were used as money. They can clearly be related to the full, or nonmenstruating, moon. But given that the Kogi people associate white shells with the semen of their male creation sky god, there may also have been a male principle underlying the use of white shells on the northern continent. Red woodpecker scalps were another form of money among California tribes, and some young men collected long strings of the little scarlet patches. Early in this century, a Yurok woman named Weitchpec Susie reported that postmenstrual "washing" in the center of the sky, the cleanest possible place, attained by following "paths" made of woodpecker heads, dentalia shells, and white deerskin (all highly valued), would make a woman rich all her life.
The word "money" comes from moon --- "mooney" --- and in ancient Rome the mint was in the temple of Juno, goddess of marriage. In all likelihood round coins made of silver and other metals were sometimes portraits of the full moon and sun. Gold and silver coins were equated with semen in some European folk songs. Coins are still used as cosmetikos by many peoples. They form women's marriage headdresses throughout the Middle East and adorn special skirts of sexual allure worn by women dancers, and in the West, money is still tucked into the G-strings of sexual dancers.
In the Mesopotamian region, even as city-states developed, the priestess class continued the sacred ideas underlying trade. The roots of a money economy were established within the temples themselves, for trade had religious significance. The supplicant brought a lunar/seminal payment --- metaforms such as shells, salt, coins, precious gems, or metals --- in exchange for a blessing of [p. 236]
some sort, whether a prayer, a rite, a sexual exchange, the sacrifice of a cow.
The rose, like other selected crafts, is a substitution for blood payment, the blood that poured from Psyche, the first embodiment of foreknowledge. Blood drops were metaformically transformed into rose petals. I think of payment as a debt of recognition; we are kept conscious of our origins by the act of paying. Payment also exchanges the former owner's essence for one's own by equalizing and washing the object. This trading, or "speaking" through trading, has largely replaced blood sacrifice (although we see how quickly in mass society, groups left out of the process of trade resort to bloodshed to make themselves heard). The roots of modern materialist society thus lie in the metaforms through which people began to "speak" by trading significant crafts.
Australian myths still recall the origin of red ochre deposits as the spilling of menstrual blood by ancestral dancers, and it is a logical extension that ancient peoples would have used the menstrual mind to order the strata of the earth's mineral composition. Not only streams of water, springs, rivers, and the sea were first comprehended through images of blood (and analogous body fluids), but also the minerals of the earth.
Metals and gems of ancient smiths and jewelers had religious significance connected to women's blood and the earth's blood, even the "blood" of the sun. The Dogon consider the red metal copper to be an excretion of the sun, which is female. They also associate copper with water, perhaps because of the green appearance of the "raw" ore. All manner of taboos surround the art of smithing in their villages. For example, because the smith stole fire from the sun, his fire is a piece of sun, and he must not do his work after sunset. Copper is metaphorically associated with fluid, and even late in the Western tradition, less than two hundred years ago, fire, too, was considered to be a fluid. Iron ore --- red and smelling [p. 237]
like blood, which also has iron content, is ringed with taboos. Among some peoples, it cannot touch the earth, for instance. For others, it fashions the protective stool or shoes that are placed between a royal menstruant and the vulnerable earth.
The primary stones used in the cosmetikos of the temple priestesses and the goddess Inanna/Ishtar of Mesopotamia were lapis lazuli and carnelian, both considered blood of the earth. As a red stone, carnelian is more obvious, but deep blue lapis, too, was menstrual and is named in the Bible as sappur, "holy blood." In the narrative of Inanna's descent to underworld seclusion, her body is compared to three materials of the craftsman: boxwood, a wood used to make ornaments to cover the vulva; silver, an exudate of the moon; and lapis lazuli, the earth's menstruation.  The Kogi people of Colombia describe all veins of minerals as the Mother's blood, as they do underground water. The fact that blue and green stones were considered "blood" makes more sense if we remember that the metaphoric mind was relating them to the life --- giving waters of the earth, and treating watery images as blood was a method of organizing complex ideas. Jade, too, the "heavenly stone" of China, which in its "raw" form is crusted with red, can be associated with blood. The Kogi believe that gold itself is menstrual blood, that mining is the same as draining the Mother's life-giving streams, and that the whole ecosystem of plant and cloud life is threatened by the materialist exploitation of the earth.
If gold and other minerals are the blood of the earth, clay is her flesh. Kogi taboos regarding clayworkers are clues as to how they, and other ancient farming cultures, must have used menstrual seclusion laws to learn to work gold, silver, and other minerals. While women may have first created pottery, among the Kogi it is the men who do it. They believe that "an earthenware jar is one more aspect of the womb-mother." The care with which they approach the craft of pottery as a menstrual rite reflects also how their forefathers approached gold smithing (which is no longer done). "Women do not need a great effort of spiritual preparation to make a mochila [woven bag] because every woman is in a sense [p. 238]
the Mother. But pots are made by men. Men must approach the making of a pot with as much care and seriousness as they approach the coming of manhood." The potter digs clay for four days (the sacred number); he eats no salt; he cannot look at women or enter the house of a woman; he bathes only at night. He keeps strictly to these regulations the entire time in which he makes pots, a designated period of one month. And in keeping with the menstrual tradition, a trade payment is necessary: "The clay of the earth was a woman. That is why when a Mama is going to have a pot made he has to make a payment" of a small white stone.
The Kogi and other precolombian peoples made figurines of gold, sometimes keeping them in their fields. Small gold or clay statues of goddess figures were a common feature in old agricultural cultures --- in the valley of Mexico as well as the Near East, in Crete, Malta, Eastern Europe, as well as in prechristian Greece, and many other places. One purpose of such figurines is made clear by contemporary rural villagers in India, who say that the little clay statues in their fields are substitutes for human sacrifice, part of an old earth religion. Not so long ago, they would have killed members of their own families and put their dismembered bodies in the fields to guarantee the crop.
For ancient craftworkers, gold had a sacred value, not a commercial worth. The gold figurines that Kogi ancestors placed in graves, fields, and temples usually represented the earth Mother --- though there were Snake forms also --- and the little padded female figures wear big earrings, like an emergent menstruant. The figurines were always stored in clay pots, which was entirely logical, since gold was equated with menstrual blood and clay pots with wombs. The Kogi also kept precious gems and gold in stone temples for protection --- just as the royal menstruants were kept behind thick stone walls in kingdoms all around the Northern Hemisphere and in Mayan cities, in Egypt, and in all probability in other African kingdoms as well.
Since craftspeople considered gems, silver, and gold to be the Mother's menstrual blood and clay to be her flesh, the "purifica- [p. 239]
tion" of any of these substances with fire was menstrual logic, an extension of their religious structure, leading directly to the crafts of metallurgy, smithing, and fired pottery. Throughout the Middle Ages, alchemists chased the possibility of transmuting all manner of minerals into gold, and in the course of this essentially menstrual exercise, at which they systematically failed, they discovered the basics of what has become modern chemistry.
Engineering also developed, as the tools and ideas used in cosmetikos were transferred to crafts. Indeed, we might think of crafts as the cosmetikos of the earth: trees are carved as skin was carved; clay is "the same as" flesh; pins hold flesh, pins hold cloth, pins hold clay. Crafts were in this way an expansion of human mind outside the body.
When the decorations of cosmetikos migrated off the body, they would as a matter of course have been translated into the forms and functions used in mechanics --- most obviously, as we have seen, in cords and strings, from umbilical cords and cat's cradle. Objects designed to be embedded in ear lobes and lips were geometric and shaped with grooved edges and interlocking parts. From cosmetikos, the essential shapes and functions for external equipment --- the grooved disk, the double-headed knob, the belt, the trapezoid, globe, and triangle shapes --- developed. These were all forms that some societies would come to use in mechanical devices, as linch and cotter pins, pegs, wedges, dowels, swivels, and nails. Both genders participated in the formation of engineering, as the shapes had passed over to the men through their puberty and marriage ceremonies, for men, too, used lip plugs and ear plugs and other elaborate embedded body adornment, including smooth wooden pins inserted in the penis. The fundamental shapes of cosmetikos are seen in the mechanics of block and tackle, pulley, spool, gear, winch, and wheel that turned waterwheels, lifted stones, hoisted sails, and built temples and houses.
The paraphernalia of the menstrual hut, too, contained the elements of engineering and design: the scratching stick that separated the menstruant's contaminated fingers from the earth of her skin [p. 240]
would scratch the surface of the earth itself as digging stick or hoe. In male hands, it would later become a plow, identified in myth with the penis: "Plow my vulva, man of my heart!"  The mortar and pestle is the structure of the ball and socket that swung doors of cities in Sumer. The mats that seated the menstruant off the earth became the molds for clay plates and other utensils. The swan- or eagle-bone straw became, among other things, the flute, played by young men in many cultures to woo women. The greatly cherished cow or bull horn of the African or Teutonic chief --- blown at the New Moon, kept in a cloistered place and polished with sacred oil --- can be heard today as the trumpets with which men continue to speak to the Mystery.
My parents greatest point of disparity was over my father's love of drinking, not only his inability to stop and his atrocious, boring behavior when drunk, but also that it kept him away from home. My father loved the tavern and the company of other men, the convivial conversations, the music and gambling, and the big-handed gestures of buying "drinks on the house." He probably liked the convivial women there as well, but that was never discussed in front of me. I grew up ambivalent toward drinking, periodically imitating my father in doing it and my mother in stopping it. Some ancient people treated drunkenness as an illness, and common menstrual law would have prohibited pregnant and nursing women from imbibing. The Dogon completely prohibit adults from drinking until they are old, and then it is expected of them, and people listen closely to drunken elders as the voices of spirits in prophecy. I like this system best, and look forward to being a raving lush in my seventies and eighties.
The words "tavern" and "tabernacle" both derive from Latin taberna, hut. The diminutive is "tent" and the first Websters Dictionary definition of tabernacle is "a tent sanctuary used by the [p. 241]
Israelites during the Exodus." Tabernacle also means a "receptacle for the consecrated elements of the Eucharist," especially an "ornamental locked box fixed to the middle of the altar and used for reserving the host." Finally, tabernacles are houses of worship, such as a tent or large building for evangelistic services. The secular place of gathering and drinking alcohol is "tavern," and in modern Greek the earlier pronunciation "taberna" refers to a cafe.
A tavern today is a public place to go to enjoy oneself, to drink with others and achieve an altered state of mind and spirit, perhaps to meet a sexual partner or to pour out one's troubles to the sympathetic bartender. In ancient Sumerian practice, the elements were the same; but they were treated as sacred r'tu. A special bed for the harlot goddess Inanna was made in the tavern, making it a place of sacred "one-night matrimony." From as early as 4000 B.C.E., Sumerian men were depicted dressed in floor-length skirts and carefully seated "off the earth" on chairs, sharing big jars of beer, which they drank through long straws, perhaps made of lapis lazuli and gold. Such straws were found at Ur in the grave of Lady Pu-abi dated at around 2600 B.C.E. Alewives owned the taverns, trading beer for silver coins. (The code of Hammurabi specified they were to be drowned for overcharging.)
The tavern premises were tabooed to high priestesses, who as the ultimate menstrual figure would have interfered with its powers-setting off natural disasters, of which flood was the most likely and logical. A hymn to Ninkasi, the beer goddess, makes clear that sacred flowing waters and sacred beer are metaformically related. Ninkasi's mother is called "the sacred lake," the fermenting yeast is likened to the sea ("the waves rise/the waves fall"), and the final pouring of the filtered red liquid is equated to the onrushing waters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, those two sisterly flows.
The Sumerian taberna was a place of "crossing over," as alewives offered the foaming metaform to the public, that is to say, to men. It is easy to see how the tabernacle came to be a box or container holding consecrated bread and wine of sacred rite. The [p. 242]
tavern is a secular version of some of the oldest sacraments, and in all probability the drinking men practiced divination and prophetic speech as part of their rite. Skoal, Dad.
Like the tavern and the tabernacle, the temple evolved from the basic but of menstrual orientation into a structure where more complex measurements of time and space were kept. The word "temple" has roots in "time" --- as do "tempo," "temporary," and "contemplation" --- from Latin tempus, "time," and templum, "space marked out for the observation of auguries." It is also related to tempestas, "season" or "storm." What besides time has been kept in temples? Orientation, statuary, ritual paraphernalia, fire, water, books, grain, fruits, cattle, money, and crafts. As temples became centers of trade, the earliest known cities grew up around them.
It is entirely likely that the menstrual hut, as the original dwelling, was the axis around which the village grew. The menstrual but was not only oriented toward light, but also direction and major landscape features, such as rivers, lakes, and springs. A map of typical North American Indian hunting and gathering villages shows that menstrual huts were placed near a river or stream, but away from the spring or source of drinking water, thus marking the difference between drinking water and washing water. The Dogon village is laid out in an oval and imagined as a human body; two women's houses, the menstrual huts, are just outside the oval and on its east-west axis; they are round and are called the "hands" of the village. In the north, inside the oval, is a square shelter for the men. These two structures are the first ones built in a new village. Conversely, menstrual huts may be the last structure abandoned in a village. In one African tribe, the menstrual hut was located in an older village, and women journeyed from the new village to the older, keeping its history.
Menstrual practices established areas as sacred: In Hawaii, [p. 243]
women used old skirts as menstrual pads, which they sometime, stuffed into the cracks of the slatted house, or hale. Men refused to lean against the side of a house lest they accidentally touch one of the used pads. More often, women buried their pads in areas, around the seclusion huts, and these areas were taboo, forming sacred precincts into which no one except menstruating women, would go. Sacred ground surrounds most temples, and it is possible that the habit of setting apart all the ground around seclusion huts can account for it. Among many peoples, both menstruation and birthing huts were burned or abandoned after a single use, and the area was then taboo. This must have given women phenomenal practice at house building, as well as establishing specific "off limits" territory, "sacred ground" associated with the primal house of orientation and origin.
Most ancient Greek temples used the central idea of the grove of trees holding up the sky. By substituting stone for wood, the Greeks devised the polished and painted marble column to hold up the roofs of their temples. Even with so much marble, the rituals practiced within the temples were not far from the menstrual but of reeds and grass. On annual feasting occasions, reclining couches were replaced with crude beds of twigs, and small temple houses were replaced with specially built rude huts, as though participants were enacting the way back to earlier forms of the temple. The feast of Hera, featured structures of pine or willow branches, the feast of Olympia, olive branches.
The earliest Greek temple, according to Carl Kerenyi, was that of Hera, and it was a prototype for the later, more "Olympian structures. Hera's temple at Samos does not at all resemble a hut. As I said earlier, it is more a long vaginal cave or underworld, or an enclosed path through the woods --- along, narrow, dark chamber, with a line of columnar "trees" down the center. The goddess her shape as a slab of oak, stayed in seclusion at the dark end of her stone temple, as if in a forested underworld.
Because the royal menstruant represented the collective met.aformic mind, royal burials were associated with the essential "hut [p. 244]
of orientation --- the temple, the palace, and the sacred precincts around them. The lunar, solar, and stellar alignments of temples worldwide is well documented, not only of monumental stone edifices but of simple sacred constructions: some peoples used simple poles pointed to the North Pole, or made a line drawing to mark the falling of sun rays into the back of a cave at the summer or winter solstice.
The underlying menstrual imagery is never far away from stone temples, which were often the site of blood sacrifice. In Mexico, lie moon and sun temples are pyramidic forms, and the entire moon temple of Teotihuacan in the valley of Mexico was painted blood red . As with the Egyptian, Mayan, and Chinese temples, reek temples and related buildings were richly colored, the most prominant color being red. Sumerian doors were also painted red. The mountainshaped moon temple at Ur was black at the bottom to signify the underworld, red in its main body for earth, and capped with a little blue hut for sky. A feature of a tall Chichen Itza pyramid is that by a trick of architecture, a huge serpent appears to slide down the side of the great structure at dusk of the equinox. Many Mayan temples have serpents depicted on or otherwise associated with them, as Asian temples have dragons.
In farming communities on rivers, the temple of orientation was also an early-warning flood system --- an ark if ever there was one. This is believed to have been one use of the Great Pyramid, which marked the rising of the star Sothis, an event that preceded the Nile's yearly flood by two weeks --- long enough for farmworkers to love to higher ground. Three calendric measurements, lunar, solar and stellar, are incorporated into its dimensions. The pyramid almost perfectly oriented to true north and incorporates a value for pi accurate to several decimals. It also incorporates the sacred triangle 3-4-5 and the formula a2 + b2 = c2 "which were to make Pythagoras famous, and which Plato in his Timaeus claimed as the building blocks of the cosmos". The pyramid's angles and slopes display trigonometric values, and its shape uses the proportions of the "Golden Section." The top of the pyramid represents the North [p. 245]
Pole, and the base of it, the equator; each quadrant of its face equaled 90 degrees of earth surface. Thus a structure combining the triangle and the square was used to describe perfectly the half-globe of the Northern Hemisphere of the earth.
Builders of the Great Pyramid knew the exact circumference of the planet and the precise length of the year. Peter Tompkins, an engineer who compiled centuries of the Great Pyramid's measurements, thinks they may also have known the mean length of the earth's orbit around the sun, the specific density of earth, the 26,000 --- year cycle of the equinoxes, the acceleration of gravity and the speed of light. Since only scraps of this information passed over to the West through the Greeks, it could not be rediscovered until modern engineers had emerged from the so-called Dark Ages of European village life. In 820 A.D., Abdullah Al Mamun, patron of science, battered into the Great Pyramid after being told by his network of intelligence agents (1,700 old women) that the structure contained celestial and terrestrial maps. When the maps could not be found, in disappointment, his men hacked the beautiful granite walls. Later, Westerners used explosives to gain entrance. Only recently have engineers understood that the pyramid itself is a set of measuring tools.
The Great Pyramid, in conjunction with two smaller ones near it, produces sets of triangular shapes and shadows of triangular shapes that can fix exact locations from an area hundreds of miles around. Using only a plumb bob, a farmer could redefine land boundaries after the yearly flood had washed the markers away.
In the middle of the Great Pyramid, and many others, are small chambers. Surrounded by tons of limestone, these chambers typically are made of granite slabs. They are hut-shaped and hut-sized, with peaked roofs. They have long been thought to be tombs for kings, though no king's bodies have been found. The main chamber of the Great Pyramid is tiny compared to the massive structure, and it has an anteroom --- as though to leave food and water for a royal menstruant secluded in the coffer within.
The archetypal ancient city arose in Mesopotamia and was sus- [p. 246]
tained by a complex economy based in farming, herding, and the exchange of crafts. It was often located near a river and often had a lunar temple at its center, and female-headed priesthoods, incorporating kingship as masculine parallel r'tu. The temple was a kind of ark, a material container for orientation to the earth and to rotating lights in the sky, for purifying rites of fire and water, and for seclusion of menstrual officiants. It housed statuary-replicas of the collective menstruant, or deities --- and encompassed sanctuaries and burial grounds. It was also a repository for substances of cosmetikos such as myrrh, turmeric, ochre, meat and herb sacrifices, grains, beers and wines, and carefully worked metaformic ,minerals, gems, and wooden objects of the master craftsmen. In Sumer, some five thousand years ago, Inanna's "temple," a word meaning "storehouse," was depicted on seals as a reed hut, like little reed menstrual huts in use recently in rural countrysides of neighboring India, or the sacred giparu of the Babylonian creation myth. Inanna's actual temples had by then become huge stone structures, with big eastern doors, the centers of all civilian life in the cities considered "hers."
Goddesses of later Greece would wear crowns shaped like walled cities in tribute to the female role of origination of the urban form. Successfully dependent on metaforms of grains, meats, and fruits, populations now began to swell, and to gather in close quarters around the temple storehouse. Writing, beginning around 3500 B.C.E. in the Sumerian temples as a method of keeping track of the storing and distribution of grain, soon included tablets of narrative creation stories. Western culture was there, poised at the edge of a world view distinctly different from those developed by wilderness, cosmetikos and narrative metaforms --- the new mind would be based in materialist metaforms. [p. 247]