Monday, September 12, 2011

Recycling on a Mythic Level

I love a scene in the TV series Mad Men where the main character takes his family on a picnic and when they are done, they just shake the blanket and let the trash blow down the hill.  Today, of course, not only will that get you severe mean looks, but you can get fined pretty severely.  Nowadays, you also can't just throw your trash away, either.  We should recycle it.  You know, go green and all of that.  I don't know about the rest of the world, but in America, I think the whole trash movement was largely inspired by millions of kids seeing the Native American crying when people pollute.  An even more effective ad might have been showing the Native American scalping litterbugs, but the crying thing seems to have worked.

What, you might say, does this have to do with mythology?  Well, while ancient cultures didn't have recycling bins to put their used stuff into, they did recycle gods from time to time.  Take Dagon, for instance.  Dagon started off as a simple Babylonian fertility and crop deity way back in 2500 BC.  He hung out with Shala or possibly Ishara.  Sometime he judged the dead.  Nobody really cared about him there since they had cooler gods like Marduk and Nergal.  Then came some Canaanites who took up the worship of Dagon.  They brought him into what is now Israel.  Then the Philistines (of David and Goliath fame) took up the guy and gave him a new look.  They gave him a spiffy fish tail and added fish duties to his reign.

As a god, he is a bit wimpy.  There are no good stories to tell about how Dagon crushed the mighty giant of Kulferth to create the world or anything.  In fact, he got his head handed to him by a box.  That's right, a box.  The Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant.  They placed it before Dagon's statue to celebrate.  The next day, the statue was lying face down in front of the Ark like it was worshiping it.  They set him up and that night it fell over again.  This time it had his head cut off and he was holding it in his hands.

That's what he is best known for now.  Bowing down to the Ark.  Milton even has him hanging out in Hell in Paradise Lost.  He is crying about losing his head.

God Checker has an enigmatic entry for him.  All they say is

Inventor of the Hebrew Plow, before it plowed itself into becoming a Plough if not a Pluff.

I don't know really know what that means. Plough does have a dirty slang meaning of "holding hands" but it really does quite fit right.  God Checker also ranks their gods in popularity.  Right now it is 3892 (it actually went down one in the researching of this post).  I think that we should all click on the God Checker link and see if we can raise his status some!  Come on, it could be a modern day crusade.  Could we actually pull enough power to get him to 3850?  This is your chance to be a part of mythic history!


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