The Sacred Grove
The story of our beginnings
by Shlomoh Sherman
September 12, 1968

Since the dawn of man's conciousness, he has stood in awe of the external universe around him. Or rather, may we not say that he has stood in fear? Because, for man, fear has always been the primordal instinct, the great motivator of his progress, of his historical and physical evolution, and of his destiny. Man, the lonely animal, ever alone, surrounded by the frightfully majestic cosmos; a cosmos of which he has never had any true knowledge. Man, the artificer and inventor ... who, moved by fear, felt the neccessity even to invent the powers which move the elements. And has not fear been the mother of fancy and superstition the world over that has moulded us and our civilizations since homo became sapiens? To be sure, has not superstition been the mother of the cult, and the cult, in fine, the mother of faith, or rather, of religion? For in the dumb and uncomprehending egos of our prehistoric predecessors, all of terrible nature became infused with soul or with something remotely akin to it.

However, our task here is not that of exploring the when and where, the how and why of the initial submission of our kind to the divine, but rather, it is a relatively brief glimpe of the historical and cultural growth of a people whose religion has been inseperably bound with their history and culture, the story of their history is the story of their faith. It is a story which has its dark and remote beginning in a period earlier than five millenia ago; a tale which even in out time is not yet ended.

At a time when Egypt was in her greatness, when the civilizations of Sumer and Chaldea were already prominent, a people were roaming the southern area of what is now called Arabia. These were a simple nomadic people ever in serch of food for themselves, and grasses for their herds. They had not as yet developed an agriculture of their own, and were even poor breeders of the pitifully small number of animals which they had succeeded in domesticating. Being primarily a dessert people, they were accustomed to long periods of wondering, interspersed here and there with shorter lapses of restless rest when they chanced upon an "oasis" in their arid world, sufficient to supplying their generation for whatever length of time it was able.

These wonderers had as yet no name for themselves but reffered to themselves as the Children of Shem.

The Shemites had come in groups. Come and gone, and now the area was being inhabited by a group who had lived here for a generaltion. These were the Adamites, or roughly translated, means no more than Sons of the earth; earthlings, human beings. And indeed they were children of the earth who had found themselves land of much foliage. Here in this fertile spot of land, surrouned by the mighty dessert, grew huge trees from which the people drew their sustanence. The people worshipped the mighty trees in a simple manner and called them "Elohim" which means something like "Great or Strong Spirits of our Fathers". It is no surprise that they should have picked woods to be their deities. They were still at an animistic stage in their development, and often ascribed sentinent life to vegetation and water, natural gasses and animal life, and even to stones, and often gave homage to these natural manifistations. So it is not strange that this grove of giant wooded structures came to be a holy place to them and that living within this sacred woods they felt that they had the protection of the deities. Indeed they were living within the very habitation of the gods (although this particular group of people did not think of their "Mighty Ones" as gods, but as stated, rather as spirits of their ancestors, for to be sure they had not as yet attained to the concept of god - we here use the word "gods" by way of being demonstrative) And so they lived, from day to day, fed by the various food products of their protectors, in a veritable garden of 'sans sucie". In the midst of this Eden there grew a tree more resplendent and taller than the others. This tree they called "Eloi-Gabar", the "Mighty Spirit" of the earth. They were very particular in respect to the homage paid to the tree, more than the others. In time their reverance grew so great that their Spirit-Mediator (he has the forerunner of the priest) forbid them to tauch it; nay to even approach it. Only he (from now on, we will call him Priest, although that was not his name, but for the sake of clearness and brevity, we do so) dared come near Eloi-Gabar to consult it, and then only at the risk of his own life. For once, long ago, a small branch had fallen from the Mighty One's body, and from this the holy_men had fashioned a sacred rod. This rod the Priest would hold in his hand. It was not only the sign of his authority but with it he communicated with the Elohim for the people. At night when the winds blew hard and the lightning streaked across the heavens, Priest would approach Eloi-Gabar and extend the divine rod until he barely touched the holy body of the tree. Here he would stand imobile and wait for the Spirit to speak to him. This it would do through the thunder which only Priest could understand, and only when he was in communion with the tree; and the lightning would flash across the woods and Eloi-Gabar would extend his mighty limbs through the air and catch the great and powerful "fire"; here it would play in the branches of the trees and down through the trunk its holyness and magic would run to touch the fingertips of Priest through the holy-branch. Then Priest would be endowed with the holy fire from the sky, a gift secured and offered to him by Eloi-Gabar with love. He would then possess the power and the words of the Mighty Sprit and these he would bring to his people. Here the Adamites found peace and serenity which their fore- fathers had never before known, for to be sure their ancestors had never known Nature, or come upon an oasis such as this. Here they dwelled in harmony with

And one day another band of Shemites happened upon the garden in their midst. These were the Khavahites who worshipped the fertility serpent, Nachushtan, the Giver of Life: the Immortal One. While Priest's people had already passed their matriarch stage in evolution, (and gave reverence to that bygone phase only in such vestigial observances such as rites of the moon, whom they had already by this time made masculine, and as before mentioned, the Elohim were naturally masculine), the Khavahites were in the intermediate stage, passing from matriarchy to patriarchy. Although the latter's deity was male, he still retained some of his formerly female qualities, being somewhat hermaphraditic. Originally, their great deity had been Khavah, the Great Moon Mother, but now her worshippers were slowly turning away from her to bestow their favors on the Great Snake, although they still paid far more tribute to Khavah then did the Adamites.

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