This is an open thread, open to any post that one wishes to add. It isn’t as if it really matters anyway. Humanity only sees and hears the meme, memes are very catchy, almost as if they are an infection that enables sight and sound.
These are excerpts from Lyall Watson’s book Dark Nature
Lyall Watson: a South African botanist, zoologist, biologist, anthropologist, ethologist
“Ever since there were humans, there have been human desires. These differ from culture to culture, but the one fact common to all people everywhere is that nobody’s desires are ever completely satisfied. We always want more. More food, more land, more women, more children, more power, more respect, more money, more freedom—whatever. And as each desire is temporarily sated, the need transfers, automatically to another kind of hunger. In most other species, needs are constrained by ecological realities and, though competition persists, communities settle into more or less stable sets of relationships. Humans changed all that by turning natural needs into more disruptive “wants” and set in train our most universal characteristic, a tendency to disturb the ecology by trying to control it to our own advantage.
Our first attempts were probably directed at increasing productivity, and took the form of projecting our own internal desires onto the external world. Something we seem to have begun to do very early, perhaps as soon as we gave up scavenging and learned to hunt. Hunting is a risky business, a hit-or-miss affair, and anything that seemed to lessen the uncertainty would have been very welcome and quickly adopted. Omar Moore, an anthropologist suggested how this could have begun. He pointed to a custom which may still be in use among Native Americans who hunt the caribou in Labrador. When uncertain which way to take the hunt, they consult the hunted. They hold the shoulder bone of a caribou over hot coals and then interpret the cracks and spots produced by heat as a map, going where it seems to indicate. The marks are largely random, and are likely to lead to caribou only as a matter of chance, but over a period of time those using the technique and making such random forays tend to make better and more balanced use of their land. And in the long run, they become more successful hunters than those whose natural inclination to go back to where they had last hunted successfully very often leads to local overhunting.
There is a tendency to dismiss such practices as ‘superstition,” with the condescending observation that they are based on false premises. Perhaps. But as Moore points out: “Some practices which have been classified as magic, may well be directly efficacious for attaining the ends envisaged by their practitioners.” Sometimes the magic works.