Does the existence of elaborate cairns and stone circles complete with huge menhirs and standing stones not validate Freud’s view on how religion was established? Are the burial chambers for murdered alpha-males and the standing stones a guilty homage to their former alpha-power over the rest of the tribe or clan?
Your guess is as good as mine…. thankfully! So here are my thoughts.
According to Freud, religion was formed via guilt. He suggests that the majority of tribes had tired of a single (or perhaps a group of) alpha-male(s) who always took first spoils of food, women and dwellings. Freud continues to explain how the beta-males would murder the alpha-males in order to rearrange the pecking order and to reset the tribal hierarchy. Perhaps the alpha-males were the victims of an emerging egalitarian culture amongst Britain’s (and the world’s) countless tribes? That no one man should take his spoils before leaving seconds to the rest. The 99% were standing up against totalitarianism.
The subsequent feelings of homicidal guilt and godly worry were to be too much for the remaining tribal members who would then erect standing stones and cairns as an act of apology to the former alpha-males – themselves afforded positions of gods. Freud’s theory, to me at least, sounds plausible.
Unsurprisingly, these acts would not have appeased the alpha-male(s) within society. In order to halt the mass murder of alpha-culture, it’s possible they, perhaps as a collective of disgruntled ‘leaders’ and ‘neo-alphas,’ attempted to encourage and persuade those lower down the pecking order to disband and forget the homicidal deeds of their ancestors in murdering the most powerful amongst the ancient tribes. Power needed to be shifted back – a power driven by the guilt of the masses.
With hindsight, we know now that religion would eventually reinstate and disguise the pessimistic and paranoid alpha-males back into positions of respect and authority – as leaders, messengers and even mercenaries of fairy-tale, yet often smiting, gods. Some might say they were the first celebrities. A disorientating shield allowing them to subtly and subconsciously continue their agendas of domination and maintain the alpha-dominance.
Any number of religions (of varying sorts and under the leadership of the intelligent alpha-males) built even larger structures around and above the ancient circles and standing stones – engulfing, altering and often destroying completely that which had stood for centuries previous. The deeds (as well as their structural representations) were eventually forgotten; good news for any powerful alpha-males who were ready to consume the surroundings and leave the scraps for the rest, of course. Cleverly and interestingly, however, the unexplainable guilt of the beta-males to pay homage to structures and heroes remained.
Megalithic structures were, therefore, prehistoric temples. In the case of many Welsh / European structures, sites used previously to worship gods of the day time and of the living had transformed into offerings to the nighttime and to the dead – all under the will of the new alpha-leaders. The darkness presented an opportunity for exploitation of the populous by means not previously utilised. The vast majority of cairns and circles were not brutally erased but they were, perhaps a fate worse than destruction, being forgotten. Stories of spooky witchcraft and wasteful rituals were attached to the megalithic structures – further encouraging the 99% to perceive the ancient sites as backwards and immoral. Old rituals and traditions were seen as uncivilised. New stories of heroes and gods were created – subconsciously idolising the strongest of men rather than the weaker masses. The betas were back under the alpha-thumb. Religion was born.
Or maybe these megalithic structures were simply centrepieces in entries for Best Kept Village UK – 4000BC?
The wonderful thing about the history behind our megalithic past is that very little is understood about it. For every one structure punctuating the landscape of these islands there are a hundred theories of their purpose and of their place in the lives of our ancestors. Thus leaving ajar the door for uneducated romantics like myself to throw my own theories into the mix.
The likelihood is we will never fully discover the secrets of these structures. Just as modern religion built over these structures (both emotionally and geographically), did the remains we see today not build upon even older sites…. each of those with their own mysterious secrets? But they’re other stories for other times. Your guess here truly is as good as mine.