And no ... it's not all because some woman named "Eve" ate a piece of fruit.
(That would be the metaphorical rendering of one particular group of people, trying to describe what had happened.)
There had been gradual warning signs ... from an outbreak of random violence in Turkey (which was linked to drought) ... to some Semitic people invading Syria and Mesopotamia ... but it wasn't until 4,000 BC that violence became pandemic, with continuous wars, social oppression on a large scale, and prevalent male domination.
But why 4,000 BC?
Prior to this time, most of the humans lived in the regression of the great glaciers, as the last Ice Age receded. As the glaciers (sloooooowly) regressed, the land in their wake was fertile and lush ... plants and animals flourished, and food was plentiful for the humans. But a dramatic climate change occurred at the end of the ice age ... not only did the ice recede, but the land dried out, and the air became arid ... transforming previously lush lands into the deserts that are now the Sahara and the Gobi, and the Arabian and Iranian deserts in the Middle East (fossils and cave drawings attest to the plant and animal life that once flourished there -- species that could no longer survive the harsh climate).
Now, a funny thing happens when the land goes arid. The positive ions that exist in such regions actually have a negative affect on humans -- actually causing discontent, anxiety, and intense fear for survival. The peace loving humans turned on one another -- particularly now that they had to compete for food, water, life. Humans suddenly got all cranky. What had previously been plentiful was suddenly scarce. Quite suddenly, men became the ones who had to hunt the scarce animals for food (plants wouldn't survive long) ... they returned to migrating, chasing the animals ... suddenly the earth was no longer a source of provision, but a thing to be conquered (shades of the Garden of Eden -- the thorny earth, and the sweat of the brow) ... suddenly women were seen as distractions, sex was seen as dangerous (energy-sapping), and children were seen as inconvenient mouths to feed. It only takes a couple of generations of treating some as "less than" for a new consciousness to be cemented in a culture ... particularly when the children grow up feeling invalidated. It didn't take long for the cultures to switch from matrist, to patrist. This, was the Ego-Explosion... when love was replaced with fear.
As these desperate Saharasian nomads pushed into other settled lands, farther north, south and east, they brought destruction into the places they sought to conquer, in the name of survival. They saw themselves as superior (& there's evidence that the ego gave birth to a higher level of intellect, as they needed new skills in order to survive). But they had lost their reverence for nature ... as ego goes up, reverence for life goes down. The Womb-Spirit with a Female nature was replaced with the Male Sky God, who was as angry, distant and warlike as His worshippers (creating god in their own image!).
For the first time in all of history, graves began to take on different sizes ... indicating class distinctions. Some people were more valuable than others. Possessions now begin to be added in to the graves (along with still-alive wives and concubines!) ... and we find the first indications of slavery -- humans "owning" other humans. It seems to have been the practice to kill the men in the villages they conquered, but to keep the women and girls, who became concubines and slaves (reminds me of a biblical passage ... where they believed God told them to do this).
All over the planet, it was the same story ... the regions that dried out, altered the human psyche from peace to war ... and the invasions of those war-like humans wrought devastation to those who were conquered by them. Each area that was conquered by the Saharasian people, made a transition from matrism, to patrism. From Spirit-focus, to ego-focus.
Steve Taylor writes:
From this point on everything is different. There are no more female figurines, no more artistic depictions of natural phenomena, and no more communal graves ... Now war takes precedence over nature in art, and death seems to take precedence over life. Weapons are found everywhere, and settlements are always fortified and walled."
Historian P. Stern writes:
they were introducing violence to a part of the world that previously had been relatively peaceful. And along with ruthless invasions, undeclared warfare, and appropriations of women as their rightful spoils, they were developing a society in which masculinity was supreme. An insatiable desire for property and power, together with insensitivity to pain and suffering in themselves as well as in others, characterized everything they did.
Now, we have to also acknowledge that there were some positive aspects to this new egoic psyche that emerged with The Fall. Along with the brutality and selfishnes, we see a new kind of intellectual ability, a new level of inventiveness. In fact, the millennium prior to 3,000 BC contained likely the most explosively inventive years in all of history, prior to the 1700's AD. During this time we see the wheel, the plough, wagons, sailing ships, writing systems, number systems, and calendars come forth (but, I have to wonder, at what price?). Most of these came out of Egypt and Sumer -- the first post-Fall civilizations in history.
It seems clear that the Egyptians and Sumerians were the descendants of the migrating nomads from the deserts ... who inherited the large male-dominated egos of those invaders. Refuges of desertification. Cranky folks. Brutal people with an insatiable lust for possessions. Status-differentiation takes on new levels...!
This is inordinately portrayed in the burial monuments to the bodies of dead kings -- the pyramids. Gargantuan edifices built at enormous cost to hold the corpses of dead rulers, while the bodies of the slaves who built them were tossed into common pits.
Life has continued in much the same way ... with some of the worst atrocities of brutality continuing in the areas that have remained arid (such as the Middle East today). The story has been that of more and more violence, more and more repression, suffering untold, acute anxiety, fear of disaster ... which would then complete the cycle by creating more of a compulsion toward violence (it was the same story in Europe, but not as brutal ... it seems that the farther one got from the desertificated areas, the less intense the violence was).
What's interesting is that the three great monotheistic religions of the desert (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), arose out of this egoic/patristic mindset ... and they each dogmatized the negative attitudes toward sex, the body, women, and the natural world -- creating a sense of "separation" ... enmity ... "otherness" - between believers and unbelievers, between male and female, between faithful and infidels. All three religious groups began intense fighting with each other, and even infighting within each group. Ego despises the aspects of the Spirit ...
I found this passage of Taylor's to be horribly profound:
"With the spread of Christianity a stronger anti-female attitude took hold all over Europe. Men (particularly clergymen) began to see women as evil temptresses with a naturally sinful nature, who were easily influenced by - and often working for - Satan. This led to the catastrophic witch-craze of the Middle Ages, when, according to some estimates, during the years 1485 to 1784 at least 9 million innocent women were murdered as "witches," mostly at the behest of celibate clergymen. Bishops saw the rooting out of "dangerous" women - which often just meant women who were more intelligent, independent, wealthy or beautiful than normal - as a God-given duty, and boasted of the number they killed. The Spanish Inquisitor Torquemada, for example, boasted of having over 1000,000 people executed (nearly all of them women). The historian Gordan Rattray Taylor notes that the murder of women - together with other religious persecutions by the Spanish Inquisition - was responsible for reducing the population of Spain from 20 million to 6 million in two centuries."
As a woman, I have to say that I feel the agonizing weight of this ... as if the collective pain of all those women kicks me in the gut. It's wrenching (& this is just the report -- not the descriptions of what they went through!)... may we never live under another theocracy!
Yes, humankind has made amazing advancements in the realms of technology, medicine, science ... but when we look at what happened 6,000 years ago, and what has happened with the human psyche since, it's sickeningly clear that the most definitive event in human history was a sudden and cataclysmic *regression* -- a shift from peace to chaos, from peace to war, from life-celebration to wretchedness ... from sanity to INsanity.
Next, I'll refer to some people-groups that somehow were not affected by the Fall ... many of which are still among us today ...