7

A quick warning to all, for obvious reasons this question will be very explicit. But to the point, when Carl Jung was a small boy he had the following thoughts on being overwhelmed by the beauty of a cathedral ...

"The world is beautiful and the church is beautiful, and God made all this and sits above it far away in the blue sky on a golden throne and..." Here came a great hole in my thoughts, and a choking sensation. I felt numbed, and knew only: "Don't go on thinking now! Something terrible is coming, something I do not want to think [...] The most terrible sin is the sin against the Holy Ghost, which cannot be forgiven." [...] I gathered all my courage, as though I were about to leap forthwith into hell-fire, and let the thought come. I saw before me the cathedral, the blue sky. God sits on His golden throne, high above the world-and from under the throne an enormous turd falls upon the sparkling new roof, shatters it, and breaks the walls of the cathedral asunder." - Carl Jung, Memories Dreams Reflections

Jung is far from alone in observing that the scatological may go hand in hand with the sacred. In mythology, Horus tricking Set into eating his semen, or Odin shitting out the mead of poetry both leap immediately to mind.

What are examples of myths or religious stories that combine the sacred and the scatological? And, secondarily, if I wanted to read more about the connection between them from a theoretical standpoint is there an clear place to start?

To avoid being too broad, I'd like to narrowly define "scatological" as involving excreta (that is, excluding mere sex acts, sexual icons and sacred phalli, obscene language, etc.), in particular: piss, shit, semen, vomit, and sometimes blood - contaminating bodily fluids working for at least apparently profane and transgressive purposes, whether these are humorous, serious, or mystical. The grosser the better, naturally, and also the greater the contrast between sacred and profane.

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One narrative that famously juxtaposes the divine with the scatological or grotesque is the Old Irish Cath Maige Tuired, the text follows the conflict between the Tuatha Dé (God tribe) and the Fomorians in Ireland. One of the key characters is An Dagda (in text this is given to mean The Good-God), who at about halfway through the text it is decided that An Dagda should go to the Fomorians and seek a temporary truce. When he arrives the Fomorians hatch a plan to provide him with so much food that he will be unable to complete it, thus dishonouring them and giving them an excuse to kill him:

They put goats and sheep and swine into it, and boiled them all together with the porridge. Then they poured it into a hole in the ground, and Indech said to him that he would be killed unless he consumed it all; he should eat his fill so that he might not satirize the Fomoire.

Unfortunately for them, An Dagda is capable of devouring a grotesque amount of food:

Then the Dagda took his ladle, and it was big enough for a man and a woman to lie in the middle of it. These are the bits that were in it: halves of salted swine and a quarter of lard.

...

Then the Dagda said, ‘This is good food if its broth is equal to its taste.’ But when he would put the full ladle into his mouth he said, ‘'Its poor bits do not spoil it,' says the wise old man.’

Afterwards, they send him on his way, but the amount of food he's eaten has him in a disgusting state:

His belly was as big as a house cauldron, and the Fomoire laughed at it.

...

It was not easy for the warrior to move along on account of the size of his belly

...

His long penis was uncovered. He had on two shoes of horse-hide with the hair outside.

While leaving he comes across a beautiful woman whom he 'desires' but is too impotent because of the size of his belly, Indech, the daughter of the Fomorian king who just hosted him. Indech, finding him in this state mocks him and wrestles him to the ground:

She hurled him so that he sank to the hollow of his rump in the ground.

...

She fell upon him again and beat him hard, so that the furrow around him filled with the excrement from his belly; and she satirized him three times so that he would carry her upon his back

An Dagda explains that he has a taboo on carrying anyone who doesn't know all his names, so what follows is a dialogue in which An Dagda reveals one-by-one his names to Indech, half of them are either rude, grotesque, or reference his 'horniness', the rest appear to be somewhat divine names, or referring to great deeds of his. They are all difficult to read and open to multiple interpretations or puns, which I gather is the point:

  • Fer Benn Bruaich = Big bellied horned man (likely a reference to his prominent penis)
  • Brogaill Broumide = Large-lapped farter
  • Cerbad Caic = Cutting all / mountains (Caic may be a pun on Cacc "shit", which he is currently seated in)
  • Rolaig Builc = Great lying bag
  • Labair Cerrce Di Brig = Talkative hen from the hill
  • Oldathair Boith = Great-Father of being
  • Athgen mBethai Brightere = Regeneration og the World / Dry-land
  • Trí Carboid Roth = Three chariot wheels
  • Rimairie Riog Scotbe = Enumarating King of Speech
  • Obthe Olaithbe = Refusal of the great ebb

When Whitley Stokes first translated this passage to English in 1891 he didn't include the above dialogue, stating:

Much of it is obscure to me, and much of the rest is too indecent to be published in this Revue.


Sources

2

The Mojave creator Matevilye (alt. Matavilya, Mutavilya) died from an illness caused by his daughter eating his excrement:

According to the Mohave, the first were the sky, a man, and the earth, a woman. These met far in the west, and from them were born, first Matevilye, and after him his daughter the frog, Mastamho who is usually called his younger brother, all the people, the animals, and plants. All these went upward toward the east, under the leadership of Matevilye. Matevilye himself did not walk. He merely moved four times, twice to the left and twice to the right. Thereby he arrived at Ahavulypo, a narrow defile on the Colorado River above Cottonwood Island, probably near the lower end of Eldorado Canyon. He stretched out his arms to the ends of the world and thereby found this spot to be the centre of the earth. Here he built a house. He became sick because the frog his daughter, whom he had offended by an indecency, ate his excrement; and it was known that he would die.

When he died, Coyote, whose intentions were suspected, was sent far away to bring fire for the funeral pyre. During Coyote's absence fire was produced among the people by the fly, a woman, who rubbed her thigh. Matevilye was then burned. According to the usual account, although this episode does not form part of the version on which the present relation is based, Coyote returned as the pyre was in flames. The people surrounded this in a close ring. Coyote succeeded in leaping over the head of the badger, who was short, seized Matevilye's heart, and escaped with it. Under the direction of Mastamho the people then made for Matevilye the first mourning ceremony in the world.

Source: Two Myths of the Mission Indians of California. A. L. Kroeber. The Journal of American Folklore Vol. 19, No. 75 (Oct. - Dec., 1906), pp. 309-321

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