Ishtar Bracelet, Beth Hemmila, silver, lapis, carnelian, and amber
I'm one of those gals that gets all frowny-faced over Monday night football. However, this post is for all the guys in my life who have never felt as if this sacred night was appreciated by the Bethster. Though I have difficulty connecting to the excitement of Monday night football, what does speak to me is the symbolism attached to this theater of athletics.
Since ancient times warriors have been adorning themselves with powerful animal images to invoke strength and courage. My lion charm pictured above is one continuation of that tradition. When you wear an image that speaks to you of deep, universal feelings of protection and bravery you connect with something ancient.
This act of donning a sacred animal image is no different in the realm of football. The Detroit Lions' helmet is meant to evoke the same powerful spirit in the hearts of men as they thrash it out of the football field. Many believe that these games are remnants of our memories of being a warrior on the battlefield -- a reenactment of war in the form of physical theater.
Thracian Helmet, Greece, 4th century B.C., silver
Much like a modern football helmet, an ancient Thracian helmet from South Eastern Europe was carefully decorated with stylized animal motifs. If this piece of armor wasn't actually worn into battle to protect a warrior, then it must have made a powerful ceremonially piece in the burial of a great leader.
Illustration of Horned Animal from Thracian Helmet, Beth Hemmila
Though it is unclear what type of horned animal decorates this helmet, it resembles an ibex (wild goat), which were kept by shepherds for food and wool. Perhaps the Thracian people felt a kinship with the ibex for its wild nature, which would enhance their skills during battle.
The United States Navy has definitely seen the symbol of a horned animal as a powerful totem for they have adopted Bill the Goat as their mascot. I giggle over one of their slogans "Fear the Goat." Okay, so now I'm showing my city gal ignorance, and that I am completely unfamiliar with the viral nature of male goats. I'm guessing they must have some serious aggression to work out.
What am I getting at? Well, my theory about fall football is that it has all the seriousness and ritual of rutting. Don't laugh! Is it any wonder that we chose to play football at the same time of year that male bucks are rutting, locking horns over territory and deciding who's going to be top deer with his crew? I think the line of scrimmage is built into our DNA, which looks a lot like the profile of two horned animals who square off in an ancient battle of power and prowess.
For all the jokes I may have made about football, let them be put to rest in these powerful images of animals, as I honor the viral nature of masculinity and the contribution that men make to continuing and sustaining life.