The Ten Commandments of the Old Testament are as famous as Big Ben or the Grand Canyon, but a Christocentric view, ingrained in modern Western civilisation, has led us to ignore the significance of parallel strictures which emerged independently in other cultures and societies throughout history, some predating the Godlaws of Moses.
Recently, a study led by Professor Will Bushstenstance (pronounced bùsh-stùn-stùnce) of the University of Reetus concluded that the earliest known spiritual commandments are those of the Kushti people of Central Genevieve. And the study shows striking similarities between the essential nature of their laws and those handed down by God unto Moses, not least of which is the fact that in both cases there are ten codes, or commandments. The sad thing is that although we know the Kushti's commandments numbered to ten, only six of the ten survive.
What is surprising about the similarities between the Kushti codes and the Ten Commandments is that the closest the Kushti came to worshipping anything at all was their association of the Sun with Time. It must be clarified, however, that although they realised that they were dependent on the Sun in its mastery of Time, they did not worship it, and did not believe it was ‘alive’ in any conventional sense. It was just there, and its coming and going dictated their days and their nights, their Life and their Death. This crucial distinction means that the Kushtian codes are, in some cases, more like philosophical statements or perceived truisms rather than outright commandments.
Here, then, is a transcript of excerpts taken from the chapter of Professor Bushstenstance’s study that relates to the six survivors of the “Ten Stones of Kushti”.
The ‘Ten Stones of Kushti’, or rather six of the stones, were discovered over 150 years ago, but only recently have carbon-dating techniques been advanced to the stage where they can give us an idea of the true age of these precious artefacts. The results, when they came, astonished the academic world and discredited much scholarly work undertaken since their discovery. The stones are now known to be over 73,000 years old, from an epoch which we could never have believed was so spiritually advanced………and so below are set out the six codes contained by the surviving stones, with some analysis of what they meant to the Kushti in the context of their society:
‘The Ten (Six) Stones of Kushti’ by Professor Williard Bushstenstance DIP, UrE, KOC, iN(M), Ma., RSe.
1. Neither the forest a river, nor the river a forest make.
This seemingly nonsensical script from the first stone is in fact purely allegorical. It addresses the Kushti's use of their environment, and the ecology of the area they inhabited. The Kushti were primarily forest people, whose settlements emerged alongside the winding river of Kontusis. They would have understood this code to have been a warning against the over-use of the natural resources of the forest, against the felling of tress which would make the forest as flat as a river. Conversely, it warns against the over-crowding of the river with boats, jetties, and polluting waste - the imagery is that of the tall boats of the Kushti making the river a forest of masts, the possibility of which was prevented by laws emanating from this code. More than any of the other codes, this shows the Kushti to be deeply aware of the importance of the ecological balance around them.
2. You neither skirt of mud nor hut of grass shall make; but skirt of grass and hut of mud create.
Rather like the 'never build a castle on sand' wisdom of more modern times, this is simply a caution to the Kushti that everything in life has its proper use, and to meddle with this order was to risk either looking foolish or worse, to court disaster. The example used in the codes would have struck the Kushti most vividly, as forest fires were common, and a grass hut in such conditions would be turned to ash in an instant. Likewise, it would be difficult to hunt the beasts of the forest with speed and stealth wearing a mud skirt.
3. Only the Sun can bleach the blood of Man.
An allegorical reference to Time and Death. The 'bleaching of the blood' was an early Kushti ritual used to purge the grief left behind by a dead member of the tribe. The blood would be drained from the dead body and mixed with a bleaching agent from local plants. It would not whiten the blood but would turn it a pale pink, and this was said to send the spirit of the deceased away so as not to haunt the survivors with unbearable grief. This code put a stop to this primitive practice by stating that only Time, as represented by the Sun, can heal the pain of loss, and that Time is the natural and essential ingredient to the passing of grief.
4. The Sun dictates when comes the Night, but soon returns with its vital Light, but when it goes and never comes back, the Earth will dress its Dead in black.
An ominous reminder of Man's reliance on the Sun as a source of Life, and its power over Life and Death. The Kushti did not worship the Sun, but believed that by treating the Earth around them with respect, that the Sun would be encouraged to keep it alive and promote Life. The Kushti believed, however, that one day the Sun would disappear and never return, and that would be the end of all life on Earth. The closing phrase, 'the Earth will dress its Dead in black' refers to the darkness of the world after the Sun's departure, resulting in the Death of all Life.
5. To be afraid is to be alert.
This was a crucial tenet of forest life for the Kushti. Surrounded by venomous and aggressive creatures (snakes, lions, spiders, vampire bats), as well as troubled by marauding alien tribes, the ulitmate duty of the Kushti of both sexes was to be on guard. In this, fear was not something to be criticised but commended. It was not seen as cowardice but as a crucial component in remaining alert enough to protect oneself and ones fellows. If a man was not afraid of the forest, they believed, he would be casual and fail to spot danger when it lurked. It was therefore quite usual for a respected member of the society, when they died, to be honoured with a pyre around which his fellows chanted the words, "He was afraid" - a genuine tribute.
6. The newborn child has bathed in the Wisdom of Amnios. Do not wash it away.
The Kushti came to believe that Wisdom, the power to discern Good from Bad (the concept of Evil did not exist in their culture), was most plentiful in the newborn child, and that Wisdom was lost gradually in life's toils, rather than gained with age as is commonly supposed in most of the world today. Thus, a baby was not washed, but swaddled for months in the dried fluids of its deliverance. As the child grew older, its possession of Wisdom was considered diminished, but still sufficient for it to attract the devoted attention of the elders, who were required to show respect and deference to the young of the society. In addition, whilst older tribesmen were kept under strict control and discipline by their youngers, and looked after in a domestic environment much like we would raise children, the younger ones, from the age of 3 upwards until their 21st birthday, would do the work, hunt the food, and make all of the important decisions of council. Those between the ages of 21 and 30 bred, whilst anyone over 30 was, as has been stated, treated much as we would treat a child. The average life expectancy is estimated to have been around 45 years. Their equivalent of what we would call a monarch, was chosen by selecting the baby whose traces of birth fluids remained longest on its skin. This baby would reign as King or Queen until it reached the age of 2, at which point it was required to abdicate and a new baby selected according to the process outlined above. The former monarch, still only 2 years old, would then be diverted into a river-based career. No one quite knows why a river-based career was mandatory for an outgoing monarch, but every indication is that this was invariably the case. Although we may view with amusement and astonishment this strange practice, it should be noted that the Kushti never declared war on another tribe, and that they valued learning, rather than territorial expansion, as their main societal aim.
When an ex-monarch became an old riverman or boatwoman, they would often say that they had little or no recollection of their time on the throne, and this was taken by the Kushti as further proof of the decaying power of age.
In summary then, in an impressionistic sense, the Kushti followed these pseudo-imperatives:
Neither the forest a river, nor the river a forest make.
You neither skirt of mud nor hut of grass shall make; but skirt of grass and hut of mud create.
Only the Sun can bleach the blood of Man.
The Sun dictates when comes the Night, but soon returns with its vital Light, but when it goes and never comes back, the Earth will dress its Dead in black.
To be afraid is to be alert.
The newborn child has bathed in the Wisdom of Amnios. Do not wash it away.
And so ends just a brief excerpt from one of the foremost academic texts of our lives. One wonders, had he really existed, what Jesus would have made of the Kushti.