Curing the Pig, by Eliza Granville

Episode 1

The Quixotesque misadventures of unreconstructed Marcher Morgan Jones-Jones, who has probably not heard of the suffragettes let alone second- and third-wave feminists.

From the beginning the stories spun around the affairs of woman, man, and pig have been singularly ravelled. And how could it be otherwise when the threads of their genetic make-up are so similar? How could it not be when pigs’ comic faces are human masks redrawn? When – so we are advised – the flesh of pig and long-pig has an identical taste? When your skin, like theirs, is subject to sunburn? When human hands plunder pig carcasses for xenotransplants? Evolutionists now speculate that a pre-Jurassic pig may have been the ultimate human ancestor, but this is old news: pig and man have always gone together like…eggs and bacon, like Neanderthalism and swinishness.

In those far off days when the Goddess Creatrix was revered, the pig was sacred to the moon, perhaps because it waxed rotund so quickly and its colour varied between white, muted reds and black. Pigs fed on corpse flesh, but rootled in the soil with their crescent-shaped tusks encouraging the earth to bring forth prolific new growth. Hence, pigs symbolised death-and-regeneration, two states inseparably linked and where life always triumphed. Death’s mournful victory over life corresponded with the arrival of sky gods and their eternal war games. Now only the death-wielding aspect of the ravening pig was retained. Echoes of its former role lingered in the belief that ferocious boar effigies offered the ultimate protection in the thick of battle, and in the champions’ pig, feasted on every evening but restored whole by morning.

The Goddess retreated. She bides her time. Gradually, those incoming gods gave way to one jealous Father God. Now he, too, is found wanting: Absence of the sacred feminine has resulted in extreme danger for this planet and all its sentient beings. There is an urgent need for return to the life-reverencing world view of earlier days. Balance must be restored – and quickly.

What of the Pig? The Pig is the anti-hero.

Let us play.

‘Women hold up half the sky.’ Chinese proverb

Man is not the measure of that which is human, men and women are. Men are not the centre of the world, but men and women are. The challenge before humankind is to transcend the oppositional framework of its culture and combine in balance both the masculine and the feminine for in that union will be formed something far greater than the sum of the parts; in that union lies the possibility of regeneration and life.

He who denies the need or the possibility, whether in speech or silently in the secret places of his heart, is the prodigal Pig. He is a coward, the pig reviled. To him accrue all the denigratory terms hitherto heaped upon the pig for his will, or his lack of will, spells death.

The Pig must be cured.

Let us play.

Pig: a thick-skinned and bristly omnivorous ungulate who believes in his own superiority and acts accordingly; a bore (sic) whose ravenous appetite for power might yet prove the undoing of him.

‘The Common Boar is, of all other domestic quadrupeds, the most filthy and impure. Its form is clumsy and disgusting and its appetite gluttonous and excessive.’ Thomas Bewick, 1755–1828

‘The wretched, bloody, and usurping boar / That spoiled your summer fields and fruitful vines’ Francis Bacon, Richard III, 1592

‘The Swine was uncleane, because he parteth the hoofe, but cheweth not the cudde; and of their flesh they might not eate, nor touch their carkasse &cc…. God would admonish the Jewes by this figure, and still we may learne by it, to be no Swine, no Hogges, no fylthie myrie creatures, wallowing in sinne and uncleannesse, withought regard and feeling, loving the earth, and looking ever on the earth and rooting in it all the day, and feeding the bellie with all greedinesse…. A knife therefore to the Hogge, that we may have Puddings.Ben Jonson, Bartholemew Fair, 1614

‘Being inflamed with venereal rage, he so fretteth upright the bristles of his neck, that you would take them to be the sharp fins of Dolphins; then champeth he with his mouth, grateth and gnasheth his teeth one against another, and breathing forth his boyling spirit, not only at his eys, but at his foaming white mouth, he desireth nothing but copulation, and if his female endure him quietly, then doth She satisfie his lust, and kill all his anger; but if she refuse, then doth he either constrain her against her will or else layeth her dead upon the earth.Edward Topsell, The History of Foure-Footed Beasts, 1658

‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?’ Jeremiah, 13:23

Piglets can be appealing. Hogs will disguise their true selves with all manner of winsome phrases. Sisters, make no mistake: Boars have never been properly domesticated. The Pigs are always with us.

Let us pray.

Mythologically, Pigs got around….

The infant Zeus was suckled by a sow, which may explain some of his subsequent antics. He was a nasty bit of work. Only a laughably Piggish imagination could dream up a story about retrospectively creating Woman as a punishment for Prometheus, when all he’d done was borrow a box of matches.

Then there was that business with Circe, Queen of Sarmatia, a much-maligned soul – a little lonely perhaps, maybe not as careful as she should have been with her dinner invitations – who found herself surrounded by a swinish horde of hangers-on.

‘No more was seen the human form divine; / Head, face, and members, bristle into swine.’ Homer, The Odyssey, book 10, c. 700 BC

Circe was kindness itself to Odysseus, in spite of his onion breath. He was a Pig, too. Back to his wife he went – they always do – leaving her with three children.

From time immemorial the rooting Pig has appointed himself both arbiter and executioner in the matter of what is proper in human relationships. Swine fever, hog-choleric, was first caused by Pig bile reaching boiling point at the sight of a woman canoodling with a younger man.

It couldn’t be tolerated. The balance of power might be disturbed.

Adonis was tasty, and Aphrodite, though beautiful, was old enough to be his great-grandmother, but in matters of love she was used to getting her own way.

Unfortunately an old bore (sic) found the age difference unacceptable and gored him to death, slashing into his groin with its tusk.

‘’Tis true, ’tis true, thus was Adonis slain: / He ran upon the boar with his sharp spear, / Who did not whet his teeth at him again, / But by a kiss thought to persuade him there; / And nuzzling in his flank, the loving swine / Sheath’d unaware the tusk in his soft groin.’ Francis Bacon, 1593

Cybele’s consort, Attis, was despatched in much the same way – a particularly spiteful end. Even the goddess Ishtar hardly had time to get to know young Tammuz before the raging boar appeared on the scene. Seth was a Pig, too: look what he did to Osiris the minute Isis turned away to suckle her infant.

And who knows what really happened to Persephone? Eubulus told Demeter that her daughter had fallen into a great crack in the earth, but he was a swineherd, and the voracious appetites of Swine are well documented. Demeter must have had her suspicions though: every October, thousands of live pigs were thrown into chasms writhing with snakes. It wasn’t just for fertility reasons that the decomposed remains of the previous sacrifice were brought up and spread on the land. Not when little cakes in the shape of male organs were handed around at the ceremony. No, it was intended as an example to the rest.

It never worked. It never does:

‘Thee can’t educate pork.’ Old Herefordshire proverb

‘Ah, you can pook and you can shove / But a Sussex pig he wun’t be druv.’ Motto of the pigs of Sussex

No. Change has to come from within.

Let us play.

Woman was made in the image of the Great Mother Goddess. Man was a hastily bodged afterthought, created to provide diversion and do the heavy work. The Pig is the Devil’s own and bears his mark. Pigs have attempted to build Hell on earth for the last four thousand years. They have succeeded in erecting a semi-Hell known as patriarchy. This structure is condemned and overdue for demolition.

For those with a stomach strong enough, a simple test will quickly ascertain whether the specimen in hand is man or Pig. Remove his shoes, and yes, disagreeable as it is, the socks – that characteristic odour is the only protection the Devil afforded him. In the feet of a true pig there is a small hole, whereby the legions of devils enter when the pig attains its full Hoggishness. Around it are six minute rings which appear to be burned into the skin; these are the marks left by the Devil’s burning claws as he slips into what is, by then, a fully-fledged Swine. These stigmata of shame may be partially obliterated by exceptionally thick skin.

The most abrasive pumice, the harshest chemicals, cannot remove these marks. Again, the change has to come from within.

On the island of Koshima, as part of a 1950s research project, Japanese monkeys, Macaca fuscata, were fed sweet potatoes tipped onto the sand. One monkey, apparently disliking the gritty texture, started washing the potatoes in a nearby stream. Within a few years a great many of the young monkeys, and a few adults, let us say a total of 99 monkeys, had adopted this social innovation. Critical mass was reached one morning when the hundredth monkey followed suit. By that evening almost every monkey on the island was washing its sweet potatoes before eating them. What was more surprising was that colonies of monkeys on other islands and on the mainland at Takasakiyama, without having had contact with the original group, also began washing their potatoes.

It worked for monkeys. It works with consumers.

Who is to say that it won’t work for Pigs?

The core of chauvinism resides in the head, but its cure must involve the heart. Yeah verily, the head brimmeth over with wild fears and skewed reasoning; the heart has become like unto a black and wizened apple. Thanks be to Pandora, Earth Goddess, All-giver, for snapping shut the lid of the box that simpleton Epimetheus fumbled undone. But for her, there would be no hope.

How to begin this search for the hundredth Pig? In excess of six billion people swarm over the planet’s face. Half of them are male. Outed, or not, of that three billion a fair proportion are Pigs.

Earth, as much a living being as each and every one of her creatures, has seven major chakras – power points, organs of her subtle anatomy – corresponding to geographical sites on her great body. Her base chakra is located in Mount Shasta, California; the generative chakra by Lake Titicaca, which is (mostly) in Peru; that of the solar plexus around Ayers Rock. But it is old Albion that both cradles and breaks her heart chakra. And while the planet’s throat chakra quivers its swan song at the Mount of Olives, and the crown chakra endlessly meditates upon its dreams in Tibet’s Mount Kailas, it is also in tiny Britain that her brow chakra, her third eye, is located.

Heart and head, heart and eye, our hundredth Pig shall be from Britain, then.

And shall we let him be youngish…and not bad-looking?

Ach!Sister, at your age, why should it matter? Here’s the map. Let’s tie on the blindfolds. Now, take up the silver pin.

Time to prey.

Hunting The Elusive Feral Boar

We offer free range, fair-chase hunting the old fashioned way with or without hounds with an experienced guide. We provide the hunting dogs and the guide. We hunt both private and public game lands. There are NO fenced in animals. We will be hunting over in-heat scents using sow urine to bring in the big boars. We bait with corn and home brew.

All weapons are permitted (high caliber rifles, muzzleloaders, shotguns, archery, spears, knives, etc.). There are some restrictions on handguns (has to be over .25 caliber with a barrel length of at least 5 1/2 inches or more) and crossbows. Spear and knife hunting is permitted only at your own risk.

Are you up to the challenge?

—Promotional material: Wild Side Cherokee Boar Hunting, Tennessee

Pig notwithstanding, we’ll give our British specimen the benefit of a head start. Thirty years should be enough. It usually is, though to three immortals like us it’s less than the blink of an eye.

‘Little Shon ap Morgan, / Gentleman of Wales, / Came riding on a nanny goat,

A-selling of pigs’ tails.’

A good name – Morgan – with its hint of things-past bubbling below conscious memory: of the Fata Morgana; of Morpheus, god of dreams; of Mordred, the bad boy of Arthurian legend; together with a lingering taste of Morrigan, Celtic goddess of war, agent of change. Yes, a good name. We were on the right track.

In Celtic myth, Morgan Mywnoawr had a magic chariot, one of the great lost treasures of Britain. Among the other treasures were: Dyrnwyn, the sword of Rhydderch; Amen, the cauldron of Ceridwen; Cwm Annwn, Arwan’s hell hounds; the drinking horn of Gwigawd – which offered whatever liquid refreshment the heart desired; the whetstone of Tudwal Tudclud; the stone of Gwyddon – on which could be read all the arts and sciences of the world; Luned, the ring of invisibility; the knife of Llawfrodded Farchawg, capable of carving twenty-four portions of meat at once; the chessboard of Gwenddolen, which relieved the monotony of the game by playing itself, as did the harp of Teirtu; the cloak of Tegau Eurvon, which could only be worn by chaste women (whatever they are and wherever they may be); and a throne, the Stone of Scone, not lost at all, but only temporarily displaced. But Morgan Mywnoawr’s chariot would take him anywhere he wanted to go….

So be it, my weird sisters: spin the yarn, stretch the warp, set the heddles, and wind the many-coloured weft threads upon the shuttle.

This one will be the guiding hand. Let her be the one who tells of things and places that were and never were and may yet never be. And that one, in her own time, will tie up all the ends and finish it. Together we will weave the fable of the Pig who changed the world.

First, let us pry…

Eliza Granville embarked on a legal career before abandoning it in favour of a Bohemian lifestyle. After coming to her senses some years later, she returned to university – BA & MA University of Plymouth, PhD Aberystwyth University – and began writing in earnest. Her stories can be found in UK, US, and SA magazines, and in anthologies. Of several novels published, the most recent are her Holocaust novel Gretel and the Dark (Hamish Hamilton) and Once Upon a Time in Paris (CentreHouse Press). Granville has long been interested in myths, legends, fairy-tales, and in her writing has combined these tropes with her close study of the post-Enlightenment feminist struggle – all these facets euphorically alive in Curing the Pig.

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