April 11, 2016 (updated 2018) Amphibians and the Nummo
This is an image of Adam and Eve and the Serpent from the 15th century manuscript known as the Book of Hours.Book of Hours, Bruges or Ghent 15th century (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, MS 287, fol. 46r) Dorey, The Rose: Dogon Star Knowledge p. 286
This image is particularly relevant to my research because the Serpent in this picture has feet, hands and a tail and looks more like a salamander than a serpent. The Nummo were amphibians and although they were associated with serpents, they were also identified with other amphibians in ancient cultures including frogs and salamanders, which appear in many of the Goddess artifacts of Old Europe. They were likewise associated with Sheela Na gig a figure, which has been found incorporated into old churches in medieval Ireland and England. According to Marija Gimbutas, Sheela Na gig was none other than the ancient frog or toad goddess, the birth giver and regeneratrix inherited from the Neolithic.Day of the Fish p. 44
Although the Nummo were hermaphrodites, they were associated with the sacred feminine. It is because of this that they were demonized by later patriarchal cultures and turned into evil figures like the devil. The Dogon tell us that the Nummo were good, benevolent beings and responsible for life on the Earth and human civilization.
When the French anthropologists, Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, began recording the Dogon religion in the 1930s, the Dogon were one of the last people in Africa to come under French rule. Prior to that time, the isolated Dogon had maintained their own beliefs and religious practices.
The main reason that this religion has survived with the Dogon people is that they were living on the Cliffs of Bandiagara in Mali and were isolated from most of the world right up until the 1930s. The Dogon had protected their religious beliefs from outside influence including fleeing their original homeland of Mandé, west of Bamako, in Mali, sometime between the tenth and thirteenth centuries because of their refusal to convert to Islam. Bamako was the site of the ancient Mandingo Empire of Keita, which dominated a great part of West Africa in the thirteenth century. Their refusal to convert to Islam indicates the Dogon people’s strong desire to maintain their original belief system.Day of the Fish p. 326
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