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Going to Waste

Its been some time since we’ve gone to the bowels (see fecal transplants), but the fascination never quite seems to wear off. In the January 2008 Harpers’, Frederick Kaufman writes a curious little article called Wasteland: a journey through the American cloaca. As intriguing the tale of modern waste management is, the orts scrounged from history was what caught my eye, tidbits of the veneration of excrement.

Among the verdant passes of the Himalayas, intrepid Jesuit missionaries discovered cult worship of multicolored powders and hand-fashioned pills produced from the dried and pulverized ejecta of the Grand Lama, which the Buddhists wore as amulets around their necks. Others consumed it as sacred snuff, still others as a rare condiment. “When they feast their friends,” noted one witness, they strew it upon their meat.”

Thank you but I just ate, but please, go ahead.

In the Scatalogic Rites of All Nations, Captain John Bourke wrote that in the distant past, “all excretions, solid or fluid, were invested with mystic properties,” an assertion that might go far in explaining why the creation myths of the Australian aborigines avowed that the great Bund-jil filled the oceans with his urine and the obscure deity Mingarope molded men and women from her feces.

Of the Kamchatkan deities, Kutka was the greatest. Kutka created the world and every living being – then fell in love with his excrement and wooed it back as his bride.

And now, a toast to the lovely couple!

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