The word taboo is thought to have originated from Tonga, and been brought to us non-Tongans by Captain Cook.
Generally it now refers to things prohibited by various cultures and often not even spoken of in polite society.
Sigmund Freud felt only incest and patricide were universal taboos, but cannibalism, necrophilia, paedophilia, bestiality, slavery and infanticide are still generally frowned upon, and in some cultures still such things as miscegenation, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, masturbation, abortion and all manner of dietary practices, now tolerated by many others.
We are so terribly civilised now of course, but still sex, politics and religion must not be mentioned in conversation!
Carnival was traditionally the time for loosening of taboos, e.g. after Lent there would be Mardi Gras, also Day of the Dead etc.
What about some of the more unusual taboos and ideas about them?
– Painting in eyes in Buddhist art
– Eating beans by Pythagoreans and Egyptian priests- they may be an intermediary between dead and living, potentially a rather noisy one, which we shall get to later.
– Cereals and grains for Taoists- they feed The Three Cadavers, but they were at least pioneering advocates of cunnilingus for white tiger sacred fluid reasons.
– At least Freud didn’t advocate excising the clitoris, as many cultures still do, but it was a forbidden zone for him. While we are at it, foreskins, best chop them off, eh?
– We’ve all heard of sacred cows, quite a few Hindu gods are fond of them, but beef tastes so good…
– Crossroads are riddled with ghosts, and a hangout of Hekate, all manner of oddness occurs there:- https://focus27.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/sympathy-for-the-devil/
– Sadism- not fandom of Sade from our opening song, but “from” the Marquis de Sade, who believed in breaking taboos by bringing repulsive thoughts to the surface, his writings are still banned in France.
– The wrong kinds of flowers. We’ve all been there lads. And that can be unlucky.
– Death. Whether it is fear of contamination from the corpse, or that the departed spirit may cause some mayhem, crazy rituals galore accompany this worldwide. I live nestled in a Crematorium, the very idea would have made me shudder once.
– “Deformity” and disease- bad news for Brahmans or Old Testament folk wishing to pop into the temple. Today many people with a visible deformity may encounter passers-by either staring in horror or looking away and emitting hushed whispers. Down Syndrome and similar are accepted as grounds for abortion, HIV infection is still a tad stigmatic.
– To criticise Israel’s actions is extremely taboo in some quarters, linked to some extent to feelings about the Holocaust. Just for balance, people aren’t generally too chatty about fundamentalist Islam either.
– Menstruating women have been seen as unclean in many cultures, such as the Japanese sending the afflicted to menstrual huts, still an “issue” by the time of this year’s Olympics for one of the Chinese team.
– Gestures. Don’t get them wrong in one of thousands of ways in any country or everyone will be angry and shocked. What were you thinking?
– Dreams are where tabooed longings may surface according to Plato and Freud.
– Eggshells. Witches apparently use them as cups and travel in them. Smash them! Pesky witches, I only wanted a fry up.
– Excrement seems to freak religious and uptight people out. Try being a parent or pet owner, you’ll get over it.
– Fellatio is still banned in some US states. That sucks.
– The evil eye. Some green and envious eyes may zap you if you are too gloaty. Meanies.
– Fetishes. A lot of people have them. There are a lot of them. But they don’t talk about them. Or people may think they are a bit funny, or worse still, “pervs”. Gasp!
– Forbidden apples. Oh my God, Eve! And even looking back can cause a Lot of trouble in the Bible.
– Freckles, if you are Pliny the Elder.
– Haircuts. Potentually bad news for Samson, sorcerers, Punjabi and Muslim women, Sikh men, Orthodox Jews, and the wrong hair knots are of course signs of magic at work.
– Left-handed people. Lefties. Gaaah! At least I had the excuse of the other arm being broken. North-East is also an unlucky direction. Any viewers of Geordie Shore may agree.
– Drugs, such as LSD, all pretty much tarred with the naughty brush whilst alcohol and smoking are fiiine. Although the former whilst pregnant or latter in public are hanging offences. And don’t even blow your nose in Turkey.
– Belching or farting. Much better to hold it in and explode.
– Don’t mention salary or age. Vulgar!
– Don’t jump a queue.
– Masturbation, once called Onanism after a cheeky chappie, in the ever reliable Old Testament, spilling his seed. Lillith will steal it! Or you will go blind! It might fall off! Brahmacharya and the Internet geek nofap movements also discourage such mischief. And don’t even mention sex toys. Or homosexuality, such a shocking concept that everyone must interfere with and judge.
– Rude words like fuck. But you can say other words that mean exactly the same thing, because magically they are okay.
– Wearing shoes inside. You savage!
– Clothes, too many, not enough, the wrong type. Transvestites. The horror. Milked dry recently on EastEnders.
– Saliva is of course a shocking and terrible substance. And urine.
– Blood products if you are a Jovie. Based on one way of interpreting some writings from thousands of years ago. Birthdays also bad. John the Baptist had his head lopped off on his! You know, if he existed.
– Xenophobia. Aaargh, people from other countries or cultures who are a bit different. Nooo!
– Suicide. Shhh, don’t talk about it, that will help depressed people won’t it, they might even open up to someone. Doh! Let’s just make people feel ashamed of having feelings and mental illnesses.
– Wrong table manners. What could be worse than not psychically anticipating the irrational rituals of chinless snobs?
– Twins are scary to some cultures. Because they are a bit unusual. Simples.
– Vaginas. Scream.
– Whistling in Islam. Well, you are communicating with Jinn, aren’t you?
– Don’t doubt global warming, or you must be a nutter like that dangerous David Bellamy. Or that vaccination must be 100% brilliant or you are Donald Trump. Nearly taboo himself. Actually, that would be fair.
Well, I feel better now.
Is anything taboo to you?
Can even the thought of some things make you shudder or become short of breath?
Should many taboos be broken, or at least spoken of?
Have taboos imprisoned and repressed many, yet kept some safe?
Should it all just be out in the open?
* note to concrete thinking readers, sarcasm was liberally employed in the making of this blog post *