No rain fell
Famine appears in both Books of Kings: “For three years no rain fell in Samaria, and there was almost nothing to eat anywhere.” (1 K 18.1-2) “The Lord has warned that there will be no food here for seven years.” (2 K 8.1)
Famines in East Africa in the 1970s revealed the impact of environmental stress. As social structures broke down, so too did emotional structures. Husbands abandoned their wives; women abandoned their children .
Famine can even stress adults into eating their own children . God threatens this punishment in Leviticus 26.29: “You will be so desperate for food that you will eat your own children.” This isn’t a random threat from a sadistic deity; it’s an accurate depiction of the psychological effects of famine.
Famine turned farmers and hunter-gatherers into warriors. It also created an aversion to human touch and sexuality ; destroyed the bond between mothers and infants, and broke the intimate connection between people and the Creation that had previously met all their needs—the connection with God.
Famine profoundly unbalanced the human psyche. Masculine aspects were amplified by the all-consuming quest for food, while feminine aspects were avoided, denigrated and repressed to minimize emotional pain .
As famine impacted, natural feminine functions became unclean and subject to suppression, repression and taboo: “Any woman who gives birth to a daughter is unclean for two weeks, just as she is during her period.” (Lv 12.5)
Obsessions with bloodlines and sexual purity developed: “Some Israelite men have married foreign women… Our own officials and leaders were the first to commit this disgusting sin…” (Ezra 9.2)
Women lived in constant fear of violating these taboos—with death often the penalty: “If the man was right and there is no proof that his bride was a virgin, the men of the town will take the woman to the door of her father’s house and stone her to death.” (Dt 22.20-21)
Emotions, physical touch, sexuality and femininity of any form became painful, dangerous to express, and a source of acute anxiety. The entire feminine side of human nature became traumatized.
The power of passion
Men were also affected. Abraham reached Palestine around 1900 BC—perhaps fleeing desertification or the mass migrations it triggered—to begin the story of the Israelites. Here God promises him the fertile land of Canaan in return for his family’s eternal obedience (Gn 17).
As a sign of faithfulness, God instructs Abraham to “circumcise every man and boy in your family .” Why circumcision?
Moses Maimonides, a physician and rabbi of Cairo (c. 1175), explains: “The true purpose of circumcision was to give the sexual organ that kind of physical pain as not to impair its natural function or the potency of the individual, but to lessen the power of passion and of too great desire. ”
The traumatization of sexuality is a building block of authoritarianism.
The traumatization of sexuality is a building block of authoritarianism. Trauma robs us of the permission to be ourselves and makes us subservient: “We are glad to be slaves of the king.” (Gn 47.25) Repressed trauma is the mechanism by which patriarchal attitudes have persisted for the past few millennia.
The traumatization of everything feminine gave rise to shame. Shame stems from unconsciously judging our emotions, bodies and sexuality as socially unacceptable.
Before desertification the human body wasn’t shameful (see the Tassili N’ajjer cave art); afterwards it was. The shift is told in the story of the Garden of Eden: “Although the man and his wife were both naked, they were not ashamed.” (Gn 2.25) After eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil—i.e. they began judging themselves and others—Adam and Eve felt shame at being naked (Gn 3.7) and were expelled from the garden.
In the light of desertification, does the Garden of Eden represent the Middle East before it turned to desert, with Eve blamed for the expulsion because of the anti-feminine psychological shift that famine induced?
Sex became inherently shameful, acceptable only for purposes of procreation: “After having sex, both the man and the woman must take a bath, but they still remain unclean until evening.” (Lv 15.18)
Nudity  and improper sexuality weren’t the only forms of shame. For women, being unmarried  or childless  was shameful . The story of Judah and Tamar (Gn 38) shows one widow’s determination to have a child .
Both offenders and their families were shamed . In Deuteronomy 22.20-21 (see above) the victim must be stoned to death outside her father’s door. Shaming the entire family amplified trauma to encourage compliance.
Correct your children
To avoid the shame and anxiety of violating taboos, emotions had to be shut down during childhood: “Correct your children before it’s too late; if you don’t punish them you are destroying them.” (Pr 19.18)
Abusing children destroyed their capacity to feel : “Children don’t have the right to demand of their parents, ‘What have you done to make us what we are?’” (Is 45.10) That destruction is still with us today .
Societies emerged that were designed not to feel. They were designed to survive—through violence.
Survival of the fittest
As the desert spread, competition intensified. Violence provided an evolutionary advantage : “Soon you will cross the Jordan River, and if you obey the laws and teachings I’m giving you today, you will be strong enough to conquer the land that the Lord promised your ancestors and their descendants.” (Dt 11.8-9)
The conquest of Canaan gives a sense of how many peoples disappeared: “They will possess the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” (Gn 15.19-21)
This scenario repeated as patriarchies gradually conquered the world—from Babylon to Rome to Genghis Khan, to European colonial dominions and today’s global financial empires .
Men abdicated emotional self-responsibility to obey brutal leaders : “Don’t have any pity. Kill their men, women, children, and even their babies.” (1 S 15.3) These leaders became kings : “Now we want a king to be our leader, just like all the other nations.” (1 S 8.5) The Israelites’ first king was Saul (c. 1030-1010 BC).
Societies stratified from strongest to weakest. Male domination was the most obvious characteristic, but its key dynamic was that everyone—regardless of gender—victimized everyone they could get away with victimizing. God tells Jeremiah: “Everyone takes advantage of everyone else…” (Je 9.6)
Victimization began at home: “[King Xerxes] said that husbands should have complete control over their wives and children.” (Es 1.22) “Slaves that you treat kindly from their childhood will cause you sorrow.” (Pr 29.21)
People met their needs—for food, money, love, sex, etc.—by finding someone or something to victimize and then extracting every drop to fill the bottomless void of their broken mother-child bond and their disconnection from Creation. This unconscious extraction remains humanity’s default setting. It underlies our ability to strip nature bare and blinds us to the catastrophic consequences.
Abuse became normalised; the traumatization of the feminine undermined resistance. Implementing this new, testosterone-driven, victimization-based society required new rules—and a new rulebook.
 “The very old and young were abandoned to die. Brothers stole food from sisters, and husbands left wives and babies to fend for themselves. While the maternal-infant bond endured the longest, eventually mothers abandoned their weakened infants and children.”—James DeMeo, Saharasia
 “Interpersonal relationships may be broken down so completely that parents devour their own children; cannibalism has been reported during famine times in almost every part of the world…”—D. Carlson, Famine in History
 A positive attitude to sexuality existed in pre-patriarchal cultures such as the Minoans of Crete (c. 2700-1450 BC). “[It] contributed to the generally peaceful and harmonious spirit predominant in Cretan life.”—Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade. However, famine-affected cultures “exhibit a general intolerance and anxious aggressivity towards the basic biological expressions of… touching and body contact… Prolonged famine and starvation produce profound disturbances in the capacity for… sexual expression…”—James DeMeo, Saharasia
 “A passive indifference to the needs or pain of others manifested itself, and hunger, feeding of the self, became their all consuming passion.”—James DeMeo, Saharasia
 Evidence suggests circumcision in the region dates back to the 4th millennium BC—around when desertification took hold. An Egyptian tomb at Saqqara, c. 2300 BC, depicts circumcision four centuries before Abraham received his instructions.
 Quoted by Lloyd DeMause in The History of Childhood. Maimonides echoes the Jewish philosopher Philo, a contemporary of Jesus, who wrote that the intention of circumcision was that “all passions would be controlled through this one.”
 Throughout the Old Testament, nudity—whether chosen or enforced as punishment—is a mark of shame. It particularly vexes the prophets: “She let everyone see her naked body and didn’t care if they knew she was a prostitute.” (Ez 23.18) “You will suffer the shame of going naked.” (Is 47.3) “I will pull up your skirt and let nations and kingdoms stare at your nakedness.” (Nh 3.5)
 “Marry me and take away my disgrace.” (Is 4.1)
 “You will be disgraced like a married woman who never had children.” (Is 23.4)
 At a time with a high adult male mortality rate, women were expected to contribute to the survival of the tribe by giving birth—particularly to sons.
 See Jonathan Kirsch’s The Harlot by the Side of the Road for analysis of this and other “forbidden tales of the Bible.”
 “Virginity represents the ‘honour’ of the girl, and, more importantly, of her family.”—Steve Taylor, The Fall
 “The ‘good’ child would be increasingly defined in terms of… the absence of emotion or feeling.”—James DeMeo, Saharasia
 “What we call ‘normal’ is a product of repression, denial, splitting, projection, introjection and other forms of destructive action on experience.”—R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience
 “Those who were capable of the greatest violence would soon dominate remaining water and food resources.”—James DeMeo, Saharasia
 See James DeMeo’s Saharasia for data maps showing the origins of patriarchy in a belt running from North Africa through the Middle East to Central Asia, and its spread into Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Pacific.
 “Menahem then became king… He killed everyone living in Tiphsah, and with his sword he even ripped open pregnant women.” (2 K 14-16)
 “History shows that droughts and famine have driven people out of the desert in large groups organized around strongman leaders.”—James DeMeo, Saharasia