The Heads of Giants
Human myth is full of giants. From the giant in “Jack and the Bean Stalk” to “David and Goliath” to the modern mythical giant “Godzilla.” But what do giants represent to ancient humanity and modern sensibilities?
One of the ways we can begin to interpret the idea of “giant” is thinking in human terms of “anything that is larger than me is a threat or great mystery.” The universe can be thought of in terms of a giant: at the same time threatening and a mystery. The concept of a higher being who creates the universe was held by the ancients to be a threat and mystery.
A giant is a protector or an enemy. Sometimes both.
Godzilla is an example. Given birth by the nuclear age, he comes ashore to punish humanity for its transgressions against nature. To punish humanity for tinkering with the then ultimate in power: the atom bomb. Godzilla represents a modern 300 feet tall Frankenstein’s Monster (another giant in film) brought forth by humans before they understood what they had created. He serves as an enemy of humanity while pointing out possible dangers of a nuclear future. Here’s a trailer from the original Godzilla movie. Pay special attention to the first scene about Tokyo.
Giants are threatening, yes. This means that giants are a problem. Or, we might say they represent “problems.”
The story of Jonathan and David is multilayered. Let’s look for a moment at the situation between David and Goliath. David decided to fight Goliath. Goliath is clearly a problem. Using one of five rocks he picks up from a stream, a young inexperienced David hits Goliath on the forehead and down the giant drops. David runs over, grabs the giant’s sword and cuts off the head of Goliath.
(This photo is fake. But including it here will probably stir internet rumors that Odd Fellows have Goliath’s original head. We should be so lucky…)
In the story, David had five rocks. In Jewish Kabbalah, and other spiritual traditions, the number five represents humanity. You know humans have five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot. Two arms, two legs, controlled by the head is also five. So, the number of rocks carried by David labels him mythically as “human.”
Goliath is shown as the invincible giant—not human. David cuts off Goliath’s head. What would a head represent? I would assume “thought.” To me this opens an entirely new concept. Herbert Kuhn, in his “L’Ascension de l’humanité” (Paris 1958) says the decapitation of corpses in the Neolithic period marks the discovery of the independence of the spiritual principle as separate from the vital principle of the body. Looked at similarly, the story illustrates humanity discovering it had control over its thinking. The independence to think what we want how we want. In this version of the story, David takes Goliath’s head back to Saul as if to say “You asked me to rid you of the evil spirit that makes you nervous and angry. I have slayed it. And so can you.” It was an admonishment to Saul that he had control over his thinking. Clearly, Saul didn’t get the hint.
When the Lodge Guardians are told to secure the doors and we are told “the world is shut out,” this is an admonishment to guard our thoughts. If our thoughts are out of control, they will turn us into Saul.
Scott The Conductor
Scott Moye is an award winning history educator and collector of Arkansas folkore. He grew up on a cotton farm and is currently a museum worker. Hobbies include: old house restoration, writing, amateur radio, Irish traditional music, archery, craft beer, old spooky movies, and street performance. He is a member of Marshall Lodge #1, in Marshall, Arkansas. He is a founder of Heart in Hand blog.