Saturday, March 04, 2017

Classic Magic #3

The control of fire by early humans was a turning point in the cultural aspect of human evolution. As early ancestors saw, from various lightning strikes, wildfires, and accidental inflammation, fire could provide warmth, protection, and light. Being able to control fire encouraged early humans to move beyond the familiar and proceed into the unknown.

Early humans gained control of fire roughly 400,000 years ago but some evidence indicates some may have controlled it 1 to 1.5 million years ago. But if we were to go further back, back about 2.5 million years ago, we'd find a small tribe of homo habilis living in an area of what would become Tanzania. In this tribe, there were about 60 habilii, the males and females almost even with each other. One the tribesmen, possibly the first of his kind, waved his hand over a pile of dried sticks and started a fire.

It was slightly cold and he had noticed his mate, pregnant with their child, shivering as she slept. He had discovered this ability by accident while hunting. It scared him but when it happened two more times, he thought that he had been given a great gift. Aside from the glowing warmth, he found that he could move things without touching or holding them. If he concentrated really hard, he could pick himself off of the ground. He didn't know how these abilities would help him or his mate or his tribe but he was sure they would appreciate what he could do.

His mate rolled over and saw the flames as she sleepily opened her eyes. She stood up quickly, still screaming, and began trying to stamp out the fire with her bare feet. He ran over to her, trying to explain what that was and what he could do. She stopped screaming when he hugged her and stroked her hair but she was still in a panic.

Their neighbors had rushed over fearing the worst but only saw the couple standing next to the smoldering sticks. They wanted to know what was happening. He knelt down and began explaining, as best he could, but it was still confusing. Finally, he demonstrated. He waved his hand over the sticks and a fire started. His mate jumped back, scared of what her lover had just done. The others jumped back as well and ran off in a panic.

He sighed dejectedly, putting out the fire by dousing it with sand and dirt. He walked over to his mate and touched her shoulder. He grunted an apology and left their dugout to go hunting.

That night, he and his mate slept. Their neighbors gathered in the communal circle and communicated distress to each other. They gathered at the opening to the couple's dugout with sticks and rocks. They quietly walked in. He was asleep, facing the doorway but didn't awake. A neighbor with a stick made the first strike. Another neighbor, with another stick, made a second blow. The man was awake trying to fend off the attack and explain himself through grunts. A third neighbor finally struck with a rock drawing blood.

The man yelled in pain and terror. His mate woke up and scooted away, scared for her life and of her baby's. She watched in fear as the neighbors bludgeoned the man that she lived with, cared for, and mated with. Within minutes, her mate was just a bloody carcass. One of the neighbors approached her cautiously and held out his hand. She took it and, through grunts, explained why they did what they did. She nodded sadly and went with the other man and left the dugout.

The abilities of this unfortunate homo habilis will live on through his mate and his child. She will give birth two months from now and that child will live to have their own children. Those children and their children would eventually evolve to become homo erectus and then homo sapiens, continuing the magical abilities started by this unknown homo habilis.

The magic would spread to other families and continue for centuries all because of this one man who would become unknown to his descendants and to history.