Today is a Catholic feast day of the "Beheading of St. John the Baptist". The Church celebrates this supposed anniversary date of John losing his head when Herod Antipas orders it to be done in a drunken mix of bravado, sexual tension and power lust. John's head is delivered on a platter, as a "request" by his wife's (formally his brothers wife...thus the rub by John) daughter who just performed a rather exotic and sexually charged dance for the King which lead him to ask her to request for anything she desired. We all know the result!
I always loved Eric Idle's interpretation of "Off with his head!" This famous line was first made famous by Shakespeare in many of his plays, it was also shrieked loudly by the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. And of course, Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein singing "I ain't got no body" while looking for the AB Normal brain is always a scream!
There's nothing like a good beheading to strike fear and fascination into the hearts of those who oppose the powers that order this unique style of execution, or to bring about a feverish pitch of zealot emotions in those who witness this event for the shear pleasure or the ideological belief in it.
Beheading is very useful in giving the crowd what they want...ordered violence...while meeting the political ends in which it was designed to achieve. Most of the Royalty and Gentry of England during the Middle Ages through the Reformation became famous for either using or becoming victims of this style of execution. None were better known as being such an astute practitioner of this art for political gain than King Henry VIII. Lands, money, sex and power all were gained by this famous Tudor under his executioners steely blade. Nothing though quiet says beheading better; however, than the French Guillotine! Made infamous by the French during their Revolution in the late 1700's, it has become the "hands down and heads off" favorite icon of this brutal form of capital punishment.
Today were are still witnesses to the use of beheading to control the masses. The fundamental Muslims use beheading to control any behavior not deemed appropriate by their "narrow" views of humanity. Of course, I have been just as guilty of beheading those who don't fit into my way of thinking too! Not that I've actually chopped off someones head in the physical sense, but I've certainly have done a masterful job of doing it in a spiritual and mental sense. So on this day of celebrating "Rolling Heads" I ask myself and you, why do we feel like cutting off the heads of those we don't agree with? Why is beheading so attractive, yet so repulsive to us? When have you been guilty of mentally beheading others? Why did you do it?
The need for control is a strong human emotion and perhaps nothing says I'm in control better than cutting off the control center, the head in its physical and allegorical sense. Have you lost your head or caused others to lose theirs? Perhaps you like me, need to look into the mirror to see.
Sir Hook the Headless Executioner of Warrick