ALIA as Abomination
© Dr. Willis E. McNelly
A Bene Gesserit term describing behavior severely "out of character" for an individual, and not ethically or morally a part of the individual's norm. The Sisterhood viewed severely disruptive psychotic behavior as a mystic condition involving the "possession" of the host psyche of a "pre-born" by the overwhelming personality of a genetic, ancestral pseudo-life. The term "pre-born" is defined in the Bene Gesserit Azhar Book as "that soul resting quietly within its womb-bed whose entire life is destroyed by a pre-birth knowledge of its ancestors' personae. We cause such a chaotic state if we allow a breeder to take of the Water of Life when she is with child." The resultant possibility of Abomination rests on the Bene Gesserit premise that certain individuals carry the genetic capability to bring the personalities of their ancestors to a conscious level in a living mind. The Azhar Book judges the condition thusly: "It is with reason and terrible experience that we call the pre-born Abomination. For who knows what lost and damned persona out of our evil past may possess the living flesh?"
The Azhar Book outlines the conditions necessary to a state of possession (Mahrana IV: H-K). First a pregnant Bene Gesserit breeder must ingest the Water of Life, apparently an hallucinogenic chemical which varied during the history of the order. This chemical, carried in her blood to the womb, activates the fetal psychic awareness and produces a babble of sound and sensory imagery which the un-born is unable to comprehend or assimilate. At birth, this "awakened" baby supposedly sees with adult comprehension because of the active, intelligent, adult memories it now carries at a conscious level. The child, therefore, appears to the uninitiated as extremely precocious but to the knowledgeable as a possible Abomination. Only bright Bene Gesserit children were suspect; precocious lay children were safe from scrutiny.
In order for the pseudo-life to gain access to the child's consciousness, the child must initiate active communication by "calling" individuals. The more frequently the child "calls" a persona, the stronger the persona becomes, eventually being able to intrude upon the host consciousness at will. At some relatively early stage, the personae can be discerned to be either benign or malignant. The malignant individuals vie for domination of the host, but the benign can be persuaded to form a union called a "mohalata." Bene Gesserit training and encouragement can support the formation of a mohalata which then can serve as a protective barrier between the individual malignant persona and the host. If no mohalata is formed, the host is in danger of possession. The dominant malignant persona must first take control of the mind, then the nervous system, and finally the musculature. At this stage the body and mind no longer function at the host's will but are forever in the control of the pseudo-life. To those not of the Bene Gesserit, the actions of such a "possessed" person can be construed as combinations of classic psychotic behavior, primarily involving schizophrenia, paranoia, and manic depression. The Bene Gesserit and their myth-dominated subcultures, however, do not call upon psychologists or psychiatrists to aid the afflicted person. Instead, ritualistic forms of trial determine Possession or Abomination; a guilty verdict brings death.
The Bene Gesserit, believing the state of Abomination and Possession to be the most evil within which a person can live, give five "commandments" by which the Sisterhood hopes to avert any occurrence of this condition. They are found in The Azhar Book as "Protections Against Abomination":
- No woman who has become one with the Water of Life may thereafter bear a child.
- No woman may ever feel safe from the threat of possession, being more susceptible than a man.
- No woman with child can participate in any form of the Water of Life ceremony on pain of death.
- No child born under the accursed conditions shall be suffered to live.
- No adult found to be possessed, even if born outside of the condition of abomination, shall be suffered to live.
Almost all information on Abomination comes from Bene Gesserit documents. Yet, even though the Sisterhood created the appellation, there are questions which remained unanswered. For example, must one be an Abomination before one can be possessed? If so, why are all the Bene Gesserits trained in precise nerve and muscle control? The B.G. Basic Training Manual states in its introduction that "only through profound prana-bindu control can we be protected against possession." Perhaps possession and abomination were terms used indiscriminately to classify violent abnormal behavior or behavior threatening to the group as a whole, allowing the Bene Gesserit to avoid more expensive and time-consuming methods of diagnosis and treatment.
In the Bene Gesserit open files in the Wallach IX library, Abomination Inquiry folios show surveillance of seven hundred suspected people between the Great Revolt and the God Emperor, five hundred and twenty of whom were executed. The file on Alia Atreides indicates that the most serious cases arose after the introduction of the Fremen Water of Life into the Sisterhood's rituals. This information corresponds with the recent hypothesis that the Atreides line carried a defective chromosome introduced by the Mohiam line, a defect susceptible to the chemical composition Of melange and the fluid of the dying "Little Maker" of the Fremen culture. Leto II acknowledges a dominant pseudo-life (a "Harum") in his recently discovered Journals, but so far there is no evidence to show that Ghanima was afflicted. (For an extensive discussion of the Bene Gesserit view of the Alia Case, see ATREIDES, ALIA, AS ABOMINANON.)
Further references: Azhar BOOK; Anon., The Azhar Book, ed. K.R. Barauz, AS 49 (Grumman: United Worlds); Pyer Briizvair, ed., Summa of Ancient Belief and Practice.(Bolchef: Collegium Tarno); Sin Quadrin, Static Barriers of the Cerebral Cortex (Richese: U. of Bailey Press); Psechlitac Manni, "The Correlation of Mystic States and Psychotic States in Ancient Mythos: Abomination, Possession, or Psychosis?" Antares Journal of Medicine, 99: 135-168.