The precise origin of circumcision is unknown.
In the book titled, ‘The Origin of Non-Religious Circumcision’ by Mary G. Ray, she writes that circumcision originated from the Egyptian community. Egyptians are also believed to have been among the people with the earliest civilization.
They worshiped snakes and thought that they were immortal. According to the Egyptians the snake’s immortality was determined by how it shed off its skin to attain another shinny one.
Later, they thought this was applicable to man. This is how circumcision came into the practice. The foreskin of the penis was removed.
But another account on the origin of female circumcision explains that, “Some believe that female circumcision was rooted in the Pharaonic belief in the bi-sexuality of the gods.
According to this belief, mortals reflected this trait of the gods; every individual possessed both a male and a female soul. The feminine soul of the man was located in the prepuce of the penis; the masculine soul of the woman was located in the clitoris.”
Mary Ray in her book presents pictures of drawings that depict the gradual stages of circumcision as conducted by Egyptians. Circumcision later spread on as a religious practice amongst Arabs and Jews. Another book titled ‘The Origin of Circumcision’ by W.D. Dunsmuir and E.M. Gordon, gives a broader exploration of circumcision as it got incorporated into culture and religion.
The authors explain that circumcision started as a dehumanizing practice by Egyptians on slaves they got captured from other areas. This was also used to identify their status in society.
“Others believe that circumcision arose as a mark of defilement or slavery. In ancient Egypt captured warriors were always mutilated before being condemned to slavery.
However, circumcision was just as degrading and evolved as a sufficiently humiliating compromise. Eventually all male descendants of those slaves were circumcised,” the book reads.
The practice was later included in the slaves’ cultural and religious beliefs.
In Africa, circumcision is said to have spread as a cultural and religious symbol but in America its wide spread practice is said to have been sparked after it became a successful remedy for a health condition.
The date was February 9th 1870 that Dr. Lewis Sayre, a widely respected American doctor diagnosed a 5 year old boy who couldn’t stand up.
Sayre’s diagnosis found that, “the boy’s condition as resulting from his penis being unduly constricted by the surrounding foreskin and recommended that the boy be circumcised.”
Later, he compiled a book titled, “Transactions of the American Medical Association.”
In this book he wrote that, “Many of the cases of irritable children, with restless sleep and bad digestion, which are often attributed to worms, is solely due to the irritation of the nervous system caused by an adherent or constricted prepuce.”
Widely respected in America Sayre used his clout to promote circumcision in America for thirty years as a cure for a variety of illnesses.
Some of the illnesses that Sayre said circumcision could cure include epilepsy and hernia.
However, with various books disclosing a variety of possible origins, there is only increased confusion on the exact history of circumcision.