What is the Prehistory of Fasting?
Of course we can not know the prehistory of fasting, but it no doubt was a practice before it was written about. It can not imagined that early man did not fast just in the course of hunting and gathering.
He was hunting and gathering in times when the hunt had failed or the pickings were beyond slim. Fasting was part of the cycle of survival. You would just drink a some water and press on with the hunt.
If we look at the animal kingdom, we find that animals have an instinct to fast in times of sickness. Some animals like bears
even spend long periods of time on a regular basis fasting. It is called hibernation. But that is a fast. Fasting in the natural world is a natural tendency.
Have you ever noticed a sick dog? What does he do? Many of them are seen stopping being meat eaters and just eat grass [grazing],
drink water, and rest. It is all quite natural and part of healthful healing for them.
Have you ever been sick and did not feel like eating. But someone told you need to eat something. Maybe that was your mom, a doctor or a dietician. But you had it implanted that eating was the important thing in healing. But your natural instinct was telling you different.
There was something in our ancient past that remembered the practice of fasting. Remember the saying, “Feed a cold and starve a fever.” Most of us have heard that. Our prehistoric past reminds us that sometimes fasting is the best thing for healing.
Maybe we should be listening to our body and how it feels in such matters. Could it just be that the primal man is telling us to fast and rest to heal? That might be the time for a water fast combined with rest when you do not feel like eating.
[I am not giving medical advise in any particular case, just saying there is a natural tendency to fast and rest for healing in certain times.]
Herbert Shelton (1895-1985), who was a doctor who supervised over 40,000 fasts, wrote that,
“Fasting must be recognized as a fundamental and radical process that is older than any other mode of caring for the sick organism, for it is employed on the plane of instinct…”