Primeval Nietzsche: Nietzsche claims that the “first man” was without priestcraft—he was a happy warrior, free from superstition. This is Nietzsche’s equivalent to Rousseau’s noble savage—the man untroubled by civilisation. It inverts Rousseau—the picture is brutal, like a falcon with a snake entwined round its talons, whereas with Rousseau life before civilisation was idyllic. The error is that such a world never existed—it was never the case that there was a healthy man who hunted and used his own warrior-wisdom to survive who was then “corrupted” by clever priests who inverted his values, eventually convinced him to care for and venerate the weak.
No, magic and predation have always gone together—the hunter would draw the bison he wanted to capture in a little circle in the sand, perhaps stab them with a stick-spear. That could be taken to anticipate the way we moderns make diagrams and plan our actions—yet it also had its own efficacy and power; and, what is more important, it was intrinsic to the hunt—it is not as if the “superstition” corrupted the areligious warrior, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that religion was more diffuse then; every man had a bit to himself, just as every man had his own spear or bow and arrows.
It was not “democratic”, anymore than for everyman to have his own weight set would be “democratic”—it just wasn’t under control, as if every man was only allowed to exercise in a certain gym at certain times (which is certainly very much what the Abrahamic religions are—it even being “evil” not to go to the approved “gym”). So Nietzsche was incorrect—man has always had a relation to his symbols, and perhaps that relationship specialised into priestcraft but yet those symbols have their own efficacy. The world is much more alive than Nietzsche supposed—and so the world he would return to is a fiction, it is much less brutal than he supposed.