Sunday, September 21, 2014

September equinox, 2014

image: Wikimedia commons (link); image has been altered in its colorization.

Earth will speed past the point of equinox at 0229 GMT on 23 September, which will be 10:29 pm Eastern time on 22 September for those along the eastern edge of North America, or 7:29 pm Pacific time on 22 September for those on its western edge.

As it does so, the northern hemisphere will pass from the "upper half" of the zodiac wheel into the "lower half," as nights begin to be longer than days (a phenomenon which takes place a few days after the fall equinox, owing to the fact that the size of the sun disc plus the bend of light from the earth's atmosphere act to lengthen the days ever so slightly at each sunrise and sunset, delaying the actual day upon which night takes over as being longer than daytime: see the previous post on "Equinox versus Equalday/night"). 

For those in the southern hemisphere, of course, this equinox marks the complete opposite phenomenon, being the gateway to the return to the "upper half" of the year and the climb towards the point of southern-hemisphere summer solstice.

But for the northern hemisphere, this equinox marks the point of descent, an annual crossing point of very great metaphorical import in nearly all the sacred scriptures and traditions the world over. The passage down to the lower half of the year, enroute to the very Pit of the year at the low-point of winter solstice, symbolized the incarnation: the plunge of the soul from the fiery realms of spirit into the miry realms of matter.

It is perhaps for this reason that the Chichen Itza pyramid was designed to manifest the "serpent of light" going down from heaven to earth upon the day of the equinox (above).

This descent into the body was figured in ancient myth and legend in countless metaphors: as the death of Osiris and the corresponding "casting down" of the Djed-column or backbone of Osiris, as the plunging of Narcissus into the pool of water, to the myths of the god or goddess who was held captive in the underworld for half the year, such as Balder in northern Europe and Persephone in the Mediterranean -- the latter being central to the rites and rituals of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which included symbolically rich metaphors such as the taking of piglets down to the waters of the ocean by the initiates, and of their being mocked and humiliated as they crossed over a bridge on the way to Eleusis, and finally of searching all through the night for the missing or hidden goddess Kore (Persephone), symbolizing the hidden and nearly lost state of our spiritual or immortal part within our animal nature during the incarnation.

The annual Eleusinian Mysteries, by the way, commenced at the end of September each year and ran through early October -- until they were finally shut down by the Roman emperor Theodosius in AD 392.

The ancient writings of the philosophers were filled with references to the fact that this material world through which we pass in our incarnate state is not the real world, but is rather the shadowy projection of that real but invisible world of spirit -- a worldview we have seen to be common to shamanic cultures worldwide, and which thus supports the argument that this worldview is part of the shared heritage of humanity (which the forces of which Theodosius was a part have been trying to stamp out and deny to the people of the world for at least seventeen centuries). 

In his masterful 1940 text, Lost Light, which traces this theory regarding the ancient teaching of the soul's plunge into the body and its manifestation in metaphorical myth and in the discourse of ancient philosophers, Alvin Boyd Kuhn writes on this subject: 
In the Phaedrus Plato, in the beautiful allegory of the Chariot and the Winged Steeds, portrays the soul as being dragged down by the lower elements in man's nature and subjected to a slavery incident to corporeal embodiment. Out of these conditions he traces the rise of numerous evils that disorder the mind and becloud the reason. [. . .] The rational element, formerly in full function, now falls asleep. Life is thereupon more generally swayed by the inclinations of the sensual part. Man becomes the slave of sense, the sport of phantoms and illusions. This is the realm in which Plato's noesis, or godlike intellect, ceases to operate for our guidance and we are dominated by doxa, or "opinion." This state of mental dimness is the true "subterranean cave" of the Platonic myth, in which we see only shadows, mistaking them for reality. 145.
All this, Alvin Boyd Kuhn argues, was associated with the fall into the "lower half" of the year, when darkness begins to dominate again -- the half of the year which represents our earthly sojourn in this body which commences metaphorically at the fall equinox and ends with the triumphant return of the spirit to the heavenly realms at the "opposite horizon" of the spring equinox.

Discussing this realm of darkness further, he writes:
"The dark night of the soul," no less than the Gotterdammerung, was, in the ancient mind, just the condition of the soul's embodiment in physical forms. [. . .] All this is the dialectic statement of the main theme of ancient theology -- the incarnation of the godlike intellect and divine soul in the darksome conditions of animal bodies.
The modern student must adjust his mind to the olden conception -- renewed again by Spinoza -- of all life as subsisting in one or another modification of one primordial essence, called by the Hindus Malaprakriti. This basic substance was held to make a transit from its most rarefied form to the grossest state of material objectivity and back again, in ceaseless round. Darkness was the only fit symbol to give to the mind any suggestive realization of the condition of living intellectual energy when reduced in potential under the inertia of matter. 146-147.
From all of the foregoing, we can readily see why the points of equinox were metaphorically portrayed in myth-systems across the planet as points of sacrifice. For the September equinox which falls between Virgo and Libra in the astrological system that informs much of ancient myth, this often involves myths about the sacrifice of a virgin, as with the sacrifice of Iphigenia (discussed in the first three chapters of The Undying Stars, which can be viewed online here; the Iphigenia discussion begins on page 34 of the book pagination) or the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter.

These myths, and some of the philosophical passages cited above, depict the point of incarnation in negative and even horrifying tones, but the counter-balancing component present in all of these same myth-systems is the restoration of the spiritual component, the raising up of the Djed-column that has been cast down, the remembering and recognition and then elevation of the divine spark within the individual, which the ancient myths portray as one of our central tasks here in this "lower realm of darkness."

If the point of incarnation depicts the temporary burying of spirit within matter, and the temporary increase of darkness over light, the act of calling forth the spirit again and letting it shine through and ultimately elevate the material world which is "covering it" is an act of great importance, and one which was discussed in the previous post about "blessing" as a daily requirement, and one with an individual component that "faces inwards" (so to speak) but also one that "faces outwards" towards others and towards the natural world. Such is the opposite of the burying and hiding of the spiritual, in that this concept of blessing is one of evoking the spiritual and enlivening the material world which after all contains and is infused with the hidden realm of spirit, and which in fact ultimately springs from the world of spirit, as even the passage from Plato discussed above asserts.

These are uplifting thoughts to consider at the significant point in the year at which the sun's path again crosses the celestial equator. The human condition may be deeply confusing, and our "mixed" state of "spiritual-animal" may cause us to feel like the participants in the Eleusinian mysteries, stumbling about in the darkness and tripping over everything, but the human condition is after all a wonderful mystery as well, and one in which we can experience the increase and eventual triumph of the light again, the restoration of the Djed, and the shining through of the world of spirit which permeates and sleeps within all of the natural universe around us, as well as in ourselves.

Imagination is the forgotten power

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Here is a link to an important interview between Jon Rappoport of and John Gibbons of Alchemy Radio, recorded in December of 2013.

Their conversation covers many important subjects, but one of the central themes is the power of imagination to reach beyond the world we perceive with the five senses and to create new realities. 

Beginning at approximately 22:00 into the interview, as part of a discussion in which he makes the critically important observation that the "artificial realities" that operate in the world around us are a product both of the groups who are propagating them and also of the people who accept them, Jon says:
This is something that has been going on ever since societies began to form, you know, groups, societies, nations, tribes, clans, on this planet. It is a pattern that has been repeated over and over again, and it extends to what most people would call extremely far-out, paranormal factors. And I will kind of try to put that in a nutshell by saying that the space-time continuum itself is a manufactured reality, ultimately -- that what we live in is itself a kind of a simulation, and people can become to one degree or another aware of this and do something about it. [. . .]
A short time later, building on this concept, he continues (at about 26:58):
What I came upon, and this was confirmed in my collaborative research with Jack True: imagination is the key. Imagination is the forgotten power. Imagination is that thing which we are told is a toy merely for children and when we become adults we set it aside so that we can fit into the world. Imagination is forever. Imagination is limitless power to create reality. Imagination is non-material. It has nothing to do with the brain. Its source is not in energy or matter or this continuum. Imagination for every individual is an infinite potential, an infinite capacity, to create reality as fact in the world, not merely as some sort of rumination inside one's own head. Knowing that, from my own experience and from my research with Jack True, I then -- to add to your comment, in a sense -- found the missing key: that when one begins to live a life of intense creativity, by and through imagination, eventually one comes to the point where he or she is manifesting this power to such a degree that so-called paranormal experiences begin to become the order of the day, and manufactured reality takes a back seat. And then we see what is really our legacy, our heritage, our natural state, our power. Nothing woo-woo or weird about it. It's only weird from a conventional android point of view. And face it: we live in an android civilization.
Note how Jon Rappoport here describes imagination: it puts us in touch with a reality which is beyond the reality which we perceive and decode with our five senses. It enables us to see through and ultimately to transcend artificial realities (and, previous posts have explored the fact that spinning forth artificial realities is an essential process in the creation and sustaining of tyrannies and injustices and conquests and oppressive systems). It enables us to create new realities. And it is the common heritage of all humanity.

This is clearly related to the subject being discussed in recent posts, including:
It can also be seen to be related to the definition of "blessing" discussed in this previous post, in that both have to do with reaching into a sphere beyond the material world, beyond what can be perceived with our five senses, and bringing back and infusing this world with the beneficial realities that are found beyond the ordinary world whose boundaries often seem to define all that is.

It is well worth listening to the entire interview. It is also worthwhile to go back and examine some of the related and equally world-changing points Jon Rappoport made during a talk he delivered at the Secret Space Program conference in San Mateo, California this past June, some of which are discussed here. He also has a coaching practice which he describes, appropriately enough, as "imagination work."

Exercise imagination -- and manufactured reality takes a back seat!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Why violence is wrong, even in a holographic universe

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The previous post discussed the concept of "blessing," and cited evidence which suggests that a central part of our mission in this life -- perhaps the central part of our mission in this life -- is related to this concept of blessing, involving the elevation of the spiritual nature buried deep within our physical or "animal" nature, slumbering and almost forgotten, and by extension participating in the same process in the world around us, calling forth the slumbering, hidden and almost forgotten world of spirit which is present in the natural world around us, waiting to be recognized and awakened.

This understanding of the centrality of the activity of blessing, and by extension the importance of "not cursing," has profound ramifications. Among the many, many implications that we can derive from the definition of blessing offered in the previous post is a new light on an important question which might arise from someone who encounters the "shamanic worldview" which informs this definition of blessing, and that is the question of whether it really matters if we do violence to others, if we accept the possibility that this universe in some ways resembles a hologram or a simulation, or that the material world we inhabit is actually not the "real world" but is derived from or "projected by" the spirit world, or the other world.

For example, in the previous post entitled "The real world that is behind this one," the shamanic worldview was examined using the illustration of the realistic simulation scenes from the movie Divergent, in which this ordinary visible world with which we are most familiar was compared to the "simulation," and in that analogy the invisible world would then correspond to the "real world" in the movie where the simulation is generated. That post argued that the ability of the people known as "divergents" to see through the illusory nature of the simulation, and even to transcend the boundaries of the simulation, could help illustrate the shamanic ability to transcend the boundaries of our visible material world, and to journey to the other world. 

That movie analogy was used as a way of helping to illustrate what Lakota holy man Black Elk might have been trying to convey when he said that when his father's cousin, Crazy Horse, had his defining vision, he "went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world."

Similarly, in The Matrix (1999), the same kind of illustration could be made by observing the protagonist Neo's increasing ability to see beyond the computer-simulation projection of the world he had been inhabiting, and ultimately to see all the way through to the "other world" which is projecting that simulation, and which is depicted as glowing waterfalls of green computer-code: the "source code" behind the projected world. The shaman's ability to travel to the unseen world to heal imbalances in this world can be illustrated by Neo's increasing ability to actually "reach into" the code world and change the simulation-world.

But these illustrations might raise the question of why, if everything we see is "just an illusion" or a "shadow from that other world where there is nothing but the spirits of things," killing others would be considered so wrong. Most people, of course, would not normally even think of such a horrible question, since killing people (as well as lesser forms of violation of other people's natural inherent rights) is so self-evidently wrong that most people don't ask why. But, if this world is really something like a "simulation" (or even a "video game," as it is sometimes metaphorically described, in which the avatar or "player in the game" might "die" many times and then just come right back to try again), then some people might ask how it can then be argued that violence is wrong.

The first and best answer is probably: it is self-evident that violating someone else's rights is wrong.

But, because analogies which use the terms "simulation," or "hologram" or even "video game" to describe the worldview containing both a visible world and an invisible world could lead some to question this point further, the definition and centrality of "blessing" described above opens up a line of argument which may be very helpful. If our mission in this life, according to the metaphors found in ancient scriptures and sacred traditions from Egypt to the Americas to India involves finding and elevating the "god within" or the inner spiritual nature, and in participating in the same action in the rest of the world around us ("blessing"), then doing violence to another being can be seen as the direct opposite: reducing "the other" to the physical and attempting to deny or even destroy the spiritual aspect in the other. 

Even more heinous, killing another separates the spirit from the body, reducing the other to physical matter, to the status of an object. It is obviously the exact opposite of what we are supposed to be doing, both in our own lives (where we are supposed to be recognizing and elevating our spiritual component) and in the world around us (where we are supposed to be doing the same thing, reawakening the connection of the material and physical world to the "real world behind it," which is the world of spirit), and while we are at it, encouraging others to do the same.

This approach to the subject of violence recalls the arguments presented by Simone Weil (1909 - 1943) in her famous 1940 essay "The Iliad, or the Poem of Force," in which she decries the use of force, which she defines as:
that x that turns anybody who is subjected to it into a thing. Exercised to its limit, it turns man into a thing in the most literal sense: it makes a corpse out of him. Somebody was here, and in the next moment there is nobody here at all; this is a spectacle the Iliad never wearies of showing us. 6.
This reduction of a human being to a thing (at one point she says to "a stone") is criminal, and precisely because a human being is not a thing, but rather a living man or woman who has a soul. It is precisely this aspect of the possession of a spiritual component which makes the reduction to a thing, the denial of that spiritual component, so heinous according to Weil.

Later in the same essay, she notes that the act of denying the soul in another has a second terrible consequence, which is that it has the tendency to turn the perpetrator of violence into "a thing" as well:
Such is the nature of force. Its power of converting a man into a thing is a double one, and in its application double-edged. To the same degree, though in different fashions, those who use it and those who endure it are turned to stone. 22.
You can see more thoughts on Simone Weil's powerful essay in a blog post from two years ago entitled  "Reflections on Simone Weil's 'The Iliad, or the Poem of Force' and the Question of Consciousness."

Many additional valid reasons could be set forth to demonstrate why violence against another is always wrong, including the fact that each individual is a microcosm of the entire universe and reflects and embodies the whole, but this argument from the "definition of blessing" and the central importance of recognizing and "raising" the spiritual is a very powerful argument, and one which is very consistent with the "shamanic worldview" that sees this material world as a "shadow" of the spiritual world that is "behind this one." It answers an objection which might be raised from a critic of such a worldview by noting that if the spiritual world that is behind this one is in some ways the "real world that is behind this one" (in the words of Black Elk), then the recognition and elevation of the spiritual in this material world are actions of profound importance, and the contrary actions of denying, diminishing, or destroying the spiritual side of another (which perpetrators of violence seek to do) is deeply dishonest and morally repugnant.

Additionally, denying or attempting to destroy the spiritual in others will tend to do the same to the perpetrator of those actions. Dehumanizing other men and women will inescapably dehumanize ourselves if we participate in it.

It should be noted that the prohibition against doing violence to another person forms the primary central touchstone of what Lysander Spooner argued is a universal law, ingrained into the fabric of the universe we inhabit to such an extent that it can be described as a "natural law" (that is, one not arising from human artifice or culture, but rather one that is as much a part of nature as the law of gravity or the laws which govern moving objects). He argued that abstaining from committing murder, and abstaining from injuring another, is a universal duty which must always be observed -- and that we actually have a duty to enforce this duty on others when necessary.

From this it can be argued that there are times when force can be rightly used to stop violence against oneself or another person, and that there is a distinction between violence (a word which indicates a violation of another's rights) and force: it is not violence to use force if someone is about to hit you in the head, but rather it is your right and even your duty to use force to stop that person from hitting you in the head, as hitting you in the head would be a serious violation of your individual rights. The helpful distinction between the use of the words force and violence is one that I originally heard from lectures published on the web by Mark Passio.

It should go without saying that violating the rights of others cannot possibly be argued to be acceptable, even by those who might see the existence of a spiritual world "behind this one" as an excuse to argue that way. The existence of a spiritual world which interpenetrates this one -- and from which this one can in a very real sense be said to arise -- by no means authorizes anyone to brutalize, dehumanize, or objectify another human being (nor does it authorize the denial of the spiritual component within the rest of nature, which is a topic for another post on another day). On the contrary, because that spiritual world behind this one is in one sense "the real world" from which this one springs, cutting off and suppressing the spiritual in oneself or in others is like cutting off one's own source of oxygen.

The understanding of "blessing" that involves the seeing of the higher spiritual side in ourselves, in others, and in the world around us -- and that involves awakening that spirit to a greater and greater degree -- helps us to see why doing the opposite is so very wrong and so antithetical to our purpose on this material plane.

Friday, September 19, 2014


image: Wikimedia commons (link).

In a wonderful book which I have been reading called Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation, by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman, there is a discussion of the concept of "blessing" which is worth careful study.

The authors write:
Blessing is the act of recognizing that Spirit is coming through what we are witnessing or experiencing. [. . .] Yet the physical plane appears to most as a camouflage universe where Spirit does not appear to exist.
Shamanically speaking, many of us respond to the physical world by assuming a deep hypnosis, a deep sleep where we no longer recognize that Spirit is present. Not only do we go to sleep, but large parts of the world may temporarily go to sleep as well. So it is our job to wake up and to awaken all that is around us. This act of waking up could be called "blessing the world." 25-26.

This is a fascinating and compelling definition of the concept of blessing. As discussed in this previous post, Lakota holy man Black Elk articulated the view of the material world in which we find ourselves as "something like a shadow" which is projected from the unseen world, the world of spirit, the world to which Crazy Horse journeyed in his powerful vision, the world which is actually "the real world which is behind this one" (behind the material world to which we are normally attuned).

The definition of blessing cited above articulates the same vision, saying that this physical world which normally occupies our attention acts as a kind of "camouflage" that hides that "real world behind this one" which Black Elk described. Blessing, from this perspective, then becomes a kind of peeling away that camouflage, an awakening to the world of Spirit that actually does infuse this one (and is in fact the source of this one, according to Black Elk), and ultimately a kind of recognizing and then releasing or enabling or allowing the power of that other realm to shine through the camouflage of this one. 

According to the authors of Awakening to the Spirit World, this act of awakening is a central part of our mission -- "our job" as they put it -- during our sojourn in this incarnate existence. "Each human," they explain, "comes with that capacity, with that ability, and with the responsibility to bless" (26). It is not something that may only be done by certain designated intermediaries: it is everyone's responsibility and privilege to awaken to that hidden reality and then to participate in the act of helping to awaken "all that is around us."

Note that this assertion appears to directly parallel the concept of the "raising of the Djed-column" that we have seen in numerous previous posts to be an essential purpose -- perhaps even the essential purpose -- of our incarnation in this earthly existence of "spirit crossed with matter," according to the world's ancient sacred traditions. Posts such as "The shamanic foundation of the world's ancient wisdom," "Scarab, Ankh, and Djed," and "The name of the Ankh, continued: Kundalini around the world" all examine evidence that a central feature of the ancient mythologies and metaphor-systems was the concept of the divine spark being "cast down" into the animal matter during incarnation (symbolized by the horizontal cross-bar on the symbol of the Cross and the Ankh, as well as by the Djed-column of Osiris laid low in death and stretched out horizontally in his sarcophagus or upon his death-bed), and the necessity of our remembering and recognizing that slumbering, forgotten spark of divine spirit which resides in each man and woman, and having remembered it to participate in the "raising of the Djed-column" and the elevation of this inner spiritual nature again.

The implication of the definition of blessing cited above is that we have this responsibility not just individually and within ourselves and our own lives, but we have a responsibility to also help those around us and even our surrounding natural world to also remember the hidden, fiery spirit that is slumbering within, and to help that to stream forth. As Black Elk informs us, the spirit world is no less real just because we cannot see it with our ordinary senses: in fact, the spirit world is the real world, and the source of the one that we can see. And so, this act of calling it forth, or awakening it in the world around us described as the act of blessing by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman is not just an imaginary or "feel-good" exercise: it is very real. 

The element of Spirit is already there, waiting to be acknowledged and called forth -- and in doing so to bless the material world that depends upon the spiritual.

Adding further confirmation to the importance of this concept is the evidence that Dr. Jeremy Naydler has found which suggests that the pharaohs of ancient Egypt deliberately made contact with the spirit world during their Sed festival rites, and that they did so in order to bless the kingdom

In his examination of this phenomenon in Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: The Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt, Dr. Naydler writes:
In the ancient Egyptian social order, there was one person who had a particularly important role in relation to the dead, and that was the king. His primary function was to keep the visible and invisible worlds linked together. The king had to live as much in relation to the spirit world as he did in relation to the visible world. He was, as god-man, the mediator between the worlds. For the king to properly fulfill his function, it was essential that the veil or barrier between the worlds did not exist for him, for his responsibilities included precisely those aspects of the well-being of the country that were dependent on the beneficent flow of vitalizing energies from the spirit realm into the realm of the living. 84.
And again:
The king was thus engaged in a ritual communion with the spirits of the land of Egypt. The underlying purpose of this was to reach across to the more subtle spirit world that upholds and vitalizes the physical world, in order to ensure a beneficent connection with it and an unhampered flow of energies from it into the physical. 85.
The clear connection to the concept being articulated by the authors of Awakening to the Spirit World should be evident from the above passages. And, while Dr. Naydler finds evidence that this activity of recognizing the hidden spirit world and inviting its energies to flow into the visible world was the privilege and prerogative of the king in ancient Egypt, the evidence in the posts linked above clearly suggest that the ancient wisdom from cultures around the world contain the message that each and every one of us can and should be engaged in the act of recognizing the spiritual "spark" within and in the act of raising it, raising the Djed-column that has been "cast down." By implication, it follows that each of us may have the responsibility to call forth the same response in the world around us (blessing).

In fact, the frequent repetition of the utterance "Amen" in the scriptures of the New Testament, a phrase which this previous post asserts has directly to do with the recognition of the "hidden divine," seems to support this conclusion as well. That post asserts, based on some strong clues (including the association of the identical hand-gesture with both phrases) that the "Amen" and the greeting "Namaste" have to do with the exact same concept: the recognition of the hidden spark of divinity. The fact that when "Namaste" is said to another, it means recognizing the life force, the divine force of creation, in the other person and also within oneself and within all of nature, indicates that saying "Namaste" to another is a form of blessing, as defined above!

Thus, we find ancient traditions encouraging the frequent blessing of others (that is, verbally recognizing the invisible Spirit within them, and "calling it out" to shine forth). So, saying "Namaste" (or the related "Amen") is an acknowledgement and an invocation of the hidden Spirit -- and this acknowledgement and invocation -- this blessing -- is by no means restricted to the king or the pharaoh. By this, we can see that we all have the privilege and the responsibility to participate in the same work that Dr. Naydler describes the pharaoh as doing during the Sed festival rites: ensuring a beneficent connection with the invisible world, and encouraging an unhampered flow of energies from the invisible world into the physical world.

This responsibility is one we should take very seriously. It should also cause us to be careful with what we say, and to avoid cursing instead of blessing. How many times during the day does something in the physical world elicit some version of the word "Damn" from our lips or in our thoughts? It is a terrible habit that is so easy to fall into (and which seems to be encouraged in so many songs, movies, and shows). It is if anything the opposite of blessing.

This is a concept that is so important to think about carefully, and the practice of our responsibility (and privilege!) to bless others and the world around us one that we should take seriously. Thanks to Sandra Ingerman, Hank Wesselman, and the other contributors to Awakening to the Spirit World for articulating this concept of daily blessing!

Below is a "tweet" from Sandra Ingerman which she wrote on the very same subject within the past twenty-four hours:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jephthah's daughter

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

In the Old Testament scriptures, in the Book of Judges, we encounter the horrifying story of Jephthah and his daughter. If ever there were a Biblical passage which renders an absolutely hideous message when taken literally, while yielding a completely satisfactory conclusion when understood astronomically, this story is it.

In chapter 11 of Judges, after a description of the elders of Gildead requesting that Jephthah be made head and captain over the children of Israel, and a description of a series of battles between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon, we arrive at verse 29, where we read:
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gildead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.
And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,
Then it shall be, that whatsoever comth forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.
So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands.
And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her had neither son nor daughter.
And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clohtes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou has brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.
And she said unto him, My father, if thou has opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.
And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.
And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.
And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,
That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.
And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.
If this passage is understood to be describing the literal and historical actions of a literal and historical judge and war-chief of the ancient children of Israel, who swears a vow to sacrifice the first thing he sees upon returning home from battle and burn it as a burnt offering to the Almighty, it would surely seem to be a horrible episode and one that probably does not feature too often in sermons. 

Certainly it could be used as a stern warning against swearing to rash vows (the episode is often referred to generally as "Jephthah's rash vow"), but even if it is used as an example of the dire consequences of swearing too rashly, that still leaves the gaping question of whether such a vow must then be fulfilled, even to the extent of killing another person -- even to the extent of sacrificing one's only daughter. Can this scripture possibly be implying that once such a vow is sworn, to break the vow is considered impossible, and worse than actually taking someone else's life -- let alone the life of one's own beloved daughter?

The passage itself gives us no help in this regard: it simply records that Jephthah groans with pain but clearly does not consider it possible to break the vow, and Jephthah's daughter understands and says that he must do it, especially since he was given victory in the battle over the Ammonites after swearing the vow. 

The verses which follow the human sacrifice likewise do not give any hint of whether the community thought Jephthah had acted rightly or wrongly: immediately after the verse about the daughters of Israel mourning Jephthah's daughter once a year, at the end of chapter 11, the following verse (at the beginning of chapter 12) has the men of Ephraim gathering and preparing to burn down Jephthah's house down with him inside, but not because he has killed his daughter and burned her, but because he did not take them along when he went to fight the Ammonites. 

Again, a literalist encountering these verses is left with a sickening scenario in which all values seem to be inverted and violence and darkness reign supreme. I am aware that the verses could potentially be used as a "type" or foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ by the Father, but even that hermeneutical move would have to be used with extreme caution, as the circumstances surrounding Jephthah's sacrifice are simply so shocking and so horrifying that there seems to be nothing uplifting in the passages whatsoever (to which the reply would be that this is the contrast between the sinfulness of humanity and the perfection of the redemption -- which seems to be the only way these verses could possibly be made to serve a positive purpose in a sermon). Even such a rhetorical move would still leave the question of whether Jephthah then was right in proceeding with the killing and burning of his daughter. 

Clearly, a strictly literalistic interpretation of these verses leads into an absolute swamp filled with pitfalls from which it becomes more and more difficult to extract one's self, the further down into it one charges.

However, like the horrifying verses about the prophet Elisha calling two she-bears out of the woods to tear apart the forty-two youths in the Old Testament book of 2 Kings (an episode almost as sickening as the Jephthah incident, and yet even that one is less hideous than this one in many respects, except for the obviously higher body-count), this passage contains clear elements of celestial metaphor which indicate that it was never intended to be understood as an account of something that took place on the earth involving human beings: it takes place in the sky.

Very briefly, because the elements of the system of celestial metaphor have now been explained in some detail in numerous previous posts, this incident has all the markers indicating a sacrifice at the point of equinox: those two points on the annual cycle where the two great "hoops" of the ecliptic and the celestial equator "cross" one another, allegorized in countless different forms as a sacrifice (previous posts as well as the first three chapters of The Undying Stars which are available for free perusal online have demonstrated that the equinox crossings form the foundation for the myths of the sacrifices of Iphigenia, of Isaac by Abraham, of St. Peter in early church tradition, and even of Christ -- which explains the "echoes" that typologists can find between some of these Old Testament star-myths and the sacrifice on the Cross in the New Testament).

Which of the two equinoctial points we are dealing with here should be fairly obvious from the clues that have been included in the scriptural passage: the sacrifice is of a young virginal daughter (her virginity is emphasized several times in the episode), and so we should be fairly confident in identifying the September equinox. For those in the northern hemisphere, this would be the autumnal or fall equinox, when the days cross over from being longer than nights to the half of the year in which they are shorter (each of the two equinox-points are marked on the zodiac wheel below with a red "X" and the one on the right as we look at the wheel is the one at Virgo, where the sun which moves in the direction of the arrows as the year progresses is declining towards the lower half of the year and the winter solstice at the bottom of the circle). This fact supports the possibility that the "children of Ammon" that Jephthah was battling before he returned to his house to encounter his daughter (returning to the house of the sign of Virgo, that is) represent the upper, sunny, summery half of the year.

The exact correspondences of the different opponents Jephthah battles with are much more difficult to identify with exactitude, although we can be fairly confident that this is a celestial battle describing the circle of the zodiac (along with many, many other examples from both the New Testament and the Old Testament, as well as from other mythologies such as the Greek myths about the Trojan War). The identity of the daughter with the stars of Virgo, however, is very certain.

We have already seen that the passage itself takes care to emphasize her status as a virgin. The other distinguishing feature of the daughter of Jephthah, however, is her timbrel -- which is to say, her tambourine. It just so happens that the constellation Virgo has some distinguishing features which are often included in ancient art: one of these is an outstretched arm, and one is the fainter circle of stars that are in front of her face and above this outstretched arm. In the ancient Greek art depicting the Pythia of Delphi, for example, the outstretched arm represents the arm with the sacred laurel-branch, while the circle of stars corresponded to her circular dish or platter holding the holy water, as discussed in this previous post. In the case of Jephthah's daughter, this circle becomes a timbrel.

Note also in the painting above, by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini (1675 - 1741), the artist has incorporated the outstretched arm and the timbrel of the girl, in a way that is most suggestive of the possibility that he understood her connection to the Virgin of Virgo (either that or, in his formal art schooling, these elements were passed down to him without his understanding). This indicates that the esoteric aspects of these myths was known by some and passed down among some circles, without being taught to those seekers in the churches, who were being taught that these stories all represent events that took place in history among literal people.

Below is an image of the Pythia alongside the stars of Virgo: you can see the faint "circle" of stars that become the dish in the artwork of the Pythia, the circular hoop in the image of Rhea seated on a throne below the outline of Virgo, and the timbrel of the daughter of Jephthah:

The final clincher for me that we are dealing with a star-myth of Virgo and the equinox (point of many sacrifices) is the presence of fire -- almost always present in equinox-myths, since the equinoxes are the two points where the fiery path of the sun (the ecliptic) crosses through the celestial equator. Previous posts detailing this include "The Old Man and his Daughter" and "Common symbology between Mithraic temples and the Knights Templar." In the myth of Jephthah, we find that he must make his daughter (Virgo) into a burnt offering, and that immediately thereafter some men come and threaten to burn his house down.

And so, we see that what would be an absolutely execrable story if interpreted "historically" (the way most of those with positions of authority inside the various Christian churches have generally approached the scriptures for the past seventeen hundred years or more) is actually just another star myth built upon a structure that is found in the Greek myths and in Native American traditions all the way across the globe, intended (I believe) to convey a positive and uplifting message to all people, embodied in the motions of the the stars, the sun, the moon, and the planets, and a message which describes our incarnate condition as the "Djed-column cast down" -- identified with the horizontal line between the equinoxes, the line of sacrifice, the line of being made "like an animal" and plunged down into a similitude of death -- but which teaches the real possibility and even inevitability of reconnection with the spiritual realm, and the "raising up of the Djed column" again.

This is a powerful lesson, and I would think a very powerful argument that these passages are not intended to be read literally. Additionally, the above analysis should demonstrate that the scriptures and traditions the world over are all close kin, and that the artificial distinctions between "Christian" and "pagan" that were imposed upon the rise of literalist Christianity are both harmful and false.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Graham Hancock identifies war on consciousness: TED confirms that he's right

Above is the now-infamous TEDx talk given by Graham Hancock in March of 2013 entitled "The War on Consciousness," in which he shared some incredibly personal aspects of his own life and shifts in his own consciousness, and then proceeded to raise absolutely vital questions regarding the nature of human consciousness, the longstanding antagonism in western culture towards visionary states, the possibility that privileging one type of consciousness over all others might be leading to very serious imbalances with tremendously negative ramifications for all humanity and the planet itself, and the related possibility that the forbidding of some types of voluntary consciousness-altering activity among adults which do no violence to others -- while at the same time permitting and even encouraging many other types of consciousness-altering substances which do not threaten the privileged form of consciousness -- may in fact be a grave violation of human liberty and personal freedom.

The talk is "now infamous" because TED decided to remove it from their official YouTube channel (thereby lessening its distribution and reducing the likelihood that people would encounter it "accidentally" while searching for thought-provoking subject matter on the TED channel), while at the same time moving it to a place where people could find it if they were already looking for it, and also at the same time publishing a note explaining that they were not engaging in "censorship" but that the talk "strays well beyond the realm of reasonable science," that he makes "statements about psychotropic drugs that seem both nonscientific and reckless," and that "it's no surprise that his work has often been characterized as pseudo-archeology" (that statement can be found here, along with statements regarding their decision to remove a talk by Rupert Sheldrake at the same time -- his talk is entitled "The Science Delusion"). 

TED stated that their decision to remove the two talks from their channel represents their "responsibility not to provide a platform for talks which have crossed the line into pseudo-science."

Well, thank goodness for that. We can now watch the TED channel on YouTube without fear of accidentally encountering any ideas which may have crossed the line.

Of course, TED has created their forum and their brand and can post who and what they want on it, and they are also free to call people names and label the honestly-expressed ideas of serious authors "pseudo-science" and "pseudo-archeology" if they want to. Their decision to move a video off of their channel is not really "censorship," in the sense that they are not using the armed might of the government to forbid the publishing, speaking, or reading of someone's work (if they were, then that would certainly be censorship and a clear violation of the rights of others). 

Those who disagree with TED's categorization of the work of Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake as "pseudo-archeology" and "pseudo-science" are certainly free to believe that TED is egregiously wrong on this matter (which they are), and to avail themselves of the opportunity to read and explore and hear more of the ideas that Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake have to offer, and to voice their opinion of TED's hypocrisy in trumpeting the motto "ideas worth spreading" and their statement that they are all about "welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world" and "building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world's most inspired thinkers -- and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other," while at the same time marginalizing two extremely thought-provoking authors who are asking questions that apparently are not allowed to be asked on TED forums and from which that "community of curious souls" must be shielded from full engagement.

One is also free to point out that TED tells its visitors that it is "owned by a nonprofit, nonpartisan foundation" with a stated "agenda [. . .] to make great ideas accessible and spark conversation," and that this talk certainly raises many potential sparks worth conversing about.

Again, it is important to note that TED has every right to decide to provide a platform to discuss some conversations and not others -- but their decision to marginalize and then to plaster with the condescending labels "pseudo-science" and "pseudo-archaeology" the ideas offered for consideration in these talks would seem to be extremely incongruous with the high-minded "global community" tone that TED strikes in their public persona. They say their talks cover "almost all topics -- from science to business to global issues." Graham Hancock was addressing absolutely vital "global issues" in the talk above (come to think of it, he managed to raise some important points about the topic of "business" as well).

After apparently listening to the criticism that this decision elicited, TED came out with another statement, saying that by moving the videos away from the main site they invited "an open conversation" about "the line between science and pseudoscience" and "how far TED and TEDx should go in giving exposure to unorthodox ideas." This is commendable, although they then went on to say that since the ideas proposed by "Sheldrake and Hancock are so radical and far-removed from mainstream scientific thinking" they felt they needed to give potential viewers "a clear health warning" and noted that since "TED and TEDx are brands that are trusted in schools and in homes" they didn't want to have to answer to "a parent whose kid went off to South America to drink ayahuasca because TED said it was OK." 

This last statement, of course, is over the top: Graham specifically stated he was referring to the right of "we as adults to make sovereign decisions about what to experience with our own consciousness while doing no harm to others" (17:40). There was nothing in there encouraging children to sneak off to South America without their parents' permission in order to drink ayahuasca (in itself a fairly ridiculous notion for most children, although perhaps the children of some in the TED audience have access to their own jets and the ability to take them out for the weekend without telling anyone where they're going).

Lost in all of this -- including the invited conversation about "the line between science and pseudoscience" and "how far TED and TEDx should go" -- is the absolutely profound series of questions which Graham raised in his talk. By declaring that they were moving the conversation elsewhere, that decision and its appropriateness or lack thereof became the entire focus of the debate (as it has been in the above paragraphs, since it is a subject worth debating). But far more provocative and worth discussing are the ideas that Graham actually prepared for the talk, and into which he obviously poured a great deal of effort in order to organize and convey to his audience, and into which he even more obviously poured a great deal of his own psychic energy, and in the process offered up for public comment and consideration some aspects of his own personal investment in the subject that he is trying to get the human race to at least consider.

And the fact that a great many people do not even want to consider this subject could not be more clear. That is the clarion message of TED's decision to remove it from the "mainstream" location and conversation and put it over in the "special room" reserved for distasteful issues (the "scientific" or "archaeological" merits of the talk are obviously a smoke screen -- TED hosts a great many speakers on their platform who are discussing social ideas, as well as business ideas, without taking them to task for their level of scientific knowledge; we could probably criticize a great many speakers on TED's forum for practicing "pseudo-economics," but that kind of name calling is counter-productive, and is a cheap shortcut allowing us to avoid actually engaging with their ideas).

Again, TED does not have to consider any subjects they don't want to consider, or offer up for consideration any ideas they don't want to offer up for consideration: people can go find other forums on which to do so if TED shuts them out. But the paragraphs above should make it clear that the reasons they don't want to consider the ideas in the Graham Hancock talk above has nothing to do with the reasons they are publicly providing (the fear that kids will run off on their own to drink ayahuasca in the Amazon basin, for instance, or the requirement that every TED speaker on any subject must be able to pass the review of a panel of experts drawn from the disciplines of physics, chemistry, philosophy, and botany -- or even the excuse that Graham's talk was outside of the scope of TED's stated mission of "making great ideas accessible" and sparking conversations on "subjects ranging from science to business to global issues").

The reason they don't want to consider the topics Graham Hancock raises appears rather to be that he is challenging core, foundational dogmas of the prevailing religion. He is speaking what the keepers of the hidden assumptions apparently believe to be rank heresy. 

The decision to move the videos off of the main channel can be seen as a brilliant way of derailing the discussion of those heretical points -- not only by making them somewhat less accessible, but also and more importantly by turning the conversation in an entirely different direction than it might have taken had the videos simply stayed up among all the others as an open offering of ideas for comment and consideration and conversation, unremarked-upon by the administrators. Now, far more people will be focusing on and getting emotional over the question of whether TED has the right to brand someone else's ideas "pseudo-science" than will be focusing upon the question of whether Western civilization's antagonism towards what Graham calls "visionary states" might be leading to dangerous personal and planetary imbalances with tremendous negative repercussions.

And that is a conversation that is well worth having. Because the antagonism towards the visionary state of consciousness which Graham identifies is very real, and it can be traced back to a specific period in time which marked an enormous turning point for what would become known as "Western civilization." That turning point in history took place in the years between AD 70 (the year of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem) and AD 394 (the end of the reign of the emperor Theodosius, when the Roman Empire was finally and decisively split into an eastern and a western half, never to be reunited, and the western half eventually formed itself into the states which now form "western Europe").

This previous post gives a rough outline of the secret campaign to take over the Roman Empire from the inside that took place between AD 70 and AD 394 -- and it also alludes to the connection that this takeover has to the suppression of the visionary, shamanic consciousness that Graham describes in his talk, and that he rightly demonstrates to be targeted by powerful forces within "Western civilization" right up to the present day.  

For centuries, the shamanic consciousness was persecuted because it was heretical to the doctrines of the literalist Christianity which was part of that takeover between AD 70 and AD 394. In more recent times, the shamanic consciousness has been additionally marginalized because it is heretical to the doctrines of a different religion (one that calls its opponents "pseudo-scientists" or "pseudo-archeologists," instead of "heretics").

For the record, previous posts have demonstrated that the visionary states which Graham invokes in his talk are not exclusively the province of those who interact with consciousness-altering plants: a wide variety of techniques have been used around the globe and throughout the ages to access the hidden realm, many of them involving drumming, rattling, chanting, sleep deprivation, food deprivation, rhythmic breathing, dancing, and other methods not involving the ingestion of plants (although those certainly have been used as well). Some texts and traditions actually contain some very strong warnings regarding reliance upon substances or approaches that can lead to what some traditional shamans appear to have classified as "imitation shamanic ecstasy" (this important topic is explored in this previous post).

One wonders what the response would have been, had Graham urged consideration of shamanic drumming as a way of accessing visionary states of consciousness, and left off the discussion of ayahuasca or mushrooms in his argument that the war against these visionary states has potentially dangerous results. The fact that shamanic drums have been routinely and often even violently suppressed by enemies of the shamanic worldview since AD 394 is a strong piece of evidence supporting the idea that there has been a long-running war against a certain type of consciousness, and that the outlawing of ayahuasca has more to do with this war against visionary consciousness than with ayahuasca's supposed "health hazards," whatever those happen to be, if any.

But ayahuasca is the method that Graham Hancock himself has used and experienced and that has, as he related, had a profound impact on his life -- and he raises the question of how one person can declare themselves to have the right to deny another adult the right to ingest a substance that does no harm to anyone else's person or property. This is a very important question, in that it goes right to the question of natural or universal law and the violation of natural or universal law (this is my interpretation of that subject: the words "natural law" do not appear in Graham's talk itself), and he connects this question to a lot of other violations of natural law he sees taking place in the world. 

It would seem that a very worthwhile conversation could be held surrounding the question of whether ayahuasca is in fact illegal just because someone wrote words to that effect on a "bill" which then received a seal and a signature ("He signed ya, Bill: Now you're a law!"), and whether there is a moral obligation to treat that as law until it is changed, pointing out that Lysander Spooner argued that men and women did not have the obligation to obey the Fugitive Slave Laws just because they were "signed into law" by presidents (including George Washington), and in fact that juries had the right to refuse to convict persons of violations of so-called laws that were actually illegal laws. This would seem like yet another "conversation worth having" which Graham's talk opened the door towards having, only to see TED slam that door in the world's collective face (they did at least put up a sign saying "go have a conversation about this in the broom closet, but please focus on discussing the definition of science vs. pseudo-science, and the question of what is and isn't within the scope of a TED talk").

Graham's presentation argues that only one type of consciousness has been valued by the reigning orthodoxy (a type of consciousness that he acknowledges has many good uses and many important qualities), and that another type of consciousness has been declared to be "beyond the pale" of the reigning orthodoxy. By their reaction to that talk, the decision-makers at TED have fairly well proven his argument, while at the same time declaring their allegiance to the reigning orthodoxy on this particular (and particularly important) subject. 

Again, that is certainly TED's right -- there are many media outlets which are busily generating content which supports and reinforces the reigning orthodoxy, and no one expects them to suddenly open themselves up as platforms where the kinds of questions that Graham's talk raises about sovereign individual rights, Amazon deforestation, the pharmaceutical industry, the wars of recent decades, and the connection of such issues to the suppression of a specific type of consciousness can be explored. It is their right to ignore these issues as well, and people can go elsewhere to find platforms willing to examine these vital questions -- and people are doing so in great numbers. Some such platforms are listed here -- along with some discussion as to why it is important to support them -- and there are many others.

But these really are questions that are so important that they should absolutely be given the widest possible platform for exploration by "people of every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world." They are questions which go right to the heart of the history of "Western culture," and the decisions and events which launched it on the path that has brought the world to this particular point. They are questions that concern every adult -- and questions which should not be hidden from children in school either. 

The world should be grateful to Graham Hancock for raising these questions, and for framing them in such a compelling manner, one that clearly demonstrates the importance of this question of consciousness on every level, from the individual to the global. The dust clouds TED kicked up to keep the conversation from developing should actually be seen as revealing. And they should cause us to watch the talk more closely, perhaps even writing down the questions that Graham asks, and then to start exploring those questions with others, both in person and on media platforms where such discussion is welcome.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ambrose and Theodosius

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

At the death of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I (AD 347 - 394), the formal panegyric was given by Ambrose, the Archbishop of Milan (AD 340 - 397), and amidst all the eulogy's praise of the departed emperor, Ambrose makes reference to the penitence of Theodosius, weaving this incident quite effortlessly and eloquently into a very beautiful metaphor within a larger theme of humanity's need for mercy and therefore the need to be merciful and forgiving to one another.

The reference itself refers to an incident that took place in AD 390, in which citizens of the region of Thessalonika revolted, apparently in anger at the presence of Gothic soldiers in the service of the empire stationed in their midst.  It is worth pointing out that the stationing of military forces among the citizenry is one of the hallmarks of tyrannical states, and the use of foreign-born troops to do it is another pattern in history, as they are less likely to feel an affinity with or sympathy for the local populace. 

Note that both of these specific grievances were part of those listed by the authors and signatories of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 against the King of Great Britain to support their argument that he showed "a history of repeated injuries and usurpations" with the "direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States":
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States [. . .]
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

We don't have a similar statement from the Thessalonikans who revolted, but we can image that they were similarly outraged by the behavior of the foreign "mercenaries" stationed among them by the Empire (these happened to be Goths), and the impunity with which those mercenaries were allowed to behave and the violations of natural law which they perpetrated -- hence the revolt.

Contemporary historians of the time tell us that Theodosius reacted to their revolt by authorizing the Goth commander to slaughter a stadium full of the Thessalonikans, cutting down innocent and guilty alike, as if they were stalks of wheat at harvest time.

Ambrose apparently criticized Theodosius for this ruthless slaughter, barring the emperor from entering church or taking communion for several months, and ordering him to do penance for several months before he could enter again and receive the host (the painting above, from around 1620 or 1621, depicts Ambrose on the right as we look at it, wearing a gold mitre on his head and gold-and-blue robes, barring the entrance to the Milan Cathedral from the hopeful but disappointed Theodosius, who is on the left as we look at the painting, wearing the royal purple, which looks more like what we would probably call crimson today).

Ambrose makes reference to this penance of the emperor in the official panegyric, which can be read in an English translation online here (beginning on page 307 of that 1953 text, which is actually page 335 of the "e-text" linked, since the e-text includes some front matter in its page count that comes before the pagination count began in the 1953 print book itself).  There, on page 319 in the original book's pagination, or page 347 in the e-text reader linked above, Ambrose says of Theodosius:
And so because Theodosius, the emperor, showed himself humble and, when sin had stolen upon him, asked for pardon, his soul has turned to its rest, as Scripture has it, saying 'Turn my soul unto thy rest, for the Lord hath been bountiful unto thee.'
The scriptural reference is to Psalm 116:7. The paragraph itself is numbered 28 in the text of Ambrose's speech.

Let's just pause to note that this is actually a fairly astonishing situation. The absolute ruler of the entire Roman Empire, Theodosius I, who is basically the supreme authority and seemingly answers to no one, is apparently being refused entrance to the Mass by the Archbishop of Milan (it is important to know that Milan, located in northern Italy, was then the western seat of the empire, after Constantine earlier moved the center of political power east to Constantinople, a fact which plays a part in the theory discussed below). Not only that, but the emperor is being ordered to repent, humble himself, and do penance by the Archbishop, and the emperor does so for several months before being reinstated to the privilege of taking communion. 

The fact that this incident is mentioned in the official eulogy of the emperor by Ambrose is a pretty good indication that it actually happened: if it did not, there would have been plenty of people who could have said so at the time. And so, we can see here an indication that the emperor himself was answerable to the most powerful bishops in some matters, who were obviously seen as representatives of an even higher power.

We might also note that the relatives of those several thousands who were slaughtered in Thessalonika were probably not particularly satisfied at this evidence of the accountability of Theodosius for his war crime -- a few months of being barred from taking communion, and all was forgiven.

In fact, this incident -- and the larger significance of the reign of Theodosius and his actions as emperor -- along with other important pieces of evidence preserved in that eulogy written by Ambrose, provides remarkable support for the revolutionary theory presented by Flavio Barbiero in The Secret Society of Moses: The Mosaic Bloodline and a Conspiracy Spanning Three Millennia (2010). In the analysis of Flavio Barbiero, the hierarchical Christianity that Ambrose represented was part of an incredible conspiracy to take over the Roman Empire from the inside, launched centuries earlier by survivors of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem and the Roman campaign to suppress revolt in Judea, led by the generals Vespasian and his son Titus in AD 67 - 70 (the main years of the First Jewish-Roman War). 

According to Barbiero's analysis, and backed up by a compelling chain of evidence, the culminating actions of that three-hundred-year-long conspiracy took place with the installation of Constantine as emperor in AD 312, and the finishing touches on the victory were overseen by the ruthless Theodosius I, who became emperor in AD 392. For more details on this theory of ancient history, which I believe to be very convincing, see previous posts such as this one and this one, as well as this online explanation of some important aspects of the theory that Flavio Barbiero wrote for the Graham Hancock website, and of course see his book itself, which is filled with historical detail and a complete blow-by-blow of the entire takeover and its aftermath. 

You may also wish to see The Undying Stars, in which I discuss this theory in the context of the evidence that the ancient history of the human race is far different from what we have been taught -- that there is evidence of advanced scientific, technological, spiritual, and shamanic knowledge in humanity's ancient past, at least some of which endured in "the West" right up until the takeover that Barbiero talks about, but which was deliberately and systematically stamped out in the West after this literalistic hierarchical Christian takeover -- a suppression which may have continued in the following centuries and even right up to this day! (Note that my incorporation of his theory into my own analysis should not be interpreted as an indication that Flavio Barbiero supports any of my analysis in any way). 

The actions taken by Theodosius during his reign can be seen as powerful confirmation of the theory of Flavio Barbiero, many of which are discussed in Barbiero's book. The relationship between Ambrose and Theodosius can also be seen as confirmation of the larger pattern Barbiero describes.

Some of the metaphors and anecdotes used by Ambrose in the panegyric at the death of the emperor, I believe, can additionally be seen as startling confirmation of my placement of the revolutionary theory of Flavio Barbiero within the larger context of the deliberate subversion of the ancient esoteric system that connects the scriptures that became the Old and New Testaments with the ancient wisdom of the rest of the world's cultures -- with an especially close tie to the expression of the ancient wisdom in Egypt. These additional metaphors and anecdotes from the eulogy delivered by Ambrose are not part of Flavio Barbiero's analysis.

According to the theory of Flavio Barbiero, the reason that the generals who put down the rebellion in Judea in AD 67 to 70 were able to become emperors and found the Flavian dynasty (first Vespasian and then his son Titus upon the death of Vespasian) was the financial assistance they received from a vanquished leader of the rebels, who gave them access to the vast hidden treasures of the Temple of Jerusalem itself. This leader and those he selected to come with him were spared from the summary execution that Vespasian and Titus meted out to most of the rebel leaders, and brought back to Rome to enjoy privileged status for the rest of their lives.

Barbiero finds evidence that these leaders, who possessed deep experience running a religious system, decided to set about building a "spiritual Temple" to replace the one that had been burned down by the Romans, and to use it to advance their fortunes in their new setting. They succeeded to a degree that is absolutely astonishing.

Using the twin devices of literalist Christianity (the public and open religious system which they co-opted upon or shortly following their arrival in Rome) and the secret society of Sol Invictus Mithras (the secret and exclusive underground society which they created and operated behind the scenes), they created a mechanism for passing on their vision and accomplishing their goals many generations after the original group which had been brought from Judea to Rome passed from the scene.

The secret society of Mithraism became influential in the Praetorian Guard, then among the imperial bureaucracy, the important imperial checkpoints over commerce such as the customs service, and finally and most importantly over the officers of the Roman Army stationed in various provinces and along the far-flung frontiers of the empire. 

All the while, the leaders of the Mithraic system operated in utmost secrecy, protected by strict oaths of secrecy sworn to by all those invited into the society. The old aristocratic families of the empire perceived that something was going on that was a major threat to their control, but they never identified the real nerve center of that threat -- instead, they concentrated on the public face of the two-pronged attack, which was the fledgling literalist Christian religion. Safe from persecution, the leaders of the Mithraic conspiracy could maneuver their pieces on the political chessboard with steady and unwavering focus over the years.

One of their first major victories was the accession to the throne of the murderous Commodus, who reigned from AD 177 to 192, and whom Flavio Barbiero believes to have been the first emperor to have actually been an initiate into the Mithraic society (more discussion of the significance of Commodus, and some of the evidence to support this conclusion, is found in this previous post). 

There were many significant setbacks after the reign of Commodus, but in general the interruptions (usually by generals who stormed into power with the support of their legions, only in most cases to be quickly assassinated by members of the Praetorian Guard or other agents of the secret society) were fairly brief (albeit violent and tumultuous), and a new emperor whom they controlled would eventually be maneuvered into the throne by the society of Sol Invictus. Each time, the network's grip over the levers of power increased, and it looked as though their careful campaign was succeeding famously.

This pattern was seriously disrupted in AD 284, upon the accession to the throne of Diocletian (who was born in AD 244 and died in AD 311), who was in fact an initiate of the cult of Mithras. However, Diocletian instituted a cunning (if unwieldy) strategy to ensure that he did not end up being eliminated by the secret society behind the throne if he crossed their will (as had happened to so many of his predecessors). He created what has come to be referred to as "the Tetrarchy," splitting up power with an ally, Marcus Aurelius Maximian, and determining that each of the two co-emperors (Diocletian and Maximian) would name a "caesar" who would be the successor to each when they decided to retire, and who would have certain authority and powers even before that time. 

It was a terribly way to run things (just imagine a major corporation with four CEOs at the same time, or even two CEOs plus two "sub-CEOs" with nearly as much power as the CEOs), but by dividing the empire up this way and having it run by an alliance of four, it helped to ensure that the secret society of Sol Invictus Mithras could not bring in a new power-hungry general from another part of the empire to overthrow the existing emperor when he did something they didn't like, as had happened so many times before.

According to Flavio Barbiero, this was the turning point which determined a change in the strategy by the "power behind the throne" -- from now on, they would rule through the public mechanism that they had created, literalist Christianity, instead of the secret society of Mithras.

And that is why, after a violent power struggle that ensued after Diocletian and Maximian left office, the emperor who took control decided to proclaim openly that he was now a Christian, and that Christianity would henceforth be officially tolerated in the empire. That emperor was Constantine I, who ruled from AD 312 until his death in AD 337.

One of the important moves which Constantine made, and one which adds credence to this theory of Flavio Barbiero, was his decision to move the seat of the emperor to Constantinople and out of Rome. The "power behind the throne" (which had been hidden in the society of Mithras, and which was now identical with the upper reaches of the hierarchy of the Christian church) could thus operate out of Rome without interference from the emperor or from pesky usurpers marching in from other parts of the empire to try to seize the throne. 

However, Constantine did not declare Christianity to be the sole religion of the Roman Empire: far from it. His reign was only the first decisive move in the "endgame" of this centuries-long chess-match for control of the Roman world. The "checkmate" would come during the reign of Theodosius I, who was born about ten years after the end of Constantine's reign and who came to power in AD 392. It was Theodosius who administered what Flavio Barbiero calls "the fatal blow to paganism and what little still remained of the ancient Roman senatorial aristocracy" of the Roman Empire (216).

Theodosius ordered in AD 380 that all Christians must profess their faith in the bishop of Rome, thus outlawing alternative dogmas besides the one promulgated by the hierarchical structure controlled by the descendants of those long-ago transplants from Judea. 

He outlawed paganism outright in AD 392, decreeing the death penalty for anyone practicing augury or some of the other practices of the traditional Roman pagan rites. 

He closed the ancient Oracle at Delphi in AD 390, and ended the Eleusinian Mysteries in AD 392, as well as (according to some scholars) the Olympic games after that same year. 

Prior to his death, Theodosius issued decrees that the rule would be split between his two sons (who were quite young at the time of his death), one ruling in the east and the other in the west. It was a decision that would eventually lead to the breakup of the empire: Theodosius I was the last to rule a united empire, and eventually the trappings of the western empire would evaporate completely, and western Europe would be run by a variety of different kings and nobles and -- exercising tremendous control over their actions -- the hierarchy of the Christian religion centered in Rome.

In light of this theory, we can see that Ambrose and Theodosius were actually close allies in the final execution of a long-reaching plan. We can also see that Ambrose, as a high-ranking member of the hierarchy that represented the "power behind the throne" was actually in some ways the superior of the emperor himself -- and his ability to impose sanctions on Theodosius may be an indication of exactly that.

All of the actions above from the life of Theodosius certainly can be interpreted as strong supporting evidence for Flavio Barbiero's theory (among many other pieces of supporting evidence from the preceding centuries, which are recounted in detail in Flavio Barbiero's book).

But there is another incredible piece of evidence hidden in the speech of Ambrose given at the death of Theodosius which also tends to confirm this revolutionary alternative view of Roman history, and to tie it into the larger theory that I expound (and which, as I said, is not part of Flavio Barbiero's theory and should not be taken as an assertion that he supports this wider theory).

In The Undying Stars, and in many of the blog posts including this one containing an index of links to over fifty such myths from around the world, I argue that virtually all of the world's sacred traditions and scriptures appear to be based upon a common esoteric system of sophisticated celestial metaphor. 

As I explain in this previous post entitled "The Cobra Kai sucker-punch (and why we keep falling for it, over and over and over)," I believe that these esoteric ancient myths are actually designed to convey a worldview which is best described as shamanic (and in fact, as what I would call "shamanic-holographic"). This worldview included the belief in an unseen world which actually contains the "source code" for this ordinary, material world which is in fact only a projection of the "real world that is behind this one." 

It also included techniques for making contact with and actually traveling to that unseen realm, in order to gain information or make changes to the "source code" there, which could have tremendous impact on events back here in "the ordinary world." 

If my theory is correct, then the high-ranking priests who escaped the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem and the wars of Judea during the time of Vespasian and Titus may well have understood that worldview, and may even have known how to use that knowledge to help them in their plans. They created a literalist, hierarchical religion which suppressed this shamanic ancient knowledge, but they themselves may have known the esoteric secrets and continued to pass them down within their inner circle.

In the eloquent speech of the Archbishop Ambrose given at the death of his fellow-worker Theodosius the emperor, I believe we can see amazing confirmation of this possibility.

In paragraph 40 of his speech (just one paragraph after Ambrose has invoked a literalist vision of heaven and declared that Theodosius and his predecessor Gratian are both enjoying everlasting light and the company of all the saints, as well as a literalist vision of hell and declared that Theodosius' enemies "Maximus and Eugenius are in hell" to "teach by their wicked example how wicked it is for men to take up arms against their princes," thus showing how useful these literalist interpretations are for supporting the divine right of the ruler), Ambrose takes up the example of Constantine's mother Helena, whom he introduces as "great Helena of holy memory, who was inspired by the Spirit of God" (found on page 325 of the original pagination of the 1953 text linked above). 

Specifically, Ambrose at this part of his panegyric, tells us that once Constantine had killed the last of his enemies and become the sole emperor (Ambrose puts it more tactfully, saying that she was "solicitous for her son to whom the sovereignty of the Roman world had fallen," as if Constantine was just innocently eating lunch one day and the rule of the entire empire happened to fall into his lap), Helena "hastened to Jerusalem and explored the scene of the Lord's Passion" to see if she could find any relics from the Crucifixion with which to aid her son in his new job (paragraph 41, on page 325 of the original pagination of the 1953 text linked above).

As Ambrose explains, it turns out that she did find "three fork-shaped gibbets thrown together, covered by debris and hidden by the Enemy [that is to say, by the Devil, whom she addresses rhetorically in the preceding paragraph, declaring that she will find proof of the resurrection in spite of the Devil's attempts to conceal it]" (paragraph 45, on page 327 of the original pagination of the 1953 text linked above).

One of these "fork-shaped gibbets," Ambrose tells us, was "the Cross of salvation," which Helena was able to recognize by the fact that "on the middle gibbet a title had been displayed, 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews'" (paragraph 45, on page 327 of the original pagination). In paragraph 47 Ambrose tells us in addition that:
She sought the nails with which the Lord was crucified, and found them. From one nail she ordered a bridle to be made, from the other she wove a diadem. page 328 of the original text linked above.
Ambrose, who displays the allegorical virtuosity for which he is noted by historians, then expounds further upon this decision to make one nail into a crown and the other into a bridle:
On the head, a crown; in the hands, reins. A crown made from the Cross, that faith might shine forth; reins likewise from the Cross, that authority might govern, and that there might be just rule, not unjust legislation. May the princes also consider that this has been granted to them by Christ's generosity, that in imitation of the Lord it may be said of the Roman emperor: 'Thou has set on his head a crown of precious stones.'
[. . .]
But I ask: Why was the holy relic upon the bridle if not to curb the insolence of emperors, to check the wantonness of tyrants, who as horses neigh after lust that they may be allowed to commit adultery unpunished? What infamy do we not find in the Neros, the Caligulas, and the rest, for whom there was nothing holy upon the bridle?
What else, then, did Helena accomplish by her desire to guide the reins than to seem to say to all emperors through the Holy Spirit: 'Do not become like the horse and mule,' and with the bridle and bit to restrain the jaws of those who did not realize that they were kings to rule those subject to them? Paragraphs 48 - 51, pages 328 - 330 in the original pagination of the 1953 text.
Now, this is truly remarkable, to anyone who understands the ancient system of celestial allegory -- as Ambrose here indicates that he thoroughly and masterfully did.

We have discussed in a series of previous posts, beginning with "Scarab, Ankh, and Djed," that the Cross of the New Testament clearly parallels the "Djed-column raised up," which also closely parallels the sacrifice of Odin upon the World-Tree, and the Vajra-Thunderbolt of the Vedas, and many other important images around the world. 

All of those posts discuss the fact that this sacred symbol of profound significance is also closely connected to the "vertical pillar" of the zodiac wheel, which runs from the winter solstice at the "bottom of the year" straight up to the summer solstice at the "top of the year" (for more on that "pillar" see this year's summer solstice post).

Ambrose has just told us that, upon finding the True Cross, Helena the mother of Constantine took two of the original nails, and made one into a crown and the other into a bridle. The choice to incorporate one nail into a crown is pretty obvious for the "top of the column," which represents both the dome of heaven and also the "dome of heaven" at the top of each human being, the head (microcosm and macrocosm). But how could the other nail's incorporation into a horse-bridle have anything to do with the bottom of the zodiac-Djed-column? 

Have a looking at the zodiac wheel below and see if there are any zodiac signs at the bottom which could help explain this choice:

If you said Sagittarius (who at the bottom of the wheel just before winter solstice, peeking out below and partially obscured by the yellow label that says "The Djed raised up"), then I would agree. Sagittarius is an archer, but he is also a horseman (often a centaur). He is indicated in many myths within the system of celestial metaphor by "horse" imagery. It is almost a certainty that Ambrose is indicating an understanding of this ancient system, with this story about Helena and the discovery of the Djed-column / True Cross, and the fashioning of one nail into a crown for the head, and of the other into a bridle for a horse. 

But we don't actually have to guess about whether or not Ambrose understood this esoteric system: he provides breath-taking confirmation of the fact in paragraph 46, when he declares:
She discovered, then, the title. She adored the King, not the wood, indeed, because this is an error of the Gentiles and a vanity of the wicked. But she adored Him who hung on the tree, whose name was inscribed in the title; Him, I say, who, as a scarabaeus, cried out to His Father to forgive the sins of His persecutors. 327 - 328 of the original pagination.
What was that metaphor? It is certainly not one which, I would venture to say, most modern Christians are accustomed to hearing their preachers use regarding Christ upon the Cross. But it is one which, the footnote tells us, Ambrose used quite a lot. It is the metaphor of Christ on the Cross as a scarab!

And here we see that Ambrose undoubtedly understood the ancient system of celestial metaphor, and what is more that he understood it to the degree that he could employ metaphors common to ancient Egypt when referring to the top of the Djed-pillar! We have seen, in more than one of the previous posts linked above, that the scarab beetle with its upraised arms was connected directly to the sign of Cancer the Crab (at the top of the zodiac wheel, beginning at the point of summer solstice). 

The scarab was also esoterically connected to the crown of the skull, as shown in the image below which can be found in previous posts on this subject as well:

This should suffice to explain why the first nail was made into a crown, while the other went into a bridle -- one is connected to the sign of Cancer and the other to the sign of Sagittarius, two signs at either end of the Djed-column or the "solstice pillar," of which the True Cross is yet another manifestation (and which, we might add, is a central image in many shamanic rituals around the globe).

This deep familiarity with these symbols by Ambrose should also suffice to convince most readers that Ambrose knew full well that there was no physical Cross or nails to be found -- any more than one could "find" the vertical pillar that connects the winter and summer solstices and fashion some kind of crown or bridle out of it (he almost certainly would also have known that both "heaven" and "hell" were zodiac metaphors and not literal eternal destinations for the departed soul). But it should demonstrate conclusively that he was a master of the ancient esoteric system of celestial metaphor -- and that we can assume this knowledge had been passed down to him from his predecessors stretching back through the centuries, no doubt to generations long before the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.

Together, Ambrose and Theodosius offer powerful evidence which supports the revolutionary alternative theory published by Flavio Barbiero. 

Additionally, pieces of evidence such as the silencing of the Oracle at Delphi and the Mysteries of Eleusis by Theodosius, as well as the clear hints Ambrose drops indicating his masterful understanding of the esoteric system, provide powerful confirmation of the wider theory that this ancient successful conspiracy to take over the Roman Empire was also part of something far bigger: a conspiracy to smash the ancient shamanic-holographic wisdom bequeathed to humanity, and to keep it within a small group who could then use it to "rule the school" (in the "Cobra Kai metaphor") while giving everyone else a literalistic interpretation which they themselves knew to be false.