Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Finding Libra with the help of Jupiter

The moment of New Moon will occur in approximately fourteen hours from now -- on Wednesday, June 13 at 19:43 Greenwich time, which is 12:43 Pacific time and 15:43 Eastern time.

Star gazing opportunities will be excellent on the night of New Moon (Wednesday, June 13) as well as on the subsequent nights when the moon will be a very thin new crescent which will be visible in the far western sky following sunset.

However, as the moon continues to wax on subsequent nights, the light of the waxing moon will tend to make constellations more difficult to identify -- which means that the next few nights (until about the 18th or 19th of June) will be some of the best times to go out and look for stars, until after full moon on June 28th (after which the moon will begin to wane again, and also to rise later and later in the evening).

Right now is a particularly opportune time to go outside and try to identify the zodiac constellation of Libra, if it is at all possible for you to do so. Libra can be a very challenging constellation to identify, but right now we have some of the best possible assistance for locating Libra, because the enormous planet Jupiter is presently visible immediately adjacent to Libra, pointing the way to the constellation's upper three stars (arranged in a triangle shape).

The star-chart above shows the constellations of the night sky from the perspective of an observer in the northern hemisphere at approximately 35.6 degrees north latitude, and at about 22:40 (or 10:40 pm), facing towards the southern horizon. The horizon is indicated by a purple line, but will of course vary for your specific geographic location and latitude. Note that the image "wraps" the horizon upwards towards the left and right edges of the star-chart, as described in this previous post from earlier this month. 

Towards the center of the image, you can see the glorious constellation of Scorpio, which is presently rising up high enough to clear the horizon with the full length of its sinuous body by about 10:30 pm (depending on your latitude and the terrain in your area). Scorpio is a dazzling sight, and appears much larger when seen "in person" than you might expect based on the diagram in the chart above.

Just ahead of Scorpio in the night sky is the planet Jupiter, unmistakeable as the bright golden-yellow planet crossing the middle of the southern sky (the only brighter object in the sky right now is Venus, which appears well to the west, above the western horizon after sunset, and sinking down below the western horizon by about 10:00 pm, depending on your latitude and local terrain).

Jupiter is conveniently indicating the location of the constellation Libra, the Balance or the Scales, which precedes Scorpio in the motion of the constellations from east to west across the sky, and which is located between Scorpio and Virgo along the ecliptic path. The star-chart above shows Libra's location between Scorpio and Virgo.

The star-chart below zooms-in on Scorpio, Libra and Jupiter. Note how close Jupiter is presently situated next to the westernmost star of the constellation Libra, alpha Librae (named Zubenelgenubi or Zuben Elgenubi, it is actually a binary). This proximity should go a long way towards helping you to trace out the triangular arrangement of the three stars that make up the top section of the constellation:

Below the triangular "top" of the constellation (which, since Libra is a Balance or Scales, would properly be called the "beam" of the balance, with the top point of the triangle indicating the "knife-edge pivot" of the balancing scale), there are the "arms" of the balance, indicated by a single star on the "right-hand" side of the scales (as seen in the image above, which is to say the western side of the constellation -- all star-charts depicting the point-of-view of an observer in the northern hemisphere), and indicated by two close-together stars in the "left-hand" side of the scales (the side closest to Scorpio, which is to say the eastern side of the constellation Libra).

Below is the same star-chart, this time with yellow arrows added, pointing to each of the stars of the constellation Libra:

And below is the same star-chart once more, this time without any "connecting lines" drawn in -- the way the stars will appear in the night sky. Can you make out the outline of Libra, using the planet Jupiter to guide you towards the nearby star alpha Librae (or Zuben Elgenubi)?

With some practice, you should be able to locate the six most-prominent stars of Libra -- the three which make up its triangular crown, and the three which form the "arms" of the balance (from which the "pans" of the balance would be suspended). The dangling arms of the balance have three stars because there are two on one side (the east) and one on the other (the west).

Below is the same view of the stars of Libra without "connecting lines" drawn, but this time the yellow arrows have been added to point out the six most-visible stars of the constellation Libra:

Can you see how helpful the present location of Jupiter will be, for trying to identify the stars of Libra in the night sky?

Also, look immediately to the left of the indicated stars of Libra in the star-chart above, and see if you can pick out the stars of Scorpio, which come very close to the stars of Libra (especially to the two close-together stars of the left-hand "arm" of Libra -- the arm of Libra on the east side of the constellation itself).

The constellation Libra plays a role in many of the world's Star Myths -- although it does not play a role in nearly as many myths as its brighter neighbors Scorpio and Virgo play in the world's myths. Nevertheless, you can see Libra depicted in artwork associated with the ancient stories of Odysseus slaying the suitors, and of Samson receiving his famous haircut at the instigation of Delilah, in my most-recent Star Myth video entitled "Blueprints in the Stars," in this previous blog post.

I hope that you will be able to go outside and see Jupiter, Libra, Scorpio, and the other constellations of the glorious mid-June sky during the next few nights, if possible. And, I hope that these pointers will help you to successfully locate Libra in the night sky -- perhaps for the first time!

There is no better time to do so, perhaps, than right now -- when Jupiter is pointing the way.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Blueprints in the Stars

Above is a new video I've just published, entitled "Blueprints in the Stars." 

The world's ancient monuments point to the presence of a history of humanity beyond anything that is taught in conventional academia. The archaeological evidence presents a compelling -- and I would argue, conclusive -- case for some kind of "predecessor culture" of tremendous sophistication and tremendous antiquity, predating (perhaps by millennia) even the most ancient civilizations known to conventional historians.

The architectural similarities around the globe, as well as the incorporation of specific mathematical ratios in the design and layout of ancient structures (often incorporating ratios based on precessional numbers) argues strongly for connection between cultures which are not thought to have had any possibility of interaction -- or else for descent from some now-forgotten distant preceding culture, whose patterns continued to inform the buildings and the artwork and iconography of later cultures, even if those later cultures were separated by tremendous geographical distance or even by tremendous gulfs of time.

For example, researchers have discovered amazing levels of correspondence between the design and proportion in the pyramids of ancient Egypt and the design and proportion of pyramids and monuments in Central America, such as the massive complex at Teotihuacan. 

In addition to the strong similarities in actual perimeter size and "footprint" area between the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan and the Great Pyramid at Giza, for example, there are also strong similarities in directional alignment and even in proportion between both structures. Beyond those parallels, which are fairly well known, there are also astonishing similarities in terms of the incorporation of precessional numbers into the ratios of the measurements and proportions of the Great Pyramid, and the incorporation of precessional numbers into the measurements and proportions of many of the monuments that make up the Teotihuacan complex.

There are also startling parallels between iconography displayed in various pieces of artwork from antiquity, such as the statues shown below, seen briefly in the new video, showing the similarities in a pre-Columbian Inca statue from Peru (on the left in the image below) and a Ptolemaic-era statue from Egypt (4th century BC) shown on the right:

images: Wikimedia commons.

To argue that the similarities in these two sculptures are the result of "coincidence" and that these two traditions developed completely independently of one another, and just happened to create sculptures with so many distinctive shared features, is ludicrous. And yet if a candidate for a teaching position in a history department in any western university were to argue for some kind of connection between the Inca and ancient Egypt (or to have a c.v. full of such arguments), he or she would be most unlikely to be invited back for a second interview and even more unlikely to ever be hired.

My own research into the world's ancient myths has found overwhelming evidence which also makes a compelling -- and, I would argue, a conclusive -- case that the conventional models of ancient history are deeply flawed and in need of radical revision, for just as the world's ancient monuments and artistic iconography contains indisputable evidence of some kind of worldwide connection, the world's ancient myths from cultures found on every single inhabited continent and island of our planet also contains evidence of a shared world-wide system informing and underlying all the ancient traditions.

The world's myths contain numerous parallels, a fact which is widely acknowledged and which has even spawned the study of "comparative mythology" in colleges and universities, as well as theories about the origin of these similarities (with the most well-known hypotheses put forward during the twentieth century crediting aspects of universal human psychology or a "collective unconscious" shared across cultures without requiring any sort of mutual contact or shared common cultural predecessors).

But, far beyond any of the superficial comparisons, the world's ancient myths can actually be shown to be built upon the same worldwide system of celestial metaphor -- to be using, so to speak, the very same architectural plans. It's as if they are all using a shared set of blueprints -- and those blueprints are found among the constellations of the night sky, and the heavenly cycles which those constellations  (along with the sun, the moon, and the visible planets) help us to perceive.

This video presents a few examples which serve to demonstrate the pattern -- revealing astonishing constellational similarities between the seemingly-unconnected episodes of Odysseus slaying the suitors (from the Odyssey of ancient Greece) and Samson receiving his famous haircut at the instigation of Delilah (from the book of Judges in the Hebrew scriptures).

Together, the world's archaeological evidence and the world's mythological evidence form two extremely compelling, and closely related, bodies of evidence which argue for a radical revision in our understanding of humanity's ancient past -- with profound implications for our lives at this moment and into the future.

I hope you will enjoy this new video on the Blueprint of the Stars. Please feel free to share it with anyone who might find it to be of value. Also, you can "subscribe" on YouTube using the red button located near the top of the video's description information, so that you will be notified as soon as future videos are published. Thanks for watching!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

June 5th, 1968: Fifty Years

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

On June 5th, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy (born 1925) was brutally murdered after securing a decisive victory in the Democratic Party primaries, indicating the overwhelming will of the people to see him run as the candidate for President in the election to be held later that year -- an election which by nearly all accounts he would very likely have won.

He was shot just after midnight at the start of 5th of June, and died in the early hours of the 6th of June, at 1:44 am.

Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the official story regarding the details of the assassination, as the work of Sirhan Sirhan (born 1944) acting alone, is a lie. 

Nevertheless, this fabrication -- which is totally unsupported by the facts of the case -- continues to be repeated to this day, fifty years later (it is stated matter-of-factly as the only offered explanation on the Wikipedia entry about Senator Kennedy's life and death, for example).

The documentary entitled The Second Gun, published in 1973 by Ted Charach (1931 - 2013), provides numerous pieces of evidence pointing to more than one shooter, and a subsequent cover-up of that evidence (including the removal of ceiling panels from the scene of the crime). This documentary can be seen in full below: if you have never seen it, or even if you have, you should watch it again and judge for yourself whether the "official narrative," which continues to be foisted upon the world to this day, is at all credible:

The implications of this evidence and this case -- of the murder of an elected Senator and popular candidate for President -- are obviously enormous, and of continuing vital importance to this very day.

Here is a link to a recent interview with Civil Rights Attorney William Pepper, who discusses the evidence that the official story is a lie, that Sirhan was a pawn in a much larger plot, that none of the shots fired by Sirhan hit Bobby Kennedy at all but that instead Kennedy was deliberately shot from behind at close range by a "bodyguard" -- and that Sirhan was very likely drugged and in a hypnotic trance at the time of the shooting and unaware of what was actually taking place.

William Pepper also describes the stonewalling that his formal legal attempts to file briefs to appeal in order to reopen the case have received from the judicial system in the united states, which in itself is an extraordinarily important piece of evidence to consider and one with grave implications.

William Pepper, of course, is the attorney who represented the family of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968) in the civil trial that in 1999 led to the unanimous conclusion that certain elements, including governmental agencies, participated in a conspiracy to murder Dr. King.

That earth-shaking verdict also continues to be ignored by the controlled media, and knowledge of the overwhelming evidence contained in the transcripts of that trial continues to be actively suppressed in this country and elsewhere. For more on that verdict, and links to those transcripts, see this post entitled "The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

In this previous post, reflecting on the murder of Bobby Kennedy's older brother John F. Kennedy in 1963, I cited the quotation by scholar and teacher Peter Kingsley, who said of the prophets of ancient Greece as well as those of other ancient cultures:
Prophecy is not about the future. Prophets don't talk about the future. What they do is: they talk about the past -- which has been hidden. Things that have happened -- that have been covered over, and no longer clear. That is what the real prophets do: they speak about the past, but the past that has been forgotten.
The ancient myths provide numerous examples which teach us that until certain wrongs from the past which have been covered over are recognized and dealt with, they will continue to haunt the present and their consequences will continue to grow.

In the Iliad, for example, the fleet of the Achaean forces at Aulis is stranded and cannot move forward until the transgressions of Agamemnon against the goddess Artemis are acknowledged and corrected.

There will be no favorable winds until the past is faced and the transgressions which continue to be suppressed, denied, and covered-up are brought to light and dealt with.

Continuing to propagate the lies about the murder of Robert F. Kennedy -- fully fifty years later -- constitutes a grave insult to his life, and to heaven itself.

The ongoing cover-up, and the refusal of the judicial system to grant appellant briefs, represent additional affronts and crimes which must also be faced and brought into the light.

These are obviously extremely serious matters for all of humanity, with the most dire implications for every man, woman and child on earth. Continuing to simply ignore them would be extremely unwise.

The ill winds which have already been blowing in the period since these wrongs first took place should now be evident to everyone.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Planets and constellations for June of 2018

The waning moon is rising later and later each night, on its way towards New Moon on June 13, which means that we are in the "sweet spot" window for star-gazing all the way from now until sometime after New Moon. 

Immediately after New Moon, the very thin waxing crescent which will be visible in the west just after sunset will still not pose any problems for star-gazing, until it begins to reach its first quarter about a week later on June 20.

This time of year provides some fantastic constellations to reward your star-gazing efforts, if it is at all possible for you to get outside after dark and if you have clear skies and relatively low light pollution. If you are in an area with heavy light pollution, and if you have the ability to get to an area with less light pollution, there are some gorgeous stars for you to see which should make it worth the effort.

Additionally, the constellations that are now rising into view are among the most mythologically-significant constellations in the night sky, and feature in many of the Star Myths preserved in various cultures on the different inhabited continents and islands around our globe.

Above is a screen shot from the outstanding free open-source planetarium app Stellarium, available for download at stellarium.org. This star-chart depicts the constellations from the perspective of a viewer in the northern hemisphere, at a latitude of approximately 35.6 degrees north latitude, at nearly 9pm. It is staying light very late now in the northern hemisphere, as we approach the June solstice (which earth passes through on the calendar date of June 21 this year), so it is best to begin your star-gazing efforts around 9pm or later, if possible.

As you may have already noticed, two beautiful planets are now visible in our night sky. Venus is shining prominently in the west after sunset, just below the two brightest stars of the Twins of Gemini (the Twins are now sinking down below the western horizon as the sun is setting). You can see Venus below Castor and Pollux of Gemini on the right side of the star-chart above, as you face the page.

Note that in the chart above, I have drawn in the horizon using a purple line. Of course, the horizon in your location will vary based on the terrain. Also, the horizon relative to the constellations will vary based on your latitude. If you download the Stellarium app, you can see an approximation for any latitude or location you choose.

Also, note that the horizon in the star-chart curves upwards on either edge as we face the image: this is because the planetarium is simulating the feeling of being outside, where you can turn to your left or your right and see constellations in all directions. In order to understand what the constellations which are located towards the left and right edges of the star-chart above will look like when you actually go outside and try to see them, you must imagine that the left and right horizons will be "flat" (horizontal) when you turn in that direction -- and that the constellations shown in the chart above will relate to that horizon as they do in the image above. 

In other words, the constellation Ophiuchus (labeled, near the left-hand side of the chart above, near the letter "E" which indicates the cardinal direction "east") will lie even "flatter" against the horizon when you look for Ophiuchus outside than it is depicted in the star-chart above -- because the horizon (and Ophiuchus) in the chart above are "wrapped" upwards on either edge of the chart.

This "wrapping" or "curving" means that the Twins of Gemini (and the brilliant planet Venus, below the Twins) will be even lower in the actual sky than they look in the chart above, because you must imagine that when you turn towards the west, the horizon shown in the chart (which "curves" upwards) will "flatten down" towards horizontal as you turn in that direction.

For a blog post discussing just a few of the mythological connections of the Twins of Gemini, see for example this previous post entitled "The Dioscuri." 

The other very bright planet which is visible immediately after sunset is Jupiter, shining with a benevolent yellow light just above the rising delta-shape of the zodiac constellation Scorpio. Jupiter is presently in the constellation Libra, which is a challenging constellation to locate on most nights, but which is made easier to trace out due to the presence of Jupiter. Now is a particularly good time to try to do so, if you are so inclined and can get outside to a clear and dark sky.

Scorpio can be seen rising up out of the eastern horizon in the star-chart above (which, again, depicts the situation just before 9pm from a perspective of a northern-hemisphere observer). As the night progresses and the earth continues turning towards the east, Scorpio will rise further and further above the horizon, and Jupiter will remain ahead of the front of the Scorpion as they cross the night sky.

The constellation Ophiuchus "stands above" Scorpio in the heavens, and Ophiuchus is a very rewarding constellation to locate, especially if you have never done so before. Because Scorpio is rising in the early evening, and is therefore almost vertical, Ophiuchus (which will be standing vertical once Scorpio begins to lie flatter, later in its arc across the heavens) is "standing" sideways, so that the constellation is almost completely horizontal in the early hours after darkness falls.

The best way to find Ophiuchus right now is to realize that the constellation "stands over" Scorpio, and then to look from the rising form of Scorpio towards the east (which is to your left, if you are facing south and standing in the northern hemisphere of our planet), and as you do so, try to make out the large rectangular body of the constellation, and the triangle-shaped "head" of Ophiuchus that is above the oblong rectangle (see star-chart outline above).

You will probably be able to find the triangle-shaped "head" of Ophiuchus most easily -- but note that this triangle also has a fourth star nearby to it, at the foot of the constellation Hercules, which is above Ophiuchus in the sky. You can see the constellation Hercules marked on the above chart, with his forward leg almost appearing to be "stepping on" the head of Ophiuchus.

Here is a previous post which gives additional instruction on techniques for locating Ophiuchus in the sky, and which also includes links to some myths involving the constellation. Here is another post with some more discussion of myths involving the constellation and those in its immediate vicinity.

Ahead of Scorpio and also ahead of Jupiter (which itself is leading Scorpio), you can also trace out the shape of the incredibly important constellation Virgo the Virgin. Virgo can be a challenging constellation to locate in the sky, because it is largely composed of fairly faint stars, but during this part of the month when the moon is not competing with the stars, you should be able to see the entire outline of Virgo, if you know where to look. 

As with all of the constellations in our night sky, they are easiest to find if you use the constellation-outlining system suggested by the brilliant author H. A. Rey in his book The Stars: A New Way to See Them. And, as this previous post explains, his system also appears to be the system employed by the world's ancient myths (and that informs ancient artwork found in different cultures around the globe), even though he never mentioned this connection, to my knowledge, and may or may not have been aware of that connection himself.

To find Virgo, it is easiest to look for her brightest star, Spica, which will be the brightest star near Jupiter, but on the "other side" of Jupiter from the Scorpion. If you look at the star-chart above, Spica is located at the hip of the outline of Virgo. 

One easy way to locate Spica is to use Corvus the Crow, which appears to be staring directly at Spica. This previous post explains how to find Corvus and Spica. 

Another way to locate Spica is to follow the "arc" suggested by the sweep of the handle of the Big Dipper (shown near the top of the star-chart above) and trace that arc down to the large orange star Arcturus in the constellation Bootes and then on beyond Arcturus down to Spica.

Once you have located Spica, you can trace the rest of the outline of Virgo. Note that Virgo is a very large constellation -- much larger than it appears in the star-chart on this or any other page. Look next for her "outstretched arm," which is one of the distinctive characteristics of Virgo, and which features prominently in many of the world's ancient Star Myths. 

Virgo's outstretched arm reaches up towards Bootes, but in between the outstretched arm and Bootes is the faint but delightful constellation Coma Berenices, or "Berenice's Hair." This previous post gives more instruction on finding Coma Berenices in the night sky, and discusses some of the mythological significance of this constellation. If you can locate it in the sky, it is well worth the effort to do so -- and now is a particularly opportune time to try.

Ahead of Virgo in the procession of constellations across the sky from east to west we find the large and bright zodiac constellation Leo the Lion. Leo is composed of many fairly bright stars, and thus should be quite easy to trace out in the night sky. One hint for locating Leo is to realize that Leo and the Big Dipper are "locked" together somewhat like the cogs of a gear, such that the "back" of the Lion faces towards (and almost seems to match) the shape of the lower edge of the Dipper, even though the two constellations are separated by a stretch of sky. They are like two puzzle-pieces which match and would fit together, but which are placed slightly apart on the "table" of the heavens. Here is a previous post discussing that fit.

The proximity of Virgo and Leo in the night sky helps to explain why many goddesses are described as riding on lions, or riding in chariots drawn by lions, or seated in thrones accompanied by lions, in Star Myths from various cultures, as discussed briefly in this previous post (and in many of my Star Myths books). More about this connection can be found in various posts regarding the goddess Durga of ancient India.

Ahead of the majestic "muzzle" of Leo the Lion is the very faint constellation Cancer the Crab. It is located between the Twins of Gemini and the head of Leo the Lion. The constellation Cancer contains a faint but absolutely dazzling (as well as mythologically important) cluster of stars known as the Beehive Cluster. Numerous previous posts have remarked upon the significance of this beautiful heavenly feature, and have given tips for locating it in the sky. Here is one of those previous posts entitled "The Blessing of the Beehive Cluster." At the end of that post you can find a series of links to other posts which give additional tips for finding the Beehive.

Winding its way below the entire length of both the constellations Virgo and Leo you can find the sinuous serpentine form of Hydra, which has a "hood-shaped" head pointing towards the west -- the hood making Hydra resemble a cobra-snake. The ring of stars which forms the head of Hydra is fairly bright and easy to spot, just ahead of Leo and slightly below.

Other constellations visible in the star-chart above, and thus visible in the "prime time" star-gazing hours this time of year, include Bootes and Hercules, with the brilliant Northern Crown between them. Bootes is fairly easy to find, using the above-mentioned technique of following the "arc" of the Big Dipper's handle towards the brightest star in Bootes, Arcturus, and then tracing out the rest of the constellation from there. Look for the faint but distinct triangular "cap" or hat on the top of the large head of Bootes. Look also for his distinctive "pipe" which runs from his mouth towards the handle of the Dipper.

The Northern Crown (Corona Borealis) is located immediately behind the head of Bootes. It is a dazzling constellation, and one that is very easy to trace out, if you are looking in the right part of the sky for it.

The constellation Hercules is always somewhat challenging to identify, and slightly more difficult to locate right now (because still rising up and thus not in its most easily-identifiable orientation in the heavens). Hercules will be a bit easier to identify later this summer. However, you can look for the constellation's distinctive square-shaped head. Hercules is close in the sky to the constellation Lyra, which contains the very bright star Vega -- the fifth brightest fixed star in our night sky, according to H. A. Rey.

Hercules is an extremely mythologically-important constellation, mentioned in many previous posts. See for example this previous post about ancient artwork which incorporates the distinctive aspects of the constellation's outline, or this post about the gods Shango and Oya. See also this post about my interpretation of the celestial foundations of the recently-discovered Pylos Combat Agate, and this video which I made discussing these celestial aspects of the ancient artwork on the stone.

I hope that this brief tour of some of the glorious constellations visible in the night sky this time of year will be helpful to you, and that you will have the opportunity to go out and see them in person, if it is at all possible for you to do so.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Thor's visit to Olaf Tryggvason

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Olaf Tryggvason lived from some time during the 960s until his death at the end of a battle in September of the year AD 1000, at an age less than forty (though there are some rumors that he survived for decades after that). 

By all accounts, he was responsible for forcibly converting those under his rule to Christianity, as well as many of those he defeated in battle, usually offering the choice of either conversion and baptism, or torture and death. 

In a saga about King Olaf which was probably written over a hundred years after his death, by a Christian monk in Iceland named Oddr Snorrason (Iceland, which had close connections with Norway, having mostly converted to Christianity around AD 1000 as well), many examples of Olaf's use of torture and the threat of death to force conversion to Christianity are offered, such as a Yule feast in which he assembled various chieftains and welcomed them in the most gracious manner, with much food and plentiful drink, and afterwards offered to kill the most renowned leaders among the guests, as well as a random selection of their followers, and send them to feast with the gods they followed -- either that or convert to Christianity if they were "not so eager for the companionship of the gods as many would suppose" (237).

While the Icelandic author of that saga takes a Christian perspective and generally depicts Olaf's endeavors to spread Christianity in an approving light, there remain nevertheless hints of recognition of what has been lost, here and there in the narrative of the saga, as well.

At one point, the author tells us, King Olaf was sailing in his great Viking longship, which he dubbed the Long Serpent, southwards along the coast of Norway. This ship is described as being built on the model of another ship named the Serpent, which had belonged to a local king named Raud the Strong, whom Olaf had defeated in battle and attempted to convert to Christianity -- but Raud refused and was put to death, reportedly by having a snake and a hot iron shoved down his throat. The Long Serpent had 34 sets of benches, for a total of 34 oars on either side of the ship, and would thus have been well over a hundred feet in length and probably very fast. Later, when Olaf himself was defeated in a sea battle, he would leap from this ship into the ocean and to his own death.

The Olafs Saga Tryggvasonar of Oddr Snorrason tells us:
One day as King Olaf was sailing south along the coast, under a fair, light wind, there was a man standing on a rock who shouted to them and begged the favour of a passage towards the south of the country. King Olaf therefore steered the Serpent to the rock where the man stood, and he climbed on board. He was a young-looking man of tall stature, handsome, and he had a red beard. As soon as he came on board the dragon-ship he began jesting and wrestling with the King's men, who found his play rough whenever they tried their strength against him. He afforded much merriment, and the men amused themselves in bantering him and laughing at him. He in return made fund of the King's men, and laughed at them as being poor and weakly creatures. "You are not worthy," he said, "to serve so renowned a King and so fair a ship. This dragon-ship was valiantly manned when Raud the Strong owned it. He scarcely require the aid of such men as I am for the sake of their strength, but only for amusement and counsel, and in comparison with me you are but a feeble set." The King's men asked if he had any stories to tell them, old or new; and he replied that there were few questions, in his opinion, which they could ask and he could not answer. They took him, therefore, to the King, saying that he was a man of much knowledge. The King said to him, "Tell us, if you can, so tales of olden time." "I will begin, then, Sire," answered he, "with this land near where we are sailing. It was inhabited of yore by giants, who all chanced to come to a sudden end at one and the same time, except two, both women. Afterwards, when people came from the east to colonise the country, the two giant women lorded over them, and troubled them, straitening their condition. The evil lasted until the inhabitants resolved to call upon Redbeard for aid. So I grasped my Hammer, and slew both the giants. And the people have continued to call upon me for aid in time of need from that day, O King, until now that you have so greatly wasted all my friends in a way that merits vengeance." Having thus spoken, he looked over his shoulder at the King, and at the same instant, with a scornful grin, plunged overboard, swift as a bolt, and was never seen again. 332 - 333.
Although the twelfth-century author of this saga goes on to give Olaf a speech in which he counsels his men to always be on their guard against the wiles of the Enemy, and to tell them that they should always be ready to make the sign of the Cross in order to cause fiends such as these to flee, the episode is presented in such a way as to evince genuine recognition of, and even regret for, something true which has been lost. 

The visitor to Olaf's ship, who clearly reveals himself to be none other than the god Thor himself, criticizes Olaf's men as being unworthy to sail on the same Viking longship of Raud the Strong, who  had refused to reject the old gods, even if it meant his own torture and death -- and the god criticizes the king for mistreating the friends of the gods, and for taking actions that will end the protection provided by Thor over the people, Thor being the god who was always ready to appear whenever his name was called upon in need.

There is even a hint in the story that Thor and the other gods had been a bulwark against tyranny and mistreatment -- freeing the people from the giants who "lorded over them, and troubled them, and straitened their condition."

Previous posts have explored the idea that the rejection of the ancient wisdom given in previous ages to all the various cultures of humanity, on every inhabited continent around the globe and all the islands, and the deliberate replacement of the old gods with the literalistic interpretation of the Biblical scriptures, has led directly to the very conditions that the visiting Thor describes to Olaf and his men -- "lording over" the people, and troubling them and straitening their condition, by those who would seize the gifts which the ancient myths and scriptures describe as the gifts of the gods to all men and women.

For example, see previous posts such as:
The world's ancient myths teach very clearly that the gifts which the classical economists described as "the Commons" or the "public domain" are given by the gods for the benefit of all the people. These include the gifts of the sunshine, the air, the land, the water, the forests, and the minerals of the earth.

The straitening of the people (that is to say, the depriving of the people, the diminishment of the people, and the imposition of austerity and financial distress upon the people, all of which are contained in the definition of straitening) by those "giants" who would "lord over them" has been a direct consequence of the rejection of this ancient teaching by those who would seize and "privatize" these gifts for the use and benefit of a restricted or privileged group, rather than recognizing these gifts as belonging to all men and women -- the "public domain."

We can see many examples in ancient myths and ancient texts which declare the gifts of sunshine, air, land, water, forests and mineral wealth of the earth to gifts belonging to the gods and given as a blessing for all mortal men and women. 

In the Orphic Hymns of ancient Greece, for example, we find a hymn to the goddess Persephone which calls upon her as the "blessed goddess" who sends forth "the fruits of the earth" (Hymn 29). 

We find a hymn addressed to wealth-giving Plouton, god of the underworld, calling him the "holder of the keys to the whole earth" (Hymn 18). 

We find a hymn addressed to Eleusinian Demeter, declaring her to be the "giver of prosperity and wealth," the one who nourishes the ears of all the corn, and who is "present at sowing, heaping and threshing" -- the "first to send up from below a rich, a lovely harvest for mortals" (Hymn 40). The same hymn says of Demeter, "You are an only daughter, but you have many children" -- implying that all mortals depend upon her for sustenance. 

We find a hymn to the god Pan, declaring him to be "Present in all growth, begetter of all, many-named divinity, light-bringing lord of the cosmos" (Hymn 11), and indeed the name of this divinity gives us our word for bread (a variation of his name, Pan, in many European languages) as well as our prefix which means "many" and "all."

And we find a hymn to the transcendent goddess Physis, "many-named," who is called "wise in all, giver of all, nurturing queen of all" and to whom the Orphic speaker declares: "you bring life and nourishment to all" (Hymn 10).

Many other examples could be offered, and indeed others have been cited in previous posts such as those linked above, which demonstrate abundantly that the ancient wisdom declares unequivocally that the gifts of the air and the water and the increase of the land and the minerals under the earth belong to the gods, and that they are given to all.

In the Norse tradition, too, we find evidence of an identical understanding. Even though we do not have as many surviving poems and hymns and verses from the cultures of northern Europe as we do for ancient Greece, there are passages in the surviving eddic texts which indicate the same understanding of our dependence upon the gods for the gifts which sustain life and which are given to all the children of the earth. In the Gylfaginning in the Younger Edda, for example, we find the god Freyr described as follows:
Freyr is the the most renowned of the Aesir [note that the text makes clear that Freyr was originally a Vanir god, but that he came over to the Aesir as part of a peace agreement between the Aesir and the Vanir]; he rules over the rain and the shining of the sun, and therewithal the fruit of the earth; and it is good to call on him for fruitful seasons and peace. He governs also the prosperity of men. 38.
Little wonder, then, that the world which was shaped by the explicit rejection of the ancient gods and the ancient wisdom is marked by the rejection of this view of the resources of the sun, air, water and earth as the gifts of the gods to all men and women, and by the incessant and accelerating drive to privatize these gifts (that is to say, to restrict their ownership to some rather than acknowledging them as gifts to all -- to deprive the majority of humanity of their blessing, the words "privatize" and "deprive" being descended from the same root, as pointed out by economist Michael Hudson in his 2017 book J is for Junk Economics, on page 181). 

The colonialism and imperialism practiced by the European cultures where literalist Christianity first overthrew the ancient ways is synonymous with the seizure by the few of the natural resources belonging to the public domain -- a pattern which continues in full force to this very day, but which could already be seen in practice during the middle ages during which Olaf Tryggvason was alive. 

Very often, that imperialism and its attendant seizure of the natural resources (the gifts of the gods) had as its first order of business in previous centuries (and even, in some cases, to this very day) the conversion of the populace to literalistic Christianity, and the rejection of the ancient wisdom they received from their ancestors, and the denigration and criticism of the gods which had previously been understood as the protectors of the people, and as the proper source and origin and owners of all the wealth and yield of the land and the water and the minerals below the surface. 

Those who wish to usurp the treasures belonging to the gods and given to all the people must first, it seems, make the people forget the ancient teachings.

The story of the visit of Thor to the Long Serpent, however, should serve as a reminder that this loss is not irretrievable, and that this amnesia need not be permanent.

More than a hundred years after Olaf's employment of methods which can only be described as murderous and even terroristic (in their employment of terror as a means of intimidating the populace, even among those not directly facing the edge of the sword themselves) in order coerce the people into conversion to Christianity, and to eradicate the faith in the old ways, a clear memory and recognition of what had been rejected by this ill treatment of Thor and his friends was preserved in a manuscript in Iceland -- and in a manuscript attributed to an Icelander who himself had become a Christian monk!

That story includes a recognition that in some important ways, the new life under Olaf was a diminishment of the previous path -- and that the ancient ways were the antidote to the straitened conditions from which Thor had saved the people before, when he slew the giants who were oppressing them.

As well, the story includes the words of Thor which declare that the people continued to call upon him in time of need, right up until the present day, when Olaf began his campaign of persecution of the friends of Thor, a campaign of ill-treatment which, the god declares, "merits vengeance."

The implication of this story is that the aid which was available in the past is still available to men and women in need. As mentioned before, Thor was well known for showing up whenever his name was called in time of great trouble -- an attribute which he shares with other gods described in the world's ancient wisdom, such as the divinities described in the sacred Sanskrit texts of ancient India, such as the Mahabharata.

The gods can show up in an instant, I would argue, because they are always present -- and because each and every man or woman has within an undeniable and inalienable connection to the Infinite.

The rejection of the ancient wisdom given to the world's various cultures, and the teaching that the Biblical texts are somehow qualitatively different (and superior) to the other myths of the world, is itself based upon a grievous misunderstanding (or deliberate obfuscation) of the undeniable fact that all the world's ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories can be shown to be based on the very same worldwide system of celestial metaphor. This same system forms the foundation for all of the stories in the Bible, as well as for the Greek myths and the Norse myths, and the myths and sacred stories of virtually every other human culture as well, no matter how far they seem to be removed by geographical space or historical time.

That worldwide ancient wisdom teaches clearly and unequivocally that the gifts of the sun, air, rain, water, forests, lands, soil, and mineral resources are given to all. They belong to Demeter, and to Plouton, and to Freyr, and to Persephone, and to Pan -- who bestow them as gifts to all, not as privileges for some to seize and to privatize. The seizure and privatization of these gifts of the gods -- which are also termed in more recent language "the Commons" or the "public domain" -- is based upon a disastrous rejection of the ancient wisdom given to all humanity in the most ancient times.

And yet, as the story of Thor and his visit to Olaf Tryggvason makes clear, the gods are willing to drop by to remind us that we have chosen the wrong path, and that we are behaving very badly -- but that they were always ready in time past to help those who sought their aid, and to hint that they may indeed do so again.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What are we doing down here?

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

My research over the past several years has uncovered overwhelming evidence that virtually all of the world's ancient myths, scriptures, and sacred stories are based on celestial metaphor -- and that they are using a common system of celestial metaphor which makes all of the world's myths related to one another.

It would be a serious mistake, however, to conclude that because the ancient myths -- from virtually every culture -- are based upon celestial metaphor they are somehow "not true" or that they represent "primitive" or "pre-scientific" time-tracking almanacs for keeping track of the calendar or for knowing when to plant and harvest crops or even for giving reverence to the forces of nature upon which all life on earth is dependent (such as the sun and the rain and the seasons and the soil). 

All of those functions (tracking the months and years, and planting and harvest, and giving reverence to the gifts from the sun and the earth and the rain) are of course vitally important -- and on one level the ancient myths and sacred traditions perform all of those functions. But they probably would not need the level of metaphor that they exhibit in order to perform those functions -- and I believe that they operate on many levels at the same time, such that they can do all of those things and much more.

I am convinced that the ancient myths given to humanity remain profoundly important to our lives, even if we have other ways of tracking the months, for example. As I have explained previously in many other places on this blog and in published books and videos, I am convinced that one of the reasons that the ancient myths employ their amazing esoteric celestial metaphor is that they are picturing for us the truths of an Invisible Realm which we cannot see, but which is very real -- a realm of spirit, a realm of the gods -- and that the stars in their motions depict for us the interplay between spirit and matter, soaring across the sky but also plunging down into the sea or into the earth, and toiling for a time through the "lower realm" before they pop back up on the eastern horizon and soar into the infinite heavens once again.

In doing so, they are picturing for us the experience of each and every human soul. Here in this incarnate life, we are toiling through that same "lower realm" of matter -- and yet the myths and scriptures point us towards the truth that the material realm is not all there is, and that it is in fact intertwined with and interpenetrated by the Other Realm at every point.

We ourselves, and everyone we will ever meet, are also intertwined with that Invisible Realm at all times, even as we are also enmeshed in the physical, material, visible realm. And, one of the messages of the world's Star Myths would clearly seem to be that when we disappear from this realm, we enter again that Invisible Realm from whence we came into this incarnate life, as well as the possibility that we have done that before, and that from that Other Realm we may again return to this one, even as the stars can be seen to cycle in between the two domains in their nightly motions and in their annual motions as well.

Thus, I am convinced that the ancient myths and scriptures have crucially important things to teach us about what we are doing here in this incarnate life, and answers to guide us during this journey. I will not presume to speak for them by declaring definitively what those messages might be -- I believe it is far better for each of us to consult the ancient wisdom itself, and that the ancient myths and stories, of any of the world's incredible tapestry of cultures and places, will richly reward any effort made to delve into their timeless wisdom.

Having said that, I can offer a few general concepts that the ancient myths appear to be putting forth, regarding our journey through this simultaneously material and spiritual realm in which we find ourselves. These are just a few thoughts -- the ancient wisdom has much deeper teachings to offer and again should be consulted directly -- and they are obviously subject to the limitations of my own experience and capabilities and thus should not be considered in any way definitive or authoritative, but having spent some years exploring the myths and sacred stories of many different cultures and traditions, a few broad outlines do seem to suggest themselves and might be helpful to consider.

First, it seems to make sense to suggest that, if the ancient myths depict the heavenly cycles and the "plunging down" and "soaring aloft" of the heavenly actors, which point us towards the endless unfolding and refolding of the "myriad things" out of the Infinite Realm and back into it again, over and over, then our sojourn through the material realm, in a physical body, must be for the purpose of interaction with matter itself. In other words, it seems to be that there are lessons to learn or experiences to encounter which cannot be learned in the realm of pure spirit, which involve matter and the interaction with the material world.

There are certainly numerous myths or scriptural passages which seem to support this general conclusion, including the passage in the first epistle of Peter which declares that the mystery of the incarnation is something into which even the angels (beings of spirit and not of matter) desire to look into (1 Peter 1: 12), but also the many myths from cultures around the world involving "twinning," in which a divine twin is paired with a mortal twin (such as in the myth of Polydeuces or Pollux and his mortal brother Castor, in ancient Greece, or in the story of Gilgamesh who is two-thirds divine and who must be given a companion who is wild, a child of nature -- Enkidu -- in order to work together to complete various missions and quests).

Thus, I believe that our engagement with matter in this world is part of the reason why we are here, and that we are participating in a very important mission or purpose when we engage in all kinds of actions or pursuits which involve interaction with the physical material of the universe -- whether performing tasks of engineering such as building a bridge or designing a heart-valve, or pursuing excellence in sports such as making a jump-shot in basketball or a slap-shot in hockey, or practicing disciplines such as Yoga and the martial arts, or playing an instrument or singing or cultivating a garden or harvesting a crop or cleaning a floor or preparing a meal or any of an endless number of examples which could be offered. 

Running through the world's myths and ancient texts, however, we also encounter the idea of the elevation of matter and the material -- Enkidu, for example, must transcend his original condition and become something different because of his interaction with Gilgamesh. The "divine twin" helps to elevate and uplift the "mortal twin" -- just as Castor is rescued from the underworld by his brother Pollux. 

Thus, one of the dominant themes we see running through the myths and scriptures of many cultures is the idea of blessing and not cursing. In many previous explorations of this subject, I have voiced the opinion that the idea of "blessing" involves the elevation of the spirit in oneself and in others and in the world around us, the assertion of the truth that there is more to ourselves and everyone we meet than simply our physical or material form, and the integration of that spiritual nature in order to elevate the physical and transform it into something that is more than material alone -- while "cursing" generally involves the suppression or denial of the spiritual, the attempt to reduce ourselves or others to that which is only material and physical, debasement rather than uplift.

The presence of this theme throughout the world's myths and scriptures is undeniable and abundant. We see it in passages of ancient scriptures which exhort us to bless and "curse not" (such as in Romans 12: 14) but also in stories such as the episode in which Noah becomes drunk and his three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth react to his situation very differently (see this video discussion, for example), or the story of the "blessing mother and the cursing mother" in the episode known as the Judgment of Solomon (see here and here), or in the Greek myths where the denial of the primacy of the gods and the divine realm always results in disaster.

Additionally, as readers of some of my books such as Star Myths of the World, Volume Two might be aware, some of the ancient epics (such as the Odyssey, one of my personal favorites) appear to demonstrate through the "motion" of the epic through the stars of the heavens this same concept of the importance of the elevation of the spirit as being central to our mission during this "arduous journey" through the lower realm (the realm of Poseidon, for Odysseus in that work -- and we see that Noah and Atrahasis are also require to pass through a similar watery flood).

Thus, as we all probably realize intuitively, while working to gain skill at engineering or martial arts or surfing or rock climbing or agriculture or music or sculpting or are all valuable, we would be very disappointed if we met someone who demonstrated great mastery in any of those but who was constantly "cursing" and treating others with demeaning words and actions. We instinctively expect great accomplishment in these kinds of endeavors should (and usually does) make men and women more likely to be uplifting and elevating in their words and actions. And, even if we ourselves have not reached such levels of accomplishment, we can try to act and speak in ways that are uplifting and positive and accord others the dignity and respect that they deserve, even as we continue to work on our own skillful interaction with the material universe in our own engineering projects, or artistic pursuits, or Yoga practices.

We can conclude from this emphasis on blessing versus cursing that one of most important things we should be doing as we travel through this incarnate life involves acting and speaking in ways that uplift ourselves and others -- as well as opposing oppression and violence and impoverishment and everything which tends to brutalize or debase or demean others or deny the divine spark which is present in every man, woman or child no matter where they are or where they come from.

These general concepts seem to be important aspects of what we are doing "down here," according to my reading of what the world's ancient wisdom is trying to tell us. Perhaps these general thoughts will be helpful to you in your own exploration of the riches of the world's ancient myths and scriptures, and in your own contemplation of our purpose in descending from the spiritual realm into this one -- bridging spirit and matter. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

An ancient inversion and its modern consequences

The heavenly city can be seen in the section of sky shown above. Image: Stellarium.org

Virtually every story in the ancient scriptures that we call the Bible can be shown to be based upon celestial metaphor.

The stories do not describe literal, terrestrial history. The events described in these ancient texts take place in the heavens above -- and can be seen there to this very day. 

When we look into the heavens, we are gazing into infinity. Therefore, it is quite appropriate that the world's ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories use the motions of the stars and the heavenly realms to give visual form to truths regarding the Infinite Realm. 

This Infinite Realm -- the Invisible Realm, the Other World, the realm of spirit, the realm of the gods -- is very real. It is in fact the source and fountain of everything we see here in this seemingly material realm which we traverse during this incarnate life. The ancient text of the Tao Te Ching, for instance, describes the unfolding of the "myriad things" (or the "myriad creatures," or "myriad forms") in the section traditionally numbered as the first section: 
The ways that can be walked are not the eternal Way;
The names that can be named are not the eternal name.
The nameless is the origin of the myriad creatures;
The named is the mother of the myriad creatures.
(Translation by Victor H. Mair, page 59).

Similarly, in Black Elk Speaks, the Lakota Holy Man Hehaka Sapa (Black Elk) says that the spirit realm is the source and origin of everything we see in this realm. When Black Elk's father, who was cousins with the father of the famous warrior and leader Tashunke Witko (Crazy Horse), explained the vision of Crazy Horse, he told Black Elk that:
Crazy Horse dreamed and 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.
This is very similar to the worldview found in the Tao Te Ching, in which the myriad forms or myriad things we see in this world arise out of the infinite realm, which cannot even be expressed or contained within a name.

Similarly, in the text known as the epistle of Paul to the Galatians, the author describes Abraham's two sons, one by a bondmaid and one by a freewoman, and then states directly and plainly: "Which things are an allegory" (in other words, declaring that these stories and characters are allegorical -- Galatians 4: 24).

He then goes on to explain that there is a Jerusalem which is above, in Galatians 4: 26, where he writes:
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
I would argue that this verse is expressing an identical teaching to that proclaimed in the Tao Te Ching and in the sacred traditions preserved in the record of Black Elk's words: we all unfold into this world from the Infinite Realm, which is pictured for us in the infinite heavens, and which is made comprehensible to us in the sacred myths which use the heavens to convey to us the reality of that Infinite Realm (which is invisible and cannot be seen with our physical sight). 

This realm is "the mother of us all." Everything and everyone in this material realm has its origin and genesis in that Infinite Realm.

Those ancient Biblical texts do not have to do with a terrestrial landscape. All of the episodes in those ancient scriptures can be shown to take place in the heavens. They picture for us spiritual truths -- one of the most fundamental of which being the truth that everything and everyone in this material realm is in fact connected to that spiritual realm which is our fount and origin, "the mother of us all." It should be obvious that this truth connects all of us to one another as well, and teaches us that we must recognize that each and every person we meet is a spiritual being and not merely a physical being -- and that to debase or degrade another, and to deny that they are anything more than their physical being, is a lie. 

It is a denial of a fundamental truth -- and when we deny that someone else is connected to and originated in the spiritual realm, we are (consciously or not) denying the truth which  also informs our own connection to that realm, and the truth that we ourselves are more than just our physical being (a truth which we all know deep inside, no matter how much others try to convince us otherwise).

To use those very scriptures to try to falsely excuse or justify the taking away of the innate rights of others is thus a gross inversion of the actual teaching of those ancient texts and their ancient wisdom. To use them to try to falsely excuse or justify the taking away of the innate rights of others based on their ethnicity or outward physical form is obviously an even more heinous inversion of those ancient texts and their ancient wisdom. 

The ancient texts are not describing literal lines of descent from a "bondmaid" and a "freewoman" -- as Galatians 4: 24 tells us quite plainly, "these things are an allegory -- they are allegorical."

Likewise, they are describing a Jerusalem which is above. To use those texts to try to justify the denial of the rights of men and women here in the terrestrial sphere is a misappropriation of those texts and their teachings. Like the texts of the Tao Te Ching, they are describing the endless unfolding of spirit into this realm and its folding back into spirit again from matter, and folding and unfolding again and again in a constant interplay. 

Tragically, the texts of the ancient scriptures we call the Bible were deliberately re-interpreted as being primarily literal during a crucial watershed in history, probably about 1700 years ago -- despite the overwhelming evidence that they are actually esoteric celestial metaphor, as are virtually all of the other ancient myths and sacred traditions around the world. When that happened, their teachings were  inverted -- an inversion which led to centuries of oppression and the violation of the rights of men and women on a horrific scale.

Literalistic mis-interpretation continues to be employed in an attempt to falsely "justify" terrible injustice, right up to this very moment. Until it is realized that what is taking place today is a direct continuation of that deliberate inversion, the roots of the present trauma will not be properly understood.