Thursday, April 18, 2019

The buried divinity





















original image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The next few days mark the annual commemoration of the culminating episodes of the gospel stories, including the accounts of the Last Supper, the Passion in the Garden, and the eventual Crucifixion, burial and Resurrection of the Christ.

These stories are extremely moving and powerful and, like all ancient myth, deserving of deep contemplation and interrogation. They want to convey a profound message which we very much need to hear -- or, rather, to "see," because they convey their wisdom through stories intended to evoke a response in us: a response which can really only be evoked through this kind of powerful dramatic illustration.

Although we have been taught that these stories were intended to be understood literally, and that we cannot properly understand them and give them due reverence and respect unless we accept them as accounts of literal and historical persons and events, an overwhelming abundance of evidence points to the exact opposite conclusion: that the stories and characters described in the gospel accounts, as well as in the rest of the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, are based on an ancient worldwide system of celestial metaphor which forms the foundation for virtually all of the world's ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories, from cultures on every inhabited continent and island of our planet.

Because the characters and events can be shown to be based on celestial metaphor, it should be quite obvious that they are not intended to be understood literally.

Instead, I am convinced that the purpose of these powerful stories preserved in the ancient myths is to evoke a sudden recognition, an intuitive flash of perception, very much akin to a Zen koan. 

The stories, in other words (and paraphrasing Alvin Boyd Kuhn's important quotation discussed here) are not about someone else, someone who lived thousands of years ago, someone external: they are about you.

The Bible stories are not separate and distinct from the rest of the world's ancient myths: they are part of the same family and built upon the same celestial patterns. Indeed, numerous startling parallels can be demonstrated between events described in the gospel accounts and episodes preserved in the Odyssey of ancient Greece (which was almost certainly committed to writing at least seven centuries earlier, and may have been passed down in oral form for several centuries prior to that); some but by no means all of these parallels are discussed in this previous post

When the cuneiform inscriptions on thousands of fragmented tablets from ancient Mesopotamia were first being deciphered again during the nineteenth century, after a period of more than two thousand years during which time the writing system had been forgotten, the early translators were astonished to discover direct parallels between familiar Bible stories and the characters and events described in the ancient tablets, some of which preserved records from well over a thousand years prior to the presumed dates of the earliest Old Testament scriptures. 

It is at this point very difficult to deny that the story of the death and burial of the divine Christ parallels an important pattern central to many other myths from cultures around the globe, including the death of Osiris and descent into the underworld (ancient Egypt), the banishment of Kronos to the underwater cave of Ogygia (ancient Greece and Rome), the descent of the goddess Inanna into the underworld, where she is for a time hung up upon a great hook, and her eventual return (ancient Mesopotamia), the descent of the Hero Twins into the underworld of Xibalba, and their eventual return (the Popol Vuh of the K'iche' Maya of Central America), and many others.

But how does any of this help us? What insight is it intended to evoke within our deeper understanding?

Well, my first advice would be to go to the myths themselves and ask them, rather than asking me or anyone else. My second reply would be to caution that any thoughts I offer here will necessarily be very brief and that these powerful stories have very deep and indeed endless depths of wisdom to offer, so anything I say here will only be a pointer towards those depths: to reach further you will have to dive in for yourself.

That said, I would argue that these stories are very much about you and your connection with what some traditions refer to as the Higher Self (if you prefer a different term, feel free to use a different term and don't let the terminology be a distraction). 

And how do I know that you, the reader, have a Higher Self? Well, on a very practical level, I would start by pointing out that I know for certain that you have a subconscious. No one can deny that he or she has a subconscious. 

But I also know that you, like everyone else, are estranged from your subconscious, because as we develop a conscious mind we become more and more tangled up in all the rules and norms and mores and structures of society. which introduce doubts and divisions that actually divide us from ourself in a way that is difficult to explain but familiar to just about everyone.

Our subconscious knows many things that our conscious mind is not aware of. In fact, I would argue that there is abundant evidence that our subconscious seems to be connected to other people and information that at times defies the normal boundaries of our five physical senses. See for instance some of the discussion in this and this previous post. In a way, we could say that our subconscious has access to knowledge that goes beyond the boundaries of the physical and material world.

Indeed, we could actually say that our subconscious is connected to the Infinite, to the divine realm described in the ancient myths: the realm of the gods. But our conscious mind has a very hard time accepting that fact -- or even accepting that as a possibility. 

Our conscious mind is full of doubts, because existing in society among other people requires doubting, and judging, and weighing one action against another, and ranking "shoulds" and "oughts" with a level of subtlety that we have been improving ever since we were very young (when we first started to become divided from ourselves, by the imposition of these webs and structures and matrices that are part of learning how to successfully navigate through human society and its various power structures and rules). We need our conscious mind, and we cannot realistically "go back" to that state of innocence before we developed the doubting, judging, weighing, and balancing conscious mind that enables us to navigate society but which simultaneously divides us from ourselves.

The way forward, then, is to reconcile our "doubting self" with our Higher Self, and to bring the two into proper relationship and balance. This can only be achieved by reconnecting with the subconscious, which is connected in a way not fully understood (at least by me) to awareness beyond the boundaries of the physical senses, and indeed to the realm of the gods themselves. 

But how do we do that?

The subconscious is hidden away. It is available, but not easily accessible. It is buried, like the divinity in the myths, inside the deep undersea cavern of Ogygia, or the underworld tomb into which Osiris has descended and hidden himself. In the myths, Isis searches diligently for Osiris before she finally finds him, his coffin enclosed within a tree which has been cut down and used to make the pillar which holds up the roof of a palace.

The myths are showing us, I believe, that reconnecting with that inner divinity, that Higher Self, is not an easy process -- it requires diligent searching, as the goddess Isis demonstrates for us in her search for the hidden Osiris. It requires quieting the conscious mind, in order to re-connect with the subconscious from which we have allowed ourselves to become estranged, and which is now buried in deep darkness, just like the story of Christ within the tomb (or all the other parallel myths from other cultures).

The conscious mind remains necessary for our day-to-day lives -- but estranged from our deeper self, our conscious mind (with its endless doubts, and self-criticisms, and weighing and judging and "should haves" and "could haves") will hold us back. But through disciplines such as regular daily meditation (for example), or other ancient practices such as Yoga or the martial arts or close communion with nature or with music, we can reconnect with that deeper intuition which can then guide and direct and lead that more constricted part of our mind that is better at doubting (and worse at leading).

I would argue that this reconnection, and the restoration of the proper relationship between our lower ("doubting") mind and that hidden, buried, deeper awareness which is in fact our conduit to what the ancient myths describe as the Infinite Realm, or the Invisible Realm, lies at the heart of many of the ancient myths -- including the episodes involving the descent of the Christ into the tomb and ultimate restoration.

Indeed, I am convinced that the well-known episode of Doubting Thomas, and his encounter with the risen Christ, dramatizes for our deeper understanding the restoration of the proper relationship between the "doubting mind" and the divine Higher Self. For more discussion of the Doubting Thomas episode, see here, here and here.

I am convinced that the ancient myths are intended to uplift and empower men and women. Unfortunately, they can be wrongly used to have the opposite effect -- as can other kinds of dramatic spectacle deliberately produced in order to engender feelings of powerlessness by those who do not have the uplifting and empowering of other men and women in mind.

I hope that this week you will find time to consider deeply the ancient myths entrusted as a precious inheritance to the human race, and that whatever myths you choose to focus on, you will see ways in which their story is actually about you -- and ways in which they can enable you to reconnect with your own Higher Self.
The kingdom of heaven and the hope of glory are within. They lurk within the unfathomed depths of consciousness. Divinity lies buried under the heavier motions of the sensual nature and the incessant scurrying of the superficial mind.   -- Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Lost Light, 46.



image: Wikimedia commons (link).

(Note the "Scorpio-figure" asleep in the lower-right corner of the painting by Rembrandt, 1634).




Friday, April 5, 2019

How Old is Human Civilization? New documentary planned by Robert Schoch and friends



Professor Robert Schoch has been involved in some of the most important research and discoveries over the past twenty-five years regarding the questions of humanity's ancient past, the evidence pointing to the existence of some now-forgotten advanced culture predating those known to (or admitted by) the conventional paradigm of human history, and the likelihood that some terrible worldwide cataclysm struck our planet, separating us from that previous age.

Along with the late John Anthony West, Robert Schoch has written landmark books and has been involved in important documentaries which have raised awareness of this critically important subject and helped inspire others, including myself, to investigate these matters further.

Now, Robert Schoch and friends are planning a brand-new documentary, and have started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to help get that documentary produced.

I consider Robert Schoch's work to be very important. In fact, I mentioned his work in the previous blog post about the newly-uncovered Ratnagiri petroglyphs in India -- when I wrote that post, I had not yet learned about these documentary plans or the Kickstarter campaign.

If you are interested in learning more about and perhaps helping to fund this important project, entitled "How Old is Human Civilization," just follow that link -- and note that there are some great rewards for donors beginning at the $10 level. Please spread the word to those you know who might be interested in helping make the planned film become a reality!

The documentary appears to have plans to film at sites in Egypt, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), and Gobekli Tepe, among other places. I hope Robert and team will have a successful campaign to raise the funds and wish them the best with their upcoming documentary!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The incredible importance of the Maharashtra petroglyphs

image: article by Bibhu Dev Misra, "12,000-year-old Petroglyphs in India Depict Sacred Symbols of Global Importance", published March 28, 2019 on GrahamHancock.com.
Researcher and analyst of ancient history Bibhu Dev Misra has just published an updated and expanded article exploring the extensive ancient petroglyphs located in the western part of India which he previously discussed in this post on his website Myths, Symbols, and Mysteries.

The latest article, entitled "12,000-year-old Petroglyphs in India Depict Sacred Symbols of Global Importance" is a must-read discussion of a discovery with tremendous implications for our understanding of human history: I recommend going to it and reading through it carefully before continuing here, and clicking on all the images in the article in order to examine them in detail.

In the article, Bibhu analyzes some of the over 1,000 petroglyphs which have been discovered at 52 sites thus far in the state of Maharashtra near the cities of Ratnagiri and Rajapur beginning in about 2012. This article, which is linked in Bibhu's discussion, provides some background on the way this extensive body of petroglyphs was uncovered by a group of dedicated individuals called  Adgalnavarche Konkan, or "Unexplored Konkan," started by electrical engineer and amateur archaeologist Sudhir Risbood, who remembered seeing a petroglyph near his village of Nigali outside of Ratnagiri while still a boy in school, described as being "full of curlicues and interlocking circles," and later came across other such rock art while assisting with projects at the site of the historic Aryadurga temple outside of Rajapur.

Scholars now suggest that these petroglyphs may date to approximately 10,000 BC, based on tools which have also been discovered. Such a date would place them in the same time period as the amazing archaeological site known today as Gobekli Tepe, which was deliberately buried in material that has been dated to about 8,000 BC, indicating that the site itself is older than that (see for example the discussion in Robert Schoch's Forgotten Civilization, page 42). The creation of such petroglyphs appears to have been practiced worldwide and the practice is very ancient. 

Bibhu Dev Misra's analysis of these recently-uncovered ancient petroglyphs in Maharashtra is extraordinarily important because he perceived that artwork displays distinctive patterns which are found in other cultures literally around the globe!

For example, the article linked above describes petroglyphs from India which exhibit patterns which have been called the "Master of Animals" or the "Mistress of Animals," as well as the pattern of the "Staff God" (and provides photographs with examples) which are found in artwork from ancient Mesopotamia, ancient Greece, and even at the mysterious site of Tiahuanaco in South America!

Bibhu also perceived that another recently-uncovered petroglyph in Maharashtra displays an outline with clear similarities to the "Winged Scarab" motif which was extremely prevalent in ancient Egypt. 

As he correctly points out, the discovery of such symbology in petroglyphs which are thought to date back to 10,000 BC has tremendous ramifications for our understanding of humanity's ancient history, and provides supporting evidence to the analysis of other researchers who have been documenting and discussing other types of evidence from around the world which shows that the conventional paradigm of ancient history is gravely flawed and in need of radical revision. 

In Bibhu's article, he writes:
It boggles the mind to think that the Winged Scarab symbol, which was so popular in ancient Egypt, has been in existence since the very beginning of the post-glacial epoch. How did such esoteric concepts and symbology appear at such an early age?  
Surely, this could not have been the work of primitive hunter-gatherers. Who carved these remarkable petroglyphs, and for what purpose? 
Is it possible that the Winged Scarab symbol encodes the cosmic wisdom of an erstwhile "Golden Age" civilisation that perished during the cataclysms of the Younger Dryas period (10,900 BCE - 9700 BCE) when our planet was struck by multiple fragments of a giant comet?
Equally astonishing is another discovery made by Bibhu Dev Misra regarding these remarkable petroglyphs: the depiction of zodiac symbology. As seen in the image at the top of this post, and discussed further in Bibhu's article, one of the newly-uncovered Maharashtra petroglyphs clearly indicates the Fishes of Pisces! 

This discovery is of tremendous importance, because as I have documented in several books totaling over 3,000 pages collectively (thus far), as well as in this blog which to date has well over 1,100 posts, and in dozens of videos, an overwhelming amount of evidence suggests that the world's ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories from cultures on every inhabited continent and island of our planet preserve an extremely ancient system of celestial metaphor in which the various figures and events described in those myths are based on very specific constellations in the night sky, including of course the important zodiac constellations.

This evidence strongly suggests the existence of some now-forgotten predecessor culture of tremendous antiquity, predating even the most ancient civilizations known to conventional history (since the system of celestial metaphor is already in evidence in the most-ancient writings of cultures such as those of ancient Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, and ancient India). The presence of petroglyphs which may date back millennia before Egypt and which clearly invoke constellations such as the Fishes of Pisces, provides powerful supporting evidence for the existence of such a "predecessor culture" which ascribed tremendous importance to the constellations of the heavens -- and which used the same system of envisioning the constellations with which we are still familiar today, the same system of envisioning the constellations which also appears to form the foundation of the ancient myths and sacred stories worldwide (in spite of the fact that various cultures around the world have their own different ways of seeing and describing the constellations -- their myths can be shown to be built upon a single worldwide system which uses this common way of envisioning the constellations). 

Note that some critics who wish to deny or refute the evidence that the world's myths could be built upon a common system of celestial metaphor have argued that the zodiac constellations with which we are familiar today is a relatively recent invention, possibly dating back to about 500 BC but not earlier. I have previously discussed this incorrect assertion, and provided some examples of why it is false, in a blog post from early in 2015 entitled "The 'Recent Zodiac' Canard: or, One of the most common arguments used by opponents of astrotheology, and why it is almost certainly wrong."

At the time I wrote that post, the numerous Maharashtra petroglyphs had not yet come to light. However, Bibhu Dev Misra's insightful observation that these ancient petroglyphs contain a clear depiction of the zodiac sign of Pisces is obviously of enormous importance, because it demonstrates that the zodiac constellations were known and employed at an extremely early date -- possibly as early as 10,000 BC (over 12,000 years ago)! 

And, as Bibhu correctly argues in his article, there is a very real possibility that these petroglyphs preserve the remnants of a system of even greater antiquity, which was destroyed by some cataclysm of world-shaking proportions (recall the fact that the extensive and precisely-cut stone circles of Gobekli Tepe, covering an area of some 22 acres at least, was deliberately buried for some unknown reason, a project which would have required a massive amount of effort and time).

And, as Bibhu Dev Misra also notes with his insightful analysis of the Maharashtra petroglyphs, the depiction of the Pisces Fishes is by no means the only outline in the artwork suggesting a constellation in the night sky, and what's more a constellation as envisioned by the familiar constellation-envisioning system we still use to this day. His most-recent article published this week at Graham Hancock's website argues that one of the petroglyphs displays distinctive characteristics of the constellation Aquarius -- an identification with which I also agree:

image: article by Bibhu Dev Misra, "12,000-year-old Petroglyphs in India Depict Sacred Symbols of Global Importance", published March 28, 2019 on GrahamHancock.com.
As Bibhu points out in the graphics above, the figure he identifies as Aquarius is found in the proximity of fish-outlines which may indicate the constellations Piscis Austrinus (the Southern Fish, located immediately below -- that is to say, south of -- Aquarius in the heavens) and the Fishes of Pisces which is a constellation eastward of Aquarius in the sky and which is the zodiac constellation in which the sun rises after it rises in Aquarius for about a month.

Additionally, although not specifically pointed out in Bibhu's labeled image above, one of the most distinctive features of the constellation Aquarius is the constellation's extended and very straight "forward leg" which is a feature of the constellation that plays an important role in many different Star Myths around the world. This distinctive straight "forward leg" shows up in myth in various ways, sometimes as a spear which is entering into the side of a figure (or which has already gone through a figure from the back and is now coming out of the gut), or as a spear with which a figure is trying to spear a great fish (because of the location of the Southern Fish, just below Aquarius), or even as the male sexual organ (such as in the story of the nakedness of Noah following the planting of the first vineyard, in the story of Shem, Ham and Japheth found in the book of Genesis).

Note that in the petroglyph shown in Bibhu's analysis above, the figure that Bibhu identifies as Aquarius has been depicted by the ancient artist with a distinctly straight "forward leg," matching this important aspect of the constellation itself. Below is an outline of Aquarius showing the actual stars themselves, with the connecting lines as suggested by H. A. Rey in his important 1952 book The Stars: A New Way to See Them (which we might suggest could also have been titled "The Stars: An Extremely Ancient Way to See Them"!).



Based on this outline of Aquarius with the distinctive forward leg, I would also suggest that there may be an Aquarius-shape indicated on the large petroglyph shown at the top of Bibhu's recent article, among the markings within the body of an enormous elephant. Note that once again the ancient artist has depicted a number of fish-like outlines in the vicinity of this Aquarius-like figure, one of which is in a location to suggest the Southern Fish (Piscis Austrinus):





Original image source (top image):  article by Bibhu Dev Misra, "12,000-year-old Petroglyphs in India Depict Sacred Symbols of Global Importance", published March 28, 2019 on GrahamHancock.com.

Note that in the above image, not only is there a figure depicting in a posture which may be evocative of the outline of Aquarius (with the "forward leg" and a fish-ouline directly below), but there is also a quadruped depicted just above and adjacent to the possible Aquarius outline. This quadruped is in fact in the correct location to indicate the constellation Pegasus, if the human outline above the fish outline does indeed represent another Aquarius figure among the petroglyphs (in addition to the one that Bibhu Dev Misra has already identified). I have indicated the "quadruped-outline" which is in the correct location for Pegasus in the image above, and again in the close-up image shown below. Note that the only problem with this identification is that the head of the quadruped outline in the petroglyph is pointing in the "downward" direction while the Pegasus outline in the sky is envisioned with the head upwards (in the outlining-system suggested by H. A. Rey, which I have used in the star-chart shown above).

Despite this reversal of orientation for the outline that may suggest Pegasus, the possibility that we are looking at a representation of the region of the sky containing Aquarius, Pegasus and the Southern Fish in the ancient petroglyph shown above appears to be likely. Here is a closer look at that region of the petroglyph, along with a star-chart of the section of the night sky containing Aquarius and friends:

Clearly, Bibhu Dev Misra's analysis of these Maharashtra petroglyphs has uncovered some celestial correspondences of incredible importance, which provide strong and compelling evidence that the constellation outlines which we still know today were known many millennia ago -- in fact, many millennia before the rise of the most ancient civilizations known to conventional history!

The presence of these outlines adds supporting evidence to the arguments that the world's ancient myths are based on the very same constellations, which form the characters and events described in the sacred stories from cultures around the world. The figures of Aquarius and the Southern Fish, for example, appear in the miracle of the coin in the mouth of the fish which is recorded in the gospel accounts, as I discuss in a 2016 post entitled "The Tribute Money in the Mouth of the Fish." 

The figure of Aquarius pouring water over the Southern Fish also appears to form the basis for the baptism scene of Jesus by John the Baptist (John the Baptist can with great certainty be identified with the outline of Aquarius, as I have documented in many previous posts and videos, including this one, this one, and this one).

Lest any object that ancient petroglyphs cannot possibly use a system of outlining suggested in a book by author H. A. Rey in 1952, I would point out that there are countless other pieces of ancient artwork which can clearly be shown to be based upon the same outlining system, which is obviously very ancient. A tiny sample of such ancient artwork would include the images of Heracles on countless pieces of ancient pottery, such as those shown here, or the artwork in the amazing Pylos Combat Agate which was uncovered in 2017 from a 3,500-year old tomb of a warrior in Pylos on the western coast of the Peloponnese in Greece and which I discuss in a video entitled "The Pylos Combat Agate among the Infinite Realms."

Indeed, as I pointed out in an earlier blog post regarding Bibhu Dev Misra's October 2018 discussion of these Maharashtra petroglyphs, the outlines of the "Master of Animals" or "Mistress of Animals" or "Staff God" or "Winged Scarab" can all be shown to be based upon specific constellations in the heavens as well!

And, Bibhu's insights regarding these petroglyphs of ancient India don't stop there either, as he has also pointed out that some of the petroglyphs appear to depict animals which are not found in India and have not been known there in recorded history, including a possible depiction of a kangaroo! You can see the outline of the possible kangaroo at the bottom of the original image above (the image in which I have focused on a small subsection which may depict the outlines of Aquarius, Piscis Austrinus, and even Pegasus), and you can read more about the outline of the kangaroo and other animals not indigenous to India in Bibhu's recent article. 

As Bibhu insightfully notes in his article, there are legends in India of a lost Golden Age at the end of which certain islands sank beneath the waves. Is it possible that there were dry-land connections between south Asia (including India) and other continents (including Africa and even Australia) in a bygone epoch, and that rising sea levels covered these land-bridges at the end of that "Golden Age"? Graham Hancock has documented plenty of archaeological and geological evidence which suggests that such an event may have taken place, including in his 2002 book Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization. Mr. Hancock, of course, has been tracking down and analyzing the evidence pointing to the existence of a Lost Civilization for decades.

The depiction of animals not indigenous to India in these ancient petroglyphs may very well be an additional clue pointing to their extreme antiquity. Note that the cultures of the Indigenous Aboriginal people of Australia are thought to have been isolated from other people-groups for many thousands of years prior to the 1700s when the continent was "rediscovered." Nevertheless, their ancient myths and  sacred traditions can also be shown to have their foundation upon the same worldwide celestial system (including a myth in which a powerful fisherman with a spear hunts a tremendous fish with glowing eyes, which is almost certainly based upon Aquarius and Piscis Austrinus in the heavens).

The world owes a debt of gratitude to Sudhir Risbood and the other members of Adgalnavarche Konkan for uncovering these extensive ancient petroglyphs of Maharashtra. The world also owes a debt of gratitude to Bibhu Dev Misra for his penetrating analysis of the figures depicted in the ancient images, and their significance to our understanding of humanity's ancient past. And the world similarly owes a debt of gratitude to Graham Hancock for his tireless and ongoing efforts to discover the truth about our history and for his support of other researchers who are following his lead in this critically important subject.

These petroglyphs join an already-compelling (and I would argue, conclusive) body of evidence which points to the existence of a now-forgotten ancient culture of tremendous sophistication and knowledge, remnants of which can still be detected in ruins around the world, as well as in the myths and sacred stories preserved in far-flung cultures on continents and islands far removed from one another. 

The fact that all these myths diverge so widely from one another in surface detail but still preserve evidence of a common origin may indicate that after whatever cataclysm brought an end to that now-forgotten culture, the memory of the system was preserved by people who were then isolated from one another -- which is just what these petroglyphs from India seem to suggest as well, based on the outlines that Bibhu Dev Misra has noticed and analyzed. 

This is a discovery of tremendous importance which should be more widely publicized and discussed.















Tuesday, March 26, 2019

George Smith, 1840 - 1876







































image: Wikimedia commons (link).

March 26 is the birthday of early Assyriologist George Smith, born this day in 1840.

He would play an important role in the discovery of decisive evidence for the close relation between the world's ancient myths and scriptures, in stark contrast to the prevailing paradigm which taught (and continues to teach) that the scriptures of the Bible are in a category unto themselves, set apart from the myths of all the other cultures of the world.

Decades before, in the 1840s and early 1850s, Austen Henry Layard (1817 - 1894) and Hormuzd Rassam (1826 - 1910) had discovered the site of the library of Ashurbanipal, last king of the Assyrian Empire, who had reigned from 668 BC to 627 BC. The library contained hundreds of thousands of fragmented clay tablets, inscribed with the cuneiform writing of ancient Mesopotamian civilization -- undecipherable at the time of this discovery. At least a  hundred thousand fragments were sent back to England, where they would be housed in the British Museum.*

Over the next decade, a team of scholars would unlock the mystery of the cuneiform writing system, and begin the painstaking process of translating some of the tablets from the library.

Into this quest to rediscover the literature and culture of ancient Mesopotamia entered George Smith, in his early twenties. In his 2006 account The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh, Professor David Damrosch of Harvard University writes:
George Smith's parents had no such academic illusions for their son, who was born in 1840 in the London district of Chelsea, at that time a seedy area of grimy tenements and high unemployment. They belonged to London's large, anonymous pool of unskilled labor -- even after George became famous, no one ever bothered to record his parent's occupations, or even their names. When George turned fourteen, his father took the sensible route of apprenticing the boy to a skilled trade. Apparently George's literary and artistic interests were already becoming evident, and so his father did the best he could, articling his son to the printing firm of Messrs. Bradbury and Evans, where he was put to work learning to engrave banknotes. 14
As Professor Damrosch explains, this apprenticeship not only provided young George Smith with sills that "would later serve him well in his work with cuneiform tablets" (14), but the location of his employment was fortuitous in that it was roughly a mile away from the museum at Great Russell Street:
It was natural for Bradbury and Evans to have located their printing firm just off Fleet Street, the center of the London newspaper industry, and this location made all the difference in Smith's life. If Bradbury and Evans had situated themselves another mile away from the museum, then Smith wouldn't have had the time to get to it during business hours, and he never would have made the discoveries that led to his new career. 16 - 17.
As it was, at the age of twenty, George Smith "began to haunt the Near Eastern collections at the British Museum." As Professor Damrosch goes on to explain, the nascent field of Assyriology was at that time in need of talent, providing "a rare chink in the armor of the British class structure" -- one in which a brilliant mind such as that of George Smith could gain access without the usual need for credentials, introductions, or connections (16). And, as it turns out, George Smith was a true genius, who saved up his money to purchase all the books published by the early Assyriologists and pored over them late into the night. He would later reveal a unique talent not only for learning and then translating the cuneiform system, but also for reassembling the shattered tablets by fitting together fragments from the various tens of thousands of broken pieces that were assembled in the museum's collection. He began spending his lunch hours in the museum on the three days of the week that the museum was open to the public, working on the ancient texts.

The abilities of the young banknote engraver were noticed by the Director of the Department of Antiquities, Samuel Birch (1813 - 1885), who eventually brought George Smith to the attention of Henry Creswicke Rawlinson (1810 - 1895) -- one of the three men whose efforts over a period of nearly ten years had succeeded in unlocking the cuneiform system itself. Professor Damrosch explains that as he observed Smith's volunteer work over the course of time, Rawlinson "was strongly impressed by his ability to piece tablets together, a task requiring an exceptional visual memory and manual dexterity in creating 'joins' of tablet fragments. A given tablet might have been broken into a dozen or more pieces, now widely dispersed among the hundred thousand fragments in the museum's collection" (30).

Rawlinson persuaded the museum to hire George Smith, and in 1867 he left his "well-paid  trade and regular employment" as an engraver, as E. A. Wallis Budge would later write in Rise & Progress of Assyriology, "to follow his literary bent" -- which the partners of the banknote printing firm considered "an act of pure folly" (107). Had he remained at his previous occupation, Budge notes, Smith "would undoubtedly have become one of the master-engravers of the nineteenth century."

As it was, however, George Smith would leave a different mark on history. One day in November of 1872, five years into his employment at the British Museum and at the age of 32 years old, George Smith was reading a tablet and he came across a passage describing a great Flood, and a boat resting on a mountain, and the sending out of birds to search for land! As Wallis Budge describes the scene, 
Smith took the tablet and began to read over the lines which Ready had brought to light [Robert Ready, a former tobbaconist, had developed secret proprietary methods for removing mineral deposits from the tablets and otherwise cleaning the surfaces so that parts of the ancient text which were obscured could be read again after thousands of years of neglect]; and when he saw that they contained the portion of the legend he had hoped to find there, he said, "I am the first man to read that after more than two thousand years of oblivion." Setting the tablet on the table, he jumped up and rushed about the room in a great state of excitement, and, to the astonishment of those present, began to undress himself! 153
The impact of this discovery was enormous, as Smith's astonishing reaction would indicate. He had just read an account with close parallels to the description of the Flood in Genesis, from a tablet written many centuries before the accepted date of the composition of the Pentateuch, and from a different culture which worshiped gods and goddesses such as Marduk and Enki and Ishtar.

Smith's paper describing the text of this "Deluge Tablet" (now known to be Tablet XI of the Gilgamesh cycle) was presented by Smith on December 3rd, 1872 before the Society of Biblical Archaeology, "and his discovery made a profound impression upon his hearers," as Wallis Budge writes on page 113 of Rise & Progress of Assyriology. Several politicians, scholars, and theologians were present. 

The implications of these parallels between the mythology of ancient Mesopotamia and the events and characters described in the Bible are profound. In many ways, they shatter the conventions and historical paradigms which frame our present-day understanding of ancient myth and history every bit as much as they rocked the foundations of the paradigm that was dominant in 1872. In many ways, we have yet to come to grips with the implications of this discovery -- implications so shattering that they caused George Smith to "rush about the room in a great state of excitement, and, to the astonishment of those present, begin to undress himself!"

The parallels between the myths of ancient Mesopotamia and the accounts in the Biblical scriptures are far-reaching and profound. But there are other parallels from other cultures which similarly reveal the undeniable truth that the events and figures found in the Bible belong to a world-wide system of myth and are by no means separate from the sacred traditions of other lands and even other continents. 

For example, there are numerous parallels between the events of the Odyssey of ancient Greece and events described in the gospels of the (so-called) New Testament, despite the fact that the events described in the gospels are supposed to have taken place at least eight centuries after the likely date of composition of the Odyssey. There are equally many parallels to be found between the Norse myths and the characters and events described in the Biblical scriptures -- some of which I explore in Star Myths of the World, Volume Four (Norse mythology).

The parallels go even deeper than the similar patterns between characters and events, because (as can now be demonstrated in detail, backed up by abundant and compelling evidence) these characters and events are based upon specific constellations which were imbued with distinctive characteristics and significance in an ancient system of celestial metaphor -- an ancient system which was in use world-wide, from Mesopotamia and the Near East to the islands of the South Pacific; from the continents of Australia and Africa in the southern hemisphere to the farthest northern climes of Scandinavia; from ancient Egypt and ancient India to ancient China and even Japan.

Like the system of cuneiform, which was forgotten and unreadable for more than two thousand years, until it was rediscovered and deciphered during the nineteenth century, the world's ancient myths are speaking to us in an unrecognized language of celestial metaphor -- but this language can be deciphered. As we begin to do so, the astonishing message of the ancient myths can be heard once again, with life-changing and indeed civilization-changing impact. 

George Smith left the mortal world under somewhat mysterious circumstances at the age of 36, in the year 1876. As Professor Damrosch notes, "all modern scholarship on Babylonian literature stems from his pathbreaking work" (77). It is difficult to read his story and not see him as being uniquely gifted to carry out the work that he did, at the right place and moment in time, with the right talents and abilities and passions. He was the first to find undeniable proof of the close parallels between the Biblical scriptures and the ancient Mesopotamian texts -- Mesopotamian texts which may constitute the oldest surviving literary narratives known at this time. 

The work of unlocking these parallels is not yet finished: indeed, it is only barely begun. My sense is that George Smith would want us to continue that effort.

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* Note: It should go without saying that just because this post describes the historic achievements of George Smith and others with regards to the translation of ancient Mesopotamian texts, such commemoration does not mean that I condone the nineteenth century British imperial project in Mesopotamia (or other imperialist projects in that or other regions before and since) or the shipment of antiquities out of their country of origin to other countries: the entire worldview which supported (and continues to support) such long-standing structures of colonialism and imperialism is itself often based in large part upon the very Biblical literalism and exceptionalism which Smith's discovery above subverts and overturns.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The origin of mosquitos


























image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The Tlingit are an Indigenous Native people of the Pacific northwest of the continent of North America, whose historic land stretches along the coast across the land today designated as Alaska and British Columbia.

In the book American Indian Myths and Legends (1984), edited by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz, a Tlingit legend entitled "How Mosquitoes Came to Be" is recorded (pages 191 - 193). The story was originally written down in 1883 and the account in American Indian Myths and Legends is based on the 1883 record of the myth.

The account of the origin of mosquitos involves a giant:
Long ago there was a giant who loved to kill humans, eat their flesh, and drink their blood. He was especially fond of human hearts. "Unless we can get rid of this giant," people said, none of us will be left," and they called a council to discuss ways and means. 
One man said, "I think I know how to kill the monster," and he went to the place where the giant had last been seen. There he lay down and pretended to be dead. 
Soon the giant came along. Seeing the man lying there, he said: "These humans are making it easy for me. Now I don't even have to catch and kill them; they die right on my trail, probably from fear of me!"  
The giant touched the body. "Ah, good," he said, "this one is still warm and fresh. What a tasty meal he'll make; I can't waist to roast his heart." 
The giant flung the man over his shoulder, and the man let his head hang down as if he were dead. Carrying the man home, the giant dropped him in the middle of the floor right near the fireplace. Then he saw that there was no firewood and went to get some. 
As soon as the monster had left, the man got up and grabbed the giant's huge skinning knife. Just then the giant's son came in, bending low to enter. He was still small as giants go, and the man held the big knife to his throat. "Quick, tell me, where's your father's heart? Tell me or I'll slit your throat!" 
The giant's son was scared. He said: "My father's heart is in his left heel."  
Just then the giant's left foot appeared in the entrance, and the man swiftly plunged the knife into the heel. The monster screamed and fell down dead. 192
There are numerous details in this account which resonate with details in other myths and scriptures and sacred traditions from cultures found around the globe. For instance, it is notable that the man in the Tlingit story above takes the giant's own great knife and uses that to threaten the giant's son and eventually to slay the giant himself -- this detail would appear to parallel another story involving a man and a giant: the story of David and Goliath. In that account, found in the book of 1 Samuel in the scriptures of what are commonly called the "Old Testament," the text explicitly states that David uses the giant's own sword to slay him (1 Samuel 17: 51).

An even more telling parallel to a myth involving a giant, however, is the description of the giant's weakness, which in the Tlingit myth is found in the left heel of the giant (the location of the giant's heart). When the man in the Tlingit legend stabs the giant in the left heel, it is a mortal wound. This detail has very clear parallels to the story of the bronze giant Talos, from the myths of ancient Greece. 

As discussed in this previous post from June of 2017, in the Greek myth the weakness of the giant Talos is a screw in the heel of the bronze giant, which when unscrewed allowed the ichor which animated the marvelous mechanical man to flow out upon the ground, resulting in the demise of the giant. As explained in that post, I am convinced that this Greek myth of Talos is based upon a celestial foundation: the giant is seen in the form of Orion in the heavens, from whose forward foot the long and meandering constellation known as the River Eridanus flows out, representing the ichor of Talos which runs out and brings about the end of the bronze giant:

























Note that the constellation Eridanus originates very close to the lead foot of the constellation Orion, such that the heavenly river could be envisioned as flowing out of the foot of the giant. Indeed, as the above star-chart illustrates, one need only imagine a small connecting line between the bright star in the forward foot of Orion (this is the bright star Rigel) and the Eridanus River nearby. Numerous Star Myths from around the world do indeed incorporate in some way this connection between Orion and Eridanus, and I am convinced that the myth of Talos the bronze giant of ancient Greece and the myth of the slaying of the man-eating giant in the Tlingit tradition are both examples of this celestial pairing.

Note that in the account of the Tlingit myth, which was recorded in 1883, we are specifically told that the heart of the giant is located in the giant's left heel. If you look at the constellation Orion in the heavens (and shown in the star-chart above), you will see that the forward foot of the giant Orion (closest to the River Eridanus) is indeed the left foot of the constellation, if the figure is envisioned as facing towards us. In other words, his upraised arm (on the left side of the constellation as we look at the star-chart above) is Orion's right arm, and the forward foot (marked by the bright star Rigel, on the right side of the constellation as we face the star-chart above) is the giant's left.

The inclusion of this specific detail (that the giant's heart is located in his left foot) provides added confirmation that the Tlingit myth reflects a celestial pattern found in the sky. The similarities between this story and the story of the demise of Talos are not simply coincidental: the undeniable similarities reflect the fact that the world's ancient myths and legends, from virtually every culture on our planet found on every inhabited continent and island, display evidence of being part of an extremely ancient worldwide system, a system built upon celestial metaphor. 

But how does this myth of the slaying of the giant explain the origin of mosquitos? The account of the legend continues, telling us what happened after the man stabbed the giant in the heel and the monster fell down dead:
Yet the giant still spoke. "Though I'm dead, though you killed me, I'm going to keep on eating you and all the other humans in the world forever!" 
"That's what you think!" said the man. "I'm about to make sure that you never eat anyone again." He cut the giant's body into pieces and burned each one in the fire. Then he took the ashes and threw them into the air for the winds to scatter. 
Instantly each of the particles turned into a mosquito. The cloud of ashes became a cloud of mosquitoes, and from their midst the man heard the giant's voice laughing, saying: "Yes, I'll eat you people until the end of time." 
And as the monster spoke, the man felt a sting, and a mosquito started sucking his blood, and then many mosquitoes stung him, and he began to scratch himself. 192 - 193
Thus ends the account in American Indian Myths and Legends.

Thus, anytime you encounter a mosquito from this day forward, it can serve to remind you of the powerful evidence which shows that all the world's ancient myths, scriptures and sacred traditions are in fact closely related -- contrary to what we have been told.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Renewed volcanic activity at Popocatepetl



On Monday night, March 18, at about 9:38pm (2138 hours), the volcano Popocatepetl produced a violent explosion which rattled windows and doors in towns and villages miles away, and shooting balls of fiery rock arcing into the air to crash down onto the slopes of the mountain, as well as sending up a towering plume of ash 2.5 miles high.

Above is a news report showing footage of the explosion captured on a security camera, as well as additional footage containing the view from nearby towns and reactions from residents.

This blog post from almost exactly three years ago describes a 2016 eruption of Popocatepetl, as well as the legend of the warrior Popocatepetl and his beloved Ixtaccihuatl, and possible celestial aspects of that legend (which I well remember learning at the age of 14 or 15 in my high school Spanish class, along with the pronunciation of the Nahuatl names Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl, which are quite beautiful and delightful to say once you learn how to pronounce them).

As that post explains, Ixtaccihuatl is thought to be extinct, while Popocatepetl was dormant for decades, before reawakening in 1991 in a series of eruptions which continue to this day.

Both mountains are categorized as stratovolcanoes, explained here in a post from Oregon State University, and both Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl rise to elevations over 17,000 feet above sea level. As that post explains, stratovolcanoes can be extremely dangerous, because they are like plugs over a pressure cooker, which can suddenly vent steam and gas, or even explode in a violent "Plinian eruption" such as the eruption of Vesuvius (also a stratovolcano) in AD 79, discussed at length in this previous post.

The term "Plinian" for a catastrophic eruption comes in fact from the accomplished Roman lawyer and public figure Pliny the Younger, who wrote two letters to the historian Tacitus about twenty-five years after the event, describing the devastating eruption of Vesuvius that year.

This article, by lead investigator Dr. Chiara Maria Petrone, discusses the risks posed by Popocatepetl, which is ranked most dangerous of all volcanoes in Mexico and North America by "explosive activity and population threat." As that article explains, Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl are located near one of the most densely-populated cities in the world, Mexico City, along with other surrounding towns and villages, some of them much closer to the slopes of the Popo volcano.

As the article explains, there are approximately 30 million people living within a 70 kilometer (43.5 mile) radius of Popocatepetl. To put that into perspective, New York City is the most populous city in the united states, with a population of about 8.6 million (Los Angeles is second, with a population of about 4 million). The entire state of Texas, the second-most populous state in the united states, has an estimated population of approximately 28 million. The entire state of Florida, the third most-populous, has a population of approximately 21.3 million and the entire state of New York, the fourth most-populous, has a population of approximately 19.5 million.

In other words, the population living within 43-and-a-half miles of Popocatepetl is greater than the entire population of any single u.s. state other than California (which has an estimated population of about 39.5 million), and the population living that close to the volcano is nearly as large as the population of the entire state of California!

Below is a screen-shot of a topo map of the region of Mexico City, showing the volcanoes Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl, as well as surrounding towns, some of them much closer to the slopes of the mountains:








In the above map, I have drawn a blue circle centered on the peak of the volcano Popocatepetl. This circle is 15 miles in radius (or 30 miles in diameter), or about 24 kilometers in all directions from the central cone of the volcano. There is also a smaller red circle inside the larger blue circle: this small red circle is only 2.5 miles in radius or 5 miles in diameter. The horizontal line running across the middle of the circle is blue for 10 miles on either side of the central cone of the volcano, then red for the final five miles of each side.

As this rather frightening scholarly article published in 2010 and examining the lethal effects of the Vesuvius eruption in AD 79 on human beings living in the towns of Herculaneum, Oplontis and Pompeii explains, the impact and lethal range of the pyroclastic density flows (PDCs) from the Plinian eruption of that year are still "widely debated." That article describes in some detail the conclusion of the authors that the lethal effects of the Vesuvius eruption resulted from intense heat rather than from the layers of ash and debris which later buried the residents and their cities under 50 to 60 feet of volcanic material.

The paper explains that the upper temperature bound for human survival is no higher than 200 degrees C (which is 392 degrees F), and that the people of  Oplontis were subjected by the fast-moving PDCs pouring down from Vesuvius to temperatures of around 600 degrees C (which is 1,112 degrees F), the people of Herculaneum were exposed to temperatures of around 500 degrees C (which is 932 degrees F), and the people of Pompeii were exposed to temperatures between 250 and 300 degrees C (which is 482 to 572 degrees F), all temperatures well above the survival boundary for human beings.

The paper goes on to note that the most powerful of the pyroclastic flows or PDCs of the AD 79 eruption of Vesuvius "reached distances exceeding 20 kilometers from the vent." While I am not a volcano expert, this would suggest to me that (at the very least) anyone living within the boundaries of the circle drawn above (which is 15 miles in diameter, or approximately 24 kilometers in all directions from the central cone of the volcano) should be evacuated if scientists believe there is any possibility of a Plinian eruption of Popocatepetl.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

March equinox 2019



Today is the March equinox for 2019, when the earth will hurtle past the point of being exactly "broadsides" to the sun, if imagined as an old sailing ship with the prow at the north pole and the stern at the south pole.

At that moment, the ecliptic path of the sun will cross the celestial equator (the projection of earth's equator into the heavens) on the way "back up" for those in the northern hemisphere, marking the beginning of the "upper half" of the year after which daylight hours will be longer than darkness hours (on the way to the longest day of the year, the summer solstice).

The equinox days were obviously very important to ancient cultures around the world, which incorporated equinox features into monuments which still stand today, such as the so-called "El Castillo" pyramid or Pyramid of Kukulkan at the Maya site of Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula of modern Mexico, shown above, which is precisely oriented to produce the famous "descent of the god Kukulcan" in the form of a serpent of light on the two equinoctial days each year.

Another example is found on the island of Malta, with the mysterious and extremely ancient stone structures at Mnajdra, aligned to produce sunrise light effects on the morning of each equinox, as well as different effects on the mornings of the summer and winter solstices, shown in the video embedded below, and in a video below that showing a model of the complex as it is illuminated on those important days:







Many other ancient structures around the globe incorporate equinoctial and solstitial alignments (as well as alignments marking other significant days of the year), including the passage mounds of the Boyne River Valley in Ireland, the famous megalithic circles of Stonehenge, certain of the designs at Nazca created by the Nazca Lines, some of the mounds found in North America including the Great Serpent Mound in Ohio, and others too numerous to list here.

The world's ancient myths also encode references to the solstices and equinoxes as part of an esoteric "language" intended to convey profound truths for our benefit and blessing. Previous posts discussing the esoteric significance with which the annual cycle of the year was imbued in this ancient worldwide system include:
(among many others)

The worldwide network of aligned structures speaks to the likelihood of the existence of an extremely ancient culture, now unknown to the conventional paradigm of human history, which may have been fragmented in a catastrophe of some sort, prior to any of the most ancient civilizations known to us today. 

The worldwide system of myth, based upon celestial metaphor and employing a common system of envisioning the constellations, speaking the "same language," as it were, provides very powerful additional confirmatory evidence that our understanding of our own ancient past is gravely flawed and in need of radical revision.

I am convinced that these ancient myths present for our deeper understanding a message we desperately need to this very day. It is a message which involves reconnecting with our own divided mind, and with the wider realm with which what we often refer to as our "subconscious" appears to be intimately connected, as discussed in previous posts such as this one and this one.

I hope that on this day, when the great heavenly cycles bring the ecliptic path back above the celestial equator (for the northern hemisphere), you will have time to reflect upon and reconnect with your own deeper part of your mind, and through it your own unbreakable inner connection to the Infinite realm.