Sunday, November 30, 2014

Esoteric aspects of Interstellar

Those familiar with the esoteric symbols found in the world's sacred mythology will find that Interstellar is chock-full of them -- to a degree which goes well beyond the many other Hollywood productions which also contain esoteric references.

While there are already plenty of reviews of the film which focus on its visually-stunning cinematography, its incorporation of cutting-edge theoretical physics, and its apocalyptic vision of the end of life on earth, I thought I would write a short examination of some of the film's esoteric aspects, while advancing the theory that the entire story is intentionally mythological and hence metaphorical, and that spending too much time worrying about whether it is "realistic" or not might be a sidetrack to the film's actual message.

Warning: obviously, if you have not yet seen Interstellar and wish to do so, you will want to stop reading right here and come back later after you've watched the movie. This post simply cannot discuss some of the esoteric symbols in the film without giving away aspects of the plot that would be better to discover in the theater while engrossed in the spectacle of the film itself. Please don't read past this "Spoiler Alert" unless you've already seen the movie! 

Also, what follows is based on just one viewing of the movie, and I don't have the film itself at my fingertips, so I may use a few imprecise terms or even "misremember" a few details, but since I'm keeping it fairly general and relatively brief (not delving into every possible connection, but just the most important), I hope there won't be any egregious inaccuracies. Also, it should be pointed out that just because I believe this film can be viewed as conveying a powerful and positive message in line with the message conveyed in ancient scriptures that employ many of the same symbols does not mean that I automatically endorse every message embedded in the film, or the motives of those who created the film (whatever those might be).

Last chance: this is the final spoiler alert! After this point, you run the risk of ruining your first viewing of the movie, if you read on from here without going to see it first!

Here goes: I believe a credible case could be made that Interstellar is not, in fact, primarily about the impending doom of the planet earth, or the latest theories about the time-bending properties of black holes -- even though it certainly unforgettably impresses both of those subjects upon the viewer through a two-pronged delivery of breathtaking visual effects and emotionally-charged plot lines. However, it is very possible that the film's real subject matter has to do with the personal odyssey traveled by every single individual man or woman in this incarnate existence, which at all times can be portrayed as a struggle between the Sun and Saturn -- specifically, the Christ-aspects of the Sun and the Kronos-aspects of Saturn, or the Horus-aspects of the Sun and the Osiris-aspects of Saturn. 

The planet Saturn is clearly a dominant player in the movie Interstellar: it is next to this planet that the "wormhole" appears, and thus Saturn is the enormous, brooding, visually-gorgeous "gatekeeper" to the path to redemption or salvation for humanity. If the Lazarus mission is going to succeed, it will have to "pass through" Saturn first, so to speak. The main character, Matthew McConaughey's Cooper, says at one point that he doesn't like the name "Lazarus" so much -- and when Michael Caine's Professor Brand asks Cooper why not, since Lazarus came back from the dead, Cooper quips that "he had to die first."

In the extremely important book Hamlet's Mill (1969), we learn that Saturn is in fact one of the most important figures of mythology the world over -- an extremely complex character associated not only with the god Saturn of the Latins but also with Kronos of ancient Greece, and with Osiris of ancient Egypt, as well as with a host of other Saturnian figures including Enki/Ea of ancient Mesopotamia, Jamshyd of ancient Persia (whose name is also Yima Xsaeta, from which the authors of Hamlet's Mill believe the name Saturn may have also derived), the Yellow Emperor of China, and many more -- even King Arthur of the Arthurian legends. He is a god of grain and of agriculture, and he is a god of time -- associations which the viewer of Interstellar cannot fail to find most significant. Previous posts which discuss Saturn in conjunction with the theory of Hamlet's Mill include this one and this one.

Saturn is a god who has to die, to descend into the underworld, to be swathed in grave-clothes or wrapped up as a mummy when he appears as Osiris in ancient Egypt, to be laid out horizontally in a coffin or sarcophagus (as Osiris is often portrayed), and to sleep under the waters in the cave of Ogygia in some legends -- or under the Lake of Avalon in the case of King Arthur, sleeping in an enchanted cave beneath the surface, where he lies under the spell of Morgan le Fey.

According to the analysis of Alvin Boyd Kuhn, most notably in his 1940 text Lost Light, the ancients portrayed our descent into incarnation as bondage in the underworld kingdom of Osiris, where spirit beings are imprisoned in a body, coiled within the serpent coils of matter, swathed in mummy-bands, thrown down into the realm that is governed by Saturn, the lord of time, the giver of measures. 

When we incarnate, we come into the kingdom of time: the kingdom of Kronos, who devours all his children -- since time slowly ages our bodies and eventually turns them into dust. The famous painting of Saturn devouring his children (below), by Francisco de Goya, graphically depicts this well-known aspect of Saturn-Kronos. As the authors of Hamlet's Mill make clear, Saturn is a complex figure: a benevolent god of agriculture and giver of grain, a civilizing god who came and dwelt among humanity and taught them the civilizing arts, ruling over a lost Golden Age -- but also a terrible god, a tyrant who devours his children, the bearer of the scythe who cuts them down like grass, the grim reaper.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Saturn in many ways is the opposite of the Sun itself: Saturn is the farthest visible planet, the dark sun, the underworld sun, the sun as Osiris in the underworld as opposed to Horus who is the sun leaping upwards into the heavens "between the two horizons" like a soaring falcon. When we incarnate, according to the ancient myths, we fall into this underworld of Osiris, even though we actually belong to the world above -- even though we in fact possess a hidden divine spark, showing that we have more in common with the Sun-god, symbolized by Horus . . . or the Christ within (this recent video I made shows one aspect of the correspondence between the sun-god Horus of Egypt and Christ of the New Testament, and there are many other places where you can learn more about the clear symbolic parallels between the two).

And so, in the symbolic language of ancient myth, our incarnate existence is a struggle between the undeniable fact of our imprisonment in the underworld kingdom of Saturn, the tyrannical lord of time who devours his children and turns them to dust by his inexorable turnings,  and the equally undeniable fact of our internal Christ-like nature, this "Horus principle" or "Christ consciousness" within, which urges us to transcend this underworld existence, and tells us that this earthly prison is not ultimately our true home. However, in order to rise up like Horus, we must first descend into the realm of Osiris: in order to become a Christ, we must descend into the kingdom of Saturn.

That the movie Interstellar is dealing with these very themes could not be more clear, as indicated by the symbols it employs. First, of course, is the situation on earth itself, which is portrayed as a nightmarish Saturnian kingdom in which the Saturnian symbols of corn and dust dominate everything. Cooper observes that "we used to look up in the sky, and wonder at our place in the stars: now we just look down, and worry about our place in the dirt." We are shown a world in which the "sands of time," another Saturnian symbol carried along with a scythe by "Father Time," are visibly running out.

Second, perhaps, might be the movie's frequent references to Lazarus, the New Testament figure who is called out of the cave where he has been sleeping, bound in grave-clothes or wrapped like a mummy: a clearly Saturnian figure (Saturnian figures such as Osiris or King Arthur sleep a death-like sleep in mysterious caves beneath the earth's surface or beneath the waters of the sea). The name "Lazarus" itself can be clearly shown to be directly related to the name of Osiris. The name Osiris is really the Greek form of the Egyptian name of the god, which was Azar (it is easy to see how Azar became Osir-is in Greek, where the endings -os or -is are commonly affixed to many names). 

In the Lazarus mission depicted in Interstellar, Cooper (along with his three companions) must imitate Osiris and Lazarus and King Arthur, by being entombed horizontally in a sarcophagus filled with fluid, in which they -- like all the other Saturnian figures around the world -- will literally "sleep beneath the surface." And, some of the film's most visually-majestic scenes involve the mission's tiny spacecraft against the enormous curve of the gigantic ringed planet. Just to be sure that we do not miss the esoteric Saturnian imagery, the distant sun itself is depicted in these scenes as having six clear rays of light -- evoking some of the esoteric associations of Saturn with the number six, the number of the "hex" that brings us into Saturn's domain (Saturn is associated with seven, to be sure, which is the number of the sun, moon and visible planets, but also with the number six and with hexagons and six-pointed stars and the six-sided "cube of matter" which unfolds into the shape of the cross upon which we are "crucified" in this material realm). It is as if, in these scenes showing the sun radiating six points of light, Saturn is depicted as being in control of the entire solar system and everything in it: he has even usurped the role of the sun itself and brought it under his dominion.

You can clearly see for yourself the distinctive "hex" symbology incorporated into the Saturn scenes in the official Interstellar trailer (also embedded above) beginning at the 0:54 mark.

Finally, the most powerful aspect of Saturnian imagery in the movie is, of course, the role of time itself. In myths around the globe, Saturnian figures are associated with "giving the measures," both the measures of distance and of time (time and space, of course, being connected -- and units of measure for one being equally a measure of the other, such as the concept of a "minute," which is both a measure of time and of distance, since it is a measure of distance that the earth itself turns in one minute of time and hence can be used to measure distance just as well as it measures time). If anything can be said to be the real "antagonist" in the movie, it is time itself. Cooper is literally racing against time, poignantly expressed in his relationship with his daughter Murph, who is only ten years old when he leaves on his mission. When we learn that decades have passed for those on earth while Cooper has experienced the passage of only a couple of hours on a planet suspended near the event horizon of a black hole, we experience the visceral anguish of knowing that those brief but terrifying scenes on the planet's surface have actually been agonizing years for Cooper's children. The tyranny of Kronos, god of time, may never have been portrayed so achingly in a film before.

But of course, the Saturn imagery is not the only mythologically-rich symbology employed by the makers of Interstellar: the countervailing imagery is the imagery of the triumphant sun, the imagery of Horus, and most especially the imagery of Christ in the New Testament. Here, the number twelve is employed to evoke the twelve houses of the zodiac and the solar year, in which the sun passes through each of the twelve signs. The ship which Matthew McConaughey's Cooper will pilot through the wormhole to escape the bonds of the kingdom of Saturn will have a uniquely zodiacal design: twelve pods or "houses" arranged in a ring, which is actually set to spinning around a central module, containing the Cooper and Brand (and their two companions, neither of whom survive).

You can clearly see the twelve "houses of the zodiac" spinning around the central hub in the spacecraft piloted by Cooper in the trailer linked above, at the 1:27 mark:

If you count in a clockwise direction beginning with the pod that has a double-cylindrical connecting tube or bridge leading to the central vessel, you can easily confirm for yourself that this central vessel is indeed surrounded by twelve spinning sections -- and that it thus resembles very strongly our sun and its twelve houses of the zodiac. It also resembles Christ among his twelve disciples -- and we can argue that from a metaphorical or literary perspective, the decision to place Matthew McConaughey's Cooper and Anne Hathaway's Brand in a central vessel surrounded by twelve spinning pods indicates that they are playing the role of the sun, and that they thus become Christ-figures.

The figure of Christ in the New Testament can be convincingly shown to be a sun figure, who can also be seen as a Horus-figure: the one who transcends the kingdom of death, the one who breaks free from the underworld kingdom of Osiris, which is also the kingdom of Saturn. This is the struggle of every incarnate man or woman who comes down into the kingdom of Saturn, the kingdom of time, the kingdom of dust: to transcend the underworld realm of Osiris by becoming instead a Horus, or a Christ. No one who has seen the film Interstellar can deny that in many clear ways, McConaughey's Cooper is a Christ-figure in the film (and will, at the end, be united with Anne Hathaway's Brand, beyond the bounds of the realm of Saturn).

The centrality of this battle between Saturn and the Sun, or between the Egyptian god of darkness Set (or "Sut") and the sun-god Horus, and its importance to the spiritual situation of every incarnate man and woman, is described by Alvin Boyd Kuhn in Lost Light:
Sut, as a later representative of evil, became the opponent of the god both in the physical and the moral order. He waged war with the sun-god and was defeated, but never slain. Horus attacked him and fought with him for three days, and though wounded, he escaped with his life. He suffered rout periodically and perpetually, but was not destroyed, or only figuratively so. He lived to fight again. The sun-god cast a spell on him every day and rendered him powerless for evil. He was chained down for the aeon. All this was the natural expression of the moral conflict in man's soul, as it is of all other conflict, for life subsists in manifestation only by virtue of the pull, tension or struggle between the two nodal forces. Now one, now the other, is conqueror. 365.
This, then, argues that human life can be described as a struggle between these two forces. One is the force that "brings us down" to this world of matter, pressing us into the bondage of time, into the world of dust, turning us from dwellers among the stars to "tillers of the soil" (as Adam was forced to become, when he was thrown out of the Garden): this is the force that is proper to Saturn. The other is the transcendent Christ-nature within, the force personified by Horus in ancient Egypt, and by Jesus in the New Testament. It seems that in order to ascend to the heavens as Horus, we must first be brought down into the kingdom of Osiris, of Saturn.

In the film, Cooper and Brand and their companions awaken from their death-like sleep when their ship arrives under the enormous sphere of Saturn, and then they plunge through the gateway that will take them beyond the bounds of Saturn's kingdom, beyond the solar system and the orbit of the planet who "gives the measures" to everything within his coils and who wields the terrible sickle of time. The fact that there are twelve possible planets, each housing a courageous scientist, on the other side (outside of Saturn's kingdom) again recalls the twelve signs of the zodiac, and indeed the twelve disciples. The fact that one of the twelve betrays Cooper, the scientist Dr. Mann played by Matt Damon, only solidifies the fact that Cooper in the film is indeed a Christ-like figure.

Mann, whose name is obviously no accident, exhibits only one over-riding motive behind everything he does: his own personal survival. If we had to select one emotion as dominant in his behavior, that emotion would be fear: fear of his own demise. In recognition of this fact, Cooper calls Mann a coward, and Mann can only agree with him, over and over again.

The opposite emotion that the film offers as an alternative to a life motivated by fear is, of course, love. In fact, just before Cooper makes the fateful decision to go to Mann's barren planet of frozen gases, Brand urges the team to go instead to the planet of the scientist Edmunds, with whom she is in love, and she argues that love is at least as good a guide for their mission as any other possibility, and perhaps it is the best guide for action, in that love transcends all space and time and can even transcend death. It is only when Cooper rejects this argument as a basis for guiding their course that he makes the decision that sends them to the world governed by the fear of death and the supremacy of the urge to "survive." It becomes very clear that this is not the path that will enable humanity to transcend the material bondage of Saturn's realm: decisions that are motivated by fear instead of love, or by the bare desire to simply survive, lead only to a frozen wasteland, and to the diminished existence of Dr. Mann.

Mann's cowardice and treachery lead him to blow apart the "zodiac" ship with its twelve pods, and to his own death in the process -- exactly as the treachery of Judas in the New Testament leads to his expulsion from the "zodiac circle" of the twelve disciples and ultimately to his own death as well. The symbology of Judas' expulsion from the heavenly circle (visually echoed in the movie Interstellar and the fate of the Judas-like Dr. Mann) is eloquently analyzed by mathemagician Marty Leeds towards the end of an excellent teaching video called "The 12 disciples of the zodiac," which is discussed along with some other aspects of Marty's work in this previous post.

How many times in our lives can we recall decisions where we took the supposedly "safer" route, the practical route, the route that was motivated by the exigencies of bare survival, instead of "following our heart" or taking the path motivated by love, and ended up on a similarly sterile world of frozen ammonia like the one that Dr. Mann was stranded upon? The message of the film could not be more clear: Cooper, like Christ, is motivated by love -- as is Brand -- and this is the only path that can transcend the coils of the kingdom of Saturn, the kingdom of daily survival, the kingdom of "worrying about the dirt" and the source of our next meal, instead of "wondering at the stars."

And yet, the myths do not portray Saturn as an entirely negative figure, nor is his kingdom of matter an entirely negative realm. As we have seen at several points in the discussion above, it may be that it is only by consenting to be bound within Saturn's kingdom of the incarnate that one can ultimately transcend that kingdom: the path to the eastern horizon where Horus rises triumphantly into the heavenly realms tunnels through the underworld of Osiris first. Cooper and his companions must go through the "gate of Saturn" first, and they must be entombed like Osiris before they can rise like Christ. The experience of being cast down into this realm of matter, and incarnated in an "animal" body, can tempt us to be motivated by the bare survival instinct, but that is a dead-end. The real lesson of incarnating appears to be connected to love, according to the film.

It is interesting that some writers on this subject, including Alvin Boyd Kuhn, indicate that in some way we each choose to incarnate: and in the movie Interstellar, it turns out that McConaughey's character actually "sends himself" on his mission, by sending the coordinates to himself through the medium of the "ghost" in Murph's room, who uses gravity to push various books out of her bookshelf, or to arrange other messages from the "other side."

Cooper's daughter Murph, still back within the circle traced out by the distant orbit of Saturn and hence inside his kingdom, continues to age while Cooper is away. At one point, she sends him a heart-breaking message in which she tells him it is her birthday -- the birthday at which she is turning the same age that he was when he went on his mission. Interestingly enough, we know that she was ten years old when Cooper left, and just before this message arrives we learn that Cooper and Brand's visit to the planet with the giant waves took a total of twenty-three years (as Romilly, who stayed back on the ship, tells them upon their return). This would seem to indicate that Cooper went on his voyage to save humanity at the age of thirty-three, if I am remembering that part of the movie correctly. This number, of course, also has esoteric references, and specifically a reference to the traditional age of Christ when he performed the work of redemption.

Much more could be said about this film -- there are many other aspects which this post has not even touched upon at all. However, the above discussion should establish the possibility that Interstellar, this most scientifically modern and cinematically cutting-edge of science-fiction movies, is really portraying a very ancient symbolic conflict, between the power of Saturn who forces us to focus upon getting "our daily bread" and on staying ahead of devouring time, and our real identity and our real power to transcend this illusory physical and temporal prison, represented in myth by the figures of Horus and of Christ and of many others throughout the sacred scriptures and traditions of the world.

And the pathway to doing so, the movie seems to say rather clearly, is love (and not fear, or the instinct to simply survive).

As such, the movie may be portraying an adventure which every single man and woman who incarnates in this world experiences, in between the enormous orbs of our sun and the planet Saturn -- an adventure every bit as incredible as the one Cooper and Brand and the rest undertook, when they climbed aboard a rocket and set their course for the wormhole . . . and beyond.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving the blessing

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

There is a movement by some to tar the celebration of Thanksgiving with the brush of imperialism, colonialism, and genocide, and to decry its celebration as misguided or insensitive or outmoded and in need of replacement (see for instance here and here).

These sentiments are obviously a reaction to the horrendous record of violation and slaughter that did in fact follow the arrival of Europeans on the shores of the Americas. To be outraged at what took place in the centuries that followed that arrival is of course appropriate. We should be more aware of and outraged by the record of wrongs which ensued, and the types of thinking and ideology that enabled people to participate in and encourage what took place, and to ask ourselves in what ways such wrongs can be addressed, as well as to examine what ways we might be participating in or enabling similar violations today. 

However, I believe that to turn Thanksgiving into "an example of hypocrisy and insincerity," to quote the second article linked above, is itself misguided. One need not believe that what happened in the centuries following the "first Thanksgiving" in 1621 was in any way excusable in order to believe that the holiday's focus upon giving thanks is almost entirely positive.

The fact that by all accounts the Native Americans rescued the settlers from starvation in Plymouth is an example of the way we should provide succor to those in danger of perishing when we see that it is in our power to do so. And the response of giving thanks for having food enough to stay alive is certainly not an inappropriate one.

The act of giving thanks and in fact "saying the blessing" has always been central to the Thanksgiving meal, and one need not share the literal approach to the Biblical scriptures that certainly characterized many of those fleeing the tyranny in western Europe who came to these shores to believe that giving thanks and blessing with every meal is appropriate and worthwhile.

In fact, the focus on giving thanks and blessing at an annual meal can point us to the fact that we should probably be giving thanks and blessing with not just every meal but with every bite of food we take or every sip of drink, and even with every breath of air we enjoy in our lungs while incarnated in these human bodies of ours.

It can even be said that the act of blessing is absolutely central to our purpose of coming into the material world in the first place, as explored in this previous post entitled simply "Blessing."

The ancient writer Plutarch wrote a powerful essay in which he imagined the goddess Demeter and the god Dionysus admonishing us for our lack of gratitude at the abundance of the gifts of the vegetation of the earth which spring up to sustain us. Thanksgiving can be seen as an antidote to such an attitude.

I am very thankful for all of those who interact with me through what I write and through their feedback and positive responses, and I wish all of you blessings on Thanksgiving and throughout the years!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The jury

Quotation from Lysander Spooner on the absolute importance of the jury of the people:

"The trial by jury," then, is a "trial by the country" -- that is, by the people -- as distinguished from a trial by the government.
It was anciently called "Trial per pais" -- that is, "trial by the country." And now, in every criminal trial, the jury are told that the accused "has, for trial, put himself upon the country; which country you (the jury) are."
The object of this trial "by the country," or by the people, in preference to a trial by the government, is to guard against every species of oppression by the government. In order to effect this end, it is indispensable that the people, or "the country," judge of and determine their own liberties against the government; instead of the government's judging of and determining its own powers over the people.
-- Lysander Spooner, An Essay on the Trial by Jury, 1852. Page 6 (italics in original).

No one has a right to use physical violence against the person of another. This basic truth forms the foundation of what is sometimes called "natural law," but which could also be called "universal law" or even "natural universal law."

That no one has a right to use physical violence against the person of another should be self-evident. It should need no supporting arguments in order to establish. The self-evidential nature of the right to freedom from violence against one's person is declared in the stirring opening sentence of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence of 1776: 
We hold these Truths to be self-evident: that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed [. . .].
The truth that no one has a right to use physical violence against the body of another is discussed in numerous previous posts, such as this one entitled "Why violence is wrong, even in a holographic universe," and this one entitled "Does writing something on a piece of paper make it a 'law'?"

Natural law, however, does recognize that there is always a right to use force in order to stop physical violence against one's self or against another. In fact, this is the only legitimate use of force, and because life is precious we actually have a duty to stop harm being done to another. If we need help, we have a right and a duty to call others to help us to stop such harm. The Declaration itself confirms the above view when it says that governments are instituted in order to secure (that is to say, to protect) the inherent, self-evident right to life.

The way that governments protect life is through police forces who are authorized to use force to stop violence,  and through jury trials in which juries of men and women rule on violations.

But what about the danger that the government itself is the one using violence? That situation is called tyranny. The importance of the jury as a bastion against government tyranny is little appreciated or understood. It is absolutely critical. It is perhaps the greatest guardian that the people have against government tyranny.

Lysander Spooner recognized this fact, and expressed it in his Essay on the Trial by Jury, published in 1852 and cited above. If the men and women of the world have overlooked or forgotten the importance of their right to serve on juries, the events in Ferguson, Missouri should have reminded everyone.

As explained below, I believe the evidence shows that at least four of the members of the jury made a terrible mistake in the grand jury decision they rendered this past Monday.

There are a large number of people who believe that the shooting of Mike Brown by a member of the police was a crime, and not an act of self-defense. A prosecuting attorney was selected by the county to act as a representative of the people to bring before a grand jury of twelve men and women, who also represent the people, the evidence that a crime might have been committed. Regardless of the fact that it can be argued that the prosecuting team did not necessarily act out their role in complete good faith, the undeniable fact remains that no matter how biased that prosecuting team may have been, the power to send this thing to court rested in the hands of a jury.

This jury was composed of twelve men and women who could have sent it to a criminal trial, and no one could tell them how to rule: no attorney, no law enforcement officer, no senator or member of congress, no governor, no president, no judge. They had the power to rule one way or the other, based on the evidence they heard, on the question of whether a criminal trial was called for.

Under Missouri law in this situation, if nine or more of the twelve men and women on the jury said a criminal trial was called for, the case would have gone to court for a criminal trial. While there may indeed be much to criticize about the way the evidence was presented to them by the prosecuting team, who (as the prosecution) were supposed to be presenting the evidence showing that a criminal trial was appropriate in this case, ultimately the responsibility to make the decision rested with the men and women of the grand jury -- and no prosecuting attorney or member of the government should have been able to stop them from ruling on the evidence that they did hear in any way that they saw fit.

Think about that, the next time you are called for a jury: it may be the most important thing you do that day, or even that month. Maybe not all of the members of this Ferguson jury were able to see the clear evidence that should have sent this case to a trial, but if just a few of them could see it (or even just one of them), and explain it clearly enough to enable the others to see it also, the course of history could have been very different than the situation we have now.

Those who do not think that this case should have gone to trial are generally taking the position that use of force is absolutely legitimate in cases of self-defense: that is, in stopping violence against one's person. I agree with that premise: force is authorized in self-defense, and even deadly force.

But deadly force is not justified over, for example, an insult. Deadly force is not justified over, for example, a desire to "save face" in front of a community. Deadly force is not justified if you get angry or frustrated. If there is probable cause to believe that deadly force was used in this case for a reason like that, instead of strictly in self-defense, then the case should go to trial.

Note well: One need not be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the cop in this case used deadly force for one of those reasons such as to avenge an insult or out of sheer anger (rather than strictly in self-defense) in order to believe it should go to trial. One only need believe that there is probable cause to believe that the killing could have been motivated by anger, or by desire for revenge, or even by racial animus on the part of the shooter, to send it to trial.

Note also that one need not take the position that all cops are bad or anything like that in order to believe that a specific policeman might have stepped over the line in this case. You can believe very deeply that law enforcement is a very difficult job and a necessary job, and that most of those doing it are there for honest and good reasons and are honest and good people who want to stop violence and protect other people from harm: but believing all of that does not mean you have to close your eyes to the possibility that an abuse of power could take place. Believing all of that does not require you to take the extreme position that every single member of law enforcement is always right no matter what they do.

And, in this case, despite the arguably very biased conduct of the prosecuting team, enough evidence was presented for reasonable men and women to conclude that there is probable cause to believe more may have been at work here than self-defense:

  • Darren Wilson claimed he had to use his gun because he could not reach his mace (and because he was wearing contact lenses at the time, and if he got the mace in his eyes while wearing contacts he would have been incapacitated), or his "ASP" (an extendable baton for striking), and that he was in fear for his life while being hit inside his squad car (a Chevy Tahoe). So his gun was his only option for saving his life, he says. But this leaves out one huge non-lethal option for saving his own life: his Chevy Tahoe, which was still running at the time and throughout the incident (he and others testified that he did not reach back in to turn off the vehicle until after the entire episode was over and Mike Brown lay dead). He could have simply put the vehicle in drive in order to break free, and then he could have called for backup (since he testified that he felt unable to control the suspect by himself) without killing the suspect. He could also have rolled up the window. 
  • Some might argue at this point that Wilson testified that Brown grabbed Wilson's gun, and that in such a situation driving away or rolling up the window would not be practical. But Wilson also stated that Brown did not grab the gun out of its holster. In other words, Wilson had already pulled it when Brown grabbed it. Why did Wilson not drive forward and/or roll up the window in order to break free, rather than drawing his gun (which was, according to his testimony, then immediately controlled by Brown)?
  • Even granting that the first shot or shots were necessary, this does not explain the decision to then get out and pursue Brown once Brown had been shot the first time and broken away. At that point, Wilson could have waited until backup arrived to make the arrest: he was no longer in a situation in which he was afraid for his life (although after he got out, he testified that he was charged and then was in fear of his life again, resulting in the remaining shots which finally killed Mike Brown). If he truly felt so unable to control Brown on his own, why did he then follow him instead of waiting?
  • There is also conflicting testimony from Dorian Johnson regarding whether Brown ever grabbed Wilson's gun, or whether Brown was even punching Wilson the way Wilson said. Johnson's testimony definitely tends to introduce probable cause that Wilson may have gotten out of the car to go shoot Brown in anger and not in self defense (read the entire statement from Johnson: the jurors heard this, and it would seem to be enough in and of itself to suggest that the case should go to trial). Perhaps Johnson's testimony in and of itself is not sufficient to constitute probable cause (although I believe it would be). However, there is enough additional evidence in the testimony to establish probable cause to believe that Wilson might be lying in some of the details of his story.
  • Most powerful is the testimony of Wilson's sergeant, who has been a policeman since 1976. In Wilson's testimony, Wilson said that he knew Brown had just stolen from the market during this incident (he says this quite clearly on pages 209, 231, 240 and 253-254 of the transcript embedded above). However, Wilson's sergeant states bluntly on page 58 that Wilson told him that Wilson did not know about the robbery in the market at the time of the incident:

  • That discrepancy throws a great deal of suspicion onto Wilson's testimony. In addition to the discrepancies between the testimony given by Wilson and that given by Dorian Johnson, it should be enough to convince a juror that there is probable cause to send this to a trial. It establishes fairly convincingly that Wilson is lying in at least one important detail of his testimony. The explanation that Wilson somehow just slipped up in his testimony is not at all likely, if you read his descriptions during his testimony on pages 209, 231, 240, and 253-254: there, Wilson gives testimony in which he clearly portrays his awareness of the robbery of the market as an important part of the story:

  • There is one other item that the jury should have seen in the evidence that was presented (although one could argue that any one of the above arguments already presented should have been enough for a jury to send this case to trial). That is the case of the previous incident in which it was alleged that Darren Wilson beat up a black man who said something to Wilson that Wilson did not like. This evidence is presented on pages 184 - 185:

  • Of course, the above incident is described as having been completely resolved and all accusations against Wilson and the two other policemen were determined to have been "unfounded." The initial accusation was that an African-American male "used racial slurs" against Wilson, who then (along with two other cops) beat up the black man so badly he had bleeding on the brain. But the incident was resolved as having actually involved the black man "breaking in" to Wilson's car, and then running away and hitting his face when he was tackled by "one of" the policemen (who were off-duty at the time). Now, this incident may indeed have happened as described in the second version and not the first, but note the startling similarities to the incident with Mike Brown in some of the details included in this incident: there is disrespectful language by a black male directed to Wilson, followed by allegations of excessive force, and the final story is that the black male was breaking into Wilson's car.  In addition to all the evidence already seen, this introduces the distinct possibility that Wilson may have a problem with controlling his response to perceived disrespect from black men. It is certainly not conclusive evidence of that, but it introduces the possibility, and it is a possibility not inconsistent with the description of the incident presented in the grand jury investigation (especially the description as given by Dorian Johnson, one of the two black males confronted by Wilson in this fatal incident). 
  • During Wilson's testimony, one of the members of the grand jury apparently exercised his or her right to ask Wilson questions about whether he had ever used force and injured a member of the "predominantly African-American neighborhoods" where Wilson had always been assigned, possibly with this very incident (which had been recounted prior to Wilson coming in to give his account) in mind:

  • The denial by Wilson when asked directly about times that he has used force in the past appears to contradict the fact that someone was obviously injured to some extent in the incident just described. It serves to add another level of doubt regarding Wilson's testimony. 
The evidence above was all presented to the members of the jury in the grand jury investigation. Even just one or two of them should have been enough to argue that there is sufficient evidence to introduce probable cause to conclude a criminal trial could be necessary. If there is the possibility that a member of the police force shot and killed a member of the public out of some kind of animus, or simply out of rage, then that needs to go to trial. 

Again, it should be stated very clearly: one can support the mission of those whose job it is to stop violence (such as law enforcement), and still believe that the people have a duty to send to trial when there is evidence that a crime was committed by a member of law enforcement. To argue otherwise is to place members of the government or of law enforcement above the law, and to do so is to invite tyranny.

It should also be noted that one need not "convict" the officer in question in one's mind in order to argue that it should go to trial: it is only necessary to see that there is clearly enough evidence to give probable cause to believe that a crime might have been committed. The officer should of course be considered innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of proof is on the prosecution in such a case. The officer should and will have access to defense attorneys to help him (or her) tell his (or her) side of the story.

Lysander Spooner wrote that the jury of men and women from the people was an essential guard against "every species of oppression by the government." It is probably safe to say that very few people today understand how absolutely essential the jury is as a safeguard against tyranny. 

In fact, in many ways the right to serve on a jury is as important -- sometimes even more important -- as the right to vote (both, of course, are important checks on the government's power). If people feel that their votes do not count, then they should consider how important their vote is when they are selected to serve on a jury. And, on a jury, not only does their vote count, but during deliberation they have the opportunity to present their arguments to the rest of the jury, to point out things that others may not have noticed. 

In light of that, every man and woman should pay great attention to the importance of analysis as a general skill that is essential in daily life, and pay attention to it before they get onto a jury, so that when and if they are selected to serve on a jury they can analyze the evidence upon which enormous decisions may hinge.

The Ferguson grand jury decision should serve as a huge wake-up call to the importance of the jury composed of the people, and of the importance of good analysis.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Ghost-Dance and contact with the spirit world

image: Ghost-Dance Religion and Wounded Knee, Mooney. page 933. Public domain (link).

James Mooney (1861 - 1921) preserved, as best as he could do so, the Ghost-Dance movement of the late 1800s in his careful and thorough description of its extent, its teachings, and most importantly the dance itself. 

Mooney traveled extensively among the tribes who participated most, from the Arapaho and Sioux in the Great Plains all the way out across the Rockies, among the Paiute where the Ghost-Dance originated, and into California, where it reached all the way to the edge of the Pacific.

The specific details of the political conditions of the time are very important history, with many lessons to teach us: for example, it seems very important to ask why the powers of the US government were so anxious to suppress a movement whose main features included peaceful dancing, singing, and the achievement of a state of trance or ecstasy in which participants reported seeing and speaking with departed loved ones. 

However, in addition to the extremely important circumstances of the particular situation of what was happening to the Native Americans during the years that the Ghost-Dance movement arose, and the extent to which it was a response to the injustices and violations that had been perpetrated against them by the agents of the US government and which had finally reached a point of culmination, the first-hand descriptions and careful historical background which Mooney compiled about the dance itself provides important insight into the broader phenomenon of "trance conditions" in general, a phenomenon which in fact has been part of nearly every culture on our planet, stretching back millennia and reaching forward to the present day.

Mooney's account, entitled The Ghost-Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890, which was published as part of the US Bureau of Ethnology annual report in 1894 and which is still available today under the slightly-revised title of The Ghost-Dance Religion and Wounded Knee, consists of around 450 pages of detailed description. Obviously, it contains so much detail and valuable information that only a very small amount can be examined within the scope of this short post. Some of the subject matter which Mooney covers has been explored in previous posts, such as this one.

Here, only a few important details will be examined for some of their implications, especially as they fit into the broader subject of what we might call ecstatic experience, or contact with the hidden realm, or entry into trance conditions. It should be noted that Mooney himself devoted a section of his study to the similarities of the trance-states achieved during the Ghost-Dance and other accounts from history, including the case of Joan of Arc, the practice of dervish or Sema ecstatic whirling and dancing, and accounts from ancient times including some hints in the Bible (and several others). Many of the common features among such ecstatic practice across cultures and across centuries are very striking, which is no doubt part of the reason Mooney decided to discuss these commonalities in his text.
  • Mooney describes the features of the dance itself in great detail, as well as the actual methods used to induce the trance state, particularly in the pages numbered 922 - 927. An online edition of Mooney's text is linked above (here is the link again) and it is well worth reading the description with care. Be sure to use the page numbers "printed" on the facsimile pages themselves, from the original book: the page numbers of the "online edition" do not match up, in this particular case (page 922 in the original text matches up with electronic page 352, for instance). The image above shows participants in trance-state: Mooney explains that some go rigid while still standing, some slump into half-standing positions which they hold for some time and which would be extremely unlikely for anyone who is actually conscious to be able to hold, and all of them eventually "fall heavily to the ground, unconscious and motionless," as seen in the image at top.
  • Mooney notes that he observed some examples of "humbug" behavior (persons pretending to go into the ecstatic state, possibly because they thought that by pretending to be experience the trance they might actually induce themselves to go into the trance), but that in the great majority of the cases he observed the ecstatic state was "unquestionably genuine and beyond the control of the subjects" (926).
  • By far the majority of the visions experienced and reported by participants, from tribes located at great distances from one another and even by a young East coast visitor who declared he wanted to experience the trance for himself (Paul Boynton, page 923), involved contact with departed relatives. This is remarkably similar to the first-hand accounts related by literally thousands of modern near-death experience survivors, a phenomenon examined in great detail in the excellent book Science and the Near-Death Experience, by Chris Carter (discussed in this previous blog post).
  • In some of the variations of the Ghost-Dance movement, participants were specifically told that they would be encountering "maternal ancestors" (see descriptions on pages 812 and following, in the original "book" pagination). This seems to have some resonance with the ayahuasca experiences described by Graham Hancock in the lecture linked in this previous post.
  • In most places that the Ghost-Dance was practiced, men or women who went into the trance state were left alone and not disturbed (even dogs were shooed away from the Ghost-Dance sites, so that they would not go up to a participant who had entered the trance). However, Mooney relates that in one particular place -- among a group which were called the Cohonino (some letters written at the time, which Mooney includes in his text, spell it Cojonino) and who are described in a contemporary account as living in the region of Cataract Creek (which runs through the Havasupai Reservation) Mooney remarks upon the observation that there, the medicine-men  wait for some period of time deemed sufficient and then revive those who go into the trance-state. Of this distinctive detail, Mooney states: "Resuscitation by the medicine-men, as here mentioned, is something unknown among the prairie tribes, where the unconscious subject is allowed to lie undisturbed on the ground until the senses return the natureal way" (814).
  • This detail about having the attending shamans revive the trance participant is remarkably similar to the ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, which Dr. Jeremy Naydler has convincingly argued appear to describe a ritual in which the king falls into a trance state and has out-of-body visions. In the Pyramid Texts, there are distinctive lines which command the king to return to the body, and to wake up, saying "You are not dead!" These texts have been interpreted within the consensus academic view which see the pyramids as tombs and the Pyramid Texts as descriptions of an imagined afterlife journey as being "wishful thinking" (the living are wishfully saying that the king is not dead, even though in fact he is dead, according to that consensus view). However, Dr. Naydler argues that the Pyramid Texts are more satisfactorily understood as describing a ritual of shamanic journeying, and that the specific texts in question are "revival" or "resuscitation" texts, in which a formal "call to return" is issued to bring back the traveler. See more on this subject here.
  • The same Cohonino ritual of inducing the trance described above involves climbing a pole towards the top, where the tail-feathers of a hawk or eagle (or the entire tail) are affixed. Climbing a tree is a shamanic practice around the world, and it is also manifest in many of the ancient mythologies of the world, all of which I believe can be shown to be shamanic in nature. One clear example of mounting a tree in order to gain vision into the other world is found in the famous "sacrifice of Odin," described here. That post also notes some very clear similarities between the ascent of Odin on the World-Tree and the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross (which itself is often referred to as "the Tree" in the Biblical scriptures).
  • Finally (for this particular examination of the Ghost-Dance -- more in the future), it is significant to note that the Ghost-Dance is all about contact with the spirit world, and that the motion of the dance itself is specifically and consciously described as being imitative of the motions of the heavenly bodies through the sky (see Mooney's description, page 920, where the motion of the dancers is described as being "from right to left, following the course of the sun"). The connection between the motions of the heavens and the spirit realm which is invisible but always close at hand (in fact, it permeates and even generates all that is here in the material realm, according to some accounts), is thus clearly established in the Ghost-Dance, just as in so many other sacred traditions in human history.
Although there is abundant evidence that the knowledge of techniques for entering the ecstatic state and making contact with the unseen world was once common to all cultures of the world, I believe that there is also very specific evidence that the worldview which we might today label as "shamanic" and "ecstatic" was deliberately stamped out in Europe (especially western Europe) by the people behind the rise of literalist Christianity. 

Note that this fact does not necessarily mean that those responsible for the campaigns to stamp it out in the western Roman Empire (which, after the dissolution of the Roman Empire, became simply "western Europe") did not themselves believe in the importance of the shamanic or the ecstatic! One possibility is that they knew very well the fact that our universe is in fact composed of what we might call a spirit realm plus a material realm, and that they knew very well the power of such techniques for contacting the spirit realm, and wanted to keep those techniques for themselves while denying them to everyone else (see for instance the previous post entitled "The Cobra-Kai sucker punch . . .").

Such a theory would explain the campaign against shamanic drumming (and even against shamanic drums) which can be documented as lasting for centuries in some places, as discussed in this previous post.

Such a theory would explain the "War against Consciousness" that Graham Hancock described in his famous TED talk (a talk which elicited strong protests from some who opposed his message, perhaps because they are devotees of the "ideology of materialism," or perhaps because they actually are not materialists but actually oppose contact with the spirit realm for other reasons).

And such a theory might also explain the violent opposition to the Ghost-Dance exhibited by the US government, which itself might be seen as descended from and representative of that western European tradition stretching back to the Roman Empire, and the historic opposition to the shamanic worldview. This violent opposition, of course, led directly to the horrific massacre perpetrated by soldiers of the US government at Wounded Knee in December of 1890.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A thousand times more precious . . .

Alvin Boyd Kuhn wrote in Lost Light (1940) that:
It is the purpose of the present volume to set forth to the modern mind the extent of the wreckage which splendid ancient wisdom suffered at the hands of later incompetence. [. . .] It involves the reversal of that mental process which in the days of early Christianity operated to change myth and allegory in the first instance over to factual history. As third century ignorance converted mythical typology to objective history, the task is now to convert alleged objective history back to mythology, and then to interpret it as enlightened theology. The almost insuperable difficulty of the project will consist in demonstrating to an uncomprehending world, mistaught for centuries and now fixed in weird forms of fantastic belief, that the sacred scriptures of the world are a thousand times more precious as myths than as alleged history.  24 [emphasis in the original].
While I would have strongly rejected that final statement only a few years ago, I now strongly agree with just about everything that Kuhn says above, and especially his concluding assertion. 

My only real objection to any of his wording is the phrase "third century ignorance," because while I believe that a great many of those who teach the literalist approach to the scriptures do so in all honesty and sincerity, themselves believing that the texts were intended to convey literal history along with all their other layers of meaning, I believe that there is significant evidence today to conclude that not all of those who have propagated literalism throughout history -- and most especially those who pushed it into prominence during the third and fourth centuries AD -- did so in "ignorance" of what they were doing.

For what I believe to be evidence conclusive evidence of that assertion, see the speeches of Ambrose of Milan cited in this previous post.

In any case, I believe the evidence that these texts were in fact changed from "myth and allegory" over into "alleged objective history" is overwhelming. In the new video above, I present some of this evidence visually, using the outstanding open-source planetarium app Stellarium, available at

CAUTION: The above video contains very strong evidence that the stories of the Bible are built upon the system of celestial metaphor common to all the ancient sacred stories and traditions of the human race -- that like the myths of the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, Vedic Hindus, Norse, Australians, Native Americans, and of virtually everyone else on our planet, the myths preserved in the Bible are "Star Myths." If you are not comfortable exploring this evidence, please DO NOT WATCH THE VIDEO.

If you are comfortable with exploring that evidence, and wish to explore the subject further, there are many more blog posts on that subject in the "Star Myth Index" here.

This video will examine the celestial foundations of the story of the birth of Jesus in the Manger. While this story is dealt with at some length in The Undying Stars, it has not been explicated in this blog before. If this idea is uncomfortable to you, please do not watch the video. This information is for those who are already seeking it, or who are already interested in this subject matter, or who already believe with Alvin Boyd Kuhn that these sacred scriptures of the world are a thousand times more precious as myths than as alleged history.

It is not intended as a "club" with which to "beat people up" over their beliefs. I strongly believe that we can and must respect the rights of all others with whom we come in contact in this incarnational life on this world. To the extent that literalistic interpretations of ancient scripture have been used in the past (and continue to be used in the present) to support the violation of natural law rights, I believe those violations should and must be strongly opposed. However, to the extent that someone rejects the violation of the rights of others, their beliefs should be seen as proper to their own individual "kingdom" or "domain," and respected accordingly.

Note: I have re-worked the original video in order to improve the visual resolution. Here is the link to the new, high-definition version (also embedded at the top of the post).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hour Two of my interview with Marty Leeds on the Mathemagical Radio Hour

I really enjoyed the first part of my conversation with Marty Leeds on his Mathemagical Radio Hour, and we realized that we still had more important topics to discuss, so we continued for a second hour, which has just now been posted at the SyncBook web page as well as on iTunes and YouTube (the first hour of the interview can also be found at that same SyncBook web page, as well as on iTunes, and here on YouTube).

We definitely ventured into some territory during this second hour that has not necessarily been addressed in other previous interviews!

Again, special thanks to Marty for being such a gracious host and for the insightful questions that he asked! As I listen to the second hour, I realize that towards the beginning there, I took some "big, looping detours" in answering some of his questions, but hopefully that won't throw anyone off -- I was trying to give a comprehensive "big picture" here in this second hour, and I hope that it makes sense!  (I also said "Medea" once when I should have said "Circe" in reference to an episode in the Odyssey, but hopefully everyone knew what I meant anyway).

Below are some additional helpful diagrams and links to some posts that may help give a "map" to the paths I was taking as I "ran through the woods" during this second hour, trying to get to all the important "vista points" that might illuminate this enormous ancient formation that we are looking at.

First off, here is the essential "map of the year" -- the zodiac wheel:

This is the way I usually envision it, and this is the layout of the wheel that I was describing during the interview. The equinoxes are each marked by an "X" symbol, signifying the "crossing point" where the ecliptic crosses the celestial equator, and where we cross over from the "upper half" of the year (days longer than nights) to the "lower half" (days shorter than nights).

Below is a video I made some time ago to illustrate the mental model of the "solstices and equinoxes in your dining room" that was described in the interview, and which helps explain why we have this zodiac wheel in the first place.

During this interview we discussed:
  • The celestial foundations of the story of Adam and Eve and the Serpent, and some of the esoteric teaching that the celestial understanding of this myth might be intended to convey.
  • The teaching that we are in a condition similar to that of stars who have plunged down from the realm of spirit into the realm of matter, and the way that the ancient teachings of the "hidden god" and the concepts of Namaste and Amen remind us of our true condition.
  • The connection of Virgo (who follows Leo across the sky) to the goddesses of ancient mythology who are depicted in association with lions (and see also this post about the Festival of Durga).
  • The example of "wax on, wax off" as a means of imparting karate to Daniel-San in the first Karate Kid movie, and how it relates to the question of "the esoteric," and the related metaphor of Montessori as another good example of the teaching aspect of the esoteric. 
  • The assertion by R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz that I was trying to reference on this subject is found in Esoterism & Symbol, where he says that: "Esoterism has no common measure with deliberate concealment of the truth, that is, with secrecy in the conventional sense of the term. [. . .] The intention of the enlightened, the prophets, and the 'messengers from above' is never to conceal - quite the contrary" (1, 75). This explanation of esoterism by Schwaller is discussed in the second chapter of my book The Undying Stars, and you can actually read the table of contents and the first three chapters online here.
  • The evidence that those who decided to deliberately suppress the esoteric aspect of the ancient scriptures may have done so in order to "keep the karate" all to themselves.
  • The evidence that the ancient esoteric understanding of the myths was deliberately overthrown during the Roman Empire using the twin vehicles of the secret cult of Sol Invictus Mithras and the public religion of literalist Christianity (see also here, here, and here).
  • The evidence (such as that offered by the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library) that the rise of literalist Christianity corresponded to a violent suppression of the esoteric or broadly gnostic understanding and of the teachers and writings that posed a problem for the propagation of the literalistic viewpoint.
  • The undeniable fact that literalist Christianity was forced upon non-Christian Europe at the point of the sword, and the possibility that its centuries-long opposition to the shamanic worldview (which can still be seen to be operating to this day) may be evidence that the actual correct understanding of the Biblical texts is that they themselves are shamanic -- and that literalism was invented in part to hide this important fact (see the link entitled "keep the karate" all to themselves, above).
Please feel free to post up your feedback or questions, either underneath the YouTube video, on Facebook, or on Twitter, and of course to share it with anyone who may find this information to be helpful. Also, you may find this archive of previous interviews to be a handy reference: it also contains links to download the mp3 version (whenever possible), as well as links to other "liner notes" like this blog post, containing links to other material about the topics discussed.

When sharing, however, please be sure to be respectful of the deeply-held personal beliefs of others: this material is not intended to be used to "beat people over the head" but to be of assistance for those who are already looking in this direction. Remember that we're all here in this life trying to figure out the mystery, and forcing our beliefs on others can easily cross the line into violating their individual rights. I believe that each individual is very much a king or a queen of their own realm, and they must be allowed to examine the evidence, and make their own "rulings" within their own proper realm as they see fit -- we have no right to invade the territory of their individual domain and tell them how they must rule in their own minds (but neither does anyone else have the right to do so to us).

At the end of the show, Marty asked a question about how all of this has impacted my own spiritual journey. In my answer, I incorporated some references to the Scarab, Ankh and Djed, and to the very important concept of blessing.

I believe these concepts may actually lie at the very heart of our purpose here in this material realm -- and that we should be actively involved in blessing (rather than cursing) as often as we possibly can. That is to say, in recognizing the divine spark in everyone we meet, and indeed in all of nature around us (including all the animals, plants, and even in the rocks and rivers and ocean waves), and working to bring it out, bring it forth, elevate it (rather than suppressing it, oppressing it, denying it, or brutalizing it).

Blessings! Namaste.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A universe within a grain of wheat . . .

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The previous post explored the concept of chiasm, an ancient literary structure present throughout the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible but also throughout the ancient literature of the Mediterranean, characterized by an "X"-shaped mirroring (or "inverted parallelism") on either side of a central pivot.

We saw that this mirror pattern is identical to the gematria pattern discovered by Marty Leeds for the 26 letters of the modern English alphabet, in which the two halves (or "two hands") of 13 letters each can each in turn be viewed as a sort of chiasm, consisting of the numerals 1-2-3-4-5-6 mirrored on either side of a central 7. 

We also explored the possibility that this chiastic structure metaphorically conveys an esoteric message about the "as above, so below" structure of the universe, which by extension can also be seen to convey a message about the interconnectedness of the realm of matter and the realm of spirit (the celestial realm -- the "above" -- can be demonstrated to have been used in ancient myth from Egypt to the Americas as representative of the spirit realm). 

The literary pattern of the chiasm pulls the reader or listener along to the central point of contact between the two mirroring triangles in the "X"-pattern, and across to the "other side," just as sand in an hourglass begins in one triangular or cone-shaped vortex and is pulled inexorably through the central pivot-point or hinge-point to the other side.

In the video embedded in that previous post discussing Marty's cipher, Marty discusses some of the amazing discoveries that the "central-7" gematria reveals, and at one point in the video (beginning at about the 21:00-minute mark) he discusses an image containing a menorah (which itself can be said to have a sort of chiastic structure of inverse parallelism around a central point) and two grains of what may be wheat, each containing 13 leaves arranged in a chiastic structure with six leaves on either side and a single leaf acting as the central pivot, exactly paralleling the proposed gematria of the English alphabet.

Not long after viewing that video and being amazed at that image, I was making some Norwegian crepes for breakfast (see previous discussion at the end of this post) and could not help but examine the depiction of two grains of wheat on the package of flour I was using:

Sure enough, there were "the two halves of the alphabet," embodied in two grains of wheat containing 13 kernels apiece, each arranged with a "central-7" and six mirrored on either side -- a chiasm.

As it turns out, actual grains of wheat themselves often appear to have rows of six growing on either side of a central seventh, as shown in the image at top, and so there is no need to suspect that the designers of this bag of flour watched Marty's video or deliberately referred to the two grains of wheat depicted on either side of the menorah -- the artist may simply have been looking at an actual grain of wheat. But it is certainly interesting that wheat appears to arrange itself in this pattern, the same pattern upon which the modern English alphabet can be seen to be arranged.

It is even more interesting in light of the chiasm discussion from the previous post, in which we saw that the chiasm structure itself appears to be conveying deep truths about the presence of an invisible spirit world which mirrors this one (or, perhaps more precisely, an invisible spirit world which this one mirrors), and directing us towards the point of connection or contact between these two worlds (the central pivot of the chiasm). 

If this interpretation of the chiastic structure is correct, then perhaps the grains of wheat with their inherent chiastic structure could symbolize the same teaching. Perhaps each grain of wheat is itself a little picture of the universe, and not just the material universe but the chiastic universe, composed of a spiritual realm and a material realm which mirror one another, and which are connected by the central point of interplay.

This possibility is strengthened by the fact that in the system of celestial metaphor which underlies the myths of the world, the incredibly important constellation of Virgo (who is the "star" of a large proportion of the sacred myths, as can be seen by reading through some of the explications of Star Myths that I have indexed here) was depicted as holding a sheaf of wheat, associated with Virgo's brightest star, Spica. 

An artist's rendering of Virgo holding her sheaf of wheat is shown below (this particular diagram is not very helpful for actually finding Virgo in the sky, and has been discussed in this previous post as an example of why the excellent outlines proposed by H. A. Rey are so important for helping you to actually see the constellations in the night sky -- and for helping you to understand their correspondence to ancient myth).

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The sheaf of wheat is in her left (lower) hand, while a palm branch is here depicted in her right (upper) hand.

The sign of Virgo is associated with the point of autumnal equinox, which takes place each year around September 22 (it is autumnal in the northern hemisphere), at the very end of the house of Virgo during the Age of Aries. We have discussed in previous posts that the equinox points are points of crossing, where the sun crosses over from upper half of the zodiac wheel to the lower half, symbolizing the act of being "cast down" into matter, and where it again crosses back over this time from the lower half to the upper half, symbolizing a "rising again" into the heavenly realm. Virgo presided over the "crossing point" of being cast down into the lower realm (the fall equinox).

Below is an image of the zodiac wheel, with the two equinox crossings marked with a large "X." You can see that Virgo presides over the crossing-place on the right-hand side of this zodiac, which is the point of autumnal equinox and the point of "casting down" into matter:

All of this strongly supports the conclusion that the "X"-shaped chiasm was intended to invoke this motion of casting down into matter, and subsequent raising back up into spirit. The fact that Virgo, who presides over the exact point of contact between these two realms (of matter and spirit), has long been associated with a sheaf of wheat (the grains of which themselves have a chiastic form) reinforces this conclusion yet further.

In light of all this, it is very interesting to go back and point out the depiction of Pythagoras in a posture which I would argue makes specific reference to the outline of Virgo, shown in an ancient coin referenced in Scott Onstott's amazing Secrets in Plain Sight video (which also explores the significance of goddesses), discussed in this previous post. If all of these references are pointing us towards the point of connection between the spirit world and the material world, perhaps the inclusion of Pythagoras in this metaphor is telling us that our journey down into matter and back up into spirit has much to do with number. If so, then Marty Leeds' discovery of the chiasm-shaped connection of letters to number would argue that this journey down and up also has much to do with language.

And so we see that all of these important symbols can be used to convey to us a profound message about our connection to the realm of spirit -- even in our current state of incarnation in miry matter, in which we have been "cast down" into bodies fashioned from the lower elements of earth and water. 

All of them -- the chiasmus, the sign of Virgo, the infinitely mutable symbols of language and of number, and even the lowly but life-giving grain of wheat -- may somehow be reminding us that this material realm is but a chiastic reflection or projection of the invisible realm of spirit, and telling us that these two realms are deeply connected . . . and that the point of connection is always within our reach.