Saturday, February 25, 2017

Solar eclipses 2017

image: Wikimedia commons (composite of two images -- foreground and background).

The point of New Moon takes place when our moon passes the point in its orbit which places it most directly between our planet and the sun. 

From an "overhead" or "top-down-looking" viewpoint, this would mean that the sun, moon, and our planet Earth would be perfectly aligned, with the moon in between the earth and the sun. At the point of Full Moon, they are aligned again, and from the same top-down viewpoint would be perfectly aligned, but this time with the earth in between the sun and the moon.

As you can envision from the above description, a solar eclipse can only occur at the point of New Moon, because a solar eclipse takes place when the moon blocks out the sun from the point of view of observers on earth. Likewise, a lunar eclipse can only occur at the point of Full Moon, because a lunar eclipse takes place when the shadow of the earth passes across the face of the moon (said another way, a lunar eclipse occurs when the earth blocks out the sun from the point of view of an observer on the moon).

However, we all know that solar eclipses and lunar eclipses do not occur at every single New Moon and Full Moon. The reason they don't is that, if we shift our point of view from a "top-down" viewpoint to a "side-on" viewpoint, the plane of the moon's orbit around the earth will be seen to be at an angle relative to the plane of the earth's orbit around the sun. That is to say, if the plane of earth's orbit around the sun is envisioned as a glass disc or plate, the plane of the moon's orbit around the earth would be a smaller glass disc or plate which intersects the larger plate at an angle (an "oblique angle," in one sense, which is why this divergence between the two planes is referred to as an "obliquity").

The moon, in its path around the smaller "plate," will only pass through the larger "plate" (the plane of earth's orbit around the sun) at two points -- one of them going "up" (towards the north pole, if we imagine north to be "up" in this case, although there is no real "up" in space) and one of them going "down."

If you are able to envision all of this, you will realize that an eclipse of either kind (with the moon obscuring the sun for those on earth, or the earth obscuring the sun for those on the moon) can only occur when the moon is passing through one of those two points of intersection with the plane or "plate" of earth's orbit around the sun. For this reason, the plane of earth's orbit around the sun is known as the "ecliptic" (because eclipses can only occur when the moon crosses this particular plane).

In fact, an eclipse of either the sun or the moon can only take place when the earth, sun, and moon are aligned from the perspective of both the "top-down" view and the "side-on" view. 

The two points at which the moon's path crosses the ecliptic plane (one going "up" and the other going "down") are known as the lunar "nodes." An eclipse occurs when the moon is passing through one of its two nodes at the same time that it is lined up from the "top-down" perspective -- either when it is passing through the top-down point of being directly between the sun and the earth (a solar eclipse) or when it is passing through the top-down point of having earth directly between the moon and the sun (a lunar eclipse).

Previous posts have examined these lunar nodes and their role in creating eclipses, and have included helpful diagrams and videos to help envision all of the celestial mechanics described in the above discussion -- see for instance here and here.

As most readers who have spent any time looking at news sites on the web this past week are undoubtedly aware, the moon's orbit is presently aligned such that the lunar nodes are in-line with the earth and the sun, such that tomorrow's New Moon will create a solar eclipse when the moon passes between the earth and the sun at the same time it is passing through a lunar node -- in this case, the South Node (moon is crossing "down" towards the southern hemisphere, also known as the "descending node").

Because the earth is so much larger than the moon, a earth's shadow completely covers the face of the moon during a lunar eclipse -- but because the moon is smaller than the earth, the shadow of the moon only covers a portion of our planet's surface during a solar eclipse. Thus, the eclipse can only be seen along a certain path created by the "line" between the sun and the moon where it "impacts" the surface of the earth. In this case, that line of the shadow's path will be entirely in the southern hemisphere, and will spend most of its time speeding across the Atlantic Ocean, crossing the continent of South America from Chile to Argentina, then crossing the vast Atlantic between South America and Africa, and making "landfall" in Angola, crossing a bit of Zambia, and finishing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Numerous websites can show you the path of this solar eclipse -- one such site can be found here.

Those who do not live near this line of the shadow's path and unable to make the trip to see it will have another opportunity in August of this year, when a highly-anticipated total solar eclipse is set to take place, during the point of New Moon when the moon is again crossing the ecliptic plane, this time at an "ascending node," on August 21. (Note that the moon, of course, passes through each of the two nodes once a month -- but that, as discussed earlier, the nodes do not always line up with the points of New Moon and Full Moon).

If you are at all able to do so, you should begin to make your plans now to find a point along the line of the moon's shadow in order to experience the total eclipse of the sun in August 2017. You can find numerous maps and descriptions of the path of totality on the web.

As part of your preparations, you may want to obtain a copy of Death of Gods in Ancient Egypt, by Jane B. Sellers (1992). The book's descriptions of the experience of a total eclipse should put to rest any question of whether or not it is worth making the effort to travel to a point underneath the line of the moon's shadow during the total eclipse of August 2017, if it is at all possible for you to do so.

Additionally, Jane Sellers makes a strong case that the cycle of myths surrounding the "Contendings of Set and Horus" in ancient Egypt are related to the effects visible from earth during solar eclipses, whether they are annular (such as the eclipse of February 26, 2017) or total (such as the eclipse of August 21, 2017). 

As an aside, the difference between and annular and a total eclipse is caused by the distance that the moon is from the earth at the point of eclipse -- if it is further away, it appears slightly smaller and does not cover the entire face of the sun, but if it is closer it will "just fit" over the sun's face. Many observers down through the centuries have marveled at the amazing serendipity or Providence of the fact that the moon's size and orbital distance are so perfectly calibrated to create such incredible effects during solar eclipses (much more incredible information about the harmonies between the size of the earth and the moon are available in the in the mind-blowing work and discoveries of Scott Onstott, at Secrets In Plain Sight).

Jane Sellers in Death of Gods in Ancient Egypt also makes a strong case that many aspects of the cycle of myths involving Isis and Osiris, Set and Horus, originate in the constellations and the cycles of their motions throughout the year -- and throughout the "Great Year" of the precessional cycle. In doing so, she follows along ground broken by Hertha von Dechend and Giorgio de Santillana in their seminal work Hamlet's Mill (1969), whose work Sellers acknowledges and references throughout her own book. 

In fact, she begins her book with an epigraph from Hamlet's Mill --
It is not the beliefs and religions which circle around and fight each other restlessly; what changes is the celestial situation.
In Death of Gods in Ancient Egypt, Jane Sellers makes an argument that solar eclipses were seen and allegorized as a battle between Set (or Seth) and the sun-god Horus. She also makes the case, particularly in the discussion on pages 106 through 108, that when the trial of Set by the gods declares that he shall be put "under Osiris," this refers to the placement of the constellation Lepus underneath Orion in the celestial realm. The outline of Lepus, as Sellers shows on page 107, very much resembles the "long-eared Seth animal" found in ancient Egyptian artwork depicting the god Set or Seth.

Right now happens to be a particularly good time of year for stargazers to observe the glorious constellation Orion, and the outline of Lepus directly below Orion. Orion is still very high in the sky during the "prime-time" viewing hours after sunset and before midnight, as earth's daily rotation on its axis causes the stars to move from east to west across the night sky. 

As we continue along our orbital path, however, we "pass up" the different constellations, causing them to move just a bit further "towards the west" each day (that is to say, stars along the ecliptic will be located about four degrees further towards the west at the exact same time on successive nights). Thus, each night at midnight (for example), the stars of Orion (and Lepus, and nearby Canis Major, which contains the brilliant star Sirius, associated with the goddess Isis) will all be four degrees further towards the west than they were at midnight the night before. 

As they get further and further towards the west, they will become less and less easy to observe, until the day when they will be so far to the west at sunset that they will not be visible in the sky at all during the hours of darkness (until they reappear in the east at sunrise, about seventy days later).

Thus, as you prepare for the eclipse in August, you might want to be reading Jane Sellers' book now -- and also going out at night to observe the stars of Orion, Lepus, and Canis Major, if it is at all possible to do so.

As the eclipse takes place tomorrow, you can consider these ideas, and make your plans -- and if you are in a part of the globe that allows you to see tomorrow's eclipse, I wish you fair skies and happy (and safe) viewing!

Below are two diagrams showing the relative locations of Orion, Lepus, and Canis Major in the night sky (first with the outlines and labels, and then without):

and, the exact same stars but without the labels and outlines:

Sunday, February 19, 2017

All the World's Myths are Written in the Stars

Above is a new video I have just published, entitled "All the World's Myths are Written in the Stars."

Many readers will recall that after a recent podcast interview with Alex Tsakiris on Skeptiko, I participated in a forum on the Skeptiko message boards. Because many in that audience had not been previously exposed to or familiar with my work, I found that many comments expressed the sentiment that they were having a difficult time getting a general understanding of the overall thesis that I am advancing. 

Although I have now written several books containing thousands of pages, and a blog containing over nine hundred posts, that obviously doesn't constitute an easy-to-grasp summary (one can hardly be expected to wade through all of the blog posts in order to find out!). 

There is, of course, plenty of sample content to explore on the "Books" page linked above, including the introductory material from each book (just click on any of the book-cover images on that page, or on the links provided below the cover-images). 

There is also a "Myths" page with links to numerous individual myths from around the world, as well and to discussion of the celestial foundations of each of those myths (now up to forty-one examples linked from that page).

And, of course, there is a "Videos" page with links to videos in which I attempt to explain various aspects of the ancient system of celestial metaphor which underlies all the world's ancient myths and sacred stories.

Nevertheless, some readers suggested adding a kind of "introductory" and summary video, to help give a general vision of the overall theory. I agreed that something like a "TED talk" video would probably be helpful for those unfamiliar with this subject -- and that, while we're waiting for the people over at TED to get one of those queued-up (don't hold your breath), I would think about trying to put together an introductory video that might help to provide some overall context in a fairly efficient manner.

Above is one attempt to do so -- although the subject matter is admittedly vast and deep and thus difficult to summarize in one sitting.

Nevertheless, I hope that it will be helpful and beneficial.

Please feel free to share and to provide feedback! Thanks for watching.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Massacre at Sand Creek

Cheyenne Chiefs, left to right as we face the image:

seated left: Standing-in-the-Water, murdered in the Sand Creek Massacre, November 1864.
seated center: Lean Bear, murdered while peacefully approaching troops under the command of Colorado cavalry Lieutenant George Eayre, May 1864.
standing right: War Bonnet, murdered in the Sand Creek Massacre, November 1864.
Interpreter (standing in back in western clothing, name unknown). image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The Sand Creek Massacre began with a treacherous dawn attack by approximately 675 men of the 3rd Colorado Regiment and part of the First, all of them under the direct command of Colonel John Chivington, upon a camp of Cheyenne and Arapahoe who had been told by messages sent out by Colorado Governor John Evans to camp along the north bank Sand Creek near Fort Lyon for safety and to help the Colorado forces distinguish between peaceful and violent groups during heightened fear of attacks and violence. 

As many as 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho would be murdered in the ensuing massacre, between two-thirds and three-quarters of that number women and children. Another two hundred men, women and children would be wounded. The encampment was a chief's camp, composed primarily of leaders and their families. It prominently flew an American flag and directly underneath it a white flag, as the leaders had been instructed to do in order to demonstrate their peaceful intentions. Among the dead were thirteen council chiefs and four soldier chiefs, including White Antelope, War Bonnet, Standing-in-the-Water, Left Hand, Bosse, Heap of Buffalos, and Lone Bear.

The massacre took place beginning in the pre-dawn hours of November 29, 1864 and continued all that day and the following day. There was little resistance -- some of the chiefs were killed while running towards the troops waving their hands in the air and yelling "Stop! Stop!" in English, or while trying to stop the fighting. Some of the Cheyenne and Arapaho did try to fight back, but were at a severe  disadvantage against the cavalry because the troopers had driven away most of the camp's horses at the beginning of the attack.

This despicable massacre is tragically not widely taught or discussed or contemplated today, although it should be, because the issues that it raises are so significant, and because these issues are by no means confined to the past but are extremely relevant to this day. And, of course, Sand Creek remains a painful and living memory to the Cheyenne and Arapaho people, and to other Native American nations -- many of which suffered similar atrocities.

I would strongly recommend that, among other examinations of the awful import of the Sand Creek Massacre, everyone who is able to do so take the time to read the 2016 book Massacre at Sand Creek: How Methodists Were Involved in an American Tragedy, by Gary L. Roberts.

The examination by Roberts is extremely thoughtful and thought-provoking, working very hard to avoid stereotypical responses, easy answers, or armchair moralizing. He presents evidence that, while a large portion of society (including many high-ranking US military officers and field commanders) condemned the atrocities at Sand Creek once the details of the massacre began to emerge in the days and weeks following Chivington's assault, even those who were spoke out against it reflexively assumed that the Native American way of life would have to give way to the encroaching march of "civilization." Most of all, the book shows that the blindnesses and assumptions of that time are still very much an issue to be wrestled with and confronted today -- that the blindnesses and assumptions that led to the genocide of the Native American peoples were not peculiar to men and women living in previous centuries but continue to be very much present and real forces at work in the world right up to the present moment.

Roberts writes:
The bloody ground at Sand Creek is a symbol of a terrible blindness in the American experiment that "fixed a stain" on the national honor, as Henry Knox predicted it would before the Constitution of the United States became the governing rule of law. It is a reminder that bigotry is not merely the illness of wicked and profligate people but a disease that can become an epidemic even among those who think of themselves as good and decent and God-fearing. It can hide itself within thickets of rationalization and fields of good intentions. Sand Creek is also a reminder that humans should not be so quick to judge past generations while deluded into believing that they are inoculated against the effects of arrogance and prejudice themselves. 237.
As the title of the book indicates, a singular aspect of the tragic massacre which is explored in great depth by Gary L. Roberts in his book is the role of the Protestant Christian denomination of the Methodist Church in the United States at that time (which was a time of great change within that denomination, especially as the Civil War was raging). Both Colorado Governor John Evans and the commanding officer directly responsible for ordering the massacre, Colonel John Chivington, were active Methodists. Colonel Chivington, in fact, was a Methodist preacher and minister before becoming a military officer. 

Gary Roberts' book provides abundant evidence, including dozens of extremely disturbing quotations, which make it undeniably clear that the unquestioning belief in the superiority of their way of life among the members of the invading culture that the American Indians would have to give way, give up their way of life, and give up their lands drew much of its inspiration from, and was provided with false justification by, assumptions common to literalist Christian teachings and doctrines.

A sampling of quotations will give some measure of the impact -- but the book contains many more. In fact, the quality of the selection of quotations which Gary L. Roberts presents in the book is one of its strongest aspects.

Here is an example presented in the book, which Roberts found in a book published in 1863, just a year prior to Sand Creek:
Again we come to the great law of right. The white race stood upon this undeveloped continent ready and willing to execute the Divine injunction, to replenish the earth and SUBDUE it. The savage races in possession of it either refused or imperfectly obeyed this first law of the Creator. On the one side stood the white race in the command of God, armed with his law. On the other, the savage, resisting the execution of that law. The result could not be evaded by any human device. God's law will ever triumph, even through the imperfect instrumentality of human agency. In the case before us, the Indian races were in the wrongful possession of a continent required by the superior right of the white man. This right, founded in the wisdom of God, eliminated by the ever-operative law of progress, will continue to assert its dominion, with varying success, contingent on the use of means employed, until all opposition is hushed in the perfect reign of the superior aggressive principle. (Bryant and Murch, A History of the Great Sioux Massacre by the Sioux Indians in Minnesota, 46 - 49; cited in Roberts 101).
While the modern reader is immediately drawn to the explicit racism in the above passage and the language it employs, this should not cause us to miss the fact that the authors are here trying to present a justification, based on passages from the Book of Genesis, for the taking of the continent from the Native American peoples, and to argue that not only is doing so not wrong but that it is in fact required by God's law (that it would, in fact, be wrong to not take over their lands). It should go without saying that I believe the above argument is completely wrong, that it is morally objectionable in the highest degree, and that it is based on an entirely incorrect understanding of the ancient scriptures (incorrect to the point that the authors actually invert the message, getting the ancient scriptures "one hundred eighty degrees" the wrong way).

One more quotation following the same pattern is presented, this from a bishop in the Methodist church who spoke up in defense of Colonel Chivington and Governor Evans in the months following the massacre, when public opinion was turning strongly against the events at Sand Creek, and the actions of Chivington were being roundly criticized, and a military commission was being established to investigate the reported killing of women and children in an encampment that was flying the American flag and a white flag of truce. Bishop Calvin Kingsley, along with six other Colorado ministers, drafted a letter of support for Chivington, in which they called the colonel "a model for large-hearted liberality and Christian energy" and said that "We believe that our only hope for safety as a territory lies in the repetition of like battles with the same result" (152). Later, Bishop Kingsley declared:
These Indians being yet in a state of childhood, so far as intellectual and educational development is concerned, need occasional chastising. Nothing else will do. To the questions, "What shall be done with the Africans and the Indians?" I have short answers. Make men of them. I have no fellowship with that sentimentalism which is ready to die of grief because the red man is not allowed to hold back civilization and Christianity just for the sake of being a savage. There is no reason why an ignorant savage should be allowed land enough for hunting ground to sustain a thousand civilized and Christianized persons living in accordance with the precepts of the Gospel. 154.
Once again, what strikes us most violently in the quotation above is the explicit racism of the speaker -- but it should also be noted that in addition to his ugly and objectionable racism, the speaker is again offering what he believes to be a justification and an argument which will excuse the destruction of the Native American's way of life -- an argument that it would be wrong to allow it to continue.

It should be noted in passing that central to both of the arguments in the two passages cited above is a "religious" argument, a subject which we will examine momentarily, as well as an economic argument -- an argument having to do with the use of land. Gary Roberts does a very good job in the book of illustrating the fact that the biggest draw of the westward expansion of the United States, beginning with the first settlers but continuing to the towns, was the lure of land. This prize was far more powerful of an attraction than even the gold and minerals that also played an important (but secondary) role. In fact, during the book we see that John Evans, long before he became governor of the Colorado territory, was an active land speculator and city planner. 

While Gary Roberts does not go so far in his own book, this subject (land-grabbing and land-speculation) is of critical and enduring importance in the history of economic thought and practice -- in fact, the great Norwegian-American economist Thorstein Veblen (1857 - 1929) lived through the time period Roberts examines in his book about the Sand Creek Massacre, and saw land-speculation by insiders in towns small and large, who could collude to "boost" the land values in order to make themselves wealthy, as a central problem and illustrative of a wider problem in economic life, unless checked (see for instance this essay by Michael Hudson on the importance of Thorstein Veblen's analysis, and in particular the "block quotation" from Veblen about the "boosting" and "booming" of real estate, following a pattern repeated without fail from towns with names like Spoon River and Gopher Prairie, to bigger cities with names like Emporia and Columbia).

Quotations provided by Gary L. Roberts in his book make it abundantly clear that literalist Christian doctrines, as understood in the nineteenth century (and, in many cases, as still understood to this day), were used to provide "intellectual cover" or supposed "moral justification" not only to the violent extermination of millions of Native Americans and their way of life, but also to the economic system of land-grabbing and land-speculation that Veblen decried and that John Evans (and countless others) participated in with enthusiasm. 

Roberts cites a recent Report of the John Evans Study Committee at Northwestern University (a university of which Evans himself was a founder) which found that in the view common during the time of Evans' life, "working hard and fostering beneficial social institutions affirmed a person's spiritual development and gave worldly evidence of grace" (cited on page 91 of Roberts). Gary Roberts adds: 
Railroads were a part of that list, too, because railroads would hasten the growth of civilization and the transformation of the wilderness into a garden. For him, as for many white Americans, the connection between Christianity and civilization was inseparable. One could not exist without the other. 91.
Roberts provides some supporting quotations, such as the statement from Methodist Bishop Matthew Simpson (a contemporary of John Evans, although one who never publicly expressed an opinion one way or the other on the Sand Creek Massacre, in contrast to other church leaders who tried to defend it) that: "I would say it with all reverence, God cannot do without America," and: "Hath not he who placed Moses in Mount Sinai to utter law over the wilderness, placed us on this continent to shout the Gospel over two oceans? Will he suffer the mission to be confounded?" (91).

While there are undoubtedly some today -- even many today -- who would agree with Bishop Simpson's sentiments, I would argue that such an understanding is closely related to the same assumptions of a supposed right to change the way others think and live their lives that led to the criminal destruction of the Native American way of life and the seizure by violence of the land on which they had lived for millennia. 

Not only that, but I would also argue that assertions such as those just cited from Matthew Simpson are based upon a mistakenly literal and thus externalized understanding of the ancient scriptures contained in what has come to be known as the Bible, and that in fact "the gospel" that Simpson believes needs to be "shouted over two oceans" is actually based on scriptures which -- properly understood -- would be seen to express the very same teachings which the American Indians already knew and understood from their own sacred traditions and ancient stories, and which can be found among the ancient cultures of Asia, Australia, and the Pacific islands (across one ocean) and among the ancient cultures of Africa, Europe, and the Mediterranean (across the other ocean), as well as among the original peoples found further north and south within the continents of the Americas.

In fact, Gary L. Roberts' remarkable examination of the Sand Creek Massacre provides outstanding quotations to this effect as well. He cites a statement from a man of the Northern Cheyenne named Wooden Leg, who fought Custer at the battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, and who said:
I think the white people pray to the same Great Medicine we do in our old Cheyenne way. I do not go often to the church, but I go sometimes. I think the white church people are good, but I do not believe all the stories they tell about what happened a long time ago. The way they tell us, all of the good people in the old times were white people. I am glad to have the white man churches among us, but I feel more satisfied when I make my prayers in the way I was taught to make them. My heart is much more contented when I sit alone with my medicine pipe and talk with the Great Medicine about whatever may be troubling me. 241.
Roberts also cites a medical doctor of the Santee Sioux, named Ohiyesa Charles Eastman Alexander, who wrote in 1911:
It is my personal belief, after thirty-five years' experience of it, that there is no such thing as "Christian civilization." I believe that Christianity and modern civilization are opposed and irreconcilable, and that the spirit of Christianity and of our ancient religion is the same" (240).
Note that Ohiyesa was emphatically not saying that the Christianity he saw in the churches was the same -- or even that it should be labeled "Christianity." Elsewhere in the same book, he says that there "was undoubtedly much in primitive Christianity" and in the "hard sayings" attributed to Jesus about the rich that were appealing to him, but that what he found in the churches was basically the very opposite.

Both of these men, based on their personal knowledge of their inherited traditions and their observations of Christianity, expressed the belief that they were in fact the same -- but Ohiyesa explicitly contrasts this with what he sees in the churches, and Wooden Leg implicitly tells us much the same thing, when he says he prefers a different way of relating to and interacting with the Great Medicine -- and when he tells us that he "does not believe" all the things they tell him, especially about  the stories of "all the good people in the old times" being white people.

In fact, I believe it can be shown with irrefutable evidence that all those ancient stories in the Bible are describing the motions of the stars, and thus are not actually about "white people" at all. See for example discussions about the episode of the sons of Noah and their father's drunkenness, or about the encounter of John the Baptist and Jesus for evidence that these stories are based upon the stars. 

If the sons of Noah (Shem, Ham and Japheth) are all based on constellations -- and I am convinced that they are, and that the evidence in this case is nearly irrefutable -- then the ancient scriptures are not telling us that they are the literal progenitors of people of any particular race (since no one is literally descended from loose groupings of stars which we see as shapes in the sky, but which are actually many thousands of light-years apart). Said another way, Wooden Leg was absolutely right about the fact that all the stories in the Bible about the "good people in the old times" could not have been about "white people" -- because they are actually about the stars, and are intended to describe truths about the Invisible World which apply to all people. 

Said yet another way, if Adam and Eve -- our "first parents" -- can be shown to be figures who are based upon the stars (and I am convinced that they can be shown to be based upon the stars), then these stories are telling us something different than what those who take the Bible literally believe them to be saying. They may well be telling us -- just as Lakota Holy Man Black Elk tells us -- that we all come from the spirit world, and that everything we see here in this world actually comes from the spirit world.

According to that understanding of the ancient wisdom, every single man, woman or child you ever meet contains the very same infinite divine spark which you yourself also contain -- and thus it is infinitely wrong to do violence to any one of them. And, according to that same understanding, it is this invisible and spiritual aspect of everyone that unites us all, and that is the same in all the "descendants of Adam and Eve." Denigrating anyone for the color or tone of their skin (or any other external or physical aspect) is a denial of the spiritual aspect which unites us all, and thus becomes an inversion of the real teaching of the ancient wisdom imparted to humanity in the world's various myths and sacred stories.

I believe that the ancient traditions of the peoples of the Americas can also be shown to be based upon the cycles of the heavens and the motions of the sun, moon, stars and planets -- no less than all the other ancient myths and sacred traditions around the globe. I have written about some of these in previous blog posts, and in some of my books

In fact, I find it very interesting that the council chiefs of the Cheyenne people wear a single eagle feather in their hair, pointing to the right. You can see this in the image at top, in which both Lone Bear (seated, center) and War Bonnet (standing, right) have a single eagle feather, pointing to their right (our left as we look at the picture). Standing-in-the-Water is a soldier chief, not a council chief. He seems to have a feather in this photo, but he does not have the same single eagle feather in this photo, and in other photos he has multiple feathers which do not appear to be eagle feathers.

While I have no way of proving this, I suspect that it is a possibility that the single eagle feather, pointing to the right, relates to the constellation Sagittarius. 

The image below shows Sagittarius. You can see that the constellation itself appears to have a single "feather" or "horn" atop its head. Note that in my analysis published in Star Myths of the Bible, I show that this constellation is closely associated with the priestly function in many Old Testament Scriptures, and in Star Myths of the World, Volume Two I show that this constellation is also associated with certain important gods in the myths of ancient Greece -- all of which may be related to the reason that council chiefs among the Cheyenne might also be associated with Sagittarius, and which would explain the single eagle feather pointing to the right:

Note that in many images on ancient Greek pottery, in which a god or goddess whom I believe to be related to Sagittarius is depicted, the artwork itself will often feature a single plume or other item which corresponds to this "feather" atop the head of the constellation Sagittarius in the sky.

Regardless of whether or not this single eagle feather relates to the mysterious and potent figure of Sagittarius in the sky (and to Sagittarian figures in ancient myths), the fact remains that the Native Americans appear to have retained a much more accurate understanding of the true message underlying the world's sacred traditions -- as evidenced by the two quotations above, from Wooden Leg and from Ohiyesa (among much other evidence).

Is it possible that this fact has something to do with the awful centuries-long campaign to exterminate their leaders, destroy their culture, and convert their children to Christian ways in forced residential schools? There is little doubt that can remain after reading Massacre at Sand Creek: How Methodists Were Involved in an American Tragedy that these efforts were closely related to the established literalist Christian institutions (not just Methodists, although Methodists played a disproportionately large role in the Sand Creek Massacre). The administration of the forced education facilities was almost exclusively turned over to different Christian religious groups, as was the administration of the reservations and agencies in some cases.

It is also clear from the book that, although Chivington himself was actually something of a monster, apparently never repenting of his actions in instigating the massacre and even wearing it as a badge of pride, as well as engaging in other reprehensible behavior including insurance fraud, stealing from the dead during a brief stint as a coroner, marrying the widowed daughter of his own son while she was still pregnant and later abandoning her, and allegedly beating his third wife, he was never formally censured by the Methodist denomination for which he continued to preach (albeit in an informal capacity) for the rest of his life.

Because of the horrible nature of Chivington himself, the reader might be tempted to conclude that the tragic massacre at Sand Creek was simply the product of one psychopathic "loose cannon." Unfortunately, this conclusion would be unwarranted: there were many other such massacres, including the massacre at the Washita four years later, where Black Kettle (a chief who survived the Sand Creek massacre) would be murdered in cold blood, as well as many other such massacres including the Bear River Massacre and the Massacre at Wounded Knee.

There are also the records of atrocities and massacres in previous centuries perpetrated against the indigenous peoples of Central and South America (and the deliberate and systematic destruction of most of their written records and the murder of their priests and wisdom-keepers).

Based on all of this evidence, we might conclude that something else is going on.

Whatever we might conclude, it should be obvious that this is a subject of horrible and enduring importance. It is a subject that touches on many aspects of modern society, and raises uncomfortable questions that deserve careful contemplation and greater examination than we are perhaps giving them.

Gary L. Roberts deserves credit for writing such a thorough and thought-provoking examination of the terrible events of Sand Creek in 1864. It is a book that deserves to be read, although it is a book that will shake you, and that may well make you cry (either on the inside or on both the inside and the outside).

Near its conclusion, Gary Roberts writes:
Little profit is found in damning past actions or declaring great visions to be fraudulent if such responses do not yield clearer understanding and a keener sense of the present generation's own sense of moral superiority, including its own deviations from moral vision. Sanctimonious judgment of the past serves little purpose if it does not elevate the present's commitment to underlying principles of freedom, justice, and equality. The past cannot be changed, but it can be confronted and better understood without trying to rationalize its injustices or blaming past generations for not anticipating everything that the present generation now believes and knows. [ . . . ] The capacity to distort remains surprisingly vital not so much because individuals and groups wish to distort as because they have agendas -- often selfish and sinister, but sometimes unconscious and even well-meaning -- that trump the moral imperatives. 246.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Standing Rock: "We can't be conscious if we suffer from amnesia"

video link:

Graham Hancock has published a moving description of the ongoing efforts to stop the illegal construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline across tribal sacred and historical lands and waterways without required consent, entitled "Standing Rock: Water is Life," which can be found at his website at

I highly recommend reading it in its entirety, as well as watching the brief video above.

Not only does Graham provide his customary well-researched and clearly-written discussion of the pertinent facts and historical context, but he also cuts right to the heart of the conflict: what he describes in the video as the amnesia which stems from the deliberate deception about humanity's ancient past from certain small groups seeking to control people and the gifts of the planet.

Beginning at about 1:40 in the video above, Graham says:
This is the thing: we've been deceived so much about our past, all over the world. There's dark forces at work in the world, and control of the past gives control of the present and of the future -- and that's what I'm seeking to do, is to break that grip on the past that very small groups have had, and to open this up for the world public to be conscious and be awake and to know what's happening.  
We can't be conscious if we suffer from amnesia. We have to come out of amnesia.
In a very short and impromptu interview, Graham incisively and eloquently ties the conflict at Standing Rock with the struggle over the recovery of the truth regarding humanity's ancient past -- and shows very clearly that this confrontation has very deep echoes which reverberate back through the corridors of history, back through centuries and indeed the millennia.

Similarly, the longer article ties into the theme of the two visions articulated over a hundred years ago by Black Elk, who was in fact a holy man of the Lakota, and which I have written about in previous posts such as "Vision A or Vision B" and "Two Visions."

Note that in some of the quotations cited in those two previous blog posts, Black Elk refers to the European settlers as Wasi'chus -- and one of the most memorable and powerful parts of Graham's essay linked above involves the explanation of this term given to Graham by Cody Two Bears, the District Representative of the Cannonball Community to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council.

The term Wasi'chu, Cody explains, means "he who takes the fat" or "he who takes the larger portion" -- in other words, a greedy exploiter, a user, a taker.

And, as Graham perceptively illustrates in his article, this term also cuts right to the heart of the confrontation over the pipeline and the refusal to respect the wishes of the indigenous nations as required by law and by treaty, and it also cuts right to the heart of the two visions articulated by Black Elk so many years ago, who explained that before the coming of the Wasi'chus, the tribes were guided by a vision of plenty for all, in connection with nature -- but that the Wasi'chus brought an opposite vision, one of separation and "little islands" and a "gnawing flood" that seeks to devour everything for itself, a flood that wants to cover the world, and that is "dirty with lies and greed" (Black Elk Speaks, 8).

This conflict speaks to the profound disconnection among the people in one particular  part of the world, a disconnection from what Peter Kingsley calls the "original instructions" given in very ancient times to all the different families of humanity. That disconnection, which I believe can be traced at least in part to events that took place in the Roman Empire with the rise of literalist Christianity, and which resulted in the splitting of that empire into East and West -- and the subsequent rise of the culture which today is collectively referred to as "western" -- created the terrible dislocation and alienation from the Invisible Realm which has marked western civilization ever since.

I believe this disconnection can be shown to lead directly to the kinds of behaviors being exhibited at Standing Rock, including the bulldozing of sacred tribal grounds, the disregard for the wishes of the cultures to whom those sites are sacred, and the brutal deployment of water cannons (in sub-zero temperatures), rubber bullets, attack dogs, pyrotechnics, and exotic military equipment against unarmed protesters and water protectors.

It is also very noteworthy -- and Graham Hancock makes note of it -- that Cody Two Bears points back to the Ghost Dance and to the connection of his people to the invisible power of the Earth and the Stars, which cannot be understood by those who have forgotten their connection to where they came from. Readers may be interested in reading more on these important subjects in posts from years back such as "The Ghost Dance and contact with the spirit world" and "The Heart of Everything That Is."

In other words, this conflict can very much be seen as a confrontation between certain members of a culture which has lost its connection with the Earth and Stars and the Invisible World and where it actually came from . . . and another culture which has retained that connection, in spite of absolutely atrocious and concerted efforts to sever that culture from its ancient roots.

And because of this, we can see that this confrontation is vitally important to each and every one of us, at this particular juncture in human history -- when there are dark forces at work in the world, and small groups who have had a deathgrip on the truth about our past and have been working for centuries to keep that truth from us.

It should be obvious to everyone that bulldozing sacred heritage sites, which ironically enough testified by their very design to the connection to the stars and to the Invisible Realm, is deeply wrong, and that it cannot possibly lead to a desirable or beneficial outcome to anyone.

In fact, as Black Elk himself tells us, the Invisible Realm is the source of everything in this Visible Realm. If we act in ways that despoil that source, and in ways that cut us off from that source, we cannot be surprised if desolation and disappointment are the results. This is illustrated in the ancient myths found in virtually every culture on our planet.

Those who think they will benefit from such behavior (including institutional investors who own stock in the corporations and investment entities that are pushing for the completion of the pipeline across  these lands in opposition to the wishes of the tribes) should consider those ancient myths very carefully, because in every one of them, deliberately disregarding and disrespecting the Invisible Realm always leads to disaster.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Blessing of the Beehive Cluster

Now is an excellent time of year to observe the beautiful (and mythologically important) cluster of stars known as the Beehive Cluster during the "prime-time" star-gazing hours after sundown and up through (or even after) midnight.

The majestic form of Leo the Lion is rising up in the east during the hours after sunset -- and his proud muzzle points directly towards the Beehive Cluster. 

The best way to find the Beehive is to direct your gaze (with the naked eye) to a point about half-way between the head of Leo and the two bright stars that mark the heads of the Twins of Gemini (Castor and Pollux). If you look in about the right direction, I find that you can almost "sense" the presence of the Beehive, even if viewing conditions are not ideal.

However, to truly appreciate this tiny, dazzling cluster of stars it is certainly best to try to get to a dark place, away from city lights (if at all possible).

The Beehive is slightly closer to Leo than it is to Gemini -- it is not exactly half-way in between them. Also, as you can see from the diagram above, the Beehive is more aligned to the "level" of the muzzle of Leo than it is to the direction in which the outline of the Twins is pointing. Therefore, if you are able to locate both Leo and Gemini, look about half-way between them, but more towards Leo than Gemini, and more "on the level" of Leo than of Gemini.

In order to locate Leo, it is helpful to remember that Leo and the Big Dipper are kind of "geared" together in the sky, like two puzzle pieces which fit together but are set out on a table a few inches apart from one another, aligned to fit together but not actually connected. To see what I mean, take a look at this previous post describing the relative locations of the Dipper and the constellation Leo.

In order to locate Gemini, it is probably best to begin with the glorious constellation of Orion, who dominates the night sky during this time of year. This previous post discussing some of the mythological connections from this constellation in the myths of ancient Greece may be helpful in locating Gemini from the constellation of Orion.

Below is a diagram taken from the excellent, free, and open-source planetarium app called Stellarium (available at, which shows the night sky from the point of view of an observer in the northern hemisphere at about 35.6 north latitude, looking towards the south, at approximately 9pm or 2100 hours (the position of the circling sky will be slightly different for you depending on the details of your particular "time zone" and where within the band of that "time zone" you happen to be located when your watch says 9pm).

In the above diagram, east is to the left and west is to the right (because we are facing towards the south), and Orion is just crossing his highest point as he arcs across the sky above the line of "due south."

Note that he will actually appear much larger in the night sky than he does in the screen-shot above, because the planetarium feature on the Stellarium app will distort the size and shape of the constellations in order to create a "wrap-around" effect on the flat screen, such that constellations appear larger when they are on the left or right edges of the rectangular screen, and smaller in the center (to create the illusion of moving from the left to the right of the "dome" of the sky).

In any case, you can see that Leo is rising up out of the eastern horizon on the left edge of the screen -- this will actually be almost 90-degrees to your left if you are standing outside looking due south towards Orion. 

In front of the muzzle of the Lion is the Beehive Cluster, about half-way between Leo and Gemini. 

The Beehive is actually located within the constellation Cancer the Crab -- but this constellation is so dim (and has so few stars) that it is very difficult to see in the sky (it's easier to find the Beehive than it is to see the constellation of Cancer), and it would actually be more distracting to draw in the outline of Cancer the Crab on the image above than it would be to omit it for the sake of directing your attention to the location of the Beehive.

However, if you are able to look at the Beehive using binoculars or using a telescope (locate it with your naked eye first, of course) then you will see that this beautiful cluster of stars is in fact situated between two stars in the Cancer constellation -- and you can see these two stars in the image at the top of this post, if you look just above and below the left edge of the little "cloud" of stars that make up the Beehive, which is situated at the tip of the green arrow that I have drawn-in to the star chart. These two stars of the constellation Cancer will be very noticeable to you, if you use binoculars or a telescope to increase your appreciation of the Beehive.

If you are using binoculars to find the Beehive, I recommend that you lie down on your back and look up at the sky while doing so -- and it is probably best to rest the back of your head against the ground or lawn chair or car hood on which you are lying down, so that you can scan the area between Leo and Gemini in comfort until you locate the Beehive. Either that, or else you can hold the back of your head with your left arm while you hold the binoculars in front of your eyes with your right.

If you use a telescope to observe the Beehive, you will see that it is positively filled with stars, like a cluster of frog's eggs in the grass at the edge of a pond. If you wait until close to midnight, the Beehive will be very high in the sky, almost straight up, and so you will have to position your telescope to point almost vertical in order to find the cluster.

The Beehive has tremendous importance in the world's ancient myths. I have discussed some of these in previous videos, such as "Star Myths: 1,000 times more precious . . . " or "The Samson myth is all about YOU" (those two videos discuss the Beehive Cluster in conjunction with the Star Myths contained in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, but this same cluster also plays an important role in many other Star Myths from around the world).

Because the Beehive is located in the constellation Cancer the Crab, and because the sun is moving through Cancer the Crab at the very "top of the year" (in the zodiac wheel as positioned during the ancient Age of Aries -- see discussion here for example), entering the sign of Cancer at summer solstice for the northern hemisphere, I believe that Cancer the Crab -- and the Beehive that is located in the "forehead" of the Crab -- have ancient mythical associations with the highest elevation of the spirit-nature.

The outline of Cancer the Crab has "outstretched" or "upraised" arms (as does the sacred Scarab symbol of ancient Egypt) -- and this is a traditional symbol of blessing in cultures around the world. I believe that blessing has to do with raising up the spiritual nature, in ourselves and in others -- reconnecting with the divine nature, reminding ourselves and others that we are more than just physical and material beings in a materialistic universe (the opposite action, cursing, is associated with trying to deny or obscure the divine nature in ourselves or in others, acting as though we or they are defined by the physical and animal nature and nothing more -- which is a lie).

Because the sign of Cancer the Crab is associated with the very pinnacle of the year and the "top of the zodiac wheel" (the point of maximum elevation of the spiritual nature, metaphorically speaking), I also believe that the Beehive Cluster, located in the "forehead" area of the Crab constellation, is a celestial analogue for the pineal gland in the human body, and for the elevation of the spirit nature associated with the highest chakras in the energy body.

Thus, the Beehive Cluster is important indeed -- and well worth gazing upon at this time of year, if at all possible for you. It is perhaps beneficial to bathe our upper chakras and "third eye" with the light from those distant stars, as often as we can do so!

I hope that finding and gazing upon the Beehive Cluster will be a blessing to you.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Note: Several previous posts have also endeavored to help readers to locate the Beehive Cluster. If you still need additional help to find it in the sky, try this one, this one, or this one.