Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bless, and curse not: How Literalism Inverts the Message of the Ancient Myths & Scriptures

If the world's ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories are conveying their message using a language of celestial metaphor, then attempting to interpret them as if they are speaking literally invites misinterpretation of their message.

In fact, I have often declared my opinion that literalistic interpretations of ancient scriptures which are not speaking literally actually invert the intended message of those ancient teachings. 

For example, in the preceding blog post, I said that:
Literalist Christianity, which inverts the esoteric message of the ancient scriptures by externalizing and "physicalizing" that message, has played an absolutely vital role (particularly in previous centuries, but continuing to play an important role to this day) in providing false justification for imperialism, feudalism, military conquest, and oppression.
In a new video, entitled "How Literalism Inverts the Message of the Ancient Myths & Scriptures," I provide some discussion and some examples which supports the assertion that literalistic attempts to interpret non-literal ancient myths not only risks missing their profound message, but can actually result in standing that message on its head, and reaching conclusions which are "180-degrees out" from the original message.

In this video, we visit the important subject of blessing versus cursing, and the emphasis placed on blessing and not cursing in the ancient scriptures of the so-called "Old" and "New" Testaments in what we call the Bible, noting that blessing versus cursing is also a central subject in other myths around the globe. We see that passages in the Bible repeatedly admonish us to bless and not to curse -- and, although outside the scope of this particular video, there are many episodes in the Biblical texts which dramatically illustrate this same lesson, such as the story of Balaam and the Ass, and the story of the Judgment of Solomon (see also the video entitled "The Blessing Mother, the Cursing Mother, the Dream and the King").

We then see how literalistic interpretations of ancient stories tends to externalize their message, which has often led in the past to conclusions that have been used to attempt to falsely justify racism, exploitation, oppression, and other forms of denying the inherent value and dignity of some men and women.

I'm convinced that this is a very important subject, because obviously "cursing" in the form of treating some people as though they are worth less than others -- which is a form of denying the divine spark which is inherently present in each and every man, woman and child and which naturally and irreversibly gives them infinite worth, such that no one is "worth less" than anyone else -- continues to this day and can be seen to inform the wars, exploitation, theft, and oppression that we see all around us right now, and which has informed imperialism, colonialism, and the enslavement of others in past centuries.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Empire of Lies

George Orwell declared: "Who controls the past controls the future."

The erasing of the past is a powerful weapon of control -- and one which is not restricted to fiction such as Nineteen Eighty Four or The Planet of the Apes (original 1967 film adaptation).

It is going on all around us, all the time. We are deliberately kept ignorant of critical truths regarding our ancient past, and of the events in the intervening centuries which have brought us to the point where we stand at this moment.

Deprivation of the knowledge of their own history renders populations unable to perceive what is actually going on in the present, and renders men and women unable to influence their future, or change its direction.

In his 2017 book J is for Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception, historian and economist Michael P. Hudson explains that history has been deliberately suppressed, and that vocabulary has been deliberately inverted in order to prevent the majority of the people from understanding what is going on.

To sketch out the thesis using extremely broad brush-strokes, Professor Hudson explains that the classical economists of the eighteenth century -- including Francois Quesnay in France and Adam Smith in Scotland -- sought "to free society from the rentier legacy of feudalism: a landlord class, predatory banking and the monopolies that bondholders convinced governments to create as means of paying off national war debts" (58 - 59). 

Feudalism in Europe was characterized by the receipt of wealth based on the labor of others, yielded up as ground rent from those who worked the land to those who owned the land, because their ancestors had conquered it (although instead of saying that this was the reason, literalist Christianity was invoked to argue that this arrangement was divinely ordained). Literalist Christianity was an essential component to the European feudal system, and in my 2014 book The Undying Stars I examine the abundant evidence that a new and virulent form of literalist Christianity was deliberately employed during the third century forward as a means of imposing such a system, in conjunction with the equally deliberate destruction of knowledge of the ancient gods and the ancient wisdom.

As Professor Hudson explains, this eighteenth- and nineteenth-century project of freeing society from the rentier legacy of feudalism gathered so much steam that by the close of the 1800s, the rentier interests, perceiving the threat, mounted a counteroffensive to contain it by teaching that there is no distinction between earned income and unearned income (rentier income), and by fraudulently co-opting the legacy of classical economists such as Adam Smith by claiming that the classical economists were seeking freedom for rentier interests (feudalism and its legacy), instead of freedom from those same feudalistic drains on the economy.

Professor Hudson writes: "Turning the tables on classical political economy, rentier interests act as plaintiffs against public regulation and taxation of their economic rents in contrast to Adam Smith and other classical liberals [ . . . ]" (167). While the classical economists (including Adam Smith) wanted an economy to be as free from rent-seeking as possible, those overturning classical economics preach "free markets" and "deregulation" in order to create markets that are free rent-seeking, monopolies, and the privatization of that which the classical economists perceived to be the gifts of nature which belong to all men and women ("the commons").

Neoliberalism, the paradigm embraced with very minor deviations by both major political parties in the united states (since at least 1980), is thus revealed by Professor Hudson to be a form of neo-feudalism, and should actually be called "anti-liberalism" or "anti-classical" economics (it is also associated with imperialism, colonialism, and neocolonialism), and its most odious and oppressive characteristics actually have nothing to do with socialism (despite what many people have been led to believe, who have never been taught about what the classical economic project of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was all about) and can in many cases be accurately described as fascistic.

Because this history has been obscured and suppressed, it is difficult for the majority of people to perceive the pattern in the momentous events which are taking place around us right now, and which continue to unfold as this is written.

However, because Professor Hudson has such a clear grasp of history, including the suppressed history of economic thought, he is uniquely able to provide insights into recent events, such as in the above interview published on April 6th entitled "The Economics behind the Skripal Poisoning" -- the written transcript of which can also be found in its entirety online here.

In that interview, Professor Hudson argues that the motivation behind the extremely suspicious Skripal incident, which was immediately blamed on Russia without any of the provisions which would be expected if "the rule of law" were actually honored the way those who like to claim that "the west" operates under the rule of law in contrast to the rest of the world, and which led to the mass expulsion of Russian diplomats by western nations including the united states, should be understood in light of the pattern of neo-feudalism described above.

Prominent British politicians declared that scientists had conclusively proven that Skripal and his daughter had been poisoned by a nerve agent more potent than the most potent nerve agent that I remember learning about during my eleven years as a regular army officer during the 1990s and early 2000s. Later, however, those politicians were embarrassed when no scientist would publicly back those definitive claims. See for example the arguments and linked evidence provided in this analysis by Professor Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research.

As that article (and the articles it cites) points out, the official story of the details of the poisoning have changed significantly, with the nerve agent being said to have been in the daughter's luggage, then in the father's BMW, and then on the doorknob and in the vicinity of the front door to Skripal's residence -- despite the fact that the Skripals were supposedly discovered in a mall, suffering from the effects of the nerve agent.

As some of those analysts and articles point out, if the nerve agent was on the door handle and in the vicinity of the front door of their residence, there is simply no way that the Skripals could have walked (or driven) to the mall before passing out. I was in the regular army of the united states during the 1990s, and I received formal training about the effects of various chemical weapons. As anyone else who was in the united states military during those years knows, we trained extensively to be able to put on a protective chemical mask within nine seconds from the moment of receiving any type of chemical alarm (immediately closing the eyes and mouth and not breathing until the mask was on and firmly sealed), because a nerve agent acts so quickly to disrupt the signals sent by the nervous system which control the vital functions on which our body depends for life.

We were required to memorize the effects and symptoms of a nerve agent, and they are not pleasant to contemplate. They involve the loss of control by the nervous system over the beating of the heart, the activity of the lungs, the control of the bladder and bowels, and this loss of control over heart and lungs will result in rapid death unless an antidote is administered immediately. We carried auto-injectors containing such antidotes, as well as the antidote to the antidotes (because the antidotes themselves are so toxic), and learned how to administer them to ourselves and to others if necessary.

Other symptoms include vomiting and inability to control the muscles.

If the Skripals were in fact exposed to an extremely advanced nerve agent at their front door, they would not have been found slumped over on a bench in the mall.

As Professor Hudson explains in his interview:
The United States when it wants to isolate a country traditionally accuses them of chemical warfare. This goes back to George Bush's accusation that Iraq had chemical weapons of mass destruction. We know that was a lie. It goes back to Obama's claim that Russia and Assad were using chemical weapons in Syria. So I think when they say that Russia or Assad or Iraq is using weapons that's part of to generate a fear that is supposed to be met by military preparedness and defense.
He also suggests that part of the purpose is to counter resistance to calls for European countries to give more of their GDP to fund NATO -- the history of which itself deserves very close scrutiny. I would argue that in order to see the "very big picture," we must understand the ancient origins of the tyrannical feudal system in Europe, against which the classical economists were trying to struggle during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The proponents and beneficiaries of that feudal system fought back against the project of the classical economists, most especially beginning during the second half of the nineteenth century, and the descendants of the beneficiaries of feudalism continue to do so in the neoliberalism (or neo-feudalism) we see today.

Russia, as a country which actually threw off the yoke of that feudal system with its revolution in 1917 (only to fall under the sway of an even worse system, after no other European state followed their example or made a move to help them), continues to be a special target of those western feudal (and imperialist, colonialist) powers. It might be suggested that the united states also fell into that category, although the united states must now be acknowledged to be a leader among the neoliberal imperialist western states and to be a proponent of neo-feudalism rather than an opponent of it.

In the interview above, Professor Hudson suggests that the looting of the former Soviet Union, and the privatization of its public infrastructure and its abundant natural resources, was an important goal of the neoliberal west after 1989 and in the decades following.

In his definition of "imperialism" found in J is for Junk Economics (which was published long before the Skripal affair and the other events of the past days and weeks), Professor Hudson argues that because "Wars drain gold, and force mother-country governments into debt to bondholders," use of other methods is usually preferred rather than open military conflict:
Modern imperialism is largely financial. Armies are no longer needed to appropriate foreign real estate, natural resources or public infrastructure. Financial dependency makes debtor countries subject to IMF and World Bank "conditionalities" imposing austerity that forces them to pay creditors by selling off their public domain. This transfers assets to the United States and other creditor powers, while avoiding overt colonialism's expensive military overhead. US diplomats seek to consolidate American financial power by sharing gains with local client oligarchies that remain in the dollarized financial system and adopt neoliberal Washington Consensus policies. 123.
However, he goes on to say:
Pinochet-style "regime change" is mounted against countries that try to protect their political and financial independence by creating or joining rival currency blocs and banking systems (e.g., Libya and Syria). But like militarized colonialism, monetary imperialism tends to overplay its hand. When US strategists imposed trade and financial sanctions against Russia and Iran to block their steps toward monetary autonomy, the effect was to drive them together with China and other BRICS countries to break free by creating their own trading and currency clearing area. 123-124.
Obviously, the same "Pinochet-style regime change" that was being attempted against Syria when Professor Hudson was writing that previous book is still going on to this day, and last night someone carried out a chemical attack with obvious parallels to the suspicious Skripal poisoning, parallels such as an immediate rush to judgment by the western neoliberal powers, nonstop and uncritical coverage by the controlled media outlets in a full-court press, a similar refusal to provide evidence or to pause to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation, not to mention a complete lack of rational motive by the alleged perpetrators, combined with an all-too-clear motive on the part of western powers in inflaming public opinion and justifying continued steps to gain access to the real estate, natural resources, and public infrastructure of the targeted country -- including military strikes or even invasion, if necessary.

What should be understood, but what is very difficult to understand when history has been deliberately suppressed, obscured, and altered, is that these latest developments are part of an extremely large and centuries-long pattern of imperialism and exploitation, stretching back at least to the adoption of literalist Christianity in the Roman Empire during the time of Constantine and his successors.

Literalist Christianity, which inverts the esoteric message of the ancient scriptures by externalizing and "physicalizing" that message, has played an absolutely vital role (particularly in previous centuries, but continuing to play an important role to this day) in providing false justification for imperialism, feudalism, military conquest, and oppression. Now, however, its influence diminished, literalist interpretation of ancient scripture is not enough to automatically guarantee support for military conquest abroad and austerity and neo-feudalism at home -- necessitating new mechanisms of manufacturing consensus or at least consent, including lies about chemical weapons.

All of these deceptions, however, are now wearing thin. The empire of deception is losing its ability to veil its crimes behind lies and platitudes, even with the full support of a complicit media.

As in the first film adaptation of the Planet of the Apes, at some point the evidence becomes so obvious that even Cornelius and Zira can see its implications, try as they might to "look the other way" and ignore those implications for as long as they can.

As we come to understand the past that has been hidden from us, this centuries-old Empire of Lies will be exposed. Those conspiring with that empire against the ancient wisdom given to all cultures of humanity should turn from collaborating against the gods and instead choose the course that lifts up  and elevates mankind -- every individual man, woman and child -- instead of trying to put them down to benefit just a few.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

"The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice"

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

On this day fifty years ago, on Thursday the 4th of April, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was brutally murdered.

He was murdered one year to the day after giving his historic speech entitled "Beyond Vietnam," delivered on Tuesday the 4th of April, 1967. You can hear the speech in a video here.

There can be little doubt that the selection of this date for his assassination was deliberate.

On December 8th, 1999, a jury reached a unanimous verdict in a civil trial which commenced on November 15 of that same year. The unanimous verdict was that certain parties, including governmental agencies, participated in a conspiracy to murder Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The entire transcript of this momentous and tremendously important trial can be read online here. The evidence that is presented in the 2,735 pages of that historic document is absolutely shocking. Every man and woman around the world should take the time to become aware of what was revealed in that trial. 

Additional transcripts and interviews of witnesses, as well as other post-trial evidence and analysis, can be found in the 2016 book by the attorney for the King Family in that case (who spent decades researching and investigating the case), Dr. William F. Pepper, Esquire, entitled The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

As William Pepper explains in one summary of what he calls "the broader conspiracy":
the conspiracy to kill Martin Luther King, Jr. extended well beyond Memphis, Tennessee, and, in fact, reached into the echelons of power at the nation's capitol. 179.
The extent of the operation, which included the deployment of military surveillance units, sniper units, photographers, and federal task forces, in addition to other official agencies below the federal level (including law enforcement) is staggering. The evidence of a well-coordinated cover-up, which included the murder of eye-witnesses after the assassination itself, is also stomach-turning.

Equally staggering are the implications of that multi-level conspiracy to murder Dr. King, and of the coordinated and ruthless cover-up.

If one takes the time to think about what this evidence means, the implications are enormous, for every man and woman on the planet (not only in the united states).

Just as revealing is the astonishing lack of attention that this evidence -- presented in a court and declared by unanimous decision to indicate a conspiracy by governmental agencies to kill Martin Luther King, Jr. -- has received in the eighteen years since that verdict was reached. 

To this day, the majority of the people of the united states are completely unaware of the evidence which came to light in that trial. The annual commemorations of the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr. continue to repeat the standard narrative which blames the assassination on patsy James Earl Ray, despite the fact that the evidence presented in the trial, and additional evidence and confessions which came to light after the trial -- as well as the unanimous verdict of the trial itself -- completely demolishes the standard or "official" narrative. 

All of this evidence -- and the verdict itself -- are conveniently and deliberately ignored by the media. This fact is evidence of yet another conspiracy: the control of the media. The evidence for the control of the media -- and the willingness of the media to participate in what can only be labeled as outright propaganda -- is made completely clear by this case of the murder of Dr. King, and the persistent refusal of the media to report on the evidence from a case that took place in 1999 which absolutely destroys the narrative which the media continue to obediently present to the public.

Dr. William Pepper, the attorney who represented the King Family in the 1999 trial, explained how the media actively began suppressing and "spinning" the result of the trial almost as soon as the verdict was reached:
Within twenty-four hours, the mighty Wurlitzer of the powerful private and public interests involved was in full volume. Analytical pieces suddenly appeared criticizing the judge, the defense counsel, and the jury. The trial was diminished in importance, and journalists blandly asserted that nothing had changed. To counter the inevitable spins, the closing arguments and the summary of the plaintiffs' case went up on the website of the King Center (, and arrangements were made to put the entire transcript on the site. 
A leading publicist of the government's position and the official line, Gerald Posner, was everywhere at once. On one television show after another and with a nationally syndicated op piece, he insisted that the King family had been duped and that the trial was a farce. I was able to publish a strong rebuttal of his banal generalizations only in the Washington Post. The New York Times allowed me two hundred words to respond to a one-thousand-word piece by a former US attorney general.
What was ludicrous about all of the criticism was that none of the critics had attended the trial or heard the evidence. Of all the media professionals commenting on the case, only Wendell Stacey, the local Memphis anchorman, at the risk of his job, attended court every day. At the end, he repeatedly said he was totally convinced that the jury was right and that he had never been so ashamed of his profession.
Though the lockstep media conformity was expected by all of us, it was nevertheless sad to see it at work again. In the end, the predictable performance of the media had been heralded by the testimony of William Schapp [sic, although spelled "Schaap" in the court transcript linked above] as he laid out the practice of government manipulation and the use of media for propaganda purposes. The King assassination and the search for the truth were a national security matter, and as such the mass and reputable fringe media would be effectively controlled in all aspects of coverage. 208.
You can read the court testimony of William Schaap for yourself, beginning on page 1,558 of the linked transcript above. Mr. Schaap's credentials are presented for the court record on page 1,559 and include being a practicing lawyer and graduate of University of Chicago Law School, practicing law since 1964, specializing since the 1970s in military law, practicing military law in Asia and Europe and serving as editor in chief of the Military Law Reporter in Washington, as well as acting as staff counsel for the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City, and as a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of CUNY.

William Pepper summarizes some of what William Schaap revealed in his testimony: 
Half a day was occupied with the testimony of attorney William Schaap, who we qualified as an expert on government use of the media for disinformation and propaganda purposes. After providing the jury with a survey of these practices by governments throughout history in a detailed question and answer exchange, Schaap introduced the court to these practices of the United States government in other cases, or issues, where intelligence and/or national security interest were believed to be involved. A number of examples were cited. One, for example, involved a CIA propaganda story that was spread all over the world and widely believed for four years [ . . . ]. In fact none of the above was true. The story was revealed by the agent who promulgated it to be false and to have been totally concocted at the CIA station in Zaire and disseminated through the extensive worldwide agency network. Schaap revealed that his research clearly indicated that the agency alone -- not to mention its counterparts in the rest of the American intelligence community -- owned or controlled some 2,500 media entities all over the world. In addition, it had its people, ranging from stringers to highly viable journalists and editors, in virtually every major media organization. As we had seen and were indeed experiencing every day of the trial, this inevitably resulted in the suppression or distortion of sensitive stories and the planting and dissemination of disinformation. 185 - 186.
Everyone should take the time to read that summary several times until its implications can be absorbed. Indeed, it might even be best to copy it out by hand, in order to prevent the brain from skimming over it in order to avoid the implications of what is being explained. Then, take the time to read Mr. Schaap's testimony in the 1999 trial. The fact that the media has completely suppressed and refused to report on the evidence presented in that trial, and the verdict that was reached, is very powerful evidence indeed that exactly what is being alleged above ("the suppression or distortion of sensitive stories and the planting and dissemination of disinformation") is taking place to this day.

Nevertheless, the majority of the men and women in the united states (and perhaps in other countries as well) continue to believe that nothing is true unless it is repeated to them by the authority-figures in the media.

I highly recommend that everyone who has not yet done so also take the time to listen to some of the interviews that Dr. William Pepper has given since the publication of the above-linked book, which are available on YouTube and on numerous podcasts. Two of those are linked in this previous post. Others can be found by searching for William Pepper on YouTube or on podcast directories such as iTunes and others.

In his speech "Beyond Vietnam," delivered on this day fifty-one years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King said these famous words, which point to the reason that he titled the speech beyond Vietnam, because the issues he addressed went even beyond the issue of that particular war:
There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. [. . . ] 
In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past 10 years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of US military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. [ . . . ]
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
A true revolution of value will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.
Fifty-one years later, we can all see how perceptive Dr. King's words were in that speech delivered in 1967, and how applicable they remain to this day (in part because Martin Luther King was deliberately silenced by forces who did not want that "far deeper malady within the American spirit" to be addressed in the way that Dr. King was addressing it).

One day after the verdict was delivered on December the 8th, 1999, the late Coretta Scott King and her children gave statements regarding the momentous trial and the evidence that was presented and the decision that was reached. Their statements deserve to be read in full, not only for their own sake but also because the controlled media has been allowed to use all its considerable powers to try to drown out the real message of what that verdict and that trial really tell us. 

Coretta Scott King and her children gave their statements regarding the message of that trial and the evidence it presented and the verdict that was delivered. Trasncripts of those statements can be found, in their entirety, online here.

Coretta Scott King said, in part:
As we pursued this case, some wondered why we would spend the time and energy addressing such a painful part of the past. For both our family and the nation, the short answer is that we had to get involved because the system did not work. Those who are responsible for the assassination were not held to account for their involvement. This verdict, therefore, is a great victory for justice and truth. It has been a difficult and painful experience to revisit this tragedy, but we felt we had an obligation to do everything in tour power to seek the truth. Not only for the peace of mind of our family but also bring closure and healing to the nation. We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.
She also said:
My husband once said, "The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Those who continue to suppress the truth of what took place on this day in 1968 -- and to suppress the truths that came to light in the 1999 trial -- are placing themselves on the wrong side of that moral arc of the universe, and on the wrong side of the justice of which Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King spoke and for which they fought.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (and many others) fearlessly pursued aggressive nonviolent action in service to justice and truth and the inherent human dignity possessed as a birthright by each and every man, woman and child. It is our responsibility to continue their struggle, knowing that these principles are indeed aligned with the justice which originates from a realm beyond this material realm, and that this justice cannot be delayed forever.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The same ancient and profound worldwide system

images: Wikimedia commons link 1link 2link 3.

The following is the introductory section of the chapter entitled "The Easter Cycle, part two," from Star Myths of the World, Volume Three (Star Myths of the Bible). The preceding chapter, entitled "The Easter Cycle, part one," examined the celestial foundations for many of the events of Holy Week described in the gospel accounts, such as the triumphal entry, the encounter with Zacchaeus, the cleansing or scourging of the Temple, the encounter with the fig tree, the upper room and the Last Supper, and the discussion of the betrayal by Judas which takes place over the table. The following chapter, from which the passage below is the introduction, deals with the events beginning with the Garden of Gethsemane and afterwards:
We arrive at last at the climactic events of the New Testament -- the arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus.
For centuries, these events have been regarded with the highest reverence and imbued with the deepest sense of awe and wonder by those who belong to the many families of Christian faith -- and I agree these stories (as with all sacred myths of all cultures) should be regarded with deep reverence. These sacred passages describe events having to do with some of the most profound spiritual concepts conceivable, and they do so in a way which is filled with both power and pathos.
However, I believe that these same profound and sacred concepts should be acknowledged to be present at the heart of all of the myths and ancient stories around the world, all of which employ the same celestial system to convey deep truths about ourselves, our cosmos, and the spiritual-divine realm which touches them both at every single point -- and about the unlimited God with whom we have to do.
It is today difficult to appreciate the awe and the reverence that the very similar events in the cycle describing the neteru Isis and Osiris generated within the hearts of those living in a culture steeped in the sacred myths and rituals of ancient Egypt, and who had grown up from their earliest days knowing and imbibing them both consciously and unconsciously. Or, try to understand the awe and the reverence that the cycle of annual movement and ritual and sacred tradition centered around Inyan Kaga in the sacred Paha Sapa / kHe Sapa, and the Sacred Hoop formed by the surrounding terrain features and mirroring the stars and constellations of the heavens, generates within the hearts of those still connected to the way of the Lakota and Dakota and described in the words of Black Elk and others who have expressed these things.
But it can, I believe, be conclusively demonstrated that the cycle of the casting down of Osiris and the Djed, and the raising back up of the same Djed, creates the same Sacred Hoop symbol, the same Great Cross (with the cast-down Djed forming the horizontal bar, and the raised-up Djed forming the vertical column) which is revered by the cultures of the Native Americans and which also forms the central features of the climactic gospel stories of the crucifixion and the humiliation and subsequent resurrection of the Christ -- gospel stories which are also built upon the silent motions of the stars, and which thus point to our connection to our planet and our universe, and our connection to all other people, and animals, and even inanimate things.
The world's myths employ externally different, apparently different, sacred metaphors and stories and symbols, but at their heart they can all be shown to be using the same ancient and profound worldwide celestial system, handed down to our ancestors at some now-forgotten and very ancient point in time (or taught to them by powers from another realm -- perhaps brought back to this realm by those who had learned how to go to and return from the Other World).
All those who have felt the power and awe which are generated by any of these sacred stories of humanity -- including the stories of the Easter cycle -- should acknowledge and respect the world's other sacred traditions which contain and convey the same sacred truths, even if they do so in different ways or from slightly different angles or perspectives.
And it is unfortunately yet undeniably true that the message can be misinterpreted or twisted, either intentionally or unintentionally, to say something almost completely the opposite of what was perhaps intended by the myths -- and I believe that this possibility is greatly increased if we do not listen to them in the "language" in which they are speaking, which is a spiritual language, an esoteric language, and a celestial language. 
The discussion of the Easter cycle events in this book is offered in that spirit and with hope of furthering our understanding of that language, so that the truth of our connection will be seen, and so we can be more able and willing to stand against actions and policies that divide or harm or oppress (using lies as their cover). [pages 680 - 682]

Friday, March 30, 2018

Parallels between the Odyssey and the Gospels

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The first full moon following the March equinox is approaching. There will be a full moon on March 31 -- and since the previous full moon was on March 1, the full moon on March 31 will be the first full moon following this year's March equinox, which took place on March 20.

This combination of the heavenly cycles of the earth's annual cycle around the sun and the moon's monthly cycle around the earth signals the observance of Passover and Easter in the traditions of Judaism and Christianity (the calculations of the dates of Passover and Easter are rather complex, but the full moon and the March equinox are central factors in the calculations).

In the celestial "code" which underlies the ancient myths of the world, the point of spring equinox represents the passage through death and into life, as explained by Alvin Boyd Kuhn in an extended discussion found in his essay Easter: the Birthday of the Gods, quoted at length in this previous post (just beneath the zodiac wheel diagram in the middle of that blog post).

Similarly, the ancient sacred traditions found in cultures around the world used the cycle of the moon to figure the same spiritual journey undergone by each human soul, down through the realm of death (which Alvin Boyd Kuhn explains is a reference to this incarnate life) and then into light and life again -- and in his 1887 lecture entitled Luniolatry; Ancient and Modern, Gerald Massey argues that the descent into darkness of the waning moon represents death, and the rebirth at new moon and subsequent waxing towards full represents life, which would argue that the full moon following the point of spring equinox would be associated with fullness of life (indicated by the full moon) after crossing through the "valley of death" (indicated by the achievement of the point of spring equinox, following the toiling passage through the "lower realms" of the winter months, when darkness dominates, which precede that point of spring equinox).

Thus, the concepts which are celebrated at Passover and at Easter represent profound and important truths, with vital meaning to each and every man and woman, because these concepts have to do with the journey of each and every human soul, passing through this "lower realm" as if a prisoner in the house of bondage, but toiling through this lower passage with the ultimate purpose of transcending and elevating the spirit. In very much the same way, the heavenly cycles show us the stars sinking down into the western horizon only to rise back up again at the eastern horizon, or the sun's path sinking downwards throughout the year towards the winter solstice, only to turn back around and cross back up at the spring equinox, or the moon's progress throughout the month ebbing into darkness, only to be renewed and grow into greater and greater light. 

And while the Passover and Easter stories provide us with beautiful illustrations of these truths, truths which are imminently applicable to our lives in ways which are both practical and profound, they are by no means the only such illustrations of the successful passage through the lower realm and the triumph over the power of death to be found in the world's varied myths and sacred stories. There are countless others, from cultures found on literally every inhabited continent of our planet, and all the islands as well. And, not only are all these myths related thematically, but they can be conclusively shown to be based upon the very same system of celestial metaphor which underlies the stories in the scriptures of the so-called "Old" and "New" Testaments of the Bible which form the basis for the Passover and Easter traditions as well.

One particularly compelling example of a myth from a different culture which can be shown to have powerful celestial correspondences to stories found in the Biblical scripture is the myth of Odysseus, presented in memorable form in the text of the Odyssey, the date of composition of which is still hotly debated by scholars, but which scholar Robert Fagles, author of superlative modern translations of both the Iliad and the Odyssey, puts somewhere around 725 BC to 675 BC for the Iliad (perhaps slightly later for the Odyssey), but based upon a long tradition of oral poetry stretching back many centuries before that (see extended discussion in Fagles' introduction to the Odyssey, and particularly the assertions on pages 18 and 19 of that introduction).

In other words, according to the consensus of many scholars, and based upon an abundance of cultural, archaeological (including Greek pottery dating back to nearly 700 BC showing recognizable scenes from both the Iliad and the Odyssey), and textual evidence, the Odyssey was written down several hundred years before the canonical gospels, and is probably based on oral traditions stretching back several additional centuries into the past before it was written down -- and yet there are numerous striking parallels between the Odyssey and specific episodes in the gospel accounts, parallels which can be shown to be based on this common system of celestial metaphor which informs the sacred stories and myths from around the world.

For example, many of us who grew up in western cultures with centuries of Christian influence are aware that there is an important "foot-washing scene" in the ancient accounts of the Last Supper (it is actually found only in the gospel according to John, in John chapter 13, although there are episodes which contain strong parallels to the foot-washing scene found in Matthew chapter 26, Mark chapter 14, and Luke chapter 7). But how many of those who know of the foot-washing scene in the description of the Last Supper are aware that there is also a vitally-important "foot-washing scene" in the Odyssey as well, in Book 19 of the Odyssey, when Eurycleia, who once nursed and cared for Odysseus as an infant, when she herself was young and beautiful, and who is now very old, washes the feet of the disguised and travel-weary Odysseus, and instantly recognizes the returning king by the distinctive scar in his thigh.

Both of these foot-washing scenes can be shown to be based on the constellation Aquarius (as well as surrounding constellations which provide other details found in the respective texts), as I explain in Star Myths of the World, Volume Two (focusing on the Greek Myths) on pages 621 - 626 and in Star Myths of the World, Volume Three (Star Myths of the Bible) on pages 674 - 677. Additionally, paintings of the Last Supper down through the centuries invariably portray Jesus in a posture which corresponds to the outline of the constellation Aquarius itself:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The above depiction of the foot-washing episode from John 21 was painted in the early 1700s, but many others could be provided to demonstrate that artistic conventions consistently portray Jesus in this scene as having unmistakable characteristics of the constellation Aquarius (shown above the painting).

Another scene which provides strong parallels between the Odyssey and the gospel accounts is the episode early in the adventures of Odysseus, in Book 5, when Odysseus is escaping from the island of Ogygia upon a home-made raft, and Poseidon sends a tremendous storm over the seas. Odysseus is visited by a goddess who descends in the form of a bird, and directs him to remove all his clothing and instead tie a sash, which she provides him, around his waist before abandoning his raft and plunging into the water. 

As I argue in the above-linked books, as well as in this previous post from 2016, this scene from the beginning of the adventures of Odysseus contains very strong parallels to the scene at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, in which he goes down into the river Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist, and the Holy Spirit is described descending upon him in the form of a dove (see for example Matthew 3: 16). And note that in depictions of this baptism scene throughout the centuries, Jesus is invariably depicted as wearing only a sash of linen about his waist.

Perhaps the clearest and most incontestable parallel between the accounts of the life of Jesus contained in the canonical gospels and the text of the adventures of Odysseus from ancient Greece many centuries earlier is the passage in Book 11 of the Odyssey, in which Odysseus goes down to the land of the dead and consults with the shade of Tiresias. Tiresias gives Odysseus precise directions for appeasing Poseidon and the other deathless gods, and central among his directives to Odysseus is the command for the long-suffering traveler, after he finally returns home, to take his own oar and carry it on his shoulder inland until he reaches a people who know nothing of the sea, and who do not even season their food with salt, and who will ask Odysseus about the "fan to winnow grain" across his shoulder (not knowing that it is an oar for a seafaring ship). 

As I have explored in numerous previous posts (such as this one) as well as in a video entitled "All the World's Myths are Written in the Stars," this important passage from the Odyssey has strong echoes in the gospel texts, when John the Baptist declares that "he that cometh after me is mightier than I," and is one "whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner" (Matthew 3: 11 - 12). The text of this passage clearly indicates that John in the episode is describing a winnowing fan, in a parallel to the directives of Tiresias to Odysseus in the Odyssey.

As explained in previous posts and in the video linked above, the similarities between these descriptions in the Odyssey and in the gospels can be understood when we realize that both are describing celestial figures and using metaphorical language to do so -- in this case, the constellation Orion, which does appear to be carrying a "winnowing fan" in the upraised arm of the constellation.

And these are just a few of the parallels between the Odyssey and the New Testament gospels. Many more parallels could also be offered, but the above parallels should be sufficient to establish the undeniable correspondences between the narratives. Indeed, there is even a stone which is too heavy for Odysseus and his men to move and which traps them inside a cave which threatens to become their tomb, before Odysseus devises an ingenious plan to make good his escape, which has clear parallels to yet another passage in the gospels, and one which I have shown to be based upon the very same constellations which provide the basis for the corresponding episode in the Odyssey.

Does all of this prove that the scriptures of the Bible are in some way "not true"? My answer to that question is: "It does not prove them to be 'not true' at all" -- although I would argue that these stories (like all the other myths of the world) are not based on literal or historical events. However, I absolutely believe the world's myths are intended to convey to us profound truths -- and to do so using powerful and spiritually eye-opening stories, characters, and episodes, all of them built upon a system of celestial metaphor which is rich and multi-layered in its meaning, and which can continue to reveal to us new insights every time we come back to them, year after year throughout our lives.

Like the stories which inform the observance of Passover and Easter, one theme of the Odyssey is the return from the dead, the escape from the land of bondage, the successful crossing of this "lower realm" -- which is figuratively the realm of water, one of the two "lower elements" and one of the elements out of which our bodies are made (we can be said to be traveling through this incarnate realm in a body which itself is mostly made of water, and hence like Odysseus we ourselves are "crossing the sea" at all times in this incarnate life).

The strong parallels between the Odyssey and the gospel stories should not lead us to denigrate the gospel stories -- quite the contrary, these parallels should cause us to evaluate them in an entirely new light, and realize that they have so much to show us, which we can perhaps best appreciate once we begin to understand the language that they are actually speaking.

However, the clear evidence that the Biblical texts are in no way "exclusively true" but rather that they are closely related to all the world's other Star Myths, preserved in different forms among all the different cultures of our planet, should conclusively demonstrate that there is no room for denigrating the myths or sacred traditions belonging to those other cultures, because they all appear to be closely related and built upon a common, worldwide system. I am convinced that all of these ancient myths, using this ancient system, are pointing us towards the same truths about the real nature of this simultaneously material-and-spiritual cosmos in which we find ourselves during this incarnate life -- the same truths about the existence of and importance of an Invisible Realm -- the same truths about ways we can and should be connecting with and harmonizing with that Invisible Realm and with our own Higher Self during this "lower passage" through this life.

I hope that you will have time to contemplate the powerful message embodied in the stories connected to this special point in the great heavenly cycles, when the earth has crossed through the point of the March equinox and light once again triumphs over darkness each day (in the northern hemisphere, where days are now longer than nights, and growing longer each day), and when the moon has reached its greatest fullness and resplendence -- and to recognize and appreciate the divine spark in each and every man, woman and child you see around you, and to recognize and appreciate it in yourself as well.

Ultimately, as Alvin Boyd Kuhn also said in a different lecture, these stories are not about ancient kings or queens or heroes -- they are about each and every human soul. They are about you.


For more on this subject, see also:


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Arachne and the world-wide web

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

In the world's ancient wisdom, preserved in the various cultures around our planet like a precious inheritance in the form of myths, scriptures and sacred stories handed down from a past so distant that its details have been forgotten, the various cultural "technologies" such as agriculture, music, medicine, building, weaving and the rest are explicitly taught to come from the gods, and to be given as gifts by specific deities.

Additionally, the ancient myths teach quite clearly that when mortals fail to acknowledge the gods who gave these gifts to humanity in the first place, disaster always ensues. That disaster usually involves the objectification and dehumanization of the one who attempts to invert the proper order of the universe by using the technology given by the gods in a way which attempts to depose or embarrass the god or goddess who presides over that technology, thus attempting to subvert the very god or goddess who gave that gift in order to elevate humanity. 

For example, readers of the blog may recall previous posts which investigated the notoriously bad judgment of King Midas in ancient Greek myth, who deigned to judge the music produced by a satyr to be superior to that of the god Apollo himself, who is the very god of music. For his folly, Midas was given ass's ears by the god. The same Midas is also famous for being given one request by the god Dionysus, and for asking to have everything he touched become gold -- a request he soon came to regret, when he realized he would be unable to eat or drink anything, and when he turned his own daughter into a golden statue.

An even more famous example, perhaps, is the well-known story of Arachne, whose skill at the art of weaving was famous throughout the land of Lydia, and whose wondrous grace and artistic genius (Ovid tells us) caused even the nymphs to leave their accustomed haunts in order to come watch Arachne working. However, the ancient myths record that her skill, beauty and artistic talent were not accompanied by appropriate gratitude to and acknowledgement of the gods as the source of her gifts, and that in particular she was willing to accept praise which placed her above the very goddess Athena who presides over skill at weaving and who gives that gift to mortals.

Indeed, Ovid emphasizes Arachne's failure to acknowledge the source of her gift by saying that anyone would have known by observing Arachne's skill that only Pallas Athena could have been her teacher, and yet:
Nevertheless, as though offended by
the very thought, the girl denied it, saying,
"Let her compete with me, and if she wins
I'll pay whatever penalty she sets!" Ovid Metamorphoses Book 6, lines 34-47, Charles Martin trans.
This arrogant boast brings the goddess herself to visit the girl (in disguise) to see if she can change Arachne's inappropriate failure to acknowledge the goddess, saying to her:
"Heed my advice: seek all the fame you wish
as the best of mortal weavers, but admit
the goddess as your superior in skill;
and beg her to pardon you for your presumption
in an appropriately humble manner --
forgiveness will be given, if you ask it." 6. 43 - 48.
Predictably, however, Arachne scorns this wise advice and insults the one who offers it, and concludes by asking why the goddess won't come challenge her in person -- at which Athena reveals herself in her glory. At this, all the nymphs and mortals present bow down before the goddess, but Arachne persists in her foolish desire to challenge Athena to a contest of artistic skill. 

Ovid's description of the artwork created by the two contestants in this match of weaving underscores the theme: Athena depicts the episode in which she bestowed the gift of the olive tree upon the city of Athens, a gift of such inestimable value to humanity that with it Athena won the city as her own and became its benefactor. In addition to this central scene, Ovid tells us, the goddess adds in each of the four corners of her tapestry, the goddess weaves a scene illustrating the tragic results of others who audaciously attempted to invert the natural order by flaunting the will of the immortal gods: in one corner, two Thracians who lost their humanity and were turned into a pair of mountains because (Ovid tells us) "they assumed the names of Jove and Juno for their own" (6. 125 - 126); in another, a queen who was transformed into a crane and then made war upon her own people (6. 130 - 131); in another, Antigone daughter of Laomedon and sister of Priam of Troy, who boasted that her hair was more beautiful than that of the goddess Hera herself, and who was changed by Hera into a stork, "and now applauds herself with clacking beak" (6. 137); and finally a scene in which Cinyras of Cyprus is shown weeping over the steps of a temple, into which his daughters have been transformed, in an otherwise-unknown mythical episode (but one which fills the same pattern of "objectification" and loss of humanity when the primacy of the gods is questioned or denied)(6. 138 - 141).

In contrast, Ovid describes Arachne's choice of subject for her tapestry as being episodes embarrassing  or humiliating to the glory of the gods and goddesses, often involving illicit sexual liaisons in which they took on various forms or disguises. For this arrogance and refusal to turn from her mad desire to "drag down" that which should be elevated, Arachne herself loses her humanity and is transformed into a spider, endlessly spinning and weaving as she used to do, but reduced to the form of a tiny arachnid for all time.

The warnings in the ancient myths about the loss of humanity through the failure to acknowledge the divine realm and the gifts bestowed by the gods upon mankind apply equally well to the technologies of today, even the most "cutting-edge" of technology. If the ancient myths teach the existence of an Invisible Realm, and advise us to acknowledge its importance and even the fact that it is the actual source and fount of everything we see in the visible and material realm, as well as the source of all gifts and technologies given to humanity for our elevation (which I am convinced is exactly what they are teaching us), then we would seem to be justified in concluding that we should use those gifts and technologies in the service of uplifting ourselves and others, rather than for the purpose of debasing, dehumanizing, and brutalizing (or animalizing) men and women.

The lesson of the myth of Arachne is, appropriately enough, particularly applicable to the technology of the internet and the world-wide web, which can be and has been used in many cases in ways which elevate and uplift and which unmask lies and point towards suppressed truths -- and yet which can also be used for intrusive surveillance, for manipulation of social and political processes, and for attempts to reduce men and women to mere objects or to something less than human by those wanting to usurp the roles of the gods, thus ignoring or rejecting the teachings of the ancient wisdom preserved in the myths.

Indeed, although the internet and the world-wide web have undoubtedly been portrayed (and widely perceived) as a technology of liberation and elevation and empowerment, journalist and author Yasha Levine has uncovered the important forgotten history of the origins of this technology as having been designed from its very outset for the purpose of surveillance and the suppression of popular movements which could challenge the dominant power structures, and for the imposition of control which almost by definition would reduce or diminish the human agency of men and women instead of enlarging and uplifting them.

Yasha Levine's book Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet (2018), reveals that "the Internet we use today" was designed to be a "hybrid private-public system of surveillance and control" with roots in the counterinsurgency waged abroad by the military and intelligence agencies of the united states in Vietnam and many other countries around the world during the 1960s and in the surveillance and subversion of popular movements including the civil rights movement and the antiwar movement at home. In fact, a new agency of the Pentagon, the Advanced Research Projects Agency or ARPA, created in the late 1950s in response to Sputnik, was expressly tasked with developing new technologies which could be used to counter perceived threats both at home and abroad.

It was ARPA which came up with the technology to successfully link computers together in a network, dubbed the ARPANET, which became the Internet which was later privatized and which now plays such a central role in virtually every aspect of modern life.

In the interview below, from Media Roots Radio, author Yasha Levine explains that the popularly understood history of modern technology is basically an anodized fable which strips away and buries the real history -- and that the real history once understood will open a very different perspective on the internet's original and ongoing purpose:

During that conversation (beginning at about 0:19:43), Yasha describes attempts during the Vietnam war to "bug the battlefield" by blanketing the jungle with sensors dropped from aircraft, and then to monitor those sensors remotely and call in airstrikes when the data suggested large numbers of enemy troops or vehicles might be moving through a particular area. Later, beginning at around 0:25:50, Yasha says, "We live in a reality where that's actually true -- the battlefield has been bugged, and the battlefield is not just a military battlefield but it's, like, all society."

Unlike the early days of the war in Vietnam, when the united states government dropped sensors out of aircraft, today men and women carry around their own sensors, their own "bugs," with them at all times, and helpfully add enormous amounts of information about themselves into various corporate databases which can then use that data to build profiles on individual citizens with levels of detail that would have been astonishing to early military and intelligence planners in the 1960s. Just as in the early days of "bugging the battlefield," those with access to all of this data can monitor what is going on and then take action and exert influence in an attempt to shape the desired outcome.

Today, all of society has been blanketed with sensors that can recognize faces, read license plates,   record the contents of conversations, gather data on the movement of smartphones, make deductions based on the contents of email, or based on the titles of books purchased online, or based on web pages visited while browsing, and on a host of other activities which all leave traces of data which can be gathered and analyzed. And, the number of sensors is about to increase exponentially, as everything from televisions to refrigerators to washing machines to toothbrushes to automobiles to articles of clothing are embedded with antennas and transceivers and connected to the internet over the next several years to usher in the much-anticipated "Internet of Things."

And, as Yasha Levine explains in his book, once we understand the hidden history of the internet and related technologies, it is not unreasonable to deduce that technologies developed for military purposes in other countries would be employed against the civilian populace (even though this is expressly unconstitutional and illegal). In fact, as he explains on page 8 and goes on to demonstrate using abundant historical evidence later in the book:
In 1972, almost as soon as the ARPANET was rolled out on a national level, the network was used to help the CIA, the NSA, and the US Army spy on tens of thousands of antiwar and civil rights activists. It was a big scandal at the time, and the ARPANET's role in it was discussed at length on American television, including NBC Evening News.
One of the ways this military technology can be employed domestically is to try to shape the outcomes of popular elections. Although the above-linked interview was recorded nearly a month ago, just last week stunning new evidence of the ways in which military-style psychological warfare techniques are now being deployed to influence popular opinion at home, especially in order to influence voting in  democratic elections, broke regarding the private firm Cambridge Analytica and data gathered on Facebook. See for example this article in the New York Times, this interview with an alleged "whistleblower" from Cambridge Analytica, and this video showing purported undercover footage of executives from Cambridge Analytica explaining how they mine data in order to create videos specifically designed to manipulate people's fears and then serve those videos to those most likely to be emotionally moved by the fears highlighted in those videos.

Setting aside the fact that the timing of this sudden exposure of Cambridge Analytica should probably itself raise suspicions, it should be fairly clear from the above videos that the technologies and tactics described are designed to try to play upon base fears, reducing men and women to the level of reacting rather than reasoning, like animals or even like musical instruments which can be "played" rather than acknowledging that each and every man and woman is much more than their external physical form and their more animalistic fears and emotional drives, and that each man or woman contains a divine spark, an internal connection to the infinite, which makes them intrinsically worthy of being treated with dignity and respect.

Interestingly enough, even though the above-linked interview with Yasha Levine was recorded well before the startling evidence regarding Cambridge Analytica surfaced last weekend, his interview (and his book) discuss these types of applications of military technology to the domestic political landscape (because the evidence shows that this kind of anti-democratic behavior has obviously been going on for quite some time).

Beginning at about 0:23:42 in the above interview, Yasha says:
The technology that was developed in Vietnam with input from ARPA -- you can draw a straight line from that cybernetic system that "bugged the battlefield" to data systems that are powering elections today.
It is also extremely revealing to note that in the late 1960s, when the earliest versions of the ARPANET were being tested by linking computers located on the university campuses of MIT, Harvard, Stanford, University of Utah, and several UCs (including UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, and UCLA), people back then immediately perceived the potentially anti-democratic applications of such technologies and students organized protests against this forerunner of the internet, calling it "computerized people-manipulation" and a "blatant prostitution of social science for the aims of the war machine" (Surveillance Valley, 63).  

Strangely enough, a joint project run by ARPA in the year 1969, in conjunction with Harvard and MIT, which intended to gather and analyze data from opinion surveys, welfare roles, criminal records, financial transactions, and other similar sources and then run simulations to predict human behavior was dubbed "the Cambridge Project" (63). Is it only a coincidence that the modern company recently in the news for using Facebook data to profile voters and send targeted propaganda attempting to exploit fears and prejudices would share a name with this pioneering predictive project funded by the Department of Defense?

The concerns voiced by student protestors in 1969 regarding Project Cambridge (also known as "Project CAM") are worthy of careful consideration today, nearly 50 years later. You can read some of them on pages 62 through 64 in Surveillance Valley, and you can hear Yasha Levine reading from those pages in a recent episode of Town Hall Seattle published on February 13, 2018, here (and in the embedded player below):

Some of the concerns voiced by those students of MIT and Harvard back in the fall of 1969 included:
The whole computer set-up and the ARPA computer network will enable the government, for the first time, to consult relevant survey data rapidly enough to be used in policy decisions. The net result of this will be to make Washington's international policeman more effective in suppressing popular movements around the world. The so-called basic research to be supported by Project CAM will deal with questions like why do peasant movements or student groups become revolutionary. The results of this research will similarly be used to suppress progressive movements. 64.
Until the military-social complex is eliminated, social scientists will aid the enslavement, rather than the liberation, of mankind. 63.
Longtime anti-fascist researcher and broadcaster Dave Emory (mentioned in this previous post) has been highlighting the potential for the anti-democratic abuse of social media tools such as Facebook, the potential for modern networking technology to be employed as a tool of repression and tyranny, and the evidence the Cambridge Analytica in particular might be an example of the employment of military psychological warfare technologies against domestic populations since well before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in the "mainstream news" last week. 

For example, he published an in-depth discussion of problematic aspects of Cambridge Analytica in a program entitled "Summoning the Demon: Technocratic Fascism and Artificial Intelligence" dated August 8th, 2017 (available for listening or download here). And he has been warning about the potential negative aspects of Facebook since at least 2010, when he broadcast a two-part program entitled "In Your Facebook: A Virtual Panopticon?" (available for listening or downloading here: part one and part two).

More recently, Dave Emory highlighted an article published in the New York Times in February of this year (2018) entitled "Track hands of workers? Amazon has patents for it," written by Ceylan Yeginsu. The article describes a patent filed by Amazon for a wristband device which could (in the words of the article's author) "emit ultrasonic sound pulses and radio transmissions to track where an employee's hands were in relation to inventory bins, and provide 'haptic feedback' to steer the worker toward the correct bin." You can see more detail of the original patents, filed in 2016 and granted  by the patent office on January 30 of 2018, here.

The February New York Times article linked above notes: "Critics say such wristbands raise concerns about privacy and would add a new layer of surveillance to the workplace, and that the use of the devices could result in employees being treated more like robots than human beings." 

It also cites a former warehouse worker for the company saying he would not be surprised at such treatment, because: "After a year on the floor, I felt like I had become a version of the robots I was working with."

And note that these concerns are being raised over a patent for a proposed device that "only" tracks the location of your hands: new "smart glasses" are now being designed by other companies which could conceivably be used to give visual cues similar to the haptic (or tactile) clues described in the wristband patent -- and which could conceivably track where you are looking throughout the workday, at every single moment of the day.

Although companies involved in developing such technologies (including Amazon) deny that they would be used in an oppressive way, but only in a helpful way, it does not take much consideration to see that such technologies could (theoretically) be used in very dehumanizing ways, to give stimulation and feedback and correction in much the same way that a shock collar can be used to give stimulation and feedback and correction to a dog, and to "program" desired behavior and then monitor compliance in a way that makes a man or woman feel more like a robot than a human being (as the actual worker quoted in the story above in fact said that he felt before he quit).

This unpleasant possibility thus brings us back full circle to the topic discussed at the beginning of this post -- the warning from the world's ancient wisdom of the potential for being reduced to something less than human if we ignore the will of the gods themselves, who are in fact depicted in the myths as the ultimate source of the gifts of technology. When mortals refuse to acknowledge the primacy of the divine realm, then they are denying their connection to and dependence upon that divine source and fountain of all gifts and blessings, and risk cutting themselves off from that realm -- and in doing so, risk being reduced to something less than human, merely animal, or even merely object. 

When we reject the blessed gods (whose gifts are in fact designed for the blessing of mankind), and insist on declaring ourselves their equals or even their superiors (an error we see repeated over and over in the ancient myths), then we are in jeopardy of incurring their wrath, and at the same time of reducing ourselves and others to something debased and dehumanized. 

It should be fairly self-evident that modern neoliberal society is very much characterized by the rejection of the dignity and divine spark present in every single mortal man and woman, by many forces which seek to treat men and women like objects, datasets, or instruments to be played like a piano (or like a slot machine or a computer terminal), and by those who believe that technology gives them the right and the ability to act like the gods themselves, watching the every move of other men and women and seeking to manipulate and control them. In doing so, they are in danger of repeating the error of Arachne, who failed to acknowledge that the "technology" of weaving came from the goddess Athena herself, and that Arachne's own talent at that art could never make Arachne superior to the goddess who gave Arachne that talent in the first place.

Ovid described Athena during the weaving contest as still laboring (even after the mortal woman's insults and arrogance) to correct Arachne's self-destructive course. The subjects Athena selected for her own tapestry were intended as lessons to the headstrong mortal: a central scene showing Athena's gift of the blessed olive tree (and its fruit and oil) to humanity, showing that the gifts of the gods are indeed intended for our benefit and blessing, as well as surrounding scenes in each corner of the tapestry showing the dehumanizing and objectifying consequences of refusing to acknowledge the will of the gods and instead trying to usurp the place of the gods themselves.

We can imagine our modern society in the place of Arachne, having insulted and rejected (over and over) the will of the gods and the ancient wisdom given to humanity -- and marked by many instances of claiming to be equal to or above the gods themselves -- and yet still in the position to "beg their pardon for our presumption in an appropriately humble manner" (in the words of the goddess Athena in the passage from Ovid cited above). As the goddess says, "forgiveness will be given, if you ask it."

It is also important to point out that in none of the ancient myths are the technologies or arts themselves described as being intrinsically bad or evil. On the contrary, the arts of music, or weaving, or bringing forth crops from the soil of the earth are all described explicitly as the gifts of the divine gods. Athena even tells Arachne that Arachne is well advised to revel in her skill, and to seek recognition as the greatest of all mortal weavers. Being the best weaver that Arachne can possibly be is not at all something to be shunned, but rather a worthy goal, according to the goddess. It is only when Arachne forgets or denies or devalues the proper order of the universe, and the primacy of the divine source of that gift, that Arachne makes a fatal mistake.

Similarly, we can conclude from this myth (as well as from other stories found in other myths from ancient Greece and from around the globe) that technology itself is not intrinsically bad -- even including computer networking and sensor technology and many of the other amazing technological developments and innovations which men and women have brought out of the realm of the possible into the realm of the actual in the past several decades. But when we (or others) use that technology in ways that subvert the will of the gods, by debasing or devaluing or denying the divine spark in ourselves or others, and by using that technology to treat them (or get them to treat themselves) like animals, objects, robots, or instruments, then we (like Arachne) are using a good technology in a bad and self-destructive manner -- and we can expect to reap extremely unpleasant consequences.

Recent stories such as those cited above show that we have in fact already traveled very far down the road in the wrong direction. The potential for ubiquitous, networked, wireless devices and sensors to be used in ways which demean, oppress, diminish, and debase men and women on a wide scale, is enormous. As Yasha Levine emphasizes in his book and in all of his interviews and lectures, the solution is not a technology solution: it must be a moral solution, a social solution, and a political solution. 

Like Arachne, our society has thumbed its nose at the immortal gods for centuries, and has already experienced some of the severe objectification and dehumanization that results from such wrong-headed behavior. But, as the goddess Athena explains to Arachne, it is still possible to realize the error of our ways and reverse course. 

But at some point, as Arachne herself also learned, it will be too late.