Monday, February 29, 2016

Introducing Star Myths of the World, Volume Two: the Myths of ancient Greece

I am very excited to announce the release of Volume Two of the multi-volume series Star Myths of the World and how to interpret them.

This volume focuses entirely on the mythology of ancient Greece. 

To my knowledge, it is the first extensive application of the principles of what is sometimes referred to as "Astrotheology" to the body of Greek mythology.

I was amazed at the richness of the insights that can arise when we view the Greek myths through this perspective.

Although I have loved the myths of ancient Greece since I was a child, and although I have taught Homer's Odyssey at the college level, when I began to listen to them in the "language" that I now understand the myths to be speaking -- that is to say, the language of the celestial realms -- it was like hearing them for the first time, all over again.

This is not an attempt to take away at all from the other rich and wonderful aspects of the Greek myths which men and women and children all over the world know and love and have enjoyed about them for centuries, but rather to say that an understanding of their celestial and esoteric foundation suddenly opens up entirely new depths of meaning in these ancient treasures of humanity -- "dizzying depths," I feel it is safe to say (perhaps it is no exaggeration to say that the depths these ancient myths can offer to us are literally endless or bottomless in their profundity).

As just a taste of what the understanding of their celestial nature opens up to the reader, I might offer that this book explores:
  • New insight into the role of Artemis as the guardian of childbirth and protector of women and children,
  • New insight into the association of the act of Kronos and "left-handedness," as well as into the adjective "wily" which is applied by the ancient poets to both Kronos and Odysseus (and the possible celestial reasons for that modifier),
  • New insight into the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus,
  • The celestial background for the myth-pattern of the "unsuccessful retrieval from the realm of the dead," found in numerous places in Greek myths (such as in the story of Persephone and the pomegranate, or the story of Eurydice and Orpheus), but which is also found around the world including in the sacred traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and in the Kojiki of ancient Japan, as well as elsewhere,
  • The celestial background for the myth-pattern of the "incomplete baptism" which could have made the baptized child immortal but which instead leaves the baptized child vulnerable to mortality (seen in the story of Achilles, for instance, but also found in the Maui cycle of the Polynesian cultures of the Pacific Ocean, and also in the Isis and Osiris cycle of ancient Egypt),
  • The strong parallels between certain events in the Odyssey and in the New Testament, and the celestial patterns which almost certainly account for those parallels,
  • The celestial "map" or "chart" of the long journey home described in the Odyssey, and its profound spiritual meaning for each of us,
  • The amazing celestial foundation for the famous encounter with the Cyclops,
  • And the probable celestial solution for the much-debated "trial of the bow" near the climax of the Odyssey, which has given so many commentators difficulty over the years, when trying to explain it as a literal, "terrestrial" feat (and note that the "bow-trial" is an extremely pervasive mythological pattern, which is also found in the Heracles [Hercules] cycle of myths, but also in both the Mahabharata and the Ramayana of ancient India, for example).
Once we understand how to begin to hear the myths in the celestial language that they are speaking, I believe it opens up a path for us to pursue them for our own personal growth and positive transformation, if desired -- for a lifetime (or perhaps for many lifetimes!).

I truly hope that you will be blessed by the incredible ancient wisdom of the myths as you begin to see them in a new light -- I know that I have been and continue to be.


Here is a link to a brief preview which includes the book's Table of Contents.

Note on availability:
For whatever reason, some retail sources (including Amazon) are showing limited availability at  present -- but not all retail sources. For instance, Barnes & Noble's website in the US shows that they can get copies to you in about two days (day after tomorrow). Other outlets still experiencing delays will, I trust, also get those issues taken care of presently.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Please join me at Graham Hancock's Author of the Month forum for March 2016

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

I'm very excited to announce that I will be engaging in "conversations" in the august forum of Graham Hancock's official website and message boards as Graham's Author of the Month for March, 2016.

As the part of the earth containing the Greenwich meridian has already rotated eastwards underneath the "line of midnight" (facing directly away from the sun, on the other side of the planet), it is already February 29th over there -- which means that I'll be popping up with some topics for discussion in fewer than twenty-four hours! 

I had the opportunity to participate as Author of the Month some years ago, in January of 2012, and as I wrote afterwards, it was an experience I'll never forget.

I hope that everyone who is interested in asking questions or otherwise interacting will head over and do so during the month. 

I'm always happy to respond to questions and comments that readers send via Facebook or twitter, but the advantage of the message boards is that (unlike one-to-one conversations), there is an engaged community sending thoughts back and forth and all engaging with the ideas together. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to each form of conversation, but one advantage of discussing topics in a forum is that ideas can sometimes arise which are "more than the sum of their parts" -- ideas which no one participant might have articulated by themselves, but which seem to take shape out of the mix of participants, kind of like the entity known as Kvasir in the Norse myths, who took shape out of a vat filled with the juices of certain berries which the Aesir and Vanir gods spit out of their mouths when sealing a sacred pact.

I'm looking forward to the Author of the Month role for March, and grateful to Graham Hancock for providing this forum for the exchange of ideas, as well as for all the research and analysis he has done and continues to do in pursuit of answers regarding the critical questions of humanity's ancient past.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Gobekli Tepe, Rapa Nui, and the mythological evidence for reexamining the narrative of ancient history

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The preceding post discussed George Orwell's powerful depiction of the fact that control over the narrative of history is an extremely important weapon in the arsenal of those who seek to exercise a form of tyrannical mind control over others.

This can be demonstrated to be taking place regarding certain important events in the recent past -- evidenced quite plainly in the reprehensible termination of the teaching career of tenured Professor James Tracy at Florida Atlantic University for his efforts to examine and discuss evidence that undermines the official narrative of certain traumatic events portrayed in the news media in the United States.

However, as that previous post mentions, a parallel can also be drawn to the control over the narrative of humanity's ancient past. Those who have had the temerity over the past hundred or hundred or so years to have discussed the abundant evidence which seems to call into question the conventional outline of the ancient past can attest to the often withering scorn and other forms of social and professional approbation that is unfailingly leveled at any dissenting voices who call into question the official narrative.

And yet, just as in Orwell's masterful 1984, there are many who (like Winston in the novel) have personally seen evidence which completely upends the conventional narrative, and who realize that something is seriously amiss with the official storyline.

The volume of evidence has continued to mount over the past few decades, to the point that it is threatening to collapse the entire edifice upon which the conventional outline of human history has been built.

For instance, as discussed in Graham Hancock's latest work, Magicians of the Gods (which ties together many facets spanning the arc of his many previous explorations and books up to this point), the ancient site often referred to by its Turkish name of Gobekli Tepe has been dated to around 11,600 years before present, based on readings of the material used to fill in around the massive and precisely-planed stone pillars (over two hundred of which appear to have been buried at the massive site, many of them in the range of twenty tons of rock), which means that the pillars themselves are at least that old but may in fact be even older (20). 

Many of these massive and precisely-worked megaliths feature beautiful and graceful artistic relief renderings of stylized animals, many or all of which may represent astronomical constellations (a point Graham Hancock makes in his book). Furthermore, archaeologists studying the site (which has only been under excavation since the late 1990s) admit that, based on their analysis, the finest stonework and artistic work appears to be found on the oldest of the stones, a puzzling piece of information according to the conventional theories of ancient human history.

In fact, conventional views of history are tremendously undermined by the discoveries at Gobekli Tepe. The development of such high and sophisticated skill at stone working, at such a remote period, threatens to completely upend the official narrative which continues to be so confidently taught in schools beginning at the very earliest grades and going through undergraduate and graduate college and university courses (and reinforced by numerous additional "history channel"-style videos and shows for the benefit of those who are no longer exposed to history classes in classroom environments). 

It is simply not easy to accumulate the extremely advanced technological, artistic, and engineering skill sets required to erect twenty-ton stone pillars on such a massive scale, and the undeniable evidence showing such abilities at a date that is as far back (or, indeed, much further back) in time from ancient Egypt than ancient Egypt is far back in time from us in the year 2016 is simply a devastating shock to the conventional timeline that proposes very "primitive" subsistence-style wandering in the millennia prior to the first-known civilizations (which themselves appear to have simply "materialized out of nowhere," already possessing incredible engineering and artistic skills, as John Anthony West documents in his essential Serpent in the Sky).

Further, as Graham Hancock also points out in this latest book in his corpus of research and analysis, many of the massive pillars at Gobekli Tepe feature human arms along their sides, with long-fingered hands folded in such a way that the fingertips almost touch -- in a manner which is irrefutably reminiscent of the exact same artistic details on many of the enormous moai of Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

You can see the arms (but not the hands -- those are hidden by the "cow tail" grass near the ground-level, and by the soil itself) along the side of one megalith from Gobekli Tepe in the Wikimedia image here (there are better photographs in Graham Hancock's book). You can see the same stylized arms with nearly-touching fingers in many images of moai available on the web, such as the two shown below (there are even better ones in the book Easter Island: the Mystery Solved by Thor Heyerdahl -- an excellent book and well worth owning, although much as I admire Thor Heyerdahl I must argue that the "mystery" of Rapa Nui is by no means completely "solved" at this point).

image above: Wikimedia commons (link).

image below: Wikimedia commons (link).

The long-fingered hands, depicted at exactly the same angle and position on the body as the stylized arms on some of the megaliths at Gobekli Tepe, can be seen at the left side of the image above -- and in even better detail in some of the images in the latest Graham Hancock book and in the Thor Heyerdahl book linked above.

The best images from the Thor Heyerdahl book showing the long-fingered hands are of moai statues which for centuries were buried up to their necks (as indeed many of the great moai remain to this day, buried to their necks). The fact that Gobekli Tepe was deliberately buried, and that a great number of the moai of Easter Island appear to have been buried, is itself extremely singular and striking. And, just think how much effort and time it would have taken people to completely and deliberately bury all the huge stone pillars of Gobekli Tepe -- and how they could have done that if they were living on subsistence hunter-gathering methods (which they obviously were not, based on the extremely high sophistication of their stone working and monument-building technologies).

Then, ask yourself how the conventional paradigm of human history can explain the incredible similarities found between the great T-stones of Gobekli Tepe, and the mysterious silent moai of Easter Island.

The answer is that the conventional paradigm cannot account for this similarity at all, whatsoever. It can only either ignore the similarities, or argue that they "just happened" to pop up independently, without any common influence, in complete isolation from one another. The conventional theory argues the same thing for the amazing mathematical similarities between some of the pyramids found in Central America and the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, for example -- and the list could go on and on.

But, as compelling as all the above archaeological evidence must be acknowledged to be, I believe there is a completely additional category of extremely compelling, verifiable, objective data which also provides undeniable and conclusive evidence: the ancient myths and stories of humanity, found around the world and amply documented (some of it with documentation stretching back for centuries, if not millennia).

When we begin to understand the system of celestial metaphor which I (and others before me, stretching back at least to Plato, even though he said it in a "veiled" way) argue can be shown to be operating at the foundation of the myths, it provides us with another extremely powerful set of evidence which completely undermines the "isolationist" theories of human history which are continually and without any room for disagreement or debate drilled into the heads of students -- and (through a more-subtle program of "history" shows and basic assumptions underlying "news" broadcasts) the heads of adults who have finished formal academic instruction.

When we can find evidence in myths of a celestial metaphor with details on a level of specificity that are as unique and unlikely to be mere "coincidence" as the "long, extended, nearly-touching fingers" found on the Gobekli Tepe stones and the Rapa Nui moai, and we find it operating in the myths of the Pacific Islands as well as in the myths of ancient Egypt and ancient Greece, then we can say that such evidence forms yet another parallel field of data which, alongside the data arising from continued archaeological discoveries, argues for a complete reassessment of the "official narrative" of humanity's ancient past.

And, I can assure you, there is abundant evidence of just this level of specificity to be found in the myths of the different cultures of our incredible planet, including the "incomplete baptism" myth (based on the exact-same constellations and some rather "obscure" metaphorical interpretations of those constellations) which is found in the myths of ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and the myths of Polynesia, for example. And that is just one example -- there are nearly unlimited other examples which are equally compelling (I'll discuss the "incomplete baptism" analysis in a later post).

The picture that begins to emerge of the very distant past is one that is very different from the picture we have been shown by the purveyors of the conventional narrative (most of whom, it must be said, undoubtedly believe the official story which they are propagating).

And yet, as George Orwell argued so powerfully (and so rightly), the control of the past is absolutely a weapon of control over the present, and the future, and a weapon which is coveted by those wishing to exert illegitimate control over the thoughts and actions of others, sometimes for violent ends. 

It may be that no such nefarious motives are behind the erroneous narrative of ancient human history that has been pushed so consistently and stubbornly by those in control of academia and the media for the past several decades (or centuries) -- but whether or not such motives are present, it is absolutely in our best interest to try to learn the real story about humanity's ancient history. It is not at all simply an "academic" debate, any more than the question of what really happened during significant events in recent history is merely an "academic" debate. 

Happily for us, we live during a time when extremely exciting new evidence seems to be surfacing almost every day, and during which large numbers of people are waking up to the problems in the official story.

I believe that the study of the world-wide system of celestial allegory which forms the foundation for the world's myths constitutes an extremely important field of evidence, alongside the archaeological and other evidence that continues to point towards a different view of humanity's ancient past.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

If all records told the same tale

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

But to trace out the history of the whole period, to say who was fighting whom at any given moment, would have been utterly impossible, since no written record, and no spoken word, ever made mention of any other alignment than the existing one. At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible. 
The frightening thing, he reflected for the ten thousandth time as he forced his shoulders painfully backward (with hands on hips, they were gyrating their bodies from the waist, an exercise that was supposed to be good for the back muscles) -- the frightening thing was that it might all be true. If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened -- that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death.
The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -- if all records told the same tale -- then the lie passed into history and became truth. "Who controls the past," ran the Party slogan, "controls the future: who controls the present controls the past."
      -- George Orwell, 1984 (pages 31-32 in the Signet reprint of the 1949 hardcover). 

If all records are made to tell the same (lying) tale, then the memory of the past can be altered for the purposes of exercising control over others. Drawing a veil over the memory of the past, and imposing a false picture of the past in its place, is a tremendously powerful weapon -- as George Orwell dramatizes in 1984

In order to do it, the above passage clearly implies, dissenting views of history must be removed from the record -- so that all records tell the same tale.

Until January of this year (2016), that is to say until last month, Professor James Tracy was a tenured professor of media studies at Florida Atlantic University, studying the exact subject which Orwell so powerfully dramatizes in 1984 -- namely, the ways in which the narrative of the past is shaped by those who seek to "control the past," through the organs of the media.

When he found evidence that, in certain circumstances, "all the records" seemed to be lining up in ways that excluded the possibility of any dissenting voices -- and even excluded credible evidence which seemed to suggest a very different perspective than the official narrative -- he acted upon his belief that such situations should be examined more closely and the conflicting evidence considered carefully, because the "control of history" (as Orwell so clearly warned us) is an extremely coveted weapon by those who wish to annihilate opposition, more terrifying even than "mere torture and death."

In fact, Professor Tracy selected a name for his blog which reflected the importance of the truth that George Orwell articulated regarding the desire to eliminate all records that do not tell the same tale, by those who seek to control the minds of others. Evoking a concept described in 1984 just a few pages after the section quoted above, Professor Tracy calls his blog (which I believe he started in 2012) the Memory Hole Blog -- perhaps because the evidence he and others discuss there is the same evidence that those who want all records to tell the same tale are trying to "send down the memory hole," so to speak.

Here is Orwell's first introduction of the famous "memory holes" (which he depicted as though they literally exist in the walls of buildings, in order to in a sense "make visual" to our imaginations a very real activity which is taking place somewhat "invisibly" all around us, though often without our notice or conscious awareness that it is going on):
In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages; to the left, a larger one for newspapers, and in the side wall, within easy reach of Winston's arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building. 
     -- 1984, (pages 34 - 35 in the Signet reprint of the 1949 hardcover). 
The immense amounts of energy which those wishing to "control the past," to control the narrative and the record of history, are willing to expend in order to do so -- and the intolerance that must be shown to any "scrap of an alternative narrative lying about," so to speak -- is brilliantly captured in Orwell's metaphorical depiction (or perhaps not so metaphorical, as 1984's "cubicles" are most certainly an all-too-common reality, and as most physical newspapers and even books made out of paper seem to have already been wafted away on the currents of warm air into a digital hall of records, where of course we can all access them freely via the web, although an imagination similar to Orwell's might wonder whether that will always be the case).  

In any event, it seems that Professor Tracy's activities to expose evidence that seemed to conflict with the accepted narrative of certain important historical events -- evidence which was supposed to have been safely shunted down the "memory hole," in order to ensure that "all records told the same tale" -- was not always welcome as a valuable contribution to the examination of the ways in which narratives are shaped in order to "control the past and the future." 

Even though he was a professor in a department offering classes on media, journalism, and the way that those institutions impact our understanding of history and narratives, where such subjects should be free to be openly discussed, Professor Tracy's employment was terminated by his university in January of this year. He had been a tenured professor since 2008 -- the very concept of "tenure" having been instituted in academia (ostensibly) to enable professors to have the freedom to pursue the truth without fear of being fired for pursuing unpopular evidence or explanations.

He was also verbally attacked and ridiculed in the media.

Both of these circumstances -- the vicious media attacks and the firing of a tenured professor for having the courage to examine and discuss evidence which does not fit with the "official narrative" -- seem to be very strong evidence in and of themselves pointing to deliberate efforts to make "all records tell the same tale." 

In other words, these actions appear to confirm the reality of the very "memory holes" that Orwell warned us about, and that Professor Tracy is talking about in the present day.

The denial of the evidence of history, by drawing a veil containing a new and fabricated historical narrative over the actual events, is an incredibly important subject, and one which should deeply concern every single adult man or woman on the planet. 

It is an incredibly important subject for the recent past (including events such as the September 11 attacks in 2001 which launched wars which have continued nonstop since that date, in which literally hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives), as well as for events of previous decades around which a single "acceptable narrative" has been permitted to be told and conflicting evidence ignored, marginalized, or even "sent down the memory hole."

It is also an incredibly important subject for humanity's ancient past, where abundant evidence from multiple fields of study -- including archaeology, geology, and (based upon the evidence that I discuss showing that the myths of virtually every culture on earth use a common system of celestial metaphor) mythology -- appears to call into question the conventional narrative of human history. 

I am not suggesting that Professor Tracy endorses my particular views of ancient history or mythology (although he was gracious enough to interview me on his podcast and radio program in 2014, and he has posted a few blog posts I have written over the years about the vital importance of the narrative of history, including "Paging Dr. Zaius" and "Analysis: against mind control, for human consciousness").   

Nor am I suggesting that everyone must share Professor Tracy's every conclusion in order to find his firing reprehensible and a grave confirmation that much of what are (or were once) thought to be the bastions of free speech and honest examination of the evidence in the pursuit of truth in the United States -- namely the media (both print and video) and the halls of academia -- are in fact actively complicit in the suppression of any dissenters who do not comply with the directive that "all records must tell the same tale."

And, it should be pointed out, that this is by no means a merely "academic" debate. To return again to my own focus on much more ancient history, please revisit this post from early December of 2015 in which I cited the powerful observation of Peter Kingsley that the prophet in ancient times was not necessarily one who was consulted regarding the future, but rather regarding the past -- and in particular, was called upon in order to find out what overlooked error or crime or offense in the past was now bringing about calamity in the present.

For example, in the Iliad, when the Achaeans perceive that the god Apollo is sending invisible arrows of death to smite all their warriors, and that he will undoubtedly continue to do so until all of them are dead unless they figure out how they have offended the god, the leaders consult a prophet. 

Elsewhere in the Iliad, Agamemnon recounts a different example that follows the same pattern, describing the time the assembled ships were ready to sail to Troy, but the weather turned violently against them and remained that way, until they consulted a prophet to find out which god they had offended (in that case, it was Agamemnon who had offended the goddess Artemis).

In other words, the prophet was needed in order to correct their faulty memory of the past -- to show them the crimes or transgressions they had committed against the divine order of the universe, but which for whatever reason had been improperly understood or appreciated and which had not been dealt with and corrected.

Until such past imbalances are seen and confronted, they will keep haunting us until we deal with them -- and the ancient myths teach us that until we deal with the problem, no one is safe.

So, burying our head in the sand is not an option.

The ancients knew this -- that's why they would immediately seek out a prophet or a seer who could tell them what was wrong in the invisible world, once they realized that the gods were trying to tell them something.

And that is probably why the writings of George Orwell seem so "prophetic" today (in the more conventional or colloquial usage of the word prophet to describe someone who is foretelling the future): Orwell was describing a problem that was not dealt with, and so the consequences of that un-confronted issue were going to keep cropping up again and again -- and it appears that may be exactly what is happening to this day, which makes it seem as though he was predicting the future (and in that sense, he certainly was).

In this sense, although he probably would not accept my labeling his work using such language, James Tracy is acting in a prophetic role as well, by pointing to unexamined issues in the past, and saying that they must be examined instead of being ignored or papered-over or even "tossed down the memory hole."

Please take some time to look into the eyes of George Orwell in the picture above, and ask yourself if you think he would advise us to ignore the subjects that James Tracy is bravely calling to our attention, or if he would diagnose these events as repeated manifestations of something to which he himself was trying to call our attention as well.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Blessing and the Upraised Arms

Above is a short video I've just made entitled "Blessing and the Upraised Arms."

The world's Star Myths use the annual interplay or struggle between the "upper half" of the year (when days are longer than nights) and the "lower half" of the year (when nights are longer than days) as an overarching structure for the interchange between the ordinary realm and the Infinite Realm.

See for instance the discussion in this previous post entitled "Here it has reached the turning-point: the celestial map of the soul's spiritual trek." See also the previous posts entitled "Blessing" and "Resolved: Blessing and not Cursing."


image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Human waves and reverberations

The scientific world is abuzz with talk of the "gravity waves" measured by the LIGO project at the National Science Foundation, which (we are told) support Einstein's proposed model of the space-time fabric of the universe. There are some who disagree and who argue that Einstein's proposed model is in fact totally incorrect, and that models proposed by Tesla and others are in fact much more accurate descriptions of our cosmos.

It's an important subject, going right to the heart of the question of how we analyze data, and how we determine which models or frameworks or over-arching model best account for all of the evidence -- a subject that applies to any field of analysis and one discussed previously in numerous different posts, such as this one and this one and this one.

Whether the model being used to interpret this particular data (the model proposing the existence of gravitational waves) is in fact correct or not is beyond the scope of this post -- in any event, it brings up the incredible importance of waves and wave energy, through which we are moving literally all the time, and which is in fact moving through us all the time as well.

Some of it comes from outer space, but much of it comes from the other things around us that produce vibrations -- and some of it comes from the vibrations that we ourselves are designed to produce, and which, according to at least some of the ancient wisdom given to humanity in ancient times, we should take the time to produce every single day, in the form of chanting or singing.

The Yoga Sutras attributed to Patanjali, for example, recommend the repetition of the divine sound of OM  as essential to the unveiling or revealing of the immutable self, the supreme self, and the removal of all obstacles.

In the first sutra of the four sutras of Patanjali, we read:
OM is a symbol for Ishvara [variously described or understood to be the Supreme Infinite, Supreme Being, and Source of All Knowledge]. 
Repetition of OM [with this meaning] leads to contemplation.
Through this practice, the immutable self is revealed and all obstacles [antaraya] are removed.
                 -- Yoga Sutras 1. 27 - 29.
In a previous post discussing the importance of the repetition of this sacred sound, we saw that in the Katha Upanishad, the god Yama declared that OM  is the word which all the scriptures glorify, which all spiritual disciplines express, and which all aspirants strive to attain through their self-restraint and self-denial. According to Yama in the Katha Upanishad, those in whose hearts OM  reverberates unceasingly are indeed blessed, and in communion with the all-knowing Self, which was never born and will never die -- the Self eternal and immutable.

Clearly, these ancient teachings describe a connection between a reverberation which we are actually designed to make with our own bodies (the sacred sound OM  ) and the Infinite Realm, the Supreme Source of All Knowledge, and the eternal and immutable Self (which obviously must exist in a realm beyond this mutable, material realm).

If you are not used to practicing the production of vibratory sound waves every day, including the practice of the repetition of the sacred sound OM  , one way to start would be to practice some of the ancient Sanskrit chants set to music by Ravi Shankar in a disc produced by George Harrison and entitled Chants of India. The disc contains traditional Sanskrit suktas, slokas and mantras set to music by the talented artists mentioned above, as well as some new compositions Ravi Shankar created for this particular album.

A selection from that album, the well-known sloka of Sahanaa Vavatu, is included above in the video at the top of this post. The chant is repeated four times, and begins with the sacred syllable each time. The conclusion also begins with the sacred syllable, followed by the word Shanti ("Peace") repeated three times.

A comfortable place to begin practicing such reverberatory chants might be in your car on various driving trips during the day for some people.

Another excellent place to start such a practice is with the book on mantras written by John Blofeld and discussed previously here. It is now out of print but still available at some booksellers or online sources of used books. It is very noteworthy that John Blofeld observed that mantras are "generally recited 3, 7, 21 or 108 times." The number 108, of course, is a precessional number of tremendous significance. The Sahanaa Vavatu described in the previous paragraph is repeated four times followed by three repetitions of Shanti, which sums to seven.

It is not necessary to chant in the ancient Sanskrit language, although there are some who maintain that its sounds are ideally formed for such a practice. Virtually every culture on the planet has its own chants and sacred songs. Some of them are discussed here in a post I wrote back in 2011, which includes video samples (the first video, at the top, is in English).

And, this previous post contains some extremely notable discussion of the practice of creating special songs among Native American cultures in previous centuries, and the fact that the structure of the chants (according to one eyewitness observer who devoted a great deal of attention to the importance of  singing among the American Indian tribes he visited) enabled everyone to be able to "be his or her own poet," and create a special personal song which was frequently the first thing sung each morning upon rising, and the last thing sung before going to bed each night.

The repetitive nature of a mantra or sacred song, along with the pattern of the rhythm, may also have an effect on what I call the "Thomas side" of our mind (see discussion here for instance, and also the discussion of Daniel-San and Mr. Miyagi, here), promoting a form of ecstasy or ecstatic experience.

You can experience this in some forms of music which are in fact very familiar or well-known, such as the repetition in the 1969 song by John Lennon of the verse, "All we are saying -- is give peace a chance" (see video below). The verse is repeated twenty times, by my count (not quite the twenty-one times which is a common count for a mantra, but still impactful at twenty repetitions).

It may well be that the repetition of mantras puts us in contact with the infinite realm which is in fact always present at all times and which is also available to us right where we are, no matter where we are (see discussion here) -- and because the invisible, infinite realm is in fact the source of everything that manifests in this apparently material world, such mantras can in fact shape or create new reality.

Thus, perhaps our own chanting can actually "bend the space-time continuum" in a way that is at least as significant as the waves being described as "gravity waves" in the news this week.

There is no doubt that we are designed to sing or chant and to create vibrations with our human body in this material life. It is a practice which should not be thought of as mysterious or unusual, but rather one which  everyone should probably take some time each day to perform, if it is at all possible.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Monday, February 8, 2016

Procession of the gods, part three

If you're inclined to rise up early in the morning to drink in the glorious lineup of the five visible planets in the pre-dawn sky, you only have a few more mornings on which to do so during 2016.

I definitely encourage everyone to try, if it is at all possible to do so. For best results, you'll need a good unobstructed view of the eastern horizon (if there are hills, buildings or trees in the way of your view, you may need to plan a route to a better observation location, if possible).

Mercury and Venus are now both continuing their way around their tight solar orbits and as they do so, they "sink back" closer to the rising orb of our sun and will soon be lost in its effulgent brightness. By the end of this week, Mercury will no longer be visible above the horizon prior to the sun's appearance, no matter how good of a terrestrial observation point you have available to you.

Above is a diagram showing the lineup one more time, if it can be of help to you in your efforts. There are many sites on the web which can also give you good instructions for identifying each of the five visible planets before dawn, such as this article on Sky & Telescope's site, and this discussion from their "This Week's Sky at a Glance" page.

Most sites giving you instructions on how to find the morning lineup, however, will not give you much discussion of the spiritual significance of this phenomenon, and how it can have direct and positive messages for our daily lives.

In the diagram above, I have included the names of the deities associated with the planetary powers, from the myths of ancient Greece. Other cultures and mythologies around the globe had different names for the gods and goddesses, of course, but it is extremely noteworthy that the attributes and powers associated with the "different" gods and goddesses in different parts of the world can be seen to have clear resonances and correspondences with one another.

In the diagram above I have also added labels for a few bright stars and constellations which can serve as landmarks when you are locating the five visible planets, and also can help you to distinguish between a bright star and a planet (note that the planets don't generally appear to "twinkle" the way the stars do, just as the moon does not "twinkle" when we see it in the night sky). 

In the diagram, I have labeled Arcturus, the bright red-orange-tinted star in the heart of Scorpio. The awe-inspiring shape of the massive Scorpion is rising almost straight up in the southeast in the predawn hours, and if you can recognize the Scorpion and Antares, you can easily locate the planet Saturn to the east of it (left if, as in the above diagram, you are looking south from an observation point in the northern hemisphere).

I have also labeled Spica (in Virgo) and Arcturus (in Bootes). These two stars are often familiar to those who know the saying "follow the Arc to Arcturus (and continue the same arc to drive a spike to Spica)" or some variation of the above. The "Arc" that the saying is describing is the sweeping curve that is suggested by the handle of the Big Dipper -- continue that arc on past the end of the handle and it will sweep you right into the red-glowing star of Arcturus, or Hokule'a (see previous post on Hokule'a, here).

In the above diagram, I have also given the ancient Greek name of the god or goddess associated with each planet: Zeus (Jupiter), Ares (Mars), Kronos (Saturn -- and there were other important Greek gods associated with Saturn, but the Titan Kronos can certainly be argued to be one of them), Aphrodite (Venus), and Hermes (Mercury). I have also added an arrow pointing to the glow coming from the pre-dawn sun (Helios, and also associated with the god Apollo, although they are distinct entities).

As we have seen in many previous posts, one teaching found in the ancient wisdom across many different cultures around the globe is the knowledge that the individual actually has access to the invisible realm at all times, and that gods and goddesses can and do appear instantly when called upon in certain situations -- appearing instantly, I believe, because they were present all the time, or because the individual's internal access to the infinite realm is in fact always present. See for example the previous discussion entitled "Why divinities can appear in an instant."

That this same knowledge was understood in conjunction with the divinities of ancient Greece is quite evident from an examination of any of the bodies of sacred mantras or hymns of the ancient Greek civilization such as the Homeric Hymns or the Orphic Hymns. In these ancient poems, the speaker addresses one of the divinities and extols his or her specific characteristics, powers, and areas of greatest action, and then -- in almost every case -- request that the god or goddess come now, or at least hear the prayer and act now.

An outstanding new translation of the Orphic Hymns, by Professor Aposotolos N. Athanakassis and Benjamin M. Wolkow, published in 2013 (first published in 1977, and available in a new and updated edition), is well worth adding to your library, if you are interested in those ancient hymns to the divine powers.

Some sample lines from hymns addressed to the five gods and goddesses you can see together in the predawn heavens over the next few mornings are included below, but better is to read each hymn carefully and thoughtfully, in its entirety, if possible.

15. "To Zeus" (selected lines)

O king, you have brought to light
divine works -- 
earth, goddess and mother,
the hills swept by the shrill winds,
the sea and the host of the stars,
marshaled by the sky.
Kronian Zeus, strong-spirited god,
the thunderbolt is your scepter,
father of all,
beginning and end of all,
earth-shaker, increaser
and purifier, all-shaker,
god of thunder and lightning,
Zeus the sower.


65. "To Ares" (selected lines)

Ever bespattered with blood,
you find joy in killing in the fray of battle, O horrid one,
your desire is for the rude clash 
of swords and spears.
Stay the rage, stay the strife,
relax pain's grip on my soul,
yield to the wish of Kypris,
yield to the revels of Lyaios,
exchange the might of arms
for the works of Deo,
yearning for youth-nurturing peace,
bliss-brining peace.


13. "To Kronos" (selected lines)

Everlasting father
of blessed gods and men,
resourceful, pure and mighty,
O powerful Titan,
you consume all things
and replenish them too.
Unbreakable is the hold you have
on the boundless cosmos,
O Kronos, begetter of time,
Kronos of the shifting stories,
child of Earth, 
child of starry Sky.


55. "To Aphrodite" (selected lines)

Everything comes from you:
you have yoked the world,
you control all three realms,
you give birth to all
to everything in heaven,
to everything upon the fruitful earth,
to everything in the depths of the sea,
O venerable companion of Bacchos.
[. . .]
Come, whether you ride your swan-drawn chariot
over the sea's billows,
joining the creatures of the deep
as they dance in circles,
or on land in the company
of the dark-faced nymphs 
as light-footed they frisk
over the sandy beaches.
[. . .]
Come, O beautiful,
O comely goddess,
I summon you with holy words,
I summon you with a pious soul.


 28. "To Hermes" (selected lines)

Hear me, Hermes,
messenger of Zeus, son of Maia,
almighty in heart, lord of the deceased,
judge of contests, 
gentle and clever, O Argeiphontes,
you are the guide
of the flying sandals,
a man-loving prophet to mortals.
A vigorous god, you delight
in exercise and in deceit.
Interpreter of all you are
and a profiteer who frees us of cares,
who holds in his hands
the blameless tool of peace.


9. "To the Sun" (selected lines)

Hear me, O blessed one,
eternal eye that sees all,
Titan radiant as gold, 
Hyperion, celestial light,
self-born, untiring,
sweet sight to living creatures.
[. . .]
A paragon of justice,
O water-loving lord of the cosmos,
you guard pledges and ever the highest,
you do help all.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Your INFINITELY "big screen"

This weekend is the time of year when, at least in the US, much attention becomes riveted to screens in family rooms and living rooms in homes around the nation, as people gather together to watch the Super Bowl. The fact that nearly as much attention and discussion will be lavished upon the commercials and advertisements as will be devoted to analyzing the game over the next few days following the event only goes to show that the entire spectacle in some sense can be seen as a gargantuan commercial or advertisement of some sort (the question of "an advertisement for what?" will be left to the reader to contemplate, or not, as desired).

Much attention will also be devoted to the size of the screens around which people will gather -- and new and larger and more densely-pixelated (more densely-megapixelated) screens will be purchased or rented for the occasion.

But however wonderful the screens we hang on our walls or carry around in our pockets and purses become, through the continued and accelerating onrush of technology, they will never (it seems safe to declare) become actually infinite in size or depth. 

And yet, we have at our disposal on nearly every clear night a "big screen" of truly unsurpassed wonderfulness, and one which is in fact infinite, incapable of being measured or bounded with dimensions, which we can go outside and enjoy at virtually no cost, if it is at all possible to do so.  

That infinite screen, of course, is the night sky -- the inky depths of space containing the countless glittering stars, most of which are also enormous suns hurtling along inside our own massive whirlpool of a galaxy, and some of which are not stars at all but galaxies in their own right, located at almost-inconceivable distances from our own.

When we stare up into the heavens at night, we are truly staring into infinity. And that is one reason why, as much benefit as we may derive from what we see on the various screens which surround us in our daily life, we should also endeavor -- as much as it is possible for us to do so -- to devote some time to watching the infinitely-big theater which plays out over our heads each and every clear night of the year.

Presently, there is a special array of stars and constellations making their way across that glorious stage. In fact, at this time of year in the time period around midnight, we can look up and see the layout of the stars which pioneering astro-theologian Robert Taylor believed to have been the foundation for the Christmas story of the birth in the manger. 

On pages 43 and 44 of the collection of his lectures published under the title Devil's Pulpit, he explains that the sun is, metaphorically speaking, described in ancient myth as being "born" at the midnight hour three days after winter solstice, when it finally begins to ascend back towards the top of its annual path, from the lowest point that it marks at winter solstice. And the zodiac constellation that was at the very top of the arc at the midnight hour on that special night two thousand years ago would have been the zodiac constellation containing a special cluster of stars known as the Beehive Cluster, but also known in ancient times as Praesepe, or "the Manger." 

Thus the sun, which is located at the exact other side of our planet when we look out to the top of the ecliptic band of the zodiac at the midnight hour, could be said to be "born" at the moment that the Manger was crossing that special summit-point on the zodiac's arc at midnight three days after winter solstice (midnight on December 24th).

The ages-long motion of precession (the phenomenon which causes the "precession of the equinoxes") acts to "delay" the background of stars from reaching the same point in the heavens on any selected day and time from one year to the next. In other words, if we are accustomed to seeing a certain star at the transit-point (the top of its arc) on a certain day and time each year (such as midnight on December 24th), the slow but inexorable motion of precession will delay its arrival at that point over the years -- but by such a tiny degree that it will only be delayed by one degree in 71.6 years. 

That means that if a certain star is located at transit (straight up from due south on our planet, if we are in the northern hemisphere, or crossing the imaginary line in the sky that arcs up from due south and over our heads through the north celestial pole and back down into the horizon at due north) at a certain specific time on the same date each year, it will be only one degree "delayed" from reaching that point on the same date at the same time, seventy-one-plus years later. More on this phenomenon is discussed in this previous post, and in several other places on the web.

Because of this delaying action, and the passage of thousands of years, the situation in the sky that prevailed at midnight on December 24th thousands of years ago has been "delayed" and would not be visible now on that date in the same way that it was back then. But you can go outside now at the beginning of February and see the sky at midnight with the constellations in their places, as Robert Taylor believes they were arranged for the turnaround of the sun's path after the three-day "pause" at the winter solstice, back when the ancient texts describing the birth in the manger were imparted to humanity.

You can find the beautiful Beehive Cluster in the constellation of Cancer the Crab at or near its transit-point (its highest point on its arc across the sky) right around midnight at this time of year. As you do so, you can also look to the west and see Orion and his three belt-stars (the "Three Kings") sinking down into the western horizon (ahead of them, more easily seen in the hours before midnight, you can see the glorious Pleiades). And you can look to the east and see the rising form of Virgo the Virgin, made more easy to locate by the presence of mighty Jupiter near the top of her head, and her outstretched arm marked by the star Vindemiatrix, which can be shown to have been envisioned as a divine child sitting in her lap in more than one ancient myth-system.

The situation at or near midnight at this time of year is diagrammed for you in the star-chart above, which is depicted for an observer in the northern hemisphere at about 35.6N latitude, looking towards the south (east thus being to the left and west to the right as we look at the image). If you want to locate the dazzling Beehive (and I highly recommend you give it a try, if it is at all possible for you to do so), the best way to find it is to look between the majestic head of Leo the Lion and the parallel forms of Gemini the Twins.

There are some previous posts which go into more detail on locating the Beehive: this one from 2014 goes into pretty extensive detail. The image above shows you the location of Gemini from Orion, which you should not have too much trouble in locating, and the form of Leo the Lion can be found by looking for the brilliant orb of Jupiter in the east part of the sky. The distance in the heavens between the mouth of Leo and the heads of the Twins is not very great: in that space between them is the very dim form of Cancer the Crab, and in the head of the Crab is the Beehive. You will almost see it "by intuition" with your naked eye, it is so faint -- but you should be able to "intuit" its presence in that space, if you are in an area that is dark enough. You will need a pretty dark location in order to see it (those living in big cities will have to drive away from the city lights, if that is possible to do for you).

I believe that the best way to try to see these heavenly objects is actually to lie down on your back, either on the ground or on a lawn chair: looking up at them while standing, especially if looking for the more difficult-to-spot objects, is pretty uncomfortable. The Beehive is absolutely wonderful to look at through binoculars, but it's not fun to try to do that when standing. Lie down and give yourself the best chance to see it and really enjoy it through your binoculars with your head supported by the ground beneath you. The best way to do it is to see it (or "intuit it") with your naked eye, and then look at that spot where you think you see it using the binoculars.

The section of the sky in front of the muzzle of the Lion which contains the Beehive is shown in an enlarged screen-shot, below:

If you are pretty sure of which stars you are looking at in the above representation, you may in fact be able to make out the tiny but gorgeous little cluster of stars that is the Beehive. It's about this size to the naked eye, in my experience. You may despair of seeing it in the night sky after reading that previous sentence, but don't! I believe that, given a clear night and a dark enough location, you may be able to perceive its location if you can find Leo and Gemini and look between them for a faint "blur" of stars, and then train your binoculars where you believe you see that "blur."

Below is the same image shown just above, only with the stars labeled: these are the primary landmarks for you to find the Beehive in the sky:

Even if you have seen the Beehive many times before, going out and looking at it is well worth it, whenever you are able to do so, in my opinion. I personally can look at the Beehive for long periods of time without any loss of fascination and wonder -- it is such a dazzling cluster of heavenly bodies.

Additionally, as mentioned above, you should also be able to see the Pleiades, sinking down towards the west, and from the same point on the ground where you are lying on your back to look at the Beehive (or the same lawn-chair), without really having to get up and move. Just train your eyes to the west and follow the line of Orion's unmistakeable belt of stars. Looking at the Pleiades through binoculars is similarly mesmerizing as is looking at the Beehive.

In addition to being an infinite "big screen," the heavens also point us towards the Infinite World of the spirit. The ancient myths all use the stars and the motions of the constellations in the cycles of the heavens as metaphors to convey to us truths about the Infinite Realm: the realm of spirit, the realm of the gods. It is no accident that they do so: when we look at the sky, we look into the infinite -- and the spirit realm is in fact in-finite, without material measurements or boundaries, as is the human soul.

The ancient wisdom imparted to the human race in all the different myths and sacred traditions from around the world always teaches that we have at all times and circumstances an inner connection to the infinite.

The outstretched or "upraised" arms of the constellation Cancer the Crab, in fact, were (in the world's ancient myth-systems) symbolic of the upraised spirit-aspect of our dual material-spiritual nature. More on this aspect of Cancer the Crab and the upraised arms can be found in previous discussions here and here, for instance.

The act of elevating the spirit-consciousness in ourselves and others -- the awareness (that is) of the fact that we are not "mere matter" or "mere animals" but that we have an immaterial and infinite aspect, as indeed does the entire cosmos around us -- is inherent in the concept of blessing, upon which the world's ancient texts and traditions place a tremendous amount of importance. 

The opposite action, of denying or attempting to "beat down" the awareness of this spiritual aspect in ourselves and others -- falsely trying to reduce a spiritual being into an "object" or a "brute beast" -- is accurately described as cursing

Contemplating the stars, and the infinite heavens above (it is safe to say) can and does help us in perceiving the infinite and spiritual aspect in ourselves and in the entire universe around us. 

Time spent on all the "other kinds" of screens (it is also safe to say) does not always do so -- and can in fact point us in the opposite direction, which is actually a false direction (to the extent that it denies the reality of our infinite and spiritual nature, and the infinite and spiritual aspect of the universe around us).

This is not to say that the material found on the "non-infinite" screens of the world is always debasing, or that it is never spiritually uplifting. That is actually not true at all (in fact, you're most likely reading this little essay on a screen, somewhere in the world). 

But, as wonderful as all the other screens on earth might be, we should certainly try to devote some time to contemplating and enjoying that infinitely wonderful heavenly realm which is spread out over our heads, each and every night, if (as said before) it is at all possible for us to do so.

I sincerely hope that doing so will be a blessing to you.