Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Total Lunar Eclipse, January 31, 2018

image: NASA (link).

The moon is waxing towards full, and will reach the point of full moon on January 31. As you've probably already heard, this full moon will feature a total lunar eclipse, which will be visible as the moon is rising for viewers in eastern Europe, Asia, Australia and the western Pacific Ocean, and as the moon is setting for viewers in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the western part of North America and Mexico (but the moon will pass through earth's shadow close to or after the moon sets for the eastern side of North America and for much of Central America, South America, Africa and western Europe).

The diagram above shows the times that the earth's shadow will envelope the moon, using the Pacific time zone in effect in western North America (including California). Viewers in the Eastern time zone of North America will have to add three hours to the times for the moon's entry into the penumbra and umbra -- which means that the moon will already have moved below the western horizon (moon set) by the time it is fully enveloped by the umbra for viewers in eastern North America, South America, the Atlantic, Africa and western Europe (see map below, also from NASA):

A total lunar eclipse can only occur when the moon passes through the point of full moon -- that is, when it is directly opposite from the sun: when the sun, the earth, and the moon are aligned such that the earth is between the sun and the moon. However, because the plane of the moon's orbit around the earth is tilted slightly from the plane of the earth's orbit around the sun, the moon will not go into earth's shadow every time that the moon reaches the point of full moon (when earth is between sun and moon). The moon will only pass into the shadow of the earth when the moon happens to reach the point of full moon at the same time that the moon on its tilted orbital plane is also passing through the plane of earth's orbit around the sun.

Further discussion of the moon's tilted orbital plane, and a few helpful videos to help you visualize what it means when the moon passes through the orbital plane of the earth around the sun, can be found at previous posts such as "The lunar nodes and the nine-world cosmology" and "An excellent website explaining the lunar nodes (with animation)." 

There is also some discussion of the January 31 lunar eclipse in this month's installment of "Skies over Grimerica," which was recorded on January 17th.

The leading edge of the moon will enter the penumbra of earth's shadow at 2:51 in the a.m. on early Wednesday morning, January 31, for observers in the Pacific time zone in western North America (this contact of the leading edge of the moon with the penumbra is also referred to as "P1"), and the leading edge of the moon will enter the umbra of earth's shadow at 3:48 in the a.m. just under one hour later (this contact of the leading edge of the moon with the umbra is also referred to as "U1"). The umbra is the full shadow of the earth, which would completely blot out the moon from our view, except for the fact that our planet has an atmosphere which bends the rays of the sun, allowing some rays to "leak through" to the face of the moon, giving it some illumination instead of plunging it into total blackness. These refracted rays are reddish in color, for the same reason that the sun and the moon appear redder when they are just rising or setting (because the rays of light are bending through our earth's atmosphere). 

There is a good discussion of this phenomenon, along with some nice diagrams, in this discussion of the January 31 eclipse over at Sky & Telescope, here.

As the moon continues on its orbit, the umbra will creep across more and more of the face of the moon, until the umbra reaches the trailing edge of the moon at 4:51 a.m. on Wednesday morning, January 31, for viewers in the Pacific time zone (the contact of the trailing edge of the moon with the umbra is also referred to as "U2"). At this point, the lunar eclipse is total. However, the centerline of the moon will pass through the very center of the umbra at 5:29 am for viewers in the Pacific time zone -- this is the point of "max eclipse" for this lunar eclipse.

The leading edge of the moon will begin to exit the umbra at 6:07 am Pacific time, which is also referred to as "U3." The moon will set below the western horizon for viewers in much of the west coast of North America before its trailing edge moves out of the umbra when the trailing edge of the moon leaves the umbra it is also known as "U4").

Viewers in other parts of the world which can see the lunar eclipse can use the Greenwich or Universal times shown in the upper-right corner of the second diagram above in order to calculate the local times for P1, U1, U2, U3, and U4.

The media is giving all sorts of sensational names to this lunar eclipse, in an attempt to make this month's event seem more unusual than other lunar eclipses -- but much of the hype involves the fact that this is the second full moon of the calendar month of January, which is simply an effect of the calendar and not of the celestial mechanics of the earth and the moon. Moreover, the use of the term "blue moon" to refer to the second full moon in a month appears to be relatively recent and -- according to this article in Sky & Telescope -- this use of the term "blue moon" may actually have resulted from a mistake by a writer in that same magazine back in 1946.

However, don't let the media's constant need to hype everything in their grasp spoil the experience of observing the eclipse for yourself, if it is at all possible for you to do so and if you live in a part of the globe where this eclipse will be visible during the time that the moon is moving through the umbra of earth's shadow. I believe that it is always beneficial to observe the motions of the heavenly cycles, and to marvel at the effects of the interplay between the moon and the earth and the sun. 

The moon is swinging along its path this very moment, heading for the point where it will intersect with the plane of the earth's speeding orbit around the sun, and in just over twenty-four hours it will begin to enter into the shadow cast by our entire planet. As always, that will be something to see.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mahatma Gandhi and Satyagraha

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Mahatma Gandhi was born in 1869.

As is of course very well known, he opposed colonialism, oppression, and exploitation.

Gandhi is also well known for advocating and practicing satyagraha, which in his own translation of his 1909 book on Indian Self Rule, he renders as "soul force" or "love force" in English (for instance in this chapter).

Of this concept, Gandhi wrote:

"When I refuse to do a thing that is repugnant to my conscience, I use soul-force" (chapter 17, "Passive Resistance").

In that same text, which he wrote in 1909, he provides many perspectives upon the reason that soul force is superior to brute force -- perhaps most succinctly when he says:
To use brute force, to use gunpowder, is contrary to passive resistance, for it means that we want our opponent to do by force that which we desire but he does not. And if such a use of force is justifiable, surely he is entitled to do likewise by us. 17.
But just because he subscribed to the principle of nonviolent or peaceful resistance does not mean that he believed in allowing oppression, exploitation, and colonialism to continue -- quite the contrary. In the same 1909 text, he proclaims: "You may keep the riches that you have drained away from this land, but you may not drain riches henceforth. [ . . . ] We cease to play the part of the ruled" (chapter 20, "Conclusion").

Mahatma Gandhi realized and acknowledged that those who had turned his country into a colony had superior military power. He says as much in the same concluding chapter just cited, but then notes that it is only by the cooperation of the governed that those who have been oppressing and exploiting the people are able to do so, when he declares:
You may, if you like, cut us to pieces. You may shatter us at the cannon's mouth. If you act contrary to our will, we shall not help you; and without our help, we know that you cannot move one step forward.
This insight, that "without our help, we know that you cannot move one step forward," is crucial to understanding the power of Gandhi's satyagraha. At another point in the same tract, he declares that without those who collaborate with the colonizers, the country could never have been enslaved: "It is we, the English-speaking Indians, who have enslaved India. The curse of the nation will rest not upon the English but upon us" (chapter 16, "Education").

Without such collaboration, the oppressors would be stymied. This fact is the key to the effectiveness of the nonviolent resistance which Gandhi demonstrated and advocated. 

The colonialist powers used brute force to try to coerce collaboration, or to give an excuse to those who collaborated -- enabling them to rationalize their collaboration by saying, "What else can I do? They have all the firepower." By demonstrating that the occupiers had no power without such collaboration, Gandhi removed that rationalization.

When that which belongs by right to all men and women is siphoned-away for the benefit of a small group at the expense of everyone else, the only way this can happen is if the vast majority of the people (who will intuitively realize that a wrong is being committed) allow it to happen, usually due to their fear of the threat of violence, and also due to their lack of awareness that they already possess the means to bring that misappropriation to a stop. Gandhi's teaching and his example addressed both of these obstacles.

Colonialism, by its very definition, has at its core the seizing of that which belongs to all men and women in a nation by a very few (some of them from another nation, but requiring the cooperation of collaborators from the colonized populace as well). We may delude ourselves into thinking that such imperialism came to an end around the world many decades ago, but in fact today's neoliberalism operates on the very same principles, having at its core the privatization of resources which belong to the public, on a vast scale -- including mineral resources such as oil and natural gas and ores and metals and rare earth elements, public utilities, ports, airports, railroads, forests, aquifers, pensions belonging to retirees, and even rivers.

Almost everyone knows without even having to be taught that the seizing of such gifts of the gods for the benefit of the few at the expense of everyone else is inherently wrong. Gandhi's teaching should open our eyes to the fact that without our cooperation, such unjustifiable exploitation could not take place. 

His remedy was both simple and at the same time powerfully effective: do not cooperate with it. Refuse to do a thing that is repugnant to your conscience.

That this methodology is greatly feared by those few who rely on the cooperation of the many in order to drain away the riches that belong to all men and women is evidenced by the fact that Mahatma Gandhi was brutally assassinated on January 30, 1948. Just over twenty years later, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. -- who was implementing the very same conscience-driven nonviolent approach -- was also brutally assassinated. John Lennon was advocating and practicing much the same soul-force or love-force.

The actions and example of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King brought about incredible changes. They demonstrate that soul force is indeed more powerful than brute force.

They knew that violence could not stop their message: but it is up to us to continue to proclaim it and live it.

Near the very end of the conclusion of the text by Gandhi cited above, Gandhi urges us not to wait for anyone else in our application of the principle of satyagraha. To ask when everyone will be ready to join us in this refusal to cooperate with oppression and exploitation, he says, is to make a mistake.

Seventy years after the departure of Mahatma Gandhi from this incarnation, his message and example live on, as urgently needed today as ever in the past.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin and the purpose of "thought experiment"

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

I was saddened to learn today that author Ursula Kroeber Le Guin has crossed.

She was born in 1929 and grew up in Berkeley, California. 

One of my professors in graduate school considered her a mentor and friend.

He introduced me to an important teaching from Ursula Le Guin regarding the "thought experiment" of fiction writing (as well as of theoretical physics including quantum physics):
The purpose of a thought-experiment, as the term was used by Schrodinger and other physicists, is not to predict the future -- indeed Schrodinger's most famous thought-experiment shows that the "future," on the quantum level, cannot be predicted -- but to describe reality, the present world. 
Science fiction is not predictive; it is descriptive.
From her introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness (1987).

I discussed this important quotation in a blog post from 2014, here (one which may be even more appropriate today than when it was written then).

I would recommend taking the time to read the work of Ursula Le Guin in the coming days and months, and to pause from time to time to think of the above quotation, and to contemplate what she might be describing in our present world in her thought experiments about other "imaginary" worlds -- and then to ask what realities her work might be urging us to perceive, realities to which we might have remained asleep or oblivious without the help of her prophetic writing.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Truth is Up There

image: Wikimedia commons (link); modified.

The X-Files is one of the longest-running series in television history, premiering in September 1993 and (after a lengthy pause) still airing new episodes today.

The series depicts a world in which malevolent aliens are plotting to take over the earth and destroy humanity, assisted by certain treacherous humans who have been promised that they will be spared in exchange for their collaboration. 

The episodes revolve around the exploits of special agents Mulder and Scully of the FBI, who investigate cases in the agency's "X-Files" involving the unexplained and the paranormal, and the tension between the implications of the mounting evidence and the resistance of those who want to ignore those implications and who refuse to accept the possibility that their entire paradigm may be wrong (as well as the efforts of those who actually know what's going on and who want to suppress the evidence or downplay the implications in order to preserve the false paradigm).

This tension leads to the memorable tagline which appears at the end of the credit sequence which rolls at the beginning of every episode: "The Truth is Out There" -- the implication being that no amount of effort by the forces who want to suppress the facts can ultimately prevent the truth from finally coming out. 

It's an extremely powerful message.

I do believe that the truth eventually does come out, regardless of efforts to suppress it, although I myself am not at all convinced that the truth involves space aliens (see discussions here and here, for example). In fact, I'm personally more inclined to believe that many of the space alien theories propagated rather aggressively during the decades immediately following the ostensible end of the Second World War were intended to distract from the truth that is actually out there, rather than to point people towards the truth -- although I think the overall premise of the X-Files can serve as a brilliant metaphor for things that are actually going on and which are in fact extremely dangerous, and which are important to perceive for the safety of the human race and the planet Earth. 

Whatever your beliefs on that subject, however, one paradigm-exploding body of evidence which should really be beyond dispute at this point is the overwhelming set of data-points which demonstrate that the world's ancient myths -- from virtually every culture on every inhabited continent and island -- are speaking a common language of celestial metaphor. This evidence argues strongly for the existence of some now-forgotten culture or civilization which predates (possibly by millennia) even the most ancient civilizations known or postulated by conventional academic historians. 

The evidence in myth of a shared world-wide system may in fact constitute an even more-indisputable body of evidence for the existence of such a lost civilization than the formidable body of evidence composed by the world's network of ancient monuments, which also appear to be interconnected in ways that are virtually impossible to reconcile with the conventional historical paradigm (see for example evidence discussed here and here, as well as in the work of researchers such as Graham Hancock and Joseph Farrell and Laird Scranton, among many, many others).

That's because, once the outlines of the system are understood, the connections between the stars and the myths can be readily perceived by anyone, for myths stretching from ancient Egypt to Aotearoa, and from the myths of ancient China and Japan to those of the Norse of Scandinavia, and from the stories in the scriptures of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation -- all of which can be seen to be closely related to one another and even to share numerous common elements making their connection to one another and to the stars of the night sky virtually undeniable.

This evidence can be seen in the texts of the myths themselves, as well as in ancient artwork from around the world, and it can be seen most of all in the motions of the stars and visible planets of our night sky, which are accessible on most nights to everyone who is able to go out and look at them for himself or herself.

The number of correspondences between the myths and the stars are absolutely overwhelming, and constitute a compelling -- and, in my opinion, conclusive -- set of data which argues that the world's myths are based on a common system of celestial metaphor. I have now outlined some of this evidence in five original books each with hundreds of pages and hundreds of illustrations, including The Undying Stars (423 pages), Star Myths of the World, Volume One (482 pages), Star Myths of the World, Volume Two (718 pages), Star Myths of the World, Volume Three (766 pages), and Astrotheology for Life (322 pages), as well as another book based on just a small selection from my first one thousand blog posts, entitled Ancient Myths, Ancient Wisdom (866 pages).

And the evidence that has been presented in those books thus far actually constitutes only a tiny fraction of the evidence available in ancient myth and ancient artwork from around the world which could be offered as support for the conclusion that some common system of celestial metaphor, from some presently unknown source, somehow informs the sacred stories from cultures separated from one another by vast distances -- and in some cases by vast gulfs of time as well.

Indeed, new discoveries such as the Pylos Combat Agate, which was only unearthed in the past year from a shaft-grave discovered only as recently as 2015 -- and which was not even recognized as containing its stunning artwork until it was carefully cleaned off in 2017, and first revealed to the public this past November well after I had published all of the original volumes listed above, and well after the publication of the blog post selections included in Ancient Myths, Ancient Wisdom -- provide astonishing new evidence for the operation of this ancient worldwide system, in addition to the evidence in texts and artifacts which have been known and remarked upon for centuries (or even for millennia).

Unlike other forms of evidence pointing to the existence of an ancient culture predating and influencing the other known cultures and civilizations of humanity, the celestial correspondences can be seen by going outside on a clear dark night and looking up at the sky. It is not necessary to travel to remote deserts or jungles, or to have an advanced degree in geology or archaeology or even astronomy to see the evidence for one's self.

An example which is shown in my recent video discussing the special category of "dual-horizon" myths, and discussed in a little more detail in this month's "Stars over Grimerica" episode exploring the celestial phenomena visible during this time of year, are the aspects of the goddess Durga and the demon Mahishasura, from the ancient scriptures and sacred traditions of India, which can be readily seen to correspond to the distinctive features of the constellation Virgo (and the nearby constellations of Leo, Hydra, and Coma Berenices) and of the constellation Orion (and the nearby constellation of Taurus, particularly the "head of the bull" formed by the Hyades and the two "horns" indicated by the two stars located at roughly an equal distance beyond the two tips of the "V" of the Hyades).

Below is an amazing stone relief found in the Mahishamardini cave temple (or mandapa) in the Mahabalipuram temple complex of southern India, thought to have been carved in the 7th and 8th centuries AD. This portion of the temple carving depicts the goddess Durga, riding on a lion towards Mahishasura, depicted as a powerful figure with the head of a bull water buffalo:

left: Mahabalipuram temple relief, Wikimedia commons (link); right: stars of Orion and Taurus, stellarium.org.

The correspondences between the depiction of the figure of Mahishasura by the artist of the late 600s or early 700s, and the outline of the constellation Orion as we can see it in the sky above our heads this very week in the year 2018, could not be more compelling.

Below, the outline of the figure of Orion (yellow lines) and the nearby "head of the bull" of Taurus as defined by the V-shaped Hyades plus the two stars indicating the tips of the two long horns (red lines) have been added to the same stars seen in the above image to the right of the temple relief:

Note that the figure of Orion as seen in the sky appears to have one leg bent and the other leg straight (the leg on the right as we face the constellation, which would be the left leg of the figure, if envisioned as facing us). The artwork from Mahabalipuram depicts Mahishasura in an identical stance: the left leg is bent at the knee (the leg on the right as we face the sculpture), while the right leg (on the left as we face it) is straight.

Further, the Asura carries a short club in his right hand, which can be seen in the outline of Orion held aloft in the figure's right hand (on the left as we face the constellation).

The artist has even depicted Mahishasura as having a long sash which dangles down from his waist between his legs, somewhat closer to the leg on the left (the right leg of the Asura) than the leg on the right as we face the sculpture. This detail clearly corresponds to the "sword" or "sheath" hanging down from the famous three-star belt of the constellation Orion, containing the hazy Orion Nebula, which is visible in the star-diagram above between the legs of the constellation, slightly closer to the leg on the left as we face the image than to the leg on the right.

Above and a little to the right as we face the star-chart above we see the outline of the head of Taurus the Bull, depicted with red lines in the image. The fact that this bull's head is clearly separated from the neck and torso of the outline of Orion no doubt gives rise to the fact that in the ancient myths, Durga slays Mahishasura by severing his head from his body.

Clearly, the ancient artist seems to have been aware that the myth of the combat between Durga and Mahishasura is based on the constellations in the night sky, and that Mahishasura corresponds to the constellations Orion and Taurus, with Orion representing the body and Taurus the head. It is also possible that the artists themselves were not informed of the actual celestial origin of the artistic conventions they were taught regarding the proper ways to depict various supernatural figures -- but it is clear that however the artists inherited these artistic conventions, the conventions themselves preserved the connection to the stars in the heavens.

In the videos linked above, as well as in other writings about the identity of the goddess Durga, I have provided further discussion which shows fairly conclusively that the goddess corresponds to the constellation Virgo in the sky, and that the lion upon which she rides corresponds to Leo (a common pattern in other myths around the world, in which goddesses ride upon, stand upon, or are otherwise associated with lions). And, what is in my opinion still further confirmation of the celestial correspondences in this myth, it can be seen that the constellations Orion and Taurus (representing Mahishasura) are sinking down into the west at the same time that Virgo and Leo (representing the goddess Durga riding triumphantly upon her lion) are rising up out of the east. Right now, in fact, is a particularly good time of year to observe this phenomena in the motions of the respective constellations Taurus, Orion, Leo and Virgo.

There are in fact hundreds, or even thousands, of other examples which could be offered from ancient myth or ancient artwork, literally from around the globe.

And the silently circling stars which you can go outside and see this very night will testify to the connection of the ancient myths to the heavenly actors, a connection which becomes all but undeniable as example after example is found to correspond to the constellations and other celestial players in extremely precise and minute details.

In fact, the knowledge of these connections is not particularly new, and it certainly did not originate with me or with my work. I have found hints of this awareness in the writings of ancient philosophers, including Plato and Macrobius (and I'm pretty suspicious of Plutarch's knowledge on this subject as well). In more recent centuries, French free-thinkers such as Charles-Francois Dupuy (1742 - 1809) and Volney (1757 - 1820) wrote extensively on some aspects of this same concept.

Even more comprehensive, in my opinion, are the connections between the stars and the characters and episodes found in the Bible that were discovered by the Reverend Robert Taylor of England (1784 - 1844), who delivered sermons or lectures on these correspondences over a course of many years to packed audiences in London (and who was in fact thrown in jail on multiple occasions for doing so, in addition to losing his job as a minister). After his death, these sermons were collected and published in two volumes, which can both be accessed through links on the "Resources" page of my primary website.

Even more recently, Professors Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend collected a massive encyclopedia of evidence for what they called a "great world-wide archaic construction" which survived "in traditional rites, in myths and fairy tales no longer understood," which became a book entitled Hamlet's Mill: An essay on myth and the frame of time, published in 1969 (nearly fifty years ago now!).

And yet, despite the fact that Robert Taylor's extremely massive body of lectures was published in the middle of the nineteenth century (and we are already well past the beginning of the twenty-first), and despite the fact that Hamlet's Mill was published forty-nine years ago this year, the overwhelming amount of evidence which demonstrates that the ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories of the world are based on the stars -- and indeed, based upon a common world-wide system of celestial metaphor which employs the same metaphors and the same understanding of constellational details (details in many cases which we would not expect to arise independently of one another in multiple cultures without any connection) -- this paradigm-shifting information is all but unknown today.

It's almost as if some very powerful forces are actively working to suppress the awareness of this evidence, and to preserve the conventional paradigm and historical narrative among the general public (and even among academicians), akin to the forces depicted in the X-Files series, who work to suppress the evidence that Mulder and Scully encounter, and to keep the true picture implied by the evidence from coming to light.

And yet, despite whatever forces may or may not be working behind the scenes to discourage awareness of the full implications of this information, the evidence is out there and it is available for all to see, once they begin to look for it. As the characters of the X-Files themselves declare, "no agency has jurisdiction over the truth."

And, unlike the evidence discovered by agents Mulder and Scully in that series, the evidence of the myths and the stars cannot be buried away in some bulging filing cabinets in remote corners of vast institutional buildings -- because the evidence is turning over our heads at all times. All we have to do is learn how to look.

In this case, the truth really is out there . . . or, perhaps more precisely,

                                                       The Truth is Up There

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Skies over Grimerica: Night skies and Star Myths for January, 2018

It's time for another edition of "Skies over Grimerica," in which I join hosts Darren and Graham of the Grimerica Show to discuss the phenomena visible in the skies overhead during the current month, including some of the constellations in the night sky for the month along with their connection to ancient myth.

Previous installments of this fairly recent feature have included the "Skies over Grimerica" segments for the months of November and December (recorded in those months during 2017). This latest show discusses the phenomena visible right now during the remainder of the month of January (2018), including the total lunar eclipse coming up at the next full moon (January 31), as well as some phenomena coming up in early February, including that month's cross-quarter day.

The above conversation was recorded on January 17, 2018.

As with previous iterations of this feature, we follow the general outline of discussing the moon, then the planets, then any special upcoming "stations of the year" (last month looking at winter solstice, and this month looking at the concept of "cross-quarter days"), then the constellations visible during the month (or at least some of them), associated myths from around the world, and some discussion of the possible meaning and message of those myths.

We went for quite a while during this month's conversation, both because we covered a lot of ground and also because we dove at some length into a few different aspects of celestial mechanics in response to questions about subjects such as the angle of the ecliptic plane along which the sun, moon and visible planets can be seen to rise (and how that angle changes based on the observer's latitude on planet earth), the concept of the celestial north pole and how its elevation in the night sky changes based on the observer's latitude on planet earth, and the fact that the visible planets are sometimes grouped more "tightly" in the sky from the perspective of observers on our planet and sometimes are more widely dispersed, due to their location in their respective orbital tracks (among other subjects).

We also went into the concept of umbras and penumbras in relation to solar eclipses and lunar eclipses, the use of gnomons and shadows for telling time during the day and for marking the sun's progress back and forth between the solstices as we progress through our annual orbit, and a little bit on the use of passage chambers aligned with the sun's rising or setting points during special days of the year such as the solstices, the equinoxes, or the cross-quarter days (this month looking at Cairn L at Loughcrew in Ireland, which is aligned with the sunrise for the upcoming February cross-quarter day).

For those not wishing or not able to devote the two hours and fourteen minutes required to absorb this full episode in one sitting, the following are some general time-markers between the above-named subjects on the menu:
  • The moon and the lunar eclipse discussion begins soon after the "formal start" of the show, which doesn't actually start until about the 0:05:00 minute mark.
  • Discussion of the visible planet locations for the month begins at about 0:34:30. That segment also gets into some deeper dives into some of the aspects of the celestial mechanics mentioned above.
  • Discussion of the concept of cross-quarter days in between the stations of the two solstices and two equinoxes begins at approximately 1:02:00 in the video.
  • Discussion of some of the constellations visible this month, and their relation to the story of the goddess Durga and Mahishasura (in some detail), begins at about 1:28:20 and continues to the end of the video.
Links to previous blog posts that go into areas related to some of the points of discussion from this months segment include:
I hope that you are enjoying the "Skies over Grimerica" segments, and that you can go out into the night sky to observe some of the glorious heavenly phenomena for yourself each month, if at all possible.

I'm convinced that the ancient myths of the world are speaking a heavenly language which uses the heavenly cycles to convey profound truths for our benefit and blessing. The more we can observe and understand those cycles, the better we can "hear" what the world's ancient wisdom is trying to say to us. 

"Transforming everyone and everything into commodities": arguments that museums should sell off their art expose the self-devouring rot at the heart of neoliberalism

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Here are two stories articulating different sides of a very important issue -- one with wide-ranging implications which go far beyond the world of art and museums and reach in fact into almost every aspect of society.

The first article is entitled "Art museums should sell works in storage to avoid raising admission fees," written by Michael O'Hare and published in the San Francisco Chronicle on January 10, 2018.

The second takes the opposite side of the debate from the arguments advanced by Mr. O'Hare. It is entitled "Museum's plan to sell off art crosses ethical boundaries," and it was written by Charles Desmarais and published in SFGate, which is the name of a web-based digital version of the Chronicle which was created when the internet started to become more popular with those looking for news. 

Mr. O'Hare's piece is actually a rebuttal to Mr. Desmarais' piece -- Mr. Desmarais argues that privatizing artwork (by selling pieces off to private buyers) is unethical, and Mr. O'Hare (a professor at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy) argues that Mr. Desmarais is mistaken and that selling art to collectors could enable museums to provide free admission, and that in the end, "money is what museums use to allow art to create its artistic value, which is people engaging with it."

The specific details of the debate have to do with the question of whether or not museums should sell artwork that is not on display -- but the principle involved has to do with the question of public domain and private domain, which is one of the central issues in economics and public policy and which has fired contentious debate and disagreement for hundreds of years.

Mr. O'Hare (the professor who argues for sale of artwork to private collectors) makes an interesting point by saying that "admission to art museums should be free for many good reasons," and then argues that if museums could sell "stuff in the basement that has no prospect of ever being displayed," they could endow free admission forever.

This point gets us towards the heart of the issue. Mr. O'Hare is absolutely right that admission to art museums should be free -- and he is also right that in order to make that happen, something else will have to replace the source of funds that is currently coming from admission fees. However, it is a logical fallacy to argue that because admission should be free for many good and cogent reasons we should therefore sell pieces of artwork to collectors, thereby privatizing that art. 

It would actually be much more logically coherent to argue that admission should be free to art museums because artwork because artwork in museums is a public asset -- and that therefore admission to art museums should be publicly funded! Mr. O'Hare apparently fails to perceive that the very reason admission to art museums should be free is that such artwork belongs to everybody, and not just to a few. Therefore, privatizing it is absolutely contradictory to the "many good reasons" that the public should be given the greatest access to the art that is in the public domain. 

Mr. O'Hare's statement that "admission to art museums should be free for many good reasons" shows that he instinctively understands that artwork should be categorized as being part of "the commons" -- belonging to everybody, and not just to a few. Therefore, selling it off to private collectors takes it out of the commons and represents the privatization of the public domain. 

The privatization of the public domain is one of the constant jiu-jitsu moves executed by proponents of of neoliberalism no matter the situation. 

Neoliberalism is a modern term that has been given to the latest incarnation of a world-devouring economic philosophy that argues that the resources given by nature (or the gods) should not belong to the public but are best privatized -- a path that threatens (in the words of Professor Claudia von Werlhof in her essay "Globalization and Neoliberal Policies: Are there Alternatives to Plundering the Earth, Making War, and Destroying the Planet?") to "turn everything on earth into commodities [ . . . ] to transform everyone and everything into commodities, including life itself."

In his essential book J is for Junk Economics: A guide to reality in an age of deception, Professor Michael Hudson defines "The Commons" (an economic term) as, 
Public assets (land, water, mineral rights, airwaves and other public infrastructure). As natural monopolies, they are best administered in society's long-term interest via government or a community, not monopolized by rentiers as the ultimate takeover objective of finance capital. 60.
I would argue that art museums fall into this category of public infrastructure which should be administered in society's long-term interest via government. The spurious counterargument that will inevitably be forwarded by those who never saw a public asset they didn't want to privatize will be that "if museums aren't making enough money to stay open, then nobody will get to see any of their art (and therefore they should sell some of it, in order to at least be able to display the remainder)." 

This is in fact the explicit argument that Mr. O'Hare makes in his article, in almost those exact words. He writes: "Money is how museums have staff, galleries, programs and lighting."

But it is wrong to assume that anything that is a public good must "make enough money" on its own to provide that good. The common defense of the nation is a public good, but we don't insist that the army and the navy and the air force fund themselves with bake sales (or by selling off tanks or airplanes that they are not currently using to private citizens who can put them to better use). Do we insist that in order for defense to benefit the public, it must turn enough of a profit to pay for itself? The very question is ludicrous. But this is the very same argument that proponents of neoliberalism constantly deploy in order to lobby for the privatization of the infrastructure, from education to healthcare.

If anyone thinks about it carefully for a few minutes, it should be clear that the exact same issue at the heart of the seemingly "academic" debate over the sale (or "deaccession") of certain pieces of art in museums is also at the heart of the entire "net neutrality" debate in the united states, in which the proponents of greater privatization are arguing that "the internet is not a utility" and that in order for the internet infrastructure in the united states to stay up with the rest of the world, it must not be viewed as a "utility" (like other utilities such as the electrical grid or the water supply) but should instead be privatized without restraint.

As Professor Michael Hudson argues in many different places, the classical economists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were fairly well united in their opinion that providing the elements of the public infrastructure for subsidized (and therefore artificially low) prices -- or, ideally, even for "free" -- will benefit the society as a whole by making it less expensive for everyone to do business, hire employees, move goods to market, and otherwise transact commerce. If roads, bridges, electricity, water, and even "less obvious" components of the infrastructure such as education and healthcare, could be made available to everyone by the government, then the cost of business will be lower and men and women will be able to create businesses that they otherwise would not be able to create. 

The modern neoliberal counterargument will often concede that lower infrastructure costs are indeed beneficial, but that privatization and "competition" will provide it at a lower cost than "government." But this is another fallacy, because (as the definition of "The Commons" given by Professor Hudson  cited above states) the very things that fall into the category of "commons" are natural monopolies (such as the power grid or the water works or the road network). These are not improved by competition, but tend to become tollbooths when privatized, making them more expensive and making business more costly and less competitive. 

Obviously, not everything is a natural monopoly. Some things are improved with competition. It's good to have many restaurants competing to make burritos. Burritos are not a natural monopoly, and if there are many restaurants making burritos and competing to provide the best burrito at the lowest cost, that usually works out well for the consumer of burritos. But you cannot apply that same principle to public assets and natural monopolies, such as the road freeway system (although some extremists, including many libertarians, would like to try).

I would argue that the world's ancient wisdom contained in the myths, scriptures and sacred stories given to the human race can provide valuable insight into this pressing question of modern policy. Those things described in Professor Hudson's discussion of "The Commons" (above) can be understood as public assets because they can be seen to fit into the category of the gifts from the gods (or, for those who prefer, "gifts of nature"). The argument that the gifts of nature should not be privatized was made explicit by the first economics professor at the Wharton School (the first business school in the united states), Simon Patten, to whom Professor Hudson often makes reference. In an essay entitled "Another view of the ethics of land tenure," published in 1891, Professor Patten argued that certain things are bounties of nature, and that it is ethically wrong for some privileged few to try to privatize those gifts of nature at the expense of everyone else.

Note that in Mr. Desmarais' argument against the sale of artwork, he explicitly makes the exact same argument -- that such privatization of public assets is an ethical failure.

That artistic talent is a gift of the gods is quite clear from the numerous ancient myths in which a human artist pits his work or her work against a god or goddess -- usually the god or goddess responsible for giving out that particular type of talent to mortal men and women -- a contest which always ends in disaster for the presumptuous human who arrogantly fails to acknowledge that his or her talent is derived from the gods in the first place. We see this pattern, for example, in the famous contest of weaving, when the presumptuous Arachne declares that her own talent is superior to that of the goddess Athena, thus forgetting the very source of her own talent, which comes from the goddess herself. And there are many other ancient myths from around the world which reinforce this same message. 

From these ancient myths we can see that artistic talent is a gift from the gods, and that it is an actual ethical or moral failure to deny that fact and thus invert the proper order of things.

And yet this same inversion is exactly what neoliberalism enshrines as its central tenet. Neoliberalism declares that those things that are the gifts of the gods do not in fact properly belong to everyone but can and should be privatized for the benefit of just a few (at the expense of everyone else).

I believe that this argument over museums and artwork provides an extremely illuminating example of the ethical folly of neoliberalism. The arguments used to defend the (erroneous) position that privatizing public assets is actually best for everyone can often fool people -- but when it comes to art in public museums, those arguments fall flat. Just about everyone perceives that there is something inherently wrong with the idea of selling museum artwork in order to keep the lights on in museums, in what is supposedly the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet. Even the author who argues that it should be done tries to defend the idea by appealing to the (intuitively obvious) notion that admission to art museums should be free. 

Selling off such artwork is a very pure example of a problem that is actually going on all around us, albeit in less-recognizable form. It is the privatization for the benefit of the few of what are actually the gifts of the gods to all men and women. 

For previous posts which discuss this same subject, see also:

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The urgent and ongoing importance of the message and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929.

One of the central messages that Dr. King emphasized was the necessity of waking up and staying awake.

In an address to the graduating students of Oberlin College in 1965, entitled "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," he declared, "There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution." 

In this context, he brings up the story of Rip Van Winkle, who slept for twenty years and woke up to find the picture of the king of England outside the local pub replaced by a likeness of George Washington. Then he proclaims that the revolution that was taking place today is "a social revolution, sweeping away an old order and bringing in a new," sweeping away an old order of colonialism, slavery, and racial segregation and replacing it with a new vision of freedom and human dignity.

Then he tells the young men and women of the class of 1965 that, "The great challenge facing every individual graduating today is to remain awake through this social revolution."

Those words are given all the more poignancy because, as everyone knows, Martin Luther King was brutally and treacherously murdered less than three years after the date of that speech.

For decades, the world was told that a lone gunman, probably motivated by racism, was responsible for the killing of Martin Luther King in April of 1968. However, due to the tireless efforts of researchers including human rights lawyer William Pepper in conjunction with the King family, it has now been shown beyond reasonable doubt that the official story foisted upon the public regarding the murder of Dr. King was a deliberate fabrication and that he was actually assassinated as part of a carefully-coordinated plot overseen by powerful elements of the national security apparatus controlled by forces opposed to that new vision of freedom and human dignity that was sweeping the world.

The fact that this nefarious plot continues to be downplayed by the major news media (especially during news coverage discussing the importance of Dr. King's life and work on the observation of his birthday every year) and that the wider public is largely unaware of the criminal conspiracy behind the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968 is all the evidence we need to determine that the problems that he spoke against in the 1950s and 1960s are still very much with us today and that the subject of the life and death of Martin Luther King is not an issue of a bygone era but a very real and dramatic issue of critical importance to everyone alive today.

A civil trial held in the state of Tennessee concluded in December of 1999 that the government of the united states was guilty of carrying out a conspiracy resulting in the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

You can read the full details, along with extensive transcripts, in the 772-page book entitled The Plot to Kill King, by attorney William Pepper. 

You can also hear William Pepper discuss this case, and the significance of the life and cause of Martin Luther King, in numerous interviews such as this one and this one (with journalists outside of the "mainstream" outlets). You can also read this article, first published in January of 2016, by Dr. Asad Ismi entitled "Who Killed Martin Luther King? The Cover-up of the Century."

The fact that the absolutely explosive result of that 1999 civil trial which found the government guilty of the wrongful death of Dr. King remains largely unknown to this day is all the evidence that anyone needs in order to conclude without doubt that the "news" media in its current state does not exist to inform the public of the truth. 

On the contrary, it exists to keep the public asleep.

It exists to keep the public asleep to the existence of powerful elements who are opposed to the vision of freedom and human dignity that Martin Luther King proclaimed and that his life stood for. Elements which are opposed to the end of the old order of colonialism, slavery, and racial segregation and which are dedicated to preserving that old order. 

Elements that are very real and very powerful, as evidenced by their ability not only to orchestrate the complex criminal conspiracy to murder Dr. Martin Luther King, but also to cover up that murder at the time of its execution and to keep it covered up for the following fifty years -- including the eighteen years which have elapsed since the civil trial in which overwhelming evidence emerged which conclusively demonstrates the existence of such a conspiracy.

When Dr. King began his efforts, he and the brave individuals who worked and marched with him were protesting for civil rights and against legally-enforced segregation and disenfranchisement in the united states. However, as his speeches make clear, he saw this initial battle as being inseparable from the cause of human rights world-wide, and he explicitly stated that the end of legally-enforced segregation was not the ultimate goal but rather true equality of opportunity for all people, regardless of skin color or ethnicity, and the abolition of the causes of poverty for all people. 

You can read his statements on this subject in a speech delivered in May of 1964 entitled "The World's March Towards Human Rights," in which he calls for a unified effort of people regardless of skin color to make a "massive assault upon slums, inferior education, inadequate medical care: the entire culture of poverty." 

And in a 1962 address to the Negro Leadership Conference on Africa he declared the connection between the forces of segregation in this country and the forces of colonialism and exploitation in other countries, saying that, "Colonialism and segregation are nearly synonymous; they are legitimate first cousins because their common end is economic exploitation, political domination, and the debasing of human personality."

Today, these aspects of Dr. King's message are largely glossed over or even completely obscured by the same elements that work to keep the general population of men and women unaware of the criminal conspiracy that plotted to kill him and who then not only did so but kept that conspiracy suppressed using various forms of propaganda and "public relations" for fifty years. Economic exploitation, political domination, and the debasing of human personality have not abated in the fifty years since Dr. King's death -- in fact, they have in many ways accelerated dramatically.

As Martin Luther King told that graduating class of Oberlin College in 1965, "the great challenge facing every individual today is to remain awake."

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Dual-horizon myths, "End Times" prophecy, and the Abomination of Desolation

Above is a new video I've just published, entitled "Dual-horizon myths, 'End Times' Prophecy, and the Abomination of Desolation."

It discusses a special category of celestial myths in which the events in the story or scriptural passage incorporates and juxtaposes the rising of one constellation with the setting of another constellation.

To illustrate this concept, the video examines the stories of
  • The goddess Durga and the destructive demon MahishAsura, from ancient India
  • Perseus and the Gorgons, from ancient Greece
  • The sacrifice of Iphigenia, from ancient Greece, and
  • The casting out of Adam and Eve and the Serpent, from the book of Genesis
All of the above episodes, according to my analysis, can be shown to employ "dual-horizon action" in which the rising of one constellation (or set of constellations) is linked to the setting of another constellation (or set of constellations).

The video then proceeds to examine the evidence that the prophetic passages found in the scriptural texts of Daniel chapters 11 and 12, Matthew chapters 24 and 25, and Mark chapter 13 may be employing the same sort of "dual-horizon" metaphors.

The evidence from the texts themselves appears to be compelling in pointing to the conclusion that these prophecies are describing the heavenly cycles of rising and setting, as well as the seasonal cycles of shortening and lengthening days, all of which are used by the world's ancient wisdom found in the myths and sacred stories to convey profound truths about the interplay of the material realm and the Other Realm (or realms) beyond the material.

This evidence adds to the already-overwhelming (and, I would argue, conclusive) pile of evidence which argues that the ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories of humanity -- from virtually every culture and every inhabited continent and island -- are speaking a celestial language, and an esoteric language, founded upon the heavenly cycles of the earth, the sun, the moon, the visible planets, and the stars and constellations.

It also points to the conclusion that these prophecies are not intended to be understood literally, and that they do not describe literal future events in terrestrial history, any more than other narratives found in the Biblical scriptures (or any other ancient myths from other cultures) are describing literal events in supposed past terrestrial history.

If you are interested in the evidence that connects the world's myths with the stars, I hope that you will have an opportunity to watch this video, and to share it with others who might find it helpful. While somewhat lengthy, at 54 minutes and 15 seconds, it covers a significant amount of evidence and "Star Myth theory." 

In fact, there are plenty of other celestial metaphors in the Daniel 11-12, Matthew 24-25, and Mark 13 texts that are applicable to this discussion that I had to leave out of the video for purposes of brevity! But I believe that the evidence presented should be more than enough to establish the connection to the heavenly cycles.

Once again, I would like to make clear that all of this discussion should by no means be interpreted aan argument that the ancient myths, including those contained in the Biblical scriptures as well as those from other cultures around the world, are somehow "not true." I am convinced that they contain profound truths, and that those truths are not dependent upon their being "literal and historical" in nature.

In fact, during the video, I mention the quotations from Alvin Boyd Kuhn which I have quoted many times in other previous posts, that these sacred stories are "a thousand times more precious as myths than as alleged history" (Lost Light, page 24) and that:

Bible stories [ . . . ] are a record, under pictorial forms, of that which is ever occurring as a reality of the present in all lives. They mean nothing as outward events; but they mean everything as picturizations of that which is our living experience at all times. The actors are not old kings, priests and warriors; the one actor, in every portrayal, in every scene, is the human soul. The Bible is the drama of our history here and now; and it is not apprehended in its full force and applicability until every reader discerns himself [or herself] to be the central figure in it! The Bible is about the mystery of human life. Instead of relating to the incidents of a remote epoch in temporal history, it deals with the reality of the living present in the life of every soul on earth (The Stable and the Manger, page 4).

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A conversation with Matt Belair

above: Part 1 of the video interview

Big thank you to author, athlete and coach Matt Belair of Zen Athlete and the Master Mind, Body & Spirit podcast for having me over to a wide-ranging conversation that is now up on YouTube in two  video segments.

Those two video segments can be seen by following the links below:

Part 1 (run-time is 2 hours) 

Part 2 (run-time is 8 minutes and 55 seconds)

Those videos are also embedded on this page, with Part 1 at the top of the page and Part 2 at the bottom of the page.

Because it was a video interview, I took the opportunity to show some visual charts and diagrams to help illustrate the concepts.

While some of the myths and explanations may be familiar to those who have seen or heard other interviews, there is also some material which you might not have heard me discuss before -- and, most importantly, every interviewer has different interests and different places that he or she wants to go during the conversation, so I'm sure you'll agree that this conversation with Matt Belair will bring out some different angles that have not been discussed in other videos or podcasts.

Also, special welcome to anyone visiting this site for the first time after learning about it from this interview with Matt! I hope you will take the time to explore the world of the ancient mythology that forms a precious inheritance for each culture on our planet and which preserves profound wisdom for our benefit and blessing. I am convinced that we can hear their message more readily when we listen to them in the language that they are actually speaking -- and I am equally convinced that the language they are speaking is an esoteric language and a metaphorical language, and that it is a celestial language, one that is built upon the heavenly cycles and motions of the sun, the moon, the visible planets, and the stars.

My primary website at starmythworld.com contains links to dozens of videos, myth discussions, previous podcasts, and other material -- and the blog itself is fully searchable and now numbers over 1,000 entries.

Below are a few helpful links to previous posts containing further discussion on some of the subjects that came up during this interview with Matt, including:

I hope that you will enjoy this conversation with Matt Belair, and if this is your first time visiting this site, I hope that you will stop by often!

You can subscribe to Matt's YouTube channel here, and you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here, if you would like to be notified when a new video is posted in either of those places.

This video interview was recorded on December 21st, 2017.

below: Part 2 of the video interview