Friday, September 19, 2014


image: Wikimedia commons (link).

In a wonderful book which I have been reading called Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation, by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman, there is a discussion of the concept of "blessing" which is worth careful study.

The authors write:
Blessing is the act of recognizing that Spirit is coming through what we are witnessing or experiencing. [. . .] Yet the physical plane appears to most as a camouflage universe where Spirit does not appear to exist.
Shamanically speaking, many of us respond to the physical world by assuming a deep hypnosis, a deep sleep where we no longer recognize that Spirit is present. Not only do we go to sleep, but large parts of the world may temporarily go to sleep as well. So it is our job to wake up and to awaken all that is around us. This act of waking up could be called "blessing the world." 25-26.

This is a fascinating and compelling definition of the concept of blessing. As discussed in this previous post, Lakota holy man Black Elk articulated the view of the material world in which we find ourselves as "something like a shadow" which is projected from the unseen world, the world of spirit, the world to which Crazy Horse journeyed in his powerful vision, the world which is actually "the real world which is behind this one" (behind the material world to which we are normally attuned).

The definition of blessing cited above articulates the same vision, saying that this physical world which normally occupies our attention acts as a kind of "camouflage" that hides that "real world behind this one" which Black Elk described. Blessing, from this perspective, then becomes a kind of peeling away that camouflage, an awakening to the world of Spirit that actually does infuse this one (and is in fact the source of this one, according to Black Elk), and ultimately a kind of recognizing and then releasing or enabling or allowing the power of that other realm to shine through the camouflage of this one. 

According to the authors of Awakening to the Spirit World, this act of awakening is a central part of our mission -- "our job" as they put it -- during our sojourn in this incarnate existence. "Each human," they explain, "comes with that capacity, with that ability, and with the responsibility to bless" (26). It is not something that may only be done by certain designated intermediaries: it is everyone's responsibility and privilege to awaken to that hidden reality and then to participate in the act of helping to awaken "all that is around us."

Note that this assertion appears to directly parallel the concept of the "raising of the Djed-column" that we have seen in numerous previous posts to be an essential purpose -- perhaps even the essential purpose -- of our incarnation in this earthly existence of "spirit crossed with matter," according to the world's ancient sacred traditions. Posts such as "The shamanic foundation of the world's ancient wisdom," "Scarab, Ankh, and Djed," and "The name of the Ankh, continued: Kundalini around the world" all examine evidence that a central feature of the ancient mythologies and metaphor-systems was the concept of the divine spark being "cast down" into the animal matter during incarnation (symbolized by the horizontal cross-bar on the symbol of the Cross and the Ankh, as well as by the Djed-column of Osiris laid low in death and stretched out horizontally in his sarcophagus or upon his death-bed), and the necessity of our remembering and recognizing that slumbering, forgotten spark of divine spirit which resides in each man and woman, and having remembered it to participate in the "raising of the Djed-column" and the elevation of this inner spiritual nature again.

The implication of the definition of blessing cited above is that we have this responsibility not just individually and within ourselves and our own lives, but we have a responsibility to also help those around us and even our surrounding natural world to also remember the hidden, fiery spirit that is slumbering within, and to help that to stream forth. As Black Elk informs us, the spirit world is no less real just because we cannot see it with our ordinary senses: in fact, the spirit world is the real world, and the source of the one that we can see. And so, this act of calling it forth, or awakening it in the world around us described as the act of blessing by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman is not just an imaginary or "feel-good" exercise: it is very real. 

The element of Spirit is already there, waiting to be acknowledged and called forth -- and in doing so to bless the material world that depends upon the spiritual.

Adding further confirmation to the importance of this concept is the evidence that Dr. Jeremy Naydler has found which suggests that the pharaohs of ancient Egypt deliberately made contact with the spirit world during their Sed festival rites, and that they did so in order to bless the kingdom

In his examination of this phenomenon in Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: The Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt, Dr. Naydler writes:
In the ancient Egyptian social order, there was one person who had a particularly important role in relation to the dead, and that was the king. His primary function was to keep the visible and invisible worlds linked together. The king had to live as much in relation to the spirit world as he did in relation to the visible world. He was, as god-man, the mediator between the worlds. For the king to properly fulfill his function, it was essential that the veil or barrier between the worlds did not exist for him, for his responsibilities included precisely those aspects of the well-being of the country that were dependent on the beneficent flow of vitalizing energies from the spirit realm into the realm of the living. 84.
And again:
The king was thus engaged in a ritual communion with the spirits of the land of Egypt. The underlying purpose of this was to reach across to the more subtle spirit world that upholds and vitalizes the physical world, in order to ensure a beneficent connection with it and an unhampered flow of energies from it into the physical. 85.
The clear connection to the concept being articulated by the authors of Awakening to the Spirit World should be evident from the above passages. And, while Dr. Naydler finds evidence that this activity of recognizing the hidden spirit world and inviting its energies to flow into the visible world was the privilege and prerogative of the king in ancient Egypt, the evidence in the posts linked above clearly suggest that the ancient wisdom from cultures around the world contain the message that each and every one of us can and should be engaged in the act of recognizing the spiritual "spark" within and in the act of raising it, raising the Djed-column that has been "cast down." By implication, it follows that each of us may have the responsibility to call forth the same response in the world around us (blessing).

In fact, the frequent repetition of the utterance "Amen" in the scriptures of the New Testament, a phrase which this previous post asserts has directly to do with the recognition of the "hidden divine," seems to support this conclusion as well. That post asserts, based on some strong clues (including the association of the identical hand-gesture with both phrases) that the "Amen" and the greeting "Namaste" have to do with the exact same concept: the recognition of the hidden spark of divinity. The fact that when "Namaste" is said to another, it means recognizing the life force, the divine force of creation, in the other person and also within oneself and within all of nature, indicates that saying "Namaste" to another is a form of blessing, as defined above!

Thus, we find ancient traditions encouraging the frequent blessing of others (that is, verbally recognizing the invisible Spirit within them, and "calling it out" to shine forth). So, saying "Namaste" (or the related "Amen") is an acknowledgement and an invocation of the hidden Spirit -- and this acknowledgement and invocation -- this blessing -- is by no means restricted to the king or the pharaoh. By this, we can see that we all have the privilege and the responsibility to participate in the same work that Dr. Naydler describes the pharaoh as doing during the Sed festival rites: ensuring a beneficent connection with the invisible world, and encouraging an unhampered flow of energies from the invisible world into the physical world.

This responsibility is one we should take very seriously. It should also cause us to be careful with what we say, and to avoid cursing instead of blessing. How many times during the day does something in the physical world elicit some version of the word "Damn" from our lips or in our thoughts? It is a terrible habit that is so easy to fall into (and which seems to be encouraged in so many songs, movies, and shows). It is if anything the opposite of blessing.

This is a concept that is so important to think about carefully, and the practice of our responsibility (and privilege!) to bless others and the world around us one that we should take seriously. Thanks to Sandra Ingerman, Hank Wesselman, and the other contributors to Awakening to the Spirit World for articulating this concept of daily blessing!

Below is a "tweet" from Sandra Ingerman which she wrote on the very same subject within the past twenty-four hours:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jephthah's daughter

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

In the Old Testament scriptures, in the Book of Judges, we encounter the horrifying story of Jephthah and his daughter. If ever there were a Biblical passage which renders an absolutely hideous message when taken literally, while yielding a completely satisfactory conclusion when understood astronomically, this story is it.

In chapter 11 of Judges, after a description of the elders of Gildead requesting that Jephthah be made head and captain over the children of Israel, and a description of a series of battles between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon, we arrive at verse 29, where we read:
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gildead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.
And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,
Then it shall be, that whatsoever comth forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.
So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands.
And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her had neither son nor daughter.
And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clohtes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou has brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.
And she said unto him, My father, if thou has opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.
And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.
And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.
And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,
That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.
And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.
If this passage is understood to be describing the literal and historical actions of a literal and historical judge and war-chief of the ancient children of Israel, who swears a vow to sacrifice the first thing he sees upon returning home from battle and burn it as a burnt offering to the Almighty, it would surely seem to be a horrible episode and one that probably does not feature too often in sermons. 

Certainly it could be used as a stern warning against swearing to rash vows (the episode is often referred to generally as "Jephthah's rash vow"), but even if it is used as an example of the dire consequences of swearing too rashly, that still leaves the gaping question of whether such a vow must then be fulfilled, even to the extent of killing another person -- even to the extent of sacrificing one's only daughter. Can this scripture possibly be implying that once such a vow is sworn, to break the vow is considered impossible, and worse than actually taking someone else's life -- let alone the life of one's own beloved daughter?

The passage itself gives us no help in this regard: it simply records that Jephthah groans with pain but clearly does not consider it possible to break the vow, and Jephthah's daughter understands and says that he must do it, especially since he was given victory in the battle over the Ammonites after swearing the vow. 

The verses which follow the human sacrifice likewise do not give any hint of whether the community thought Jephthah had acted rightly or wrongly: immediately after the verse about the daughters of Israel mourning Jephthah's daughter once a year, at the end of chapter 11, the following verse (at the beginning of chapter 12) has the men of Ephraim gathering and preparing to burn down Jephthah's house down with him inside, but not because he has killed his daughter and burned her, but because he did not take them along when he went to fight the Ammonites. 

Again, a literalist encountering these verses is left with a sickening scenario in which all values seem to be inverted and violence and darkness reign supreme. I am aware that the verses could potentially be used as a "type" or foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ by the Father, but even that hermeneutical move would have to be used with extreme caution, as the circumstances surrounding Jephthah's sacrifice are simply so shocking and so horrifying that there seems to be nothing uplifting in the passages whatsoever (to which the reply would be that this is the contrast between the sinfulness of humanity and the perfection of the redemption -- which seems to be the only way these verses could possibly be made to serve a positive purpose in a sermon). Even such a rhetorical move would still leave the question of whether Jephthah then was right in proceeding with the killing and burning of his daughter. 

Clearly, a strictly literalistic interpretation of these verses leads into an absolute swamp filled with pitfalls from which it becomes more and more difficult to extract one's self, the further down into it one charges.

However, like the horrifying verses about the prophet Elisha calling two she-bears out of the woods to tear apart the forty-two youths in the Old Testament book of 2 Kings (an episode almost as sickening as the Jephthah incident, and yet even that one is less hideous than this one in many respects, except for the obviously higher body-count), this passage contains clear elements of celestial metaphor which indicate that it was never intended to be understood as an account of something that took place on the earth involving human beings: it takes place in the sky.

Very briefly, because the elements of the system of celestial metaphor have now been explained in some detail in numerous previous posts, this incident has all the markers indicating a sacrifice at the point of equinox: those two points on the annual cycle where the two great "hoops" of the ecliptic and the celestial equator "cross" one another, allegorized in countless different forms as a sacrifice (previous posts as well as the first three chapters of The Undying Stars which are available for free perusal online have demonstrated that the equinox crossings form the foundation for the myths of the sacrifices of Iphigenia, of Isaac by Abraham, of St. Peter in early church tradition, and even of Christ -- which explains the "echoes" that typologists can find between some of these Old Testament star-myths and the sacrifice on the Cross in the New Testament).

Which of the two equinoctial points we are dealing with here should be fairly obvious from the clues that have been included in the scriptural passage: the sacrifice is of a young virginal daughter (her virginity is emphasized several times in the episode), and so we should be fairly confident in identifying the September equinox. For those in the northern hemisphere, this would be the autumnal or fall equinox, when the days cross over from being longer than nights to the half of the year in which they are shorter (each of the two equinox-points are marked on the zodiac wheel below with a red "X" and the one on the right as we look at the wheel is the one at Virgo, where the sun which moves in the direction of the arrows as the year progresses is declining towards the lower half of the year and the winter solstice at the bottom of the circle). This fact supports the possibility that the "children of Ammon" that Jephthah was battling before he returned to his house to encounter his daughter (returning to the house of the sign of Virgo, that is) represent the upper, sunny, summery half of the year.

The exact correspondences of the different opponents Jephthah battles with are much more difficult to identify with exactitude, although we can be fairly confident that this is a celestial battle describing the circle of the zodiac (along with many, many other examples from both the New Testament and the Old Testament, as well as from other mythologies such as the Greek myths about the Trojan War). The identity of the daughter with the stars of Virgo, however, is very certain.

We have already seen that the passage itself takes care to emphasize her status as a virgin. The other distinguishing feature of the daughter of Jephthah, however, is her timbrel -- which is to say, her tambourine. It just so happens that the constellation Virgo has some distinguishing features which are often included in ancient art: one of these is an outstretched arm, and one is the fainter circle of stars that are in front of her face and above this outstretched arm. In the ancient Greek art depicting the Pythia of Delphi, for example, the outstretched arm represents the arm with the sacred laurel-branch, while the circle of stars corresponded to her circular dish or platter holding the holy water, as discussed in this previous post. In the case of Jephthah's daughter, this circle becomes a timbrel.

Note also in the painting above, by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini (1675 - 1741), the artist has incorporated the outstretched arm and the timbrel of the girl, in a way that is most suggestive of the possibility that he understood her connection to the Virgin of Virgo (either that or, in his formal art schooling, these elements were passed down to him without his understanding). This indicates that the esoteric aspects of these myths was known by some and passed down among some circles, without being taught to those seekers in the churches, who were being taught that these stories all represent events that took place in history among literal people.

Below is an image of the Pythia alongside the stars of Virgo: you can see the faint "circle" of stars that become the dish in the artwork of the Pythia, the circular hoop in the image of Rhea seated on a throne below the outline of Virgo, and the timbrel of the daughter of Jephthah:

The final clincher for me that we are dealing with a star-myth of Virgo and the equinox (point of many sacrifices) is the presence of fire -- almost always present in equinox-myths, since the equinoxes are the two points where the fiery path of the sun (the ecliptic) crosses through the celestial equator. Previous posts detailing this include "The Old Man and his Daughter" and "Common symbology between Mithraic temples and the Knights Templar." In the myth of Jephthah, we find that he must make his daughter (Virgo) into a burnt offering, and that immediately thereafter some men come and threaten to burn his house down.

And so, we see that what would be an absolutely execrable story if interpreted "historically" (the way most of those with positions of authority inside the various Christian churches have generally approached the scriptures for the past seventeen hundred years or more) is actually just another star myth built upon a structure that is found in the Greek myths and in Native American traditions all the way across the globe, intended (I believe) to convey a positive and uplifting message to all people, embodied in the motions of the the stars, the sun, the moon, and the planets, and a message which describes our incarnate condition as the "Djed-column cast down" -- identified with the horizontal line between the equinoxes, the line of sacrifice, the line of being made "like an animal" and plunged down into a similitude of death -- but which teaches the real possibility and even inevitability of reconnection with the spiritual realm, and the "raising up of the Djed column" again.

This is a powerful lesson, and I would think a very powerful argument that these passages are not intended to be read literally. Additionally, the above analysis should demonstrate that the scriptures and traditions the world over are all close kin, and that the artificial distinctions between "Christian" and "pagan" that were imposed upon the rise of literalist Christianity are both harmful and false.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Graham Hancock identifies war on consciousness: TED confirms that he's right

Above is the now-infamous TEDx talk given by Graham Hancock in March of 2013 entitled "The War on Consciousness," in which he shared some incredibly personal aspects of his own life and shifts in his own consciousness, and then proceeded to raise absolutely vital questions regarding the nature of human consciousness, the longstanding antagonism in western culture towards visionary states, the possibility that privileging one type of consciousness over all others might be leading to very serious imbalances with tremendously negative ramifications for all humanity and the planet itself, and the related possibility that the forbidding of some types of voluntary consciousness-altering activity among adults which do no violence to others -- while at the same time permitting and even encouraging many other types of consciousness-altering substances which do not threaten the privileged form of consciousness -- may in fact be a grave violation of human liberty and personal freedom.

The talk is "now infamous" because TED decided to remove it from their official YouTube channel (thereby lessening its distribution and reducing the likelihood that people would encounter it "accidentally" while searching for thought-provoking subject matter on the TED channel), while at the same time moving it to a place where people could find it if they were already looking for it, and also at the same time publishing a note explaining that they were not engaging in "censorship" but that the talk "strays well beyond the realm of reasonable science," that he makes "statements about psychotropic drugs that seem both nonscientific and reckless," and that "it's no surprise that his work has often been characterized as pseudo-archeology" (that statement can be found here, along with statements regarding their decision to remove a talk by Rupert Sheldrake at the same time -- his talk is entitled "The Science Delusion"). 

TED stated that their decision to remove the two talks from their channel represents their "responsibility not to provide a platform for talks which have crossed the line into pseudo-science."

Well, thank goodness for that. We can now watch the TED channel on YouTube without fear of accidentally encountering any ideas which may have crossed the line.

Of course, TED has created their forum and their brand and can post who and what they want on it, and they are also free to call people names and label the honestly-expressed ideas of serious authors "pseudo-science" and "pseudo-archeology" if they want to. Their decision to move a video off of their channel is not really "censorship," in the sense that they are not using the armed might of the government to forbid the publishing, speaking, or reading of someone's work (if they were, then that would certainly be censorship and a clear violation of the rights of others). 

Those who disagree with TED's categorization of the work of Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake as "pseudo-archeology" and "pseudo-science" are certainly free to believe that TED is egregiously wrong on this matter (which they are), and to avail themselves of the opportunity to read and explore and hear more of the ideas that Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake have to offer, and to voice their opinion of TED's hypocrisy in trumpeting the motto "ideas worth spreading" and their statement that they are all about "welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world" and "building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world's most inspired thinkers -- and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other," while at the same time marginalizing two extremely thought-provoking authors who are asking questions that apparently are not allowed to be asked on TED forums and from which that "community of curious souls" must be shielded from full engagement.

One is also free to point out that TED tells its visitors that it is "owned by a nonprofit, nonpartisan foundation" with a stated "agenda [. . .] to make great ideas accessible and spark conversation," and that this talk certainly raises many potential sparks worth conversing about.

Again, it is important to note that TED has every right to decide to provide a platform to discuss some conversations and not others -- but their decision to marginalize and then to plaster with the condescending labels "pseudo-science" and "pseudo-archaeology" the ideas offered for consideration in these talks would seem to be extremely incongruous with the high-minded "global community" tone that TED strikes in their public persona. They say their talks cover "almost all topics -- from science to business to global issues." Graham Hancock was addressing absolutely vital "global issues" in the talk above (come to think of it, he managed to raise some important points about the topic of "business" as well).

After apparently listening to the criticism that this decision elicited, TED came out with another statement, saying that by moving the videos away from the main site they invited "an open conversation" about "the line between science and pseudoscience" and "how far TED and TEDx should go in giving exposure to unorthodox ideas." This is commendable, although they then went on to say that since the ideas proposed by "Sheldrake and Hancock are so radical and far-removed from mainstream scientific thinking" they felt they needed to give potential viewers "a clear health warning" and noted that since "TED and TEDx are brands that are trusted in schools and in homes" they didn't want to have to answer to "a parent whose kid went off to South America to drink ayahuasca because TED said it was OK." 

This last statement, of course, is over the top: Graham specifically stated he was referring to the right of "we as adults to make sovereign decisions about what to experience with our own consciousness while doing no harm to others" (17:40). There was nothing in there encouraging children to sneak off to South America without their parents' permission in order to drink ayahuasca (in itself a fairly ridiculous notion for most children, although perhaps the children of some in the TED audience have access to their own jets and the ability to take them out for the weekend without telling anyone where they're going).

Lost in all of this -- including the invited conversation about "the line between science and pseudoscience" and "how far TED and TEDx should go" -- is the absolutely profound series of questions which Graham raised in his talk. By declaring that they were moving the conversation elsewhere, that decision and its appropriateness or lack thereof became the entire focus of the debate (as it has been in the above paragraphs, since it is a subject worth debating). But far more provocative and worth discussing are the ideas that Graham actually prepared for the talk, and into which he obviously poured a great deal of effort in order to organize and convey to his audience, and into which he even more obviously poured a great deal of his own psychic energy, and in the process offered up for public comment and consideration some aspects of his own personal investment in the subject that he is trying to get the human race to at least consider.

And the fact that a great many people do not even want to consider this subject could not be more clear. That is the clarion message of TED's decision to remove it from the "mainstream" location and conversation and put it over in the "special room" reserved for distasteful issues (the "scientific" or "archaeological" merits of the talk are obviously a smoke screen -- TED hosts a great many speakers on their platform who are discussing social ideas, as well as business ideas, without taking them to task for their level of scientific knowledge; we could probably criticize a great many speakers on TED's forum for practicing "pseudo-economics," but that kind of name calling is counter-productive, and is a cheap shortcut allowing us to avoid actually engaging with their ideas).

Again, TED does not have to consider any subjects they don't want to consider, or offer up for consideration any ideas they don't want to offer up for consideration: people can go find other forums on which to do so if TED shuts them out. But the paragraphs above should make it clear that the reasons they don't want to consider the ideas in the Graham Hancock talk above has nothing to do with the reasons they are publicly providing (the fear that kids will run off on their own to drink ayahuasca in the Amazon basin, for instance, or the requirement that every TED speaker on any subject must be able to pass the review of a panel of experts drawn from the disciplines of physics, chemistry, philosophy, and botany -- or even the excuse that Graham's talk was outside of the scope of TED's stated mission of "making great ideas accessible" and sparking conversations on "subjects ranging from science to business to global issues").

The reason they don't want to consider the topics Graham Hancock raises appears rather to be that he is challenging core, foundational dogmas of the prevailing religion. He is speaking what the keepers of the hidden assumptions apparently believe to be rank heresy. 

The decision to move the videos off of the main channel can be seen as a brilliant way of derailing the discussion of those heretical points -- not only by making them somewhat less accessible, but also and more importantly by turning the conversation in an entirely different direction than it might have taken had the videos simply stayed up among all the others as an open offering of ideas for comment and consideration and conversation, unremarked-upon by the administrators. Now, far more people will be focusing on and getting emotional over the question of whether TED has the right to brand someone else's ideas "pseudo-science" than will be focusing upon the question of whether Western civilization's antagonism towards what Graham calls "visionary states" might be leading to dangerous personal and planetary imbalances with tremendous negative repercussions.

And that is a conversation that is well worth having. Because the antagonism towards the visionary state of consciousness which Graham identifies is very real, and it can be traced back to a specific period in time which marked an enormous turning point for what would become known as "Western civilization." That turning point in history took place in the years between AD 70 (the year of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem) and AD 394 (the end of the reign of the emperor Theodosius, when the Roman Empire was finally and decisively split into an eastern and a western half, never to be reunited, and the western half eventually formed itself into the states which now form "western Europe").

This previous post gives a rough outline of the secret campaign to take over the Roman Empire from the inside that took place between AD 70 and AD 394 -- and it also alludes to the connection that this takeover has to the suppression of the visionary, shamanic consciousness that Graham describes in his talk, and that he rightly demonstrates to be targeted by powerful forces within "Western civilization" right up to the present day.  

For centuries, the shamanic consciousness was persecuted because it was heretical to the doctrines of the literalist Christianity which was part of that takeover between AD 70 and AD 394. In more recent times, the shamanic consciousness has been additionally marginalized because it is heretical to the doctrines of a different religion (one that calls its opponents "pseudo-scientists" or "pseudo-archeologists," instead of "heretics").

For the record, previous posts have demonstrated that the visionary states which Graham invokes in his talk are not exclusively the province of those who interact with consciousness-altering plants: a wide variety of techniques have been used around the globe and throughout the ages to access the hidden realm, many of them involving drumming, rattling, chanting, sleep deprivation, food deprivation, rhythmic breathing, dancing, and other methods not involving the ingestion of plants (although those certainly have been used as well). Some texts and traditions actually contain some very strong warnings regarding reliance upon substances or approaches that can lead to what some traditional shamans appear to have classified as "imitation shamanic ecstasy" (this important topic is explored in this previous post).

One wonders what the response would have been, had Graham urged consideration of shamanic drumming as a way of accessing visionary states of consciousness, and left off the discussion of ayahuasca or mushrooms in his argument that the war against these visionary states has potentially dangerous results. The fact that shamanic drums have been routinely and often even violently suppressed by enemies of the shamanic worldview since AD 394 is a strong piece of evidence supporting the idea that there has been a long-running war against a certain type of consciousness, and that the outlawing of ayahuasca has more to do with this war against visionary consciousness than with ayahuasca's supposed "health hazards," whatever those happen to be, if any.

But ayahuasca is the method that Graham Hancock himself has used and experienced and that has, as he related, had a profound impact on his life -- and he raises the question of how one person can declare themselves to have the right to deny another adult the right to ingest a substance that does no harm to anyone else's person or property. This is a very important question, in that it goes right to the question of natural or universal law and the violation of natural or universal law (this is my interpretation of that subject: the words "natural law" do not appear in Graham's talk itself), and he connects this question to a lot of other violations of natural law he sees taking place in the world. 

It would seem that a very worthwhile conversation could be held surrounding the question of whether ayahuasca is in fact illegal just because someone wrote words to that effect on a "bill" which then received a seal and a signature ("He signed ya, Bill: Now you're a law!"), and whether there is a moral obligation to treat that as law until it is changed, pointing out that Lysander Spooner argued that men and women did not have the obligation to obey the Fugitive Slave Laws just because they were "signed into law" by presidents (including George Washington), and in fact that juries had the right to refuse to convict persons of violations of so-called laws that were actually illegal laws. This would seem like yet another "conversation worth having" which Graham's talk opened the door towards having, only to see TED slam that door in the world's collective face (they did at least put up a sign saying "go have a conversation about this in the broom closet, but please focus on discussing the definition of science vs. pseudo-science, and the question of what is and isn't within the scope of a TED talk").

Graham's presentation argues that only one type of consciousness has been valued by the reigning orthodoxy (a type of consciousness that he acknowledges has many good uses and many important qualities), and that another type of consciousness has been declared to be "beyond the pale" of the reigning orthodoxy. By their reaction to that talk, the decision-makers at TED have fairly well proven his argument, while at the same time declaring their allegiance to the reigning orthodoxy on this particular (and particularly important) subject. 

Again, that is certainly TED's right -- there are many media outlets which are busily generating content which supports and reinforces the reigning orthodoxy, and no one expects them to suddenly open themselves up as platforms where the kinds of questions that Graham's talk raises about sovereign individual rights, Amazon deforestation, the pharmaceutical industry, the wars of recent decades, and the connection of such issues to the suppression of a specific type of consciousness can be explored. It is their right to ignore these issues as well, and people can go elsewhere to find platforms willing to examine these vital questions -- and people are doing so in great numbers. Some such platforms are listed here -- along with some discussion as to why it is important to support them -- and there are many others.

But these really are questions that are so important that they should absolutely be given the widest possible platform for exploration by "people of every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world." They are questions which go right to the heart of the history of "Western culture," and the decisions and events which launched it on the path that has brought the world to this particular point. They are questions that concern every adult -- and questions which should not be hidden from children in school either. 

The world should be grateful to Graham Hancock for raising these questions, and for framing them in such a compelling manner, one that clearly demonstrates the importance of this question of consciousness on every level, from the individual to the global. The dust clouds TED kicked up to keep the conversation from developing should actually be seen as revealing. And they should cause us to watch the talk more closely, perhaps even writing down the questions that Graham asks, and then to start exploring those questions with others, both in person and on media platforms where such discussion is welcome.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ambrose and Theodosius

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

At the death of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I (AD 347 - 394), the formal panegyric was given by Ambrose, the Archbishop of Milan (AD 340 - 397), and amidst all the eulogy's praise of the departed emperor, Ambrose makes reference to the penitence of Theodosius, weaving this incident quite effortlessly and eloquently into a very beautiful metaphor within a larger theme of humanity's need for mercy and therefore the need to be merciful and forgiving to one another.

The reference itself refers to an incident that took place in AD 390, in which citizens of the region of Thessalonika revolted, apparently in anger at the presence of Gothic soldiers in the service of the empire stationed in their midst.  It is worth pointing out that the stationing of military forces among the citizenry is one of the hallmarks of tyrannical states, and the use of foreign-born troops to do it is another pattern in history, as they are less likely to feel an affinity with or sympathy for the local populace. 

Note that both of these specific grievances were part of those listed by the authors and signatories of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 against the King of Great Britain to support their argument that he showed "a history of repeated injuries and usurpations" with the "direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States":
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States [. . .]
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

We don't have a similar statement from the Thessalonikans who revolted, but we can image that they were similarly outraged by the behavior of the foreign "mercenaries" stationed among them by the Empire (these happened to be Goths), and the impunity with which those mercenaries were allowed to behave and the violations of natural law which they perpetrated -- hence the revolt.

Contemporary historians of the time tell us that Theodosius reacted to their revolt by authorizing the Goth commander to slaughter a stadium full of the Thessalonikans, cutting down innocent and guilty alike, as if they were stalks of wheat at harvest time.

Ambrose apparently criticized Theodosius for this ruthless slaughter, barring the emperor from entering church or taking communion for several months, and ordering him to do penance for several months before he could enter again and receive the host (the painting above, from around 1620 or 1621, depicts Ambrose on the right as we look at it, wearing a gold mitre on his head and gold-and-blue robes, barring the entrance to the Milan Cathedral from the hopeful but disappointed Theodosius, who is on the left as we look at the painting, wearing the royal purple, which looks more like what we would probably call crimson today).

Ambrose makes reference to this penance of the emperor in the official panegyric, which can be read in an English translation online here (beginning on page 307 of that 1953 text, which is actually page 335 of the "e-text" linked, since the e-text includes some front matter in its page count that comes before the pagination count began in the 1953 print book itself).  There, on page 319 in the original book's pagination, or page 347 in the e-text reader linked above, Ambrose says of Theodosius:
And so because Theodosius, the emperor, showed himself humble and, when sin had stolen upon him, asked for pardon, his soul has turned to its rest, as Scripture has it, saying 'Turn my soul unto thy rest, for the Lord hath been bountiful unto thee.'
The scriptural reference is to Psalm 116:7. The paragraph itself is numbered 28 in the text of Ambrose's speech.

Let's just pause to note that this is actually a fairly astonishing situation. The absolute ruler of the entire Roman Empire, Theodosius I, who is basically the supreme authority and seemingly answers to no one, is apparently being refused entrance to the Mass by the Archbishop of Milan (it is important to know that Milan, located in northern Italy, was then the western seat of the empire, after Constantine earlier moved the center of political power east to Constantinople, a fact which plays a part in the theory discussed below). Not only that, but the emperor is being ordered to repent, humble himself, and do penance by the Archbishop, and the emperor does so for several months before being reinstated to the privilege of taking communion. 

The fact that this incident is mentioned in the official eulogy of the emperor by Ambrose is a pretty good indication that it actually happened: if it did not, there would have been plenty of people who could have said so at the time. And so, we can see here an indication that the emperor himself was answerable to the most powerful bishops in some matters, who were obviously seen as representatives of an even higher power.

We might also note that the relatives of those several thousands who were slaughtered in Thessalonika were probably not particularly satisfied at this evidence of the accountability of Theodosius for his war crime -- a few months of being barred from taking communion, and all was forgiven.

In fact, this incident -- and the larger significance of the reign of Theodosius and his actions as emperor -- along with other important pieces of evidence preserved in that eulogy written by Ambrose, provides remarkable support for the revolutionary theory presented by Flavio Barbiero in The Secret Society of Moses: The Mosaic Bloodline and a Conspiracy Spanning Three Millennia (2010). In the analysis of Flavio Barbiero, the hierarchical Christianity that Ambrose represented was part of an incredible conspiracy to take over the Roman Empire from the inside, launched centuries earlier by survivors of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem and the Roman campaign to suppress revolt in Judea, led by the generals Vespasian and his son Titus in AD 67 - 70 (the main years of the First Jewish-Roman War). 

According to Barbiero's analysis, and backed up by a compelling chain of evidence, the culminating actions of that three-hundred-year-long conspiracy took place with the installation of Constantine as emperor in AD 312, and the finishing touches on the victory were overseen by the ruthless Theodosius I, who became emperor in AD 392. For more details on this theory of ancient history, which I believe to be very convincing, see previous posts such as this one and this one, as well as this online explanation of some important aspects of the theory that Flavio Barbiero wrote for the Graham Hancock website, and of course see his book itself, which is filled with historical detail and a complete blow-by-blow of the entire takeover and its aftermath. 

You may also wish to see The Undying Stars, in which I discuss this theory in the context of the evidence that the ancient history of the human race is far different from what we have been taught -- that there is evidence of advanced scientific, technological, spiritual, and shamanic knowledge in humanity's ancient past, at least some of which endured in "the West" right up until the takeover that Barbiero talks about, but which was deliberately and systematically stamped out in the West after this literalistic hierarchical Christian takeover -- a suppression which may have continued in the following centuries and even right up to this day! (Note that my incorporation of his theory into my own analysis should not be interpreted as an indication that Flavio Barbiero supports any of my analysis in any way). 

The actions taken by Theodosius during his reign can be seen as powerful confirmation of the theory of Flavio Barbiero, many of which are discussed in Barbiero's book. The relationship between Ambrose and Theodosius can also be seen as confirmation of the larger pattern Barbiero describes.

Some of the metaphors and anecdotes used by Ambrose in the panegyric at the death of the emperor, I believe, can additionally be seen as startling confirmation of my placement of the revolutionary theory of Flavio Barbiero within the larger context of the deliberate subversion of the ancient esoteric system that connects the scriptures that became the Old and New Testaments with the ancient wisdom of the rest of the world's cultures -- with an especially close tie to the expression of the ancient wisdom in Egypt. These additional metaphors and anecdotes from the eulogy delivered by Ambrose are not part of Flavio Barbiero's analysis.

According to the theory of Flavio Barbiero, the reason that the generals who put down the rebellion in Judea in AD 67 to 70 were able to become emperors and found the Flavian dynasty (first Vespasian and then his son Titus upon the death of Vespasian) was the financial assistance they received from a vanquished leader of the rebels, who gave them access to the vast hidden treasures of the Temple of Jerusalem itself. This leader and those he selected to come with him were spared from the summary execution that Vespasian and Titus meted out to most of the rebel leaders, and brought back to Rome to enjoy privileged status for the rest of their lives.

Barbiero finds evidence that these leaders, who possessed deep experience running a religious system, decided to set about building a "spiritual Temple" to replace the one that had been burned down by the Romans, and to use it to advance their fortunes in their new setting. They succeeded to a degree that is absolutely astonishing.

Using the twin devices of literalist Christianity (the public and open religious system which they co-opted upon or shortly following their arrival in Rome) and the secret society of Sol Invictus Mithras (the secret and exclusive underground society which they created and operated behind the scenes), they created a mechanism for passing on their vision and accomplishing their goals many generations after the original group which had been brought from Judea to Rome passed from the scene.

The secret society of Mithraism became influential in the Praetorian Guard, then among the imperial bureaucracy, the important imperial checkpoints over commerce such as the customs service, and finally and most importantly over the officers of the Roman Army stationed in various provinces and along the far-flung frontiers of the empire. 

All the while, the leaders of the Mithraic system operated in utmost secrecy, protected by strict oaths of secrecy sworn to by all those invited into the society. The old aristocratic families of the empire perceived that something was going on that was a major threat to their control, but they never identified the real nerve center of that threat -- instead, they concentrated on the public face of the two-pronged attack, which was the fledgling literalist Christian religion. Safe from persecution, the leaders of the Mithraic conspiracy could maneuver their pieces on the political chessboard with steady and unwavering focus over the years.

One of their first major victories was the accession to the throne of the murderous Commodus, who reigned from AD 177 to 192, and whom Flavio Barbiero believes to have been the first emperor to have actually been an initiate into the Mithraic society (more discussion of the significance of Commodus, and some of the evidence to support this conclusion, is found in this previous post). 

There were many significant setbacks after the reign of Commodus, but in general the interruptions (usually by generals who stormed into power with the support of their legions, only in most cases to be quickly assassinated by members of the Praetorian Guard or other agents of the secret society) were fairly brief (albeit violent and tumultuous), and a new emperor whom they controlled would eventually be maneuvered into the throne by the society of Sol Invictus. Each time, the network's grip over the levers of power increased, and it looked as though their careful campaign was succeeding famously.

This pattern was seriously disrupted in AD 284, upon the accession to the throne of Diocletian (who was born in AD 244 and died in AD 311), who was in fact an initiate of the cult of Mithras. However, Diocletian instituted a cunning (if unwieldy) strategy to ensure that he did not end up being eliminated by the secret society behind the throne if he crossed their will (as had happened to so many of his predecessors). He created what has come to be referred to as "the Tetrarchy," splitting up power with an ally, Marcus Aurelius Maximian, and determining that each of the two co-emperors (Diocletian and Maximian) would name a "caesar" who would be the successor to each when they decided to retire, and who would have certain authority and powers even before that time. 

It was a terribly way to run things (just imagine a major corporation with four CEOs at the same time, or even two CEOs plus two "sub-CEOs" with nearly as much power as the CEOs), but by dividing the empire up this way and having it run by an alliance of four, it helped to ensure that the secret society of Sol Invictus Mithras could not bring in a new power-hungry general from another part of the empire to overthrow the existing emperor when he did something they didn't like, as had happened so many times before.

According to Flavio Barbiero, this was the turning point which determined a change in the strategy by the "power behind the throne" -- from now on, they would rule through the public mechanism that they had created, literalist Christianity, instead of the secret society of Mithras.

And that is why, after a violent power struggle that ensued after Diocletian and Maximian left office, the emperor who took control decided to proclaim openly that he was now a Christian, and that Christianity would henceforth be officially tolerated in the empire. That emperor was Constantine I, who ruled from AD 312 until his death in AD 337.

One of the important moves which Constantine made, and one which adds credence to this theory of Flavio Barbiero, was his decision to move the seat of the emperor to Constantinople and out of Rome. The "power behind the throne" (which had been hidden in the society of Mithras, and which was now identical with the upper reaches of the hierarchy of the Christian church) could thus operate out of Rome without interference from the emperor or from pesky usurpers marching in from other parts of the empire to try to seize the throne. 

However, Constantine did not declare Christianity to be the sole religion of the Roman Empire: far from it. His reign was only the first decisive move in the "endgame" of this centuries-long chess-match for control of the Roman world. The "checkmate" would come during the reign of Theodosius I, who was born about ten years after the end of Constantine's reign and who came to power in AD 392. It was Theodosius who administered what Flavio Barbiero calls "the fatal blow to paganism and what little still remained of the ancient Roman senatorial aristocracy" of the Roman Empire (216).

Theodosius ordered in AD 380 that all Christians must profess their faith in the bishop of Rome, thus outlawing alternative dogmas besides the one promulgated by the hierarchical structure controlled by the descendants of those long-ago transplants from Judea. 

He outlawed paganism outright in AD 392, decreeing the death penalty for anyone practicing augury or some of the other practices of the traditional Roman pagan rites. 

He closed the ancient Oracle at Delphi in AD 390, and ended the Eleusinian Mysteries in AD 392, as well as (according to some scholars) the Olympic games after that same year. 

Prior to his death, Theodosius issued decrees that the rule would be split between his two sons (who were quite young at the time of his death), one ruling in the east and the other in the west. It was a decision that would eventually lead to the breakup of the empire: Theodosius I was the last to rule a united empire, and eventually the trappings of the western empire would evaporate completely, and western Europe would be run by a variety of different kings and nobles and -- exercising tremendous control over their actions -- the hierarchy of the Christian religion centered in Rome.

In light of this theory, we can see that Ambrose and Theodosius were actually close allies in the final execution of a long-reaching plan. We can also see that Ambrose, as a high-ranking member of the hierarchy that represented the "power behind the throne" was actually in some ways the superior of the emperor himself -- and his ability to impose sanctions on Theodosius may be an indication of exactly that.

All of the actions above from the life of Theodosius certainly can be interpreted as strong supporting evidence for Flavio Barbiero's theory (among many other pieces of supporting evidence from the preceding centuries, which are recounted in detail in Flavio Barbiero's book).

But there is another incredible piece of evidence hidden in the speech of Ambrose given at the death of Theodosius which also tends to confirm this revolutionary alternative view of Roman history, and to tie it into the larger theory that I expound (and which, as I said, is not part of Flavio Barbiero's theory and should not be taken as an assertion that he supports this wider theory).

In The Undying Stars, and in many of the blog posts including this one containing an index of links to over fifty such myths from around the world, I argue that virtually all of the world's sacred traditions and scriptures appear to be based upon a common esoteric system of sophisticated celestial metaphor. 

As I explain in this previous post entitled "The Cobra Kai sucker-punch (and why we keep falling for it, over and over and over)," I believe that these esoteric ancient myths are actually designed to convey a worldview which is best described as shamanic (and in fact, as what I would call "shamanic-holographic"). This worldview included the belief in an unseen world which actually contains the "source code" for this ordinary, material world which is in fact only a projection of the "real world that is behind this one." 

It also included techniques for making contact with and actually traveling to that unseen realm, in order to gain information or make changes to the "source code" there, which could have tremendous impact on events back here in "the ordinary world." 

If my theory is correct, then the high-ranking priests who escaped the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem and the wars of Judea during the time of Vespasian and Titus may well have understood that worldview, and may even have known how to use that knowledge to help them in their plans. They created a literalist, hierarchical religion which suppressed this shamanic ancient knowledge, but they themselves may have known the esoteric secrets and continued to pass them down within their inner circle.

In the eloquent speech of the Archbishop Ambrose given at the death of his fellow-worker Theodosius the emperor, I believe we can see amazing confirmation of this possibility.

In paragraph 40 of his speech (just one paragraph after Ambrose has invoked a literalist vision of heaven and declared that Theodosius and his predecessor Gratian are both enjoying everlasting light and the company of all the saints, as well as a literalist vision of hell and declared that Theodosius' enemies "Maximus and Eugenius are in hell" to "teach by their wicked example how wicked it is for men to take up arms against their princes," thus showing how useful these literalist interpretations are for supporting the divine right of the ruler), Ambrose takes up the example of Constantine's mother Helena, whom he introduces as "great Helena of holy memory, who was inspired by the Spirit of God" (found on page 325 of the original pagination of the 1953 text linked above). 

Specifically, Ambrose at this part of his panegyric, tells us that once Constantine had killed the last of his enemies and become the sole emperor (Ambrose puts it more tactfully, saying that she was "solicitous for her son to whom the sovereignty of the Roman world had fallen," as if Constantine was just innocently eating lunch one day and the rule of the entire empire happened to fall into his lap), Helena "hastened to Jerusalem and explored the scene of the Lord's Passion" to see if she could find any relics from the Crucifixion with which to aid her son in his new job (paragraph 41, on page 325 of the original pagination of the 1953 text linked above).

As Ambrose explains, it turns out that she did find "three fork-shaped gibbets thrown together, covered by debris and hidden by the Enemy [that is to say, by the Devil, whom she addresses rhetorically in the preceding paragraph, declaring that she will find proof of the resurrection in spite of the Devil's attempts to conceal it]" (paragraph 45, on page 327 of the original pagination of the 1953 text linked above).

One of these "fork-shaped gibbets," Ambrose tells us, was "the Cross of salvation," which Helena was able to recognize by the fact that "on the middle gibbet a title had been displayed, 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews'" (paragraph 45, on page 327 of the original pagination). In paragraph 47 Ambrose tells us in addition that:
She sought the nails with which the Lord was crucified, and found them. From one nail she ordered a bridle to be made, from the other she wove a diadem. page 328 of the original text linked above.
Ambrose, who displays the allegorical virtuosity for which he is noted by historians, then expounds further upon this decision to make one nail into a crown and the other into a bridle:
On the head, a crown; in the hands, reins. A crown made from the Cross, that faith might shine forth; reins likewise from the Cross, that authority might govern, and that there might be just rule, not unjust legislation. May the princes also consider that this has been granted to them by Christ's generosity, that in imitation of the Lord it may be said of the Roman emperor: 'Thou has set on his head a crown of precious stones.'
[. . .]
But I ask: Why was the holy relic upon the bridle if not to curb the insolence of emperors, to check the wantonness of tyrants, who as horses neigh after lust that they may be allowed to commit adultery unpunished? What infamy do we not find in the Neros, the Caligulas, and the rest, for whom there was nothing holy upon the bridle?
What else, then, did Helena accomplish by her desire to guide the reins than to seem to say to all emperors through the Holy Spirit: 'Do not become like the horse and mule,' and with the bridle and bit to restrain the jaws of those who did not realize that they were kings to rule those subject to them? Paragraphs 48 - 51, pages 328 - 330 in the original pagination of the 1953 text.
Now, this is truly remarkable, to anyone who understands the ancient system of celestial allegory -- as Ambrose here indicates that he thoroughly and masterfully did.

We have discussed in a series of previous posts, beginning with "Scarab, Ankh, and Djed," that the Cross of the New Testament clearly parallels the "Djed-column raised up," which also closely parallels the sacrifice of Odin upon the World-Tree, and the Vajra-Thunderbolt of the Vedas, and many other important images around the world. 

All of those posts discuss the fact that this sacred symbol of profound significance is also closely connected to the "vertical pillar" of the zodiac wheel, which runs from the winter solstice at the "bottom of the year" straight up to the summer solstice at the "top of the year" (for more on that "pillar" see this year's summer solstice post).

Ambrose has just told us that, upon finding the True Cross, Helena the mother of Constantine took two of the original nails, and made one into a crown and the other into a bridle. The choice to incorporate one nail into a crown is pretty obvious for the "top of the column," which represents both the dome of heaven and also the "dome of heaven" at the top of each human being, the head (microcosm and macrocosm). But how could the other nail's incorporation into a horse-bridle have anything to do with the bottom of the zodiac-Djed-column? 

Have a looking at the zodiac wheel below and see if there are any zodiac signs at the bottom which could help explain this choice:

If you said Sagittarius (who at the bottom of the wheel just before winter solstice, peeking out below and partially obscured by the yellow label that says "The Djed raised up"), then I would agree. Sagittarius is an archer, but he is also a horseman (often a centaur). He is indicated in many myths within the system of celestial metaphor by "horse" imagery. It is almost a certainty that Ambrose is indicating an understanding of this ancient system, with this story about Helena and the discovery of the Djed-column / True Cross, and the fashioning of one nail into a crown for the head, and of the other into a bridle for a horse. 

But we don't actually have to guess about whether or not Ambrose understood this esoteric system: he provides breath-taking confirmation of the fact in paragraph 46, when he declares:
She discovered, then, the title. She adored the King, not the wood, indeed, because this is an error of the Gentiles and a vanity of the wicked. But she adored Him who hung on the tree, whose name was inscribed in the title; Him, I say, who, as a scarabaeus, cried out to His Father to forgive the sins of His persecutors. 327 - 328 of the original pagination.
What was that metaphor? It is certainly not one which, I would venture to say, most modern Christians are accustomed to hearing their preachers use regarding Christ upon the Cross. But it is one which, the footnote tells us, Ambrose used quite a lot. It is the metaphor of Christ on the Cross as a scarab!

And here we see that Ambrose undoubtedly understood the ancient system of celestial metaphor, and what is more that he understood it to the degree that he could employ metaphors common to ancient Egypt when referring to the top of the Djed-pillar! We have seen, in more than one of the previous posts linked above, that the scarab beetle with its upraised arms was connected directly to the sign of Cancer the Crab (at the top of the zodiac wheel, beginning at the point of summer solstice). 

The scarab was also esoterically connected to the crown of the skull, as shown in the image below which can be found in previous posts on this subject as well:

This should suffice to explain why the first nail was made into a crown, while the other went into a bridle -- one is connected to the sign of Cancer and the other to the sign of Sagittarius, two signs at either end of the Djed-column or the "solstice pillar," of which the True Cross is yet another manifestation (and which, we might add, is a central image in many shamanic rituals around the globe).

This deep familiarity with these symbols by Ambrose should also suffice to convince most readers that Ambrose knew full well that there was no physical Cross or nails to be found -- any more than one could "find" the vertical pillar that connects the winter and summer solstices and fashion some kind of crown or bridle out of it (he almost certainly would also have known that both "heaven" and "hell" were zodiac metaphors and not literal eternal destinations for the departed soul). But it should demonstrate conclusively that he was a master of the ancient esoteric system of celestial metaphor -- and that we can assume this knowledge had been passed down to him from his predecessors stretching back through the centuries, no doubt to generations long before the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.

Together, Ambrose and Theodosius offer powerful evidence which supports the revolutionary alternative theory published by Flavio Barbiero. 

Additionally, pieces of evidence such as the silencing of the Oracle at Delphi and the Mysteries of Eleusis by Theodosius, as well as the clear hints Ambrose drops indicating his masterful understanding of the esoteric system, provide powerful confirmation of the wider theory that this ancient successful conspiracy to take over the Roman Empire was also part of something far bigger: a conspiracy to smash the ancient shamanic-holographic wisdom bequeathed to humanity, and to keep it within a small group who could then use it to "rule the school" (in the "Cobra Kai metaphor") while giving everyone else a literalistic interpretation which they themselves knew to be false.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"The real world that is behind this one"

Whether or not they were deliberately intended to do so, movies and other forms of storytelling often portray concepts or imaginary scenarios which can serve as useful metaphors to illustrate or to convey an understanding of profound concepts, concepts which might be difficult to explain or even to grasp without using metaphors or allegories.

It doesn't even really matter if the writers or moviemakers were originally intending to create a metaphor that can help to explain some deep truth about the nature of our universe and our place within it: we should actually expect that, if the universe really operates in such-and-such a way, then artists and writers and creators of stories should and will end up portraying analogies pointing to those realities, whether they do so knowingly or not.

A case in point is the recent movie Divergent, which is based upon a series of popular books with the same name, which I have not read and in which I am not extraordinarily interested at this time -- but (as I have mentioned before here), which do contain what strikes me as a very helpful metaphor for illustrating some aspects of the shamanic worldview. 

Regardless of your personal reaction to this recent movie (and it seems to provoke strong positive and negative reactions among different groups of viewers, as well as "strong indifference" among some who express exhaustion at the number of films that seem to be coming out in the "teen-plus-dystopia" category), it is worth considering the way the film embodies a powerful metaphor for understanding what some theoretical physicists have called our "holographic universe."

Assuming that most readers who have not yet seen the film probably fall into the "indifferent" category, no blaring "spoiler alerts" will be issued (but such an alert would come right about here, if there were one).

Without going into too much detail, the film posits a vaguely post-apocalyptic dystopian future world in which young adults are tested for their talents and predilections, after which they choose a "faction" in which they will contribute to the economy or society for the rest of their life. However, some small percentage of the population are "divergent" and have set of skills and traits that cross many categories and who have another talent which is the part which relates to the helpful metaphor regarding the shamanic worldview. 

The special talent which the divergents possess (that relates to the shamanic worldview) and which the majority of the populace portrayed in the film do not seem to exhibit is this: when they are injected with mind-altering drugs to make them enter a simulated world and react to different life-threatening scenarios within the simulation, a divergent is able to perceive that it is all a simulation, and then to bend the boundaries of the simulation in order to transcend the life-threatening situation in unexpected and seemingly-impossible ways.

The short clip from the film, shown above, illustrates one scene in which the main character demonstrates this singular talent of the divergent.

And here is where the film becomes an excellent metaphor to help us to grasp the concept of the "shamanic worldview" or the "holographic universe" (concepts which can be shown to be closely related in important ways, and which I sometimes combine to create the description "shamanic-holographic"). 

Because according to many accounts from shamanic cultures around the world, the ordinary world in which we spend most of our waking hours is actually very much like the "simulations" to which the characters in the Divergent movie are forcibly subjected: in many important ways, it is projected and constructed out of our own mind, to the point that it takes on a kind of reality, but a reality that is actually subordinate to the deeper reality from which the simulation-world is being projected. 

The reality that is the source of the simulation (or the hallucination, or the dream) is the unseen realm -- unseen, but just as real as the ordinary realm in which we normally move, and in fact perhaps more real in certain ways. Because the "simulation" realm which we generally think of as the "real world" is projected from the other realm, that hidden reality is sometimes referred to as the "seed world" or the "seed realm."

In his book Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts, discussed in the previous post, Dr. Jeremy Naydler describes the ancient Egyptian concept of the other realm, sometimes associated with a specific celestial conceptual paradigm called the Duat or the Dwat, in terms which very much resonate with this understanding of the totality of the seen and unseen aspects of reality:
The Egyptians were intensely aware that the world they lived in was more than just the world perceptible to the senses. It included a vast and complex supersensible component as well.
It would be a mistake, then, to regard the Dwat as simply the realm of the dead. It is the habitation of spirits, of beings that are capable of existing nonphysically. These include the essential spiritual energy or life energy of those beings and creatures that we see around us in the physical world. In the Dwat, everything is reduced to its spiritual kernel. Just as the forms of living plants, when they die, disappear from the visible world as they are received into the Dwat, so when the young plants unfold their forms again in the new year, they unfold them from out of the Dwat. This "hidden realm" (literally amentet, another term for the realm of the dead) is the originating source of all that comes into being in the visible world.
[. . .] In the Dwat, then, the essential forms of things exist inwardly in a more interior space -- a space that is prior to the external space into which they will unfold when they enter the world of physical manifestation. As for plants, so also for animals. Even the river Nile has its source in the Dwat. 83-84.
In a wonderful book I recently received entitled Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation, containing observations and experiences and teaching and insights from experienced shamanic practitioners and teachers and healers, including the book's co-authors Sandra Ingerman and  Hank Wesselman, as well as contributors Tom Cowan, Carol Proudfood-Edgar, Jose Luis Stevens, and Alberto Villoldo, there are many passages which attest to a similar understanding that the world of our "ordinary experience" is actually a projection of the unseen realm. 

During one important passage, Hank Wesselman discusses a series of spontaneous dreamlike visions he experienced at the age of thirty while on a scientific research expedition in the East African Rift in southwestern Ethiopia. Explaining that he was reluctant to discuss them with his fellow scientists from western countries, who might be less than receptive to such ideas, he turned to some of the African tribal men with whom he had become friends over the years of work in the field, and when he did so, he "discovered that they held a perspective that was quite foreign to my scientist's way of thinking about the world" (xvi):
Right at the core of their worldview lay the perception that the multi-leveled field of the dream is the real world, that we human beings are actually dreaming twenty-four hours a day, and that the everyday physical world came into being in response to the dream, not vice versa. These assertions were always accompanied by a conviction, strongly held, that the dream world is minded, that it is consciousness itself -- alive, intelligent, and power-filled -- infusing everything that emanates from it with awareness, vitality, and life force. xvii.
This worldview, it must be noted, is strikingly harmonious to the worldview of the ancient Egyptians as described by Dr. Naydler in the passage cited above.

And, as shamanic practitioner and teacher Michael Drake points out in one of the numerous insightful pages on his website, there are statements attesting to the same understanding from shamanic peoples halfway around the world, in North America, citing a passage from the Lakota wichasha wakon or holy man Black Elk (1863 - 1950) who had experienced his first vision unbidden at the age of nine, and who stated that the unseen realm was actually "the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world."

That particular passage from Black Elk that he cites is an extremely insightful quotation that speaks directly to the concept that we are exploring, and it is also helpful to examine it in the context of what Black Elk is describing when he makes that particular statement -- which happens to be the vision of his second cousin, Crazy Horse, which was discussed in this previous post.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Black Elk was actually contemporaries with Crazy Horse -- Black Elk was born in December of 1863, and thus was 12 years of age and going on 13 during the Battle of the Little Bighorn, in which Black Elk participated. Black Elk later held extended conversations with John G. Neihardt (1881 - 1973) during the years 1930 and 1931, which were published as Black Elk Speaks. Here is how Black Elk described the vision of Crazy Horse:
Crazy Horse's father was my father's cousin, and there were no chiefs in our family before Crazy Horse; but there were holy men; and he became a chief because of the power he got in a vision when he was a boy. When I was a man, my father told me something about that vision. Of course he did not know all of it; but he said that Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world. He was on his horse in that world, and the horse and himself on it and the trees and the grass and the stones and everything were made of spirit, and nothing was hard, and everything seemed to float. His horse was standing still there, and yet it danced around like a horse made only of shadow, and that is how he got his name, which does not mean that his horse was crazy or wild, but that in his vision it danced around in that queer way.
It was this vision that gave him his great power, for when he went into a fight, he had only to think of that world to be in it again, so that he could go through anything and not be hurt. Until he was murdered by the Wasichus at the Soldiers' Town on White River, he was wounded only twice, once by accident and both times by some one of his own people when he was not expecting trouble and was not thinking; never by an enemy. [. . .]
[. . .] He never wanted to have many things for himself, and did not have many ponies like a chief. They say that when game was scarce and the people were hungry, he would not eat at all. He was a queer man. Maybe he was always part way into that world of his vision. He was a very great man, and I think if the Wasichus had not murdered him down there, maybe we should still have the Black Hills and be happy. They could not have killed him in battle. They had to lie to him and murder him. And he was only about thirty years old when he died. 
This passage is absolutely incredible in the amount of profound wisdom that it imparts. We should  each consider it carefully and thoughtfully, for there are many insights we can gain from thinking deeply about these words.

In light of the specific subject at hand, however, it offers some astonishing confirmation of everything we have seen from other shamanic cultures from far away and even from thousands of years ago. We see that this ordinary realm was seen to be less real in some ways than the unseen realm, which is actually the real one, and everything in our ordinary world is actually only a shadow of that one. That is to say, in some ways this world is an illusion, a dream -- and Crazy Horse seems to have been able to transcend the boundary between these worlds at will, and when doing so was unable to be harmed by weapons in this seemingly solid "ordinary realm."

And this point brings us back to the metaphor from the movie Divergent, because it is by remembering and realizing that she is in a simulation, a projection, an illusion or a dream that the protagonist Tris is able to transcend the seemingly-solid boundaries and barriers that exist in the simulation (and that other non-divergent characters cannot transcend when they are inside the simulation). 

In other words, the world of the simulation in Divergent is a metaphor for this world that we seem to be living in, and the characters who are born with the unsought talent of transcending those barriers, and of perceiving when they are inside an illusion and that "this isn't real" are like the shamans who are able to transcend the boundaries of this world, and who have told us in no uncertain terms that this world is actually a projection of the unseen world, and that this one is actually in some ways a dream (modern theoretical physicists have proposed models that use the metaphor of a hologram). 

As Hank Wesselman describes it, "we human beings are actually dreaming twenty-four hours a day." In terms of the metaphor, we are inside an induced simulation, and (like the non-divergent characters in the film), we normally cannot perceive that it is a simulation, and we treat it as though it is the only reality, when in fact there is a more real world "behind it" that is actually the source of this "twenty-four hour dream."

Some readers might be thinking by this point, "Does this mean, or do you intend to say, that this world is not real, and so I cannot be hurt if I walk in front of a truck driving down the freeway? Because if you are saying that, you're crazy and I'm not listening anymore."

No -- obviously that cannot be the message that Black Elk and the others are telling us. Black Elk specifically says that Crazy Horse was murdered, and he was murdered by ordinary physical weapons in this ordinary reality to which our consciousness is usually attuned. The world and everything in it may well be composed of waves of energy which our minds interpret as various objects and surfaces, and physicists will affirm that this is indeed the case -- but any surfer will tell you that waves need to be respected, and that they will spin you around like you're in a washing machine if you pick a fight with one or (worse yet) pretend that they aren't real. 

But it does mean that, if reality is actually interpenetrated by an unseen realm, one from which this ordinary realm is in some way projected, then we need to be aware of and respectful of that other realm. It also means that, if contact with and even travel to that other realm are in fact possible, we may be able to obtain information from that other realm, or even to obtain power from that other realm as Crazy Horse did and which he used on behalf of his people -- and that changes effected in that other realm (which after all is the source of everything in the ordinary realm) can have real and meaningful changes on events and conditions in this ordinary realm.

It also means (or at least it has consistently been interpreted to mean, in cultures holding this worldview, as discussed at some length in my book The Undying Stars) that we do not have to fear the destruction of our material body in this realm, as our consciousness is not ultimately dependent upon this material realm, as taught by the ideology of materialism.

To return one more time to the metaphor with which we began this examination, it is also evident that the ability to perceive that this reality is not the only reality, and to be able to project back to that "source reality" can potentially get us out of a bad situation (as shown in the clip above). Certainly, Black Elk testifies that this was true in the case of Crazy Horse's life. And contemporary shamanic practitioners and teachers today, including those who share their experience and understanding in Awakening to the Spirit World, also attest that the ability to transcend this reality can be used to help get us out of bad situations in today's world as well. 

These situations do not need to be horrible traps such as the one depicted in the film clip above, or even battle scenes such as those that Crazy Horse faced during his lifetime -- they may have to do with other situations we are struggling with individually, or bad situations that we face on a larger scale such as a societal or even a planetary scale.

Finally, Divergent offers a noteworthy metaphor in that those who have this "divergent" ability to "see through the simulation" and transcend the barriers that the oppressive rulers of the dystopia wish to impose on everyone (including the barriers that divide people up into mutually-distrustful "factions") are seen as extremely threatening to the oppressors, and are eliminated at all times whenever they are detected. There is abundant evidence throughout history, especially in "the West" during the past seventeen centuries or more, that this attitude has very often been the prevailing policy towards those who teach some version of the shamanic worldview -- and that shamanic cultures and teachers have frequently been eliminated whenever and wherever they have been detected down through the years.

And yet, as I noted at the end of the previous post as well, this information cannot be suppressed forever -- it tends to surface in unexpected ways, even after many years of lying dormant (just like a seed, in fact).

To that end, metaphors that can help explain and illustrate this vitally important subject (a subject which, admittedly, is one that our "left-brain" minds tend to reject immediately when it is first proposed), are extremely important. The Divergent metaphor of the "simulation-projection" and its ability to be transcended by those like Tris who are able to see through it thus becomes an excellent way to explain this concept, and to get the idea past our "left-brain gatekeeper" to where we can say, "Oh yeah, I could see how that would work." 

And that's a very good thing, because the evidence seems to suggest that this in fact is exactly the way reality is indeed structured.