Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thoughts on the winged man of Uppaakra

Recently, an excellently preserved and exquisitely detailed find from the archaeological site in Uppaakra, Sweden was unearthed. Photographs of the unique artifact reveal a man with a pointed beard and beautiful wings -- which he is grasping with his hands -- and a bird-like fan-tail between his outstretched legs.

Hat tip to Swedish archaeologist Dr. Martin Rundkvist for posting some fantastic images and discussion of the artifact on his blog, Aardvarchaeology (especially for those of us who don't speak Swedish).

Dr. Rundkvist points out that the winged man is unlikely to represent a Christian angel, as the period of its archaeological context predates Christian influence in the area. He notes that Norse mythology does offer the connection of either Freya and her falcon cloak or Weyland the Smith, who was such an accomplished artificer that he was able to fashion wings using the feathers of birds to escape his torment and imprisonment in some of the stories surrounding the episodes of his life.

Dr. Rundkvist finds the Weyland connection to be especially compelling, and it is noteworthy that the authors of Hamlet's Mill spend a good deal of time discussing the importance of smiths such as Weyland in their text. Often, a godlike smith will be described in ancient myth as being lame or crippled in the legs or feet -- the most familiar example to most readers being Hephaestos or Vulcan from Greek or Roman mythology. Weyland the Smith, however, was also lame in his legs, having been deliberately hamstrung by his cruel captor and forced to craft items at his forge for his tormentors. He later escapes by fashioning wings and flying away.

In Hamlet's Mill, as we have discussed many times previously, the thesis is put forward (with extensive supporting evidence from myth around the world) that these myths encode sophisticated astronomical understanding by ancient civilizations, often pertaining to the precession of the equinoxes.

The concept of a creator deity who is lame fits in with the delay in the appearance of Orion (in particular -- a constellation associated with Osiris in ancient Egypt, who was drowned and also mutilated by his brother Set) which is caused by precession. Each year, constellations near the plane of the ecliptic should appear above the horizon for the first time when the earth is in the same spot on its annual orbit. However, due to precession, this annual first appearance is delayed by a tiny amount (by only one degree per 71.6 years). This delay can be metaphorically likened to being "held down below the horizon" (or drowned, as Osiris is drowned), or it can be metaphorically likened to delay due to being hamstrung or lamed in the feet.

Note that Osiris is avenged for the wrongs done to him by his son, Horus -- the falcon god. This suggests a connection to Freya and his falcon suit which Dr. Rundkvist mentions! Weyland is also avenged of his wrongs and rises above his torment in the wings that he forges.

That these Norse and ancient Egyptian myths are parallel and related to precession is discussed by Jane Sellers in her outstanding discussion of the subject in Death of Gods in Ancient Egypt (in which she follows Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend's assertions in Hamlet's Mill, while going further and adding many new insights of her own). She writes:
My neglect in naming Orion forger of a new Mill must be forgiven. He can be likened to the Anglo-Saxon hero, Wayland Smith, described in myths as wearing a shortish kilt that showed his lameness. In illustrations Wayland's left hand grasps a pair of tongs and his right is outstretched to two females who face him. He was said to own a wondrous sword -- and he, like Osiris, was made to go into exile. Wayland's banishment was considered by him as a wrong done to him which he avenged by cutting off the heads of the King's two sons. Then he 'rose in the air on wings he had made.'

This is just one of many stories that could be recalled as the dual concerns of precession and eclipse is insisted upon. There are many lame heroes, and more than a few blind Samsons, who bring the old Mill down. But at least one time, in the story of a young herdsman of Phrygia, the hero lost his maleness, which recalls the story of Isis collecting the scattered pieces of Osiris's cut up body, finding all but his sexual organs. I would hazard a guess that it was the two testicles that the tellers of the tales had in mind. There are even references to a lame Egyptian god. Plutarch wrote that Harpocrates, (Horus), the son of Osiris and Isis, conceived after Osiris's death, was 'weak in his lower limbs.' Spell 168 of the Book of the Dead has a veiled allusion to 'what is written concerning the legs of Osiris.' 199-200.

A final thought that may be helpful in the interpretation of this amazing new artifact of the winged man is the fact that in shaman traditions around the world, the shaman is usually able to take on the form of a bird in order to ascend through the nine worlds (note that Norse mythology also has nine worlds -- we discussed the probable origin of the number nine for celestial worlds in this previous post).

The shaman was sometimes depicted as having wings -- more commonly, as having fringes or tassels on his or her garments, even in rock art, which represented and suggested wings and the power of flight. These long fringes are very familiar to most of us from the fringed shirts and other garments of Native American Indians (such as in the Nez Perce shirt below, circa 1820).

These observations are not mutually exclusive -- in other words, the possibility that the winged man of Uppaakra may be related to Weyland and to shamanism are not two distinct possibilities. We have already seen that the shamanic tradition appears to reflect and preserve many aspects of the same cosmological and spiritual beliefs encoded in ancient Egyptian "mythology" (the same ancient Egyptian mythology that is clearly connected to Norse mythology and to the stories of Weyland the Smith and perhaps to Freya and her falcon cloak as well).

All of these threads should be carefully considered by those who are now examining the startling new artifact of the winged man unearthed at Upppaarka in Sweden.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Neutrinos, the speed of light, and the Big Bang theory

On Friday, representatives from an international team of 160 physicists announced to the world the results of experiments conducted at the CERN particle accelerator in which neutrinos launched from Geneva, Switzerland arrived at a cavern underneath Gran Sasso, Italy -- 454 miles away -- faster than a beam of light would have.

This result was so shocking and unbelievable that the physicists conducted over 15,000 tests for about six months to verify their results, and even after all that they still don't believe it. In announcing these anomalous findings to the physics community, they explicitly invited the help of any and all comers to discover what they could have done wrong. Even after extensive testing, they are far more ready to admit that they must be overlooking something, anything, than to admit that anything in the universe can travel faster than the speed of light.

The assumption that the speed of light is a constant, and that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, is an absolutely foundational concept for modern physics and the understanding of the universe. The implications of this discovery, if it proves to be correct and not the result of some kind of error or oversight, are enormous. Some recent articles describing the consternation of the physics community (as well as describing the experiments that led to Friday's announcement) can be found here: New York Times, Wall Street Journal 1, Wall Street Journal 2.

Not only does the possibility that neutrinos can travel faster than light throw modern physics (and Einstein's theory of relativity) into disarray, but it also has implications for the assumptions and models that gave rise to the Big Bang theory for the origin of the universe. As explained in the first Wall Street Journal report on Friday's announcement (linked above), "The light-speed notion is also partly the basis for Einstein's theory of gravity. That, in turn, is the starting point for existing theories about how the universe evolved."

That article cites physicist Dr. Neil Turok, director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, Canada, as saying about this neutrino speed record: "It would be the biggest physics discovery in a century because we'd have to completely revise everything from subatomic physics to what we know about how the universe evolved." Dr. Turok (like most physicists not involved in the original experiments themselves) is skeptical of the findings.

That article also points out, however, that scientists at the Fermilab in Illinois apparently clocked neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light in research a few years ago. Those experiments, however, were "below the threshold of precision needed for making a scientific claim," according to Dr. Robert Plunkett, who was involved in that earlier work and who will now go back to revisit the results. The more recent CERN experiment was not below the necessary "threshold of precision."

One of the first to point out the stunning implications of this new research for the prevailing theory of the Big Bang (which itself is a central dogma in the prevailing cult of Darwinism that currently dominates most of Western academia) is international social reformer Vishal Mangalwadi, who with his wife has labored since 1976 for the empowerment and liberation of the peasants and lower castes of India. In an email yesterday entitled "Will the 'Big Bang' Theory Blow Up Now?" he points out that the assumption that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum was "one of the bases for calculating the age of the universe to be 13.7 billion years," and that:
The new observations – if confirmed – will send the scientific community back to the drawing board. They will need to question their fundamental assumptions and only if one or more assumptions gain general acceptance they could re-start constructing models totally different than we have taken for granted for decades. Scientists may have to now slaughter sacred cows of the 20th century science.
In his groundbreaking work on the hydroplate theory, Dr. Walt Brown (a graduate of West Point and MIT) discusses several scientific reasons that the Big Bang theory may be flawed, none of which have to do with this startling new neutrino study (all of them published before this new possibility about the speed of light became public).

He points out that the evidence usually cited as "proving" the Big Bang has serious problems (including the famous "red shift" data, the Nobel-prize winning Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation data, and the data on the amount of helium in the universe). Further, he notes that although astrophysicists interpret this data as indicating that the Big Bang took place 13.7 billion years ago, the models of stellar evolution based on the Big Bang indicate that some stars in extremely distant galaxies would have to be at least 16 billion years old -- a finding which calls the entire model physicists are using into question.

He also points out that the Second Law of Thermodynamics (which so far has not been shown to have any flaws) would mean that the universe in the far distant past was more organized and more complex than it is today (since the Second Law -- the Law of Entropy -- states that everything tends to deteriorate and grow less organized rather than the reverse). It is contradictory to argue that the universe was more organized immediately after the Big Bang than it is today, and the Big Bang theory does not argue that it was, but if not then the Big Bang theory is in conflict with the Law of Entropy.

Dr. Brown suggests that:
Evolutionists can undoubtedly resolve these time contradictions—but at the cost of rejecting some cherished belief. Perhaps they will accept the possibility that light traveled much faster in the past. Measurements exist which support this revolutionary idea. [See page 377.]
In other words, even before this new possible finding from the neutrino experiment at CERN, Dr. Brown noted that the contradictions in the current scientific models regarding the origin of the universe suggest that the speed of light may not be a constant the way modern physics assumes that it is. Even if the recent findings about neutrino speeds are proven to be mistaken, the Big Bang theory still has king-sized problems.

The larger point to be taken from this specific series of CERN experiments is that the most cherished assumptions which undergird modern theories (many of which the defenders of orthodoxy declare are "proven," "settled science," "established fact," and things that we "know" -- such as the quotation above from Dr. Turok regarding "what we know about how the universe evolved") should be open to examination, experimentation, and possible revision. If this is true about something as supposedly settled as the speed of light, how much more so for the dogmatically held theories about mankind's ancient past, which are based on far less rigorous science?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Gate of Cancer

The moon has been rising later and later (as it always does due to the mechanics explained in this previous post) and it will soon be overtaken again by the sun to create another new moon (on the morning of the 27th).

Over the next few mornings, it can be seen rising in the east before sunrise, and will be an important signpost that can help point the way to the planet Mars in the constellation Cancer near the constellation Leo in the predawn sky. To see an excellent diagram of the eastern horizon as it appears 90 minutes before sunrise, check out this link to Sky & Telescope's discussion of the celestial events through the 24th.

Note that the sun is now coming up later and later each morning, which should help you get up before the sun and get to a place where you can witness this predawn show (you don't have to rise quite as early as you did in the middle of summer in order to see the eastern constellations before the sun). Morning twilight is now beginning around 0626 and sunrise around 0651 for observers at latitude N 35°.

In the diagram from Sky & Telescope linked above, you will see that the moon helps point the way to Mars, and that the great constellation of Leo the Lion is rising up not far away. While not indicated on the diagram from Sky & Telescope, Mars itself is in the constellation of Cancer the Crab, the faintest of all the zodiac constellations. You can see where Cancer is situated in relation to Leo and to Hydra by looking at the illustration at the top of this post -- from that, you can go back to the Sky & Telescope illustration, which does depict both Leo and Hydra (note that Leo is rising upwards before sunrise, so that the illustration at the top of this blog post must be rotated counterclockwise in order to orient it to the predawn sky).

Cancer is very faint and difficult to make out, but if you get used to where it is located, then you can keep an eye out for it as it rises earlier and earlier and eventually marches through the wee hours of the morning. When it does so, you can use your binoculars to look for the Beehive cluster, marked in the illustration above. The Beehive is designated as Messier Object M44 by astronomers, and is also known by the Latin name Praesepe, or "the manger."

Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend tell us in Hamlet's Mill that Cancer (which, as can be seen from the illustration above, is also near to the constellation Gemini) was thought of as the gate of one end of the Milky Way band (opposite to the Scorpion and Sagittarius, who guard the other end of the Milky Way).

They relate that the important ancient philosopher Macrobius (AD 395 - 423) provided a record of the ancient belief that the souls of the departed ascend into the Milky Way by way of the Scorpion and Sagittarius (and Capricorn, which is adjacent to Sagittarius), and that eventually, they descend again to be reborn through the "Gate of Cancer" (de Santillana and von Dechend, 242, citing Macrobius' commentary on the Dream of Scipio).

It is quite significant that the authors of Hamlet's Mill find this very same tradition preserved in various forms (all recognizable) among the Indians of North America and Central America as well as among the Maya, and also among the Polynesians (see 243-244).

The Milky Way is well worth viewing through binoculars and it is very visible now (especially with the moon mostly out of the way for late evening viewing). Then, in the morning, rise up early and bring your binoculars again to look for the stars of Cancer between Leo and Gemini and above Hydra, and take in the waning crescent moon and the planet Mars. With a little practice, this end of the Milky Way -- near the important the Gate of Cancer -- can become as familiar as the other side that is guarded by the Scorpion and Sagittarius.

The equinox and the plane of the ecliptic

The earth is approaching the point on its orbit known as the September equinox (autumnal equinox for observers in the northern hemisphere, where it is autumn, although it is spring in the southern hemisphere).

The diagram above is an attempt to diagram the cause of the solstices and equinoxes a little differently than they are usually shown. The horizontal glass plate represents the "plane of the ecliptic" -- that is, the plane upon which the orbit of the earth takes place around the sun. Imagine the sun as being to the left on this image.

Note that the sun itself will trace out a path across the daytime sky along this plane, but it will not be "horizontal" to an observer on earth. To understand why, take a look at the above diagram, in which an observer is represented by a red "thumbtack" pushed into the earth (OK, it's a low-tech computer generated thumbtack). To this observer, the sun will actually arc high across the sky, but always at an angle less than 90 degrees, and tilted towards the southern horizon.

The earth in the image above is at the June solstice, so the north pole is aligned towards the sun (as directly "pointed at" the sun as it ever gets). Note that the antique-style globe in the image has an equator depicted -- this equator can be projected into the celestial sphere to give the "celestial equator" (90 degrees from the celestial north pole -- for more discussion of the celestial sphere, re-visit the web pages of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the blog post here). During the day (looking towards the plate of glass in the photo above from the observer's red thumbtack on the globe) the sun will be above the celestial equator, but at night (looking out into space toward the right in the photo) the ecliptic path (which the planets generally follow as well, since they are orbiting the sun very close to this same plane of glass) will be below the celestial equator.

In the image below, the globe is shown at the position of the December solstice, and now the north pole is pointed left and the sun would be located to the right of the photo (along the plate of glass or "plane of the ecliptic").

Notice that our observer is still represented by a red "thumbtack" pushed in to the same latitude (the latitude of Egypt, home of those ancient celestial observers). Look at how much shallower the path of the sun will be across the daytime sky for this observer. It will be much closer to his southern horizon. It will cross the sky south of the celestial equator -- it will follow a path between the celestial equator and the southern horizon. Note that at night, when the earth rotates our little red observer to the left and he gazes left into the night sky (away from the sun) he will see that the ecliptic path of the planets and zodiac constellations is actually above the celestial equator (towards the north celestial pole).

These two diagrams should help to illuminate the reason that the sun's arc does not remain at the same tilt throughout the year -- if the sun's arc were a rainbow, the rainbow would be tilted at a steeper angle through the sky on the summer solstice and at a much shallower angle (tilted way more towards the horizon) on the winter solstice. This fact was depicted in a diagram from a post back on the time of the June solstice this year (that diagram is reproduced again below).

Armed with this understanding, we can now understand that the equinoxes take place when the earth is going around the plane of glass in the diagrams and the sun is "broadsides" to the earth (if the earth were a ship and the north and south poles were the bow and the stern, the ship would be going past the sun such that the sun was directly off the starboard or larboard side). Because of this, as the earth rotates, the sun will rise precisely in the east and as it continues to rotate the sun will set precisely in the west. The diagram below shows the earth going by the sun on an equinox -- think of it as a ship if that helps.

Naturally, if the sun moves in an arc through the daytime sky that is north of the celestial equator on the June solstice (in the northern hemisphere) and south of the celestial equator on the December solstice (in the northern hemisphere), then at some point the sun's daily path must cross the celestial equator. This event takes place twice each year on the equinoxes. For observers in the northern hemisphere, the September or autumnal equinox is the day the ecliptic crosses the celestial equator from the north to the south, on its way to the December or winter solstice. Likewise, the June or spring equinox for the northern hemisphere is the day the ecliptic crosses back from the south to the north of the celestial equator.

In the yellow notepad drawing above, note that the sunrise points move to the north and to the south during the year, reaching the northernmost rising point on the summer solstice (marked "SS" in the drawing) and the southernmost rising point on the winter solstice (marked "WS"). On the equinoxes, the sun's rising coincides with the point that the circle of the celestial equator strikes the horizon -- due east. From the autumn equinox, the sun's rising point will then continue to march south towards the winter solstice rising point further south along the eastern horizon.

This year, the ecliptic crosses the celestial equator on the morning of September 23 (the date is a function of the Gregorian calendar, so the date shifts a bit from one year to the next until the next leap year keeps the dates from drifting too far).

Considering the plane of the ecliptic helps give a greater understanding of the mechanics of the solstices and the equinoxes.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Does the direction you lay your head down to sleep matter?

Does it matter which direction your body is oriented when you lay your head down to sleep?

Some ancient civilizations apparently thought so. The Mahabharata, one of the ancient texts of India, was probably composed in the 8th or 9th centuries BC but possibly much older than that (certainly the authors of Hamlet's Mill demonstrate throughout their book that the Mahabharata contains encoded ancient knowledge which is likely from the same source as the ancient knowledge that turns up in ancient Egypt and ancient Sumer and other civilizations around the world -- we have examined one such piece of evidence from the Mahabharata in this previous post). The Mahabharata instructs its readers:
They that are wise should never see themselves in an unpolished or dirty mirror. One should never have sexual congress with a woman that is unknown or with one that is quick with child. One should never sleep with head turned towards the north or the west. [See this online version, and to find the passage cited, look in the section marked page 199, in section 104].
This very ancient injunction against sleeping with the head to the north or to the west has been preserved among Indian culture, according to some sources. For example, Swami Buaji (who lived to quite an advanced age) apparently believed the same thing about the importance of the direction of the head while sleeping. In this passage, which is cited around the internet in various places, he says:
"Never lie down to sleep with your head northward or westward" is a common injunction given from time immemorial by the Indian mother to her children. Almost every Hindu- orthodox or heterodox- observes this dictum of his ancestors, but he doesn't know the rationale or significance behind the dictum, although it has been handed down to him through generations. For example, Vishnu Purana says: "O King! It is beneficial to lie down with the head placed eastward or southward. The man who lies down with his head placed in contrary directions becomes diseased." The Varshaadi Nool says: "Sleeping eastward is good; sleeping southward prolongs life; sleeping westward and northward brings ruin." The Mahabharata says: "Men become wise by sleeping eastward and southward." There are two Tamil proverbs which run thus: "Vaaraatha Vashvu Vanthaalum Vadakkae Thalai Vaikkakkuudathu", meaning; " Even in the heyday of sudden fortune, one should not lie down with head to the north", and " Vidakkeiyayinum Vadakkaakaathu", meaning: "Even the head of the dried fish should not be placed northward." The Ayurvedic physician seats his patients facing eastward before diagnosing the disease or administering his medicine. Brides and bridegrooms are always seated facing eastward on the wedding day. Even corpses are placed down with the head southward.
In addition to cited numerous other texts and proverbs beyond the Mahabharata, Swami Buaji also gives some explanation as to why he believed the direction of the body at rest was important. According to that Yogi, human beings reflect the planet earth in having a north pole and a south pole, and the alignment of our body while sleeping matters because the flow of energy through the earth effects our own magnetic field.

This unrelated website appears to counsel very much the same thing, arguing the importance of the direction of the body during sleep and proposing that head facing east and feet facing west is beneficial.

We have seen in previous posts that ancient cultures appear to have been aware of the low-frequency underground electric currents called telluric energy which flow through the earth (see for instance "Magnetic polarity at Avebury Henge"). It is quite likely that the ancients were aware of some of the influence that the earth's energy has on the human body (some researchers point to evidence that this energy also impacts seeds and the positive growth of plants).

Even in our supposedly advanced modern civilization, we know very little about sleep. In fact, the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School admits that we still do not even really know why we and other animals require sleep at all! Recent studies have found a strong link between quality of sleep and successful aging.

Based upon the fact that Swami Buaji was healthy and active at a very advanced age (according to his followers, he was still teaching at ages over 110, determining his age by photographic evidence from various times in his life), it may be prudent to consider carefully his advice on the direction of the head and body during sleep. The fact that his teaching is backed up by very ancient texts, from civilizations that appear to have known more about the earth's energy field and its impact on life on earth than we do today, would appear to make his case even stronger.

The mysterious "sailing stones" of Racetrack Playa

note: Someone complained about the image originally published with this blog post (based on lack of digital rights to that image).  The previous image came from Wikimedia commons and I do not believe its use infringed with the rights as stated on its page on Wikimedia commons when I found it there at that time, in September of 2011.  However, that image has been removed and replaced with the above image, which also comes from Wikimedia commons and which carries a prominent statement that the author of the above image has released it into the public domain.  You can visit that Wikimedia commons page yourself by following this link:

The text of the original post follows:

The Mojave Desert is a stark and beautiful geographical feature which holds a special place in my heart for two reasons.

First, growing up in California, I had the wonderful privilege as a boy of going on long car trips with my family across the great southwest to places such as Carlsbad Caverns, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, and Sedona, Arizona: all destinations which required passage through the vast Mojave. I have many fond memories, not only of these well-known sites but also of smaller out-of-the-way stops along the road, where signs or park rangers explained details of the incredible natural history of the area, and talked about the wildlife and the human history of those who have made that area their home.

Second, as a young Army officer I was deployed several times to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, smack in the middle of the Mojave Desert and not far from Death Valley. During the long days and nights in the desert I had the opportunity to drink in its unworldly beauty and stunning panoramas.

I well remember driving for hours at night in a column of Bradley Fighting Vehicles across the desert landscapes, the entire world bathed in the green light of my night vision goggles, across enormous valleys that seemed like they would never end, protruding from my Bradley turret and trying to stay awake and keep track of where we were at the same time, or coming down steep mountain passes in the late afternoon into the great Central Corridor, and feeling you could see for hundreds of miles, as if you were on a giant desert planet far from earth which dwarfed all human beings and their pathetic noisy machines of war.

There are several gigantic dry lakebeds there, such as Bicycle Lake or Silver Lake, entirely flat and bone dry, thousands of feet in length and long enough to accommodate multiple landing strips for huge Army cargo aircraft such as C-130s.

In other parts of the Mojave Desert, these dry lakes are called "playas," from the Spanish term for a beach (perhaps given that name with grim desert humor in the days of the Old West). Travelers driving to Las Vegas from Southern California along Interstate-15 pass by a couple large playas within sight of the interstate.

Further north, in Death Valley itself (still part of the Mojave) is the famous Racetrack Playa, so called because it contains mysterious "sailing stones" which leave racetrack-like trails in the mud of the dry lake. These wandering boulders, some of which weigh over 700 pounds, have mystified scientists and lay visitors alike, because to date no one has actually seen them move, much less photographed their lonely voyages, but move they do, from one location to another, leaving behind deep broad grooves in the earth to show their progress.

Here is a link to an online paper from the USGS written by two geologists who analyzed the trails of the Racetrack Playa rocks using GPS data. Here's another link to a discussion of the phenomenon which examines some of the theories that have been put forward over the years and proposes one which seems to be a likely candidate for the truth.

As both articles point out, the surface of the playa is almost perfectly flat, so flat in fact that just a couple inches of rain will cover the entire lakebed, which appears to rule out gravity as a driving force for these mysterious rock movements.

Some hypotheses put forward in the past suggested that strong winds might be able to move the rocks when the soil floor of the playa becomes wet and slick, but as the second article points out, the force of winds required to move rounded boulders weighing several hundred pounds through mud would be beyond hurricane speed. I can personally attest to the fact that winds in the Mojave can be quite extreme, and I have seen them roar through with enough force to blow the heavy rear hatch of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle back and forth, but even so I have never seen them blowing boulders around.

The theory put forward in the second article mentioned above, however, seems quite plausible, and is echoed in various other publications on the web, which is that thin layers of water which pool in the playa bottom after a rare desert rainfall or after runoff from the snow in the surrounding mountains can and often does freeze at night. These very thin ice sheets can be moved by much less severe winds, such as winds in the neighborhood of 10 to 60 mph. If so, boulders and stones in the ice sheet might well be carried along as the ice sheet is slid across the lakebottom surface by the wind, scouring marks in the soil below as they go.

The second article linked above indicates that several boulder tracks are often parallel and identical in their twists and turns, providing evidence that appears to support the allegation that they moved within a single ice sheet. However, the tracks recorded by GPS in the first article linked above, as well as the photograph entitled "Figure 1: Two diverging sliding cobbles" on the first page, appears to argue against the mechanism of a single ice sheet moving the two boulders shown. Other theorists have suggested that "collars" of ice could form around individual rocks, enabling the wind to blow them more easily but still individually.

An interesting video showing the strong winds blowing thin layers of liquid water along the playa bed at Racetrack can be seen here.

The Mojave Desert in general and the dry-lakebed playas in particular appear to provide strong geographic support for the hydroplate theory of West Point and MIT graduate Dr. Walt Brown. We have discussed before the fact that the location of an extensive zone of barren volcanic geography at the front edge of a sliding "hydroplate" (in this case, the plate carrying North America) is consistent with Dr. Brown's theory that the great plates slid rapidly during the events surrounding a catastrophic rupture of the earth's surface and flood, building up tremendous friction and melting rock into magma especially along their forward edges. For a previous discussion of that concept, see "Ancient volcanic activity in the Mojave Desert."

The playas themselves are examples of geographic features in which runoff is limited but evaporation is high, creating conditions in which the floodwaters were trapped and slowly evaporated away, leaving high salt concentrations behind. As Dr. Brown explains on this page in his book, after the flood event:
Drainage of the waters that covered the earth left every continental basin filled to the brim with water. Some of these postflood lakes lost more water by evaporation and seepage than they gained by rainfall and drainage from higher elevations. Consequently, they shrank over the centuries. A well-known example was former Lake Bonneville, part of which is now the Great Salt Lake.
The playas of the Mojave are smaller examples of the same phenomenon.

The "sailing stones" of Racetrack Playa are a fascinating natural mystery, and one that may be solved soon. Then again, perhaps these silent travelers will continue to keep their secrets for many more thousands of years.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rest in Peace Jimi Hendrix

Rest in peace Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942 - September 18, 1970).

What more needs to be said about Jimi Hendrix that has not been said already? He had a titanic impact on music. In many ways, it can be accurately said that he singlehandedly created an entirely new way of playing the guitar, and that his visionary use of electronic amplifiers and recording studio equipment ushered in a new sound that had not existed before.

Every year at this time, at the anniversary of the passing of two iconoclastic musical artists (see also this previous post), we can pause and be reminded of the incredibly important role music plays, and the tremendous power it has on our lives.

The power of music is very much related to some of the central themes discussed in this blog -- see for example this previous post entitled "Why do we listen to beautiful music about heartbreak and misery?" There is some evidence that ancient advanced civilizations were aware of the power of music and its relation to harmonic concepts in mathematics and architecture -- perhaps more aware of it than we are today! See also this previous post and this previous post.

The first rock album I ever owned was a vinyl copy of the first album of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced? I listened to it over and over. I first heard this album while visiting my best friend Matt who had moved from Belmont (in the South Bay) to Nicasio (in the North Bay) and he had the album. It was the summer between 8th and 9th grade for us.

The song I loved to listen to the most was "May This Be Love" (also known as "the waterfall song" for obvious reasons -- see video below). When I started high school that fall, which was a stressful experience, I would think of this song in my head. Especially on the first day of high school, when I needed to think of it a lot.

The music of Jimi Hendrix lives on. Respect.

The Calixtlahuaca head

Calixtlahuaca is an ancient Mesoamerican site located near the present-day city Toluca in Mexico. The site was occupied by the Aztecs, but the structures there were built by a people who came before the Aztecs, a people whom the Aztecs referred to as "Toltecs," or "the Builders."

While the site is important in its own right for the impressive ancient structures there, particularly the distinctive circular temples (possibly related to astronomical observations), it is also noteworthy for the discovery of the controversial "Calixtlahuaca head," an image of which can be seen on this Wikipedia entry (and in other places on the web). It is worth clicking through to check it out, as it clearly depicts an individual with European features including a beard and mustache.

The head was discovered in 1933 during the excavation led by Jose Garcia Payon, underneath two undisturbed cemented floors predating the Aztec period, according to this article describing the find. It sat mostly forgotten in storage in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City until 1990, when an archaeology student named Romeo Hristov, who had read the accounts of the head and initiated a search for it, located the artifact after two years of research.

Not only does the sculptured head clearly display European features, but details of the style used indicate that it is Roman in origin and style. Professional scholars have examined the head and declared that it is "unquestionably" Roman in origin. Dating by thermoluminescence in 1995 suggested that the head is not a modern fake, but was sculpted some time between 870 BC and AD 1270, an admittedly broad range but old enough to indicate that it was made well before historically known European contact with the civilizations of the Americas.

Predictably, defenders of the conventional paradigm, which disallows regular contact between ancient peoples who were separated by the vast oceans of the Atlantic or the Pacific, have suggested that the head was either planted at the site as a prank prior to its discovery in 1933, or that early Spanish conquistadors introduced it and that the twentieth-century excavators mistakenly thought it had come from an undisturbed older area, or that some Roman ship may have been blown off course and the head kept as a treasured object by the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica.

A good example of the kind of alternative explanations that skeptics propose in order to avoid the possibility that ancient civilizations could have had sustained contact with the Mesoamerican civilizations (or that ancient Europeans, Phoenicians, Egyptians or other Old World peoples could have actually been living in Mesoamerica for extended periods) can be found here, from a professor at Arizona State University.

As we have said before about other "anomalous" finds (such as the head of the Ruamahanga woman, which is not a sculpture but an actual skull which can be dated with radiocarbon dating and analyzed using mitochondrial DNA examinations), if this Calixtlahuaca head were the only piece of evidence suggesting ancient trans-oceanic contact, then it is certainly appropriate to suggest alternative explanations and to prefer them to a possibility that has no other support. However, the fact is that there are many other pieces of evidence that ancient mankind was far more advanced than we give credit for, and that ancient civilizations could and did traverse the oceans, including:
In light of all the evidence (and the above examples are merely the tip of the iceberg), why do so many professors and historians privilege speculative explanations with absolutely no evidence to back them up over the obvious conclusion that ancient civilizations could and did cross the oceans regularly? Why is it that orthodox scholars find it more likely that some of the other participants in the 1933 excavation that unearthed the Calixtlahuaca head just happened to have an authentic Roman head with them on the dig, which they planted as a joke? Or that early Spanish conquistadors happened to haul an ancient sculpted Roman head along with them into the jungle on horseback for some unknown reason, in order to leave it in Calixtlahuaca? At least in this case the ridiculous explanation that ancient Mesoamericans simply sculpted a head that accidentally and unintentionally looks European has not been trotted out, as is the case with other sculpted faces and figures found in other sites.

Again, if it were to turn out that the Calixtlahuaca head were to be proven to be a hoax, or that somehow it really was brought to Mexico in the 1500s by the Spaniards for some reason, this would not really damage the thesis that advanced ancient civilizations were in contact with the Americas. The Calixtlahuaca is only "one data point" in a huge pile of other pieces of evidence which point to conclusions other than the conventional storyline. However, in light of all the other evidence, it is very likely that the Calixtlahuaca head is another important sign declaring that most of what we have been taught about the ancient history of mankind is wrong.

Why is it that most people have never heard of this important 1933 discovery? And why is it that conventional scholars are so anxious to dismiss it?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Birthdate of H. A. Rey

September 16 is the birthdate of the wonderful author H. A. Rey (16 September 1898 - 26 August 1977), best known for the Curious George books, which he created along with his wife Margret.

Readers of this blog will know that H. A. Rey also wrote some of the very best books on the constellations and stargazing, which are discussed in this previous post (among other places on this blog). His innovative method for diagramming the constellations was (and remains) far superior to anything that came before it or that has been devised since, in my personal opinion. It is extremely useful to anyone who wants to go out and try their hand at finding constellations tonight -- for some discussion and examples see this previous post (constellation Virgo) and this previous post (constellation Boötes).

Rey's books on the stars also contain lucid explanations (with excellent and helpful illustrations) of the concept of the zodiac, the declination and right ascension of stars, the phases of the moon, and the precession of the equinoxes.

Rey's personal life involved escaping with his wife from the Nazi occupation of Paris just in time with the help of two bicycles that he assembled from spare parts. The story is related by Garrison Keillor in today's "Writer's Almanac." Both Rey and his wife were Jewish.

He was born Hans Augusto Reyersbach in Hamburg, Germany.

The world is immensely richer for his life.

Tobacco and coca byproducts in ancient Egyptian mummies

Many people are unaware that researchers have found evidence of substances derived from tobacco and coca in tests conducted on ancient Egyptian mummies. Children being taught conventional views of mankind's ancient history in school are rarely if ever given all the evidence and encouraged (or even permitted) to form their own conclusion based on their analysis of the preponderance of evidence. The presence of substances such as tobacco and coca is ignored, suppressed, or dismissed as "pseudoarchaeology" because such substances present a very difficult problem for the reigning academic theories.

It is generally agreed that tobacco and coca are New World plants, unknown to Old World civilizations prior to 1492. Detection of tobacco and coca in ancient Egyptian mummies implies extremely ancient contact across the oceans, and not mere chance contact either. It is one thing to admit the possibility that a random Mediterranean ship was somehow blown off course and made it to the New World, and then somehow returned, but the detection of tobacco derivatives and coca derivatives in the hair follicles of ancient mummies indicates familiarity and ongoing use -- evidence for deliberate, ongoing, long-term trans-ocean contact and a "logistics chain" for obtaining such plants.

Here is an article from the website of Colorado State University discussing the most well-known tests which found evidence of coca- and tobacco-derived substances in Egyptian mummies (namely cocaine and nicotine). It argues that, although the initial reaction to the publication of the results of this study in 1992 was skepticism and disbelief from the academic community, that reaction was based primarily upon firmly-held assumptions about the ancient history of mankind and not upon the evidence itself.

This article describes the earlier discovery in 1976 of plant fragments within the wrappings of the mummy of the well-known and powerful Pharaoh Ramses II (or Ramesses II). Close examination of the fragments revealed that they were tobacco. The theory that these tobacco fragments were somehow dropped there from the cigar or pipe of a nineteenth-century archaeologist was later weakened by the discovery of further tobacco inside the abdomen of the mummy itself. Nevertheless, many skeptics continue to maintain that any evidence of tobacco products in the Ramses II mummy must have been introduced later.

The Ramses II mummy also contains evidence of cannabis, which was known in the Old World (although not generally associated with the region and culture of ancient Egypt). Strangely, nobody seems to argue that nineteenth-century archaeologists accidentally dropped cannabis into the mummy.

The evidence from the Egyptian mummies is sensational, and perhaps more easily dismissed as fringe science because of our own (very strong) cultural perception about drugs and tobacco. However, it is by no means the only evidence of plant species which point to ongoing and regular ancient trans-Atlantic contact. This extensive study by two university professors lists plant after plant, many of them having nothing to do with altered states of consciousness, presenting extremely strong evidence for ancient contact between the "Old World" and the "New World." Species include jimson weed (native to North America, found in Europe and Asia), marigolds (also native to the New World, found in China and India), sarsparilla (native to the Old World, found in Central America), and certain breeds of cotton from the Old World found in South America, all with evidence indicating pre-Columbian transport of these plants.

Defenders of the prevailing timeline of history can labor mightily to dismiss the presence of coca and tobacco substances in ancient Egyptian mummies, but in the end this evidence is simply one more data point in a huge web of other evidence. In fact, even if it turned out that all the scientific studies which found coca and tobacco among these mummies were mistaken or even fraudulent, it would not really matter. The other evidence is overwhelming that ancient trans-oceanic contact did take place. For previous discussions of some of this evidence, see also this post, this post, and this post (among others), and the evidence discussed in the Mathisen Corollary book itself.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rest in Peace Marc Bolan

Rest in Peace Marc Bolan (30 September 1947 - 16 September 1977).

Nobody has this kind of sound anymore.

Note prominent mention of Druids in his first real breakthrough single, "Ride a White Swan" (1970).

I used to listen to his albums when I was at West Point in the 1980s. I didn't really know anything about Marc Bolan -- I just knew that his music rocked. Here are a couple other favorites. There are way too many to list here.

"Teenage Dream" (1974).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Twelve Labors of Hercules

Among the most memorable of all the Greek myths are the twelve labors of Heracles (better known by his Roman / Latin name, Hercules). As a child, I had a reading book for elementary school with very graphic illustrations of Hercules and his labors, battling the Nemean Lion and the Hydra, and visiting the mighty titan Atlas who was holding the arch of the heavens on his shoulders, part of Hercules' quest to retrieve the Apples of the Hesperides. It was by far my favorite of all the reading books we were assigned.

I have previously alleged (following the arguments of Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend in Hamlet's Mill) that the conventional view about the connection between ancient myths and the constellations and planets is exactly backwards (see for example "God and the gods" or "Mars, Venus and the Pleiades").

The conventional view is that early cultures created elaborate myths in order to explain the natural phenomena that they were too scientifically ignorant to explain otherwise, and that looking up at the night sky they named the constellations and planets that they saw there after the characters in their mythology. However, de Santillana and von Dechend present extensive evidence demonstrating that the myths and legends of the ancients were created to encode a very sophisticated -- even "scientific" -- understanding of the celestial phenomona and the astronomical bodies behind the events in the sky.

While not discussed in detail in Hamlet's Mill, it is quite likely that the wonderful tales of the twelve labors of Hercules further support this thesis. In fact, many observers have put forward the possibility that the twelve labors correspond in some way to the twelve constellations of the zodiac, a very reasonable connection to explore whenever the number twelve features prominently in myth.

This website discusses the twelve labors and argues that they are an illustration of "the passage of the sun (personified as Herakles) through the year and the zodiac." Some of the connections appear to be a bit strained, but in general there is enough evidence to indicate that the myth may indeed describe the sun's annual passage through the zodiac.

The concept of the "sun passing through the zodiac" can be a little confusing, if it conjures up an image of the sun criss-crossing the sky from one constellation to another. After all, when the sun is up, no constellations are visible at all. A better way of phrasing this concept might be to say "the zodiac passes through the sun's rising point."

We have already discussed the reason that the constellations are not in their same locations even if viewed at the exact same hour of the night from one night to the next (see this previous post). The same holds true for the constellations seen in the pre-dawn sky above the horizon where the sun will rise (see this previous post about the concept of "heliacal rising" and this previous post about Orion and Sirius in the pre-dawn east for further explanation). Throughout the course of a year, different constellations will be located in the pre-dawn sky above the sun before it rises.

The constellations of the zodiac are those constellations along the band of the celestial sphere that lies along the ecliptic -- the plane of the solar system -- along which the sun travels in its path across the sky, and which the planets travel through as well. Thus, throughout the course of the year, as the sphere of the sky turns by about one degree per day, all the constellations of the zodiac will at some point be located in that region of the sky where the sun rises when it pops above the eastern horizon. This is what is meant when someone says "the sun's annual passage through the zodiac" -- they really mean the zodiac's annual rotation through the point above the horizon where the sun will appear.

The fact that many of the adversaries Hercules encounters during the twelve labors have clear celestial counterparts makes this theory very plausible. Some of them are quite obvious and have a direct correspondence with a member of the zodiac -- the Minoan Bull, for instance, could easily represent the zodiac constellation Taurus, and the Nemean Lion would obviously correspond to Leo.

Others, however, are more difficult to connect directly with a zodiac constellation, and appear to represent constellations associated with or nearby to zodiac constellations. The article linked above, for instance, argues that the exciting battle between Hercules and the nine-headed Hydra probably indicates the sun's rising in the constellation of Cancer, since the constellation of Hydra has its head near Cancer.

Another interesting alleged connection is found in the eleventh labor to retrieve the Apples of the Hesperides, a word which derives from the word for "the west" and refers to nymphs who were the daughters of the titan Atlas. Some commentators allege that Atlas in the myth refers to the massive constellation of Boötes, located near the pole and that his location in the sky is appropriate for holding up the vault of heaven. Hercules had to take his place in order to persuade him to fetch the Apples, which are guarded by a fearsome dragon -- and we note that the constellation Draco is near to his constellation as well, winding between the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper in the vicinity of Polaris.

The English-born theosophist Alice A. Bailey (1880 - 1949) wrote an extensive discourse entitled "The Labours of Hercules" on the connection between the labors of Hercules and the constellations, focusing on the astrological and esoteric aspects of each episode and seeing the Hercules series as representative of every human soul on the path to enlightenment.

Bailey clearly bought into some of the odious racist ideology prevalent in both England and America around the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries (which we discussed in a previous post here), saying at one point in her discussion of the labors of Hercules that "Gemini is predominantly the sign of the intellect and it has a peculiarly vital effect in our Aryan race" (page 37 out of 125 in the online document linked above). However, she does give some cogent arguments in support of a reading of the twelve labors as following the sun's yearly progression "from Aries to Pisces via Taurus" (page 8).

If this is indeed the case, then it is quite likely that the myth of Hercules and his twelve labors was made as a means for imparting knowledge about the sun's annual path through the celestial sphere (or, as we pointed out, the zodiac's annual rotation through the sun's rising point). In other words, it is not likely that the myth came first and constellations were then named after actors in the myth. The myth is a carrier of astronomical (and perhaps esoteric) knowledge.

This is an important point to understand, and it must be reiterated that this is completely contrary to the conventional academic view. That is because the conventional view (which follows modern versions of the same flawed Darwinian theories that led directly to the kind of racist anthropological assumptions on display in many texts from the late 1800s and early 1900s) sees early civilizations, including the early Greeks, as struggling towards a grasp of scientific concepts including astronomy that they did not understand until the first or second centuries BC. However, as we have seen many times before, and as this examination of the Hercules myth illustrates, it is far more likely that the ancient civilizations thousands of years BC had an extremely sophisticated understanding of science, including math and astronomy, and that they knew far more than we currently give them credit for.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Crisis

In the previous post, we discussed the groundbreaking 1997 work by William Strauss and Neil Howe, The Fourth Turning. In it, the authors discuss the cyclical perception of time and history versus the linear perception of the same, and examine history for several centuries for evidence that generational cycles follow a regular pattern.

While other historians stretching back to antiquity have observed such cycles, Strauss and Howe are apparently somewhat unique among historians (at least since the fall of the Roman Empire) in suggesting that these cycles generally follow the length of a long human lifespan -- roughly one hundred years, which the ancients called the "saeculum" -- with each such period divided into four distinct phases as each "generation" moves into a new stage of life and into and out of control of the reins of power.

The authors cite historians who have noticed that major wars or "hegemonic wars" or "general wars" seem to take place at the end of the fourth such phase (or "turning"), clearing out the previous age and preparing the way for a new start to the entire cycle, saying:
The culminating phase of the saeculum is a quarter-century era of war, upheaval and turmoil. Early humanist scholars called this the revolutio [. . .].

A better word is crisis. Its Greek root krisis refers to a decisive or separating moment. In disease, the krisis is when physicians know whether a patient will recover or die; in war, it is the moment in battle that determines whether an army (or nation) will triumph or fall. [. . .]

The Crisis ends one saeculum and launches the next. 38-39.
Yesterday's post, on the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, stated that such a Crisis had not yet arisen, although the authors of The Fourth Turning believed that one would take place sometime in the period between 2005 and 2025. September 11 does not fit the definition of Crisis outlined above, because it did not indicate or determine whether one side would triumph or fall.

However, the date of the September 11 attack was apparently chosen by the murderous perpetrators in memory of a previous moment of true Crisis, when a decisive battle did determine which side would triumph and which would fall -- the Battle of Vienna, September 11 and 12, 1683.

During that battle, an invading army of Ottoman Turks numbering about 150,000 had laid siege to Vienna, a siege they had initiated in July. The core of the city was held by a small number of Austrian soldiers (about 11,000) plus about 5,000 citizens, and the Ottoman army decided to try to starve them out since their artillery could not breach the walls (a series of mining and countermining operations went on during the siege).

The siege was lifted by the arrival of reinforcements led by the King of Poland, Jan III Sobieski, with about 27,000 Polish soldiers, another 45,000 German and Austrian reinforcements, and 3,300 Polish winged hussars. These hussars were a fearsome force, carrying long lances measuring fifteen to nineteen feet, capable of charging as a unit unlike the single heavy knights that typically operated alone or in only loose formations, and their charges carried tremendous physical and psychological shock effect. The winged hussars were quite used to defeating much larger enemy armies. Their armament and tactics are described here (among many other places on the web and in the annals of military history).

The situation had grown extremely dire for the defenders of Vienna by the time Jan III Sobieski arrived, with food having run out and starvation and weakness taking a serious toll, while sappers from the besieging army had tunneled beneath the walls to plant explosive mines, blowing several holes in the walls during the first days of September, and the beleaguered inhabitants of the city were bracing for the final assault.

The Polish King attacked on September 12, leading his winged hussars in a devastating charge against the center and flank of the much larger Ottoman army, sending the Austrians and Germans to assault on the left. The ferocity and skill of the winged hussars, as well as the personal leadership and tactical plan of the experienced Jan Sobieski, was clearly decisive to the battle's outcome.

An interesting aspect of the feared winged hussars of Poland is the allegation by some historians that the practice of wearing eagle feathers and "wings" by horsemen of the Hungarian steppes (where the Polish originally learned to employ cavalry in this manner) originated with the shamans of Asia. Feathers are one of the most characteristic clothing items that distinguish a shaman, whose job description entails flying to the successively higher (and sometimes lower) worlds of the shamanic cosmology, as described in these previous posts here, here, here and here. Instead of actual feathers, long tassels or fringes sewn along the arms and legs of the shaman's clothing could also be used to represent feathers (these were seen among the shaman of the North American Indians as well as in Asia, and still appear on clothing items in modern times, although most of their wearers are unaware of their original magical significance).

Another important aspect of the Battle of Vienna, particularly in light of the fact that the civilization-attacking barbarians of 2001 apparently drew their inspiration for a September 11 attack date from the defeat of the Ottoman army at that decisive battle, is the grievance-mongering that so characterizes the most dangerous enemies of civilization.

We have discussed the grievance mentality that sees the success of one group as the cause for the ills of another group in previous posts -- see here and here, for example. The Nazis under Hitler clearly exhibited such grievance-mongering, placing the blame for any perceived economic injustice or perceived humiliation on the Jews, as many of their descendents in the grievance industry around the world continue to do to this day. The Communist ideologies of Marx and Mao Tse-tung were identical to the Nazis in their identification of the source of all problems and grievances with a certain class or group, although the groups they identified may have been based more on social roles than on religion or ethnicity.

In all these cases, such grievance-mongering has led directly to the idea that violence is justified and that the seizing by force of property and even the perpetration of violence and murder against the supposed "oppressor" is condoned and even encouraged, just as apparently happened on Easter Island.

As we examine the forces who condone violence and theft in the name of such grievances, forces both within and without, so to speak, it is important to be aware of the cyclical nature of history and the fact that civilization and learning has been catastrophically lost before -- that history is not a story of relatively unbroken upward progress, in spite of the just-so stories we are traditionally taught in school.

The perspectives and terminology offered by the authors of The Fourth Turning are invaluable in trying to sort out the forces which appear to be building towards another existential Crisis point.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Fourth Turning and cyclical time and history

The remarkable 1997 book The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy, by William Strauss and Neil Howe, argues that the familiar linear approach to history taught by most of Western education and academia is actually a fairly recent paradigm and one that contains dangerous flaws. They argue that seeing history in terms of recurring cycles provides insights which the modern linearity obscures -- "one year's (or one saeculum's) winter is more like the prior winter than like the autumn that came right before it," they explain (21).

The authors argue that by perceiving these cycles, we can perhaps become more aware of impending change, and point out that linear thinking often causes its adherents to be completely blindsided. Using American history as an example, they point out that as late as December of 1773, the idea that the American Revolution would begin in the near future would have seemed nearly impossible, and the same can be said about November 1859 (about the start of the American Civil War, which broke out in 1861), or even about the beginning of October 1929 (when virtually nobody was expecting the sudden end to the Roaring Twenties caused by a catastrophic crash of the stock market, beginning on October 24 ["Black Thursday"] and accelerating on October 29 ["Black Tuesday"])(Fourth Turning, 5-6).

Writing in 1997, and based upon their observation of generational cycles occurring every four generations going back through history literally for millennia, the authors predict that the current mood of pessimism and disillusionment is typical of a certain point in the cycle, and will precipitate a major crisis beginning sometime between about 2005 and 2025. They write:
Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation, and empire. Yet this time of trouble will bring seeds of social rebirth. Americans will share a regret about recent mistakes -- and a resolute new consensus about what to do. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II. 6.
Reflecting on these words on the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, it is clear that many of these predictions are coming true, particularly the prediction that "political and economic trust will implode." It would appear, however, that so far no "great Crisis" as momentous as the Revolution or the Second World War has yet been sparked. The two authors' warnings that those living in 1929 or 1859 or 1773 did not see the impending Crisis of their age should give us cause for concern that such a Crisis may yet be around the corner, and cause to pay attention to the cycles that the authors outline in their book.

Whether you agree with all of the conclusions and predictions in The Fourth Turning, one of the most noteworthy features of the book is the way it reveals the peculiar modern faith in linear progress as something of a historical anomaly. They find evidence that "nearly all non-Western cultures accept the periodic regularity of time" (as opposed to a view that time is linear rather than cyclical, which is a relatively modern development in their analysis) (32).

Authors Strauss and Howe argue that this modern linear view of time really took hold during the Enlightenment, during which it grew into "a complementary secular faith [. . .] -- the belief in indefinite scientific, economic, and political improvement" (9). They argue that this faith in linear progress reached its height at the end of the nineteenth century, and that it has always been strongest in America, where a widespread belief developed that mankind had finally broken away from "any risk of cyclical regress" (10).

They state: "Triumphal linearism has shaped the very style of Western and (especially) American civilization. Before, when cyclical time reigned, people valued patience, ritual, the relatedness of parts to the whole, and the healing power of time-within-nature. Today, we value haste, iconoclasm, the disintegration of the whole into parts, and the power of time-outside-nature" (10). These are broad generalizations, and any book of this nature will test the reader's patience with such sweeping categorizations, but these broad generalizations do appear to capture some truths worth considering.

Interestingly, this very belief in unbroken linear progress which has gripped Western thought since the Enlightenment is reinforced by the dogmas of Darwinism and the conventional teachings on mankind's ancient history, which supposedly progresses in a generally unbroken upward line from primitive ape-men to modern humans, who then progress from early hunter-gatherers to simple villages to increasingly complex civilizations.

As we have discussed numerous times in this blog, and as is discussed in greater detail in the Mathisen Corollary book, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that this linear timeline of human history is completely incorrect. In fact, compelling evidence supports the conclusion that mankind was extremely advanced in the distant past (long before ancient Greece and Rome) and for some reason fell into relative ignorance for millennia thereafter -- a very nonlinear view of ancient history.

Almost every previous post deals with this radically different view of mankind's ancient past, but posts which are especially pertinent to the linear / cyclical thesis offered up by the authors of The Fourth Turning include this one, this one and this one.

It is quite likely that the faith in linearity that Strauss and Howe detail in their book has blinded scholars and others to the possibility of an ancient advanced civilization and created a bias towards the acceptance of Darwinian biological theories, which in turn lead to linear anthropological theories as well.

Interestingly enough, Strauss and Howe note that ignorance of the cyclical nature of time, or even massive attempts to deny these cycles and live as though cycles do not exist does not actually free us from the cyclical nature of time at all. On the contrary, they find evidence which suggests that cultures which embrace cyclical time are less buffeted by the waves of the changing cycles, while cultures which try to suppress the cycles only exacerbate their effects, so that they experience even greater volatility, which is all the more painful because it is unexpected (unlike the cycles experienced by cultures who expect and respect the cyclical nature of time) (33-35).

It is also worth pointing out that the analysis of the brilliant R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz uncovered numerous cyclical patterns and harmonies between generations living hundreds or even thousands of years apart (at similar distances from precessional turning points), which he often points out in his own books. In Sacred Science, for example, he notes that:
Since the Middle Ages, our Occident has been blinded, particularly by the cerebration of the Greek Eleatics who preferred reasoning to experimentation. The beginning of this disquieting period of "arguers" can be situated with the Eleatic school around 550 or 500 BC, a school founded at about the same time as the Pythagorean order, of mystico-religious character. Those five centuries before the precessional passage from Aries to Pisces stand in curious correspondence with our sixteenth century, also five centuries before the next precessional passage from Pisces to Aquarius: Toward the year 1500, with the Renaissance, ancient Greece was again raised to honor in the West. 18.
Their [the Stoics'] champion was Zeno of Citium, who lived from 362 to 260 BC, which is about two hundred years before the precessional transition from the vernal point of the sign of Aries to that of Pisces. In the Stoic pursuit of freedom, we find a curious similarity to the ideal of the revolutionaries of 1789, a revolution which was also situated about two centuries before the new precessional transition of the vernal point from the sign of Pisces to that of Aquarius. This brings to mind a similar great revolution which took place at the end of the Old Empire of the Pharaohs, about 2400 BC, two centuries before the passage of the vernal point of the sign of Taurus into that of Aries. 43
In light of these and other seeming harmonies, de Lubicz declares, "The history of the world is strangely cyclical" (30).

It is also worth noting that adherents of the binary model of precession believe that these cycles are influenced by the sun and solar system's relative distance to a proposed binary star to our sun (possibly the Sirius system), just as other cycles on earth are caused by the rotation of the earth (night and day) and the orbit of the earth (the seasons).

While Strauss and Howe seem to indict Christianity and the fall of the Roman Empire as primary causes in the adoption of a linear-progressive view of time and history, it is perhaps more appropriate to ascribe this hallmark of modernity to the more atheistic and mechanistic secular faith in progress that began to arise during the Enlightenment and the following centuries (especially as Darwinism took on all the trappings of an intolerant and aggressive cult or religion).

For evidence that Christianity is not inherently or automatically linear, one need only examine the writings in the book of Ecclesiastes, included in the Christian canon of Scripture since the beginning, which contains (among other declarations of the cyclicality of time and history) the famous lines in chapter 3 (which the authors of the Fourth Turning do quote at the end of their discourse):
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
All of these observations are extremely noteworthy, and bear upon the questions explored in the Mathisen Corollary. Special thanks to my good friends Mr. and Mrs. MDS for sending me a copy of this remarkable text as a gift.