Friday, November 30, 2012

The AstroTheology videos of Santos Bonacci

I did not discover the encyclopedic teaching of Santos Bonacci until very recently, when I heard his interview on Red Ice Radio from September 09 of this year (and I did not hear it on the day it was published either, but not until about a month later).

Here is a link to hour 1 of that interview -- I would strongly recommend becoming a member of the Red Ice (cost is €15 per month, and their website will do the currency conversion for you when you set up payments through a system such as PayPal), because that gives you access to the second hour of that interview as well as all the others, and access to the extensive archive of interviews on Red Ice.

After listening to his September 2012 interview, I immediately looked for other interviews and videos with Santos on YouTube, and he has an incredibly extensive corpus of work posted for anyone to view and study, which he graciously makes available to everyone for no charge.  The first lecture I found was the one embedded above, but you can find many more at his website which is called Universal Truth School, as well as on his YouTube channel, which is called "MrAstroTheology."

Not only is he a gifted teacher and speaker, but he brings together a vast array of philosophers and authors both ancient and modern and explains their teachings using clear charts and drawings and analogies.

Regular readers of this blog will immediately see the resonance with subject matter that I find incredibly important as well as fascinating, particularly any of the posts related to subject matter discussed in Hamlet's Mill.  To find previous posts on this blog related to Hamlet's Mill and its examination of the connection between the ancient myths and the stars, you can use the search window in the upper-left corner, or use the "labels" at the bottom of any post that has "Hamlet's Mill" as a label (including this post).  

Many readers have noted that Hamlet's Mill can be a painfully difficult read, in part because the authors seem to be deliberately reluctant to completely tell the reader what they are up to (which may not be such a bad policy when it comes to this subject, and certainly has some ancient precedent).  I can now say with great certainty that any reader interested in the subject matter of Hamlet's Mill should first listen to some of the video lectures by Santos Bonacci, which can be seen as an indispensable key to the material that authors Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend presented in that 1969 text.

But Santos goes much further than de Santillana and von Dechend to show how the ancient knowledge of the heavens encoded in the myths relates to the human body, the health of the human body, the system of chakras in the human body, and the metaphysical aspects of human consciousness that are of crucial importance to every human being (and which harmonize quite well with some of the conclusions reached by Chris Carter in his excellent trilogy of books examining human consciousness, especially the conclusions Chris reaches at the end of his third book in the series, Science and the Afterlife Experience).   

In doing so, Santos shows that he is standing in the tradition of the guardians and transmitters of  Hermetic wisdom down through the ages, many of whose works he references as primary sources, and from whose words he sometimes reads for the listeners in his videos.  His clear and systematic explanations bring out the body of knowledge behind some of the concepts discussed in some of my own previous posts, such as "The high science of ancient Egypt" and "Modern research into 'body rhythms,' and the ancient concept of 'cosmic harmony'."  In other words, he shows the whole foundation underlies the subject matter touched on in those posts, showing "the whole forest" (so to speak) which helps make better sense of a discussion of any "individual tree" or group of trees inside that forest.

In doing so, and in presenting his clear and thorough lectures on this ancient wisdom, Santos has given us an incredible gift and an indispensable resource.  His is an example of the "unselfish benevolence" that one of his favorite authors, Thomas Burgoyne (1855 - 1894), speaks of in the sixth chapter of the second volume of The Light of Egypt: The Science of the Soul and the Stars (first published in 1889; that link takes you to Volume 2 and you can read Volume 1 online here).  There, on page 51 of Volume 2, Burgoyne wrote:

dollars must not be buried nor hoarded any more than our talents, but each unfolded and doubled, so that we may be instrumental in helping our coworkers in their upward path, in the Cycle of Necessity.  Knowledge is the basic foundation in reading Nature's language.
We should all seek to be so unselfish!  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chia and ancient wisdom

Some of the most brilliant constellations in the entire night sky now grace the eastern portion of the heavens in the hours after sunset and before midnight.  Even with a dazzling full moon taking place right now, the constellations of Orion and Gemini are clearly visible, and even some of the stars of Taurus such as red Aldebaran and bright Jupiter, in spite of the fact that the moon is currently right next to the Hyades. 

Even with the moon shining at full force, you can follow a nearly direct line from Orion to the Twins of Gemini, using his famous belt as a starting point and proceeding through reddish Betelgeuse in his shoulder (to the left of the belt as he rises in the northern hemisphere) towards the brightest foot of Gemini which is gamma Geminorum or Alhena and then (still moving along the same nearly horizontal line) to the two heads of Gemini, the bright stars Castor and Pollux (clearly visible even with the moon).

As the moon begins to wane over the upcoming nights, and as it also rises later and later each night, the spectacular stars of Orion and Gemini will become even more prominent in the pre-midnight sky.  

As has already been discussed in several previous posts, Gemini and Orion are extremely important in ancient myth, and de Santillana and von Dechend suggest in Hamlet's Mill that the Age of Gemini (in which Gemini and also Orion occupied the pre-dawn horizon at the rise of the March equinox sun).  

As they also mention, and as is explained in greater detail in my book, the equinoctial intersection of the ecliptic with the celestial horizon was encoded in mythology as blazing fire (and sometimes depicted as upright or downturned torches, as in the iconography of Mithraic temples).  Based on this understanding, they argue that the constellation described by Bernardino de Sahagun (1499 - 1590), a Franciscan friar who lived among the Mexica and learned their language and helped preserve their traditions, as the mamalhuaztli (which he notes were also called the "fire sticks") is none other than Gemini, the equinoctial constellation of the Golden Age (321 and footnote on 321, and following).

The Mexica people are often referred to as the Aztecs, although some scholars now assert that this is not necessarily accurate (see this discussion of terminology, and of the historical context of Sahagun's texts preserving the traditions of the peoples of Mexico during the 1500s).  It is fascinating to note that they may have associated Gemini with "fire sticks," particularly in light of the discussion that follows in Hamlet's Mill regarding the association of Gemini with "fire sticks" in the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh.   

How did two cultures so widely separated come up with the same mythological imagery?  Conventional historians will tell us that it was just a "coincidence."  However, I have discussed some very powerful connections to Gilgamesh (also involving Gemini!) among the legends and traditions of the Mesoamerican peoples in previous posts, and we have also seen numerous other pieces of evidence that strongly suggest that the conventional isolationist view is completely incorrect.

The texts preserved by Friar Bernardino de Sahagun also relate the importance of the chia plant as a source of food among the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica.  The diagram above is from the Florentine Codex, and it depicts a mature chia plant.  The portion of the codex which discusses chia can be seen here in this section of Book 11, from a 1965 copy prepared by the US Department of Agriculture.  There we read of chia:
It is hard, juicy, oily.  It is in twos.  It is that which can be broken up, that which fills out.  It is tasty, savory.  It is that of which pinole is made.  It is potable.
Although the pre-Columbian civilizations of Mesoamerica obviously knew of chia many hundreds of years ago, it is only recently being discovered by modern civilizations, primarily among athletes and healthy-food afficionados (so far).  

Chia seeds apparently have a very high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids -- even higher than that found in salmon.  Here is a recent article on the nutritional properties of chia seeds published earlier this year.

Chia sprouts have been famous for some time as the green hair that grows on "chia pets," which first hit stores in the late 1970s and grew into something of a craze in the early 1980s.  Chia sprouts can also be grown for food.  Mark M. Braunstein's outstanding sprouting guide book Sprout Garden discusses chia on page 69, grouped along with cress, flax and psyllium:
These four mucilaginous seed successfully sprout alone only with the clay Saucer Method.  Consult the instructions on pages 41-43 for a definitive discussion.
They will sprout by the otherwise trustworthy Jar Method only if combined in a portion of one part mucilaginous seed to four or five parts alfalfa or clover.  Sprout the alfalfa or clover a day or two alone, add the mucilaginous seeds, and continue sprouting as you would alfalfa.
Interestingly enough, this is somewhat similar to the ancient method described by Sahagun's Mesoamerican sources.  If you are interested in trying it for yourself, you can order chia seeds for sprouting at Sprout House, as well as at many other seed outlets.

This blog makes no dietary recommendations or nutritional claims -- that is up to each reader to decide for himself or herself.  However, going out to view the constellations (particularly Gemini and Orion this time of year) every night is highly recommended, as is considering the ancient wisdom that was apparently disseminated worldwide and preserved in the sacred texts and traditions of the world's far-flung cultures.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A better emergency solar still?

Last year, I wrote a couple of posts about "Books that influenced me growing up."  

One of the books discussed was a copy of a US Air Force survival manual that my Dad bought for me at the Redwood Trading Post and which became one of my favorite books to browse, skipping around from one climatic region to another (it was organized by climatic regions, with sections on specific survival considerations for "moist tropics," "deserts," "on sea ice," and so forth).

Like many survival books, that Air Force manual contained a discussion of the design of a "solar still" for obtaining water in a survival situation.  I would later receive training on the construction of just such a solar still during the desert phase of the US Army's Ranger School (apparently the desert phase has since been discontinued).

The Air Force manual describes the construction of the solar still as follows (as we will see, there are some improvements that can be made to this technique, but the directions below give a good overview of the general concept and contain a few good tips):
A solar still can be made from a sheet of clear plastic stretched over a hole in the ground.  Whatever moisture is in the soil plus that from plant parts (fleshy stems and leaves) when they are used as a supplementary source, will be extracted and collected by this emergency device.  Obviously, where the soil is extremely dry and no fleshy plants are available, little, if any, water can be obtained from the still.  However, in such situations, the still can be used to purify polluted water such as body wastes.  The parts for the still are a piece of plastic film about six feet square, a water collector-container or any waterproof material from which a collector-container can be fashioned, and a piece of plastic tubing about 1/4 inch in diameter and 4 to 6 feet long.  The tubing is not essential, but makes the still easier to use. 

A container can be made from such material as plastic, aluminum foil, poncho, emergency ration tins, or a flight helmet.  The tubing, when it is available, is to be fastened to the bottom of the inside of the container and used to remove the drinking water from the container without disturbing the plastic film. 

Some plastics work better than others.  Almost any clear plastic film should work, if it is clear, strong, and "wettable."  That is, it should be the kind which, when water drops form on the under side, causes the drops to cling to the plastic and run down to drip into the container instead of dropping off where they form.  

If fleshy plants are available, or if polluted water is to be purified, the still can be constructed in any convenient spot where it will receive direct sunlight throughout the day.  Ease of digging will be the main consideration.  If soil moisture is to be the only source of water, some sites will be better than others.  Seek a place where there is reason to believe the soil will contain more moisture.  A stream bed, even though dry, or a depression where rain water has collected will stay moist longer than other areas.  Generally clay soil is better than sand because it holds more water longer.  (In any case, after prolonged dry periods the yield from any soil alone may be small).  Although sand generally does not retain as much moisture as clay, a wet sand will work very well.  Along the sea coast or in any inland area where brackish or polluted water is available, any wet soil, even sand, produces usable amounts of water.  On cloudy days, the yield will be reduced because direct sunlight is necessary if the still is to operate at full efficiency.

Certain precautions must be kept in mind.  If you use polluted water, make sure that none is spilled near the rim of the hold where the plastic touches the soil and that none comes in contact with the container, otherwise there is a chance that your freshly distilled water will be contaminated.

Do not disturb the plastic sheet during daylight "working hours" unless it is absolutely necessary.  If a plastic drinking tube is not available, raise the plastic sheet and remove the container as few times as possible during daylight hours.  It takes from 1/2 to 1 hour for the air in the still to become resaturated and the collection of water to begin again after the plastic has been disturbed.  [AFM 64-3 dated 15 August 1969, pages 4-13 through 4-14].

Some time ago, I came across a web site containing an entry by a "Jim B." discussing several revolutionary upgrades to this standard solar still, some of which take into account the importance of orienting the still in the correct direction based on your location on our planet.  In a post entitled "The Extreme Solar Still Concept," Jim describes some of the drawbacks of the classic survival still and the upgrades he came up with for his version, which he calls a "D'still" and which may improve water collected by as much as 400% over the conventional version.

Jim alters the shape of the original still to resemble a seashell when viewed from above, with the catchment container located towards the base of the shell rather than right in the center the way it is in the conventional still described by the Air Force manual above.  Here is a link to his diagram of the top view of his enhanced still, showing the seashell shape (east and west appear to be mistakenly reversed in that diagram, unless I am misreading something of the intent of the labels).

Importantly, he recommends orienting the top of the "seashell" towards the north (for those in the northern hemisphere), in order to arrange the larger slope area towards the sunshine.  To understand the reasoning behind this concept, it is helpful to look at Jim's second diagram, which is a cutaway or side view of his still.  

Due to the tilt of the earth's axis (see the discussion in this previous post for more detail), the sun will always travel south of an observer who is located north of the Tropic of Cancer (the northern tropic).  The enhanced still features a large, gentle sloping northern section (the top part of the shell), which is oriented to face the south and catch full force of the sun's rays (see also the diagram below, where I have drawn my own version of the cut-away view).

The enhanced still also features a steeper berm at the southern end, which casts a shadow over the catchment portion of the tarp and the shelf below that holds the water-container.  By orienting the still with the shell's top facing north (if north of the northern tropic, otherwise face it south if south of the southern tropic -- if between the two tropics, you will have to orient the "top of the shell" away from the track of the sun for that particular time of year), the sun's path will create this shade if you use spoil to build up the southern berm as shown in the diagram.  Jim's diagram shows (and his article explains) that you can also pile up additional vegetation atop this southern berm in order to ensure shade over the condensing area.

The rest of the article explains the other features of the enhanced solar still, including the addition of some cool (preferably moist) soil above the weighting rock which holds the tarp's lowest point above the catchment container. In order to understand the entire concept of the enhanced or "extreme" solar still (or "D'still") it is recommended that you read that entire article -- and even better, go out and try constructing one yourself just for practice.

We can all hope that we never need to resort to a solar still in an emergency survival situation.  However, if ever we do, we can be grateful to "Jim B." for his ingenious enhancements to the classic solar still design.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Plutarch, Demeter, and genetically-modified food

We have been examining together the arguments of Plutarch in his two (now fragmentary) discourses entitled "On the Eating of Flesh" (here is a link to part one and here is a link to part two). 

Some of Plutarch's arguments include the assertion that the eating of flesh is unnatural, that it is cruel, that it is unnecessary, that a large amount of the meat which cost another being its life is routinely wasted and left uneaten, that it is unhealthy and leads to grossness of body and mind and spirit, that animals raised for food are sometimes degraded and tortured in most inhumane fashion, and finally that we should be cautious of killing and eating animals in case there is any truth to doctrine of reincarnation or what he calls the possibility of "the migration of souls from body to body" (even if we are not convinced of this teaching, he says, the uncertainty should urge us to err on the side of caution).

In addition to all of the above arguments, one argument which comes quite early in the first discourse is the argument that the slaughter of animals for food betrays a lack of faith and gratitude to the gods responsible for the provision of bread and wine: Demeter and Dionysus.  Plutarch writes:
Why slander the earth by implying that she cannot support you? Why impiously offend law-giving Demeter and bring shame upon Dionysus, lord of the cultivated vine, the gracious one, as if you did not receive enough from their hands?
This is a very interesting argument, and one which should give us pause even in our jaded modern world.   While many modern readers might wonder how this argument carries any weight with moderns who do not believe in the existence of beings named Demeter and Dionysus, we should be careful not to dismiss this argument too quickly.  
First, it is quite possible that the ancients had a much more sophisticated understanding of the "powers" responsible for the production of bread and wine, which they named gods (or, in ancient Egypt, the neters or neteru).  Second, it is very possible to translate this argument of Plutarch's into whatever personal faith one may happen to believe and see that his caution about having a lack of faith and a lack of gratitude might indeed be worth considering on many levels.

Even setting aside for the moment the central thesis of Plutarch's argument, which questions the necessity and morality of killing animals for food, this "faith-based" portion of his argument would seem to apply quite fittingly to the debate surrounding genetically-modified plants for food.  We might modify Plutarch's argument somewhat and update it for this very important modern issue and imagine him asking:
Oh blessed and beloved of the gods, you who live now, what an age has fallen to your lot wherein you enjoy and assimilate a heritage abounding in good things! How many plants grow for you! What vintages you gather! What wealth you may draw from the plains and what pleasant sustenance from trees! Why, you may even live luxuriously without the alteration of plants in order to more readily spray them with insecticides and herbicides. But you who live now, what madness, what frenzy drives you to the pollution of mixing bacterial DNA and viral triggers into your corn and your canola, you who have such a superfluity of necessities? Why slander the earth by implying that she cannot support you? Why impiously offend law-giving Demeter, as if you did not receive perfectly good natural corn and soybeans from her hands? Are you not ashamed to mingle domestic crops with bioengineered monstrosities?
As we approach the holiday of Thanksgiving, in which we remember the fact that we should not and must not take our food for granted, and in which we reflect with thankfulness upon the abundance that we have been provided by a power that works through nature to meet our physical needs, the questions of Plutarch seem startlingly appropriate.
Interestingly enough, the authors of Hamlet's Mill find an ancient connection between the goddess Demeter and the mythological cornucopia, which is also a common Thanksgiving motif in the United States.  They write:
And here there is a proposition to be made.  In order to evaluate it, one has to consider the fact that alpha Aurigae is Capella, the Goat.  This remarkable figure was the nurse of infant Zeus in the Dictaean Cave, and out of her skin Hephaistos was later to make the Aegis: Amaltheia.  Capella-Amaltheia's Horn was the Horn of Plenty for the immortals, and the source of Nectar and Ambrosia.  Mortals called it "second table," dessert so to speak.  But there are two shreds of Orphic tradition which seem to be revealing, both handed down to us by Proclus.  The first says that Demeter separated the food of the gods, splitting it up, as it were, into a liquid and a solid "part," that is, into Ambrosia and Nectar.  The second declares that Rhea became Demeter after she had borne Zeus.  And Eleusis, for us a mere "place name," was understood by the Greeks as "Advent" -- the New Testament uses the word for the Advent of Christ.  Demeter, formerly Rhea, wife of Kronos, when she "arrived," split up the two kinds of divine food having its source in alpha Aurigae.  In other words, it is possible that these traditions about Demeter refer to the decisive shifting of the equinoctial colure to alpha Aurigae.  259.
In order to follow this line of argument (the authors of Hamlet's Mill are somewhat famous for leaving out some of the "stepping stones" that might help their readers to follow them from one side of the river to the other side, so to speak), it is helpful to understand what a "colure" is (this is explained, with numerous diagrams, in my actual Mathisen Corollary book), as well as to understand the mechanism of precession (which is described in this video using a metaphor of a dining room, which should be helpful). 

The short translation of their argument (I believe) is the assertion that the myths linking Demeter to Rhea (the wife of Kronos or Saturn, who ruled the Golden Age, and who is associated with Orion which is the constellation associated with Osiris) help explain her connection to the constellation of Auriga the Charioteer.  As this previous blog post explains (and shows with some diagrams), the action of precession slowly replaced Gemini and Orion (the rulers of the Golden Age) with Auriga and Taurus (who are located ahead of them in the sky -- preceding them, which is the origin of the word "precession), and this is why the authors of Hamlet's Mill spend so much time on chariot myths (such as the myth of Phaethon), which also relate to the end of the Golden Age brought about by the action of precession.

Thus the tradition that Rhea became Demeter who was then associated with the brightest star in Auriga must point to this transformation as taking place at the end of the Golden Age.  Demeter is associated with "separating" or "splitting up" the food of the gods -- she divides things up (note that in the most well-known myth about Demeter, she is responsible for "dividing up" the year into winter and summer).  She divides and she measures out (her name De-meter incorporates both of these functions, as the prefix di- has to do with division or "two-ness" and the word "meter" has to do with measuring; note that her former husband Kronos is also associated with "giving the measures").

Thus, through a rather esoteric line of reasoning, we can see the importance of Demeter's connection with the brightest star of Auriga, the star that was associated with the cornucopia or Horn of Plenty.  So Plutarch's argument (where we note that he calls Demeter "law-giving Demeter," which could also be translated as "rule-giving Demeter" or "measure-giving Demeter") that eating unnatural foods represents lack of faith and gratitude to Demeter, the giver of the Horn of Plenty, carries even more significance and symbol.

It is certainly an argument that bears careful consideration.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Where did domestic grains and domestic animals come from in the first place? (Atlantis)

In the previous post, we examined Plutarch's twin discourses "On the Eating of Flesh," in which the ancient philosopher and priest put forth several powerful arguments (in vivid and graphic language) against the consumption of animal meat for food.  

We saw that in his opening sentences, Plutarch "turns the corner" on those who ask what could have inspired Pythagoras (who was famously vegetarian according to tradition and according to the Pythagorean school of philosophers who followed his hallowed teachings) to abstain from eating plants, by asking (and I paraphrase) "you should instead ask what came over some deluded and misguided human to begin eating meat in the first place!" 

Such a response argues that it is the eating of meat which is the aberration, and the plant-based diet which is the norm.  It was certainly designed to startle Plutarch's ancient listeners, just as it startles modern readers, who take the consumption of meat for granted much like Plutarch's audience apparently did, although perhaps for different reasons.

According to modern dogma, mankind evolved from primitive "hunter-gatherers," whose nomadic lifestyle involved following game animals from one place to another, until mankind finally figured out agriculture and settled down to enjoy the consistent diet of grains that it produced to supplement the original meat-based plan.  Believers in this modern orthodoxy would probably say that Plutarch was woefully ignorant of the fact that hunting for meat came first, and that his rejoinder to the question of eating flesh is completely incorrect.  

They would say that eating meat was part of the earlier diet, and that vegetarianism (such as Pythagoras taught) was a more recent development, in contrast to Plutarch's assertion that vegetarianism is normal and eating meat a later abnormality.  He was too ignorant to be aware of mankind's long history of primitive hunter-gatherer existence.

Had Plutarch possessed a way of accessing Wikipedia, he could have seen the entry for hunter-gatherer, where we read that:
A hunter-gatherer or forager[1] society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species.
Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were hunter-gatherers until around 10,000 years ago. Following the invention of agriculture hunter-gatherers have been displaced by farming or pastoralist groups in most parts of the world. Only a few contemporary societies are classified as hunter-gatherers, and many supplement, sometimes extensively, their foraging activity with farming and/or keeping animals.  The earliest humans probably lived primarily on scavenging, not actual hunting. Early humans in the Lower Paleolithic lived in mixed habitats which allowed them to collect seafood, eggs, nuts, and fruits besides scavenging. Rather than killing large animals themselves for meat, they used carcasses of large animals killed by other predators or carcasses from animals that died by natural causes.  [Wikipedia, "hunter-gatherer," as accessed on November 19, 2012].
Of course, the above assertions describe one possible theory of mankind's ancient past, and the evidence in their favor should be carefully considered and weighed against other possibilities, but they are by no means completely certain, regardless of the confident (or even arrogant) tone in which they are usually presented to the reader of college or high-school textbooks (and online encyclopedia services).  

If all modern humans were hunter-gatherers until around 10,000 years ago, then Plutarch is completely incorrect in saying that the one who first "touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh of a dead creature" was the aberrant one.  According to the above assertions, domesticated grains and animals came later, but they only replaced the consumption of wild plants and animals, whether those animals were the scavenged carcasses killed by other predators, or fresh kills hunted down by the humans themselves.  

Plutarch implies that the first taste of meat was an "accident" introduced into the normal diet of abundant grains and fruits offered by Demeter and Dionysus, but those who accept the hunter-gatherer dogma concerning mankind's ancient past must believe that Plutarch was sadly ignorant and therefore completely deluded and mistaken.

In fact, there is now an entire lifestyle and dietary plan built around returning to the eating habits of this imagined pre-agricultural human past, called the "Paleo Diet," which is billed as the "healthiest diet" and one which "mimics the diets of our caveman ancestors."  Based on the supposed food supply of those "hunter-gatherer ancestors" who lived between 2.6 million years ago and the beginning of the agricultural revolution, it embraces fresh meats and "fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthful oils."

Since those who believe in this evolutionary narrative of mankind's past do not typically believe in the reincarnation of the soul (if they believe in the existence of the soul at all or its continuation after the death of the body), they are probably not greatly swayed by Plutarch's concerns (citing other ancient philosophers) that the possibility of reincarnation (or, as Plutarch puts it, "the migration of souls from body to body") should make us hesitant to slay other sentient creatures for food when we have abundant plant-based food available that does not involve the shedding of blood to obtain.  

The supporters of this newly-popular "Paleo diet" also do not seem to consider the possibility that the entire "hunter-gatherer" narrative might be a mistaken fabrication of modern Darwinian mythology.  In other words, there is at least as much evidence that suggests that ancient civilizations did not arise through a process of stumbling towards domestic plant and animal foods but rather by a process that completely confounds the entire foundation of modern evolutionary anthropology.

For example, in her book Approaching Chaos (discussed in previous posts such as "The shamanic tradition in ancient Egypt," "Stonehenge acoustics, and beyond," and "Arkaim, gold, and the ancient shamanic rituals") Lucy Wyatt presents arguments that domesticating crop grains and cattle, sheep and goats would have taken so many years of deliberate and sophisticated and directed breeding that hunter-gatherers would probably have abandoned the project long before they ever got to a workable semblance of domesticated plants or animals.  She also presents convincing evidence that the neolithic lifestyle would have been significantly more difficult than nomadic hunter-gathering, not less.

Beginning on page 48 of her book, she writes:
It would be interesting to know whether anyone has recently tried to naturally 'evolve' wild grasses into something approaching modern cereals.  How many seasons would you have to wait before einkorn (a form of early wheat) began to taste vaguely of wheat and become useful as a food staple?  Even more suspicious is the fact that what defines a cereal as domesticated is not so much the taste but the hallmark of civilization, namely convenience in harvesting and sowing. 

In terms of cereal, the genetic change is in the germination of the seed and in the rachis, the hinge between the seed head and the stalk.  In the wild plant the rachis is brittle and breaks easily in the wind, allowing the plant to spread its seeds as soon as it is ripe.  A domestic version with a stronger rachis waits for the harvester to pick it.  Likewise, a domestic seed waits to be sown before germinating.  [. . .]  One expert in this area, Gordon Hillman, has calculated that the rare genetic mutant, the seed head without a brittle rachis, has a probability of occurring only once or twice for every '2-4 million brittle individuals' and that it would then take 20 cycles of harvesting for these non-brittle seed heads to finally dominate the crop [Miten, 2004, pp36-37].  Given the rarity of these seed heads, why would anyone bother to wait, especially with hungry families to feed?  48-49.
You can read more of Lucy's discussion of this practical problem to the modern fable of man's supposed transition from millenia of hunter-gathering to domestication of grains in an article she published here on the Graham Hancock website

Similarly, Lucy points out the difficulties with the breezy narrative describing the supposed domestication of wild animals during the transition from paleolithic to neolithic:
The domestication of animals was as strange as the modification of cereals.  Not only did animals change shape -- as prehistorian Steve Mithen points out [Mithen, 2004, p34]: 'All animal species become reduced in size when domesticated variants arise' -- but they also became conveniently and usefully docile.  Is evolution capable of producing the necessary change in the fundamental nature of an animal, even if a cow is still recognizably related to an auroch (considered to be the precursor to a cow)?  

Anyone who claims that farm animals evolved out of tamed wild ones has clearly never worked with animals.  Taming might conceivably work with a jungle fowl having its wings clipped and being bred into a chicken -- although even a chicken can be vicious -- but not with a cow, let alone a bull or a horse.  Even domesticated modern versions of these larger animals are still capable of killing a person and demand enormous respect.  They are too powerful and dangerous to be capable of being bred in captivity from wild and then turned into the sufficiently docile creatures necessary for farming.  

If domestication was so easy, why has the zebra never been domesticated? [. . .]  Even Julius Caesar knew that wild aurochs could not be tamed [Fagan, 2004, p156].  So how can one believe the nonsense that hunter-gatherers managed to tame aurochs because they 'culled more intemperate beasts and gained control of the herd' when they came into close contact with them during droughts? [Fagan, 2004, pp157-158].  

If it really was possible to tame wild animals simply by penning them, over how many generations would it take for them to become no longer wild?  Why would anyone wait to find out?  Surely, if you breed a wild animal with more of the same species, the result is still wild? [. . .]

There is of course the usual 'chance mutant gene' explanation.  We are given the impression that, around the time of these early experiments Stone Age man was able to spot a genetic variation in the wild herds he followed and was capable of realizing that a particular animal was carrying a mutant gene that one day would make a 'useful cow.'  But while we might know what would make a 'useful cow,' how could Stone Age man know what the desired outcome was?  How suspicious that the outcome was so convenient and so useful.  49-51.
These objections should indicate that any reflexive dismissal of Plutarch's assertion that vegetarianism is in fact mankind's original diet and that meat came later, based on what our school masters tell us about mankind's supposed ancient hunter-gatherer timeline, may be overly hasty.

Similarly, the Wikipedia assertion (which only echoes the modern dogma published in current academic texts on the subject) that "all modern humans were hunter-gatherers until 10,000 years ago" certainly runs into problems when it tries to grapple with the abundant evidence attesting to the incredible achievements of the ancient Egyptians, whose civilization apparently popped up right out of these endless millennia of nomadic hunter-gathering and started creating monuments evincing mathematical and philosophical knowledge that in some ways still surpasses our own.

In his incredible 1976 text Serpent in the Sky, John Anthony West explains the evidence that completely refuses to fit into the orthodox timelines of conventional anthropological orthodoxy:
Egyptologists postulate an indeterminate (and indeterminable) period of 'development' prior to the First Dynasty.  This assumption is supported by no evidence; indeed the evidence, such as it is, appears to contradict the assumption.  Egyptian civilisation, taken field by field and discipline by discipline (even according to an orthodox understanding of its achievement), renders unsatisfactory the assumption of a brief development period.  The much vaunted flowering of Greece two thousand years later pales into insignificance in the face of a civilisation which, supposedly starting from a crude neolithic base, produced in a few centuries a complete system of hieroglyphs, the most sophisticated calendrical system ever developed, an effective mathematics, a refined medicine, a total mastery of the gamut of arts and crafts and the capacity to construct the largest and most accomplished stone buildings ever built by man.  The cautiously expressed astonishment of modern Egyptologists hardly matches the real magnitude of the mystery.  196.
Further, Mr. West along with Robert Schoch have famously discussed the abundant evidence which argues that Egyptian civilization may have roots stretching much further back into antiquity than orthodox historians are willing to allow.  Their discussion of the question of the age of the Great Sphinx of Giza and some of its attendant megalithic temple complex indicates that it may be orders of magnitude older than even the First Dynasty (conventionally believed to have started around 3100 BC).

Mr. West's discussion of the misty antiquity before the First Dynasty is significant, and touches on many of the same difficult issues raised in the discussion of domestication presented above.  He notes:
The archaeological record for the period preceding Dynastic Egypt is confused and incomplete.  An number of neolithic cultures are thought to have existed, more or less simultaneously, from about 6000 BC onwards.  These cultures built nothing permanent, apparently, and their arts and crafts were simple and rudimentary: there is no archaeological evidence that would support the notion of a prior great civilization -- with one possible exception.

These simple cultures had cultivated cereal grains and domesticated animals.  The manner in which wild grains were originally cultivated and wild animals permanently domesticated is one of those questions that cannot be satisfactorily answered, but a period of long development is assumed.  The fact is that throughout recorded history, no new animals have been domesticated; our domestic beasts have been around since the beginning, and no new grains have been cultivated. 

The cultivation of grain and the domestication of animals probably represent -- after the invention of language -- the two most significant human achievements.  We can fly to the moon today, but we cannot domesticate the zebra, or any other animal.  We do not know how the original domestication was done, we can only guess.  To attribute these immense achievements to people who could only chip flint and work crude mats and pottery is perhaps premature.  It is plausible to suggest that, like the Sphinx and its temple complex, these inventions dated from an earlier and higher civilization.  228-9.
If Egypt was the recipient of some unknown and incredibly ancient and incredibly advanced civilization which existed long before 6000 BC, then the current human timeline of academic orthodoxy (and its unbroken centuries of mostly nomadic hunter-gatherer societies) is wrong.  

If so, and if Egypt was the recipient of the ancient knowledge of that lost civilization, and if Egypt's priests preserved a tradition of abstaining from the eating of flesh (a tradition which descended from that ancient advanced civilization), then Plutarch -- who was after all recording what he had been taught by those Egyptian priensts -- may know something more than the peddlers of the modern evolutionary storyline (a storyline which may be correct but is certainly not the only storyline that fits the evidence, and in fact seems to have some serious trouble with some pretty extensive evidence that argues for a different timeline).

All this is not to suggest that those who follow the "Paleo Diet" and any other diet which rejects the twisted and damaging "modern industrial diet" (which is really a product of the World War II and post-war era in industrialized nations, "led" by the "innovations" of the US in this regard) are not able to achieve health benefits due to the abandonment of the worst aspects of the typical US diet.  

However, the advocates of that primarily meat-based diet should consider the possibility that their health improvements are less based on their consumption of meat and more due to the rejection of certain other modern dietary staples, and should consider the arguments that Plutarch makes against the shedding of blood in order to eat meat that comes from other sentient and conscious beings.  They should also consider the possibility that the storyline of "paleolithic cavemen" pursuing a hunter-gatherer lifestyle for a couple million years before suddenly settling down and developing in fairly short order civilizations such as ancient Egypt might be seriously flawed, and that we should be careful before basing our entire lives on a historical model that may be nothing more than a modern evolutionary fiction.

In fact, based on the arguments above, it is at least possible that Plutarch is the one who was right, and that there existed an incredibly advanced ancient civilization which bequeathed to us domesticated grains for food, and domesticated animals for companionship and assistance in farming, gifts which could not have been developed in the manner that evolutionary professors since the end of the 1800s have been teaching that they were developed.  If the testimony of the priests of Egypt is correct, then this ancient civilization taught at least some form of vegetarianism, and the subsequent lapses into more primitive hunter-gathering and other forms of meat-eating were a devolution from the original plan.

Thus we see that Plutarch's two essays "On the eating of flesh" are incredibly important, important even beyond the very important question of what kind of diet is best for mankind.  For they open a fascinating window onto the question of mankind's ancient past, and where the grains we eat and the domestic animals we take for granted came from in the first place.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Plutarch's "On the Eating of Flesh"

We have already seen in a previous post that the ancient historian Plutarch, a Platonist philosopher and initiated priest of Delphi, explained why the priests of Isis abstained from eating the flesh of various animals, as well abstaining from wearing clothing made from animal matter including wool.  

The Plutarch passage discussed previously came from his discourse on Isis and Osiris.  However, Plutarch also wrote two other more thorough discussions of the question of abstaining from the eating of meat, entitled De Esu Carnium, ("On the Eating of Flesh").  Both are fragmentary, meaning that the complete text as composed by the author has been lost to history, but what remains contains some rather forceful argument against the consumption of the meat of animals.

Here is a link to the first discourse: Plutarch, On the Eating of Flesh, I.
Here is a link to the second: Plutarch, On the Eating of Flesh, II.

The discourses begin with a series of questions from the author loaded with graphic language and packing quite a punch:
Can you really ask what reason Pythagoras had for abstaining from flesh? For my part I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of soul or mind the first man who did so, touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh of a dead creature, he who set forth tables of dead, stale bodies and ventured to call food and nourishment the parts that had a little before bellowed and cried, moved and lived. How could his eyes endure the slaughter when throats were slit and hides flayed and limbs torn from limb? How could his nose endure the stench? How was it that the pollution did not turn away his taste, which made contact with the sores of others and sucked juices and serums from mortal wounds? 
Later, Plutarch turns his rhetoric up another notch by imagining the reproach that the animals slaughtered for food might offer, if they "could recover feelings and voice," telling those who killed them for food that it was all unnecessary:
Oh blessed and beloved of the gods, you who live now, what an age has fallen to your lot wherein you enjoy and assimilate a heritage abounding in good things! How many plants grow for you! What vintages you gather! What wealth you may draw from the plains and what pleasant sustenance from trees! Why, you may even live luxuriously without the stain of blood.  [. . .] But you who live now, what madness, what frenzy drives you to the pollution of shedding blood, you who have such a superfluity of necessities? Why slander the earth by implying that she cannot support you? Why impiously offend law-giving Demeter and bring shame upon Dionysus, lord of the cultivated vine, the gracious one, as if you did not receive enough from their hands? Are you not ashamed to mingle domestic crops with blood and gore? You call serpents and panthers and lions savage, but you yourselves, by your own foul slaughters, leave them no room to outdo you in cruelty; for their slaughter is their living, yours is a mere appetizer.
In the second discourse on the subject, Plutarch brings up the doctrine of reincarnation, noting other philosophers who make this their main reason for avoiding the consumption of animals for food.  He does not go that far, he says, saying that there is room for doubt about whether souls do in fact "migrate from body to body."  However, he says that because there is enough doubt on either side of the reincarnation question, we should abstain from eating animals just in case, just as a soldier who is unsure whether or not a half-seen figure is friend or foe should err on the side of caution rather than risk killing a friend, saying:
Yet even if the argument of the migration of souls from body to body is not demonstrated to the point of complete belief, there is enough doubt to make us quite cautious and fearful. It is as though in a clash of armies by night you had drawn your sword and were rushing at a man whose fallen body was hidden by his armour and should hear someone remarking that he wasn't quite sure, but that he thought and believed that the prostrate figure was that of your son or brother or father or tent-mate — which would be the better course: to approve a false suspicion and spare your enemy as your friend, or to disregard an uncertain authority and kill your friend as your foe? The latter course you will declare to be shocking. 
This argument may strike modern readers as one that they can safely ignore, especially if they believe that "souls" do not really exist, or cannot survive the death of the body.  However, Chris Carter's excellent and important book Science and the Afterlife Experience contains reports of rather rigorous modern examinations of the question of reincarnation, and some evidence that the possibility should not be hastily dismissed.  

In that book, Chris Carter notes the widespread belief in reincarnation outside of cultures that have historically been heavily influenced by orthodox Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and also points out that:
at least some Christians believed in reincarnation up until the sixth century.  Although it was not part of official instruction, leaders of the church appear to have tolerated the belief as acceptable, until the Council of Nice in 553 CE. 
and in a footnote to this discussion, Chris Carter points out the following:
there are at least two references to reincarnation in the New Testament.  At one point the disciples ask Jesus if a blind man sinned in a previous life, and Jesus did not rebuke them (John 9:1-2); at another point Jesus describes John the Baptist as the prophet Elijah reborn (Matthew 11:11-15).  18-19 and footnote on 19.
However, it is likely that the disappearance of the doctrine of reincarnation discussed above is connected to the historic decline in vegetarian practice in some parts of the world, as well as the continuation of the practice of vegetarianism among at least some parts of the population in parts of the world that continued to believe in reincarnation (including areas to the east of the lands conquered by the Roman Empire, such as India, Tibet, and China).  

The fact that vegetarianism clearly had some very strong advocates in the west in ancient times and that the practice continued in other parts of the world (such as the lands to the east) may be an important clue, and it may tell us that the most ancient cultures around the world, including apparently the priests of ancient Egypt, taught abstinence from eating meat.  

As Plutarch says at the beginning of his discourses (and I paraphrase), the question might not be "when did vegetarianism begin?" but rather, "When and why was that teaching discarded, and the eating of meat initiated?"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Earthquake lights, part 2 (tell your friends and family!)

The previous post discussed the subject of "earthquake lights," which appear to manifest themselves before, during, and after some powerful earthquakes and which are now at least partly accepted by the "scientific community," even if their cause is still the subject of debate.

Above is a video clip that was posted on YouTube and apparently taken during the powerful 8.8 earthquake which rocked Chile at 3:34 am on the morning of February 27, 2010.  This particular video was uploaded to YouTube the day after that earthquake, on February 28, 2010.  

During the video, the sky visibly lights up with bright blue flashes several times.  It is impossible to tell from this particular video, however, whether those flashes are caused by some man-made source, such as a major power station or power lines being disrupted by the violent shaking and sending off electrical explosions before shutting down.

In one paper linked in the previous post, studying luminous phenomena reported in Italy surrounding the 6.3 earthquake in Aquila, Abruzzo on April 6, 2009, some reported flashes were excluded due to the possibility that they were from man-made electrical sources, as well as anything that might have been caused by atmospheric conditions that were not necessarily linked to the earthquake.  For example, on page 969 of the original pagination (or page 3 of the pdf pagination), we read that:
 Roughly one hundred sightings were linked with natural phenomena such as sunsets, moon halos and fog illuminations.  For example, many witnesses reported seeing a strange moon light which appeared red and was surrounded by a small red halo.  This phenomenon was observed at nearly all the locations, from Amatrice to San Pio delle Camere.  In this study this phenomenon was considered to be atmospheric.  Additionally, eyewitnesses reported the breakdown of electrical lines.  Many flashes were also compatible with relatively small discharges coming from the ground during the main shock.  Being so, the flashes could have been short circuits, given that the area in and around Aquila is highly urbanised.  All of theses sightings which were identified as being of a natural or anthropogenic source, were excluded from the collection of luminous phenomena.
While some might dismiss the lights reported by eyewitnesses to the Chile earthquake as being only due to "anthropogenic" sources as well, it is probably best to leave both possibilities open -- in other words, to neither dismiss the possibility that the lights reported by eyewitnesses (and shown in the above video) could be due to man-made sources such as snapped power lines, short circuits, or electrical substations, nor to dismiss the possibility that the lights might have been caused by the earthquake itself, perhaps from plasma discharges coming up from the ground or from disruptions in the ionosphere that may be connected to powerful earthquakes.

Another famous eyewitness account from the powerful Chile earthquake of 2010 is the interview with freelance journalist Cecilia Lagos, who states that she "saw the sky changing colors."  While man-made electrical explosions might be expected to create sharp bursts of light, it seems less likely that they would cause the sky to be changing colors as described.  At the very least, this account would suggest that we should leave open the possibility that earthquake lights were present during the Chile quake.

The numerous eyewitness accounts described in the 2009 Aquila earthquake lights study suggests that earthquake lights do indeed come in many different colors.  For instance, beginning on page 970 (of the original pagination, or page 4 of the pdf) we read of eyewitnesses describing  "a red semicircle of light that covered the mountain," "flashes coming from below when observed from windows, particularly before the main shock," "light similar to a thin laser beam [. . .] white and clear blue," "luminous funnels, as conical structures of light, usually yellow, orange, or red, with very well defined bundles," "cones [. . .] all the same colour, that is, a mix of mostly yellow plus a little light red," "a horizontal beam of bright orange light," and even "discharges [. . .] less luminous than a lightning bolt [. . .] either white, green, or a shade ranging from red to violet."  All of this would appear to confirm the description given by Cecilia Lagos when she said that the sky was "changing colors."

The report of earthquake lights seen in Italy also tells us that:
Fiorella De Meo, from the West Aquila highway, remembers that at the tail end of the main shock and also after it, she saw about ten thin greenish blue electrical discharges to north just above Arischia and Cansatessa.  Each event was very brief, while together they lasted for about 10 s.  Some of the electrical discharges appeared simultaneously crossing each other.  De Meo saw no clouds, heard no noise and reported that the landscape was not lit.  971.
The collected reports above, as well as the "changing colors" reported by Cecilia Lagos in Chile, would appear to suggest some form of plasma activity, rather than simply man-made transformers blowing up.

Also, it should be pointed out that eyewitnesses accounts of phenomena which appear to be earthquake lights have been collected and published from survivors of powerful earthquakes well before the widespread use of electricity.   Here is a description of the "light flashes and glows" that many survivors of the New Madrid earthquakes (four powerful earthquakes that took place in December 1811 and January to February 1812 in what is now Missouri) reported, from page 46 of Myron Fuller's 1912 book on those earthquakes:
The phenomena of what may be termed "light flashes" and "glows" seem so improbable that they would be dismissed from consdieration but for the considerable number of localities from which they were reported.  Dillard, in speaking of the shocks (not especially the first one), says: "There issued no burning flames, but flashes such as would result from an explosion of gas, or from passing of electricity from cloud to cloud."  Lewis F. Linn, United States Senator, in a letter to the chairman of the Committee on Commerce, says the shock was accompanied "ever and anon [by] flashes of electricity, rendering the darkness doubly terrible."  Another evidently somewhat excited observer near New Madrid though he saw "many sparks of fire emitted from the earth."  At St. Louis gleams and flashes of light were frequently visible around the horizon in different directions, generally ascending from the earth.  In Livingston County, according to Mr. Riddick, the atmosphere previous to the shock of February 8 was remarkably luminous, objects being visible for considerable distances, although there was no moon.  "On this occasion the brightness was general, and did not proceed from any point or spot in the heavens.  It was broad and expanded, reaching from the zenith on every side toward the horizon.  It exhibited no flashes or coruscations, but, as long as it lasted, was a diffused illumination of the atmosphere on all sides.  At Bardstown there are reported to have been "frequent lights during the commotions."  At Knoxville, Tenn., at the end of the first shock, "two flashes of light, at intervals of about a minute, very much like distant lightning," were observed.  Farther east, in North Carolina, there were reported "three large extraordinary fires in the air; one appeared in an easterly direction, one in the north, and one in the south.  Their continuance was several hours; their size as large as a house on fire; the motion of the blaze was quite visible, but no sparks appeared."  At Savannah, Ga., the first shock is said to have been preceded by a flash of light.
That these sparks and flashes were not produced by power lines or electrical substations in the years 1811 and 1812 goes without saying.  It is also worth pointing out that, while many modern internet discussions of the luminous phenomena seen in Chile or in other recent large earthquakes mention the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (or HAARP), there was no such program in 1811 or 1812 nor is it likely that the knowledge existed at that time to create anything similar to HAARP.  This does not mean that there is no possibility of connections between modern earthquakes and HAARP, but it does mean that every report of astonishing flashes or lights associated with modern earthquakes does not automatically indicate involvement by HAARP or any other man-made program: earthquake lights from sources other than human activity almost certainly exist around some powerful earthquakes, as the eyewitness accounts from the early 1800s demonstrate.

As we have pointed out in previous discussions of this subject (such as this one), the hydroplate theory of Dr. Walt Brown suggests a different mechanism for the cause of most earthquakes than that proposed by the conventional tectonic theory.  If his theory is correct (and there is abundant evidence from many aspects of geology that appears to support his theory), it provides a scientific explanation for earthquake lights.  It also explains earthquakes that originate far from plate boundaries, including the New Madrid earthquakes in the southeastern US as well as earthquakes that continue to strike the eastern US to this day (such as today's magnitude 4.3 earthquake which originated in Kentucky and was felt as far away as Atlanta).

It is important that we do not rush to dismiss the phenomenon of earthquake lights as simply a "fringe" idea, or as a mistaken association of an earthquake with coincidental atmospheric conditions, or as the result of merely man-made electrical explosions or discharges due to short circuits, snapped power lines, or exploding transformers.  Beyond the fact that such hasty categorization could cause us to understand our world less accurately, a too-hasty dismissal of the phenomenon of earthquake lights could prevent us from pursuing avenues that could provide early warning and even save lives.

In fact, the study linked above examining reports of earthquake lights (or EQL) from the 2009 Aquila earthquake concludes with an account of a man who did have some familiarity with the connection between these weird light displays and the onset of powerful earthquakes, and who took warning from the luminous manifestations and used that early warning to make a few hasty preparations before the quake hit.  We read on page 976 (original pagination, or page 10 of the pdf), in the section entitled "Conclusions":
Finally, the experience of Carlo Strinella, who had knowledge of EQL, took measures to protect his family after interpreting some flashes he had sighted before the main shock.  This suggests that educating the general population about EQL phenomena could help save lives.
Since the general population does not seem to be receiving much education on this subject (at least I have never seen or heard any), please tell your friends and family about it!  Let's hope that the example of Carlo Strinella can be an inspiration to greater awareness of the mysterious and fascinating phenomenon of earthquake lights.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dragons and the phenomenon of "earthquake lights"

In the previous post, we discussed the exciting upcoming total solar eclipse, and the connection between eclipses and the lunar nodes.

Previous discussions of the lunar nodes noted that many ancient civilizations -- particularly in the east, such as those whose traditions survive in India, Tibet, and China -- are known to have portrayed the lunar nodes as a celestial being which temporarily devours the sun or the moon, sometimes as a disembodied head with no lower jaw (similar to that seen at top center of the image above), and sometimes as a dragon (or two dragons, for the two lunar nodes, or the head and the tail of one dragon).  In fact, the lunar nodes are also known as the "draconitic points."

That previous post about the nodes noted that we should be careful not to assume that such a description is an example of ancient ignorance.  In fact, no less an authority than Aristotle tells us that what some assume to be ignorant myths may actually be a subtle way that the ancients preserved and transmitted advanced scientific understanding.

This lesson -- which is one of the central themes of the vitally important Hamlet's Mill by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend, published in 1969 -- comes to mind when considering the controversial phenomenon known as "earthquake lights" (sometimes abbreviated EQL).

The term earthquake lights refers to luminous discharges that have sometimes been reported prior to, during, and after powerful earthquakes, at times being seen in the area by witnesses for many days or weeks before or after an earthquake or series of earthquakes.  Previous posts have discussed this phenomenon and some of the historical reports of these lights -- see for example this previous post, which contains a link to a 1912 book describing numerous reports of "glows" and "light flashes" seen during the New Madrid earthquake in the United States in the early 1800s.

While this phenomenon has been reported for centuries, it was generally not accepted by the "scientific community" until fairly recently (and is still not widely taught to the general public, perhaps because its causes are still not agreed upon, and perhaps because it is still not universally accepted).  Many scientific papers published in journals in the past several decades cite photographic evidence of earthquake lights taken in conjunction with the earthquakes in the region of Nagano, Japan from 1965 - 1967 as being the crucial turning point that led to widespread acceptance of this phenomena by the greater seismological community.

This report, entitled "Size and Some Features of Luminous Sources Associated with the 1995 Hyogo-Ken Nanbu Earthquake" by Tameshida Tsukuda of the University of Tokyo reports that during the Nagano earthquakes of 1965 - 1967, "A resident succeeded in taking photographs of the light five times or more" and cited texts published by geophysicist Y. Yasui in 1971 and 1972.  

This 1973 article on earthquake lights published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America also cites those texts by Y. Yasui.  The abstract states:
The best documented observations of earthquake lights are from Japanese earthquakes in the early 1930's and mid-1960's. In the latter case, color and black and white photographs were taken of bright, hemispherical, white luminescences based at ground level, about 20 to 200 m in diameter, of duration 10 sec to 2 min, restricted to mountain summits in a quartz-diorite faulted rock. Great difficulties and uncertainties accompany any attempt to explain the phenomenon.
A list at the bottom of the above-linked page to other articles citing this one include at least seven others acknowledging the existence of earthquake lights and attempting to explain them.

Later studies have carefully documented reports of earthquake lights in other parts of the world, sometimes with photographs.  This study, entitled "The earthquake lights (EQL) of the 6 April 2009 Aquila earthquake in Central Italy" discusses "luminous phenomena which were abundantly observed on this occasion"  (page 968 of original pagination, or page 2 of the pdf linked).  Reports which could possibly have resulted from confusion with electrical lines shorting out, gas pipe leaks, or even the planet Venus were discarded, leaving dozens of startling descriptions which make fascinating reading.  The sightings are plotted on a map of the effected earthquake area, and some photographs of luminous spheres which were taken by witnesses are included.

Some of the interesting aspects of the reports include the fact that what were reported as flames were always red in color but afterwards no signs of burn marks could be found, nor were any fires started by these flames (974 or page 8 of the pdf).  Many of the sightings appeared to be electrical discharges, either vertical or horizontal, and the vertical discharges always emanated from the ground (same page).

Previous posts have cited Dr. Walt Brown, the author of the hydroplate theory, on this phenomenon of earthquake lights.  Dr. Brown's theory proposes a different mechanism for the cause of earthquakes than the mechanism put forth by the conventionally-accepted tectonic theory.  See for example this post and this post, each of which contain detailed discussions of the cause of earthquakes as proposed by Dr. Brown, along with links to his book -- available for viewing online -- in which he discusses the extensive evidence which supports his explanation.

Note that Dr. Brown's discussion of the phenomenon of electrical discharges and luminous phenomena accompanying earthquakes -- as well as ionospheric disturbances preceding large earthquakes, sometimes for a matter of days in advance -- involves plasma discharges.  His theory also maintains that powerful plasma discharges began on earth (or greatly increased) during the events surrounding a cataclysmic global flood, and that the aftereffects of this event are the cause of earthquakes (and the occasional plasma discharges that accompany them) to this day.

The possible connections between earthquakes and plasma discharges is fascinating in light of the fact that Chinese dragons appear to have been associated with earthquakes, and also appear to embody many features associated with plasma discharges (even though the modern study of plasma discharges is relatively new).  

The image below shows the famous seismographic urn designed by Chinese astronomer Zheng Heng (thought to have lived from AD 78 to AD 139 in China), which clearly connects earthquakes and dragons.

This previous post also discusses the dragon / earthquake / plasma connection in Chinese tradition -- still evident in the discussion of the start of the Year of the Dragon (which we are still in) by a Feng Shui master in the video in that post.  

While it is possible that impressive phenomena such as those reported in the eyewitness accounts above might be interpreted as being caused by actual dragons, it is also possible that the ancients were using mythological metaphor to convey advanced scientific understanding of plasma-electrical phenomena which we are only now beginning to understand with our "modern science."  

It is also possible that -- if Dr. Brown's hydroplate theory is correct -- ancient earthquakes taking place in the centuries immediately following the initial cataclysmic event were more powerful and more often accompanied by visible plasma activity.

There are many accounts on the web of "rainbow clouds" or so-called "earthquake clouds" which might be confused with the earthquake lights discussed in the articles cited above, but it is clear from reading the earthquake accounts that the luminous orbs, discharges, and flashes being described there are probably quite different from the rainbow clouds that are popularly called "earthquake clouds" (which may be caused by simple atmospheric conditions not associated with earthquakes).

It is also worth pointing out that the reports of the earthquake lights that resemble plasma discharges go back many decades and even centuries.  Some people discussing the phenomenon of earthquake lights blame them on the HAARP program created by the US government, but it seems clear that the earthquake lights reported in the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812 (for instance) cannot be associated with HAARP.  

This does not mean, of course, that any connection of HAARP to strange atmospheric phenomena (or even attempts to manipulate the earth or the weather or even to cause earthquakes) cannot be possible -- it only means that the phenomena of earthquake lights appears to predate any such modern programs.  It is, of course, still possible that people who realize a connection between electromagnetic energy and earthquakes could try to make use of that connection, but that is beyond the scope of this post.

Unfortunately, some who rush to "debunk" the connection between "rainbow clouds" and earthquakes do not make any distinction between theories that connect earthquakes to one sort of phenomenon or another, and appear to throw out any possibility that atmospheric disturbances and earthquakes may actually have scientific linkages (such as this "Bad Astronomy" column on the subject, in Discover magazine).   

The smug tone of that article -- and of many of the comments from readers responding to the article -- embodies the kind of ridicule Alfred Wegener faced when he proposed a new geological paradigm, and which is often leveled at those who suggest new possibilities that lie outside of or beyond conventional models.  The tone would hardly be less condescending if those who believed atmospheric disturbances accompanying earthquakes -- and the earthquakes themselves -- had suggested that they were actually caused by flying fiery dragons.  

But, as we have seen, those who connected dragons with earthquakes in ancient times may well have known more about plasma-and-earthquake connections than "modern science" did until quite recently (and perhaps they still knew more than we have managed to rediscover).  This fascinating connection bears careful consideration.