Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hope to see you at the 2016 Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge!

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

I'm excited to be participating in this year's Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge from September 30th through October 2nd in Rancho Mirage, California (near Palm Desert and Joshua Tree National Park).

I hope you can join us there!

Early-bird sign-ups will be ending soon -- details are available at the Conference website here.

By careful coordination with the cycles of the heavens, the Conference will commence upon the first New Moon following the September equinox for 2016 -- which means we should have excellent opportunities to view the dazzling constellations of the desert skies in southern California at that time of year. 

Scorpio, Sagittarius, Ophiucus, Hercules, Aquila, Cygnus, Aquarius, Capricorn, and even Mars and Saturn are all planning to attend -- and we will schedule a star-gazing event on the night of the New Moon (Friday, September 30th) where I will point out some of these beautiful heavenly denizens and make sure that you know how to identify them for yourself.

For some, it may be the first time that they are confident in knowing that they have identified Hercules or Aquarius or some of the other constellations visible in the hours after sunset at this time of year.

The night-time "star-walks" in the California desert will of course be included in the cost of the conference. 

In addition, there will be daytime presentations and discussion with many exciting analysts and authors, including Walter Cruttenden, Dr. Robert Schoch, Christopher Dunn, Gary Evans, John Knight Lundwall, Jason Martell, and others (including myself, naturally).

You can of course pick up a signed copy of one of my books, or bring your own to have me inscribe. And there should be some time to just say hello and catch up. 

I am looking forward to the unique perspectives brought by all the different conference speakers and everyone attending -- all the different personal experiences and areas of interest of everyone who comes should produce some conversation and interaction that can only occur when we get together in person and share thoughts and discuss ideas.

I believe it will be a fantastic event and look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Salmacis and Hermaphroditus

image: Hermaphroditus und die Nymphe Salmakis, Bartholomeus Spranger (1546 - 1611). Wikimedia commons (link).

It is probably safe to say that there is no actual fountain on earth which literally possesses the power to cause any man who sets foot in it to emerge from the waters half-man and half-woman.

And yet Ovid, in the fourth book of his Metamorphoses, relates the story of the son of Hermes and Aphrodite whose fateful encounter with the nymph Salmacis imparted this power to the waters of the spring, as though the location and effects of that place were actually well-known in his day.

Ovid actually tells the story as a "story-within-a-story" in his poem, during an extended episode in which the daughters of Minyas refuse to set aside their work and join in the rituals of the god Dionysus, but instead continue weaving -- and as they do so, they relate stories of various interactions with the divine realm, debating amongst themselves as they do so whether or not the gods could really perform all the wonders described (a question which is answered at the end of the tale, when the impious daughters who failed to recognize the divinity of Dionysus are transformed into chattering bats).

The final story they tell before this fate befalls them is the story of Samacis and Hermaphroditus. Alcithoe, one of the daughters of Minyas, begins:
I will explain the way in which the fountain
of Salmacis, whose enervating waters
effeminate the limbs of any man
who bathes in it, came by its reputation,
for though the fountain's ill effects are famous,
their cause has never been revealed before. Metamorphoses 4. 396 - 401.
Thus in the excellent translation of Charles Martin published in 2005 and available here and elsewhere where books are sold; many earlier translations are available on the web.

I find that very literal translations can be the most helpful for examining Star Myths for the celestial clues that may have been included in the original but which may have been "lost in translation" if the translator does not pick them up and bring them across into the new language. With literal translations, the clues are usually carried over, because the translator is trying to render the words of the original as closely as possible into the new language, even if the result sounds a little unusual.

Here is a link to such a version, from the nineteenth century scholar Roscoe Mongan. The account of the encounter between Salmacis and Hermaphroditus at the pool which ever after bore its unique powers (and ever after was named after the nymph herself, becoming "the fountain  is translated there as follows (Alcithoe is speaking as she and her sisters weave at their loom):
Learn, then, from what cause Salmacis became notorious, and why, with its enfeebling waters, it unnerves the limbs bathed in it. The cause lies hid, but the power of the spring is very well known. The Naiads nursed, in the caves of Ida, a boy, born to Mercury from the Cythereian goddess, whose face was of that kind in which both father and mother might be recognised; he also obtained his name from them. As soon as he had completed thrice five years, he forsook his native mountains and, leaving Ida, that had been his nurse, he loved to wander about in unknown places, and to see unknown rivers, his curiosity lessening the fatigue. He proceeds to the Lycian cities also, and to the Carians that border upon Lycia. He sees here a pool of water, clear even to the very ground below. There are not here any fenny reeds, nor barren sedges, nor rushes with sharp points. The water is transparent, yet the borders of the pool are fringed with fresh turf, and with plants perpetually blooming. A nymph dwells there, but one who is not suited either for the chase, nor one who is won't to bend the bow, nor one who is to compete in the foot-race, and she alone, of all the naiads, was not known to the swift Diana. The report is, that her sisters often said to her: "Salmacis, do take either a javelin, or a painted quiver, and combine they leisure time with the toilsome chase." She does not take either a javelin or a painted quiver, and she does not combine her hours, spent in leisure, with the toilsome chase; but at one time she bathes her beautiful limbs in her own fountain; often she smooths down her tresses with a comb of Cytorian box-wood; and consults the waters which she looks into [to see] what is most becoming to herself [i.e., she looks into the pool to see which way of arranging her hair is the most beautiful on her]. And, at another time, having her person enveloped in a transparent garment, she reclines either upon the soft leaves, or upon the soft grass. She often gathered flowers, and now, also, by chance, she was gathering them when she saw the youth, and wished to possess him as soon as she beheld him. However, although she was hastening to approach him, she did not actually approach to him until she had arranged herself, and until she had looked at her raiment, and had assumed her [most captivating] aspect, and deserved to appear beautiful.
Then thus she began to speak: "O boy most worthy to be believed to be a god! if thou art a god, thou mayst be Cupid; or, if thou art a mortal, happy are they who gave thee birth. [. . .] If thou hast any spouse, let my pleasure be secretly enjoyed; or, if thou hast none, let me be [thy consort], and let us enter the same bridal chamber." After these words the naiad became silent. A blush suffused the features of the young. He knows not what love is, but even the very act of blushing was becoming to him. Such a colour is in apples hanging upon a tree exposed to the sun, or in painted ivory, or in the moon blushing beneath her brightness, when he auxiliary brazen cymbals resound in vain.
To the nymph soliciting, without cessation, at least such kisses as he might give to a sixte, and to her now advancing her arms to his neck, as white as ivory, he says: "Wilt thou cease? or must I fly and leave these places, along with thyself also?" Salmacis was alarmed, and said: "I surrender these places free to thee, O stranger!" and, with a retreating step, she pretends to depart. But then, also looking back and being concealed in a thicket of shrubs, she lay hid, and placed on the ground her bended knees. But he, as being only a boy, and as if being unobserved, goes hither and thither on the lonely sward, and dips in the playful ripples [first] the soles of his feet, and [afterwards] his feet as far as the ankles. Nor is there any delay; being delighted with the temperature of the gentle waters, he throws off from his tender person his soft garments. But then, indeed, Salmacis was amazed, and became excited with desire for his unrobed beauty; the eyes, too, of the nymph burn, no otherwise than the sun, when shining most brilliantly with a clear disk, it is reflected from the opposite image of a mirror. With difficulty can she endure delay; and now with difficulty can she defer her joy. Now she desires to embrace him; and now, distracted with love, she can scarcely restrain herself. He, striking his body with his hands bent inwards, swiftly plunges into the stream, and throwing out his arms alternately, shines in the clear waters, just as if any one were to enclose ivory figures, or white lilies, within clear glass.
"We have conquered!" exclaims the naiad, "lo, he is mine!" and, throwing all her garments far away, she plunges into the midst of the waters, and seizes him, resisting her, and snatches kisses in the struggle, and puts down her hand and touches his breast much against his will; and clings around the youth, sometimes in one direction, sometimes in another. Finally she entangles him struggling hard against her, and anxious to escape from her, like a serpent, which the royal bird takes up and carries away aloft it, as it hangs suspended, holds fast his head and feet and entangles his expanded wings with its tail.
And [she clung to him as closely] as the tendrils of the ivy are wont to entwine themselves around the tall trunks of trees, and as the polypus, but letting down his sucker on all sides, grasps his enemy captured beneath the water. The descendant of Atlas persists, and denies to the nymph her hoped-for joy. She presses him closely, and as she was clinging to him with her entire person she said: "Although thou mayest struggle, O thou obstinate being! notwithstanding this thou shalt not escape. May ye so ordain it, O ye gods! and let no length of time separate him from me or me from him!" These supplications obtained the favour of the [lit. their own] deities, for the persons of these two, becoming incorporated, are united together, and one form includes both of them, just as if anyone should see from beneath a bark formed over both of them, branches to become united in their growth and to spring up equally. Thus, after their bodies were united in a firm embrace, they are no longer two bodies; but yet the form of them is two-fold; so that it could be called neither woman nor boy; it seems to be neither, and yet both.
Wherefore, when Hermaphroditus sees that the clear waters, into which he had descended as a man, had rendered him only half a male, and that his limbs were becoming softened in them; holding up his hands, he says, but now not with the voice of a man: "O both father and mother! grant this favour to your son who has the name of you both. Whosoever comes as a man to these streams, let him go out thence as half a man, and let him suddenly become effeminate in the waters that he touches." Both parents being moved, confirmed the words of their double-shaped son, and tinged the fountain with a drug that renders sex ambiguous. 11 - 14.
Where is this famous fountain, whose properties were apparently well-known? Is it possible that it actually existed in ancient times, or that its waters still possess such properties to this day?

I believe in fact that this fountain actually does exist -- but that it is located in the celestial realms, and not on earth. The pool is found at the widest, brightest section of the Milky Way band, where the two zodiac constellations of Scorpio and Sagittarius are stationed on either side (visible this time of year in the hours prior to sunrise). 

The clearest indication that this is the section of the night sky to which this myth is giving reference is the extended metaphor in which the poet compares the clinging of Salmacis to the person of Hermaphroditus to a serpent being carried upwards by an eagle, and twisting and wrapping about the bird. This metaphor clearly points to the two Milky Way constellations of Aquila and Scorpio, the Eagle of Aquila being located above the Scorpion in this brightest portion of the Milky Way band.

In fact, I believe that from the clues in the ancient poem itself (the best extant version of this particular myth, although it is also referenced by the earlier historian Diodorus Siculus, and obviously has an origin much earlier in the mythology of ancient Greece rather than Rome, since the boy's name is a combination of the Greek names of the god Hermes and goddess Aphrodite, rather than the Roman versions of the same, although Ovid of course uses their Roman names Mercury and Venus), the youth who dips his feet into the waters is played by the constellation Ophiucus, which is flanked by serpents on either side -- just as Salmacis is described as clinging to him with her entire body, like a serpent, first on one side and then on the other.

In the diagram below, you can see that Ophiucus is "dipping his feet" into the pool (the widest and brightest part of the Milky Way band):

The nymph Salmacis is probably Scorpio, crouching in a thicket before she rushes out to wrap herself around Hermaphroditus, although earlier in the poem some of the description suggests Virgo (particularly the part about gathering flowers when she first spies Hermaphroditus -- can you see what celestial features might play a role in this part of the account?)

The struggle that ensues contains an extended metaphor involving an eagle ("the royal bird") and a snake -- again, this probably refers to Aquila and Scorpio, and is a pattern found in many myths and traditions involving this part of the sky.

After Hermaphroditus emerges from the pool, now merged with Salmacis and sharing the gender of both man and woman, the waters from then on have the power of effecting the same change upon those with whom they come in contact. 

The constellation Sagittarius, which in ancient Greek myth frequently plays characters of either male or female sex (as you will see if you examine the evidence discussed in my latest book, Star Myths of the World and how to interpret them, Volume Two) may play the role of Hermaphroditus emerging from the stream, now changed. 

Thus, the "action" of the myth can be said to commence on the right of our screen as we look at the star chart above (the west) and proceed towards the east -- a very significant direction of movement, from a spiritual point of view (this is also discussed in the latest book). The two figures of Hermaphroditus and Salmacis begin on the right side of the sky (as we look towards the south in the northern-hemisphere view above), then they go into the fountain and there is a struggle (described in terms of a serpent entwining about an eagle) and emerge on the other side as one hermaphroditic figure (Sagittarius).

From the above analysis, we can be confident that the above encounter never actually took place on this earth between literal, historical figures who merged into one being. 

But that does not mean that the myth itself is "not true."

In fact, I believe the myths are actually true, and on many profound levels (perhaps not just "many levels" but rather infinite levels, descending deeper and deeper without end).

One of the ways that they are true is that they describe the experience of our human soul, "plunged down" into this material realm, a realm characterized by the "lower elements" of earth and water (as opposed to the "upper elements" of air and fire).

When our invisible spirit takes on a material body, we become for a time a "blended being" composed of both divine soul and physical form.

Myths having to do with the "plunge" into the waters of incarnation often do involve the constellation Virgo, who stands at the edge of the "lower half" of the year, at the point of autumnal equinox (see discussion in this previous post).

But the plunge down into matter often involves (at first) the loss of awareness of our spiritual or divine inner spark, as we sink more and more into sensual enjoyment of the body (and Salmacis is described as basically spending all of her time in such enjoyment, looking at her reflection in the water, combing her hair and bathing her limbs, and lying around in the grass wearing diaphanous garments). At a certain point, there is a "spiritual turn" at which we begin to have an awakening of awareness of our spiritual nature -- and I believe that this myth actually depicts that very point of awakening, when Salmacis sees the child of Hermes and Aphrodite and exclaims that he must be of divine origin, and that she must have him.

The integration of the two natures is actually the point of this famous incident, I believe -- portrayed here in the frank sexual imagery sometimes employed in ancient myth, but actually using the sexes as a way of expressing spiritual concepts in allegorical or metaphorical form: to "clothe" the truths of the invisible reality in the physical forms of nature, to better convey them to our deeper understanding.

As we begin to understand how to interpret the myths in the language which they are actually speaking, the language in which they actually ask us to listen to them, we can begin to hear a message that we might otherwise have totally missed.

Each and every ancient myth is worthy of deep and careful contemplation, and the above explication of the myth of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus may serve as an example of the sort of examination and meditation we can profit by applying to the myths of the portions of the corpus of ancient wisdom which draws each of us most strongly (some will perhaps find themselves drawn to the myths of ancient Greece, others to the myths of ancient India or ancient Japan, or of the cultures spread across the vast Pacific, or the continents of Africa or Australia or the Americas, and so forth).

In fact, the above discussion only barely ripples the surface (so to speak) of the deep pool of the fountain of Salmacis: one could meditate upon this tiny portion of the stories in Ovid's work, and in the wider context of the daughters of Minyas, for years on end and probably never exhaust the amazing lessons that it might hold for him or her.

image: an engraving by Magdalena van de Passe (1600 - 1638). Wikimedia commons (link).

Friday, March 18, 2016

!Despertemos, humanidad!

Two weeks ago, just after midnight on the morning of March the Third (2016), Berta Cáceres was murdered in her bed with four bullets fired from a gun (or guns). It was the day before her 45th birthday.

She was the co-founder of COPINH, the Consejo Civico de Organizaciones Populares e Indigenas de Honduras (the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), and the recipient less than one year ago of the 2015 Richard and Rhoda Goldman Environmental Prize for her leadership in standing against the displacement of the indigenous Lenca people in order to dam the rio Gualcarque to provide power needed for massive corporate mining projects.

While the question of whether or not to dam a river for energy needs may be complex and multi-sided, the question of whether it is right to murder a woman and mother who speaks out for her people and against the violation of human rights is not complex and it is not multi-sided at all: it is always a heinous, inexcusable, and catastrophic crime.

The Lenca people (or "Pueblo Lenca," en espanol) are the largest indigenous group in Honduras. Their way of life has been severely suppressed over the past centuries (at times with overt violence), and their original native language has been virtually eradicated and lost forever.

Nevertheless, the Lenca people have managed to hold on to many of their ancient traditions and beliefs, one of the most distinctive and widely-remarked upon in literature being the ritual of compostura, a world which signifies "mending," "fixing," or "repairing."

In Dimensions of Ritual Economy (Volume 27 in the academic series entitled Research in Economic Anthropology), edited by H. Christian Wells and Patricia A. McAnany (2008), compostura is described as follows:

Compostura, meaning literally "fix" or "repair," is a complex set of ritual performances conducted anytime someone attempts to disturb the natural landscape through various activities, such as planting or harvesting crops, hunting game, collecting firewood, or drawing water from a stream. [. . .] Regardless of the scale of the compostura, each one is conducted basically in a similar manner. The host gathers with his or her family (together referred to as the principales) and invited guests (called gente común) and erects a scaffold made of pine boughs to which one or more crosses and several sprigs of zomos (a plant that grows in trees in high altitudes) are attached. [. . .] After the altar has been prepared, the host lights the candles and burns the copal, and then asks the ancestors through prayer and chants to accept the "gifts" of chocolate, alcohol, and blood as payment and for permission to disturb their world. The work begins and alcohol is consumed, sometimes in large quantities throughout the task. [. . .] Lenca environmental worldview does not differentiate between terrestrial and celestial landscapes. The orchard, pasture, and agricultural field are cosmic realms inhabited by communal ancestors. 194 - 198.
The centrality of this aspect of the cosmological vision (or cosmovision) of the Lenca people, expressed in the understanding that there is no actual differentiation between the invisible realm of the ancestors or spirits (also referred to as los ancianos or "the ancient ones") and the terrestrial landscape through which we ourselves move in our "ordinary reality," and that what we do in the natural world impacts the supernatural world -- resulting in the need to ask permission for any disturbance of the game, the soil, the woods, or the rivers -- should make it very clear why the Pueblo Lenca was so upset when without warning or notice or explanation, strangers started to show up with construction equipment and drive it across the bean plots of the Lenca farmers, on the way to the sacred Gualcarque river, where the men with their construction machinery began to emplace concrete works in preparation of damming it up.

In explaining her leadership of opposition to the damming of the Gualcarque river without the consent of the people being displaced from the area, Berta expressed the spiritual significance of the river to the traditional vision of the cosmos and the interconnectedness of the invisible and visible realms. In the video above, she says:
Este rio tiene un importancia ancestral, espiritual, porque en ello vive el espiritu femenino desde la cosmovision del Pueblo Lenca.
 Y siempre se no han senando de que son las ninas que custodian nos rios
 Y este rio Gualcarque sirve para la alimentacion, y hay plantas medicinales, y he por supuesto el agua sirve para muchas poblaciones, rio abajo
 Y yo creo que significa vida.
[my transcription of what she says in opening scenes of the video, which I would translate literally -- with apologies for any errors, as follows:  "This river has an importance ancestral, spiritual, because in him there lives the feminine spirit of the cosmology or cosmic vision of the Pueblo Lenca. And always I know they have not heard that there are the young girls that are protect the rivers. And this river Gualquarque serves for nourishment, and there are medicinal plants, and of course the water serves many people, down-stream. And I believe that it signifies Life."]

This way of seeing and expressing the violation that was being perpetrated, in spiritual terms as well as in terms of sheer physical sustenance provided by the river, is striking and significant.

In her now-famous acceptance speech for the 2015 Goldman Economic Prize, shown in the video below, Berta says something very similar:

As I understand it, she says the following:
Gracias, Buenas Noches, Gracias a la familia Goldman.
En nuestras cosmovisiones, somos eres surgido de la tierra, el agua, y el maíz. 
De los rios, somos custodianos ancestralejal cola Lenca.
Resguardados ademas por los espíritus de las niñas, que nos enseñan que dar la vida de múltiples formas por la defensa de los rios es dar la vida para el bien de la humanidad y de este planeta.
El COPINH caminando con pueblos por su emancipación, ratifica el compromiso de seguir defendo el agua, los rios, y nuestros buenos comunes y de la naturaleza.
Asi como nuestro derecho como pueblos.
!Despertemos, humanidad!
Ya no hay tiempo.
Nuestras conciencias, nuestras conciencias seran sacudidas (?) por el hecho de estar solo contemplando la autodestrucción basada en la depredación capitalista, racista, y patriarcal.
El rio Gualcarque nos ha llamado.  Asi como la demás que están seriamente amenazados en todo el mundo.
Debemos acudir. 
La madre tierra -- militarizada, cercada, envenenada, donde violan sistemáticamente derechos elementales -- nos exige actuar.
Construyamos entonces sociedades capace coexistir de manera justa, digna, y por la vida. Juntemonos, y sigamos con esperanza defendiendo y cuidando en la sangre de la tierra y de sus espiritus.
Dedico este premio a todo las rebeldias, a mi madre, al Pueblo Lenca, a Rio Blanco, al COPINH, y asi los martires por la defensa de lo naturaleza.
Muchas gracias.
My translation (again, with apologies for any errors) of the above speech is as follows:
Thank you, good evening -- thank you to the family Goldman.
In our cosmology or cosmic vision, we are "surged forth" or sprouted from the land, the water, and the maíz or corn.
Of the rivers, we are the custodians of the long ancestral line of the Lenca.
Watched over, moreover, by the spirits of the young girls, who call us [with the message that] to give our lives in many forms for the defense of the rivers is to give our life for the good of humanity, and for the good of this planet.
The Council COPINH walks along with the people for emancipation, carrying out the solemn promise to defend the water, the rivers, our good communities, and nature in general.
Such is our right as the people. 
We must wake up!
We must wake up, humanity!
There is no longer any time.
Our consciences, our consciences should be shaken-up [I am uncertain if I am hearing this word correctly in the original, but if so it is probably sacudidas] for the work of being focusing solely upon the self-destruction that is based upon or built upon the depredations of capitalism, racism, and patriarchalism. 
The river Gualcarque has called to us. In this same manner are the rest threatened or menaced in all the world.
We have an obligation to rescue or succor.
The earth mother -- militarized, fenced-in, envenomed or poisoned, where the elemental rights are systematically violated -- urges us to get moving.
We should construct, then, societies with the capacity of coexisting in a just manner, with dignity, and for Life. 
Join together, and then -- with hope and caring -- protect the blood of the earth and the spirits.
I dedicate this award to all of the rebels; to my mother; to the Pueblo Lenca; to Rio Blanco; to COPINH; and additionally to the martyrs who have defended the natural world.
Muchas gracias.
This is an eloquent and moving and rousing speech. While those who have accepted (almost as a tenet of religious faith) that the word "capitalism" is identical to "freedom," "prosperity," and "goodness" may have cringed at Berta's identification of the self-destruction being wrought by the three depredations of capitalism, racism, and patriarchalism, it is quite evident that if by "capitalism" is meant the criminal murder of those who stand in the way of your dams and mines (which is exactly what happened to Berta Cáceres two weeks ago (and others in COPINH have also been murdered before and since), then this quasi-religious devotion to the term "capitalism" needs serious reconsideration.

When in previous centuries the Middle Kingdom of China did not want to trade their tea, silk and fine ceramic (now known as "china") for any western goods, and the leaders of China tried to say "no" to the foreign powers who wanted to trade the addictive products of the opium poppy for those Chinese products, the response by the outside powers who wanted "free trade" was to begin wantonly killing people in China in massive numbers using large guns mounted on boats sailing up the rivers (giving rise to the mordant term "gunboat diplomacy," as in "discussions which use massive guns throwing explosive projectiles at your towns and cities").

Obviously, upon a moment's reflection, anyone can see that this was in no way "free trade" or an example of the much-vaunted "western" devotion to the so-called "rule of law" (which some western apologists claim is a characteristic of western civilization and no other civilization on earth).

If the only way one can enjoy tea is by murdering in order to have access to the luxury of drinking tea, then there is no excuse for that kind of trade.

While we may like to think that such behavior was only common in previous centuries and that the world has moved on from such depredations, the murder of Berta Cáceres and other leaders of the resistance to the damming of the rio Gualcarque proves otherwise.

It should also be noted that the number of permits for massive mining projects, for which the rivers in question were to be dammed in order to provide energy, skyrocketed after the military coup enacted in Honduras in 2009 -- which the US at the time refused to condemn or even to label a military coup (which would have necessitated the cessation of the massive amounts of aid, coming from the tax dollars collected from the people of the United States, being sent to the government of Honduras that now consisted of a military junta that had accomplished the coup).

In the video at top, anyone can clearly see that all the Honduran military personnel supporting the damming and mining projects against the protests of the indigenous people are wearing US kevlar helmets and US-patterned camouflage fatigues and US-style load-bearing equipment (LBEs), and that they are carrying US-designed and supplied M-16 rifles, and driving in US-style HMMWVs ("hummvees"). They are also carrying their weapons in a manner that suggests US training (to anyone who knows anything about this subject), and a simple search for more information on this subject will reveal that some have found evidence which suggests that the military officers from Honduras who carried out the 2009 coup were trained in the notorious (and US-taxpayer funded) School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia.

This suggests a level of culpability in the coup -- and in the murder of Berta Cáceres and others since the coup took place -- among the leaders (and, by extension, the taxpayers) of the US, a level of culpability which should be investigated by the government representatives elected by the American people, who themselves are paid by the taxes of the American people and who are dispensing the money which comes from the taxes of the American people and which is then used to purchase US-made military gear such as that which is shown in the video above.

If corporations are "persons" who are allowed to give campaign donations in elections under the Constitutional protection of free speech (a contentious topic, since corporations are not really "persons" except as a legal fiction), then those corporate "persons" should be held accountable if they are in any way accomplices to murder or involved in a conspiracy to commit murder -- and they should face the possibility of being completely dissolved if it can be proven that any officials in the banks or mining companies had any prior knowledge regarding the commission of such crimes as the murder of Berta Cáceres (rather than the usual process of just paying a few millions of dollars to the families of the victims if the corporations are forced to do so in order to quiet public opinion, which they are happy to do if it allows them to then move on and make billions or tens of billions after that). Any actual persons who are implicated in such crimes should of course face criminal charges as well.

If the persons who carried out the military coup in Honduras were trained in the School of the Americas, then it too should be dissolved and disbanded -- and any US military officers who know they were responsible for such training should consider making apologies to the families of persons murdered by the junta that perpetrated that coup, whether murdered in 2009 or in the years since then.

But now to return to the eloquent vision of the brave Berta Cáceres -- it is extremely striking that she is expressing what appears to be a Lenca understanding that the rivers are guarded by the spirits of young girls, and that she sees that the destruction of the river that is sacred to the Lenca actually calls to all of us with the message that "in the same manner are the rest threatened or menaced in all the world."

In other words, whatever mentality is threatening the destruction of the Gualcarque (a mentality which in fact goes beyond the specific banks and mining companies and even individual persons who were working to destroy the specific river in Honduras) is the same mentality which in fact threatens all the rest of the rivers in all the world -- and indeed, not just the rivers but everyone and everything.

Because in the Lenca wisdom which Berta Cáceres is communicating and which motivated her to act, the spirits which are associated with the rivers are the feminine spirits and the spirits of young girls -- and it should be clear to anyone upon only a moment of reflection that without women there will not be any human life on earth for very much longer.

And what is most striking to me is the fact that while this specific identification of the spiritual aspect of the river with the espiritus of women and young girls may seem completely alien or incomprehensible to those of us who were not raised in the Pueblo Lenca, in point of fact the ancient myths of Greece associate the spirit of the rivers with goddesses and young maidens time and time again.

We can see this association with the encounter of Odysseus with the princess Nausicaa and her other maidens-in-waiting in the Odyssey. We can see it in the description of the goddess Aphrodite and her attendant Graces, who wash her and anoint her in her sacred grove in Cyprus. And we can certainly see it in the famous episode of Actaeon and the goddess Artemis, in which the young hunter Actaeon accidentally stumbles across the goddess Artemis and her attendant Nymphs, when the goddess is bathing in her sacred grotto in the valley which Ovid calls Gargaphie.

In all of these cases (and there are others), the ancient Greek myths specifically associate rivers with goddesses and with young maidens.

The celestial reasons for this association are discussed in some length in my most recent book, Star Myths of the World and how to interpret them, Volume Two.

But it should be quite clear from the fact that Artemis is the goddess who presides over every child's birth that the very preservation and continuation of the human race is connected to the espiritu feminino expressed by the Lenca tradition which is specifically associated with the river in the Lenca cosmovision -- and in the ancient Greek cosmovision as well.

In the story of Actaeon, the results suggest that the one who violates or breaches the sacred boundaries of the river, and desecrates (even unintentionally) the sacred place of the goddess and her divine maidens, will lose his humanity, and be reduced to the condition of an animal, a beast -- losing contact with the spiritual world of the Infinite, which would certainly seem to be a situation that would have serious spiritual ramifications.

This is another reason why the message proclaimed by Berta Cáceres is so urgent, and so powerful. The ancient myths, even from around the world, suggest that to miss what she is saying is to risk being turned into brute beasts (our behavior on a large scale seems to suggest that this may have already happened, and Berta's murder certainly seems to confirm this dire assessment).

The fact that this very same understanding, preserved in the Pueblo Lenca all the way on the other side of the world, was also present among the sacred stories of the myths of ancient Greece, suggests that we have somehow become disconnected -- dangerously disconnected -- from something we once knew, and which once helped us to observe the proper respect for the rivers and the forests and the spirit world that flows through every aspect of this world.

In the scholarly journal description of the compostura quoted above, we see that the "Lenca environmental worldview does not differentiate between terrestrial and celestial landscapes." There is no clear barrier between the two worlds, between the spirit-realm of the ancianos and the ordinary realm where we do our business or grow our food-crops or trade our goods and services.

The world around us was known to be connected to and interpenetrated by the Infinite Realm, everywhere and at all times.

This is the vision which infuses the mythology of ancient Greece, and indeed the myths and sacred traditions of virtually every culture on the planet.

Somewhere, "western civilization" became disconnected from this vision and this understanding.

Berta Cáceres urgently calls to us that we need to wake up. There is no longer any time to ignore this issue or politely pretend that it does not exist.

We should construct societies which can coexist with each other in a just manner, with dignity, and for Life.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Amaterasu, revisited

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

I've now completed the links for the first twenty-six "squares" on the mosaic-board of Star Myth links in the myths section of my new website, Star Myth World (dot com).

While there are still more to go (and more to be added in the future), you may enjoy perusing some of them now, and continuing to check back later.

The most recent Star Myth to be linked there is the story of Amaterasu -- and it is well worth revisiting. Here is the link to the new page discussing that myth, with illustrations and star-charts.

In addition to all that this myth can teach us regarding our sojourn through this incarnate life in the material plane, the story of Amaterasu also contains elements which I believe clearly link it with the story of Abraham and Sarah in the Hebrew Scriptures, and with the story of Loki and Skade in the Norse myths, and which thus provide us with yet more evidence that the sacred traditions and ancient wisdom preserved by all the different cultures spread across the surface of our planet earth share a common, celestial foundation.

The story of Amaterasu is discussed in even greater detail in the first volume of my multi-volume series, Star Myths of the World, and how to interpret them.

Its spiritual significance, and ways in which this story from the Kojiki of ancient Japan links to the spiritual themes at the heart of the Iliad of ancient Greece, is also discussed in Star Myths of the World, Volume Two (just recently published).

Volume One and Volume Two each have a very different "feel." 

In Volume One, we explore together a small sampling of myths and sacred stories selected from a wide variety of cultures around the world, in order to introduce some of the elements of the "language" of celestial metaphor which is operating in the Star Myths of the world, and to provide abundant evidence that this language is indeed a world-wide phenomenon.

In Volume Two, we focus primarily on the myths of ancient Greece, going into great depth (and yet only really "scratching the surface" of the depth and breadth of the incredible ancient wisdom available in that body of ancient wisdom).

In Volume Two, by virtue of the greater "depth" with which we are able to explore the myths of a single ancient tradition, we also get deeper into the spiritual message which I believe the treasure of humanity's mythologies is trying to preserve and convey for our benefit, and how the "spiritual language" of the ancient myths may work.

That system is discussed in numerous previous posts as well -- for understanding the message of the story of Amaterasu, I believe the post entitled "Here it has reached its turning point" is very pertinent.

The name of the goddess Amaterasu, 天照 , is composed of two characters which mean "heaven" and "shine" or "splendor" or "glory" in Chinese and Japanese.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Remembering March 11, 2011

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

On this day, March 11, it is appropriate to take time to remember those whose lives were lost in the tragic earthquake and tsunami five years ago.

As I wrote here four years ago, one year after the disaster, it is also appropriate to deliberately take time to meditate upon compassionate thoughts and the desire for the reduction of suffering, and to take whatever actions we can to reduce the suffering of others (especially those affected by the disastrous earthquake and tsunami in Japan) wherever we see a way to do so. [link]

As is now well known, the impact of the tsunami on that day caused the meltdown of three of the six nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

As is perhaps not as widely known, the knowledge of these meltdowns was deliberately withheld from the public for months after the fact.

As this CNN article reports, a senior official and representative of the Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency was fired after mentioning the possibility of a core meltdown in a press conference the day after the disaster. The same article notes there was a "perceived conflict of interest" because the Safety Agency was subordinate to a parent agency "responsible for promoting nuclear power."

The decision to hide the fact of the meltdown of the cores of three of the nuclear reactors from the public by the agencies and individuals -- for months -- is obviously reprehensible, repugnant, and criminal.

That information of such magnitude was deliberately covered up should cause people to ask what else about the magnitude of the nuclear aspects of this catastrophe might also have been downplayed since that terrible day -- or might continue to be kept from the people who deserve to have the information they need to make decisions about their own health and safety (and that of their families and loved ones).

I believe that when people have lost their lives, it is a dishonor to their memory to cover up the truth of what happened or to decide that it is too painful to seek after that truth. I cannot imagine that someone who lost his or her life in a disaster would say to those who survived, "Please don't try to find out the truth -- it might be too painful."

I hope that we can all take the time today to think compassionate thoughts for those affected most directly by the disaster, and that in the days and years to come we will also dedicate ourselves to finding the truth about historical events that took the lives of others, because we know that there are some who are determined to cover up the truth.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

John the Baptist, revisited

image: Wikimedia commons (link); original image reversed (right to left), and then superimposed with unaltered screenshot of the stars of Aquarius from the planetarium app Stellarium (outlines of Aquarius as suggested by the system of H. A. Rey drawn between the stars without any alteration of star locations).

I am continuing to add features and new material to my new website at "Star Myth World (dot com)."  

It's a work in progress, so please continue to check back frequently!

As I've been working my way through, adding links to discussions of representative Star Myths from around the globe in the section entitled "The Myths," I am in some cases adding new diagrams and additional discussion, based on new perspectives that I have now which I may not have fully appreciated the first time I explored them in the pages of this blog.

This happens to be the case in the discussion of the very important figure of John the Baptist in the gospel accounts of the New Testament.

John the Baptist is found in all four of the canonical gospel texts. He is described as the one who comes before the Christ, to make the way straight (as prophesied in the text of Isaiah chapter 40). 

But John's role is to leave the stage as the one who John says "cometh after me" who is "mightier than I" arrives (see Matthew 3: 11, and also Luke 3: 17). Indeed, in Mark chapter 6 and also Matthew chapter 14, we learn that John is arrested and then beheaded in an arbitrary execution.

As discussed in a previous post exploring the significance of John the Baptist, this execution is almost certainly celestial in nature, and is an "embodiment" in myth of the motion of the heavenly cycles of the stars -- specifically in this case the motion of the constellation Aquarius, the Water-bearer, who almost certainly plays the role of the Baptist (appropriately enough, as one who "pours water" in the heavenly realms).

The episode in the New Testament describing the beheading of John the Baptist, as with all the other elements of the John the Baptist story in the ancient texts, can be seen to come directly from the position and orientation of the constellations themselves.

As Aquarius goes across the sky from east to west, the outline of his human shape will eventually sink beneath the western horizon. However, because Aquarius actually "faces towards the east" and goes across the sky "backwards" (feet first), the head of the constellation will disappear beneath the horizon last.

Before the head sinks completely below the horizon, it will in fact be seen to sit upon the western horizon: the head of John the Baptist on a platter!

Other details from the texts themselves are also understandable when we look at the orientation of Aquarius in relation to other important constellations which "come after" Aquarius in the heavenly procession.

As we can see very clearly in the diagram below, the head of Aquarius looks directly towards the zodiac constellation of Aries the Ram -- which is why John in the scripture is described as seeing Jesus coming towards him, prompting John to declare, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world!" (John 1:29).

Similarly, the texts in the accounts as recorded in Matthew and Luke have John the Baptist declaring that "he that cometh after me is mightier than I" and that this one who "cometh after" is also one "whose fan is in his hand" -- descriptions which can be seen to fit the constellation Orion, who does indeed come after Aquarius and does indeed bear aloft a "winnowing fan" in his hand.

Finally, in John 3: 30 is the famous verse in which John the Baptist announces very bluntly: "He must increase, but I [must] decrease."

This verse obviously has spiritual connotations, but it is also an accurate declaration regarding the relative positions of the constellations Aquarius and Orion as shown in the above star chart.

John the Baptist, corresponding to Aquarius above, is decreasing (he is going down in the sky) -- even as Orion is rising. You can see in the star chart above that even as Aquarius is sinking below the horizon, Orion is still ascending towards the zenith or transit-line that I've drawn arcing upwards from due south on the horizon (and back over our heads to pass through the north celestial pole). This line is the highest point on the arc that the stars make as they circle up from the eastern horizon and then back down towards the western horizon, just as this line is the highest point on the sun's daily arc through the sky as well.

Now, if we were reading the scriptures in a primarily literalistic approach (as historical records of the words and actions of terrestrial, literal personages from long ago), we might see some spiritual angles to what John is saying, but still read it primarily as a statement by a literal John the Baptist that he intends to leave the stage now that Jesus has arrived on the scene.

But, based on previous discussions of esoteric interpretations we've explored of some of the Gnostic texts uncovered in the Nag Hammadi library -- such as the previous discussions of the relationship between Thomas and his divine twin, Jesus (here and here) -- I believe it is very possible that the relationship between John the Baptist and his divine cousin may be conveying the very same (or close to the same) esoteric message.

It may be that the motion of the two figures in the heavens (Aquarius sinking down, Orion rising up) and the actions of the two characters in the story (John leaving the stage, Jesus ascending as his divine origin is revealed) is actually describing something that each of us is supposed to be working towards in our own lives -- by diminishing the "doubting voice" of the "Thomas Self" as we become more and more attuned to the Higher Self.

Indeed, many daily disciplines and practices which appear to have been developed in ancient times, or perhaps handed down to humanity by some now-unknown source, may have as one of their primary goals this very same result which is being allegorized or esoterically conveyed in the words of John the Baptist -- disciplines such as meditation, chanting, Yoga, rhythmic drumming, certain martial arts, forms of what is today usually referred to as chi gung, and many others. 

Interestingly enough, the very same metaphor of the "winnowing fan" plays a significant role in the ancient Greek epic of the Odyssey -- a poem I explore in detail in my latest book, Star Myths of the World, Volume Two (which is all about the myths of ancient Greece).

It should be very clear by now that the myths and scriptures of humanity, from around the globe, can be shown to be built upon celestial foundations.

It should also be becoming clear that as we begin to understand the metaphorical language used by these ancient texts and sacred stories, this understanding can help us to hear (in a completely different way) the messages that they are speaking to us across the centuries and across the millennia.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Eleventh Labor of Hercules, revisited: The apples of the Hesperides

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

I've just posted some new discussion of the Eleventh Labor of Heracles (Hercules), in which the hero must retrieve the apples of the Hesperides, and (because it is not safe for him to pick the apples himself), he must negotiate with the Titan Atlas to pluck the apples for him.

I've visited this important myth previously on this blog, back in 2014, but this discussion introduces some new perspectives on both the celestial correspondences and the possible spiritual significances of the Eleventh Labor.

The discussion is now up at the Message Board area on Graham Hancock's website, and I've divided it into two different "posts" or "threads" or "topic-headings" -- 
  • the first one (labeled "Part One") to describe the details of the myth itself (with a few clues regarding the direction you might want to look, if you choose to analyze the myth yourself and draw connections to its celestial foundations), and . . .
  • the second one (labeled "Part Two") to discuss my interpretation of some of the myth's celestial underpinnings, as well as discuss some of the spiritual truths which I believe this myth may be trying to convey to us. 
This format generally follows the structure of the volumes in the series Star Myths of the World (see here for Volume One and here for Volume Two), in which the first half of the book discusses the events which take place in the myth ("the storyline" of the myth or text), and then the second half contains the discussion of the celestial correspondences, and some discussion (when appropriate) of its possible spiritual import and message.

The idea is to read the first half of each chapter, consider any "hints" or pointers offered in the summary at the end of that "first half," and then (when you are ready, but not before), turn to the second half of the same discussion, found in the second half of the book -- where you'll find star charts and diagrams and discussion of the likely celestial connections in the story.

If you want, you can use the two links above in just the same way -- read the first link, and then take as much time as you want to think about the myth and its possible celestial metaphors, before moving on the next link.

And, of course, you can also join in the discussion if you wish!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Introducing new Star Myth World website

image: Wikimedia commons (link and link to background image).

In an effort to create a place where those interested can access as much Star Myth information as I can point them towards at this time with the resources available to me, I am creating a new website called star myth world dot com (starmythworld.com).

It is still under construction -- and I intend to continue to improve it over time.

There you will find (so far):
  • Analysis of selected Star Myths of the World.
  • A "comment wall" where you can write messages (uses an embedded app from muut).
  • This blog and all its back content, fully searchable; I will also continue to post at this location, so you are free to continue to find the blog here, or you may prefer to follow it over there so that "everything is in one place." The blog in this location has a "translation" button for those who wish to use it, so I will continue running it for those who require that, but otherwise just about everything available here will be available there.
  • A helpful Resources page, where you will find a list of available online texts to related content. Note that the link to this section is found at the bottom footer on each page, but not at the top.
It's still in progress, so please check back often!