You wake up on the morning that is the start of you never going back to the office again. You are retired. The farewell party, such as it was, is over. They said, ‘don’t be a stranger’; they meant ‘don’t be a pest’.
The treadmill has been switched to ‘warm-down’ mode; now there is more time to do things other than the daily habit of going to work and the question that Michael Caine and Cilla Black first asked me back in the sixties: “What’s it all about, Alfie?” emerges from the very depths of my mind as being relevant for the first time in my life.
So, what is it all about? And how to fill in my days now? Spend a lot more time with my neighbours? I had known the old darling living alone on one side of me a long time. She regularly came over either to tut tut about the state of my roses or tell me about the strangers who had recently started to ‘appear’ inside her house and annoy her. Her intense face and very detailed descriptions of these shadowy strangers were very compelling as she asked me to go over and shoo them away. But she farted while talking which made it hard to maintain composure. Eventually her family came and took her away, the new owner rented it out and it’s just not the same anymore. The neighbour on the other side hasn’t spoken to me in thirty years, ever since I told him I would shove his hose up his arse for him. It was all from a little misunderstanding about my Saturday afternoon hobby of filling a 44-gallon drum at the bottom of the garden with household rubbish and dead leaves, throwing on a bit of motor-mower petrol and becoming lost in the primal experience of flickering flames and clean, white smoke wafting into the ether. He was a health inspector for the local council and was never off duty. Apparently I was in contravention of some by-law that designated the time of day by which all 44 gallon drums had to cease operations. It was not as if I was body-painted and dancing naked; I was just lost in the mesmerising timelessness of the experience. Anyway, things got a little tense, things were said and the end result was that he painted a red line on the path between our houses, along with a written note attached to my car’s windscreen on which he assured me that the red line was the closest to his house that I was legally allowed to park. A suggestion of backing his trailer into my car, should I venture over the line, was not to be taken lightly. Presumably there are no council by-laws about painting red lines on the footpath. Other than that, he went about his day whistling loudly as though I didn’t exist, which suited me fine. Ironically, when he lost that job with the council he set himself up as a firewood merchant. Funny old world.
Perhaps, to fill in the days, I could engage a little more patiently with the people who come knocking on my door. I have never been receptive to strangers knocking at the door at the best of times and now that I am retired, the cynic in the back of my mind keeps whispering that door knockers are just the front-people of a fund-raising industry that has evolved just for the purpose of trying to extract the last of a retiree’s savings before he/she is shipped off from ‘their home’ to ‘a home’; care or funeral, it’s all the same to them. They just know they have a limited window of opportunity to get their foot in the door and convince me to direct debit a negotiated amount of money to their most worthy cause. Still, perhaps I am being a little grumpy and judgmental, so let’s keep an open mind.
Meanwhile, recognising that I no longer had a staff lunchroom to express my well-founded opinions about things, I gave thought to putting to good use a blogsite gift that turned up in the Christmas stocking my daughter presented me one yuletide morning. My very thoughtful daughter never resorted to socks & undies. I could fill in a few days writing down everything I have tucked away in bookshelves and cupboards over the years about politics, religion, astrology, aliens and other assorted subjects to finally start sorting out what’s it’s all about. So, throw a few lumps of coal on the fire, pull the cork from a 12-year-old single malt, get a nice warm glow both inside and out and start writing. It shouldn’t take too long, provided there are no door-knocking interruptions.
- Poor knights of the red cross
- I dream of things that never were
- All the stars in heaven
- Twinkle, twinkle
- Angels in our midst
- A bolt from the blue
- The land of milk and honey
- We come in peace
- A mid-winter night’s tale
- Beam me up
- We are stardust
- I am the alpha
- A new sheriff in town
- Good vibrations
- A time for every purpose
- Let there be light
- The dawning of Aquarius
- A cosmic Indian summer
- Greenpeace crusaders
- Caveat emptor
- Throw another virgin on the altar
- Clean up your room
References & acknowledgements
It would take months, even years, of intense hypnotic regression to track down all the articles, videos, documentaries and books from which little nuggets of information lodged in the corners of the attic of my mind over the decades. However, acknowledging writers, scientists and thinkers who I think have most influenced my thinking and stirred my imagination in these matters over the years, and whose books I still keep in my library for reference:
The Bible: authors: various
Chariots of the Gods: Erich Von Daniken
Genesis Revisited & the 12th Planet: Zecharia Sitchin
Our Cosmic Ancestors: Maurice Chatelain
Fingerprints of the Gods: Graham Hancock
Zealot: Reza Aslan
Sapiens & Homo Deus: Yuval Noah Harari
Holy Blood Holy Grail: Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln
A short history of nearly everything: Bill Bryson
Communion: Whitley Strieber
Magicians of the Gods: Graham Hancock
Dictatorland. The men who stole Africa Paul Kenyon
Red Sea Spies: Raffi Berg
UFOs & Nukes: Robert Hastings
I have had something of a romantic attraction to the order of the Templar Knights. The Red Cross on a white tunic was the symbol of this noble Middle Ages’ organisation. These were the guardians of the roads from Britain to the Holy Land to ensure the safe travel of the pilgrims. Rescuing people from life threatening situations was the life calling of these knights in shining armour. But along the journey they also got the idea to extend their ‘security’ services into the financial marketplace. They developed their system whereby, to protect pilgrims from robbery, the travelers could hand over their gold and silver to a Knight in England or France in return for a Templar Note that they could redeem once they reached their Holy Land destination, less a small handling fee of course. Those Templar Notes were Europe’s first travelers’ cheques and so the noble Templar Knights became the Bank of the Red Cross, Europe’s first bank.
This was only 900 years ago, modern times in the greater history of mankind and I wonder about how someone in that organisation first came up with the idea. I have no reason to think they exploited it, but from a cynic’s viewpoint, and experience has taught me it is always prudent to look at a cynic’s viewpoint, there was an inherent conflict of interest when it became obvious that the Bank of the Red Cross could profit handsomely if they were not always quite so diligent in ensuring that the pilgrims, whose gold and silver was in their safekeeping, actually did arrive safe and sound at their destination to collect their gold. Again, I have no reason to believe they were anything less than diligent in their moral duty, still they did become a very wealthy institution and human nature is fickle thing. Could they ever have imagined the banking industry that would mushroom over the centuries following the launch of their enterprise? The gold standard has long since disappeared in the banking world to be replaced by the US dollar and it is estimated that there are about 40 trillion US dollar equivalents in ‘cash’ flowing around through the cyberspace that is the banking world of today.
Cue sfx: knock- knock: “Good afternoon, sir, I am from Red Cross (flash: ID/ flash: smile) and may I say what a beautiful Audi car that you have in your driveway. Now, I am not here to ask you for your beautiful Audi,” the zealous young man quickly assured me, a silent companion watched on, enthralled with his technique, ” no , no, I am just asking for a small donation to the Red Cross”. He waited in vain for me to acknowledge his very insincere compliment about a 2004, entry level, shopping basket design of a reasonably reliable car. Getting no encouragement he started again with “because we have exhausted all of our funds helping the people of Canterbury recover from the terrible earthquake disaster a few years ago (pause, head bowed slightly, awaiting, in vain, for me to share in the ‘amen’ moment, to acknowledge my gratitude to the knights in shining armour for riding to the rescue). I left him hanging, he didn’t look like any knight I would bank on in a tricky situation. So again, albeit a little less confidently, he returned to the script and out came the very convenient direct debit form which, once signed, will mean I don’t have to think about it again; it’s a no-brainer because they will just dip into my account each month and withdraw the agreed amount of money without having to keep knocking on my door for further. How splendid, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. A no-brainer indeed, unfortunately for him I still have a functioning brain.
My first reaction is disappointment. Why would a reputable institution like Red Cross employ such snake-oil sales tactics to raise funds? I may be wrong but these two characters at my door did not have the appearance of volunteer fundraisers, more like commission salesmen. Don’t I recall they normally put people on the streets when disaster strikes, and we all come together as one community and raise huge sums to provide food, water, clothing, shelter and medical support to help victims survive a disaster? Red Cross certainly were impressive putting small armies of collectors on the streets all around New Zealand within 24 hours of the big 2011 quake in Christchurch that was quite a few years back now. But as I think about it, and I hadn’t until now, what else can I recall of Red Cross throughout the first few crisis weeks of that earthquake?
I most vividly recall watching videos of ordinary people doing the extraordinary, in frantic search for and assistance of survivors; I remember all the Rangiora community cooking and flying in thousands of kilograms of hot meals by helicopter; I remember images of our emergency services: the St John Ambulance crews, the police, firemen and defence forces who seemed to be everywhere, controlling traffic chaos, organising search and rescue efforts and transporting victims to either hospitals or the temporary morgue. I remember images of the urban search and rescue crews from a number of countries burrowing through demolished buildings. I recall an Australian Army medical team flew in and set up a field hospital. But my only recollection of the Red Cross, apart from the collection buckets, was reading something about them handing out some torches that they had stockpiled. But why did I have no vivid image in my mind of the Red Cross emblem on the streets, amongst the rubble, setting up emergency first aid tents?
I told the fundraiser to come back later while I thought about it and meantime, I consulted Mr. Google. I found out from Red Cross online publications that they collected $128 million dollars in donations for the Christchurch earthquake. I also found that most of this money was issued in grants to fund things like furniture storage costs, packing and shifting costs, providing independent advice including small business advice. Of course, WINZ and Housing NZ were also issuing emergency grants for similar things as were the Salvation Army and other Church and community led projects of support. I admit I was surprised. In my mind Red Cross was a front line, in the trenches organisation when it came to dealing with disasters. I did not expect them to primarily be fundraisers and distributors of financial grants after the event. I wonder how much support the bucket collection would have gained if we had all known then that the intent of the money was for Red Cross to make social welfare grants at its discretion. Not that we would deny social welfare support, but simply that social welfare is primarily a government function and I have no understanding of how the government would manage the inevitable duplications and crossover in support claims and how Red Cross would knit into to the existing social welfare infrastructure.
My impression is that in the field of humanitarian care, the Salvation Army is probably better than anyone, so I checked Mr. Google on their contribution during the earthquake. I first learned that they received a comparatively modest $18 million in donations and that in the immediate aftermath of the 22 February 2011 quake, Salvation Army Emergency Services served up to 4700 meals a day to displaced residents and emergency service workers, providing more than 75,000 meals from the truckloads of food and water donated by NZ companies. Around 1200 Salvation Army officers and staff, from as far away as Australia, converged on the city to join psychosocial teams that visited more than 100,000 affected households in Christchurch and surrounding areas
Since the original September 2010 quake, The Salvation Army had spent around $8 million dollars in welfare support, including food, clothing, furniture, grocery, petrol and hardware vouchers, as well as the provision of $500 Care Cards for the financially strapped. Respite holidays have been provided for traumatised families and individuals needing to get out of the region for a break.
When domestic water and sewage services were in disarray, the Salvation Army provided $1 million to fund 20,900 chemical toilets. It also contributed three mobile, custom-designed shower units comprising 21 shower and changing cubicles, costing around $130,000 to build, ship and operate. In addition, many Salvation Army centres around the country saw steep increases in demand for their help as thousands of individuals and families left Christchurch to seek refuge in other parts of the country. The Salvation Army operated Community Care Vans, supported by Westpac Bank. who also established a website to provide up-to-date information on the location of the vans?
I had a quick look at a major disaster in Australia, the 2009 Black Saturday Bush Fires,for comparison. The Australian Red Cross was commissioned by the State Government to implement and manage the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund, based on its expertise and the ability to adapt its existing software. Once the Appeal Fund had received initial funds, the State Government established the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority with the role of planning and coordinating the relief and recovery activities and authorising the distribution of the funds from the Appeal Fund. The Red Cross raised over $300 Million in donations. By comparison the Salvation Army in Australia raised $17.5 million for their work.
When the Red Cross fundraiser returned for his pledge, he was sent away empty-handed. I have no idea what they achieved with $128 million of New Zealanders’ donations to the Christchurch Earthquake, their reports are just too much like a consolidated corporate annual report to get a real feel of what impact they had at a humanitarian level. I assume it was all legitimate and accounted for to whatever government body they were accountable. But it was not used setting up emergency search, rescue and medical facilities around the disaster site which is what I had expected the donations were for.
This review of the Red Cross’ role in one of our worst natural disasters was an exercise well worth undertaking. I think I understand it better now. The modern Red Cross is quite a different organisation to the one I thought I knew. Their brand’s public relations efforts clearly remain impressive. No doubt the Red Cross today are professional, very organised, and very successful fundraisers in preparation for, and in reaction to disasters. If endorsed by government in that role then it is probably to reduce pressure on government tax-funded budgets to finance the recovery programme. All very understandable from government’s point of view, I guess. Otherwise, it would make balancing the books much harder in government and that often means a change of government.
But it all just has the feel of a well-organised, political fundraising operation, outsourcing to a specialised, professional fundraising organisation at a time when the donors are feeling at their most compassionate. To the donors it is a very human moment, but to the Red Cross, it seems that this is just another day at the office; the raising, managing (does that include investing?) and dispensing of hundreds of millions of dollars. It may be a necessary function for medium and long-term recovery, but that is just not the role I expected the Red Cross to be doing. I should have been alerted by the history of the Knights Templar; they are still the Bank of the Red Cross.
“Some people see things and ask ‘why?’ I dream of things that never were, and ask ‘why not?’
So where did an idea for a sophisticated, currency-based solution to a possible robbery during a potentially dangerous journey while on a religious quest come from? We are an evolved ape, but our other ape cousins do not yearn to travel the globe by horseback, sailing ship or motor. Other apes have never developed currencies or insurance schemes; other apes do not have religions over which they are prepared to fight foreign wars. To kill and be killed over a belief in what may or may not happen after our death and about whose God of their imagination is really in charge of everything .
Seventy thousand years ago, give or take, we acquired the problem-solving gene that defines modern Homo sapiens sapiens and which pre-empted our setting off, or being sent off, from our garden of Eden in Africa to migrate into the wilderness that was the rest of the world. Now upgraded from intelligent man to really intelligent man, archeologists refer to this as the ‘Cognitive Revolution”. The Hebrew Bible poetically refers to it as eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge. And, in order to achieve dominion over all the beasts of the land and birds of the air, homo sapiens sapiens required strategic planning, co-operation, idea sharing and, most importantly, imagination. We required language, very sophisticated language.
My interest in the power of language was piqued by a Ted X lecture from a Vietnamese migrant in the USA, Phuc Tran, talking about the subjunctive tense. Probably like you, I could not recall back through my youthful education when the intrigue of the subjunctive mood was explained by my English teacher. But to recap, the subjunctive mood is used in English to explore imaginary or conditional situations.
“Imagine if it had not rained then we would have gone to the beach”. “Imagine if I were emperor then I would ……..”. “Imagine if I could just make this thing do that then the outcome would be…”
Subjunctive forms of verbs are typically used to express various states of unreality such as wish, emotion, possibility, judgment, opinion, obligation, or action that has not yet occurred. And as such the subjunctive mood is critical to the fundamental point of language for homo sapiens sapiens, that is to problem-solve. For the most creative problem solving occurs in the language of imagination.
Which is why Phuc Tran’s talk was so interesting. He was raised from a child in the USA and so was very familiar with the subjunctive mood in English. Phuc Tran has taught Latin, Greek, German, and Sanskrit at independent schools in New York and Maine and was an instructor at Brooklyn College’s Summer Latin Institute. In 2010, he served on a committee to revise the National Latin Praxis exam for ETS. Phuc currently teaches at Waynflete School in Portland. But his parents were raised in Vietnam and although his father was a lawyer and politician with the expected skills in the Vietnamese language, he had no comprehension of the subjunctive mood in that language.
That came to light in a very poignant way. When they were escaping during the fall of Saigon, the Tran family was about to board a bus to the airport when young Phuc became hysterical. In calming him down they missed the first bus and caught the second. That first bus was hit by artillery and all on board were killed. The second bus made it safely. So today Phuc ponders the ‘what ifs’. His father cannot comprehend this line of thought. His father does not do “what ifs”. His father says “Why on earth do you waste time talking about what did not happen?”
His father has a point. And in that point, we can also see that the subjunctive tense has two very distinctive moods. On the positive side it is the pathway to discovery, to problem solving, to inventiveness, to progress. On the dark side it can spiral down into fear, anxiety, depression. Sometimes through history some of our greatest geniuses were also among our most troubled minds. Soaring with the positive possibilities, then spiralling down into the negative fears of failure. The subjunctive mood is a wild horse that should not be ridden bareback; it needs reins, saddle and stirrups.
The right hemisphere of the human brain allows our creativity to explore the unknown and it is the left side that exercises the controls of calculation and logic. It is notable that the new wave of human distress, widespread social anxiety, has arisen at the same time that society has become increasingly reliant on technology to replace the left-brain functions of calculation and logic, which are the reins on the subjunctive mood of the right hemisphere. Only two generations ago emphasis in classrooms was on developing ‘mental arithmetic’, the ability of students to carry out calculations using just the left hemisphere of their brain. This practice stimulated the electrical activity of that left hemisphere. When pocket calculators first came onto the market in the 1970’s it was forbidden to use them in the classroom but as their use gradually infiltrated classrooms, followed by laptop computers, the activity of the left hemisphere of young brains has weakened as the right hemisphere’s imaginations has progressively dominated reality. Anxiety is the inevitable outcome of a dominant right hemisphere of the brain when outcomes that we only imagine begin to present themselves as reality that will inevitably happen. Perhaps mental calculations should be included in our daily gym programme to compensate for the role of calculation technology in the same way that stationary bikes and treadmills compensate physically for the motorised technology.
Phuc speculates that absence of the subjunctive mood may be the reason for the stoic resilience of the Vietnamese people. The question arises whether it is the culture that creates the language or, as my daughter who is a linguistics graduate believes, the other way round. That stoic people probably have no interest in the subjunctive mood whereas excitable, ambitious people actively seek to express themselves in the language of the imagination. I tend to agree with the latter and speculate that when the balance of a group of tribes swings more towards stoicism or imaginative ambition then that swing will have a huge impact on the evolution of our species. Stoicism limits co-operation to just the immediate knowns and facts and is a very tribal mentality. Trust no one outside the tribe. The ability to mutually adopt an imagined goal has the potential to unify hundreds, thousands or even millions of people who otherwise would never dream of co-operating with each other. From such imaginative ambition the concepts of nations and religions is born along with great armies to enforce their imaginative aspirations.
The Bible records that humans had been so successful in the development of a common language that God and his angels became alarmed that by the construction of the Tower of Babel, humans were challenging God himself. To summarise the Biblical story according to Genesis 11: ‘throughout the land mankind spoke one language and they moved eastwards to the land of Shimar (Sumer). And they said: “Come let us build a town and tower with its top reaching to heaven”.’ The Tower of Babel, said to be a baked brick structure intended to reach the heavens, was halted by God and his angels, because (Gen. 11: 6-9) “the Lord said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language, they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other. ‘ So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world.”
But what was it about this Babel tower that so concerned the God of the Bible, Yahweh? The Tower in question was built in Shimar (Sumer) which was Mesopotamia (now southern Iraq). Archaeology dates the arrival of humans into Mesopotamia between 3500 and 4500 BC. as they moved eastwards from the Mediterranean. This is from carbon dating the virgin soil beneath the earliest records of human occupation. The Bible records in Genesis 10:10, that a descendant of Noah’s son, Ham, a man named Nimrod was the first ‘king’ of this region and built his city called Nippur. We know from unearthed and translated Sumerian tablets that a six-seven story Ziggurat had been built in the city of Nippur where this priest-king lived.
The Sumerians are known for their skilled metalwork, stonework and statues. But more importantly they developed mathematics system based on 60, a twelve-month calendar based on moon cycles and a cuneiform alphabet which they used to keep records on clay tablets using a stylus. We also know that the oldest records of the science of astronomy are from Sumerian tablets dated back to the 3rd millennium bc and that they demonstrate that the Sumerians had a sophisticated knowledge of the solar system. Clearly an imaginative race.
In 1840 a French Consul in Mosul (now Iraq) who had been filling in his days riding in the desert and had came across mounds that contained pottery shards also discovered a huge number of clay tablets containing cuneiform writing. At first nothing more than a curiosity, a couple of years later he showed them to an Englishman he had befriended, Henry Layford, who was convinced this was a major archeological find. This then became a serious archeological site as a joint Anglo-French dig, albeit a clear demarcation line was drawn. But this dig uncovered the first Assyrian palace built by King Sargon 11 near Ninevah in 709BC. Tens of thousands of clay tablets were uncovered and removed for translation and preservation. The information on these tablets changed the whole timeframe understanding of human civilisation. They were written in 700BC but told stories that were 3,000 years old. There is one tablet, named VA/243, which shows all eight major planets in the solar system in correct relative size and the two dwarf planets of Pluto and Ceres. It also showed planets circuiting the sun (represented by the star of David). It was not until the 16th century AD that modern astronomers worked out that the earth travelling around the sun not the sun travelling around the earth as the Sumerians clearly knew thousands of years ago.
While the five planets out to Saturn can be seen with the naked eye and were known to ancient astronomers, Uranus was only discovered by William Herschel in 1781, Ceres by Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801, Neptune was discovered by Johann Galle in 1846 and Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. And yet these four planets are depicted accurately on this 700BC Sumerian tablet.
Babylon itself is first referenced in tablets as being a small city in Akkad around 2300 BC. Its status grew and around 1800 BC, a ruler named Hammurabi expanded the borders of the Akkadian/ Babylonian Empire, conquering Sumer. Babylon is recorded as replacing Nippur as the “Holy City of Mesopotamia”. The Babylonians studied the Sumerians cuneiform alphabet and then adapted it to their own Akkadian language.
The literal words of Genesis 11 are that the whole earth spoke one language. But this is the Bronze age. There were well-established civilisations in Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Sparta, Troy, China, Europe, Australia, North and South America and archaeology demonstrates that there were already many languages around the world. Being so concerned about this one baked-brick tower trying to reach the heavens also seems a bit pointless when just along the road the Egyptians were building their pyramids, the great one almost 150 metres high, in Britain they built Stonehenge to study the heavens, in South America pyramids were being built and the remains of many ziggurats, all built between 3000 BC and 600 BC and used as observatories to study the heavens have been uncovered throughout Mesopotamia.
So perhaps it was not the tower itself that was of concern but rather what was inside the tower. Perhaps the Sumerian priest/astronomers’ knowledge of the heavens was developing far more rapidly than God and his angels deemed safe for humans to possess. Was their imagination starting to get out of control? So was this Babel story no more than an historical account of the Babylonians conquering the Sumerians, plundering the library of knowledge, cosmology and science stored in the Priest-King’s Ziggurat in Nippur and then replacing the Sumerian cuneiform language with the Akkadian cuneiform language so that the knowledge contained in the Sumerian tablets would become confused within a generation. Were the Babylonians a stoic race in contrast to the Akkadians being an imaginative race? The Babylonians certainly put great emphasis on their defence infrastructure surrounding their city with three rings of 40-foot-high impenetrable walls which might indicate stoicism.
This story could get all too academically speculative and just dismissed as another Biblical myth that just doesn’t quite stack up against archaeological evidence, except for the uncanny message that it is recorded in the Bible which tells us that the common language that the gods an angels set out to disrupt would enable men to reach the heavens. Why that is significant is that 4-5,000 years later humans once again are imagining that we will reach the heavens.
While the modern exploration of the heavens was initiated as part of the USA/USSR cold war, it is today very much a global mission. USA launched the space station Freedom in 1987 with support from the European Space Agency (Columbus Laboratory) and Japan (Japan Experimental Laboratory). In 1990 NASA launched the Hubble space telescope into low earth orbit. Russia then abandoned its plans for a successor to the Mir space station and in 1993 became a partner of the International Space Station (ISS). Without Russian support, the Western partners probably would have had to give up the Freedom Space Station. Today astronauts from around the world, including Japan, Canada, Europe in addition to Russia and the United States, travel to the ISS. Several languages are spoken on board. This communication challenge is assisted by the spoken dialogue computer on the ISS, named Clarissa, which is programmed to understand both English and Russian. But future NASA astronauts will be required to learn Russian before they go into space. Because the Russian Federal Space Agency is facilitating the space flight to and from the ISS, it makes sense that the NASA wants astronauts to be able to correspond with their fellow space travellers. For over ten years all European astronaut activities are conducted at the European Astronaut Centre in Germany. In fact, all the other astronauts on the ISS: Americans, Russians, Japanese and Canadians are also trained with European laboratory equipment. And European astronauts receive training in either Houston, USA, Star City in Russia, Tsukuba in Japan or Montreal, Canada to learn to operate the systems and components of the partners. The arrangement between the international partners is that any partner who owns a laboratory or another infrastructure element on the station trains the astronauts of all partners for it. China is also developing its heavenly ambitions but is doing so quite independently of the ISS partners.
To seriously explore the heavens, we need international financial and intellectual co-operation and we really do need a common language. The English language has been on a colonising mission for hundreds of years and while, at 370 million, it is only the third most common first language of the world, a long way behind Mandarin at 1.3 billion and well below Spanish at 470 million, English is by far the most common second-spoken language on earth at just under a billion people against Mandarin at 200 million. Mandarin matches English in its population size if not in its geopolitical breadth and this difference makes English the likely contender as the one language that will rule them all in our goal of reaching the heavens. But even if one language is not agreed, technology, driven by our imagination, will be able to instantly translate different languages to create a virtual common language to all men.
This is all developing at a time when the US government is finally admitting that alien craft, with vastly advanced technology, are entering our skies at will. So, will the Gods and angels intervene once more to deny our attempts to reach the heavens? Will they decide that our species is not yet mature enough to be allowed into the heavens? That we are just too volatile and dangerous. Are we just not mature enough as a species to handle the subjunctive mood?
But if there is any true evidence of the power of the imagination. It has occurred over the last 50 years more than the previous five thousand. I saw on some Facebook page a bit of a self-indulgent reminiscence by one of my generation recalling the good old days when we had face-to-face friends not face-book friends; when we built go carts to race downhill against our mates rather than played X Box games against avatars. When someone else took photos of us if the occasion was significant and we kept those photo prints in a private album. There is nothing new in the older generation despairing for the younger generation, that has been going on since at least the time of Socrates, but the difference today is not so much attitudinal as it is technological. Today’s technology has had an influence on the behaviour of youth that Socrates could never imagine in his wildest philosophies.
The Facebook post put the timing of this quantum shift in normality at the mid 1980’s. Those of us born before that time had real lives, but the post 80’s generation are now living a fake online life and they seem to be really struggling, emotionally, to adapt their natural human psyche to this self-created virtual world.
Computers in primitive form had been around well before the 1980’s but they were just big, cumbersome calculating machines. I tried, unsuccessfully, to learn to speak to one of these great machines when I studied (although that is probably overstating the effort I put in) accounting at university in the early 1970’s. The computer then needed its own room, actually it was the size of a small room itself. It spake strange tongues of Portran and Fortran. It told me, numerically speaking, that it was in control of me, not the other way around. If what I put in did not compute, it spat it back out. Start again human. IBM was the driving force of the computer world and seemed focused on keeping it within the corporate and political world, well above the lives of ordinary folk.
But it was in the late 1970’s that Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started a business to bring these giant computing machines down to size. They wanted computers to be fun for all. They named the company Apple. In his biography Steve Jobs said that it was just a serendipitous choice; that he was on a fruitarian diet at the time and had just returned from an apple farm and thought the fresh, fun name suited his company’s vibe. If so, the coincidence is uncanny. The apple has an established historical connection with a quantum leap in mankind’s knowledge of universal law; Isaac Newton said he had his ‘eureka’ moment about gravity when he watched an apple fall from a tree.
The apple also has a prehistorical connection with man’s quest for knowledge and even immortality. In Norse mythology the goddess Idun was the keeper of the apples of the tree of knowledge and life and is known as the goddess of eternal youth. In Greek mythology, the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, ruled the Garden of the Hesperides (nymphs) where there was an orchard in which trees bearing golden apples had the power to heal and renew. And the bible relates that Lucifer gave Eve the fruit, usually depicted as an apple, from the tree of knowledge
And by the mid-later 20th century the two Steve’s have brought the Apple computer into our homes. Well they did not immediately arrive into our homes; in the 1970’s and 80’s they were still a geeky, impractical and expensive machine that most homes could happily live without. But while Wozniak was the brains behind the machine itself, he would never have taken it beyond the techno geek market and as such would not have survived commercially. His Apple would have withered on the branch. Jobs was most certainly the man (the Lucifer, the enlightened one) responsible for giving the Apple of knowledge to mankind. And in a very strategic move, he first took it into the classroom, actually donating the original Apple 1 to some schools just to whet the appetite. He was less interested in wasting the fruits of the Apple on the elders of humankind, he wanted to give it to the children. In 1978 he won a contract to supply 500 Apple II computers to schools in Minnesota. In 1983 he sold a computer package (including floppy disc) to over 9,000 schools in California at a cost per package then for what you would now get a decent I-Mac. The Macintosh (an actual variety of apple) was launched in 1984 and the flood gates started to open.
One generation after the Apple from the tree of knowledge was fed to our children, we could no longer imagine education without computers. We could not imagine homes without computers, or people without smartphones. My little granddaughter was just two years old when her innate demand for language, knowledge and technology led us to the conclusion that we had no option but to provide her own personal connection into the universal consciousness. Her very own Apple i-pad. She took to it like a duck to water. Her knowledge, understanding and communication skills have taken quantum leaps; she swipes through the icons as though she invented them.
So once again an apple from the tree of knowledge is the means by which knowledge and imagination is being spread throughout humanity. It is the means by which we have built our rocket propelled towers with which to explore the heavens. In history Babel was the place where many voices come to speak together. Could the modern-day Babel be the headquarters of Google, Apple, NASA and Spacex? Or is 21st century Babel located in the cloud and refers to the inanity of Twitter? The fake lives of Instagram? The pretend friends of Facebook? Interestingly while the Bible’s Genesis tells us that is was man’s corruption and evil that cause the great flood, the pre-dated original Sumerian clay texts said it was the noise and unending chatter of humans that caused the Gods to bring the great flood.
The changes in our lifestyle are, in reality, just as dramatic as noted in the Facebook post that began this blog. The irony being that he used Facebook to express his concerns; he did not call around to voice his concerns to me in person over a cup of coffee.
If Steve Jobs was the 21st century Lucifer then let us hope that humanity is ready for such knowledge this time around. Embracing the computer technology pioneered by Jobs in order to elevate humanity to new levels is Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX who has now announced that the final goal of “Neuralink”, his brain-machine interface development, is to allow humans to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence. Neuralink aims to implant wireless brain-computer interfaces in the most complex human organ to help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia and spinal cord injuries and ultimately fuse humankind with artificial intelligence.
The reaction of God, having discovered that Adam had eaten the apple from the tree of knowledge, was to expel man from Eden to forage like the beasts in the wild lest they then seek to eat from the tree of life and live forever. Then later mankind’s language was confused lest they build their tower to reach the heavens. Interfacing human consciousness with artificial intelligence as a means of living forever and exploring distant galaxies in the heavens is actually now a very real prospect within the next decade. Will the Gods once more intervene?
A lovely, smiling couple of young people tap on my door holding what could only be a Bible. They were Asian and so I would have expected them to be holding the book of the writings of Confucius rather than the history of the Hebrews, but what else have I got to do for the next half hour? I might just learn something interesting.
They were from a Bible study group up in a nearby suburb, so they informed me (from which I concluded that I was being assessed for my potential to join their group to help defray the cost of hiring the hall and to take my turn at bringing supper). Then the man asked if I knew there was also a female God? Points for originality in an opening gambit, where was this going? I wondered. They might just be weird enough to be interesting. “Why no, I didn’t’ know that”, I replied. Two delighted Asian beams told me I had given just the answer they wanted. Step 2, ‘now we have three question for you, ok?’
‘Ok, give me your three best questions; game-on.’
They produce an electronic tablet of some sort, not an i-pad though, I noted, although I know little about these things, which had a question 1 written on it: ‘do you believe in GOD? (in red and underlined).“Well, I replied, that depends on your definition of God, doesn’t it?” Confucius reigned on the young faces before me. Not the expected response at all. It was supposed to be yes/no from which they had two pre-planned paths to lead me to the good news about this female god (they should have said goddess, but I can overlook that with English being a second language).”The person who created you and us and all thing on earth and all stars in sky” they countered, tag-teaming to recover their composure.
That was their big mistake. When some stranger answers a fundamental question of faith with an even more fundamental question of faith, and all you wanted out of this meeting is to get a new member for the Bible study group to help defray costs and take a supper turn, then the red flag should go up on their electronic tablet. It should say to them: ‘this is the moment to cut your losses and exit stage left.’ I am sure an i-pad would have had that function. “Well”, I continued, “if you are talking about God as a physical person, a him or her in the sense that you and I are hims and hers and you think that this him and/or her, if that’s where you are leading with your opening gender-specific gambit, created humans and animals and all the stars in the sky and all the things on earth, then no I do not believe that such a gender-specific person exists. So, they switched; God was now a spirit not a him or her. Ok now we are getting somewhere even though it seemed to have drifted away from the ‘female God’ opening gambit, but I let it go, for now. Then he showed me the references to the plural ‘us’ when God talked about creation in Genesis. I am totally with them on all that. Yes, I do acknowledge all the Biblical pluralities in reference to multiple gods and have no argument with that although a little surprised that a Bible study group that normally sticks rigidly to the monotheistic creed would keep pointing it out. But he jumped on to other references. There were lots of highlighted underlined verses bouncing between different books in their Bible to continue references to multiple gods as well as to Genesis 6 which said ‘The sons of god resorted to the daughters of man and bore children by them’. That raised an eyebrow, I cannot recall that verse ever being discussed by the priests or brothers in my catholic upbringing. Genesis 6 intrigued me though and seemed worthy of further discussion.
Then, before we could clarify that, he quickly shifted back to his plan, backing up to the start of the Bible, Genesis. Then with excitement he points out ” Look Adam and Eve have two son, Cain and Abel, but Cain kill Abel then Cain have wife!!! Where come from Cain wife?’ He blurts with frothy excitement. ‘Then Adam is not first man, just first man who know God!’ I see, but what I am really interested in is Genesis 6 and this claim that sons of God mated with human women, can we discuss the implications of that a bit more? But no, he is away again flicking through the tabbed pages to show me other great stories in the Bible and was not willing to be side-tracked by the goings-on between sons of God and daughters of men.
So, I reeled him in with ‘so who do you think wrote all these stories in the Bible? It is, after all, only two or three thousand years old.’ Confucius again reigned briefly in his eyes. Then he replied, “No, no, Moses write of course. Moses write five book of Torah” (‘you annoying man’ said his eyes‘). “Well, there is some dispute with that, with Moses having been dead before some of the incidents in later books of the Torah, but setting that aside, even if it was written by Moses, that was still only 3,400 years ago, and humans have been on earth some 200,000 years, the earth has been around 4.5 billion years; so, if Moses was the author, then he was writing about stuff that happened a long, long time before he was born’. He looked at me, clearly wondering if I was a tile short of a mah-jong set.
“So anyhow let’s get back to Genesis 6” I suggested. The frustrated young man asked “why?” why, when he was explaining things for me, did I keep jumping back to Genesis 6 and making Confucius? For the simple reason my friend, that until you can explain what it means by ‘the sons of Gods resorted to the daughters of men and bore children by them‘, we can go no further. That is a brick wall; you do not pass go, you do not collect two hundred dollars until this is resolved between us.
Again, he tries to switch back to the plan. “Look Genesis say, day 1 God create the light make day so that is sun made, ok?” (yes, my enthusiastic young friend, that would be the sun), “then day 4 God create two light, sun and moon ok?” (if that is what it says). “BUT (he leaped with joy at having sprung his trap) how can be two sun? first sun make day 1 and day 4 make number two sun. How can be?” Ok, he has now completely lost me, and I am weary of this, I step it up a bit. “So, now that we are talking about suns,” I replied, ” there are not just two suns but many hundreds of billions of suns. We are a small planet in a solar system located in the far corner of a Galaxy, the Milky Way which is only one galaxy in the universe, correct? And God created all this?” He seemed a little bit annoyed at this topic shift, but he agreed. “So, Magellan got in a boat early in the 16th century” I continued, “and sailed continuously to the horizon not knowing whether he would fall off the edge of the planet or hit the sky like a brick wall but, in fact, he came back to where he started. So, if you and I, John, (I had extracted his Christian name by now as John, presumably in honour of the Baptist) set off in a spaceship travelling faster than the speed of light and kept going, avoiding collisions, would we eventually hit a cosmic wall, fall off the end of space or come back to where we started?”
In my peripheral vision I see the young woman moving discreetly stage left, this shouldn’t take long now. The young man is slumping, “I don’t know; too many big; too many headache.” Of course, my young friends, the universe is huge and we are but one planet in the solar system of what is known as a dwarf sun, a minute speck in the far flung corner of an unspectacular galaxy containing tens of billions of stars, which itself is just one galaxy among a hundred billion galaxies (give or take) so answer me this: would the God who created all those hundreds of billions of suns and trillions of planets only put life on one planet? Ours? “Yes?” he whimpered. “No, no, no my Good News friend. God would have created more life than us somewhere in the universe, surely? And so, is it not possible that other life has journeyed through the universe before us and that we were visited by a far more intellectual species in the past? And if so do you suppose those alien visitors might have had some connection to Genesis 6?”
At the mention of the ‘alien’ word there was a weird blend of horror, despair and resignation in his eyes. She had already started to move. One final look telling me that I was clearly a lunatic and he followed her. They did not actually run, not in the classic Greco style, but a very quick shuffle probably covers it. Exit Stage left. “Where are you going? We didn’t get past question one. We haven’t even started on the New Testament.”
What I would give to be at next week’s Bible Study meeting in Roslyn.
As we are talking of stars and religion, the star of Bethlehem is the defining cosmic symbol of the birth of Christianity. The star that attracted the three Magi to travel for several months to bear witness to the birth of the Messiah. The one who would be king of the Jews. This, of course, made the three magi themselves also an essential part of the birth of Christianity and yet we never hear of them again in the books of the New Testament. We read in the bible they visited the Court of King Herod on their journey and were instructed to report back to him when they had found this royal baby. We read that after the Magi witnessed the birth they returned to Persia by a different route to avoid Herod; and we read that Herod then issued orders for all Jewish males under the age of two to be slaughtered to ensure the death of this potential threat to his line.
We also read that Mary and Joseph were warned of the threat and departed urgently with their new born for Egypt; and that when Herod died two years later, the family returned to Judea. But after that we read very little about Yeshua (subsequently amended to Ioasus by Greek scholars and later Romanised/Anglicised to Jesus). The only reference during his first thirty years of his life was a time that the family went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. We read from the bible that Yeshua, at age twelve, astounded the Hebrew scholars with his knowledge of scripture; but we have no idea how Yeshua gained the knowledge that he impressed the scholars with, or where and how he spent the subsequent eighteen years before he until he publicly began his ministry with his baptism at age thirty, quite a mature man by the standard of the day.
Yeshua was baptised by John, said to be the son of his mother’s cousin. John was a Nazirite which is a strict sect of Judaism. Nazirites were desert dwellers who believed in purification by immersion in water, who adhered to extremely strict ascetic vows and have special powers to cast out demons. Notably following his baptism Yeshua himself went into the desert where he was tempted by Satan and during this time in the desert made his final resolve to embark on his mission to gather “the lost sheep of Israel” and challenge the religious hierarchy of Judea who had ‘turned God’s house into a den of thieves’.
Minor errors in creating the modern Gregorian calendar have demonstrated that the birth of Jesus would not have been at the beginning of 1ad as we assume. King Herod the great, who is also central to the nativity story, is recorded to have died in 4bc. So what was the wandering star that caused the Magi to set off around 6bc?
Computers today enable us to back-trace the location of planets and even comets two thousand years ago. An obvious first point to check is whether the star of Bethlehem was Halley’s comet on its regular circuit. But that passed through earth’s sky in 12bc, at least 5-6 years before the birth. Apart from which, in ancient times, comets were considered forerunners of catastrophe, not the joyful birth of a saviour.
Of interest, the original Aramaic text of the Magi’s explanation is that they had seen Yeshua’ star “in heliacal rising.” This means a star that appears immediately prior to sunrise. The most significant planetary observation is the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn which make an exceptionally bright light, although two planets rather than one star. This alignment randomly appears in different constellations each time but when it occurs in the constellation of Pisces it is recognised as the Star of David, symbol of Judaism.
It was Johannes Kepler, the father of modern astronomy, who had studied the writings of a medieval Jewish scholar, Rabbi Abarbonel, and discovered the significance to the Jewish people of the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, which together shine like a superstar, in the constellation of Pisces. This alignment was regarded as the ‘star of David’. Kepler also calculated that during 6-7 bc this alignment of Jupiter and Saturn made the rare appearance in Pisces and was in fact a triple conjunction, occurring three times in the period. This has been confirmed by modern computer-generated calculations as occurring in 6bc on May 22, October 8 and December 2 with the heliacal rising in the dawn sky. This is a very plausible source of the legend that a king who would restore the line of David would be signaled by this ‘star of David’ appearing. In Greek lore Saturn (Cronus) is the heavenly father of Jupiter (Zeus).
So the Magi were literally looking for the Jewish baby boy born under the star of David who was born to be king. This would certainly spark the interest of Magi given such a rare conjunction and even more so spark the alarm of the current King of Judea, Herod. Triple conjunctions are rare, the next after 6bc was 786ad, and the next after that in 1583. A triple conjunction in Pisces, the Star of David, is even more rare. It should also be noted that this time was also when the vernal equinox was moving from the age of Aries into the age of Pisces, the fish. This is notable with the significance of the symbol of the fish in Christianity. The last 2,000 years which began with the Magi observing a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces has certainly been the age of Christianity.
So what then became of the three Magi? The Magi were the astronomer-priests from Persia, adherents of the religion founded by a Persian astrologer/ philosopher named Zarathustra. It seems peculiar that three foreigners who followed the religion of Zarathustra, an opposing religion to Judaism, would be summoned by the Jewish God, Yahweh to witness the birth of Yeshua for no other reason than to bring gifts and then depart. Yet the authorised New Testament of the Bible speaks no more of them. There is a reference in an extract from a medieval saints calendar printed in Cologne which read, “Having undergone many trials and fatigues for the Gospel, the three wise men met at Sewa (Sebaste in Armenia) in A.D. 54 to celebrate the feast of Christmas. Thereupon, after the celebration of Mass, they died: St. Melchior on Jan. 1, aged 116; St. Balthasar on Jan. 6, aged 112; and St. Caspar on Jan. 11, aged 109.” The Roman Martyrology also lists these dates as the Magi’s respective feast days.
So, did the Magi play a real part in the mission of Yeshua throughout his life? Did they continue a role in his education after his birth and the family’s return from Egypt? Did Yeshua live with them in Persia to prepare for his mission? And did they see his mission as purely spiritual to bring Zoroastrianism to Israel or as the cosmically anointed inheritor of the kingship of David to restore the sovereignty of Israel as a defence against Rome?
Rome was a serious enemy to Persian Empire and Judea was right on their western border; it was earlier ruled by Persia before Alexander the Great conquered them. So it was certainly in the Persians’ political and military interest to have an allied, independent Judea between them and Rome. Whatever you think of this theory, clearly the Roman governor of the time, and his Jewish puppet priests, took the possibility seriously.
It raises the question about just how much influence the Persian magi had on the politics of Judea and whether they were continually working towards the eventual 66AD great uprising of religious zealots in Galilee and Judea when the Romans were finally driven out of the region. If so, it was a short-lived victory as Rome returned with a vengeance in 70AD and the Jews were driven from the land which was given to the Philistines (Palestinians).
Incidentally the next great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be in November/ December 2020 this will appear just as the vernal equinox is moving out of the Capricorn constellation into the first degree of Aquarius. Jupiter, aka Zeus, has always held a special place in the imaginative minds of humans and considered by ancient civilisations as the supreme God and protector of earth. Our fascination with Jupiter has never waned and since the 1970’s NASA has sent nine space missions up that way; it is the best part of 600 million kilometres away. In 1995 Galileo entered Jupiter’s orbit and stayed there until 2003 and observed Jupiter. Juno’s mission is to get to the very core of Jupiter and get answers to some fundamental questions about the creation of our solar system, and of us. Juno will orbit in a path that passes over Jupiter’s poles and will measure microwave emissions, the gravity field and the magnetic field, which apparently is how the scientists will gain the vital clues into the formation of our solar system.
Don’t ask me to explain how all that works, I was bewildered just watching a real estate agent hovering a camera drone over the house next door. In Greek mythology, Zeus, the presiding deity of the universe, ruler of the skies and the earth, was the god-master of all natural phenomena in the heavens. The personification of the laws of nature; the ruler of the state; and finally, the father of gods and men. At his command, mighty thunders would flash and lightnings would roll; he represented the grand laws of unchanging and harmonious order, by which both the natural and the spiritual world were governed. In Norse Mythology, Thor (Jupiter) rode through the skies during a thunderstorm to kill the giants, the enemies of the gods (planets), and to kill the mighty serpent that flies through the skies with the lightning from his hammer and his magical ‘belt’ that doubles his strength.
But if you ever wondered why Zeus (Greek)/ Thor (Norse) / Taranis (Celtic)/ Jupiter (Roman) was associated with the lightning, a hammer and shield wielding warrior deity, considered the chief of the planet-gods in their mythologies, you might be interested to know that Jupiter is in reality still a protector of earth. The massive energy of magnetic field and gravity of the gaseous giant has either deflected comets back out of our solar system or taken one for the team when its gravitational pull has dragged asteroids and comets to their death and preventing them turning their attention to earth. Such impacts are noted regularly and there is calculation that Jupiter’s size and gravitational pull drag in up to six asteroids/ comets per year. But some of the comets and asteroid strikes that our astronomers have actually observed have been real monsters.
Back in the eighteenth century there was a comet that appeared in our skies known as Lexell’s Comet, named after the astronomer Anders Johan Lexell who first calculated its orbit. He showed that the comet had made a close approach to earth of just 2.2 million kilometres. That was the closest a comet has ever been witnessed to approach the Earth and, in astronomical terms, it was a very near miss. Lexell worked out that with the speed the comet orbited around the Sun, we would see it again in 12 years, possibly a lot closer to earth and, if in an attack formation, would actually smash earth. In 1782, however, the comet was nowhere in sight.
The French mathematician Pierre Simon-Laplace then calculated that the comet had experienced a set of encounters with the giant planet Jupiter. After the 1770 sighting from earth, the second encounter with Jupiter modified the comet’s orbit, ejecting it from the Solar System altogether and removing it as a potential hazard.
A very serious comet in more recent times was named Shoemaker-Levy 9. The comet had orbited the Sun for billions of years but, in the 1960s or 1970s, it changed orbit and made a close pass at Jupiter and the giant planet captured it and it orbited Jupiter on a highly elongated path. On July 7, 1992, it passed so close to Jupiter that the planet’s mighty tides (hammer/ magic belt?) tore the comet apart. When it was re-discovered a year or so the comet had a squashed look due to having been smashed into fragments.
By observing the orbit of the comet, the astronomers calculated that it would collide with Jupiter in July of 1994. Having broken up the comet into bite-size chunks, the first piece of the comet that was pulled onto the planet’s surface was about 2 kilometres in diameter and hit with the equivalent of over a million one-megaton nuclear bombs exploding at the same time. It was probably Zeus’ version of having a really good curry, I imagine. That, however, was not the largest chunk which was fragment G. As illustrated, it made quite a bang.
More recently again in 2009 an asteroid impact on Jupiter, from a rock some 500 metres long, created a created a surface dent the size of our Pacific Ocean. Jupiter is just like our great big personal bodyguard. So if Jupiter is the mighty protector deity of earth then that explains why, as a planet, it was so respected and revered by ancient cultures as the warrior hero-god. Just how the ancients had any knowledge from which to create such myths about Jupiter performing such god-like protection roles is a matter of speculation, but the reality is, they did. But whatever the ancients thought, this is the moment when we finally have the technology to approach this chief planet deity that can unlock the secrets of the solar system.
But are we just starting to relearn what we have already known in the past?
The Pacific Ocean was first recorded by Europeans in 1513 and the first recorded European contact with a Pacific Island people, on the Marquesas Islands, was not until 1595 when a Spanish explorer randomly encountered the island during a voyage. A Dutch explorer, Willem Janszoon, landed at Western Australia in 1606 and James Cook arrived on the East Coast of Australia in 1770. The Aborigines had occupied Australia for an estimated 60,000 years prior to that and yet one thing undeniably links the ancient aboriginal cultures with those of Europe, America and Asia. This is a group of remote stars in the cosmos. Looking up into a clear night sky with no street light pollution we are presented with a seemingly infinite choice of stars. Apart from our own solar system’s planets, which are much brighter by their proximity, there is little to distinguish the billions of stars we can see for the amateur sky gazer. Certainly, some are brighter than others and some may cluster more than others. Some may form a shape that localised navigators create in their minds as a navigational tool but still there is nothing so remarkable as to be obvious to anyone who looks up into the night sky from any point on the planet.
The ancient Babylonian star catalogues however name one, quite unremarkable group MUL.MUL or “star of stars”, and they head the list of stars along the ecliptic, reflecting the fact that they were close to the point of vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC. Several Sumerian clay tablets have depicted these seven stars that reference the harvest period.
The modern common name for this cluster of stars as recorded in Greek mythology is ‘Pleiades’. Pleiades is mentioned in the poems of Homer and Hesiod around 1,000 BC, in which the Pleiades were seven sisters: Maia, Electra, Alcyone, Taygete, Asterope, Celaeno and Merope. According to Greek mythology, after a chance meeting with the hunter Orion, the seven sisters became the object of his pursuit. Enamoured with the young women he pursued them over the face of the Earth. In pity for their plight, Zeus changed them into a flock of doves, which he set in the heavens.
Even though the Greeks actually name nine stars of the Pleiades, they acknowledge that only six stars are distinctly visible to the naked eye. Apart from the seven daughters they also name Atlas and Pleione as the parents. These two stars do exist although they would have been invisible to the searching eyes of ancient Greeks, Chinese or Persian astronomers. But of the seven sisters, they write that the star Merope is often called the “lost Pleiade” because she was not seen by astronomers nor charted like her sisters. The ancient Greeks explained that Merope was most faintly visible because she took a mortal husband, Sisyphus, the King of Corinth. It is a mystery how they knew of more than the six visible stars.
In Norse folklore the same cluster was known as Freyja’s hens, identified as a hen with six chicks. In Celtic tradition the rising of this cluster between the Autumn equinox and Winter solstice was a period to mourn the dead which led to festivals of “all souls day” and Halloween. The stars also appear in Hindu writings as early as the Indus Valley civilisation (3300–1700 BCE) known as the Matrikas, a group of seven divine mothers. This same cluster of stars appears in the folklore throughout the Americas, from the Cherokee to the Aztecs (Tianquiztli , the marketplace).
The cluster is also recognised in Japan under the name Mutsuraboshi (“six stars”) in the 8th century Kojiki and Manyosyu documents. The constellation is also known in Japan as Subaru (“unite”) and you may note that the Subaru car logo contains six stars. Interestingly Japanese often refer to seven stars instead of six. Travellers to Japan may be familiar with Shichifukujin (literally “seven happy gods”) which are often seen at temples and in miniature at souvenir shops throughout Japan. Locals in some prefectures of Japan still call the cluster “Shichifukujin”. As with many things Japanese, the recognition of this cluster of stars was imported from Chinese astronomy observations. This cluster of stars seem to be among the first stars mentioned in astronomical literature, appearing in Chinese annals of 2357 B.C. The Chinese were a very advanced civilisation in the study of astronomy.
The Pleiades cluster is within 4° of the ecliptic and is in the constellation of Taurus. In the Northern Hemisphere the cluster can be seen in November from dusk to dawn. The heliacal (pre-dawn) rising of the Pleiades marks late May/ June mid-winter season in the Southern Hemisphere. In Hawaii this cluster is named Makaliʻi hiki (also translates as ‘little eyes’). The Makaliʻi hiki in Hawaii rises shortly after sunset and is visible for four months from October/November to February/March. In Hawaiian tradition, this was a four-month period of celebration of the harvest called Makahiki. Warfare was forbidden and it was a period of feasting, sports, dancing and celebration. The Makaliʻi hiki were also a navigational guide for the Hawaiians.
In Aotearoa the cluster is called Matariki (also translated as ‘ little eyes’) and it appears in the South-East horizon of the night sky in May/ June and is referred to as the mother, surrounded by her six daughters whose role is to assist the weakened sun to return to strength.
The Australian Aborigines also include this same Pleiades star cluster, which they call the Meamei, in their dreamtime folklore. According to their mythology, the cluster represents seven girls chased by the hunter, Djulpan. This is an identical myth to the Greek myth of Orion, the hunter chasing Pleione and her six daughters. Again they speak of seven stars although only six are possibly visible to their naked eyes.
So when science tells us that man only emerged from a primitive hunter gatherer existence to becoming a civilised farmer just 12,000 years ago, we must ask then how an unspectacular star cluster exists in the dreamtime mythology of a race that had migrated to this southern continent 60,000 years before Europeans records show first contact with the Aborigines of Australia.
Modern discovery of the last of the planets of our solar system was claimed by Clyde Tombaugh when he sighted the planet Pluto in 1930. We then had reached what was considered the ‘correct’ number of planets that should have been orbiting our sun in accordance with the mathematical intrigue of the number nine. There is something cosmic about nine. It is the last number in the decimal system of 0-9. Ten is a combination of 1+0. It is the last and the limit of all that is. The ancients believe number 9 contains a hidden code that affects everyone on earth and reveals the great truth. Ok aside from the occultists, we can look at the interesting mathematical facts about number 9. Did you know that the sum of any multiplication equals nine? 2×9 = 18, 1+8 = 9; 6×9 = 54, 5+4 = 9,638 x 9 = 5742 —> 5 + 7 + 4 + 2 = 18 —> 1 + 8 = 9, And on and on it goes. Another little trick of #9 is that any number divided by 9 simply has no end. The final digit repeats ad infinitum. For example, 8/9 = 0.8888…….; 50/9 = 5.55555555……; let’s try another one: If 12345679 (excludes number 8) multiplied by multiples of 9 then the result will contain the numbers over and over. So:
12345679 x 9 = 111111111
12345679 x 18 = 222222222 —> 12345679 x 9 x 2
12345679 x 27 = 333333333 —> 12345679 x 9 x 3
12345679 x 36 = 444444444 —> 12345679 x 9 x 4
The weird flip side to this pattern is that if you add #9 to any other number, the sum of the answer is always the other number, not the nine. So
6+9 = 15; 1+5 = 6
2+9 = 11. 1+1 = 2
17+9 = 26; 1+7=8, 2+6 = and on ad infinitum.
So it was something of a shock when Pluto was downgraded in 2006 from its status as a planet. The symmetry of the solar system seemed disrupted. But then there was a breakthrough, the real planet nine has been rediscovered; not seen, but scientifically deduced. We cannot see it because it is about 56 billion miles from the sun, where we are a very neighbourly 150 million miles away from the sun. Where we take one year to orbit the sun, Planet 9 takes a leisurely 10-20,000 years. It’s a long time then since it got anywhere near the sun to possibly be observed by even the most powerful telescope. But two researchers, Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin, observed the movements of bodies within the Kuiper belt, where Pluto lives, and computer-modelling of the orbits of space bodies convinced them that there is a body about 10 times earth’s mass and 2-4 times our diameter out there inflicting its gravitational pull on these other bodies’ orbits. So there it is, come in number nine, your time is up, you have been deduced.
Ok so we now have a mysterious planet number nine in our solar system. The last planet in our decimal solar system if the Sun = 0. That is probably why ancient knowledge decided the decimal system was more cosmic than the ‘base 12’ or duodecimal system which was based on the number of Titans and Gods of Olympus. The duodecimal system has four non-trivial factors whereas the decimal system only has two non-trivial factors if that helps you differentiate them.
But why do we care? If Planet 9 is so far away, we will never see it, so what does it matter? Why do we want to continually study further and further into the universe? Perhaps it matters because we have a quest. We have a curiosity born of intelligence. We want to know what is out there. In 1989 NASA sent Voyager 2 out to have a look at Neptune, and Planet nine is the next step after Neptune. We want to keep going further in search of our creator is in the same way that families want to keep searching further and further back into their roots. As a species we want to find God and ask: ‘having created us, where are you and why did you go away? Fair enough.
But we live on a tiny dot of a planet that floats in a relatively small solar system (our sun is a dwarf sun) which is located in a remote corner of the Milky Way which itself is a remote little galaxy within the incomprehensible universe.
The concept of applying the subjunctive mood with the vastness of the universe reminds me of an interesting part of a David Attenborough documentary about the Kalahari Desert in Namibia. They filmed down a cave, named Aigamas cave, 60 metres below the desert, in which there is the earth’s largest known underground lake. Down in this lake lives a little fish named the golden catfish.
It grows up to 16 centimetres long. It is an air-breathing fish and as such could move a short distance on land, like an eel. To the golden catfish, this lake of almost 2 hectares is the entire universe. They have no conception of the narrow portal that leads to a completely alien world of the Kalahari Desert with its huge night sky above it and the rest of Africa surrounding it.
But imagine if that fish had a genetic desire to search for its DNA relatives beyond its own universe. ‘Why have you forsaken us, oh great Golden Catfish?’ It is, after all, what drives other fish species to travel huge distances back to their birthplace. And, with that drive, the golden catfish explores the edges of its known universe and finds a small underground stream that eventually finds its way to another river or swamp down in the southern rainforests. What a discovery. What a new world with sunlight above it instead of the darkness of its cave. Imagine the change in organisms to feed on, the change in temperature and the new creatures it would meet along the way. But it would not find any other cave golden catfish; their cave environment has resulted in them evolving as unique to that little universe; and I am not sure they would survive meeting their closest dna relative in African rivers and swamps, the sharp-tooth catfish, which gets to an average length about a metre. But, if they made it to shore and crawled briefly onto land, they would then be confronted with all manner of terrifying flying insects and birds, crawling ants and scorpions; they would hardly comprehend larger animals of hippos or elephants; hyenas or lions; it’s life Jim, but not as we know it. At what point does the catfish wonder why he left the cave.
So why do we get so excited about Planet #9 and beyond? About black holes and space portals. We are far more intelligent and imaginative than a catfish. We have watched the entire Star Wars series as well as Star Trek. We would not just stumble unknowingly into terrifying alien worlds to become nothing but a rather unmemorable snack before lunch. We may believe we are the divinely anointed masters of all beasts of the land and birds of the air, but that franchise is only for this planet. We have no rights beyond our atmosphere.
Similarly, in the Aegamas cave the Golden catfish rules all the organisms in its own little universe. But that doesn’t mean much if they come up against a metre long saw-toothed relative who doesn’t feel the same family connection or a scorpion looking for lunch. As a life-form they were created from base organisms just like us. Then they evolved over millions of years to the creature they are now.
If we keep venturing out further and further into the universe, perhaps we will find that there is an alien life-form that re-wired our brains and dna to fast-track our evolution. If we find them, we should be prepared in case they may not welcome us as children, rather they may say ‘Hey look at our little monkeys, how did they get here?’ We have have an arrogance believing in our special relationship in the universe with the God-given right to rule over the beasts and the birds on our planet which in practical terms means having them lightly sautéed in a brandy sauce, served with a pear and blue cheese salad and washed down with lightly chilled Chablis. The thought of being, in turn, a mid-morning snack for an extra-terrestrial is simply incomprehensible.
I was outside in the garden when I became aware of a presence. They had just appeared almost from nowhere, an angelic, golden haired, family of father, mother and child. Armed only with their Bible they just wanted to know if there was anything they can do to help me share in their joy of life gained through their understanding the good news in the Bible. Actually, I warm to this young family. “Bible bashers” get a bad rap as a general observation, but this little family is so innocent and quite endearing and I am, despite first impressions, also very open to understanding the Bible which, at the very least, is a very important set of texts on the history of the Hebrew nation that has played a significant role in the civilisation that has emerged some 4,000 years after the birth of Abraham.
Like most, I have been exposed to the Bible during the younger schooling years of my life and I found parts to be a balance between scarcely believable and quite intellectually challenging. Intellectual challenge is of course the consequence of the original transgression against divine law when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge. So, when this pleasant young man offered his services in interpreting the Bible, I agreed he could starting with explaining Genesis 6 to me?
His eyes noticeably brightened with both surprise and joy at the challenge and, being unable to recall Genesis 6 off the top of his head, he thumbed vigorously through his Bible to the appropriate page and began speed reading to refresh his memory. To help I said, “it refers to the sons of God taking as many of the daughters of man as they wished for their wives and having children by them; and these children being the heroes of ancient times.” His now frozen smile agreed that this was what it said, and he paused quite a while to compose his thoughts.
To fill the awkward silence and bring some focus on exactly what my question was, I asked; “so exactly who were these sons of God”? As he scanned the chapter he quickly, albeit a little hesitantly referred me to the line regarding “Nephilim who were on the earth at that time” and he also hesitantly suggested that angels might be involved. I said that I understood the Hebrew translation of Nephilim to mean ‘the cast-down ones. There is also an interpretation that the term was associated with giants. And the cast down ones possibly referred to the angels defeated by Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and the other archangels who fought on the side of Yahweh.
So, is identifying the Nephilim, the cast down ones and/ or the giants and/ or angels, the key to understanding Genesis 6? At this point the young chap decided he needed to go back to his Church elder and seek advice so that he did not mislead me. I said I would look forward to seeing him again soon. I do not even know which Church he represented. I can understand his dilemma; if they were angels, immortal servants of God, either fallen or not, then their interbreeding with human women and creating a hybrid species was something of a challenge to the accepted religious narrative.
The missionary has not yet returned. I now don’t think he intends to. So I still did not quite know what Genesis 6 means but being fairly early on in the first book of the Bible, I cannot have been the first person to have sought clarification on these sons of God, the Nephilim and what role they and their heroic offspring played in the creation of modern man. It was not as if it was an obscure notation in the depths of the Bible. This is Genesis; this is the beginning. I have plenty of time on my hands so I thought I would search available texts to see what I could find out.
Starting with the Bible itself, Genesis makes first mention of Satan, the devil, responsible for giving the fruit of intelligence to Adam and Eve, which meant, as Yahweh, God stated, “the man has become like one of us with his knowledge of good and evil” Gen. 3:22. Yahweh then interceded to prevent further development of man before he also gained immortality. Gen 4: 22: he must not be allowed to eat from the tree of life and live forever.
The term ‘Sons of God’ is clarified in the Bible’s Book of Job. In fact, Satan was specifically referred to as a ‘Son of God’. Job: 1: 6-12. “One the sons of God (explained in a footnote as the angels who make up God’s Council) came to attend on Yahweh and among them was Satan. So, Yahweh said to Satan, ‘where have you been?’ ‘Round the world’ he answered, ‘roaming about’. So Yahweh asked him ‘Did you notice my servant Job?‘ It is clear from this that Satan interacted with humans and was on speaking terms with Yahweh as one of his Council advisors, and this was after the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The book of Revelation, written by John the beloved, a very close disciple of Jesus, wrote of a conflict within the population of angels and that Satan and his angels rebelled against God and the seven archangels, named in the Book of Enoch as: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Remiel, Reguel and Zadkiel. Rev. 12: 7-10 “And now war broke out in heaven when Michael and his angels attacked the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and driven out of heaven. The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who had deceived the world, was hurled down to the earth and his angels were hurled down with him.”
If the Nephilim were indeed the cast down ones, and Satan was once an angel within Yahweh’s council, then we may very well interpret from the Hebrews’ texts that it was Satan and his angels who married human women and sired heroic children by them.
But the Bible is in its essence the Hebrews’ text of their ancient history and passed-down knowledge of creation. There were other nations in these times, and even earlier, who have their own historical texts and creation legends so perhaps I should seek other ancient historical texts for further clarification. I do not have to look far to start getting other accounts of the battle between the Gods.
The accepted authoritative texts upon which modern Bible is based date back to the reigns of King David and his son Solomon, the ninth century BC, (although some Biblical scholars believe parts were not written until several centuries later during the period of Babylonian exile for the Israelites, 600-400 BC.) and Revelation was written by John after the death of Jesus. The lessons in first five books of the Bible, the Torah, may well have been given to Moses by Yahweh around 1400 BC during the 40 years in the desert, however the recorded texts themselves can only be traced back to the 9th century BC,
At this same time, around 900 BC , the Iliad and the Odyssey were being written in Greece, similar to the Hebrew texts they recounted tales of ancient Greece, the creation of man and the war of the gods. The Greeks are an old and respected civilisation particularly from an intellectual, political, and philosophical viewpoint and these books of the Iliad and the Odyssey therefore deserve a level of respect.
The Greek epic told of three groups of gods: the primordial gods were Gaia (earth) and Uranus (heaven). The second group of gods were called the Titans, referred to as giants, and the first generation of Titans consisted of the twelve children of the primordial gods. The third group of gods, the younger gods who included many of the children of the Titans were called the Olympians. Among the Olympians there was a hierarchy of twelve senior Olympians and several minor deities. The leader of the Olympians, Zeus, was a son of the Titan ruler, Cronus.
There was, according to the Greek texts, a war between the Titans and Olympians; the Biblical battle between Satan and Yahweh is paralleled in Greek mythology as the battle between Zeus and Cronus. In the Greek epic, the battle was won by the Olympians who then ruled the earth and created men. It was the Titans (the giants) who lost this battle and remained in the heavens.
As for the creation of men, the Greek account is that Prometheus and Epimetheus, even though they were members of the defeated Titans, were given the task of creating man. Prometheus shaped man out of clay, and Athena breathed life into his clay figure. This account resonates with the first book of the Bible, Genesis 2:7,” Yahweh God fashioned man of dust from the soil. Then he breathed into his nostrils a breath of life “.
Prometheus is associated with ‘intelligence’ and was a protector and benefactor of humans he created. Prometheus decided to make man stand upright just like the gods did and to give them fire. As in Genesis, God created man in his own image. He may be paralleled with Satan who enabled Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge and become like Gods. Prometheus fell out of favour with Zeus while Satan fell out of favour with God because he gave the fruit of knowledge.
As for sons of Gods breeding with daughters of men, Greek history does not treat this as unusual, but rather as a very normal practice; demigods were quite common throughout the population and long lists were handed down in history. Achilles certainly fits the description of a demigod, his mother a nymph goddess and father a mortal king, and he most certainly was one of Greece’s great heroes of in the Trojan war.
But there has been an even earlier accounts of the battle of the gods and creation of man in ancient Babylonian texts. A large number of clay tablets have been discovered in what was ancient Mesopotamia and were subsequently translated. Mesopotamia is the land where Abraham was born and lived most of his life before migrating to Canaan. Atra-Hasis (exceptionally wise) is a character of an Akkadian epic that is recorded in various versions on clay tablets. The Atra-Hasis tablets include both an account of the creation of mankind and of the great deluge. This is one of three known Babylonian stories of the great deluge. Atra-Hasis also appears on one of the Sumerian kings lists as king of Shurrupak in the times before a flood. The oldest known copy of the epic tradition concerning Atra-Hasis can be dated to the reign of Ammi Saduka (1646–1626 BCE), 200 years before Moses, during the time that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt.
These texts greatly increased knowledge of the epic and were the basis for Lambert and Millard’s first English translation of the Atra Hasis epic in something approaching entirety. A further fragment has been recovered in Ugarit. In its most complete surviving version, the Atra Hasis epic is written on three tablets in Akkadian, the language of ancient Babylon.
Tablet I contains a creation myth about the Sumerian gods Anu, Enlil, and Enki, gods of sky, wind, and water, when gods were in the ways of men. Following a casting of lots, sky is ruled by Anu, earth by Enlil, and the freshwater sea by Enki. (This account from Atra-Hasis has a corresponding passage in the Greek poem the Iliad, i.e. the division by lots of the air, underworld and sea among the Gods Zeus, Hades and Poseidon.) Enlil then assigned junior divinities to do farm labour and maintain the rivers and canals,
In this ancient set of tablets, the authors also write of a war between two groups of the gods, the lesser gods against the seven senior gods. But they give the reason for the war; it was that the lesser gods were required to do all the manual labour on earth and they simply rebelled after forty years.
When the gods were man
they did forced labor, they bore drudgery.
Great indeed was the drudgery of the gods,
the forced labor was heavy, the misery too much:
The seven great Anunna-gods were burdening
the Igigi-gods with forced labor.
The Igigi-gods were digging watercourses
canals they opened, the life of the land.
The Igigi-gods dug the Tigris river
and the Euphrates thereafter.
Springs they opened from the depths,
wells … they established.”
The seven greater Gods aligns in number with the Bibles reference to seven Archangels. But after 40 years of hard labour, these lesser gods simply rebelled as described in this tablet:
“Everyone of us gods has declared war;…We have set … the excavation,
Excessive drudgery has killed us, our forced labor was heavy, the misery too much!
Now, every one of us gods has resolved on a reckoning with Enlil.”
The outcome of the rebellion in the Akkadian texts was that the tablets describe how the seven senior gods agreed to create an intelligent species of humans to take over the manual farm labour (in the Garden of Eden?) from the lesser gods.
Were the angels simply the winners of the war between the Gods and the devils the losers? Is it good and evil that really divides them or just winners and losers of some internal disagreement? In the human conflicts we tend to say one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist; the victor writes the history.
While it appears that there has evolved a nice orderly universe where planets roll around stars like a clockwork mechanism, there is also a lot of random matter hurtling through the universe at warp speed. We are aware that some of that matter has collided with earth and one particularly big chunk wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. But has any collision caused humans any catastrophic losses on our watch as masters of the planet?
Noah built an ark, 300 cubits in length, while the people mocked him…
I had not given the subject of the Biblical flood much philosophical thought since my bible class school years, but I stumbled on a slightly new take on the subject with one of the books I bought for my summer reading that resurrected my interest. It was a book called ‘Magicians of the Gods; by Graham Hancock, who is a long-established researcher and writer of ancient geology, archaeology and astronomy. Hancock attracted my interest not with studying the flood evidence in the lands of the Bible but rather to a place referred to as the Scablands of North America.
Throughout the 20th century there had been much debate around the formation of these monumental channels. To put them into perspective, what is referred now to as “The Dry Falls” would have, at the time they were formed, been almost three times higher than Niagara Falls and 50% higher than the Victoria Falls in southern Africa. They would also have been six times wider than Niagara. So, the great debate in the 20th century community of geologists was regarding the cause of these massive washed-out channels. The geological establishment always favoured the gradual erosion theory following the end of the ice age around 12,000 years ago when Canada and this northern part of North America was under three kilometres of ice. A few geologists did not buy this gradual erosion, arguing that the impact on the landscape was just too dramatic for erosion and therefore had to be the result of a catastrophic event. The two camps argued for a few decades and the community eventually ‘met in the middle’ with the theory of the collapse of a glacial lake causing the dramatic creation of the channels. But neither side really believed in this middle ground. The gradual erosion side were just of that geological religion and the catastrophic geologists just thought that the lake in question, Missoula, would never have contained anywhere near enough water volume to result in the massive scouring today visible. But they simply had no alternative theory to seize.
But enter the 21st century and geologists were now studying an apparently unrelated geological feature, nano diamonds. A team of 25 Geophysicists, with Richard Firestone, a nuclear physicist as its team leader and including Jim Kennett, an oceanographer at the University of California, presented a paper in 2007 claiming that evidence found in a number of 12,000+ year old carbon-rich sites (in the form of nano-diamonds) across North America and one site in Belgium, convinced them that an asteroid had entered earth’s atmosphere at the end of the last ice age, with North America taking the biggest hit. Such an impact would have also been responsible for the extinction of many of the megafauna of the northern climes that also occurred at this time. The absence of a crater on North America was explained by the fact that it would have impacted on the 3 km deep ice sheet over Canada and Northern USA. However, in 2018 a crater was discovered beneath the Hiawatha glacier in Greenland that is 31 km wide and created by the impact of a 1.5km wide iron asteroid which did impact within the timeframe of the last ice age and may have been related to this event. The nano-diamond evidence was created by thermal heat up to, or greater than, 2,200 degrees centigrade. The evidence of glass-like carbon is the smoking gun, or at least the residue from a smoking gun. The evidence began to mount over the next few years. The ongoing search has now found further evidence of these nano-diamond deposits over North America and Northern Europe.
‘Aha’, say the ‘catastrophic cause’ geologists of the Scablands study, ‘we have our event’. ‘Aha’ say the Biblical scholars, we have a date for our great flood. A massive comet impact landing on the 3 km ice sheet of North America and fragmenting across northern Europe would account for the creation of the nano diamond deposits and would also account for an instant melting of 10% of the northern icecap which would be a sufficient volume of water to create the scablands in North America and the great flood through the lands of the Bible, below the Northern Europe ice cap.
The scoured height of the Scablands in North America would indicate the wave of water going through was 150 metres high; that would be three times higher than Niagara Falls. For a modern-day comparison, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami measured between 15 and 30 metres at the earthquake’s epicentre near Sumatra and between 6 and 12 metres on the Banda Aceh coast. That tsunami impacted 18 countries in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa, killing nearly 250,000 people in a single day, and leaving more than 1.7 million homeless.
Further Geophysical evidence from Greenland ice core studies of the earth’s temperature movements over the millennia shows that the last glacial maximum period of the ice age ended 20,000 years ago when natural global warming caused the gradual retreat of the expanding glaciers. This global warming progressed over 7,000 years until suddenly, 12,800 years ago, a global event plunged the whole earth back into the depths of the previous ice age. This mini ice-age continued for a thousand years before natural global warming resumed and this period is scientifically referred to as the Younger Dryas.
It’s not rocket science, the idea of a comet hitting earth is not outrageous sci-fi. A little one did land in Siberia in 1908; a meteor landed in Russia back in 2013. These things happen. But if this big comet, estimated at 4 kms wide, hit Canada 12,800 years ago melting 10% of the Canadian ice cap in minutes, then that impact created a wave of water five times larger than that 2004 Sumatran tsunami.
Once mainstream science started accepting this comet theory as both plausible and probable, the astronomers began trying to trace where this comet might have come from. They have modelled it as having been one massive, long cloud of comet fragments through which earth passed on its natural orbit of the sun 12,800 years ago. And on examining the plutonium levels of Greenland ice core samples in that period they concluded that this was not just a single hit but continued for just over twenty years. Evidence of plutonium layers deep in the ice core indicate that twice a year the earth’s solar circuit passed through this comet cloud causing continuous comet strikes. The unrelenting strikes on land would have set the planet alight with massive wildfires; a living hell beyond anything we could imagine today. The smoke and dust from this 20+ year bombardment blocked the sun for a thousand years causing the Younger Dryas climatic event and hell quite literally froze over.
Whatever level of civilisation humans may have developed by that stage would have completely been burned and /or submerged and would have left little or no evidence behind for archaeologists to discover today. It could be reasonably speculated that most of the survivors from this hell on earth would be likely to be living south of the equator, below the primary impact region: South America, central and southern Africa, Southern India, Indonesia, Australia and lands of Oceania which rising seas would have carved into islands.
A common narrative handed down to us through our western religious indoctrination is the concept of heaven, limbo and hell as the three outcomes of the judgement day. We are told that at the end of days the ‘righteous’ will be taken directly into the heavens, those who are in God’s grace and friendship but still imperfectly purified are placed in a state of limbo to become righteous and the rest are damned to an existence amongst fire and brimstone. We have no date for this scenario but what if that day of reckoning has already happened? Was this comet strike event humanity’s ‘Judgement Day’.
While this was a global cataclysmic event that could have almost caused extinction of our species, the fact is that humanity did survive. These are the humans who lived far enough away from the impact zone and adapted to survive through the thousand-year winter that followed. Those native humans who had endured 1,000 years of hell on earth would have passed nature’s ‘survival of the fittest, smartest and most heroic’ tests in the most extreme conditions. We learn from the Bible that this flood event with the decimation of the human race was foretold to Noah who was directed to build an ark to survive the impending flood with his immediate family of wife, three sons and their wives, with plants and animals to sustain them. The Hebrew Bible talks about Noah taking plants and seeds in his ark to Canaan, near Lebanon to repopulate the world. The legend that these were the sole survivors of the great flood probably had a factual basis but would almost certainly be a tribal rather than a global account of surviving the great flood. Rather than all the animals of the planet they would have taken on board the normal animals on which they relied for food and milk. The Bible also recounts that thousands of years later Moses’ Israelite army, under the instructions of Yahweh, slaughtered the Canaanites, who included the ‘giants’ who were descendants of Ham son of Noah, to claim Canaan for themselves as their promised land.
Graham Hancock went down this same path of study linking the Comet strike of 12,800 years ago with the great flood legends. One part of his research led him to the writings of the prophet Zarathustra who is reported by Plato to have lived 5,000 years before the Trojan War. Most of the original Zend-Avesta, the Sacred book of Zoroastrianism, was apparently lost when Alexander the Great burned Persepolis, the capital of ancient Persia, in 331 bc. The Gathas, forming the oldest part, originated with Zoroaster. The original writings on papyrus date back to between 1500-1000 BCE but it is known that Zarathustra borrowed from more ancient writings. His texts tell of the ancient warning that a great serpent that would sweep through the sky and bring forth a great winter. That sort of aligns with the comet and subsequent plunge back to the ice age. But then the Zoroastrian texts, as they are known, talk of the building of an underground shelter to survive this impending great winter. Into this underground shelter, called a Vara, the seeds of men and women of the greatest best and finest kinds…. the seeds of every kind of cattle…tree….fruit, until the dire winter passed and spring returned. The texts specified that no lepers, lunatics, impotent or deformed humans would be bred in this Vara; and only the seeds of the fruits and vegetables that are ‘fullest of food and sweetest of odour’.
The Vara that Zarathustra refers to was to be constructed on three subterranean levels, each smaller than the one above, the largest with nine streets, the middle with six streets and the smallest three streets. It also described the use of “uncreated lights that shine from below’ since the sun and moon would not be visible. Someone called Yima was given responsibility by the Gods for the construction. He was to bring the seeds of men and women, the seeds of every kind of fruit and of tree. Finally, we learn from these texts that ‘every fortieth year, to every couple two are born, a male and a female. And thus, it is for every sort of cattle.’ There is also a note that the humans live in Vara for 150 years. Moreover, intriguingly, the births of offspring to every couple do not result from sexual union but from the seeds deposited in the Vara. Actually, as sci-fi as this Zoroastrian text sounds, it resonates with how we would try to survive a cataclysmic global event today and is much more plausible than Noah and his sons and the animals floating on their ark for forty days being the source of all life on earth today.
Now, being a keen traveller and diligent researcher, Hancock went in search of such underground laboratory/ depository and did find that in Turkey’s Cappadicia region there are a large number of underground structures carved out of solid rock and usually, as described with Vara, consisting of multiple levels. He visited the one called Derinkuyu in 2013. Eight of its levels are open to the public, but there are others below still closed off. It also features a subterranean tunnel several kilometres long connecting with another underground ‘city’. Large stone doors shaped like millstones and weighing around half a ton were located ready to be rolled into place to block access. They had a remarkable system of ventilation shafts connecting from the bottom levels to the surface. It was a remarkable feat carved from volcanic rock and extending over four square kilometres.
In Turkey numerous underground cities have been discovered. Some of these may have been built before the great Flood to survive the climatic catastrophe of a comet strike or simply as a defence against marauders. We just don’t know, but we do know that very ancient writings described such places as refuges for life on earth to be preserved within earth’s embrace and survive to emerge again when the great winter ended and spring returned to the earth. Such is the way of nature. But if there were predictions and preparations for such a comet impact then someone was watching the heavens above and tracking this comet trail as it circumnavigated the cosmos out there.
Sumerian clay tablets dating back to as far as 5,000 years ago are the oldest written documents discovered. They pre-date the Bible by over 1,000 years. They also have their tale of the great flood, although their hero of the flood is named Ziusudra not Noah. In these Sumerian clay tablets is also reference, post-deluge, to seven sages, the magicians of the Gods, travelling and sailing to different parts of the globe on a mission to re-civilise the world. Egypt was first port of call for the civilising process, Turkey and Babylon not far after. China was also an early starter in the modern civilisation process followed by Japan. South Americans have similar tales about Gods arriving after the flood and teaching them metalcraft, gold-smithing and the engineering skills to build intricately designed irrigation schemes on the sides of mountains and precision pyramids with accurate astronomical references.
Continuing his further research Hancock also studied ancient scripts in Egypt and Mesopotamia relating to this same period and found reference to “the seven sages who set forth in ships to all parts of the world to take with them humans, animals and seeds with which to repopulate a world that had been devastated by the great flood”
And so, just as the Sumerian and Egyptian writings describe, a thousand years after that great flood event, the Seven Sages emerged from beneath the ground with their technological, agricultural, chemical and engineering knowledge and set themselves on a mission to rebuild a new civilisation accompanied by the humans now pale-skinned, blue/green eyed and fair headed as a result of having been laboratory-bred underground for a thousand years. Their bodies no longer produced the levels of melanin to provide protection from the sun and these white-skinned humans now required protective clothing and headwear to emerge from their underground laboratory; gold, if available was an especially effective protection against solar radiation. And eventually these ‘sons of Gods’ went forth to distant lands to find the descendants of those who survived the great flood as hunter gatherers. Those who migrated from the jungles of South America up through the plains of North America, those who had always lived in Southern Africa since the dawn of the species and eventually the island-dwelling people of the Pacific.
Humans living in parts of southern Africa, southern Asia, Australia, Oceania and Mid-South America also survived the great flood and lived a hunter gatherer existence over the thousand-year winter. They were well south of the North American ice sheet and out of range of the main impact of the comet so were the people who witnessed the arrival from the Middle East of these god-like pale skinned humans, bringing with them their hi-tech magic to show them how to build great pyramids and temples and how to fashion metals and gems. And thus began the worship rituals of the Mayans, the Incas, the Persians, the Indians and Asians as they embraced the knowledge and the mysteries of their allocated sage, one of seven, and the ‘sons’ who accompanied them. But as Genesis 6 informs us, eventually the sons of Gods resorted to the daughters of men and bore children by them.
So, from that link important questions arise. Do the Seven Sages who, according to ancient Sumerian clay tablets and Egyptian stone records, set forth on boats to re-civilise the world after the great flood align with the seven archangels of the Hebrew bible and the seven senior Gods of the Accadian clay records? Were the seven sages / archangels/ gods of ancient lore beings who came from the seven-star cluster we know as Pleiades? Did they explain their origins to our ancestors?
So, if a cataclysmic comet strike ushering in a thousand-year winter was indeed our judgement day, we can see those who lived and died in this hell on earth for a thousand years, until the fires extinguished and the atmosphere cleared, would then represent the damned. Those who were artificially preserved and bred in underground Vara represent the chosen ones to be preserved and purified; but what, if anything happened to the blessed who were to be raised, body and soul, into the heavens?
Today Governments around the world are investing billions in a race to colonise Mars. The United States, China and United Arab Emirates have all active missions to Mars programmes in 2020. Why? Transport entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Richard Branson compete to develop the ability to commercially transport humans to Mars. Why? There are so many priorities on earth for our investment and technological developments; why is there this focus on colonising a planet where the atmosphere cannot even support life? Mars’ atmosphere contains more than 95% carbon dioxide and not even 1% oxygen; earth is nearly 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen. Plants cannot grow out there, we can’t even breathe up on Mars; its’ surface is exposed to radiation levels that would kill humans in minutes. We would only live inside a dome. It seems madness. Why are we not putting that energy, money and focus into making our own planet a better environment to live in? And yet we are hell-bent on this mission to colonise Mars.
In America, Elon Musk has established his own special school, Ad Astra (to the stars), on the SpaceX campus in Los Angeles. He took his five sons from Los Angeles’s Mirman School, a K-8 school for “gifted” children. Musk also hired one of Mirman’s teachers, Joshua Dahn, to run Ad Astra. In the new school’s first year, the Musk children (twins born in 2004 and triplets born in 2006) were joined by a few children of SpaceX employees. Today, more than 30 students aged 7 to 14 take part in a curriculum focusing on science, maths, engineering, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Ad Astra leaves a very light digital footprint from its absence of grades to the secrecy of its admissions process. Reportedly, spots are limited to the children of SpaceX employees and, even then, are by invitation only.
Minkowski, Einstein, Tesla and Hawking have all been figuring out this time-space warping concept that leads to a conclusion that there are black holes and wormholes in space. Is there a space portal on Mars that connects to a black wormhole that fast-tracks between our solar system and the Pleiades? Is Mars intended as a limbo colony to preserve our species, or is it to be an intergalactic spaceport? Or is it both?
So, if earth’s natural, dark-skinned native population represent the resilient survivors of the cataclysmic comet strike 12,800 years ago and the light-skinned westerners are the descendants of the artificially preserved and bred humans kept in underground limbo for 25 generations, did any humans make it on the list of the righteous and gain a ticket on a direct ascension into the heavens? And if so, what has happened to them? Were they taken up to the Pleiades? Do they keep in touch? Are they inviting us to join them? Or are they now just displays in a museum out there somewhere ?
Conspiracy theorists always claim that somebody knows something they aren’t telling us? But NASA is not making any secret that they have been tracking asteroid 99942 since 2004 when initial observations showed a slight chance of an impact with either the earth or the moon in 2029. It has just made another pass around us and projections have been updated and we are now apparently safe until possibly 2068. It has a diameter of 370 metres and has been named Apophis, after the Egyptian god of chaos. That is relatively small compared to the estimated 4 kilometre wide asteroid that caused the great flood 12,800 years ago and only a only a pebble compared to the ten kilometre wide asteroid that hit Mexico 66 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs; but it could still do some serious damage to the area it hit, cause major weather disruption globally and possibly cause a serious setback to our technology-based civilisation. In such an event it might be useful to have an incubation dome safely located well away from the impact zone where the human species and the seeds of earth could be preserved. A place with a worm-hole connection to higher technological support in distant star zones. So that when Earth’s dust is settled and the climate has recovered, such preservers of the species could then seek out the survivors who had adapted and survived over many generations of a far more primitive life. Could these ‘strangers’, who had lived hundreds of years in an incubation dome, be tasked to help restore the technology-based civilisation that had been lost by the asteroid impact? Our task is the survival of the species.
And Elon built a space-ark, 300 cubits in length, while the people mocked him……
The descendants of Noah settled on the eastern banks of the Mediterranean and over time their descendants grew and prospered throughout the region. Noah’s son Shem was given the land Eastwards from modern Lebanon, Syria and the Euphrates waterway all the way to Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and the city of Sumer which was established 6,000 years ago. The descendants of Noah’s son Japheth travelled north and settled in areas around the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and as far as the Greek Islands. The descendants of his son Ham were the Hamites who occupied the southern Canaan coastal lands from which the Philistines, now known as the Palestinians, emerged. Abraham, the Yahweh-anointed father of the Hebrew nation was born in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) around 2000BCE, or a bit earlier, (4,000+ years ago). Abraham was a descendant of Shem rather than Ham but, under God’s instruction (Genesis 12) he took his family to Canaan, the coastal strip of land that the descendants of Ham, including the Philistines, lived. Abraham brought with them a different God with a different set of laws to that which was observed in Canaan.
I am reminded that the Bible of the Israelites has quite a section in their Laws regarding the do’s and don’ts of eating animals. This memory was triggered during an email conversation with an old workmate of mine who had headed off several years ago to seek fame and fortune in the bright lights of London. I have to say he has done quite well for himself actually and is now a professional pig walker. Well primarily a dog-walker but he did do a pig-gig for a bit of variety. Pigs must have become something of a trend amongst the unlanded London gentry. He was sort of like a personal trainer, but for the pigs of the wealthy of London rather than for the wealthy themselves in their gym of preference. Still, it’s a rung on the ladder to mixing with the rich and famous.
Now before you throw in your job and buy a one-way ticket to London, I have to warn you that it may not, in reality, be quite as glamorous a career as it first looks. Upon inspection of the ‘first day on the job” photos that he proudly sent, I noticed his tools of the trade included a strong lead, a trowel, and a plastic bag. I suspect, given the weight and centre of gravity of the pig, that the job involves the pig dragging him all over the manor so that he can scoop up pig poop whenever the pig feels the inclination to poop. The wealthy of London may think owning a pig is all jolly hockey sticks, but one cannot have one’s pig manure lying around the estate.
The trowel may also be required to repair lawns and gardens as he goes. A neighbour of mine decided to grow a couple of Christmas hams a year or two back, they got out of his property and rotary-hoed my lawn in a very short time. They are destructive little beggars. Anyway, our email conversation about his latest career development led to the speculation of how it might taste with a couple of poached eggs on the side. That, for some reason, (our emails always take odd and unexpected twists) led to a discussion on the unique practices of some Jewish people he knew. Oh how we laughed at the irrational phobias of the Israelites, like denying themselves of bacon sandwiches and cutting off the ends of their cocks just as Moses had been instructed on the mountain: ” by the way, Moe, when I wrote up the DNA formula for my Chosen Ones I accidentally left a bit of surplus skin on the end of your knob; I am sorry about that, but would you mind tidying up that little flaw every time a boy is born?”
But before I condemn an entire race for what appears to be an irrational fear of enjoying the delights of a plate of crispy fried streaky bacon with eggs and tomatoes, I should actually check up on their rulebook to understand the full story. And it’s all in Leviticus 11. Sort of like the Israelite Ministry of Health’s “Good Eating Manual”. And to my surprise it’s not just pigs that are targeted.
‘Sons of Israel can only eat animals with both a divided hoof and which also chew cud’. (Just one or the other doesn’t work, its got to be both criteria). Chewing cud is a double processing of food and I applaud the ancients for recognising the health science benefits of maximising nutrient extraction by cud chewers. The cloven hoof criteria is a little more difficult to understand. And beasts that walk on paws as well as beasts that crawl along the ground are also off the menu.
So forbidden meats included camel, rabbit, hyrax (like a rabbit with short ears) and pig. Also, lions and snakes, I presume, and horses whose hooves be not cloven. I would have thought that Moses was angling towards saying you can only eat herbivores and not carnivores, which I would understand. But excuse me? Rabbit pie is not kosher? May I ask why? ‘Rabbits eat their own dung………’ Oh……point taken.
Now, not that I have ever eaten a camel, but I know it is a cud-chewing, two-toed herbivore so I think camels get a very rough technical red card just because having two toes and respective toenails is not, strictly speaking, a cloven hoof. But you can see Moses’ point in getting the camels on the no-eating list. Imagine him wandering past one of his little tribes as he is planning his next big march to the Promised Land to see them all sitting around watching a camel roasting on a spit. “oy yoy yoy, if you keep eating the camels it’s going to take us literally months to cross this bloody desert.”
Actually, when I think about it, there may be a truth spoken in jest. Whatever the reason, while I am not going to die in a ditch over the right to eat camel meat, a cloven hoof is one of those skinny little pointy hooves designed for agility in scrambling around rocks rather than the type of footwear needed to usefully transport a heavy load like a human across a desert. Sort of like the difference between ice skates and snowshoes.
So maybe Leviticus is saying exactly that, don’t eat the animals we need to carry us, our tents and tabernacles across the desert: the camels, donkeys, horses and elephants. Especially when you consider the gestation of a pregnant camel is thirteen months and it takes about seven years for a male to reach maturity (female three years) and you can get fifty years work from a camel. Whereas by contrast sheep have a gestation of less than five months, reach maturity between five and twelve months, goats about the same; bulls reach maturity at twelve months and cows eighteen months. The original fast-food option.
Makes sense, it’s nothing to do with being unclean, just practical farm and transport management. Don’t eat the bloody camels, it takes too long to get another one to replace it. The lesson has been learned after the Moses desert crossing and now we know why it took forty years to get from Egypt to Israel instead of the eleven days that google maps said it would have taken by the direct route.
As for seafood, the sons of Israel may only eat that which has both fins and scales. So that rules out oysters, crayfish, prawns and crabs. Bugger. Well, I suppose in our hearts we know crustaceans are the bottom feeders of the sea, scouring the seabed for food amongst the turds of all the fish that swim above them.
Also banned are insects with four legs with the exception of a few permitted species like grasshoppers and locusts; well, that was never going to be an issue for me.
There is also a list of forbidden birds including eagles, kites and gulls. (So can’t a chap even have a seagull sandwich now?) And even if it is a clean food source but it dies (presumably of natural causes rather than being butchered by an Israelite) then it becomes unclean.
I certainly don’t argue with most of their forbidden foods on the list. Carnivorous animals that eat dead, rotten food or raw, still-functioning organs, including livers, bladders and intestines, are obviously full of nasty parasites that are quite inappropriate for the delicate human digestion system. Although I am starting to wonder what a roast camel might taste like.
Gulls and hawks are scavenging birds, with roadkill being a particular favourite and I certainly wouldn’t want to re-digest anything that they originally digested. And yes, yes we know shellfish can contain high levels of toxicity, and true enough, the crab-cakes you get at a Jewish deli are in fact made out of pulverised flesh of a fish that has fins and scales, which is a bit deceitful but probably no less so than the prawn sticks I get at a Chinese takeaway. Personally, I am prepared to take the chance when it comes to Bluff oysters and Taupo prawns, albeit I accept that I may live to regret it. I certainly regretted it the day I didn’t quite cook the prawns well enough. That was the most violently ill I have ever been in my life. I still break out in a sweat remembering it. It was not a case of fearing I might die, but rather praying that I would. And yet I still can’t resist a plate of garlic prawns. And if anyone suggests that salt and pepper squid may have neither gills nor scales, I just don’t want to know. Fingers in ears, eyes shut tight.
But what is the problem with pigs? Are they saying those cute little farmyard animals are indiscriminate eaters? They do have a divided hoof so is their only crime not chewing their cud? Seems harsh. Well, as it turns out, I have just finished a book about some rather unpleasant criminal types in southern Italy who decided to throw an unsuspecting (and innocent as it turns out) chap who they believed to be a snitch, to the pigs on a farm, comfortable in the knowledge that by morning there would be nothing left of the chap but his teeth in a pond of pig shit.
So pigs, as I learn, are classified as omnivores. They eat anything and everything. I had recently taken a moral high ground and now only eat free-range pig meat. But now that I think about it, allowing them to wander about freely probably just increases the odds that the free ranging pig I am about to eat has already recently eaten a dead hedgehog, a plastic coke bottle, a trowel, a bag of its own shit and a professional pig-walker. No amount of smoking of the beast actually makes eating them sound any better. I think the Israelites have got this one dead right.
There are many gentiles who believe we should not actually be eating any meat at all; that our diet should be entirely plant-based for our health and for the climate. I am not sure they are thinking clearly. Grass eating animals, ruminants, need special intestinal systems to process a 100% plant-based diet. The ruminant stomach has four components: rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum. Only then do the small and large intestines get a look in. Then they have to eat for eight hours a day just to get enough energy to be able to do the same thing tomorrow, getting fatter each day without thinking about it. But the humans brain actually uses 20% of our energy intake just to deal with all the challenges we set ourselves in the evolution of our civilisation. Therefore, we need a much more efficient system of getting our energy, which is to let animals spend all day eating grass and concentrating that energy into their flesh then we eat some of that. But we also eat fruit and vegetables which makes us omnivores. We are omnivores because chimpanzees are omnivores, and we inherited their digestive system. I am not sure why that is but it is nature and vegans interfere with nature at their peril. However carnivorous animals like the cat and dog families do not eat any vegetables, fruits, or dairy products. But they also don’t think much or do much with their lives, they are just carnivores because that gives them more time to laze around and not have stand in a paddock eating for eight hours. Apart from dolphins which are also carnivore but that is seafood, not landfood and possibly the reason they are also smart and spend a lot of time and energy swimming and surfing. I think dolphins have the best gig but that may be because I am a Pisces.
And I am reliably informed that the Israelites chop the skin off the end of their cocks to stop the irritating sand getting under their foreskin. Even back in the Biblical, desert-crossing days I would have thought wearing undies and peeing downwind might have been a less dramatic way of solving the problem.
Speaking of the Israelites, has there ever, through history, been a more troubled piece of earth than the strip of land on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea between Turkey to the north and Egypt to the south?
Abraham had a son Isaac with his wife Sarah (plus many more illegitimates by concubines), Isaac married Rebekah and had two sons Esau and Jacob. Esau moved away to Seir (Gen. 36:6) as the land could not support both his and Jacob’s families. Jacob had twelve sons including Joseph by his second wife Rachel. Through jealousy of Joseph’s favoured status with Jacob, his brothers sold him into slavery, and he eventually arrived in Egypt. Some years after the selling of Joseph as a slave, Jacob took his family to Egypt due to famine in Canaan. Genesis 46:27 and Exodus 1:1 named those who went with Jacob and state their total number. With his eleven sons and their families they totalled 70 people.
Egypt was emerging as a strong civilisation as so many farmers from other parts of Africa had progressively migrated to the very fertile land in the Nile valley. There they met Joseph again. Joseph had prospered in Egypt and was now very influential with the Pharaoh himself as a dream interpreter. Around 1400BC a Hebrew called Moses, under the instruction and with the assistance of the God known to the Israelites as Yahweh, persuaded the Pharaoh to let him lead the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:41).
The assistance of Yahweh was in the form of temporarily creating a powerful wind to hold back the water of the Sea of Reeds to allow a crossing and to safeguard them from the chasing Egyptians whose Pharaoh had apparently had a change of heart about freeing them. Yahweh guided them through the wilderness by way of a “cloud” hovering over them during the day and that cloud becoming a pillar of light for night travel. (Exodus 13:21). Periodically the “cloud” would land beside the tent of meeting and God would meet with the leaders of the Hebrews. (Exodus 33: 7-11).
Exodus 12:41 said the Israelites were in Egypt 430 years. They would have left Egypt with Moses around 1400BC and, according to Exodus 12:37 there were 600,000 Hebrew men plus their families. 600,000 men would have had a similar number of women in the same age, totalling 1.2 million adults plus children. That is an impressive growth rate from the eleven breeding pairs arriving in Egypt. Over 400 years it would require each breeding pair to produce an average of six children through to breeding age, ignoring for the moment the close relationships and the inevitable high death rate of slaves before they reached breeding age. It is also a very impressive logistical feat to move over a million ex slaves on such a march.
In the wilderness food was clearly a major concern for such a large population. Yahweh was also responsible for an aerial drop of a bread substance, six days a week for forty years to feed the travelling Israelites in the desert. The bread or dough appears to have arrived frozen: “in the morning there was a coating of dew all-round the camp. When the coating of dew lifted there was a thing delicate, powdery…that, said Moses is the bread Yahweh gives you to eat.” (Exodus 16: 13-15). “And when the sun grew hot, it dissolved” (Exodus 16:21).
Finally, Yahweh led the Israelites in battle to conquer the lands of Canaan (Deuteronomy 1:29-30). Yahweh demanded singularity of recognition as the God of the Israelites. His first commandment of all the rules for conduct he gave to Moses was: “I am Yahweh, your God, you shall worship no other Gods but me. For I, Yahweh am a jealous God. “ (Exodus 20). However, Yahweh never in the Bible said he was the only Deity, his words in the first commandment indicate there are other Gods although Israelites believe He was referring to pagan idols rather than real Gods.
After 40 years in the desert, the twelve tribes finally arrived back in Canaan, although Moses had not lived to reach his destination. It is never satisfactorily explained why Yahweh led them on a 40-year wander around the wilderness when it was only an 11-day journey from Egypt to Canaan by the most direct route. The reason for detouring across the Sea of Reeds and travelling south into the wilderness was given as avoiding confrontation with the Philistines, (Exodus 13: 17) which, Yahweh was concerned, would encourage the Israelites to return to Egypt. This longer route explains why it would take more than 11 days for the journey; however, 40 years is an extraordinarily long detour. The explanation in Deuteronomy 8:2-3 “Yahweh, your God, led you for forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, to test you and know your innermost heart.” But in Joshua 5:6 it says, “The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died,” It continued that the reason they died was because they disobeyed God.
After 40 years in the wilderness, 601,750 fighting-aged men (plus families) arrived in Canaan (Numbers 26:51), a similar number to that which departed Egypt 40 years earlier and it would appear a reasonable assumption that Yahweh intended that the generation arriving in Canaan would have been raised from a very young age under the laws, guidance and military training of Yahweh.
Despite Yahweh’s original desire to avoid confrontation with the Philistines, there was a great deal of military action, bloodshed, looting and slavery of young women undertaken under Yahweh’s instruction before the Israelites eventually re-established themselves in the land of Canaan forty years after the escape from Egypt. Clearly the new generation of Hebrews had been trained during their decades in the wilderness to wage war on these descendants of Ham. Perhaps Yahweh had not felt the original enslaved Israelites had the necessary military skill and strength of character to conquer Canaan, which is why He avoided initial military conflict with the Philistines when they first escaped Egypt.
But with an army of 600,000 men, the Hebrews began attacking the inhabitants of Canaan beginning with the Midian people. Numbers 31: 1 “Yahweh spoke to Moses and said, ‘exact full vengeance for the sons of Israel on the Midianites. The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. 10 They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps. 11 They took all the plunder and spoils, including the people and animals, 12 and brought the captives, spoils and plunder to Moses and Eleazar the priest and the Israelite assembly at their camp on the plains of Moab, by the Jordan across from Jericho.’ The Book of numbers details the spoils of war from that battle as: ‘The plunder remaining from the spoils that the soldiers took was 675,000 sheep, 33 72,000 cattle, 34 61,000 donkeys 35 and 32,000 women who had never slept with a man‘ as well as apportioning the share of the spoils that were given to the high priest of the Levites, servants of Yahweh’s tabernacle as a tribute to Yahweh.
The God Yahweh was certainly a God of war, not peace. He brought the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land, but it was a most violent intrusion into a land that had been legitimately populated by the descendants of Ham, son of Noah, and the Hebrews have not known peace since they arrived there. The Israelites continued their battles against the residents throughout Canaan until they had established themselves in this Promised Land. The tribes of Israel were allocated their areas of land according to Yahweh’s instruction and continued to live tribal life over the next 3-400 years with neither central government nor central place of worship to Yahweh. The governance was by the tribal Judges (Holy Men) and the military leaders. But it was a life both of integration into Canaanite cities and intermarriage with Canaanites and also constant tribal wars. Many who integrated with the Canaanites abandoned Yahweh and gave their loyalty to the God of the Canaanites, Baal, son of the god Dagon.
In one battle with the Philistines, who had become the most powerful race in the region, the Israelites lost the Ark of the Covenant with the Lord Yahweh. The Philistines slaughtered 30,000 Israelites and claimed the Ark, which they brought back to the temple of Dagon, in Ashdod, which was on the coast of the West Bank. However, the Philistines returned the Ark to the Israelites seven months later when their people had become afflicted with boils and ulcers and other calamities that they attributed to possessing the Ark. The return of the Ark sparked a renewed interest among the Jews in the heritage of Yahweh and the journey from Egypt.
Yahweh communicated through the prophets. Samuel, who had ‘heard the voice of God’ since a young person was the acknowledged senior Prophet and Judge of Israel. Samuel preached the return to the laws of the Bible, and, under the instruction of Yahweh, anointed a man named Saul as the first King of Israel under whose rule the twelve tribes could be united. This was 1046 BCE, just over 3,000 years ago. It was the same time that Rome was established as a settlement of farmers and shepherds. There was a level of dissatisfaction with Saul during his reign and conversely much support for David, a military hero and leader following his slaying of Goliath. There was much conflict between Saul and David, although David did marry Saul’s daughter. Saul died in the battle of Gilboa against the Philistines when he fell on his sword rather than be captured. David at the time had led a successful battle against the Amalekites.
At this time Saul’s military commander appointed Saul’s son, Ishbaal as king of Israel. The nation became divided between the House of Saul, which was based in northern Israel, and the House of David, which was based in Judea. They met in battle at Gibeon and David was victorious. As the House of Saul became weaker, Ishbaal’s own men eventually murdered him and delivered his head to David. They were put to death for their treachery.
Under King David, Israel was united, and the Israelites conquered their old enemy, the Philistines and established Jerusalem as David’s city. David was succeeded by his son, Solomon. After Solomon’s death in 925 BC Israel again became divided between Israel and Judea. The Kings of Israel ruled until 721 BC when the Assyrians conquered Northern Israel; the Kingdom of Judea lasted until 605 BC when the Babylonians conquered them, and the temple was destroyed and over subsequent periods to 582 BC the Jews were deported into captivity in Babylon.
In 538 BC the Persians conquered the Babylonians and ruled Judea; then in 332 BC Alexander the Great conquered the Persians and brought Judea under the Greek Empire. Judea was temporarily independent again when the Jewish tribe of the Maccabees staged a successful revolt in 164 BC but then in 63 BC the Romans acquired the state when they conquered the Greek empire. The Romans eventually tired of the regular Jewish insurrections and in 135 AD, they brutally crushed the Jewish state with hundreds of thousands of Jews killed, deported or sold into slavery. The Romans renamed Judea as Palestine (Palaestina) derived from “Philistine”.
It was not until 1948 AD, after the Second World War, that the victorious gentile nations re-created the state of Israel, a state that remains in the state of war with the Palestinians that they had from their arrival out of Egypt 3,500 years earlier.
The latest chapter in this saga of the Jews seeking their promised land occurred in the early 1980’s when it had been confirmed in Israel that a tribe of Jews had been living in Ethiopia since ancient times. This tribe practiced the Jewish faith, they knew of Jerusalem, and they dreamed of one day going to the promised land. They were first discovered by European Jews in 1867 when a French Jewish university lecturer named Joseph Halevy travelled to Ethiopia in 1867 in search of the fabled Ethiopian Jews. How this tribe came about is lost in time although King Solomon’s infatuation with the Queen of Sheba (Ethiopia) would be the most likely explanation. According to one traditional account, Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, visited Solomon’s court and stayed with him for six months. After she returned to Ethiopia, she bore Solomon a son who she named Menilek. But until the Ethiopians actually met Halevy, they had no idea that Jews were not all black skinned. The discovery did not create any political interest until the 1980’s when Mossad, Israel’s secret service, was instructed to begin a programme of secret extraction of Ethiopian Jews into Israel. It was a complicated diplomatic situation given Israel’s conflicts in the region and the Ethiopians had to find their own way on foot from their village into Sudan where they had to pose as refugees in camps awaiting the Mossad agents, also there under false identities, to arrange their secret extraction to Israel. The story of the Promised Land just keeps getting more interesting. The full story of this mission is detailed in Raffi Berg’s book, “Red Sea Spies” and is well worth the read.
Today, in the 21st century, this region still presents a volatility that threatens the peace of the entire earth. According to their history book the Bible, a very small tribe of descendants of Abraham, 70 people, left the region of milk and honey during very serious famine, when milk and honey was nowhere to be found, and went to live in Egypt. They returned 400+ years later as an army of 600,000 men plus families and brutally waged war on the tribes that lived there. They established their own nation of Israel with bloodshed, and they have never known peace since.
The Bible is not the only historical reference to refer to unearthly beings travelling around in ‘clouds’ in the sky and landing on earth to commune with humans. Variously the Biblical angels have been referred to as nymphs in Greek mythology, elves in Norse mythology and fairies in Celtic mythology. Then there were a few less kindly unearthly beings like goblin and leprechauns. Today we call them aliens.
I was watching a documentary called “The Mojave incident” re-telling a 1989 incident in the Mojave Desert when a large number of stars in the sky suddenly turned out to be flying craft and a couple who were camping out in a van, Steve and Dawn Hess, were allegedly held captive by alien beings. This included being interrogated telepathically. They returned to awake in their van in the desert in the morning, thoroughly traumatised.
In Biblical times the Hess’ would have been called holy prophets and their experiences preserved in books that would be treasured for millennia and form part of the religious culture of their tribe. The Old Testament of the Bible has numerous such accounts of connection with non-earthly beings. But today people like the Hess’ are mocked as deluded/ drug induced/ psychotic. Take your pick or mix and match. The Hess’ knew that; they may have been mockers themselves if the tables were turned. That is why they had so much reluctance to tell the story. They also feared for the backlash from peers not only on themselves but, more importantly, on their children, and that kept them quiet. They appear to have been genuinely traumatised by the incident and as part of their ‘coming out’ have been through hypnotic regression sessions which have only confirmed that they truly believe what they say happened. While their real names were used in the original report on the incident in 1994, in the 2015 reprint of the incident they requested the alias of “Gifford” be used.
I won’t go into detail of their encounter with small creatures who held them captive, an angelic creature who reassured them telepathically and others who interrogated them in the mother ship; if you are a cynic I am wasting my time mentioning it, if not you might get value from reading the book, The Mojave Incident by Ron Felber. Whether this abduction evidence has any substance to it I could not comment. But even the cynics amongst us must have been getting nervous about the increasing number of trained, sane, and sober professionals around the world, particularly pilots, who have witnessed flying machines that defy all their knowledge of human built craft. Then the 2021 release of formerly top secret documents by the US government dispelled any doubt. They are out there, in our skies.
Exploring the phenomena of UFO sightings, we note that they are usually associated with the mid to late 20th century and early 21st century; the phrase ‘flying saucer’ was coined in 1947 following a publicised sighting of such an unidentified vehicle by a Kenneth Arnold. The experiences of ‘lost time’ and even physical evidence are the most common examples of abduction stories. They were largely dismissed as the figments of over-active imaginations stimulated by the sci-fi comics that also became common in that era.
But over the past 50 or 60 years more and more such reports have come from more credible sources including pilots, policemen and military personnel. So much attention has been given to these reports because large numbers of sightings were reported at a time when media were developing into global rather than local communicators and with the emergence of the internet to feed the fire.
The sudden and extraordinary explosion of technological achievement in the second half of the 20th century in itself of course has been suggested to support the theory of the intervention of an advanced species in our human development. Technology jumped from radio and morse code to television, computers and the internet occurred within 50 years. This was an overnight leap relative to our 200,000-year history of quietly evolved development from nomadic wandering to domesticated agriculture; from pottery to paper, from the bronze age to the iron age; from caves to the city-dwelling civilisations of the Egyptians, Babylonians and Greeks.
But equally interesting is that reports of flying objects also occur back in the annals of history when humans had no sci-fi comics and did not even have man-made flying craft to stimulate their imaginations. And before the age of cameras. One of the first written accounts of a UFO sighting is the following excerpt from an Egyptian papyrus – part of the annals of Thutmose III, who reigned around 1504-1450 B.C.: “In the year 22, of the 3rd month of winter, sixth hour of the day… the scribes of the House of Life found it was a circle of fire that was coming in the sky…. It had no head, the breath of its mouth had a foul odor. Its body one rod long and one rod wide. It had no voice. Their hearts became confused through it; Now after some days had passed, these things became more numerous in the sky than ever. They shone more in the sky than the brightness of the sun, and extended to the limits of the four supports of the heavens…. Powerful was the position of the fire circles. The army of the Pharaoh looked on with him in their midst. It was after supper. Thereupon, these fire circles ascended higher in the sky towards the south… The Pharaoh caused incense to be brought to make peace on the hearth… And what happened was ordered by the Pharaoh to be written in the annals of the House of Life… so that it be remembered for ever.”
Some UFO encounters have been found recorded in medieval artworks and in historical records.
“At sunrise on the 14th April 1561, the citizens of Nuremberg beheld ‘A very frightful spectacle.’ The sky appeared to fill with cylindrical objects from which red, black, orange and blue-white disks and globes emerged. Crosses and tubes resembling cannon barrels also appeared whereupon the objects promptly “began to fight one another.”
In France in 1338 there was a reported sighting of a huge spherical craft in the sky. An image of the event is present in the French book “Le Livre Des Bonnes Moeurs” by Jacques Legrand. Lychostene Conrad, in his book “Prodigiorum ac Ostentorum Chronicle”, printed in Basel in the year 1557, he describes sightings of strange objects flying in the skies in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. This event is depicted in a famous 16th century woodcut by Hans Glaser.
Reported sightings at a medieval castle in Ciudad Rodrigo (credit: Miguel A. Monjas/Wikimedia Commons) “I shall not tire your lordship with this narration, since we had just arrived [to Ciudad Rodrigo] when, walking on Wednesday the 5th of this month of January , we suddenly saw a great flame of yellow fire attached to the sky move from one end to the other; it had inside like a black root and all its borders were more whitish than the middle; and it left with a great roar, causing horses and mules to run in fear, and my own mule didn’t stop until it touched another mule. Great disputes about this arose between the learned ones and those with no degrees who, without having seen the words of Aristotle, talked about how this light was up there, and how its interior could be lit like a log. The dean of Burgos stated he believes it must be the matter from the first region [in the sky], viscous and condensed, lit by the Sun, and how its weight prevented its quick dispersal, and the nature of fire brought it from here to there while its viscous part was spent, and the roar was its end. I concur with his opinion, because it could not have been what Aristotle calls the nature of comets… because it would have not moved in such varied manner, nor any other, and it would have not ended with that roar.”
A number of ufo sightings were recorded in Japan in the early first millennia. A term equivalent to our “flying saucer” was actually used by the Japanese approximately 700 years before it came into use in the West. Ancient documents describe an unusual shining object seen the night of October 27, 1180, as a flying “earthenware vessel.” After a while the object, which had been heading northeast from a mountain in Kii province, changed its direction and vanished below the horizon, leaving a luminous trail. (Jacques Vallee, Passport to Magonia) What might be called the first official investigation of a UFO sighting occurred in Japan in 1235. During the night of September 24, while General Yoritsumo and his army were encamped, they observed mysterious lights in the heavens. The lights were seen in the southwest for many hours, winging, circling and moving in loops. The general ordered a “full-scale scientific investigation” of these strange events.”
The Roman author Julius Obsequens, believed to have lived in the fourth century A.D., drew on Livy as well as other sources of his time to compile his book Prodigorium liber, which describes many peculiar phenomena, some of which could be interpreted as UFO sightings. Here are just a few examples: 216 B.C. Things like ships were seen in the sky over Italy… At Arpi (180 Roman miles, east of Rome, in Apulia) a round shield was seen in the sky. At Capua, the sky was all on fire, and one saw figures like ships… 99 B.C. When C. Murius and L. Valerius were consuls, in Tarquinia, there fell in different places…. a thing like a flaming torch, and it came suddenly from the sky. Towards sunset, a round object like a globe, or round or circular shield took its path in the sky, from west to east. 90 B.C. In the territory of Spoletium (65 Roman miles north of Rome, in Umbria) a globe of fire, of golden colour, fell to the earth, gyrating. It then seemed to increase in size, rose from the earth, and ascended into the sky, where it obscured the disc of the sun, with its brilliance. It revolved towards the eastern quadrant of the sky. [Harold T. Wilkins, Flying Saucers on the Attack, pp.164-69] A later chronicler of inexplicable phenomena, one Conrad Wolffhart (a professor of grammar and dialectics who under the pen name of Lycosthenes wrote the compendium Prodigiorum ac Ostentorum Chronicon, published in 1567), mentions the following events: 393 A.D. Strange lights were seen in the sky in the days of the Emperor Theodosius. On a sudden, a bright globe appeared at midnight. It shone brilliantly near the day star (planet, Venus), about the circle of the Zodiac. This globe shone little less brilliantly than the planet, and little by little, a great number of other glowing orbs drew near the first globe. The spectacle was like a swarm of bees flying around the beekeeper, and the light of these orbs was as if they were dashing violently against each other. Soon, they blended together into one awful flame, and bodied forth to the eye as a horrible two-edged sword. The strange globe which was first seen now appeared like the pommel to a handle, and all the little orbs, fused with the first, shone as brilliantly as the first globe. [Harold T. Wilkins, Flying Saucers on the Attack, pp.174, 177]
There are many abduction stories like the Hess’ of course, beginning with the famous story of Barney and Betty Hill, but all rely on the credibility of their stories and the support of hypnotic regression techniques. There is no hard evidence left behind. But if we are looking for evidence just a tad more tangible than the many witnesses who have told their stories from biblical times to modern day, we do not have to look any further than the great pyramids of Egypt. The sceptics of a physical alien presence amongst humans maintain the legend that Egyptian pharaohs engaged thousands of slaves in a technologically primitive time about 5,000 years ago, to build the great pyramids and Sphinx.
The great Pyramid at Giza weighs six million tons and used half a million blocks, weighing, on average, 12 tons each block. There were an estimated 144,000 highly polished casing stones cut flat to an accuracy of 1/100th of an inch and nearly perfect right angles for all six sides measuring 8 feet thickness and weighting 15 tons each. Its footprint is 13 acres with each side measuring 750 feet and height is 481 feet. But apart from the sheer size and weight of the blocks supposedly carried large distances by slaves with no greater technology than ropes, rollers, pulleys and hand tools, the mathematical and astrological accuracy is mind blowing even today. The pyramid’s coordinates align it to cardinal True North with a precision of 3/60th of a single degree. True North cannot be located by sight or by a magnet.
The height and length of the great pyramid are not just random figures either. Take the pyramid height of 481 feet and multiply that by 43,200 and you get a precise measurement of the polar radius of the earth. Then take the length of the perimeter of the pyramid, 4 x 750 feet and multiply that by 43,200 and you get the equatorial circumference of the earth. And what does the figure 43,200 mean? I don’t know why a factor of 43,200 was the basis for the design of the pyramid although interestingly 43,200 is also the number of seconds in a 12-hour day or the number of minutes in a month. The earth’s ‘wobble’ adjusts our precession through the astrological circumference by one degree every 72 years and 72 is also an exact factor of 43,200 (1/600th). So the number does have some natural basis aligning earth with the cosmos.
Sceptics scoff at the idea that alien species have visited Earth and influenced us and our planet with their advanced intelligence and technology; but either that happened or……………our ancestors of at least 200 generations ago were capable of all this extraordinary astronomical, geographic, and engineering precision without the aid of computers, satellites, cranes or any machinery.
Possibly most interesting is the Book of Exodus 13: 21-22 which records an apparent flying craft in which Yahweh travelled and guided the Israelites through the desert: “Yahweh went before them, by day in the form of a pillar of cloud to show them the way, and by night in the form of a pillar of fire to give them light: thus they could travel by day and night. The pillar of cloud never failed to go before the people during the day, nor the pillar of fire during the night.“
And lest we forget the Bible account by Luke of the visitation of an unearthly angel to a small town in Galilee and the subsequent artificial conception:
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,* and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”p But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”*And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.q
Whether these reports are real or imagined by medieval and ancient alien conspiracy theorists of course we do not know. Even discussing the subject of ufo’s opens a person to the nervous mockery of the moral majority who find it far more comfortable to blanket themselves in traditional religious texts where belief is totally a question of faith rather than using our God-given powers of rational thought; even though the unchallenged religious stories are at least as fantastic as, if not almost identical to, the ancient and contemporary ufo/ alien stories. As Karl Marx observed, religion is the opiate of the masses.
For as intriguing as all these reports are, most of us have never seen a ufo let alone an alien and we won’t really believe in what we don’t witness ourselves. The most prolific UFO sightings have been in the Nevada desert, around nuclear weapons sites. The 50-year old classified documents from that time have now reached the time when researchers can access them, likewise, witnesses whose employment at the time prevented them discussing incidents, are now free to do so.
And so seventy-five years after the Roswell incident we ourselves are on the brink of becoming alien visitors to Mars and beyond. The next phase will be the discovery of worm holes in space that expand our travels far beyond our imagination today. We may find somewhere in our exploration an intelligent life species that is hundreds of thousands of years earlier in its evolution than we are. We may engineer their DNA and cause them devastating confusion as they grapple with this fast-tracking process. They may wonder who we are and where we come from. We may regularly send drones and/ or scientists back there to maintain the scientific experiment. We may wonder why some start wearing aluminium hats and standing in frightened groups in the desert at night. We may decide to send a message to them, “Don’t worry, we come in peace, (as we produce a specimen jar).”
Do the gods, our creators, still care? Do they still keep an eye on us? Still teach us new technology? In 2021 The US Government were forced to declassify secret Airforce/ CIA files which confirmed what was being increasingly difficult to deny with over 140 officially confirmed reports of alien craft with a level of anti-gravity technology beyond that which humans can conceive. These were regularly observed, by eyewitness and by radar, in our skies and official reports were stored under State secrecy. Since these alien aircraft are real then the beings who design, build, and pilot these aircraft are also real and are non-human. The release of these documents immediately gave credibility to the Hess’ account of an alien encounter in the Mojave desert 30 years ago as well as the Biblical account of the virgin birth of a Jewish child in the Galilean desert 2,000 years ago. It also gives credence to the hundreds of recollections through memory and hypnotic regression of humans claiming to have experienced alien abduction for the purpose of conducting intrusive medical/ reproductive procedures.
This intrusion of ‘beings from the heavens’ in our lives over the past seventy years coincides with the astounding development of computer technology in just two generations; from unconnected, huge clunky mechanical calculators in the 1950’s to connected smartphones in almost every pocket today; we have 6+ billion smartphones for a global population of eight billion people. Along with the unimaginably rapid escalation in this communication technology came the communication manipulation of algorithmically directed social media. In a very short space of time humans have become slaves to technology. But who is the lord of technology and who are the servants of the lord?
Christmas morning is the most anticipated and most celebrated day in the history of all humanity.
The Christian religion is based on the gospels of the New Testament of the Bible. But Christianity was alive and flourishing for 300 years before the Christian Bishops of the Catholic Church of Rome selected these four gospels and wrote the narrative upon which the modern Christians rely for their beliefs. Starting with the official birthday of Jesus, the 25th of December.
It is, of course, mid-winter in the Northern hemisphere, so no summer holidays to follow as we have in the southern hemisphere. But nonetheless Christmas Day continues to be a huge celebration all around the globe. It is the big one. Billions of people stop work to celebrate Christmas Day. So how did it come to this?
The history of the celebration of Christmas Day traces back to when a Jewish preacher and miracle worker was anointed by his followers as the Messiah, meaning ‘the anointed one’ or ‘liberator’. The preacher was actually named Yahshua but was adapted to Iesous when, after his ascension into the heavens, disciples took the religion to Greece; and they used the Greek title of Christos, also meaning the anointed one. The preacher’s name has subsequently been Romanised and/or anglicised to Jesus Christ. Christ’s Mass is the Christian Churches’ celebration of his birth. But there is no actual record by day, month or even year that Yahshua was born. So how did the day of 25 December come to be established?
As a Messiah/ liberator he was recognised by the Romans and the Jewish High Priests as being intent on liberating the Jews from the rule of Rome and the High Priests themselves who were the puppets of Rome. This was a crime of sedition for which punishment was death by crucifixion. After his crucifixion, recovery and ascension into the heavens, his reputation lived on through his apostles and disciples and in fact Christianity grew beyond Galilee and Judea throughout the Roman Empire and was causing the state of Rome some irritation. Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70CE scattering the surviving Jews and forbidding their Judaic religion. But this Christian sect of Judaism just kept growing, no small feat given the persistent efforts of the Roman Empire to crush it. At around 313AD the Roman Emperor Constantine decided that he would make peace with the Christians. The official Roman Catholic version is that in 312 CE Constantine saw a cross in the sky the night before the battle of the Milvian Bridge against rival Emperor Maxentius over supremacy in the Roman Empire. Constantine decided that the vision of the cross in the sky was a signal that Jesus had enabled him to win the battle and so he agreed to stop persecuting Christians as his part of the deal. No one knows if Maxentius had seen the same cross, but in the end, he finished up drowned in the Tiber.
In effect, Constantine made the Christian bishops an offer they could not refuse. His patronage. That meant legitimacy, an end to persecution, an authority over the peasants in their parish that was backed up by the soldiers of Rome and an income from those peasants that could only increase as the emperor’s endorsement expanded their customer base. The bishops would become franchise holders of this religious organisation. The head office would be established in Rome and the Bishop of Rome would be the capo di tutti. And so, it was agreed. The Christian church expanded with the support of Rome and the bishops made sure all those under their pastoral care were loyal to Rome.
The common people obviously bought into this concept, literally bought in, believing that it was a choice of paying a tithe to the parish priest or facing eternity in the fires of hell (and/or the swords of the soldiers of Rome). These were a simple people facing simple choices and so the Church flourished. Then in 325AD Constantine convened the first formal convention of all the bishops of this Christian Church of Rome at a place called Nicaea, which was in modern Turkey. Everyone loves a convention, especially in Turkey. Nicaea was no humble collection of cave dwelling in the wilderness from which the original Christianity had emerged; it was an historical and prosperous city right on beautiful Lake Ascania. This convention was called to establish the doctrine of Christianity to which all Christians would be bound under pain of consignment to hellfire for all eternity. One of the items on the agenda was to give Jesus the Nazarene a birthday to celebrate. His followers over the past three centuries clearly had not settled on a birthday celebration, so Constantine thought that needed sorting out. Jesus the God had to have a birthday celebration.
But whether by coincidence or by edict the day chosen for Jesus’ birthday was an existing Roman festival of Natalis Solis Invicti. The dates of 21st/22nd December are the winter solstice, the longest night of the winter. On this winter solstice the sun drops to its lowest point in the sky, descending onto the Crux constellation (Cross) where it appeared to remain for three days before starting to rise again. The 25th of December therefore was the existing Roman festival of the rebirth of the sun.
Mithraism was the dominant pagan religious cult in the Roman military at that time. According to the Roman historian Plutarch, Mithraism became part of Roman religious belief during the military campaign of Pompey around 70BC. Worship of the deity Mithra goes back 3500 years in the Indian Verdic religion and spread up through Persia following the conquests of Alexander the Great, eventually becoming the primary god in Asia Minor. Mithra was referred to as the Sun-God. His legend also reportedly includes having been born in a cave to a virgin goddess named Anahita. As the Sun-God, Mithra was said to have had twelve satellites (read apostles) and was believed by the Indians to be the mediator between God and Man. From this some scholars conclude that Constantine simply overlaid his Mithraic beliefs onto the Christian religion that he had usurped.
So, Jesus’ birthday was then agreed at the Council of Nicaea to be December 25th even though it would seem unlikely that shepherds would be tending their flock at night in the hills during the snowy depths of mid-winter. It was a political decision of the ruling military power of most of the world at the time and the effective ruler of Christianity, but it has been retained by Christianity long after the fall of the Roman Empire.
So, in summary, a relatively small, impoverished, and persecuted cult of thousands was taken over by Rome Inc. and today has a global client base of around two billion people paying off an advance mortgage on an after-life plot in heaven. It is now a modern, complex corporation worth untold billions of tax-exempt dollars. Was this the greatest corporate takeover of all time? It is not as if the people can make a claim under the Consumer Protection Act after they are dead.
But at its essence, the celebration of Christmas is the official recognition of the legend that just over 2,000 years ago, three magi (star watchers) travelled from somewhere in Persia to Galilee because they had noticed a very bright body in the night sky and, from their ancient knowledge, they concluded that this ‘star’ meant the coming of the anointed one, the Messiah. They followed this star until it shone a beam down to a stable in Bethlehem where they witnessed the birth of Yahshua.
Now if anyone today told of a mysterious bright light in the sky leading three astronomers to a remote village in the desert to witness the birth of a child of a woman who had been approached by unearthly beings and artificially impregnated, they would be looked at with serious scepticism, at the very kindest. And when witnesses described that same baby’s final day on earth 33 years later as one where he was lifted from the Mount of Olives and last seen entering a ‘cloud’ hovering above them, they would be ridiculed as alien conspiracy loonies. But, thanks to the endorsement of the Roman Emperor Constantine, this story has been given the credibility to be accepted as the basis of the religion of Christianity. The basis for the declaration that Yahshua was indeed a son of God.
Today the bright light over Bethlehem, the angels serving an all-powerful God and the hovering cloud from the religious narrative have now all been translated in the commercial myth of a Santa Claus, who knows if you have been good or bad, who has elves helping him prepare gifts for the good and who flies around the world on a warp-speed sky-craft to either reward or to deny reward.
For the first 1700 years, Christmas was solely a religious event, a Mass involving devout worship, wholesome family gathering and alms to the poor. Any money to be made was in tithes to the local parish priest which passed up the line until the head man in Rome eventually wet his beak. The priest would expect a bonus from his clients for a special Christmas performance, but the despised merchant class was largely left out of the action.
Then, thanks to Coca Cola and the D’Arcy advertising agency, Saint Nicholas, a revered Christian patron saint of children and one of the bishops at Nicaea, was rebranded as fat, jolly Santa Claus and the commercial Christmas era arrived in full force. Charles Dickens had tried to start instilling a bit of guilt and goodwill in the hearts of the rich at Christmas time. But it was Coke that gave really gave Christmas the nostalgic magic of fantasy that overtook the religious festival and saw the true commercial potential of using Santa to endorse their products, and the rest of the commercial world climbed aboard the sleigh. Selling the idealism of a benevolent father figure living in the North Pole with his elves, bringing gifts to all the good little children, runs parallel to the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Just as Constantine had blended an established pagan celebration with the birth of Jesus, so too Coca Cola blended the Christian Saint Nicholas celebration with a commercial Santa Claus celebration. It did not take long before the target market was extended to all people that we ‘love and care for’. Even extended families, which are progressively becoming more complex, are socially coerced into getting together for this day.
That of course just exponentially increases the number of gifts that must be purchased. It became a gift-giving event that threatened social shame upon those miserly scrooges who did not support it. Brilliant! Was this one of the most effective ad campaigns of all time? How many businesses today owe their existence and profits to that morphing of Santa Nicholas into Santa Claus? Including family lawyers with post-Christmas now becoming one of their busiest times of the year as the victims of this season of peace and goodwill turn up at their offices in January as predictably as whitebait in October.