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To make a mocking bird

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The first thing I heard this Christmas morning was an ornamental battery powered bird that chirped as I went passed it. It was like a booby trap for an already fragile state. I’m on the cusp of total depression and despair as it is what with the collective madness this season brings.

It’s not entertaining or funny.

It’s a piece of shit made the other side of the world that, in the symbiotic cycle of life, is part of the reason we are losing the real actual birds. What’s good about that?

The person in the far east that made that probably had to make a ridiculous amount of them in one day just to get enough money to eat. It would be packed in loads of plastic, cardboard and paper sent in a lorry to concrete covered docks. Loaded on with thousands of tonnes of other tat and spread over the globe spewing diesel fumes into the air. Trucks dispersing it all via huge warehouses, reboxed and packaged and sent to shelves on concrete covered meadows. More packaging and wrapping and there it is… Perched on a melamine work surface mocking the lack of real birdsong.

Completely useless and totally destructive in the food chain.

Happy Christmess

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O Tannenbaum

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axis mundi

Every year, as regular as the shortening of days and the onset of frost, an ingrained tradition rises from deep within our sub-conscious. We are compelled to go to harvest a tree from the outside, be that a nearby woods or a DIY store. It is the centre piece of the seasonal winter festivities around which all other customs and traditions are hung and built. But – as is usually the purpose of my blog – I’d like to ask, why?

As nature withers back and dies, a few plants and trees retain their ‘evergreen’. Fir trees, Holly and Ivy were used in traditional Pagan decoration during midwinter festivities to bring that ‘everlasting life’ into homes. Our ancients saw the world in a very different way to us, the importance of nature and the stars being paramount and it was where they looked for guidance and comfort and it is from these beliefs we get some unquestioned traditions.

The Tree of Life is a central theme in many ancient cultures all the way back to the Egyptian, Sumerian and Babylonian. The Garden of Eden, The Tree of life and the Tree of Knowledge are what remain in the Judeo-Christian thread of this ancient concept of a central family/world tree but can also be found represented in art from Klimt’s painting to the film Avatar whilst Scandinavian cosmology has the immense Yggdrasil.

Brotherhood of Blackheads, Estonia

Brotherhood of Blackheads, Estonia

It was the Brotherhood of Blackheads in Estonia in the 1400’s that seems to be the first written record of the use of an evergreen in midwinter ceremony but they were simply carrying forward what was socially ingrained through Pagan culture. A regional autonomous organisation of mainly unmarried merchants that were not yet eligible for the Great Guild would gather on the 25th December (the pagan feast of Jul / Yule) and swear their binding oaths to support one another in adversity and back one another in feuds or in business ventures before proceeding with much merriment and dancing around a spruce decorated with wax candles, a valuable commodity of their day that as much as added to the ‘magic’ were a display of prosperity. The ceremonies were denounced by the church who had no control over their businesses and beliefs and sought to eradicate Pagan tradition. As the practice was adopted more widely through various political and religious shifts it gained popularity with royal households resulting in becoming a widely fashionable and accessible seasonal decoration. By the 19th century the newly united sides of the Rhine claimed the evergreen tree as an expression of ‘German’ culture and Gemütlichkeit (a situation that induces a cheerful mood, peace of mind, with connotations of belonging and social acceptance, coziness and unhurry.) Hans Christian Anderson popularised the concept in his fairy tale ‘The Fir Tree’ having been told of the practice by a Danish countess. German soldiers fighting in the American revolution spread the tradition to North America and it is there the lyrics of the German tune “O Tannenbaum” (Fir Tree) were mis-translated into “O Christmas tree”.

Accepted quite early by protestant society it was not until 1982 that Pope John Paul II introduced the evergreen tree to the Vatican Christmas and the full cover up of ‘The Tree of Life’ was co-opted and completed in 2004 when the pope declared the ancient tradition a ‘normal part of the catholic house’.

victorianchristmastreeAs the British throne developed its personal union with the house of Hanover the custom was adopted but remained a royal household practice. The young Victoria (then still Alexandrina Saxe Gotha) had a tree placed in her room every year, decorated with sweets and had presents around its base. After she married her first cousin Albert (ew!) the custom became far more widespread. In 1847, Prince Albert wrote: “I must now seek in the children an echo of what Ernest and I were in the old time, of what we felt and thought; and their delight in the Christmas-trees is not less than ours used to be”.

It is the magical simplicity of earlier history that fascinates me. The evergreen leaves were symbolic of everlasting life which in early cultures was so important. Each year as the days would get shorter and the sun would appear to ‘die’ in the south it was these rites that brought hope and celebration in the darkest hours. To the shamans of Siberia the tall pines would reach up to the stars and if you were to lay beneath one you could observe how the Pole Star, Solaris would appear atop the tree and all others would revolve around it. This is where we get the practice of placing a star on top of our trees. It would give a sense of the ‘cosmic axle’ that our world spun upon and through which the heavens would divine its knowledge. The red and white hallucinogenic mushrooms that still feature very heavily on our cards and decorations also played a large part in this shamanic understanding and tradition and probably how shaman managed to lay in the snow under a tree for hours watching the sky spin… slowly…

Finger Bones & Planetary Pull

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There are pivotal moments in life – like starting/leaving school or say moving out of ones parents and getting your first place. We are one of natures more complex creatures and despite a propensity for flat-lining through our calendar with order and logic we do operate in intricate cycles just like the rest of the organised chaos in the universe.

Probably because we learn to count with our digits we often simplify our cycles into decades. We group ourselves as ‘teenagers’, ‘twenty somethings’, ‘in their thirties’, ‘life begins at 40’ etc etc and so often we assess and compare ourselves on this measurement. We do a lot of stuff in tens, it’s very Roman and easier for the taxman. But nature isn’t made up of such easy patterns. A year isn’t made up of a nice round number. In fact a ‘year’ is slightly ambiguous when one considers that there are indeed two measurements for it – the Tropical Solar year and the Sidereal year. The former being the one we generally operate with is actually 20min24.5secs shorter than the other and so is potentially vastly out of sync with more natural Sidereal rhythms we may no longer be fully conscious of.

The ‘add one’ linear nature of the Gregorian tax calendar – bludgeoned into every heathen in 1582 – finally suppressed the perspective of looking up to the stars to know where in space and time we are and instead got us to focus on what we needed to be doing at any given moment for the function of the state, to facilitate prompt payment of our duties usually in denominations of 10. Before this, many cultures would still set their agricultural, social feasting and bio-rythmical decisions by looking at the position of the stars as opposed to consulting the thing hanging up in the kitchen which keeps life organised in boxes (or the organiser in your phone these days).

The passage through the Zodiac was an essential calendar for many cultures prior to catholic globalisation. The incredibly accurate mathematical observations passed on through allegory and by giving character to constellations may hold secrets to understanding some of these pivotal moments we experience in life. We have perhaps lost some profound grasp of these astral movements and flippantly brush aside Astrology as plain woo – just as a foreign language bigot might demand ‘they should just speak English‘? Woo-woo aside and whilst my jury is still out on all that stuff, I will propose for now that guidance by the stars is a far more tangible, simple, definitive and attuned system that could keeps us aware of our cycles and our place in the universe – literal and metaphysical!!

Instead of counting in decades with digits, were we to use our phalanges to keep track of our life-path as we orbit the sun, maybe we could be more in tune with our life cycles and be better prepared to understand them? Each hand has 14 finger bones – 3 per finger and 2 in the thumb – and so we could count up to 28 before starting another cycle, instead of just 10. Older calendars that were lunar based used a system of 28 day moonths. The moon has 14 lunations in a cycle. In the Sidereal year the lunar cycle is (just shy of) 28 days, as is the average menstrual cycle. The word lunatic coming from lunar and the influence the Moon is thought to have on mood and behaviour when it waxes full. But what of the influence of other celestial bodies?

Saturn, the large mysterious planet with its many moons and rings, one thousand million miles from Earth, takes 29.4 years to orbit the sun and astrologers allege that this planet can profoundly influence a persons life cycle. It is thought that as Saturn returns to the degree it occupied at the time of your birth, one crosses a major threshold and enters the next phase of life. Each cycle presents us with the challenge to rise to new levels of awareness, or face the consequences of having failed to gain the wisdom required so to do. It is of course difficult to find any scientific backing for such a theory but an explanation may be as simple as the period in which Saturn gets back to the point it was at at ones birth, is around the point in life in which we intensely evaluate our past and future. Body clocks make noises, careers and relationships are scrutinised with deep contemplation.

Saturn by Rubens

Saturn, in mythology, castrated his father Uranus and devoured his children only to be eventually overthrown by Jupiter. The deep meaning in this myth is to not hold on to the passing cycle and be among the children that are devoured by Saturn when he comes looking for us – but to grow into the new phase. As explored in an earlier blog, The Feast of Saturnalia that pre-dates Christmas was a Saturn worship festival to celebrate the chaos of the darkness before the rebirth of the new Sun. In 2002 the Cassin-Huygens mission recorded eerie radio signals being emitted from the planet. The complex radio spectrum with rising and falling tones, is very similar to Earth’s auroral radio emissions – listen here.

If you avoid joining the 27 club, the first visit from the scythe of Saturn comes between the ages of 27 and 30 as we pass from The Phase of Youth into The Phase of Maturity. We have fully grown into our current self, developed our tastes, character, aspirations and it is time to put them under the microscope. Common experiences of this time are a rapid acceleration of occurrences and circumstances that either finalise old issues or prepare the ground for a new phase.

Astrologer Rob Tillet writes “For those who are unprepared, this is often a time of severe suffering, as we struggle to understand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that seem to be aimed squarely at our hearts. Indeed, relationships and major life-decisions are all too often the focal points for this clearing out of ones karmic baggage. Saturn rules sorrow and regret and things connected with the past, for suffering is the doorway to wisdom”.

It seems that those who have already arrived at a reasonably stabilised point by this time have a less anxious time turning this corner. It’s a good time to assess where you’re at in life, in astrological terms Saturn can show the areas of life where we must take these tests. My own personal experience was of finding myself managing a venue and having a ‘what the hell am I doing?’ experience. I traded my domestic and financial security in for a camper van road trip down through Europe. In hindsight this was a fairly radical decision that happened to span 27-30 and was a slow burning transition, the enaction of the thought taking place sometime apart. I encountered a noticeable re-invention in my ‘character’ like a re-wiring and an expansion of horizons, followed by a rebuild which continues still. Perhaps this choice opened me up to greater experience than were I to have continued on my earlier path – but I will of course never know. Maybe it is just a different experience, a lesser one or maybe there is only one path of experience that is the necessary one? We are always undergoing change – change is the only constant.

“A well-placed Saturn is an influence that can bring supreme success. Patience and thoroughness will generally offset the more problematic influences of Saturn, at least in terms of the anxiety they create, because Saturn rarely troubles those who are straightforward, systematic, and above all, patient.”

Between the ages of 56 and 60 the second return is due which is the transition between Maturity and The Phase of Wisdom. If only we were more in tune with such a cycle – old age would seem like a treasure island as opposed to a landfill!

The third and normally last call is for those that make it to 84-90 years which is thought of as either the transition to the ‘afterlife’ or return to another childhood. Only a small minority get a 4th visit between 114-118yrs.

Tillet concludes in his view after having his second ‘return’ “The Saturn return is the culmination of a train of complex aspects that happen to everyone at this time of life, but if you are experiencing your Saturn return, it need not mean that you too will suffer immense dislocation, or emotional disturbance and suffering. The focus of the spirit during this period of purification must increasingly be on understanding our needs, as opposed to our wants. When we find room in our lives for fulfilling our true needs and for living with intent, our souls grow in love and understanding, as we move closer to the heart of our real reason for being here. This Way is the true Tao which cannot be told…

And don’t take it personally, it’s not just us mere mortals that go through these kind of cycles. The entire planet is experiencing a once in 26,000 years alignment of the December solstice sun with the galactic equator. It might explain the global acceleration and upheaval of old systems and the vivid struggle by so many to lay out a new future. It’s up to us whether we choose to see this as an apocalyptic and destructive loss or the perfect time to relinquish to the completion of a cycle and the dawn of a new one.

Thankfully I have another 16 phalanges till the Grim Reaper knocks on my door again! Time enough to learn to practice how to be straightforward and patient…

for now – pull my phalanx!

more related posts; Rob Tillet; Suite 101;  About.com

Don’t Attack Iran, Rally at US Embassy

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The Stop the War Coallition (StWC) were joined by several hundred outside the US embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square yesterday to call upon the governments of the USA, UK and Israel to cease ‘beating the war drums’ as western rhetoric and sanctions pile the pressure on Iran.

General Eisenhower joins the rally

Billed as an event to stop any military intervention in both Iran and Syria, the talks between world leaders in Davos the previous night drew focus upon a heightening of pressure from Israel for the West to bring strong intervention to Iran’s nuclear program. Familiar anti-war speakers and activists took to the microphone to state what they see as the hypocracy of accusing Iran of aggression and aiming to arm themselves through their nuclear program, when they themselves have the worlds biggest caches and the most aggresive histories, particularly in the Middle East. StWC support the strong view of others that there is no evidence to support nuclear weapons ambitions by Iran despite increasing claims from governments and mainsream media.

Tony Benn opened the meeting by drawing attention to the correlation between severe austerity measures and the cost of further aggression in the region by saying ‘every bomb that is dropped is paid for by cuts in public expenditure’. He went on to make clear that the rally was “not an endorsement of President Ahmadinejad but a determination not to engage in another imperialist war to safeguard the interests of the west.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IaNo1WvA9xM

StWC activist, John Rees reminded the crowd that a reason repeatedly given to attack other countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq was because “these peoples suffer such tyrrany that it is only with the help of the West that they can achieve change”. Rees, who had recently returned from Cairo, then highlighted the Egyptians condemnation of such claims by the success of their own revolution against a 30 year dictatorship “…without the bombers and the bullets, the tanks and the soldiers, the United States, Britain, or any of the Western powers…” and “even after a year…there is not one single Egyptian revolutionary who will ask for support from the United States or military assistance from the United States… because… they are still being shot down in the streets by Egyptian soldiers who are using American weapons and American bullets..” He stated that it was only by intervention of outside powers that a country ends up without real democracy and no control of their own resources. It is our business to see that countries can take care of their own business.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0N64a88nHQ&feature=relate

A passionate speech from Unite the Unions Andrew Murray began with the claim that war on Iran had in a way already started with targeted assassinations, sanctions and military manouevres that are underway in the gulf. He too highlighted the lessons to be learned from previous attempts to install preferred regimes and received the biggest applause when he declared that anyone believing that democracy in Iran could be brought by imperialist bombardment was living in a ‘fool’s paradise’.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bD2zm9kyS5I&feature=related

The performance of an inaudible anti-war choir had any attention taken away from it as a group of ‘Free Iran’ protestors moved into the middle of the crowd with banners and began chanting. Demands on them to respect the speakers were ignored which raised tensions between the rally and the group leading to a minor scuffle. The banners were dragged down from the group and they were forced to the back of the crowd only to be seperated by police. It is not clear whether the group supported military intervention or had merely taken on a ‘less British’ form of political rally.

A delegation from the London Occupy movement then joined the rally in ‘V’ masks adding their support to the opinion that western governments are now sabre rattling before making their next power grab in the Middle East. StWC called for organisation across the country to get underway for mass protests against what seems an increasingly inevetable new military campaign if previous patterns are anything to go by.

The Meaning of Christmas

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Little faerie bearing cosmic treats

Many people might say that we’ve now lost the real meaning of Christmas. But what is the real meaning?

I’ve long struggled with Christmas but it has indeed got worse as its magic in early childhood was beaten out of me by the guilt of consumer responsibilities and the realisation that Santa or Jesus didn’t exist – at least certainly not in the way we are told. My interest in the roots of dogmatic social events has led me to look into the symbology and practices that this time of year brings.

Why the 25th December? The film Zeitgeist first pointed me in this direction. In hindsight I am a little skeptical about the ‘facts’ presented by the makers and am currently looking deeper into them but regardless of the minutiae that is now argued over in debunks and counter-conspiracy there is one simple and glaring fact that happens year in year out in the northern hemisphere generally on the 25th of December or thereabouts. With the winter soltice (between 21 and 23rd December) we are all aware of the shortage of light as the sun struggles to lift over the horizon. From the summer solstice onwards it rises and sets in a more southerly position each day and the further north you are this is more noticeable. After a certain latitude the sun barely rises at all and for that period the streets needed a lot of lighting. Could this be the start of the tradition of Christmas street lights?

Sinterklaas

Despite the limited understanding and tools of the ancients it would have been observed that around 3 days after the soltice, the sun would appear to start to return to set more in the west and the days would start to get longer. A NEW SUN IS BORN. Steeped in fear of failed harvest (understandably) and owing their fortunes to gods, the passage and existence of the sun would have been central in their observations and no doubt it was a focus of ‘worship’ as the life giver.  Stonehenge dated 2-3000BC is on a sight-line that points to the winter solstice sunset. It is thought that the Winter Solstice was the most important festival of the year and was a time when most cattle were slaughtered so as not need feeding during winter. Also the majority of wine and beer was finally fermented. The plentiful meat and booze would be much appreciated by agricultural workers with little to do and would be cause for much merriment along with the onset of brighter days.

Given that the Bible doesn’t specify a date – historical cross references allude to a year between 7 and 2BC – and also the time of year isn’t in keeping with shepherds abiding in their fields, then we can immediately dispense with the notion of it being a celebration of the birth of Christ (whether he existed or not) and equally then of course the name Christ Mass. The religous format was fully introduced by the Church (4thC) to usurp the earlier Greco-Roman pagan customs and traditions by rebranding and intergrating old ones without causing too much dissent, finishing the work started by Emperor Theodosius I.

Back in 1st century Rome, The Feast of Saturnalia was celebrated (17th – 23rd) with banquets and gift giving and the customary greeting for the occasion was “Io, Saturnalia!” — Io (pronounced “e-o”) being a  Latin interjection related to “Ho” (as in “Ho, praise to Saturn”)….Ho! Ho! Ho!

On the 25th itself was the festival Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (The Birth Of The Invincible Sun). Sol Invictus had been imported from Emesa, Syria by Augustus where this sun-god was known as Elagabalus and the first noticable longer day after Solstice was given as its day of celebration. Traces of this Emesean cult have been found as far north as Holland which indicates the extent of its influence. The Babylonian go Nimrod is said to have the 25th December as his birthday and also is represented by a huge evergreen tree that is said to have grown out of a stump.

The Celestial Nail atop the World Tree

It is in the higher latitudes we now move to find more origins of this other central theme,  the Christmas tree. Although most would associate the decorated tree with a Germanic tradition from the 17thC we can find relative writings in Biblical text. In Jeremiah 10 ‘they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.  They adorn it with silver and gold’. The ‘ungodly’ men spoken of in this text were most likely the non-semetics of Mesopotamia for whom The World Tree was an important religous motif. Also known as the Axis Mundi (world axle) it expressed the connection between the earth and the sky and the underworld and can be found throughout global cultures from ancient to current. The fixed appearance of the Pole Star – the celestial nail – gave rise to this notion of an axis and it is most likely where we get the practice of annointing our tree with a star. The World Tree features heavily in Siberian mythology and it is here that things get really interesting. Animistic shamanic cultures such as the Evenks of Russia see the Fly Agaric mushroom as part of the world axes. Entheogens, psychoactive plants taken for spiritual experiences, are used by shaman in many cultures but when one looks at old christmas cards and glass tree decorations one has to ask why the Fly Agaric so often features in this context?

Evenk Shaman with Fly Agarics

Originally native to the Northern Hemisphere the mushroom is symbiont to coniferous trees. The ethnobotanist Jonathan Ott ascribes the red and white colour theme of Santas outfit, xmas stockings and suchlike to the mushroom. Coca-cola have dispelled the urban myth, propogated by a Brighton school, that they created the red version in the 1930’s and it is now accepted that the modern image of the tubby old man is attributed to the German born American cartoonist Thomas Nast for a drawing that featured in Harpers Weekly in 1863. In Victorian and Tudor times the character was presented in green and in old English folklore Father Christmas is identified with the god Woden, the proto-Germanic pagan god. Closely linked to the Norse god Odin he is associated with mantic states of divination which brings us back to the World Tree (known as Yggdrasil in Norse mythology) and the psychotropic journeys experienced from ingesting the Fly Agaric.

Odin is also widley thought of as a precursor to Santa Claus as he rode an eight legged horse that could leap great distances in the sky and was know by many names which often translate as Longbeard or Father Yule. The Christian legend of Saint Nicholas of Myra (who had a reputation for leaving coins in shoes left out for him) was merged with the mythology of Odin giving rise to Santa Claus/Father Christmas. Legend has it that children would leave their boots filled with straw or carrots near the chimney for Odins horse for which they would be rewarded with gifts or candy.

The word shaman comes from the language of the Evenk,  hunters and reindeer herders in Siberia, although Mongolian shaman share very similar traits including that of the flying horse. Found beneath pine, fir and spruce among other evergreen trees, the relationship we see between these mushrooms and Christmas starts to take place. Lithuanians mixed A.muscaria with vodka and were known to export quantities of them to the Lapps in the Far North for use in shamanic rituals. The Laplanders, indigneous nomadic arctic people, whose main livelihood is reindeer herding that import psychedelic mushrooms – flying reindeer eh!!? The reindeer are know to be partial to a drop of psychotropic herders piss and he (also the shaman) would carry a pouch of it to attract any lost from the herd. In many regions it was confined only to shamanic use to reach an altered state but it was in Eastern Siberia that the consumption of the A.Muscaria was most common among the community. First ingested by the shaman, the lay people would then drink his urine (which filters the negative deliriant effects and makes for a more clean entheogenic experience) and this is also possibly where we get the idea of getting pissed. This process could remain potent for up to six passes. Is the case for a magic man aided by many elves and flying reindeer starting to make a bit of sense now?

I am open to any other explanation as to why it is so common to have Amanita Muscaria trippy mushrooms as tree decorations?!?

To collect these valuable ‘jewels’ would be quite a ceremonious matter. As they were found they would be collected and hung on a central tree to initiate the drying process then later taken inside to dry above the fireplace. Entry into the house/yurt in winter time was often through the smoke hole in the roof as this would be the only access in heavy snow. It was possibly through the spiritual trance that the shaman could tell who was good or bad, or maybe the response to the effects upon the layman having a good or bad reaction, would be where this notion came from?

HO! HO! HO!

The Holly & the Ivy is ubiquitous in song, imagary and decoration. Back in Pagan times, in the depths of winter when there was little growth, it would be only the evergreens that were available to decorate the home, use at funerals, weddings etc. Even though pagan ritual useage was forbidden by the church, the tradition was so strong that it had to be incorporated somehow. Christians may insist in their 18thC carol that the leafs prickles represent the crown of thorns, the white blossom as Christ’s purity and the red berries as his blood, but long before this our ancestors were rejoicing in the signs of life that Nature brought to their short and dark days. Dating back only a couple of hundred years the most familiar of songs about this pair is but a cover up for the masculine and feminine superstitions of lore. Halls would be ‘decked’ with a pole, a winter equivalent to the May-pole although in some cultures it was only the holly to be brought inside. The ‘sex’ of the holly first brought in would determine whether the man or the woman would rule the house for that year. A sprig of the decorative holly was then saved for the following year, when it was used to light the fire under the following year’s Christmas Plum pudding.

Also saved for next year would be a remnant of the ‘Yule Log’. This was not always a cake covered in chocolate with the appearance of bark. It was originally an entire tree that was carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony with the purpose being to provide maximum warmth and endurance. In some European traditions, the largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room (I remember a scatty old landlord doing this but I think it was because he didnt have a saw or was too lazy to use one and not for ritual purpose). A remnant of this ‘log’ would be saved until next yule to light the fire then. Yule or Yuletide is from the Germanic pagan winter solstice celebrations where again we see faeries, Woden, Odin or the Welsh psychopomp Gwyn ap Nudd and suchlike flying horses across the sky in ‘The Great Hunt’. This was probably a tradition related to the sacrificial superstitions of the Yule Boar as a tribute to Freyr, a pagan god associated with boars, harvest and fertility, which now manifests itself on our tables as the Christmas ham.

In my research for this piece I discovered a bizzare tradition of the Welsh called Holming Day (26th Dec) whereupon the last (female) out of bed would have their unprotected arms or legs thrashed with holly branches until they bled. Luckily this tradition died out by the 19thC – although there is from my experience some psychological remainder of being chastised for sleeping in and it’s not only confined to one day.

It wasn’t just the Catholics who tried to ban festivities around this time. In 1644, Cromwell enforced an act of Parliament outlawing celebrations. Christmas was regarded by the Puritans as a wasteful festival that threatened core Christian beliefs. Consequently, all activities relating to Christmas, including attending mass, were forbidden. Not surprisingly, the ban was hugely unpopular and many people continued to celebrate Christmas secretly. The Puritan War on Christmas lasted until 1660. Under the Commonwealth, mince pies, holly and other popular customs fell victim to the spirited Puritan attempt to eradicate every last remnant of merrymaking during the Christmas period.

In the first half of the 17th century Christmas was an important religious festival and a time when the English population would indulge in a variety of traditional pastimes. The 25th December was a public holiday, during which all places of work closed and people attended special church services. The next eleven days included additional masses, with businesses open sporadically and for shorter hours than usual. During the twelve days of Christmas, buildings were dressed with rosemary, holly and ivy and families attended Christmas Day mass. As well as marking the day’s religious elements, there was also non-stop dancing, singing, drinking, exchanging of presents and stage plays. The population indulged in feasts of roast beef, plum porridge, minced pies and special ale. Twelfth Night, the final day of celebration, often saw a fresh bout of feasting and carnivals. Despite the threat of fines and punishment many people continued to celebrate Christmas clandestinely. The ban had never been popular and many people still held mass on the 25th December to mark Christ’s nativity and also marked the day as a secular holiday. In the late 1640s Cromwell tried to put a stop to these public celebrations and force businesses to stay open. As a result, violent encounters took place between supporters and opponents of Christmas in many towns. Once Charles II was restored to the throne, all legislation banning Christmas — enforced from 1642 to 1660 — was dropped and the common people were once again allowed to mark the Twelve Days of Christmas.

One last idea on the mushrooms and how Christianity gets involved. In the book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, John Allegro claims that the church is built on an ancient fertility cult involving psychotropic mushrooms. Given that Yule is a fertility festival and that Santa’s roots are most likely from tripping Shaman – is it not quite possible that there is something they are not telling us? They wouldn’t lie would they? The Roman Catholic Church and its feast of

Not a shamanic mushroom robe.

Saturnalia…

Persistent Plane Trails

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To know the truth, one has to be prepared to accept what it is – not what one wishes it to be.

For some years over the last decade – particularly the past few years – I became increasingly aware of the sky being filled with bright white streaks in the sky, clearly the trails of airplanes.  Trails from planes were nothing new but something was different. They stayed. They filled the sky in criss-cross grids and instead of dissipating they spread out to form a milky haze.

Around the same time I was noticing this I was becoming more interested in what are now discarded in one generalised sweeping dismissal as ‘Conspiracy Theories’. This piece isn’t about conspiracies. Man has always conspired, particularly the few who have a grip on the many so that they can keep it that way, nothing wierd there. Whether it’s globally, nationally, at work or in school…. man conspires. It’s in his egoistic self interested nature and will do so at the expense of himself, his family, his species and his planet. But that’s for another note.

Sprayed like bugs!

When someone first suggested ‘chemtrails’ to me to be honest at first it didn’t resonate. Man cannot be THAT crazy… The implications of such a program would be… suicidal. However, the more I watched and paid attention to what was happening and the more I Googled and YouTube’d the more obsessed I became with what I was seeing. I love nature, I am in awe at the sky. The (thankfully rare) sight of the M25 fills me with such a deep despair. Now I was seeing a similar thing happen to the sky. But was it more sinister? Barium, Aluminium and other metals and chemical compounds became the focus of the ‘Chemtrail Truthers’ which now included me. It became a daily mission to get someone each day to look up and see for themselves at what was happening above their iphones. I started a FB group (still going but I left as admin) that covered the topic. https://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=252590360298

I took hundreds and hundreds of photos as ‘evidence’ and kept a diary of any activity to try and ‘make sense of this program’. I hooked up with people online all over the world and started to build a global picture. It was even one of the reasons for me moving house because the amount of spraying over our area was getting me so down.

I have on file many documents and links related to geo-engineering, HAARP, cloud seeding etc and have probably seen all, if not most of the websites and videos online relating to chemtrails. I wrote to Michael Murphy on the release of ‘What in the World are they Spraying’ to say well done for putting it together. I thought the Belfort Group with Peter Vereecke and the International Symposium on Chemtrails had some really cool parts to it and I was drawn to the people power to bring change and to get information out that was seemingly and suspiciously being withheld.

I even developed an eye tick/twitch that I then convinced myself was the beginnings of Morgellons disease or something… It was from staring at the laptop too much.

I was working at sea around this time and began to read meteorological material. Conversations I would have with crew opened my ideas up as I developed a better understanding of the weather. I looked for more information on meteorological stuff but at this time I was only looking for ‘PROOF’ of what I thought was happening and failed to also find proof that I may be wrong. Then I engaged with a Met scientist on Facebook who was doing an ‘event’ to counter a ‘Chemtrail Awareness Day’ which he called ‘Ice-Supersaturation Awareness Day’ or something like that – Being an enraged fearful conspiranoid campaigner I initially attacked him for having such outrageous cheek to try and undermine what was now totally clear to me. He threw heaps of science at me (or at least he put it up on his page to digest) which just infuriated me more (because I didn’t understand it). He was ‘flippant, arrogant and condescending’ as I now recall telling him and all I wanted was a simple explanation I could grasp. What had changed though for me was that I wanted to understand more. I wanted to stop being afraid of lines in the sky. I realised that the majority of my fear was irrational and ignorant and without any empirical evidence. Sure there was a lot of direct observation and experience but looking to substantiate a conclusion already met.

I will try to explain why I changed my mind although I wouldn’t say I’m qualified to explain too well, but you can find yourself someone to ask if you want to learn. I don’t wish to convince anyone of anything and I gain nothing from putting this out other than maybe helping someone to stop looking at the sky and freaking out – beyond the same level of despair as looking at the M25 on a Friday afternoon which I think IS a tangible problem. I have used Wikipedia links in the main as it is the easiest, quickest and the most accessible encylopedia. If you cannot trust this information because you think it is controlled by a hidden hand then you should stop reading this now and find sources you feel you can trust to correlate your own information.

A fine particle suspended in a gas.

I turned my ‘alternative research’ energy to getting a better understanding of how the sky works. Really fascinating stuff and I wish we had been given such basic info in school?!! Immediately words started becoming less terrifying. ‘Aerosol’ for example had these connotations to me of toxic sprays… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerosol – as it says in the wiki description, this is often the general perception. But the slight change in understanding of a word kinda kick started me. A particle of dust from a field can be an aerosol, an SO2 particle from a volcano or a car exhaust is an aerosol. A bit of skin even. 

The fact is – without an aerosol a cloud cannot form. It is the nuclei with which the h20 ‘wraps’ itself around. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/51/Aerosols.OGG

Sea Level to the Kármán line

Then there are the layers of the atmosphere that I didn’t know about. Anyone that’s worried about what is happening in the sky that doesn’t also take an interest in how it works is not really ever going to stop worrying and shouldn’t be making grand claims. Ignorance being the bed in which fear grows etc…

It was really quite an interesting read, learning about the atmospheric layers but the bit we are interested in for plane trails are the bottom one or two. (Heights are averages as they vary from pole to equator)

0-11/20km  The Troposhere. The layer where the majority of weather occurs. As the altitude increases the temperature drops. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troposphere

11/20-50km  The Stratosphere. It is here the temperature changes invert and instead of getting colder –  as altitude increases it becomes warmer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratosphere

Between these two layers where the temperature inversion takes place is the Tropopause – the atmospheric boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere. Going upward from the surface, it is the region of the atmosphere where the environmental lapse rate changes from positive (in the troposphere) to negative (in the stratosphere). That is, it is the point where air ceases to cool with with height gain and becomes almost completely dry. It is not a ‘hard edged’ layer and is more of a cross-over region that has some variables, such as it being higher at the tropics than at the poles.

Up to 80km is the Mesosphere and at around 100km in the Thermosphere is the Karman Line which is regarded as the boundary between the atmosphere and space.

Jet engines are more efficient at lower temperatures.

Most commercial aircraft are flown below the tropopause if at all possible to take advantage of the troposphere’s temperature lapse rate.  It is also here that aircraft are least effected by weather and where there is lower air resistance for fuel efficiency.

Now for a little Cloud Science

Cooling air to its dew point;

Clouds generally form when rising air is cooled to its dew point, the temperature at which the air becomes saturated. Water vapour normally begins to condense on condensation nuclei such as dust, smoke particles and salt in order to form clouds. If sufficient condensation particles are not present, the air will become supersaturated and the formation of cloud will be inhibited. (However, a Wiki correction needed – the air is never so pristine pure that there are never no nuclei present) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud#Formation:_How_the_air_becomes_saturated

Cloud Condensation Nuclei;

Also known as Cloud Seeds, CCN’s are small particles about which cloud droplets collect and join. Water requires a non-gaseous surface to make the transition from a vapour to a liquid. The particles may be composed of dust or clay or soot or black carbon from grassland or forest fires, sea salt from ocean wave spray, soot from factory smokestacks or internal combustion engines, sulfate from volcanic activity, phytoplankton or the oxidation of sulfur dioxide and secondary organic matter formed by the oxidation of Volotile Organic Compounds. The ability of these different types of particles to form cloud droplets varies according to their size and also their exact composition, as the hygroscopic (drawing moisture from the air) properties of these different constituents are very different. Sulfate and sea salt, for instance, readily absorb water whereas soot, organic carbon and mineral particles do not. This is made even more complicated by the fact that many of the chemical species may be mixed within the particles (in particular the sulfate and organic carbon). Additionally, while some particles (such as soot and minerals) do not make very good CCN, they do act as very good ice nuclei in colder parts of the atmosphere. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_condensation_nuclei

So – what happens when a plane goes through atmospheric condition pumping out not only H2O from it’s exhaust but also So2 which we have seen earlier is a condensing nuclei as is the case in volcano eruptions. The exhaust will be putting out other lesser things such as carbons but the main emissions are H2O and S02. So it is providing the two of the things necessary things to ‘form cloud’. Water can also condense of a planes wing tips as pressure and temperatures clash.

For a ‘Contrail’ to form it will need the mixture of exhaust and environment to reach WATER saturation at some point.

If the air is dry the trail will dissipate.

If the air is moist enough the environment may be ICE-SUPERSATURATED. This means that the ice in the contrail CANNOT evaporate. There is ALREADY TOO MUCH water vapour in the air for any more to be added from the ice particles.  So, in air moist enough, the contrail will persist.

The environment can be ice-supersaturated because there are no naturally occurring freezing nuclei for ice clouds to form. There are plenty of condensation nuclei, but ice-saturated air is not necessarily water-saturated. You need even more moisture for that.

So why has this only been the case for the last decade?

Simple – volume of traffic. When I recall laying in my parents garden as a child and watching the occasional plane go past with its dissipating short trail that would be once or twice a day at max. Now it’s several an hour. I don’t recall seeing persistent trail but then the chances of them occurring were vastly less. I got on a chemtrail rant with my brother one day and he assures me he remembers seeing long and lasting trails. I trust him. You can fly from a myriad of airports now at a ridiculous price. Two euros to Morocco I saw the other day!! That’s ridiculous and if anything is suspect it’s that. How is that possible and why? Because they can and we want.

The tic-tac-toe checkerboard? I think that is quite simple. A trail is made in atmospheric conditions on a flight path and it persists due to the conditions. The trail then drifts with wind direction and another plane comes on the same path and lays another which also drifts and so on. All it takes is for another crossing flight path and you will develop a criss cross.

HOWEVER – I look at the sky and see that it is bad. But just like the motorways. This is the problem. ‘THEY’ are not ‘SPRAYING US’. If anything WE are spraying US. We have a terrible addiction to oil and money and this issue is just a symptom. I am concerned as to how the understanding of this relatively new (aerosol) science is of great interest to Climate Scientists, Politicians, Oil barons, Geo-engineers, parched farmers etc… and I have no doubt that the effect of this activity is being closely monitored and by some who might benefit and no doubt subsidise the affair – hence the very cheap flights?

You alone cannot change the world by any means BUT you can change your world. Freaking out about something that you cannot prove, and actually quite unlikely, is not going to do anything other than waste your life and make you ill. Please put your energy into making a positive change by adjusting your life to take away the causes of what symptoms you see. OIL and MONEY. Stop driving everywhere and flying so often and buying crap food from supermarkets that has come from the other side of the world. Don’t use banks. Avoid paying tax or find an honourable way to reduce your personal contribution to a corrupt system. Complaining about the rancid teat whilst continuing to suckle from it is not going to bring you results. Grow some of your own food to start reconnecting with natures cycles. Share stuff. This is ‘waking up’. Not freaking out at invisible monsters

I’m not saying I’m right and that there is no problem or no dodgy antics going on – just please stop trying to convince people that we are being sprayed like bugs. If you are willing to absorb the scientific information, this issue clearly becomes irrational fear based ill-informed scaremongering which is akin to the tactics of neo-con-fundamentalist-nutjobs.

I think the people who get upset by the chemtrail theory have a lot to give because they clearly clearly have concern for the environment, their health and that of the species but it could be so better placed by putting the amount of energy used into more tangible causes. At the end of the dayone is free to choose how to apply your energy but from my own personal experience of this ‘issue’ I am compelled to write this.

I was in a nightmare surrounded by people shouting ‘wake up’ – So I did!

November – The month of remembrance?

Standard

Have we forgotten why we are trying to remember?

Most calendrical events seem to have roots in ancient traditions based upon natural cycles which are then overlayed with newer religious/political occasions – there is no exception for November. Remembering the dead is its major theme – from Halloween/All Saints Day and  Burning efigies of Catholic terrorist Guy Fawkes through to Remembrance Day. After watching several English footballers painfully struggle to explain why they believe it is essential that they can wear poppies this weekend I thought I’d rummage around for the roots of these various commemorations that lead us to ponder deceased humans this particular month.

Dawn of the Day of the Dead.

Setting out on the first day of the month we have ‘All Saints Day’ which dates back to the 4thC.  Originally held on 13th May the church de-paganised an earlier Roman festival of this date, that of Lemuria, where troublesome ghouls were exorcised from homes. Lemuria was suppressed and ASD moved to the 1st Nov where this focus of attention onto the lives of  beatified saints, also known as Hallowmas or All Hallows, would share the date with another pagan feast – Samhain. Pronounced Sew-in and meaning ‘summers end’ it was the most important of  the quarterly Gaelic feasts and marked the end of the summer light and the onset of the dark. It shared its pagan roots with the defunct Lemurian spirit feast.

Memorial commemoration of the dead in society can be traced back before the pagan predecessors were hidden under priests cassocks and the solar calendar punctuated with church representatives. Prior to the irregular amount of days in our current 12 months, our ancestors kept track of where they were in the agricultural year by observing the Moon’s 28 day cycle. This split the year neatly up into 13 ‘moonths’ accounting for 364 days, leaving one day over to complete our annual passage around the sun. On this day, that was so sacred it had no name, our ancestors believed the veil between this and the underworld to be so thin spirits could move between worlds. It is not known exactly which day of the year this was alloted to and there is conflicting evidence for different theories and probably differed between cultures but is surely the inspiration for the early pagan traditions. Some believe ‘that day’ to be one of the 3 ‘days of darkness’ between Winter Solstice and Christmas (22nd-25th Dec) whilst others claim midsummers day. Personally, I go with the feeling of natures cycle and the way the seasons make us feel. I think it’s fair to say that we all (at least in the northern hemisphere) start to become a little more pensive as the leaves start to fall – nature is ‘dying’ around us. This was also thought to be the time of the Celtic New Year, the time for reflecting on what had passed. A natural time to consider the toil and harvest as well as for venerating ancestors and the wisdom they imparted to assist our existence.

Tricks or Treats?

The night before ‘All Saints Day’ is the far more popular Halloween. What is seen as an American affair is of course simply All Hallows Even(ing). Just as the folk music of Britain travelled across the pond and mixed with Black roots music to produce Rock and Roll so has the Dia de Muertos and the ancient British customs now produced this B-movie hybrid. Pranks, lots of sugar, blood and gore, typical brash yank stuff. Like much US popular culture the upgrade has been repatriated back in the UK. Yet another commercialised frenzy for which no-one really knows why they are doing it or stops to consider. Not wanting to sound too much like a grumpy old man I’m sure that each time the party has been bastardised there’s always been someone remembering what it used to be about and not really enjoying the current format?

Our natural time and purpose for remembrance has not only been overlaid with religious doctrine but also forgotten in the haze of the new gods of consumption.

Remember remember!

Then, on these once fair and magic isles steeped in folk-lore and cultural heritage, we are quickly presented with another calender event. We are given the opportunity to consider what happens to anyone that is caught challenging those in power. He may have been an un-witting stooge but there is something else about the story of Guy Fawkes that never sat right with me. Are we celebrating an assassination attempt of a corrupt king by a folk hero or the swift justice meted out by a strong leader on a political terrorist? It appears the latter, although oddly I think many see Guido as a folk hero fighting oppression of the state and the idea has been popularised by the film V for Vendetta and has become the face of the global ‘Occupy’ protest. Given that people had been putting bonfires together at this time of year, probably since agricultural/astronomical understanding was established, I find it opportunist that in 1606 King James I  introduced the ‘Observance of 5th November Act’ claiming that the fires were the people celebrating his survival. There are other ‘conspiracy theories’ surrounding the hapless Guido and his We are Change crew of the 17thC, such as the alleged tunnel of which no trace has never been found. So an annual nature feast, elaborated by pagans and hijacked by Catholics was now claimed by a protestant king and imposed on the contemporary psyche by means of sermons and rhymes (the most famous of which is ‘Remember Remember’) warning that treason will never be forgotten.

Lest We Forget.

‘All Souls Day’ is now irrelevant outside of the antiquated church and Halloween and Bonfire Night are simply quaint and fun events for the family with little thought paid to the heritage. The serious issue of sermon and symbolism has moved to our final memory moment in November.

It was another English king that capitalised on this time of reflection. George V declared that the armistice signed between Germany and the Allied forces of WWI on 11/11/1918 should be an annual day of commemoration for those (on ‘our’ side) that died in combat in that awful waste of life. The cenotaph became a permanent feature and two decades later the armistice gave way to round two of carnage in Europe and then the rest of the world. Whilst I would not question the sacrifice made by good honest men to stem the tide of fascism I am disturbed by how the following and current wars (some 250 of them in under 70 years) are lumped in without question of their validity. There is nothing glorious or honourable to me about a young man sent by his government to invade a foreign nation under false pretences to secure oil.  The horrific munitions used by ‘our boys’ that mean 90% of war victims are now civilian compared to 50% in WW2 and 10% in WW1. Heros do not do what was done to Baha Mousa and many others.

It is a really powerful thing that happens when so many people actually stop doing what they normally do, fall silent and just think of dead soldiers for two minutes. This is a mass meditation.

Imagine if the world stopped in silence and remembered ALL the ancestors – it would be full circle to the original and ancient feast. If we remembered all those lives before us and how we got where we are, not just those trained to kill, burned for treason, or did well in church. Maybe then the power of remembrance could really bring change instead of perpetuation.

In the complex enormity of the cosmos the dogma of time and date is rather abstract. But the appearance of the once in a century repunit sequence may be particularly poignant for us with so many giving such energy to one thought at one moment. At 11am 11/11/11 there will be a lot of people meditating on death in war.

I almost feel corny for suggesting an alternative to hate and war such is the social indoctrination but…

Billions of people stopping for two minutes, contemplating love and peace for humanity and environment.

Remember that!