Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Until It Happened to Me."

Recent news stories on near-death experiences crossed my path this week, for very different reasons. They were very different stories concerning very different people and leading to very different interpretations, but in the end they both led me to my conclusion: the paranormal is personal.*

Many in the Establishment have declared war on near death experience, primarily because the newly-disempowered Evangelicals have latched onto NDEs as proof of their interpretation of scripture. The elitist British newspaper The Independent recently ran a story of a man who died (twice!) and didn't experience anything at all. 

This is hardly news. NDEs are the exception, not the rule and the article deliberately avoids any discussion of the man's hospital treatment (if he was anesthetized it would explain his lack of any memory before being awoken). 

(Let me just say up front that the NDEs that most interest me are the ones that are accompanied by anomalous evidence or extraordinary circumstance. Otherwise the topic can become overly subjective).

What actually happened is that the man does not remember an NDE, which may well be a result of drugs or brain injury. But unfortunately we may never know for sure even if he did experience anything since the man in question is a doctrinaire radical atheist. 

The covert political agenda of the article is made clear by his own testimony, though he's surely only preaching to the converted in The Independent: 
"I have always been an atheist, but I have always had a part of me that hoped there was a God or Heaven or something greater than us. I mean, who wouldn't want there to be a Heaven? 
"I am still an atheist, and now I know that there is no such thing as God or Heaven. At least not for me. My reasoning behind that is no God would ever put a person and family through such a experience. 
"I am an Atheist, and always will be. But I believe that your belief is your belief. The only thing we can share is our own experiences and let people make up their own mind. People need to stop forcing their own beliefs onto others."
That last statement is curious, given the general live and let live attitude of near-death experiencers. It would seem the fellow is one of those types who thinks anyone disagreeing with him is an intolerable threat, something we see all too often these days. 

But the point is; If you distrust the "Jesus led me to the Elysian Fields" stories of a devout Evangelical, why would you trust the "I spent all my time in a void" stories of the devout atheist (especially given the fact that there's little reason for such a story in the first place)? Both are seeking to further a partisan agenda and reassure their fellow travelers.

One wonders what would have happened had he gone through the classic NDE. Certainly we've heard of these Road to Damascus events, where onetime unbelievers are so shaken by an experience that it changes the entire conduct of their lives. Near death experiences are well known for having this kind of effect.

Which brings me to my point here: there are people who are interested in paranormal topics but I think people only come to actually believe in the paranormal once they experience it for themselves.

Archskeptic Michael Shermer is the probable inheritor of the Skeptic King crown once that pedantic pedagogue James Randi shuffles off this mortal coil. But aside from the sex abuse scandals that seem to be emblematic of these types, Shermer made headlines recently when he briefly wandered off the reservation in response to the kind of paranormal event that many people have experienced and were once taken for granted*. In this case it had to do with a grandfather's old radio suddenly working after extensive efforts to repair had been in vain:
Anomalous Events That Can Shake One’s Skepticism to the Core 
What does this mean? Had it happened to someone else I might suggest a chance electrical anomaly and the law of large numbers as an explanation—with billions of people having billions of experiences every day, there's bound to be a handful of extremely unlikely events that stand out in their timing and meaning. In any case, such anecdotes do not constitute scientific evidence that the dead survive or that they can communicate with us via electronic equipment.
Jennifer is as skeptical as I am when it comes to paranormal and supernatural phenomena. Yet the eerie conjunction of these deeply evocative events gave her the distinct feeling that her grandfather was there and that the music was his gift of approval. I have to admit, it rocked me back on my heels and shook my skepticism to its core as well. I savored the experience more than the explanation.
To which I'd say Shermer is very easily impressed and really, really not qualified to pass judgements on the paranormal. But the point is that it happened to him and so it meant something (if it happened to you he'd be first in line to attack).

It was worth writing about, worth confessing to his fellow consensus/corporate reality-worshippers. Otherwise he would have shredded anyone else who made such a claim.

So you you really do have to wonder how many skeptics out there are simply sour grapes cases, bitter that the paranormal train never stopped at their station. 

And I wonder how many of these are actually incapable of experiencing or even truly understanding the paranormal because of their brain chemistry or some other kind of physiological issue. 

Listen, there's a lot of things I can't do that normal people don't seem to have any trouble with. And it's pretty well documented that a lot of people who can and do experience the paranormal don't exactly lead splendrous lives and usually had horrific childhoods.

Colin Wilson is an interesting case- he had his elite credentials in order, could write his own ticket on the British Sterility Express, but after delving into the paranormal for his must-read, foundational text The Occult in 1971, Wilson confessed what is utter heresy to the system that reared him:
"It was not until two years ago, when I began the systematic research for this book, that I realized the remarkable consistency of the evidence for such matters as life after death, out-of-the-body experiences (astral projection), reincarnation.

In a basic sense, my attitude remains unchanged; I still regard philosophy - the pursuit of reality through intuition aided by intellect - as being more relevant, more important, than questions of "the occult."

But the weighing of the evidence, in this unsympathetic frame of mind, has convinced me that the basic claims of "occultism" are true. It seems to me that the reality of life after death has been established beyond all reasonable doubt.
I sympathize with the philosophers and scientists who regard it as emotional nonsense, because I am temperamentally on their side; but I think they are closing their eyes to evidence that would convince them if it concerned the mating habits of albino rats or the behavior of alpha particles."
I had such trouble with the paranormal as a concept (thanks in large part to all that reality garbage on SyFy) that it took me a very long time to define my own experiences as paranormal and even to realize that experiences I saw as mundane were in fact anything but. But I believe true skepticism isn't saying "no" no matter what, it's only saying "yes" once you've satisfied the need for evidence. 

I actually think all the sloppy, evidence-free paranormal stuff you see out there is just boring. It's just flat soda and stale bread.

But here's an important point: I wasn't able to understand the context of my own experiences until I studied the experiences of other people. So I do think there's a major shortcoming in the solipsistic approach to evidence vis a vis the paranormal. Hoaxes and bullshit are pretty easy to sniff out after a while and it's important to trust other people and not see everything through the prism of your own experience. 

The Internet has certainly been a mixed blessing; it's given voice to the worst possible elements (I mentally file 'hoaxers' with 'child molesters' and 'politicians') but at the same time it offers tools that have never been available before. My 2010 experience may have been forgotten or hopelessly distorted by memory had I not been able to essentially liveblog it as soon as it happened. And that drew other people into the experience as well.

But I often wonder; would I have believed that experience if I read about happening to somebody else? The annals of the paranormal are filled with the testimony, "you know, I don't usually believe in that sort of thing, but..."

The paranormal can be a contagion. If you know a bunch of people who have had weird experiences but don't feel you have yourself, just think about this; the fact that you are attracting these people into your life is a paranormal experience in itself. You are what they call a strange attractor. 

The same goes if someone close to you confides about a profoundly weird experience. You have become part of the circuit now. I certainly feel a weird connection- a sense of being there- when reading about some of the old contact stories (I also very strongly feel that we're dealing with an occult phenomenon here and not an qoute-unquote extraterrestrial one, though someone like Kenneth Grant would chuckle at the distinction).

I'll leave you with this quote from Paracelsus:
Thus these beings appear to us, not in order to stay among us or become allied to us, but in order for us to become able to understand them. These apparitions are scarce, to tell the truth. But why should it be otherwise?  
Is it not enough for one of us to see an Angel, in order for all of us to believe in the other Angels? 

*UPDATE: This piece originally included a story - which has been widely circulated on social media- which a reader pointed out may be a hoax. It wasn't really important to the overall piece and it took up a lot of real estate so I deleted it and stuck with the Independent story. And a good thing too; the piece definitely reads better without it. 

But now I wonder if the Independent story isn't a hoax as well.

* I know of two events in my own extended family where grandfather clocks stopped working when their owners died and despite the best efforts of repairmen, never worked again.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Stargates and Solar Temples: The Tides of History

"The truth is wormholes are all around us, only they're too small to see. They occur in nooks and crannies in space and time. Nothing is flat or solid. If you look closely enough at anything you'll find holes and wrinkles in it. It's a basic physical principle, and it even applies to time. Even something as smooth as a pool ball has tiny crevices, wrinkles and voids." - Stephen Hawking


There's been a marked change in my own country in the past 15 years, probably in yours too. It's been reflected in popular culture, which for the most part has grown small, cramped and dyspeptic, even if takes on the illusion of hugeness. The fact that a zombie drama is by far the hottest property in geekdom shows how defeated that culture is, even at the point of its ostensible triumph. But the most interesting story is the ongoing contraction of expectation in science fiction.

Sci-Fi may look healthier than it really is, because of the success of the superhero movies and the dystopian teen dramas. But at the literary level, it's become more marginal and cult-like than ever before, and riven by fringe political conflicts. Those teen dramas aren't signs of rude health either, given that they're about as optimistic as Walking Dead at their core. They sell well but there's defeat lurking in the margins.

Christopher Nolan gave us Interstellar, but even with inflated IMAX ticket prices it was his lowest grossing film since The Prestige. It was a hit, no doubt, it just didn't leave much of an aftertaste. Articles are being written now about how James Cameron's megahit Avatar has had absolutely no effect on the culture at large, probably not surprising given that the film is a pastiche of 80s and 90s influences.

In the 80s or 90s, John Carter would have been a megahit, back when people believed. It was a victim of the zeitgeist alone.

We've all seen the Apollo hoax videos, now we have a new generation of YouTubers not only declaring that the entire space program is a hoax, but that the earth is actually flat (I kid you not). 

And that's the problem with nihilism. The PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins of the world think they can unleash the nihilist virus into the world and expect it to behave like it does in the faculty room, all genteel and inert. Unfortunately, viruses do what the fuck they want to do. We're just at the beginning of the contagion. 


No matter what happens in the world of science and technology, the basic human dilemma seems unchanged. Heaven's Gate were at the cutting edge of technology for their time and it only served to deepen their sense of alienation. It's no mystery why; they were savvy enough to see the kinds of intrusive surveillance technologies that were coming and it convinced them that the world was indeed a prison planet. 

(It's hard to say what the Solar Temple believed in these regards, but their desire to ascend to the Grand Lodge on Sirius seems apparent. Their lineage to Alice Bailey's spiritual ascendance fooferah doesn't negate the possibility that they were all murdered for their vast holdings).

Human beings can't flourish in captivity. I believe this is a reason why birthrates decline in urban areas. Anyone who's kept rodents discovers the horror that arises when you mistakenly keep a male and female together. If we discover that we are in fact trapped on this planet, I believe that will be a very dangerous revelation for our survival as a species.


It's why powerful interests are looking for escape routes. The Stargate is certainly one of these, a kind of travel that bypasses the numbing distances of space. (I always refer to the Fermi Paradox as the FAR-mi Paradox. Everything is goddamn far away. All we really have are educated guesses as to what's going on out there.*) 

You can bet that being able to warp timespace to travel hither and yon is the real grailquest of the space program. Maybe that's why there's little attempt made to dissuade people from calling CERN the "Stargate."

The UFO phenomenon is always going to be lurking in the distance since unless you are really married to the whole nuts 'n' bolts thing, you're bound to start thinking about wormholes and other dimensions and all sorts of things of that sort. Given what we know now about the phenomenon-- that the whole package is as old as the hills-- it's hard to imagine aliens popping in and out from Proxima Centauri. 

Or even Mars, for that matter. 

But if there was a technology that was truly magical-- and stop and think hard about the implications of that before quoting that line-- say something along the lines of that Iconian doorway, then it's a whole different story. 

But then again you could go back and read 2001: A Space Odyssey and read about a race that evolved into energy without mass-- just like any number of races on Star Trek-- and then the phenomenon seems less like a phenomenon and more like a type of interface.

Which is why I've been rewatching Star Trek: Deep Space (the) Nine. The Roddenberrys hated it, since it went against every rule they worked up for Next Generation. But it also called the Roddenberrys' bluff. 

You present this warship (the Enterprise) with planet-destroying weaponry? Well, those things don't exist for scientific exploration, they exist for war. So let's have the mother of all wars. You constantly present these god-like aliens? Well, at some point someone is going to worship them, hence the Bajorans and the Prophets. And of course the whole thing is about the Stargate.

The Nine enigma is also at the core of the original Stargate concept, though the producers went pretty far and wide on that with the TV series. NASA's kissyface with Star Trek is a gimme, but the Air Force's involvement with the production of SG-1 still utterly baffles me.

The fact that ISIS is now continuing the work that the highly trained "looters" of the Baghdad museum began leads me to believe that someone is still looking for something. Maybe it's the Stargate, maybe not, but do I need to remind you that the Rockefellers set Zecharia Sitchin up in a corner office at 30 Rock?

The question becomes how will this translate into the culture at large. Alex Proyas (Dark City, Knowing) is working on Gods of Egypt, slated for release next year. A relaunch of Stargate is also in the works. How this all will shake out is hard to say. The geek world is still trapped in nihilist mode. 

But its skeptic and atheist communities are in the midst of civil wars that make the Stalin-Trotsky struggles of the 30s Left seem genteel by comparison so things could change very quickly. Already people are burning out and peeling away.


It's getting harder to tell what's really going on in the military and intelligence spheres because even toilet paper bills are now classified under Homeland Security. The glory days of the Freedom of Information Act are long, long gone. It may be a question of parsing the various strands of disinformation and accidental fact to figure out what is going on. It may yet give rise to a new kind of divination.

I recently saw the old "hoaxed alien invasion" thing dredged up, by a guy who I didn't really agree with but at least used to take seriously. It's all based on old data, and I couldn't help but wonder if it was a slow news day in goldbugland. 

Because the fact is that more people are hooked on the possibility of a faked alien invasion now than a real one- far, far, far more people- so I can't help but wonder what the real agenda behind all of that is.


Groups like the Solar Temple and Heaven's Gate were artifacts of the 60s counterculture and seem unlikely to re-emerge in the narcissist age where everyone is a cult of themselves. But those groups probably seemed impossible in the 1950s- and even the early 1960s- so you can't predict the future by forecasting the present. 

Will new cults emerge? I suppose it depends on what's happening in the culture and society at large. A major crisis could indeed change the entire equation.

However, what you can sure of is that people at the highest levels of power think much differently than those below them, and that is a constant. Call it eccentricity, call it self-indulgence, but the fact is that the strange beliefs of the rich and powerful have always changed the course of human affairs, throughout history. 

How much change we're in for is the question we all must face.

*I'm as skeptical of astrophysics as anyone should be of any science controlled by the military industrial complex (which is to say ALL of them), especially so given the fact that bold statements of fact are made about the vegetation on planets 200 light years away based on what is seen through instruments gazing through vast expanses of distorting radiation and debris of every imaginable variety.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Stargates and Solar Temples: Demons of Air and Darkness

It might be tempting to mock the Heaven's Gate and Solar Temple's ambitions to soul-travel to the stars without their bodies, despite the fact that such beliefs go back in human history many thousands of years

The Egyptians believed that the souls of their dead kings traveled to the stars to spend Eternity with Isis and Osiris. And where Heaven's Gate may have been influenced by an X-Files episodes on walk-ins (which in turn seems to be referencing the Solar Temple) they didn't get a chance to see the episodes which explained that these walk-ins traveled the vast reaches of space via starlight. 

Alice Bailey would be proud.

Such beliefs might seem especially ridiculous in the so-called New Space Age. But I've not seen any vacation spots open up on the Moon yet, how about you? Perhaps the collapse of the world's manned space ambitions a simple matter of biological necessity. Maybe we won't be doing much star trekking until we upload, Kurzweil-style, into robot bodies:
Report: Human Body Not Prepared For Life In Outer Space
The report, which was first published in the New York Times, cites multiple negative effects of outer space on the human body, including the swelling that occurs in the human head – due in part to the fact that humans did not evolve outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. 
“Your head actually feels bloated,” Mark E. Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut who flew in space four times, was quoted as saying. “It kind of feels like you would feel if you hung upside down for a couple of minutes.”
Brittle bones, insomnia, loss of appetite and radiation poisoning – which could lead to cancer – were all cited in the report as health complications suffered by former astronauts or that could plague future recruits.
The lack of gravity is also said to negatively affect the body’s neurovestibular system, leaving astronauts with a weakened ability to, literally, determine which way is up. Dizziness is also an issue, according to those who have endured it.
Mark Kelly. Isn't his brother the Jedi?

If indeed the human body is so unfit for outer space, this may well explain why a major aerospace firm has cornered the market on serious UFO research. It's a question of simple market research. 

Rumor has it that Bigelow has been consulting with Jacques Vallee, who surely will advise them on alternative modalities of transport than taking on the cold, perilous and deadly reaches of the Void. 

Is there a department in Bigelow dedicated to fairy R+D?
Physically, they have very light and fluid bodies, which are comparable to a condensed cloud. They are particularly visible at dusk. They can appear and vanish at will.  
The old people said they didn't know if fairies were flesh and blood or spirits. They saw them as men of more diminutive stature than our own race. I heard my father say that fairies used to come and speak to natural people and then vanish while one was looking at them. Fairy women used to go into houses and talk and then vanish.
Ever actually read 2001: A Space Odyssey? You really have to wonder if Kubrick and Clarke weren't reading fairy lore and simply trying to answer the questions it posed. Because if Magic is indeed just technology we don't yet understand, then this kind of tech would make you a god on the battlefield. 

Most of you realize that Star Trek, the Sacred Lore of Heaven's Gate, is really just a metaphor for American neo-imperialism. The various alien races are stand-ins for other nationalities. It's why it never quite translated outside America with the same impact. 

But from time to time we see stories about aliens and citizens of Magonia intrude into the narrative, most often the discarnate beings that stand in for The Nine.

But 'Contagion',  a TNG episode co-written by Jack Kirby's Thundarr the Barbarian collaborator Steve Gerber (creator of Howard the Duck) and co-produced by Mike Gray (of Wavelength fame)  essentially set the stage for a major 90s sci-fi franchise, Stargate.

And I say 'major' only in the sheer volume of material it produced (a feature film and three cable series, one of which lasted 10 seasons). Its impact on the culture at large is marginal to the point of being invisible. None of the spinoffs had the impact or gravitas of the original feature film, and seem to exist in another universe altogether (a soggy British Columbian universe with especially shoddy costume design).

Stargate SG-1 garnered ratings that would have sunk it in a week on any broadcast network, but its status as a cable franchise- and the patronage of the United States Air Force- ensured its longevity.

Either way, 'Contagion' presented the concept of the stargate in 1989, and the Iconians, a now-dead race, used their own version of an artificial stargate to travel anywhere in the universe and to appear and disappear like ghosts. It wasn't a unique innovation in the annals of sci-fi, but it's probably where the creators of Stargate first encountered it.

The fact that the stargate aliens exist as stand-ins for UFOnauts is made clear during this exchange between Captain Picard and Wesley Crusher:

It's about the Iconians, sir.
I'd always heard that they were
just a myth.

China was thought to be only a
myth until Marco Polo travelled
there. No, the Iconians were
real. We know that three
systems in this sector have a
number of cultural similarities.
Similarities which can be
explained only if there had been
a single unifying force.

The Iconians colonized those

Probably conquered.

So they were warlike?

Perhaps. Ancient texts refer
to them as the Demons of Air and
Darkness, but that could have
so many different interpretations.

Air and darkness?

Legend has it that they travelled
without the benefit of spaceships.
Merely appearing from thin air
on distant planets.

That sounds like magic.

Wouldn't we seem magical to a
stone-age people?

 It's hard to tell who contributes what to Trek scripts (the credits often have nothing to do with who actually produced the script), but I can't help but wonder if there's a hidden hand at work here. Because this is straight out of Medieval folklore, via Jacques Vallee.
The Hebrews used to call these beings who are between the Angels and Man Sadaim, and the Greeks, transposing the letters and adding but one syllable, called them Daimonas. Among the ancient Philosophers these demons were held to be an Aerial Race, ruling over the Elements, mortal, engendering, and unknown in this century to those who rarely seek Truth in her ancient dwelling place, which is to say, in the Cabala and in the theology of the Hebrews, who possessed the special art of holding communion with that Aerial People and of conversing with all these Inhabitants of the Air. 
In Europe, the archives of the Roman Catholic Church are full of such incidents, and it cannot be doubted that many accusations of witchcraft stemmed from the belief in strange beings who could fly through the air and approached humans at dusk or at night. Occasionally, these "demons" were seen in full daylight by many people.
I've never been able to stomach much Stargate, mostly out of my dislike for its fannish/LARPy dialogue and my extreme dislike for McGyver's endless smirking and mugging, so I can't really say if they ever worked these same veins at the same depth. But the basic concepts were the same, which makes the Air Force's patronage of the franchise extremely curious:
4. The show’s producers maintained a close working relationship with the US Air Force. Two Air Force Chiefs of Staff, Generals Michael Ryan and John Jumper (right) made cameos on the show. In 2004, Richard Dean Anderson received a special award by the Air Force rarely given to civilians in order to thank him and the other people behind Stargate SG-1 for their very positive portrayal of that organization. Anderson was declared an honorary Air Force brigadier general. 
This is rather hilarious: 
5. But that didn’t stop the Air Force from executing some script control. At one point, the writers had O’Neill joke about aliens at Area 51 in the episode “Touchstone”. The Air Force insisted that this wasn’t true and that it was unacceptable for Stargate SG-1 to even joke about it. 
Yeah, sure. That's why they couldn't joke about it. 


Then of course there are projects like CERN, massive supercolliders whose ostensible purposes seem a bit sketchy (the whole Higgs Boson thing has had a weird smell about it, no one is behaving quite the way they should given such a momentous discovery, and there's no shortage of innuendo and accusation that the discovery may have been a fraud). 

I'm not even remotely qualified to comment on any of that, I'm simply reporting the facts. But there's a parallel body of theorizing that the real purpose of CERN in particular is piercing the dimensional veil, or in another words, acting as a stargate. Those theories aren't exactly dissuaded when the establishment propaganda mill National Geographic publishes headlines like that, even for a photo contest. 

It's always the little things.

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the theorizing concerning the Iraq War and the sacking of the Baghdad Museum (which seemed to top the to-do list once US troops entered the city) and the search for the Anunaki Stargate. 

William Henry, a Stargate enthusiast to be sure, pinpoints the search to a particular image that may reveal the location of the ancient stargate, and argues that the search for it was at least one of the driving factors behind the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the occupation of Baghdad.
An independent archaeologist that discusses a direct link between the ancient ET presence in Sumer (southern Iraq) and current US focus on the regime of Saddam Hussein, is William Henry. Henry's main thesis is that there existed in Sumerian times a technological device which he describes as a 'Stargate', that the Anunnaki/Nephilim used to travel back and forth from their homeworld and the Earth, and also how they travel around the galaxy.

Depictions have been found that show divine beings flanking a temple entrance and holding up poles to which ringlike objects are attached. Rather than a simple temple scene involving the chief Anunnaki of the Sumerians, Anu and his two sons, Enlil and Enki, Henry proposes that the above scene represents a transportation device used by Anu and others from the elite Anunnaki. 
One thing is beyond argument- the Baghdad Museum was sacked and several thousand ancient texts went missing, never to be seen again. The US Army released a series of PR announcements a couple years after  the sacking, claiming that the materials had been recovered and the looters had been punished but as it happens, the vast majority of antiquities are still missing. Someone seems to be looking for something in those ancient texts and doesn't want the rest of the world to see it.
Ten years after Iraq's national museum was looted and smashed by frenzied thieves during the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein, it's still far from ready for a public re-opening. Work to overcome decades of neglect and the destruction of war has been hindered by power struggles, poorly-skilled staff and the persistent violence plaguing the country, said Bahaa Mayah, Iraq's most senior antiquities official.
 The museum was once the showcase for 7,000 years of history in Mesopotamia, birthplace of some of the first cities and one of the first writing systems — cuneiform — and home to a succession of major civilizations, including the Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian, through to a flourishing Islamic empire. 
The museum was left a wreck the day after Baghdad fell to U.S. troops on April 10, 2003. Ancient clay scrolls and pottery littered the floor. Looters made off with everything from gold bowls and ritual funeral masks to elaborate headdresses. The U.S. was sharply criticized for not protecting the museum 
Because the museum's inventory was never completed, it's uncertain how many pieces were stolen, but the number is estimated at 15,000 pieces. More than a quarter have been retrieved, said Mayah, who has overseen the museum formally since 2012 but has been involved in its renovations for the past five years. 
It's part of a broader problem of preservation of antiquities in Iraq. There are over 12,000 registered archaeological sites in Iraq but they are mostly not protected, allowing for widespread, ongoing looting, Mayah said.
Indeed, the looting continues to this very day. Now it's ISIS/ISIL/whatever who are doing the looting, and someone in the shadows is paying them a lot of money for do it. And as before, it's those tablets, which would seem to have marginal monetary value, that seem to be the hot property on the black market.
 According to new information released by the Guardian, trafficking “conflict antiquities,” or artifacts that are looted, smuggled, and sold to illicit dealers, has been the source of tens of millions for ISIS. They even stole $36 million worth of artifacts from one site in Syria alone. 
The terrorist group benefits from all other steps in the process too, from trafficking the goods to selling them at a sprawling black market in the ISIS stronghold of Tell Abyad, a town of the Syrian Turkish border. Over the past several years, smuggled Iraqi antiquities have traveled as far as France, Switzerland, and even California, where the F.B.I. recently seized a series of ancient Mesopotamian tablets.
Someone in California, ground zero of the new Digital Gold Rush, is after Mesopotamian tablets? Why? Whatever for?

It should also be noted that one of the largest collections of Sumerian texts is at the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelpia. Remember the 2008 Presidential Election, and Obama's excess of interest in the City of Brotherly Love?

There's also the curious detail of Sumerian cuneiform being used in the John Carter film, which also featured stargate technology and presented the Therns as "demons of air and darkness."

The film offered stargate technology in place of the astral projection of the novel, A Princess of Mars. But in Carter's case it wasn't just the astral body that traveled to Mars, it was the physical body as well. If there were still active John Carter fan communities today surely they'd be arguing over the existence of some kind of teleportation device that Burroughs is implying but never makes explicit:
As I gazed at it on that far-gone night it seemed to call across the unthinkable void, to lure me to it, to draw me as the lodestone attracts a particle of iron. 
My longing was beyond the power of opposition; I closed my eyes, stretched out my arms toward the god of my vocation and felt myself drawn with the suddenness of thought through the trackless immensity of space. There was an instant of extreme cold and utter darkness. 
I opened my eyes upon a strange and weird landscape. I knew that I was on Mars; not once did I question either my sanity or my wakefulness. I was not asleep, no need for pinching here; my inner consciousness told me as plainly that I was upon Mars as your conscious mind tells you that you are upon Earth. You do not question the fact; neither did I.
As it happens, the discovery of the so-called Face on Mars may have been directed by a kind of astral projection as well, in this case remote viewing experiments that took place before the Viking probe was launched. From Joseph Farrell's Giza Death Star:
Almost 20 years before Bauval and Gilbert's book The Orion Mystery argued persuasively that certain aspects of the Giza compound and the Great Pyramid were deliberately meant to align to Orion, Hurtak 'was exploring a possible correlation between the Giza pyramids and Orion's beltl in 1973. We found that this was not the only time he has been ahead of the game.', Indeed, long before the Viking I orbiter took that now famous picture of the Face on Mars on July 25, 1976, Hurtak had "predicted the existence of a Sphinx image on Mars in 1975." 
Moreover, accordingly to Hancock and Bauval, Hurtak also predicted that various other structures would be discovered on Mars and that they "would be linked to the Giza monuments in a giant cosmic blueprint." Was Hurtak's prediction the result of remote viewing experiments in which be and others, like Lambert Dolphin, were involved?

This kind of thing is taken for granted by Secret Sun readers, given Jack Kirby's late 50s viewing of Face on Mars, which was accompanied by a story detailing the nuclear annihilation of Martian civilization, an idea that seems to be gaining currency in alt. circles these days. 

Either way, the concept of travel beyond the confines of space-time using the mind or astral body may not be entirely fantastic. In fact there may be some science behind it. A lot of you are probably familiar with Dr. Rick Strassman's work with DMT. This article details why Strassman ended the trials being done in a hospital setting. The implications are rather unsettling if you're married to a naturalistic worldview:
 Long-term benefits were meager, and adverse effects were adding up. The frequency with which volunteers reported contact with other-dimensional beings was unexpected and personally disorienting to Strassman. 
I've heard that Strassman found the reports to be disturbingly consistent, so much so that he began to believe he was opening a portal for adverse influences from other dimensions to enter our own. Terence McKenna spoke of these influences- indeed, magicians throughout history have encountered them. Strassman began to test for these influences, and the results led to the end of the New Mexico trials.
I tried and discarded various levels of interpretation until I finally just figured I'll just start to do an experiment assuming that what people are undergoing is real and that indeed they are experiencing or making contact with real, externally verifiable, discrete, freestanding sorts of beings. This is what they're saying and this is what they're doing and this is what is going on between them and the volunteer.
Certainly if they can come in, one day we can figure how to go out. There are sporadic reports of Marshall Applewhite possessing paranormal abilities, one has to wonder if his "nervous breakdowns" were a result of struggles we can only guess at. 
The Gate were obsessed with the malign influence of "Luciferian" extraterrestrials, who were constantly sabotaging their spiritual progress. Perhaps this is just the typical religious paranoia of a cult but the details are disturbingly similar to those that the Collins Elite also ascribed to "demons of air and darkness."
We can breezily throw around quotes like "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," but how far are you willing to go to actually believe such a thing?


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Stargates and Solar Temples, Part Three: Silenced Knights

Joseph DiMambro and The Solar Temple

Most of you have a pretty good working knowledge of the Heaven's Gate cult by now if you've been following the blog over the past couple of weeks. The Gate were part of a very strange and violent period in history when cults, which had once enjoyed the patronage of the intelligence infrastructure for their utility as mind control laboratories (many of the techniques developed by cults in the 60s and 70s were applied to the "megachurch" movement in the 80s and 90s), suddenly seemed hostile and dangerous to the public at large. 

Many of the 90s and 00s' most notorious events were cult-related, from the Branch Davidians in Texas (and the subsequent bombing in Oklahoma City), to the murderous Aum Shunrikyo cult in Japan (who perpetrated a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway) to the Fundamentalist/separatist Mormon sect run by Warren Jeffs to the risible Westboro Baptist Church psyop, a walking two-minute hate with a seemingly bottomless travel budget.

There were many more like these, giving outsiders the impression that groups that sought to separate themselves from mainstream society were a danger to themselves and to others.

One cult that many Americans may not be familiar with is the Order of the Solar Temple, a group centered in Francophone countries. They made news in the 90s with a series of ghastly "mass suicides", events that many people believe were anything but self-inflicted. 

Their beliefs were essentially Theosophical with Hermetic/Ritual trappings, with a special reverence for Sirius. Although sometimes described as a "UFO cult", their means of travel to Sirius seemed influenced by the teachings of our old friend Alice Bailey:
The International Chivalric Order Solar Tradition was a destructive, doomsday cult founded by Luc Jouret in 1984. It absorbed the Foundation Golden Way led by Joseph Di Mambro (1926-1995). While Jouret assumed much of the public leadership, Dimambro convinced members that he was a member of the 14th Century Christian Order of the Knights Templar during a previous life and that his daughter Emanuelle was "the cosmic child." 
Together, Jouret and Dimambro convinced followers that they would lead them after death to a planet which revolves around the star Sirius.
The "suicides" took place over a three year period and were committed in several different countries. The death toll was roughly twice that of the Gate. Despite reports of "formations" and the like, interpretations of ritual alignments are just that; interpretations.
The cult's mass murders began in October 1994, in Morin Heights, Quebec, with the murder of an infant believed by Di Mambro to be the incarnation of the Antichrist. The child was stabbed repeatedly with a wooden stake. A few days later in Switzerland, Di Mambro held a last supper for the 15 inner-circle members, who died by poison. 
Thirty others died by gunshot wounds or smothering; and eight died of other causes. Many wore black ceremonial robes and plastic bags over their heads, their bodies positioned in a star formation with feet in the center. The structure in which many of the bodies were found had been set on fire. In Vercors, France, 15 more cultists killed themselves in a similar fashion between December 15 and 16, 1995, and five more in Quebec in March 1997. The total number of deaths attributed to these mass deaths is 74 including children.

The alleged justifications for the alleged suicides were remarkably similar to those proffered by Heaven's Gate. The difference is that where the Gate left behind a volume of testimony, writings, videos, a website, the only alleged evidence for the Solar Temple's suicidal tendencies seems to be four notes left at one of the scenes. 

Given the fact that this group involved aristocrats and jet-setters, it seems unimaginable that a group whose rituals were so elaborate and meticulous would leave such a paltry and slapdash message to the world regarding their grand voyage to the Dog Star.
The leadership felt that the Solar Temple was being persecuted by various governments. They anticipated the imminent end of the world due to an environmental catastrophe, and felt that they were to play a major role in the collapse. They decided that some members should leave the earth prematurely and "transit" to a better world.
 Fire forms an important part of their belief. In order for them to transit to another world, they must die in a fire.
After the "suicides", stories began to circulate in the media about the possible motivations for the acts. But family and friends noted that there were few if any signs of the coming self-immolations. On the contrary, vacations were being planned, the general business of life was being looked forward to. As we see in this cult's story, the people blamed for facilitating one of the "mass suicides"-- two socialites -- hardly seem the kind to want to exit their vehicles, or commit mass murder. 

Whereas the Gate was filled with socially-awkward nerds, the Solar Temple seemed more an elite sex cult with esoteric trappings. These people enjoyed their lives.

This scenario may seem consistent with the different ways in which the victims in Switzerland and in Canada died, and with the results of the investigations, which seem to indicate that the murders in Morin Heights and Cheiry were carried out by two members of the Temple, Joel Egger and Dominique Bellaton (a manicurist turned socialite), who later joined the other leaders in the suicidal act in Les Granges-sur-Salvan.  
In Morin Heights two Swiss members, Colette and Gerry Genoud, may have committed suicide, while Antonio and Nicky Dutoit were savagely murdered with their three-month-old son Emmanuel.  
Make note of this detail here, since it will pop up in one of the allegorical retellings of the Solar Temple's story. 
According to the Quebec police report of November 1994, the Dutoits were also included in the traitors' list because they had named their son Emmanuel. ..By calling their son Emmanuel the Dutoits had usurped the unique position of Emmanuelle Di Mambro, the "cosmic child," and had in fact transformed their baby son into the Antichrist.  

And again, the very short trail of evidence for "suicide" here, four notes which seem to be hastily written, since they contradict each other.
On the other hand, there seems to be a contradiction between the first three documents and the fourth one. From the first three documents it seems that the tragedy was prearranged, as part of the Grand Lodge of Sirius's "Plan," and as a preparation for the end of the world, which is at any rate impending for all humanity. The fourth document--on a more "political" note-presents the suicide as an act of protest against persecution by the government of Quebec, which the document accuses of "mass murder."
Family members were furious with the authorities for what they saw as a lax and intentionally sloppy investigation (see this documentary on the Satellite, which is skeptical in regards to the official story. There are other videos on YouTube which are even more skeptical to the point of outright accusation). But even within the confines of the investigation, the forensic evidence doesn't support the mass suicide theory at all.
While it at first appeared to be a mass suicide, the bodies at Chiery told a slightly different tale. Autopsy reports showed that two of the victims died of suffocation while another twenty-one were administered sleeping pills before being shot to death. According to a Time Magazine article of 1994, some of the victims had as many as eight bullet wounds in the head. 
Another ten victims were found with plastic bags over their heads. There was also evidence that several of the victims had shown signs of struggle, which indicates that the deaths were far from a willing suicide pact.
The late, great Philip Coppens investigated the Temple's story and found that the suicide explanation was greatly lacking, and is still a major source of contention in France. Coppens traced the deaths to elements within the European fringe right:
One of the experts in the story of the Solar Temple is the French journalist Maurice Fusier. In one of his books on the subject, Secret d’Etat? (“State Secret?”), he explains where his lines of enquiry have taken him. For example, it has become clear that police and investigators purposefully neglected clues that showed that unknown persons aided if not executed the “collective suicides.”
The theory of collective suicides has also been heavily contested by Alain Vuarnet, René and Muguette Rostan, Willy and Giséla Schleimer, who are relatives of the victims, and Dr Alain Leclerc, their lawyer.
So we've discussed the Gate's presence in pop culture, what about this more esoteric and troubling story?

On further reflection, I believe Chris Carter based "The Church of the Red Museum" on The Order of the Solar Temple and not on Heaven's Gate, even if Marshall Applewhite was so inspired by that episode. 

The fact that the group was led by a doctor, the ritualism, the emphasis on health and vegetarianism and the walk-in motif (which leads us back to Sirius, via Ruth Montgomery's influential work) all point to the Solar Temple, who would have been in the news at the time Carter was working on "Red Museum". He wouldn't be done with the Solar Temple, though. Not by a long shot.

It seems to be yet another of these strange thought contagions that float around Hollywood, hiding in plain sight.

Star Trek: Deep Space (the) Nine also seemed to reference the Solar Temple in the episode "Covenant". In it, arch-villain Gul Dukat created a cult around the Pah-Wraiths, the evil discarnate aliens who inhabit the fire caves of Bajor and are the enemies of the Nine Prophets, the wormhole-dwelling aliens who the Bajorans worship as gods. Dukat then convinces his cult that they must exit their vehicles to join the Pah-Wraiths. Inevitably, it turns out he wasn't intending to join them in this but was merely going to murder his cult.
Dukat prays alone in his quarters and asks for guidance. Later, at a sudden prayer meeting, Dukat then makes a great announcement: the pah-wraiths have asked everyone to shed their corporeal existences. To accomplish this, he says that everyone, including him, will commit suicide.
The writers claimed they were inspired by the Heaven's Gate suicides but given the details of the story, it seems more likely they were processing the Solar Temple in this story and perhaps letting us know they don't buy the "suicide" story either.

Connecting us yet again to the Nine, Stargate SG-1 also worked a similar story in the episode "Seth." In this episode the Egyptian villain is tracked through history by the suicide cults he left in his wake. Interesting clues abound: Canada is referenced when the cult is said to be located "north of Seattle." The cult wears similar garments to the ritual gowns worn by the Solar Temple. There's an investigation by ATF having to do with the cult's weapons. The leader uses women sexually in rituals as did Luc Jouret. 

Unfortunately, McGyver isn't punched repeatedly in the face, which I wait to see in every episode of Stargate.

The X-Files would return to the Solar Temple motif in the fifth season with "Patient X"/"The Red and the Black," when assemblies of abductees are immolated by rebel aliens. As with the Solar Temple there are a number of these mass murders in different geographical locations. The overlap between the Gate and the Temple is referenced in the dialogue:
SCULLY: Your mother called us about the incident in Virginia. She said that she knew some of the dead.
SPENDER: Of course she did. They were in the same ridiculous cult that she used to be.
MULDER: There you have it.
SCULLY: She was in a cult?
SPENDER: A UFO cult believed they were going to be carried to immortality in some kind of flying motherwheel.

As late as the ninth season (and beginning in the ninth episode), the Temple would appear in The X-Files, this time as a UFO cult led by a Josepho (read: Joseph DiMambro) who like Jouret and DiMambro believed in a cosmic child who would lead the world into a new age (in this case the child was Scully's baby). As in the Solar Temple drama, there's an attempt made on the child's life, and just before the cult's deaths (by immolation) a curious detail. From Erik Davis' 1994 article on the Temple.
A circle of corpses arrayed in a wheel around a triangular altar, heads aimed outwards like rockets ready to launch.
In the episode, we see that very same arrangement just before the spaceship they are standing on launches away. 

And then a curiously late example: "Shooting Stars", an episode of CSI. We start off investigating what appears to be a Heaven's Gate situation, though in this case the cult is unlike the Gate or the Temple; it's just a bunch of scruffy slackers living in some kind old fallout shelter. 

Gil Grissom is on the case, just to throw in one more bizarre Hollywood fixation. (Bonus 9 factoid: the Grissom character announced he was leaving the CSI unit on the ninth episode of the ninth season, which also saw the introduction of Laurence Fishburne's character)

As it turns out the cult was led by a "Joseph Diamond," a conman whose name lets us know which cult is actually being referenced here (this cult also was big on sex, another hint it's not the Gate).

We later find out that Diamond didn't really intend for the cult to commit suicide (on the night of the Orionids, no less) but he was simply planning to dose them with sleeping pills and make off with their parents' money. When one "Abby Spencer" (misnamed Abby Sinclair at a CSI fansite, strangely enough) realizes the deception, she kills DiMambro Diamond and poisons the cult for real.

"Abby Spencer" is interesting enough for our purposes. Someone did their homework; their Templar homework, specifically.
Bisham Abbey is a manor house iBuckinghamshire, England, parts owhich are the remains of Ternplar PreceptoryAfter the suppression of the Templars, Edward II gave the manor to his 'favourite', Hugh dSpencer.
Yes, that's the same Spencer as Diana Spencer, who met her own end the same year as Heaven's Gate and the Solar Temple. 

Jeff Buckley also died in 1997 and just to make this totally insane, "Shooting Stars" features a track I wrote about during the Siren series.

UPDATE: Reader Syd points us to a 1995 Dave Emory broadcast in which he too doubts the deaths were suicides.