Sunday, February 11, 2018

New article on the Pylos Combat Agate available at Graham Hancock's website







































Special thank-you to Graham Hancock and his team for publishing this new and expanded version of the analysis of the celestial artwork found in the recently-discovered Pylos Combat Agate: "The Dust of Centuries: Celestial Iconography in the Pylos Combat Agate."

This article from the Smithsonian Magazine dated January 2017 describes the discovery of the shaft-grave of a Mycenaean warrior in an olive grove near the ancient acropolis of Pylos, on the western coastline of the Peloponnese. Readers familiar with the Odyssey may remember the journey of Telemachos to "sandy Pylos" to seek counsel from Nestor and his family regarding the fate of Odysseus, the father of Telemachos.

By the time that Smithsonian article was published, in January of last year, the significance of the archaeological find was already being discussed -- but at that time, the most amazing artifact from the newly-discovered tomb had yet to be revealed, because it was still encrusted in limestone deposits after resting beneath the earth's surface for some 3,500 years. 

This article from News.com of Australia shows the gemstone covered in the hardened deposits, and after meticulous cleaning several months later, showing the incredibly detailed and artistically sophisticated scene carved into the surface of the agate. That article also contains a diagram of the tomb, showing the position of some of the artifacts -- and the remains of the grave's occupant -- at the bottom of the shaft-grave.

When the first photographs of the Pylos Combat Agate were published in early November of last year, I immediately recognized celestial correspondences in the artwork of the scene -- patterns which can be found in other artwork from around the world tying the subjects to specific constellations in the night sky (special thanks to the Twitter correspondent who initially sent me a link to the first images of the Pylos Combat Agate, as soon as those were published). This newly-discovered gemstone from the Minoan culture only serves to provide still more evidence to what I believe to be an overwhelming and indeed undeniable body of evidence in ancient artwork, ancient myths, and ancient scriptures proving the existence of an astonishing system of celestial metaphor which appears to have been worldwide in scope -- and of tremendous antiquity.

The Pylos Agate should completely upend the conventional understanding of artistic (and technical) capabilities in early antiquity -- and the celestial foundation of the Pylos Agate's artwork, which ties it to mythical episodes as widely dispersed as the Judgment of Solomon in the Hebrew Scriptures and the rescue of baby Maui from the foam of the sea by his ancestor Tama in the sacred traditions of the cultures of the vast Pacific Ocean, should completely upend the conventional understanding of humanity's ancient past, and show that the accepted narrative of early history is gravely flawed.

The diagrams and discussion in my new article at grahamhancock.com should demonstrate that the scene on the Pylos Agate corresponds to specific constellations in the heavens -- constellations which can still be observed in the sky tonight. They also demonstrate the connection of some of the patterns observed in the Pylos Agate to patterns found in other myths and other artwork from other cultures and other centuries.

Above is one of the diagrams from the article, showing one of the intriguing features included by the ancient artist -- the scabbard with a globular bulb at the tip, which I believe indicates the location of the bright star Vega in relation to the constellation Hercules (who corresponds to the triumphant Swordsman in the Pylos Agate, shaded in red in the top portion of the diagram above).

Previous discussions of this exquisitely carved gemstone, and its importance can be found here and here.

I hope this new article, and its publication on Graham's website, will help increase the awareness of the historic Pylos Combat Agate, and the important clues it offers to the secrets of our ancient past.














Friday, February 9, 2018

"All this has happened before": Professor Michael Hudson on neoliberalism, neo-feudalism, and the deliberate suppression of history




Above is a remarkable interview recorded back in February of 2014 with economist Michael Hudson, in which Professor Hudson explains that neoliberalism should really be understood as neo-feudalism, as he explicitly says at 16:30 in the conversation.

For an extended discussion and definition of neoliberalism, see this previous post entitled "Earth Day, 2017: the choices of Midas and Solomon."

Professor Hudson goes on to explain that neoliberalism seeks to weaken the power of representative governments -- and even to break them up -- in order to enable the privatization and exploitation of the public domain: the riches of the soil, the mineral wealth beneath the ground, the timberlands and forests, the seaports, the waterways and rivers, and all the other "gifts of nature" (or gifts of the gods). He says:
And that's what neoliberalism is: it's really neo-feudalism. It's a dismantling of democracy. It's a dismantling of democracy in favor of a financial oligarchy [this segment can be found beginning at 16:30].
Earlier in the interview, he explained that one of the goals of neoliberalism is the privatization of that which should actually be public:
And stage two is when the governments have to pay by selling off the public domain: the land, the natural resources, the forests, the ports, the electrical systems, the natural monopolies, and the infrastructure -- the roads and the bridges -- and the economy's turned into a tollbooth economy, and  so you're going very rapidly back to feudalism. And that's where Ireland is going: it's going back to the fourteenth century, quickly [this segment can be found beginning at 14:25].
The privatization of that which belongs to the public, in order to erect "tollbooths" on it, characterized the feudalism of the Middle Ages in western Europe -- a period of time which resulted from the overthrow of the ancient world following the rise of literalist Christianity, which captured the control centers of the Roman Empire with the accession of the Emperor Constantine in AD 313, and which shut down the Oracle at Delphi and the Eleusinian Mysteries during the reign Theodosius, who came to the throne about forty-two years after Constantine's death.

During the Middle Ages which followed, that which should really have been understood to be the gifts of the gods was divvied up for the benefit of the descendants of those who had replaced the ancient wisdom with the new literalistic faith (and who used that faith as justification for their seizure of what the ancient wisdom describes as belonging to the gods).

That's why Michael Hudson's framing of very modern problems -- subjects that are as fresh as this morning's news -- in the context of a much longer and deeper history, and his repeated references to the Middle Ages, are so important. As he says at 27:47 (towards the end of the interview): "All this has happened before."

However, as Professor Hudson also explains in this insightful interview, it is much more difficult to perceive what is going on if you've never been taught history -- and as he explains beginning at about the 7:00 mark in the interview and going until about the 9:24 mark (with further discussion beginning at about the 17:00 mark and 24:00 mark), the control of the narrative of the history of economic thought, and even of the narrative of history itself, can prevent the vast majority of people from even developing the perspective necessary to see what is going on or to even think about alternatives.

In other words, Professor Hudson argues, history is being actively suppressed and replaced with disinformation instead, with a very clear motive.

I would argue that we can find abundant evidence to conclude that this very same kind of suppression of history and deliberate propagation of disinformation is going on with respect to many aspects of humanity's ancient past as well.

I recommend listening to the above interview in its entirety, and carefully contemplating its implications. The interview's contents are all the more powerful when you realize that it was recorded in February of 2014 -- events that have taken place since then have confirmed many of the assessments and predictions that Professor Hudson provides in his responses.

You can download the file to take with you on a mobile device by right-clicking (or control-clicking) on this link and selecting "Download linked file as" (and then selecting a place on your device to save the file). You can also download the file by clicking on the small downward-pointing arrow in the embedded player at the top of this post.

Previous posts dealing with this same subject include:







Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Step onward, John Anthony West





























I was deeply saddened to learn today that John Anthony West has crossed from this mortal plane.

My thoughts are with his son Zeke and daughter Zoe and with the rest of his family and closest circle.

An eloquent tribute from Graham Hancock can be found here.

Readers of this blog and of my various books know that I hold the work of John West in the highest regard. His inspired analysis and tenacious pursuit of the evidence which shows that the conventional paradigm of ancient history is gravely flawed, and his exploration of the profound implications of that conclusion, almost singlehandedly (along with his friend and colleague, geologist and researcher Robert Schoch) initiated an entirely new line of inquiry into the forgotten wisdom of the ancient world -- and exposed the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the attempts by the mainstream "quackademics" (his term) to suppress, ignore, or otherwise obscure that evidence and its implications.

His book Serpent in the Sky continues to be a deep well of wisdom and insight to which one can (and should) return again and again.

His writing, speaking, and research inspired the transformative generation of researchers that includes Graham Hancock, Robert Schoch, Walter Cruttenden, Laird Scranton, and many others -- and the  researchers from successive generations which continue to arise as each new decade unfolds. 

A partial list of my own previous posts which have acknowledged his influence on my own thinking and which have drawn upon his writing and work would include:
John West was a brilliant interpreter of the world's ancient wisdom, particularly that embodied in the art and scriptures of ancient Egypt. He described his approach as being of the Symbolist school, which I interpret as a way of saying that he was opposed to attempts to force a literalistic interpretation upon the writings and iconography of the ancients, instead perceiving that the practitioners of the world's ancient high wisdom expressed profound truths through inspired symbols. Not only did the ancients employ sophisticated and incredibly subtle metaphorical symbol, but (as John West also perceived and explained) they knew how to manifest shape and space and proportion and alignment and number to create effects in the realm of vibration in ways that have largely been forgotten today.

His video series Magical Egypt delves into this symbolism and ancient wisdom, and is well worth watching in its entirety if you have the opportunity to do so. Even if you have already seen it, now would seem to be a fitting time to take the opportunity to watch it again, and contemplate the massive scope of John Anthony West's gift to humanity and to the task of recovering from what he described as our collective amnesia about our own past.

Graham Hancock's powerful tribute to his friend and colleague, linked above, movingly cites the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. 

Alvin Boyd Kuhn argued (very convincingly, in my opinion) that when this ancient Egyptian text describes "the Dead," it is actually describing this incarnate life, and our condition here as souls who are passing through the "underworld" of the material realm and incarnation in a human body. 

In an amazing passage in Lost Light, published in 1940, Alvin Boyd Kuhn suggests that the descriptions of the divine Horus in the Book of the Dead should not be understood as referring to any individual historical personage but rather to that divine nature which comes down and manifests itself in seemingly mortal men and women, over and over, throughout the ages. Kuhn writes:
To the sages of old time the coming was a constantly recurring and only typical [that is, "purely symbolic"] event. [ . . . ] Horus, a form of Iu-em-hetep, was not an individual historical person. For he says, "I am Horus, the Prince of Eternity." [ . . . ] Horus calls himself "the persistent traveler on the highways of heaven," and "the everlasting one." "I am Horus who steppeth onward through eternity." Here is wisdom to nourish the mind and lead it out of its infantile stage and into maturity of view. Horus declares himself forever above the character of a time-bound personage. Let moderns ponder his other mighty pronouncement: "I am a soul, and my soul is divine. It is the self-originating force." It can perpetually renew itself [ . . . ]." 546 - 547.
I am convinced that John Anthony West understood the most sacred texts of ancient Egypt, and their teaching on the eternal path of the divine and undying soul, which itself is "the persistent traveler on the highways of heaven."  

I am convinced that because of his deep study and his penetrating insight, he knows how to navigate those highways. Not only that, but he strove mightily within this life to share what he knew and to pass it on to others in every way and through every medium that he could.

Those of us who have been touched and inspired by his life and work can join together in saying to him, "Go in peace, John, stepping onward through eternity."














Monday, February 5, 2018

Very important interviews with Chris Knowles and Gordon White on The Higherside Chats



Here are two outstanding recent interviews from what I consider to be an essential resource: Greg Carlwood's The Higherside Chats.

The first is a conversation with Chris Knowles, author of the Secret Sun website and blog. The most-recent interview is actually the second part of what I would consider to be a longer conversation which includes the previous interview with Chris, recorded just prior to the despicable events that took place in Las Vegas on October 1st, 2017.

The first of those interviews is entitled "Song to the Siren" and the second is entitled "Heaven or Las Vegas," and those are embedded in the two videos below. 

Note however, and this is very important, that The Higherside Chats is a subscription podcast, and that unless you subscribe for the very reasonable price of $5 per month, you're really only getting half of the content, as Greg likes to say. I consider Greg Carlwood to be one of the best interviewers in the world of independent media today, someone who really does his homework prior to each conversation and who shows up to his interviews with pages of insightful questions as well as an upbeat and positive attitude that -- at the same time -- doesn't suspend critical thinking. 

Rather than listening to the free portion only, I would highly recommend joining The Higherside Chats "Plus" membership plan available at this link. There's even a free trial period if you want to try it out before you pay any money. I personally am not affiliated with The Higherside Chats in any way and am not paid anything to promote Greg's show -- although I have appeared on The Higherside Chats show myself a couple of times. 

I have said before that I believe independent media to be extremely important, because it can be demonstrated beyond any doubt that conventional corporate media outlets are actively lying and suppressing the truth in many important aspects of what is being reported today as "news."

The second extremely important recent interview appearing on The Higherside Chats in the month of January 2018 is with returning guest Gordon White, author of multiple books and of the blog and podcast Rune Soup. That interview is entitled "The Dominant of Witchcraft" and is embedded above at the top of this post.

These two conversations -- the extended conversation with Chris Knowles which covers the two podcasts linked above and embedded below and the most-recent conversation with Gordon White -- should be absolutely paradigm-shifting for anyone who believes the materialist or naturalist paradigm which only arose relatively recently in history and which argues that there is no supernatural or Other Realm (or Realms) beyond the physical and material realm with which we are most familiar (a paradigm which is still aggressively propagated in institutions of education from the earliest grades all the way through university-level undergraduate and post-graduate levels).

While some might argue that cutting off the awareness to the Other Realm (the Invisible Realm, or the spirit realm -- the realm of the gods) was necessary to enable all the advances of modern science and engineering over the past few centuries (an argument which could certainly be debated), it should be quite evident that if there really are other realms or dimensions or realities beyond the material or naturalistic realm taught in school then it is actually quite "unscientific" to ignore that fact and to pretend that there are not.

I am convinced that the ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories bequeathed to virtually every culture on our planet teach the reality of the existence of the Invisible Realm, or the realm of the gods. Previous posts which touch upon this subject and some of its implications include:
. . . and many others.

Obviously, pointing towards these particular interviews does not imply that Greg or his guests agree with anything that I myself write about, or that I necessarily agree with every single thing that they say -- but it should be extremely clear from the amount of evidence which is presented in these interviews that this is a vitally important subject and one which simply must not be ignored, particularly at this junction in human history.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Cross-quarter days revisited: Loughcrew


























image: Cairn L at Loughcrew, Knowth.com (link to image).

We are rapidly approaching a significant point on the annual cycle -- one of the "cross-quarter days" which serve as "half-way markers" between the four great stations of the two solstices and the two equinoxes.

In my most-recent appearance on the Grimerica Show for "Skies over Grimerica (January 2018)" we not only discussed the lunar eclipse of January 31, 2018, but also the concept of cross-quarter days. 

The solstices and equinoxes give us definitive markers for the annual cycle created by earth's orbit around the sun. The tilt of our planet's axis of rotation, relative to the plane of our orbit around the sun (the plane of the ecliptic), and the fact that the poles retain their orientation as we orbit (see this post describing the "earth-ship metaphor" for more on this phenomenon) means that the sun's rising and setting points along the eastern (rising) and western (setting) horizon will move further north during one half of the year (before reaching the northern limit at the June solstice) and further south during the other half of the year (before reaching the southern limit at the December solstice), passing through the half-way "crossing point" of the equinoxes midway between those solstice points twice per year (once on the way north to June solstice, and then again on the way south towards December solstice).

These four points -- the June solstice, the midway crossing-point southwards at the September equinox, the December solstice, and the midway crossing-point northwards at the March equinox -- divide the annual cycle (which we call a "year") into four sections or "quarters."

In addition to these four very important "quartering points," however, which divide the annual cycle into four quarters, we could also observe a point halfway between the solstice on either end and the two "crossing points" of the equinoxes in the middle. And in fact there is extremely solid evidence to suggest that ancient cultures did indeed observe such half-way points between the solstice and quinix observances every year. Because these half-way points further divide the already-quartered year (quartered by the four stations of the two solstices and the two equinoxes), they have come to be known as the "cross-quarter days."

You can read more about cross-quarter days in previous posts from the very first year of this blog, such as this one and this one.

Below is a diagram of the annual cycle using the zodiac wheel to indicate the positions of the quartering days of the two solstices and the two equinoxes, located at the junctures of the zodiac signs from the Age of Aries.

Note that the dates given are the most frequently noted dates for the solstices (in June and December) and the equinoxes (in March and September), but that the actual calendar date for each will "drift around" a little bit, due to the imperfect match between the period of earth's rotation on its axis and that of earth's rotation around the sun. In other words, earth returns to the exact same point (such as the exact point of winter solstice) once a year, but because earth's rotation (which creates one day each time we complete a full rotation) does not fit evenly into that period of returning to the exact same point (one year), no calendar can have a perfectly even number of days (rotations) to get back to the exact same point on the orbit (the end of one year and the beginning of the next). 

This is why our calendars use "leap years," in order to bring the calendar date back to the traditional solstice and equinox dates shown above (otherwise the calendar would "drift apart" from the yearly progress markers of the two solstices and the two equinoxes). Various calendrical systems used throughout history have made use of other mechanisms besides leap years, such as intercalary days, to accomplish the same "correction" of the mismatch between daily axial rotations and annual orbital years.

That said, we can use the most common dates of the solstices and equinoxes to determine the half-way points between these four stations of the year, and thus further sub-divide each "quarter" from the diagram above into two new "half-quarters" -- thus dividing the year into eight sections instead of four sections.These half-way points have traditionally been known as "cross-quarter days," because they draw yet another cross through the year, in addition to the cross formed by the equinoxes and the solstices. 

Instead of taking anyone's word for the dates on which these cross-quarter days should fall, we can very easily calculate those dates using any calendar. The easiest way to calculate the cross-quarter days is to simply count up the days between a solstice and an equinox, and then divide that number by two to find the number of days to count from either marker in order to each a date halfway between.

As an example, let's use the calculation between the March equinox and the June solstice. The March equinox typically falls on March 21 (although the date will "drift" slightly due to the mismatch between daily axis rotations and annual orbits described above, and will thus need to be "re-set" back to March 21st using the mechanism of a leap year). The June solstice typically falls on June 21 (with the same note about drift which applies to the March equinox applying equally to the June solstice).

From March 21 to June 21 we count 92 days (ten days from March 21 to March 31, plus thirty days from April 1 to April 30, plus thirty-one days for the month of May, bringing the count to seventy-one, plus another twenty-one days to reach June 21, for a total of ninety-two days).

Dividing 92 in half, we get the number 46. When we add 46 days to March 21 (the March equinox), we will find the "cross-quarter day" that marks the half-way point between the March equinox and the June solstice -- which is May 6th.

The same process could be done to find the halfway points between the June solstice and the September equinox (which falls on or around August 8), between the September equinox and the December solstice (which falls on or around November 8), and between the December solstice and the March equinox (which falls on or around February 4). 

Obviously, we are currently progressing between the December solstice and the March equinox -- and the cross-quarter day which we are approaching is the cross-quarter day falling on or around February 4.

The cross-quarter days were understood to have great significance in ancient cultures which understood the tremendous importance of the heavenly cycles. They were celebrated as in western Europe and the British Isles as Beltane (the early May cross-quarter day), Lughnasad (the early August cross-quarter day), Samhain or Sawain (the early November cross-quarter day), and Imbolc (the early February cross-quarter day), as well as under other names both in Europe and around the globe.

Upon the adoption of the Julian calendar (and the later Gregorian calendar, which modified the Julian calendar in order to improve the leap-year calculation used to correct the mismatch of daily rotations to annual orbits described above), many of the traditional holidays and observances associated with the cross-quarter days described above appear to have "migrated" to the first of the month in which that cross-quarter day would normally fall. For example, the cross-quarter day of Samhain or Sawain would fall on November 8, based on calculations following the pattern outlined above -- and yet we all know that the important holidays of Halloween and All-Hallow's Eve take place on November 1st rather than November 8th, with Halloween being celebrated on the Eve of November 1 itself.

Similarly, the early May cross-quarter day which by strict mathematical calculation would fall on May 6th has migrated to May 1st and survives in numerous traditions associated with that date throughout the centuries, including both the dancing around the May-pole and other sundry May-day celebrations such as the association of May 1 with labor and worker's rights.

The cross-quarter day marking the point half-way between the darkest day of winter in the northern hemisphere (the December solstice) and the day of "crossing upwards" into the upper half of the year (the March equinox) would normally fall on February 4, but it too has migrated towards the first of the month, and is most well-known for the observation of Groundhog Day

This cross-quarter day is also associated with St Brigid in Ireland, whose feast day is February 1. One tradition on the eve of St Brigid's day is to leave out a scarf or strip of cloth for Brigid to bless as she is passing by -- which is very interesting as the association of goddesses with scarves or sashes is found in mythology around the globe (see for instance the discussion in Star Myths of the World, Volume Two of the sash given to Odysseus by the goddess Leucotheia, and note that the traditional story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight also features the gift of a sash of protection by a female figure to the knight Gawain, in a clear parallel to the Odysseus-Leucotheia story).

We can be very confident that the observation of the importance of cross-quarter days is extremely ancient, based on the fact that some of the oldest surviving monuments on our planet contain alignments to sunrises on certain cross-quarter days.

As discussed briefly in the "Skies over Grimerica" episode linked above, the passage mounds of the Boyne River Valley in Ireland are some of the most ancient aligned monuments to have survived from remote antiquity to the present day. The massive passage mound at Newgrange is very well known, and its sixty-foot long passage is known to align with the sunrise on the winter solstice, allowing a beam of light to penetrate all the way to the chamber deep within the great mound at that time of year alone.

The mound of Newgrange and its aligned passage is thought to have been constructed around the year 3200 BC, over five thousand years ago and thus older than even Stonehenge. However, the passage mounds at nearby Loughcrew in the same part of Ireland, while not nearly as large as the mound at Newgrange, are thought by some scholars to predate the construction of Newgrange by an additional eight hundred years (thus dating Loughcrew to around 4000 BC).

As discussed and diagramed by author, explorer, and archaeoastronomer Martin Brennan in his excellent book on the alignments and beautiful rock art of the Boyne River Valley passage mounds entitled The Stars and the Stones: Ancient Art and Astronomy in Ireland (1983), the passage and chamber of the mound known as "Cairn L" at Loughcrew (pictured above) is aligned to the sunrise on the cross-quarter days of February 4 and November 8 (the sun will pass through the same rising point on the eastern horizon on both February 4 and November 8, once on the way north in February between winter solstice and spring equinox, and then again on the way back south in November between fall equinox and winter solstice).

Below is the same image of Cairn L, from the website Knowth.com, this time with a "north-seeking arrow" superimposed (by me) onto the image, using the best resources I have available:


























Those familiar with the earth's rotation will recognize that if the red arrow is pointing north, then the passage seen on the side of Cairn L is facing somewhat south of east -- and this is the direction from which a beam of light from the rising sun on the morning of February 4 will penetrate deep into the mound of Cairn L and illuminate a specially-positioned pillar within the stones of the passage mound. 

Below is the same image one more time, this time adding a line indicating the direction of the sun's rays at sunrise on the February and November cross-quarter days, rays that will penetrate to the special pillar inside the mound only on those special days:


























My estimate of the direction of the sunbeam from the rising sun of February 4 and November 8 is based on the diagrams and discussion found in The Stars and the Stones, pages 110 and 111. 

Below is an image of the stone itself which is illuminated by the light from those two special cross-quarter days (including the upcoming cross-quarter day of Imbolc):





























image: Knowth.com (image link here).

In the image above, the rising sun's beams would come in from the right as we face the image. The sun's rays will strike the standing stone visible on the left of the image (the stone with the green moss on its one of its faces) on the morning of spring equinox. Note the beautiful and distinctive spiral artwork on the stone in the background -- this stone is along the northern edge of the chamber at Cairn L.

Cairn L is thought to have been constructed some 6,000 or 6,100 years ago -- which means that the observance of cross-quarter days must be extremely ancient indeed.

Just imagine the level of planning and design required to create an artificial mound containing a stone-lined passage in which a lone stone column or pillar is only illuminated on certain days, twice per year. This difficulty in planning and design (to say nothing of the effort required to actually execute that design) argues very strongly that the cross-quarter days which divide the year's four sections into a total of eight sections were held in very high esteem.

And yet today, it is my impression that the entire concept of cross-quarter days is largely ignored or forgotten among the men and women of the modern world.

I'm convinced based on abundant evidence that the many cycles of the sun, moon, planets, and stars were invested with spiritual significance as part of an ancient, world-wide system of code which informs the ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories of virtually every culture on our planet. 

I am also convinced that these cycles (and the invisible, spiritual, or hyper-dimensional realms that they point towards) were understood to have actual impacts on the dimension we think of as the "material world" in which we normally operate.  

The more we begin to become aware of the ancient cycles and their significance, the more readily we can begin to grasp the profound wisdom which is patiently waiting to communicate to us through the precious ancient myths of humanity.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Total Lunar Eclipse, January 31, 2018






























image: NASA (link).

The moon is waxing towards full, and will reach the point of full moon on January 31. As you've probably already heard, this full moon will feature a total lunar eclipse, which will be visible as the moon is rising for viewers in eastern Europe, Asia, Australia and the western Pacific Ocean, and as the moon is setting for viewers in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the western part of North America and Mexico (but the moon will pass through earth's shadow close to or after the moon sets for the eastern side of North America and for much of Central America, South America, Africa and western Europe).

The diagram above shows the times that the earth's shadow will envelope the moon, using the Pacific time zone in effect in western North America (including California). Viewers in the Eastern time zone of North America will have to add three hours to the times for the moon's entry into the penumbra and umbra -- which means that the moon will already have moved below the western horizon (moon set) by the time it is fully enveloped by the umbra for viewers in eastern North America, South America, the Atlantic, Africa and western Europe (see map below, also from NASA):






















A total lunar eclipse can only occur when the moon passes through the point of full moon -- that is, when it is directly opposite from the sun: when the sun, the earth, and the moon are aligned such that the earth is between the sun and the moon. However, because the plane of the moon's orbit around the earth is tilted slightly from the plane of the earth's orbit around the sun, the moon will not go into earth's shadow every time that the moon reaches the point of full moon (when earth is between sun and moon). The moon will only pass into the shadow of the earth when the moon happens to reach the point of full moon at the same time that the moon on its tilted orbital plane is also passing through the plane of earth's orbit around the sun.

Further discussion of the moon's tilted orbital plane, and a few helpful videos to help you visualize what it means when the moon passes through the orbital plane of the earth around the sun, can be found at previous posts such as "The lunar nodes and the nine-world cosmology" and "An excellent website explaining the lunar nodes (with animation)." 

There is also some discussion of the January 31 lunar eclipse in this month's installment of "Skies over Grimerica," which was recorded on January 17th.

The leading edge of the moon will enter the penumbra of earth's shadow at 2:51 in the a.m. on early Wednesday morning, January 31, for observers in the Pacific time zone in western North America (this contact of the leading edge of the moon with the penumbra is also referred to as "P1"), and the leading edge of the moon will enter the umbra of earth's shadow at 3:48 in the a.m. just under one hour later (this contact of the leading edge of the moon with the umbra is also referred to as "U1"). The umbra is the full shadow of the earth, which would completely blot out the moon from our view, except for the fact that our planet has an atmosphere which bends the rays of the sun, allowing some rays to "leak through" to the face of the moon, giving it some illumination instead of plunging it into total blackness. These refracted rays are reddish in color, for the same reason that the sun and the moon appear redder when they are just rising or setting (because the rays of light are bending through our earth's atmosphere). 

There is a good discussion of this phenomenon, along with some nice diagrams, in this discussion of the January 31 eclipse over at Sky & Telescope, here.

As the moon continues on its orbit, the umbra will creep across more and more of the face of the moon, until the umbra reaches the trailing edge of the moon at 4:51 a.m. on Wednesday morning, January 31, for viewers in the Pacific time zone (the contact of the trailing edge of the moon with the umbra is also referred to as "U2"). At this point, the lunar eclipse is total. However, the centerline of the moon will pass through the very center of the umbra at 5:29 am for viewers in the Pacific time zone -- this is the point of "max eclipse" for this lunar eclipse.

The leading edge of the moon will begin to exit the umbra at 6:07 am Pacific time, which is also referred to as "U3." The moon will set below the western horizon for viewers in much of the west coast of North America before its trailing edge moves out of the umbra when the trailing edge of the moon leaves the umbra it is also known as "U4").

Viewers in other parts of the world which can see the lunar eclipse can use the Greenwich or Universal times shown in the upper-right corner of the second diagram above in order to calculate the local times for P1, U1, U2, U3, and U4.

The media is giving all sorts of sensational names to this lunar eclipse, in an attempt to make this month's event seem more unusual than other lunar eclipses -- but much of the hype involves the fact that this is the second full moon of the calendar month of January, which is simply an effect of the calendar and not of the celestial mechanics of the earth and the moon. Moreover, the use of the term "blue moon" to refer to the second full moon in a month appears to be relatively recent and -- according to this article in Sky & Telescope -- this use of the term "blue moon" may actually have resulted from a mistake by a writer in that same magazine back in 1946.

However, don't let the media's constant need to hype everything in their grasp spoil the experience of observing the eclipse for yourself, if it is at all possible for you to do so and if you live in a part of the globe where this eclipse will be visible during the time that the moon is moving through the umbra of earth's shadow. I believe that it is always beneficial to observe the motions of the heavenly cycles, and to marvel at the effects of the interplay between the moon and the earth and the sun. 

The moon is swinging along its path this very moment, heading for the point where it will intersect with the plane of the earth's speeding orbit around the sun, and in just over twenty-four hours it will begin to enter into the shadow cast by our entire planet. As always, that will be something to see.








Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mahatma Gandhi and Satyagraha







































image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Mahatma Gandhi was born in 1869.

As is of course very well known, he opposed colonialism, oppression, and exploitation.

Gandhi is also well known for advocating and practicing satyagraha, which in his own translation of his 1909 book on Indian Self Rule, he renders as "soul force" or "love force" in English (for instance in this chapter).

Of this concept, Gandhi wrote:

"When I refuse to do a thing that is repugnant to my conscience, I use soul-force" (chapter 17, "Passive Resistance").

In that same text, which he wrote in 1909, he provides many perspectives upon the reason that soul force is superior to brute force -- perhaps most succinctly when he says:
To use brute force, to use gunpowder, is contrary to passive resistance, for it means that we want our opponent to do by force that which we desire but he does not. And if such a use of force is justifiable, surely he is entitled to do likewise by us. 17.
But just because he subscribed to the principle of nonviolent or peaceful resistance does not mean that he believed in allowing oppression, exploitation, and colonialism to continue -- quite the contrary. In the same 1909 text, he proclaims: "You may keep the riches that you have drained away from this land, but you may not drain riches henceforth. [ . . . ] We cease to play the part of the ruled" (chapter 20, "Conclusion").

Mahatma Gandhi realized and acknowledged that those who had turned his country into a colony had superior military power. He says as much in the same concluding chapter just cited, but then notes that it is only by the cooperation of the governed that those who have been oppressing and exploiting the people are able to do so, when he declares:
You may, if you like, cut us to pieces. You may shatter us at the cannon's mouth. If you act contrary to our will, we shall not help you; and without our help, we know that you cannot move one step forward.
This insight, that "without our help, we know that you cannot move one step forward," is crucial to understanding the power of Gandhi's satyagraha. At another point in the same tract, he declares that without those who collaborate with the colonizers, the country could never have been enslaved: "It is we, the English-speaking Indians, who have enslaved India. The curse of the nation will rest not upon the English but upon us" (chapter 16, "Education").

Without such collaboration, the oppressors would be stymied. This fact is the key to the effectiveness of the nonviolent resistance which Gandhi demonstrated and advocated. 

The colonialist powers used brute force to try to coerce collaboration, or to give an excuse to those who collaborated -- enabling them to rationalize their collaboration by saying, "What else can I do? They have all the firepower." By demonstrating that the occupiers had no power without such collaboration, Gandhi removed that rationalization.

When that which belongs by right to all men and women is siphoned-away for the benefit of a small group at the expense of everyone else, the only way this can happen is if the vast majority of the people (who will intuitively realize that a wrong is being committed) allow it to happen, usually due to their fear of the threat of violence, and also due to their lack of awareness that they already possess the means to bring that misappropriation to a stop. Gandhi's teaching and his example addressed both of these obstacles.

Colonialism, by its very definition, has at its core the seizing of that which belongs to all men and women in a nation by a very few (some of them from another nation, but requiring the cooperation of collaborators from the colonized populace as well). We may delude ourselves into thinking that such imperialism came to an end around the world many decades ago, but in fact today's neoliberalism operates on the very same principles, having at its core the privatization of resources which belong to the public, on a vast scale -- including mineral resources such as oil and natural gas and ores and metals and rare earth elements, public utilities, ports, airports, railroads, forests, aquifers, pensions belonging to retirees, and even rivers.

Almost everyone knows without even having to be taught that the seizing of such gifts of the gods for the benefit of the few at the expense of everyone else is inherently wrong. Gandhi's teaching should open our eyes to the fact that without our cooperation, such unjustifiable exploitation could not take place. 

His remedy was both simple and at the same time powerfully effective: do not cooperate with it. Refuse to do a thing that is repugnant to your conscience.

That this methodology is greatly feared by those few who rely on the cooperation of the many in order to drain away the riches that belong to all men and women is evidenced by the fact that Mahatma Gandhi was brutally assassinated on January 30, 1948. Just over twenty years later, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. -- who was implementing the very same conscience-driven nonviolent approach -- was also brutally assassinated. John Lennon was advocating and practicing much the same soul-force or love-force.

The actions and example of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King brought about incredible changes. They demonstrate that soul force is indeed more powerful than brute force.

They knew that violence could not stop their message: but it is up to us to continue to proclaim it and live it.

Near the very end of the conclusion of the text by Gandhi cited above, Gandhi urges us not to wait for anyone else in our application of the principle of satyagraha. To ask when everyone will be ready to join us in this refusal to cooperate with oppression and exploitation, he says, is to make a mistake.

Seventy years after the departure of Mahatma Gandhi from this incarnation, his message and example live on, as urgently needed today as ever in the past.