Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stars, Pentagons, Suns and an implied Eye: Clumsy title for some ugly logos

I was toodling about this morning, making the rounds of my regular news websites, when I came across an AP photo similar to the following picture of the gate at Camp Delta (as in triangle?), Guantanamo;  (I snagged this one from the JTF website):
Given the hubbub over American political imagery, especially the idea of stars and pentagrams in official seals, a pentacle in the layout of DC and the sinister pentagram defined by the pentagon, etc. it's natural that this logo popped out at me.  Both the star and the pentagon have a long history in conspiracy literature.  As logos go, this one's truly ugly, with way too many elements and conflicting forms.  A silhouette of Cuba runs across the black star like a scar.  Any elegance this star might have have had is further marred by the bad decision to add the seals of each of the armed forces at each point.  It doesn't help that the seals are so busy, with their own details and color schemes.  To make matters worse, an actual beach scene is in the background, looking all the world as if someone has been ripping off bad wallpaper designs.  Here's a closer look, also snagged from the JGT website:
What a monstrosity.  Stupid font, the yellow border on the star, the red border on the pentagon.  Funny how it evokes an old timey sheriff's badge.  As kitsch as it is, it'll still provide more fodder for the "Satan lives in DC" crowd.  Which is actually true, metaphorically speaking.

And that sun in the sky is very low; is it dusk or is it dawn?

A bit less offensive to good taste is the patch version of the logo.  The seals of the armed forces are replaced by their names and the star is removed.  But all those conflicting colors and lettering!  Still pretty ugly if you ask me.  If it were my decision, I'd remove all the text and leave only the forms.  I might allow JTF-GTMO somewhere in there but no more.

Wess Wessling's Coast Guard Patches
Anyway, this spurred me on to continue my (up until today) fruitless search for an Odyssey Dawn patch.  The military is like the Boy Scouts.  They have a patch or ribbon for everything.  I figured the Odyssey Dawn logo might feature one of those My Little Ponies streaking across the sky like a comet.  But no, that was not to be.

I found the OD logo on the blog of Gideon Rachman (Financial Times).  On March 20 at 20:45 he posted "Here’s the Pentagon’s official “Odyssey Dawn” logo:"

Libya live blog, March 20th
Another JTF adventure!  The golden victory laurels are a nice touch.  Makes it look like a tire with fancy hubcaps and snow chains.  The sun, rising in the east, looks both like a vast explosion where Japan would be and a Japanese war flag, creeping up to bring a new day for Africa, Waka Waka eh eh....

Given these precedents, we might have an answer to our question about the the Gitmo (Kitschmo) patch.  I propose that it too represents dawn, as if these prisoners, hooded (hoodwinked?) no less, have travelled through their dark night and will re-emerge, hood (veil) removed, into the light of a new day.

It reminds me in a vague sense of the DARPA's discontnued IAO logo, with the eye in the pyramid, illuminating the globe.  Same message I think.  We're bringing the light, fuckers....on the tip of a missile....

Upon further reflection, this vague sense is actually well-founded.  In ¡Viva la Revolución!, I examined the conflation of the eye with the image of the sun which appears on several Latin American flags.  I proposed this signified the dawn of a new era in Latin America.  This metaphor seems to have been taken up by the current crop of would-be nation builders, carving up new resource-rich territories.  The DARPA logo, which comes in an entirely different context, features an eye shining light on the globe.  What is this then but the eye as sun?

Funny thing is, I haven't seen the OD logo anywhere else, even on the Africom website, so if anyone can confirm this is the real deal, I'd appreciate it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Beware of Greeks bearing strange gifts

Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, Telemachus rose and dressed himself. He bound his sandals on to his comely feet, girded his sword about his shoulder, and left his roomlooking like an immortal god. He at once sent the criers round to call the people in assembly, so they called them and the people gathered thereon; then, when they were got together, he went to the place of assembly spear in hand--not alone, for his two hounds went with him. Minerva endowed him with a presence of such divine comeliness that all marvelled at him as he went by, and when he took his place in his father's seat even the oldest councillors made way for him.

-- Odyssey, Book II

"Odyssey Dawn" is at the center of a giant snickerfest; one can almost see the giant "wtf?" coming up in a thought bubble from all points across a stylized map of the world....

A lot of people have remarked that the name given to the bombing of Libya sounds like that of a stripper. Maybe even two strippers. Others have remarked that it evokes dish soap. The conspiracy forums are rampant with speculation about Arthur C. Clarke, the Golden Dawn, the Illuminati....

The Washington Post reported on 22 March that the name means nothing:

“The goal is to create a name that has absolutely nothing to do with the activity of the region, so you could walk down the street in Washington during the planning stages and ensure that nobody knows it’s about Libya,” [Africom spokesman Eric] Elliott said.

Even if "Odyssey Dawn" really is a random phrase with no intended meaning, perhaps it's not the best of all possible monikers; as Wired begins it's report: "The U.S. military’s nickname for the no-fly zone in Libya sounds like the beginning of a long adventure."

Quite so. I don't subscribe to the more fantastic theories about the name, but I doubt that it's completely devoid of intentional meaning or geographical reference.

I presume that the name refers to the Odyssey, something any American high-school student would recognize. For those of who who slept through English class, the Odyssey tells the story of a soldier making his way back home after the Trojan War, events depicted in the Iliad. The hero is a noble named Odysseus, who, with a stout heart, sharp wits and endless persistence, overcomes all obstacles in his quest to be reuinted with his beloved wife and island home of Ithaka. It takes 10 years, but Odysseus never gives up.

So, it may have been a random choice, but it's certainly not meaningless: stout hearts, wits, persistence, victory. Say no more, nudge nudge.

Dawn, of course, has always symbolized the start of a new day. No, wait a minute, dawn is the start of a new day. I mean to say that dawn has always had the metaphorical meaning of a fresh start. The rising sun has often been used a symbol of renewal, the beginning of a golden era. Old news to LoS fans. Again, the symbolism here is not very opaque.

(Without belaboring the point too much, the "Land of the Rising Sun" is Japan, whose ongoing battle against nuclear catastrophe seems to have been eclipsed somewhat in the biggest headlines by this Libyan adventure. Both of these stories revolve around the disastrous consequences of our thirst for energy....)

Dawn has a special significance in the Odyssey. "Rosy-fingered dawn" must be one of the most well-known epithets in the western world. If I recall correctly, it refers to the birth of Odysseus' journey and refers to his personal development as he is transformed by his harrowing experiences.

But this dawn is also the goddess Eos, who, according to myth, opens the gates of heaven so that her brother Helios, the Sun, can ride across the sky in an F-22.

According to Wikipedia:

[Eos] is most often associated with her Homeric epithet "rosy fingered" (rhododactylos)....

That brightest of stars appeared, Eosphoros, that most often heralds the light of early-rising Dawn (Eos Erigeneia).

—Odyssey xiii.93

Hesiod wrote:

And after these Erigeneia ["Early-born"] bore the star Eosphoros ("Dawn-bringer"), and the gleaming stars with which heaven is crowned.

—Theogony 378-382

This heavenly crown of stars reminds me of the Virgin Mary and the flag of the European Union which drew inspiration from her imagery. It would seem this is not merely a result of my ongoing (some might say obsessive!) interest in Marial imagery:

According to Hesiod, by Tithonus Eos had two sons, Memnon and Emathion. Memnon fought among the Trojans in the Trojan War and was slain. Her image with the dead Memnon across her knees, like Thetis with the dead Achilles and Isis with the dead Osiris, are icons that inspired the Christian Pietà.

Now, my interpretation of the intentional meaning of Odyssey Dawn ended with the idea that "odyssey" referred to a noble struggle and "dawn" a new day for Libya. Yet meaning becomes all the more richer when it feeds upon association and personally, I find these associations intriguing and meaningful. Intent at this point becomes irrelevant.

Finally, we have seen that the companion of Eos is Eosphoros, also known as Phosporous:

....a name meaning "Light-Bringer"...the Morning Star, the planet Venus in its morning appearance....
Another Greek name for the Morning Star....means "Dawn-Bringer"....

In Latin, the name Lucifer (Light-Bringer) corresponds exactly to the Greek term Φωσφόρος.

In Isaiah 14:12, the Septuagint version uses the word "Ἑωσφόρος" (Heosphoros) and the Vulgate "Lucifer" to translate Hebrew "Helel" (Venus as the brilliant, bright or shining one), "son of Shahar (Dawn)".

As an adjective, the Greek word is applied in the sense of "light-bringing" to, for instance, the dawn, the god Dionysos, pine torches, the day; and in the sense of "torch-bearing" as an epithet of several god and goddesses, especially Hecate but also of Artemis/Diana and Hephaestus.

These are intriguing associations. Not only are we dealing with the stars and signs which signal the new day, but illumination in a more metaphorical sense. Note the distinction between "light-bringing" and "torch-bearing". Torch-bearers of course illuminate the darkness, bringing knowledge and wisdom to overcome ignorance. But torches often have an association with the underworld. Torch-bearing deities not only bring light, but act as psychopomps, guides of the dead. An interesting series of gods are referenced: Hecate, goddess of death; Artemis, the huntress, Hephaestus; symbol of progress via technology (used in various flags and arms inspired by the industrial ideals of the French Revolution). Other than bombs, what other light are we bringing to Libya? As the propagandists would have it: a new day, democracy, progress. All the old jingo to gloss over the truth.

If I may bring us back to the aforementioned reference to Arthur C. Clarke, one theory I've read in fact points out that at the end of 2010: Odyssey Two, the planet Jupiter is transformed into a new small sun, eliminating darkness, inaugurating a new, "enlightened" era. This sun is dubbed "Lucifer". Interesting that two Odysseys can lead us to a light-bringing Lucifer....

But again, how does Odyssey Dawn refer specifically to Libya? Well, the Odyssey is generally assumed to have taken place in the Mediterrenean Sea and Libya, of course, is a Mediterrenean nation. One famous bit of the story is the encounter with the Lotus Eaters, which many have said takes place in Libya. Interestingly, aside from the narcotic aspect of this tale, the land of the Lotus Eaters was a land of plenty, rich in resources.

The Phoenicians were the first to establish trading posts in Libya, when the merchants of Tyre (in present-day Lebanon) developed commercial relations with the Berber tribes and made treaties with them to ensure their cooperation in the exploitation of raw materials. (my emphasis).

There's an interesting commercial back story here.

These raw materials were different from what we're after today (hint: it's black and gooey). But there's a even clearer Odyssean corroboration of this wealth:

Homer also names Libya, in Odyssey (IX.95; XXIII.311). Menelaus had travelled there on his way home from Troy; it was a land of wonderful richness, where the lambs have horns as soon as they are born, where ewes lamb three times a year and no shepherd ever goes short of milk, meat or cheese. Homer used the name in a geographic sense, while he called its inhabitants Lotophagi, meaning "Lotus-eaters".

Critics of Odyssey Dawn are not unaware of this wealth:

Vladimir Putin, ha[s] condemned the "mission" as an imperialistic project. It is viewed as an extension of NATO's effort to control the energy resources of the world by setting up puppet governments under the guise of democracy. The so called rebels in Libya may consitute a very small margin of Libyan society and predominately draw their support from tribal-based elites who lost their power when Ghaddafi came in power.

On April 15, 1986, the U.S. led another bomb-raid on Libya, code-named Operation El Dorado Canyon. Springtime, that time of renewal, would appear to the best time to plant bombs in Libya.

The myth of El Dorado originated as a "ceremony [in which a] new ruler was received, and was recognized as lord and king." In this rite, the king sprinkles himself in gold dust. This was transformed in the myth of a "Lost City of Gold". Searching for this city has led to the ruin of many a man, and the name is synonymous with blind greed in pursuit of illusory riches, synonymous, perhaps, with the bloody exploits of the Conquistadores, part mercenary, part missionary. Something like crusaders, actually.

El Dorado has given its name to a number of towns, places, products, etc., but the name used in the 1986 bombing was El Dorado Canyon, a place near Boulder, Colorado known for its copius quality rock-climbing possibilities. It was first inhabitated by Ute Indians, who were then pushed aside by European settlers moving in for agriculture and in pursuit of gold. An appropriate name indeed. At one point, the town of Eldorado Springs was formed, becoming known as a resort for the rich and powerful elite. That is, until it all burned to the ground in 1912.

On a final note, this El Dorado is a mythical city of gold, therefore vast wealth. Clearly, it's the black gold the coalition is after in Libya. But if we cross-reference our metaphors, we know also that gold is associated with the sun, with light and with wisdom. The alchemists' search to turn lead into gold was not so much about producing actual gold as it was a quest for the perfect wisdom. This reinforces my theory that the "dawn" in "Odyssey Dawn" represents a kind of wisom, or light.

One other thing the Libyans would do well to remember is that it was Odysseus who came up with the idea of the Trojan Horse. Careful what you let through the gates of heaven! Phoenicians, Spaniards, 49'ers, "coalition partners." Not much difference. Be prepared for a long and protracted visit.

Friday, March 25, 2011

More upcoming events

More stuff put on by friends.  If you're in Le Burgaud, Toulouse or Paris....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Even the Egyptians did it....

from Comic Vine
Long-time readers may have noticed  that Amazon ads have appeared to the right and at the bottom of LoS.  Soon, Google ads will join them.

I have more reservations about this than positive thoughts.  I can't help but think it somehow taints the blog and I find it all a bit distasteful.  I have no illusions here.  Traffic on the site hovers around 3,500 hits per month, which is small potatoes; any revenue generated by these ads will be minimal.

You may be wondering why, in this case, I have taken this step.  One factor, certainly, is curiosity.  How much money can an obscure blog generate, even it it amounts to pennies per month?  

A second factor is that well, the Gid and I are doing some research, writing it up and putting it out there in the world for the sole purpose of sharing our interests and discoveries (which is actually very satisfying).  The occasional encouraging word is also a great pleasure.  Less fun is to see the work used elsewhere with nary a thank you or even a head's up--especially on a site which uses advertising....but hey, I didn't put a Creative Commons license on the blog for nothing.  On the other hand, if a lot of people are reading and/or using this information, why not make a little money?  We like to eat as much as the next guy, after all.

I'm not sure if the monies earned will offset the arguably negative impact of advertising; I've half a mind to can it after a few months anyway, if the "experiment" proves worthless.  I did this once before.  The ads were up less than a week before I took them down, feeling somewhat tarnished.  I asked Gid for his thoughts and he said go for it, why not?  So after months of hesitation, we've decided to shake the devil's hand..

Like I said, I don't think this will keep me in caviar and champagne, but it may be able to defray the expenses of a book or two.  My idea is that any money generated by these ads will go towards buying a book that could in turn enrich the content of this site.  Either that or help me to buy a small island in the Pacific.  After I kill off the Gid that is, and steal his share....

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Royal Obamas: personally blessed by Christ the Redeemer

This photos is posted in the spirit of two posts from last year (Political Saviors and Obama as Jesus, or Hippocrates?) where we looked at some images which portray political figures with religious imagery.  Interesting discussion was generated:  Was this the intentional creation of messiah narratives?  Irony, snarkiness, satire?  Playing around with composition?

Probably a mix of all of this in some cases.  Anyway, rest safe knowing that Obama's trip to Brazil has been blessed personally by Jesus, or at least a facsimile thereof....

See also:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Second Shod & Severed Animal Foot's Ashore in Salish Sea

A severed animal foot in a shoe was found floating in Powell River (Vancouver, British Columbia) on Saturday, March 5.

It is the second severed and shod animal foot found in the area: A previous one was found in Campbell River, Vancouver Island, on June 18, 2008.

Both are presumably hoaxes inspired by the macabre events involving human feet in the area: Since 2007, 10 human feet have washed ashore on the Salish Sea (the coastal waterways of the Pacific Northwest). (See previous posts.)

Various patterns have emerged and vanished. It started with large right male feet. Then the fourth foot was female and average sized--but still right. But then foot five was left, breaking the string of rights.

All were found in running shoes, until feet 9 and 10. All feet were unmatched, until 5 matched 3, and then 7 matched 4, and, presumably, 10 matched 9. None have been identified--except for one. All but two of the feet were found in British Columbia. All were human, before the June 18 hoax. Wikipedia ignored the news, until it started following it.

In fact, there is only one similarity beyond geotemporal proximity: Each was removed without tools (presumably disarticulated as the body rotted and the shoe floated, tugging upward against the body until the ankle separated).

We stopped speculizing long ago.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Power, Corruption and Lies

Gabriel Moulin, 1907.
I had an opportunity to watch The Order of Death (Alex Jones' documentary on the Bohemian Grove) the other night.  It's a deft piece of propaganda and like all propaganda, it's filled with an unfortunate bevy of distortions and half-truths, if not outright lies.

Bohemian Grove is a campground in northern California owned by the Bohemian Club, a men's social club founded in San Francisco in 1872.  Initially membership included journalists and artists, but it soon accepted businessman into its ranks.  Today the club holds an annual gathering at the Grove which includes a largely GOP crowd, but includes a smattering of liberals, too.  This is not some conspiracy theorist's wild imaginings.  Guests have included the likes of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Kissinger, George Shultz, Helmut Kohl, Colin Powell.  The list goes on.  Not only such well-known figures but a long list of power players in industries from petrochemical and media to defense.  Celebrities are involved.  Harry Shearer and Steve Miller, of all people, are members.  So are Mickey Hart and Bob Weir, formerly of the Grateful Dead.

But what do they do?  Given the highly secretive nature of the proceedings, a lot of what goes down is fairly well-known. (Tellingly, the Patron Saint of the Club is John of Nepomuk, who was martyred by the King of Bohemia for refusing to divulge secrets the Queen revealed to him at confessional; one of his attributes is an angel holding its finger over its lips in the universal gesture of silence and at least one of the BG camps is adorned with this very image).  It would appear that revelry and heavy drinking are involved, male bonding, pissing in the woods, etc.  A series of "Lakeside Talks" are held, where members or special guests weigh in on policy issues of the day.  Theatrical productions are performed.  Perhaps most famous is the "Cremation of Care" ceremony.  The Cremation of Care is a kind of skit where members dressed in red and black hooded robes carry a coffin to the foot of a large stone effigy of an owl and set it alight.  Inside the coffin is a human figure called "Dull Care".  According to an article that appeared in Spy Magazine, club literature "boasts that the Cremation of Care ceremony derives from Druid rites, medieval Christian liturgy, the Book of Common Prayer, Shakespearean drama and nineteenth-century American lodge rites."  (This photo archive of images from 1909 has lots of images from the theatrical productions).

Alex Jones actually walked right into the camp and from a hidden vantage point filmed the goings on.  As the coffin is set alight, howls and screams come out from the owl and fireworks shoot forth from behind its head . Strange hi-jinks for anyone, let alone the power elite.

The prospect of a bunch of influential men gathering in secret among the redwoods to discuss foreign and domestic policy matters raises a series of valid questions, the foremost of which regards the appropriateness of such an arrangement in a free and open, democratic society.  To what extent policy is hatched here, if at all, is a big unknown.  Policy is hammered out in Congress, to be sure, and these kinds of conclaves are carried out all over Washington in various think tanks and consortia.  Which doesn't put this in perspective at all.  More to the point is to what extent these parallel policy structures subvert the democratic process of free and open discussion.  On one hand the Constitution guarantees the freedom of like-minded men to gather and discuss the problems of the day.  This is what political parties are all about, after all.  But the Grove smacks of something beyond that.  It doesn't help that this boys' club burns coffins before an enormous owl.

Carthage Redux

One big problem with Jones' documentary is that he links the Cremation of Care ritual to the continuation of Molech worship.  Without any ado whatsoever he pronounces this as fact.  Molech was a Semitic deity and research supports the idea that indeed, human and animal sacrifice was performed in the god's honor.  But this is not a proven fact; the extent of these sacrifices remains unsettled and even the very existence of human sacrifice remains debatable.  Yet there is no indication that Molech was associated with an owl.  None at all.  There are some representations of the Molech idol which bear a passing resemblance to our owl, but these are the stylings of much later fabulists and in any event, do not represent owls but bulls.  So, unless Jones has access to some codices the experts are not aware off, this link to Molech seems to originate from somewhere in his nether region; in other words, he's merely pulled it out of his ass and stated it as fact.

So, what of it?  Child sacrifice is a handy metaphor for warmongers, but stating it as fact, without hint of irony or satire, is merely wrong.  Jones' choice here involves either deliberate lies, blind prejudice or ignorance.

If the owl is not Molech, what does it represent?  I think it's a safe bet to say it represents wisdom.  In his book on the Illuminati, (Perfectibilists), Terry Melanson  points out that in the Bohemian Club library there is an owl statue which is an exact replica of one originally discovered in the temple of Pallas Athena on the Acropolis.  Like her Roman counterpart Minerva, she is often pictured with an owl signifying wisdom.  Melanson, in a footnote, notes that Jones seems to have been the first person to make the claim that the owl is Molech.  If so, it's pretty much standard folklore now.  The Internet conspiracy sites repeat it ad nauseum.  Which makes his distortions all the more frustrating.  It's almost comical how people twist the historical evidence to fit their beliefs; I saw one site where a guy pointed out to another that there is no historical connection between the owl and Molech.  The first guy responded that it wasn't an owl, but a devil with horns.  Bohos merely called it an owl!  Given the prevalence of owl images on everything associated with the Club, from napkins to programs to its official seal, this makes it unlikely.

Melanson also proposes that the Club's motto "Weaving spiders come not here", along with the owl, refer to the myth of Arachne and Minerva.  In this story, Arachne, a skilled weaver, boasts that she can best anyone at the loom, even the goddess Minerva.  Minerva, peeved, takes her up on the offer and a contest ensues.  Arachne indeed demonstrates remarkable skill, along with remarkable arrogance.  Minerva, angered by Arachne's impiety, touches the latter's head and makes her feel shame, whereupon Arachne runs off and hangs herself.  Feeling pity, she brings Arachne back to life and transforms her into a spider to recall for all time this moral lesson.

Melanson suggests that for the BC, this might be directed towards outsiders, or weaving spiders; that is to say it's a warning to mere mortals who would presume to elevate themselves to the status of the god-like Bohemians.  Maybe so.  But isn't it also possible that the motto is directed towards the members themselves, as a reminder of humility?  Meaning that for all their worldly power and riches, they should not themselves assume they are gods among men.  I advocate neither interpretation, but propose a plausible alternative to demonstrate that we are all speculating based on limited information from a discrete organization.  A far cry from fact.

For a more thorough and fact-based interpretation of the owl symbolism, see Melanson's Owl of WisdomI was especially delighted to learn of the Schlarrafia, a social club founded in Prague (Bohemia) in 1859 by artists and actors, much like the Bohemian Club.  Their symbol:  an owl representing wisdom.  A branch existed in San Francisco as early as 1884 (BC founded in 1879) and the club had a similar philosophy of leaving "Dull Care" behind them when they met:

"As soon as he [the Schlaraffian] enters a 'castle' [or 'Temple'] and comes under the rule of Uhu, the great horned owl of Minerva, he is expected to forget all foolish things of everyday life."

This is why I love Terry's work.  I've been visiting BC-related websites for the past few days and this group wasn't even mentioned.  I go there in search of a link for Perfectibilists and land on this.  Great stuff, but it's getting me away from the intention of this post.
Bohemian Grove Seal, photo by Wikipedia User "Stef48"
Another thing which would support the idea that this represents wisdom (dare I say "enlightenment" or "illumination"), is that the owl was erected in the 1920's to replace an earlier sculpture.  Here's the National Park Service:

September 3, 1892: Bohemian Club Summer Encampment. A large 70 foot statue of Daibutsu Buddha, modeled after the Daibutsu of Kamkura and constructed of lath and plaster, is erected in an area later to be known as the Bohemian Grove. This statue gradually deteriorates over time, and by the late 1920's there is very little of it left.

I don't think the Bohos are secret Buddhists, they just get their wisdom symbols from wherever they see fit.

1909 Grove Annal,
Finally, I have also seen some Bohemian Grove images which feature both the owl and a skull, in this example crowned.  Some will automatically read this in a sinister light, but, like many such images, might it not be read as a symbol of the transience of life, another reminder to the mighty that their time too, will pass?

Still, it's hard not to see occult meanderings when pictures like another one floating about the internets pop up.  This image from 1915 is worth reproducing here because it's such an eye popper.  The caption explains: "To purge himself of worldly concerns, a member of the elite Bohemian Club participated in a 1915 Cremation of Care ceremony—complete with candles and a robed and hooded comrade to guide him."

Gabriel Moulin, 1915. Cremation of Care Ceremony; photo shamelessly hustled from National Geographic.
So, the Cremation of Care always signified the same thing, even as the ceremony became burning an effigy of Dull Care. I'm speculating here, but perhaps in this image the man is himself Dull Care.  The shedding of worldly concerns is necessary because life is transitory--as symbolized in the 1909 Annal--and one must take the time to eat, drink and be merry.  But I can easily see why people interpret this as some kind of occult death and rebirth ritual, maybe even something borrowed from those aforementioned "American lodge rites."  (We have compiled an extensive and certainly incomplete list of instances where the phrase "Dull Care" is used, from antiquity to the 20th century; I feel that the phrase's widespread use de-mystifies it....and the rite).

I'd like to take this opportunity to present another Moulin photograph from 1909, representing what I assume to be one of the Grove plays.  While the photo above is widely circulated on Christian websites, the following is not, because it does not fit the narrative of Molechian subversion.  Actually, given their logic, one could merely state as fact that this is a mockery of the Cross and it would be accepted and widely circulated as such.  I can't say it isn't a mockery of the Cross, but my intuition and common sense tell me that it's exactly what it appears to be:  a play portraying a group of knights, perhaps crusaders or grail-seekers, glorifying in a Christian revelation.  Several other pictures from this play also reveal Christian symbolism.  Which is exactly why they're not reproduced, even though other pictures from the same archive are.  So, standard fare really:  deception and selective evidence from the self-righteous.

Moulin, 1909.  Online Archive of California.

Enter the Masons

Jones lost me in his documentary at the very end, where his proof linking this to a greater conspiracy consists of growling things like "Skull and Bones, KKK, New World Order, Freemasons" over and over.  Hey, they're mentioned in the same breath, they must be linked!  Jones' attack on Freemasonry is old hat and particularly weak.  He goes off on a rant about how the Freemasons and the KKK are all arms of the same monster.  Along the way he spouts at least two untruths.

The first involves the invocation, a propos of nothing, of Albert Pike, who Jones refers to as chief Freemason of the whole wide world!  Well, anyone who knows anything about Masonry knows this is bullshit.  There are several strains of Freemasonry in the world, the biggest of which are sometimes referred to as Blue (Anglo-Saxon) and Red (Continental/French) Masonry.  Red Masonic Lodges are under the authority of Grand Orients; blues under Grand Lodges.  Neither recognizes the authority of the other.  Among Blue Lodges, each country has its own Grand Lodge and each U.S. state has it's own Grand Lodge, none with authority over another.  To put it simply, no single person can have authority over two Grand Lodges, let alone all of them.  Pike wasn't head of world Masonry, not even U.S. Masonry--because it doesn't exist as a single body.  He was the Supreme Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite.  Not all of the Scottish Rite, mind you; there is a Northern Jurisdiction and these are two separate and independent bodies.  Pike was a clever dick and a colorful figure, resting head of the Southern Jurisdiction for a long time, but his authority finished there.

So anyone who tells you otherwise is either misinformed or lying.  I suppose deluded and blinded by prejudice are acceptable other options.

Another distortion is that Pike "founded" the KKK.  Jones uses this exact phrase.  See the choices above.  There is absolutely no iron-clad proof Pike was even in the KKK.  There were some writers who claimed this to be true, but there are problems with these claims.  The arguments can be seen here, and I will leave you to decide.  He may have been a member at some point, but this "may have been a member" is a far cry from saying he founded the organization.  Alex Jones has done his research so he cannot be unaware that his claim is debatable; to present it as anything otherwise is a deliberate deception.

What's so odious about this is that he's using deceit and lies while bombastically denouncing those who use deception and lies to maintain power and control.  And Bohemian Grove is full off that monkey business.  Yet when it's so cavalierly linked to non-existent bugbears like Molech cults, Jones does a disservice and one might rightly begin to wonder, like any good paranoid, if he himself is a disinformation specialist, or at least a mere huckster in search of coin.  Nothing sells like Satanic cults among the elite, ignoring the very real abuses of power and public trust they perpetrate on a day to day basis.

Some of those Bohemian Grove images are pretty weird, and along with other elite groupings like Skull and Bones, the death imagery is startling to the contemporary eye.  But mightn't this death imagery reflect the much more tenuous relationship to the land of the living mankind endured during the time when these groups were created?  Jumping to conclusions based on nothing at all gets us nowhere in unraveling the mystery of what it all really represents....

None of this should be taken as a defense of the Bohemian Club or Albert Pike, mind you.  I'm just sick of looking for useful info on the Internet and coming up with the same garbled cut and pasted bullshit, based on one man's self-serving untruths, repeated ad nauseum until one can no longer approach the topic without the taint of imbeciles, religious fanatics, the lazy and the mad.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A show of hands

I've always noticed that when you start looking into something, like triangles, you start seeing them everywhere.  Coming upon us unexpectedly, the recurrence of images in which we've taken an interest can be delightful, startling, even alarming.  Crediting these sudden appearances with special significance, however, is more than a paranoid delusion; for some it's a sign of conspiracy, for others mystical synchronicity.  It certainly has a poetic aspect to it.  For many it's simply an excuse to say "It's like, weird" and go on to mimic The Twilight Zone theme music.

Or write blog posts.

Following my bout with hand fetishism (see The hand is the whole), I happened to read C.J Samson's Dissolution, a historical crime novel set against the backdrop of the dissolution of the monasteries in the time of Cromwell.

It follows the adventures of a hunchback named Shardlake, sent to investigate the murder of a commissioner in a fictitious Benedictine monastery.  Along with the murder, the monastery church has been desecrated, which includes the sacrifice of a black cock upon the altar and the theft of a sacred relic:  the hand of the repentant thief crucified at Jesus' side.  This hand was nailed to a piece of wood and set in an emerald-studded casket.

Roman Catholic tradition calls the thief Saint Dismas.  His repentance is described in only one gospel, Luke (23:39-43), and he isn't named until the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, which came together some time in the 4th century.  His name comes from a Greek word which can mean "sunset" or "death".  His feast day, March 25th, is also that of the Annunciation, when Gabriel announced to Mary she would miraculously conceive a child.  Thus he is linked both with Jesus's death (sunset) and inklings of his birth (sunrise?)  The sun set and rises does the son.

The sun just just keeps popping up as a symbol of rebirth and and an emblem of "illumination". 

Also, you may recall from our previous post that a "Hand of Glory", the hand of a hanged man, was a tool used by thieves to unlock doors and cause paralysis.  As for relics, the hand of St. John Kemble is still kept in a reliquary at St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church in Heresford.  Also, today (3/3), I stumbled across a blog entry in which a guy describes making a steampunk-flavored lamp using a severed animal paw; he links his macabre contraption to the Hand of Glory and calls it...the Torch of Saint Dismas! 

I've also just remembered that last night I watched Simon of the Desert (Luis Buñuel, 1965) and there's a scene where a thief holds up his stumps--hacked off for his crimes--and our eponymous hero Simon prays from atop his pillar and the thief's hands miraculously reappear....

Simeon (390-459 CE) was an actual saint who lived 37 years atop a pillar in Syria.  Imagine my surprise when I saw this 6th century depiction of the saint, currently to be found in the Louvre.  See Jesus was in shape for our rather extensive discussion on the snake/pillar motif.  It all ties together somehow.  Paranoia or perceptual matrix?

So, I really just wanted to bring up these coincidences/synchronicities.  A pair of novels in which the action begins with a severed hand:  one discovered in The Lost Symbol and one lost in Dissolution.  Handy bookends for a post inspired by the local tale of an actual severed hand (A gruesome discovery) and followed by yet more thief-related hand motifs in quick succession.

I'm sure there's a discourse on perception and meaning to be wrung out of this, but not today.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

¡Viva la Revolución!

In my last post I promised to link the sun and triangle in the sculpture above the door of the National Black Theater to other triangles...and the eye.  I've wandered a bit in this task and not made any startling discoveries; I thus present this less as something insightful than as a sort of record of my wanderings.  Quite a few things have already been written on the topic.  I could have developed this post a lot more extensively but don't really see the point, so my cut-off point is therefore rather arbitrary.

Flag of Argentina featuring the Sol de Mayo
Having an Argentine wife and a large number of both Argentinian and Uruguayan friends, it's only natural that when thinking of the sun as a symbol of regeneration, I thought of the Argentine and Uruguayan flags, both of which feature a jolly sun referred to as the Sol de Mayo, or Sun of May.

The Sun of May is named for the May Revolution of 1810, the first salvo in the Argentine War for Independence.  Some point to it as a representation of the Incan sun god Inti, but I think it's more likely based on European precedents.  The "sun in splendour" is a long-standing European heraldic device, but I propose that its use here was inspired by its use during the French Revolution.  Dig this quote from Wikipedia:

Eye of Providence
The sun, like the phrygian cap on Argentina's coat of arms and the triband flag, was already used as an emblem of the French Revolution. It has been speculated that groups of deputies in the French revolution used a seal very similar to the current Argentine coat of arms, including a sun symbol. In France, the sun was used especially in relation to the Cult of the Supreme Being. The sun in the French Revolution was adopted as a symbol from Freemasonic representations of the all-seeing eye, in a triangle in a burst of sunrays.

Declaration of the Rights of Man featuring fasces, Phrygian Cap and the Eye of Providence in a Triangle

Coat of Arms of Argentina featuring the Sol de Mayo 

It was a particularity of the 17th century to depict the eye in clouds or in glory, but it was used throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, often enclosed by a triangle representing the Trinity--it began as a Christian motif.  This found its way into Freemasonry and from this use was transformed into a sun.  I would also argue that, as we can see in the examples that follow, it was also transformed into a star in glory or was reduced to the triangle alone.

In the early part of the 19th century, Latin America was in a revolutionary tumult against colonial Spain.  A variety of short-lived republics popped up and fell apart, eventually settling into the more or less stable national configuration we see today.  These revolutionaries were inspired by the successful revolutions of France and the United States, so it is unsurprising their symbols popped up in the new flags and coats of arms. The Phrygian cap, for example, used extensively in US and French revolutionary propaganda, can be seen on the flags or coats of arms of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Argentina, Colombia, Haiti, Cuba, Bolivia and Paraguay.

Flag of Chile
Several flags reflect the US design (1777) of red and white bars, a blue canton in the upper left featuring white star or stars:  Chile (1817), the flag of the Liberating Expedition of Peru (1820), Texas (1839), the Confederate States "Stars and Bars", (1861) the first flag of Cuba had blue and white bars and a red canton (1868), the Brazilian state of Amazonas (1982).  At least five other Brazilian state flags have bars and upper left cantons with stars, but these are not necessarily red white and blue.  Other Brazilian flags feature the Phrygian cap.  The Bahia state flag is a variant upon the flag of Chile et. al., but instead of a single star, the blue canton features a triangle.

Flag of the State of Bahia
Interesting that the Sun of May (springtime) in the Argentine flag features 32 rays, perhaps symbolic of the points of the compass or the degrees of Scottish Rite Freemasonry.  Also interesting that the Argentine flag inspired that of Federal Republic of Central America (1823-1838), which has the same triband colors, but replaces the sun tin the middle with a triangle within a circle.  Within this triangle is the Phrygian cap in glory, coming out from under the mountains and under a rainbow, yet another symbol of regeneration.  This symbolism still appears in the coat of arms of El Salvador.

I have already mentioned  the Cuban flag with the star and bars, but recently came across an article about the flag of Puerto Rico.  It is essentially the same flag but the red, white and blue is in a different configuration.  The article has this interesting tidbit:  "The Cuban flag was designed by Narciso López, and the concept behind the design of the flag is based on that of a Masonic apron. López was a well-known Freemason (Solomon's Lodge No. 1, F. & A. M. -- Savannah, Georgia), adventurer and soldier, famous for his attempts to liberate Cuba from Spain in the 1850s."  The author then goes on to make many of the same conclusions and links between the triangle, the sun, the star and the Eye of Providence.

The Cuban government explains the flag thusly:

The equilateral triangle which outstands is the perfect geometrical shape, because of its equal three sides and three angles, which means equality among men.

The three colours (white blue and red) are related to French revolutionary triptych of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, and besides they the ideals of justice expressed in white pureness, and altuism and highness of those ideals in blue, with the red, reflection of the blood shed in search of freedom. They also incarnate the new republican and democratic ideals that are synthetized in the citizen of the republic, free and equal, with full rights and duties, opposedly to king´s vassals, according to absolute monarchies´ conception.

Finally, the five-pointed star, with one pointing North to indicate steadiness, expresses the balance between moral and social qualities which must tipify the state, and shines by its own light, it is to say, the independent state.

So, the star symbolizes liberty, the triangle equality and the strips union, perfection and fraternity.

I'm not sure where to fit this in so I've plunked this fact down here.  I find it somehow fitting that one nickname for the U.S. flag is Old Glory.  I always thought that this referred to renown or great praise, perhaps beauty, but I can't help now but think it also refers to the glory we have been discussing, that is the representation of rays of light as from the eye, triangle, sun, etc.

If I can make another comments about another flag: that of the Philippines, another country to have thrown of the colonial yoke of the Spanish. The Katipunan (1892) was discovered in 1896, an event which sparked the Philippine Revolution. The Katipunan was an essentially Masonic revolutionary brotherhood; most of the founders were Masons and its initiation rites and hierarchy were based on Masonic models. The first system of initiation was a triangle system, whereby a member initiated two new members unknown to one another. After this proved too unwieldy, the Masonic system was established and the organization was divided into three degrees.

Flag of Puerto Rico; the Flag of Cuba has a red canton with blue and white stripes

Flag of The Philippines
The Philippines' flag is a variation upon the Cuban/Puerto Rican flag: red, white and blue, triangular canton....but instead of a single star there are three stars at each point of the triangle. A yellow sun adorns the middle. This sun is not at all out of line with our other revolutionary flags; the sun is also thought to be a reference to the flag of the Katipunan, the Masonic brotherhood that kicked off the Philippine Revolution.

The Lautaro Lodges were secret, quasi-masonic Lodges and included such revolutionary leaders as: Bernardo O'Higgins (1778-1842) in Chile; José de San Martin in Argentina (1778-1850); Simon Bolivar (1783-1830) just about everywhere a revolution was to be found; Francisco de Miranda (1750-1816) in Venezuela.... It is difficult to escape the fact that Freemasonry inspired these men. It would not be surprising then that as in France, where the Eye of Providence was transformed by revolutionaries into a sun symbolising regeneration and illumination, it would appear in the New World as well. Note also how the sun finds itself replaced by a triangle, recalling its origin, and that in the Federal Republic of Central America, as in the Argentine coat of arms, the sun becomes a Phrygian cap in glory. Triangle, Sun, Eye, Phrygian cap....each one replaces the other.

Lodge Founder Miranda was said to have been made a Mason in 1783, in Philadelphia, at a Lodge frequented by Lafayette:

There is no irrefutable data concerning the exact day and month of his initiation. It appears that, due to contingencies derived from the war, the archives of the Lodge where Miranda received the Masonic Light, were lost. What is amply known, however, is that Lafayette was his Principal Recommender or "Godfather of Initiation". There are also numerous references citing his constant visits to Lodges in New York, and his fraternal meetings with George Washington at a number of Masonic gatherings.

Actually, a lot of doubt has been shed on this. Miranda's diaries only reveal two visits to Lodges, not as a Freemason but as a curious outsider. But this was only part of his wide-ranging interests. Such visits to a variety of incongruous places are multiple. It would appear that the repetition of this story has made it appear to be an ironclad truth when in fact, it is not.

It seems obvious that Freemasons played critical roles in the 19th century revolutions of Latin America, inspired by two 18th century revolutions where Freemasons played equally important roles.  Yet this is a far cry from saying Freemasonry orchestrated them.  The sun, although used as a symbol in Freemasonry--and one should ask here what symbol isn't?--is hardly its most important.  The Phrygian cap and Liberty Pole aren't Masonic at all.  (It occurs to me that the Liberty Pole is a version of the Maypole, a rather phallic component of springtime festivities naturally celebrating regeneration).  The recurrence of triangles and suns, evoking the eye of providence, certainly make it appear as though revolutionary Freemasons had some say in leaving their mark.  None of this is "hidden".  These symbols would have been easily recognizable in their day.  Today, Freemasons make no bones about advertising the Freemasonic affiliation of revolutionaries, even when this affiliation is unconfirmed.  Indeed, one can say the both Freemasons and their critics overstate the role Freemasonry played in these revolutions.  Which is not to say that individual Freemason and Lodges didn't play important roles.  But even here we must be careful to sort the accumulation of received ideas from historical reality.  And besides, the triangle and the sun have long non-Masonic traditions.

We have already discussed how the New World had been regarded as the regeneration of the Old as far back as Francis Bacon.  In the latter-half of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th, several historical transformations came to a head.  I have identified three important historical threads.....the rise of capitalism, the beginning of the modern nation state and the development of the scientific method.  It seems clear that in business and modern diplomacy, as well as in scientific endeavour, competence needed to take precedence over privilege, and that competence needed to be cultivated.  In promoting reason over blind faith, the forward-thinking leaders of the day were in natural conflict with the Church.  In promoting capability over entitlement, they ran into conflict with the aristocracy and the nobility.  As young men, eager to make their way in society, found themselves blocked, their anger naturally grew.  As the desire to progress met resistance, something had to give. 

Naturally, some men grouped together to give history a push in the right direction.  One must also consider that the leader of the Revolutions were mostly men of means; I am always surprised to see how many Generals in the French Revolutionary Army were minor nobles.  Certainly a lot of the rhetoric was self-serving, applying equally to dispossessed masses as well as the minor nobles and bourgeoisie who, without the right name or connections, found their aspirations hampered.

Freemasonry became a tool in this struggle.  I think the doctrine of human improvement, if not perfectibility, runs counter to the idea of natural aristocracy:  the nobility saw themselves as naturally better than others, chosen by God.  The Catholic Church saw all men as born corrupt.  Various Protestant sects saw a man's fate as pre-destined.  But Masons saw things differently:  all men were created equal and can improve.  This would later be worded in the American Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I see the "pursuit of happiness" to be of special importance here.  Happiness isn't guaranteed, only the opportunity to achieve it.  I interpret this not in happiness as a mood, but as a state of fully-realized self, whether professionally, spiritually or mentally.  It is the guarantee that no social order will inhibit the industrious individual's right to realize their hopes and aspirations.  At least in theory.  Modern American Freemasons use the motto:  "Making Good Men Better."

Properly understood, therefore, when John Locke, Samuel Johnson, and Thomas Jefferson wrote of “the pursuit of happiness,” they were invoking the Greek and Roman philosophical tradition in which happiness is bound up with the civic virtues of courage, moderation, and justice. Because they are civic virtues, not just personal attributes, they implicate the social aspect of eudaimonia. The pursuit of happiness, therefore, is not merely a matter of achieving individual pleasure. That is why Alexander Hamilton and other founders referred to "social happiness".

"Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" also form a neat trinity, bringing us back to the triangle.  This trinity of inalienable rights can also be seen in the French Revolutionary motto:  "Liberté, Fraternité, Egalité".

Still, as I said earlier, one must be careful not to overstate the role that Freemasonry played in Revolutionary movements; we should instead speak of individual Freemasons.

Paradoxically then, the interests of masonic and non-masonic authors have coincided in trying to exaggerate and enlarge the role played by Freemasonry in the independence of Chile and other South-American countries. Wishful thinking replaced the critical apparatus of the historian, and the indiscriminate use of the word ‘Lodge’, without distinguishing between masonic and non-masonic organizations, has compounded the confusion.

The documentary evidence as well, has often been of a sort that raises serious doubts about its validity.  Spanish historians, some of whom are inclined to discover the hidden hand of Freemasonry in any place where Spanish interests have been affected....enthusiastically embraced the theory that the Lautaro lodges (which, for them, were regular masonic Lodges in all respects) were the root and soul of the Latin-American independence movements.

This simplistic view ignores, of course, the other factors operating at the time, such as the growing antagonism between ‘criollos’ and ‘peninsulares’, the weakness of the Spanish crown at the time, the profound influence of the ideas of philosophers such as Rousseau, Saint-Simon, Locke and Hume and the example of the North-American colonies who gained their independence from England.

Did Freemasonry then play no role in the independence of Latin-America? The answer depends, to a large extent, on what we mean by independence. If we refer only to the military actions that led to the final defeat of royalist Spanish armies and their expulsion from the continent, we must admit that the direct influence of Freemasonry was minimal. This does not mean, of course, that we should adopt a radical scepticism on this subject. There is a well-documented participation of individual freemasons in the independence struggles of all American regions, north, centre and south. For some of them, their masonic background and experience was a determining factor in their libertarian efforts. For others, masonic membership was only a minor component of their personal history and view of the world. Since we cannot enter into the hearts of men, we have no way of evaluating the true importance that ‘being a mason’ held for men such as Bolívar.

Complete independence is a long and complicated process, involving many aspects, that may take many decades to come to fruition. In this sense, the contribution of freemasons towards expanding and completing the independence process of which political independence is but the first stage cannot be overstated.

Which seems to be the most sensible view of things; after all, it supports the conclusion I had come to previously!  I was also pleased to find this article by (Freemason) Alex Davidson entitle The Masonic Concept of Liberty:

In summary, we can say that Freemasonry was one of the channels, perhaps the main channel, by which the values of the Enlightenment were transmitted from Britain to America, France, the Netherlands....The essentials of the message were liberty, tolerance and sociability, and.....the idea that through reason, all men could find a way of life that is satisfying and fulfilling.

Secondly, we can show from history that Freemasonry was inevitably the bearer of revolutionary Enlightenment ideas where liberty did not exist. We know with reasonable certainty that the French lodges did not practice politics, yet their philosophy could not but cause many of their members to be active participants in the politics of revolutionary liberation movements. Freemasonry may have been officially neutral, but its members were not. And finally, we can remark that we are all, indirectly, the beneficiaries of Freemasonry and the Enlightenment: we now regard their general political values as so normal that we tend to take them for granted. Secularism, constitutionalism and parliamentarism are their heritage, obviating the need for revolutionary action to achieve liberty.

So.  I think this concludes what I wanted to get at in this article.  A kind of meandering and at times contradictory train wreck of a post that's gone a long way from suns and triangles.  I consulted The Gid on where to go with this, and he had some good ideas, but even his sage advice wasn't enough to save us here.  Like the battery bunny, I just keep going and going and going.  And just because I'm tired of this beast, I'll plant my flag here and cry "¡Ya basta!"

See Also:  Masonic Republics