Thursday, December 29, 2016

Gott mit uns: Taiwan on for Christmas

Note:  I really screwed up when I originally posted this yesterday.  Despite reading the articles and watching the video, I somehow had it in my head that this occurred in Thailand, not Taiwan!  I repeatedly referred to Thailand and Thai culture in the post, even asking rhetorical questions about Thailand's royal family to prove a point: that I'm an idiot, apparently.  An idiot in desperate need of a proof-reader.
I did a post a while back about "Hitler branding" in Thailand and India, mentioning "Hitler chic" as a pop cultural phenomenon throughout Asia.  Apparently, a furor has recently erupted in Taiwan over a school parade in which the kids marched carrying swastika placards and wearing black uniforms and swastika armbands.  Although the students chose the theme, the school's principal (or ex-principal; he's resigned) is quick to point out the kids aren't a problem, but that the (lack of) education on the subject is at fault.  A local Jewish leader agrees, and doesn't see the parade as an act of Antisemitism.  Just wildly inappropriate.

As the article states, there are only a thousand or so Jews living in Taiwan, and textbooks there naturally focus more on the Asian war rather than the European theater.  An interesting read; something so sensitive and well-known in the West seems to be something a lot of countries of the world know as much about as, well, most Americans for example, know about Taiwanese history and culture.

From the New York Times.

CNN's photos are pretty eye-popping; those kids' uniforms weren't just cobbled together by mom from old clothes laying about; some time and care went into making those things.  They're quite detailed and very, erm uniform. 

TIME's video shows the high quality of the props such as banners and eagle flag pole tops.  What strikes me is that while researching this stuff -- the banners and regalia are pretty detailed and authentic -- didn't they come across anything about what it all represented, and led to?

That this idea even made it to the voting stage demonstrates the vast cultural gulf between East and West.  We would have once called this a SNAFU, but now it might be what they call a "teaching moment".  One would think that somewhere along the line some adult involved would have said, "Wait a minute here...."  This regalia clearly wasn't clapped together overnight, although the video does mention the theme was chosen in part because it was relatively easy to convert their school uniform into spiffy SS duds!  It also mentions that "some" were unaware of Hitler's atrocities.  So that leaves "some" others with questionable judgment.  But as I've asked in other posts, how many of us know what subject could have the potential to offend the Taiwanese people, a nation of 23.5 million?  How many can even name the current President?  [This is where I originally went full-metal moron by asking how many among us could name Thailand's current king, or if you readers even knew Thailand is a kingdom.  It is.  And Quito is the capital of Ecuador.]

They take their parades seriously, I suppose.  That's a lot of work for a one-off event!  It happened at a Catholic school....maybe they saw some of those "Gott mit uns" belt buckles worn by the Wehrmacht and thought they must have been OK guys.  How can you be wrong with God on your side?

The Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now, too
Have God on their side

Kind of reminds of a book I read long ago called The Wave, a novelization from a film by the same name, loosely based on an actual experiment.  In the book, a school lesson/role play on how people came to embrace Nazism goes dangerously awry as the students actually begin to transform themselves into a movement of facho bully-boys.  From what I remember of my high school experience, this isn't much of a leap....

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Schwarze Notmuttergottes and Our Lady of Dublin: Two more Black Virgins

I've seen upwards of 20 Black Madonnas since stumbling half-drunk into the dark and cool confines of the Notre Dame de la Daurade basilica in Toulouse 15 years ago, so astonished at its Black Madonna that I embarked on a near-obsessional path in search of more "Vierges Noires".  The flame has abated, but it still gives me an excuse from time to time, when I travel someplace new, to visit an out-of-the-way village church or chapel in order to see another example or to simply poke around some place I might not otherwise have visited.

That said, I've never seen anything but "Latin" examples, for lack of a better term, in the south of France, Spain and Catalonia and, to my surprise, Andorra.  So it was with great pleasure that I was able to see a couple of examples outside of those countries.  The first is in Luxembourg city, the second in Dublin.

Schwarze Notmuttergottes

The first thing I noticed about the Luxembourg and Dublin Madonnas is that there is no origin story similar to the Spanish and especially French Madonnas.  These are almost to a number described as having been found after the strange behavior of animals, usually cows or oxen.  They were often found in springs, buried or hidden within bushes or trees.  They usually could not be moved from where they had been found.

Like most Black Madonnas, the Schwarze Notmuttergottes is renowned as a miracle-worker.  Many scholars date her to ca. 1360 and from the Cologne school, but there are no documents to support this; some Medieval accounts say she was brought back from the Middle East during the Crusades, which may account for one of her titles, the "Egyptian Mother of God."  We have seen a strong link between the Black Madonnas with Egypt before, not only in connection with Isis, but with Saint Sarah and the "three Marys".  It occurs to me that her mysterious origin may be a key feature to an especially fervent cult; not knowing from where or when she came, it's easier to imbue this ambiguity with a sense of mystery and miracle.  Having detailed documentation of being sculpted in a workshop makes it more difficult to imagine her as a miracle-working wonder sent from God.  To my eye, her posture, s-curve, coloration, crown and baton make her a dead-ringer for Notre Dame de Bonne Délivrance, located in the wealthy Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, said to be a 14th c. copy of an 11th c. original, though some say she is far more recent.

Her titles have included "Star of the Heavens" and the "Queen of Peace".  Already dark due to the wood in which she is made, she was inevitably darkened by years of burning tapers and incense, becoming specifically the Schwartze Notmuttergottes, or "Black" Mother in the wake of a plague epidemic, when she was charged with protecting children.  The centrality of her blackness as a salient feature is attested to not only in her name after this event, but in the fact that in later restorations her skin has been painted black; by the time of the plague, her blackness had become a critical part of her power.

The "Emergency Mother" was housed in a Franciscan monastery which was destroyed during the French Revolution; She was hidden for a while at the convent in Marienthal until in 1805 it became possible again to publicly display her at the church of Saint-Jean-du-Grund.  She is especially venerated during Lent.

Our Lady of Dublin is housed in Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland. It is sculpted in wood and probably dates from the 16th century

Local legend says she started her life at St. Mary's Abbey, which was dissolved in 1539 as part of the Henrician reforms.  The first documentary evidence has her at St. Mary's Lane Parochial Chapel in 1749.  This chapel was razed in 1816, and (according to newspaper accounts in 1947 and 1974) Our Lady was found by a Carmelite priest in 1824.  It had been thoroughly disrespected at his point.  The priest is reported to have found her for sale in a common shop, and that she had in the interim, perhaps just after the Dissolution, been placed face down in an Inn's courtyard to serve as a pig trough!

Reports of neglect are a common theme in her story; a newspaper account from the 1830's reports that Her silver crown had been sold off; an article from the 60's states that when the Jesuits relocated the St. Mary's Lane chapel to Anne St., they simply left the statue behind.  In 1947 She went on temporary display at the National Museum of Ireland "as an example of a Catholic statue to survive the Penal days in Ireland"  She had obviously been rehabilitated; indeed, it has been on display in its current chapel since 1915, and rededicated in 1974.  (

Her neglect and disrespect, and most of all, survival, is perhaps why she has been so revered.  The Irish survived English attempts to subjugate them and their Catholicism the Protestantism the English brought with them.  She thus has a kid of nationalist role like the Black Madonnas, for example, of Mexico, Poland, and Brazil.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Yes, Virginia, it was called the 'Blood Rite'

Many years ago I wrote a pair of articles detailing the links between Freemasonry and Scouting.  The first focused on the ritual similarities between the Order of the Arrow (OA) and Freemasonry -- Freemasonry, Scouting and the Order of the Arrow.  The second, Following Arrows, was a looser and more free-form look at various Scouting organizations and BSA honor societies and their links to various esoteric movements including Freemasonry and the "neo-Pagan" revival, as well as to religious sects such as Mormonism, the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Salvation Army.  Though generally well-received by Scouters and Masons alike, there were some negative reactions as well.  

Over the years I have made attempts to fuse the two essays and expand upon them in order to make a more comprehensive book out of them.  In doing so, I took into account the various online reactions to these essays in order to reinforce their weak points.  One thing needing elaboration was a reference I made to the Brotherhood membership of the OA.  Initially known simply as the Second Degree, it also became known as the "Blood Rite".  This claim was disputed and in more than a couple of forums some Scouters said quite simply that the degree was never known as the "Blood Rite".

I can accept a difference of opinion.  I cannot accept a categorical denial of fact.  Whether intentional or not, it amounts to calling my chops into question.  This is partially my own fault.  I made a passing reference to a little-known historical factoid without adequate citations.  At the time, I don't think I had access to much detail, or I'm certain I would have provided it.  Since then, however, a few things have appeared online about the evolution of the degrees; so, in order to rectify the misunderstanding, let me offer some proof of my initial claim, if only to demonstrate that I'm not merely pulling things out of thin air and presenting them as facts.


From an official OA document entitled History of the OA prepared for the 2006 National Order of the Arrow conference (NOAC) I present the first citation (Boldface added): 
Following the meeting at Camp Morrell, the committees met frequently at the Philadelphia Scout office. Ceremonies were drafted, a constitution was framed and on June 2, 1916 they held a meeting of all members. At this meeting the first Constitution of Wimachtendienk was ratified and elections were held. George Chapman was elected the Order’s first Chief. The constitution also provided for standing committees, insignia (pins then, not patches) and rules for membership. Also at this meeting it was determined that the First Degree (honor) would be held half at camp covering leadership and a second half covering Brotherhood in Philadelphia under the guidance of the membership. These two parts of the First Degree would evolve into induction at camp, an Ordeal to complete the First Degree and eventually a Second Degree – a blood rite of Brotherhood to seal membership into the Order. The equivalent of today’s Vigil Honor was originally the Second Degree and would then become the Third Degree.

Now, the rite was conceived of as a "blood rite" but it's not clear if it was actually referred to as the Blood Rite.  This would come later, as the next citation from the same essay makes clear: 
In June of 1916 a constitution for Wimachtendienk was ratified and it was set forth requirements for membership. It was also determined at that meeting that the First Degree would be split into two parts. The first part to be accomplished at camp in public and the second half to take place privately in Philadelphia with only members of the fraternity present. The public first half at camp was based upon leadership. The private second half was about Brotherhood. This second half would become known as the Second Degree (making the Vigil the Third Degree). It also defined when a member sealed his membership into the fraternity by becoming a true brother in the fraternity. And how does one become a Brother with another? The time honored tradition of fraternities required an actual exchange of blood. Thus the Second Degree also became known as the “Blood Rite”. By exchanging blood you sealed your membership and became a Brother as if actually related to all other Brothers that came before you in the Order. It is the exchange of blood that defines us as a fraternity.

When I took the Brotherhood Degree, the exchange of blood was symbolic and involved marking the hand with a red marker (or was it lipstick?) but it originally involved cutting the candidate's hand or pricking his finger:
The practice of actually taking a knife to the palm of a First Degree or Ordeal Honor member as a requirement to be a part of the Brotherhood was abolished years ago. We do know of examples of lodges that maintained this practice as late as the early 1970’s. It is important to point out that to be a part of the Brotherhood never really relied on blood. As Goodman once said, “It is a thing of the spirit”.
source:  Accessed 12/12/16 

The Second Degree had become known as the Blood Rite by at least 1927.  The degrees were still known as the First, Second and Third Degrees, according to
an original document given to Kittatinny Lodge by Brother Tom Wolfinger at the April 2000 Ordeal Weekend at Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation. We are greatly indebted to Tom for providing the lodge with such a valuable commentary on the early history of the Lodge. The original document was hand-typed on brittle weathering typing paper and had written on the front cover in India ink 'Property of "Stew" Miller'.

The document is pretty basic stuff, just a summary of officers elected and activities held, but the pertinent information for 1927 is simply this:
Membership reported this year were 11 new members and 22 to Blood Rite Degree (2nd).
Stew Miller was elected as a Lodge officer in 1942. 

OK.  So, just to show this wasn't a nickname given by one Lodge to the 2nd Degree, I present a few citations from the official OA website.  The article also indicates that the drawing of blood was originally literal, and not merely symbolic:
Brotherhood Rituals Change

Health risk practices are Discontinued for Brotherhood Members

In 1956, the National OA Committee, after consultation with medical advisers, determined that it was no longer safe to draw and exchange blood between two people in the “Blood-rite” of the Brotherhood Ceremony. 

The ceremony was changed to only “symbolically” draw blood. Many lodges were very slow in changing this practice of actually pricking the thumb or finger (or in some cases the palm with a knife) and mixing blood between two Arrowmen. There are accounts well into the 1960s of the practice continuing...


This change and one other minor edit were made as follows (script difference in the 1956 ceremony):

“…cheerfully suffer…” becomes “…suffer cheerfully…”

“…draw drops of blood… “ Was changed to read “…symbolically draw ‘blood’ so that you may mingle your ‘blood’ ...
source: Accessed 12/12/16

Here's another citation referring to a situation in Chicago in 1921:
Camp Belnap ran the same camp program as the other camps within Owasippe Scout Reservation, except they did not have Order of the Arrow. This was for two reasons. Initially the Grand Lodge would not allow more than one lodge in a camp. But ultimately, the reason Belnap did not have OA was because of the Blood Rite (a ritual exchange of blood between participants) required in the Brotherhood Degree.
 source:  Accessed 12/12/16

So maybe my critics are partially correct.  While the NOAC paper and the "Stew Miller document" refer to the degree as the "Blood Rite Degree", the OA history says the "Blood Rite" was part of the degree; it's quite possible that the degree was always officially known as the Second Degree, and that, as the degree's centerpiece, this rite within the degree was used by many Lodges to unofficially refer to the degree itself.  In fact, it seems pretty likely that this is the case; but official or not, it was thus called.

Camp Belnap was a segregated, African-American camp in Chicago.  When OA co-founder Carroll A. Edson became a field executive in Chicago Council, there were five districts and a sixth "division" for African-Americans.  Every black Scouter in Chicago was assigned to this division, no matter where in the Chicago they came from.  When Edson became Scout Executive in 1927 he merged the five Lodges into one, Owasippe Lodge 7.  The existing Lodges became chapters of this new Lodge, and the sixth division became its sixth chapter, Takodah.  In 1932, three Arrowmen from this chapter became the first African-American Brotherhood (Second Degree) members of the OA.  So, while the Grand Lodge used the same excuses Masonic Grand Lodges use to deny recognition to African-American Prince Hall Lodges, e.g., there can only be one Lodge per jurisdiction, Belnap didn't have the OA not because of squeamishness over exchanging blood per se, but due to squeamishness over exchanging blood with African-Americans.  Echoes of Animal Farm:  All Arrowmen were Brothers, but some were more Brothers than others.  Especially if those Brothers were, uh, Brothers.... 

Eventually, segregation in Chicago Council ended and Arrowmen in Takodah Chapter joined chapters like any other Arrowman, based upon where they lived. Another article on the OA history page again refers to the Blood Rite and the issue of race:
On that November night in 1932, Benson, James and Isbell took what was then known as the Blood-rite Degree. The concept was that two people could be “brothers” by exchange of blood. Today we know that for health reasons the exchange of blood is extremely hazardous and strictly prohibited. However, in 1932 the impediment was a social issue regarding the exchange of blood between races, and not the very real health issue. There is no record, which Arrowmen stood next to the Takodah Arrowmen as their hands were cut open with a knife and they clasped the hand of their new brother by their side. What is known is that they sealed their membership, potentially the first to integrate the Order in this unprecedented manner.
source: Accessed 12/12/16

So, the official OA history also acknowledges that the Second Degree was also known as the "Blood-rite Degree."  I think we can conclude that official or not, whether part of the degree or the whole, the whole degree was indeed commonly called the Blood Rite Degree.

As for the segregation, lest anyone throw stones, recall that segregation wasn't outlawed in public education by the Supreme Court until 1954, and the Civil Rights Act ending state and local segregation laws didn't appear until 1964. The aforementioned 2006 NOAC history mentions this event, referring again to the Blood Rite and noting that baseball, for example, remained segregated until 1947. The OA recognized interracial Brotherhood -- “the feeling that men should treat one another like brothers", more than 34 years before the Supreme Court ruled that laws to the contrary were unconstitutional.

So, I hope my critics will be mollified.  For those who doubted me, mea culpa for not providing better documentation.  Although I find it a quibble, I suppose I can begrudgingly concede that the extent to which the Second Degree was officially called the Blood Rite Degree is not entirely clear.  But is was known by that name, that much is beyond question.  

I think it's clear from the tone in which I've written about the OA that I'm not trying to discredit it.  A lot of people find the OA conflicts with their religious beliefs and are entitled to renounce or warn like-minded folks about what it represents if they feel it necessary.  The OA, Scouting and Freemasonry teach that any man can be a brother, regardless of their religious beliefs or ethnic  background.  Google the OA and you'll find a number of essays decrying the OA as un-Christian, even demonic, in some cases attributing demonic possession to affiliation with the group.  Others accuse the OA of being a Masonic recruiting tool, still others decry Scouting as little more than as a kind of "canned hunt" for pedophiles.  These texts display the very worst tendencies of unfounded conspiracy theory, full of venom and bigotry, laughable if not for the very serious nature of their accusations.  Faced with such attitudes, it's understandable that people are leery when uncomfortable facts come to light about an organization to which they belong, facts which were hitherto unknown to them.  But facts is facts.  I'll try to get mine straight, hopefully making for interesting reading.  The OA has changed a lot since it's founding in 1915.  And attitudes have changed.  That it was once segregated, or that it contained ritual elements now unthinkable, don't make it an evil organization, but one in keeping, and evolving, within its historical context.  Its much-ballyhooed secrecy is overstated; any parent so desirous can read the "rituals" (now more diplomatically called "ceremonies") and even the last ceremony in which I performed had parents watching.  (My Lodge, Seminole Lodge 85, was also, to my knowledge, one of the first to have a young woman as a member and go through the Ordeal. Current policy states that women must be 21, but I guess we were breaking the rules!)  I was never hazed or treated with anything but genuine warmth and dignity during my "ordeals", but it would be naive to think there have never been any unfortunate incidents in the hundred years of the OA's existence.  Que será será, hermano, son las cosas de la vida.

The idea of a blood rite to seal one's status as a brother, a "blood brother", is an ancient and venerable tradition; the three degrees were once called the First, Second and Third degrees, and are now known as the Ordeal, Brotherhood and Vigil Honor.  The Second was also known as the "Blood Rite", which is creepy enough for some people, and incredibly, actually involved cutting a kid's hand and having him mingle his blood with that of others, as late as the 70's by some accounts, or the 60's, by others.  Understandable why some people would say that's hogwash.  But it isn't.  It happened.  It's no longer the case.  Now it's simply history.

And finally:  "Boo-yah, biznitches!"

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Partridge Family Temple: Links to De-perplex?

A portrait and history. Interviews.  Detailed and informative, without being overly biased.

Not much there really 'ceptin a few photos.

Updated as of Nov. 26, 2016. Day-Glo psychedelia, 60's/70's pop references, weird puns, collages, hymns to consumerism, television worship. 

A mirror site of sorts. Whimsy with a hint of sulphur.

A few bar fights are described. The "cult" is portrayed as a band of violent troublemakers. Sinister vibes are reported

More than that, people refer to them interchangeably as nazis, racists, and fascists. As if that wasn't enough, rumors circulate that Temple members engage in orgies, drink each other's urine, and commit incest.

A clip from the Jon Stewart Show with "Point me in the direction of Albuquerque" Partridge. 1000s of members on 3 continents?

Strange rites with a smoking-hot naked chick can be found in this clip from a Swedish TV show.

A short, passive-aggressive lil' profile: "Incidentally, Shaun Partridge appears to be part of the same vaguely Satanistic hipster-misanthrope hate-is-great milieu as Boyd Rice and Jim Goad."

"Well, in the Partridge Family Temple, you become your own God," counters Giddle. They've been studying Mormonism, apparently.

An album of Partridge-related music. On green vinyl. With a locked groove!

Facebook, of course.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

666 by 222 is 3 is the Magic Number

From the use of child labor/slavery to hooking Third World babies on powdered infant formula by doling out free samples, the sales reps dressed in nurse's uniforms, then starting to charge prices the women couldn't pay when their breast milk dried up, Nestlé might arguably one of the world's most evil corporations.

Here's a summary of 5 shitty things Nestlé has done over the years.

And here you have proof.  Buy two get one free, for 6.66 euros.  I think that's all we need to demonstrate that Nestlé is, in fact, a servant of Satan....

Monday, May 23, 2016

Urban Beekeeping, or, Honey Made of Clay

As our last two posts featured beehives, I thought I'd keep the ball rolling with a pair of photos I took years ago with the idea of doing a post on unusual or esoteric symbols found throughout Toulouse, but I never got around to using them.  

So, without further ado, this is a beehive found on a downtown facade about ten feet up and squarely between two first-floor windows.  I've never found out why it's there, or if it was made at the instigation of the neighborhood, an individual, or some sort of guild or fraternity.  All I know is that it's made of terra-cotta, a local specialty, and that it's located on the left side of the Rue. St. Rome when facing Place Capitole, about halfway between Places Capitole and Esquirol.  

Anyone know why this beehive is here?  

For some fine example of sculpture groups in terra-cotta, one can poke around the nearby Musée des Augustines.  In using terra-cotta, the artists of Toulouse were simply using a common and relatively cheap material at hand.  The local tradition stems from the liberal use of brick in local construction, a feature so dominant in Toulouse and neighboring towns such as (Montauban), that Toulouse has been nicknamed "la Ville Rose" ("the Pink City") because of the effect of the sun brightening the reddish bricks (aka "forains") of its buildings.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

"Out of something comes something else"

I was reading Christopher Dawes' book Rat Scabies and the Holy Grail th'other day and he mentioned a product called Lyle's Golden Syrup.  Specifically, the tin; this features an olde-fashioned logo (dating from 1885) featuring a dead lion, above which fly a swarm of bees.  According to Wikipedia:
This is a reference to the Biblical story in chapter 14 of the Book of Judges in which Samson was travelling to the land of the Philistines in search of a wife. During the journey he killed a lion, and when he passed the same spot on his return he noticed that a swarm of bees had formed a comb of honey in the carcass. Samson later turned this into a riddle at a wedding: "Out of the eater came forth meat and out of the strong came forth sweetness". While it is not known exactly why this image and slogan were chosen, Abram Lyle was a deeply religious man, and it has been suggested that they refer either to the strength of the Lyle company or the tins in which golden syrup is sold.
What really struck me about this was the motto on the tin, which reads:

"Out of the strong came forth sweetness"

Readers of LoS will recall that in our last post, we reproduced the coat of arms of Americana, a Brazilian town founded by Confederate emigres; it not only features a beehive and two bees, but the motto "Ex Labore Dulcedo" which I have seen translated as "The Sweetness of Labor" or "Pleasure arises from Labor" but which I think could be translated as 

"Out of Labor comes forth Sweetness"

The Confederados who founded Americana were farmers, specializing in, unsurprisingly, cotton, but also in watermelon.  They probably had their fair share of beekeepers as well.  But the hive here was probably chosen because the Confederados were overwhelmingly Freemasons, and the Freemasons used the beehive as a symbol both of industry and of a well-ordered society.  Both the Mormons and the Jacobins borrowed the symbol from the Masons.  Indeed, Utah is called the "Beehive State".  The Jacobins were drawing on French tradition as well.  

In 1653 the Merovingian King Childeric's tomb was found, containing hundreds of small golden bees, and Napoleon later adopted this symbol for himself as opposed to the Bourbon fleur-de-lys; as a symbol of the first royal dynasty of France, perhaps the bee was far more appropriate to mark the foundation of a new France than the symbol of a recently vanquished dynasty.  To this day, metropolitan France is referred to as the "hexagon" for it's rough approximation of the form.  And of course, honeycomb is a series of hexagons.....

No indication that Abram was a Freemason, by the way, and I'm not suggesting a link between the Mormons, the Confederados of Lyle's Golden Syrup.  Just the common symbolic currency of the era....

Friday, May 13, 2016

Ain't just whistlin' Dixie

One would think that Civil War reenactors would be limited to the American states where the war was actually fought. Then again there probably aren't too many members of the SCA from Westeros, and hell, even in my podunk French village there's a Western-style ranch where once or twice a summer they do a rodeo and men with beards show up in American pickups, flying American flags, duded up in shit-kickers and leather vests.  So if the French can play cowboy, why can't the Brazilians play the Song of the South?

To be fair, they actually have a reason: they are descendants of American Southerners who'd been enticed by the Brazilian government to settle the country before the Civil War even began.  Quite a few went, and today the cities of Americana and Santa Barbara d'Oeste are peopled with, um, people, bearing British surnames, including a name in my family tree: Carr (Amos Adkins married one Mary Carr ca. 1801).

I mentioned these Confederados in my post about the "Golden Circle" (Lone Star Republics, July 2013), a long-time dream of a group of slave-owners of creating a slave-holding empire centered on Havana, with a radius reaching up to the Mason-Dixon line and down to the northern tip of South America and everything in between.

After the Civil War, many of the defeated Confederates moved and set up operations in Cuba and Brazil, where slavery was still legal until the 1880's.  In Brazil they and their descendants are known as Confederados.  The dream of the Golden Circle didn't die with the Confederacy.

Brazil was perhaps not the ideal location, but it was sparsely populated, agricultural, and most of all, friendly to slavery.  It was the last holdout in the Americas against abolition.

I have a French friend who's lived in Brazil some years now and we were discussing this yesterday before he pressed on with his European visit and then lo and behold, the New York Times wrote an article about annual celebrations by the descendants of the Confederados.

Critics see the outfits and the romanticism, the Stars and Bars Confederate battle flags being flown, and point out that the whole issue of slavery is being sidestepped.  The celebrants counter that for them, the flag and celebration don't honor slavery or racism, it's all about heritage.  A familiar argument.  I'm sure this is often true.  But I recently saw a segment of Amy Shumer's Chelsea Handler's show about reenactors in the US, and the discourse of the participants was flat-out racist, not in a "hateful" way, but the extremely patronizing and romanticized version of history was pretty jaw-dropping.  Slaves were happy and well-cared for, certainly not ill-treated....why would you treat your property poorly? etc.  Well, even if this is a selective presentation of the participants' attitudes, it was authentic, and something tells me their attitude is less exception than rule.

I don't want to say that anyone proud of their heritage is a racist, but man, I'm from the South, and people who fly the Confederate flag are a dime a dozen and most of them would probably not be among those pushing for say, the recognition of MLK Day.  Knowhutimean, Vern?  A lot of people who fly the Confederate flag tend to casually refer to blacks with epithets.  I'm from Florida and there you hear it often enough that you can draw some conclusions.

The process of "de-Confederatization" was hammered out militarily and politically during Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Era, but the cultural legacy is today's news nearly daily.  It began with getting the Stars and Bars so-called Confederate flag off of state flags, but is now being fought out over the names of schools or buildings, and monuments to specific Confederate Generals.  I wrote about this earlier in the year (The Politics of Removal; Pulling an Oneida).  Whatever misgivings you may have about the destruction of the past in this form, you have to understand at least to some degree why a black guy walking down the street isn't going to feel so good about seeing a monument to Jefferson Davis.  States' Rights, heritage, whatever you want to call it, the Confederacy and the Civil War boil down to slavery.  The flag commonly referred to as the "Confederate flag" was never even the national flag of the CSA at all, and it was never a part of any state's flag until the 50's and 60's, added there in order to defy the Federal gub'ment as a symbol of white supremacy and in defiance of integration.

Interestingly, the coat of arms of Americana includes a shield with the Stars and Bars Confederate battle flag:

Notice also the center is adorned with a beehive, a symbol used by Freemasons and Mormons to symbolize hard work, industry, and a harmonious social order where everyone knows their place and does their job.  I don't know if the beehive is a Masonic reference, nor if the obelisk in the town cemetery was erected by Masons.  The obelisk has become the focal point, however, for Confederado celebrations, bearing an engraved Stars and Bars Confederate battle flag on the socle. I only muse about the possible Masonic connection because the Golden Circle scheme appears to have been the long-standing dream of a group of Freemasons in New Orleans who were involved in the establishment of the short-lived Republic of West Florida, the Republic of Texas, several failed invasions of Cuba, and other filibustering expeditions south of the border.  I know this sounds a little wing-nutty, but I think if you read my Lone Star Republics post and look at the references, you'll find that although it's not a well-known history and corresponds too neatly with the wildest of conspiracy theories, the fact remains that a shadowy group of Freemasons in New Orleans were using the cover of the Lodge to plot the overthrow of the Catholic Spaniards throughout the Americas using rhetoric pulled straight from the degrees of the Scottish Rite.

The descendants are organized into the Fraternidade Descendência Americana and their symbol doesn't do much to disprove the possibility of a Masonic connection.  Triangle logo?  Check.  Masonic symbol of Fraternity?  Check.

Of course, it begins to look as though these things are Masonic in origin after all, when you see that in the cemetery where these present-day Confederados gather every three months there is a monument to pioneering Confederate settler Col. William H. Norris, honored with a triangle/pyramid monument with unmistakable Masonic symbolism:
Norris was a veteran of the Mexican-American War, an Alabama state senator, and the leader of a group of 30 Confederate families who set off for Brazil after the end of the Civil War.  In 1861 he had been elected Grand Master of the Alabama Masonic Lodge.

Norris helped establish the Confederate presence in Americana and Santa Bárbara d'Oeste and began planting cotton.  He served as a Congressman for the State of São Paulo and was commissioned as a Colonel in the National Guard.  It is said that he purchased his land with a cache of gold buried on his farm that his wife had saved from being taken by Union soldiers after flashing some sort of Masonic hailing sign at their commanding officer.

Full disclosure:  I am descended from one Culvin F. Sanders, a lawyer who served in the Army of Tennessee as a cavalry Captain in the Buckner Guards under General P. R. Cleburne.  He participated in all the battles of the Army of Tennessee.  He was also a Freemason, as all his descendants have been.  I loathe what he fought for, and feel no real family fealty, yet I admit, perhaps to my discredit, some ambivalence about that heritage.  As I've said in other posts about Confederate monuments, I would not seek to honor it, but recognize it, and perhaps somehow understand what responsibilities I have regarding my past, and what I can do to ameliorate its legacy.

Info for the following part of this post comes from an article that can be read here.

Now, you might think I'm making too much of this Masonic connection, but dig this, one entrance to Americana is marked by a large Square and Compasses because it was "founded in 1865 by Confederate emigrants, most of them Freemasons...."

At least 154 families began the migration in 1865 and maybe as many as 4000 more joined them in the next ten years (although half eventually headed back).

Why Brazil?  Well, as I discussed in my post on the Golden Circle, Texas, Central America and South America, along with the Caribbean, had long been eyed as having the potential for a Southern slave-holding confederation much like Confederate States of America.  As we saw in that post, many of these efforts were led by Masons. 

As it turns out, the Confederados' emigration was facilitated by prominent Freemasons in Brazil and even the Emperor Dom Pedro I was a Mason.

The Masons founded George Washington Lodge in the village before it had even been named Americana.  They'd been encouraged by Freemason Charles Nathan, a member of a Brazilian immigration society that helped arrange passage to Brazil via New Orleans.  More encouragement came from Freemason Taveres Bastos, founder of the immigration society and friend of the Emperor, who as previously mentioned, was himself a Freemason, like his father before him.

Another Freemason and friend of Bastos was Joachim Maria Saldaña Mariño, co-editor of a liberal newspaper in Rio de Janeiro and Grand Master of the Grande Oriente do Brasil ao Vale dos Beneditinos, the Emperor’s branch of Freemasonry. He was also President of São Paulo, the province where Americana was founded.  Mariño was particularly active in the mid-1860s in the cause of separation of church and state.  Mariño signed one Alabama migrant's Masonic papers, a fellow named Dr. Russell McCord.  These documents not only testify to the Brazilian-Confederate amity; a second signer was José Maria da Silva Paraños, the Visconde do Rio Branco. He was also Grand Master of the Grande Oriente do Brasil, and he was the author of the first emancipation legislation that led to the abolition of slavery in Brazil.  Ironic, no?

As previously stated, half of the Confederates didn't stick it out, but those that stayed are the ancestors of a small but proud minority in Americana.  In the small museum that celebrates the Confederados, Masonry is not given short-shrift, and they hold their quarterly festivals in the cemetery of their ancestors, amid plenty of Confederate flags and people in historical dress, and headstones emblazoned with the Square and Compasses....


Erratum:  In this post I originally referred to the "Confederate battle flag" as the "Stars and Bars."  I was mistaken, as Mr. Dawson points out in a comment below.  The "Stars and Bars" was nickname of the first national flag of the CSA and doesn't resemble the more familiar battle flag with the 13 stars arranged in a saltire cross.  This flag in a square form was used as The Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia and in rectangular form as The Second Confederate Navy Jack.  It appears in the canton of the 2nd and 3rd national flags and also in The Second Confederate Navy Ensign.  It also appears in the canton of other battle flags and there are some variations.  It is now certainly more well-known than the Stars and Bars and is used widely as a symbol of the South and the CSA.  It is also widely known as the "Confederate Flag", though strictly speaking, this is inaccurate.  I refer to it as the "Confederate flag" or the "Confederate battle flag" in place of "Stars and Bars"; this is indicated by a strikethrough in the text.  In any event, it is the flag chosen by the Confederados and seems ubiquitous in photos of their celebrations, whereas the national flags aren't pictured at all.  Thanks to Mr. Dawson to pointing out my error.  My apologies.

I also came across these articles looking to see what nomenclature other writers used in connection with Americana.

Vice weighs in with a piece on the Confederados' view of their heritage and writes a parallel narrative about modern slavery in Brazil:  The Brazilian Town Where the American Confederacy Lives On

The Fog of Policy refers to the Vice and NYT articles in The Confederacy Still Lives in the Deep Deep South

Wikipedia: Flags of the Confederate States of America

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I said, "fjord" not "fnord"....

Tempting, eh?
My good friend David Blanc disappears every year around May and returns to Le Burgaud in mid-September.  He Summers in the beautifully-situated town of Tadoussac, Québec, where he operates a small business, Kayak Aventure, guiding people on visits to the Saguenay fjord of the mighty St. Lawrence River.

David fell in love with this place after a visit in May, 2010 and returned that very same Summer in order to follow a training program with the Fédération Québécoise du Canot et du Kayak in order to become a certified guide.  He began working immediately.  David was eventually offered the the opportunity to purchase a part of the business and has been his own boss for the last two years.

David is a good friend, but he's also someone I'd trust with my life out on the estuary, where weather conditions can deteriorate rapidly.  He's got the courage, presence of mind and general common sense required to make the good decisions that could save your life.

Getting a glimpse of a surfacing whale, magnificent though it is, isn't worth your life now, is it?  Not to dwell on the dangers, it's actually quite safe, but in the wrong hands you could find yourself in unpleasant circumstances.

Photos of the fjord are amazing, and David tells me stories of a raucous season with plenty of opportunities to rave up in the local tavern, or merely chill out under the stars in the small coastal village (permanent pop. circa 800). Tadoussac is still considered to be located in the wilderness.

Tadoussac as seen from the St. Lawrence
So, this is basically a plug.  If you're looking for a fun outdoor vacation in a place which is geographically close to the US but culturally bears a strong imprint of French culture, why not go north, young man?

David also said it was OK to let you know that if you tell him you learned about his enterprise on this website, he'd be willing to offer a little discount.  So, go for it!

The English version of the Kayak Aventure website:

Oh, yeah.  Ask him about the time he sailed from France to Thailand and he and the crew outwitted Somali pirates in the waters off the Horn of Africa.  Great story!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

From WikiBear
A couple of users over at Treasure Net have linked to our Lone Star Republics post and have generated both some visits and some positive responses on their forums.  So, here's a brief shout-out to Treasure Net.  Although the context is treasure hunting, and thus the fabled hidden "Confederate Gold", you'll find some stuff about the Knights of the Golden Circle if you search their forums (indeed, the very real Saddle Ridge Hoard may have been cached by the KGC).  

So, one good deed deserves another.  Check out their forums.  Some innarestin' stuff over there.
Update 04/26.  Looks like that post is kind of's been re-printed here:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Who was George Wood?

The recent death of Justice Anton Scalia raised a lot of eyebrows when it came to light that he'd spent his final hours in the company of high-ranking members of the Order of St. Hubertus (IOSH).  An elite hunting club with aristocratic origins and a 200-year gap in it's online timeline?  Nothing worth pursuing there!  Not even when the sparse details they do provide offer the fact that the American branch was founded at the Bohemian Club in 1968?  Pretty nifty: Bohemian Grove/Wood!  What an anonymous name.  Almost like a pseudonym calculated to be the most bland and innocuous moniker possible.  It's also kind of an occupational name, for what are hunters but woodsmen?  We've already seen that the original military "jäger" units were made up of hunters, trappers and other assorted woodsmen, exactly the kind of fellows that administered the lands of the aristocrats that made up the IOSH.

Scalia's host on the fateful weekend he died was a fellow named John Poindexter.  In an email to the WaPo, P-dex wrote: “I am aware of no connection between that organization [IOSH] and Justice Scalia.”

Well, he should know, he's kind of a Grand Wazoo in the Order.  So surely Austrian magazine Kurier is wrong when they outed Scalia as a member.  Terry Melanson, who recommended our earlier articles on Conspiracy Archive, is the only person, at least when I first accessed his article a few days ago, to have relayed this news to the English-speaking world.  Melanson links to the Kurier article, but I'd have you go to it via his article, because it has a lot of details you won't find anywhere else, above and beyond every article I've read on the subject.  Melanson actually does research, not simply re-hash what other people have written

At the end of my last post I asked the world "Who da fug is George Wood?  Answer:  I still don't know.

We know a George Wood founded the American branch of the Order in 1968 at the Bohemian Club.  When the order was "restituted" in 1950, non-Germans invited to join included Halvor O. Ekern, chief political adviser of the US Armed Forces in Austria; Llewellyn E. Thompson, the American Ambassador, General Mark W. Clark, Commanding General of the Allied Forces in Austria; British Ambassador Baron Harold Caccia and "others".  And also, named but with no title given, George Wood.

George Wood became the Order's Grand Master in 1975.

That word restituted went in quotes in my earlier article because it sounded so strange.  But I discovered that 
'Restitution', or 'rehabilitation' is the process where Germany today seeks to recognise the efforts of individuals as patriotic to Germany, though who had not been seen as such previously.
That quote comes from a page for a movie about a man restituted in 2004, a German diplomat/spy for America named Fritz Kolbe.  Or, as his OSS handler Allen Dulles (later head of the CIA and member of the Warren Commission) had dubbed him in WW2, George Wood!

Let's take a quick look at Wood's fellow inductees:  IOSH Class of '50.  

"Col. [Halvor] Ekern worked as a trapper, logger and dam-construction foreman before graduating from the University of Montana in 1941 with a degree in forestry."  There's those woods again.

....He then was transferred to the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment, where he served for the duration of World War II and assisted in organizing the ski troops of the 10th Mountain Division [like French chasseurs or German jägers]....After the war, he transferred from the mountain division to the headquarters of the U.S. Forces in Austria, where he was assigned as the quadripartite adviser to the commanding general and U.S. high commissioner....In 1947, Col. Ekern served on the delegation of Secretary of State George Marshall to the Council of Foreign Ministers....He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1950, remaining at the U.S. Embassy in Austria as a quadripartite director. He was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Austrian Treaty negotiations in 1955....From 1956 to 1959, Col. Ekern served in the Office of the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Atomic Energy Affairs in the State Department....He graduated from the State Department’s Senior Seminar on Foreign Policy in 1964 and served in the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research from 1964 to 1967....Ekern served as a political adviser to the commander in chief of U.S. Army Europe from 1969 to 1973 and was a member of the U.S. delegation to the NATO/Warsaw Pact negotiations on mutual and balanced force reductions in Vienna, Austria, from 1973 to 1974....After retiring from government work, Col. Ekern worked as an editor, writer and publisher, as well as in the security field. He also was president of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association and was chairman of the Arlington County Republican Committee....(snip snip

Llewellyn E. Thompson
You can see why he was an attractive candidate for the IOSH, given his background as an outdoorsman and a liaison to the kind of military units in which the ancestors of today's IOSH members would have served.

Llewellyn E. Thompson was the U.S. Ambassador to Austria from 1955–1957 and to Soviet Union from 1957 to 1962 and again between 1967 and 1969. He held a number of other positions throughout his U.S. foreign service career, including being the pivotal participant in the formulation of Johnson administration nuclear weapon non-proliferation policy. He also testified before the Warren Commission, which was investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Hmmm.  Nuclear energy again.  And what did he testify about before the Warren Commission?  Well, he was ambassador to Russia at the time Oswald presented himself at the embassy to renounce his citizenship.  Thompson had been out of town at that time.  Part of his testimony was to explain how cases like that are usually treated, partially to clarify the events around Oswald's renunciation.

Gen. Mark W. Clark was a controversial general who on more than one occasion during WW2 was accused of bad planning and bad decisions.  But he kept getting promoted. 

Gen. Clark
In 1945, as Commander in Chief of US Forces of Occupation in Austria, Clark gained experience negotiating with Communists, which he would put to good use a few years later....Clark served as deputy to the U.S. Secretary of State in 1947, and attended the negotiations for an Austrian treaty with the Council of Foreign Ministers in London and Moscow. In June 1947, Clark returned home and assumed command of the Sixth Army, headquartered at the Presidio in San Francisco, and two years later was named chief of Army Field Forces.

So, like our previous fellows, this was more than a soldier, but a diplomat with a little intelligence work under his belt (secretly negotiating with pro-Allied Vichy officers in North Africa, for example).  Like Eckert he was at the Council of Foreign Ministers negotiations in 1947.  Though he later withdrew after protests, Truman nominated him to be the United States emissary to the Holy See.  Hmmm.  Ambassador the the Vatican, eh?  Interesting he ended his days in San Francisco.  Could he have encountered the Bohemian Club while there?

Baron Caccia
Baron Harold Caccia, being an aristocrat, was be a perfect candidate for the IOSH.  He was an Oxford man and an athlete of many stripes.  He was Ambassador to Austria from 1951 to 1954, and from 1956 to 1961 he was Ambassador to the USA.  He is also accused of being a part of the Committee of 300, a group said to have been founded by members of the British aristocracy, a "hidden hand" behind international commerce and banking.  Jewish bankers, naturally.  He is considered to have bplayed a critical role in creating the "special relationship" between the USA and the UK.

Caccia was knighted in 1950, the same year he was asked to join the IOSH.  He was created a life peer in 1965. His other knightly titles include being a Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.

So, these guys all were well-connected with ties to the diplomatic and intelligence communities.  All of this is pretty logical actually; the aristocracy, the Church and the Anglo-American alliance.  What strikes me, as I said in a previous post, is the following:
At the end of the World War surviving members of the Order, were authorized by Halvor O. Ekern, chief political adviser of the US Armed Forces in Austria to use their sporting guns to provide winter food to the rural population, avoiding not only famine but helping to save the country from falling behind the Iron Curtain.
I would posit that this is a not so indirect reference to being armed by the US in order fight the Communists, if necessary.  I can imagine the IOSH being part of a network of clubs and groups both secular and religious that could have been used to further the goals of the Western Occupation forces, to keep the Soviets in check.

So how does spy Fritz Kolbe, aka George Wood, fit into all this?  Kolbe was no small fry; he is basically recognized as the US's most important intelligence asset of the war.  He was more than likely connected to the others in the diplomatic/intelligence community.

That said, this George Wood is not the droid we're looking for.  Kolbe/Wood died in 1971.  But according to the IOSH, when the first Grand Master Albert Messany of the American branch retired in 1975, he was replaced by....George Wood.

Messany was described as a "big game hunter" in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal in 1936 in an admiring article (24 Nov. 1936) about an innovative camera-gun with which he intended to "hunt" in Canada.  This humane approach to tacking game gives credence to the Order's stated ideals of honoring God's creatures etc.  The Montreal Gazette (24 Jun. 1936) tells us that Messany is from Vienna and that this was his 10th visit to Canada.  The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (20 Nov. 1936) has a little blurb about Messany's trip and the camera gun, but little detail.  The Indianapolis Star also mentions the photo gun in pretty much the same blurb as in Wilkes-Barre -- turns out it was an AP story.  Messany was apparently a doctor, but most sources about him are in German, so I'm not sure what to make of him.  He published several books about hunting, Canada and the great outdoors.  There is a reference to an Albert Messany issuing a
German wireless press message, to the effect that 2,000 soldiers, who were not invalids, had been carried by the hospital ship Britannia.
If it's the same Messany, it's hard to say.  It's definitely possible, depending on how old he was when he retired.  Wood was followed by Karl Weber as GM.  Whereas info on Messany (in English, anyway) is sparse, info on Karl Weber and George Wood is almost non-existent.

Fritz Kolbe
This George Wood of IOSH fame is still the biggest mystery to me.  I find it to be a really strange "coincidence" that a spy and the GM of an Austrian Order with links to the American intelligence community bear the same name.  Obviously, Kolbe/Wood can't be the same George Wood who became GM of the IOSH, but it's weird to begin with and I'm beginning to imagine increasingly weirder possibilities.  I'm still trying to link Kolbe with known Bohemians and/or members of the Order, as well as find more info on the George Wood who founded the American branch.  So far, I haven't found any references to any of the Class of 1950 being members of the Bohemian Club.

To paraphrase Wikipedia, Kolbe tried to settle in the US in 1949 but "could not find suitable work."  He later applied to work for the German diplomatic services again (unsuccessfully) and finally found work representing of an American power-saw manufacturer. After the war, Kolbe was despised in Germany and seen as a traitor until restituted in 2004.  Kolbe died of cancer in 1971.  Not exactly given a cushy job for life and flying high with the aristocratic hunting set.

We'll see if anything  more turns up; so far the record is silent.  The IOSH-USA does have an email address.  Maybe I should write them and ask.  I did paste the addy into an email, but pulled back.  Kind of want to stay out of their sights! (Update:  I wrote and asked for info about Wood on Terry's advice.  Update 29 Dec:  I eventually wrote to two addresses.  Never got a response.)

So again, who's George Wood?  Why was he asked the join the Order, along with ambassadors and generals?  I've actually managed to find quite a few George Woods, but there's always some detail to disqualify them.  Hmph.