Saturday, February 26, 2011

February Burning

In tracking the events unfolding across the world this February I have paid close attention to their correlation to historic events in the same month. Occultic dates have continued to play a large role in the timing of current revolutions unfolding across the globe. The protests in Libya kicked off on February 15th, which was the third and final day of the Roman festival of Lupercalia. Naturally, Lupercalia was a festival of purification.

"The Lupercalia, by the time of its celebration, may seem to be a feast of purification, for it is solemnised on the dies nefasti, or non-court days, of the month February, which name signifies purification, and the very day of the feast was anciently called Februata; but its name is equivalent to the Greek Lycaea; and it seems thus to be of great antiquity, and brought in by the Arcadians who came with Evander. Yet this is but dubious, for it may come as well from the wolf that nursed Romulus; and we see the Luperci, the priests, begin their course from the place where they say Romulus was exposed. But the ceremonies performed in it render the origin of the thing more difficult to be guessed at; for there are goats killed, then, two young noblemen's sons being brought, some are to stain their foreheads with the bloody knife, others presently to wipe it off with wool dipped in milk; then the young boys must laugh after their foreheads are wiped; that done, having cut the goats' skins into thongs, they run about naked, only with something about their middle, lashing all they meet; and the young wives do not avoid their strokes, fancying they will help conception and childbirth. Another thing peculiar to this feast is for the Luperci to sacrifice a dog... If the sacrifice be by way of purification, a dog might very well be sacrificed, for the Greeks, in their illustrations, carry out young dogs, and frequently use this ceremony of periscylacismus, as they call it. Or if again it is a sacrifice of gratitude to the wolf that nourished and preserved Romulus, there is good reason in killing a dog, as being an enemy to wolves.
(Lives, Plutarch, pg. 42)

The Lupercalia may have had an even more bizarre origin if it originated from Greece. The Greeks had traditions of the Kallikantzari, werewolf like creatures that were said to be at licence during the 12 day period between December 25th and January 6th.

"...the Lupercalia in Rome, a winter (February) festival in which the priests of Pan behaved not unlike the Kallikantzari, plaguing women throughout the city by whipping them, a frequent substitute for what was at one time a human sacrifice, to make them fertile, and making general nuisances of themselves. Lupus is the Latin for 'wolf,' and the festival occurs later than the astronomical solstice, much as did the Anthesteria in Greece, to accommodate the advent of spring, as it is a fertility celebration."
(The Apples of Apollo, Ruck, Staples, and Heinrich, pg. 38)
In addition to dressing up in wolf skins, the Greek priests likely consumed some type of entheogen to complete the transformation into the Kallikantzari before heading out in search of young maidens. I've written more on this ritual here

Its also possible that the Celtic festival of Imbolc, normally celebrated on February 1st or 2nd, was originally recognized on February 12th. The Eastern Orthodox Church still celebrates the Christianizing, Candlemas, on the 12th. Imbolc and Candlemas alike are both purification celebrations dedicated to fertility goddesses, the Virgin Mary in the Christian version, Brigid in the Celtic. I've already discussed the significance of fertility goddesses to the uprisings now unfolding here.

In general February seems a favorable month for revolutionary pushes and political upheaval as well. For instance, February 11th marked not just the end Mubarak's regime in Egypt, but also the fall of the Shah in Iran, paving the way for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Roman Empire also witnessed its fair share of intrigue on this date as well. In 55 AD Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus, heir to the Roman Emperorship, died under the mysterious circumstances. His death paved the way for this rise Nero. An actual Roman Emperor, Gordian III, was assassinated by his own troops while campaigning in Zaitha on February the 11th as well.

February also marked the beginning of the great wave of revolutions that swept across Europe in 1848. It was also a big month for communism and fascism. In the former Soviet Union February 23rd marked Red Army Day, now Defender of the Fatherland Day, in honor of the Red Army's first victory over German forces in 1918. The year before, the first demonstrations of the February Revolution kicked off on the 23rd in Saint Petersburg. It was the first of two revolutions that would lead to the rise of communism in Russia and beyond. In 1920 the Nazi Party would be founded on February 24th.

Some have already drawn links between the uprisings in the Arab world this February and the revolutions of 1848. One of the best was done by Loren Coleman in another series of fantastic blogs he's done on the Egyptian uprising. I also sense a link with the events of 1848, but while 1848 was the beginning of a series of events that would unfold over the rest of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the recent events feel more like the latest links in an already unfolding chain.

One of the strangest things I find about 1848 is its bizarre connection to the number 72. The number 72 is of course hugely important in the kabbalah. Beginning in the 18th century a 72 year cycles becomes clear in which a series of political upheavals unfold. The first occurred in 1776, the second in 1848, the third in 1920, and the most recent in 1992. I am obviously not the first person to recognize this chain, but I can not remember from what source I was originally made aware of this theory, so apologies to whatever source I'm neglecting.

Anyway, the key events of 1776 were the Masonic led American Revolution and the founding of the Bavarian Illuminati. Both Masonry and  Illuminism would have a profound effect on the revolutionary bent of the following century. The later statement is of course highly controversial, especially given how loosely the term 'Illuminati' is thrown around these days. In this case I am referring to the clear influence of Weishaupt's Bavarian order and its links to the French Revolution and the other 'populist' movements of the early 19th century. Masonry, frequently with overlap from Illuminism (especially in Europe) was also highly influencial in these movements. Rhodes scholar and the former head of the Library of Congress, James Billington, notes:

"Masonry imparted to the revolutionary tradition at birth the essential metaphor that revolutionaries used to understand their own mission down to the mid-nineteenth century; that an architect building a new and better structure for human society. Masons believed they were recreating in their fraternal societies the 'natural' condition of cooperation that prevailed among those earlier, artisan masons who shaped stones for a common building.

"The progression of each 'brother' from the stage of apprentice through journeyman to master required philosophical and philanthropic accomplishment rather than social status. 'Free' masonry was, thus, a moral meritocracy -implicitly subversive within any static society based on a traditional hierarchy. Men of intelligence and ambition in the eighteenth century often experienced within Masonic lodges a kind of brotherhood among equals not to be found in the aristocratic society outside...

"Most important for our story, Masonry was deliberately used by revolutionaries in the early nineteenth century as a model and a recruiting ground for their first conspiratorial experiments in political organization."
(Fire in the Minds of Men, pgs. 92-93)

On the historical Illuminati's role in the French Revolution after it had allegedly been whiped out by the Bavarian authorities, Billington writes:

"The substantial German influx into Paris itself included former Illuminists like the Saxon physician of Philip of Orleans, Jean-Geoffrey Saiffert, the Frey brothers, and the journalist Rebmann. Occult -possibly Illuminist -influence is detectable in Babeuf's first clear statement of his communist objectives early in 1795 -inviting a friend to 'enter into he sacred mysteries of agarianism' and accepting fidelity from a chevalier de l'orde des egaux. Babeuf's subsequent first outline for his conspiracy spoke of a 'circle of adherents' 'advancing by degree' from les pays limotrophes to transform the world. Babeuf's secret, hierarchical organization resembled that of the Illuminists...

"Such borrowings from Illuminism seem substantial enough to challenge the long-accepted judgement of the leading students of the subject that, after 1790, Illuminism 'having disappeared from history... lived on only in legend.' There seems good reason to believe that Illuminist influence was not so much a 'legend' as an imperfectly perceived reality. The same historian's perplexed observation that 'the police legend' about Illuminists began to 'develop with more amplitude and originality' in the Napoleonic era points to a surprising source of Illuminist influence. Illuminist ideas influenced revolutionaries not just through left-wing proponents, but also through right-wing opponents. As the fears of the Right became the fascination of the Left, Illuminism gained a paradoxical posthumous influence far greater than it had exercised as a living movement."
(Ibid, pgs. 97-99)

1848 witnessed the various workers' revolutions across Europe in addition to the publishing of the Communist Manifesto. These events would be instrumental to the rise of communism in the 20th century. 1920 ushered in the rise of fascism with the founding of the Nazi Party and the rapid rise of the Italian Fascist Party. Fascism has continued to play  a major role in the 20th century, especially within NASA and the US intelligence community, despite its alleged defeat after the second World War. This was largely due to Operation Paperclip.

"...Russian troops were advancing towards Peenemuende from the east and would capture the Nazi rocket scientists and their laboratories, factories, and blueprints, thus permitting the Soviets unprecedented access to the 'art of German engineering.' Policy makers in Washington knew that the next major conflicts would be fought between the United States and the Soviet Union, and they could not permit the Russians to have the upper hand in technology. It was of utmost importance that those scientists -or as many of them as possible -made it to American shores, out of reach of the Russians and, more importantly perhaps, pressed into service to the United States.

"Most people who have heard of Paperclip assume that it was a program to bring Nazi scientists to the United States to assist the space program, a concept that is at least partially true. There was much more to Paperclip -and subsequent Nazi recruitment -than rocket science, however. Nazi medical personnel were also recruited, as well as psychological warfare experts and, with the Gehlen Organization, spies, assassins and saboteurs. Eventually, some of these imported Nazi war criminals wound up holding impressive executive positions in American industry, principally high-technology firms in the aerospace and military hardware industries...

"By the time Paperclip was over, thousands of Nazi scientists -many of them accused of war criminals who had participated in some of the war's worst outrages -had managed to find homes in the United States, South America and other locations. In many cases, they brought their families with them as well. And while the Paperclip agents were seeking scientists, other organizations were looking for Nazi espionage agents and recruiting them by the thousands to work for the United States and Great Britain against the Soviets."
(Sinister Forces Book One, Peter Levenda, pgs. 134-137)
The final flight of the space shuttle Discovery on February 24th was a nice shout out to NASA's origins in Nazism.

1992 seems to have marked the rise of globalism after Bush I's infamous 'New World Order' speech on September 11, 1990, the fall of the Soviet Union in the last week of 1991 and the 1992 Maastricht Treaty that ushered in the European Union. Much of the negotiations on NAFTA were conducted in 1992 as well, though it wouldn't be signed into law until 1993 by Bill Clinton.

Of course, we're still in the early stages of globalism. Communism didn't gain real political power until the 20th century, several decades after the events of 1848. The Cryptocracy isn't likely to wait that long for globalism to take hold and has acted accordingly. One of the key objectives to bring about globalism is a process of 'Balkanization' that we've witnessed throughout Eastern Europe since the fall of the Soviet Union. Here nation states are progressively broken down into smaller and smaller units as the peoples within continue to hate one and other over the competition for scarce resources rather than the Cryptocracy that causes the scarcity. The events unfolding now, in February 2011, appear to be a part of this strategy. Full scale tribal warfare amongst the various peoples in the Muslim world would be the best gift imaginable to the Cryptocracy come Christmas time.

The next phrase will inevitably be to bring the 'revolution' home, which already seems to be occurring. At the end of a prior post I noted that media has already been proclaiming a 'War on Police' breaking out across the US despite the fact that police fatalities are lower now than in the early part of the 00s and much lower than in either the 1920s or 1970s when there were far fewer cops on the streets. Then there's the Loughner shooting spree coming a little over a year after the 2010 Austin plane suicide attack on an IRS building. Over the past week we've been bombarded with the Wisconsin budget protests, an event seemingly designed to pit normal people against one and other in the name of political ideologies, be they 'left' or 'right', that ceased having any relevancy decades ago. Regardless of how this turns out, nothing on the streets will look any different. We seem to be on course for a year of rage both domestically and internationally, seemingly to the delight of the Cryptocracy.

In a display of utter contempt, psychological warfare against the American public was subtly acknowledged on Nazi Party Day via this piece:

"The U.S. army reportedly deployed a specialized ''psychological operations' team in 2009 to help convince American legislators to boost funding and troop numbers for the war in Afghanistan.

"Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops, ordered the operation, Rolling Stone Magazine reported in a story published late on Wednesday.

"An officer in charge of the unit objected when he was ordered to pressure the visiting senators and was harshly reprimanded by superiors, according to the magazine.

"'My job in psy-ops is to play with people's heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave,' the officer, Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, told Rolling Stone.

"'I'm prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you're crossing a line,' he added.

"Miklaszewski also pointed out that using such tactics on U.S. citizens is against regulations and not to be done under any circumstances."
I put that last line in bold because that has to be the biggest crock of shit I've read in some time, and I read some doozies on a daily basis. Like the MSM's 'War on Police' meme, for instance.

The Cryptocracy seems hell bent on bringing it 'all back home' so to speak and that does not bode well. Most of the American population still considers the NFL labor negations and the Carmelo Anthony trade to be the most pressing pieces of news in the world during this past week. Many that have some awareness of what's going on are becoming ever frustrated and falling into what I like to think of as 'Soldier-of-the Apocolyspe' mode, which can lead to a violent reaction against the mass American.

Perhaps all these calls for a 'summer of rage' may finally come true, only not in the way many proponents may have envisioned.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

On Macrobes Part II: Angels

Part one of my series on macrobes can be found here.

Christianity has always had a complex relationship with the macrocosm. From its Jewish origins it recognized the complex sphere of the invisible world and the need to approach it with caution. Unfortunately this led to polar extremes when considering macrobes: In many circumstances it dismissed these beings as mere demons, denying them any positive attributes. In other cases it attempted to reincorporate the hierarchy of the invisible world into an angelic choir. Despite the beliefs of Christians and non-Christians alike that the faith is completely opposed to any macrobic contact, angels have often provided apt subversion to whatever mandates may be applied to divination at the time. One of the most common types of divination in the Christian tradition are encounters with a guardian angel, a concept derived from both the Greek tradition of daimons as well as those of older pagan faiths.

"Guardian angels derived from the Neoplatonism and, along with other classes of angels, became part of the Christian dogma at the Council of Nicaea (AD 325). But, long before this, the ancient Greeks believed that individuals were attached at birth to a daimon who determined, wholly or in part, their destiny."
(Daimonic Reality, Patrick Harpur, pg. 38)

Some of the very earliest Christian sects were strong proponents of the guidance of angels.

"Like the gift of the Spirit or the ideal of virginity, this angelic presence was not unknown to some of the Christians' Jewish contemporaries. In the sect whom we know in the Dead Sea scrolls, the presence of angels had already become a lively feature of community life. Also expecting the end of the world, the first Christians had a strong sense of angelic companionship. Here, their belief in 'epiphany' differed scarcely from the simple Lystrans'. When Peter escaped from prison and was reported to be at the door in Jerusalem, the Apostles could not believe it: they thought that it must be his angel. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, Christians could be told 'to show love unto strangers: for thereby, some have entertained angels unawares.' As in Homer or in the Old Testament, so in Christian company there was no knowing who an uninvited guest might be. In the epistles, the Christians' type of experience begins already to be defended and defined against false imitations. The author of 'Peter's' second letter assures the reader that he himself witnessed the 'glorious appearance in power of Jesus,' heard the heavenly voice and was present at the Transfiguration: he was not relying on mere fables. Among the Colossians, by contrast, there were people who trusted other visions, worshipping angels and 'vaunting the things which they have crossed the threshold and seen...' Whatever their identity, these people were reproached in language which echoed contemporary pagan cult. Paul's words for 'crossing the threshold' is the word visitors who 'entered' a temple like Claro's and penetrated the tunnels. The 'angels' are perhaps the pagan 'angels' who had long been worshipped near Colossae inhabiting its local springs and waterfalls, seats, eventually, of the Christian angel Michael."
(Pagans and Christians, Robin Lane Fox, pg. 380)

Despite the daimon's similarity to the lower levels of angels (where the guardian ones reside) suspicion and polarization has always followed macrobic beings in the Christian tradition.

"Christianity's chief method for getting rid of the daimons was to demonize them. This process began with the earliest of the New Testament writings, the epistles of St. Paul; '... the things which the gentiles sacrifice,' said Paul reproachfully, 'they sacrifice to the devils, and to God.' The Greek word he used for devils was daimonia: daimons. At a stroke, the host of the intermediate beings recognized by all pagan peoples everywhere were stigmatized as demons in the service of Satan (diabolos). At best, the complex daimonic realm such as the one revered by Greco-Roman polytheism was subsumed under the Christian angelic realm; and all the old daimons were, of course, classed with the demonic angels who had been cast out of heaven along with Satan.

"The Christian idea of angels derived from the daimons of neighboring, competing doctrines, such as Gnosticism and Neoplatonism, which were condemned as heretical. At first, since Christianity imagined its angels as having bodies of air and light, its demons were supposed to have similarly ethereal bodies which, according to St. Augustine, gave them extraordinary powers of perception and enabled them to move through the air at extraordinary speeds. However, over the centuries, they shed their bodies and became purely spiritual...

"In all this we see the polarizing tendency of Christianity which removes the category of intermediary from daimons and makes them either purely spiritual or physical, compelling them the while to be in both cases literal beings. This literalizing drive is the same as that found among modern students of apparitions, especially ufologists. For them, there is no alternative to the proposition that aliens and the like are either literally real or else spirits and phantoms -except that nowadays, of course, even the category spirit has been all but abolished, leaving a choice between literally real and purely illusory, 'all in the mind.' Thus, whereas aliens have often been seen as updated versions of fairy-like entities, their true ancestors may well be instead the Christian angels and demons who also inhabit the 'lower air' and divide sharply into good and evil, just as the aliens seem to. Fairies do not divide neatly in this way. True to their daimonic nature, they represent a third reality, remaining both spiritual and physical. They may inhabit the air, but are more likely to be terrestrial, adopting an aerial form on occasions. They are ambiguous at all times, benevolent and malign, but never simply demonic, purely angelic."
(Daimonic Reality, Patrick Harpur, pgs. 51-53)

Based on the track record of angelic encounters (which will be examined further below), the medieval perception of fairies may be more apt than either those of angels and demons. But first, let us briefly examine the origins of angels before we delve to deeply into their acts.

The development of angels in Judaism as we now know them was gradual. Some have theorized that the original Biblical patriarchs were polytheistic. Hints of this can be found in the Bible itself, such as the beginning of Genesis 1:26, which states: "God said, 'Let us make Man in our own image, after our likeness..." Archaeologist David Rohl states:

"Note the use of the plural in God's words: 'Let us make Man in our own image -in the likeness of ourselves.' Indeed, one of the words for 'God' in Genesis is Elohim which is itself a plural (the singular being El). The primeval god of Genesis has many aspects which manifest themselves, outside the biblical tradition, in the form of numerous deities, each with its own attributes -sky, earth, water, etc."
(Legend: The Genesis of Civilization, pg. 206)

With the rise of monotheism a new heavenly order was devised with the one creator god at the head and various levels of angels in  descending hierarchy that branched Earth with the heavens. The gods of the Old Testament became angels and are mentioned quite frequently therein, but typically in the most vague fashion. In the Jewish tradition the first real attempt to devise an order of angels occurred in the Book of Enoch, one of the most notorious Apocrypha texts. Despite numerous attempts to suppress it I Enoch would have an enormous influence on the Abrahamic faiths as well as the occult and ufology. It is here the Seven Archangels are first described (and named), as well the fall of the Watchers and the fathering of the Nephilim. One of the earliest illusions to the forth coming 'son of God' is made in Enoch, as well hints of space travel, and the names of various fallen angels.

This has led to much speculation surrounding the Book of Enoch as well as Enoch himself. According to the Bible Enoch "...walked with God: and he was not; for God took him" (Genesis 5:24). In the third Book of Enoch (which was a much later addition, and likely written by the kabbalist Rabbi Ishmael) it is claimed that Enoch was transformed into the angel Metatron, scribe of God. Metatron is also sometimes equated with Hermes, the Greek messenger and scribe of the gods. More on that below.

The Book of Enoch has also earned an odd place in modern ufology. I will not delve into that here, but for those interested in more details on this account, check here.

Anyway, the Hebrews and later Christians developed rather complex orders of angels. In the Kabbalistic tradition the angels were divided into ten separate choirs consisting of Chayot, Ophanim, Erelim, Hashmallim, Seraphim, Malakhim, Elohim, Bene Elohim, Cherubim, and Ishim.

The Christian tradition was a bit different and seems to have had a little more uncertainty in the order. Essentially the angelic hosts were divided into three separate spheres with three separate classes of angels in each sphere. The top sphere, closets to God, consisted of the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Thrones. The second sphere consisted of Dominions, Virtues, and Powers. The final sphere, with dealt directly with humanity, featured the Principalities, the Archangels, and the regular angels. This is in stark contrast to the Book of Enoch, which claims the Archangels (or at least four of the seven) are closest to God. Some have argued there is a difference between Archangels and archangels, the lower case versions overseeing Earthly affairs while the upper case variety deal with the Cosmic. More information on the angelic hierarchy can be found here.

Before leaving this topic I would like to briefly address the appearance of some of these upper level angels. While it is generally assumed that the appearance of angels is quite pleasing to mortals, the First Sphere would seemingly put this assumption to the test. The Seraphim are described as burning six winged beings closely associated with serpents. In some traditions Metatron is reckoned to be a member of the Seraphim -This is especially interesting if Metatron can be linked to Hermes, a god closely associated with the serpent.

Elsewhere there are the Thrones, described as a 'wheel-within-a-wheel', their rims covered with hundreds of eyes. Then there are the cherubim, even more monstrous in appearance:

"Two cherubim are posted at the eastern gate of Eden. These are not pretty pink babes with fluffy wings but terrifying beasts -part feline and part bird of prey. They are otherwise described as great winged creatures [I Kings 6:27] and are associated with the 'Fiery Flashing Sword' [Genesis 3:24]. They protect the Garden of Eden from intruders who might attempt to enter Eden from the east to gain access to the tree of life. The word cherub comes from Babylonian karibu -the word used to describe huge winged guardians which flank the gateways into temples. The Bible informs us that in later times the Ark of the Covenant was protected by two such cherubim as it rested within the holy of hollies in the Jerusalem temple. The origins of these fearsome guardians of the forbidden places is difficult to establish, but, in biblical terms at least, they first appear as the protectors of Eden's eastern gateway immediately after Cain's exile from the Garden. Are they simply a demonic creation of the storytellers or something rather more tangible, perhaps even historical? There are several examples of mythological creatures whose image and character have been created out of the mundane activities of humankind. In my view it is probable that we are dealing here with the memory of a wild, warlike tribe which once dwelt in this region and which worshipped a giant bird of prey such as the eagle or falcon. Their shamans may have worn head-dresses decorated with the headsested within the holy of hollies in the Jerusalem temple. The origins of these fearsome guardians of the forbidden places is difficult to establish, but, in biblical terms at least, they first appear as the protectors of Eden's eastern gateway immediately after Cain's exile from the Garden. Are they simply a demonic creation of the storytellers or something rather more tangible, perhaps even historical? There are several examples of mythological creatures whose image and character have been created out of the mundane activities of humankind. In my view it is probable that we are dealing here with the memory of a wild, warlike tribe which once dwelt in this region and which worshipped a giant bird of prey such as the eagle or falcon. Their shamans may have worn head-dresses decorated with the heads of the birds and with trailing plumage covering their long coats like giant wings. The telling of the tale through an extended process of oral tradition gradually led to this powerful shamanic image becoming itself the visualisation of the guardians of Eden -the carriers of the 'fiery flashing sword' -rather than the people who bore the creature as their emblem."
(Legend: The Genesis of Civilization, David Rohl, pg. 58)

As with most macrobes, there are ties to entheogens. Since we're already on the topic of shamans, this would be a good place to address this subject. During the 40 years the Israelites spent in the desert (after fleeing Egypt) they ate of a substance known as manna, which they baked into bread. This 'bread' was said to be the food of angels, and has thus been called angel's bread from time to time. Some have theorized this angel's bread had a very special secret ingredient.

"The numerous descriptions sometimes speak of some edible natural occurrence, sometimes of something more like 'bread.' But no ordinary food was this MN, even though it 'nourished' the Israelites for forty years through the desert. First, let us note its supernatural powers as an entheogen. Manna was primordial in origin, one of the ten objects called into being in the twilight of the Sabbath of Creation. And its source is from the realm of the gods. It was 'heaven's grain,' ground by angels, as food for the saintly. And it conferred special abilities, fittingly called the 'bread of the mighty,' for those who ate it became themselves angels in strength. It could even resurrect the dead back to life. Nor was it material sustenance, but Holy Spirit, as in the Eucharist in the Gospel of Thomas, for those who ate of it had no need to relieve themselves.

"The metaphors that describe it are all easily recognized as the Soma of the Brachmanes. It is even possible that the Greek word amanites itself, i.e., Amanita, which has no Indo-European etymology... was assimilated from the Hebrew man; amanites does not occur in Greek before the Hellenistic period, although it became the common word for 'mushroom' in modern Greek as manitari."
(Apples of Apollo, Ruck, Staples, and Heinrich, pg. 197)

The consumption of magic mushrooms would certainly make Rohl's theory of early shamans severing as the basis of cherubim more plausible. It would also go a long way to explain how contact was first made with the angelic hosts, but I digress..

And now, to briefly recap several pagan traditions. As previously noted, the Greeks had an entity similar to the Christian guardian angel known as a daimon. But the Greeks were hardly the only culture to possess angelic like beings in their myths. Sumeria, the world's oldest civilization, is also the first to depict winged humans. Zoroastrianism has a concept of angels and demons very similar to the Christian angelology. In this case the angels are referred to as yazatas while the demons are called daevas. The yazatas have a hierarchy of archangels, six in number, known as Amesha Spenta. Egypt also likely had a strong influence on the Judo-Christian concepts of angels. Many Egyptian gods are of course depicted with wings. The complex hierarchy of Egyptian gods may have influenced the same kind of angelic order the later Abrahamic faiths developed. A fine run down of angels through the ages can be found here.

I must also mention a certain winged god (at least around the sandals!) that is also of enormous importance to the Greek and Egyptian Mystery Schools. In the Abrahamic faiths angels server as messengers for God. In the Greek pantheon the gods had one particular messenger -Hermes. I have often suspected that if Macrobes have a patron saint, it would Hermes, the Great Trickster.

"Like Coyote, Raven, and Hare -those North American Indian clowns-cum-culture-heroes -Hermes is a Trickster. It is as difficult for us to countenance Tricksters as it is daimons: our monotheism, whether Christianity or Science, has excluded them. So Hermes is forced to operate from the Underworld, to shadow Christianity in esoteric, 'occult' Gnostic and Hermetic philosophies. As has Latin counterpart, Mercurius, he is the soul of alchemy. He returns to torment scientism with paranormal phenomena and maddening anomalies -all daimons are tricksters, as the fairies are; all are in the pay of Hermes-Mercurius."
(Daimonic Reality, Patrick Harpur, pgs. 166-167)

As previously noted, some speculation has emerged that Metatron was a Judaic adaption of Hermes. Metatron in some traditions is believed to be the same as Enoch, whose name literally means initiated, while Hermes is closely associated with Thoth, the Egyptian scribe. The Greeks believed that Hermes began as a mortal man and was later elevated to godhood. Enoch was a mortal man that in some traditions was transformed into an angel. Enoch, Metatron, Hermes, and Thoth are all closely associated with knowledge, writing, and sacred geometry. But I digress.

Back to the Trickster. Some may object to me classifying angels as Trickster-like figures, but we should first consider several of the more noted angelic encounters of the past two thousand years before dismissing the joke.

Likely the most important angelic conversation to world history is the one that occurred between the Prophet Muhammad and the Archangel Gabriel.

"Muhammad, the prophet who created the religion known as Islam, had a vision of the Angel Gabriel while meditating in a cave in what is now Saudi Arabia. He was forty years old, a tradesman, a pagan, and troubled by hearing Jewish and Christian tradesmen and others around them discussing their respective religions. Monotheism was a new concept, and the year was 610 A.D.

"The vision of Gabriel ignited something in Muhammad's heart and soul. He began preaching a personal and unique amalgam of Jewish, Christian and native Arab mythology and religious and moral principles to anyone who would listen. These principles included better treatment of slaves and women, a life of moderation, a 'surrender' to the one true God (the word 'Islam' means 'surrender'), and other spiritual doctrines. Abstinence from alcohol and the eating of pork were also included...

"As his religion grew in numbers, so did Muhammad grow in political power. At the time of his death, Islam was virtually the state religion of Saudi Arabia. During the next hundred years after his death, Arab armies would give the idea of missionary work a new meaning as they conquered -with fire and sword -nation, after nation..."
(Sinister Forces -Book One, Peter Levenda, pg. 5-6) 

Muhammad was not the only major religious figure to found a religion based on a conversation with an angel. He is also joined by Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism.

"But in 1823, Joseph Smith had not yet found a religion. He was a young man desperately seeking buried treasure. On the auspicious day of September 22, 1823 he had a vision of an Angel.

"It was the autumnal equinox, the first day of the zodiacal sign of Libra, and he had repaired to a hill near his home late that night and performed the rituals necessary to invoke spiritual forces. He was gratified to obtain a vision of the Angel Moroni, who directed him to where a certain treasure was buried.

"Smith rushed to the spot indicated by Moroni and began digging. He found the gold plates but, ignoring the Angel's demands that he take the plates and seek no further, he could not resist looking into the hole he had dug to see if there was anything else. Enraged, the Angel took back the plates and told Smith if he wanted to see them again he should return the following year on the same day and at the same time, and he should bring his older brother.

"And the following year, he tried again. The problem, however, was that his older brother had died a few months after the first attempt at the plates. Smith repaired to the same spot at the same time as indicated b Moroni, and Moroni put him off again. All in all it would take three years before -on September 22, 1827 -he would finally be able to see the plates again and to begin transcribing what has become the Book of Mormon.

"The method of transcribing the plates -which, according to the story, were written in a kind of Egyptian hieroglyphic -would seem odd to many Americans but familiar to occultists and those familiar with occult literature. Smith would place his 'shew stone' or 'seer stone' in his hat and then bring his face into the hat so that no light would enter his field of vision. There, with his hands on his knees and staring into his hat, he would begin to dictate the pages of the Book."
(ibid, pg. 35)

Of course numerous saints have conversed with angels over the years, so I will only mention one who also happened to have a curious military history, namely Joan of Arc. From her Wikipedia entry:

"A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed Divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII. She was captured by the Burgundians, sold to the English, tried by an ecclesiastical court, and burned at the stake when she was nineteen years old.

"She later testified that she experienced her first vision around 1424 at the age of twelve years, when she was out alone in a field and saw visions of figures she identified as Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret, who told her to drive out the English and bring the Dauphin to Rheims for his coronation. She said she cried when they left, as they were so beautiful.[18]"

Like many who followed angelic council, things didn't end especially well for Joan.

One cannot address angelic conversations without mentioning the Elizabethan mage and spy John Dee. Dee is one of the most important ceremonial magicians of the post-Medieval era. Much of the system Dee devised was in turn handed down by angels in a fashion not unlike how Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. From Wikipedia:

"In 1581, Dee mentioned in his personal journals that God had sent "good angels" to communicate directly with prophets. In 1582, Dee teamed up with the seer Edward Kelley, although Dee had used several other seers previously.[2] With Kelley's help as a scryer, Dee set out to establish lasting contact with the angels, which resulted, among other things, in the reception of the Enochian or Angelical language.
"According to Dee's journals,[3] Angelical was supposed to have been the language God used to create the world, and which was later used by Adam to speak with God and the angels, and to name all things in existence. After his Fall from Paradise, Adam lost the language and constructed a form of proto-Hebrew based upon his vague memory of Angelical. This proto-Hebrew, then, was the universal human language until the time of the Confusion of Tongues at the Tower of Babel. After this, all the various human languages were developed, including an even more modified Hebrew (which we know as "Biblical Hebrew"). From the time of Adam to the time of Dee and Kelley, Angelical was hidden from humans with the single exception of the patriarch Enoch who, according to the angels, recorded the "Book of Loagaeth" (Speech From God) for humanity. The book was then lost again in the Deluge of Noah."

The Book of Enoch itself is often sited as the source of Dee and Kelley's angelic language yet the Book of Enoch had not been officially rediscovered until the 17th century. Of course, its certainly possible a man with Dee's influence may have obtained such a thing before an official discovery was acknowledged. As an interesting side note, Aleister Crowley used the Enochian system to contact a being known as Aiwass in 1904 in Cairo. This Enochian 'angel' looked remarkably like what would now be described as a grey alien.

So what are we to make of these angelic beings? Countless religious authorities over the years have tried to distinguish them from the daimonic beings that became the demons and devils of the Christian canon, but unsatisfactory. They appear as messengers of truth, yet their messages often bring strife. Their origins predate Judaism and, moving into the 'New Age', they seem as though they will out last Christianity. In a recent poll over half of the American surveyed stated that they felt as though they had been protected by a guardian angel at some point in their life. One in five of these respondents did not consider themselves to be religious:

"More than half of all adults, including one in five of those who say they are not religious, believe that they have been protected by a guardian angel during their life, according to a new survey by Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion.

"The survey polled 1,700 respondents of diverse religious faiths: evangelical Protestants, black Protestants, mainline Protestants, Catholics and Jews.

"Researchers found that a belief in guardian angels, affirmed by 55 percent of respondents, is a phenomenon that crosses religious, as well as regional and educational lines. "
Belief in angels is stronger than ever despite the so called 'Magical Revival', the New Age movement, and the rise of Eastern religions in the United States. Despite a slight drop in recent years, more Americans believe in angels in 2007 (75%) than they did in 1994 (72%) according to a Gallup poll. Whatever intention these beings have for us, it would seem that they shall weigh heavy on the popular consciousness for sometime.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

On Magick and Illumination

What is magick?

In recent years this is a question that has gained ever increasing relevancy within a certain segment of the populace. To the layman magick is still magic, a pleasing illusion for the entire family. In the underground, views can vary depending upon whether one approaches the topic from a 'right' or 'left' origin... I dislike bringing up these kinds of political labels as they no longer have any meaning in the 21st century, but for our purposes here they will have to do. Thus, the right leaning side of the underground will interrupt magick from a modern Christian world view that sees any such practice as evil. Conversely the left leaning side sees magick as the true predecessor to science, and thus a boon to humanity.

The later view has become particularly prevalent of late with the oft repeated Third Law of Clarke showing up in several major science fiction pieces, most notably The Box. It simply states: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

This is in keeping with a view stated by James Frazer in the The Golden Bough that magick was the predecessor to the scientific method:

"Wherever sympathetic magic occurs in its pure unadulterated form, it assumes that in nature one event follows another necessarily and invariably without the intervention of any spiritual or personal agency. Thus its fundamental conception is identical with that of modern science; underlying the whole system is a faith, implicit but real and firm, in the order and uniformity of nature. The magician does not doubt that the same causes will always produce the same effects, that the performance of the proper ceremony, accompanied by the appropriate spell, will inevitably be attended by the desired result, unless, indeed, his incantations should chance to be thwarted and foiled by the more potent charms of another sorcerer... Thus the analogy between the magical and the scientific conceptions of the world is close. In both of them the succession of events is perfectly regular and certain, being determined by immutable laws, the operation of which can be foreseen and calculated precisely; the elements of caprice, of chance, and of accident are banished from the course of nature. Both of them open up a seemingly boundless vista of possibilities to him who knows the cause of things and can touch the secret springs that set in motion the vast and intricate mechanism of the world. Hence the strong attraction which magic and science alike have exercised on the human mind; hence the powerful stimulus that both have given to the pursuit of knowledge.

"The fatal flaw of magic lies not in its general assumption of a sequence of events determined by law, but in its total misconception of the nature of the particular laws which govern that sequence... The principles of association are excellent in themselves, and indeed absolutely essential to the working of the human mind. Legitimately applied they yield science; illegitimately applied they yield magic, the bastard sister of science. It is therefore a truism, almost a tautology, to say that all magic is necessarily false and barren; for were it ever to become true and fruitful, it would no longer be magic but science. From the earliest times man has been engaged in a search for general rules whereby to turn the order of natural phenomena to his own advantage, and in the long search he has scraped together a great hoard of such maxims, some of them golden and some of them mere dross. The true or golden rule constitute the body of applied science which we call arts; the false are magic."
(The Golden Bough, pgs. 45-46)
Frazer is basically saying that while magic and science are closely related in practice, science is superior because it deals primarily with fixed natural laws. Of course, natural laws have become ever increasingly subjective things since the rise of physics, but that's another topic. The primary focus of magick is not with the physical world, but with the psychological -With reality. Science attempts to determine a fixed concept of reality. Magick attempts to bend the fabric of reality to the will of the magician.

To this end any number of tactics can employed that go well beyond those of ritual. For this reason most would be magicians, shamans, and the like would go through some form of initiation process that would simulate death and rebirth, this effectively rewiring the initiates' perception of reality.

"The essence of initiation... is death and rebirth. In puberty rites, the childish self dies that the adult self may live; the shaman is dismembered and resurrected, dying to his old bodily perspective and rising again with a new daimonic perspective. Many tribal peoples sanction 'secret socieities' whose purpose is to initiate adults into the mystery of death and rebirth via rites which are the same in kind as, but less extreme in degree than, shamanic initiation. This was the norm also in ancient Greece, where everyone who was anyone was initiated into the Mysteries which took place in Eleusis...

"...the kind of death associated with initiation. -the heart stopping sensation of having one's bodily perspective dismembered and turned around, of being wrenched out of literal reality, out of this world and the attachments to it. This can be a more painful death than physical death because it is the death of everything that we think of as ourselves. It is also the beginning of a new kind of self, a rebirth.

"Like initiates into the Mysteries... all shamans stress the terror of initiation, including even the encounter with their helping or tutelary spirits, who can appear fearsome. But, as an Australian shaman advised, power can be gained from the spirits as long as we are not intimidated into panicking. There is no indication, in other  words, that fear and pain are bad or wrong, as modern secular ideologies and psychotherapies tend to suggest. Dreams are full of fear and pain. So are myths. So are religions."
(Daimonic Reality, Patrick Harpur, pgs. 234-236)

More from Robert Anton Wilson:

"...I have undergone a number of occult initiations and have become aware of the basic similarity of such rituals in all traditions. This is the pattern of death-rebirth which even today appears symbolically in the Roman Catholic Mass and the Masonic 'raising' ceremony. The Investigator is betraying no secret when we say that, in serious occult orders, such performances are not mere rituals but real ordeals. Insofar as possible within the law, the candidate is often brought to a state of terror similar to the emergency condition of the nervous system in near-death crisis. What occurs then, and is experienced as rebirth, is a quantum jump in neurological awareness. In Leary's terminology, new circuits are formed and imprinted.

"Obviously, the first shamans had no teachers; they simply went through the illness-rebirth transition accidentally, as it were. Later, schools of shamans developed techniques (psychedelics, rituals of terror, yoga, etc.) to catapult the student into such experience. In most of those schools there is great reliance on an entity or entities of superhuman nature who aid in the initiatory process, sometimes for years."
(The Cosmic Trigger, pg. 139)

Once the magician had completed his initiation he then in turn would use the various tools of initiation to bend the reality of his adversaries. In his epic The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology the mythologist Joseph Campbell recounts the use of terror amongst several Eskimo shamans to manipulate the community around them:

" Nome, an old scalawag named Najagneq, who had just been released from a year in jail for having killed seven or eight members of his community. In his distant village, Najagneq had made a fortress of his house and from there, alone, had waged war with the whole of his tribe -and against the whites too -until he had been taken by stratagem by the captain of a ship and brought to Nome. He was held in jail there until ten witnesses of his killings could be fetched from his settlement; but when these were confronted with him they dropped their charges, much as they would have liked to see him done away with. His small piercing eyes roamed about wildly, and his jaw hung in a bandage that was much to slack, a man who tried to kill him having injured his face. And when the ten men who wold have accused him met his look in the witness box, they lowered their eyes in shame...
"Najagneq's powers of imagination had been stimulated in the big town of Nome. Although knowing nothing except earth huts, sledges and kayaks, he was not at all impressed by the large houses, the steamers and the motor-cards. But he had been fascinated by the sight of a white horse hauling a big lorry. So he now told his astonished fellow villagers that the white men in Nome had killed him ten times that winter, but that he had ten white horses as helping spirits, and he had sacrificed them one by one and thus saved his life.

"This man of 'ten-horse-power' had authority in his speech, and he completely swayed those to whom he spoke. He had conceived a curious feeling of mild goodness for Dr. Rasmussen, and when they were alone together he was not afraid to admit that he had pulled the legs of his countrymen somewhat. He was no humbug, but a solitary man accustomed to hold his own against many and therefore had to have his little tricks."
(pgs. 52-53)

No reason is given for why Najagneq would begin killing his fellow villagers other than power -His ability to wage a successful war against his own tribe single-handily while escaping the legal system of the whites seemingly convinced others of his supernatural powers. Thus, surrounded by the modern world, a tribal world view prevailed amongst Najagneq's people. This is but a primitive example of psychological warfare, and a very successful one at that.

From time to time on this blog I have tried to draw attention to the similarities between magicians and intelligence officers. This is a concept that is virtually impossible for the layman and even many in the underground to wrap their heads around. Yet many of the most famous magicians of the modern era, including John Dee and Aleister Crowley, were themselves intelligence assets. The overlap between the occult and the secret services has always been great and has arguably grown even closer in the 20th century. Many of the recent 'cutting-edge' techniques of the intelligence community were, in fact, derived from the occult.

"All of these techniques -hallucinogenic drugs, hypnosis, acts of terrorism, disinformation -share an ontological purpose: to manipulate perceptions, tor-create reality. As we noted above, the German word for psychological warfare translates as 'worldview  warfare': a battle of perceptions, of consensus realities... As the men of the OSS, CIA, and military intelligence developed from the armchair scholars and academics that most of them were before the war years into soldiers fighting the Cold War on fronts  all over the world, they became -in a very real sense -magicians. As we will see, the CIA mind control projects themselves represented an assault on consciousness and reality that has not been seen in history since the age of the philosopher-kings and their court alchemists."
(Sinister Forces -Book One: The Nine, Peter Levenda, pg. 144)

Levenda is perhaps being to modest -what the magicians of the CIA accomplished in the 1960s was one of the greatest magical workings of any era in terms of the reality shift in brought about. I have already written extensively on the shift here and here in terms of the spread of entheogens and propaganda, respectively. With these things in addition to the spread of occult arts in the 1960s a most profound consciousness shift underway indeed. Writing in the 1970s, researcher John Keel proclaimed:

"We are witnessing a world wide phenomenon today: mass illumination of millions of people, particularly young (under thirty) men and women in all walks of life. This process is quite well understood but never openly discussed in the mass media... Illumination is basically a sudden, overwhelming insight into the whole structure of the cosmos and man's relationship to it. Suddenly, for a few brief seconds, the percipient understands everything with incredible clarity. In some cases the process occurs over a long period in the form of short flashes of insight that gradually add up. In others it takes place instantaneously with the percipient seemingly bathed in a reddish glow or caught in a beam of brilliant white light cast down from the skies (thus we have the ancient phrase, 'He has seen the light').

"No one is ever exactly the same after an illuminating experience. Mediocre men become great leaders, preachers, statesmen, scientists, poets, and writers overnight! Others divorce their spouses, quit their jobs, and embark on new careers that catapult them into unexpected prominence. Some fear for their sanity at first because their experience is so overwhelming. Some are unable to cope with it and disintegrate into various kinds of fanatics."
(Our Haunted Planet, pg. 201)

The prospect of mass illumination was something that individuals from the 1960s counterculture such as Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary hailed as the next stage of human evolution.

"Thus far, there have been two alternative explanations of why the Drug Revolution happened. The first is presented in a sophisticated way by anthropologist Weston LaBarre, and in an ignorant, moralistic way by most anti-drug propaganda in the schools and the mass media. This explanation says, in essence, that millions have turned away from the legal down drugs to illegal high drugs because we are living in troubled times and many are seeking escape into fantasy.

"This theory, at its best, only partially explains the ugliest and most publicized aspects of the revolution -the reckless drug abuse characteristic of the immature. It says nothing about the millions of respectable doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc who have turned away from second circuit intoxication with booze to fifth circuit rapture with weed.

"A more plausible theory, devised by psychiatrist Norman Zinberg out of the work of Marshal McLuhan, holds that modern electronic media have so shifted the nervous system's parameters that young people no longer enjoy 'linear' drugs like alcohol and find meaning only in 'non-linear' weed and psychedelics."
(The Cosmic Trigger Volume One, pg. 207)

Given the current state of affairs, Wilson's theories don't seem to have much merit. Wilson assumed that the drive for self illumination would be so overwhelming in most drug users that they would eventually move on to a purer pursuit of knowledge. Clearly, many prefer to remain mired in hedonism. Using Leary's 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness theorized that we were moving up the chain from more bodily drugs (alcohol, opiates, etc) to those that primarily enhanced the mind (weed, psychedelics, etc). For a time this indeed seemed to be the case, but with the rise of prescription med use in the 90s it seems that we are reverting back to the bodily state. Even when factoring in the ecstasy scene it seems numbness is a greater pursuit for many drug users than illumination.

Further, even when one uses entheogens and other aspects of the occult for self illumination there's no guarantee that something positive will come from this. In fact it can be quite dangerous as Wilson himself, recounting Aleister Crowley's advice, acknowledges:

"Other Crowley exercises the author tried are not described here, because they are too dangerous for ordinary or casual experimenters. Crowley always insisted that nobody should try his more advanced techniques without (a) being in excellent physical health, (b) being competent in at least one athletic skill, (c) being able to conduct experiments accurately in at least one science, (d) having a general knowledge of several sciences, (e) being able to pass examination in formal logic and (f) being able to pass an examination in the history of philosophy, including Idealism, Materialism, Rationalism, Spiritualism, Comparative Theology, etc. Without that kind of general knowledge and the self-confidence and independence of thought produced by such study, magick investigation will merely blow your mind. As Brad Steiger has said, the lunatic asylums are full of people who naively set out to study the occult before they had any real competence in dealing with the ordinary."
(The Cosmic Trigger, pg. 72)

For those of you wondering why various secret services would deliberately spread the tools of illumination, there you have it. Historically illumination followed an extensive period of initiation which, as previously stated, was quite terrifying. In most societies, only certain individuals were selected to even attempt the process of initiation, to say nothing of dabbling in the occult arts. In priest driven societies, such as ones of the Near East and Europe in antiquity, typically only individuals of substance were initiated into the Mysteries. In the shamanic tradition the world over normally anyone could be initiated, though typically they were only taught the greater secrets if they showed a particular talent for the spiritual. In both cases initiation was treated with great seriousness and much spiritual training, especially in regards to the dangers.

In the modern era, with the Drug Revolution and the Magical Revival in play, no such training is typically available. And rarely are individuals who experiment in these areas serious about what they are getting themselves into. Thus, the illumination achieved is typically a false one, and this can be even more dangerous than ignorance. John Keel states:

"But as in all aspects of the general phenomenon, there seem to be other forces imitating this process and producing false illumination. Young people experimenting with LSD and other hallucinogens sometimes have experiences that they believe are contacts with the Cosmic Consciousness but which ultimately prove to be destructive. Charles Manson is a good example of this. Some LSD users do, however, appear to undergo a pure form of illuminism, but it is likely that they were already illumination-prone and would have had the experience eventually anyway."
(Our Haunted Planet, pg. 202) 

Indeed, Manson is a fine example of what can wrong with false illumination, as I've chronicled link here and here. And given the ever growing rise in serial killers, spree shootings, the copycat effect, and so forth, it seems the fall out of false illumination is beginning to come to a boil. Just a little over a month ago we witnessed another in a long line of mysterious assassins, this time in the form of Jared Lee Loughner.

Many in the underground have speculated that Loughner was some kind of Manchurian Candidate, but as I noted in a prior article, I can find no overt evidence of this. The most striking thing to Loughner is that there is so little mystery -he was an angry individual that began to dabble in entheogens and the occult for the wrong reasons. In the process he achieved some degree of illumination, but because of the baggage he brought with me, simply deteriorated mentally to point where he became the animal the Cryptocracy desires. Well, there probably is more mystery than that - I do believe something touched him during his inititation -but that is beyond the scope of this article.

Robert Anton Wilson, obviously a great proponent of reprogramming, acknowledges that he was well prepared for this process by undergoing several psychotherapies in his 20s. While he never states it, I also suspect that having a wife and several children -a strong family network in other words -also greatly stabilized his illumination process. The greatest challenge to illumination for many individuals seems to be coping with the social alienation that a distinct world view can bring with it. Without the kind of friend and family network that Wilson and the like possessed it can be incredibly destructive, as our modern prison system and mental wards are a testament too.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Hitchhiker Vanishes

The vanishing hitchhiker is one of those urban legends that appears the world over and has so since at least the 19th century. Author Patrick Harpur elaborates:

"Twenty-five years ago it was well known locally where I lived that a stretch of the London to Guildford road was haunted by a ghost. A fellow I knew knew a fellow whose uncle picked up a young girl hitchhiking on this stretch of road -only to find that she had vanished from the car. I didn't know then what I know now, namely that this is a tale which is repeated all over the world, with only slight variations...

"In other variants of the story the girl is a woman. Sometimes she leaves some 'physical evidence' behind in the car -a book, purse, sweater, scarf, etc. which subsequently identifies her as a dead person. She can be a girl to whom someone gives a lift home from a club or dance. She asks to be dropped at the cemetery and is never seen again. A popular American variant makes the girl a nun who cryptically predicts some event such as the end of a war before disappearing. In these versions she is sometimes Christianized, no longer a ghost but an angel. Sometimes she is a man, particularly (for some reason) if the driver is a woman."
(Daimonic Reality, pgs. 109-110)
My home state of West Virginia has several variations on this tale, complete with names. The following tale occurs in 1933 during the Great Depression and involves a traveling salesman named Hank Collier who is attempting to navigate the back roads of the WV during a heavy rain when he encounters a certain someone:

"Late one afternoon, Hank was making his way along a rutted dirt road when he saw a young woman ahead waving at him. She was bundled in a heavy coat, and he could barely make out her pretty features as the rain washed across his windshield. But Hank was a gentleman, and he could not pass by the woman without offering to help her. Stopping the car in the middle of the road so that he would not get mired down, he rolled down his window and offered the young woman a ride. She promptly accepted it...

"For a man in Hank's line of work, detours were a hindrance. Delays cost him both time and gas, but what he minded most about detours was getting lost. The young woman beside him chatted amiably while he drove. He asked her if she knew how to get around the washed-out bridge, and she gladly volunteered to direct him. She told him her name was Ida Crawford, and she lived in a house not far away. She quickly routed him around the washed-out bridge and down yet another old road that led them back to the highway. Once they were on a paved highway again, it did not take long for her to direct him to her home. It was growing dark by the time he pulled into her driveway, so Hank said a quick good-bye and hurried on his way. He paid little attention to the young woman as she got out and ran toward the house."
(Haunted West Virginia, Patty Wilson, pgs. 58-59)
Ole Hank stops at a grocery store a few miles down the road where the inevitable group of old timers set him straight on the events that just unfolded:

"The old man eyed his friends sharply before he began his story, and someone pushed a chair in Hank's direction. Hank grabbed the back of the chair but did not sit down. He felt as though he were pinned to the floor.

"The old man rubbed his chin as if choosing his words carefully. 'Well, Ida Crawford grew up around here about twenty-five years ago. She was a pretty little thing just like you described her, with long blonde hair, big brown eyes, and a smile that just made you want to smile right back. She used to drive around in a little buggy that her pap had made her. It was about this time of year when she had her accident. Just like this year, the spring melt and the spring rains came at the same time, and all the creeks and streams were flooded. Ida was on her way home from visiting a friend when she came to that bridge was under so much stress. She drove her little buggy out on the middle of the bridge, and then the bridge collapsed. They found part of the carriage downstream, but no one ever did find Ida's body. A couple years went by, and then a young fella came through here and told a story just like yours. He said that he had been driving along the road during a flood, and Ida flagged him down. He offered her a ride and she showed him the detour that she showed you today. He took her home, too, only to find out later that she'd been dead a couple of years.

"'There was one other fella after that whom Ida also helped. Anytime that bridge washes out, she seems to keep a sharp eye out for folks who might get hurt on it. Son, you are the third fellow that Ida has saved from that washed-out bridge."
(ibid, pg. 60)
In shock, Hank heads back to the house where he dropped Ida at. He finds that it is abandoned and has been for some time, with not so much as a squatter within. It's interesting to note that the appearances of Ira Crawford are tied to the seasons (the spring rains) as have been numerous Fortean events. After a quick Google search I was able to find no mention of Miss Crawford. I'm sure that there are other accounts of this haunting as well as investigations, but the names probably varies as a suitable spirit is found to justify the notion of a 'ghost.'

So, is this vanishing hitchhiker simply an urban legend? Patrick Harpur does not take such a simplistic view.

"The strange ambiguous nature of the folk tales as not-quite-fact, yet not-exactly-fiction is admirably encapsulated in the 'friend-of-a-friend' convention which distances us from the alleged event, but not too remotely. It expresses the in-between nature of the tales -which sometimes turn out to be even trickier than we thought. For instance, just as we can definitely say that the 'Vanishing Hitchhiker' is too widespread (it appears in many different cultures) to be 'true' and, moreover, is certainly very old (it appears in the nineteenth century, where a horse and cart replace the car)...

"We cannot know whether the Vanishing Hitchhiker motif began with some apparitional event such as this, or whether such an event occurred because it somehow crystallized out of a current fiction, a 'vanity,' or 'legend hanging in the air.' We cannot know the truth as to whether folklore is fact or fiction because the truth does not lie in this distinction, but elsewhere. Like the daimonic reality itself, 'folklore is never literally true, but it may always be fundamentally true.' It eschews 'either-or' distinctions and embraces the 'both-and.' It spans the gap between fact and fiction, just as daimons span this world and some other. Unlike myths which relate the archetypal deeds and patterns of a divine world, only touching upon our world where the humans are already semi-divine heroes, folklore's protagonists are ordinary humans who encounter daimonic persons or events..."
(Daimoic Reality, pg. 112-113)
It's possible the origins of the Vanishing Hitchhiker tale are even older than what Harpur is implying. Since as far back as antiquity peoples have attached supernatural elements to travelers, in some cases believing that they are their gods in disguise and taking great pains to treat them well along the road.

But not all cases of the Vanishing Hitchhiker are lacking in earthly origins... In some cases there have been well documented deaths surrounding such an apparition. Such a case also appears in West Virginia, near the small town of Logan. But before we address the murder of Mamie Thurman, we must also address the especially bloody history of this region of West Virginia in which these events unfolded.

Logan is located in the southwestern region of the WV, in what is known as the Metro Area. It is here we find a bloody history indeed. It all began with Chief Cornstalk, a Shawnee leader in the mid-18th century who became entangled in the American Revolution along with the rest of his people. The Shawnee wished to side with the English, but Chief Cornstalk attempted to negotiate with the colonists at Fort Randolph. There Cornstalk, along with his son and another chief, Red Hawk, were taken hostage and held for several months. Eventually a soldier was found scalped outside the fort and the other soldiers, bent on revenge, went after Cornstalk and his companions. As the Chief lay dying he supposedly placed a curse upon the lands and its peoples.

Some of the most brutal campaigns of the Revolutionary War as well as the numerous Indian Wars the proceeded and followed the Revolution were conducted in this region of West Virginia. A century later and a bit further south, along the West Virginia/Kentucky border, the infamous Hatfield/McCoy feud would be played out:

"...On January 7, 1865, young Harmon McCoy -discharged from the locally unpopular Union Army on Christmas Eve, 1864 due to war wounds -had been murdered in his hiding place by men loyal to the Confederate Hatfields.

"Then, in 1878, Randolph McCoy, while visiting a Kentucky Hatfield, spotted what he believed was one of his pigs. McCoy accused Hatfield of stealing his pig, and the two went to court. A key witness testified that the pig was, indeed, property of the Hatfields, and they won the case. The witness was slain by the McCoys a few months later. Tensions rose.

"In the spring of 1880, Johnson Hatfield met Roseanna McCoy at a party at the home of one of the Kentucky Hatfields. They immediately eloped, Roseanna being taken to the Hatfield home in West Virginia. Their romance was doomed to failure, however, as everyone opposed it from both sides of the Tug River...

"The spring elections of 1882... were the scene of another hideous murder. Roseanna McCoy's brother -Tolbert, Pharmer and Bud -stabbed Ellison Hatfield twenty-six times and then shot him in the back. No one knows why. The three brothers were then themselves murdered only a few days later: executed, while tied to bushes, to the sound of their mother's screams.

"And on it went, claiming a total of thirteen lives and numerous beatings, burnings, woundings, and other damage across the border between the two states. Finally, Kentucky officials under command of Frank Philips invaded West Virginia in 1888 and captured nine Hatfields, bringing them back to stand trial. Several Hatfields had attacked the McCoy home, burning it to the ground after killing two McCoys they found there on New Year's Day, 1888. Eventually, the nine prisoners were brought back to Kentucky, stood trial, and some received the death penalty. The feud was officially over."
(Sinister Forces Book One, Peter Levenda, pgs. 105-106)

As an interesting side note, as the Hatfield/McCoy feud was unfolding along the Kentucky/West Virginia border another tragedy was unfolding in border town of Ashland, Kentucky. Generally referred to as the Ashland Tragedy, it involved the brutal murders of three local teens on December 23rd, 1881 in which they were torn apart with axes. The circus that followed, in which three men -William Neal, Ellis Craft, and George Ellis -were accused of the brutal murders was another fine display of frontier justice. Ellis himself was ultimately lynched in Ashland after receiving a mere life sentence. State militia was called on several occasions to ensure the safety of the prisoners, which nearly resulted in full scale pitched battles with the locals on several occasions. Needless to say, much debate still rages over the actual guilt of Neal, Craft, and Ellis as well as the shocking brutality of the killings of the Gibbons teens near the winter solstice.

Ashland remains a cursed spot to this day -Charles Manson himself was born in Ashland while another notorious serial killer, Bobby Joe Long, was born directly across the river in Kenova, West Virginia.

A Hatfield would sit on the jury of one of the accused Ashland killers. The Hatfield name would continue to play a major role in this area of the country into the next century as well. The significant Hatfield was Sid Hatfield, the Police Chief of Matewan, West Virginia. Sid was not apparently related to the infamous Hatfield clan but that didn't stop him of boasting of a relation.

Matewan was a mining town largely controlled by the Stone Mountain Coal Corporation. In the early 1920s it became a battle ground for the growing labor movement. To this end, the notorious Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency (who had been involved in the Ludlow Massacre) were dispatched to bring the miners back in line. Sid Hatfield sided with the miners and led the opposition against Baldwin-Felts. Things came to a head on May 19th, 1920, when 13 heavily armed Baldwin-Felts detectives (including Albert and Lee Felts) headed into town. They were met by about 50 miners under the command of Hatfield. The Battle of Matewan ended up being pretty one sided -the miners easily won, leaving seven detectives dead, including both Felt brothers.

Hatfield was eventually charged with murder and then acquitted in Welch, West Virginia. Afterwards he was assassinated on the courthouse steps by a Baldwin-Felts undercover agent named C.E. Lively. Lively was himself acquitted after claiming self-defense in the shooting of the unarmed Hatfield.

These events ultimately led to the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest armed insurrection in US history outside of the Civil War in which 10,000 to 15,000 miners went to war with an assortment of local and state police, and eventually the US Army itself. It also marks the only time the US Air Force has ever (officially) fired on US citizens. The Battle of Blair Mountain is one of those incidents of history that has largely been ignored by mainstream historians for obvious reasons. A full account of the conflict is well beyond the scope of this article, but hopefully I can return to this topic at a later date. For now, I can only send you toward the Wikipedia entry for more information.

Naturally this area of the country became entangled in one of the most bizarre sequences of Fortean events in this nation's history. The events unfolded at Point Pleasant, a town near the site where Chief Cornstalk was murdered. The origins of Point Pleasant stretch back to George Washington himself, who first encountered the site in 1770.

"On October 24th, 1770, Washington had camped out at a more obvious choice for a house, on a broad terrace at the mouth of the Great Kanawha River, a place already hallowed by the ruins a large ancient Indian settlement. His descendants made use of it during the nineteenth century, calling it point Pleasant. It had been his chief experimental station in western colonization, where potatoes, turnips, and corn were raised amid the two thousand peach trees he caused to be planted."
(Hidden Cities, Roger Kennedy, pg. 103)

Given how much attention Point Pleasant has drawn over the years from Fortean researchers, I find it rather remarkable that the mysterious Indian ruins there as well as involvement of the Freemason Washington in the town's founding, along with the continued involvement of his family there, have largely been neglected. Regardless, the true landmark of Point Pleasant is undoubtedly the legendary Mothman, which began to appear there in 1966.

"The basic outline of the story is that, on November 15, 1966, a strange creature was sighted about ten miles north of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. It was seen at night, was about six-seven feet tall, with what appeared to be wings folded against its back. It seemed to be male, and the most startling diameter, six inches apart on its face. It was clearly not completely human, according to the eye witnesses..., but walked upright like a man. Thus was the legend of the Mothman born.

"Accompanying the sightings of Mothman were strange electrical disturbances, such as bizarre patterns on television sets, phones ringing with either no one at the other end or a kind of strange buzzing sound, plus weird warbles on police radios, etc. The thing actually seemed to fly, and in at least one instance was known to have chased a car full of people, and in another a Red Cross bloodmobile filled with whole blood on its way to Huntington... The sightings began to take place quite regularly all up and down the mound-ridden stretch of the Ohio River -from Marietta, Parkersburg and points south -but centered on the town of Point Pleasant.

"Exactly thirteen months later, to the day, the sightings abruptly stopped. Everyone in Point pleasant remembers the date -December 15th, 1967 -because that is also the date of the Silver Bride disaster, the worst bridge disaster in American history. The bridge, spanning the Ohio River between West Virginia and Ohio, was full of cars and trucks at rush hour, people buying Christmas presents or going to and from company Christmas parties or just trying to get home. At 5:04 P.M. the bridge collapsed, causing vehicles and the people inside them to plummet to the icy river below. Forty-six people died, more than sixty vehicles were lost to the river. Two persons were never found.

"And the mothman was seen no more after that day."
(Sinister Forces Book One, Peter Levenda, pgs. 89-90) 

I must say, I find the recurrence of the number 13 in this area of West Virginia especially interesting -13 people were killed in the Hatfield/McCoy feud, 13 Baldwin-Felts agents were involved in the Battle of Matewan, and the Mothman graced Point Pleasant for 13 months. All of this occurred around a region of the country filled with ancient Indian mounds, of which I have written much more on here as well as the peculiar history of West Virginia.

And now, at long last, we return to the Vanishing Hitchhiker.

For the final portion of this rambling diatribe we turn our attention to Logan, West Virginia, another community within the Metro Area that happens to be located roughly between Matewan and Blair and little over a hundred miles south of Point Pleasant and 80 some miles south of Ashland, KY. It was here in 1932 that the ghastly murder of Mamie Thurman occurred.

"Mamie was the wife of local patrolman Jack Thurman. She was a thirty-one-year-old dark-haired beauty with a sense of style. She was active in her church, had a lot of friends, and seemed to know many prominent businesspeople. Everyone was stunned when a young deaf-mute named Garland Davis found Mamie's body on a local mountain. Davis was picking berries on June 22 when he came upon her body on the side of Trace Mountain. She was a gruesome sight. Clad in a dark blue polka-dot dress, she still wore one shoe, and the other lay nearby. Her throat was slit from ear to ear, her neck was broken, she had a severe crack in her skull, and she had been shot twice at close range with a .38-caliber gun on the left side of her head. Someone had obviously wanted Mamie Thurman dead.

"The police arrested a prominent local banker and political figure named Harry Robinson and his African American handyman, Clarence Stephenson. Soon the whole town was in an uproar, and rumors circulated that Robinson and Mamie had been having an affair...

"...On the day of Mamie's funeral, the state police executed a search of the Robinson home. In the basement, they found a small bundle of bloody rags and several bloody spots on the floor that had been quickly wiped up. Attempts had been made to hide what appeared to have been a bloody mess. They also found a razor and a small hole in the wall that looked like a bullet hole. Later a chemist determined that the blood found on the rags and in the basement was human blood, but blood analysis was not yet allowed in courtroom testimony, so the jury never heard it...

"Harry Robinson finally testified during his indictment hearing that he had been carrying on an affair with Mamie Thurman for more than two years. He stated that they often conducted the affair at an area club called the Key Club, where many prominent men and their secret lady friends met. Robinson went on to further besmirch Mamie's reputation, saying that he had been given a list of sixteen names of men with whom she had recurring affairs. He said that he had continued to have an affair with Mamie despite the fact that she had refused to give up the other men."
(Haunted West Virginia, Patty Wilson, pgs. 28-30)

Robinson was later acquitted while the black handyman, Clarence Stephenson, eventually took the fall for Thurman's murder. Needless to say, many have questioned this out come. More information on the Thurman murder can be found here.

While the secret society in this story, the Key Club, is typically dismissed as nothing more than a gentleman's club, the date and fashion of Mamie's death indicate that the Masons, or a like organization, was behind the Key Club. Supposedly one of the penalties for revealing the secrets of Freemasonry is to have one's throat slit, as well as having your tongue pulled out and having your body buried by the sea at low tide.

Mamie kept her tongue, but it's difficult to say what became of her body as its been missing for some time.

"Mortuary and cemetery records validate that she originally was interred at the Logan Memorial Park Cemetery in McConnell. The same funeral parlor also has record of payment to disinter Mamie years later and move her body to Crawfordsville, Kentucky, where her family came from. But there is no record of her ever being reburied anywhere in, around, or near Crawfordsville. Today no one knows what happened to her body."
(ibid, pg. 31)
Apparently the sum of money paid to acquire Mamie's body from the Logan Cemetery was quite considerable -a $1000 -and paid by a local business man. It's also interesting to note that her death occurred on June 21st, which in some cultures is considered to be Midsummer's Night Eve. The typical date is June 23rd, but the summer solstice can occur anywhere between June 20th till the 23rd. According to this link, the summer solstice occurred on June 21st in 1932.

So to recap, we have a woman seemingly murdered in quasi-Masonic fashion by powerful business peoples involved in some kind of secret society during the summer solstice. It's a rather apt symbol for this region of the country, if nothing else... But something tells me the rituals here, as in most other events that occurred around here, go far deeper. And of course, some kind of entity would have to mark this bloody rite. And what better than that of the Vanishing Hitchhiker?

"It would seem that Mamie was unhappy with how the courts handled her death as well. It wasn't long after the case was considered closed that stories started to surface about ghostly sightings and weird happenings on the mountain. People claimed to see the figure of a woman in a polka-dot dress walking along the road near where Mamie's body was so callously discarded. Others tell a tale that sounds like an old urban legend, of drivers offering a lift to a woman who appeared to want a ride to town, only to have her disappear before leaving the mountain. Bus drivers who traveled the route from Holden to a town on the other side of the mountain claimed to pick up a woman in a remote stretch of the road late at night, but when they arrived at the town her seat was always empty."
(Ghost Stories of the Appalachians, Susan Smitten, pg. 189)

Is this wraith some kind of fragment of Mamie Thurman? Or is this Vanishing Hitchhiker simply a marker of the bloody deeds performed in this area of West Virginia? I am not a big believer in 'ghosts' as I outlined in a prior article on macrobes. I suspect this ghost is more a projection/manifestation of the horror and ritual this area endured, not unlike some of the paranormal sightings we have witnessed thus far during the North African/Arabic protests.