Sunday, October 30, 2011

Religion, the Scarlet Woman and Dope Part I

Regular readers know that I am quite fascinated with the role drugs have played in shaping our myths, both ancient and modern. I daresay I am not alone either. In fact, many that have found this blog have seemingly found it while searching for drug-related material -by far my most popular post is one dealing with the links between entheogens and paranormal encounters.

Drugs are one of those things that inspire radical passions in individuals whether they be for or against. I am sure many of you are aware of the radical division in ideology between the pro and anti drug factions in the US. An equally radical division exists between many historians, mythologists, anthropologist, social scientists, and the like, but in regards to the importance of drugs in human development. In many of those fields drugs were almost entirely ignored up to the mid-20th century in terms of human and religious development. When they were mentioned by researchers they were largely held up as signs of a declining culture that had replace 'purer' spiritual practices. Then beginning in the late 1950s researchers such as R. Gordon Wasson began examining the role certain drugs played in the development of our social structures, especially religion. By the late 20th century researchers such as Terence McKenna were speculating that the evolution of the human brain were almost entirely the result of psychedelic drugs.
"My contention is that mutation-causing, psyoactive chemical compounds in the early human diet directly influenced the rapid reorganization of the brain's information-processing capacities. Alkaloids in plants, specifically the hallucinogenic compounds such as psilocybin, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and harmaline, could be the chemical factors in the protohuman diet that catalyzed the emergence of human self-reflection. The action of hallucinogens present in many common plants enhanced our information-processing activity, or environmental sensitivity, and thus contributed to the sudden expansion of the human brain size. At a later stage in this same process, hallucinogens acted as catalysts in the development of imagination, fueling the creation of internal stratagems and hopes that may well have synergized the emergence of language and religion."
(Food of the Gods, Terence McKenna, pg. 24)

Drugs are no doubt important, but to what extent? I am not a big fan of McKenna and feel that his theories put an over emphasis on the importance of drugs to all of human development. On the other hand, I do feel that drugs were instrumental in the development of religion and mythology. This article seeks to examine the uses of various drugs in the earliest stages of religion and their implications. But first, we must examine what types of religion early human practiced. And we also must search for the legendary Scarlet woman, who is one of the major keys to this whole puzzle. So, we begin...

In his legendary The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology Joseph Campbell broke early civilizations and their religious practices down into three stages of development. The first stage was marked by a curious equality and openness the more complex societies would largely forgo.
"...these humble hunting, fishing, and collecting people do not give rise to either a strong patriarchal or a strong a strong matriarchal emphasis; rather, an essential equality prevails between the sexes, each performing its appropriate task without arrogating to itself any special privileges or peculiar rights to command. The ceremonies of initiation at puberty are not confined to the boys and men, nor separated into male and female rites, but are nearly identical for the two sexes. Nor do the rites involve any physical deformations or the communication of mystical secrets. They are simply concentrated courses of education for adolescents, to the end of making good fathers and mother of the initiates."
(pg. 319)
This first stage is about as close to the so called 'Golden Age' that the ancients were found of reminiscing upon. It is with the second two stages of development that we are most concerned with.
"The second stage or type of primitive society... is that of the large, totemistic hunting groups, with their elaborately developed clan systems, age classes, and tribal traditions of ritual and myth... Their rites of initiation... are secret. Women are excluded; physical mutilations and ordeals are carried sometimes to almost incredible extremes, and they culminate generally in circumcision. Moreover, there is considerable emphasis placed on the role and authority of the men, both in the religious and in the political organizations of the symbolically articulated community...
"... A very different course of development is to be traced, however, in the sphere of the tropical gardening cultures, where a third type or stage of social organization matured that was almost completely antithetical to that of the hunting peoples. For in these areas it was the women, not the men, who enjoyed the magico-religious and social advantages, they having been the ones to effect the transition from plant-collecting to plant-cultivation... Here it was women who showed themselves supreme: they were not only the bearers of children but also the chief producers of food. By realizing that it was possible to cultivate, as well as to gather, vegetables, they had made the earth valuable and they became, consequently, its possessors. Thus they won both economic and social power and prestige, and the complex of the matriarchy took form."
(ibid, pgs. 319-320)

Essentially the two dominate types of social structures early humans found themselves living under were those of the hunter-gatherers and the agriculturally based societies.
"Hunting and gathering societies are typically much smaller than those based on agriculture, and the lives of the hunter-gathers are marked by greater contingency. They need to be mobile, to move to find game and avoid famine. Unlike agricultural societies, hunter-gatherers are unable to stockpile large caches of food to tide them over lean years. They are more dependent upon the vagaries of nature. Agriculture requires long-term planning and care of crops over a period of months, unlike hunting parties that might be a few hours or days long. Thus hunter-gatherer societies are typified by greater instability, fluidity, uncertainty, and more contact with the wilderness; they are perhaps more part of nature than separate from it, and they participate in it more than trying to control it. Agricultural societies are less mobile; they exert more control over nature and are less subject to its vagaries."
(The Trickster and the Paranormal, George P. Hansen, pg. 98)

As noted above, the former tended to be patriarchal while the later was matriarchal. Environment seemingly played a large role in which type of social structure humans found themselves living under, for hunting based societies usually occurred in colder climates while agriculturally based ones were more likely to occur amongst peoples near the equator. To me one of the more striking differences between these two social structures is the role of the individual.
"The highest concern of all the mythologies, ceremonials, ethical systems, and social organizations of the agriculturally based societies has been the suppressing the manifestation of individualism; and this has been generally achieved by compelling or persuading people to identify themselves not with their own interests, intuitions, or modes of experience, but with archetypes of behavior and systems of sentiment developed and maintained in the public domain. A world vision derived from the lessons of the plants, representing the individual as a mere cell or moment in a larger process -that of the sib, the race, or, in larger terms, the species -so devaluates even the first signs of personal spontaneity that every impulse to self-discovery is purged away...
"In the paleolithic hunter's world, where the groups were comparatively small -hardly more than forty or fifty individuals -the social pressures were far less severe than in the later, larger, differentiated and systematically coordinated long-established villages and cities. And the advantages to the group lay rather in the fostering than in the crushing out of impulse."
(The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, Joseph Campbell, pgs. 240-241)

The role of the individual in these types of societies seems crucial to the type of religious structure the society will ultimately reflect. Thus, the dominate religious authority in hunter-gatherer societies is the shaman, while the priest reigns supreme in agriculturally based civilizations.
"...shamans are typified by use of altered states of consciousness... in which they command spirits to do their bidding, and they display a variety of paranormal powers. Divination, healing, and finding game animals through magical means are primary activities of the shaman. They come to their vocations after involuntary visions, serious illness, or vision quests. These individuals are typically part-time practitioners who also assist with their tribes' subsistence efforts. They generally hold high status in their societies and are regarded as healthy, charismatic leaders. Shamans are found in hunting and gathering societies with no social class and little or no political hierarchy beyond the local level...
"Priests make little or no use of altered states of consciousness for their endeavors. Much of their work involves ritual, worship, and propitiation of the gods. They have no control over spirits. Priests are selected through social inheritance or political appointment and are generally full-time professionals who enjoy high social and economic status. Their profession typically has hierarchically ranked positions. Priests are found in agricultural societies with political integration beyond the local level."
(The Trickster and the Paranormal, George P. Hansen, pgs. 98-100)

I'm not crazy about Hansen's definition of the priest, especially in regards to altered states of consciousness, but it will have to do for now. Here's a bit more on the contrasts between the priest and shaman:
"The contrast between the two world views may be seen more sharply by comparing the priest and the shaman. The priest is the socially initiated, ceremonially inducted member of a recognized religious organization, where he holds a certain rank and functions as the tenant of an office that was held by others before him, while the shaman is one who, as a consequence of a personal psychological crisis, has gained a certain power of his own. The spiritual visitants who came to him in vision had never been seen before by any other; they were his particular familiars and protectors. The masked gods of the Pueblos, on the other hand, the corn-gods, and the cloud gods, served by societies of strictly organized and very orderly priests, are the well-known patrons of the entire village and have been prayed to and represented in the ceremonial dances since time out of mind."
(The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, Joseph Campbell, pg. 230)
A most curious development of the priesthoods of agriculturally based societies are the secret lodges or secret societies that seem to flourish therein.
"... the ceremonials of these secret lodges are to be distinguished radically from those of the hunting-tribe initiations, their psychological function being different and their history different too. Admission to them is through election and is generally limited: they are not for all. Moreover, they tend to be propagandist, reaching beyond the local tribe, seeking friends and members among alien people... As already noted, a particular stress is given in these secret men's societies to a skull cult that is often associated with the headhunt. Ritual cannibalism and pederasty are commonly practiced, and there is a highly elaborated use made of symbolic drums and masks. Ironically (yet by no means illogically), the most prominent divinities of these lodges are frequently female, even the Supreme Being itself being imagined as a Great Mother; and in the mythology and ritual lore of this goddess a lunar imagery is developed..."
(ibid, pg. 321)

in the ancient world many of these secret lodges were also known as the Mystery schools

This blog has dealt with ancient examples of decapitation as a ritual before here. Overall, the approach toward sacrifices is one of the most striking differences between hunter based civilizations and those centered around agriculture. As one may image, sacrifice in hunter based societies revolves around the killing of animals.
"The hunt itself, therefore, is a rite of sacrifice, sacred, and not a rawly secular affair... The proper sacrifice for the hunter is the animal itself, which through its death and return represents the play of the permanent substance or essence in the shadow-world of accident and chance. One may hear in the chant of the dancing buffalo, therefore -slow and solemn, ponderous and deliberate, as is fitting to such great beasts..."
(ibid, pg. 293)
In agriculturally based societies, the sacrifices were typically human beings.
"It has been shewn that in rude society human beings have been commonly killed to promote the growth of the crops. There is therefore no improbability in the supposition that they may once have been killed for a like purpose in Phrygia and Europe; and when Phrygian legend and European folk-custom, closely agreeing with each other, point to the conclusion that men were so slain, we are bound, provisionally at least, to accept the conclusion. Further... the victim was put to death as a representative of the corn-spirit, and this indication is in harmony with the view which some savages appear to take of the victim slain to make the crops flourish. On the whole, then, we may fairly suppose that both in Phrygia and in Europe the representative of the corn-spirit was annually killed upon the harvest-field."
(The Golden Bough, James Frazer, pgs. 446-447)

But it was not only Europe or Phrygia, nor in ancient times, that such customs were observed.
"Today we find throughout this immense area a well-developed style of village life based on a garden economy of yams, coconuts, bananas, taro, etc., as well as a characteristic culture assemblage including rectangular gabled huts, drums made of split logs and a way of communicating by drum beats, a galaxy of distinctive musical instruments, secret societies of a particular kind, tattooing, a type of bow and feathered arrow, such forms of burial and skull cult as have just been described for South or East Africa, bird-, snake-, and crocodile-worship, spirit posts and huts, particular methods of making fire, and a way of fashioning cloth of palm fiber and of bark. Add to these an elaborate ritual lore culminating in communal rites of animal and human sacrifice, a mythology of the journey to the land of the dead in many particulars resembling that of the Malekulan guardian of the labyrinth, an astonishing community of folklore motifs, and the spread of a single linguistic complex (the Malayo-Polynesian) from Madagascar, off the coast of Southeast Africa, or Easter Island, and you have a considerable base from which to argue for a common sphere. Furthermore, when it is observed... that it was beyond the eastern finger of this sphere that a highly developed system of agriculture appeared in Peru and Middle America, based largely on maize but including also some fifty-odd other crops and associated with the breeding of llamas and alpacas (in Peru) and turkeys (in Mexico), whereas midway in the same vast zone (the Southeast Asian neighborhood of Indo-China and Indonesia) rice agriculture, the soybean, the water-buffalo, and domestic fowl first appear, it cannot be surprising that a number of scholars have developed the concept of a single culture realm, out of which, or in association with which, three major matrices of grain agriculture matured, namely: Southeast Asia (rice), the Near East (wheat and barley) and peru and Middle America (maize).
(The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, Joseph Campbell, pgs. 137-138)

Note the sections of the prior passages in bold, especially concerning the labyrinth as we shall return to those mysterious structures in latter parts of this series. For now, I shall allow Campbell to wrap up the psychology of the different approaches to sacrifice found in hunting and planting cultures.
"The beast of prey deals death without knowledge. Man, however, has knowledge, and must overcome it to live. Among the primitive hunting societies the way was to deny death, the reality of death, and to go on killing as willing victims the animals that one required and revered. But in the planting societies a new insight or solution was opened by the lesson of the plant world itself, which is linked somehow to the moon, which also dies and is resurrected and moreover influences, in some mysterious way still unknown, the lunar cycle of the womb...
"Moreover, when the will of the individual to his own immortality has been extinguished -as it is in rites such as these -through an effective realization of the immortality of being itself and of its play through all things, he is united with that being, in experience, in a stunning crisis of release from the psychology of guilt and mortality. Among the tropical planters the rendition of this fundamentally religious experience was effected through rites of the kind that we have observed...
"In the primitive ritual, on the other hand, which is based on the viewpoint of the species rather than that of the individual, what for us is 'accident' is placed in the center of the system -namely, sudden, monstrous death -and this becomes therewith a revelation of the inhumanity of the order of the universe."
(ibid, pgs. 180-181)
In the next installment we shall wrap up with human sacrifice and address the Scarlet Woman before finally moving on to dope. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The House of Cards

Cards have fascinated the West for nearly 700 years, maybe longer. They are generally dismissed as children's play things at best, or instruments of debauchery at worst. Yet there is something strangely appealing about the organization and symbolism they employ, as though they are a more honest representation of the world than we care to admit. And this is seemingly what the cards were always meant to portray, for modern playing cards likely derived from the Tarot.
"Opinions of authorities differ widely concerning the origin of playing cards, the purpose for which they were intended, and the time of their introduction into Europe. In his Researches into the History of Playing Cards, Samuel Weller Singer advances the opinion that cards reached Southern Europe from India by way of Arabia. It is probable that the Tarot cards were part of the magical and philosophical lore secured by the Knights Templars from the Saracens or one of the mystical sects then flourishing in Syria. Returning to Europe, the Templars, to avoid persecution, concealed the arcane meaning of the symbols by introducing the leaves of their magical book ostensibly as a device for amusement and gambling."
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly P. Hall. pg. 409)

In other words, playing cards are the exoteric deck to the esoteric Tarot deck. And yet, much symbolism still resides in the common deck of playing cards.
"Modern playing cards are the minor trumps of the Tarot, from each suit of which the page or valet, has been eliminated, leaving 13 cards. Even in its abridged form, however, the modern deck is of profound symbolic importance, for its arrangement is apparently in accord with the division of the year. The two colors, red and black, represent the two grand divisions of the year -that during which the sun is north of the equator and that during which it is south of the equator. The four suits represent the seasons, the ages of the ancient Greeks, and the Yugas of the Hindus. The twelve court cards are the signs of the zodiac arranged in triads of a Father, a Power, and a Mind according to the upper section of the Bembine Table. The ten pip cards of each suit represent the Sephirothic trees existing in each of the four worlds (the suits). The 13 cards of each suit are the 13 lunar months in each year, and the 52 cards of the deck are the 52 weeks in the year. Counting the number of pips and reckoning the jacks, queens, and kings as 11, 12, and 13 respectively, the sum of of the 52 cards is 364. If the joker be considered as one point, the result is 365, or the number of days in the year.
(ibid, pg. 425)

And that brings us to the Tarot. The origins of the Tarot are shrouded in mystery, though it is seemingly closely related to the Romani people, better known in the West as 'Gypsies.' Both the Tarot and wandering bands of Romani appeared in Europe at roughly the same era. Both were assumed to be of an Egyptian origin  (hence the name Gypsies, which is a play on Egyptians or 'Gypos').
"Through the Gypsies the Tarot cards may be traced back to the religious symbolism of the ancient Egyptians... A curious legend relates that after the destruction of the Serapeum in Alexandria, the large body of attendant priests banded themselves together to preserve the secrets of the rites of Serapis. Their descendants (Gypsies) carrying with them the most precious of the volumes saved from the burning library -the Book of Enoch, or Thoth (the Tarot) -became wanderers upon the face of the earth, remaining a people apart with an ancient language and a birthright of magic and mystery."
(ibid, pgs. 409-410)

However, some scholar have speculated that the Romani people (as well as the Tarot) are originally from India rather than Egypt.
"The gipsies originated in India, or their historian has at least shown the likelihood of this theory. Now the extant Tarot is certainly that of the gipsies and has come to us by way of Judea. As a fact, its keys are in correspondence with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and some of its figures reproduce even their forms. What then were the gipsies? As a poet has said: They were the debased remnant of an ancient world; they were a sect of Indian Gnostics, whose communion caused them to be proscribed in every land; as they may be said to admit practically, they are profaners of the Great Arcanum, overtaken by a fatal malediction."
(The History of Magic, Eliphas Levi, pg. 240)
In recent years genetic evidence has validated an Indian rather than Egyptian origin for the Romani. Many occultists such as Aleister Crowley have still insisted on an Egyptian origin for the Tarot, even while acknowledging in the Indian heritage of the Gypsies. This is easily understandable when one considers that Egypt was generally thought to be the birth place of the Mysteries by various occult orders since the Renaissance. Yet India is an even more compelling birthplace for the Tarot to my mind.

From time to time this blog has tackled the complex topic of twilight language. As this concept will play heavily into this post, I thought I would briefly address it again at the onset. The historical notion of twilight language comes from India.
"Buddhism's tantras are thousands of years old and yet never publicly revealed, never written down. Gradually it became necessary to write the secrets down so they would not be completely lost. But when they were written, they were written in a 'twilight language,' that is, in allegory, symbolism, code, so they could not be misinterpreted and misused by unworthy seekers. For this reason, if we do not have a proper guide, the ancient texts may be confusing or even misleading to us today."
(The Copycat Effect, Loren Coleman, pg. 237) 
In other words, twilight language is an entirely symbolic form of communication. It also seemingly originated from India, which may also have been where the Tarot derived from. Researchers such as the controversial Michael A. Hoffman have argued that numerous occultic organizations have a most peculiar view of twilight language that puts it at far greater age than the historic twilight language of the Buddhists and Hindus:
"In the secret societies, 'twilight language,' was advertised as the 'Adamic language,' the language Adam learned from God in Eden, 'the key to divine knowledge.' "
(Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare, pg.7)

It seems highly unlikely that this 'Adamic language' consisted of letters as we now understand them. Images and numbers are a far more probable form that such a language would take. Thus, twilight language is seemingly on similar ground as the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung's concept of the collective unconscious. To Jung's mind, the collective unconscious was something that existed in all human beings and was genetically passed down generation to generation.
"... In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents."
(The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Carl Jung, pg. 42-43)

The most famous inhabitants of Jung's collective unconscious were of course the archetypes, would would fulfil the visual aspect of twilight language. Jung also tentatively embraced numbers as part of the collective unconscious as well.
"It is generally believed that numbers were invented or thought out by man, and are therefore nothing but concepts of quantities, containing nothing that was not previously put into them by the human intellect. But it is equally possible that numbers were found or discovered. In that case they are not only concepts but something more -autonomous entities which somehow contain more than just quantities. Unlike concepts, they are based not on any psychic condition but on the quality of being themselves, on a 'so-ness' that cannot be expressed by an intellectual concept. Under these conditions they might easily be endowed with qualities that have still to be discovered. I must confess that I incline to the view that numbers were as much found as invented, and that in consequence they possess a relative autonomy analogous to that of the archetypes. They would have, in common with the latter, the quality of being pre-existent to consciousness, and hence, on occasion, of conditioning it rather than being conditioned by it. The archetypes too, as a priori forms of representation, are as much found as invented: they are discovered inasmuch as one did not know of their unconscious autonomous existence, and invented inasmuch as their presence was inferred from analogous representational structures. Accordingly it would seem that natural numbers have an archetypal character. If this is so, then not only would certain numbers and combinations of numbers have a relation to and an effect on certain archetypes, but the reverse would also be true. The first case is equivalent to number magic, but the second is equivalent to inquiring whether numbers, in conjunction with the combination of archetypes found in astrology, would show a tendency to behave a special way."
(Synchronicity, Carl Jung, pgs. 41-2)
I've written more on twilight language and its ties to the collective unconscious here.

Now, we can finally return to the Tarot, which is seemingly one of the most striking representations of twilight language in modern culture. As hinted at above, it may even have been one of the original expressions of twilight language if an Indian origin of the Tarot deck is possible. It also was heavily influenced by esoteric Judaism as noted above. Will will further examine this influence a little further down.

The Tarot is comprised of 78 total cards. 22 of these cards are what is known as major trumps, some of which will be explained in much greater depth below. The other 56 cards are known as minor trumps, and are subdivided into two separate groups: the small cards numbering 1 through 10 (the equivalent of aces through tens in a normal deck of playing cards) and the court cards (which are equivalent to face cards in a playing deck, though there are four court cards in each suit of the Tarot as opposed to three in a regular deck). There are 40 small cards in total and 16 court cards. The minor trumps are also divided into four separate suits (wands, cups, swords, and disks) as are conventional playing cards, each suit numbering 14 total cards.

One of the earliest Tarot decks

The images on Tarot cards are of course highly symbolic, and play deeply into Jung's concept of the collective unconscious. Jung himself acknowledges this:
"It also seems as if the set of pictures in the Tarot cards were distantly descended from the archetypes of transformation..."
(The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, pg. 38)
This is only scratching the surface.
"The two paths which we have marked out are, however, open to other interpretations. Jung distinguishes the two aspects of the individual's struggle against others and against him- or herself. There is the solar path of extraversion and action, of practical and theoretical reflection upon rational motivation. And then there is the lunar path of introversion, of meditation and intuition in which motivations are all-embracingly dictated by the senses and the imagination. The Tarot also appears to contain a number of basic archetypes -the mother (the Female Pope, the Empress, Judgement); the horse (Chariot); the old man (Emperor, Pope, Hermit, Judgement); the wheel (Wheel of Fortune); Death; the Devil; the house or tower (Tower, Moon); the bird (Star, World); the virgin, the Spring, the star (Star); the Moon; the Sun; the twins (Devil, Sun); the wing (Lover, Temperance, Devil Judgement, World); the flame (Tower)...
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pg. 975)

The archetypes via King Crimson

So much for the archetypes. Numerology, especially that derived from the Qabalah, is also of major importance when attempting to understand the Tarot.
"Kabbalists who have studied the Tarot have been struck by several points. There are the same number of major arcana as there are letters in the Hebrew alphabet and this number is 'precisely the same as the twenty-two paths of wisdom, the channels between the ten sefirot, which link together these sublime metaphysical principles of the Jewish Kabbala'... Mystic attributes of God, the sefirot themselves evolved 'in the shape of groups of three, in each of which trinities two opposites are linked by an intermediate'... Moreover, they agree with the symbolic meaning of the cards -the Crown of the sefirot matches the Juggler, First Cause from which all things proceed; the Female Pope matches Wisdom; the Empress, the Understanding; the Emperor, Magnificence and Mercy; the Pope, Fortitude or Judgement; the Lovers, Beauty; the Chariot, Victory; Justice, Splendour; the Hermit, the Foundation; and the Wheel of Fortune, 'representing the whirlpool of involution', the Kingdom... As there are correspondences between all the cards, this has provided the foundations for building a complete Kabbalistic symbolism for the Tarot since 'in the chain of being, everything is magically contained in everything.'"
(ibid, pg. 972)

The Tarot trumps also corresponds to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, but not in an obvious fashion. While there are in fact 22 trumps, they are numbered 1-21, with the Fool trump remaining unnumbered. This has led to much dispute as to where the Fool card should be placed. Some occultist such as Eliphas Levi, placed the Fool trump between the 20th and 21st trump. However, it seems much more likely that the Fool trump corresponds to the number zero.
"... the zero card to AIN SOPH, the Unknowable First Cause. As the central panel of the Bembine Table represents the Creative Power surrounded by seven triads of manifesting divinities, so may the zero card represent the Eternal Power of which the 21 surrounding or manifesting aspects are but limited expressions. If the 21 major trumps be considered as limited forms existing in the abstract substance of the zero card, it then becomes their common denominator. Which letter, then, of the Hebrew alphabet is the origin of all the remaining letters? The answer is apparent: Yod..."
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly P. Hall, pg. 413)

In the Kabbalah, AIN SOPH is God before He assumed any form, and equivalent to zero in the Tree of Life, before Kether (1). This seems like an apt place for the Fool, for reasons we shall examine a bit further down, but that leaves us with only 21 trumps and 22 Hebrew letters. And yet, the correspondence is uncanny...
"If Le Mat be placed before the first card of the Tarot deck and the others laid out in a horizontal line in sequence from left to right, it will be found that the Fool is walking toward the other trumps as though about to pass through the various cards. Like the spiritually hoodwinked and bound neophyte, Le Mat is about to enter upon the supreme adventure -that of passage through the gates of the Divine Wisdom. If the zero card be considered as extraneous to the major trumps, this destroys the numerical analogy between the cards and the Hebrew letters by leaving one letter without a Tarot correspondent. In this event it will be necessary to assign the missing letter to a hypothetical Tarot card called the elements, assumed to have broken up to form the 56 cards of the minor trumps."
(ibid, pgs. 413-414)
I shall allow the Great Beast himself to expand on this notion of the minor trumps:
"The description begins with the 'small cards' numbered 1 to 10. These are divided into four suits according to the four elements.
"Thus the Ace of Wands is called the Root of the Forces of Fire. It pertains to Kether, and purports to represent the first positive manifestation of the idea of Fire...
"The Court cards are sixteen in number, four to each suit. There is thus a subdivision of each element into its own system. The Knights represent the element of Fire, so that the Knight of Wands represents the fiery part of Fire, the Knight of Cups, the fiery part of Water. Similarly the Princesses or Empresses represent Earth, so that the Empress of Disks... represents the earthly part of Earth."
(The Book of Thoth, Aleister Crowley, pgs. 34-35)

the Court cards

So much for the basic structure of the Tarot. I would now like to briefly address several of the major trumps which are most striking to me. I shall begin with the Fool, naturally. Crowley associates this card with Harpocrates, the Greek form of the Egyptian god Horus. The Greeks considered Harpocrates to be the god of silence. Crowley states:
"Of all the magical and mystical virtues, of all the graces of the Soul, of all the attainments of the Spirit, none has been so misunderstood, even when at all apprehended, as Silence.

"It would not be possible to enumerate the common errors; nay, it may be said that to think of it at all is in itself an error; for its nature is Pure Being, that is to say, Nothing, so that it is beyond all intellection or intuition. Thus, then, the utmost of our Essay can be only a certain Wardenship, as it were a Tyling of the Lodge wherein the Mystery of Silence may be consummated.

"For this attitude there is sound traditional authority; Harpocrates, God of Silence, is called 'The Lord of Defence and Protection.'

"But His nature is by no means that negative and passive silence which the word commonly connotes; for He is the All-Wandering Spirit, the Pure and Perfect Knight-Errant, who answers all Enigmas, and opens the closed Portal of the King's Daughter. But Silence in the vulgar sense is not the answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx; it is that which is created by the answer. For Silence is the Equilibrium of Perfection; so that Harpocrates is the omniform, the universal Key to every Mystery soever. The Sphinx is the 'Puzzel or Pucelle', the Feminine Idea to which there is only one complement, always different in form, and always identical in essence. This is the signification of the Picture of the God; it is shown more clearly in His adult form as the Fool of the Tarot and as Bacchus Diphues, and without equivocation when He appears as Baphomet."
(ibid, pg. 120)


Here we may find the strongest links between the Tarot and twilight language. Crowley was obsessed with silence, and wrote vaguely of communicating through the language of silence. Twilight language is seemingly a visual rather than verbal language that relies on symbolism and numbers to communicate ideas. So to does the Tarot. Some of the most radical theories of the Dawn of Man have suggested that early humans communicated telepathically rather than verbally. Is this, then, the true nature of the 'Adamic language' various occult schools are obsessed with? Is the Tarot then a representation of this era? If the Tarot in fact derives from India, it would be a well-placed candidate for the first language of humans, as the first known civilizations hail from ancient India and Sumeria.

Moving along. The next card I would like to address is the fourth numbered card of the major trumps, the Emperor.
"...the Emperor, and by its numerical value is directly associated with the great Deity revered by the Pythagoreans under the form of the tetrad. His symbols declare the Emperor to be the Demiurgus, the Great King of the inferior world."
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly P. Hall, pg. 415)

Crowley agrees with this designation of the Emperor as the Demiurge. Interestingly, he associates Harpocrates (and by default, the Fool) with Abraxas, the 'Great Archon' and 'Unbegotten Father' of the Gnostics. This being would also be vaguely synonymous with the Ain Soph of the Kabbalah.

the Demiurge

In historic Tarot decks the eleventh card was known as Strength but in the Crowley deck it is renamed Lust. In either case, the card depicts the Scarlet Woman of the Book of Revelation. The imagery of the Book of Revelation was a major influence on Medieval Tarot decks in  general, but especially in this card. When Crowley designed his deck in the early 20th century, he went from a perspective that the Age of Osiris (the Christian age) had already passed and that the Scarlet Woman was in fact the usherer of a new age. Interestingly, 11 was also the number of magical expansion to Crowley.
"In this card, therefore, appears the legend of the woman and the lion, or rather lion-serpent (This card is attributed to the letter Teth, which means serpent.)

"The seers in the early days of the Aeon of Osiris foresaw the Manifestation of this coming Aeon in which we now live, and they regarded it with intense horror and fear, not understanding the precession of the Aeons, and regarding every change as catastrophe. This is the real interpretation of, and the reason for, the diatribes against the Beast and the Scarlet Woman in the XIII, XVII and XVIII-th chapters of the Apocalypse; but on the Tree of Life, the path of Gimel, the Moon, descending from the highest, cuts the path of Teth, Leo, the House of the Sun, so that the Woman in the card may be regarded as a form of the Moon, very fully illuminated by the Sun, and intimately united with him in such wise as to produce, incarnate, in human form, the representative or representatives of the Lord of the Aeon.

"She rides astride the Beast; in her left hand she holds the reins, representing the passion which unites them. In her right she holds aloft the cup, the Holy Grail aflame with love and death. In this cup are mingled the elements of the sacrament of the Aeon."
(The Book of Thoth, Aleister Crowley, pgs. 93-94)

the eleventh trump of the Crowley deck

Finally, we shall consider the seventeenth trump, known as the Star. I am quite obsessed with the number 17, as regular readers of this blog know, and have mentioned this card in brief before. But now we shall examine the Star, which is the card of Sirius, in greater depth. Sirius, the Dog Star, is highly important in the occult. Though unfamiliar with its significance are advised to read my prior articles on Sirius, which can be found here and here. Anyway, back to the Star:
"The seventeenth numbered trump is called Les Etoiles, the Stars, and portrays a young girl kneeling with one foot in water and the other on land, her body somewhat suggesting the swastika. She has two urns, the contents of which she pours upon the land and sea. Above the girl's head are eight stars, one of which is exceptionally large and bright. Count de Gebelin considers the great star to be Sothis, or Sirius; the other seven are the sacred planets of the ancients. He believes the female figure to be Isis in the act of causing the inundations of the Nile which accompanied the rising of the Dog Star. The unclothed figure of Isis may well signify that Nature does not receive her garments of verdure until the rising of the Nile waters releases the germinal life of plants and flowers. The bush and bird (or butterfly) signify the growth and resurrection which accompany the rising of the waters."
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly P. Hall, pgs. 421-422)

Crowley believed that the Star was the key to unlocking the full potential of the Tarot.
"There was, however, one kink in the rope. The card called Adjustment is marked VIII. The card called Lust is marked XI. To maintain the natural sequence, Lust must be attributed to Libra and Adjustment to Leo. This is evidently wrong, because the card called Adjustment actually shows a woman with sword and scales, while the card called Lust shows a woman and a lion.

"It was quite impossible to understand why this reversal should have taken place until the events of March and April, 1904... One need here give only one quotation: 'All these old letters of my Book are aright; but... is not the Star'... This was making darkness deeper. It was clear that the attribution of 'The Star' to the letter Tzaddi was unsatisfactory; and the question arose, how to find another card which would take its place. An incredible amount of work was done on this; in vain. After nearly twenty years the solution appeared.

"The Star represents Nuit, the starry heavens. 'I am Infinite Space, and the Infinite Star thereof.' She is represented with two vases, one pouring water, symbol of Light, upon herself, the other upon the earth. This is a glyph of the Economy of the Universe. It continually pours forth energy and continually reabsorbs it. It is the realisation of Perpetual Motion; which is never true of any part, but necessarily true of the whole. For, if it were not so, there would be something disappearing into nothing, which is mathematically absurd...

"The card which must be exchanged for 'The Star' is 'The Emperor', who bears the number IV, which signifies Power, Authority, Law, and is attributed to the sign Aries. This proves very satisfactory. But it became infinitely more so as soon as it was seen that this substitution cleared up the other mystery about Strength and Justice. For Leo and Libra are, by exchange, shown as revolved about Virgo, the sixth sign of the Zodiac, which balances the revolution of Aries and Aquarius about Pisces, the twelfth sign. This is a reference to a peculiar secret of the ancients...

"The justice of the exchange is evident when one considers Etymology. It is natural that the Great Mother should be attributed to He', which is her letter in the Tetragrammaton, while the letter Tzaddi is the natural letter of the Emperor in the original phonetic system, as shown in the words Tsar, Czar, Kaiser, Caesar, Senior, Seigneur, Senor, Signor, Sir."
(The Book of Thoth, Aleister Crowley, pgs. 39-40)

Crowley's version of the Star

There is much to reflect upon here. For starters, we should consider the source of the quotation that alerted Crowley to the importance of the Star. This source was none other than the being Crowley dubbed Aiwass, or Aiwaz, whom he claimed to make contact with during a bizarre magickal ritual sometimes known as the Cairo Working.
"It was Aleister Crowley who fanned the flame to furnace heat, which he did when the 'world was destroyed by fire' in 1904. This phrase is a technical one; it signifies destruction and supercession in a sense that may only be interpreted by resorting to the astronomical myth cycles from which it derives... Crowley was in Cairo at the time of this event. There he received The Book of Law -the New Gnosis, the latest Tantra, the most complex Grimoire -from a praeter-human Intelligence named Aiwaz, a messenger of that most ancient god whose image was worshipped in the deserts under the name of Shaitan, and long ages earlier, as Set, the soul or double of Horus."
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pg. 7)

Set is closely associated with Sirius, which was also known as the Star of Set.
"The Star of Horus is also the Star of Babalon -the seven-rayed star of the planet Saturn (or Set) which rules Aquarius, the eleventh house of the Zodiac. Aquarius is the constellation through which the influence of Horus (the Sun) reaches man during the present Aeon. Saturn, therefore, is the power behind Venus, as Sirius is the power behind the Sun. These two great Stars (Set and Horus) are therefore symbolically identical, and in this way also is Venus transcended in Sirius, in a celestial sense.."
(ibid, pgs. 51-52) 


Crowley viewed Aiwass as a messenger of Sirius/Set. What's more, Aquarius is the ruling sign of the Star Tarot card. Thus, Crowley's decision to swap the Star card with the Emperor trump is even more significant when we remember that the Emperor represents the Demiurge, or Jehovah. This seems to hint at the so-called Age of Aquarius, so popular in New Age circles nowadays. It also seems to represent a triumph of Sirius/Set/Sothis over Demiurge/Jehovah. It also plays into the ancient occult concept of Sirius as a hidden sun, the true sun, or the power behind the actual sun (which as a symbol is closely associated with Jehovah). The enigma of 17 strikes again.

This seems a good a place as any to wrap up our inquiry into the Tarot. Of course I am only scratching the surface of the vast possibilities behind the Tarot. But then again, scratching the surface may be as far as any inquiry into the Tarot may be able to go.
"Whatever validity these different points of view may possess, we should never forget that the Tarot never submits to any one attempt to systematize it and it always retains something which escapes our grasp."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pg. 975)
Indeed. All that can be said is that the Tarot is shrouded in mystery in terms of both its meaning, purpose and origin. We can note that it bears a resemblance to the occult concept of twilight language, and may even originate from the part of the world from which the historic twilight language derives. We can note its remarkable correspondence to both the modern Jungian archetypes of the collective unconscious and the ancient numerology of the Kabbalah. We can even ponder its connections to the Sirius mysteries and the enigma of 17. But we shall probably never be able to explain what exactly the the Tarot truly is for it is something that speaks to us in a fashion that words can never express.

And that may in fact be its strongest ties to a pre-historic origin and link to some kind of Adamic language.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Latin American High Weirdness: The Cults Part III

In the prior installment of this series on South American cults with deep backgrounds I was addressing parallels between the notorious Colonia Dignidad, an 'agricultural experiment' run by a former Nazi and pedophile, and Jonestown. Another parallel I would now like to address between Colonia Dignidad and Jonestown is the seeming involvement of the US intelligence community. In the case of Colonia Dignidad, this is rather openly acknowledged due to the presence of the notorious interrogation 'specialist' and CIA man Michael Townley during the overthrow of Allende. I addressed this tie in part one of this series.

Colonia Dignidad

Jim Jones himself had a longstanding relationship with another CIA interrogation specialist, based out of South America nonetheless, known as Dan Mitrione.
"Even the biography of the man at the center of the holocaust, Jim Jones, was sketchy and open to interpretation. His presumed close association with Dan Mitrione was never investigated by the US government or, if it was, the results were never made public. Mitrione was the man taken hostage and then killed by the leftist guerrilla Tupamaros in Uruguay in 1970, revolutionaries who knew that he was a CIA agent with AID agency cover. Jones and Mitrione had known each other in Indiana, where Mitrione was a cop specializing in juveniles and Jones a fifteen-year-old sidewalk preacher, and they were both in Brazil at the same time in the early 1960s: Mitrione with a police training unit that was under Agency for International Development (AID) cover, and Jones in some murky capacity that involved the US consulate.
"Mitrione, it is now known, was involved with the training of Latin American police forces in the use of torture and drugs in interrogations, under the auspices of the now-defunct and cynically-entitled Office of Public Safety (OPS), an Orwellian organization that was formed during the Eisenhower administration. Mitrione was an avid practitioner of the methods he taught, and according to one of his trainees in Uruguay in the late 1960s, he would pick up homeless people on the streets to be used as guinea pigs in his training sessions, bloody interrogations which were always conducted in a soundproof room. In Montevideo, this room was in the basement of his home. When the derelicts died during the course of the 'training,' their bodies would be dumped back in the streets as a warning to the Communist insurgents."
(ibid, pg. 171)
Dan Mitrione

Levenda and other researchers have suggested that Mitrione was Jones' handler all the way up to his death in 1970. Certainly some of Mitrione's methods of interrogation were seemingly incorporated into Jonestown. Its also interesting to note that Jones, Mitrione, and Andrija Puharich were all in Brazil at the same time in 1962 (as was another 'interrogation' enthusiast, Josef Mengele). This is not the only link Jones has to Puharich, a likely US intelligence asset.

Puharich with the Pope

This link comes in the form of the Layton clan. The siblings, Larry Layton and Deborah were two of the most prominent members in the Temple at one point.
" 1970, Deborah Layton met Jim Jones for the first time... By the mid-1970s she had become one of his most trusted followers, an essential partner in setting up the Jonestown facility and managing the administrative and financial matters of the church both in the States and, eventually in Guyana. Her brother, Larry, was just as deeply involved and was part of the security force that guarded the Jonestown complex, a security force that was more like a troop of prison guards than a defensive army to protect the members from outside hostilities."
(ibid, pg. 200)
Deborah Layton

Larry's wife, Carolyn Moore Layton, was also a member of the congregation and eventually became one of Jones' mistresses. In going about this, Jones suggested that Larry and Carolyn divorce, then Jones preceded to publicly humiliate Larry in front of the congregation. That did the trick. Carolyn later on had a child with Jones, named Kimo Jones. Carolyn and Kimo both died at Jonestown. Larry would be involved in the ambush of the Ryan party at Port Kaituma airstrip after initially posing as a defector.
"Larry Layton had boarded the single-engine Cessna first -shoving himself forward ahead of everyone -and was armed; he either picked up a pistol earlier at Jonestown or it had been planted in the plane. Since all the Temple defectors had been checked for weapons before boarding, it seems more likely that the gun had been planted in the plane, which is why Larry insisted to Ryan that he have a seat on that particular aircraft.
"He began shooting in the plane as it was trying to take off during the attack, wounding defectors Monica Bagby and Vernon Gosney before his revolver misfired and it was taken from him by defector Dale Parks."
(ibid, pg. 222)
Larry Layton being arrested in Guyana for his part in the Ryan assassination

To date, Larry Layton Jr. is only one of two individuals ever charged in connection with the Jonestown massacre. His sister Deborah was more fortunate. She defected from Jonestown, seeing the writing on the wall. She would become instrumental in raising awareness of the abuses occurring in Jonestown, which eventually led Congressman Leo Ryan to visit, triggering the massacre. The mother of Deborah and Larry Layton, Lisa Philip Layton, was also a member of the congregation and died in Jonestown three months before the massacre from cancer. It is her husband, Laurence J. Layton, father of Deborah and Larry, that we find out connection to Andrija Puharich.
"In February of 1953, Andrija Puharich had been redrafted into the US Army, and posted to the Army Chemical Center in Edgewood, Maryland, where he would remain until April of 1955. His duties are not described anywhere in detail... Before Puharich's posting, one Dr. Laurance J. Layton was posted to Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, a test center for the Chemical Warfare Division; this was in November of 1951. In March of 1952, Layton had been named Chief of the US Army's Chemical Warfare Division, a position he held until 1954. In other words, Dr. Layton was -at least on paper -Dr. Puharich's boss."
(ibid, pg. 188)
That two of the key Peoples Temple members would be the children of the head of the US Army's Chemical Warfare division is in and of itself very interesting. That this individual was likely associated with Andija Puharich is even more of a revelation.

Another curious fellow that figures into the Jim Jones saga is Richard Dwyer, a State Department official who severed at the U.S. Embassy to Guyana at the time of Jonestown. In general the State Department has been heavily criticized for its handling of the Jonestown affair, especially the officials working out of Guyana. It has generally been felt that they ignored the problem at best, and obstructed investigations into Jonestown at worst.
"Both the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the State Department itself criticized the State Department's handling of Peoples Temple. But neither provided a full airing of the government's role in the affair. State Department officials who dealt extensively with the Temple and who appear compromised in the Temple's internal reports never testified in public, nor were they subjected to public cross examination. And thousands of pages of documents -some reportedly indicating the depth of the government's knowledge about the Temple and the scope of the complaints brought to the government's attention -were classified."
(Raven, Tim Reiterman, pg. 576)
Dwyer would certainly count as one of the State Department officials 'compromised' by the Temple. Still Reiterman, a journalist who was present at the Ryan party ambush and was himself wounded there, defends some of the more serious allegations against Dwyer.
"...MK-ULTRA theory... Proponents of this theory allege that Embassy official Richard Dwyer was a CIA agent and was in fact present at the murder-suicides -and their proof is Jones's command, 'Get Dwyer out of here.' Most likely Jones incorrectly assumed that Dwyer was in the camp, and not at the airstrip with the Ryan party. Dwyer had planned to accompany Ryan to the airstrip, then return to Jonestown to process any additional defectors. But the airstrip shooting intervened, and he was wounded there...
"...Dwyer later was asked by reporters, including Jacobs, if he worked for the CIA. He said his terms of employment with the foreign service forbade him either to confirm or deny it."
(ibid, pg. 590)
Jones (far left) and Dwyer (far right) chilling at Jonestown
Levenda insists that Dwyer was in fact a CIA asset.
"Dwyer's involvement in this -and subsequent discoveries about his background in intelligence -is one of the more suggestive elements of the whole saga. Dwyer was a career intelligence officer, working under State Department cover at the US Embassy in Georgetown. He was, according to several sources, the CIA Chief of Station for Guyana. As such, he could be expected to have very good information on Jonestown; unfortunately, he did not choose to share this information with Ryan or his party. It was well-known in Georgetown that the People Temple had strong influence with the Guyanese government; Temple women were expected to develop personal relationships with Guyanese officials, and one such woman was the mistress of the Guyanese ambassador to the United States. Dwyer would have had to have known all of this, as Georgetown is small as capitals go, a place where gossip is about the only entertainment there is. Further, as CIA station chief, it would have been his business to know all about the Peoples Temple political involvements, not only with the Guyanese government but also with the Soviet Union and Cuba, as the Temple had approached both of these countries -through their embassies in Georgetown -as possible relocation sites. Yet, Dwyer -and the State Department in general -remained strangely silent on the subject of the Peoples Temple and offered very little assistance to Congressman Ryan before and during his trip."
(Sinister Forces Book Two, Peter Levenda, pg. 219)
Indeed, the figures surrounding Jones during his rise and later fall are something of a rogue's gallery -these are just a few examples. The circumstances of the Jonestown massacre itself and the ambush on Congressman Leo Ryan are equally suspect, especially the official account. Before getting to that, I would like to briefly address Ryan himself, which may provide further insight into the panic Jonestown set off in certain sectors. You see, Ryan's most notable legislation involved cracking down on the CIA.
"At the same time, California Congressman Leo J. Ryan was making a name for himself as a government watchdog. He had co-authored the Hughes-Ryan Amendment, which required the CIA to get prior approval from Congress before undertaking any covert activity. In addition, he was asked questions about the CIA's mind-control projects in the State of California, as he wondered whether or not the notorious members of the Symbonese Liberation Army (SLA) had been willing or unwilling beneficiaries of the MK-ULTRA program while serving time at Vacaville."
(ibid, pg. 204)
Congressman Ryan

If Jonestown was in fact some kind of CIA front, having a Congressman with more than a passing knowledge of these types of operations, to say nothing of one who had enacted legislation to curve the power of the CIA, arriving at Jonestown would not go down well. Is it possible that he was then targeted for elimination? One of the curious circumstances surrounding the Jonestown massacre that I alluded to earlier is the Ryan party ambush itself and the presence Guyanese troops at the airport who seemingly stood down as the killings occurred.
"There were others at the airport at the time, local Guyanese troops in fact, guarding a military plane that was being repaired, who made themselves scarce when the shooting started. The congressman's party did not have any weapons... and were sitting ducks. Bob Flick, an NBC producer, ran to the troops and begged them for help. They refused. They said it was a conflict between Americans and had nothing to do with them. He asked them for a weapon in order to defend himself. They refused again. They sat and watched five people being murdered in cold blood, and when the murderers took off in their tractor for Jonestown after the killing, they made no move to pursue them but instead let them pass."
(ibid, pg. 222)
Ryan and others dead at the Port Kaituma airstrip in the wake of the shootings

Even Tim Reiterman, a journalist who was wounded at the Ryan party ambush and who has generally dismissed conspiratorial views of Jonestown, was utterly baffled by the behavior of the soldier present at the Port Kaituma airstrip. Other mysteries include the body count at Jonestown itself, which has been hotly disputed.
"Initially, the body count -performed by the first contingent of Guyanese troops that arrived the morning of the massacre -was only about two hundred. Later, as the day went on and more investigators (and curiosity-seekers) arrived, the body count was corrected upwards. At first, it was believed that the grand total would come in at three hundred sixty-three, of which eighty-two were identified as children. Yet, as the body count increased, the incredulous wanted to know how it was possible that it could go from 363 to 913; how was such a wide variation possible?
"The explanation given was that some of the bodies were those of children, and that the adult bodies fallen on top of them, rendering immediate location and identification difficult. In other words, there were more than five hundred bodies hidden under the first 363. That did not seem possible, particularly as the initial counts showed that of the 363, more than 80 were children. It simply did not make sense, and it seemed as if someone, somewhere was lying about the body count on behalf of some hidden agenda.
"What made matters worse was the discovery of some 789 American passports at the scene. If there were only 363 bodies discovered, then 426 other souls were unaccounted for and possibly on the run through the Guyanese jungle. One had to put a stop to that rumor at once, and the body count was adjusted upwards to the point where 913 became the official number. But, to be perfectly honest, there was no verifiable, official record of the number of corpses, and only about three hundred had ever been positively identified. Photos of some of the bodies show that they were wearing identification bracelets on their wrists, the type commonly used in hospitals to identify patients. No one knows why this was done, and particularly why those bracelets mysteriously disappeared somewhere between Jonestown and the American air base where the bodies were eventually shipped, thus rendering further identification even more difficult. (Three bodies were actually lost, and turned up in storage lockers in southern California years after the fact!) The bodies were left in the open jungle air for days, and had reached a particularly loathsome state of putrescence, rendering hellish the task of coroners and medical examiners. In fact, there were virtually no autopsies performed on the bodies recovered."
(ibid, pg. 224)
Are over 500 bodies underneath these?

There is one final mystery surrounding the Jonestown massacre I would like to address, though this is hardly a comprehensive list -readers are encouraged to read up more on this significant historical moment. Anyway, that mystery is the death of Jim Jones himself. The official account of Jones' death goes like this:
"In the pavilion, Jim Jones lay dead, a bullet hole in his temple, gaping exit wound where his brains and skull were blown away. The bullet had traveled at an upward angle through his head and into oblivion. A gun was resting, mysteriously, some twenty feet away. His body lay in repose on a cleared space near his throne, between two other bodies. His head of raven hair was cushioned by a pillow, as though someone had him comfortable before -or perhaps after -the squeeze of a trigger removed him from his misery."
(Raven, Tim Reiterman, pg. 565)
It has been hotly contested as to whether or not Jones committed suicide or was murdered. Officially Jones is a suicide but even Reiterman acknowledges this is highly suspect. The pavilion area he writes of was an open space in the midst of Jonestown. The gun that killed Jones was found some 20 feet from the body. Its almost as if some one crept up on him, possibly while he was asleep or in a pill-induced stupor, and pulled the trigger.

the pavilion area where Jones' body was found

From a synchronictic perspective, one of the most compelling mysteries is the location of Jonestown itself. A similar tragedy occurred neat the Jonestown site nearly a century before Jones walked the face of the Earth.
"Yet another disturbing coincidence lies in the fact that the site chosen by Jones was in the Northwestern District of Guyana, the place where -in 1845 -a Reverend Smith called together the local Native American population (including the Arawaks, Tituba's countrymen), and told them the Millennium was at hand. When it did not materialize, Smith's four hundred followers committed mass suicide on the spot, believing they would be resurrected as 'white people.' The parallels to the Jonestown event are too strong to be ignored."
(Sinister Forces Book Two. Peter Levenda, pgs. 210-211)
Tituba was a seventeenth-century slave in Salem, Massachusetts who was one of the first three people accused of witchcraft there. This marked the beginning of the legendary witch trials. I've written a bit more on Tituba and this topic here.


So much for Jonestown itself. Now I would also like to briefly address the similarities between Jim Jones and Charles Manson. Both men were fanatical cult leaders that attempted to retreat from the world, Jones to the jungles of Guyana, Manson to the deserts of California. Both used drugs (Manson more so than Jones) as a tool to control their followers. Both were obsessed with race and believed that a race war was soon coming to the United States. Based on this belief, as well as fears of a nuclear holocaust, both became increasingly paranoid. This paranoia led to both the retreat from the world and a militarization of their respective cults.

Both are portrayed as master con men that took advantage of the poor and disturbed. This is partly true, but both the Peoples Temple and the Family featured key members who came from upper crust backgrounds, such as the Laytons or Masonite Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme, who was the daughter of an aerospace engineer that had been stationed at Randolph Air Force Base during WWII. What's more, both cultivated contacts with VIPs. As noted earlier, Jones was heavily involved in the California political scene. He befriended political radicals such as Huey Newton and Angela Davis and even gained an audience with First Lady Rosalynn Carter. Manson sought, and gained, many contacts in the vast L.A. entertainment scene.
"He made numerous contacts in the music business, including Dennis Wilson, Neil Young and Terry Melcher -the son of Doris Day, and the former occupant, along with Candace Bergen, of the Cielo Drive home where the Tate murders occurred. Charlie even reportedly served as a 'religious consultant' for Universal Studios on a movie about Christ, and also auditioned to be one of 'The Monkeys.' "
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pg. 138)
Both heavily relied upon sex as a tool to keep their followers in line. The planning committee, the Peoples Temple's inner circle, was dominated by women. In fact, many of Jones' closest aids were women and many of these were mistresses of Jones. The bulk of the Manson family were women. Both Jones and Manson were bisexual and both humiliated many of their key male followers through sex.

And both seemingly had ties to the US Intelligence community. In Manson's case, it most overtly came in the form of notorious drug baron Ronald Stark. Stark began as a large scale LSD dealer who became involved with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love in the late 1960s. Stark would go on to branch into other narcotics in the 1970s long after the Brotherhood was busted and was seemingly one of the largest supplier in the world by the 1970s. In 1980 we was finally brought down in Italy. An Italian court later released Stark on the basis that he had been employed by the US 'secret services' since at least 1960. Stark died shortly thereafter.

Ronald Stark

The Manson Family themselves were involved in the L.A. drug market and were even dealing cocaine in the late 1960s at a time when it was extremely rare in the States. Manson seemingly had some upper scale clients. He also seemingly had a relationship with Stark, who may have been his supplier. I've written much more on Manson's ties to Starks and his other links to intelligence here and here -I urge my readers to check out both pieces in conjunction to these blogs on Jonestown and other cult sites in Latin America we've examined here.

Finally, I would like to examine the bizarre allegations of another serial killer who claimed to be a member of an international Satanic cult. This would be none other than the infamous Henry Lee Lucas, a man officially convicted of 11 murders, but who claimed involvement in over 600 killings at one point. Incidentally, he was the only man ever saved from the Texas death row by then-Governor Bush. Back when Henry was first arrested in the 1980s he had quite a tale to tell.
"...Henry's indoctrination into a nationwide satanic cult. Lucas claimed that leaders of the camp were so impressed with his handling of a knife that he was allowed to serve as an instructor. Following his training, Henry claimed that he served the cult in various ways, including as a contract killer and as an abductor of children, whom he delivered to a ranch in Mexico near Juarez. Once there, they were used in the production of child pornography and for ritual sacrifice. Henry has said that this cult's operations were based in Texas, and included trafficking in children and drugs, among other illegal pursuits."
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pgs. 72-73)
good ole Henry

One of the most bizarre claims Henry made was that he was a close friend of Jim Jones, that the Peoples Temple was a part of this vast cult network which he called the Hand of Death, and that he had taken a chartered plane to Guyana and personally delivered the cyanide to Jones that was used in the massacre.
"What then are we to make of Henry's professed connection to the tragic People's Temple? Several investigators have documented that the Jonestown massacre was not by any means a case of mass suicide, as was reported by the U.S. press. It was in fact a case of mass murder. The Guyanese coroner, Dr. C. Leslie Mootoo, concluded that only a handful of the 913 victims at Jonestown died by means of suicide on that fateful day. All of the rest were summarily executed, some by lethal injection, some by strangulation, and some simply shot through the head. It is apparent then that if Lucas was in fact at Jonestown at the time of the mass murder, he was quite likely doing considerably more than just serving as a delivery boy. A man of Henry's talents would be an invaluable asset in a clean-up operation of that type. And what was being cleaned up was, of course, itself an MK-ULTRA project -complete with vast stockpiles of drugs, sensory deprivation equipment, and a band of zombie-like assassins who gunned down Congressman Leo Ryan's entourage just before the massacre (thus necessitating the clean-up operation).
(ibid, pg. 80)
Personally, I think Henry's claims of an involvement in Jonestown are bogus. As McGowan alludes to, there's much debate as to what and how the Jonestown residents died. Did they willingly drink cyanide-laced drinks? Was it a different type of poison, as many victims were seemingly not displaying the 'cyanide-smile' consistent with death from this poison? Were the victims forcibly injected this poison at gun point? Were other means of killing the bulk of Jonestown residents used?

a cyanide grin

The point being, Henry's claims simply seem to confirm the official version on Jonestown. If he was an insider, seemingly he would have had details concerning the deaths that weren't widely known at the time. Given how liberally Henry talked when he was first captured, it seems he would have stated any oddities he knew about Jonestown that didn't jive with the official story.

That being said, there has been confirmations to some of Henry's other outlandish claims.
"One of the more compelling aspects of Henry's story was contention that he had ties to cult-run ranches just south of the U.S. border. In 1989, just such a ranch was excavated in Matamoros, Mexico -just south of Brownsville, Texas -yielding the remains of fifteen ritual sacrifice victims. The Matamoros case so closely paralleled the stories told years earlier by Lucas that some law enforcement personnel in Texas chose to take a closer look at Henry's professed cult connections. In fact, Jim Boutwell -the sheriff of Williamson County, Texas -later told a reporter that investigators had verified that Lucas was indeed involved in cult activities.
"Following the discovery in Matamoros, Clemmie Schroeder -identified as Henry's spiritual adviser -sent to the state attorney general a map Lucas had drawn for her in 1985 that identified locations where murder, kidnapping and drug-running operations were conducted. She told a reporter for the Brownsville Herald: 'Henry told me there were a lot of different cults in Mexico who were involved in satanic worship and everything. I found the map and realized he had marked this cult and drug ring near Brownsville.' The attorney general's office chose not to take action."
(ibid, pg. 88)

The Matamoros cult being referenced here is none other than the drug ring run by the notorious Adolfo Constanzo, one of the most concrete examples of a 'Satanic' cult of the past few decades. Much more will be written on this outfit in a later installment in this series. For now, back to Henry, and another 'hit' his cult map produced over a decade later.
"After a decade had passed... yet another excavation was begun, at a ranch near Juarez, Mexico. That property was, strangely enough, located precisely where Henry Lee Lucas had claimed that the 'Hand of Death' cult maintained a ranch. The first reports on the Juarez ranch surfaced on December 1, 1999... a Los Angeles Times report noted that the 'clanestine burial grounds [were] practically within sight of the U.S. border.'
"Early reports indicated that authorities anticipated exhuming between 100 and 300 bodies from mass graves on the ranch, including twenty-two missing U.S. citizens and a number of former FBI and DEA informants. The investigation was quickly expanded to include at least three more possible burial grounds in the area..."
(ibid, pgs. 91-92)
Of course anyone who follows the news will remember that Juarez has seen a massive amount of women murdered, some with ritualistic overtones, over the past decade. Once U.S. authorities took over the 1999 investigation of the Juarez ranch the body total dropped from at least 100 to only nine victims -Shades of Jonestown and its ever changing body count. Naturally, any possibility that there were other sites was also quickly dismissed.

memorials to the dead women of Juarez

Regardless, there is clearly some validity to Henry's claims. While its extremely doubtful that he was directly involved in Jonestown, it is possible he did meet Jim Jones and was aware of his organization's involvement if Jonestown did in fact fall under the 'Hand of Death' orbit. Or it could simply be that Henry had no involvement in Jonestown or with Jim Jones whatsoever, but he recognized similarities between the methods of Jim Jones and his own cult, which led him to believe that they were connected.

And that about wraps things up. To recap: We have three distinct 'religious' colonies based out of South America promoting theologies obsessed with race, each involved in some capacity with the governments they reside in, and at least two (Colonia Dignidad and Jonestown) with strong ties to the US Intelligence community. Further, Guyana and Chile were seen as essential nations in the Cold War struggle with the Soviets. What's more, all three colonies display traces of brainwashing and mind control on a wide scale. Is this all merely a coincidence or was there something more sinister at play?

What's more, there are definite similarities between the Peoples Temple and the Manson Family. In a way, the Manson clan almost seems like a warm up act to the Peoples Temple... or a prototype. The Peoples Temple was much more polished, much more refined, the horrors better disguised. Was Jonestown the next evolutionary step from the Spahn ranch? And if so, what will the next stage look like, and on what scale?