At last, Atlantis

July 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

So we’ve talked, and talked, and talked but never really got to the heart of the matter. I’ve talked about Tiamat, the Enuma Elish, a conspiracy of goddesses who are all ultimately one goddess, and we’ve talked and talked about the deep time of prehistory and how much we don’t know about the past. I have talked at you a great deal. But what, ultimately, am I saying?

Rather than staying coy, let me get on with the meat of things. Rather than my usual spate of rhetorical questions, let me move straight to my thesis. Atlantis is everything. Atlantis was an island in the Atlantic, it wasn’t. It was a drowned land in the North Sea, but it wasn’t. It was America, it was the Azores, it has been every myth and cobbled together fantasy of every ancient historian and modern lunatic. Rand Flem-Ath, Lewis Spence, Ignatius Donnelly, Diodorus, Plato… all these and more were right. Howard’s Atlantis filled with savages waiting for the collapse of Valusia? Dead on. Domed underwater cities? Yep. And it was on the site of Atlantis that the Atlanteans themselves forever wrote their epitaph in water.

When I postulated about Tiamat being Atlantis, I was being literal. The Enuma Elish specifically states that the gods lived within and upon Tiamat herself. And when you read Plato’s Critias the first thing that always comes to my mind is the orichalicum. I’ve talked before about this. Back then I said that I thought I could talk forever about Atlantis, and I suspect this post won’t empty the well. I am haunted by orichalicum. What was this unique red metal? Why could it only be mined in Atlantis? « Read the rest of this entry »

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In the land of the dead

July 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Note: I wrote this years ago for my friend Kevin’s website. It’s my take on zombies. Enjoy.

In the movies, they’re all stupid, slow, and practically unstoppable. To be fair, in my experience, this is a perfectly accurate portrayal in most cases. Most cases. I assume that films are made without direct experience, because thankfully they aren’t common. Getting more common now, but in this case more common means a few outbreaks here and there.

In the city of Megiddo, more than three thousand years ago, there was a huge garbage heap. That garbage heap has come to lend its name, ultimately, to the end of the world itself: Har-Megiddon, the mound of Megiddo. People assumed that hell would smell like that, a huge heap of garbage, and that at the end of the world all the Kings of the world would come and fight it out in the refuse of Megiddo, which would spread to cover the world.

Well, let me tell you, the mound of Megiddo existed in my roommate’s half of the apartment the last day I had a sense of smell. Old pizza boxes, underwear that reeked of wet burlap from his policy of wearing them three to four days in a row, dusting them with talcum powder when they got too ripe… the odor of his toilet, which he could never seem to piss directly into, the beer cans with their half a sip each remaining, his flatulence, it all combined in a rank, searing smell that actually grabbed me by the nose in the morning and squeezed tears out of me. I never said anything because he paid his half of the rent on full and on time every month, making him a damn sight better than the last six roommates put together. Oh, and also because I was a huge wimp and would never address how bad his room stank up the place: if I’d had a chance in hell with women, I would probably have been pissed that I could never bring any home. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Endless Tide Rises

July 23, 2012 § 1 Comment

We know barely anything about our world before we arrived on it, and we know scarcely more about our own time on this world. To speak authoritatively about the past before 3000 BC is difficult, although we have found sites such as Catal Hoyuk that date back to 7500 BC, and we do have evidence of our ancestors dating back much, much further than that. As just one example, there is evidence of Homo Erectus, our ancestors although not quite human as we would recognize it today, traveling all across the world from West Africa to China more than 1.8 million years ago. We do not know much of what they thought, how close it was to our thoughts. In this vast distance of the development of humanity, we can see only a little that has been preserved for us. A few bones. Eventually some tools. After that, settlements.

« Read the rest of this entry »

A Creation Myth

July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

There was nothing before.

There was nothing, and nothing is all that there was. There could not be anything, for there was no place for anything to be, and no time for anything to unfold in. There was nothing, and it was neither dark nor light, good nor evil, there were no qualities to it at all. It was the void, imperishable, equally present and absent.

There is no meaning to words that attempt to say how long this state of affairs existed. It could be said to have lasted an eternity or to have only been a flickering eyelid opening and closing, it does not matter. There was only nothing. Nothing that drowned infinity, that was not and did not. Perfection in its absolute and unvarying emptiness, an emptiness made more profound by its utter lack of any contrast.

However, when all was nothing, the nothing could not be said to truly exist, either. For what is nothing when there is nothing alone, no contrasting state? And in order for nothing to not exist, there must by necessity be something where the nothing is not. And so the nothing tore asunder, after a fashion, and a great hole filled the nothingness…and a hole in eternal nothing is in fact the presence of something coming into existence, anti-void, potential become actual. The process of being so divided created a great desire to swallow up the something, to rend it down into nothing and heal the divide. So was born the dragon, Verth, the devourer, who assailed the newborn creation in its terrible coils.

Verth did indeed destroy. It rent, it tore, it crushed. But all it accomplished was to sculpt the something. By paring away potentials, it created more…all things that exist do so in the context that Verth provided. Unable to stop, unable to even understand creation at all as so antithetical to itself, Verth continued to rage against this knot that blighted the perfection, this scar on the face of nothing. In his rage, rage born of a desire for endless quiet and spaceless timelessness, Verth could only continue to destroy.

Out of the destruction rose the principle of organization, created by the endless cycle of Verth’s thrashing tail. Dytrex rose from the combat and saw the disorganized, frenetic creations of Verth’s war and sought to address the chaos. She turned the ash and dust of the ruined potentials into stars and worlds, and hung them in elaborate dance, selecting paths for them to chart across the sky. She soothed the seething surfaces of the worlds, choosing for each the best face to present to the cosmos. While unable to undo Verth’s mad dance of destruction, she managed to salvage creation out of it, bringing it to being. In time, she felt the lonliness of being the only mind in creation, the only will directing its growth, and so she began the slow process of connecting and organizing that led, step by step, to the creation of beings that could think and feel. At first but a few came into being, but now that time had begun to flow, more came to be, and they came to be more and more like their creator, capable of taking the raw material of creation and altering it, changing it into new forms, new variations.

Enraged beyond reason, Verth came to realize, as much as any being as he could realize anything, that merely smashing away at the blight caused the blight to spread out, to become distinct from itself, to select variations, themes, and in so doing become even more of a blight on the formerly perfect nothing that Verth still longed to return to. Out of desperation, unable to enter into the creation in order to destroy it, Verth considered a new tack. Dytrex had perverted his acts of destruction into more and more elaborate creations…could Verth do likewise? Straining, the Devourer shed scales, and these scales each embedded themselves into the fabric of the endless tapestry/mosaic/sculpture of existence…so were born the Kraa, they who deform, each a nightmare given substance. Loi, she who perverts, who would turn the desire to create into the desire to control, to rule over creation. Runc, he who demands, who would seek to acquire endlessly, creating the urge to glut oneself. Marl, he who slays, who would perfect deadly creations that would be turned against creation itself, unmaking that which has been made. This trinity did their father’s work in creation. They seduced many to their ways, and waged terrible war on existence. Worlds died screaming, dragged down into nothing by the works of their inhabitants. And Dytrex grieved.

Being Dytrex, she did as she always did and sought to make the best possible use of Verth’s ways. So out of the perversion of Loi she wrought Tion, who made of her controlling, confining ways the path of a shepherd who seeks to safeguard and protect. From the covetous grasping hand of Runc she brought forth Pira, who balances mad acquisition with the hand of giving, of sharing all with others. And to combat Marl she herself stole a touch of the rage of Verth himself, daring the edges of the true void and plucking a scale from his very back that she might shape Kaarsh, who can match him both in creation and in combat, seeking always to prevent destruction by being prepared to wage it in turn, understanding the lesson of Verth that sometimes a garden requires pruning, that a work of art requires selection, and that fire can be used to prevent itself.

So came things to pass. Verth still rages and schemes, wrapping his coils around creation, wanting to render it into nothing again and yet in so doing only providing Dytrex with more room to create. The Kraa do battle with Dytrex’s brood in great and small ways, seeking both the grand victory and to win the souls of each individual in creation. And so it is now, and so it will be until Verth swallows all things or Dytrex spreads existence to fill in all of nothing.

The mathematical music of the mind

July 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

These are practiced in different forms by many people, from the fire-dancing Navajo indians to the Hindus, and even occur within a nominally Christian tradition in Europe. To this day, on the feasts of St. Constantine and his mother St. Helen, the villagers of Langadas in Greece dance on glowing coals, clutching icons of these saints.
Bob Rickard and John Michell, Unexplained Phenomena

Statistical tests have shown that sick people who have taken “sugar pills” – tablets with no drugs in them – but who are told that they have taken drugs often seem to recover, even though their diseases have not really been treated. In “blind trial” experiements, some patients are given healing medication, and others are given tablets with no healing value. The patients do not know that some of the tablets have no drugs. A significant number of those receiving the placebo recover anyway, apparently just by taking what they believe is medicine.
William F. Williams, ed, Encyclopedia of Pseudo Science

I’m sure most of us know about the placebo effect, where a person who is taking completely non-medical substances can show an improvement in health merely because they believe it to be so. (There is, of course, debate as to how much of a role hypochondria can play in this…then again, hypochondria is in its own way an example of the flip side of this phenomenon, where a person’s sincere belief in an illness can actually manifest symptoms of that illness.) Then there are those who walk on hot coals, or manifest stigmata, or cause blisters to raise on their skin, or who can emit electricity from their bodies or magnetically lock themselves in place…what mechanism allows for all this? Doctors refer to the placebo effect as a psychological one…but how can a mere psychological process, in effect a delusion (“These pills are curing me”) bring about real healing? How can the inverse delusion (“I have an illness”) actually cause sickness in some cases? « Read the rest of this entry »

Mischief Maker

July 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

This one’s from the vaults.

 

Scandanavian mythological sources depict dvergar (dwarfs) as an all-male race of supernatural beings, residing in cliffs and stones, created asexually from the bones and blood of giants. Though in most instances dwarfs appear to be quite separate from other mythical races, Snorri Sturluson, in his thirteenth-century mythological manual, the Prose Edda, conflates dwarfs and “black elves,” a subcategory of beings that appears only in his writings.

Lindahl, McNamara and Lindow, Medieval Folklore

 

One day in a fit of mischief Loki cut off Sif’s golden hair, and Thor would have killed him if he had not found two cunning dwarfs to make new tresses of real gold for Sif, which would grow like natural hair. They also made Freyr’s wonderful ship and Odin’s great spear Gungnir. Loki then challenged two other skillful dwarfs to make three more treasures as good as these, wagering his head that they would not succeed. As they labored in the smithy the dwarf working the bellows was stung persistently by a fly, but in spite of this they succeeded in forging a marvelous boar with bristles of gold, who could run faster than any steed and light up the darkest night. They also forged the great gold ring, Draupnir, from which eight other rings dropped every ninth night. As they were making the third treasure, the fly stung the dwarf again, this time on his eyelid, and he had to raise his hand to brush it away. The third treasure was the great hammer Mjollnir, which would hit anything at which it was thrown and return to the thrower’s hand. Because of the interference of the fly, however, who was Loki in disguise, it was a little short in the handle. Nevertheless the gods held that the hammer was the best of all their treasures, and a sure weapon against their enemies, and they declared that Loki had lost his wager. He ran away, only to be caught by Thor and handed over to the dwarfs; they wanted to cut off his head, but Loki argued that they had no right to touch his neck. So in the end they contented themselves with sewing up his lips.

H.R. Ellis Davidson, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe

 

Pity the smiths of the gods, whom the gods often betray.

The black elves of the mountains, the dvergar born of the blood and bones of the jotun, those titanic rivals of the gods themselves, who would make furious war against the Aesir and Vanir come the crack of doom itself, the battle of Ragnarok on the plain Virdgirthir. The dwarf in his mountain seems little concerned with this rivalry, however. Much as the Cyclopses of ancient greek myth were the spawn of the titans who preceded the Olympian gods, so too were the dvergar born from the corpses of the great giants who existed before the gods, Ymir and his spawn, the ancient enemies and rivals of the hosts of Asgard. And much like those cyclopses, the dvergar were the makers of the most powerful weapons of their divine clients. From Odin’s spear to Thor’s hammer, from the great boar Gullinbursti itself to the ship of Freyr, dvergar hands worked miracles even gods couldn’t match. Yet often those self-same gods lied and cheated their dwarf artificers: the repeated stinging fly lashing at the stony face of the mountain born, stinging him even to his eye, is sign enough of what trust you could place in a god’s word.

Granted, that god was Loki. Still, why should the makers be so despised? « Read the rest of this entry »

From on high, Part Two

July 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Thus the goddess established you when she founded your nation first, fixing the spot in which ye were born, because she saw that the equal temperament of its seasons would render its people most intelligent. As the goddess was a patroness of war and erudition, she selected the place that should produce men resembling herself, and in it she planted your race. Thus, then, did ye dwell governed by such laws as I have described, and even better still, surpassing all men in excellence.

Plato, Timaeus

We talked last time about the strange correlations between goddesses in the Mesopotamian and Aegean worlds, and their correlation to Egyptian and Libyan ones, tracing their common and not so common characteristics. How could one say that Athena and Inanna were the same goddess? Both were warlike, yes, but where Athena was infamous for her virginity and wisdom, Inanna/Ishtar/Astarte was as much a goddess of love and sex as one of war, and while cunning certainly lacked something of Athena’s reputation for wisdom. We traced this back to Nin-anna, the Queen of Heaven who predated even Inanna and who clearly could only be Tiamat herself, and discussed the Enuma Elish and its portrayal of the war between the gods of Sumer, Akkad and Assyria and their progenitors, Apsu and Tiamat. Did Marduk divide Tiamat into several goddesses when he tore her in twain? Did hanging Tiamat’s corpse as the vault of the heavens allow her to become Venus, the Morning Star which descends into the underworld and rises again, alive? The planet Venus was Inanna’s special symbol, and its descent below the horizon and return helped her become associated with the descent into the realm of Ereshkigal and her rise from that gloomy land of the dead. Ishtar, the Assyrian form of Inanna, was also identified with Venus.

I mentioned how odd it was that Inanna, despite appearing in many myths and proving one of the most popular and revered divinities in the whole of Mesopotamia for thousands of years, does not appear in the Enuma Elish. It was that absence, and the Elish’s clear role as a means to elevate Marduk, and through him Babylon, to the cosmological center of creation that first led me to wonder if Tiamat, divided by Marduk in the Elish, had been divided before that by earlier mythographers, broken up into little digestible pieces. Did the Inanna piece refused to be so digested? Did the myth of Inanna tricking Ea out of the secrets of civilization come from that older period, and does its resemblance to Athena choosing the Athenians to be her chosen society owe merely to coincidence? « Read the rest of this entry »

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