Thursday, November 27, 2008

'Buddha's skull' found in Nanjing

Chinese archaeologists have claimed that a 1,000-year-old miniature pagoda, unearthed in Nanjing, holds a piece of skull belonging to Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism.

The pagoda was wedged tightly inside an iron case that was discovered at the site of a former temple in the city in August.

The four-storey pagoda, which is almost four feet high and one-and-a-half feet wide, is thought by archaeologists to be one of the 84,000 pagodas commissioned by Ashoka the Great in the second century BC to house the remains of the Buddha.

Ashoka, one of India's greatest emperors, converted to Buddhism after waging a bloody war in the eastern state of Orissa. He is widely credited with spreading Buddhism throughout Asia, and across his kingdom, which stretched from Pakistan through Afghanistan and into Iran.

The pagoda found in Nanjing is crafted from wood, gilded with silver and inlaid with gold, coloured glass and amber. It matches a description of another of Ashoka's pagodas which used to be housed underneath the Changgan Buddhist temple in Nanjing.

A description of the contents of the pagoda was also found: a gold coffin bearing part of Buddha's skull inside a silver box. Although scans have confirmed that there are two small metal boxes inside the pagoda, experts have not yet peered inside. The pagoda is currently on display in the museum.

Qi Haining, the head of archaeology at Nanjing Museum, told state media: "This pagoda may be unique, the only one known to contain parts of Buddha's skull".

But he said there would be a lengthy process before the cases could be opened. In 2001, Chinese authorities found a case that was said to contain a relic of Buddha's hair, but declined to open the welded box in case it damaged the contents.

De Qing, an expert in Buddhism in Nanjing, said: “The discovery of the relic will have a huge influence on the cultural history of Buddhism in China and will establish Nanjing as a premier site. It will be a great encouragement for Buddhists as well as for future studies. It is important for Buddhism as a religion to have these sarira, or relics, to show its followers. The more a Buddhist practises, the more relics will remain of him after his death. I am hugely excited. I think they should take the skull outside of the container, it is a sacred item, but it is not an untouchable item.”

Siddhartha Gautama, who is believed to have been born in the fifth century BC, was a spirit­ual teacher and recognised by Buddhists as the Supreme Buddha of our age. Also known as Shakyamuni, or the Sage of the Sakyas, his teachings are contained in the Tripitaka, the canon of Buddhist thought.

He is said to have attained Enlightenment, or to have become a Buddha, which means "Awakened One", at the age of 35, after 49 days meditating underneath a pipal tree.

The second World Buddhist Forum, a gathering of monks and scholars from around the world, will take place near Nanjing next year in Wuxi.

Monday, November 24, 2008

UFO and JFK Assassination links Conspiracy

A conspiracy is a secret agreement among a group of people attempting to conceal something. The two biggest conspiracies in our lifetimes, if true, are the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the cover-up of the presence of extraterrestrial beings on earth.

Kenn Thomas, author of a book titled MAURY ISLAND UFO: THE CRISMAN CONSPIRACY, points out a remarkable string of coincidences that may actually tie the two conspiracies together. According to Thomas, a man named Fred Crisman played a central role in these seemingly unrelated events.

On June 21, 1947, an airplane pilot named Kenneth Arnold spotted what he described as "flying saucers" over Mt. Rainier in the State of Washington, launching the modern UFO era. The term "flying saucer" soon became part of the UFO lexicon. There were many UFO sightings later in 1947, including the famous Roswell crash incident.
Four people, including Harold Dahl and his son, witnessed the event from a salvage boat in a nearby bay. They reported seeing six doughnut-shaped craft, approximately 20 feet in diameter, hovering high above. Five of the craft formed a circle surrounding a craft in the middle that was wobbling badly. The seemingly damaged craft suddenly dropped down about 700 feet, then spewed two substances -- one was a paper-like metal that floated in the bay and the other was a hot, steaming, black sludge that rained down, striking Dahl's son and killing his dog.

Dahl reported these events to Fred Crisman, a man he believed to have some connections in the intelligence community. Crisman subsequently went to Maury Island to investigate the incident. He found a great deal of both materials on the shore and recovered some for himself.

Soon thereafter, Crisman shared his experience with Ray Palmer, a magazine publisher, who then hired Kenneth Arnold (the original pilot) to investigate further. Three days later, Arnold had more sightings, culminating with a woman recovering some unusual material in the same vicinity, who then turned the material over to FBI agent Guy Banister.

Capt. Lee Davidson and Lt. Frank Brown, Air Force investigators under the command of Gen. Nathan Twining, soon joined Arnold in retrieving debris on Maury Island. Ultimately, Crisman was compelled to turn over his samples to the two Air Force investigators. Classified documents, recently discovered under the freedom of information act, also indicate that Crisman turned additional samples he had held back over to CIA agent Clay Shaw.

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Many people believe it was part of a larger conspiracy, far beyond a lone gunman named Lee Harvey Oswald.

In his 1968 investigation of the assassination, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison claimed that Guy Banister and Claw Shaw were involved in the plot to kill JFK, and that Fred Crisman may have been one of the gunmen.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

UFO involved in a dramatic incident

A POLICE helicopter flying over Birmingham narrowly avoided tragedy when it nearly collided with a UFO, a report has claimed.

The pilot managed to swerve out of the mystery aircraft’s way while he was on a routine police surveillance task over the city centre earlier this year. The helicopter was also carrying two police observers during the journey at around 9.50pm on May 2.

All three reported seeing an aircraft with two continuous blue/green lights – but were unable to identify what it was. The extraordinary incident is detailed in a document compiled by experts from the Airprox Board, which records near misses and reports them to the military and air traffic control units.

The report stated: “The front observer saw unidentified lights flying around their aircraft. The pilot established visual contact, as he manoeuvred the aircraft to avoid a collision and to identify the light source.”

The object was less than 100m away and flew around them. The pilot told the Airprox Board he thought the intent may either have been sinister or just someone messing around. It was initially believed that the object was a radio controlled aircraft and that it was purposefully flown around the helicopter.

The report stated: “He (the pilot) believes the lights may have come from a radio controlled fixed wing aircraft, the lights being to assist with night flying.” Despite searching the area with a thermal camera, the pilot was unable to find any signs of radio-controlled model activity.
And the British Model Flying Association ruled out the possibility, saying the mystery object was flying too high to be a miniature craft.

Leading expert Nick Pope, who previously worked for the Ministry of Defence’s UFO desk and is nicknamed the British Fox Mulder, told the Birmingham Mail today: “A helicopter was nearly blown out of the sky.

“This is a very disturbing incident which needs to be thoroughly investigated by the MoD and the Civil Aviation Authority as well as other near misses. “The conclusion on the report is unsatisfactory especially when this aircraft came within seconds of a collision. It is a very interesting case especially when you look at the eyewitnesses. They are credible and reliable sources who have experience in night time flying.”

“This sighting clearly illustrates that whatever one believes about UFOs, this incident raises important air safety issues and should be taken seriously.”

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Iron age slab shows belief in soul seperation

Archaeologists in southeastern Turkey have discovered an Iron Age chiseled stone slab that provides the first written evidence in the region that people believed the soul was separate from the body.

University of Chicago researchers will describe the discovery, a testimony created by an Iron Age official that includes an incised image of the man, on Nov. 22-23 at conferences of biblical and Middle Eastern archaeological scholars in Boston.

The Neubauer Expedition of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago found the 800-pound basalt stele, 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, at Zincirli (pronounced “Zin-jeer-lee”), the site of the ancient city of Sam’al. Once the capital of a prosperous kingdom, it is now one of the most important Iron Age sites under excavation.

The stele is the first of its kind to be found intact in its original location, enabling scholars to learn about funerary customs and life in the eighth century B.C. At the time, vast empires emerged in the ancient Middle East, and cultures such as the Israelites and Phoenicians became part of a vibrant mix.

The man featured on the stele was probably cremated, a practice that Jewish and other cultures shun because of a belief in the unity of body and soul. According to the inscription, the soul of the deceased resided in the stele.

“The stele is in almost pristine condition. It is unique in its combination of pictorial and textual features and thus provides an important addition to our knowledge of ancient language and culture,” said David Schloen, Associate Professor at the Oriental Institute and Director of the University’s Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli.

Schloen will present the Kuttamuwa stele to a scholarly audience at the meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research on Nov. 22 in Boston, the major annual conference for Middle Eastern archaeology. Dennis Pardee, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization at the University of Chicago, will present his translation of the stele’s 13-line inscription the following day at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, also in Boston, in a session on “Paleographical Studies in the Near East.”

German archaeologists first excavated the 100-acre site in the 1890s and unearthed massive city walls, gates and palaces. A number of royal inscriptions and other finds are now on display in museums in Istanbul and Berlin. Schloen and his team from the University of Chicago have excavated Zincirli for two months annually since 2006.

“Zincirli is a remarkable site,” said Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute. “Because no other cities were built on top of it, we have excellent Iron Age materials right under the surface. It is rare also in having written evidence together with artistic and archaeological evidence from the Iron Age. Having all of that information helps an archaeologist study the ethnicity of the inhabitants, trade and migration, as well as the relationships of the groups who lived there.”

The stele was discovered last summer in a small room that had been converted into a mortuary shrine for the royal official Kuttamuwa, self-described in the inscription as a “servant” of King Panamuwa of the eighth century B.C. It was found in the outer part of the walled city in a domestic area—most likely the house of Kuttamuwa himself—far from the royal palaces, where inscriptions had previously been found.

The inscription reads in part: “I, Kuttamuwa, servant of Panamuwa, am the one who oversaw the production of this stele for myself while still living. I placed it in an eternal chamber(?) and established a feast at this chamber(?): a bull for [the storm-god] Hadad, … a ram for [the sun-god] Shamash, … and a ram for my soul that is in this stele. …” It was written in a script derived from the Phoenician alphabet and in a local West Semitic dialect similar to Aramaic and Hebrew. It is of keen interest to linguists as well as biblical scholars and religious historians because it comes from a kingdom contemporary with ancient Israel that shared a similar language and cultural features.

The finding sheds a striking new light on Iron Age beliefs about the afterlife. In this case, it was the belief that the enduring identity or “soul” of the deceased inhabited the monument on which his image was carved and on which his final words were recorded.

The stele was set against a stone wall in the corner of the small room, with its protruding tenon or “tab” still inserted into a slot in a flagstone platform. A handsome, bearded figure, Kuttamuwa wore a tasseled cap and fringed cloak and raised a cup of wine in his right hand. He was seated on a chair in front of a table laden with food, symbolizing the pleasant afterlife he expected to enjoy. Beside him is his inscription, elegantly carved in raised relief, enjoining upon his descendants the regular duty of bringing food for his soul. Indeed, in front of the stele were remains of food offerings and fragments of polished stone bowls of the type depicted on Kuttamuwa’s table.

According to Schloen, the stele vividly demonstrates that Iron Age Sam’al, located in the border zone between Anatolia and Syria, inherited both Semitic and Indo-European cultural traditions. Kuttamuwa and his king, Panamuwa, had non-Semitic names, reflecting the migration of Indo-European speakers into the region centuries earlier under the Hittite Empire based in central Anatolia (modern Turkey), which had conquered the region.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Many who wonder about the Roswell crash wonder why ET did not retrieve its own craft and crew. How can we fathom that they left their own on the desert floor? This is a question that has an answer, though we have no obligation to provide one. This is because the Alien Intent can never be fully discerned with any certainty. But we can try.

There are seven possible scenarios- one of which may well have played out in July of 1947 over the skies of Chaves and Lincoln Counties:

1) Perhaps the craft that crashed did not have a "companion craft" or "mothership" in the nearby cosmos to be able to arrive in time to Earth to make a recovery. Man has never sent multiple spaceships at the same time to the same destination.

2) If such a ship were in the area, perhaps the retrieval of all the strewn debris, craft components and corpses would have too difficult to accomplish (and cover up) in time to remain undetected. ET did not wish to risk further exposure -or perhaps even confrontation- with Man. It took us many days and many people to retrieve everything. And still it was not done effectively. The retrieval was seen by those who should not have seen, with some of the material being taken by them.

3) Maybe ET did try a crash retrieval, but simply failed to locate the craft and arrive in time. The debris and bodies may have already been discovered by us by then. Sightings of UFOs in the region spiked in the days immediately following the crash. Was ET still looking for its fallen?

4) ET may well have had a concern about the safety of retrieval. Whatever caused the crash to occur in that area at that time (such as a missile or triangulated radar beams) could cause a retrieval craft to come in harm's way too. The risk assessed, they elected not to initiate a recovery operation.

5) Warring factions of visitors caused one to ram to the ground. The aerial battle engaged- priority and concern was for survival, not retrieval.

6) Just as it was the first time that we did not know immediately quite how to handle the situation, it was the first earthly crash that ET had experienced. They may well have had similar hesitancy or disagreement about dealing with the event. This delay may have prevented a timely retrieval.

7) ET did not want to retrieve. They may have in some way desired to "seed" or "plant" themselves and their technology with Man at that point in history. The crash would give Man concrete knowledge that he is not alone in the Universe. They may have hoped that this would curtail further development of nuclear armament, promoting peace and openness. ET can be wrong.

Man must assign cause or motive to the unexplained. It is our compulsion...for man learns nothing except by going from the known to the unknown. But why they came here, why they crashed and failed to retrieve- are things perhaps forever unknowable.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Herod's Lost Tomb

Herod's bloody reputation has always hidden another side of one of the Bible's greatest villains - an architectural mastermind of breathtaking proportions. An Israeli archaeologist claims to have found Herod's most intimate creation of all - his tomb.

Herod the Great, the king of the holy land in the time of Christ, is best known for the murders of his wife, three sons, and all of Bethlehem’s male children under two. His bloody reputation has always hidden the fact that Herod was one of the greatest and most imaginative builders in world history. Learn more:

  • In and around ancient Judea Herod built about 22 world-class temples, palaces, fortresses, and cities

  • At Masada he turned a crude mountaintop stronghold into a fortified palace complex that seemed to defy gravity.

  • At Caesarea he built the Mediterranean’s largest deep-water port; a feat some believe should be considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

  • With his expansion of Jerusalem’s Second Temple, Herod built the largest sacred complex of its time—dwarfing the pagan shrines of Rome and equal to the size of about 26 football fields.

  • Though Jewish by faith, Herod was an Arab by blood.

  • Jerusalem’s Second Temple was part of one of the largest sacred complexes of its time. To keep it pure, it’s said, Herod trained 1,000 Jewish priests in construction techniques.

  • Herod built the Western Wall, Judaism’s most sacred site.

  • At Herodium, Herod built one of the largest palace complexes anywhere, and chose to be buried there. Yet Herod’s burial contained a maddening riddle concerning where he built his tomb.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Is The End Near Yet?

The world has been ending for thousands of years. Early Christians believed the end would happen in their lifetime and that the Roman Empire represented the last gasp of humanity. As it turns out, it was one of the first gasps in the birth of the modern world in which we live. In the year 1000, medieval millenialists nervously wondered if the addition of a digit to the way we count our years would herald the end. It would seem it didn’t. A thousand years later people wondered if the change in that digit would result in a mass computer failure that would reverberate around the world and cause a major disruption of society to the point of the world regressing to the stone age. Didn’t quite happen that way.

In fact, in the hundreds of millennial predictions, sects, and beliefs that have surfaced since the death of Christ, and before, not a single one has come to pass. The world may seem close to the abyss, but it never quite makes that last step needed to cross the edge. In fact, it often seems in hindsight that it was never on that last step at all, but more than a day’s walk away.

Now we approach the next round of dire predictions. From the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012, to the last Pope prophesized by St. Malachi to come after the current one, to religious-based predictions that the end must be near as the current state of affairs in the world must be omens signaling the end, we unfortunately will never have the answer until the world actually decides to take the last baby step off the cliff.

Oddly, Nostradamus seems the odd man out in this orgy of prediction that seems to be gripping the world of those who study things paranormal. He doesn’t predict the end of the world until thousands of years from now, if ever.

I can’t help but wonder why the end of the world preoccupies us so much. For all the predictions and doomsday talk, Chances are, we’ll never see it coming. It could come in the form of an asteroid impact, or even a supernova silently bombarding us with lethal doses of radiation. Or it could be one of the religious predictions that comes true, but in this case, it might not be such a good idea to try to read the mind of God and blow the big secret before the almighty has a chance to finish his plan. You might just invite his judgment for such a thing.

I think the reason is psychological. Some need an order to dismiss the chaos of world affairs. It becomes comforting, perhaps, to see a great earthquake with a horrendous loss of life and see it in the context that it means something. We watch the economic troubles of today, and maybe it makes more sense for them to be part of the divine plan for the earth’s end, rather than mistakes stemming from greed and poor financial infrastructure. The problem is though, we’ve seen all of this before, and the first time around none of them turned out to be indicative of the end. In fact, the world has been in almost constant calamity for two thousand years, leading many to believe that the time in which they lived were the end times. For most of these people, it wasn’t.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

4,300-year-old pyramid found in Egypt

A new pyramid has been discovered deep beneath Egyptian sands, archaeologists announced today.

The 4,300-year-old monument is believed to be the tomb of Queen Sesheshet, the mother of Pharaoh Teti, the founder ancient Egypt's 6th dynasty.

Once nearly five stories tall, the pyramid—or at least what remains of it—lay beneath 23 feet (7 meters) of sand.

The discovery is the third known subsidiary, or satellite, pyramid to the tomb of Teti. It's also the second pyramid found this year in Saqqara, an ancient royal burial complex near current-day Cairo.

I always say you never know what the sands of Egypt might hide," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).

"This might be the most complete subsidiary pyramid ever found at Saqqara," added Hawass, who is also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)

Surprise in the Sand

Archaeologists also found remnants of a white limestone casing for the surviving, 16-foot-tall (5-meter-tall) pyramid base. The angle of the base helped them determine that the pyramid's walls stood at a 51-degree angle.

Based on that angle, the team determined that the pyramid was originally 46 feet (14 meters) tall and about 72 feet (22 meters) square at its base.

The researchers were somewhat surprised to find a pyramid at the Teti site, since they thought the area had been thoroughly searched. Archaeologists had already found subsidiary pyramids for Teti's two principal wives Iput I and Khuit, about a hundred years ago and in 1994, respectively.

Teams have been digging in the area for more than 20 years. "One hundred years ago they used to take sand and put it in unexcavated areas," Hawass said.

"The archaeologists in the past used this area as a location for the sand. No one could think there is anything here."

Tomb robbers, however, had known the pyramid was there—archaeologists found that a shaft had been created to allow access to Sesheshet's funerary chamber.

Due to those assumed tomb raids, archaeologists don't expect to find Sesheshet's mummy when they reach the burial chamber weeks from now. But they do anticipate finding inscriptions about the queen, whose name, perhaps coincidentally, evokes the goddess of history and writing, Seshat.

Mother Love

Starting from the 4th dynasty (2616 to 2494 B.C.), pharaohs often built pyramids for their wives and mothers.

"Mothers were revered in ancient Egypt," said Salima Ikram, a professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, who was not involved in the discovery.

"Building pyramids for one's mother in her dead state … was fairly emphasized in the whole vision of kingship that the ancient Egyptians had," Ikram said.

"That was something that was instituted during [a pharaoh's] lifetime and was a very public way of expressing his debt to her, his connection to her, and her importance in Egypt politically and as a symbol for kingship."

Sesheshet's son Teti might have been more motivated than the average pharaoh to pay homage to his mother. Sesheshet had come from a powerful family and probably supported his ascendancy to the throne during turmoil at the end of the 5th dynasty.

"She's one of the important ladies at that time," said Hakim Haddad, general director of excavations in Egypt.

"At the end of the 5th dynasty and the beginning of the 6th dynasty, there was a conflict between two branches of the royal families."

The American University's Ikram added, "I assume Teti thought it would be a good plan to make his mother a pyramid."

Regardless of Teti's motivations, SCA director Hawass says the newfound pyramid is special because of its association with a female ruler.

"You can discover a tomb or a statue, but to discover a pyramid it makes you happy. And a pyramid of a queen—queens have magic."

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008


How can the Secret of Roswell be kept? Those doubting the Roswell crash doubt that it could ever be concealed over such a long time. Government is not capable enough to veil such a thing from the governed. They argue that the cover-up would be too vast and too difficult to be effective. And they are wrong.

The ability of government -and the private sector- to maintain extreme secrecy over an extended time is well established. This secrecy has been effective on many different levels and on many different fronts. Technologies, covert activities and even entire organizations have remained hidden from view, even over many decades.

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) was established in 1960. Its existence was not acknowledged until 32 years later! A letter of lies in my possession from 1975 from the Air Force specifically denied existence of the NRO, although it was by then already 15 years in operation. The National Security Agency (NSA) was created in 1952. Although acknowledged five years later, many of the 40,000 employees of "No Such Agency"' could not mention their employment by the Agency -even to their own families- until the 1990s!

The B-2 Stealth Bomber was optimized in 1979 but not publicly flown until ten years later. The precise ingredients and formula that make Coca-Cola have been kept secret since 1886. Though it is the most manufactured beverage on the planet, only a core group of living people at any one time hold the key to the process. From a bomber to a soft drink- secrets of technology and trade can remain secret.

FEMA's Mt. Weather is a virtual underground city that functions as an emergency haven for the continuity of government. Built deep beneath the Earth in the 1950s, it involved the efforts of thousands of engineers and construction personnel. They could not even tell their loved ones where they were and what they were doing. Mt. Weather continued its clandestine operation until the mid 1970s when it was finally acknowledged. Incredibly, members of Congress and their families (who would be housed there in an emergency) also held the secret of this Secret City over decades! Of course Area 51 - the massive Nevada Air Force Installation- makes this same case. Risen from the desert dirt in the 1950's -and involving the lives of many thousands from all walks of life- the government only tacitly conceded it as "an operating location" in 2003.

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Many gather to ponder end of Maya days

San Francisco -- Hundreds of people gathered near the Golden Gate Bridge over the weekend to ponder the enigmatic date of Dec. 21, 2012, the last day of the ancient Maya calendar and the focus of many end-of-the-world predictions.

In these times of economic distress, participants shelled out $300 each to attend the sold-out 2012 Conference, where astrologers, UFO fans, shamans and New Age entrepreneurs of every stripe presented their dreams and dreads in two days of lectures, group meditations, documentaries and, of course, self-promotion.

Normally, New Age platforms attract the interest of only the narrowest group of enthusiasts. But this one has been generating wider audiences because it so forcefully underscores the turmoil of the times, as indicated by the stock market plunge, Iran's nuclear ambitions, the Sept. 11 attacks, global warming and the possibility of a magnetic pole shift and stronger sunspot cycles.

To some, the end of the Maya Long Calendar's roughly 5,000-year cycle portends calamity, or the birth of a new age, or both.

The conference's slogan: "Shift happens."

The gathering of about 300 people from as far away as Holland was launched with the blessings of a Guatemalan shaman and the scary predictions of Jay Weidner, whose firm, Sacred Mysteries, has sponsored four 2012 events in the last six months.

"The greatest crisis in human history is unfolding all around us. It's not the end of this world, but it's the end of this age," he likes to say. "To survive the 21st century, we're going to have to become a sustainable world -- people should want to know how to pound a nail, milk a cow and grow their own food."

Now, a gold rush of "2012ology" is underway. A similar conference in Hollywood this year drew an audience of more than 1,000. At least two gatherings are planned for the Los Angeles area in the spring. "A Complete Idiot's Guide to 2012" was published last month, adding to a burgeoning market of books, CDs and History Channel specials suggesting that the ancient Maya predicted the impending end of the world as we know it.

Director Michael Bay is set to make a movie titled "2012," based on a novel about multiple earths in parallel universes slated for destruction.

Stewart Guthrie, professor emeritus of anthropology at Fordham University, was not surprised by the growing interest in newfangled notions about what those Maya time keepers might have had in mind as far back as AD 200.

"When events leave us feeling powerless and confused, we are more open to new claims about the disorders of the world," he said. "If people persuade enough others to accept their answers to this crazy world, it can become a movement, for better or worse."

For example, the Gulf War and the Oklahoma City bombing boosted the popularity of doomsday predictions of famine, earthquakes and social tumult. Some were cobbled from the spooky riddles and images in the Bible's book of Revelation, which scholars believe was actually written to help early Christians cope with their Roman oppressors.

In 1973, when the appearance of Comet Kohoutek coincided with a decision by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to announce an oil embargo, the big question was whether the chunk of dirty ice hurtling through space would be the most spectacular celestial sight of the century, or wreak social unrest, tidal waves and earthquakes as claimed by some members of the New Age crowd. As it turned out, Kohoutek fizzled and shot past Earth without incident.

Then there was the worldwide turn-of-the-century panic in the late 1990s that had corporations spending millions on computer fixes, and people around the world stocking up on Spam, water, batteries and energy bars.

The scene at the 2012 Conference here had the same giddy sense of urgency. Conference co-organizer Sharron Rose said the Maya timeline foretold "the most profound event in human history. Everything we know, everything we are, is about to undergo a substantial and radical alteration."

Exactly which direction to take, however, was unclear. The group is strikingly splintered, each focused on his or her own New Age theories: Spiritual teacher Jose Arguelles, for instance, contends that the Maya were prescient space aliens. And author Daniel Pinchbeck describes 2012 as a time for "the return of the Quetzalcoatl," the mythical feathered serpent of Mesoamerica.

Maya researcher John Major Jenkins drew enthusiastic applause from the crowd with a lecture in which he said that Maya hieroglyphics are rife with images of trees and animals that represent the center of the Milky Way galaxy and what he called "the Black Hole of Maya Creation mythology."

That kind of talk irritates Boston University's William Saturno, a leading authority on the Maya, who did not attend the conference. Saturno dismissed the 2012 movement as "this year's Nostradamus."

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Skeleton of 12,000-year-old shaman discovered buried with leopard, 50 tortoises and human foot

The skeleton of a 12,000 year-old Natufian Shaman has been discovered in northern Israel by archaeologists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The burial is described as being accompanied by "exceptional" grave offerings - including 50 complete tortoise shells, the pelvis of a leopard and a human foot. The shaman burial is thought to be one of the earliest known from the archaeological record and the only shaman grave in the whole region.

Dr. Leore Grosman of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University, who is heading the excavation at the Natufian site of Hilazon Tachtit in the western Galilee, says that the elaborate and invested interment rituals and method used to construct and seal the grave suggest that this woman had a very high standing within the community. Details of the discovery were published in the PNAS journal on November 3, 2008.

What was found in the shaman's grave?

The grave contained body parts of several animals that rarely occur in Natufian assemblages. These include fifty tortoises, the near-compete pelvis of a leopard, the wing tip of a golden eagle, tail of a cow, two marten skulls and the forearm of a wild boar which was directly aligned with the woman's left humerus.

A human foot belonging to an adult individual who was substantially larger than the interred woman was also found in the grave.

Dr. Grosman believes this burial is consistent with expectations for a shaman's grave. Burials of shamans often reflect their role in life (i.e., remains of particular animals and contents of healing kits). It seems that the woman was perceived as being in close relationship with these animal spirits

Method of burial

The body was buried in an unusual position. It was laid on its side with the spinal column, pelvis and right femur resting against the curved southern wall of the oval-shaped grave. The legs were spread apart and folded inward at the knees.

According to Dr. Grosman, ten large stones were placed directly on the head, pelvis and arms of the buried individual at the time of burial. Following decomposition of the body, the weight of the stones caused disarticulation of some parts of the skeleton, including the separation of the pelvis from the vertebral column.

Speculating why the body was held in place in such a way and covered with rocks, Dr. Grosman suggests it could have been to protect the body from being eaten by wild animals or because the community was trying to keep the shaman and her spirit inside the grave.

Analysis of the bones show that the shaman was 45 years old, petite and had an unnatural, asymmetrical appearance due to a spinal disability that would have affected the woman's gait, causing her to limp or drag her foot.

Fifty tortoises

Most remarkably, the woman was buried with 50 complete tortoise shells. The inside of the tortoises were likely eaten as part of a feast surrounding the interment of the deceased. High representation of limb bones indicates that most tortoise remains were thrown into the grave along with the shells after consumption.

The recovery of the limb bones also indicates that entire tortoises, not only their shells, were transported to the cave for the burial. The collection of 50 living tortoises at the time of burial would have required a significant investment, as these are solitary animals. Alternatively, these animals could have been collected and confined by humans for a period preceding the event.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rock stars and their alien encounters

Do rock stars have more than the average number of encounters with aliens?

There is, as David Bowie once noted, a starman waiting in the sky. He’d like to come and meet us but he thinks he’d — to use Earth vernacular — “blow our minds”. So, what he does, it turns out, is make his presence known only to the most open-minded, space-attuned, alien-friendly creatures on the planet: rock stars.

You could certainly be forgiven for thinking so, anyway. First of all, just about every songwriter of note has written at least one song about the final frontier. Space is, after all, the perfect metaphor for . . . well . . . just about anything you’d like it to be. For Elton John in Rocket Man, space provided the perfect metaphor for (in those days) closet homosexuality: “I’m not the man they think I am at home. Oh no, no, no.” For Bowie, it served as the perfect metaphor for alienation, drug addiction and fear of madness, from Space Oddity (the chilling “your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong”) through to Ashes to Ashes (the terrifying “the shrieking of nothing is killing”).

The planet Mars has been another all-purpose symbol, either standing for remote desolation (“might as well be on Mars”, sang Alice Cooper); or a place where human beings could start out all over again and maybe make a better job of it this time. The former Byrd Roger McGuinn, modern-day bluesman Ben Harper and the Grateful Dead have all released albums ostensibly “from” Mars — wish fulfilment, presumably — although, admittedly, the Dead’s From the Mars Hotel’s chief claim to fame these days is that if you held it up to a mirror, the cover graphic seemed to spell out “Ugly Rumours”, the name of the rock band that Tony Blair used to play in. (Although to be fair to Blair, it should be pointed out that he wasn’t the greatest Grateful Dead fan in the band; that was bandmate Mark Ellen, now editor of The Word magazine.)

Yet above and beyond all the singers who reference space in their songs, there are many who also claim to have had alien encounters. Elvis Presley told his inner circle about alien experiences — hardly surprising since his father had noted a strange blue light in the sky when Elvis was born. John Lennon, Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix all saw UFOs, and Lennon had an extremely close encounter with an alien. If the fact that the source for this fact is Uri Geller doesn’t put you off, then you can find out more in the never less than fascinating book Alien Rock, in which the author, Michael Luckman, details the alien encounters of the great, the good and the also-rans. Somehow, the fact that it’s not just the Beatles and the Stones — that the Moody Blues, Jamiroquai and Olivia Newton-John also had their alien moments — makes the whole thing much more believable.

Of course, any natural cynic will point out that another thing that links many rock stars is a more than adequate consumption of mind-expanding drugs, and nobody will be that surprised to learn that Keith Richards and Gram Parsons once decided to go looking for UFOs one night around Joshua Tree (in fact, you may be more surprised to find that they didn’t see any).

One person who did see some is Connie Mitchell, lead singer with Sneaky Sound System, a brilliant new dance-pop outfit who have already taken their native Australia by storm, and are now set to unleash their Scissor Sisters-meets-Basement Jaxx sound on us. We know this because Sneaky Sound System’s new single (out November 17) is called UFO, and the chorus goes like this: “I saw a UFO but nobody believes me.” It’s a true story, except for the fact that, having had a good long chat with Mitchell and her bandmate Angus McDonald, I think I do believe her. (Of course, it’s possible that I have been influenced by the big keyboard riff, the squishy synths and the sing-along chorus of the track, not to mention Mitchell’s artfully measured vocal performance.)

Here’s Mitchell’s account of her encounter: “I was putting the washing out on the line, putting my underwear out to dry, which should only take five minutes, right? I remember looking at my watch, because I took it off before I put my hand in the washing machine to take the wet clothes out. When I came back in, people said, ‘Where have you been?’ I didn’t understand what was going on till I saw the time. It was 45 minutes later. That’s a long time to be hanging out underwear.

“I tried to remember what had happened and gradually it came back to me. I had seen two lights in the sky, and then each light split into three, and then went like that and like that and like that.” Mitchell draws fast, jerky, triangular movements in the air.

This seems like the end of the anecdote, but Mitchell is looking at McDonald with a “Should I? Shouldn’t I?” expression. “Angus doesn’t want me to talk about the rest because he thinks it makes me sound like a crackpot,” she says. “No, no, I like you talking about it,” McDonald disagrees. “I think it’s fascinating.”

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Unsolved Mysteries of Ouija Board - Learn how to use Ouija Board

MENTION THE USE of a Ouija board to a paranormal research group these days and you’ll get a lot of head shaking and statements about “opening portals” and “demonic entities”. Mention it to religious fundamentalists and you’ll practically see them shudder and back away on shaky legs, as if the board was created by Satan himself as a means of enslaving human souls.

How did the Ouija board and similar “talking boards” get this reputation? Is it deserved? How is it different than other methods of spirit communication?


The talking board has been around for well over 100 years. Its most popular incarnation today is the Ouija board, marketed by Hasbro. There have been many editions over the years and several imitators, but the concept is always the same: a board on which are printed letters and numbers; a planchette or pointer that spells out answers to questions when the users place their fingertips on it.

Marketed as a toy, the Ouija has been a best-seller for decades. When I was a kid, it was seen as a harmless, if mysterious and somewhat spooky diversion. It was especially used around the Halloween season when thoughts turn to ghosts and the unknown. We never took it very seriously, however. If it did spell out answers, each user suspected the other of making the pointer do it... or maybe – just maybe – it was moved by g-g-g-ghosts! But we never had the notion that it was controlled by demons.

This seems to be a relatively new idea. Where did this literal demonization of the Ouija board come from? I can’t say with 100 percent certainty, but I think this idea came from (or at least was popularized by) The Exorcist, both the book and the movie. In this work of fiction, pre-teen Regan tells her mother she’s been using the Ouija board by herself, conversing with someone named Captain Howdy. Shortly thereafter, she becomes possessed by the Devil.

Subsequent movies such as Witchboard, The Craft, and others further promoted the idea that the Ouija was a conduit to dark forces. Previous to these Hollywood productions, the Ouija was not generally regarded in this way. But the idea was also latched onto by many Christian fundamentalists, who tend to consider just about anything they don’t agree with as the work of Satan.

Then many paranormal researchers also came around to this way of thinking, but I've never come across any convincing evidence that would lead to this position. Yes, we’ve all heard the horror stories from people who claim to have serious negative experiences with the board. (In fact, you can read some of them in this site’s Tales of the Ouija section. Hey, a good story is a good story.) But how many of them can be verified? And how many of the tales are the products of active, highly suggestive, and eager-for-drama teenage imaginations? Yet the majority of paranormal investigators today will advise you not to use a Ouija board, taking the same stance as books such as Stoker Hunt’s Ouija: The Most Dangerous Game.


For the sake of argument, however, let’s say that at least some of these tales of terror are true. Some of them might be. Should we blame the board? Or should we blame the people using the board? In other words, where is this negativity really coming from? Is it coming from a demon, who I guess we have to assume is sitting around with nothing better to do, waiting for teenagers to sit down at a Ouija board to scare the crap out of them with a selection of supernatural antics? Or is it more likely that any effects – supernatural or not – arise out of the energized subconscious of the users?

If you read related articles of mine on this subject, you’ll know that I do not buy in to the notions of demons and possession. These are ancient superstitions – completely made up – for which there is no reasonable evidence. The idea of the Devil was created by humans to help humans explain to ourselves the evil that humans do. The sad truth is, however, that we create our own evil in the world. We’re responsible for it, not some discarnate demon. We create it, just as we create good in the world.

And what of the supernatural aspects? Just as it is now commonly accepted among most paranormal researchers that poltergeist activity – objects moved telekinetically, bangs on walls, and the rest of it – is created by the subconscious of a person or persons, so too can any extraordinary manifestations in a Ouija session be credited to the subconscious. Why is it often so negative? Because that is often the expectation of the users involved. Intention creates reality.

How To Use a Ouija Board

A Ouija board can be an interesting experience. Some believe it is a doorway to another world and warn against its use, but most people see it as a harmless diversion, especially if it's not taken too seriously. Here are some guidelines.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 15 minutes to 1 hour

Here's How:

1. It takes two to Ouija. Usually one person is not able to work the Ouija. Get a friend to use it with you. A male and female is usually recommended.

2. Timing. Most practitioners suggest using the board at night when, they say, less interference is in the atmosphere.

3. Create some atmosphere. The Ouija is more fun if you darken the room and light some candles. Turn off the TV and any music to minimize distractions....

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Unsolved Mysteries of Past Life Recall

Under hypnosis, numerous people recall the details of previous lives, even to the point of taking on the personalities of their former selves - and speaking in foreign languages!

In 1824, a nine-year-old boy named Katsugoro, the son of a Japanese farmer, told his sister that he believed he had a past life. According to his story, which is one of the earliest cases of past life recall on record, the boy vividly recalled that he had been the son of another farmer in another village and had died from the effects of smallpox in 1810. Katsugoro could remember dozens of specific events about his past life, including details about his family and the village where they lived, even though Katsugoro had never been there. He even remembered the time of his death, his burial and the time he spent before being reborn. The facts he related were subsequently verified by an investigation.

Past life recall is one of the most fascinating areas of unexplained human phenomena. As yet, science has been unable to prove or disprove its genuineness. Even many who have investigated claims of past life recall are unsure whether it is an historical recollection due to reincarnation or is a construction of information somehow received by the subconscious. Either possibility is remarkable. And like many areas of the paranormal, there is a propensity for fraud that the serious investigator must watch out for. It's important to be skeptical about such extraordinary claims, but the stories are nonetheless intriguing.

Past life recall generally comes about spontaneously, more often with children than adults. Those who support the idea of reincarnation believe this is because children are closer to their past lives and that their minds have not been clouded or "written over" by their present lives. Adults who experience past life recall often do so as the result of some extraordinary experience, such as hypnosis, lucid dreaming or even a blow to the head.

Here are some outstanding cases:

Virginia Tighe / Bridey Murphy

Perhaps the most famous case of past life recall is that of Virginia Tighe who recalled her past life as Bridey Murphy. Virginia was the wife of a Virginia businessman in Pueblo, Colorado. While under hypnosis in 1952, she told Morey Bernstein, her therapist, that over 100 years ago she was an Irish woman named Bridget Murphy who went by the nickname of Bridey. During their sessions together, Bernstein marveled at detailed conversations with Bridey, who spoke with a pronounced Irish brogue and spoke extensively of her life in 19th century Ireland. When Bernstein published his book about the case, The Search for Bridey Murphy in 1956, it became famous around the world and sparked an excited interest in the possibility of reincarnation. Over six sessions, Virginia revealed many details about Bridey's life, including her birth date in 1798, her childhood amid a Protestant family in the city of Cork, her marriage to Sean Brian Joseph McCarthy and even her own death at the age of 60 in 1858. As Bridey, she provided numerous specifics, such as names, dates, places, events, shops and songs - things Virginia was always surprised about when she awoke from the hypnosis.

But could these details be verified? The results of many investigations were mixed. Much of what Bridey said was consistent with the time and place, and it seemed inconceivable that someone who had never been to Ireland could provide so many details with such confidence. However, journalists could find no historical record of Bridey Murphy - not her birth, her family, her marriage, nor her death. Believers supposed that this was merely due to the poor recordkeeping of the time. But critics discovered inconsistencies in Bridey's speech and also learned that Virginia had grown up near - and had known well - an Irish woman named Bridle Corkell, and that she was quite likely the inspiration for "Bridey Murphy." There are flaws with this theory, too, however, keeping the case of Bridey Murphy an intriguing mystery.

Monica / John Wainwright

In 1986, a woman known by the pseudonym "Monica" underwent hypnosis by psychotherapist Dr. Garrett Oppenheim. Monica believed she discovered a previous existence as a man named John Ralph Wainwright who lived in the southwestern U.S. She knew that John grew up in Wisconsin, Arizona and had vague memories of brothers and sisters. As a young man he became a deputy sheriff and married the daughter of a bank president. According the Monica's "memory," John was killed in the line of duty - shot by three men he had once sent to jail - and died on July 7, 1907.

Sujith / Sammy

Born in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), Sujith was barely old enough to speak when he began to tell his family of a previous life as a man named Sammy. Sammy, he said, had lived eight miles to the south in the village of Gorakana. Sujith told of Sammy's life as a railroad worker and as a dealer of a bootleg whiskey called arrack...

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