2 Apr 2019
2 Apr 2019
It’s just after dusk on a cool August night in Wood Buffalo Park in Alberta, roughly 50 kilometres southwest of Fort Smith, N.W.T. For two days and nights, clouds and cool weather have hampered the group of astronomy enthusiasts hoping to enjoy the dark skies and perhaps even catch a display of the northern lights.
It’s the final day of the Thebacha and Wood Buffalo Astronomical Society’s Dark-Sky Festival. and, as if the sky takes pity on the group — made up of amateur astronomers and families with young children — the clouds begin to break up as the sun sets. But there’s one streak that remains in the dark blue sky.
“Keep an eye out,” says Roland Dechesne, a guest speaker and member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. “Could be aurora.”
Salt River First Nation elder Paul Boucher, who is standing nearby, looks skyward. “What? That?” he says. “Yeah. That’s the northern lights.”
The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are a familiar sight in northern skies. But those dancing lights mean much more in many Indigenous cultures.
The recognition of First Nations contributions to science has been on the rise in recent years. In astronomy, instead of teaching constellations and stories from the Greeks and Romans, many Indigenous people are turning to teaching the star stories of the people who have lived on this land for thousands of years.
For the Cree (Salt River First Nation is made up of Cree and Chipewyan) the sight of the dancing lights means spirits are dancing across the sky.
“In the wintertime, when these lights were in the sky most prominently, there was a connection, a connection to alternate realities, to the spirit world,” Wilfred Buck, a science facilitator at the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC) says of the northern lights. “And that connection was strong.”
Buck, from Opaskwayak Cree Nation, has a goal: to teach science from an Indigenous perspective, something that he’s been doing for 14 years. He’s a hard man to pin down; for many days of the year, he is traveling, often with his portable planetarium.
When he took the position at MFNERC, he wanted to teach First Nations in science. In an effort to determine the best way to do this, he reached out to the elders who told him he had two ways he could approach it: he could teach it from a Western system and infuse First Nations’ culture into the subject areas or he could do it the opposite way. He opted for the latter.
“The students have to understand … they’ve been educated and told and colonized to think that our people were savages in a bush and surviving and we didn’t know anything,” Buck said. “That’s not true.”
Buck’s interest in the stars began when he was about five years old.
“I remember sitting on the banks of the river and looking up at that night sky, and wondering … what’s out there and where our place is in it,” he says.
And then it dawned on him: the skies were heavily embedded in his culture.
“Sitting in the sweat lodge, singing these ceremonial songs, partaking in [the] sun dance, partaking in fasting, partaking in ceremonies — a lot of these ceremonial songs are in reference to the stars,” he says. “And all the ceremonies that are done are done in regards to the sun.”
Like Buck, Hilding Neilson wanted to bring Indigenous astronomy to the public. Neilson, who is Mi’kmaw from the Qalipu First Nation in Newfoundland and Labrador, is an assistant professor in the University of Toronto’s department of astronomy and astrophysics. He teaches Indigenous astronomy in his courses.
“I wanted to see more of Indigenous knowledge in classrooms, because we are on Indigenous land,” he says. “Simply put, if we’re going to be here, we should be learning about the peoples whose land we colonized. We should be learning about their knowledge and learning to appreciate that knowledge.”
Buck says most people don’t realize First Nations people had a deep understanding of the sky and even pondered such topics such as cosmology and quantum physics.
One example is the star cluster called the Pleiades or, in Western culture the Seven Sisters. The Cree referred to it as the “hole in the sky.”
“When they’re referring to a hole in the sky, they’re referring to a spatial anomaly. They’re referring to a wormhole, an alternate reality,” Buck says. “They meditated on these things, they dreamed about these things, they debated on these things and they philosophized on these things.”
See an elder explain the Cree traditions around the winter solstice:
What does the winter solstice mean in the Cree tradition?
And it’s time that astronomers and scientists considered Indigenous contributions and their worth, Buck says.
“All these ceremonies and all these so-called mythologies … there’s a depth of knowledge involved. They’re not just quaint little stories. … Every Indigenous culture in the world has that depth of knowledge, that intellectual capacity,” he says. “It’s just that through the colonial process it’s been minimized and it’s been marginalized.”
Neilson says many of the stories have been lost, but he’s happy to see renewed interest in not only telling the stories, but respecting what they have to offer. The worry is that much of it may have already been lost.
“Like every aspect of Indigenous knowledge, we know we have to be very worried about what has been lost and what is unavailable,” Neilson says. “And who knows if we’ll ever get it all back? But preserving it is a big, important part of all this.”
It’s important that no one underestimates the importance stars play in the daily lives of Indigenous people from around the world, Buck says.
“Stars are part of our lives,” Buck says. “Every night they’re out there and my people believe we come from the stars.”
Graham Hancock investigates the mysterious religious texts of the Zoroastrians of ancient Persia and the ‘underground cities’ of neighbouring Turkey. Both, he argues, are far older than is presently taught and date back to cataclysmic events near the end of the last Ice Age that destroyed, and all but wiped from human memory, an advanced civilization of prehistory. Below is an excerpt form his work, which you can find HERE. ( A link to his new book, “Magicians of the Gods”)
You can also check out our extended interview with him here.
Exactly how old Zoroastrianism is has not yet been satisfactorily established by scholars, since even the lifetime of its prophet Zarathustra (better known as Zoroaster) is uncertain. Indeed, as Columbia University’s authoritative Encyclopedia Iranica admits: ‘Controversy over Zarathustra’s date has been an embarrassment of long standing to Zoroastrian studies.’[i]
The Greek historians were amongst the first to address themselves to the matter. Plutarch, for example, tells us that Zoroaster ‘lived 5,000 years before the Trojan War’[ii] (itself a matter of uncertain historicity but generally put at around 1300 BC, thus 5,000 plus 1,300 = 6300 BC). A similar chronology is given by Diogenes Laertius, who relates that Zoroaster lived ‘6,000 years before Xerxes’ Greek campaign’[iii] (i.e. around 6480 BC). More recent scholars have proposed dates as far apart as 1750 BC and ‘258 years before Alexander’[iv] (i.e. around 588 BC). Whatever the truth of the matter, it is agreed that Zoroaster himself borrowed from much earlier traditions and that Zoroastrianism, therefore, like many other religions, has roots that extend very far back into prehistory.
In the Zoroastrian scriptures known as the Zend Avesta certain verses in particular are recognized as drawing on these very ancient oral traditions.[v] The verses speak of a primordial father figure called Yima, the first man, the first king, and the founder of civilization, and appear in the opening section of the Zend Avesta, known as the Vendidad. There we read how the god Ahura Mazda created the first land, ‘Airyana Vaejo, by the good river Daitya,’[vi] as a paradise on earth and how ‘the fair Yima, the great shepherd… was the first mortal’ with whom Ahura Mazda chose to converse, instructing him to become a preacher.[vii] Yima refused, at which the god said:
Since thou wantest not to be the preacher and the bearer of my law, then make my world thrive, make my world increase; undertake thou to nourish, to rule and to watch over my world.[viii]
To this Yima agreed, at which the god presented him with a golden ring and a poniard – a long, tapered thrusting knife – inlaid with gold. Significantly, for we will see in Chapter Seventeen there are close parallels to this story as far away as the Andes mountains of South America, Yima then:
‘pressed the earth with the golden ring and bored it with the poniard.’[ix]
By this act, we learn he ‘made the earth grow larger by one third than it was before,’ a feat that over the course of thousands of years he repeated twice more – in the process eventually doubling the land area available for ‘the flocks and herds with men and dogs and birds,’ who gathered unto him ‘at his will and wish, as many as he wished.’[x]
Anatomically modern humans like ourselves have existed, so far as we know, for a little less than two hundred thousand years (the earliest anatomically modern human skeleton acknowledged by science is from Ethiopia and dates to 196,000 years ago).[xi] Within this timespan there has only been one period when those parts of the earth that are useful to humans increased dramatically in size, and that was during the last Ice Age, between 100,000 and 11,600 years ago. Indeed, previously submerged lands totalling 27 million square kilometres – equivalent to the area of Europe and China added together – were exposed by lowered sea-levels at the last glacial maximum 21,000 years ago. While it is probably far-fetched to suppose that it is this very real increase of useful land that is referred to in the Yima story, or that it has anything to do with the golden age that Yima’s benign rule supposedly achieved in Airyana Vaejo,[xii] it is interesting to note what happened next.
After another immense span of time, we read, Yima was summoned to ‘a meeting place by the good river Daitya’ where the god Ahura Mazda appeared to him bearing an ominous warning of sudden and catastrophic climate change:
O fair Yima, upon the material world the fatal winters are going to fall, that shall bring the fierce, foul frost; upon the material world the fatal winters are going to fall that shall make snowflakes fall thick, even on the highest tops of mountains…
Therefore make thee a Vara [a hypogeum, or underground enclosure] long as a riding ground on every side of the square, and thither bring the seeds of sheep and oxen, of men, of dogs, of birds, and of red blazing fires… Thither thou shalt bring the seeds of men and women of the greatest, best and finest kinds on this earth; thither shalt thou bring the seeds of every kind of cattle, of the greatest, best and finest kinds on this earth. Thither shalt thou bring the seeds of every kind of tree, of the greatest, best and finest kinds on this earth; thither shalt thou bring the seeds of every kind of fruit, the fullest of food and sweetest of odour. All those seeds shalt thou bring, two of every kind, to be kept inexhaustible there, so long as those men shall stay in the Vara. There shall be no humpbacked, none bulged forward there; no impotent, no lunatic… no leprous.[xiii]
So… you get the idea? This underground hideaway was to serve as a refuge from a terrible winter that was about to seize Airyana Vaejo – a winter not of a single season but of a millennium, at the onset of which, as the Bundahish, another Zoroastrian text, informs us:
the evil spirit… sprang like a snake out of the sky down to the earth… He rushed in at noon, and thereby the sky was as shattered and frightened by him as a sheep by a wolf. He came onto the water which was arranged below the earth, and then the middle of this earth was pierced and entered by him… He rushed out upon the whole creation and he made the world quite as injured and dark at midday as though it were dark night.[xiv]
Studying these accounts I couldn’t help but be reminded of the two millennia of gentle global warming that began about 15,000 years ago in the closing millennia of the last Ice Age – a sustained, balmy period of warm, fine weather – before the sudden lethal onset 12,800 years ago of a period of dramatic climate instability that geologists call ‘the Younger Dryas.’ This epoch has long been recognized as mysterious and tumultuous and it is only in the last decade that scientists have been able to pinpoint its cause. To cut a long story short, what the science indicates is that 12,800 years ago a comet travelling on an orbit that took it through the inner solar system broke up into multiple fragments, and that many of these fragments, some more than a mile (2.4 kilometers) in diameter, hit the earth with globally cataclysmic effects. An area of more than 50 million square kilometers, stretching from North America in the west to Syria in the east, was affected and a vast cloud of dust was thrown into the upper atmosphere that enshrouded the earth, preventing the sun’s rays from reaching the surface and thus initiating Younger Dryas.
At that point, 12,800 years ago, the earth had been emerging from the Ice Age for roughly 10,000 years, global temperatures were rising steadily, and the ice caps were melting. Then came the comet impacts, bringing a sudden catastrophic return to colder conditions – even colder than at the peak of the Ice Age 21,000 years ago. This short, sharp deep freeze lasted for 1,200 years until 11,600 years ago when the warming trend resumed, global temperatures shot up again, and the remaining ice caps melted very suddenly, dumping all the water they contained into the oceans.
When the Zoroastrian texts speak of a ‘fierce, foul frost’ and of ‘a fatal winter,’ is it possible that they are describing conditions during the Younger Dryas? The texts attribute the shocking change of climate to a supernatural agency – Angra Mainyu, the demon of darkness, destruction, wickedness, and chaos who stands in opposition to and seeks to undermine and undo all the works of Ahura Mazda, the God of Light. Zoroastrianism is a profoundly dualistic religion in which human beings and the choices we make for good or evil are seen as the objects of an eternal competition, or contest, between the opposed forces of darkness and light. And in this contest the darkness sometimes wins. Thus the Vendidad reminds us that although Airyana Vaejo was ‘the first of the good lands and countries’ created by Ahura Mazda, it could not resist the evil one:
Thereupon came Angra Mainyu, who is all death, and he counter-created by his witchcraft the serpent in the river, and winter, a work of the demons… [Now] there are ten winter months there, two summer months, and these are cold for the waters, cold for the earth, cold for the trees. Winter falls there, with the worst of its plagues.[xv]
In other translations the phrase ‘the serpent in the river, and winter’ is given as ‘a great serpent and Winter’ and, alternatively, as ‘a mighty serpent and snow.’[xvi]
Again… you get the idea. The metaphor that is being repeatedly driven home here is that of the mighty serpent who springs from the sky down to the earth, who penetrates the earth, and who brings a prolonged winter upon the world so severe that it is ‘dark’ (‘most turbid, opaque’ according to some translations[xvii]) at midday, and even the fleeting summer months are too cold for human life. Once again, the whole scenario seems very accurately to describe the terrible conditions that would have afflicted the world after the Younger Dryas comet spread its trail of destruction across 50 million square kilometers, brought on ‘a vehement destroying frost’ and threw such quantities of dust into the upper atmosphere, together with smoke from the continent-wide wildfires sparked off by airbursts and superheated ejecta, that a turbid, opaque darkness would indeed have filled the skies, reflecting back the sun’s rays and perpetuating something very like a nuclear winter for centuries.
The Zoroastrian texts leave us in no doubt that these conditions posed a deadly threat to the future survival of civilization. It was for this reason that Ahura Mazda came to Yima with his warning and his instruction to build an underground shelter where some remnant of humanity could take refuge, keeping safe the seeds of all animals and plants, until the thousand-year winter had passed and spring returned to the world. Moreover the account reveals very little that seems ‘mythical,’ or that obviously derives from flights religious fancy. Rather the whole thing has about it an atmosphere of hard-headed practical planning that adds a chilling note of veracity.
For example the admonition that deformed, impotent, lunatic, and leprous people should be kept out of the Vara sounds a lot like eugenics, a distasteful policy to be sure, but one that might be implemented if the survival of the human race was at stake and there was limited space available in the refuge. For the same reasons it is not surprising that only the seeds of ‘the greatest, best and finest’ kinds of trees, fruits, and vegetables, those that are ‘fullest of food and sweetest of odour,’ are to be brought to the Vara. Why waste space on anything but the best?
Also, although it is certain that a number of carefully selected people were to be admitted to the Vara, perhaps as caretakers and managers of the project, and as future breeding stock, the emphasis throughout is on seeds – which in the case of human beings would be sperm from the males and eggs from the females. So when we read that the Vara is to be constructed in three subterranean levels, each smaller than the one above, each with its own system of criss-crossing ‘streets,’ it is legitimate to wonder whether some kind of storage system, perhaps with ranks of shelves arranged in cross-crossing aisles, might not really be what is meant here:
In the largest part of the place thou shalt make nine streets, six in the middle part, three in the smallest. To the streets of the largest part thou shalt bring a thousand seeds of men and women; to the streets of the middle part, six hundred; to the streets of the smallest part, three hundred.[xviii]
If it seems fanciful to imagine that we might, in an almost high-tech sense, be looking at the specifications of a seed bank here, then how are we to assess other ‘technological’ aspects of the Vara – for example its lighting system? As well as making a door to the place, and sealing it up with the golden ring already given to him by Ahura Mazda, Yima is also to fashion ‘a window, self-shining within.’[xix] When Yima asks for clarification as to the nature of this ‘self-shining’ window Ahura Mazda tells him cryptically ‘there are uncreated lights and created lights.’ The former are the stars, the moon and the sun, which will not be seen from within the confines of the Vara during the long winter, but the latter are ‘artificial lights’ which ‘shine from below.’[xx]
Yima did as he was instructed and completed the Vara which, thereafter, ‘glowed with its own light.’[xxi] That accomplished, he then:
made waters flow in a bed a mile long; there here he settled birds, by the evergreen banks that bear never-failing food. There he established dwelling places, consisting of a house with a balcony, a courtyard and a gallery…[xxii]
There, too, we are reminded, in accord with the commands of the god,
he brought the seeds of men and women… There he brought the seeds of every kind of tree [and]… every kind of fruit… All those seeds he brought, two of every kind, to be kept inexhaustible there, so long as those men shall stay in the Vara…[xxiii]
Finally, we learn that:
every fortieth year, to every couple two are born, a male and a female. And thus it is for every sort of cattle. And the men in the Vara, which Yima made, live the happiest life.[xxiv]
Interestingly the translator explains, in a footnote drawn from various ancient learned commentaries on the text, that the human inhabitants of the Vara ‘live there for 150 years; some say they never die.’[xxv] Moreover, and particularly intriguing, the births of offspring to every couple do not result from sexual union but ‘from the seeds deposited in the Vara.’[xxvi]
Other hints of a mysterious lost technology connected to Yima include a miraculous cup in which he could see everything that was happening anywhere in the world and a jewelled glass throne (sometimes described as ‘a glass chariot’) that was capable of flight.[xxvii]
As well as a climate catastrophe in the form of an overnight reversion to peak Ice Age cold, we also know that the Younger Dryas involved extensive global flooding, as a large fraction of the North American ice cap – directly impacted by at least four of the comet fragments – melted and poured into the world ocean. It is therefore noteworthy that the Zoroastrian texts speak not only of the ‘vehement, destroying frost’ of a global winter but also of a subsequent flood accompanied by heavy precipitation, in which ‘every single drop of rain became as big as a bowl and the water stood the height of a man over the whole of this earth.’[xxviii]
On the other side of the world and much closer to the North American epicentre of the cataclysm, the Popol Vuh, an original document of the ancient Quiche Maya of Guatemala, based on pre-conquest sources, also speaks of a flood and associates it with ‘much hail, black rain and mist, and indescribable cold.’[xxix] It says, in a remarkable echo of the Zoroastrian tradition, that this was a period when ‘it was cloudy and twilight all over the world… The faces of the sun and the moon were covered.’[xxx] Other Maya sources confirm that these strange and terrible phenomena were experienced by mankind ‘in the time of the ancients. The earth darkened… It happened that the sun was still bright and clear. Then, at midday, it got dark…’[xxxi] Sunlight was not seen again ‘until the twenty-sixth year after the flood.’[xxxii]
Returning to the Middle East, the world famous account of the Hebrew patriarch Noah and the great Ark in which he rides out the flood, commands attention. It is obvious that there are many parallels with the story of Yima and his Vara. The Vara, after all, is a means of surviving a terrible and devastating winter which will destroy every living creature by enchaining the earth in a freezing trap of ice and snow. The Ark, likewise, is a means of surviving a terrible and devastating flood which will destroy every living creature by drowning the world in water. In both cases a deity – Ahura Mazda in the case of the Zoroastrian tradition, the God Yahweh in the case of the Hebrew tradition – intervenes to give advance warning to a good and pure man to prepare for the coming cataclysm. In each case the essence of the project is to preserve the seeds, or the breeding pairs, of all life:
And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the Ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.
Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.[xxxiii]
Easily missed, but noteworthy, is the fact that Noah’s Ark, like Yima’s Vara, is to have a ‘window,’ is to be closed with a ‘door,’ and is to consist of three levels:
A window shalt thou make to the Ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.[xxxiv]
Last but not least, there are hints of a lost lighting technology in Noah’s Ark that parallel the references to the ‘artificial lights’ in the Vara. In the legends of the Jews we read that the whole journey of the Ark, ‘during the year of the flood,’ was conducted in darkness both by day and by night:
‘All the time it lasted, the sun and the moon shed no light…’[xxxv]
However just like ‘self-shining window’ of the Vara:
‘The Ark was illuminated by a precious stone, the light of which was more brilliant by night than by day, so enabling Noah to distinguish between day and night.’[xxxvi]
Noah’s Ark, as is well known, is said to have ended its journey on the slopes of Mount Ararat, the symbolic heartland of ancient Armenia but now, as a result of wars in the early twentieth century, located within the modern state of Turkey. Turkey, in turn, shares a border with Iran – ancient Persia – from which the accounts of Yima’s Vara come down to us.
It is therefore intriguing that Turkey’s Cappadocia region has a very large number of ancient underground structures hewn out of solid rock and usually, like the Vara, consisting of multiple levels stacked one above the other. These underground ‘cities,’ as they are known, include the eerie and spectacular site of Derinkuyu, which I was able to visit in 2013. Lying beneath a modern town of the same name, eight of its levels are presently open to the public, although further levels remain closed off below and, astonishingly, a subterranean tunnel several kilometres in length connects it to another similar hypogeum at Kaymakli.
Entering Derinkuyu was like crossing some invisible barrier into an unexpected netherworld. One minute I was standing in bright sunshine; the next, after I had ducked into the cool, dank, dimly-lit system of tunnels and galleries (no self-shining windows now; only low wattage electric light), I felt I had been transported to a realm carved out by mythical dwarves at the dawn of time. In places the tunnels are low and narrow so that one must stoop and walk in single file between walls stained and blackened with ancient smoke and overgrown here and there with green mold. At regular intervals, slid back into deep recesses, I passed hulking megalithic doors, shaped like millstones, 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters) in diameter and weighing close to half a ton. These were clearly designed to be rolled out to block access. Stairways and steep ramps led down from level to level and, although all the levels were interconnected, the rolling stone doors could be used to isolate them from one another when needed.
Ancient texts describe powerful weapons that the gods used on Earth thousands—even perhaps tens of thousands—of years ago. “…An incandescent column of smoke and flame, as bright as ten thousand suns, rose in all its splendor. It was an unknown weapon and iron thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death, which reduced to ashes the entire race…”
When we take a look at history and read through the countless ancient texts left behind by different civilizations across the planet, we notice a great amount of information, mentioning the Gods—who descended from heaven—who brought to Earth powerful weapons, unlike anything the ancients had ever seen.
But where these ‘ancient weapons’ just part of folklore and myths? What if these ancient texts did not describe myth and legends, but actual weapons, brought by advanced alien civilizations who were misinterpreted as gods?
Curiously, a recent study— titled ‘Prior Indigenous Technological Species’—presented by Jason Wright, assistant professor of astrophysics and astronomy of the Pennsylvania State University suggests our planet, and other celestial bodies in our solar system may have been inhabited, in the distant past by Ancient Aliens. Professor Wright suggests that extraterrestrial technosignatures might be expected to be extremely old, limiting the places they might still be found to beneath the surfaces of Mars and the Moon, or in the outer Solar System.
If we take a look at ancient Greek and Hindu mythology, the weapons of the gods were a profound and deadly tool, capable of capable of incinerating enemies and leveling entire civilizations.
Created by the ancient Hindu God Vishnu was the Narayanastra—the personal weapon of Lord Vishnu.
This Astra (“weapon” in Sanskrit) in turn fires a powerful tirade of millions of deadly missiles simultaneously. The intensity of the shower rises with an increase in resistance. The only way of defense towards this missile is to show total submission before the missiles hit. This, in turn, will cause this weapon to stop and spare the target.
Interestingly, this weapon could only be used ONCE, if one tries to use it twice, then it would devour the user’s own army.
Forged by Lord Brahma was the Brahmastra. This ferocious weapon is described in a number of purana—a vast genre of Indian literature about a wide range of topics—as a very destructive weapon. It is said that when the Brahmastra was discharged, there was neither a counterattack nor a defense that could stop it.
The Brahmastra never missed its mark and had to be used with very specific intent against an individual enemy or army, as the target would face complete annihilation
However, perhaps the most important detail about the Brahmastra was its collateral damage. According to ancient texts, the land where the weapon was used became BARRED, and all life in and around it would CEASE to exist. Men and woman exposed to it became infertile. After the weapon was used, rainfall would decrease and the land would develop cracks.
In fact, the Brahmastra is mentioned in the epics and Vedas as a weapon of last resort and was never to be used in combat.
In the ancient Mahabharata, this weapon is said to be a single projectile charged with all the power of the universe.
An evolution of this terrifying weapon is the Brahmashirsha Astra. The Brahmashirsha Astra is said to be four times stronger than the Brahmastra. In the Mahabharata, it is explained that when this weapon was invoked there would be flames, thunder, and a thousand meteors would fall, accompanied by a great din and a trembling of the earth.
Another terrible weapon—said to leave behind apocalyptic scenarios—was the Pashupatastra. Pashupatastra is the most destructive, powerful, irresistible weapon of all the weapons mentioned in the Hindu mythology. This terrible ancient weapon is said to be capable of destroying and vanquishing ALL life.
A Narrative from Kisari Mohan Ganguli translation of Mahabharata regarding the power of Pashupatastra:
O thou of mighty arms, that weapon (Pashupatastra) is superior to the Brahma, the Narayana, the Indra, the Agneya, and the Varuna weapons. Verily, it is capable of neutralizing every other weapon in the universe. It was with that weapon that the illustrious Mahadeva had in days of yore, burnt and consumed in a moment the triple city of the Asuras. With the greatest ease, Mahadeva, using that single arrow, achieved that feat. That weapon, shot by Mahadeva’s arms, can, without doubt, consume in half the time taken up by a twinkling of the eyes the entire universe with all its mobile and immobile creatures. In the universe, there is no being including even the deities that are incapable of being slain by that weapon.
No one dares to speak as smoke from a massive bonfire billows and twirls into a thick haze in the remote mountain town of Mamoiada. Flaming logs crack open, echoing through central Sardinia‘s rugged massifs and twisting valleys, shooting sparks toward a solemn mass of spectators. We’re huddled together on a piercingly cold January night, bracing for something wild in the darkness that’s lurching ever closer.
I peer through the smoke, searching for any signs of life beyond the glow of the blaze when I see several mothers suddenly pull their children in close. Just then, Ruggero Mameli, a lifelong Mamoiada resident who had invited me to come witness this event, whispers, “They’re coming.”
Within seconds, a distant rattling sound shakes the night awake, building slowly with each heavy step until it erupts into a deafening clatter. The sea of spectators parts, I see them, and a chill runs up my spine. Twelve menacing figures in jet-black masks with jutting, ghoulish features and dark sheepskin tunics are inching toward me, weighed down by up to 65 pounds of cowbells strapped to their backs. Their hunched frames slowly drag forward in two rows, eyeing the crowd as they heave themselves into a series of synchronized convulsions that cause the sheep bones inside their copper bells to clang in a thunderous chorus.
“These are not men,” Mameli tells me, as the creatures approach the bonfire. “They’re mamuthones.”
According to Mameli, every year on January 17, a group of men in this sleepy mountain town awake from their slumber and transform into masked, monstrous mamuthones and lithe, rope-wielding issohadores. From the late afternoon deep into the night, the two groups slowly parade around some 40 bonfires roaring throughout the streets of Mamoiada in a delicate dance: The black-masked mamuthones symbolize the darkness, grunting and stomping as they burst into violent pseudo seizures; while the white-masked issohadores (“rope-carriers”) are the light, leading the beasts from flame to flame while launching their wiry reed sohas into the crowd to lasso young women in an ode to fertility. The creatures reappear on Carnival Sunday and Fat Tuesday before then hibernating until the following winter.
“We feel their presence all year long, and when we speak of them, it is always hushed,” says Mameli, who has been hand-carving grimacing and pain-stricken masks out of wild pear, walnut, and chestnut trees for the mamuthones for more than 35 years, since he was 12. “On il continente [mainland Italy], the Carnival is light-hearted, but here it is full of suffering and mystery. It’s a part of us. I can’t explain it.”
No one really can. Some scholars believe the mamuthones and issohadores date back some 3,000 years to the island’s mysterious Bronze Age Nuragic civilization and represent a banishment of the dark winter and welcoming of spring. Roman invaders considered the anthropomorphic beasts a form of sacrilegious animal worship that threatened the Christianity they tried to spread. When their repeated attempts to subdue the region failed, they dubbed the area Barbagia after the “barbarian-like” practices of its inhabitants-a name that has stuck and includes much of the island’s rural interior. Remarkably, the Barbagia communities near Mamoiada were among the last in modern-day Italy to convert to Christianity, continuing to worship wood and stone until the seventh century.
In fact, away from the island’s cosmopolitan capital, Cagliari – where I lived for two years – and the puttering yachts of the Costa Smeralda, Sardinia’s craggy interior has historically been one of the most isolated and impenetrable pockets in the Mediterranean. Residents here still speak Sardo, the closest living form of Latin; veiled grandmothers and bands of nomadic shepherds gaze warily at outsiders; and residents fiercely proclaim that Sardinia isn’t Italy. This is a hard, uncompromising place-a fact that is announced loud and clear upon entering the village, where the welcome sign in Sardo is left pristine, while that in Italian is ripped through by bullet holes.
Today, the most accepted theory is that the mamuthones represent evil beings from the underworld, while the issohadores are believed to have captured these threatening spirits and are driving them out of town in a sort of pagan exorcism. In a post-Christian Barbagia, the ritual has received a Catholic gloss and now starts outside Mamoiada’s parish church on the feast day of Sant’Antonio Abate, the protector of animals and fire who is believed to have stolen a spark from the underworld to bring light and warmth to the living. Not only is participation in this archaic rite tolerated by the church, it’s encouraged: The wood that villagers collect to burn in the bonfires is blessed by the parish priest, the men who transform into monsters and convulse by firelight are well-respected members of the community who show up to Sunday mass, and this cult – Catholic syncretism has fused into a holy matrimony.
But the scene I’m witnessing is raw, primal, and trance-like. Twelve mamuthones in two even rows representing each lunar cycle stagger forward in unison, their wooly bodies pulled to the ground by the weight of the bells. They shuffle and rattle, first to the left, then to the right, as eight herders in red tunics guard the creatures, jumping around lightly in contrast and launching their reed lassos around squealing women in the crowd as an omen of rebirth and renewal, not just for their families, but also for their fields and flocks. When the issohadore setting the pace in the front of the pack raises his hand to the beasts and lowers it, they obediently shudder three times, as if expelling some evil deep within them, before returning to their hunched, hypnotic state.
We follow this otherworldly spectacle from fire to fire well into the night. When the procession finally encircles a flaming pyre on the outskirts of the village, the parade suddenly stops. The mamuthones double over in exhaustion, several falling to their knees and gasping for air. They slowly remove their masks, returning to their earthly bodies and once again becoming shepherds, shopkeepers, and men.
The mass around me bursts into applause and this once-solemn spectacle quickly shifts into an all-night celebration.
The mamuthones are each weighed down by up to 65 pounds of cowbells, strapped tightly across their ribcages and hanging down their backs. The bells’ clappers are made from the thigh and neck bones of sheep.
As the winds whip through the mountains, Mamoiada’s faithful welcome us into their dimly lit kitchens, brewing hazelnut coffee, serving sandwiches made with wild boar, and opening their homes to guests in a tradition known as cortes apertas (“open houses”). Next come the fried ox testicles, followed by the pours and pours of homemade grappa. Just when everything is starting to blur, I spot Mameli, who I had lost in the commotion.
“Follow me,” he says, leading me from Mamoiada’s squat homes through a series of doorways into the stone courtyard of the Associazione Culturale Atzeni. The association is one of two groups committed to keeping Mamoiada’s ancient rite alive, selecting and training more than 200 men and boys to take part in the sacred custom, only a few of whom will ever perform.
“You have to be strong and willing to sacrifice and suffer,” says Pino Ladu, the group’s president, pointing toward two aspiring mamuthones struggling to unbuckle a harness of bells strapped so tightly around a man’s back that he is nearly collapsing. “This thing has existed since the dawn of time. But only some of us ever become it.”
Comment: While it may be an amalgamation of traditions, one does wonder what it’s original meaning may have been:
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Master Yoda is one of the most famous and popular characters from Star Wars. However, new research suggests that the character was based on a real being. An image which looks suspiciously similar to the famous Jedi master has been discovered in a fourteenth-century manuscript. Historian Damian Kempf discovered the image in a manuscript known as the Smithfield Decretals which was written in medieval France, probably between the years 1300 and 1340.
The image from the manuscript, which is displayed below, shows a green, humanoid character with large pointed ears. The character is seated and is wearing a long red robe. When looking at the image compared with a picture of the famous Star Wars character, the similarities are unmistakable.
The images from the manuscript were only uploaded to the internet in 2010, and so George Lucas could not have been influenced or inspired by the images unless he was previously studying historical manuscripts from medieval France.
“Come fairies! take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you
Upon the wind and dance
Upon the mountains like a flame.”
~ W.B. Yeats.
“Toy bewitched, made blind by lusts, disinherited of soul – No common centre Man, no common sire – Knoweth! A sordid solitary thing mid countless brethren with a lonely heart -Through courts and cities the smooth savage roams – feeling himself, his own low self, the whole.” ~ Coleridge’s Religious Musing
Modern man – the smooth savage with a lonely heart living in high-rise ‘smart’ cities of concrete and glass…. forced to live by the clock in a bubble of busy business, and compelled by the status quo to try and be top dog in a dog eat dog world.
Gone is the wonder of childhood- lost is ‘sacred sympathy’, the flower of imaginative intuition and the innocence of thought that we experienced in the magical time when we were still connected to the All, and not yet corrupted by the descent into matter – into 3D density and the world of materialism, intellect and ego.
‘The world is too much with us; late and soon. Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; Little we see in nature that is ours” ~Wordsworth
The acute development of our intellect and emphasis on achievement has been realized at a terrible price. Material success has robbed us of our connection and perception of the energetic ‘other-worlds’ which exist all around us. We can no longer unite with the spiritual beings that vitalize form; no longer connect with the faerie realms, and have turned our backs upon our divine connection to all life – the seen and unseen, and in so doing we have lost touch with our true selves. We are only half alive.
Some of us never lose our childhood wonder and through all the struggles and turmoils of our lives manage to keep the magic alive. We seek out the ageless wisdom of connection…. forever aspiring to comprehend and blend with the whole. We become dreamers and poets, explorers of frequencies and subtler systems of being. And, if our hearts are true, spiritual synchronicity becomes active in our lives. I was brought up in the Celtic tradition and seances/spirit callings were part of my life. Later, when I came to America, I was introduced to Lakota thought and philosophy which answered the questions I had about the nature of elementals, nature spirits, demons and feys.
Lakota shaman tell us that there is a mysterious power that vitalises life – a field of unified energies and forces which create an infinite diversity of form, and holds together the particles of all manifested objects and beings in the material world.
Tesla said: “Think in terms of frequency, energy and vibration.”
There are five of these invisible bands of moving power: stone(solid) water (fluid) fire(heat) air(gas) and space that surrounds us.
Our five fingers and five toes are sensors for the building blocks of our reality – the magical force of five.
The medicine wheel – the cangleshka wakan of the Lakota is a sacred symbol found in many aboriginal cultures. It is the power of five, the four elements and the space that surrounds them. In my understanding it is the two dimensional blueprint of our reality.
The Lakota say: “The life of a man is two roads and he can choose which road he walks.” – the black east/west road of suffering where the heart(4th chakra of air) is at war with the west (the 2nd chakra of water – emotions) or the north/south road of earth(first chakra) and fire(third chakra) – the spirit road. At the centre of the cross roads, the tree of life blooms(awareness) and the hoop(circle) of all living nations is formed.
“Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw, for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the centre grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.” ~Black Elk
Skan is the invisible underlying energetic force which binds life together in an all pervading unity. Separation is an illusion created by duality. We can find this understanding in the Lakota phrase – Mitakuye Oyasin: we are all related, and by the Sanskrit phrase: Tat Tvam Asi which roughly translates as either “That art thou” or “You are that.”
When we were tribal people, living with nature and free of the stresses and restraints of modern life, we could see into the invisible realms and communicate with spiritual reality. Shaman were aware that just as the material world is dual, and by that I mean a love/hate polarity, the spiritual realms were populated by good and bad spirits. The negative creatures are known as wakan sica – bad medicine and in my tradition they are called the Unseelie Court of Faerie.
Sage, sweet grass, cedar, scabious root, agrimony, lavender flowers, and other high frequency plants are burnt in an effort to dispel negative ‘spirits and thought forms’ from ceremonies, homes and other dwellings.
‘Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.’ ~Jonathan Swift
Our visible world is populated by a diversity of beings: mammal, birds, fish, reptiles, plants etc, and the same rule applies to the invisible, spiritual counterpart of our material world. The unseen side of our reality is inhabited by hosts of beings called elementals – spirits that are electro-magnetically attached to the Skan fields of earth, water, fire, air and space. The elemental cosmic forces interpenetrate the earth, and the inhabitants of these hidden realms are aware of us, even though we are not aware of them.
Elementals and other spirits vibrate outside of visible light so we can’t see them – but they can look into our world at anytime they like. They are drawn to our emotional state by resonance. Love, gratitude and joy attract the’ good guys’, hate, violence and perverted sexual energy attract the bad.
At this moment, faerie beings could be standing right in front of us – sitting in the same chair, and we don’t have a clue there’s anything there. Sometimes even though we can’t see these invisible beings, we can sense their presence. We may see a fleeting glimpse of movement on the periphery of our vision, or the feeling that ‘something’ is with us in the room…watching us. A creeping chill at the back of our neck when we enter an old house, ruins or cemetery, and the sudden disappearance of an item that we’re using, only to have it reappear in a place we know we didn’t put it.
The elementals attached to the five bands of moving power have their own phonetics, colours, perfumes and geometrics pertaining to their element. These pass-gates were known to the shamans of the past but with the destruction of indigenous people and their earth based cultures, the sacred knowledge and language was lost. In today’s world there are few people left who know how to contact the energies of spiritual reality.
I think the destruction of tribal people and their sacred knowledge was a deliberate act on the part of a very negative power to close down our awareness and block us from the sacred side of our dualistic nature. We have now been spiritually neutered and instead of being able to walk in many worlds we have been confined to one.
There have been hundreds of thousands of pages written about the faeries of our folklore and traditions. We know their form, characteristics, caprices, tribes and lineage, but in my experience with elementals, I have found that they are electro-magnetic wave patterns. They have no material shape and can appear to human perception in any form they want, but normally one that is immediately recognizable to the viewer.
In Lakota country an earth elemental appears as a small wizened man with braids dressed in buckskin, and the hooved and horned fauns that live in trees are called Can-o-ti-la. The people of the wood.
‘Hell is empty. All the devils are here.” ~Shakespeare
Is this Fact or Fiction?
The plane we call home has become the abode of devils. Billions of sentient lifeforms are butchered every day for their flesh while countless others are hunted for sport, trapped, tortured, caged and murdered for so called science, by soulless beings that masquerade as men. Millions of innocent people are maimed, murdered and displaced by power crazed demons fighting over ever dwindling resources – earth is being used up.
My Heartstar Series of books: The Key made of Air – the Gates to Pandemonia and Walking in Three Worlds are a multi-dimensional mirror of the tragedy that is happening in our dimension and how it affects the elemental worlds and higher planes of being.
Long ago in the mists of time, the realms of Humanity, Faerie, and High Faerie were all one world, with the sentient creatures of all three realms living in harmony with each other. But evil entered the world of humankind. The Cathac, the great horned serpent from the stars, insinuated his thoughts of conquest into the dreams of chieftains, filling them with pride, a lust for war, and murderous intent. When the stars aligned and formed a glittering pentagon in the sky, the Cathac had attacked the triad world of Faerie. Long and bloody was the battle. The Cathac had druid sorcerers in his ranks. With dark spells, he ripped the world of Humanity away from Faerie and made its inhabitants mortal.
According to Irish Mythology the Cathac or Cata, a gigantic flesh eating sea serpent was vanquished by St Senan in 534 AD. A carving depicting the Cathac is in the old chapel of Kilrush in County Clare.
The head of the Cathac can be seen in the first outcropping and other faces can be seen in the Cliffs of Moher which in my novels are called the Gates to Pandemonia.
In Book three of my HeartStar Series: Walking in Three Worlds we find a different account of the vanquishing of the Cathac, and we are told how the Cliffs of Moher were formed by the giants Finn McCoul and his brother Uall McCarn.
As night fell, Uall had heard rumbling and the beating of great wings in the sky. In plumes of fire and smoke, he had seen Braxach arrive at the Giant’s Cliffs with Duir, the father of dwarves, riding on his back. They had been pursuing the legions of devils and demons that had followed the Cathac in his murderous rampage along the coast.
The dragon had settled on the beach and given them a fiery snort of greeting. Duir slid off his back. As Braxach took to the air once more, the dwarf king had told Uall and Finn of his and Braxach’s plan to trap the Cathac, saying that he needed the giants’ help to do it.
The sea had been calm and shadowy under a fitful moon as they waited in the darkness for the Cathac to attack. The air grew cold, and then with a churning of the waters, the Cathac had raised its horned head and, coiling its gargantuan bulk, struck at them with gaping jaws. As the Cathac attacked, Braxach had sent a blast of fire into the monster’s eyes. The giants had ripped up the rock and earth in front of them, forming a great wall thousands of feet high. Blinded, the Cathac did not see the upraised cliff and slammed into the rock face. Duir was waiting. Once the Cathac’s body had made contact with the stone, Duir had called out to the burning lakes of liquid fire deep beneath the earth for aid. With his hands, the dwarf sire had woven a stone spell of molten lava and then cast the magma stream around the monster. Singing in the language of the stone,he had hardened the burning liquid into rock, trapping the Cathac within a sarcophagus of enchanted stone.
Elva Thompson was born in England in 1947 and moved to Rosebud Lakota reservation in 1987. She is the author of the Heartstar Series; Book One: The Key made of Air, and Book Two: The Gates to Pandemonia. Her other interests include organic gardening, ancient phonetic languages, sonic sound and their application in the healing arts. She is also a medical intuitive and teaches sonic re-patterning using sound, colour, and essential oils. Elva Thompson is on Amazon Author Central