Thursday, December 30, 2021

R. I. P., E. O.

E. O. Wilson, author of not only the best ant book I've ever read but also the second best ant book I've ever read, died a few days ago. My brother and I were huge fans back in the day. Here's an old photo of the E- and O-shaped doughnuts with which we celebrated his 75th birthday.


When random people you've never met are observing your birthday with doughnuts in the shape of your initials, I think it's safe to say you've made it.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Monkey, Rat, and Dragon elections

Because U.S. presidential elections are held on a four-year cycle, each takes place in one of only three Chinese zodiac years: the Monkey, the Rat, and the Dragon.

The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, a Year of the Monkey. The Constitution was ratified in 1788, another Year of the Monkey. The War of 1812, often considered a "second war of independence," began in yet another Year of the Monkey. 

Wikipedia's article on "Historical rankings of presidents of the United States" summarizes the results of 23 different surveys in which scholars ranked the presidents from best to worst. Only five presidents were ranked in the top quartile in every single survey and may thus be taken to be, by common consent, America's five greatest presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and the two Roosevelts. With the exception of Theodore Roosevelt, who assumed the presidency after McKinley's assassination rather than being elected, every one of these was elected in a Year of the Monkey.


These 15 presidents came to power in Monkey elections: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump. Monkey presidents were reelected 11 times.

These 9 presidents came to power in Rat elections: James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, Franklin Pierce, Benjamin Harrison, Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden. Rat presidents were reelected 4 times.

These 11 presidents came to power in Dragon elections: John Adams, James Madison, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Ulysses S. Grant, Chester A. Arthur, Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. Dragon presidents were reelected 4 times.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Greek letters

Various people have noticed that Delta Omicron is an anagram of media control.

The Vigilant Citizen notices a further fact about these two letters:

Weird fact: Omicron originates from the Phoenician letter ayin which means “eye”. The symbol representing Delta is a triangle. The combination of the two = the ultimate symbol of the occult elite.

Once that connection has been made, one notices that Delta Omicron is also an anagram of triad monocle. A triad is a group of three, which may be represented as a triangle, and also happens to be the name given to certain Chinese organized crime syndicates that use the triangle as their emblem. Monocle, though today it refers to an eyeglass, was originally an adjective meaning "one-eyed."

The first "variant" was of course called Alpha. If Omicron ends up being the last, then we will have a distorted version of "Alpha and Omega" -- with Omega ("great O") being replaced by Omicron ("little O"). Not with a bang but a whimper.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas

Lorenzo Ghiberti, Madonna and Child

Jesus said, "I am, above all, the Light. . . . From me did the All come forth, and unto me does the All extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up a stone, and you will find me there."

-- Gospel of Thomas, 77

By what we dismissively call "coincidence," Francis Berger is also thinking of the Gospel of Thomas this Christmastide.

It is a bleak world we find ourselves in this Christmas, bleak almost beyond imagining -- and yet it is a world into which the Christ of God has incarnated, permanently, and that makes all the difference. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22).

Merry Christmas to all my readers, old friends and newcomers alike. Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Dolphin

Our English word dolphin comes from the Latin delphinus. This in turn comes from Greek delphis (genitive delphinos) and ultimately from delphus, "womb," presumably because the dolphin was thought of as the "fish with a womb." Delphus, "womb," is also the source of adelphos, "brother or sister" (literally "from one womb"), whence for example Philadelphia, "city of brotherly love."

"Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn," writes Isaiah, "and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged." Then, explaining his metaphor, he adds, "Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you" (Isa. 51:1-2). Thus is the womb from which one is born assimilated to a pit from which one is dug. The Old English word for "to dig" was delfan (whence our modern delve), and the past participle (as would be used to translate Isaiah) was dolfen.

Less than a century after his time, Adolf Hitler is already well on his way to becoming a mythical or legendary figure. In the future, when the details of 20th-century history have been lost in the mists of time, philologists will assume that his name has a similar derivation to that of dolphin, with Adolphus coming from Adelphos, and they will consider him to be essentially the same figure as his English counterpart, Big Brother.

In fact, though, the true etymology of Adolf is not a-dolf but ad-olf -- from Athalwolf, "noble wolf." Isn't it a curious coincidence, though, that Germanic names ending in -olf always seem to end in -dolf, even though dolf is not a morpheme? Besides Adolph, there are also Rudolph ("fame wolf," but sure to be misinterpreted by future etymologists as Rudelaph, "red deer"), Bardolph ("axe wolf"), and Randolph ("shield wolf"). Randolph is especially noteworthy, as it derives from Old Norse Rannulfr, with the d added later for no apparent reason other than some sort of magnetic attraction between the wolf and the dolphin.

Apollo was closely associated with the wolf and was given the epithet Lyceus, "wolf-like." He also had a close connection with the dolphin, though, and it is from this animal that Delphi presumably takes its name. Apollo himself once took dolphin form to guide Cretan sailors to Delphi, and it was after singing a hymn to Apollo that Arion was rescued by dolphins.

René Guénon, in his essay on the meaning of the Arabic letter nun, writes that the whale plays a womb-like role in the story of Jonah and notes the relevance of the etymological link between dolphin and the womb. I have alredy mentioned (here) that the "big bad wolf" plays a similar role in the story of Little Red Riding Hood. And just as Jonah must have been swallowed by a whale, a dolphin being much too small, so I have conjectured that the "big bad wolf" of the fairy tale was actually a bear. (Bear, by coincidence, is also the verb associated with the womb.)

Coming back to -dolf names, there is also the Italian Gandolfo -- of Germanic origin and meaning "spell wolf," but suggesting Tolkien's Gandalf, in which the latter element means not "wolf" but "elf." Do elves, like wolves, have a dolphin connection? It is interesting to note that Tolkien's orcs came from elves and represented a monstrous distortion of elf-nature. And what do we call the most "monstrous" member of the dolphin family, scarcely recognizable as a dolphin at all? Orca.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

The Bident

From Raphael's Council of the Gods

A correspondent recently emailed me about the upcoming Pluto Return -- the return of Pluto, for the first time, to the precise zodiacal position it occupied on July 4, 1776 -- and I mentioned in reply that I had previously associated Biden with Pluto because his name resembles bident, the two-pronged spear traditionally associated with Pluto.

On December 18, I received two emails in reply. The first asked me to send links to the blog posts where I had mentioned the Biden-Bident-Pluto connection, and the second pointed out an additional Biden-Bident link that I had not previously been aware of.

I've been researching about Pluto and the Bident and found this interesting connection from Wiki: "In Roman agriculture, the bidens (genitive bidentis) was a double-bladed drag hoe." . . . I don't know if you've read this or not on social media / urban slang, but Biden and Harris are often referred to as JOE AND THE HOE. Harris being the Hoe because of allegations that Harris 'slept' her way up to her positions in politics, especially with her alleged relationship with Willie Brown.

The next day (today, December 19), I searched my own blog for the word bident so that I could send the requested links. I emphasize the dates because it turns out that the only two posts that contain that word were posted last year on December 18 ("Saturn-Pluto conjunction to end on January 8?") and December 19 ("The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)").

Thinking about the Bident again today, I realized that there is another prominent person whose name is associated with a two-pronged fork: David Hume.

And doesn't the name Hume strongly suggest Pluto? To exhume a body is to remove it from the grave, so by implication hume is the common grave of mankind, Sheol or Hades. Hume's name was originally spelled Home, but that is appropriate as well. "Man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets" (Ecclesiastes 12:5). Or, as They Might Be Giants put is, "We long to swim for home, but our only home is bone."

Exhume actually derives from humus, "earth," whence also humanus, "earthling." Thus the etymology of human parallels that of Adam, from adamah, "earth."

In my "Green Manalishi" post of exactly a year ago, I associate the two-prong crown of the Manalishi with the two-prong bident of Pluto. (The song was supposedly inspired by a drug-induced dream of being barked at by a long-dead green dog that represented money. Pluto represents both money and death, and he has a dog.)

The two-prong crown made me think of the "two-horned man" of the Quran, recently mentioned both by myself and by Chris Knowles, as described in my post "Ye Cannot Serve God and Ammon?" The title of that post alludes to Knowles's theory that Mammon (money) derives from Ammon -- but money is more an attribute of Pluto than of Jupiter.

The two-horned man is Alexander the Great, portrayed with horns because he was supposed to be the son of Zeus Ammon -- a combination of Zeus with the Egyptian god Amun, who was sometimes given a ram's head or four rams' heads. This four-headed "Ram of Mendes," later considered to be a form of Amun, was called Banebdjedet. The Wikipedia article on this god begins thus:

Banebdjedet (Banebdjed) was an ancient Egyptian ram god with a cult centre at Mendes. Khnum was the equivalent god in Upper Egypt.

And who is Khnum? Well, it turns out he is none other than the Green Manalishi with the two-prong crown.

That's right, Khnum (the god of the Nile, later assimilated to Zeus Ammon as Jupiter Nilus) is specifically a green god with two horns.

The second of the demonic beasts of the Apocalypse -- the one that comes from the earth rather than the sea and would thus be associated with Pluto rather than Neptune -- also wears the two-prong crown.

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men (Rev. 13:11-13).

The horns of this beast are specifically those of a sheep, but the beast's true nature is that of a dragon. Compare this two Khnum, who has the horns of a ram but is green -- a reptilian, not a mammalian, color.

The association of the apocalyptic Manalishi with supernaturally produced fire is also interesting, given the inexplicable but persistent way in which the sync fairies keep connecting Joe Biden with the idea of spontaneous human combustion.

Noah, the eighth

With seven each of creatures clean,
of unclean two. And here is seen
how mercy doth prevail in Heaven:
Though man's an unclean creature, seven
the Lord permitted to embark
along with me into the ark.
My wife, my sons, my sons' three wives:
He saved their five-too-many lives!
-- Yes and No

We read in 2 Peter 2:5 that God "spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly."

This is typically interpreted as a reference to the fact that "eight souls were saved by water" (1 Pet. 3:20) in the ark, and "the eighth" (person is not there in the Greek) means in this case "one of eight." It would be more natural, though, for a reader to take as meaning that Noah was "the eighth" in the same sense that Enoch was "the seventh from Adam" (Jude 1:14) and think that Noah was the eighth in line of descent from Adam.

In fact, in Genesis 5 as we have it now, he was the tenth. In the parallel genealogy given in Genesis 4, though (see "City of Enoch"), it is the eighth place which corresponds to Noah.


In the Genesis 4 genealogy, Lamech is the seventh generation from Adam, heads a family of seven (he takes two wives, each of whom bears two sons), and says, "If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold" (Gen. 4:24).

In Genesis 5, Lamech is the ninth generation and the father of Noah -- but he lives for 777 years, a strong hint that he may originally have been identical to the Lamech of Genesis 4, who is so closely associated with the numbers 7 and 77. That would make Noah "the eighth."

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Leo does the Pixies

The inimitable Leo Moracchioli's take on "Where Is My Mind."


Probably the best cover since Storm Large did it for "Big Ass Spider!" back in 2013.

Fritz food and pearly dewdrops

I was eating some Japanese snacks my wife bought, which are -- well, I'm not at all sure what they are, but they reminded me of something.


I was sure that these snacks looked just like something I had always wanted to eat as a child but had never been able to. After thinking for a minute, I remembered what it was: Fritz food! A bit of searching online led me to scans of the Fritz food pages from Dr. Seuss's 1979 book Oh Say Can You Say?


Something about this picture -- maybe it was Fred's happy face as he opened his mouth to catch a piece -- made me want to eat Fritz food in the worst way. I mean, I guess technically it's dog food -- "Fritz feeds Fred with ritzy Fritz food," so Fritz is the dog -- but I didn't make that connection as a child. I just wanted to try some. I even asked my mom a few times to buy some Fritz food when she went grocery shopping. With her usual straight-faced response to children's nonsense, she said she would be sure to get some if she saw any and reported afterwards that unfortunately there didn't seem to be any Fritz food in stock.

And here I am all these years later eating real Fritz food! Another childhood dream come true.


In my quest for a picture of Fritz food, I perused the rest of Oh Say Can You Say? The last page in particular caught my attention.


I'm not sure why this one stood out to me, but it did. I read it a few times, contemplated the picture, thought, "I would have started with, 'When the drops start forming, the storm starts storming,'" and moved on to other things.


I have recently begun following Christopher Loring Knowles's blog The Secret Sun. A few weeks back, I was wondering whether any of the old 2009-era synchromystical bloggers were still around, so I found a site from back then that had a long list of links to sync blogs and methodically clicked through all of them. As expected, almost all of them had stopped posting around 2012 or 2013, but a handful were still active, and one of these was The Secret Sun, which I had never heard of before. The guy makes some good connections, and he seems solid on the birdemic and the sexual revolution, so I've started checking him fairly regularly. As a newcomer, I have yet to catch up on some of the long-running sync themes that he often mentions in passing. One of these is the Siren; another is someone called Fraser, with synchromystically important people often being labeled "Fraserfarians."

The other day, one of my correspondents (whose online handle happens to bear a certain resemblance to the word Fraserfarian) sent me a link to a video of a very strange Tarot reading dealing with "America's Pluto Return" -- that is, with Pluto's first anticipated return (in February 2022) to the exact zodiacal position it occupied on July 4, 1776. The reader drew an enormous number of cards from all different sorts of decks, Tarot and non-Tarot alike -- but the very first card she put down was called The Siren.

This led me to check The Secret Sun, where the most recent post, "Send Meme an Angel," had a link to a podcast called "Chris Knowles: All Roads Lead to Liz Fraser." Finally a hint as to who this "Fraser" is! I looked up Liz Fraser, and two main results came up: a British actress "best known for being cast in provocative comedy roles," and a member of the Cocteau Twins (a band of which I know nothing at all). Since the Cocteau Twins had often been mentioned on The Secret Sun, I figured that must be the Fraser I was looking for. I clicked on her Wikipedia article, and sure enough the lead paragraph mentioned "the successful 1983 single 'Song to the Siren.'" I clicked on through to the Cocteau Twins article, and the second paragraph said, "The addition of Raymonde in 1983 solidified their final lineup, which produced their biggest hit in the UK, 'Pearly-Dewdrops' Drops.'"

This is a very direct sync with the last page of Oh Say Can You Say? The duplication of the word drops syncs with Dr. Seuss's "drops start dropping" and "drops stop dropping," and Seuss's illustration even features pearly (white) drops against a blue background.

I haven't yet listened to "Pearly-Dewdrops' Drops," but "Pearly Dewdrops Glisten" is the first line of a rather obscure Easter hymn.

Pearly dew drops glisten
Over hill and plain;
Nodding flowers tell us
Easter dawns again;
Fleecy clouds are peeping
From the azure sky;
Happy birds are singing
Praise to God on high.

Streamlets gently murmur
Greetings in their flow;
Joyous bells are chiming
Carols sweet and low;
Golden sunbeams sparkle
Over branches green;
Loving Easter tokens
Everywhere are seen.

Nature's beauties whisper
Of the Saviour's might;
And His resurrection
In the morning light;
If the voice of nature
Echoes in God's praise;
Can we not, His children,
Hearts and voices raise?

Friday, December 17, 2021

Fear not to build

"And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine."

His lord answered and said unto him, "Thou wicked and slothful servant!"

-- Matt. 25:25-26

I recently read this passage in Roger Hathaway's The Mystic Passion.

Now, entertain in your imagination for a moment, a world of diverse spiritual people who have such confidence in their own spiritual truths that they can permit others to differ and grant truths might be understood differently by other persons. Since the Spirit of God motivates within a seeker such insights for the purpose of that person's path of enlightenment, is it not incumbent upon us to stand aside and permit the God to do His own work? In such a world of loving and communing and worshiping of our eternal Father, there might be many differing opinions, many discussions, sincere arguments, formulations of defenses (apologies), and intense studies. 

So what if one person believes the Holy Spirit of God to be a separate person from the Father while another believes it to be the extension of the essence and power of the Eternal Father himself? So what if one person believes Jesus to be co-eternal with the Father for a three-person-God while another person believes him to be begotten as a Word spoken in time? So what if one person believes Baptism should be by immersion and another by anointing? Spiritual fellowship need not be endangered but could be enhanced as the sharing of speculations and discussions! 

There would be no hatred or anger, no insistence upon agreement, no condemnations of fellow seekers, no inquisitions, no organizations claiming exclusive rights of salvation. What there would be: implicit confidence that God is great enough to guide His own children to Himself in His own way. This God of all-that-is has never been so emotionally sensitive that He cannot tolerate the stumbling of his children while they learn to walk. As any mother reaches down to help a baby who has stumbled, so does God pull into His heart with special love a child who sincerely reaches toward him. It is hardly comprehensible to my mind that the so-called church of a loving God could fail to recognize the simple love that a mother knows instinctively.

Shortly thereafter, as part of my project of listening to the entire Bible read aloud, I listened to the following passage in Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (3:10-16).

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 

Christ never intended that we should take his teachings as some finished and inviolable Temple, complete in every way, to be passively received, codified in creeds, and propagated. The Sower has sown his Word, and we who receive are to bring forth fruit -- new Word -- some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

Some are hesitant to build on the foundation that is Christ, hesitant to think "beyond what has been revealed." Yes, much of what we build will turn out to be stubble and straw -- are we better builders than the incomparable Thomas Aquinas? -- but that is a finite loss, a risk well worth taking. We ourselves will be saved, and who knows if some of what we have built will survive as a precious stones in the Temple of God. In John's vision of the New Jerusalem descending from heaven, he notes that "the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones" (Rev. 21:19) and goes on to list specific stones which his readers would have recognized as symbols of the twelve tribes of Israel -- that is, of God's people scattered throughout the nations. We -- we mere mortals -- are to be the precious stones garnishing the foundations.

The only danger is in becoming too attached to one's thoughts, in identifying with them, and thus being unwilling to part with them when the time comes. (See "No mercy for sin.") That is to say, the danger is in pride. Paul speaks of the day that will test every man's work and burn up all that can be burned of it. The structures of stubble we have built will be consumed, but we ourselves will be saved. What of the proud, though, those who have become so attached to their structures that they feel as if they are that stubble? Malachi has the answer.

For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall (4:1-2).

That final clause is ambiguous in the Hebrew; another possible reading is "and ye shall go forth leaping like calves released from the stall." To those whose hearts are rightly centered, the burning of all that burns will bring only freedom release.

Aquinas was, by a happy coincidence, nicknamed the Dumb Ox. When he was granted his heavenly vision, when he saw that great Sun of righteousness that burns as an oven and tries every man's work, when he was moved to say of his own life's work, "All that I have written is as straw," I like to think that, saint that he was, he left it all behind lightly and went gamboling forth as a calf released from the stall. And it was not all straw, far from it. Surely some of the glittering gems in the walls of the heavenly Jerusalem are his.

As Malachi says elsewhere, "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him" (3:17).

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Come quickly, O Frabjous Day!

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
-- Hebrews 4:12

There's been a lot of talk about the Mark of the Beast these days, and the rough consensus of those in my extended spiritual circle seems to be that while the pecks and the surveillance system associated with them may not be the Mark -- that is, that the Revelation of John is unlikely to be a coded description of 2021 specifically -- it is an extremely clear example of that sort of thing: a mark of a beast.

And what shall we call this particular beast, this venomous juggernaut of malarkey, this personification of sinister hypodermic shenanigans which is at the same time a sort of apotheosis of complete and utter bullshit? Isn't it obvious? With a nod to the Brits, whose formerly localized slang for a particular medical procedure went global this year, I give you the Jabberwock.


And, well, we know how that poem ends. Carroll said that, while he understood the etymologies of most of the nonsense words in Jabberwocky, he was never quite able to figure out where vorpal had come from. One commentator's proposal is that it was made by taking alternate letters from the words verbal and gospel -- the Word of God, quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. Snicker-snack!

Hold on, and pray that the Frabjous Day be hastened. Because it is coming, and heads will roll, but what is to come after is still undecided. Pray not for the guillotine, that debased parody, but for the True and Vorpal Sword.

Maid of Heaven, be with us.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Go with the wolf

I was just at a 7-Eleven (Taiwan holds the world record for 7-Elevens per capita), and there was an advertising monitor on the wall behind the checkout, advertising a cup with cartoon tapirs and the motto "Go with the flow." (I didn't take a photo. This is pinched from the Internet.)


Because I'm just one of those palindome/anagram thinkers, I immediately noticed that flow is wolf spelled backwards. "Go with the wolf." Or, I suppose, "Og with the wolf" (referring to Og of Bashan, the last of the biblical giants).

Also, tapirs are just inherently funny to Mormons of a certain stripe. One of the anachronisms in the Book of Mormon (if one supposes it to be set in the Americas before Columbus) is the presence of horses, and a common but hilarious apologetic response to this problem is to propose that the word "loosely translated" as horse actually referred to the tapir. When I was a missionary, another elder and I (the same one I worked with on "Satan Popping on the Apricot Tree") used to sing "Tapir-Back Rider" to the tune of the Beatles' song.

Another thing they were advertising at 7-Eleven (it showed up next on the monitor, but this photo is from a paper ad) was, uh, a white ("polar"?) Winne-the-Pooh toy holding a bottle labeled "Haney Mike."


One gathers that this means "honey milk" -- either a botched attempt at a Pooh-spelling (hunny, wol, etc.) or just a random Engrish error. (An Internet search turns up several people named Mike Haney.)

The juxtaposition of honey and milk naturally brings to mind the stock biblical expression "a land flowing with milk and honey" -- and, hey, we just saw that word flow, didn't we?

Just as the Nephites supposedly referred to tapirs as "horses," bears have been superstitiously referred to as "wolves." This is the standard interpretation of the name Beowulf ("bee-wolf," i.e. bear), and in my post "St. Christopher, Deseret, etc." and elsewhere I have proposed a similar interpretation of the fairy-tale term Big Bad Wolf. In the same post, I discuss a mutant Winnie-the-Pooh toy that was labeled "Mischievous Dog" and connected it with the dog-headed Saint Christopher.

According to legend, St. Christopher was a gigantic (like Og) Canaanite and originally served the king of Canaan -- the very country to which the expression "a land flowing with milk and honey refers."

When I posted about St. Christopher, one Sergio commented, "You have found a relation between bear and Biden and between a bear and St. Christopher, the dog faced man. But Biden is related to the dog faced pony soldier." The pony is the stereotypical mount of the American Indians (Pony Soldier was a 1952 movie in which Cree Indians give that name to a Canadian Mountie), which links us back to the supposed mount of their Lamanite ancestors: the tapir!


Where are the synchronicity fairies going with this all? No idea. I'm just going with the flow.

Monday, December 13, 2021

NHS

Somewhere in Unsong, Scott Alexander mentions that the initials of Martin Luther King spell out the Hebrew translation of his surname. Since the Hebrew alphabet includes only consonants, melech, "king," is spelled mem-lamed-kaph — MLK.

The serpent, twined around the Rod of Asclepius, is the universal symbol of the medical profession, which in Britain is administered by the National Health Service. The Hebrew for “serpent” is nahash, which is spelled nun-heth-shin — NHS.

Nahash, by the way, is a singularly appropriate word. Etymologically, nun is “fish,” heth is “thread,” and shin is “tooth.” What better name for a scaly, cold-blooded animal that is long and thin and is notable for its sharp fangs?

Saturday, December 11, 2021

It’s not only the West that’s insane

Taiwan was represented at Joe Schmo’s Summit for Democracy by a long-haired “post-gender” man named Audrey who opened, uh, “her” remarks with “Ladies, gentlemen, and non-binary friends” and closed by saying “Live long and prosper” while giving the Vulcan salute from Star Trek.


This person holds a Cabinet-level position. (A “non-binary” Minister for Digital Affairs — isn’t that some sort of syntax error?)

What an advertisement for democracy!

Friday, December 10, 2021

Year of the vacca

Back in February, I posted "Year of the Ox," speculating on the possible symbolic or synchronistic meanings of the current year (12 Feb. 2021 - 31 Jan. 2022) in the Chinese zodiac. Somehow I missed the most obvious link of all.

Tolkien's Nevbosh word for "cow" was woc -- clever because it is cow spelled backwards but also suggests the Latin vacca. (According to Daniel Dawson, "The kids were well aware of this double etymology.") These days it also reminds one of woke.

Chinese years cycle through the five Chinese elements as well as the 12 zodiac signs, and this year is specifically the Year of the Gold Ox. This suggests the golden calf as an object of idolatrous worship, which is also singularly appropriate.

Next year will be the Year of the Tiger. Buckle up.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Swiftly revolving Mercury

Mercury with a cock
(Tarot of Mantegna)

My last two posts have mentioned the "call" of the rooster, emphasizing the use of that word rather than the more usual crow. This, together with the season, put me in mind of the "four calling birds" of the Christmas carol. (These were originally "colly" -- that is, coal-black -- birds, so perhaps crows?)

And that reminded me that, during my brief stint in elementary school (second grade, I think, but all my school memories seem to be from second grade, so that's suspect), we learned a song about the solar system to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The four colly birds were replaced by "a star called the Sun" (solar crows again?); but the most prominent line in the song, taking the place of the traditional "five gold rings," was "Swiftly revolving Mercury."

Just after thinking of that song and trying (mostly successfully) to remember the lyrics, I had to, ahem, "deal with" the weekly birdemic test which is my punishment for being unpecked. I noticed for the first time that the plastic casing of the test was labeled "Rapid Ag" -- standing for antigen, I suppose, but Rapid Ag = quicksilver = swiftly revolving Mercury.

I remembered that one of the epithets of Hermes (Mercury) in Hesiod is "slayer of dogs," an obvious link to Dr. Fauci. We might more naturally associate Fauci, whose name is Sicilian for "sickle" (cf. Faucheuse, the French name for the Grim Reaper) and who was born on the octave day of Saturnalia, with Cronus or Saturn, but wasn't Saturn sometimes called Mercurius Senex -- Old Mercury? If Saturn was the Old Mercury, then wouldn't Mercury himself be the New Saturn -- or, in other words, the Novel C*ron****us with which Dr. Sickle is so closely associated?

We might also note that Dr. Sickle is notoriously "characterized by rapid and unpredictable changeableness" -- that being the dictionary definition of the word mercurial.

No idea if the synchronicity fairies intend to go anywhere with this, but I note it just in case.

The synchronicity fairies comment on "The curious incident of the cock at dawn"

Yesterday, I posted "The curious incident of the cock at dawn," in which I wrote as if from an alternate timeline and used the story of Peter's three denials before cockcrow to explore questions of agency and fate and whether Peter could have acted otherwise than it had been prophesied that he would act. For reasons related to the "alternate timeline" conceit, I modified the biblical text to say that the cock would "call out" rather than "crow."

This morning, I checked Synlogos and clicked a few of the links. Both Dark Brightness and Vox Day had posted links to a long article called "How to Build a Small Town in Texas." I didn't read the whole article but skimmed it a bit and noticed this illustration: a map of a Belgian town, with a caption inviting the reader to imagine "the invigorating call of roosters in the morning."


Another of the links on Synlogos was to John C. Wright's "The Leviathan of Time, Chapter Six: Oedipus and Jonah." I have not been reading this series and had no intention of jumping in at Chapter 6, but the name Jonah (a favorite topic of the sync fairies of late) caught my eye. I clicked and searched for the name. It turns out that Wright uses Oedipus and Jonah as examples of differing views on fate an the inevitability of prophecies: The prophecy about Oedipus inevitably comes true, despite or rather because of the attempts to thwart it; but Jonah's prophecy about Ninevah fails when the Ninevites literally change the future by repenting. The whole story also apparently deals with different "timelines."


After looking at Synlogos, my next intended stop was the Babylon Bee. I visit that site often enough that I can just type a "ba" in the address bar and press enter, autocomplete doing the rest. This time I somehow accidentally typed "bi" instead and ended up at BibleGateway instead. The homepage there had the "verse of the day," John 14:6 -- "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Later I brought up the app I have been using to listen to the entire Bible read aloud. It was at the beginning of John 14 -- that is, just a few verses before the one highlighted by BibleGateway, and immediately after "The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice." I wrote my "cock at dawn" post well before reaching this point in my Bible listening, and an earlier draft even included a reference to John 14:1: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me."

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The curious incident of the cock at dawn

When Hamlet says, "We defy augury," modern readers are likely to understand this in terms of such familiar expressions as to defy comprehension and take it to mean, "Whatever is predicted of us, we can ignore the prediction and do otherwise." In fact, Hamlet's meaning is very nearly the opposite: We ignore omens that would allow us to predict and prevent future events, because all is fated and the future cannot be changed.

The naïve reader is liable to make a similar mistake in interpreting Jesus' famously cryptic statement to Simon Peter: "The cock shall not call out till thou hast denied me thrice." Thinking of such expressions as when pigs fly or when hell freezes over, the reader is likely to understand Jesus as saying, "You will certainly never deny me."

There are multiple obvious problems with this reading, though. What can thrice mean, for instance? That Peter might deny Jesus once or twice but that three times was unthinkable? And isn't the whole construction backwards? We say, "That won't happen until pigs fly," not, "Pigs won't fly until that happens."

As it happens, there is very strong textual evidence that what Jesus meant was, "You will certainly deny me, this very night." As strange as it may seem, multiple ancient authorities attribute to the "cock" (ἀλέκτωρ) a distinctive cry or "crow," sometimes represented as kukuriku or some similar onomatopoeia, and apparently cocks used to "crow" with such regularity that farmers used to use them as a sort of natural alarm clock, rising "at cockcrow" -- that is, at dawn. Thus, Jesus almost certainly meant, "You will deny me thrice before daybreak."

What to make, then, of the fact that Peter apparently never did deny Jesus, not even once, but stood with him when all the other disciples had abandoned him and was crucified alongside him? And how to reconcile the whole story with the very obvious fact that the cock has no call and is in fact proverbial for its silence?

Secular scholars will explain it away, of course. Jesus simply made a mistake, they will say, and his prophecy did not come true. And the ἀλέκτωρ that is represented in the New Testament, the Homeric Hymns, Pindar's Odes, and elsewhere as "crowing" loudly and regularly must have been some other species than the silent barnyard fowl we know today.

The faithful, however, can recognize the very strong evidence that the biblical ἀλέκτωρ is none other than our familiar cock or rooster, that this very animal used to give a distinctive call every day at dawn, and that all this "crowing" abruptly and miraculously ceased when Peter -- in the naïve, not the Shakespearean sense -- defied augury.

The 40-day fast

In my December 2 post "Was baptism an ordeal," I mention Jesus' "David Blaine-like 40-day fast" just after his baptism.

A few days later, on December 5, I followed a Synlogos link to the Didactic Mind post "It's not a mystery at all," which linked to a video by one David Wood called "Muslim Scholar Warns about 'Avalanche' of Apostasy." For some reason, I clicked on the link, didn't watch the video, but did scroll down in the comments a bit, and found this: "I appreciate how David is casually open about the fact he is a psychopath and his history but has been healed and exalted through Christ!"

That piqued my interest enough to go to David Wood's main YouTube page and watch the featured video "Why I Am a Christian."

It is, as advertised, a psychopath's story of coming to Christ. Wood casually and unemotionally tells the story of how he attempted to murder his own father with a ball-peen hammer just for the hell of it, and of how he eventually became a Christian after realizing that his narcissism was philosophically incompatible with nihilism (because if nothing mattered at all, then neither did he himself). I take it all with a grain of salt (it is, after all, a tale told by a psychopath), but it's a compelling story.

Before his conversion, Wood had a Christian cellmate who used to fast, and Wood always tried to one-up him by fasting just a bit longer. Finally his cellmate goes for a 40-day water-only fast (because Jesus fasted for that long), and Wood decides to do 42 days. It is at this point that the prison authorities intervene, thinking he is attempting suicide by self-starvation, put him in solitary confinement, and force-feed him.

So the sync fairies are drawing my attention to the idea of a 40-day fast, and how it tests the limits of what the human body can endure. (Wood says something like, "Here I was trying to be like Jesus, and they thought I was trying to commit suicide!")

The general rule is that a person can live for three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Fasts longer than that are certainly possible -- David Blaine famously survived for 44 days on nothing but water -- but they clearly belong to the category "death-defying stunt."

When Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, "he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water" (Ex. 34:28; see also Deut. 9:9). After seeing the Golden Calf and breaking the stone tables, he did it again: "I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins" (Deut. 9:18). It is not clear whether he ate or drank anything between the first 40 days and the second, so it may well have been a continuous 80-day fast. Either way, Moses' surviving this fast or fasts was strictly miraculous; not even David Blaine can go 40 days without water.

Long after Moses, Elijah would duplicate this feat: An angel having provided "a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water" (1 Kgs. 19:6), Elijah "did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God" (19:8).

As for Jesus, all three synoptic Gospels mention a 40-day period of temptation in the wilderness just after his baptism, but only Matthew and Luke tell us that Jesus fasted. Matthew says, "And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred" (Matt. 4:2). Luke says, "And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered" (Luke 4:2). Both accounts focus on food and hunger and say nothing about water, so it is possible that Jesus' fast was (just barely) humanly possible, a water-only fast like David Blaine's. Given the obvious parallels to Moses and Elijah, though, it seems more likely that it was a total fast, without even water, and that Jesus' surviving the ordeal was miraculous.

That Jesus should have done something miraculous is scarcely surprising, but the 40-day fast is made puzzling by the immediate context of his temptation in the wilderness. Here is one of the ways in which the devil tempted him.

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, 'He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.'"

Jesus said unto him, "It is written again, 'Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God'" (Matt 4:5-7; cf. Luke 4:9-12).

The essence of this temptation seems to be to do something which would, in the ordinary course of nature, be suicidal, trusting God to intervene with a miracle and save you. And while God may well be willing to intervene with miracles to save your life, it would be a sin to "test" God by deliberately and artificially creating a life-threatening situation from which to be saved.

But isn't that just what Jesus did by choosing to go out in the desert and eat (and possibly drink) nothing for 40 days? Isn't that every bit as suicidal as jumping off the top of the Temple, and doesn't it "tempt God" in the same way? Why was the 40-day fast more acceptable to God than the proposed Temple jump?

One difference, I suppose, is that the Temple is in a public place. If Jesus had jumped off the Temple and been saved by angels, this would have been a public demonstration, "proving" to the people that he was the Son of God. Jesus was generally very careful not to give this kind of public demonstration, working miracles in private and often specifically instructing people not to spread the word. This may be why he chose to conduct his 40-day fast out in the wilderness; he would later tell those that fast to make an effort to "appear not unto men to fast" (Matt. 6:18), which would scarcely have been possible in the case of an extreme fast such as this one. No amount of "anointing thy head and washing thy face" (Matt. 6:17) could have covered up the fact that he was on the point of dying of starvation.

One other possibility is that Jesus never fasted for 40 days at all. Mark, on which Matthew and Luke are dependent, says only that he was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days and says nothing about a fast. We learn elsewhere in the Gospels that Jesus and his disciples were specifically noted for not fasting (Mark 2:18, Matt. 9:14). When compared with John the Baptist, who did fast, Jesus came across as "a man gluttonous, and a winebibber" (Matt. 11:19, Luke 7:34). Aside from the temptation story, the only other indication in the Gospels that Jesus ever fasted is when he casts out a devil which his disciples could not cast out and then explains that "this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matt. 17:21).

The first temptation in the wilderness was for the hungry Jesus to turn stones into bread. Combining this with the fact that he was in the wilderness for 40 days, and that both Moses and Elijah had fasted for 40 days, Matthew and Luke may have jumped to the conclusion that Jesus had done the same.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Never mind, Lord . . .

Please, God, save us from this terrible storm -- oh, never mind, it's just stopped!

-- traditional prayer

Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning.

-- the Dread Pirate Roberts

Just yesterday, I posted on how Tooth Fairy Chen (Taiwan's dentist-turned-health-dictator) had broken his promise of a month ago and decided to mandate birdemic pecks for people like me. This obviously prompted some pretty serious praying on my part, and promises of the same from some of my readers.

Well, lo and behold, the very next day, the Tooth Fairy, exhibiting the flightiness so characteristic of his species, changed his mind. I can now get pecked or continue with the weekly charade of an easy-to-fake* DIY test -- which is how things already stood anyway. Of course he could just as easily change his mind back again tomorrow, but for now things are  back as they were a few days ago.

And I am left feeling that I ought to feel absolutely certain that this was an intervention of God's in answer to my prayers and those of others, but in fact able to offer only the uncertain prayer, "Thanks -- if that was you, I mean." I have still not resolved to my satisfaction the issues raised in my post "Shining Buddha problems."

Anyway, my sincere thanks for the prayers of those who prayed, regardless of whether or not those petitions affected the outcome.

* Just sayin'. I would obviously never encourage my readers to do anything of which Google would disapprove.

Well, that didn't take long!

November 3:

Taiwan will not mandate birdemic pecks: CECC

CECC says Taiwanese have right to reject peck

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In response to a recent incident in which an elementary student athlete was rejected from joining a school team for not having been fully pecked, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) reaffirmed on Wednesday (Nov. 3) that Taiwan will not mandate birdemic pecks.

[. . .]

The CECC encourages people to get pecked but will not mandate pecks, Chen said, adding that the center does not want to see people lose rights inherent to them because they chose not to get the pecks, according to the report.

December 5:

Essential workers urged to get second peck before Dec. 17

Taipei, Dec. 5 (CNA) Essential workers in certain government-regulated industries will need proof of a second birdemic peck administered before Dec. 17 beginning Jan. 1, the CECC (Central Epidemic Command Center) announced Sunday.

At a press briefing, CECC spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that the tightened rules would include requiring workers attached to certain ministries to be fully pecked by Jan. 1, with at least 14 days between receiving their second peck and their first day of work.

Those employed by or working in institutions under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), and the Ministry of Labor (MOL) will be covered by the CECC's new regulations.

What happened between Nov. 3 and Dec. 5 to make the Tooth Fairy change his mind? Well, there have been 130 birdemic-related deaths in Taiwan in that period: 1 from the birdemic itself and 129 from peck side effects. Obviously, the solution is to force more people to get pecked! Look how well that's working for every other country in the world.

As a teacher and school owner, I am subject to the Ministry of Education. I am weighing my options, of which I need scarcely say that getting pecked myself is not one. Your prayers are much appreciated.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

G-Eye Joe?

Is this what Jay-Z is getting at with his notorious hand sign?


Why "Joe," you ask? Shouldn't it be "G-Eye Jay"? No, he's Joe, too.


Or is the diamond shape just a reference to one of his other nicknames?


The first HOV "diamond lane" in the US opened in 1969, the same year Jay-Z was born. Coincidence?

The shit sandwich technique

The late Lyle Burkehead used to have a page on his site called "Why I Am Not a National Socialist," explaining his reasons in great detail. Now you've probably never heard of this person at all, but from what I've just told you, you've likely inferred that he was, well, pretty much a neo-Nazi. All respectable people are strictly Caesar's-wife when it comes to Nazism. You do not want "Are you a Nazi, and if not why not?" to be on your list of frequently asked questions.

On a completely different topic, if you search Google Propaganda for nuremberg code, the first hit right now is -- quelle surprise! -- an article called "Birdemic pecks don’t violate the Nuremberg Code. Here’s how to convince the doubters."

The article itself is just bog-standard peckprop. The only reason I'm even talking about it is because of their proposed method for convincing doubters: "If you come across someone claiming birdemic pecks are experimental, you can try the 'truth sandwich' to try to myth bust."

The idea, as they explain, is to lead off with approved government propaganda, then mention what some badthinkers are saying, and then end with more propaganda. That way, you can engage with badthinkers, but you hide problematic content in the less-memorable middle portion of your discourse, "sandwiching" their toxic ideas between two slices of wholesome FDA-approved bread. It's a classic PR technique, nothing new.

But this -- this -- is the graphic they chose to use to illustrate how a so-called "truth sandwich" works.


Now I'm no expert on sandwiches, but I always thought that a slice of baloney between two slices of bread was called a baloney sandwich, not a bread sandwich. Nomenclature aside, though, just look at that graphic without any context. What would you assume it represents?

Well, obviously, it's warning you about a method of deception. Someone offers you a delicious "truth sandwich," and it certainly looks like truth on the outside, so you eat it -- but, oh no! They had actually hidden some vile lies inside, and now you've swallowed them! That's why you need Jiminy Cricket, or a talking dill pickle, or whatever that is, to point out that, despite the legit-looking banner proclaiming this dish not just a truth sandwich but the truth sandwich, it's actually full of baloney.

But no, this is actually from an article advocating the "truth sandwich" not as a disinformation technique, but as a technique for fighting disinformation. Where the graphic labels the contents of the sandwich pretty straightforwardly as "LIE," the article explains that this actually means the part "where we talk about a false claim and how it relates to the truth." And when Jiminy Gherkin says, "Hey, you're full of baloney!" he actually means, "Hey! You're using a psychologically effective technique for addressing false claims without unduly emphasizing them!"

Is this just an example of jaw-droppingly inept propaganda, or is it possible that it was done on purpose? Is the writer blinking at us in Morse code, trying desperately to signal that the whole article is a lie, produced under duress?



Random coincidence: While searching for a Spinal Tap "shit sandwich" meme, I stumbled upon this. Funny how that phrase keeps turning up!

Friday, December 3, 2021

Gee, I think Guénon underestimates "modern" languages

I've been reading some René Guénon essays, including one on the meaning of the Masonic letter G. He begins by dismissing the idea that the Roman letterform itself could have any special meaning, since unlike Hebrew and Greek, "modern languages" (like Latin!) are devoid of sacred significance.

He then proceeds to analyze G only as a stand-in for other letters from other languages -- "sacred" ones, unlike Latin, English, and his own native French. For example, a newly initiated Mason is at first told that G stands for geometry. Geometry is from the Greek γεωμετρία, and so the G represents Γ -- the Masonic square!

Well, why didn't those learned Masons, who apparently knew enough Greek to know that G = Γ = a square, just use a gamma in their symbol? And why would that symbol consist of a square, a compass, and in the center -- another representation of the square? You'd think someone whose own name begins with la lettre maçonnique would have tried a little harder than that.

Well, let's take a look at the Masonic G -- not mentally substituting some other letter, but seeing it as itself. 


Isn't it obvious? Of what does the letter G consist but a right angle (such as is made with a square) combined with an arc (such as one uses a compass to draw)? It's not just a redundant second square in a symbol which already explicitly includes a square; it symbolizes the unity of the square and the compass, with all that implies (squaring the circle, heaven and earth, etc.) Furthermore, the angles of the square and compass suggest a square (the polygon) and an equilateral triangle, respectively. The combination of the two is 4 + 3 = 7, and G (unlike gamma) is the 7th letter of the alphabet.

Guénon also connects G with the Hebrew letter yodh -- and this is where he really should have started to question his assumption that certain "sacred languages" were divinely inspired whereas all the rest, I s'pect they jes' growed. G corresponds to yodh because it is the initial letter of God, just as yodh is the initial letter of the Tetragrammaton -- and, he notes, the word God itself strongly suggests yodh.

But if God resembles Yodh -- God's initial -- is that just a meaningless coincidence, or is it evidence that "modern" languages do have sacred significance? Éliphas Lévi made much of the fact that the Bacchic exclamation Io! Evoe! resembles a spelled-out Tetragrammaton, Yodh He-vau-he -- which I guess is kosher because Greek is a certified "sacred language." When similar parallels are found in "modern" languages (among which Latin is for some reason included), they are dismissed. The similarity of Jove to Jehovah is just a coincidence, as is that of God to Yodh.

Besides its resemblance to Yodh, God also represents the Tetragrammaton itself by way of gematria. In Hebrew numerals, yodh he vau he = 10 + 5 + 6 + 5 = 26. In English ordinal gematria, God = 7 + 15 + 4 = 26. This should make 26 the most sacred of numbers -- and guess which language's alphabet is based on that number? It ain't Hebrew or Greek.

Guénon should have known all this. I mean, in interpreting a symbol consisting of a square, a compass, and a letter representing geometry, how could he possibly have overlooked the importance of the language of the Angles?

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Was baptism an ordeal?

In "John the Drowner," I mention Rupert Sheldrake's theory that the baptisms performed by John involved holding a person underwater almost to the point of death, the goal being to effect a spiritual transformation by inducing a near-death experience. If Sheldrake is correct, it would mean baptism was an intensely traumatic experience -- a form of torture, really -- but that some were brave enough to undergo it willingly because of the promised spiritual enlightenment.

Is there anything in the Gospels to support such an extraordinary view?

One of the few hints I can find of baptism as an ordeal is in Mark 10, and the parallel passage in Matthew 20. James and John have just asked to sit on Jesus' right and left hand in his glory.

But Jesus said unto them, "Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"

And they said unto him, "We can."

 And Jesus said unto them, "Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared" (Mark 10:38-40).

The clear import of Jesus' question is, "Are you prepared to endure the ordeals that I will have to endure?" -- and the metaphors he chose to convey this are those of drinking from a cup and submitting to baptism.

The cup metaphor appears to have been a common one. Several Old Testament prophecies portray the Lord as punishing people by figuratively making them drink from a cup. (See, for example, Isaiah 51, Jeremiah 25, and Jeremiah 49.) Just before his betrayal and execution, Jesus famously prayed, "O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done" (Matt. 26:42). When Simon Peter tried to defend him with a sword, Jesus said, "Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11).

Baptism as such was something relatively new and could hardly have become a stock metaphor like that of the cup of wrath. Nevertheless, Jesus knew that James and John would understand his meaning; it was natural for them to connect baptism with the idea of an awful ordeal.

John's "baptism of fire" metaphor also suggests baptism as an ordeal.

And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matt. 3:10-12).

The meaning of this fiery baptism is disputed, but at least in Matthew's version, the context strongly suggests that "baptize you with fire" means "burn you up," like chaff or like a barren tree.


Against this idea that baptism was traumatic, we have the fact that it was so enormously popular. Luke 3:7 says a "multitude" came to be baptized. According to Mark 1:5, "there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan." We might imagine an extraordinary person like Jesus submitting to a death-defying ordeal -- after all, he followed up his baptism with a David Blaine-like 40-day fast! -- but the entire population of Judaea and Jerusalem? There have admittedly been occasional "crazes" for self-flagellation and the like (see the Convulsionnaires of Saint-Médard), but nothing on this scale.

And, speaking of that 40-day fast, Matthew tells us that "Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water" and then marched out into the wilderness to fast for 40 days and be tested by the devil. Whereas, if Jesus' baptism had actually been a drowning, John would have dragged his unconscious body out of the water and resuscitated him, and Jesus would have lain gasping on the shore, coughing the Jordan up out of his lungs, and certainly in no condition to set off on a 40-day camping trip with no food.

More to the point, though, the whole idea of John drowning people in order to produce near-death experiences is ridiculous. NDEs are not at all common, and in fact are essentially a modern phenomenon, made possible by modern medicine's ability to bring people back from deeper and deeper states. You have to bring someone very, very close to death for an NDE to occur, and obviously if you deliberately try to do that, you're going to end up killing the person more often than not. Can you imagine wanting to have an NDE of your own and asking a friend to hold you underwater until you seemed almost dead and then bring you back up and resuscitate you? Isn't it obvious that this would be a criminally insane thing to do -- that you would be very unlikely to experience an NDE and very likely to just die, in which case your friend would be guilty of murder?

John had enemies, and he eventually ended up in prison -- but only for the crime of criticizing the marital irregularities of the Herods. When he was finally executed, it was not for any capital crime he was accused of, but to satisfy the whim of a vengeful woman. If John had really been doing what Sheldrake suggests, he would have had victims, lots of them, and it would have been trivially easy for his enemies to have him put to death for murder. That they did not do so -- and that the Pharisees were afraid even to criticize him because of his popularity with the people -- strongly suggests that he wasn't doing anything like that.

Does this mask make me look like a blobfish?

Taiwan's very own downmarket Dr. Fauci, Health Minister Chen "Trust Me I'm a Dentist" Shih-chung, models the latest in mouthwear fashion -- a sexy new black satin face mask with a daring heart-shaped cutout!

Ah, I stand corrected. This is actually a special persons-with-disabilities mask, worn out of consideration for those who are both hard-of-hearing and illiterate and also don't understand sign language. There's some intersectionality for you!

Of course, according to Tooth Fairy Chen's own rules, it's okay to just not wear a mask when giving a speech or appearing on television (germs being notoriously camera-shy), but where's the fun in that?

As for the question I asked in the title, the answer is:

You know, if I were a down-on-my-luck dentist reduced from filling cavities to doing daily panic-update propaganda pieces for the government to keep everyone scared, I don't  think I'd be able to resist beginning every speech with, "This is not a drill. Repeat, this is not a drill."

I shouldn't always be making fun of the old son-of-a-canine, though. After all, look how well he's being doing with the birdemic these past few months.

That's right, only one birdemic death in the whole month of November! Isn't that fantastic news? I give all the credit to the Minister of Flossing and his life-saving pecks. Just think how many lives might have been needlessly lost without them!

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Ye cannot serve God and Ammon?

In my November 23 Magician's Table post "Four rams' heads," I discussed Amun in his character as Zeus Ammon and particularly as the four-headed Ram of Mendes (Banebdjedet), and I mentioned ancient coins that depicted a horned Alexander.

Alexander the Great, a prototype of the "emperor" figure, was supposed to be the son of Zeus Ammon, and ancient coins depict him with ram's horns. (The personage called the "two-horned man" in the Quran is generally believed to be Alexander.)

On November 26, Chris Knowles at The Secret Sun (who I'm pretty sure does not read my blogs) posted "He Walks Ammon Us: Egypt's Restoration Ritual at Luxor," writing that

the big daddy of the gods is Amun, AKA Jupiter Ammon, AKA Banebdjedet, AKA Baphomet, AKA you name it. All the same thing, really: the Horned and Hidden God of kings and conquerors.

If you're wondering about the Baphomet connection, the modern goat-headed Baphomet figure (as opposed with the severed head supposedly worshiped by the Templars) was invented by Éliphas Lévi and associated by him with the "Goat of Mendes" -- i.e., Herodotus's distorted account of Banebdjedet, who was properly the Ram of Mendes. Knowles goes on to mention Alexander as the "two-horned man" of the Quran, and then he offers this interpretation of "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."

This is another one of those hiding-in-plain-sight kind of deals that eluded scholars looking for something more contrived. But it's very simple: Jupiter Ammon was on all the coinage that Jesus and the Apostles would have been familiar with. It was rendered "Mammon" as was typical of the transliteration of the time.

Well, no, I don't think adding a random M to the beginning was "typical of the transliteration of the time." Nor is it true that "Jupiter Ammon was on all the coinage" in Jesus' time. When Jesus held up a Roman denarius and asked, "Whose is this image and superscription?" they answered, "Caesar's." I have looked at many pictures of denarii from the reign of Tiberius, but none of them feature the horns of Ammon. But even if some of them did have horns, it's pretty clear that Jesus and his contemporaries thought of the bloke on the coins as "Caesar," not "(M)ammon."

In my post "John, the Bear Witness," I connected John the Baptist with the Great Bear constellation and mentioned that pun I used as a title: It is said in the Fourth Gospel that John came "to bear witness." The Greek word for "bear witness" is marturese (whence martyr), and it occurred to me that if you dropped the initial letter, it looked a lot like Arthur or Arcturus ("bear" names both) -- but the connection is a stretch even by my standards, so I didn't mention it in the post. Later I find Knowles doing exactly the same thing, even the same letter.

Actually, come to think of it, Arabic at least does form words by prefixing m- to a root (Muslim from Islam, maktab from kataba, etc.). Is there anything similar in Hebrew or Aramaic? (A pseudo-example from English would be meat, originally meaning "food," from eat.)

After writing part of this post, I had to go to work. While on the road, I was thinking about the idea of a horned god and how it contrasted with the Elizabethan use of horns as a symbol of cuckoldry and a mark of shame. I remembered how back in 2020 Francis Berger had posted a photo of himself sitting in front of a deer-antler trophy so that he appeared to have antlers coming out of his head, and how I had commented about the Elizabethan meaning of such. This led me to thinking about the white stag and how Frank had adopted it as a sort of personal symbol.

Just then I turned a corner and saw that a new billboard had been put up -- showing an enormous white stag with a crow or raven perched on either antler. So, that was weird.

Looking up Frank's old post now, I find (which I had not remembered!) that in the comments we even talk about rams' horns, Jupiter Ammon, and Alexander the Great.

Note added Dec. 2: I asked one of my staff to put something Christmassy on the small blackboard in front of our school. I didn't say anything more specific than that, but by chance she decided to make a drawing centered on a large white pair of antlers.

Easy Without You

This is one of the most seamless mashups I've ever heard.