News Briefs 25-07-2014

”Discover the force of the heavens O Men:
Once recognised it can be put to use.”

Quote of the Day:

“I used to measure the heavens, now I measure the shadows of Earth.”

J. Kepler

Our Alien DNA

DNA Coding

In 1960, a young astronomer by the name of Frank Drake pointed the Green Bank radio telescope at the stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani…and listened for the sounds of an alien civilization. Drake's little experiment marks the official beginning of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Since that time, SETI has continued to scan greater parts of the sky, listening over wider and wider bands of the radio spectrum, but the silence has been deafening. While many have taken this as a likely sign that the cosmos is largely empty, it may be more likely that SETI's search has been far too restricted in its scope, relying on just one particular 20th century technology that is already fading in use. As the psychedelic philosopher Terence McKenna once dryly noted, "To search expectantly for a radio signal from an extraterrestrial source is probably as culture bound a presumption as to search the galaxy for a good Italian restaurant".

To broaden the search, other technologies of transmission have been suggested, such as lasers. But even those ideas seem limited to our cultural ideas of an 'advanced', artificial technology - but which seem likely to be considered as quaint just a century or two into our future. What if, however, aliens had already left a message for us, 'hidden in plain sight', since the dawn of history? What if we only had to look within ourselves?

A paper published last year in Icarus, the prestigious journal of planetary science, asked if it was possible that terrestrial life on Earth had been 'seeded' from beyond the Earth - and if so, does the building block of that life, DNA, contain any sort of message from our alien creators. Using mathematics, the authors of the paper - "The "Wow! signal" of the terrestrial genetic code" - looked for evidence of a statistically strong 'informational' signal in the genetic code, with surprising results:

Here we show that the terrestrial code displays a thorough precision-type orderliness matching the criteria to be considered an informational signal. Simple arrangements of the code reveal an ensemble of arithmetical and ideographical patterns of the same symbolic language. Accurate and systematic, these underlying patterns appear as a product of precision logic and nontrivial computing rather than of stochastic processes (the null hypothesis that they are due to chance coupled with presumable evolutionary pathways is rejected with P-value < 10–13).

The signal displays readily recognizable hallmarks of artificiality.

(For counter-comments against the claims of the paper, see this Pharyngula blog post).

Interestingly, this was not the first time that Icarus had featured a paper entertaining the idea of 'biological SETI'. In 1979 the journal - under editor Carl Sagan - published a paper titled "Is bacteriophage φX174 DNA a message from an extraterrestrial intelligence?", written by Japanese biochemists Hiromitsu Yokoo and Tairo Oshima. Given how crazy the idea sounded, Sagan asked a young protégé, David Grinspoon (now a prominent astrobiologist in his own right), to check out the paper to assess whether it was legitimate. Here's how Grinspoon describes the paper in

News Briefs 24-07-2014

Illusion only is sacred, truth profane.

Thanks to RPJ and Cat for links

Quote of the Day:

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw

Randall Carlson: Geometrician, Geomythologist (and All Around Mind-Blower)

While Graham Hancock, Robert Schoch & John Anthony West are undoubtedly 'house-hold names' in the Alt-history movement, the same might not be said of Randall Carlson.

Which is a bloody, unforgivable shame.

I first learned of Randall fairly recently, thanks in large part to the Podfather himself, Joe Rogan, who had him on his show The Joe Rogan Experience last May, and if you haven't listened to it yet, you should correct that mistake immediately; but if you don't have 3 hours to spare right now in order to listen to that JRE episode, here's a shorter video composed of several of Randall's lectures, in which he explains his interpretation of what the arcane tradition of the ancients' lost knowledge ("the essence of the Great Work," as he puts it) was all about: To show us 'a way out' from the constant cycles of destruction & rebuilding, brought upon our tiny paradisiacal planet by the cosmic envoys of Death —rogue comets & meteors.

"We are sitting ducks in a cosmic shooting gallery" he says; a claim which during the days of Velikovsky was considered fear-mongering pseudoscience, but that now is pretty much the standard discourse of mainstream Academia; for now we have mounting evidence that cosmic impacts are indeed much more frequent than we'd like them to be, and that comets may have had a key role in the modifying of our climate, as well as the fall of many cultures now lost in the sands of time. Randall's mission in declassifying the Hermetic Secrets, is to ensure our civilization does not suffer the fate of our forefathers, and according to him that's the whole reason why Momma Gaia raised us silly monkeys in the 1st place —very McKennaesque of him, yet I find it a fascinating idea nonetheless.

Carlson is one of Graham Hancock's collaborators for Magicians of the Gods, the update to his best-seller Fingerprints of the Gods, so I expect that when the book comes out we'll hear a lot more from Randall. Incidentally, my pals Darren & Graham of The Grimerica Show managed to book him for an interview this Saturday, so if you have some questions about his work in Catastrophism & Sacred Geometry, I'll be happy to pass them along :)

You can also find more about him at his website, Sacred Geometry International.

News Briefs 23-07-2014

It's hump day! To celebrate, here's some kayakers getting a lift from a humpback whale

Quote of the Day:

If you think you know what the hell is going on, you're probably full of shit.

Robert Anton Wilson

Did Ireland Convert to Christianity as a Result of Halley's Comet?

Did Ireland convert to Christianity as a result of Halley's Comet having a close encounter with the Earth around the year 532 ACE?

Exploring the Ancient Cities - and Minds - of South America

Pyramids of Caral. Image by Michael TurtlePhoto credit: Michael Turtle

When it comes to ancient pyramids, the massive structures erected by the Egyptians on the Giza Plateau receive much of the focus. But on the other side of the world, at Caral in Peru, lies another pyramid complex of similar antiquity, constructed by the Norte Chico people ca. 2600-2000 BCE. The fact that people on both sides of the planet happened to build pyramids at the same time in history is, we are told, a coincidence...your mileage may vary!

One of the reasons for the lack of knowledge about Caral may be the difficulty travelers encounter in reaching this remote location - despite the intriguing ruins being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Thankfully, Australian travel writer Michael Turtle undertook the journey, and has blogged about his visit to Caral, and included some fantastic photos that he took while there, such as the one at the top of this post. Click through on the link above to see a bunch more.

While in South America, Michael also visited the temple complex of Chavin de Huantar (also in Peru), which dates back to around 1000BCE. In his blog he mentions the fascinating link that the temple seems to have with shamanic plant use, including the mescaline-containing cactus San Pedro and the DMT-containing seeds of the 'Yopo' tree, Anadenanthera peregrina. For more on this topic, see Mike Jay's article "Enter the Jaguar", available in full as a sample article (PDF) on the website of our anthology series, Darklore, from which the excerpt below is taken:

Chavín’s architecture...can be understood as a visionary technology, designed to externalize and intensify these intoxications and to focus them into a particular inner journey. This in turn offers an explanation for why so many might have made such long and arduous pilgrimages to its ceremonies. It wasn’t necessary to visit Chavín simply to obtain San Pedro or Anadenanthera. Both grow wild in abundance in the Andes; there could hardly have been, as in some cultures ancient and modern, a priestly monopoly on their use. Those who came to Chavín weren’t coerced into doing so; it drew participants from a wide area over which it exercised no political or military control. The Chavín ceremony, rather, would have offered a ritual on a spectacular scale, where the effects of the plants could be experienced en masse within an architecture designed to enhance and direct them.

Within this environment, participants could congregate to enter a shared otherworld, and also submit themselves to a highly charged individual vision quest. The sunken plaza might, as the reliefs suggest,
have harnessed the heightened consciousness of San Pedro to a mass ritual of dancing and chanting; the participants might subsequently have ascended the temple steps individually to receive a further sacrament of powdered Anadenanthera seeds administered to them by the priests via bone snuffing tubes. As this was taking hold, they would be led into the chambers within the pyramid where they could experience their DMT-enhanced visions in solitary darkness. Here, the amplified rushing of water and the growls and roars of the unseen participants around them would enclose them in a supernatural world, one where ordinary consciousness could be abandoned, the body itself metamorphosed and the world seen from an enhanced, superhuman perspective – analogous, perhaps, to the uncanny night vision of the feline predator. The development of the subterranean chambers over centuries would reflect the logistical demands of ever greater numbers of participants willing to enter the jaguar portal and submit themselves to a life-changing ordeal that offered a glimpse of the eternal world beyond the human.

If we want an analogy for its function drawn from Western culture, it might be the Eleusinian Mysteries, originating as they did in subterranean chambers near Athens a little later than Chavín, around 700BC. Like Chavín, Eleusis persisted for nearly a thousand years, under different empires, in its case Greek and Roman; like Chavín – and like the Hajj at Mecca today – it was a pilgrimage site which drew its participants from a diverse network of cultures spanning virtually the known world

Visit Michael Turtle's blog for more fascinating articles exploring the ancient sites of the world.

Chavin de Huantar.  Image by Michael TurtlePhoto credit: Michael Turtle


News Briefs 22-07-2014

Congrats to Daily Grail contributing editor Cat Vincent on writing the cover feature for this month's Fortean Times!

Quote of the Day:

You gotta be continually revising your map of the world.

Robert Anton Wilson

From the Mouths of Mediums - New Book Talks to Those Who Claim to Talk With the Dead

The Deceased in the Afterlife Realm

The topic of 'spirit' mediumship has been so successfully marginalized by modern skeptics that, for many, the image conjured up by the word 'medium' is now a caricature of a gypsy-robed street hustler. The phenomenon of mediumship, however - regardless of your opinion on whether the results are 'real' or not - is a lot more nuanced and fascinating than that, and those that claim to have this ability are also very much human beings, rather than cartoon villains.

Daily Grail Publishing released a book earlier this year that discussed the intricacies of mediumship across cultures all over globe (Talking With the Spirits, edited by Jack Hunter and David Luke), and now a new ebook released by Dr. Julie Beischel also aims to help the public in better understanding mediumship. Julie (who blogs occasionally here on the Daily Grail) is the co-founder and Director of Research at the Windbridge Institute for
Applied Research in Human Potential, which actively researches the phenomenon of mediumship.

As a part of her role, Julie assembled a group of mediums (via a process of testing and certification) to utilise in experiments, and after many years working with them had the fantastic idea to release a series of short ebooks that discuss mediumship from their point of view. In Volume 1 of From the Mouths of Mediums ($3.99 on Amazon's Kindle store), 13 mediums share their person stories, talking about how they experience communication from the deceased, what suggestions they have for people interested in experiencing communication on their own, and why it might be that someone has not heard from their loved one.

As an example, here are a couple of the mediums discussing their sensory experience of mediumship:

Ankhasha: “Sometimes I see things in a movie format, an entire scene runs in front of me, other times I see only a flash, like a subliminal advertisement: They come through visually quickly and clearly; like a flash, but very clear, over in an instant. When that happens, it is very choppy, hard to get a hold of the entire picture.From the Mouth of Mediums Sometimes I see them in kind of a fast blur, hear them loudly, but don’t really feel any emotion from them unless I spend time with them. It has been my experience that the ones who are able to stay around for longer times during the reading make their presence known by almost a building of energy, as if they are coming closer and closer as they communicate with me, until I can hardly hear anything, the sound is so high-pitched and loud and there is a buzzing, humming glow that becomes hard to look at. It almost feels like I am being lifted, levitating while I am communicating with them. I know that may sound wacky, but that is what happens to me. And to be honest, it feels really good!”

Traci: “Information comes to me via the gamut of senses: hearing (it may be a name, a particular ‘saying’ or accent, an animal, a cry, a speech idiosyncrasy, the wind, a crash); seeing (can be a symbol, a still as in a photograph, or a moving scene like watching a vehicle accident occur; also communication comes with words via a marquee, or in reading a page placed in front of my mind’s eye; the typeset can be significant, or the design of a letter: Victorian versus a technical-type of font can be indicative of a number of things); smelling (may indicate anything from a favorite or detested food; a perfume; or, if a flower such as a rose, either the name Rose/Roseanne/Rosalee, etc., or the discarnate loved or grew roses, for example); touching/feeling/being touched (too at times I experience shivering on top my head or down my neck or shoulders or back; this is an indication to me that the discarnate is letting me know I am on target); tasting; and ‘just a sense.’ It is important that I pay attention to first-thought as in: what comes to me powerfully, initially, and to not bypass it. Generally in readings, all of the above mentioned ‘senses’ come into play within each session. I also experience sympathetic pain particularly in regard to cause of death. Examples of this include an explosion of pain in my head indicates a gunshot to the head, whereas a sudden slap of movement with pain to the head may indicate a vehicle accident with head injury. In contrast, a sudden dart of pain may indicate an aneurism, or a throbbing pain or localized pain in head may indicate migraine, cancer, or tumor.”

From the Mouths of Mediums offers a fascinating insight into the processes and experiences of spirit mediums. Far from the shadowy figures demonized by outspoken skeptics, the Windbridge Institute-approved mediums interviewed for this book are shown to be caring, feeling human beings with as much curiosity about what they do as the scientists that are currently studying them. Recommended reading for anyone interested in the phenomenon of mediumship.

The ebook is available exclusively as a Kindle e-book rather than print in order to keep the price low - anybody can download and read Kindle books instantly on any computer, tablet or smartphone via Amazon's Kindle app. Heck, why not grab From the Mouths of Mediums and my own book Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife (which features a section on Julie's research) for less than $10 combined?!

(Full disclosure: I received a complimentary advanced reading copy of the ebook)

Amazon Kindle eBook Link: From the Mouths of Mediums


News Briefs 21-07-2014

Hell is empty and all the devils are here

Thanks to Kat and Cat for links

Quote of the Day:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.