Klerksdorp Sphere

Klerksdorp spheres are small objects, often spherical to disc-shaped, that have been collected by miners and rockhounds from 3-billion-year-old pyrophyllite deposits mined by Wonderstone Ltd., near Ottosdal, South Africa. They have been cited by alternative researchers and reporters in books, popular articles, and many web pages, as inexplicable out of place artifacts that could only have been manufactured by intelligent beings. Geologists who have studied these objects argue that the objects are not manufactured, but are rather the result of natural processes. Roelf Marx, curator of the museum of Klerksdorp, South Africa, where some of the spheres are housed, said: "The spheres are a complete mystery. They look man-made, yet at the time in Earth's history when they came to rest in this rock no intelligent life existed. They're nothing like I have ever seen before."

According to an article by J. Jimison, the spheres are of two types—"one of solid bluish metal with white flecks, and another which is a hollow ball filled with a white spongy center." On a letter dated September 12, 1984 Roelf Marx said : "There is nothing scientific published about the globes, but the facts are: They are found in pyrophyllite, which is mined near the little town of Ottosdal in the Western Transvaal. This pyrophyllite is a quite soft secondary mineral with a count of only 3 on the Mohs scale and was formed by sedimentation about 2.8 billion years ago. On the other hand the globes, which have a fibrous structure on the inside with a shell around it, are very hard and cannot be scratched, even by steel." The Mohs scale of hardness is named after Friedrich Mohs, who chose ten minerals as references points for comparative hardness, with talc the softest (1) and diamond the hardest (10).

A. Bisschoff, a professor of geology at the University of Potchefstroom, said that the spheres were "limonite concretions." Limonite is a kind of iron ore. A concretion is a compact, rounded rock mass formed by localized cementation around a nucleus. One problem with the hypothesis that the objects are limonite concretions concerns their hardness. As noted above, the metallic spheres cannot be scratched with a steel point, indicating they are extremely hard. But standard references on minerals state that limonite registers only 4 to 5.5 on the Mohs scale, indicating a relatively low degree of hardness.

Furthermore, limonite concretions usually occur in groups, like masses of soap bubbles stuck together. They do not, it seems, normally appear isolated and perfectly round, as is the case with the objects in question. Neither do they normally appear with parallel grooves encircling them.

All of the specimens of these objects, which were cut open by Heinrich, exhibited an extremely well-defined radial structure terminating on either the center or centers of a Klerksdorp sphere. Through petrographic and X-Ray diffraction analyses of specimens of these objects Heinrich found that they consist either of hematite (Fe2O3) or wollastonite (CaSiO3) mixed with minor amounts of hematite and goethite (FeOOH). Observations by Cairncross and Nel and others indicated that many of the Klerksdorp spheres found in unaltered pyrophyllite consist of pyrite (FeS2). The color of the specimens studied by Heinrich ranged from dark reddish brown, red, to dusky red. The color of those objects composed of pyrite is not known.

For the purposes of this study, it is the sphere with three parallel grooves around its equator that most concerns us. Even if it is conceded that the sphere itself is a limonite concretion, one still must account for the three parallel grooves. In the absence of a satisfactory natural explanation, the evidence is somewhat mysterious, leaving open the possibility that the South African grooved sphere—found in a mineral deposit 2.8 billion years old—was made by an intelligent being.

(Sources : Hidden History of The Human Race by Michael Cremo; and Wikipedia)

(Pic source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ottosdal1.jpg)
05:27 | 1 komentar

Narmer Palette

The Narmer Palette, with a height of 64 cm and a width of 42 cm, also known as the Great Hierakonpolis Palette or the Palette of Narmer, is a significant Egyptian archeological find, dating from about the 31st century BC, containing some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever found. It is thought by some to depict the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the king Narmer. On one side the king is depicted with the White crown of Upper (southern) Egypt and the other side depicts the king wearing the Red Crown of Lower (northern) Egypt. The Palette was one of many discoveries located in the Temple of Horus in the city of Hierakonpolis. Today, the Narmer palette draws a significant amount of attention to historians. There are various controversies that are surrounding the legendary Narmer Palette. Among these are the following: Was this Narmer’s victory over the north? Narmer Palette is often taken to be record of victory of southern kingdom over north. But the controversy on whether Nermer’s victory was embedded on the palette remains unsolved.

Around 3000 B.C., Egypt emerged from the twilight of prehistory as one country, united under the single rule of a divine king. Before that, it is generally assumed that the country was divided in two parts : Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. According to an Ancient Egyptian legend, it was an Upper Egyptian king named Menes who first united these "Two Lands". From then on, the Egyptian kings would rule Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt and one of the many names used for the country would be "Two Lands", reflecting the original duality of Egypt. The identification of Menes with one of the archaeologically attested kings of Early Dynastic Egypt has been a matter of debate among Egyptologists for quite a long time and has not yet been resolved. Some identify Menes with Narmer (3300 - 3100 B.C.), others with his probable son, Aha and others yet still see him as a mere legendary figure. The most important document pertaining to the unification of Egypt is the Narmer Palette.

The Narmer Palette, now one of the many exhibits at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, was discovered in 1898 by the archaeologist James E. Quibell in the Upper Egyptian city of Nekhen (today's Hierakonpolis), believed to be the Pre-Dynastic capital of Upper Egypt. Quibell was excavating the royal residences of various early Egyptian kings at Hierakonpolis in Upper Egypt when he discovered that large ceremonial palette of King Narmer with other objects. The palette, which has a shield-shape, is decorated on both sides. It was once erected for display in the temple of Horus in Nekhen. It was a votive or gift offering by the King to his "father", the god Amun-Ra. Not only does it hold one of the oldest known specimens of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, its well-preserved decoration also shows us a chapter of Ancient Egyptian history : the unification of Egypt.

There are findings that could be served the claim that it was indeed the victory over the north. But there are some possible contradictions because of the increasing evidence for gradual process of unification over some 200 years that makes an idea of single set-piece battle less likely to occur. As stated by, there are certain conflicts during the emergence of unified state, as shown by evidence from other decorated palettes, but there were probably numerous battles and skirmishes as rival chiefs struggled for territory. Some of conflict recorded on palettes may have been directed against tribes from desert regions outside Nile Valley rather than being connected with internal disputes. Further, the question on were there outsiders involved in the process was answerable with the help of other palettes discovered. The palette provides evidences that there were outsiders that are involved. The figures present in the palette are not in congruence with Egyptian people. They have curled hair and beards, and are circumcised. It is possible that some of warfare conducted against north around time of Narmer may have been directed against local population which had moved into the Delta from west. They were regarded as outsiders by the Upper Egyptian rulers. These claims are substantiated by the Narmer Palette.


The recto of the Narmer Palette is divided into two scenes. Above the top scene, the king's name is written inside a serekh (ancestor of the cartouche), flanked on each side by a cow's head, in exactly the same manner as on the back. The top scene takes up most of the recto of the Narmer Palette. Dominating the scene is a large figure of the king, with a ceremonial beard and wearing the White Crown (which is said to represent Upper Egypt), as well as the symbolic bull's tail. All the important features of the body are present : the whole eye is seen within the profile of the face; shoulders, arms and hips are frontal while the legs and feet are in profile. A solid and static, almost monumental feeling is obtained by having the weight evenly divided on both legs with one leg well in advance of the other. In his right hand the king wields a mace, ready to smash the skull of a kneeling man (possibly a Libyan) whom he holds by the hair with his left hand. The name of this kneeling man (wash) written in hieroglyphs above his head suggests that he may have been important or that it may be referring to a group of people. Above the victim's head and in front of Narmer's face, the falcon Horus of Nekhen - symbol of Egyptian royalty and protector of the king - is sitting upon the plants of a personified papyrus marshland. The papyrus blossom in early hieroglyphs stands for the numeral one thousand - this group therefore means that the king had captured six thousand enemies. This is frequently used to symbolise Lower Egypt. Therefore the meaning of this part of the scene is quite clear : the Upper Egyptian king tramples the Lower Egyptian marshlands.

As on the back, Narmer is followed by a smaller person carrying his sandals. He is thus walking on sacred ground and is barefoot out of respect for the gods and goddesses, in order to perform the ritual act of execution. Narmer, in this way, may be dedicating his victim to the gods and goddesses perhaps thanking them for their help in conquering his foes. Below the feet of the king, below the main scene, are two naked, fallen Deltaic enemies lie helplessly on the ground, and a representation of their walled town. They too confirm the victorious imagery repeated all over the Narmer Palette.

The back of the Narmer Palette is divided into three levels. Above the top level, the king's name, "Narmer" (n'r - fish, and mr - chisel, which translates into 'Catfish'), is written inside a serekh. This serekh is flanked on each side by a cow's head, possibly a reference to either the goddess Hathor or another named Bat ["it is doubtful that there was even a goddess named Bat, although she may have been a nome deity" (Jonathan Van Lepp, personal communication)], often represented as a cow. If they do represent one, she would be the oldest known goddess of Ancient Egypt. The association of Hathor, usually represented with inwards horns, and as mother of the king is seen in most of the Egyptian art and literature. Its disposition in the upper part of the palette gives it a celestial character and prooves the high esteem of the pharaoh towards her.

The Narmer Palette displays the earliest known representation of Hathor with the king. On the left hand side of the top level, the king, followed by a smaller figure carrying his sandals - known as the Sandal Bearer - is represented wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt. In his left hand, he holds a mace, in the other a flail, symbol of his royalty. His name is repeated just before his face. He is preceded by his vizir, and by a female figure called Tjet, holding a kind of sceptre in her left hand.

All the people are represented smaller than the king. The entire procession is walking towards ten decapitated bodies - divided in two rows of five persons each, lying on the ground, with their disembodied heads between their legs.They represent the king's vanquished enemies. In the central scene, two persons tie together the elongated necks of two feline animals, which could be alluding to panthers, symbol of the eastern and western heavens. The two felines are often interpreted as the two parts of the country tied together, since they simbolise harmony and unity. It is believed that the circular depression created by the curved necks may have used to hold or make cosmetics on the palette - if ever it was really used to handle cosmetics. In the bottom scene, the Apis bull is represented trampling a scared, naked bearded Deltaic foe. The symbolism of this scene is made clear : the bull represents the king's masculinity and vigorous power, while destroying his enemies with the force of a strong bull. Some later kings would add a title such as "Victorious Bull" to their titulary.

The dominant theme however is the victory of the god incarnate over the forces of evil and chaos. The king's role was that of the preserver of unity of land and to overcome the enemies of Ma'at, goddess of Truth, Order and Justice.

The palette has raised considerable scholarly debate over the years. In general the arguments fall into one of two camps: scholars who believe that the palette is a record of actual events, and other academics who argue that it is an object designed to establish the mythology of united rule over Upper and Lower Egypt by the king. It had been thought that the palette either depicted the unification of Lower Egypt by the king of Upper Egypt, or recorded a recent military success over the Libyans, or the last stronghold of a Lower Egyptian dynasty based in Buto.

More recently scholars such as Nicholas Millet have argued that the palette does not represent a historical event (such as the unification of Egypt), but instead represents the events of the year in which the object was dedicated to the temple. Much of this doubt also comes from the fact that King Narmer did not appear in the ancient records, which signifies a great deal as Ancient Egyptians were very particular in their recording. It is certainly possible that King Narmer was an alias of Menes, hence recognized to be the first Pharaoh to have unified Egypt. To say that King Narmer has taken this role instead of King Menes would contradict with this recorded and determined history. To supply the Astronomical explanation even further is analysis that King Narmer has actual relations on the Autumn Equinox and Seth. This readily assumes Narmer as indeed, a king and a celestial counterpart as well as the anarchic God, Seth.

Another interesting interpretation may be that the Narmer Palette is an embodiment of the Sinai Peninsula, thus through this perception the palette serves to immortalize the conquest regarding this open area The Narmer Palette can be classified under two categories, historical and symbolic interpretation. The palette literally details the actual unification of Egypt shown from several iconographies. Thus, Narmer may be a king of Egypt, or a much minor ruler. But whatever those interpretations are, the facts still remain as an irony that the Narmer palette could solely serve the answer.

(Sources : http://ivythesis.typepad.com/term_paper_topics/2009/04/narmer-palette.html; http://www.ptahhotep.com/articles/Narmer_palette.html; and wikipedia)

(Pics sources : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NarmerPalette_ROM-gamma.jpg; http://griffis-consulting.com/images/narmer-palette-deities.jpg)
13:55 | 6 komentar

Shambhala

For thousands of years rumors and reports have circulated that somewhere beyond Tibet, among the icy peaks and secluded valleys of Central Asia, there lies an inaccessible paradise, a place of universal wisdom and ineffable peace called Shambhala. Legends say that only the pure of heart can live in Shambhala, enjoying perfect ease and happiness and never knowing suffering, want or old age. Love and wisdom reign and injustice is unknown. The inhabitants are long-lived, wear beautiful and perfect bodies and possess supernatural powers; their spiritual knowledge is deep, their technological level highly advanced, their laws mild and their study of the arts and sciences covers the full spectrum of cultural achievement, but on a far higher level than anything the outside world has attained. By definition Shambhala is hidden. Of the numerous explorers and seekers of spiritual wisdom who attempt to locate Shambhala, none can pinpoint its physical location on a map, although all say it exists in the mountainous regions of Eurasia. Many have also returned believing that Shambhala lies on the very edge of physical reality, as a bridge connecting this world to one beyond it.

In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Shambhala (also spelled Shambala or Shamballa; Tibetan: bde 'byung, pron. De-jung) is a mythical kingdom hidden somewhere in Inner Asia. It is mentioned in various ancient texts, including the Kalachakra Tantra and the ancient texts of the Zhang Zhung culture which predated Tibetan Buddhism in western Tibet. The Bön scriptures speak of a closely related land called Olmolungring. Whatever its historical basis, Shambhala gradually came to be seen as a Buddhist Pure Land, a fabulous kingdom whose reality is visionary or spiritual as much as physical or geographic. It was in this form that the Shambhala myth reached the West, where it influenced non-Buddhist as well as Buddhist spiritual seekers--and to some extent, popular culture in general. The Sanskrit name means “place of peace, of tranquility.” Though it’s true location has never been found, its beginnings are unknown and its existence is unproven, Shambhala is recognized and honored by at least eight major religions, and is regarded by most esoteric traditions as the true center of the planet and the world’s spiritual powerhouse.

It is said to be inhabited by adepts from every race and culture who form an inner circle that secretly guides human evolution. This remarkable kingdom reputedly exists both above and below ground, with a network of tunnels hundreds of miles long. “Cars of strange design flash along their length,” writes Andrew Tomas, author of Shambhala, Oasis of Light, “and they are illumined by a brilliant, artificial light which affords growth to the grains and vegetables and long life without disease to the people.”

Victoria LePage writes in her superbly researched book, Shambhala: “Modern society is in desperate need of a zone of order, a mandalic center within spiraling chaos.” And she maintains, the quest for this center leads us directly to Shambhala, which she calls “The World Axis.” LePage, who has been studying Shambhala for nearly fifty years, says that many marvels are supposed to have been seen in this underground world: museums, libraries, stores of jewels, and technological inventions thousands of years before their time. And, according to Chinese lore, the aircraft and space vehicles of the Immortals of Shambhala journey among the stars, observing the habitats of other races and kingdoms. It would be easy to dismiss Shambhala as pure mythical fantasy, were it not for a very credible explorer who searched for, found and returned to tell us something about his experiences in Shambhala.

Nicholas Roerich, a Russian- born artist, poet, writer and distinguished member of the Theosophical Society, led an expedition across the Gobi Desert to the Atlai mountain range from 1923 to 1928, a journey which covered 15,500 miles across 35 of the world’s highest mountain passes. Nicholas Roerich and party set out in 1924 to explore India, Mongolia and Tibet. Like Ossendowski before him, Roerich soon encountered stories about a secret underground kingdom. He jotted down his thoughts on this hidden kingdom and these notes were later published in a remarkable record of the expedition entitled Altai-Himalaya: A Travel Diary.

In the summer of 1926, Roerich reported a strange event in his travel diary. He was encamped with his son, Dr. George Roerich, and a retinue of Mongolian guides in the Sharagol valley near the Humboldt mountain chain between Mongolia and Tibet. At the time of the event in question, Roerich had returned from a trip to Altai and built a stupa, “a stately white structure,” dedicated to Shambhala. In August the shrine was consecrated in a solemn ceremony by a number of notable lamas invited to the site for the purpose, and after the event, writes Roerich, the Buriat guides forecast something auspicious impending. A day or two later, a large black bird was observed flying over the party. Beyond it, moving high in the cloudless sky, a huge, golden, spheroid body, whirling and shining brilliantly in the sun, was suddenly espied. Through three pairs of binoculars the travellers saw it fly rapidly from the north, from the direction of Altai, then veer sharply and vanish towards the southwest, behind the Humboldt mountains.

One of the lamas told Roerich that what he had seen was “the sign of Shambhala,” signifying that his mission had been blessed by the Great Ones of Altai, the lords of Shambhala. They had also been witness to a classic UFO, twenty years before the “official” beginning of the phenomenon with Kenneth Arnold’s sighting in 1947. As LePage puts it, “Roerich was a man of unimpeachable credentials: a famous collaborator in Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, a colleague of the impresario Diaghilev and a highly talented and respected member of the League of Nations.” He was also influential in the FDR administration, and was the pivotal force behind placing the Great Seal of the United States on the dollar bill. Roerich may have been on a mission to return what was said to be part of the sacred “Chintamani Stone, which was itself believed to be part of a magical meteorite from a solar system in the constellation of Orion.

According to lamaist legend, a fragment of this Chintamani Stone from what is probably the star Sirius is sent wherever a spiritual mission vital to humanity is set up, and is returned when that mission is completed. Once held in the possession of the League of Nations, it was entrusted to Roerich after the organization failed. Though it is not known whether he was able to return the fragment or not, the expedition lent credibility to those who believed that Shambhala was more than a myth. Roerich kept a diary during the trip and, while in Mongolia, noted that; “belief in the imminence of the era of Shambhala was very strong.”

In his book, Heart of Asia, Roerich describes both his scientific observations and his personal spiritual quest. This blending of the scientific and the spiritual is also present in the hundreds of paintings Roerich made throughout the expedition. “His eye captured the shapes and colors of the mountains, monasteries, rock carvings, stupas, cities and peoples of Asia,” writes Jaqueline Decter in Nicholas Roerich; “his soul understood their spirit; and his brush forged a synthesis of beauty.” Throughout his life, Roerich strove to link all scientific and creative disciplines to advance true culture and international peace, citing the power of art and beauty to accomplish such a feat.

The Roerich Peace Pact, which obligated nations to respect museums, cathedrals, universities and libraries as they did hospitals, was established in 1935 and became part of the United Nations organizational charter. “Today,” notes Le Page, “every major Russian city has a Roerich organization that expresses his ideas for a new type of enlightened civilization based on the utopian principles of Shambhala.” Tomas, an admirer of Roerich and a strong believer in Shambhala’s physical reality, claims that Vatican archives contain reports by Jesuit missionaries which concern importations from the emperors of China to the “Spirits of the Mountains” in the Nan Shan and Kun Lun Ranges, “usually in times of national crisis when the Chinese rulers could not reach a decision.”

Tomas wasn’t the only one to consider Shambhala a physical reality: his conviction was shared both by a growing metaphysical school in Europe, and by Rene Guenon, a Sufi scholar and skilled student of the ancient Jewish Cabala, and a contemporary of Roerich and spiritual teacher George Gurdjieff. His book, Le Roi du Monde (The King of the World), though written in a cryptic style that requires decoding, contains some of the most specific information available on the sacred site. He considered Shambhala the prototypic Holy Land, of which Jerusalem, Delphi and Benares are or were simply reflections.

The neo-Theosophist Alice Bailey wrote that “Shambhala is the vital centre in the planetary consciousness.” And, interestingly enough, a belief in Shambhala’s powers is documented to have been the driving force behind the Nazi neo-occultist mystique. Numerous writers have stated that the Nazis attempted to contact the hidden center by sending emissaries to Tibet, seeking to elicit the secrets of a great “Ahrimaic” earth-force, unknown to science, that exerts power over all of material nature, which they believed had its seat in Shambhala. But the power-base is reputed to have invincible, divine protection, and attempts by malevolent forces to penetrate its sacred boundaries are always thwarted. Indeed, even benevolent individuals who seek to enter before they have been “called” are said to meet with disaster. One must be a purified “initiate” willing to sacrifice the human ego and human comforts before she or he is considered ready to make the arduous “journey up the mountain.”

(Sources : Atlantis Rising Magazine vol.21 : “Searching For Shambhala” by Cynthia Gage; New dawn Magazine No.72 : “Mystery of Shambhala” by Jason Jeffrey; and Wikipedia)

(Pic source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KalachakraSera.jpg)
07:15 | 2 komentar

Joan of Arc's Sign

Saint Joan of Arc (French: Jeanne d'Arc; ca. 1412 – 30 May 1431) is a peasant girl born in eastern France. She was the daughter of Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée in Domrémy, a village which was then in the duchy of Bar (later annexed to the province of Lorraine and renamed Domrémy-la-Pucelle). Her parents owned about 50 acres (0.2 square kilometers) of land and her father supplemented his farming work with a minor position as a village official, collecting taxes and heading the local watch. They lived in an isolated patch of northeastern territory that remained loyal to the French crown despite being surrounded by Burgundian lands. Several local raids occurred during her childhood and on one occasion her village was burned. She led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, claiming divine guidance, and was indirectly responsible for the coronation of Charles VII.

In 1429, when Joan of Arc met the future King Charles VII, the on-again, off-again wars between France and England had been going on a mere ninety years, and the end seemed near. The English had routed the French army at Agincourt, then formed an alliance with the duke of Burgundy that gave them effective control of half of France. Paris was in Anglo-Burgundian hands, the Parlement was in exile in Poitiers, and Orleans, the last French stronghold north of the Loire River, was surrounded by British troops. To make matters worse, Charles was an extremely reluctant champion of his own cause.

A victorious Joan of Arc, from an 1833 painting

After his father’s death in 1422, Charles had taken the title of king of France, but he’d never been formally crowned, and he continued to be known as the “dauphin,” or crown prince. His own mother, Queen Isabeau, had effectively disowned him when she’d joined the Burgundian side. Never decisive, Charles was now paralyzed by doubts about his own legitimacy; he seemed uncertain both about whether he was truly his father’s son and about whether he could rule France. Joan asserted that she had a “sign” that told her to recover her homeland from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent her to the siege at Orléans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence when she overcame the dismissive attitude of veteran commanders and lifted the siege in only nine days. Several more swift victories led to Charles VII's coronation at Reims and settled the disputed succession to the throne.

For Joan, the victory was short lived. She was captured by the Burgundians, sold to the English, tried and condemned as a heretic, and in May 1431, burned at the stake. But she had saved France: though the Hundred Years War would drag on until 1453 (lasting 116 years, to be precise), the British would never again threaten to overrun the entire nation. How did Joan do it? And, first and foremost, what had convinced the wary Charles to entrust his fate to her—a mere seventeen-year-old, a peasant with no military experience, and a girl to boot? Contemporaries told tales of a “sign” that Joan had shown the dauphin, something that immediately gained his trust. Ever since, historians have been determined to figure out what that sign was.

The sign was a subject of immediate interest at Joan’s 1431 trial for heresy. The official record of the court, of which three copies have survived, indicates that her prosecutors and judges questioned her repeatedly about it. At first Joan refused to answer, saying the sign was a matter between her king and herself. But this trial was run under the auspices of the Inquisition, and her inquisitors knew how to wear her down. By the trial’s seventh session, on March 10, Joan gave in and answered their questions: an angel had given the sign to the king, she told the court. Pressed further, Joan continued to duck questions about what, exactly, the angel had brought. Two days later, she added that the angel had told the king that he should put Joan to work for his army.

At the trial’s tenth session, on March 13, Joan was again questioned about the sign. “Do you want me to risk perjuring myself?” she asked, almost as if to warn the court that what would follow would be a lie. Then she launched into a much more detailed description of how a number of angels—some with wings, some with crowns—brought the king a crown of fine gold. One of the angels handed the king the crown and said,“Here is your sign.” The crown was now in the king’s treasury, Joan added. Most historians have been understandably reluctant to believe Joan’s testimony. The techniques of the Inquisition were hardly conducive to eliciting honest answers; though Joan was never tortured, she was overmatched by more than seventy churchmen and lawyers. Joan’s question about perjuring herself indicated she had decided to stop resisting them and to give them what they wanted—namely, evidence that she was in touch with supernatural forces. Once Joan admitted that, it was up to her inquisitors to determine whether these were angels or devils—and there was no doubt they’d choose the latter. Her fate was sealed.

Twenty-five years after Joan’s death, a second court overturned its verdict, and these records also survive. Like the original verdict, this one was pretty much predetermined. Charles, who wanted to eliminate any taint of heresy from his reputation, ordered an investigation into the first trial in 1448. The hearings stretched on until 1456, when the second court pronounced the first one “contaminated with fraud, calumny, wickedness, contradictions, and manifest errors of fact and law.” Joan was, the court said, “washed clean.” It was at this second trial, which became known as the “trial of rehabilitation,” that a now-famous version of Joan’s first meeting with the dauphin emerged. Two witnesses recalled that when Joan entered the castle of Chinon, Charles hid himself among his courtiers. Yet Joan, though she’d never before laid eyes on the dauphin, immediately recognized him. Joan then spoke privately with the dauphin, after which he appeared “radiant,” according to the witnesses.

The story of the hidden king, later embellished to include Joan’s refusal to address a courtier posing as the king, appealed to historians, since it could be explained without recourse to any supernatural power on Joan’s part. Many historians noted that even if Joan had never before seen the king, she could have picked him out based on someone else’s description. The story was also appealingly theatrical, and it proved irresistible to, among others, Shakespeare, Schiller, Twain, and Shaw. The hidden-king story may very well be true, but it still left unanswered questions. Would Charles have trusted Joan just because she picked him out of a crowd? Wouldn’t Charles have realized that someone could have described him to Joan? And what did Joan say to him or show him that made him so “radiant”?

To those questions, none of the witnesses at the trial of rehabilitation had an answer. One theory, which first appeared in print in 1516, was that Joan told the dauphin about a prayer he’d recently made. According to a chronicle written by Pierre Sala, who claimed to have heard the story from an intimate friend of Charles VII, Charles had asked God to grant him his kingdom if he was the true heir, or to let him escape death or prison if he wasn’t. When Joan told Charles that she knew about his prayer—a prayer he’d confided to no one—he took it as a “sign” to trust her. Like the hidden-king story, the prayer story could easily be true. It, too, could be explained without resorting to the supernatural. Joan would not have had to be extraordinarily intuitive to figure out that Charles was insecure about his parentage.

The court was full of gossip that he was illegitimate, especially since his mother had disowned him as part of her alliance with the Burgundians and the English. Charles himself must have heard the widespread rumor that his real father was Charles VI’s brother, the duke of Orleans. So Joan could easily have guessed that he’d turned to prayers, and Charles would certainly have been relieved that someone had arrived to answer them. The problem with the secret-prayer story is the same as with the hidden-king story. Even if true, is it enough to explain Charles’s decision to put his fate in the hands of an unknown teenager? Charles may have been weak and indecisive, but he was neither stupid nor naive. He would have been as capable as later historians of seeing how Joan might have known what he looked like, or what his prayers were.

The appeal of the hidden-king and secret-prayer stories—that a rational, modern historian can make sense of them—is also their weakness, for if Joan’s sign could easily be explained away, why did it so sway Charles? What was required, clearly, was a more dramatic sign, one that could impress the dauphin yet one that didn’t involve angels or devils or other supernatural phenomena. In 1805, Pierre Caze came up with a theory that fit the bill: it was Joan, not Charles, Caze wrote, who was the illegitimate offspring of Queen Isabeau and the duke of Orleans. By this account, the infant Joan was smuggled out of Paris to save her from her father’s enemies. She was handed over to Jacques d’Arc, who raised her (and who in this version of Joan’s story was a country gentleman, not a peasant).

The sign she gave Charles at Chinon, then, was some proof that she was his half sister, perhaps a ring or a document or some inside knowledge of their family. Caze’s theory solved all sorts of problems. It explained why the dauphin trusted her. It also explained how Joan had gotten in to see the dauphin in the first place, and how she learned military tactics and strategy. This was no ordinary peasant girl; this was a princess born to command, with royal blood and royal contacts. The theory caught on, especially among monarchists who were never entirely comfortable with the idea of a peasant saving the kingdom. It also appealed to those who liked conspiracies, and it reemerged in various forms during the 1960s and 1970s.

The problem—and neither Caze nor any of his followers could ever overcome this— is that the theory was based on no evidence whatsoever. In fact, it presumed that a good deal of the evidence from both of Joan’s trials was somehow falsified. The testimony about Joan’s birth came not just from her parents but also from numerous other relatives and neighbors who said they either witnessed her birth or knew her from the day she was born. For Joan to be the king’s sister, all of these witnesses—indeed, much of her hometown— must have committed perjury, as part of a grand conspiracy to conceal her royal birth. Caze’s theory, though ingenious, simply isn’t credible. Other proposed conspiracies were less grand, less royal.

In 1756, Voltaire suggested that the dauphin’s ministers sought out a peasant girl and trained her, in the hope that her dramatic appearance at Chinon would inspire the cowardly Charles and his dejected soldiers to strike back at the English. In 1908, Anatole France’s biography of Joan implicated church leaders in the same type of conspiracy. To those who shared their skeptical attitude toward either church or state, such conspiracy theories were very appealing; alas, neither Voltaire nor France had any evidence to back them up. Another way to explain Joan’s influence was to argue that it was never as great as it seemed, and for this position there was some evidence. Charles may have been deeply moved by Joan’s sign, but he didn’t instantly turn over his troops to her. Instead, in typically bureaucratic style, he appointed a commission to examine her more rigorously. The commissioners met for three weeks at Poitiers. Their report has been lost, but apparently they believed Joan’s story, since she then proceeded to Orleans.

Many historians have also disparaged Joan’s military contributions, even at the Battle of Orleans. Anatole France, for example, pictured her as little more than a mascot for the French army: brave and inspiring, yes, but with no real role in the battle’s planning or execution. And none of the testimony at either of Joan’s trials indicated that she was ever in command of the troops at Orleans. There was no point in arguing about how Joan did what she did, some historians argued, since she didn’t do all that much anyway. Such belittling positions had always to compete, of course, with the legend of the savior of France, the young woman whose death at the stake seemed sometimes to rival Christ’s on the cross.

Through the centuries, Joan became the symbol of France, embraced by all, regardless of their political or religious beliefs. She has stood with revolutionary republicans and Catholic monarchists alike, among others. Even Jean-Marie Le Pen’s ultraconservative nationalists made her one of their own. Not surprisingly, these groups have all been quicker to extol her powers than to offer any credible explanation of them. Yet most historians, though less biased, haven’t done much better. Most believe, unlike Anatole France, that Joan was a significant factor in the war, and that she held great sway over the king, at least for a while. But almost all reject any form of a conspiracy theory, whether it be the result of Joan’s royal blood or plots of Charles’s ministers. That has left historians without any generally agreed-upon explanation for Joan’s achievements, starting with her sign to the king. So, in one sense, after more than five hundred years of historiography, historians are asking the same questions as Joan’s inquisitors:Were there angels at work here? Or devils? To a historian, of course, the answers must be no.

But to return to these questions is perfectly appropriate, for to the people of the fifteenth century—and these included Joan and Charles and the French soldiers, as well as the lawyers and churchmen who condemned her—angels and devils were very real. So were the “voices” that Joan believed she heard and that she attributed to St. Catherine and St.Margaret. It was because the French soldiers believed she had saints and angels on her side that they followed her into battle. And it was because Joan’s judges believed she had devils on her side that they condemned her to death. Charles, though a highly educated and sophisticated courtier, was also a man of his times. He may very well have believed that Joan’s voices or angels had come to save his kingdom. And that belief, more than anything she said or did at Chinon, was the true “sign” of her power.

(Sources : Mysteries In History “From Prehistory to the Present” by Paul D. Aron; and Wikipedia)

(Pics sources : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ingres_coronation_charles_vii.jpg; Mysteries In History “From Prehistory to the Present” by Paul D. Aron page 129)
06:37 | 2 komentar

Utah Lake Monster

Utah folklore says the state’s Great Lakes house not one, not two, but five fearsome water monsters. Early Native Americans believed some lakes were cursed by ‘Water Babies’ who would coax travellers into the water to their deaths. Utah Lake, a 150 squre mile body of water in north-central Utah, has a rich tradition of monsters and other unnatural creatures living in its depths. The Ute Indians told legends about evil dwarfs living in the waters of the lake. The Indians called these "water babies" because they made sounds like crying babies that lured mortals into the water where they drowned. The Ute also told of a "Water Indian" who would drag unlucky braves to their deaths. They also told of a creature so large it was able to swallow a man whole.

Local natives said the great serpents had disappeared in the 1820s, but by the 1860s white settlers were reporting incidents involving huge, terrifying, scaly creatures. The Utah and Bear Lakes in the north have had most sightings of these monsters; indeed, the description witnesses provide suggest these lakes each have one of a pair of twin water-dragons. Reports from white settlers to the area soon seemed to confirm the tales of the enormous creature, at least. The first reported sighting occurred in 1864, when Utah settler Isaac Fox saw a 30 foot long reptile near the lake's north shore. According to Fox, the beast chased him to shore, then swam back to join another monster in the water. Later that same year, a visitor to Utah Lake named Henry Walker claimed he saw what looked like a large snake with the head of a greyhound, which frightened him so much he fled the water. Over the years, there were frequent accounts of reputable people, including local priests, meeting the beasts. All witnesses provided the same description – that of a giant snake’s body with short, trunk-like legs rising out of the water with an enormous mouth and fearsome black eyes.

In the late 1860s the idea of hunting down the monsters gained favour. Young local men tried shooting at them. Some successfully hit their targets, although no one was ever able to sufficiently wound the beasts in order to capture them. One farmer heard rustling in his garden one night. Using only his old rifle, he confronted and shot the creature, only to discover it was his neighbour’s heifer. Over the following years, several more sightings occurred. In 1866, for instance, two men claimed they saw a large yellow creature with black spots and a red forked tongue. In 1870 real physical evidence was recovered, when fishermen from Springsville, a nearby town, found a large unidentified skull with a five-inch tusk on the jaw. The next year the Salt Lake Herald even revealed that the monster had been caught, but what happened to the body of the captured creature is unknown.

In 1871 two local men were out fishing on Bear Lake when they saw the monster rise from the water. They said they managed to hit the beast with shots from their rifles, but the beast just swam away. A wagon train captain called William Bridge said in 1874 that he had also seen the Bear Lake beast. Bridge reported that the creature had been about 20 yards from shore when it surfaced from the water. ‘Its face and part of its head was covered with fur or short hair of a light snuff colour,’ he said. Bridge also described it as having a flat face with large eyes, prominent ears and a four or five-feet-long neck. Two boys claimed to see the beast in 1880. According to their story, they saw a creature approaching from the middle of the lake. They thought it was a dog or a beaver, and paid no attention to it -- until it got closer and they saw how huge it was. They claimed it roared like a lion, opening its three-foot-long alligator-like jaws and lifted itself part way out of the water. The thing had four legs, each about a yard long. The boys screamed and ran away.

In any case, by the mid-1880s, reports of the Utah Lake Monster ceased. Some theorize that the whole thing was a hoax from the beginning, and that lake monster hoaxes had simply fallen out of fashion. Bear Lake residents were so affected by Bridge’s testimony that they decided to make a trap to capture the beast. Two prominent local citizens, Brigham Young and Phineas Cook, hatched a plan which involved little more than a giant fishing line. They linked a 300-feet-long, one-inch-thick rope to a large hook with a huge slab of mutton attached as bait. The position of the rope was marked by a buoy floating on the lake surface. Although the trap was often robbed of meat, no monster was ever caught. Lake monster sightings had fallen away drastically by the end of the nineteenth century.

There was another sighting of the creature in 1921, followed by a brief flurry of sightings, but since then the Utah Lake Monster seems to have disappeared for good. Since then, one of the few reliable reports was in 1946 by a local Scout master who said he had seen the bizarre creature appear on the surface of the lake. The account was widely regarded to be so detailed and accurate that only the most ardent sceptic could doubt it. Local wags have also pointed out that Scouts don’t lie. But some still do question the truth of the Utah Lakes monsters.

In his lecture on the subject to the Utah State Historical Society, local historian D. Robert Carter said he actually believed the monster was a species of giant bug – humbug. As long as these tales have been told, skeptics of the Utah Lake Monster have been plentiful. Scoffers suggested that the witnesses were seeing nothing but floating logs or swimming birds and letting their imaginations run wild. Some historians believe that the lake monster tale was the settlers' way of adapting the original Indian myths.

(Sources : 100 Strangest Mysteries by Matt Lamy; and http://www.elfmanworld.com/spookyarchive/lakemonsters.html)

(Pic source : http://www.fishlakemanitobanarrows.com/images/3manipogo_artist.jpg)
05:06 | 2 komentar

Lead Masks Case

On August 20, 1966 two TV repairmen are obsessed about making contact with extraterrestrials, attempting wild and dangerous experiments, their bodies were found atop Morro do Vintém, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in bizarre and unexplained circumstances. A boy named Jorge da Costa Alves (who was 18 at that time) was flying a kite at the Morro do Vintém (Vintém Hill), in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil when he found two dead men. Immediately, he made his way back home and called the police. Soon the spot was full of police officers, firefighters and journalists. Manoel Pereira da Cruz and Miguel José Viana’s bodies were neatly strewn next to each other, without any sign of violence. They were wearing nice suits and impermeable coats. However, what really caught people’s attention were the lead masks worn by them.

A notebook keeping diagrams and partially coded notes along with a strange letter was found with the bodies. They also had a handwritten note:

"16:30 estar no local determinado. 18:30 ingerir cápsulas, após efeito proteger metais aguardar sinal máscara" (16:30 be at the agreed place. 18:30 swallow capsules, after effect protect metals wait for the mask sign). After an investigation, the detectives reconstructed a plausible narrative of the last days of both men.

On August 17, they left their city, Campos dos Goytacazes, stating that they intended to buy some material for use at their work. Some witnesses claimed that they were carrying Cr$N2.300,00, but this money was not found. They took a bus and arrived in Niterói at 14:30. They bought the impermeable coats at a small shop and the bottle of water at a bar. The waitress who served them on the bar stated that Miguel seemed very nervous and looked at his watch frequently. From the bar, they went directly to the place where they were later found dead.

Those facts convinced the detectives that some kind of extraterrestrial activity was involved. Gracinda Barbosa Cortino de Souza and her children, who live next to the hill where the men died, claimed that they had seen a UFO flying over the spot at the exact moment the detectives believed the two men must have died. Later examination of their bodies failed to determine their causa mortis. They simply died without an explanation. Did they successfully contact aliens, but with terrible consequences? Cue to dramatic music.

The case is featured prominently in Jacques Vallee’s classic book “Confrontations” (which also features several other Brazilian cases), where you can find it described in good detail. It’s classified as a Close Encounter of the Fifth Kind and given a 443 SVP Credibility Rating: maximum ratings on source reliability, site visit by a skilled analyst (Vallee himself), and a second-to-maximum rating on possible explanations, where “natural explanation requires gross alteration of several parameters”.

(Sources : http://www.ufoevolution.com/forums/showthread.php?t=675&nojs=1#goto_threadtools; Wikipedia)

(Pic source : http://ty.rannosaur.us/wp-content/uploads/leadmaskscase.jpg)
06:25 | 5 komentar

The Disappearance of Colonel Fawcett

Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett (1867 – in or after 1925) was a British archaeologist and explorer. Along with his son, Fawcett disappeared under unknown circumstances in 1925 during an expedition to find what he believed to be an ancient lost city in the uncharted jungles of Brazil. For years afterward, speculations concerning the Colonel’s whereabouts or his ultimate fate abounded. And though a number of expeditions were dispatched to find him, he was never seen or heard from again. The rumors and the mystery, however, lingered for years... and still persist in the minds of those who seek lost cities and lost civilizations. Colonel Fawcett, it would appear, was not interested in lost mines or treasure. His whole life revolved around the idea that somewhere in the dense jungles of South America there existed ruins, old cities, etc., that would prove beyond a doubt the existence of a lost civilization, older than ancient Egypt and probably proof that Atlantis was real.

Rumors of lost mines, cities and old ruins are quite common in South America’s deep jungles. Fawcett based most of his beliefs on a document found in the archives at Rio de Janeiro. The manuscript stated that somewhere back in the early 1600s, a half- Portuguese, half-Indian, known to the natives as Muribeca, discovered mines of silver, gold and precious stones. When he died in about 1622, the secret of these valuable mines died with him.

In 1743 a group of Portuguese along with slaves and a number of Indians, set out in quest of these fabulous mines. Eleven years later the survivors were heard of in the coastal regions of West Central Brazil, but they never reappeared again in the civilized world. Their report, which was found in the middle of the 19th century, tells of finding a city built of huge blocks of stone, deserted and apparently destroyed ages ago by an earthquake. The expedition found a few gold coins and a number of mine shafts. The nearby river could also be easily panned for large quantities of gold. A statue and some inscriptions in stone appeared to these men as being very Grecian in nature. The expedition made haste to get back to civilization, planning to return with a larger, better-equipped force. Unfortunately, they never made it. They did mention one more strange incident in their report; On the return trip they said they saw two members of the much-rumored “white Indians”. They had white skin and long, black hair.

Colonel Fawcett put much faith in the account. As he told a friend, “The story is too circumstantial to be dismissed. And its details are beyond the imagination of more or less illiterate people.” There is some truth in what Fawcett said. The details, including the hieroglyphic inscriptions, are very explicit. The Colonel was certainly no stranger to the South American jungles. Before beginning his own ill-fated quest in 1925, he had been there first in 1906 to do survey work for the Bolivian government. From then until the beginning of World War I in 1914, he led several expeditions into the Brazilian jungles.

Fawcett's first expedition to South America was in 1906 when he travelled to Brazil to map a jungle area at the border of Brazil and Bolivia at the behest of the Royal Geographic Society; the society had been commissioned to map the area as a third party, unbiased by local national interests. He arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, in June. Whilst on the expedition, Fawcett claimed to have seen a giant anaconda, for which he was widely ridiculed by the scientific community. He reported other mysterious animals unknown to zoology, such as a small cat-like dog about the size of a foxhound, which he claimed to have seen twice. Fawcett made seven expeditions between 1906 and 1924. He mostly got along with the locals through gifts, patience and courteous behaviour.

In 1910 Fawcett made a trip to Heath River to find its source. Following his 1913 expedition, he supposedly claimed to have seen dogs with double noses - these may have been Double-nosed Andean tiger hounds. He returned to Britain for active service in the army during World War I, but after the war he returned to Brazil to study local wildlife and archaeology. After the war he again returned, but this time with the prime purpose of finding his lost cities. In looking into his background we find that Colonel Fawcett was not only a man of action, but also a mystic, a student of the occult. His interest in the occult hurt his credibility and his reports of strange findings in the jungle were largely discounted. The conventional view was that anyone believing in psychic matters could not be taken too seriously. Nevertheless, the Colonel took his work very seriously. He neither smoked or drank. And although considered a dreamer, by some, he was always anxious to find facts to back up his theories. Fawcett believed a large continent existed between the present continents of Africa and South America. In fact he believed Brazil was part of it. Or at least had some close connection with it. At any rate, this lost continent, also know as “Atlantis,” was destroyed by a terrible catastrophe. As evidence Fawcett cited similarities between artifacts found in Africa and South America. He also believed the so-called “white Indians” of the interior jungles were remnants of this lost civilization, perhaps Atlantis.

Finding the ancient cities would enable him to prove this for once and for all, he believed. Another thing Fawcett pointed out was that Solimoes was the native name of the Amazon. It is the same as Soliman or Solomon, suggesting that ships of King Solomon and King Hiram of Tyre made voyages to South America many years in the past. Even rock inscriptions in the Amazon region have more than a little similarity to Phoenician letters. Fawcett also spoke of another story that he claims was quite widely known. In this the Indians described certain towers or buildings in the jungle with “lights that never go out.” If so, perhaps this lost civilization still retained some of the secrets of their past...like electricity or atomic power.

The Colonel had in his possession a stone idol given to him by the English novelist Sir H. Rider Haggard. Haggard obtained the idol from Brazil and felt that it came from a lost city. Fawcett said that while holding the idol, it felt as though an electric current were flowing up a person’s arm, sometimes so strong that the holder would have to lay it down. Experts at the British museum acknowledged that it was no fake, but could shed no light on its origin.

In 1925, Colonel Fawcett, his son Jack, and Jack’s young American friend, Raleigh Roomily, set out to find the lost cities in Brazil’s Central Plateau, the Matto Grosso region. The last sign of Fawcett was on May 29, 1925 when Fawcett telegraphed his wife that he was ready to go into unexplored territory only with Jack and Jack's friend Raleigh Rimmell. They were reported to be crossing the Upper Xingu, a south-eastern tributary of the Amazon River. Then nothing more was heard of them. Many presumed that local Indians had killed them, several tribes being posited at the time – the Kalapalos who last saw them, or the Arumás, Suyás, or Xavantes tribes whose territory they were entering. Both of the younger men were lame and ill when last seen, and there is no proof they were murdered. It is plausible that they died of natural causes in the Brazilian jungle. In 1927, a nameplate of Fawcett was found with an Indian tribe.

Several search parties were sent out, including one in 1928 by the North American Newspaper Alliance, an organization that had financially helped Colonel Fawcett. Alas, nothing substantial was ever found. In June 1933, a theodolite compass belonging to Fawcett was found near the Baciary Indians of Matto Grosso by Colonel Aniceto Botelho Did Fawcett find his lost cities? Proof of Atlantis? Some believe he did. Others say Indians killed the Fawcett party.

Now only the jungle knows. Many parts of the Brazilian jungle are still almost inacessible. But much of that mysterious wilderness is being rapidly pushed back by de-foresting and settlements. Will Colonel Fawcett’s lost cities finally be revealed? Will the mystery at last be solved? Maybe. But the jungle does not give up her secrets too easily.

(Sources : Atlantis Rising Magazine vol.21 “The Lost Cities of Colonel Fawcett” written by Tom R. Kovach; and Wikipedia)

(Pics sources : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PercyFawcett.jpg)
15:01 | 1 komentar

Montezuma's Hoard

Moctezuma (c. 1466 or c. 1480 – June 1520), also known by a number of variant spellings including Montezuma, Moteuczoma, Motecuhzoma and referred to in full by early Nahuatl texts as Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin and similar, was the ninth tlatoani or ruler of Tenochtitlan, reigning from 1502 to 1520. It was during Moctezuma's reign that the episode known as the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire began. The portrayal of Moctezuma in history has mostly been coloured by his role as ruler of a defeated nation, and many sources describe him as weak-willed and indecisive. The biases of some historical sources make it difficult to understand his actions during the Spanish invasion. During his reign the Aztec Empire reached its maximal size. The 16th-century Spanish conquest of the New World was driven by greed for treasure. The conquistadors won incredibly vast wealth from the subjugated and destroyed peoples of South and Central America, yet it was not wealth beyond their wildest imagination. Their lust for gold was unquenchable, clouding their minds with a siren call that could not be silenced. In South America the greedy conquistadors convinced themselves of the reality of El Dorado In Mexico they were fixated on the idea that the Aztecs had somehow hidden a great store of treasure. The legend of Montezuma’s hoard was born.

The most common form of this legend is that in 1520 the Aztec emperor Montezuma II gathered the bulk of his treasure and sent it northwards to keep it out of the hands of the invading Spaniards. It was secreted or buried in a cave or some other spot, where it still rests to this day, waiting for a lucky or intrepid treasure hunter to stumble across what would probably be the greatest trove of all time. Most of this tale is probably wrong. To begin with, Montezuma’s actual name was Moctezuma (or even more properly, but prohibitively unpronounceable, Motecuhzoma), meaning ‘he who makes himself ruler by his rage’ in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. ‘Montezuma’ was a Spanish adaptation. Secondly, there is considerable confusion about what was hidden/lost, and where. There seem to be several different versions of the story, and in most of them the hoard is not Moctezuma’s at all.

Moctezuma II had been the ruler, or tlatoani, of the Aztecs for 17 years when he received the first reports of strange foreigners penetrating his territory in 1519. For a variety of reasons, from a slew of omens to coincidences with Aztec myth, he identified Hernán Cortés, leader of the Spanish force, with the god Quetzlcoatl. This god, a hero of the Aztecs, said to have journeyed into the east in prehistoric times, was prophesied to return one day and claim his rightful possessions, including the vast wealth in tribute, holy artifacts, temple ornaments and the like, which the Aztecs had accumulated through conquest and labour. According to Spanish accounts of the conquest, Moctezuma welcomed Cortés to the capital at Tenochtitlán (now Mexico City), made obeisance to him, showered him with tribute and offered to turn over all the Aztec wealth to him.

In the Florentine Codex, one of the most important sources of information for the history of the conquest, compiled by Spanish monk Bernardino de Sahagún using Aztec sources, it is recorded that the Aztec ruler told Cortés, ‘My lord … to the land you have arrived. You have come to your city … here you have come to sit on your place, on your throne. Oh, it has been reserved to you by a small time, it was conserved by those who had gone, your substitutes … Come to the land, come and rest: take possession of your royal houses …’ If this account is accurate it seems unlikely that at the same time Moctezuma would be sending the bulk of his treasury to safety in the mountains to the north. Except that we also know that, while the Aztec ruler did indeed equate Cortés with Quetzlcoatl, he was nevertheless none too keen on receiving a visit and tried to deflect the Spaniards from approaching the capital. He sent gifts, ambassadors and more gifts, but only succeeded in inflaming the conquistadors’ greed. Perhaps his honeyed words to Cortés were a ruse to buy time and protect the treasure – later on the Spaniards certainly suspected the Aztecs of just this sort of dissemblance.

Soon after the Spanish force arrived in Tenochtitlán, Cortés began to throw his weight around, making Moctezuma a prisoner, installing Christian accoutrements in the temples and issuing constant demands for treasure. The mood amongst the Aztecs soured and things turned increasingly ugly. Cortés was forced to leave the capital to head off a Spanish force at the coast who had been sent to arrest him by a rival would-be conquistador.While he was away his lieutenant Pedro de Alvarado had hundreds – possibly even a thousand – Aztec nobles massacred, triggering a revolt. Cortés arrived back just in time to get caught up in it.

As the days wore on, the situation for the Spanish – holed up in Moctezuma’s palace and surrounded by hundreds of thousands of angry Aztecs – grew increasingly desperate. Tenochtitlán was a city built on the swampy Lake Texcoco. A number of islands were connected by causeways and bridges, most of which had been destroyed by the besieging mob. The Spanish were running low on food and their water supply had also been cut.

Moctezuma imprisoned by Cortés

On 1 July 1520,Moctezuma was sent out to calm the people but was pelted with rocks and suffered an injury. The Spanish claim he died of this injury, but most historians suspect that Cortés simply realised he was no longer useful and had him murdered. News of his death inflamed the Aztecs further and the Spanish decided to make a break for it that night. Loading themselves up with as much of their loot as they could carry, the conquistadors tried to slip out along one of the causeways, but were spotted. Canoes full of hostile Native Americans closed in on all sides. The fighting was fierce and the desperate Spanish tried to press forward. Many threw their loot into the water to lighten their loads, or were pushed, dragged or fell in and sank like stones thanks to the gold they were carrying. As many as a thousand Spanish died (alongside many more Native Americans) in what is now known as the Noche Triste (the Night of Sorrow).

According to some sources, Montezuma’s hoard is actually the treasure that the Spanish lost in Lake Texcoco. Through their constant demands for tribute and treasure, the greedy conquistadors had amassed great quantities of gems and gold. Although much of the gold was probably in the form of Aztec artefacts, the Spaniards had it melted down and made into wedge-shaped bars of gold bullion. How much of these gems and bullion ended up on the lake bed alongside the bodies of thousands of Spaniards and Native Americans is unknown, but there seems little chance of recovering it. After the conquest Cortés had the lake drained, and present-day Mexico City, possibly the largest city in the world, now sits atop it. Supposedly attempts have been made in the past to search the former lakebed for treasure, and people living in the area still dream of finding it. According to an article in México desconocido, in March 1981, workers digging the foundations of the Bank of Mexico found a golden disk of Aztec craftsmanship, which was explicitly described as ‘the first discovery of Moctezuma’s treasure’. But beyond the discovery of single artefacts such as this there is no sign of the greater mass of treasure.

A final theory about the fate of the supposed Aztec hoard is that it is actually loot that the Spanish did amass, but which they subsequently lost in transit, while attempting to ship it back to Spain. Transatlantic shipping was a hazardous business and the Caribbean is hurricane territory, so wrecks were common. However, it seems clear from the various accounts that Cortés did not believe that he had recovered the full Aztec hoard, so this interpretation of Montezuma’s hoard would not be the traditional one. Even more contentiously, the hoard may already have been recovered 30 years ago only to be lost – or stolen – again.

In August 1976, gold objects were recovered from the sea floor off the Mexican coast at Río Medio, near the city of Veracruz. Eventually a remarkable haul was brought up, consisting of several gold Aztec artefacts, many ingots of gold, probably created by Spanish conquistadors melting down their loot, and many pieces of jewellery. The find was explicitly linked with the lost treasure of Moctezuma. Theories advanced to explain the find include the possibility that it was loot collected by a Castilian adventurer and ship’s captain named Figueroa, who was known to have perished in a storm in 1528 in the Río Medio area. How the treasure got from the bed of Lake Texcoco, or wherever else it may have been hidden, into Figueroa’s ships, however, is unclear. The treasure was sent to the Bank of Mexico in Mexico City (or possibly the branch in Veracruz) for safekeeping in 1976, but was never seen again.

In 1982, six years on, enquiries by journalists came up against a brick wall. The museums and universities involved in the recovery pointed to the bank, which denied ever having received any such treasure. It has not been mentioned since. Was it somehow lost in a bank, museum or university vault, or, more likely, stolen from the state and sold off illegally to private collectors?

Many American treasure hunters choose to believe the version of the legend that has the hoard transported out of danger and secreted in the far northern extremes of the Aztec dominion. Local legends, based on little or no concrete evidence, link Montezuma’s hoard to literally dozens of locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and, above all, in Utah. Many landmarks in the region are named after Montezuma (eg Montezuma’s Castle in Arizona, a Sinaguan pueblo ruin). One of the most persistent rumours puts the hiding place near Kanab, in South West Utah near the Arizona border, either in a cave in the surrounding hills, or in one of the Three Lakes nearby. These two sites have given rise to some far-fetched tales of treasure hunting.

(Sources : Lost Histories : “Exploring The World’s Most Famous Mysteries” by Joel Levy; and Wikipedia)

(Pics sources : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Motecuzoma_Xocoyotzin.jpeg;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Van_Beecq_-_Moctezuma_imprisoned_by_Cort%C3%A9s.jpeg)
15:35 | 1 komentar

Healing Water of Lourdes

Lourdes is a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The most prominent feature of the town was the fortified castle that rises up from a rocky escarpment at its centre. The healing Grotto of Bernadette at Lourdes, France, was constructed on the site where 14-year-old Bernadette Soubrious (1844–1879) claimed to have conversed with Mother Mary in 1858. Since the time that the miracle occurred to the young miller’s daughter, pilgrims have journeyed to Lourdes to seek healing from the waters of the natural spring that appeared in the grotto next to the Gave de Pau River. Yearly from March to October the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is a place of mass pilgrimage from Europe and other parts of the world. The spring water from the grotto is believed by some to possess healing properties, however there have been skeptics of the miracles from the first reports.

An estimated 200 million people have visited the shrine since 1860, and the Roman Catholic Church has officially recognised 67 miraculous healings which are stringently examined for authenticity and authentic miracle healing with no physical or psychological basis other than the healing power of the water. Especially impressive are candlelight and sacrament processions. Tours from all over the world are organized to visit the Sanctuary. Connected with this pilgrimage is often the consumption of or bathing in the Lourdes water which wells out of the Grotto. The celebration of the 100th anniversary of Lourdes in 1958 brought more than two million persons into the small community in southern France. In the 1990s, annual attendance rose to more than five million per year.

On February 11, 1858, Bernadette Soubrious and her two sisters were gathering firewood outside Lourdes when she fell behind the younger girls. That was the first time that Bernadette saw the apparition of a lady dressed in white with a blue sash and a yellow rose on each foot standing in a grotto next to the river. The lady did not speak, but made the sign of the cross before she disappeared. Bernadette returned to the grotto a second time, but it was not until the lady’s third appearance that she spoke and asked Bernadette if she would like to meet her every day for two weeks. Bernadette enthusiastically agreed, and word of her visitations soon spread throughout the entire village. Crowds gathered to observe the girl and hear what messages she would relay from the lady. The apparition insisted again and again that priests must build a chapel in the grotto and that Bernadette was to drink from the spring there.Since there was no spring in sight, Bernadette began to scrape at the muddy ground until a spring bubbled forth with waters that were immediately believed to contain curative powers. Water from that same spring is still piped to a bathing house where pilgrims gather to receive its healing blessings. Upset by the disturbances that she was causing in the town, the local police and civil authorities interrogated Bernadette, but they could not dissuade her from continuing her meetings by the grotto. The local parish priest, Father Peyramale, also did his best to convince Bernadette that she was only imagining the visions.

Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes In The Grotto

Then, on March 25, after her sixteenth visit, the lady revealed her name to Bernadette, who, when questioned by the skeptical priest, relayed the lady’s identity as “The Immaculate Conception.” Because that title had been applied to Mother Mary by Catholic theologians only four years before and was only known to the clergy, Father Peyramale thought it highly unlikely that a teenaged girl who could not read or write and spoke only a crude, provincial form of French would know the phrase used to define the doctrine that declared Mary free from the taint of original sin. With the official endorsement of the clergy, the grotto at the edge of the river would soon support a healing chapel and begin to attract pilgrims from great distances.

After 1866, when a railway line was completed to Lourdes, many thousands of those afflicted with various illnesses began to arrive in the little French town. In that same year, 22-yearold Bernadette Soubrious left for a convent in Nevers, hundreds of miles to the north. She died there in 1879. Since the 1860s, thousands of pilgrims have left their crutches and canes at the shrine. Thousands more claim to have been cured of advanced cancers. On May 3, 1948, the Bishop of Nice acted at the request of the Lourdes Medical Commission and declared Rose Martin’s healing to be a miraculous cure. When Rose Martin arrived at Lourdes in 1947, her total weight was a scant 70 pounds. She had undergone surgery for cancer of the uterus in February 1947, and the cancer had continued to spread despite several subsequent operations. Doctors could prescribe only morphine to enable the suffering woman to endure the pain of her affliction.

On July 3, 1947, after three baths in the waters of the shrine, Rose Martin returned to her hotel. Her appetite had suddenly returned. The awful pain had disappeared. Several of her medical complications had vanished. In 1948, Madame Martin was examined by the medical bureau at Lourdes and declared to be totally free of cancer. In the interim she had gained 34 pounds. She had become the picture of health and vitality. More than 20 leading French doctors and surgeons confirmed the unusual healing. Annual checkups and subsequent physical examinations revealed that she remained free of the disease. Dr. Alexis Carrel (1873–1944), an American surgeon who won the Nobel Prize in 1912 in physiology and medicine for his extensive work in suturing blood vessels, transplanting organs, and inventing the mechanical heart, witnessed a miracle healing firsthand when he visited Lourdes in the 1940s. Only an hour before a young woman named Marie Bailly had been carried to the waters of Lourdes, Carrel had examined her and saw that she was dying of tuberculosis, a disease that had afflicted her for years. As he observed her, Carrel saw her pain-wracked body suddenly surge forward as if filled with a powerful force. Her paleness was replaced with a rosy hue, and as the surgeon and his colleagues watched in astonishment, they saw her swollen abdomen transformed from a misshapen lump and flattened to a smooth stomach. Her pulse calmed, her respiration returned to normal, and she asked for the first food she had been able to consume in almost a week.

Marie Bailly was found to be cured of her terminal illness. Although there are thousands of cures and healings claimed by men and women who have immersed themselves in the cold spring waters of the shrine, the Lourdes Medical Bureau has established certain criteria that must be met before they will certify a cure as miraculous:

• The affliction must be a serious disease. If it is not classified as incurable, it must be diagnosed as extremely difficult to cure.

• There must be no improvement in the patient’s condition prior to the visit to the Lourdes shrine.

• Medication that may have been used must have been judged ineffective.

• The cure must be totally complete.

• The cure must be unquestionably definitive and free of all doubt.

Such stringent requirements set by members of the medical profession in order to qualify as a miraculous healing do little to deter the five million visitors each year who travel to the small town in the foothills of the Pyrenees in search of their own miracle.

Sources : 
Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained Vol.2 by Brad Steiger and Sherry Hansen Steiger; 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:VirgendeLourdes.JPG; 
http://www.spiritual-exercises.com/Lourdes%20Cathedral.JPG
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