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This week Conspiracy Journal takes a look at such Auld Lang Syne tales as:
- A Particle God Doesn’t Want us to Discover? -
- The Pentagon Launches Plan to Master Lightning -
- It's Tesla's World, We're Just Reinventing it -
AND: Eerie Outpost Unnerves US Marines with Ghostly Happenings
~ And Now, On With The Show! ~
NEW BOOK FROM CONSPIRACY JOURNAL!
Gypsy Witch Book Of Old Pennsylvania Dutch Pow-Wows And Hexes
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Over 200 Remedies Handed Down From Generation To Generation
For centuries, people have been using the Holy Scripture to induce magickal principles. Some of this has come down to us in the magickal practices called Pow-Wows. The majority of these ancient techniques have been handed down from generation to generation mostly by word of mouth. Many have no idea that other practitioners of the ancient art even exist. The rise of evangelical Christianity has forced many Pow-Wow adepts to go underground, or even give up practicing altogether.
Pow-Wow first came to the United States when German settlers began arriving in the late 17th century, settling in Pennsylvania. Two distinct groups of German immigrants came to Pennsylvania. The Fancy Germans, or Lutherans, and the Plain or Pietist Germans. The Pietist Germans included members of the Mennonite, Amish, Dunker, and Brethren denominations.
Native Americans were present, at least initially, when the Germans arrived and the term Pow-Wow was possibly derived from the early settlers' observations of Indian Pow-Wows. The word may also be a derivative of the word "power" or may come from the Native American Pow-Wow definition meaning "he who dreams."
Pow-Wowing includes charms and incantations dating from the Middle Ages plus elements borrowed from the Jewish Cabala and Christian Bible. Pow-wowing generally focuses on healing minor health problems, the protection of livestock, success in love, and the casting or removing of hexes. For over 200 years, Pow-Wowers have considered themselves to be staunch Christians endowed with supernatural powers to both heal and harm. Using Pow-Wow can be simple or highly complicated and involves the recital of benedictions, Psalms and selected Biblical verses for magickal purposes according to Jewish and Christian magical traditions.
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- BACK TO THE FUTURE DEPARTMENT -
A Particle God Doesn’t Want us to Discover?
Could the Large Hadron Collider be sabotaging itself from the future, as some physicists say?
Explosions, scientists arrested for alleged terrorism, mysterious breakdowns — recently Cern’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has begun to look like the world’s most ill-fated experiment.
Is it really nothing more than bad luck or is there something weirder at work? Such speculation generally belongs to the lunatic fringe, but serious scientists have begun to suggest that the frequency of Cern’s accidents and problems is far more than a coincidence.
The LHC, they suggest, may be sabotaging itself from the future — twisting time to generate a series of scientific setbacks that will prevent the machine fulfilling its destiny.
At first sight, this theory fits comfortably into the crackpot tradition linking the start-up of the LHC with terrible disasters. The best known is that the £3 billion particle accelerator might trigger a black hole capable of swallowing the Earth when it gets going. Scientists enjoy laughing at this one.
This time, however, their ridicule has been rather muted — because the time travel idea has come from two distinguished physicists who have backed it with rigorous mathematics.
What Holger Bech Nielsen, of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, are suggesting is that the Higgs boson, the particle that physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be “abhorrent to nature”.
What does that mean? According to Nielsen, it means that the creation of the boson at some point in the future would then ripple backwards through time to put a stop to whatever it was that had created it in the first place.
This, says Nielsen, could explain why the LHC has been hit by mishaps ranging from an explosion during construction to a second big bang that followed its start-up. Whether the recent arrest of a leading physicist for alleged links with Al-Qaeda also counts is uncertain.
Nielsen’s idea has been likened to that of a man travelling back through time and killing his own grandfather. “Our theory suggests that any machine trying to make the Higgs shall have bad luck,” he said.
“It is based on mathematics, but you could explain it by saying that God rather hates Higgs particles and attempts to avoid them.”
His warnings come at a sensitive time for Cern, which is about to make its second attempt to fire up the LHC. The idea is to accelerate protons to almost the speed of light around the machine’s 17-mile underground circular racetrack and then smash them together.
In theory the machine will create tiny replicas of the primordial “big bang” fireball thought to have marked the creation of the universe. But if Nielsen and Ninomiya are right, this latest build-up will inevitably get nowhere, as will those that come after — until eventually Cern abandons the idea altogether.
This is, of course, far from being the first science scare linked to the LHC. Over the years it has been the target of protests, wild speculation and court injunctions.
Fiction writers have naturally seized on the subject. In Angels and Demons, Dan Brown sets out a diabolical plot in which the Vatican City is threatened with annihilation from a bomb based on antimatter stolen from Cern.
Blasphemy, a novel from Douglas Preston, the bestselling science-fiction author, draws on similar themes, with a story about a mad physicist who wants to use a particle accelerator to communicate with God. The physicist may be American and the machine located in America, rather than Switzerland, but the links are clear.
Even Five, the TV channel, has got in on the act by screening FlashForward, an American series based on Robert Sawyer’s novel of the same name in which the start-up of the LHC causes the Earth’s population to black out for two minutes when they experience visions of their personal futures 21 years hence. This gives them a chance to change that future.
Scientists normally hate to see their ideas perverted and twisted by the ignorant, but in recent years many physicists have learnt to welcome the way the LHC has become a part of popular culture. Cern even encourages film-makers to use the machine as a backdrop for their productions, often without charging them.
Nielsen presents them with a dilemma. Should they treat his suggestions as fact or fiction? Most would like to dismiss him, but his status means they have to offer some kind of science-based rebuttal.
James Gillies, a trained physicist who heads Cern’s communications department, said Nielsen’s idea was an interesting theory “but we know it doesn’t happen in reality”.
He explained that if Nielsen’s predictions were correct then whatever was stopping the LHC would also be stopping high-energy rays hitting the atmosphere. Since scientists can directly detect many such rays, “Nielsen must be wrong”, said Gillies.
He and others also believe that although such ideas have an element of fun, they risk distracting attention from the far more amazing ideas that the LHC will tackle once it gets going.
The Higgs boson, for example, is thought to give all other matter its mass, without which gravity could not work. If the LHC found the Higgs, it would open the door to solving all kinds of other mysteries about the origins and nature of matter. Another line of research aims to detect dark matter, which is thought to comprise about a quarter of the universe’s mass, but made out of a kind of particle that has so far proven impossible to detect.
However, perhaps the weirdest of all Cern’s aspirations for the LHC is to investigate extra dimensions of space. This idea, known as string theory, suggests there are many more dimensions to space than the four we can perceive.
At present these other dimensions are hidden, but smashing protons together in the LHC could produce gravitational anomalies, effectively tiny black holes, that would reveal their existence.
Some physicists suggest that when billions of pounds have been spent on the kit to probe such ideas, there is little need to invent new ones about time travel and self-sabotage.
History shows, however, it is unwise to dismiss too quickly ideas that are initially seen as science fiction. Peter Smith, a science historian and author of Doomsday Men, which looks at the links between science and popular culture, points out that what started as science fiction has often become the inspiration for big discoveries.
“Even the original idea of the ‘atomic bomb’ actually came not from scientists but from H G Wells in his 1914 novel The World Set Free,” he said.
“A scientist named Leo Szilard read it in 1932 and it gave him the inspiration to work out how to start the nuclear chain reaction needed to build a bomb. So the atom bomb has some of its origins in literature, as well as research.”
Some of Cern’s leading researchers also take Nielsen at least a little seriously. Brian Cox, professor of particle physics at Manchester University, said: “His ideas are theoretically valid. What he is doing is playing around at the edge of our knowledge, which is a good thing.
“He is pointing out that we don’t yet have a quantum theory of gravity, so we haven’t yet proved rigorously that sending information into the past isn’t possible.
“However, if time travellers do break into the LHC control room and pull the plug out of the wall, then I’ll refer you to my article supporting Nielsen’s theory that I wrote in 2025.”
This weekend, as the interest in his theories continued to grow, Nielsen was sounding more cautious. “We are seriously proposing the idea, but it is an ambitious theory, that’s all,” he said. “We already know it is not very likely to be true. If the LHC actually succeeds in discovering the Higgs boson, I guess we will have to think again.”
- FOLLOWING IN TESLA'S FOOTSTEPS DEPARTMENT -
The Pentagon Launches Plan to Master Lightning
In Greek mythology, it was a weapon of war. Now the U.S. military is looking to tame lightning, which remains one of nature's most confounding -- and feared -- phenomena.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the R&D arm of the Pentagon, has embarked on a project called NIMBUS, which seeks to understand the underlying mechanisms of lightning. "Although significant progress has been made in recent years in our understanding of the lightning discharge and related phenomena, fundamental questions remain unanswered," the agency said in an announcement released today.
Lightning has long perplexed scientists. Not only are atmospheric scientists unsure of exactly what initiates lightning, but they also don't understand precisely how and why it is able to propagate over great distances, and where it will strike. That makes it, in DARPA's view, "one of the major unsolved mysteries in the atmospheric sciences."
The fanciful-sounding NIMBUS project has a serious goal: curbing the $5 billion in damage that lightning strikes cause each year.
Lightning is not only little understood, it is dangerous and destructive -- strikes cause more than $5 billion in damages annually, according to the Lightning Safety Institute. NIMBUS will look at ways to protect against that destruction, including attempting to direct where lightning strikes. The initiative also includes plans to try to trigger lightning using rockets, which could be used to model and study the discharges.
This by no means is the military's first foray into lightning research. Pentagon officials have in the past expressed interest in other enigmatic phenomena associated with lightning, such as so-called ball lightning. Though its existence is disputed, ball lightning is purported to manifest itself as luminous, energetic spheres during storms.
The Pentagon has even funded modest efforts looking at whether ball lightning could be used as a weapon.
Another, somewhat more straightforward application of lightning, not mentioned as part of the DARPA project, is the possibility of creating a "lightning gun" -- a weapon that shoots bolts of electricity. In fact, the Defense Department has funded work in this area. A Tuscon, Ariz., company called Applied Energetics (formerly Ionatron) has received a number of multimillion-dollar contracts from the Army and Navy to develop a lightning weapon that uses ultra-short laser pulses to channel electrostatic discharges. Another company, Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems, in Anderson, Ind., has built a prototype of a lightning gun, named StunStrike.
But don't look to NIMBUS to yield a deployable death ray. DARPA says the project has a more benign goal: the protection of people and assets.
(Special thanks to James Haarp of Cosmic Horizons Radio for bringing us this story.)
- BOOK REVIEW DEPARTMENT -
Was Tesla a UFO Contactee?
By Sean Casteel
In the more than 60 years since his death, Nikola Tesla has never ceased to be a fascinating, mysterious figure dwelling somewhere outside the borders of history as it is understood by the unseeing masses. While we as a 21st century civilization continue to reap the benefits of his outsized genius, Tesla has yet to be given the recognition he deserves as a major architect of the relatively technologically comfortable age we live in.
Still, there are those of us who do give Tesla his due, belatedly but sincerely. This article will deal with an aspect of Tesla’s genius that has gotten short shrift even from those of us who revere his name: UFO contact.
And that theory is nowhere better espoused than in "The Lost Journals of Nikola Tesla" by Tim R. Swartz. Swartz’s bestselling classic has recently been updated and reissued by Global Communications and is worth a new look whether you’ve read the first edition or not.
I interviewed Tim Swartz a few years ago for one of Tim Beckley’s now defunct newsstand magazines, and Swartz laid out some historical background of Tesla’s earliest beginnings.
"Tesla was born in Yugoslavia," Swartz said, "in what is now Croatia, at midnight between July 9 and July 10 in 1856. He had that spark of genius right from the very beginning. There are a couple of people, I think, throughout our history, that you could classify as a ‘super genius.’ That’s the best word I can think of. Most people would agree that Einstein was one of our greatest geniuses. Maybe Leonardo da Vinci. And Nikola Tesla should fit right up there with those guys, because he just seemed to have this mind that was open to the universe.
"I suppose that’s a rather esoteric way of looking at it," he continued, "but he had the ability to visualize his ideas to such a point that he could actually ‘see’ what he was visualizing in three dimensions. As he put it, ‘It seemed to hang in the air right in front of my eyes.’"
Nowadays, Tesla is best known to the general public as the inventor of the AC motor.
"Our entire system of electricity," Swartz explained, "works with AC current. In Tesla’s day, Thomas Edison had come up with a system to deliver electricity to houses and buildings based on the DC current, direct currents. DC current works fine, but it can’t be sent over any great distance. Probably every half mile to a mile you would have to have a station that would step the power back up again and send it on for another half a mile or so. A very inefficient system, and really only good for close areas, like New York City. That’s where Edison had initially done some wiring."
Tesla, by contrast, created a motor based on alternating current, which can travel hundreds of miles before it has to be retransmitted. This was a revolution for its time. Tesla came up with a working version of an AC motor and was the first to build, at Niagara Falls, a massive power generating station that supplied electricity to New York City.
"It was cheap, clean, efficient, and it actually worked," Swartz said. "That’s probably Tesla’s greatest claim to fame."
Tesla followed up that achievement by inventing radio. Though popularly credit for radio is given to Marconi, the Supreme Court declared some years after Tesla had died that Tesla’s patented radio devices had preceded Marconi’s and that Tesla is officially the father of radio. Tesla also created the first remote control device, which he demonstrated by directing a small battery-powered toy boat through various maneuvers on a lake as newspaper reporters looked on. He also designed a torpedo for use in warfare that was remotely controlled.
It was while working on a radio receiver designed to monitor thunderstorms that Tesla stumbled onto something quite extraordinary.
"Tesla thought that possibly he had received a radio signal from outer space," Swartz said, "that could conceivably be from extraterrestrials. Which is a pretty amazing concept for his time. People in that era speculated that there could be life on Mars, but nobody suggested it too seriously. Tesla was conducting experiments in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1899, with a pretty good-sized radio receiver, because he was fascinated by the way lightning played in thunderstorms. He was trying to come up with a way to harness the power from thunderstorms.
"And one evening," Swartz continued, "he received what he called ‘regular signals.’ You know, like beep, beep, beep. Not the usual static you hear from thunderstorms and lightning. He wondered at the time if he wasn’t listening to ‘one planet greeting another,’ as he put it. From that point on, it became somewhat of an obsession of his, to build better and better radio receivers to try to see if he could repeat what he heard. He got to the point where he claimed that he was actually receiving voice transmissions. He said it sounded just like people talking back and forth to each other. He made notes saying that he was actually hearing intelligent beings from another planet talking to each other, although he didn’t know what language they were speaking. But he still felt he understood them."
An interesting point that should be made here is that at the time Tesla was hearing these alien voices through his primitive radio equipment, 1899, the country had just experienced the great Airship Wave of the late 1800s. No less a UFO expert than researcher and historian Dr. David Jacobs believes that is when true UFO contact first began, in the skies over America, when people familiar only with hot air balloons as real life flying devices began to see metal ships that flew over their homes and farmland, abducting the occasional cow and speaking to bewildered farmers in languages beyond their understanding. While one hesitates to abandon the more familiar Ancient Astronauts theory that says alien contact began with mankind’s birth in prehistoric times, Jacobs’ belief does tend to support what Tesla claims happened to him.
This also begs the question: Did aliens have some kind of part in leading Tesla to create what he did? It is argued in the controversial book "The Day After Roswell," by the late Colonel Philip Corso and his collaborator Bill Birnes, that recovered alien technology was reverse engineered and used to lay the groundwork for numerous inventions, including fiber optics and much else in the way of technology we take for granted today. One sometimes wonders if the aliens more likely are implanting the seeds for, or even directly "inspiring," through some process of implanted thoughts, some of the marvels of the current age.
In any case, there is likely some kind of overlap here between Tesla’s voice contact and the inventions that came later, though it is of course impossible to prove. Tesla felt the voices were slowly preparing mankind for conquest and domination. In "The Lost Journals of Nikola Tesla," Swartz goes on to recount the spine-tingling chronology of Tesla’s battle with these aliens he believed to be an enemy race, all set against a background of industrial espionage and governmental secrecy that would make for a crackerjack science fiction tale were it not for the fact that the events are alleged to be completely real.
Tesla later went public with his claim that he was receiving extraterrestrial voice transmissions and was subjected to the usual humiliating ridicule that greets UFO witnesses today when they try to speak openly of their experiences. But he remained firm in his conviction that the voices were genuine and posed a terrifying threat to life on Earth as we know it.
Global Communications publisher Tim Beckley provided more input on the connection between Tesla and UFOs.
"There are many who believe," Beckley said, "that Tesla was actually a ‘star child’ of sorts, that he was born on another planet and left on the doorstep of his adoptive parents. This speculative theory was first offered in a long out-of-print book by Margaret Storm and a later tome by Commander X titled ‘Nikola Tesla: Free Energy and the White Dove.’
"The idea that Tesla was born off-planet," Beckley continued, "seems to have originated with a gentleman named Otis T. Carr. A Baltimore MD and inventor, Carr claims that he worked side-by-side with Tesla for years and that he discovered bits and pieces of the great inventor’s life that no one else knew about, including the fact that Tesla wasn’t originally from ‘here.’"
According to Beckley, Carr later went on to invent a saucer-shaped device that he said for a mere $14 million would take us to Mars or somewhere else nearby in the solar system.
"Carr was a controversial figure in his own right," Beckley added, "but no one has been able to prove that he didn’t work with Tesla in Manhattan, where Tesla was living in the New Yorker Hotel near Herald Square. We do know that Tesla was fascinated with the possibility of life on other planets."
Beckley reiterated Swartz’s statements regarding Tesla’s attempts to establish contact with the aliens via radio.
"And he might have been successful in reaching out to the stars," Beckley said. "Furthermore, Tesla is said to have even developed a ‘Tesla Scope’ that anyone could use to make contact with extraterrestrials. The device was on display in Canada for several years before its owner passed away."
Now a few words about the title of Swartz’s book. Tesla died in 1943, in poverty and relative obscurity. As he moved from hotel to hotel, staying one step ahead of his debts, he often left behind whole suitcases full of notes and diagrams for unfinished inventions. Legend has it that after he died, the federal government stepped in and confiscated the material, believing it contained designs for new weapons devices and therefore was relevant to national security.
But apparently a few things slipped through the fingers of the government. At a 1976 auction in Newark, New Jersey, a collector named Dale Alfrey bought four boxes of papers for around $25. Alfrey at first thought he had purchased the notes of a science fiction writer and had no idea of the importance of what the boxes contained. Twenty years would pass before Alfrey began to actually read the material and to try to preserve the badly mildewing papers by scanning them into his computer. While he was absorbed in this effort, he was visited by a trio of Men-In-Black who looked to him like "undertakers." They offered to buy the papers from Alfrey, who replied that they weren’t for sale.
After further discussion, which included some disturbing threats from the MIBs, the three visitors turned in unison and walked away. Alfrey felt himself to be regaining consciousness after being in a kind of trance. When he rushed back inside, the papers were gone, and so was the hard drive to his computer. He never completely recovered from the experience with the MIBs, but he did retain enough of what he had read of Tesla’s lost journals to be sufficient for Swartz’s book. Meanwhile, newspaper accounts from the time of Tesla’s death related that a dozen large boxes of Tesla’s notes may still be unaccounted for, perhaps waiting to be rediscovered and give up their secrets in our time.
This newly revised and expanded second edition of "The Lost Journals of Nikola Tesla" by Tim R. Swartz also contains new chapters on Time Travel, Alternative Energy, and Nazi flying discs, all of which help to expand the range and depth of the legacy Tesla has left to us to assist in our 21st century groping for technological mastery of our world. If we ever learn to travel in time or to take our energy directly from the forces animating the universe or even to slip the surly bonds of Earth in a disc-shaped craft of human design, our debt to Nikola Tesla can only increase.
Take this link to order your copy of The Lost Journals of Nikola Tesla.
[To read more by Sean Casteel, visit his website at www.seancasteel.com]
Source: UFO Digest
- MASTER OF LIGHTNING DEPARTMENT -
It's Tesla's World, We're Just Reinventing it
By Amelia Crater
Well, it’s bright, but merry? If you like to bask in the glow of a firestorm, I suppose so. Besides, we should probably get used to global warming-caused landscape combustibility and the air scented with sulfur instead of pine scent in Christmases yet to come.
In fact, two evilish elves–Nimbus and Darpa–are already rehearsing for that Apocalyptic Christmas Carol. They’re not really elves, of course, but they’re definitely mischief makers. Nimbus is the brainchild–or should I say brainstorm–of DARPA, the research and development arm of the U.S Defense Department, which is currently…
“soliciting innovative research and development (R&D) proposals on the underlying physics of lightning. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary and fundamental advances in atmospheric and ionospheric science relating to lightning.”
In other words, the military research agency wants to “‘harness control over ‘the natural mechanism of lightning initiation’ by coming up with a way to launch man-made lightning bolts, and prevent or redirect natural lightning strikes — and their accompanying destruction. “
So instead of attempting to heal the climate, our military geniuses are actively trying to turn it into a weapon to use against us. And this is nothing new. Applied Energetics (formerly Ionatron) most certainly will be submitting a proposal for Nimbus since they are already “developing gigantic lightning guns that will be able to stall a car from afar. Initially, they were focused on zapping people, but have since shifted their focus to harnessing lightning to shorting out vehicles and IEDs.”
In fact, the military has been hard at work channeling the powers of Zeus for more than a decade. You can read all about it in the 1996 report to the Air Force “Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025“, which described itself in ‘96 as so entirely hypothetical it should be considered fictional, and is now being fully-funded. Here’s a brief excerpt:
“As indicated, the technical hurdles for storm developers in support of military operations are obviously greater than enhancing precipitation or dispersing fog as described earlier. One area of storm research that would significantly benefit the military operations is lightning modification. Most research efforts are being conducted to develop techniques to lessen the occurrence or hazards associated with lightning. This is important research for military operations and resource protection, but some offensive military benefit could be obtained by doing research on increasing the potential and intensity of lightning. Concepts to explore include increasing the basic efficiency of the thunderstorm stimulating the triggering mechanism that initiates the bolt and triggering lightning such as that which struck Apollo 12 in 1968. Possible mechanisms to investigate would be ways to modify the electropotential characteristics and certain targets to induce lightning strikes on the desired targets as the storm passes over their location.”
The puzzling thing about these (mis)adventures, aside from the fact that they seem both asinine and fraught with deadly peril for mankind, is that good old St. Nikola Tesla, whose inventions allowed the miracle of the burning bush seen above, harnessed the power of lightning a century ago. At the time, everyone thought he was mad (which made it so much easier to steal his ideas and either patent them or suppress them for their own fun and profit). Now, everyone knows he was a genius, but are forced to reinvent his technological miracles since no one bothered to ask him how to do it before he died (penniless, btw).
"Tesla Electrostatic Propulsion – In Tesla’s Wardencliffe design, the top capacitance was chosen such that it could contain the entire charge developed in the secondary. Instead of breaking out to produce lightning bolts, the entire charge was discharged back through the secondary and into the ground. The effect was that he was producing a controlled lightning strike on the Earth. This would cause a very large wave to propagate around the Earth to the antipode, and reflect back to the power station. When the wave came back to the power station another controlled lightning bolt was coming down the secondary to add energy to the first wave, and so on. Eventually Tesla would have created standing waves on the Earth."
These standing wave spikes would bring electrons very high into the atmosphere, and likely cause lightning discharges to increase at the location of the standing waves. This in turn would have affected the weather and possibly the climate.
Tesla further remarked that he could make these standing waves appear at any place on the Earth by building and controlling other power stations and using a type of triangulation system. In theory,Tesla could make the standing waves all peak in one particular place, causing who knows what kind of effects?
Anyway, unless I’m struck down by you-know-what, my Christmas wish is that the secrets Tesla took to the grave stay in the grave (we don’t need the military getting hold of the thing that creates earthquakes either). A Merry Christmas to all! And don’t forget to turn off the Christmas tree lights before you go to bed. It’s just safer that way.
Source: Mysterious Universe
- THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT DEPARTMENT -
Eerie Outpost Unnerves US Marines with Ghostly Happenings
The Marines found the bone as they scraped a shallow trench. Long, dry and unmistakably once part of a human leg, it was followed by others. They reburied most of them but also found bodies. Three of the graves were close together; in another was a skeleton still wearing a pair of glasses. The Marines covered the grave and told their successors to stay away from it.
Observation Point Rock sits a few hundred metres south east of Patrol Base Hassan Abad, where a company from 2/8 Marines has been stationed for the past seven months. It is a lonely and exposed outpost 20 metres (65ft) above the surrounding landscape, which has been in Nato hands since it was captured from the Taleban in 2008.
Groups of Marines are posted to guard it, usually for a couple of months at a time, and “the Rock” has acquired a peculiar reputation. American troops widely refer to it as “the haunted Observation Point”.
It is hard to say how much the 100F (38C) heat, round-the-clock guard shifts and months spent living in trenches and peering out of sandbagged firing points have gilded the legend of OP Rock. The only break from the tedium, apart from dog-eared magazines and an improvised gym, has been small-arms or rocket-propelled grenade attacks from the Taleban, usually on a Sunday morning.
But as Sergeant Josh Brown, 22, briefed his successor when a detachment of men from Golf Company was swapped for an incoming contingent from Fox Company, he warned of the strange atmosphere and inexplicable phenomena that plagued OP Rock. “The local people say this is a cursed place,” he said. “You will definitely see weird-ass lights up here at night.”
Others in the outgoing unit had reported odd sounds. “It is weird what you hear and don’t hear around here,” he added.
Each successive detachment that guards the Rock appears to add its own layer to the legend, which has spread through the Marine units pushing into southern Helmand.
There is talk of members of the Taleban entombed in caves below; the bodies buried on the summit are identified confidently as dead Russian soldiers from the ill-fated Soviet invasion.
Corporal Jacob Lima’s story is the latest addition. One night he was woken by the sound of screaming. It was Corporal Zolik, a Marine who has since been moved to a unit farther south. “He was yelling and begging me to go up to the firing point he was guarding,” Corporal Lima, 22, told the men taking over from him. “When I got there he said that he was sitting there when he heard a voice whisper something in his ear. He said it sounded like Russian. He begged me to stay in there with him till he was relieved from guard duty. After that he really didn’t like standing post up there.”
The Marines’ predecessors, a unit of Welsh Guards, also produced tales of the unexpected. “The Brits claimed to see weird things, hear noises,” Corporal Lima said. “Lots of them said it’s creepy at night, especially from midnight till 4am. You see a lot of unexplained lights through night-vision goggles.”
Its elevation has clearly made the Rock a natural defensive position for centuries. It is not a rock, though it resembles one. Medieval arrow slits and the remains of fortified turrets on its eastern flank show that this was once a large mud fort that collapsed in on itself and was probably built upon in turn. The locals say that it dates back to Alexander the Great, and another similar structure is visible in the distance to the south, part of a supposed line of such forts built at some point in Afghanistan’s history of invasion and war.
When US Marines seized the post last summer they dropped a 2,000lb (900kg) bomb on one side, collapsing part of the structure on to what its current occupants claim was a cave where Taleban fighters were sheltering.
“This place really sucks,” said Lance Corporal Austin Hoyt, 20, putting his pack on to return to the main base. “The Afghans say it’s haunted. Stick a shovel in anywhere and you’ll find bones and bits of pottery. This place should be in National Geographic — in the front there are weird-looking windows for shooting arrows. You know, they say the Russians up here were executed by the Mujahidin.”
He looked meaningfully at his successors and prepared to leave.
Source: The Times (UK)
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