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3/13/09  #512
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It is not time to panic yet. But, this is the second month this year to have a Friday the 13th...and there will be ANOTHER! Will 2009 prove to be the unluckiest year in history? Will sales of lucky charms skyrocket? Will black cats be driven from towns en masse by superstitious folk? We don't know what the future has in store for us, but there is one thing that we do know...any bad luck is superseded by your weekly dose of conspiracies, the paranormal and everything else weird and strange that they don't want you to know. So stop worrying about that broken mirror and the spilled salt and sit back and enjoy another exciting issue of Conspiracy Journal.

This week, Conspiracy Journal brings you such paraskavedekatriaphobia tales as:

- Artificial Life Could Be Created Within Five Years -
- 'No proof' That Mysterious Disease is Killing Bees -

- Why are Christians Outraged about Documentary "Jesus in India"? -
- 'Vampire' Skeleton Found in Mass Gravesite -
AND: How to Find the Hidden Folk of Iceland

All these exciting stories and MORE in this week's issue of

~ And Now, On With The Show! ~



* Reversed Gravity
* Free Energy
* Contact With Hidden Dimensions
* Mysterious Radio Signals From Space
* Earth Changes
* Freak Weather Patterns
* Electric Death Rays
* UFOs
* The Ultimate Conspiracy of Silence!

An examination of Nikola Tesla's lost papers - some of which were confiscated by the U.S. government after his death - shows that Tesla was interested in and experimented with many concepts that have been regarded until recently as "wild ideas."  It's no surprise that Tesla was loathe to speak of these kinds of interests - after all, even now these areas of study still come under fire by the majority of  mainstream scientists who refuse to use their imaginations and intellect and scorn such matters with terms such as "voodoo science" and "ordinary quackery."

It is now known that there have been a number of top-secret programs that were devoted to either investigating or, shockingly enough, actively using technology based on some of Tesla's unorthodox ideas.   Who knows how many deep, dark, secret projects are being conducted right now with science that could be decades, even hundreds of years, beyond what civilian science knows about today?

Even if you already own the first edition of "The Lost Journals of Nikola Tesla," you will certainly want to add this update to your library.

You can be among the first to receive this UPDATED at an incredible publishers discount. And if you order RIGHT NOW we will include FREE OF CHARGE a fantastic DVD featuring Lt. Col Thomas E. Bearden as he discusses on the military and unconventional aspects of the research of Nikola Tesla. Both for only $22 + $5 s/h.

This incredible book is available now for just
$22.00 + $5.00 S/H

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In This Incredible Issue:


America’s Oldest Mystery: Rhode island’s Newport Tower - Newport, RI, has long been famous as the summer playground for the fabulously wealthy. But nestled amongst the luxurious mansions and the private yachts is a mysterious stone tower whose history has baffled historians for centuries. It is believed to be the oldest stone structure in America, though no  one can say precisely when it was built.
Was there a Golden Age? Historical Proof for the Garden of Eden -
Almost all of the ancient cultures of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia have myths which speak of an earlier time when life was easier and humans lived in harmony with nature and each other.  Most historians believe that these myths are little more than fairy tales, perhaps the result of our need to idealize the past. However, there is now evidence that suggests that these myths may contain a kernel of historical truth, a kind of distant folk memory of an actual historical era.
The Higgs Boson and the Large Hadron Collider: Seeking the God Particle - Tucked away in a sleepy Swiss  village lies the Center for Nuclear Experimentation and Research, the site of the recently completed Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle collider and perhaps the most complex machine ever built. The principle goal of the LHC is to reveal the so-called god particle: the Higgs Boson, which is about 120 times more massive than a proton, and gives mass to all other particles as they emerge from the primordial quantum field.

The Parapsychology Revolution: An Interview with Dr. Robert Schoch -
A geologist and paleontologist by profession, Dr. Schoch has studied some of the greatest ancient monuments around the world including the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx,and the underwater structures near Yonaguni Island, Japan. He has also written several bestselling books, including his most recent, The Parapsychology Revolution.

Find it at your favorite bookstore or magazine stand.


Artificial Life Could Be Created Within Five Years

Artificial life could be created "within five years," researchers claimed. Laboratories across the world are closing in on a second genesis - an achievement that would be one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of all time.

Biochemist Professor David Deamer, of California University, says although building a new lifeform from scratch is a daunting task he is confident it can happen in five to ten years.

He said: "The momentum is building - we're knocking at the door."

A synthetic, made-to-order living system could produce everything from new drugs to biofuels and greenhouse gas absorbers. The technique is basically a reverse of the Human Genome Project, which translated the body’s genetic code into its four building blocks, called nucleotides.

Synthetic biologists' ambitious goal is to arrange those letters to create never-before-seen man-made organisms that will do their bidding.   

Opponents of the controversial research claim the technolology could run amok - just like Frankenstein's monster - and lead to machines becoming "almost human."

But there will be no safety issues for a long time as any initial organisms would be very primitive and need massive life support in the lab, the New Scientist reports.

The finishing line could be in sight after geneticists Professor George Church and Dr Michael Jewett, of Harvard Medical School, told a synthetic biology conference in Hong Kong they had created a ribosome.

This is one of artificial life's biggest assembly problems as the ribosome is a cell's protein-making machine, which consists of 57 proteins and chemicals that all need to come together in exactly the right way.

Many have tried to achieve what Dr Church calls "the biggest assembly in biology" and now the researchers have succeeded there is ground for hope the production of any complex molecular machine is really possible.

They pulled it off by using a synthesized version of an RNA, a code similar to DNA that tells the body how to construct proteins.

Professor Church sees incorporating the rest of the synthetic chemicals as a relatively minor challenge.

He said: "There's nothing you'd expect to go wrong - the way we expected things to go wrong with the assembly."

But even though that hurdle has been cleared unforeseen problems are still likely to arise when the researchers try to assemble all 151 essential genes and their products into a functioning whole.

Pharmacologist Dr Anthony Forster, of Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, who is also creating a synthetic living cell in a test tube with Professor Church, said: "Until you actually try this you won't know.

"Having said that we know cells can do it so we should be able to do it - sooner or later."

Already some other subsystems are beginning to come together. A team led by bioscientist Professor Tetsuya Yomo at Osaka University in Japan has created a system similar to Dr Church's but consisting of 144 parts instead of 151.

In Professor Yomo's system a tiny RNA genome contains the directions for making a single protein which in turn helps the RNA molecule replicate. Gene makes protein makes gene - closing the loop for the first time in a synthetic system. This is a feat Professor Church's team has yet to accomplish.

Professor Yomo said: "We've spent 10 years to reach this level."  

Every research team that has embarked on the quest for synthetic life reports good progress and the goal of creating a living being from non-living chemicals is now less a vague possibility than a definite target with clear roadmaps leading to it.

Professor Deamer said: "I'm getting more confident in my five to 10 year prediction."

Source: The Daily Mail


'No proof' That Mysterious Disease is Killing Bees

Scientists say there is no proof that a mysterious disease blamed for the deaths of billions of bees actually exists.

For five years, increasing numbers of unexplained bee deaths have been reported worldwide, with US commercial beekeepers suffering the most. The term Colony Collapse Disorder was coined to describe the illness.

But many experts now believe that the term is misleading and there is no single, new ailment killing the bees.

In part of California, the honeybee is of crucial importance to the local economy as 80% of the world's almonds come from there - America's most valuable horticultural export. But without the bee pollinating the trees, there would be no almonds.

In a few frenzied weeks in February and March, billions of honey bees are transported to the state from as far away as Florida to flit innocently among the snowy almond blossoms, and ensure the success of this lucrative crop.

However, since 2004 their numbers have been mysteriously declining, and it was only at the end of 2006 that the severity of the losses began to be fully realised.

Commercial bee keeper Dave Hackenberg, from Pennsylvania, was the first to sound the alarm. He recalled the moment when he first realised something was wrong:

"I started opening a few hives, and they were completely empty boxes, no bees. I got real frantic and I started looking at lots of beehives. I noticed that there were no dead bees on the ground, there weren't any bodies there."

Even stranger than the absence of the insects was the fact that other bees would not go near these deserted colonies. Since then around two million colonies of bees have disappeared across the US. And the losses have continued this year, albeit at a lower rate.

The unexplained nature of the affliction, with empty hives and no clearly defined infection, has stumped scientists. Since the 1980s, a rising tide of ailments has assaulted the honeybee, including the varroa mite and many deadly viruses.

But the dramatic and rapid losses of the last five years had convinced experts that something new was at work within the hives. They developed a concept called Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD.

Dr Jeff Pettis, a researcher with the US Department of Agriculture Bee Lab, said CCD applied to colonies which died although there were no high levels of parasites: "The colony was once strong, it reared a lot of young developing bees and then the adult bee population simply disappeared or died.

"With those symptoms it certainly is unique and it doesn't really match up with our expectations for parasitic mite loss and the like."

But to date researchers have found few clues as to the exact cause of the disorder. And some senior scientists now say the "disorder" does not exist as a separate illness.

Dr Dennis Anderson, principal research scientist on entomology with the Australian research organisation CSIRO, said the term could be distracting scientists from other work: "It's misleading in the fact that the general public and beekeepers and now even researchers are under the impression that we've got some mysterious disorder here in our bees.

"And so researchers around the world are running round trying to find the cause of the disorder - and there's absolutely no proof that there's a disorder there."

His view is shared by some experts in the U.S.

Conducting experiments at an isolated almond orchard in the Central Valley area of California, Frank Eischen, of the US Department of Agriculture, said it was "probably true" that there was no new single disease.

"We've seen these kinds of symptoms before, during the seventies, during the nineties, and now," he added.

"It's probably not a unique event in beekeeping to have large numbers of colonies die."
Varroa mite

Many experts speak about a "perfect storm" of impacts that are the real reason for the decline. Principal among them are infestations of the varroa mite, which suck the bees' blood and weaken their immune systems.

There are also concerns that bees are being deprived of nutrition as urbanisation removes their natural pastures. One of the biggest worries is the possible impact of agricultural pesticides.

It is believed these chemicals can have a similar effect in bees as alcohol has in humans - they disorientate the bees, causing them to get lost on the way home.

The intensity of agriculture could be the real underlying cause of bee stress, some experts believe. Commercial beekeeper Dave Hackenberg described the working life of a bee as difficult.

"My bees are in California pollinating almonds," he said. "In the middle of March they are going to be trucked all the way across the United States all the way back to Florida to pollinate oranges then they are trucked another thousand miles north to pollinate apples in Pennsylvania.

"When they go to these places, the only thing that's there is the crop that you pollinate; it's a big monoculture.

"We all like steak and potatoes and we all like corn, but if we eat any of these on their own for a month at a time then your body would not be in the best of shape."

Some critics of the bee industry have called the whole concept of CCD a hoax, a public relations stunt designed to attract public sympathy.

Dr Eischen does not believe it was made up, but says CCD has been helpful to highlight problems in the food supply.

He told the BBC: "We rely on farming, and to have that brought to the fore by the press that there is a problem with something as fundamental as getting fruit to produce, trees to bear, vegetables to yield and it all comes together with the bee coming to a flower and performing a vital service, the imagery is great and it strikes at the heartstrings of a lot of citizens; and from that respect it's been good."

"It highlights the hard work it takes to bring a crop to market."

Source: BBC


Why are Christians Outraged about Documentary "Jesus in India"?

Movie reviewer Pete Hammond says of my new film, the feature documentary, "Jesus in India" that it's "a fascinating and profound film, a deeply spiritual journey." While, Jeff Wilser figures it will "make Bill O'Reilly choke on his eggnog."

On the other hand, Nancy Dewolf Smith of the WSJ called the film "pseudo-history" and "a cavalcade of crackpots."  

In fact, Jesus was a consummate crackpot in his own time. If you had asked Jews of his day what they thought of the man who declared "The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath," they would have told you:  a nut-case. So, who was that upstart?  

Is it true that Jesus survived the crucifixion and spent some years in India? The NY Times says that "Jesus in India" sifts "through legends, myths and historical evidence in an attempt to unravel the mysteries of the life of Jesus of Nazareth from ages 12 to 30."  

Some among the Christian orthodox would prefer you never saw this movie, which is based on the quest of the maverick author, Edward T. Martin, to prove that Jesus traveled in India for several years. After decades of exploration in remote, exotic locations in India, Nepal and elsewhere in Central Asia, from Afghanistan to the Himalayas in search of the mysterious missing 18 years of Jesus' life, Martin distilled his quest for the truth and his research into the book, King of Travelers: Jesus' Lost Years in India (now in a new revised edition).

While working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan, Martin had his first encounter with East Asian accounts of the historic Jesus Christ, including the Indian legend that young Jesus joined a caravan and took the Silk Road to the East, where he lived in India with both Hindus and Buddhists before returning to the Holy Land to begin his ministry.

An upstart himself among the fundamentalist Christians of his hometown of Lampasas, Texas, Martin sold his house to complete his research and travel, and publish his book, and remains a pariah in his community for suggesting that some years of Jesus' life are unaccounted for in the Bible, and that there is evidence that he spent those years in India, and that he sent St. Thomas there. Martin was ousted from his provincial church, and some members of his family never spoke to him again, nor did they do more than flip through the pages of his book. The title told them all they needed to know--they "knew" that Jesus was never in India, so why should they read the book? Everyone was of the same opinion--that every word of the Bible is true, without question, and that Jesus' "missing years" have no impact on whether you go to heaven or hell.

So, why should I produce and direct a documentary tracing Martin's journeys and revealing his controversial assertions that, among other things, Jesus survived his crucifixion and is buried in India? First, I met Martin and read his compelling book and found him to be a passionate man involved in a David-vs.-Goliath battle like the protagonists in virtually all my films, and second, Jesus as a historical figure has captivated me since my college years at Princeton, but I was interested in a different interpretation of Jesus than the one that is almost universally accepted. My studies of the writings of the Hindu guru and philosopher, Paramahansa Yogananda, convinced me that it's very possible that Jesus traveled to India in response to the birth visits of the Three Magi from the East. I also found out that the Ahmadiyya Muslims believe that Jesus--Issa, as they call him--did not die on the cross, and lived to travel to India after most assumed he was dead (or ascended to heaven), and that the Ahmadiyyas insist Jesus is buried in the Rozabal in Srinagar, the very ancient "Prophet's Tomb" that dates back to the era of Christ and has carvings of the prophet's feet showing the scars of crucifixion.

Adding to the compelling nature of Martin's research, I also learned from some of the most famous Biblical scholars in the United States, including Professor Elaine Pagels of Princeton's Department of Religion, that "We cannot rule out that Jesus may have traveled to India."

And the third reason why I took on a film project that I knew had the potential to set off an international storm of controversy was--it's what I do. Each of my films has challenged conventional thinking--from "She Dances Alone," the movie starring Max von Sydow about the great Russian ballet dancer who refused to perform as a protest against WWI, to the Golden Globe-nominated "Roswell," starting Martin Sheen, a movie that I co-wrote and produced about the notorious 1947 UFO incident that many believe marked the beginning of the government's coverup of the existence of extraterrrestrials. I also tackled two other subjects perfect for that "cavalcade of crackpots" the WSJ spoke about:  Vincent van Gogh, in "Starry Night," and LSD guru, Timothy Leary, in the film "Timothy Leary's Dead."  

Upsetting religious tradition? Revealing hidden truths about Jesus? A thrilling worldwide journey of spiritual and historical discovery? Stirring up outrage and controversy? I knew that making "Jesus in India" would be an adventure of a lifetime.

It was six weeks of filming in India, making a movie about the Prince of Peace while dealing with monsoons and flooded roads, temperatures hotter than an Iraqi desert and incidents of terrorism and violence in Kashmir. This was followed by months of travel and filming at locations in London, the Vatican and throughout the United States. Now three years later, after a lengthy and arduous phase of post-production, the film has had its U.S. premiere on the Sundance Channel (which showed it three times in December of 2008), and the DVD has been released with an additional 80 minutes of provocative bonus materials. The film even has a magnificent music score by Brian Thomas Lambert, which we've released as a soundtrack CD.

And the debate rages on! Some have accused the film of advocating religious "revisionism," although it is not an attempt to revise so much an attempt to address omission. The Bible does not discuss the activities and travels of Jesus from ages 12 to 30, and so we are not revising anything, we are trying, as the New York Times indicated, to "sift through" legends, myths and historical evidence in an attempt to plug a hole. In the world of film, we call the problem of the lost years of Jesus a "jump cut." In one sentence in the Bible, 12-year-old Jesus is expounding to the rabbis in the Temple in Jerusalem. In practically the next sentence, he is thirty years old being baptized by John the Baptist at the River Jordan.  That's a tough edit. What fell on the cutting room floor?  What was left out?
Once you open the door to Jesus' youth having been partially spent in India (after a lengthy journey with merchants on the Silk Road), you open the door to other questions and issues, a door that orthodox Christians, from the fundamentalists of Texas to the Catholic clergy at the Vatican, have locked shut. "Jesus in India" pulls the door from its hinges, while giving experts on all sides the chance to state their case. Such luminaries as the Dalai Lama, two professors at Georgetown University, an apostolic nuncio of Pope John Paul II, and the "Pope" of Hinduism  (the Shankaracharya) are featured in the film.

The Self-Realization Fellowship of Paramahansa Yogananda, in a full page at their website, declares "Jesus in India" to be "groundbreaking" and commends it to their members and devotees for viewing.  

Len Kasten, in the March-April 2009 issue of Atlantis Rising, writes:  "This film . . . has the potential to revolutionize Christianity by virtue of the humanization of Jesus. By taking away the godlike status conferred upon him by Constantine, and showing him as the brilliant and courageous spiritual teacher who succeeded in bringing together three great religions of the world, it removes the superstition and ritual from Christianity yet leaves the world with a magnificent message of hope and renewal."

The implications of the film promise an upheaval that may ultimately be unsettling to those who hold inflexible and orthodox views about Christianity, Biblical accuracy and religious history. You can read all about it in Edward T. Martin's second book:  Jesus in India: King of Wisdom--The Making of the Film and New Findings on Jesus' Lost Years.

Watch the trailer, hear music from the soundtrack, and get more information about the movie, "Jesus in India," at (A Presentation of Paul Davids Productions, Inc. and Yellow Hat Productions, Inc., Distributed to Television Worldwide by NBC-Universal) Available to the media are review copies of the DVD, "Jesus in India" and the new book, Jesus in India: King of Wisdom -- The Making of the Film and New Findings on Jesus' Lost Years.

# # # #

Paul Davids was Marvel Productions' production coordinator for the original "The Transformers" TV series (many episodes of which he also wrote), and he went on to executive produce and co-write Showtime's now-classic film, "Roswell" (1994), nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Motion Picture for Television.  He made his directorial debut with the feature documentary "Timothy Leary's Dead" in 1997.  The husband and wife team of Paul and Hollace Davids are also noted for authoring six "Star Wars" sequel books in the early 1990's for Lucasfilm, published by Bantam, which sold millions of copies worldwide and which came out in many languages.  Those books include The Glove of Darth Vader, The Lost City of the Jedi, Zorba the Hutt's Revenge, Mission From Mount Yoda, Queen of the Empire and Prophets of the Dark Side.

Paul Davids, who wrote and directed "Starry Night," followed that Yellow Hat Productions film with two other Yellow Hat independent features that he wrote and directed, and which he produced with Hollace Davids:  "The Artist and the Shaman" (2002) and "The Sci-Fi Boys" (2006).  Both "Starry Night" and "The Sci-Fi Boys" were picked up for distribution by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and NBC-Universal's International Television division (Universal City Studios Productions LLLC).  "The Sci-Fi Boys" won the prestigious Saturn Award in Hollywood from the Academy of Science-Fiction, Fantasy and Horror as Best DVD of 2006.  It also won the coveted international fan-based Rondo Award as Best Independent Film on DVD and three EBE Awards.  More information is available on these films at and also at

Source: Paul Davids, Producer/Director of "Jesus in India"


'Vampire' Skeleton Found in Mass Gravesite

It's not quite in the vein of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer sacrifice. Those trying to save us from evil bloodsuckers 500 years ago didn't rely on a stake through the heart - they used a humble brick.

The remains of a "vampire" have been found in a grave in Venice lagoon, an Italian forensic anthropologist has revealed. Matteo Borrini of the University of Florence in Italy found the skeleton of a woman with a small brick in her mouth while excavating mass graves of plague victims from the Middle Ages on Lazzaretto Nuovo Island in Venice

The gruesome discovery tells us a lot about how superstitious people dealt with vampires in the Middle Ages. At the time the woman died, many people believed that the plague was spread by "vampires" which, rather than drinking people's blood, spread disease by chewing on their shrouds after dying. Grave-diggers put bricks in the mouths of suspected vampires to stop them doing this, Borrini says.

The belief in vampires probably arose because blood is sometimes expelled from the mouths of the dead, causing the shroud to sink inwards and tear. Borrini, who presented his findings at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Denver, Colorado, last week, claims this might be the first such vampire to have been forensically examined. The skeleton was removed from a mass grave of victims of the Venetian plague of 1576.

Another island, Lazzaretto Nuovo, was used by Venice's rulers as a quarantine hospital in 1468 following an earlier plague epidemic. When a later wave of the Black Death swept through Venice between 1630 and 1631, the epidemic claimed a third of the city's 150,000 inhabitants.

Legends of vampirism have existed for centuries, but the modern vampire popularised by Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, originates from stories spread in the Balkans and Eastern Europe in the early 18th century.

Source: Daily Mail


Beware the Bunyip

In the Land Down Under, people there sometimes speak of a weird creature that was said to lurk in Australia's swamps, lakes and rivers. Many dismiss the tales of the bunyip as just a myth handed down from the Aborigines, the continent's indigenous people. But others insist the legendary creature is more than just a native folk tale.

In a land known for its unusual animals, the bunyip might have been the strangest of them all.

The monster's name is usually translated as "devil" or "spirit." Based on the reports that have emerged since Australia's colonial era, those sound like pretty good descriptions. However, no two physical descriptions of the bunyip are exactly the same. It has been described as having a dog-like face, dark fur, a horse-like tail and walrus-like tusks. Others say it has flippers and a duck-like bill similar to the duck-billed platypus.

Pretty much everyone who reported seeing the bunyip agreed that it lived in the lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands of Australia. They also said that it was a creature to be feared and respected, according to a Web site.

When Europeans settled in Australia, they first heard about the creature from the Aborigines. If they heard a strange cry or sound in the wilderness, they likely assumed that it was the call of the bunyip.

The Aborigines were so scared of the bunyip that they would not approach any water source where one might be waiting. It was believed that the creature enjoyed feasting on the flesh of humans.

One of the earliest reports of the bunyip dates back to 1821. Hamilton Hume, the first Australian-born explorer, found some large unexplained bones from Lake Bathurst in New South Wales. He wrote that the creature that was very much like a hippopotamus. Both Hume and the Philosophical Society of Australasia believed these bones proved the existance of the bunyip.

As the European settlers moved further into the outback, they came back with more and more bunyip sightings. A large number of these sightings occurred between the 1840s and 1850s, particularly in the southeastern colonies of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

For example, a number of bunyip sightings emerged from one area in Australia in 1845. An unfossilized bone of a large animal was recovered from the banks of a small river in the Geelong area. A story about the big bone appeared in the Geelong Advertiser and that resulted in numerous people coming forward with their bunyip sightings. A local Aboriginal person looked at the bone and immediately identified it as a bunyip bone. Another person claimed that a bunyip had killed his mother in the Barwon River.

In no time, the legend of the bunyip grew and grew. It became Australia's version of the boogey man.

In the Greta area, local people often heard a loud booming sound which came mysteriously from the nearby swamps. Search parties were frequently sent out to the swamps to find out what was causing the loud booming. However, they could not find the source for the sound. Many locals assumed that the noise was being made by the bunyip.

When the swamps were drained, the sound went away. Some Greta locals believed that the bunyip moved on to another area. Others said it probably died when its habitat was destroyed.

As Australia became more settled and civilized, the sightings of the bunyip began to fade away. Many assumed that it never existed in the first place and regarded it as old folk tale.

But today, some cryptozoologists believe that the bunyip was really an ancient animal that should have become extinct about 10,000 years ago. Diprotodons were large rhinoceros-sized marsupials from the prehistoric era. Some researchers believe that the diprotodon did not become extinct after all but instead evolved into the animal the Aborigines called the bunyip.

While writing this column, I couldn't help but think about the late great Steve Irwin. I wonder if Steve ever encountered something like the bunyip in his explorations of Australia's wilderness and what he would have had to say about the legend.

Source: The Mcdowell News/Mike Conley


Feline Symbolism, Dreamlore, and Folk-Beliefs

The feline image - sleek, silent, shadow-like, the embodiment of sphinx-like inscrutability - is unquestionably one of the most potent, diverse, and mystical of all animal symbols. There have been dark periods during its long affiliation with humanity, as in Europe during the Middle Ages, when the cat was denounced as a creature of evil, in league with witches and demons. Equally, however, as will be seen here, it has also inspired many much more positive, benevolent associations - everything from moon guardian to marriage blesser.


The cat's lunar links date back at least as far as the ancient Egyptians, who likened the changing dilation and contraction of the pupils in its glowing eyes to the waxing and waning of the pallid moon, and its nocturnal activity to the moon's night-time visitations. Indeed, according to Egyptian mythology, the cat owes its eyes' shimmering phosphorescence to the sun-god Ra, who entrusted to it the sun's brilliant lustre, to be guarded and diligently transported by it throughout the night - so that our planet would never be entirely without light, and as a promise that the sun would itself return every morning.

As an emblem of the moon, which is traditionally portrayed in many mythologies worldwide as feminine in comparison with the masculine sun, it was inevitable that the cat too would become a symbol of femininity and associated with a number of important female deities. Most familiar of these is Bast, Egypt's golden-eyed cat-headed goddess of the moon (again) and fertility, via whom the cat has also become linked symbolically to childbirth.

Indeed, 'Ru', which is the Egyptian hieroglyph representing birth, was based upon the shape of a cat's eye, and when placed upon the Tau cross, representing time, yielded the famous ankh - symbol of life and immortality. This later became synonymous with Venus, the Roman goddess of love, thereby reinforcing the cat's link with femininity and fertility.

Similarly, Venus's Norse counterpart, the goddess Freya, not only symbolising love and passion but also ruling the dark, mysterious kingdom of the night, rode through the sky in a chariot drawn by a team of cats (originally lynxes). And in Hindu mythology, Shasti, goddess of childbirth, is borne aloft not upon a horse or elephant, but upon a cat instead.


The cat's nocturnal lifestyle readily lends itself to deep, metaphysical feline symbolism. As revealed in Tom Chetwynd's Dictionary of Sacred Myth (1986), because the cat can see in the dark and is thus active at night, it has become a symbol of intuition, capable of navigating through the shadowy realm of the unconscious and seeing into the darkness of the future.

Notwithstanding this, the cat has failed to receive a very good press from those who specialise in dream divining. To dream about a cat is traditionally claimed to denote bad luck, unless you can chase it away before waking, whereupon you will successfully overcome sizeable obstacles and acquire great fame and fortune. Similarly, to dream of hearing a cat mewing or screaming is supposed to indicate that you have a false friend who will utilise lies and misleading words to create problems for you. As before, these odd ideas have no doubt been inspired by the cat's secretive, enigmatic nature and liking for night-time prowling.


In addition to the cat's personification of intuition, its lunar associations are not lost upon Chetwynd either. He notes that cats can be white or black, " the full and dark moon and so depict the extreme opposites of life and death, nourishing milk and dark poison. But they also come striped and so are the pattern of the transformations of the moon which governs the alternating rhythm of the tides, and so the whole great movement of life".

The cat's symbolic ambivalence is very apparent within Eastern cultures. For instance, both in China and Japan the cat was traditionally looked upon as a cunning shape-shifter, capable of transforming itself into many different guises. In China, however, it reputedly underwent these transformations for evil purposes, and was a symbol of yin (thereby allied yet again with femininity), whereas in Japan its transformations were beneficial. Moreover, Japanese sailors actively welcomed cats on account of their supposed ability to ward off dangerous maritime demons. Similarly, whereas in Zoroastrianism the cat serves the evil deity Ahriman, in Islam it is cherished by Muslims because it was blessed by Mohammed.

Perhaps the most familiar example of contrasting double images in the West concerns black cats and white cats. Once the superstition-ridden age linking cats and witchcraft had vanished in Britain, the black cat became associated with good luck, especially if one of these sable-coated felids should cross your path - whereupon you should make a wish and hope for it to come true. White cats, conversely, were looked upon as weird, unearthly creatures.

Yet in the U.S.A., as well as in certain continental European countries, such as Spain and Belgium, the reverse situation has prevailed. Here, a black cat still symbolises darkness and is viewed somewhat uncomfortably by the more superstitious-minded, whereas a white cat symbolises light and is welcomed as a sign of impending good fortune - so too are grey cats. Just to be different, in Russia lucky cats are neither black nor white, but blue. And in East Yorkshire, although it is lucky to own a black cat, it is unlucky to meet one.


The cat features extensively in superstition and folk-beliefs. For instance, if a cat should sneeze once, good luck will visit its owners - or the weather will become rainy! If it should sneeze three times, however, its owners will all develop colds (rather like the cat, one would imagine, if it has sneezed three times in succession!). And if it should sneeze near a bride on the morning of her wedding, her marriage will be a happy one.

To say the word 'cat' outloud down in a mine or on board a ship is not recommended, at least according to early superstitions, but the presence of a cat on a ship is said to bring good luck, and the ship's cat is often among the first individuals to be rescued by the crew in the event of a shipwreck. It bodes particularly well for a ship's good fortune if a cat should come aboard uninvited and decide to stay - woe betide anyone foolish enough to try to chase it off! And any sailor's wife living on the Yorkshire coast who kept a pet cat at home would feel reassured that her husband would always return safely home from the sea.

Last but not least: the reason why cats are said to have nine lives is that in ancient times, the number nine was deemed to be exceptionally lucky, because it was three times three, or a trinity of trinities. And of all animals, what could be more suited to being blessed by the gift of nine lives than that not only very tenacious but also famously lucky species, the cat?

Source: ShukerNature


How to Find the Hidden Folk of Iceland

An article on Iceland's de facto bankruptcy in the April issue of Vanity Fair notes that a "large number of Icelanders" believe in elves or "hidden people." This widespread folklore occasionally disrupts business in the sparsely populated North Atlantic country. Before the aluminum company Alcoa could erect a smelting factory, "it had to defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it." How do you find an elf?

With psychic powers. According to a poll conducted in 2007, 54 percent of Icelanders don't deny the existence of elves and 8 percent believe in them outright, although only 3 percent claim to have encountered one personally. The ability to see the huldufólk, or hidden folk, can't be learned; you're just born with it. To find elves, seers don't really need to do anything—they'll just sense an elfin presence. The Vanity Fair article says that elf detection can take six months, but it's usually a quick process that can last under an hour. And although the magazine claims that a "government expert" had to certify the nonexistence of elves, the Icelandic Embassy insists that these consults are performed by freelancers, not government contractors.

The huldufólk are thought to live in another dimension, invisible to most. They build their homes inside rocks and on craggy hillsides, and they seem to favor lava formations. The port town of Hafnarfjördur, near Reykjavík, is thought to have a particularly large settlement of elves—as well as other mystical beings like dwarves (who also fit under the broad category of huldufólk). According to local clairvoyants, the huldufólk royal family lives at the base of a cliff in that town.

Elf-spotting is an intergenerational phenomenon in Iceland, although more children than adults report seeing huldufólk. Indeed, it's thought that many who are born clairvoyant lose the ability after the age of 8 or so. Furthermore, it's not just Icelanders who have this capacity—theoretically, anyone, from any country, can have the power to communicate with elves. Clairvoyants see elves year-round, sometimes in their own backyards, but Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve are considered especially good occasions for elf-spotting. That's because according to some legends, these holidays are traditional moving days for the huldufólk. Elves often dress in old-timey, 19th-century outfits like homemade-looking ankle-length skirts, and they come in all sizes. There are thought to be at least 13 types of elves, some of whom are as tall as humans. Others, like the Blómálfar, or flower elves, are just a few inches tall.

When Icelanders try to build roads or settlements through elf dwellings, the elves are said to go bonkers—causing equipment failures and other problems. In the early 1970s, for example, contractors trying to move a large rock to make way for a highway near Reykjavík hired a clairvoyant, Zophanías Pétursson, after experiencing several minor mishaps. Pétursson detected the presence of elves and claimed to obtain a waiver from the supernatural creatures so that work could progress. But the elves weren't finished: A bulldozer operator who had helped move the stone fractured a water pipe that fed into a fish farm, killing thousands of trout hatchlings.

Although Pétursson apparently failed to mollify the highway-hating elves, huldufólk experts believe negotiation is possible. If a construction supervisor suspects he might be heading into an elfin zone or just wants to rule out the possibility, he can hire a medium (by asking for a reference from the Icelandic Elf School, for example). Elves sometimes agree either to move or to let a construction project go forth unimpeded as long as the workers don't blow up their nearby dwelling.

A minority of construction projects face elf-related delays. But if a clairvoyant reports seeing elves hanging about a particular rock, an Icelander will probably think twice before blowing it up to make way for a swimming pool. And as the New York Times reported in 2005, planning councils in towns with sizeable elf populations, like Hafnarfjördur, try to keep elfin-interests in mind.

Source: Slate

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