4/6/12  #665
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High overhead, the black helicopter hovered soundlessly. Inside, secret high-tech monitoring equipment recorded anything that looked suspicious -- and to them, everything is suspicious! The simplest phone calls, the most innocent of e-mails, the junkiest of junk mails, all raise flags of warning to those who listen. To them, freedom means subversion. Privacy means treason. Innocence means guilt.  They watch and wait, for soon will come the time when once again, e-mail boxes all across the planet are filled with your number one source of information on conspiracies, UFO, the paranormal, and much more - Conspiracy Journal!

This week Conspiracy Journal takes a look at such jelly bean swallowing stories as:

- The Pagan Origins of Easter -
Ex-Military Pilot Reveals UFO Encounter -
- Land of Monsters, Mysteries -
AND: Manufactured Monsters

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

~ And Now, On With The Show! ~








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The Pagan Origins of Easter

As a religious holiday, Easter is especially important to Christians as it represents the entire foundation on which Christianity was built. Jesus was crucified, died for all of the sins of humanity, and later resurrected with the promise of eternal life for those who accepted him as their savior. Yet, Easter is also a strange mixture of traditions, bunnies who bring colored eggs for example, that seem to have little to do with the Biblical resurrection of Jesus story.

So, what's the deal?

As far as is known, there's no story in the Bible about an Easter Bunny bringing eggs and candy to all of the little children of the world. Nevertheless, Easter traditions are not alone in the fact that many cherished Christian beliefs and customs have no Biblical origins.

It may be a shock to those who assume that modern Christianity, along with the celebrations that surround it, is the absolute, unblemished word of God, but Easter is a fine example of a Christian holiday that is almost entirely pagan in origin. Yes, that is correct. Easter is a pagan festival.

Early Christianity made a pragmatic acceptance of ancient pagan practices. After all, pagans had been around a lot longer than the new kids on the block Christians. The general symbolic story of the death of the son (sun) on a cross (the constellation of the Southern Cross) and his rebirth, overcoming the powers of darkness, was a well worn story in the ancient world. There were plenty of parallel, rival resurrected saviors too.

The Sumerian goddess Inanna, or Ishtar, was hung naked on a stake, and was subsequently resurrected and ascended from the underworld. One of the oldest resurrection myths is Egyptian Horus. Born on December 25, Horus and his damaged eye became symbols of life and rebirth. Mithras was born on what we now call Christmas day, and his followers celebrated the spring equinox. Even as late as the 4th century AD, the sol invictus, associated with Mithras, was the last great pagan cult the church had to overcome. Dionysus was a divine child, resurrected by his grandmother. Dionysus also brought his mum, Semele, back to life.

In an ironic twist, the Cybele cult flourished on today's Vatican Hill. Cybele's lover Attis, was born of a virgin, died and was reborn annually. This spring festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday, rising to a crescendo after three days, in rejoicing over the resurrection.

There was violent conflict on Vatican Hill in the early days of Christianity between the Jesus worshipers and pagans who quarreled over whose God was the true, and whose the imitation. What is interesting to note here is that in the ancient world, wherever you had popular resurrected god myths, Christianity found lots of converts. So, eventually Christianity came to an accommodation with the pagan Spring festival.

Although we see no celebration of Easter in the New Testament, early church fathers celebrated it, and today many churches are offering "sunrise services" at Easter – an obvious pagan solar celebration. The date of Easter is not fixed, but instead is governed by the phases of the moon – how pagan is that?

All the fun things about Easter are pagan. Bunnies are a leftover from the pagan festival of Eostre, a great northern goddess whose symbol was a rabbit or hare. Exchange of eggs is an ancient custom, celebrated by many cultures. Hot cross buns are very ancient too. Rabbits, of course, are a potent symbol of fertility due to their prodigious output of young. Eggs, likewise, have always been considered representative of new life, fertility, and reincarnation.

In the Old Testament we see the Israelites baking sweet buns for an idol, and religious leaders trying to put a stop to it. The early church clergy also tried to put a stop to sacred cakes being baked at Easter. In the end, in the face of defiant cake-baking pagan women, they gave up and blessed the cake instead.

The first Easter bunny legend was documented in the 1500s. By 1680, the first story about a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden was published. When the Puritans came to North America, they regarded the celebration of Easter, and the celebration of Christmas, with suspicion. They knew that pagans had celebrated the return of spring long before Christians celebrated Easter.

However, in the 1700s, German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania Dutch country, brought their Easter traditions with them. So, for the first two hundred years of European life in North America, only a few states paid much attention to Easter. Not until the end of the Civil War did Americans begin celebrating Easter.

So however you choose to honor Easter, you can rest easy knowing that you are taking part of a celebration that in one form or another, stretches far back into the very dawn of history.


Ex-Military Pilot Reveals UFO Encounter

On the night of Feb. 6, 1975, Marine Reserve Squadron Capt. Larry Jividen was piloting a T-39D Sabreliner combat trainer and utility aircraft with five Naval officer pilots on board for a special training flight. He didn't know the evening would evolve into a game of "tag" with an unidentified flying object.

Jividen hasn't spoken about that experience from nearly 40 years ago -- until now.

The nine-year Marine Corps officer -- and later commercial airline pilot -- had taken off at twilight for a two-hour roundtrip that began and ended at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.

"At about 9 o'clock, we were descending from a high altitude -- around 33,000 feet -- and I looked off to the right side of the airplane where I saw a solid red light at our 1:00 o'clock position and altitude," Jividen told The Huffington Post.

"It was not flashing like normal anti-collision lights flash on airplanes. I thought it might be some other traffic, but I wasn't sure, so I called Pensacola Approach Control and said, 'Understand we're cleared for the approach, but we have traffic off to our right, and who's first for the approach?"

The traffic that Jividen and the other five crew members saw was mutually described as "a solid, circular object about the relative size of a kid's marble held at arm's length," Jividen recalled.

When they were informed that ground control had no other traffic in their vicinity, Jividen became concerned that the mysterious object hadn't shown up on radar. So he asked for clearance to deviate from their approach and turn directly toward the bright red UFO "just to see what it does."

As he turned toward the object, Jividen says it turned toward his plane.

"It suddenly flew from right to left, across the nose [of our plane], and just stopped at our 11:00 o'clock position. At that point, I started to speed up to see if I could close on the object, and as I [did that], it was pacing me in front. In other words, as I'd speed up, he'd speed up.

"So, I decided to descend to place the object against a star field to make sure that it was actually solid, and then I climbed so that I could silhouette the object against the Gulf of Mexico."

Jividen says the five-minute encounter came to an end when the reddish UFO flew away at a very high rate and disappeared over the horizon in the direction of New Orleans.

After the crew returned to Pensacola, Jividen filled out an incident form and that was the last he heard of the episode.

And nobody else heard about it for more than three decades.

Jividen's story is now being told in a new edition of "UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies and Realities," written by retired Army Col. John Alexander.

"I did some background checks on [Jividen] and one of the first things that came back was his distinguished flying crosses for doing really heroic things. He is who he says he is and very straightforward," Alexander told HuffPost.

"I don't think there's any doubt that it was something. I take him as a highly credible witness, much more so than many other ones."

Alexander's unique top-secret clearance granted him by the U.S. government gave him access in the 1980s to a variety of official documents and first-person UFO accounts. He also created a special group of top-level government officials and scientists who studied the UFO phenomenon.

In the end, Alexander determined that the U.S., indeed, had evidence pointing to UFO reality, but he couldn't find any signs that the government deliberately kept this information from the public, or that contact had been made with alien life.

"One of the things we are seeing are physical characteristics that we don't understand, capabilities that are beyond our technological options at this time, i.e. extremely fast acceleration and high-G turns that living organisms, as we know it, would not survive," he explained.

A larger issue going on with regard to UFOs seen by military, commercial and private pilots may turn out to be potential safety hazards, says at least one respected scientist.

"My friends who are scientists say, 'Well, there's nothing to UFOs. If there were, we would have the data and we'd look at it.' That's partly a valid statement, and it's pilots who are unwittingly preventing us from getting the data to analyze scientifically," said Richard Haines, a former research scientist from NASA's Ames Research Center.

Haines -- who prefers to use the term unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP, to UFO -- is a former UFO skeptic who now heads the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena, or NARCAP.

"Our objectives are to make flying safer for the flying public, specifically in regard to UAP, and we're convinced there's a potential threat posed by nearby UAP to commercial and private airplanes," Haines told HuffPost.

Working with a staff of nearly 40 people, including international affiliates, Haines is NARCAP's chief scientist. He addresses the issue of pilots who have a fear reporting UFOs or UAPs while they're still actively flying.

"To me, that's a serious inhibiting factor for scientists like myself to collect the data."

Haines suggests that the fear factor surrounding pilots doesn't have as much to do with them being afraid of the objects they encounter as it does with the fear of losing their jobs if they talk about it.

"Exactly. I don't think it's a physical fear. NARCAP comes along with the objective of trying to make flying safer for the public, and the airlines don't want to hear that because it implies it's not safe! For obvious reasons, many of the reports I have are from retired pilots."

Like the one from Jividen, who filed a report with Haines last year -- almost 40 years after the fact, but it was still impressive.

"First of all, it had a number of witnesses," said Haines. "There were six guys on board and they're not all going to mistake a common illusion.

"After several minutes [the object] didn't change size, shape or intensity, which means that it not only accelerated in front of him and stopped at his 11:00 o'clock position, but it then maintained his forward velocity. We have to ask what kind of natural phenomenon can do that?"

Haines still isn't sure what these unusual objects are that so many pilots over decades have reported.

"I honestly don't know, and as a scientist, I want to keep all the doors open until I've got sufficient evidence, but until that time, I'm not going to speculate."

Alexander's research leads him to at least one important conclusion about the truly unexplained UFO or UAP cases.

"If you get to the fundamental issue -- if there is an intelligence behind this, and it certainly appears to be true -- things like energy have to be key. Certainly understanding a different form of energy would be incredibly useful."

Whatever the red circular object was that Jividen and his crew encountered that night in 1975, two things made a lasting impression on him.

"First, there was no radar contact with it. Clearly, by the silhouette and movement of my aircraft, this was a solid, self-propelled object.

"I don't think our physical science is advanced enough to evaluate what these things are. There's some physical phenomena going on that we just can't clearly interpret or evaluate -- it's obviously intelligently controlled, but it may not be ET."

Source: Huffington Post


Land of Monsters, Mysteries

Sea monsters? Skunk apes? Flying monkeys?

Not the kind of animals typically associated with the Sunshine State, but they’ve all been reported at one time or another in Southwest Florida — a region better-known for its manatees, dolphins and wood storks.

But those aren’t the critters that interest people such as Lon Strickler, who hosts a radio show and runs a website, phantomsandmonsters.com, devoted to a variety of mysteries including cryptids — the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Southwest Florida’s skunk ape and the like — creatures whose existence hasn’t been scientifically proven ... yet.

Their study is known as cryptozoology. And Florida, it seems, is something of a cryptozoological hot spot.

Strickler’s archives contain 682 items about the Sunshine State — many from Southwest Florida. There are posts about skunk apes in the Everglades, a Lehigh Acres sighting of a huge flying apelike creature known as an ahool and a 40-foot-long water serpent in the Orange River reported by an anonymous tipster in January:

“While sitting in traffic, my companion and I noticed a strange disturbance on the lake ... She suggested it was a manatee or a dolphin, However, we ruled this out as manatees don’t rise this high above the water, and there was no evidence of a dorsal fin. What we saw appeared to be something like a very large snake — I would estimate that it was close to the diameter of a telephone pole, though probably a little narrower, and could have been as much as 40 feet long. At some times it would disappear, and at other times it appeared as if it had multiple parts of its body rising out of the water at the same time. ...The head did not look like a snake’s — it appeared to have a short snout...”

Such accounts aren’t anything new. In 1908, the Fort Myers Press published a story of an immense serpent seen crossing the Caloosahatchee River. “It appeared to be a great log on the water when (witnesses) first saw it, but they learned it was a snake when they got to where it was, as the tail was just leaving the water on the south side of the river, and its head stood up 4 or 5 feet high, 20 yards from the river, and looked as large as a nail keg. Of course the reptile must have been between 50 and 60 feet long ...”

And in 1940, the Estero newspaper, The Flaming Sword, ran an account of a sea monster that washed up on Lovers Key: “The creature was all of 20 feet long, about five feet across the body, with a broad, flat tail, something like an airplane rudder. The head (had) a long bill resembling that of a seagull in shape, and somewhat curved at the end. There were no teeth and the eye sockets were as big as saucers. There was a series of large breastplates to which larger ribs were attached by tough gristle and the backbone was high and serrated like that of some prehistoric monster ...”

In his book, “Florida’s Unexpected Wildlife,” published by the University Press of Florida, Michael Newton writes “Sightings of animals unrecognized by modern science ... are reported on an almost daily basis.

“Though many of these reports have been exposed as hoaxes, some continue to resist explanation. And more than a fair share of these creatures have made their home among the condos and theme parks of Florida.”

Not to mention the Everglades, where Dave Shealy has dedicated decades to pursuing the skunk ape.

It’s not just the smell – gassy swamp rot – that Shealy remembers from his last encounter, it’s the rustling rattle of palmetto fronds, the low grunting and finally, the site of a shaggy auburn creature rising from the scrub to gaze at him.

“It stood about 6½ feet tall,” Shealy says. “There was another in the 6-foot range and one more – a smaller one – I couldn’t see.”

It wasn’t the first time Shealy has seen skunk apes and he’s dedicated his life to making sure it won’t be his last.

Shealy, a skilled professional tracker, runs the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters (and gift shop) on a lonesome stretch of the Tamiami Trail running through the Big Cypress swamp. Well, maybe it’s not all that lonesome. In addition to the travelers staying at his 150-slot campground on the back 30, Shealy entertains a regular procession of documentarians, reporters and camera crews – most recently from the Discovery Channel. Shealy doesn’t want to talk details, but trust him: it’s going to be something big … really big.

Over the years, Shealy has found that skunk ape fever flares and cools, but there’s perennial interest in the elusive creatures – never mind that some dismiss them as a figment of his imagination or a clever gimmick.

“It’s not that far-fetched to believe there are still as-yet-undiscovered species, says Adam Pottruck, education and wildlife director at Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium in Fort Myers. The Florida native grew up near the Everglades and has long heard old-timers talk about seeing unexplained, mysterious creatures like the skunk ape.

“I don’t see it being a completely unfeasible thing at all,” Pottruck says. “We know more about the outer planets than what’s down in the depths of our oceans.”
The Bonita Springs Sea Monster

Sometimes, what seems like a monster (or a cryptid) turns out not to be so cryptic at all. For example, in 1940, the Flaming Sword, a newspaper published by the Koreshans, the religious sect that settled in Estero in the 1880s, published this curious report:

“George Simpson brought word last Sunday of a strange creature that had stranded several days previously on Lovers’ Key. ... The creature was all of 20 feet long, about five feet across the body, with a broad, flat tail, something like an airplane rudder. The head was fully three feet long and two feet wide, tapering into a long bill resembling that of a seagull in shape, and somewhat curved at the end. There were no teeth and the eye sockets were as big as saucers. There was a series of large breastplates to which larger ribs were attached by tough gristle and the backbone was high and serrated like that of some prehistoric monster.

“Long bony flippers indicated that they were used to drag the creature along on the sea bottom while feeding.

“Unlike that of a fish, the meat was red like beefsteak and the body was covered with a growth of coarse brown hair. Apparently the creature was a mammal and was accompanied by a young one recently born.

“So far, no one has been able to identify the huge creature.”

The skull wound up at the Everglades Wonder Gardens and years later, Mote Marine Lab scientists identified it as a rare beaked whale, David Piper told The News-Press in 2007.

Part of what makes the find so interesting is that beaked whales generally stay in very deep waters. Scientists speculate that they may be the deepest and longest diving of all whales.

“What little we know of beaked whales has largely come from stranded animals. Sightings of these elusive creatures at sea are extremely rare due to their long dive times and unobtrusive surfacing behavior,” according to the Maine-based Center for Cetacean Research & Conservation’s website.

Yet if you want to get a look at one of these animal rarities (or at least its skull) you needn’t go any farther than Bonita Springs, where it’s enshrined in the two-room natural history museum attached to the Wonder Gardens. While there, you can also get a look at an array of Calusa artifacts, animal skeletons, bobcat embryos and assorted specimens preserved in jars It’s a modest little place nestled unobtrusively by the gift shop and it’d be easy to miss. But for those interested in Florida’s natural history as well as its curiosities — even its occasional sea monsters — it’s a great discovery.

Source: News-Press


Manufactured Monsters
By Nick Redfern

While I am absolutely certain that our planet is indeed home to a whole host of strange and weird beasts that almost defy description, some of them don’t exist in the literal sense; but, rather, incredibly were the creations of none other than the Pentagon!
No, I’m not talking here about some weird science-fiction-like scenario focused on monstrous gene-splicing in a super secret, underground, government-controlled laboratory. What I’m actually talking about is something that, in many ways, is far, far stranger than even that.
During the early 1950s, psychological warfare planners within the American military began spreading tales of blood-sucking, monster-vampires being on the loose in the Philippines. The reason: to terrify the superstitious, Communist Huk rebels that at the time, were engaged in an uprising in the Philippines.
The operation was a truly ingenious one that was coordinated by a certain Major General Edward G. Lansdale. Born in 1908, Lansdale served with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services during the Second World War. Then, in 1945, he was transferred to HQ Air Forces Western Pacific in the Philippines; and, in 1957, he received a posting to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, working as Deputy Assistant to the SoD for what were vaguely termed as “Special Operations.”
At the specific request of President Elpidio Quirino, Lansdale was assigned to the Joint United States Military Assistance Group to provide assistance and guidance in the field of Intelligence, to the Philippine Army, as the latter sought to squash the Huk uprising.
And it was while lending assistance to President Quirino that Lansdale had the bright idea of exploiting a local legend for psychological warfare purposes – namely, that of the deadly, predatory and monstrous Asuang Vampire that was said to roam the Philippines. A very strange “special operation” had well and truly begun.
Lansdale, whose book In the Midst of Wars: An American’s Mission to Southeast Asia, told the fascinating saga in all its weird glory, said: “To the superstitious, the Huk battleground was a haunted place filled with ghosts and eerie creatures. A combat psy-war squad was brought in. It planted stories among town residents of an Asuang living on the hill where the Huks were based. Two nights later, after giving the stories time to make their way up to the hill camp, the psywar squad set up an ambush along the trail used by the Huks.”
He continued: “When a Huk patrol came along the trail, the ambushers silently snatched the last man of the patrol, their move unseen in the dark night. They punctured his neck with two holes, vampire-fashion, held the body up by the heels, drained it of blood, and put the corpse back on the trail. When the Huks returned to look for the missing man and found their bloodless comrade, every member of the patrol believed that the Asuang had got him and that one of them would be next if they remained on that hill. When daylight came, the whole Huk squadron moved out of the vicinity.”
And, as a direct result of these very strange and near unique actions, key, strategic ground was taken out of the hands of the Huk rebels. That a blood-sucking monster was brought to life, and quickly and deeply influenced the outcome of a military engagement, despite the fact that the very same monster never really existed in the first place, is without doubt extraordinary. Monsters, then, are not always what they appear to be…
Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including Final Events, The Real Men in Black, and Strange Secrets.

Source: Mania
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Conspiracy Journal - Issue 665 4/6/12
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