Wednesday, February 27, 2013

'Wytches Chant' - One of the greatest neopagan chants

'Wyches Chant' by the popular neopagan musical group Inkubus Sukkubus from the UK. Amazingly, all this hymn comprises of is chanting the names of the following goddesses from various ancient cultures: "Isis Astarte Diana Hecate Demeter Kali Inanna." Isis (Egyptian), Astarte (Ugaritic, Phoenician, and Hebrew [ancient]), Diana (Roman), Hecate (Greek), Demeter (Roman), Kali (Indian), and Inanna (Sumerian). Some of the Roman and Greek goddesses and gods--as well as the Germanic and Celtic ones--could possibly have derived from the really ancient proto-European deities. That becomes important if we look at the very ancient moon goddess and stag god.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Practical Magic (movie review)

Practical Magic (Wikipedia)

Practical Magic is a 1998 American romantic comedy film based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Alice Hoffman. The film was directed by Griffin Dunne and stars Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, Dianne Wiest, Aidan Quinn and Goran Višnjić. The film score was composed by Alan Silvestri.

Bullock and Kidman play sisters Sally and Gillian Owens, who have always known they were different from each other. Raised by their aunts after their parents' death, the sisters grew up in a household that was anything but typical--their aunts fed them chocolate cake for breakfast and taught them the uses of practical magic. But the invocation of the Owens' sorcery also carries a price--some call it a curse: the men they fall in love with are doomed to an untimely death. Now adult women with very different personalities, the quiet Sally and the fiery Gillian must use all of their powers to fight the family curse and a swarm of supernatural forces that could take away all the Owen's lives.


I have written a few movie reviews on these two blogs, and this is the first time that I would lean towards thumbs down. The protagonists, the two sisters, are basically likable enough; but I don't believe that they ever develop the charm that the producers had maybe intended. Beyond "the magic," they could have easily been two sisters from any background. I admit, I'm not a really big fan of romantic comedies, so perhaps I'm biased. The romantic portions of the movie, even then, didn't seem particularly special. The background scenery throughout the movie was very pleasant, but there never was any serenity or genuine spirituality attacked to it. Sometimes, even with a very average movie, I appreciate the scenery and mood. I just don't think that the characters really developed here. I understand that they weren't trying to make 'I Dream of Jeannie' or 'Charmed' type of characters.

Some Christian fundamentalists have pointed to movies such as this one as examples of "witchcraft being portrayed as cool" by Hollywood. In fact, "witchery" and "magic" are portrayed here as the source of endless problems over generations (and daily!) and really as something that should be avoided! I didn't even think that the family in general was particularly different beyond the magical part of it. They could have easily passed for a marginally aloof family. In other words, the portrayal of a person or people as "different" can take many forms; and I just think they failed to achieve this in any form... not even a subtle one. If someone wanted to view this movie from strictly a "romantic comedy" point of view, then it would be about average maybe. It then could be thought as just people dealing with their situation(s).

I wanted to clarify that even in a movie with a similar magical theme, like 'The Wicker Man' (the original), there are some moments of serenity which reflected the spirituality of the culture portrayed. The 'Wicker Man' was a violent movie too. At the start of 'Practical Magic', it shows one of their ancestors about to be hanged for being a witch. Before she is hanged, she leaps off of the plank and the rope breaks as she safely lands on her feet.... and everyone runs away in fear. This seemed to set the stage for things to come, but it just didn't happen. There was one scene where Sandra Bullock was in her new "witch store," and her daughter was outside being called a witch by other children of the town. As she started to walk towards the door to go outside, she nonchalantly said to her friends/co-owners something like "you'd think after 300 years they would come up with a better line than that." The line was delivered, characterized, and cut in a way that lacked charm, passion, humor, or even anger... and I think that sort've metaphorically defined this film.

FUN FACT: The origin of the word "Hollywood" comes from the making of a "magic wand" in Druidic culture. A true magic wand can only be made from the wood of a holly tree.


Monday, February 18, 2013

'The Deer Hunter' (movie review)

'The Deer Hunter' is a 1978 film which revolves around the Vietnam War experiences of three Russian-American steel workers from western Pennsylvania. The plot takes place in Clairton, Pennsylvania along the Monongahela River; very close to the city of Monongahela. I thought that the film--aside from the Monongahela connection--had many eery similarities and symbolism to elements of Camunian culture.

For one thing, the blue collar Russian-American Orthodox culture of the town had traditional elements and a social atmosphere which were similar to the Roman Catholic/Ambrosian culture of smaller working class towns around the Great Lakes area or western Pennsylvania. Traditional attitudes, values, manner, and self-determinism, mixed with the "work hard and play hard" mindset.

The movie takes place in three acts. The first is prior to their war experience, the second is the war portion, and the third is post-war. Act I shows a common healthy small town life, something like the calm before the storm. It includes a lively wedding scene for Steven (played by John Savage), one of the three close friends, and who ended up being the more fragile of the three. Mike (played by Robert DeNiro), proves to be the strongest of the three, and who tries to provide leadership and strength during all three acts. Nick (played by Christopher Walken) seems to be the middle of the three as far as physical and mental toughness. Linda (played by Meryl Streep) is an important supporting character and defining community member.

Another common feature was the frequent use of the "stag symbol." Sometimes during various searches for "Val Camonica"--for example find results that show Cernunnos imagery. The connection between Camunic culture and Cernic spirituality is strong. During two deer hunting scenes in the movie--which were filmed in the northern Cascade Mountains of Washington state--it reminded me of the Alps. During one of those scenes, Mike--the expert deer hunter--has a clear shot at a perfect male stag, and while looking at it, he decides to let it go. The young, full antlered buck then majestically scampers off into the trees with an ominous valley in the background. The powerful music is noteworthy during that scene. Clearly the "stag symbol" is shown in it's historical-allegorical context... as a symbol of masculinity and virility. A shot of a wall mounting of a deer head is even shown during a bedroom scene.

Act II takes place in Vietnam, where the three eventually all hook up together. There's a lot of violence and challenges to their sanity, courage, and nerves. I don't want to give anything away, so I won't go any further. One curious non-contrived scene showed Nick in an army facility recovering one day, when an officer of some rank came to speak with him--to evaluate him I think--as he sat on what seemed to be a second story balcony. After questioning him with not much response, the officer said his name and asked something like "is that Russian?" Nick nonchalantly responded "No. It's American." Personally, I took that as more of a reflection of the individual character and his experiences, rather than something objectively nationalistic.

The film flows along fairly easily, aside from the violent scenes. It's not the type of movie where you really have to worry a lot about missing some important dialogue. The characters were just who they were, and were just dealing with their circumstances the best that they could. There was nothing pretentious about them. They weren't trying to save the world or trying to make some kind of statement, and I think that's why it became so popular against what was initially expected of it.

On a lighter note, during the wedding scene--which was filmed inside of a Cleveland Russian Orthodox Church--I couldn't help but notice a woman who I think was only featured briefly. She appeared as a beautiful, gregarious, red-blooded, central/east-European-looking girl-next-door type, bridesmaid. Sometimes just a face, whether in reality or in art, can be a strong symbol of a time or place. She was someone they grew up with, went to school with, and was part of this sacred day... and shortly afterward they were in a strange far-away place fighting for their lives. I think that's what part of the subconscious message was. The Clairton scenes were filmed in Ohio; and the Vietnam scenes in Thailand.

'The Deer Hunter'

The Deer Hunter is a 1978 British-American war drama film co-written and directed by Michael Cimino about a trio of Russian American steelworkers and their infantry service in the Vietnam War. The film stars Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Savage, John Cazale, Meryl Streep, and George Dzundza. The story takes place in Clairton, a small working class town on the Monongahela River south of Pittsburgh and then in Vietnam, somewhere in the woodland and in Saigon, during the Vietnam War.

The film was based in part on an unproduced screenplay called The Man Who Came to Play by Louis Garfinkle and Quinn K. Redeker about Las Vegas and Russian Roulette. Producer Michael Deeley, who bought the script, hired writer/director Michael Cimino who, with Deric Washburn, rewrote the script, taking the Russian Roulette element and placing it in the Vietnam War. The film went over-budget and over-schedule and ended up costing $15 million. The scenes of Russian roulette were highly controversial on release.

The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and was named by the American Film Institute as the 53rd Greatest Movie of All Time on the 10th Anniversary Edition of the AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies list.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Johnny Utah and Joe Montana

In the 1991 movie 'Point Break', starring Keanu Reeves and the late Patrick Swayze, the protagonist's name was "Johnny Utah" who was played by Reeves. The term "cult following" is used far too often in my opinion, but this movie indeed has that type of following. It's still very popular after twenty-one years. The two actors just really connected in this movie. I didn't want to give a movie review, but there's much that can be said about this film. There's even a type of parody of it, which travels from city to city, in which audience members reenact the main characters... and actually do a type of theater of the movie (Point Break Live!). Another one of Swayze's films, 1989's 'Roadhouse', also has that type of following, with showings in sawdust-type bars.

Joe Montana, as we have covered before, is of Camunian ancestry. The original family name is Montani, which makes sense from the mountainous Camunian Valley. The name Johnny Utah is a take off of Joe Montana and Johnny Utah, since the character was a fictional former Ohio State quarterback who had played in the Rose Bowl. In the image above, someone actually had a Johnny Utah jersey made up. Joe Montana played for the San Francisco 49ers, and ironically the director of 'Point Break' was Kathryn Bigelow who is originally from nearby Redwood City. Her 2009 film 'The Hurt Locker' won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Picture, won the BAFTA Award for Best Film.

I can recall once a football commentator said regarding the name Joe Montana, that it was a perfect football name.. like "Billy Joe Idaho." I grew up in the San Francisco area, and I never had any idea whatsoever that Joe Montana was Camunian (half Camunian/half Sicilian). I guess it wouldn't have quite worked as "Joe Montani." He was originally from the Monongahela area of western Pennsylvania, which was an area that has a large "Camunian community" so to speak. Another very popular movie which took inspiration from his name was the 1984 film 'Scarface', in which director Brian De Palma said he used the name "Montana" because of the popularity of the football player. The Cuban "Tony Montana" character was apparently "half American" so I don't know if it was supposed to be an "American name" or not.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Panther of Colma Creek

So often our lives are safe and managed. Any "mysteries" usually always revolve around people and what we cannot see within our concrete jungles. Occasionally, within these usually safe and managed landscapes of urban sprawl, we see hillsides or open land with just enough trees or brush to allow for some intrigue revolving around non-human intelligence.

Even our daily urban interactions with animals are so safe and managed. Much more often than not, we've made these animals just as soft as we are. Whether as pets, livestock, or animals with a job function; our interactions with them hardly would be anything of a "mystery." If someone lived more of a rural life, or on the edge of a wilderness area, then they may have a different experience.

Some years ago, in one of the Carolinas, rural people started to report a "monster" who was picking off dogs one by one. It was described as some type of large unknown animal. Eventually this animal was caught on a motion-triggered camera as I recall. It was a "Florida panther" who probably had migrated north. East of the Mississippi, mountain lions only exist in Florida, at least as far as any type of viable breeding population. It was interesting that one mountain lion could cause such a stir.

A few years ago in the hills of southern San Mateo County, California--where the elevated neighborhoods meet a sizable wilderness area, and mountain lion sightings are fairly common--a woman hiker had an encounter with one of the lions. I recall that she saw mountain lion kittens, and sure enough the mother came after her. The lioness quickly ran along her as she was running away. In a moment, the woman noticed that the lioness was gone. She had just wanted to scare her out of the vicinity.

These wilderness areas provide plenty of "mysteries" in our lives, partly because we are not in control there. That theme is common when people describe simple encounters with wild animals, even small ones. Not only are we often not in control, but we can find ourselves at the mercy of wild animals. These animals have no concept of "justice" or "injustice." They live by evolutionary-struggle only. Urban dwellers are amazed when they suddenly find themselves "not in control."

When we see a rugged wilderness, especially wooden mountains, there's a "mystery," because we don't really know what's in there. Even on a warm sunny day, we can make out the ominous darkness just under the tree cover. However, it doesn't have to be a "wilderness." A small hillside, with some cover, engulfed by urban sprawl can provide a touch of mystery.

Just two weeks from an encounter with two very wolf-looking coyotes, I had another experience of a different sort. I saw the coyotes while hiking along the foothills in the broad daylight of a late afternoon. The later experience wasn't as potentially dangerous, but it was maybe more mysterious. It took place close to where I saw the coyotes, but in an area of trees and heavy brush. A transitional location heading into heavy woods, and it was during twilight. 

Early last summer, I began to notice what I considered an unknown animal while on twilight hikes in the foothills. I thought that it could be a fox, but it was black. It did have long ears, and appeared even larger than a fox. For months I wasn't able to get a good look at it. Finally, in early fall, I saw it. It came crashing across a hillside trail in front of me. It was a cat, but not a bobcat. It was one of the largest cats I have ever seen; long, lean, and muscular, with big feline shoulders. It was black with some white on its underside, long-hair, and had unusually long ears.

While it didn't have the long legs of a bobcat, it was big. Its black color made me think of the mystery black panthers in England. I would guess that it was about twenty pounds, and possibly a little more considering its length. It looked more like a "little panther" than a bobcat or lynx. Obviously it didn't strike a degree of fear as with the coyotes, but it got my attention.

I was hiking in an area which was a little bit more remote than where I usually hike. With the trees and heavy brush and foliage at that time of evening, it was beautifully gloomy. It was mostly a mixture of black and shades of grey, with the natural colors of browns and greens only faintly showing. As I started to reach a wider clearing along the trail, I noticed something big and black in the middle of it, about forty yards away. At about thirty yards, I knew it was an animal.

It was sideways from my perspective, and was in a crouching position, with its head turned towards me. I then remembered the big back cat from about five months ago. Could this be him? What else could it be? Within twenty yards, I saw that it was him... staring at me in the darkness. I couldn't see his eyes, and didn't want to purposely shine my flashlight into his face. If it was totally dark, then I would have shined it because I wouldn't have known what it was. What was he thinking? They weren't human thoughts, or even the thoughts of a house cat. I would guess that they were the intelligent thoughts of a predator acknowledging that "discretion was the better part of valor" just prior to retreating... like an African lion stepping out of an elephants way.

To the left of him from my perspective was a forty-plus foot tree with a massive stem with the thick branches sprouting out low; and with very heavy brush to the left of it outside the trail and clearing. He slowly stood up and started walking into the brush and foliage, as if he didn't want to be pushed. As though the option of waiting until the last moment and then darting off would be too much of a blow to the ego of this sizable predator. He then disappeared into the shadows, as though he were only a spirit-animal..... a myth.

As I passed the clearing and started making my way down towards a main trail that would take me back to civilization, I thought about what would have happened if I had somehow shrunk down to about eighteen inches tall--or even two feet--as I approached him? After I got home, and it was completely dark outside, I then thought about him just briefly. That he was still up there, hunting in the dark woods, with his night vision. A spirit panther.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

'Moonlight' by Labyrinth

Labyrinth is a power metal band from Massa, northern Tuscany (the province just north of Lucca). They've been around since 1991. Evidently, this type of music is still going strong in Europe, but mysteriously died out in the U.S. twenty years ago.

A labyrinth is a maze-like structure from Greek mythology; as well as an ancient symbol. However, it is tied to a number of ancient cultures, such as Greek, Roman, Celtic, Egyptian, and Native American. It is also deeply tied to the ancient Val Camonica. Also, the moon was a big part of ancient Camunian spirituality. I know, the moon was a large part of many cultures; but it was everything to the ancient Camunni, as I will show in upcoming posts.

The Romans called the valley "Camunorum," which loosely translates to "home of the Camunni" they called the inhabitants (Camun=Camunian; orum=place; thus "place of the Camunians"; also, ca=home; mun=moon; munni=moon people, thus "home of the moon people"). However in the modern Camunian dialect of Lombard, it's called "Al Camonega," which loosely translates to "valley of the home of the dawning moon" (al=valley; ca=home; mon=moon; nega=dawning/setting... not the color black). I'll get into that in future posts. Anyway, this song is at least symbolically tied to our ancient ancestry.

'Moonlight' (Labyrinth)

Faced to the ivory gates of dreamsland
I look my steps being lost in the sand
Is this the place where they created your soul
Where all your tears have been shed for so long?

Moon don't tell me lies
don't let me roam forever
Moonlight take the sky
Show me the way to heaven ...

Moonlight shining in the sky
nothing more can stop my flight
Take my hand again, fly with me
thousand million miles away

Leaving the town of the ancient dreams
new reasons come to live for ...

Now that we are leaving out of maze
I can imagine all the masters' rage
Meaning is that love is stronger than hate
Meaning is that will is stronger than fate

Moon don't tell me lies
don't let me roam forever
Moonlight take the sky
Show me the way to heaven ...

Moonlight shining in the sky
nothing more can stop my flight
Take my hand again, fly with me
thousand million miles away

Moonlight shining in the sky
nothing more can stop my flight
Take my hand again, fly with me
thousand million miles away


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ghost programs and the metaphysical issue: Part 8

I wanted to close this out, for now, with a few final points. One ghost-themed program that I should mention--which began right about the time that 'A Haunting' ended--is 'Ghost Adventures'. This genre is called "paranormal." The program is hosted and narrated by Zak Bagans, and is featured on the Travel Channel. It has aired now for seven seasons. It's not quite produced in the documentary-style like some of the others, but they take chances and manage to capture a lot of eery and interesting EVP's as well as spirit-footage. Zak Bagans' fearless and confrontational style has drawn criticism from some. Despite his "in your face" style, he is hard to dislike.

One other reality/paranormal program is 'The Haunted', which has aired on Animal Planet. I guess everyone just wants to get into the act, as one stipulation on this program is that the subject home/environment must have at least one animal living there. It is quite good actually, and more in the documentary-style that I prefer. One aspect about these programs-that I can't help but notice--is that very often, the featured subjects seem to be pretty interesting and decent people in general. I don't know what that might suggest in the bigger picture. By the way, many of these programs are available on YouTube.

That brings up another point. Animals, especially cats, can see things that humans can't see. Also, children are often able to pick up things that adults cannot. Another typical theme is that dark spirits usually target the weak, or at least the person(s) who scare more easily. Not always, but often. "Fear feeds" it, and allows it to grow in power. The simple truth is that this is all a normal condition of the planet. Once I saw an image from a polaroid, probably from the 70s, which was perhaps the strangest image that I've ever seen. I wasn't able to find it online, but in this photograph was a small group of teenage boys in a room sitting. The camera somehow picked up some very odd-looking being... hunched over and staring at one of the boys... bent over and just inches from his face, just staring at him! I would guess that it was some type of simple, benevolent spirit. All of us have probably had run-ins which this type of thing and never even knew it.

Parapsychology is the study of psychic phenomena. According to Wikipedia: The term parapsychology (also known as psi phenomena) was coined in or around 1889 by philosopher Max Dessoir, and originates from para meaning "alongside", and psychology. The term was adopted by J.B. Rhine in the 1930s as a replacement for the term psychical research. Parapsychologists study a number of ostensibly paranormal phenomena, including telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, near-death experiences, reincarnation and apparitional experiences.

Some people suggest that "spectrology is" the study of ghosts. However, this doesn't not appear to be the case. According to Wikipedia (not that I always agree with Wikipedia): Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction between matter and radiated energy. It is, however, tied to the study of "visible light," of which we apparently are very limited as far as what our eyes can see. This brings us back to animals, especially cats; who can see more than we can. So when a cat suddenly looks up at thin air, perhaps you should take it seriously...

2-7-13 Addition: I had to add to this series at least two names. Lorraine Warren is--and has long been--a medium, clairvoyant, paranormal investigator, and author. She and her late husband Ed Warren were involved with many famous cases of this type... including the Amityville case, of which books and ten moves have been based. She has been featured in many of these programs from the last seven or eight years; and so many others over the decades. Warren heads the New England Society for Psychic Research.

Another name that I wanted to mention is John Zaffis, who was also involved in the Amityville case. and has long been a paranormal researcher and investigator. He is the chief producer and figure of a program on the Syfy Channel called 'Haunted Collector', which features cases involving "items" which are haunted. For example, if you purchase some old item at a garage sale, it could have something attached to it that you then bring into your home. I guess it's like a form of animism, which is a pretty scary thought if it's a negative energy. How would you even know? Zaffis runs the Paranormal Research Society of New England (also, his own website He was also involved in the "Haunting in Connecticut case" mentioned earlier, which led to the making of the 2009 movie.

It probably should be mentioned again--and it's so important--that "the negative energies get the press," as it's simple human nature for people to just accept good things in their lives and not question them. Only when something dark comes over them do they question "what's going on?" In other words, we just accept the results from positive energies, and ignore the "cause and effect" from that end. There's much more positive energy than negative.

A few weeks ago I saw a light green beetle, the kind with the broad shoulders, slowly walking along in a spot which presented a danger to it. I allowed it to walk up onto my hand, and relocated it across the street along a hillside. It's not that I care about every "bug," but this one caught my eye and I took the time to do this. Now, do we get some type of "brownie points" in this spirit and energy world for something like this? I wouldn't completely rule it out.

However, if negative energy is coming our way full force, then there's no stopping it. No common "positive energy ally" can help you. I think we need to find the balance between serenity and evolutionary struggle in our lives. For example, the wolf seems pretty happy-go-lucky as he trots along; however, he's ready to fight on a dime when danger confronts him. It's all about engaging with daily positive and negative energies.