Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Nature's full of garden helpers

Nature's full of garden helpers

Dean Fosdick - Associated Press - April 10, 2013

Looking for some help in the garden? Many of nature's most useful critters lie literally at our feet, underappreciated and ignored despite their ability to eliminate insects, condition soils and pollinate plants.

Turtles, moths, moles, dragonflies, snakes, toads and spiders are among the many wild things that can help maintain a landscape. The payback is minimal — food, water, shelter, and easing off on harsh lawn and garden chemicals.

"I believe in teamwork, using all the creatures that live in your garden," said Sharon Lovejoy, author of "Trowel and Error" (Workman Publishing, 2003). "Start from the ground up with night crawlers as part of your workforce."

Add to the earthworms already in your plant beds with commercially available red worms.Looking for some help in the garden? Many of nature's most useful critters lie literally at our feet, underappreciated and ignored despite their ability to eliminate insects, condition soils and pollinate plants.

Turtles, moths, moles, dragonflies, snakes, toads and spiders are among the many wild things that can help maintain a landscape. The payback is minimal — food, water, shelter, and easing off on harsh lawn and garden chemicals.

"I believe in teamwork, using all the creatures that live in your garden," said Sharon Lovejoy, author of "Trowel and Error" (Workman Publishing, 2003). "Start from the ground up with night crawlers as part of your workforce."

Add to the earthworms already in your plant beds with commercially available red worms.

"Build a worm bin or a place where they can't get out," Lovejoy said. "Use all of your leftovers — your kitchen compost. Worms can process up to 6 pounds of garbage in a week."

"Grow an assortment of native plants, which will draw a great many bird species," Lovejoy said. "Add plant hosts as food for butterfly and moth larvae."

That list would include milkweed (monarch butterflies), borage (green lacewings), sunflowers (ladybugs) and yarrow (hoverflies). Many insects in the larval stage are voracious predators. Green lacewings as juveniles are aptly named "aphid lions" because of their appetite for the sap-sucking pests.
"I would certainly place spiders near the top of underappreciated life in the garden," said Whitney Cranshaw, an extension entomologist with Colorado State University. "Although sometimes I think it is less that they are not appreciated but rather people don't want to think of them."

Spiders are credited for as much as 80 percent of all predator control in the garden. Jumping spiders, wolf spiders, lynx spiders and crab spiders are the standouts, Cranshaw said.


Also great garden helpers are:

— Toads. "Harmful insects make up 62 percent of a toad's daily food supply," said Lovejoy, who stacks rocks and wood in secluded spots to shelter toads, frogs, turtles, salamanders and lizards.

— Dragonflies that can capture over 400 mosquitoes a day.

— Moles. "They eat their body weight in insects, slugs and grubs while aerating the soil," Lovejoy said.

— Sphinx wasps that can pollinate 200 flowers in less than seven minutes, Lovejoy said.

— Snakes. "Most snakes — about 99 percent of those found in gardens — are harmless helpers, and eat rodents and insect pests," Lovejoy said. Garter and gopher snakes top her "beneficial" list.

— Box turtles that feast on slugs, snails, insects, larvae and grubs. "They're slow but sure," Lovejoy said.

— Bats. These nocturnal aerialists pollinate flowers, spread seeds and devour upwards of 600 mosquitoes an hour.

Most predatory insects aren't selective, though, feeding on anything that comes within reach. "Praying mantises are generalists," said James Dill, a pest management specialist with University of Maine Extension. "So are many spiders. They're very efficient but don't discriminate in what they eat. They'd just as soon grab a honeybee if it happens by."

Maintain a healthy garden with ample spacing if you hope to attract beneficial insects, Dill said.

"Spacing allows you to observe things better if you're walking around, looking for trouble," he said. "It also reduces the odds for (plant) disease."



For more about good-natured gardeners, see this University of Maryland Extension fact sheet:


You can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick@netscape.net


Monday, April 29, 2013

Feds say protections for gray wolves should be removed

Feds say protections for gray wolves should be removed

Peter Fimrite - San Francisco Chronicle - April 27, 2013

Gray wolves are no longer endangered and should be stripped of federal protection, argued a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service draft regulation released to the Chronicle on Friday.

The document, which proposes removing all but a small group of Mexican wolves in the lower 48 states from the U.S. Endangered Species list, led to howls of protest from wildlife advocates. Delisting wolves, they say, would have a profound effect on California, Oregon and Washington, where the peripatetic predators are just beginning to gain a foothold. The first wolf in California in almost 90 years crossed the border from Oregon in December 2011, creating a sensation.

The solo lobo, named OR7, traveled thousands of miles through some of California’s most scenic wilderness in search of a mate. He went back to Oregon on March 13. Read more about the proposed regulation here.The document, which proposes removing all but a small group of Mexican wolves in the lower 48 states from the U.S. Endangered Species list, led to howls of protest from wildlife advocates. Delisting wolves, they say, would have a profound effect on California, Oregon and Washington, where the peripatetic predators are just beginning to gain a foothold. The first wolf in California in almost 90 years crossed the border from Oregon in December 2011, creating a sensation.

The solo lobo, named OR7, traveled thousands of miles through some of California’s most scenic wilderness in search of a mate. He went back to Oregon on March 13. Read more about the proposed regulation here.


Feds release wolf pairs in New Mexico, Arizona

San Francisco Chronicle - April 27, 2013

SILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) — Federal wildlife managers are releasing two pairs of Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico in hopes of bolstering the population of the endangered predators.

The first pair was transported this week from a captive breeding facility in New Mexico to a holding pen in the Apache National Forest in southeastern Arizona. The male and female will be released once they acclimate to the area.

The other pair is being released at a remote site within the Gila Wilderness in southwestern New Mexico. The wolves were crated and packed into the backcountry Saturday on the backs of specially trained mules.

Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the wolves would be placed in a temporary enclosure at a release site about a dozen miles from the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. The wolves will be able to chew their way out of the enclosure.

"We continue to be committed to strategic releases that improve genetic diversity, increase the number of breeding wolves and offset illegal mortalities in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area," Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle said in a statement.

Tuggle said he expects the releases to help the agency reach its goal of a self-sustaining wild wolf population.

Environmentalists said the releases were a positive step. They have long criticized the agency for not releasing more wolves. Still, distain for the animals continues to pulse through rural communities, where ranchers feel their livelihoods are at risk.

A subspecies of the gray wolf found in the Northern Rockies, the Mexican wolf was added to the federal endangered species list in 1976. The 15-year effort to reintroduce them in New Mexico and Arizona has stumbled due to legal battles, illegal shootings, politics and other problems.

Officials with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department said much consideration went into choosing which wolves would be released and where they would be let go. Factors included their genetics and whether they had formed a breeding bond as well as the absence of livestock, the distance from homes and whether there were enough elk and other prey.

Members of the wolf recovery team plan on putting out supplemental feed for the wolves while they learn to catch and kill native prey. Officials say that will also help anchor the wolves to the area.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

'Vikings' series on History Channel portrays an Odinic culture: Part 3

This evenings episode eight--entitled 'Sacrifice'--portrayed Odinic spirituality in a big way. As members of the clan were making their way through a wooded mountain range, and having finally made it to the top of a peak, a fabulous and mysterious looking building could be seen on top of a peak in the distance. I may be mistaken, but I believe that these buildings are called "hofs." I know that there are hofs dedicated and named after gods, goddesses, ancestors, or important individuals. For example, "Freya's hof" would be called "Freyashof." In any case, this marvelous Norse construction was the chief center of Odinic spirituality. Various other clan groups traveled there for the occasion as well, including the king of the nation. Presumably, it was a marked or annual time for this gathering.

The inside of this building was dark even in the day, and illuminated with torches. The surrounding forest contributed to the darkness, and some parts seemed to have been open, allowing an air flow. The ceilings were high. There seemed to have been permanent "skalds"--with shaved heads, painted faces, and white robes--occupying it. Various elements and rites of fellowship with the gods and goddesses were portrayed; and, of course, it ended in human sacrifices to the gods. A common theme in most ancient religious rites, including early Christianity. The important point driven home was that the individual actually wished to be sacrificed, and it was considered an honor. It reminded me of the movie 'The Last Samurai," where men fearlessly allowed themselves to be slain.

'Vikings' has been renewed for a second season. It's pretty clear that it has been a big hit, averaging five million viewers per episode; including a fairly even age distribution. As I understand it, an average of three million viewers for a cable-satellite television network program is considered doing quite well. The season finale will be broadcast next Sunday.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Nate Montana gets San Francisco 49ers tryout

Nate Montana gets San Francisco 49ers tryout

Daniel Brown - San Jose Mercury News - April 18, 2013

SANTA CLARA -- Nate Montana was on the 49ers' practice field Wednesday trying to make a name for himself.

Well, a first name, anyway. That last name is pretty well established.

"It's like a blessing and a curse. You try to ignore, "Oh, that's Joe Montana's son,'" the quarterback said after the 49ers' workout for local pro prospects. "You just try to work and show them that you're a different player than your dad."

Nate Montana, 23, does not expect to be selected during the NFL Draft next week, figuring he's more likely to catch on as an undrafted free agent. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder is also open to possibility of playing in the Arena Football League or in Canada. He just wants a shot.

Nate's younger brother, Nick, is a well regarded quarterback prospect who signed with Tulane and will be a junior in the fall after transferring from Mt. San Antonio College.

Nate Montana spent his senior season at West Virginia Wesleyan, the last of his four college stops. Because he attended De La Salle High in Concord, he was eligible to attend the 49ers' local pro day along with about 50 other draft hopefuls.

This was his first workout for an NFL team. It was also the first-ever visit to the Santa Clara facility for the son of the Hall of Fame quarterback.

"I love the Bay Area. It's a great, great place. I lived here and grew up here my whole life. In that aspect, it's awesome to be local," he said. "Coming back to where my dad played, you just have to put your head down and try to make your own name."

The Bay Area represents the closest thing to roots for a player coming off a nomadic collegiate career. Nate Montana was a backup at Pasadena City College, Notre Dame and the University of Montana before starting nine games during his senior season at West Virginia Wesleyan.

Nate finally got a chance to play at that Division II school, where he led the conference in passing yards (2,480) and touchdown passes (19). He was an honorable mention all-conference selection.

Jonas Jackson, the Bobcats head coach last season, said in a phone interview that Nate Montana was not the type to ride on his father's coattails.

"One of the first things I want to say is: That kid was an extremely hard worker. One day, he's going to be a great coach," Jackson said. "He watched a ton of film and asked a ton of questions. What he's doing, it's not because of his dad. He had his own love of the game."

Montana attempted at least 50 passes in seven of his games, completing 51.6 percent. His biggest game was against West Virginia State, when he threw for 432 yards and four touchdowns.

"He makes all the right reads. He's so fast at reading the field that he's on it before it happens," Jackson said. "A guy that works that hard only needs an opportunity."

In evaluating his performance, Montana said: "I'm just trying to come out here and compete with the other guys and show a team I can play."

Nate Montana understands that his NFL prospects are bleak. He was not among the 16 quarterbacks invited to the Scouting Combine and his performance at the NFL Regional Combine last week at Cowboys Stadium drew mixed reviews.

Nate said his dad has been most helpful in trying to prepare him for challenging road ahead.

"He's been really supportive. It's been great having him. He's been through the process." Nate said. "He opened my eyes to how cutthroat the business is. I know a little of what to expect."


Nate Montana (Wikipedia)

Nathaniel Joseph "Nate" Montana (born October 3, 1989) is a college football quarterback at West Virginia Wesleyan College. After walking-on at Notre Dame as a freshman in 2008, he transferred to Pasadena City College in 2009, went back to Notre Dame in 2010, transferred to Montana in 2011, and to West Virginia Wesleyan in 2012.[1] Montana is the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, and he will be eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft.


Nate Montana is a long shot, despite having a good past season in Division II. After a season of experience as a freshman at a Junior College (similar to high school football), he was recruited by Notre Dame, following in his father's footsteps. However, that didn't work out because they were overloaded with quarterbacks, and he then transferred to the University of Montana (Division I) for the next season. Apparently he wanted to play right away, and that didn't work out either.

What is interesting, and perhaps I'm biased, but he does seem to have a lot or raw talent. He did have another year of eligibility, but I think he grew tired of bouncing around. If he had the same type of season in Division I or even Division IAA, and he had maybe two such seasons, then his chances would be much better. He probably will not be drafted at the end of the month, but will likely be signed as a free agent. Will an NFL team use a roster spot to develop a player with raw talent? It has happened before.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A few thoughts on Neo-Druidry

I don't know much about Neo-Druidry, but I have found it interesting to look at the activity of groups throughout the world. Much of it seems rather informal, at least in the past. In some places in the South, which was settled largely by Scots and Scotch-Irish long ago, I have at least heard that there has been Neo-Druidic gatherings going back to at least the 70s. It was interesting to listen to some old accounts of this from a couple of YouTubers, especially since this was nothing that one would see on Wikipedia. Maybe it's just me, but the image of loosely associated Neo-Druids gathering in a heavy wood and brush area during the Summers in the 70s is an interesting visual. Perhaps something from genetic memory comes alive in people.

Not a lot is actually known about the actual practices of the pre-Roman Druids, so there is more of a need to distinguish between Druidry and Neo-Druidry. I have gotten the impression that it may have began thousands of years ago, and was something of a fusion of early native magical traditions mixing with Odinic traditions from early incoming Teutonic tribal groups in Western Europe. Druids were mainly in what is today the British Isles, France, and Germany. I don't know if the German Druids were from the ancient Celtic south, or perhaps from an eastward spiritual migration. It's possible that there may have been some elements of Druidism in what is today the Netherlands, Belgium, Northern Spain, and Northern Italy, but there doesn't seem to be much proof of that.

The first attempts at reconstructionism were in Britain during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Some Freemason Lodges there developed a Druidic style to them apparently. Winston Churchill was a Neo-Druid, which perhaps came via this type of "Druidic-Freemasonry." At one point all of the British Isles were more culturally if not ethnically unified, and heavily Druidic. One of the greatest women in history, Boudicca, must have been a Druid. I found one very interesting website from the UK called The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I love podcasts, and they have a lot of them, which you can see the link at the bottom of the page. I've only listened to the first three. There are interviews, music, story-telling, and more. It's been awhile since I listened. There are also links to apparently connected Neo-Druid groups in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Portugal, and Italy; and it appears that there will be ones in Spain and Russia. There could have been some Druidic elements in all of those places, except Russia I think. But, there were Celts in Poland, so who knows. The Italian group is called L'Ordine dei Bardi, Ovati e Druidi. YouTube is a great place to get a perspective of both Druidry and Neo-Druidry.

4-15-13 NOTE: Upon further study, Druidism was apparently also present in a few places in Scandinavia; although the center seems to have been the British Isles and northern Gaul.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Eucalyptus taste" in wines grown near them

It's a clearly established fact that wines grown nearby eucalyptus trees produce a "minty taste," a result of the interaction of the root systems. Nobody in the industry even debates this issue. A wine-related website has an article--entitled 'The Impact of the Environment on a Wine's Flavour' (Margaret Rand; Decanter.com; 6-9-09)--that looks at this and other related issues, but I wanted to just keep this simple. Perhaps many may not find this fact to be especially important, but I don't see that the scientific part of this phenomena has been accurately explained.

It's amazing that this tree is able to inject it's "taste" into the finished product in this manner. That seems to suggest that we don't really understand how plants interact in the natural world. How does this really occur as far as an element of the eucalyptus actually getting inside of the grape bush? Is this merely the result of cross fertilization? Would this phenomena occur with other forms of fertilization?

I was under the impression that the plant takes only what it needs from any source, and that this would not affect either the internal apparatus nor any produce (apples, grain, etc.) from it. People whom I have spoken to, who have said that they have wine-tasted at wineries with eucalyptus trees present, have merely said that this phenomenon is simply "interesting." Somehow it seems to me to be possibly something more.

According the the article, one wine grower blames the oil from the eucalyptus, called "eucalypt."

That minty, medicinal character in his Cabernet: eucalypt. The oil vaporises, he explained; it gets on the grapes.

Another grower seems not so certain of that.

If you run a deep ripper between the vines and the bluegums to cut the bluegum roots, the vines are stronger and the bluegum character is less apparent.’

If it was merely the oil, couldn't it be washed off? More importantly, why would cutting the tree roots make any difference if it was from the oil vapor?


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

'Vikings' series on History Channel portrays an Odinic culture: Part 2

This past Sunday was episode six of the nine-part History Channel series 'Vikings'. This episode was entitled 'Burial of the Dead'. This episode finally portrayed the showdown between chieftain Earl Haraldson and Ragnar Lothbrok. Their duel was very emotional and tied all the loose ends. The Earl was on the downside, while Ragnar was injured, so it was evenly matched. The first thing that struck me is that nether man took advantage of the others' bad fortune in the form of broken swords and shields. It didn't feel like "hatred," but pure struggle. When Ragnar was finally victorious, and while the Earl was dying; what struck me much more was the following.. They spoke to each other in a manner of respect, of shared views of the afterlife, and seemingly of tribal goals--almost as though they were still in it together, and it was finally acknowledged that Ragnar would be the one to carry out those plans. Then Ragnar cut the Earl's wrist so he apparently could die a more dignified and quicker death.

Both men were backed by very strong women as wives. Although overcome by sudden emotion when the Earl's wrists were cut, his wife Siggy soon backed Ragnar as the new tribal chieftain--leading a chant for him as everyone went to their knees. As everyone was on the ground, the new chief stood on high, while his wife Lagertha remained standing with a mountain in the background--somehow a symbol reflecting her new status. Just prior to that part, one of the Earl's less-than-savory supporters called for Ragnar to be killed, at which time Ragnar's best friend Rollo stepped up immediately and killed him with an axe. Then immediately Siggy took advantage of the chaos by walking up and stabbing her daughter's very socially-inappropriate new husband---whom had wedded her in a forced and politically-minded marriage--in the gut, killing him as well.

After all that they held Earl Haraldson's "Viking funeral" when they burn a boat at sea with the body. One curious part of that scene is when Siggy asks to light the fire with the torch.. Ragnar decides against this request. It seemed to almost be a way to knock her down a notch. She then stormed off, thinking that she had been shamed and perhaps is no longer welcome to stay; although Rollo later proposes to her. I like that character, and was hoping that she would be retained in some type of role as an elder. Despite Earl Haraldson's earlier aggression, there is some sympathy for him; as this episode portrays him as merely a chieftain engaged in honest evolutionary struggle.. as he passes the torch to Ragnar.

There are a few more thoughts I had regarding his series so far. I think the acting has been excellent. The characters are not only spirited, but there's a deep feeling that they really are those characters. Although there are many characters which have grown within the unfolding of this basically true story; I especially like the performances of Canadian actresses Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha Lothbrok, and Jessalyn Gilsig as Siggy Haraldson. The Lagertha character is very intense, and she really has like a "Viking face." The Siggy character has a lot of substance as well, and she also has a great character face. Apparently great efforts were made for authentic details and realism. If I had even one knit-picky criticism, it might be the small number of warriors brought along for the raids. Would only twenty or so raid a city? Somehow the tribe visually reminds me a little more of perhaps a tribe of Gauls, but how many people would really look like the Vikings of well over a millennium ago?

As the series progressed, there were many more references to Odinic spirituality. The scene in an earlier episode where they attack the English monastery, had strong religious/spiritual/cultural overtones; although the Christian character Athelstan has been treated well. Also, and I could be wrong, but the Floki character seems to be based on the Nordic god Loki. This series could have further seasons, hopefully.


Monday, April 8, 2013

A day without chemtrails

One week ago today was one of those really nice days we've had around here lately. Sunny, fairly warm, and not a cloud in the sky. Even late in the day, there wasn't any wind to speak of. I was hiking and I eventually noticed that there were no chemtrails, and there hadn't been any all day. I then realized that I was literally "breathing fresh air" again. With confidence finally, I sucked the cool late afternoon air though my mouth.

I could almost taste the sun-baked aroma of the fresh Spring vegetation, as the brush rabbits enthusiastically forged in this outdoor produce market. Usually I only breathe through my nose, as if pretending that this would somehow filter out the contents of the sticky-looking smog. However, on this day, I decided to just enjoy what I once took for granted. There's nothing like the darkish blue color of a cloudless late afternoon sky as the final rays of the sun illuminate the blue-grey mountains in the distance.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Trained raven interracting with it's owner

I had always heard that ravens, being of high intelligence, are able to be trained. There's the old image of Vikings having trained ravens, and apparently it's very true. The raven is a big part of Norse and Celtic mythology in particular. When listening to ravens where I live, I have often detected a myna bird-like vocalization; but what I didn't realize is that ravens can mimick sounds perfectly, like human voices, as you can see in this video. The ravens that I come into close contact with are perhaps twice as large as this bird, although it may not be full grown yet.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Arctic Home in the Vedas: Part 11

Margaret Murray was right: Part II

The North Pole prior to about 12,000 years ago was somewhere in todays northern United States, probably where the Great Lakes are today. This sudden plate shift not only “pushed” the North Pole up from its present position from the viewpoint of North America; but it also “pulled” the Eurasian land mass up to the Arctic Circle. This is why, for example, so many perfectly preserved mammoths have been discovered. The northernmost stretches of Europe and Asia had very mild climates prior to this dramatic plate shift. It should also be noted that this sudden pole-shift caused a massive global flood as the poles were suddenly in much warmer weather. This explains why so many ruins of ancient cities now lay on the bottom of the oceans.

Prior to this plate-shift, the three sub-races---of which later became the Indo-European people---were geographically separated. It’s important to note that natives of the Far East, the Indian subcontinent, and true-Semites (based in the southern Saudi peninsula), didn’t live in Europe, North Africa, or most of Asia (including the Near and Middle East). Also, Turko-Mongolian racial types had not come to be as of yet. The Earth’s population was smaller than what we can imagine by todays standards.

The sub-race which I refer to as the “true-Mediterraneans” (not Semitic, or even necessarily what we call “Mediterranean” today) lived in the Near and Middle East; and founded the first post-flood civilizations. The sub-race which I refer to as the “proto-Germanics” (these were pure Germanics, not the largely Alpine-Germanic people whom we call “Germanic” today) lived north of the Himalayas up to the northern Eurasian coast. The sub-race which I refer to as “proto-Europeans” or “Alpines” lived in Europe, and probably well east of it in some places, and in parts of North Africa.

The spiritual culture of these proto-Europeans was the progenitor of Margaret Murray’s “Witch-cult.” All of the evidence points to it so clearly. The ancient stag god and the moon goddess. So many common themes. As small bands of proto-Germanic people migrated westward across central Europe thousands of years ago, they merged with these natives to form the “Celtic” cultures, and their spiritual traditions merged to form new ones. However, the “Witch-cult” always seemed to stick around as a separate tradition. When true-Mediterraneans migrated westward across Southern Europe and North Africa, and then northward along the Atlantic coast and into the British Isles, the same dynamic occurred. They merged with the natives, and their respective spiritual traditions merged as well; and yes, the ancient “Witch-cult” continued to exist separately. In fact, in many parts of both northern and southern Europe, “Alpine” tribes coexisted with the newer cultures that were much greater in number.

At some later point, approximately four to five thousand years ago, a large final migration of proto-Germanic people poured into Europe and overran Scandinavia and a large part of central Europe. I would theorize that they may have largely bypassed Eastern Europe, which then remained of the more native stock. Unlike the two prior migratory patterns into Europe, Germanic language, culture, and spirituality were much more dominant in these newly acquired territories. Yet still, the “Witch-cult” continued to exist even within these new Odinic cultures.

One well-documented example of this transformation from “Witch-cult” to other pagan traditions was in ancient Greece. When ancient Hellenic religion became dominant in Greece, the government declared that the “Old Religion” didn’t qualify as a religion at all. Although some may consider Christianity as the source of the deconstruction of the “Witch-cult,” it actually started long before that. It’s clear that the tradition of the moon goddess Hecate, and the Dianic tradition, existed long before Greece and Rome rose to prominence. Many names, same goddess.

Virtually all of the various spiritual “reconstructionist” groups do not lay claim to the scores of ancient stone megaliths, like Stonehenge, and rather attribute them to some earlier culture. Could that “earlier culture” have been this proto-European people, their culture, and maybe their spiritual tradition as well? Since so little is known about most of these massive stone structures, we may never know the exact truth; but it seems to me that this is a probability.

The Basques, the Welsh, and even the Camunians, are---at least partly---modern survivals of this ancient European type; particularly the Basques. Recent DNA studies have revealed that many English types have more genetic connection to this very ancient stock than previously thought. “Cheddar Man,” excavated in 1903, lived in southwest England over 9,000 years ago. After his DNA was extracted, and samples of local people were compared to it in 1997, one of this man’s direct descendants was living a half-mile away from his burial site. That’s pretty incredible since it has been over 90 centuries and about 300 generations.

This ancient---and extremely resilient---spiritual culture, in all of its related forms, is in need of a new, more dignified name for reference at least. A name that puts it within historical perspective, and one that sounds better than the clumsy, disrespectful-sounding term “Witch-cult.” Since I have gone this far, I would like to suggest a new name: “Witcheathenry.” I would guess that most of the ancient adherents of what was likely an open/non-occultic folk religion, were not practitioners of “magic” or “craft.” The literal "practice of magic” was left to the high initiates. Ancient women of renown… waiting for redemption.


Friday, April 5, 2013

The Arctic Home in the Vedas: Part 10

Margaret Murray was right: Part 1

Margaret Murray (Wikipedia)

Margaret Alice Murray (13 July 1863 – 13 November 1963) was a prominent British Egyptologist and anthropologist. Primarily known for her work in Egyptology, which was "the core of her academic career," she is also known for her propagation of the Witch-cult hypothesis, the theory that the witch trials in the Early Modern period of Christianized Europe and North America were an attempt to extinguish a surviving pre-Christian, pagan religion devoted to a Horned God. Whilst this theory is today widely disputed and discredited by historians like Norman Cohn, Keith Thomas and Ronald Hutton, it has had a significant effect in the origins of Neopagan religions, primarily Wicca, a faith she supported.

Her work in Egyptology took place largely alongside her mentor and friend, the archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie, whom she worked alongside at University College London. One of the earliest women to "make a serious impact upon the world of professional scholarship," she was also an ardent feminist, being actively involved in the Suffragette movement. From 1953 to 1955, she was the president of the Folklore Society, although since her death various members of the society have attempted to dissociate the organization from her and the Murrayite theory of the Witch-Cult.

The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (Wikipedia)

The Witch-Cult in Western Europe by Margaret Murray was published in 1921, at a time when the influence and success of The Golden Bough by anthropologist James George Frazer was at its height. In those days Margaret Murray was celebrated in university circles as the expert on western witchcraft. In the period 1929-1968 she even wrote the article on witchcraft in the successive editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. In 1962, her main work was reprinted by Oxford University Press. Her theory, also known as the witch-cult hypothesis suggests that the things told about witches in Europe were in fact based on a real existing pagan religion that worshiped a horned god. 

Witch-cult hypothesis (Wikipedia)

The Witch-cult is the term for a hypothetical pre-Christian, pagan religion of Europe that survived into at least the early modern period. As late as the 19th and early 20th centuries, some scholars had postulated that European witchcraft was part of a Satanic plot to overthrow Christianity; most of the evidence for this theory was compiled by studying the accounts of the persecutors in the witch trials in early modern Europe. From the late 19th century an opposing view arose, that witches were not Satanists, but adherents of a surviving underground pagan religion. In the 20th century, the theory gave rise to the neopagan religion of Gardnerianism, with its various offshoots and traditions summarized under the term Wicca.

The theory was pioneered by authors such as Karl Ernst Jarcke and Jules Michelet in the 19th century, but received its most prominent exposition with Margaret Murray's 1921 book, The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, and her contributions to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Scholars have criticized the theory and the general consensus is that the witch cult never existed and is entirely pseudohistorical, while scholars consider some folk magical practices to have influenced witchcraft stereotypes.

Gerald Gardner claimed that he had discovered the New Forest Coven, a group still practicing the religion (which he called Witchcraft) in his 1954 book, Witchcraft Today, a claim which was endorsed by Murray. Similarly, Sybil Leek, Robert Cochrane, Charles Cardell, Rosaleen Norton and Alex Sanders also made claims to having been members of a family line of adherents to the witch-cult. Some contemporary Wiccans have since distanced themselves from the theory.

According to the general consensus in the mainstream historical-academic community---including scholars who have been involved in studies specifically pertaining to religious studies and ancient folklore---Margaret Murray’s “Witch-cult hypothesis” has been sufficiently discredited. As this moment, my mind is failing to come up with adjectives to sufficiently describe the extent to which I disagree. They’re not going back far enough! Margaret Murray was right.

The problem stems from the failure to---historically-speaking---divorce both ancient Germanic and ancient Mediterranean peoples from Europe long enough to at least take a look at the culture of the proto-Europeans prior to 5,000 years ago. They just can’t seem to wrap their minds around the idea that proto-Germanic people didn’t live in Europe until about 5,000 years ago; and that true- Mediterraneans probably didn’t arrive in Europe until about 9,000 years ago.

The origins of the deconstruction of the “Witch-cult” occurred long before Christianity. This is such a no-brainer that it frustrates me! I’ll go through the logical steps yet again for posterity’s sake. The last Ice Age occurred about 25,000 years ago. Every 45,000 years, after both poles have frozen enough of the earth’s water to sufficiently weigh them down, the incredible amount of sheer weight forces a movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates about 2,000 miles. The outer crust of the earth literally moves as if it were a loose outer peel of an orange. This is not the same natural phenomena as an Ice Age.