Friday, May 30, 2014

Ancient Camunian Rock Art

Rock Drawings in Valcamonica

Valcamonica, situated in the Lombardy plain, has one of the world's greatest collections of prehistoric petroglyphs -- more than 140,000 symbols and figures carved in the rock over a period of 8,000 years and depicting themes connected with agriculture, navigation, war and magic.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Perceived symbolism and the power of red

A red Othala on black background was a Langobard symbol
Recently I crafted two symbols out of popsicle sticks for a wooden fence. I selected the Odal Rune and the Pentagram due to them being fairly easy to construct. I started with the Othala. I drilled a few holes, attached them with thin wire, tightened them with twine, spray painted it bright red, and attached it to the door of a fence leading out to a deck. It showed up nicely against the stained wood. A proud symbol of my Langobard heritage, as the red Othala was actually on the old flag of Langbard, right? Not necessarily.

A few days later, I happened to turn on the Investigation Discovery channel. On one of their many programs, there was a case of a group of neo-Nazis, somewhere, someplace. On their "compound" were certain flags and symbols, such as Swastikas. Although there were no Odal Runes, and actually there are relatively few used by so-called "neo-Nazis," it not totally unheard of for them to be used in places like that. I was a little bit confused as I pondered my flaming red Odal Rune featured soo prominently on the fence. The color red is a powerful symbol in of itself, and I believe clearly to the Langobards it did literally symbolize "blood and nation" in a tribal sense. It also may symbolize other concepts, such as "connection to the land," "the family/clan homestead," or "harmony with nature." Of course, if it was most any other symbol, this wouldn't even be an issue.

The Pentacle, a very ancient symbol
After a week of occasional thought about this, I decided to repaint it an "Earth color," which was dark green... more symbolizing a connection to the land. I also thought about the Pentagram, or what Guido von List called "the Vehme star rose." I thought perhaps I could at least paint that red? Upon pondering that question, it occurred to me that this symbol too... could be perceived by some as "Satanic." After all, Satanists do use red "inverted Pentagrams." Was I actually going to be intimidated by possible perceptions again? I eventually decided to paint it another Earth color... dark blue. Blue is a color of water and sky, and fits well with the five elements. Also, it is a color of magic.. like red or purple.

Being that the new colors were a good fit for the energy I wanted to use, I was not displeased by the changes. However, it still brought up the issue of false "projections" which are placed on people by others. To me, the whole idea of "losing cultural symbols" is a big issue. Someone could just as well argue that the Odal rune and the Vehme star were symbols of certain cultures which were victims of cultural genocide themselves! Why aren't those facts "projected" for public consumption as many others always are? Nobody seems to complain very much about Communist symbols; they only took out a couple of hundred million people in the last century.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ghost programs and the metaphysical issue: Part 14 - The Maternal Spirit

Role of the Maternal Spirit

I believe that the tv program 'A Haunting'--which was brought back in 2012--is the best program regarding ghosts and metaphysics since they became popular about ten years ago. If you are interested in the subject, but don't have the time to mark and watch tv programs... and you wanted to purchase one, then this would be the one. It's done in the narrative/documentary style, not the investigative style. Recently I purchased season five (2012), and found it to be of similar quality to the original; and also with a diverse array of cases to learn from. I'm constantly processing new information to match with what I already know as I view them.

One episode during season five was entitled 'Dark Dreams'. One part of that episode tied in with a number of subjects covered here. As a family in Michigan was sealing off their property from negative entities, their "spiritual healer" described what they were doing... "And so what we're going to do is create a perimeter here where we're going to want the negative energies to stay over here and the positive energies on that side."

The narrator added... "They use a water-based solution; different salts, sands, and herbs."

The spiritual healer continued... "What we are creating is an energetic wall that those negative energies cannot cross back in."

Spiritual healer to the mother of the home... "You're the nurturer. You're going to be the one to protect this house."

The spiritual healer then added... "Anyone can do the sealing of the property, but it's best given to the mother. This comes from the tradition and the understanding that it is women who create and hold space."

I believe that the Fabian-symbiosis of Monopoly Corporatism, Abrahamic religion, Capito-Feminism, Social Science, Cultural Marxism, the rapidly-growing Atheist movement--and even some aspects of the New Age Movement--have formed a wall to the path of the ancient spiritual role of Maternal Leadership within communities.

Nature is harsh, and could care less about self-interest movements who will all be vanished to forgotten dust in a historical blip of time. The rules of nature have always, and will always, apply to us; and denying them is like jumping off of a cliff and then denying the law of gravity as you're falling.


Monday, May 12, 2014

~ Goddess Moon ~
Radiant heavenly light
are you goddess moon
lady of golden rays
that shimmers upon
sea and bay
Your light is mystical
and serene, as though
peacefully awake inside
a magical dream

--author unknown


Last night while hiking in the northern Santa Cruz Mountains, as the sky turned a rich darkish blue color, I noticed an almost-full golden moon emanating through the tall black treeline. Shortly after, the trail moved into a clearing of brush and a good view of the nearby valley. The golden moon's rays were literally illuminating the trail a golden color.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pirelli World Challenge Auto Racing

Pirelli World Challenge GT / GTS Race - Infineon Raceway - Sonoma, CA - August 25 2012. I noticed on one somewhat obscure sporting-related cable tv channel that they frequently have a program called the Pirelli World Challenge Auto Racing. Pirelli is a famous tire company from Milan, and has long been associated with the rise of Milan as an industrial center during the 20th century; as well as a familiar sponsor and logo to American auto racing fans. Also, for what its worth, Sonoma County is an area with a long rich history of Cisalpine people.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Paul J. Baroni Company of Calumet, Michigan

Calumet, Michigan

Calumet, Michigan is a village in the northwest part of Upper Michigan, which has a very long history of people generally of Lombardo-Venetian descent. The Paul J. Baroni Company has long been a distributor of Italian food products. The old Italian-American Federation of the Upper Peninsula was based in Calumet I believe. We can look into the history of that an another time.

A tradition on the move

Calumet’s Baroni Company to be taken over by Vollwerth’s of Hancock

KURT HAUGLIE - Mining - 8-22-08

CALUMET - Having a business owned by the same family for 73 years is quite a tradition, but some traditions have to come to an end. Although the products of the Paul J. Baroni Company will still be made, the company will no longer be owned by the Baroni family.

Nancy Baroni, who has been running the company, which makes sauces, various pastas and frozen pizzas, for two-and-a-half years, said although family members hadn't been giving serious thought to getting out of the business, when the opportunity came up last November they took it.

"It just kind of came up in conversation," she said.

That conversation was with Jim Schaaf, general manager of Vollwerth & Company of Hancock, Baroni said.

Because she's the only family member involved with production of their products, and because the next generation of Baronis have other career interests, Baroni said it seemed like the proper moment to think about moving on.

"The time was right," she said.

Currently, Baroni said besides herself there are one full-time and one part-time employee making the Baroni products. She does much of the local delivery of the products herself.

Baroni said Vollwerth's distributes its products, as well as Baroni products, to most of the Upper Peninsula and to parts of Northern Wisconsin, which is one of the factors that helped the family make the decision about selling to the sausage manufacturer.

"They're just a competent, long-standing company," she said.

Baroni said after Vollwerth's takes over production at their plant at the beginning of 2009, she'll be around for a time as production manager.

"I'm going to stay on as long as they need me," she said. "We have to keep the Baroni name going."

To assure that, Baroni said company containers and labels will continue to be used after the switch to Vollwerth's, as will the company product recipes.

"Nothing's really going to change," she said. "Your still going to have the same great products."

The full-time employee, Jared Liimatta, will continue making Baroni products when the production is moved to the Vollwerth Hancock plant.

Schaaf said after Baroni suggested Vollwerth & Company take over Baroni's it was decided that was a good idea because of the Baroni tradition.

"They've been a business for a long time," he said.

Vollwerth is a family-owned business, also, Schaaf said, and because Baroni's makes quality products, Vollwerth officials are interested in keeping the line going.

"They have a lot of loyal customers," he said. "We're not going to make any changes."

Production of the Baroni items will continue in Calumet until the kitchen at the Vollwerth Hancock Street plant can be expanded to accommodate the Baroni canning equipment, Schaaf said. A new storage facility will be constructed behind the plant.

On Sept. 1, Vollwerth will take over production at the Baroni plant on Sixth Street in Calumet, Schaaf said.

Schaaf said after the take over of Baroni, Vollwerth's will still make most of their products, including the sauces, ravioli, chili and frozen lasagna and ravioli entrees. The company doesn't have the floor space to continue the Baroni frozen pizzas now, but they may add them in the future.

Schaaf said it was decided not to purchase the Baroni manufacturing plant and continue production there.

"It was most practical to have it in one building," he said.

Baroni said the Baroni building will either be sold or rented out.

It is sad the tradition of Baroni family ownership of the company is coming to an end, but Baroni said it's time.

"It's going to be hard," she said. "I think it's a good move."

Kurt Hauglie can be reached at


Friday, May 9, 2014

The Almother, Carnuntum, and "Pagan's Gate": The ancient cultural and spiritual overlap between the "two Austrias" and the north Balkans

Heidentor aka "Pagan's Gate"

From an overall historical point of view, the Austrians could seem more like an old rival than a kindred people. The region of the eastern Alps and north of the Adriatic Sea has long been a tri-cross-cultural area between the Italo-Roman speaking world, the German-speaking world, and the Slavic-speaking world. For example, some parts of the north Balkans are more culturally and politically tied to Russia than to nearby Austria or the Veneto; in most ways, the tri-Veneto area has more in common with Rome than to St. Moritz; and in general, Austrians would tend to see themselves as being more ethnically tied to Scandinavia than to the nearby Venetians or Slovenes.

By the "two Austrias" I mean the original, and actually proper term "Austria," state within the old Langbard Kingdom... which was approximately the northeast Italian peninsula between Lombardy and the tri-Veneto area. Much later, the term "Austria" was clumsily resurrected as the English-language nickname for Österreich... or the Austria we know today.

Five thousand years ago, there would have been no difference at all between peoples of this region. They would have all been proto-European. The early stream of Teutonic migration formed the loosely defined Celtic culture, which later overran the general Lombardo-Venetian area. Still, approximately three thousand years ago, there was little difference. I'm guessing that this would have also included the north Balkans as well. Without going into the entire history of it.... a later "final push" of Teutonic tribes burst into Switzerland, Austria, Bavaria, Hungary, Bohemia, etc.... an equally intense migratory push of Slavic tribes moved into the Balkans... and--of course--the march of the Roman Empire overtook generally all of what is now "Italy."

The Roman province of "Raetia" was north of the Alps, even though the original "Raetians" were an ancient people who lived in a much larger area at one time. Although a clear lingo-ethnic divide was established between the three, each clearly influenced the other two. For example, in the Middle Ages when parts of the Friul were decimated by plagues, Slavic people were invited in to repopulate, and there is a clear Slavic influence in the Friulian dialect. Also in the Middle Ages, Cimbrians from Bavaria migrated into the Veneto, and many Cimbrian villages were still very linguistically and culturally distinct until the Fascist era. That particular brand of nationalism actually destroyed regional culture. One modern Camunian surname is "Mitterpergher," which is probably of Cimbrian origin, meaning "a person from the middle of the mountain"... and with the old-Bavarian spelling for "mountain person".... "pergher" rather than "berger."

During the Roman era, the Romans did most of the pushing, while the Germanic tribes took over that role in the early Middle Ages. Of course, the ancient territorial struggle between Germans and Slavs occurred over a very long time. In the first century, the Romans established a military base on the Danube River, in what is now Austria, called Carnuntum. This camp served as a trading center, as well as a political headquarters for further Roman expansion. This particular Celtic kingdom was called Noricum. Interestingly, in typical passive-aggressive Roman political style, they used a regional Celtic name.. which was apparently "Karnuntum" originally. I'm not absolutely certain, but it appears that a migration of northern Teutons--separate from the regional Celts--later invaded and destroyed Carnuntum.

The Teutonic destruction of this Roman expansion was glorified in Guido von List's late 19th century book 'Carnuntum'. This book has not been translated into English to my knowledge, so I can't vouch for it in any way... although I would like to read it. For some reason, List was fascinated by what is apparently the leftover opening gate to Carnuntum... after the invading Teutons demolished the walls, or perhaps this occurred over a longer period. That leftover ruin is now called "Heidentor," or evidently "Pagan's Gate" in German. Ironically, "Pagan's Gate" could be seen as a monument to both the Romans and the Germans. To List, I think it represented a regional Austrian symbol of the glory of past victory. Also, there were many old legends surrounding the ruin. In List's day, historians and archeologists didn't know anything about ancient German-Celts. It actually got it's name in the Middle Ages because it was once thought to have been constructed by ancient pagans. Austria is now reconstructing Carnuntum if you would like to look that up.

Flag of Lombardy-Venetia
Venus of Willendorf is a 27,000 to 32,000 year old artifact discovered in Austria. This little statue was carved from limestone not native to the area, and I believe was part of a much larger proto-European archetypical symbol of the "mother goddess." Also significant is its age, which would make it a counterpart to the "horned god." Because there are so many regional names for this goddess, which I think are linked back to the last glacial movement, I refer to her as "the Almother"... the proto-European equivalent to "the Alfather" Odin within old Teutonic culture. Among other things, the Almother was a fertility goddess in those early days. As strange as this may sound, there is ample evidence that the Roman goddess Diana of the Carnuntum era, and Venus of Willendorf, have a common origin going back to the last Ice Age. The Almother in the Italian peninsula, of course, going through many more manifestations over time. However, when half of Europe was covered under a massive continental ice sheet, the local manifestations of the mother goddess and the horned god would have been very likely of the same origin.

As far as the later colonial aggression of the Habsburgs... I mean lets face it, this was basically a soft dictatorship in which the average citizen of Austria-Hungary was not really responsible for national/monarchial policy anymore than a Roman citizen was responsible for Roman imperialism. The Austrian soldiers stationed in Lombardy-Venetia could, at times, be brutal... but probably not any more brutal than other occupations. It could be said with certainty that during pre-Roman times---which would have been pre-Teutonic and pre-Slavic times as well---this tri-cultural region would have been largely of the same people. Nobody there spoke Italian, German, or Slavic back then. Three very aggressive peoples came later and staked their territorial claim, and consequently the past etho-cultural dynamic was forgotten.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Steve McNallen on Red Ice Radio

Only the first hour is available for non-members, but much is covered. One concept covered is that the Vikings--whose Odinic expression seems to be the source of most of our knowledge of the spiritual tradition--were a very sophisticated trading society, not strictly "barbarians." Also, the idea that a particular people's mythology is their very own "collective spiritual dream." Many of the attacks on Christian centers were actually in retaliation for the hostile, aggressive social, political, and economic policies used by the Christian missionaries. Lastly, that the name "Odin" was actually more of a title meaning "master of the order." The various European words for "order" sort've sound like "Odin," such as "ordine" in Italian. The word for "order" in the Camunian dialect (of the Lombard language) is "urdèn"...... Urdèn! Coincidence?


From the video description:

Stephen A. McNallen is a prominent religious leader of the native European path called Asatru. McNallen established the first legally recognized Asatru organization in the U.S. in 1972 and quickly became a prolific writer and speaker on the subject on Germanic Paganism, which broadly includes the ancient tribes of Northern Europe. He believes that spiritual fulfillment is best achieved by following the ways of one's ancestors. This ancestral approach to Asatru has put him at odds with many who insist on a universalist worldview. He's also a proponent of "upward evolution" for the individual and the group, encouraging others to incorporate daily spiritual practice in their lives.

The Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA), is the most active and successful national group in the U.S., holding major gatherings on both coasts each year plus dozens of regional events around the country. The AFA is international in scope with members in the UK, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Spain, South America, and Australia. In the first hour, we'll discuss Christianity's invasion of Europe and Viking rage caused by missionaries. We talk about the misconceptions and vicious stereotyping of the Vikings, who were sophisticated people. Stephen discusses the belief system of Asatro, an expression of the native, pre-Christian spirituality of Europe.

He speaks about Europe's loss of soul, caused by the disconnection with Indo-European ancestors, and the importance to reawaken that ancestral wisdom. In the second hour, we speak about the Vatican's hold of Europe and what might occur if Europeans do not integrate their ancient native religion into this century. We'll also hear about runestones and more spiritual concepts found in Norse mythology. Later, we talk about the slaughter of Norse people, suppressed European mythology and the re-emergence of the ways of old that existed for thousands of years in Europe before the invasion of Christianity.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

'Do not let your past rob your future'

Do not let your past rob your future.

Each new day is a chance to make a new beginning. Count your blessings, live with gratitude and love with all you heart.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Dümènica potpourri: Part 2

Tirano in Valtellina with distinctive south Alpine architecture
I like to occasionally use Google Maps.. more than Google Earth. Google Earth has too many whistles and bells for me. Awhile back, I was “getting on the ground” with Google Maps at the Brescian Comune of Paisco Loveno in Val Camonica. Actually, it is located in a smaller side valley called the Paisco Valley. Although I had done this numerous times before, I decided to follow the road heading east, passing this group of villages which are up on the hillside to the right. Much to my surprise, I found the road immediately heading into heavy woods, with a river (a tributary to the River Oi to the west) on the lower left side and a mountain on the right side. Above the river on the left was what appeared to be a larger mountain. This “Google drive” reminded me of many areas through the mountains of northern California, and was very rugged and beautiful. After about five or six miles of winding though mountain passes, the narrow valley road opened up and I could see the stunningly beautiful little town of Schilpario in Bergamo. The town was so beautiful, as was the stunning 360 degree view of all the mountains.

I tried the same thing with the small city of Tirano, which is north of Val Camonica on the eastern end of the Valtellina. In some ways it looked like many towns in California, maybe Sonoma County. It was in a wide valley, sunny, open, I could see a girl riding her bike. The mountains were more in the distance. I then tried a road just south of the city, through villages, and it was beautiful, woods and heavy brush, but not as steep as Val Paisco. The houses were wonderful, all with thick exterior wooden shutters. I almost don’t want to use the over-the-top adjective phrase “everything was perfect”… except that everything was perfect! The Alps of eastern Lombardy… Heaven on Earth.

There have been many cable tv programs about legends of “monsters” (‘Monster Quest’, ‘Monsters and Mysteries in America’, etc.). I think anyone who has done any hiking can tell a few stories, myself included, of hearing some strange sounds from the wood and brush. I have heard some strange ominous low growls on occasion. I don’t think they were “monsters,” but it had to be something. The only thing I could compare it to is a wild pig, but not quite as squealy-sounding.

At the base of Mount Fuji in Japan is an infamous area known as Aokigahara, or “Suicide Forest.” This area is the scene of many suicides, year after year. Due to certain factors, there is little wind, it’s unusually quiet, and there seems to be no wildlife there. In Japanese mythology, the forest is associated with demons. There is a lot online about this, including one popular documentary on YouTube called Suicide Forest in Japan. It’s very eery.

I have covered Upper Michigan on this blog, partly because there is a sizable number of people of Lombardian descent there, and because my family is from there. "Yoopers" usually see themselves as a separate state, or identify more with Wisconsin. There is a regional culture, including a distinct dialect, music, and cuisine. It's really not unlike, for example, Cajun culture; except it's Northwoods instead of Swamps. I know, not every Cajun lives in the swamps; and not every Yooper lives in the woods. On a separate note, the Northwoods is filled with folklore, and that's another item that I want to learn more about, as there are numerous books on the subject. It's more than just old stories, as many people claim to have experienced things there. Getting back to Yooper culture, the following is from Wikipedia regarding "Yooper cuisine."

The Upper Peninsula has a distinctive local cuisine. The pasty (pronounced "pass-tee"), a kind of meat turnover originally brought to the region by Cornish miners, is popular among locals and tourists alike. Pasty varieties include chicken, venison, pork, hamburger, and pizza. Many restaurants serve potato sausage and cudighi, a spicy Italian meat. Finnish immigrants contributed nisu, a cardamom-flavored sweet bread; pannukakku, a variant on the pancake with a custard flavor; viili (sometimes spelled "fellia"), a stretchy, fermented Finnish milk; and korppu, hard slices of toasted cinnamon bread, traditionally dipped in coffee. Some Finnish foods such as juustoa (squeaky cheese, essentially a cheese curd, like Leipäjuusto) and sauna makkara (a ring-bologna sausage) have become so ubiquitous in Upper Peninsula cuisine that they are now commonly found in most grocery stores and supermarkets. Maple syrup is a highly prized local delicacy. Fresh Great Lakes fish, such as the lake trout, whitefish, and (in the spring) smelt are widely eaten. There is minimal concern about contamination of fish from Lake Superior waters. Smoked fish is also popular. Thimbleberry jam and chokecherry jelly is a treat.

Lake Michigan
The following is the opening text from an article entitled 'Lake Michigan Triangle: Paranormal activity on the Great Lakes'..... "Besides the Bermuda Triangle, few areas in the world have a reputation for the bizarre like the Lake Michigan Triangle. Although it is relatively unknown on a global scale, especially compared to Bermuda, it has as storied a history of the unexplained as any place on earth." There is a lot online about this, including many video documentaries. One is from the 70's mystery program 'In Search Of', which was a forerunner of so many programs today. In Search of the Great Lakes Triangle - Part 1 (part 2 and 3 will show up on the right). 'In Search of' was great, and it still stands up just as well today.

I haven't been to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema yet, but it sounds like an interesting idea. I'm actually not a big movie fan, but there are new and old movies shown there, and it sounds like a very comfortable place to visit. They're springing up all over. I first saw the ads on the Independent Film Channel. On one hand I don't like the idea that every movie theater needs to be some large "megaplex," but on the other hand, some of them are quite comfortable. In other words, you may get there a bit early and have some coffee, sit in a comfortable couch-chair, etc.

To go way off topic for a moment, the example of the 'In Search of' program being an inspiration for so much of what we see on cable tv today reminded me of another old program. Probably few remember a late-night variety program called 'Thicke of the Night' from the 80s. That program, as much as a highly-touted flop as it ended up being, actually is very much like so many comedy/variety programs on cable tv today. It was so different. Alan Thicke was the host, and Arsenio Hall the co-host. I'm not even that crazy about those two, but they were really funny on that show in my opinion. Thicke would often ask strange questions to put the guest on the spot, and Hall would often even harass guests from the other side. Most guests seemed to enjoy it, while one (Wally George) stormed off the set. The times that the late Frank Zappa was a guest, in particular, provided for some strange and funny dialog. There were a lot of strange, cheesy skits; and dry sexual innuendos without overdoing it. Some of the old footage is on YouTube... and yes... a few people even have some fond memories of the show. As to whether anyone could say that it was a forerunner of those similar programs today, I don't know. I think it was part of that evolution.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Dümènica potpourri: Part 1

The word "Dümènica" means "Sunday" in the Camunian dialect. I just wanted to put some various miscellaneous items together here under two postings. They won't follow any consistent pattern.

The following news item I found so bizarre: 'Prehistoric forest arises in Cardigan Bay after storms strip away sand'. The "Borth forest," a forest of legend, was unearthed by a big storm off the coast of Wales recently. More eery images of the forest, last alive 4,500 years ago, can be found on a Google search for "Borth forest." That is such a long time, and in just one day or so... there it is!

Just as the word "Israel" is an old reference to the Egyptian goddess Isis, the Egyptian god Ra, and the Phoenician god El ("Isis-Ra-El"); the Christian term "Amen" actually means "Amon-Ra," or "so be it Ra."

A huge pentacle upon the ground in Kazakhstan, and only visible from the air, is explained in the following article: 'Mysterious Pentagram on Google Maps Explained.' It's so curious that this relic from the Soviet era was fashioned after the pentacle, rather than a Soviet star. After all, five-pointed stars have many meanings, and a pentacle is a distinct one. Have a look at it in any case, on the article link.

The country music star Bobby Bare composed a song entitled 'Marie Laveau', from his 1973 record 'Bobby Bare Sings Lullabys, Legends and Lies', about the "Voodoo Queen" of New Orleans. It was a song done in sort've a silly, not-serious, story-telling style; but I like things like that.. legends and folklore. Marie Laveau was a native believer.

I don't like to go off topic much, but for me this is a crazy time warp thing. It never ceases to amaze me the types of things you can find on YouTube. I was a fan of hard rock/heavy metal music. Not a huge fan, but a fan of the culture of it as much as anything. Here is the entire concert footage of Van Halen in Sao Paulo, Brazil on January 21, 1983. I can remember in Junior High School and High School of them being usually at the Oakland Coliseum... probably on this very same tour. It was like a really big deal then. There are so many long videos now, you can just skip down to the end. Sao Paulo is at the south end of Brazil, and about five million Italians live in that province if you can believe that. The most prosperous part of that country. I remember attending a David Lee Roth solo concert in what was not much more than a garage in San Francisco in the 90s with two or three hundred people. Then when the band reconnected, they could pull a huge crowd again.

While I'm on the subject, I ran into a music video ('Buttercup' by Sinboy) that reminded me of when we used to go down around the LA metal/rock scene during weekends in the 90s, which was basically after this music genre was being fazed out by the big record companies. I remember two all-female bands in particular, Sinboy and Phantom Blue. A lot of times they would bounce around band to band because those gals didn't always get along and there wasn't the fame and big money to keep them together. I remember the late bassist Rana Ross, she was really good. Nice gal too. Another singer who could have, and really should have made it big, was Gigi Hangach. Sometimes they would talk to you, other times they would just sorta laugh at you.. but it was a fun time. One thing I remember that you never say to any member of any local scene band is to imply that "they're popular locally" or even "local legends." As far as they and their hard core fans are concerned, they're the best in the world!

I like the cable channel Investigation Discovery, and one program is about missing people--I think the name is 'Disappeared'--where it had one docudrama about the account of a woman named Tanya Rider. She went off the highway and crashed, and survived I think it was eight days severely injured without food or water. I thought one of her quotes was important: "No matter what life gives you, you have to embrace it and move forward." It's very true, although it's much easier said than done. I think one add-on to it is to, for-the-most-part, try to forget bad experiences of the past that just drag you down. Again, easier said than done! The head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Jim Harbaugh, lives by something called "the Harbaugh rule." This "rule" is that no matter what happens, good or bad, forty-eight hours later you're onto the next thing. What's done is done. If you can learn from mistakes, fine, but "highs and lows" aren't helpful after forty-eight hours. It's true.. and pragmatic.

I have thought about devoting a post to bumble bees, probably mainly because I can remember as a young child playing in our backyard with trucks and things. There were several large bushes with lots of flowers, and I can remember playing on warm days with large bumble bees all around me. We paid no attention to each other. They were so big, and in hindsight I now perceive them as equally gentle. Actually, they were just doing their job collecting pollen. Just a couple of days ago I caught one who accidently entered the garage here. I caught him in a glass container and walked him outside. I stared at him for a moment, and then lifted the top, and off he went. A few times I have found a bee who was weak and vulnerable, probably due to dehydration. I  put a little water, and sometimes sugar, down for them to ingest.. and they eventually gathered themselves to moved on.

There are quite a number of fairly well known people who loosely fit into the category of "truthseeking." Whether referred to as researchers, activists, authors, academics, spiritual gurus, Christians, or those unlocking negative aspects of the occult at the highest levels, etc., they all loosely fit into this same category... and they rarely fit into the "right-left paradigm" which is always good and allows for honest interaction and open-minded study. Michael Tsarion and Mark Passio are two good examples in the latter category... which overlaps a little into the pagan arena that we cover here, but I could list one hundred off hand in a short time. Many over time have passed on, such as Ted Gunderson and Michael Ruppert.

One women within this truthseeking milieu is Nancy Red Star, who is more in the "spiritual guru" category, but also a native pagan, author, researcher, and activist. She stands out in some ways, to me, because she represents Amerindian pagan culture and occultism of the positive aspect of the word. Her work on native "star ancestors" is not totally unlike evidence of certain strange rock drawings in the Val Camonica, which we can cover at another time. It should be pointed out that a "native believer" is any person who believes in their own ancestral-spirituality, but I've sort've mixed the two definitions here a bit. I thought her name was worth mentioning because she is well known (she has been an expert on the tv program 'Ancient Aliens') and is a type of pagan leader of a sort for her culture. A lot of her lectures and interviews are on YouTube. What is really disturbing to me is how Nancy Red Star, or Steve McNallen, are frequently attacked online... usually by anonymous sources. Yeah, Steve McNallen and Nancy Red Star are "the problem" with the world... right!

I left the following comment on the Asatru Update blog a few weeks ago, and I wanted to place it here because I think it captured a certain idea well. The following comment was from an entry from Steve McNallen entitled 'The Gods and Goddesses Are Not Online' (3-26-14): "I am a non-Asatru folkish pagan. Yesterday evening, we took a time out from our busy lives for an unofficial "roundtable" with our fold up chairs on a trail at the base of the northern Santa Cruz Mountain chain. There, among the soft sound of crickets and an occasional hoot of an owl... only a few lights from the nearby business park and an occasional truck rambling by reminded us of the nearby urban sprawl. The darkness of the mountain even provided a window to view some of the stars. Through the break in the trees we could see the black mountain peak standing majestically amid the navy blue sky. A small caravan of racoons moved by at one point. Pagans and Heathens need to force themselves to get away, even if it's just a short distance. That was the best Sunday evening that I have had in awhile." I should point out again that I am not an Odinist/Asutrar.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

'The Last Samurai' (2003) - movie review

'The Last Samurai' (Wikipedia)

The Last Samurai is a 2003 American epic war film directed and co-produced by Edward Zwick, who also co-wrote the screenplay with John Logan. The film stars Tom Cruise, who also co-produced, as well as Ken Watanabe, Shin Koyamada, Tony Goldwyn, Hiroyuki Sanada, Timothy Spall and Billy Connolly. Inspired by a project by Vincent Ward, it interested Zwick, with Ward later serving as executive producer. The film production went ahead with Zwick and was shot in Ward’s native New Zealand.

Cruise portrays an American officer, whose personal and emotional conflicts bring him into contact with samurai warriors in the wake of the Meiji Restoration in 19th Century Japan. The film's plot was inspired by the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion led by Saigō Takamori, and on the westernization of Japan by colonial powers, though this is largely attributed to the United States in the film for American audiences. It is also based on the stories of Jules Brunet, a French army captain who fought alongside Enomoto Takeaki in the earlier Boshin War and Frederick Townsend Ward, an American mercenary who helped Westernize the Chinese army by forming the Ever Victorious Army.

The Last Samurai was well received upon its release, with a worldwide box office total of $456 million.[1] It was nominated for several awards, including four Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and two National Board of Review Awards.


'The Last Samurai' was based on a true account, in which the protagonist was a French officer, and you can find a documentary of that on YouTube. However, this movie was realistic and its sentiments genuine. The first scene was in 1876 San Francisco I recall, and U.S. Captain Nathan Algren (Cruise) was engaging in a promotional tour for Winchester Company... "how Winchester rifles were winning the west." He gave his speech drunk, and was clearly a man who was broken by his participation in certain misdeeds during the Indian Wars under the infamous Lt. Col. Custer. Apparently one of the worst offenders of some of the slaughtering of women and children was Col. Bagley, whom is Algren's sworn enemy from the beginning. The gist of the story is Bagley approaching Algren to recruit him to into an American industrial effort to provide Japan with the training and weapons to subdue the Samurai tribes.... as they had done with the Amerindian tribes of the west. The Samurai were very unhappy about the sudden rapid transformation of Japan. Algren and Bagley meet with Japanese businessman Omura, and Algren agrees to participate after he is offered a lot of money for the mercenary effort. Omura and Bagley make quite a duo of antagonists, with Omura being even more unsavory than Bagley... which says a lot.

This movie contains quite a number of very interesting quotes about Japan, Japanese mythology, and Samurai tradition; but gathering them here is more effort than I want to give for this review. A major theme in the movie is the Shintoist culture... which is essentially the Samurai culture... much the same as Odinist culture was tied to Teutonic tribal tradition. Another theme of this movie was "Ancient vs. Modern." Actually I don't always buy this perception, and these conflicts usually stem from something ancient, sacred, and wise... which happens to be in the way of contrived social, political, and economic change, and this is not always "progress" by dictionary definition. The word "Samurai" is plural, as like "Samurinians." It basically means "warrior" and "to serve"... and probably other meanings. As Algren is crossing the Atlantic Ocean... there seems to be a symbolic/spiritual period amid the lonely waters. During this period of apparent "transformation," Algren says in narrative-style: "There is some comfort in the emptiness of the sea. No past. No future." This seemed to be his personal journey from a broken state, towards redemption.

Upon meeting the twenty-four year old Emperor Meiji, the Emperor saw clear parallels between their situation and the American situation with the Amerindians. However, he was torn between his love for this "teacher" Lord Katsumoto who was the leader of the Samurai, and this effort towards so-called "modernism." After the Army conscripts were rushed into service, against Algren's warning that they were not ready, they finally meet up with the Samurai. As they come face-to-face with the Samurai, who emerge from the midst on horseback, it was like an army of legend returning to the world. As if they were Spartans, Romans, Vikings, or Langobards coming back from the dead against a modern army. The horns of the Samurai helmets reminded me of Viking or Gaulish helmets... as if they were the horns of Cernunnos. The fierce expressions and bearded faces of the Samurai also reminded me of Odinic warriors. After the Japanese army is slaughtered, Algren shows tremendous heart in fighting to the end.. and Katsumoto witnesses this and decides to take him prisoner instead of the apparently usual method of putting their adversaries to death. As Algren fights off Samurai warriors with a pole-flag with a tiger emblem, an impressed Katsumoto sees the spirit of the tiger in his actions.

Katsumoto begins a series of dialogs with Algren in a Shintoist Temple, which he says his family constructed a thousand years prior. The temple reminded me of an Odinic hof in that it was less gaudy, and more spiritually "of the Earth." One theme of Samurai culture was that a Samurai warrior "cannot stand the shame of defeat," at which time they either take their own life or someone else takes "the honor" of taking his life. That concept is in total contrast with Vehmic tradition of "dogged resilience," or many other traditions that allow for "redemption." The Samurai tradition was more focused on "fate," "honor," and dying "a good death," customarily in battle. "Honor" seems a word that can be interpreted many ways. After being told the numerical odds that Custer faced at "the Battle of Little Big Horn," Katsumoto was impressed... "I like this Custer"... at which time Algren strongly disagreed, but did eventually understand the concept. Eventually they did share the vision of glory as they verbally and allegorically carried out "the Battle of Thermopylae." Another theme of Shintoist/Samurai culture was "perfection." Everything should be done with the intention of perfection.. or at least the process of achieving perfection, which was often in relation to various forms of warfare... usually the distinctive Samurai sword (using wooden sticks in mocked-training). The tribe was in constant training for war, similar to the ancient Langobards. A whole culture based on a military tradtion, maybe more similar to the Spartan ethic.

At one point earlier, Bagley said to Algren: "What is it about your own people that you hate so much?" I didn't think that that projection fit Algren, and his eventual love for the Samurai culture seemed hard-earned and genuine. Eventually, after a long process, they accepted him as a man of honor... a "quasi-Samurai" I guess. Later in the film, Katsumoto--feeling that he had betrayed his people since this had all happened on "his watch"--said to Algren: "The way of the Samurai is not necessary anymore." Algren responed: "Necessary? What could be more necessary?" I was just thinking the other day, what makes a great movie? I think one with many great scenes, and this movie had them. One aspect of the film which caught my eye was the Samurai architecture. The basic houses seemed advanced, with an almost old European-like square structure, made of wood, hardwood flooring, with what we may see as a Japanese style to them. I skipped a lot of the interaction as Algren interacted with this community, but his journey to acceptance was not easy. I guess maybe part of the theme could be that "good things aren't easy." The ending is very dramatic. I would highly recommend this film. After watching this film, it seems to me that an old question... what is honor?... is begging for a new answer.