Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ghost programs and the metaphysical issue: Part 22 - 'Alaska Haunting'

The Learning Channel's (DirecTV channel 280) Friday evening lineup includes 'Paranormal Lockdown' and 'Alaska Haunting: Dead of Winter', both of which are apparently starting their second season. I think both programs are from the Destination America network, which I don't get, and ether moved or were farmed out to TLC. Discovery Communications owns quite a few cable networks, and it can be a bit confusing. While 'Paranormal Lockdown' is produced in the common investigative style, 'Alaska Haunting' is produced in documentary style. 'Dead of Winter' is apparently the season two sub-title. The program is a lot like 'A Haunting', and with the same excellent narrator Anthony D. Call.

1-1-17 ADDITION: I wanted to add this item as it's something to really ponder within the whole idea of paranormal investigation. Episode 13 ('The Night Ward'; see below) of this past season of Syfy's 'Paranormal Witness' (Season 5) featured the only case which I know of where a paranormal investigator was actually seriously injured during an investigation... and very likely by an evil entity at the location. The person's internal organs were "crushed," although they did survive.

On the same consequential note, on one episode of one of the programs featuring medium Kim Russo on Lifetime Movie Network; a mere visitor at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California experienced a ghost following him home. This "evidence" is not nearly as convincing at the case above, but it's also something to ponder. Perhaps it's best to avoid locations where there has been reports of paranormal activity.

Paranormal Witness Season 5 Episode 13 The Night Ward

Paranormal Witness


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Arnold of Brescia: Martyr of the Reformation

Arnold of Brescia



Arnold of Brescia

Arnold of Brescia (c. 1090 – June 1155), also known as Arnaldus (Italian: Arnaldo da Brescia), was an Italian canon regular from Lombardy. He called on the Church to renounce property ownership and participated in the failed Commune of Rome.

Exiled at least three times and eventually arrested, Arnold was hanged by the papacy, then was burned posthumously and (his ashes) thrown into the River Tiber. Though he failed as a religious reformer and a political leader, his teachings on apostolic poverty gained currency after his death among "Arnoldists" and more widely among Waldensians and the Spiritual Franciscans, though no written word of his has survived the official condemnation. Protestants rank him among the precursors of the Reformation.


Born in Brescia, Arnold became an Augustinian canon and then prior of a monastery in Brescia. He criticized the Catholic Church's temporal powers that involved it in a land struggle in Brescia against the Count-Bishop of Brescia. He called on the Church to renounce its claim and return ownership to the city government so as not to be tainted by possession—renunciation of worldliness being one of his primary teachings. He was condemned at the Second Lateran Council in 1139 and forced from Italy.

According to the chronicler Otto of Freising, Arnold had studied in Paris under the tutelage of the reformer and philosopher Pierre Abélard. He took to Abélard's philosophy of reform ways. The issue came before the Synod of Sens in 1141 and both Arnold and Abélard's positions were overruled by Bernard of Clairvaux. Arnold stood alone against the church's decision after Abélard's capitulation; he returned to Paris, where he continued to teach and preach against Bernard. As a consequence he was then commanded to silence and exiled by Pope Innocent II. He took refuge first in Zurich then probably in Bavaria. His writings were also condemned to be burned as a further measure, though the condemnation is the only evidence that he had actually written anything. Arnold continued to preach his radical ideas concerning apostolic poverty.

Arnold, who is known only from the vituperative condemnation of his foes, was declared to be a demagogue; his motives were impugned.Having returned to Italy after 1143, Arnold made his peace in 1145 with Pope Eugene III, who ordered him to submit himself to the mercy of the Church in Rome. When he arrived, he found that Giordano Pierleoni's followers had asserted the ancient rights of the commune of Rome, taken control of the city from papal forces, and founded a republic, the Commune of Rome. Arnold sided with the people immediately and, after Pierleoni's deposition, soon rose to the intellectual leadership of the Commune, calling for liberties and democratic rights. Arnold taught that clergy who owned property had no power to perform the Sacraments. He succeeded in driving Pope Eugene into exile in 1146, for which he was excommunicated on 15 July 1148. When Pope Eugene returned to the city in 1148, Arnold continued to lead the blossoming republic despite his excommunication. In summing up these events, Caesar Baronius called Arnold "the father of political heresies", while Edward Gibbon later expressed his view that "the trumpet of Roman liberty was first sounded by Arnold."

After Pope Eugene's death, Pope Adrian IV swiftly took steps to regain control of Rome. He allied with Frederick Barbarossa, who took Rome by force in 1155 after a Holy Week interdict and forced Arnold again into exile. Arnold was seized by Imperial forces and tried by the Roman Curia as a rebel. Importantly, he was never accused of heresy. Faced with the stake, he refused to recant any of his positions. Convicted of rebellion, Arnold was hanged in June and his body burnt. Because he remained a hero to large sections of the Roman people and the minor clergy, his ashes were cast into the Tiber, to prevent his burial place becoming venerated as the shrine of a martyr.

In 1882, after the collapse of Papal temporal powers, the city of Brescia erected a monument to its native son.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

'Te Deum Laudamus' - Ambrosian-Milanese hymn



The Te Deum, also called the Ambrosian Hymn because of the association with St. Ambrose, is the Church's great hymn of joy and thanksgiving; a tribute to the majesty of Almighty God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At first thought to have its origin with St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, or St.Hilary it is now accepted as having been written in the fourth century by Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana (present-day Bela Palanka, Serbia). Although recited or sung by clergy, religious and devout laity in the Liturgy of the Hours, it is most popularly known to be sung on the Church's great Solemnities and Feast Days accompanied by the joyful ringing of bells.


Ambrosian Rite

The Ambrosian Rite, also called the Milanese Rite, is a Catholic liturgical Western rite. The rite is named after Saint Ambrose, a bishop of Milan in the fourth century. The Ambrosian Rite, which differs from the Roman Rite, is used by some five million Catholics in the greater part of the Archdiocese of Milan, Italy (excluding, notably, the areas of Monza, Treviglio, Trezzo sull'Adda and a few other parishes), in some parishes of the Diocese of Como, Bergamo, Novara, Lodi and in about fifty parishes of the Diocese of Lugano, in the Canton Ticino, Switzerland.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Spirit thoughts upon Yuletide

In the same manner that you may be walking along on a warm summer afternoon and feeling the invigoration of the warm air against your skin; you may also feel the invigoration of the cool air of a winter walk. To our Pagan ancestors, the spring was the start of the year, and the seasons paralleled the cycle of life itself. "Birth" in spring (usually the start of April), "Life" during the next eight months or so, and "Death"  and a "new arising" tied to the Yule season. "Birth, Life, Death and to a New Arising."

Lisa Thiel - Winter Solstice Song (with lyrics)


Lessinia, a region in the Veronese pre-Alps. If you use Google Maps and get right onto the ground in Val Camonica, Valtellina, or any Alpine region like this; you may notice the homes, and the very heavy shutters, probably two inches thick or more. Sometimes when I hike on a Yule night, I imagine my ancestors living in a home like that, maybe in 1870. The family huddled around the fire during Christmas on a freezing winter evening. That fire symbolizes the fire of the generations. You are carrying their torch.

The Origins of Christmas


Christians have hijacked the faith of pagans for a mythical child called Jesus and the corporations are cashing in on the ignorance reflected by Christians when they buy gifts for their loved ones.

The lynx

The lynx is not a very prominent figure in mythology. No fables or legends concerning the lynx have been found . There are a few proverbs concerning the lynx like for example "to wangle something out of someone" in German means "jemandem etwas abluchsen", which reminds us that the lynx is a very intelligent and quick hunter (Schenda 1995).

Epcot Italy's CHRISTMAS WITCH - LA BEFANA - Holidays Around The World


Epcot Holidays Around The World - ITALY

Meet the kind-hearted witch La Befana who arrives on the eve of the Epiphany to grant gifts to good children.

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Christian legend had it that Befana was approached by the biblical magi, also known as the Three Wise Men (or the three kings) a few days before the birth of the Infant Jesus. They asked for directions to where the Son of God was, as they had seen his star in the sky, but she did not know. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered the best housekeeper in the village, with the most pleasant home. The magi invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework. Later, La Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus. That night she was not able to find them, so to this day, La Befana is searching for the little baby. She leaves all the good children toys and candy ("caramelle") or fruit, while the bad children get coal ("carbone"), onions or garlic.

Another Christian legend takes a slightly darker tone as La Befana was an ordinary woman with a child whom she greatly loved. However, her child died, and her resulting grief maddened her. Upon hearing news of Jesus being born, she set out to see him, delusional that he was her son. She eventually met Jesus and presented him with gifts to make him happy. The infant Jesus was delighted, and he gave La Befana a gift in return; she would be the mother of every child in Italy.

Popular tradition tells that if one sees La Befana one will receive a thump from her broomstick, as she doesn't wish to be seen. This aspect of the tradition may be designed to keep children in their beds.

Another commonly heard Christian legend of la Befana starts at the time of the birth of baby Jesus. Befana spends her days cleaning and sweeping. One day the magi, also known as the three wise men, came to her door in search of baby Jesus. Befana turned them away because she was too busy cleaning. Befana notices a bright light in the sky; she thinks this is the way to baby Jesus. She brought some baked goods and gifts for baby Jesus in her bag and took her broom to help the new mother clean and began her search for baby Jesus. She searched and searched for Baby Jesus, but never found him. Befana still searches today, after all these centuries. On the eve of the Epiphany, Befana comes to a house where there is a child and leaves a gift. Although she has been unsuccessful in her search, she still leaves gifts for good young children because the Christ Child can be found in all children.

"Yule walk" - an individual tradition

Last evening, I engaged in what I have come to call my annual "Yule walk" after the defacto Winter and the approaching Yule. I started it some years ago without even thinking of it as a "thing" in of itself, or any type of annual "tradition." It can be whatever someone wants it to be, but for me it's a very individual tradition. It's an opportunity--two or three weeks before the chaos of Christmas and New Years--to take a reflective walk on a cold night by yourself. It should be a personal spiritual endeavor to connect with the past, present, and future at this dramatic weather-shifting time of the year. A time of the year that strongly feels like an "ending"... with a new "beginning" intuitively "visible" in the distance.


Joan Collins in Tales From The Crypt (1972)


Tales From The Crypt - "All Through the House"

Saucy Joan is a murderous strumpet who wallops her husband to death on Christmas Eve and is then besieged by a homicidal maniac dressed as Santa Claus. Wonderfully dark episode from the '70s horror anthology movie, "Tales From the Crypt."


The eeriest scene

It would have to be within the context of the entire movie, but to me this scene from the original 'Tales From The Crypt' (UK; 1972) was the scariest horror scene. The secluded home during Christmas Eve on a dark snowy winter night.

Mean Girls - Jingle Bell Rock - Unedited



'Mean Girls' has become like 'National Lampoon's Vacation', a popular movie that is featured on TV incessantly. Both connect real life experiences with edgy humor.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) as a Christmas movie

I think this very funny and underrated movie, staring Steve Martin and the late John Candy, should be thought of more as a classic "Christmas move"... especially with the ending. However, one scene gives it its R-rating. It portrays, as sometimes can occur, that "bad experiences" can be remembered as fun times after the fact. Great interplay between Martin and Candy. A truly underrated film.

Martina McBride - O Come All Ye Faithful

Andrea Bocelli Fanatics

Martina Mcbride

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tonight's active sky: Another Supermoon, "Supervenus," visible Onion, and meteor showers!

Tonight is another Full Cold Moon, as well as the third and brightest Supermoon of the year. I'm hopeful for a nice beautiful cold and clear evening here along the west coast. Also you may observe an intensely bright Venus tonight, and throughout the rest of the month. Venus will be the brightest star-like object in the sky. The constellation of Orion is also especially visible this month if you wanted to try to navigate it. Tonight will also be the peak of the Germinid Meteor Showers. Sometimes people actually complain that the Moon spoils the view of other space and sky features.

'Night Sky - December 2016: Orion the mighty hunter returns' (Peter Lawrence - 12-5-16 - The Telegraph)

'Full Moon for December 2016' (Almanac Staff - Dec. 2016 - The Old Farmer's Almanac)

'Supermoon December 2016: When, Where & How to See It' (Samantha Mathewson - 12-5-16 -

"Supermoon Trifecta" of 2016


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Vikings - Second half of Season 4 underway!

Vikings - Season 5 Official Trailer [HD]



In case you missed the first episode of "the second half of season 4" from November 30, you can catch episode 1 and 2 followed by an episode of 'Real Vikings' tonight (Wednesday) on the History Channel. That episode is entitled "Rise of the Pagans" - Actors Clive Standen and Maude Hirst travel to ancient sites to see how pagan beliefs defined Viking culture.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Cathedral at Monza: Centerpoint of the Langobard period

Monza Cathedral, Monza Brianza, Lombardy, Italy, Europe

Pietro Pecco

The Duomo of Monza often known in English as Monza Cathedral is the main religious building of Monza, near Milan, in northern Italy. Unlike most duomos it is not in fact a cathedral, as Monza has always been part of the Diocese of Milan, but is in the charge of an archpriest who has the right to certain episcopal vestments including the mitre and the ring.


Theodelinda - Queen of the Lombards
iron crown

The val padana, for those who don't know, is very flat. Everything looks flat from the window of a plane, even mountains are squashed and foreshortened, but the val padana doesn't leave any room for topographical speculation, it is flat and fields and swept with the swirling lines of tributaries and tractor trails and everything is in mud coloured, from a pale sandiness to a rich brown, at least in this season and from this plane.

Monza begins with Theodelinda, lombard queen on a mission: to find somewhere breezy to spend the long hot sunmmers in the val Padana. And to build, of course, a nice church, standard practice for the 8th century. She dedicated the church to John the Baptist, who of course was beheaded, or as it's usually put in Italian, decollato a word that always make me look twice as it means 'un-necked', but also, in modern parlance, 'take-off' as in a plane. Surely the patron saint of airports, then? Oh I'm not going to explain that here it is much too hot.


The Iron Crown
Royal Regalia: The Iron Crown of Lombardy

It may not look like much compared to some others, but the Iron Crown of Lombardy is one of the most significant symbols of monarchy in western Christendom. It is called the “Iron Crown” because of a small, narrow strip of iron that circles the interior of the piece. What is significant about this is that, according to tradition, this circle of iron was beaten out from one of the nails used at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. That is where the story of the Iron Crown begins. 

As with most of the relics association with Christ and the crucifixion the nail was said to have been found by St Helena and given to her son the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (the first Roman Emperor to be a Christian) who, so the story goes, later sent it to the Queen of the Lombards who were converted to Christianity. At some point the nail was incorporated into a crown though no one is sure exactly when. Some say Emperor Charlemagne was crowned King of the Lombards using the Iron Crown while others maintained it was not made until after his time. Kept in the Cathedral of Monza, near Milan, it was the most sacred and well known symbol of the Kingdom of the Lombards which grew up following the fall of Rome.