Bruno, Where Are You?


What do you think is behind the story of the disappearance of a UFOlogist who left behind a bedroom covered in strange symbols and a coded language? Insane? Hoax? The real deal? Let’s take a look at Brazil’s Bruno Borges and his personal “X-Files” style life journey.

This past March the 24-year-old disappeared. Not only were the walls and ceiling of his room plastered with his life’s work, but he also had 14 books written in the same coded language that were ready to be published. Media images of his room reveal the organization of an ordered mind, although a tad obsessive-compulsive about order when the gringa compares own surroundings. I tend to be tidy with a splash of comfortably messy.

But Bruno was not just a fringe science recluse, shuttered away from the world, scribbling away in an alien tongue. He was also a psychology student at university.

But alleged coded languages from another world were not the only curiosities of his room’s décor. There was also a prized work of art, valued at nearly $3,000. Central to Bruno’s small room is a life-size statue of Giordano Bruno, a 16th century philosopher, set within a circle of symbols. Was this a tribute to a namesake kinsman or a tribute to the work of the philosopher?

6.27.2a

You see, the Italian Dominican friar, Giordano Bruno, was not just a philosopher. He was also a theorist as to the mysteries of the cosmos, which meant the Catholic Church eventually labelled him a heretic. He threw off his friar robes and converted to Calvinism.

However, Protestantism was no great fan of his science, either. Eventually he would be burnt at the stake in Rome with his tongue tied down to prevent him from addressing the crowd. In today’s science and philosophical circles, Bruno is considered a martyr to scientific truth.

Now, dear reader, don’t think that this means younger Bruno was also a misunderstood religious devotee of the Christian faith. More fascinating clues remain to be discussed. Also decorating the walls and floor of the young man’s room were sigils and symbols affiliated with the legendary Illuminati and Satanism.

But wait, there’s more. Lacking any furnishings typical to a bedroom, there was, instead, religious furnishings crafting a shrine. Instead of a religious shrine to a long, dead philosopher, Jesus, Mary or Satan, the shrine was dedicated to the extra-terrestrial world young Bruno Borges believed in.

One of the key elements of his shrine was a self-portrait of the young man standing alongside a bulbous-headed, glowing-eyed ET against a backdrop that obviously points to the two of them being on another planet. The gringa supposes the implication is that his true biological origins are from this alien world.

6.27.2c

For about a month young Borges locked himself away in this room and produced all of this. This is absolutely incredible. It defies, in the gringa’s mind, the rules of biology. It seems physically impossible. Especially since there is no bed in the room for the poor guy to get a good night’s sleep. How in the world could one remain super-humanly productive for 4 weeks?

Truly, this fellow was quite an enigma. But what does it all mean?

The first clue lies in one of his passages translated by a Brazilian cyber expert. It reads:

“It is easy to accept what you have been taught since childhood and what is wrong. It is difficult, as an adult to understand that you were wrongly taught what you suspected was correct since you were a child”

Now, although this quote indicates that Borges was faulting his parents for instilling false beliefs in him, it seems that they weren’t really so bad. After all, they were willing to pay for his college education, provide the funding for his project and patiently indulge a child they most likely considered an eccentric intellectual who would one day make them proud with his published works of brilliance.

And Borges, despite his seeming criticism of his upbringing, was not above taking money from those he blamed. When approaching his family for financial assistance in his project he assured them that he was going to “change humanity in a good way”.

From the moment the disappearance became known, Brazilian authorities have been investigating. The latest news indicates the possibility that the young man is alive and well and continuing his “humanitarian work”. Here’s the latest:

4/10/17 a page of binary code popped up online. It translates to the following:

“Hello. My name is Bruno de Melo Silva Borges and I am 24 years old, I am a psychologist and I am very smart, I left 14 books with messages with different letter, the answer will be revealed on 04/14/17 at 17:00, so stay tuned. The statue I bought and left in my room, I left the room all white and wrote many things. Good and this. #3301”

What does #3301 mean? It most likely refers to the Cicada 3301 organization, an internet mystery for codebreakers. It started January, 2012 and is, in effect, a test looking for the smartest individuals who are able to solve the puzzle.

Solving the puzzle delivers the clues necessary for the codecracker to find the Cicada organization. Each year leading up to 2016 (excluding 2015), new puzzles were posted. Speculations as to the organization that might be behind the Internet’s most fascinating mystery are groups like the NSA, CIA, MI6, cyber mercenaries. Then there are those who believe it is an alternate reality game, possibly from an off-planet source.

4/17/17 @ 17:00 hours, what happened? The Cicada website changed. Is this change what Borges’ message predicted? It seems so because the change made available an MP3 audio file named “Bruno”. So, seems pretty obvious that Bruno cracked the code and got accepted into Cicada. He informed the curious public, via cryptic message, of when a formal announcement would be made to that affect.

The audio ends at the 5:36.666 mark. “Oooh,” the gringa says to herself, “666. The legendary mark of the Beast from the book of Revelations of the Christian’s religious text.” So, does that have any significance?

It might indeed be a clue but not of the devilish variety. It is more likely related to that devil of devils, money. An amateur sleuth tracked down the number 5:36.666 and found it to be the number of a Mastercard debit card issued in… Brazil, Borges home country.

Thus far we have a missing Bruno, now a part of Cicada with traceable funds likely linked to his announcement. And the detective found more footprints along the Borges trail.

A new YouTube channel was found named Bruno GiordanoIt has 2 posted videos. The first video posted about a month ago. It’s entitled with a long list of numbers:

1/C12H2406/c1-2-14-5-6-16-9-10-18-12-11-17-8-7-15-4-3-13-1/h1-12H2 

It lasts only 35 seconds and sounds like the mumblings and ravings of someone who just dropped some ‘shrooms. The image is, of course, constant and depicts more symbols and code. What the heck does it mean?

There is a description listed for the content. It claims to be Borges’ magnum opus, accomplished directly and indirectly, consciously and unconsciously. He was able to achieve his goal through what he calls the “practice of the absorptive capacity theory, oCc9rs an inevitable large scale chemical reaction”.

He explains that there are exponentially decreased numbers of awakened people while the numbers of people sleeping through their potential of enlightenment is exponentially increasing. He claims that the truth enlightens although we are taught that this “truth” actually does the opposite.

He says that the “observer” is actually the “observed”. He encourages everyone to become a spectator and that through preparing for this enlightenment you will understand its meaning. Following your intuition is the next step toward enlightenment.

He notes that nothing happens by chance and says “Remind the future”. He claims that this enlightenment that he has achieved is available to every man. In fact, it lives within every man as a world that is the Universe itself, dwelling within each individual. The gringa subscribed and the video is posted here for the dear reader’s convenience:

4/21/17 A new message was discovered online in the paste bin of YouTube channel, If You Believe Anything Matters. The channel is accredited to Borges. He states that he is living in caves and does not want to be disturbed.

The gringa subscribed to that channel, too. There are now 13 videos although there were 8 when the gringa began the first draft of this post. It looks like uploading has been going on since around mid-May with 5 more being uploaded in just the last couple of weeks. The gringa explored the videos and will follow up with posts regarding them. They were incredibly interesting.

I will mention here, however, that one of the videos featured a comment by Borges. It was, of course, coded. Consisting of Roman numerals only, a code breaker provides a translation:

“I gave a cry of astonishment. I saw and thought nothing of the other four Martian monsters; my attention was riveted upon the nearer incident. Simultaneously two other shells burst in the air near the body as the hood twisted round in time to receive, but not in time to dodge, the fourth shell.”

Bruno Borges’ trackers have found comment threads in various other online sites, crediting the comments to Borges. He claims to still be alive and living in hiding to protect himself. That, even in hiding, he is still bothered by those who would harm him. He claims to be in Portugal and will continue to update the world on what is happening.

Psychics are even getting involved in the hunt for Bruno Borges. One claims that she channeled his own thoughts. She said that he was in contact with an extra-terrestrial species called “tall whites”. Apparently, these ETs gave Borges the mission that he is on. While sequestered in his room during the month that he drafted his coded writings, the psychic said he was in regular contact with these aliens.

So what the heck is going on with this guy? Well, the gringa doesn’t put much stock in psychics. What we do actually know is provided by the law enforcement officers on the case. Borges left his home and took a taxi to a hotel about half a mile away. The gringa wonders why he didn’t just walk that short distance unless he wanted a record of where he was going.

The taxi driver attested to a phone call between Borges and others, discussing the hotel destination. However, Borges never checked in. If Borges was intent on disappearing without a trace, he would not have had such a conversation with a taxi driver present. The gringa is convinced Bruno was leaving a breadcrumb with the driver for investigators to follow to the hotel. When they didn’t find him there, naturally they would look around outdoors, nearby. Which is where they found a gathering area in the forest behind the hotel that had 4 white chairs, one red chair and remnants of a recent fire.

A local seamstress testified to creating 3 white robes similar to one depicted in a painting in Borges’ room, embroidered sigil on back and everything. Because of its detail, she asked if it was for something related to the church and Borges allegedly said, “Almost that.”

6.27.2b

What could be going on with Borges is an hermetic initiation. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is an order of the Jewish Kabbalistic (mystical) tradition. It is ancient and devotees commit themselves to studying the occult, paranormal and metaphysics. The gringa’s read a few of their texts and it sounds like a reasonable enough explanation to me.

So, Borges wasn’t abducted by aliens and he’s not a raving lunatic. Instead, he has been initiated into a secret society that claims to be in contact with supernatural and extra-terrestrial beings. The gods of the religious community are the advanced alien species of the esoteric science communities. And Borges is inviting all of mankind to join him. His online communiques are creating a pathway to enlightenment for all who are interested in joining him.

Sources:

UK Mirror

NY Post

Britannica

World Socialist Website

Uncovering Cicada

WNYC

Hermetic Golden Dawn

Image Credits: Bing

Video Credit: Fright Knight

Bruno Giordano

If You Believe Anything Matters

The Mayans Wrote Books, Too


Mention the Mayan civilization and you probably think of strange celestial calendars carved in stone, Meso-American pyramids and human sacrifice. You probably wouldn’t think about an ancient library book. Well, the gringa says, “Think again.” And what scholars have translated from the pages of this 17th century Mayan book might have a plan of strategy for those Americans engaged in the Trump resistance of today. Who knew?!

During the time the manuscript was written, European colonialism and Christian religious oppression was in full swing over the indigenous people of pre-Columbia America. Although the entire manuscript is comprised of entries by different authors, it does open a very revealing window to how the influence of Pope Urban IV affected the Mayans.

The manuscript itself is a map of linguistic evolution. Four different languages are represented. It would be only natural to find Latin and Spanish. But two native tongues of the Mayan Empire, K’iche’ and Kaqchikel, are also part of this written record.

The K’iche’ language was already thousands of years old by the time European invaders arrived. But the K’iche’ dialect was what was commonly spoken between the Spanish speaking Europeans and the Mayans. Even today K’iche’ is still used in parts of Guatemala and Mexico by more than one million people, although the influence of Spanish and Latin can be detected in the most current versions. Thousands of immigrants to the United States also speak this ancient language.

The existence of this language into the modern age is a testament to a people who vehemently resisted the Catholic Church’s attempts to convert them and the efforts of Europeans to assimilate them. K’iche’ eventually lost status as an official language in Guatamala. Priests tried to convert Mayans through catechisms and confessionals performed in Latin and Spanish. But the Mayans wanted none of it.

By refusing to assimilate to European customs and the Catholic religion, Mayans were able to preserve their culture. They defended their beliefs by adapting certain elements of their public spaces.  This compromise, a public recognition of the political and cultural sovereignty of the Europeans and the Catholic Church, created a buffer, allowing the resistance to live wholly Mayan in private, unmolested.

The religion practiced by the K’iche’ speaking Mayans evolved over time. It eventually became a hybrid with indigenous and Christian elements easily recognizable in their tenets, documents and art.

One example is the most fundamental concept of sin in Christianity. No such concept existed within Mayan beliefs. Dominican missionaries introduced the concept through a play on words. The K’iche’ word “mak” literally translates “will”, as in personal desire or impulse. The missionaries used the idea of personal impulse to illustrate sin because man is not to follow his own impulse but, rather, the will of god.

Even today, when visiting a Catholic church in Guatamala one will find a very different religious environment than a traditional Catholic setting. The effectiveness of the Mayan religion was a heritage that has reached far, even into our own current era.

To satisfy the Church that they were being compliant, the K’iche’ speaking Maya simply picked and chose the elements of Catholicism that seemed interesting or agreeable. Visiting Catholic officials would see an amalgamation of rites and rituals, many they easily recognized, and would go away satisfied. It was a resistance perpetrated through  appearing to appease the oppressor.

Many people, especially Catholics, prefer to visualize the Catholic Church for its many charitable works it performs today. It is easier on the Catholic conscience to overlook the history of cruelty and brutality. But the reality of violent measures to mandate conversions are the reason the Church was met with such virulent resistance. Who wants to love and serve a god who is represented by something like that?

And it wasn’t just a cruel example of god that turned off the Mayans. The Europeans enslaved them. They, a proud, free and dignified people, a wealthy empire that had built massive monuments were forced into labor, slaves for their invaders. To refuse to serve their taskmasters and worship their overlord’s god often meant imprisonment, torture and, eventually, death.

Although the need for a slave class prevented the physical genocide of the Mayans, a cultural genocide was attempted as a means to force their religious conversion. Prized artifacts and relics were destroyed. Sacred shrines desecrated and razed to the ground. Any written text burned. So, it isn’t that ancient Meso-Americans intelligent enough to build pyramids were illiterate. It’s that their conquerors were effective book-burners. But one amazing book escaped their fires.

If you want to see it in person, it can be perused at the National Museum of History. Or, a digital version can be enjoyed online.

Sources:

Smithsonian

History.com

Britannica

Peoples Of The World

World Atlas

Image Credit: Smithsonian

Video Credit: SmithsonianNMAI

Is God A Hermaphrodite?


The gringa wonders, if there is a god, would such a being actually have a gender? I mean, if you are all powerful and omnipotent, you don’t need to pro-create, you just create. If your creation powers give you the ability to manifest every emotion and feeling, good or bad, then you wouldn’t need an intimate partner to experience feelings of ecstasy. You just make it happen. So why do the major monotheistic religions insist that god must be a guy?

The god of the Jews and the Christians is called by many names, like:

Elohim (Hebrew for “Authority” singular & plural, considered a feminine synonym when used as a descriptor or genderless when used as a noun), El (Hebrew for Power & Sovereignty, masculine),

El-Shaddai (Hebrew for God Almighty),

Adonai (Hebrew for Lord),

Christ (from the Greek Kyrios for Lord),

God (from the Greek, Theos),

Abba (Aramaic for Daddy).

Now, all of these names are man-made, hence the gringa’s sneaky suspicion that they have been masculinized for nefarious purposes.

The name god supposedly gave himself, referring to it in answer to Moses’ question of who the heck he was speaking to, Exodus 6:3, is best understood as YHWH (Yahweh is usually translated into the English version, Jehovah). The original spelling of the name god gave for himself has been purposely lost over time, considered by ancient Hebrews as being too powerful a name for mankind to actually know.

Often, after the first revealing of his name to Moses, the deity uses YHWH in conjuction with Elohim. When paired, YHWH is interpreted to signify the deity and Elohim as a descriptor of the deity, thus pairing masculine and feminine Hebrew words. This would indicate a self-given title representing a genderless god or, if you will, a being that is a blend of both gender characteristics, what many humans might call androgynous, or even a hermaphrodite. Truly, if there is a god, god would have no single gender. But the gringa thinks that god would also not be gender-LESS. Why create two genders to represent your “image” unless your image embodies both genders?

This type of gender balance was the norm for most ancient civilizations. It is only modern western civilizations that have masculinized god. Like the gringa said before, certainly for nefarious purposes. Once a culture can craft a justification to subjugate and oppress one class, women, it is closer to finding the means to subjugate and disempower all classes a society seeks to create. What does class division result in for society? Chaos as the oppressed forever seek to throw off the yoke of their oppressor.

Believers of any monotheistic religion are relying on a masculine god crafted by the pens of men who composed their holy texts. Such believers may want to question the nature of this theology. Just ask the right questions.

– Have such faiths contributed to a balanced, equitable and peaceful society or has such tenets resulted in the chaos of a rigid class-based society where those who are perceived as weaker are exploited and oppressed?

– What is it that their god actually wants adherents to achieve? Balance and equanimity or power struggles?

Some religious scholars who understand this hermaphrodite god principle find it difficult to think of god as embodying any form of sexuality. Instead of an androgynous hermaphrodite representing both sexes, they see god as without sex, gender-less.

A masculine god, a patriarchal deity is truly a god created in man’s image rather than a god who claimed that man and woman alike were created in the image of a god who cannot be defined by gender. The gringa knows where she stands on this issue. I will bow to no man, mortal or immortal.

Sources:

Ancient Hebrew

Yahweh-Elohiym

Student Soul InterVarsity

Image Credit: Exotic Indian Art

Video Credit: Balarama Lila Das

Hamza Yusuf – Topic

Persecuting Science Kills Nations


Respected physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson gave a very grave status update for the United States recently. He made the following claim while delivering a warning alongside his claim:

“America is already kind of fading… there’s no future [for a country that ignores science].”

Is Tyson simply a disgruntled scientist complaining about the position the Trump administration has taken with regard to climate change or is he on to something here? Let’s look at history. That is, after all, one of our greatest teaching resources.

Muhammad ibn Zakariya Razi: Simply known as Rhazes, he was a pioneer in medicine in the Baghdad of the late 9th and early 10th centuries. He followed the rational and logic methods of Hippocrates and penned a comprehensive medical tome, Continens Liber. The book made him famous but not for the reasons he had probably hoped for.
A Muslim priest, offended by his work, ordered him beaten with the work’s manuscript. The abuse was so severe he was blinded which put an end to his illustrious medical career.

Was religious motivated persecution of Baghdad’s science community the beginning of its end? During the Abbasid caliphate, also called Baghdad’s “Golden Age”, the Islamic theocracy was churning out the world’s greatest scholars, mathematicians and scientists of that time. But as Sunni ruled Baghdad was achieving glory, Shiite Muslims were slowly simmering in their religious rivalries. Rhazes was one of the first casualties of this in-fighting.
The battle of religious ideology supremacy would lead to a weakening that made Baghdad vulnerable to Mongol aggression which eventually destroyed the city a couple of centuries later. But the short-sighted Shiite’s could not see this coming. They were so intent in destroying their rivals, the Sunnis, that they did not consider the consequences of their actions.

You see, the crazy thing is that the origins for the religious rivalry had nothing to do with science. It was all about the rights of succession for religious leaders, whether they be elected (Sunni belief) or a descendant of Mohammed (Shiite belief). Since patronizing the scientific community was a source of strength for the Sunni faction, the Shiite’s strategy for supremacy was to destroy the Sunni’s source of strength, the scientific community. But by persecuting the science community, the Shiite’s also brought about the entire destruction of Baghdad’s empire.

Michael Servetus: This Spanish physician’s work included a book that promoted a reformation of the Christian religion that was dominated by the Catholic Church during his lifetime in mid 16th century Spain. This earned him the label heretic. He fled his native country to avoid imprisonment and torture, the hallmarks of the Spanish Inquisition. He arrived in what he thought would be a more tolerant nation, Protestant dominated Switzerland.

However, it wasn’t just Christian Catholics who wanted to see him dead. John Calvin, who himself was a reformer of Christianity as a founding father of the Protestant Reformation, considered this medical scientist such a threat to the power of the church that he ordered the arrest of Servetus.

You see, although Europeans were being terrorized by Christian leaders of the Spanish Inquisition, Nordic peoples were equally terrorized by the Protestant Inquisition that was going strong in Switzerland. Eventually Servetus was captured and tortured. Religious leaders crafted quite a public spectacle, burning him at the stake with Lake Geneva as the backdrop. Stoking the fire? Copies of his book.

So, if the 16th century is noted by historians as the era of Spain’s Spanish Inquisition, what happened in the next century? Did persecution of scientists make the nation greater or worse? Historians describe the 17th century as an era of Spain’s decline. So, yeah, kill off your scientists and expect your country to fail.

The gringa could go on and on recounting the many scientists throughout history who have endured periods of purposeful persecution from governments of religious extremism that eventually led to the destruction of a nation. The dear reader can do their own homework on the life and times of scientists and their respective countries. Why not start with these:

  • Galileo of 17th century Italy
  • Henry Oldenburg of 17th century England
  • Antoine-Laurent Lovoisier of 18th century France
  • Gerhard Domagk of 19th century Germany

So what should be expected as the anti-intellectual, religious extremists of the Republican party transform the US? Well, right now we are at the brink of what will become known as the cliff this great nation falls off of. Anti-intellectualism will inevitably lead to a less informed democracy. A nation of people who believe false science are incapable of solving the problems that will plague them, whether it be pollution, disease or social conflict. Without the right information, all decisions are the wrong decisions.

What happens then? If religious extremism prevents an embrace of the truth, then when solutions fail blame must be cast. The US can expect, then, a rash of scapegoat classes to be created and systematically persecuted for all the ills in society.

As other nations cultivate their own science communities, eventually one will emerge as the leader, filling in the vacuum the US leaves behind as it abandons real science. We already see this happening with the nations supporting the Paris Climate Agreement. This will result in the US losing its competitive edge in the consumer markets dominated by science and technology. And what can we expect that to do? Affect the US economy disastrously.

So, as the US denigrates, denies and persecutes science, it is stabbing innovation and hope for the future right in the back. The Trump administration may be the catalyst for a destruction the nation cannot recover from. Consider what can happen in 4 short years of no innovation or inspiration. Scientists who cannot pursue their passions, have their work published, implement their methods and are maligned for what their research indicates will go elsewhere. And once settled in a new home that welcomes and supports them, it is highly unlikely they will ever come back.

An exodus of talent will make America’s science community a veritable wasteland not just of scientific talent but of the backers who fund their work. Investors will then put their money where it will be used in the research and development of tomorrow’s technologies that will sell big.

The Trump administration is initiating a chain reaction of scientific abandonment that is not just ideological. Scientists who want to be empowered to fulfill their potential will go elsewhere, hand-in-hand with those who have the money to make their dreams come true. In the next few years the landscape of science and technology will change. Other nations will be developing the cures for AIDS and cancer. A new Silicon Valley will emerge as California’s own becomes a ghost town. Tyson is right.

 

Sources:

Live Science

Thought Co.

Wisconsin History

Annals of Clinical & Laboratory Science
Image Credit: Boise State
Video Credit: StarTalk Radio

Dargavs, Russia – The City of the Dead


With all the paranoia seeping into American society over Russia, thanks to the Trump administration, the gringa would like to take a moment to share some good and interesting stuff about Russia. You see, it’s so easy to generalize and say, “Russia bad” and forget all about the human element. Just because Trump and Putin and their respective governing bodies may be ruthless, greedy megalomaniacs, the Russian people are generally just like people everywhere. Some good. Some bad. And the nation of Russia is filled with rich history just like every other place on earth.

The gringa feels a bit guilty of all the complaining and criticizing I’ve been doing lately. It’s about time to focus on some good stuff. And the Russian good stuff I plan to focus on is all dead. In fact, an entire city of the dead.

Believe it or not, a city of dead Russians gets 4 out of 5 stars from travel experts as a must-see place to visit for guests to Russia. So, if you are planning your own tour, put the city of Dargavs on your bucket list. Also, pack your best Sherlock Holmes gear because this little gem is filled with mystery. Maybe you can crack the case and take your place in history as well.

When you arrive you will not be greeted with an eerie sight of Russian zombies and fog-filled ancient cobbled streets. You will discover a hillside burial ground set against the rugged backdrop of the Greater Caucasus mountain range.

Dargavs is found in North Ossetia. Stone structures, most with steep tiled roofs, house the resting places of ancient citizens called the great Alans who were a sub-set of the Sarmatian tribes. Although they are well-known as a nomadic, pastoral people speaking an ancient Eastern Iranian dialect, who lived around the first millennium of our current era.

The surviving ancestors of the great Alans buried belongings with their loved ones when they were entombed. Among the relics concealed in the crypts of this mysterious necropolis are:

  • Open, boat-like vessels to hold the corpse rather than a traditional coffin (curious since there are no rivers nearby)
  • Oars
  • Coins
  • Clothing

Despite some UFOlogists convinced the great Alans were really extra-terrestrials, the gringa thinks they were just regular humans. It seems they had beliefs and lifestyle practices that link them to every other group of humans trying to eke out an existence with primitive means in a harsh climate. Consider the stuff that researchers and archaeologists can all agree on that is very “humanizing”:

  • The crypts house the remains of entire families throughout multiple chambers and sometimes multiple levels.
  • Criminals were entombed in “exile”, their tombs constructed outside the collection of crypts for the Alan clan in general.

5.9.2b

  • Each tomb features a well at the entrance to the crypt that contains coins. So, the great Alans were sophisticated and human enough to understand economics, earnings and wealth.
  • They practiced some sort of religion or superstitions that had a belief in the afterlife hence the construction of a symbolic watchtower to guard the tombs and is, perhaps, the explanation for entombment with boats despite not being a river-faring people.

5.9.2c

There are many theories to explain some of the mysterious features that are, indeed curious, as well as to try to understand what the story was for the great Alans.

Religion: It is presumed that the boats and wells with coins are possibly related to the great Alans’ religious beliefs. The ancient Ossetians are believes to be pagans. However, a pagan is not an atheist. They do have religious beliefs, or superstitions, if you will.

Many religions feature boats and rivers as the means of travel to the world of the afterlife.  The river Styx of Greek mythology is, perhaps, the most well-known.  However, Acheron was also a river the dead navigated to the underworld on a ferry with Charon at the helm who served the king of Hades. It was known as the river of pain and at times, in legends and myth, is interchangeable with the River Styx.

An interesting note is that ferryman Charon also required a fee of a single coin. Non-payment meant a soul was left to wander aimlessly the banks of the River Acheron, presumably in great pain and anguish. However, if you are entombed with your own boat, why would you expect to need the services of another boatman? Perhaps the rivers Styx/Acheron were not the ultimate destination for the great Alans.

Ancient rivers of the underworld are also:

  • Lethe, also known as the river of forgetfulness and oblivion of sleep (no fee required).
  • Phlegethon was written about by Plato who believed it led to the deepest parts of Tartarus. Dante also penned a bit about this river in his legendary “Inferno”, it existing in the Seventh Circle of Hell, a boiling river where souls were tormented in cages by Centaurs tasked with dipping them in to the river’s scalding depths. Probably not the intended afterlife river for a people who hoped to arrive with their own boats.
  • Cocytus, the River of Wailing, joins with Acheron, ultimately leading to a frozen lake. It is the destination of traitors and all who commit sins against humanity. This may have been the destination of the criminals entombed in the outer circle, the Cocytus being a river that encircles the underworld.
  • Oceanus, another afterlife river that encircles the entire underworld, this freshwater stream was where the edge of the world met the cosmos. Although some think this would have been a gloomy, lonely afterlife existence, the gringa thinks this may have actually been the most coveted locale of the dead because they would be the ones nearest the realm of the gods. This may have been where the great Alans hoped their souls would be headed after death and they would need their own boats to navigate the waters of Oceanus. So, then, what was the coin for?

History of the Wishing Well: Wishing wells are common all over the world. Toss in a coin for good luck. We all do it. Anthropologists date the practice as far back as ancient Egypt and the Mesoamerican cultures. It was common practice to placate the gods with gifts. Want your natural water resources to remain sweet and pure? Toss in a valuable coin as a gift and hope for the best. This lends credence to the local legend that loved ones of dead great Alans would toss a coin in the well for good luck with regard to the afterlife situation of a family member who had passed.

Of interesting note is the local legend that the entire clan was wiped out by a plague. This is to explain the small, rectangular open entries into the tombs rather than be sealed crypts. It is said that once a person’s entire family died, having no one left to bury them, once becoming sick, the remaining survivor would climb into the tomb and await death. The gringa wonders if they tossed a coin into the well for themselves since they knew no one else was left alive to wish them well on the other side?

If you plan to visit, expect quite a trek to get there and plan to be your own guide. The place is remote and rarely visited. Even the locals avoid it on pain of death. It’s about a 3 hour drive from the nearest thing that can be called civilization. And the road has a reputation for danger. But, from the looks of things, if you like adventure, history and mystery, this will be a very satisfying jaunt!

Sources:

Encylclopedia of Sacred Places, Volume 1 by Norbert Brookman

RT

Theoi

University of California Irvine Anthropology

Dante’s “Inferno

English Russia

Image Credits: Atlas Obscura

Video Credit: Sam Conney

Are You A Passive Terrorist?


As the US has continued a long, pro-tracted war on terror that focuses on the religious element of a perceived terrorist enemy, what about the religious position of the US? Does the election of Trump signal the possibility that religious extremists have taken over the Republican party? Are Americans now living in a nation poised to become, in essence, a theocracy? With executive orders shooting out of the White House in quick succession, most citizens know little about what they actually mean. We read the headlines, perhaps even the wording of the orders. But what about the motives inspiring them? Even more importantly, what are the long-term consequences? In other words, what is the hoped for end-game the Republican party desires for the country they are re-shaping?

The gringa finds it pointless to try to ascertain motives. The private discussions and hidden agendas are just that, private and hidden. But there are clues that have been laid out right in the open long before Republicans began fuming openly about Obama’s presidency. And many of these clues point to a Republican party effectively taken over by religious extremists.

As early as 2005 there was at least one Republican concerned about the direction the party was headed:

“This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy.” – U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-CT, 3/25/05, with regard to the Terri Shiavo case.

To discover how this happened, interested dear readers must look to activities within American churches prior to 2005.

“… true Christian citizenship… [involves engagement in society to] take dominion over all things as vice-regents of God.” Rev. D. James Kennedy, Sept. 1994 when addressing the national convention of political special interest group Christian Coalition.

What does dominion ideology mean to American Christians? The first command God gave to Adam was to have children (Gen. 1:26). The second command was to subdue the entire earth. For dominionist Americans, the Republican party platform that is anti-abortion is in perfect alignment with the first commandment.
Despite the instruction of Jesus to turn the other cheek and, in essence, co-exist peacefully with all of mankind who are our brothers, dominionist Americans believe in military aggression in order to rule the world as an obligation of their religious calling and duty. Dominion theology is no less dangerous than the perversion of Islam used by ISIS.

“There will never be world peace until God’s house and God’s people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world.” Pat Robertson, The Secret Kingdom.

Here’s a taste of Pat Robertson’s ideology that the Christian God is the only way to make America great. Do not miss all the phrases which make it clear that he believes that America was originally designed to be a theocracy, not a democracy. He is the star of a recruitment video for the Christian Coalition:

But how influential are special interest groups like the Christian Coalition and well-known religious leaders like Pat Robertson? After all, most people are inclined to believe that churches are playing by the rules, not preaching politics from the pulpits. When Time magazine interviewed Pat Robertson in 1995 regarding the most recent elections, here is what he reported about the effectiveness of the strategy implemented by the Christian Coalition:

“… eager volunteers down to the precinct level… handing out 33 million voter guides, often in church pews, prior to last November’s election, the Coalition is credited with providing the winning margin for perhaps half the Republicans’ 52 seat gain in the House of Representatives and a sizable portion of their nine seat pickup in the Senate”

Consider the terms of George W. Bush. Religious leaders made no secret of their support of the Bush-Cheney administration.

“It is the responsibility of… every evangelical Christian… to get serious about re-electing President Bush.” Jerry Falwell as reported by The New York Times, July 16, 2004

And Bush made no secret that he was God’s vessel in the White House. There was no separation of church and state as he led daily devotionals every morning, reading from “My Utmost for His Highest” with his staff. George W. made no secret of using descriptors like “messenger of God” with regard to himself. As he made executive decisions like going to war, he was never too shy to claim that he was doing “the Lord’s will”.

In the book, “Plan of Attack”, written by Bob Woodward, based on his personal conversations with President George W about the Iraq war, he clearly lays out the case for perceiving the war as a holy war waged by the US on behalf of George W’s god. Fulfilling his god’s will was all the justification George W. needed to lie to Congress, the American public and even certain members appointed to his cabinet. In George W’s mind he was embarking on a modern day Christian crusade.

Despite George W’s criticisms of the Afghani Taliban regime’s brutal enforcement of radical religious fundamentalism, George W was actually paving the way back home for Republicans to re-shape the US into its own Christian Fundamentalist regime. And now we are seeing the fruits of his labor in the attacks on freedoms here at home and threats to non-Evangelical nations abroad by the Trump administration.

Who are the radical Christian fundamentalists in the Trump administration?

  • ·     Jerry Falwell, Jr. is leading Trump’s higher education task force assigned to overhaul the accreditation process and operations of universities and colleges. What this means is that whether or not an institution of higher learning receives any government funding will rely on teaching what suits the US government. If that government is a theocracy, that means teaching religious ideology and rejecting anything, even sound science, if it conflicts with the religious ideology of the government.
  • ·     Steve Bannon is most often depicted as a racist white nationalist. However, don’t overlook the significance of his religious fervor. In 2014 he delivered a speech via Skype for a Catholic conference at the Vatican. He attributed the economic and social crisis of the US as a result of the erosion of Judeo-Christian beliefs rather than the effects of capitalism. In other words, only re-shaping the nation into earlier models of a stricter religious-focused American society can the country become great again.
  • ·     Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, poses the greatest danger because she is in a position to affect the belief system of our upcoming generations. She wants to remove the teaching of evolution in public schools and replace it with the religious doctrine of intelligent design. By re-directing money away from our public school systems through the voucher system she supports, DeVos can accomplish her goal of government funding of religious education and destroying public education that, by law, cannot show preference to any specific religion.

But why does any of this matter? The primary reason all of this matters is that radical fundamental evangelicalism culminates in Zionism. The ultimate goal of Zionism is world domination as the duty of Jews and Christians to subdue the world and rule for the sake of their god’s glory. When this is achieved, their god will return and manifest in the flesh, restoring world peace and order while doing away with suffering and death.
The only way fundamentalist Christians and Zionists can achieve this goal is with enormous wealth that is the means to military dominance. This wealth, for the US, is generated through the invasion of non-Evangelical countries who are subjugated and exploited without conscience because they are not god’s people.

This ideology thus makes the US no different than ISIS in its motives for waging war. The primary difference is that the US makes a concentrated effort to keep up appearances at home. In order to have a free hand around the world the US must maintain a homeland population that is easily managed.

Within the Republican party are the war hawks who are religiously motivated as well as the war hawks who are motivated solely for the purpose of amassing more wealth, the investors in corporate interests abroad. So long as the Republican party continues to be in power, the US will continue to be at war, and shamefully so. For we are not protecting, preserving and spreading democracy. We are exploiting others while we destroy their native lands for national gain.
When Americans become fully aware that the humane social norms, luxuries, freedoms and comforts of American culture are by design, to keep them compliant, they must then accept that their silence and inaction also makes them complicit in their nation’s ability to perpetrate religious inspired terrorism around the world. By refusing to be a part of the resistance, an American allows the US to continue business as usual without so much as a hiccup. Americans who prefer to keep their eyes closed become, in essence, a passive terrorist.

Sources:

NY Times

Occupy Democrats

Theocracy Watch

Christian Headlines

Image Credit: The Gospel Coalition

Video Credits: PFAWdotorg

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbiFt3UdxX7LxferwDmuegQ

India’s 1st Female Muslim Ruler


The average American is inundated with headlines and articles about the nature of Islam practically on a daily basis. Despite the fact that many Americans don’t even have a Muslim as a close, personal friend, they often believe they have a pretty good handle on Islamic culture. One of the most common misconceptions non-Muslims have about Islamic culture is how women are perceived and treated. That is one reason the gringa, who has a Muslim daughter that enjoys a liberated life, higher education and career in medicine, would like the American public to become better informed. Let’s start with some notable Islamic women and their achievements as recorded in history.

Hinduism may be most commonly associated with India, but, once upon a time, a brave Muslim warrior became India’s first female Muslim ruler. Her name was Raziya, the daughter of a Turkish slave, Iltutmish Raziya, who achieved final greatness as the Sultan of Delhi, paving the way for his daughter’s future acclaim.

The year is 1236 in India when Raziya Sultan, birth name Jalalat-Al-Din Raziya, took the throne as the first female Sultan of Delhi. Her older brother, Nasiruddin, governor of Bengal, had died. Her younger brothers were too young to rule. So, when her father, the reigning Sultan, died, his legacy passed to the next capable heir according to the law of “qabliyat”. That was Raziya.

What determined her legally “qabliyat”, or, capable, of ruling a nation? While her father was Sultan, Raziya had acquired many years of experience as a trusted minister and regent when her father, the Sultan, was away on state business. Formally educated in the Qu’ran, she was also trained in the martial arts and became a skilled mounted warrior, be it on horseback or commanding an elephant.

As she carried herself with dignity and exhibited noble accomplishments, her father confided to the ulama, the religious law scholars, that he saw in his daughter “signs of power and bravery”.  He expressed his preference for her over his sons with these words:

“My sons are devoted to the pleasures of youth, and not one of them is qualified to be king… After my death, you will find that there is none more competent to guide the state than my daughter.”

Many noblemen within the kingdom resented the idea of a female Sultan. But Raziya was clever and rendered their opposition powerless. She sowed seeds of discontent among them, making it possible to win over enough that she soon had a majority supporting her. As support for her leadership solidified, she was able to manage all the affairs of state through the loyalty of appointed maliks (lesser kings) and amirs (state governors).

Her accomplishments include building public schools, expanding academic opportunity, opening medical and science research centers, and public libraries for everyone to have access to religious texts related to Islam and Hinduism. She oversaw an extensive infrastructure project that created a sophisticated roadway system. This strengthened the kingdom’s economy and security, connecting remote villages and military outposts. And, contrary to many modern Americans who view Islam as intolerant, Sultan Raziya established the law of religious tolerance and equality between Hindus and Muslims.

It is interesting to note that she claimed the official title of Raziya Sultan rather than the feminine version, Raziya Sultana. This was by design to communicate to all that she was, indeed, the sovereign and rightful ruler of Delhi. She also set aside traditional female attire, opting for the masculine fashion of tunics and turbans. When she boldly rode out in public on horseback or elephant, she did not wear a purdah, the customary veil associated with Muslim women of that era.

Much to the dismay of the nobles who continued to refuse to accept a woman ruling over them, Raziya, secure in her power, made it clear that she did not need their approval. She signaled her independence by appointing a trusted slave to the strategic position of commander of her army. Even more shocking to the discontented nobles was that the new army commander was not even a Turk. He was Jamaluddin Yakut, an Ethiopian. His official new title was Amir-i-Akhur which literally means Intendent of the Royal Stables. The horses and elephants maintained in the stables were, in essence, the kingdom’s war machines. So he was, indeed, Commander of the Army.

The antagonistic noblemen were so incensed they conspired to overthrow their Sultan. They hoped a bit of romantic intrigue might result in a jealous rivalry that could end in assassination. You see, dear readers, at one time a nobleman, Malik Ikhtiyauddin Mirza Altunia, who had been a good friend to Raziya’s father, had proposed marriage to the new female Sultan. She turned him down, citing her responsibilities as head of state. She did, however, reward him with a governorship of Tabarhinda (today’s Bhatinda). The troublemaking noblemen began to gossip to Altunia, telling him lies about an affair between Raziya Sultan and the new Commander of the Army, Yakut. Altunia reacted as expected and joined the rebellion.

The rebellion consisted of small pockets of resistance cropping up in remote areas. Yakut had to send the army here and there, squashing fires and skirmishes as they popped up. Eventually, with his army scattered and tired, Yakut was killed in battle. His disheartened soldiers surrendered to Altunia. This led to Raziya Sultan’s forces turning on her, taking her prisoner.

The noblemen who started all of this trouble appointed Raziya’s step-brother as the new Sultan. It turned out that he was a drunk who oppressed the people and slaughtered all who criticized him. As the disaster of his leadership was fully realized, Altunia once again softened his heart for his old love. Raziya saw the strategic advantage of the alliance and the two were married.

Although Raziya Sultan did gain her freedom and, ultimately, her throne because of this marriage, the bloom on the rose faded quickly.  One particular nobleman, Bahram Shah, could not let go of his hatred for her. He continued to stir up resistance. Raziya Sultan often took to the battlefield. The exact details of her death are unknown but the gringa will share the legend that is most often told:

Engaged valiantly in battle, Raziya Sultan was struck with an arrow. She fled the battlefield, looking for a place to restore her strength. A man discovered her and offered her food and a place of concealment where she could rest, unaware of who she was and thinking that she was a male soldier. While asleep she shifted her position. This revealed to her rescuer a glimpse of a golden tunic with expert needlework and pearl embellishments. Enraged when he realized that this was a woman disguised as a man, the rescuer turned murderer, later selling her valuables at market.
Legend recounts that the murderer buried Raziya Sultan. However, if you travel to Delhi you can find a tomb designated as this famous woman’s tomb. In fact, you might find several! Who really knows where Raziya Sultan lies today?!
If you don’t like this kind of ending to the fantastic account of Raziya Sultan’s life, you can see any number of fanciful and romantic endings in the many dramatic re-enactments on stage or in film that tell her amazing tale. And the next time you hear someone stereotype Muslims as not respecting their women, oppressing them and affording them no power, you will know what they don’t know. That Muslims are people like everyone else. Some good, some bad. And within every religion there are those who abuse the opportunity to use religion as a means of power over others while there are those who understand the true meaning of their religion: to serve all of mankind with kindness and humility, regardless of gender.

Sources:

Delhi Timeline

History of Islam

The Famous People

Mvslim.com

Image Credit: Alchetron

Video Credit:
Mint

VideoVolunteers