Monday, December 28, 2015

Post-holiday clean up

Ah, Christmas.

What a concept.

As we finally decompress in the days after – the house is clean, the unacceptable gifts (wool sweater which I am allergic to, and thrift store shirt three sizes too large) donated to local homeless shelter, cat allowed outside during brief dry spell – I find myselfd grateful as usual for only one thing. The holiday is over.

I must grant that I enjoyed my dinner with my blood family. It was good to see them again and to catch up on their lives and foibles, to see those I truly care for, those I actually like, and remind myself of why I avoid the others.

Some are doing well, some are in status, one or two are spiraling the drain, but in a large family this is a dynamic to be expected.

I was pleased to see a beloved cousin secure in the arms of a new man with whom she is finally happy, building a stable home for herself and her children with this sane and rational and most importantly loving new person.

She is distancing herself from the rest of us, but who can blame her, she has found happiness, something the rest of us merely aspire to.

It was also good to see a “adopted” cousin who has found both his music and his soul mate. He too seems happier and stabler and she is without a doubt a good influence upon him.

Another cousin proved himself both talented and with impeccable good taste. He seems also to have found a calling where he fits in and where his personality quirks are assets rather than causes for pain. He is being validated as the being he is meant to be rather than vilified for what he is not. To see him transcend his environment is a godsend and an inspiration.

Others were sadder cases, stultified and trapped in old patterns. It was somewhat depressing to see them as they not only were no longer growing but seemed to have forgotten that growth was an option.

And to see myself against this backdrop was illuminating. To see my small growths and largfe failures, to see what the future offered and to finally come to terms with the fact that some things will never change.

There were some total losses here, which hurt, but there were moments of gratification as well.

So while I did not get to feast, I wassailed much. While I did not have the option of being a new person – most could not cope with me as a man rather than a disturbed child, I at least had the option of being a surprising one.

And so I start the New Year with some new ideas...and some hope.

Not a bad exchange.




Saturday, December 26, 2015

Crock Pot Chili ver 2.1

Crockpot chili

There is a minimum of one day's cooking time on this – largely because of the beans.

I use red kidney beans – largely because I am allergic to every other bean on the planet.

You rinse the beans in a colander or bowl and drain off all the water. Place the beans in a crockpot with two times as much water as beans. So if you use a cup of beans you want 2 cups of water and so on.

Cook the beans overnight on low. Most crockpots have three settings, warm, low, and high. I almost never use the high setting when cooking as it tends to either scald the food or sear the outsides leaving the insides uncooked.

I actually prefer to cook my beans for two days. Once the beans are soft I use a fork to mash a few against the walls of the pot. This allows the starch inside the beans to mix more freely with the water and thickens the base.

I personally allow my beans to cook until there is only enough water to have a texture approximating bean soup. (Steve leaves more water but he likes an extra thin chili).

That is optional however.

Next I dice up 2-3 tomatoes and then placed the diced tomatoes inside the blender to make a tomato paste.

Sometimes if I want extra flavor, I put the diced tomatoes in a skillet with a little cooking oil (I use coconut oil but others will work – just be aware that peanut and olive oils both flavor whatever you are cooking) and pan sear them so that they become both soft and pick up a subtle “grilled” flavor. Then I blend those into paste.

I then put the tomato paste in a good sized mixing bowl.

Then I partially pan fry up turkey burger in the skillet with some more oil and a little sea salt. (You can do this with hamburger instead, I can't.) The trick here is to add the salt (or your seasonings) as you stir the burger. I like my burger extra fine so I break it up with the spatula as I cook it.

You don't want to completely cook the burger in the skillet – if you do it will simply dry out and get nasty in the chili mix.

NOTE: Add your diced onions, taco seasoning, or whatever here. In the skillet. NOT in the pot.

Then I either drain the grease from the burger OR for same day eating and extra flavor I drain off almost all of the grease and leave maybe a teaspoon in the meat.

I stir the cooked meat into the tomato paste in the mixing bowl.

Then I stir the meat and tomatoes into the chili, cook the whole thing in the covered pot for about thirty minutes more on low.

And then serve it.

Steve likes to top the finished product with cheese shreds and diced onions, but that is up to you. In my opinion a touch of sour cream at this stage is also not amiss, but again that is up to you.

Happy snacking!






Monday, November 30, 2015

Baked Apple Turkey Wings

You Will Need:
Turkey wings
Apples (min 2)
Apple Sauce
Coconut Oil or Peanut Oil
Tools:
Baking pan
Spoon
Sharp knife
Oven

Thaw the turkey wings.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
While the wings are thawing - core and peel (optional) two large apples. Cut the apple into apple rings starting at the bottom of the apple and moving to the top. Cut your slices as thinly as possible as this helps release flavor.
Oil your pan. Make sure to rub the whole inner surface including the inner sides.
Lay your apple slices in the bottom of the pan.
Place your thawed turkey wings on top of the apple slices.
Using your spoon, spread a thin layer of apple sauce on the skin of the thawed wings.
Place pan in oven and cook for until turkey is done and outer skin crisp.
Serve.

NOTE: This works better with an unsweetened apple sauce! Sugar causes the skin to burn and a flavored apple sauce is even worse as instead of caramelizing it carbonizes.
I usually make my own apple sauce in a crock-pot, placing several apples in water and slow cooking them overnight. Then you just drop the softened apples into a blender and, voila, apple sauce.
This tastes better, cooks more easily, and is better for you.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Irony, the darker side of Greenville is the lighter shade.

So I am going to risk a rant here on Greenville racism.
Greenville is actually a very well integrated, multicultural city. We have Germans, Russians, Sufi, Saudis, Hindu, Hispanics, Latinos, French, and more due to the various international and national companies with home bases here. 
When my partner and I moved here we were both favorably impressed by the levels of integration and mixed racial couples we saw. Most stores and shops also seemed integrated, and we found the general racial atmosphere congenial.
And then I had a rather odd day on Black Friday.
I met a scrawny young man (12-13?) of African American descent in third tier hand-me-downs hunting squirrels as table meat in my front yard.
This half sized “terror” was armed with a high powered pellet gun, a plastic bag, and orders not to come home without at least five squirrels.
After offering him a lecture in gun safety, id est, “Don't aim that at my house”, “don't aim that at me”, “for shit sake point that thing at the ground, okay?”; and asking him to stay out of my yard I then gave him a bag of leftovers and canned goods and told him to go home.
A little after that a police car showed up – no doubt called by a neighbor far more affluent than this poor dude – but they failed to find the “dangerous, armed, black man” a task I declined to help them with and eventually they too moved along.
My first issue is actually a rather more human and primal one, having absolutely zip to do with race.
What am I to make of a malnourished teen of any color hunting trash meat in an affluent city with a toy gun on the biggest day of the shopping year and a day after I ate myself silly?
Obvious questions arise. 
Things having to do with his parents, his life, his school/social worker if he has one, his community, our completely confused country. 
But I was too tired for big picture issues that day. 
And really what more can I do?
So I stuck to rule one, “First Do No Harm” and I hope his parents and he ate fairly well tonight.
Jesus.
And then came the followup in the last few days.
Things that made me really rethink the city I live in.
I still love it here; still find in mostly open and friendly to people of all types, stereotypes, genders and colors, but this incident really did make me look a bit deeper.
Because of Squirrel Boy.
You see, my partner and I both belong to an online neighborhood watch group here in Greenville, and my partner posted this to the site...
We have a young man in our neighborhood killing squirrels with a high powered pellet gun. After speaking with him we got the impression he was hunting them for meat so we simply asked him not to enter our yards as we have cats we love and advised him that we have an autistic roommate (Kanners) -and my partner is also on the spectrum. He seemed to understand that we did not mean to harm him and promised to be careful, but I would like to let others know he exists. His barrel discipline is not great either so if you approach him be careful.
He posted this and our location on the site in the hopes – quoting him here, that “no one would shoot him cause he's black and has a gun”. (He is from New York and thus is a bit more cynical than I am, or rather was, keep reading.)
In actuality this was not too misguided an idea as the kid was trespassing and he did appear to be "armed". The leap to “dangerous” is not too far fetched.
But I was absolutely stunned by the answers on the forum. Several people suggested this is what we got for mingling with the “coloreds”. One woman offered to help us find a home in a “whiter neighborhood” those precise words, no euphemisms, although there were several of those as well.
About 90% of the posts suggested we call the cops immediately, a few offered to do it for us.
I do have to offer the caveat here that we live on a border line. Two streets up, there are all the white McMansions and boutique shops, two streets down is the high crime district of White Horse Road, and most of the nastier comments did come from the privileged neighbors, but even so...
And now this crap.
When I logged on this morning, I found that one neighbor had gone so far as to send the kid's description – a cold, label laden dehumanizing version of it anyway – to the local PD.
It reads:
Help please. Black juvenile with a gun, early teens, wearing ragged clothes and with a “afro” has been seen climbing fences and trespassing across private property, in Prosperity area. He is killing small animals and possibly pets. If you see him please do something about this threat to our safety and community.”
The comments on this one ranged from if “I see him I'll call the police” to “He better not cross my yard, I shoot back.”
Nice, huh?
Gotta love the holiday spirit.  
I have no solution to this one, I am just reporting it. I wish I could do more, but have no idea what more might entail.
So tonight I am simply going to once again wish this young man well. I hope he is safe, fed, and warm tonight.
As all of us have a right to be regardless of or skin color, sexual preference, genitals, religion, or politics.
Good night, little bro.
Sleep well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How can you have a war on Christmas?

So here is why the concept of a “War on Christmas” makes absolutely zero sense.

There is a reason it is called Christmas, you know – the word is Latin, Christ + mas. Or rather Christ plus more, and that is precisely how all this mess got started the Christian beliefs were added to, admixed with or layered upon more, but what was the more?

Well quite a bit.


FAQ BOX for the Lazy
Did you know Yeshua/Jesus the Christ was born nowhere NEAR December 25 – he was probably born in September according to historians).

The day we celebrate as Christmas was the "birth day" of the sun- god, "Sol Invictus" or "Mithras".

December 25 was the concluding day of the pagan winter festival called the "Saturnalia" and also a day convenient to other winter or harvest holy days.

There is also no mention of any Christmas day celebrations anywhere in the Bible, not even in the new testament when Christ was very much Mas.


So before one gets carried away with Christmas worship or any of the various idiotic wars on Christmas – Starbucks cups? Really. I mean why are Christians upset by the removal of pagan symbols from a cup containing a beverage invented by Muslims? - there are a few things you should consider.

Like an education, perhaps.

Let's start here.

Werner Keller's book heavy book, The Bible as History, contains the following passage.

"December 25 is referred to in documents as Christmas Day in A.D. 324 for the first time. Under the Roman emperor Justinian [A.D. 527-565] it was recognized as an official holiday. An old Roman festival played a a major part in the choice of this particular day. December 25 in ancient Rome was the 'Dies Natali Invictus,' 'the birthday of the unconquered,' the day of the winter solstice and at the same time, in Rome, the last day of the Saturnalia, which had long since degenerated into a week of unbridled carnival..." (p. 331).

He follows it a bit later with:

"Meteorologists as well as historians and astronomers have something of importance to contribute to this question of fixing the date of the birth of Jesus. According to St. Luke: 'And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night' (Luke 2:8).
"Meteorologists have made exact recordings of the temperature at Hebron. This spot in the southern highlands of Judah exhibits the same climatic conditions as Bethlehem, which is not far distant. The temperature readings show over a period of three months that the incidence of frost is as follows: December -- 2.8 degrees; January -- 1.6 degrees; February ---0.1 degrees. The first two months have also the greatest rainfall in the year: approximately 6 inches in December, and nearly 8 inches in January. According to all existing information the climate of Palestine has not changed appreciably in the last 2,000 years, consequently modern meteorological observations can be taken as a basis.
"At Christmas-time Bethlehem is in the grip of frost, and in the Promised Land no cattle would have been in the fields in that temperature. This fact is born out by a remark in the Talmud to the effect that in that neighborhood the flocks were put out to grass in March and brought in again at the beginning of November. They remained out in the open for almost eight months.
"Around Christmas-time nowadays both animals and shepherds are under cover in Palestine.
"What St. Luke tells us points therefore to the birth of Jesus having taken place BEFORE the onset of winter..." (p. 331-332).

So so far our Jewish, Aramaic and Aramaic speaking, dark-skinned, Middle-Eastern rabbi, Yeshua Bin Joseph, aka, Jesus was a warm weather baby.

The actual nativity day of Yeshua Bin Joseph is not known for certain, but Biblical Historians relying on various Hebraic and Gnostic texts as well as the more familiar Bible (KJV and Douay-Rhymes versions) have approximated the time of year when he could have been born.

I will stick to the KJV references for now – they are in a section that King James did not alter to radically and will serve the purpose.

In the book of Luke we read that the father of John the Baptist was Zacharias, and he was a priest who served at the temple in Jerusalem. He was "of the course of Abia" (Luke 1:5).

While serving at the temple, he was informed by an angel that his wife was to have a son, who was to be named "John." After this, Zacharias finished "the days of his ministration," and "departed to his own house" (v.23). "And after those days, his wife Elizabeth conceived..." (v. 24).

The names of the different courses of priests that served at the Temple are given in I Chronicles 24:1-19. "Abia" or "Abijah" was the EIGHTH course.

So according to the Jewish historian Josephus, each one of these courses served at the Temple for one week, the first course serving the first week of Nisan, in the spring (compare I Chron. 27:1-2), and then each course in its own order. You can check the book of Exodus for more on this stuff, as well.

Anyway, all the priests served during the annual festivals (Passover in spring, Pentecost, and then Tabernacles in the fall). After six months, the order would be repeated, thus each "course" would serve two weeks during a year.

The course of Abijah, then, would have served the eighth week in the rotation. The eighth week from Nisan 1, leaving out the week of Passover, when all the priests served, would have been IYAR 27 to SIVAN 5, the day just before Pentecost , which generally fell on Sivan 6. After serving a week in the Temple, Zacharias would have remained another week in Jerusalem, because of the Feast of Shavuot or Pentecost that week. Therefore, he returned home shortly after this, and his wife then conceived. This would have been about the middle of June. If we add nine months to this date, the normal time for the gestation of a human baby in the womb, John the Baptist would have been born about the middle of March, in the spring, shortly before the Passover.

Yeshua was conceived about six months after John (Luke 1:24-31, esp. verse 26). This would suggest that Yeshua the Messiah was conceived about the middle of December. This would place his birth nine months, or 270 days, later -- or the month of September. In the early fall in other words.
That is in itself interesting as far as it's implications to Christian belief goes but the history of the holiday – contraction of “holy day” by the way - season gets a lot more entangled.

Let's have a look into another reather weighty tome here.

In the book, History of Rome, by Michael Grant, you can find this intriguing passage.

"Yet there was also another pagan belief during this same epoch, that much more nearly competed with Christ for the control of the Western world. This was the cult of the Sun, which was revered by millions of the inhabitants of the Roman Empire, and its religion for a time even became the state worship....
"In Rome, the divinity of the Sun came very early on; and then, centuries afterwards, in the superb dome of Hadrian's Pantheon, the central opening, surrounded by star-like rosettes, represented the solar orb....Before long, the emperor Aurelian established a massive temple of the Unconquerable Sun as the central and focal point of the entire religious system of the state (274). The birthday of the god was to be on December 25 and this transformed into Christmas day, was one of the heritages Christianity owed to the his cult” (p. 391- 392)

You can read more about this adaptation of Christianity for the pagan masses in a book by historian Jack Finegan, Myth & Mystery: An Introduction to the Pagan Religions of the Biblical World.

Finegan writes:

"...But the worship of the sun-god continued widely throughout the empire, and under Aurelian (A.D. 270-275) the cult was restored to its former high estate. In the year 274 Aurelian declared the god -- now called Deus Sol Invictus -- the official deity of the Roman Empire; he built a splendid temple of the sun in Rome...and set the sun's birthday celebration (naturalis solis invicti) ON DECEMBER 25, the date then accepted for the winter solstice (also in his solar character the BIRTHDAY OF MITHRAS). In the time of Constantine the cult of Deus Sol Invictus was still at its height, and the portrait of the sun-god was on the coins of Constantine....Likewise it must have been in this time and with the intent to transform the significance of AN EXISTING SACRED DATE that the birthday of Jesus, which had been celebrated in the East on January 6...was placed in Rome ON DECEMBER 25, THE DATE OF THE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION OF SOL INVICTUS. This date appears in a list of dates probably compiled in A.D. 336 and published in the Roman city calendar, edited by Filocalus, for the year 354" (Finegan, p. 211-212)

But why bother to adapt things at all? Well for the usual reason. A young up and comer was in the process of conquering his known world and he was a) a pagan himself in a Christian Rome who needed to blend in and b) smart enough to know that people will fight you tooth and nail over their religions and the conquest would go easier if he did not insist on mucking around with other peoples beliefs.

His name?

Constantine.

When Brother Constantine became Emperor of Rome, he also had the political savvy to change his allegiance to the most popular religion (Romans as Christians, now there is some irony for you. First they nail him to a crosspost and then they adopt his dogmas). After all he was taking control of and expanding a really large socio-political empire and he was deeply concerned about about the unity and coherence and stability of his Empire. Nothing can screw you up faster than a religious civil war. Look at the Isreal vs the whole rest of the Arabic War mess by way of example.

So as a truly Machiavellian politician (centuries before Machiavelli spilled the how to beans) brother Constantine decided to rationalize, incorporate, reconcile, blend and steal as many pagan beliefs as possible into Roman Christianity.

One item on his uberhip agenda was the "Edict of Toleration" in A.D. 313. He became emperor in A.D. 323 and began his spin campaign in earnest. For the next two centuries all persecutions of Christians of the Roman church, and its adherents, ceased. The sword of persecution was "not merely sheathed; it was buried" according to one Catholic pundit, to wit, Jesse Hurlbut, but Hurlbut goes on to lament the results of Constantine's making Christianity the state religion, free from all persecution. From that time, he points out, the church became totally subverted by politics and self-seeking opportunists. Right up to King James and Vatican II.

"Everybody sought membership in the church, and nearly everybody was received. Both good and bad, sincere seekers after God and hypocritical seekers after gain, rushed into the communion. Ambitious, worldly, unscrupulous men sought office in the church for social and political influence....”

Will Durant, renowned historian, in his massive work, overrated, but frequently inflicted series, The Story of Civilization, wrote in volume III, entitled Caesar and Christ, that in the new "church" that developed in the Roman Empire, the Jewishness of Yeshua was lost or rejected, and replaced with Greek philosophy and thought; That Talmudic and Levitical laws were likewise rejected, and, he then goes on to write

"...the god Christ was assimilated to the religious and philosophical traditions of the Hellenistic mind. Now the pagan world -- even the anti-Semitic world -- could accept him as its own.”
"Christianity dis not destroy paganism; it adopted it.The Greek mind, dying, came to a transmigrated life in the theology and liturgy of the Church...the Greek mysteries passed down into the impressive mystery of the Mass. Other pagan cultures contributed to the syncrestic result. From Egypt came the idea of a divine trinity...from Egypt the adoration of the Mother and Child...From Phrygia came the worship of the Great Mother....The Mithraic ritual so closely resembled the eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass that Christian fathers charged the Devil with inventing these similarities to mislead frail minds. Christianity was the last great creation of the ancient pagan world" (p. 595).
H. G. Wells, of all people, in his Outline of History, discusses the transformation of the teachings of the Messiah into the pagan worship of the heathen, calling itself "Christian." He notes:
"The observance of the Jewish Sabbath, again, transferred to the Mithraic sun day , is an important feature of many Christian cults...He [Jesus] did not say a word about the worship of his mother Mary in the guise of Isis, the queen of Heaven. Much that is most characteristically Christian [so-called] in worship and usage, he ignored. Skeptical writers have had the temerity to deny that Jesus can be called a Christian at all" (p. 445)

For a more staid comment, have a look at Worldbook Encyclopedia.

"The exact date of Christ's birth is not known. The early Christians did NOT celebrate His birth, because they considered the celebration of anyone's birth to be a pagan custom. The first mention of the observance of Christ's birthday appears about A.D. 200. For many years, several dates were used. December 25 was first mentioned in 336" (article "Christmas").

This no longer common reference also notes that

"For many years, people observed Christmas as a religious festival only. But they gradually adopted more and more customs unrelated to the church. Most of the customs originated in cultures that existed before Christianity....In 1643, the Puritans, who regarded such celebrations as pagan, outlawed the observance of Christmas in England." Colonists in New England followed the English laws and also outlawed Christmas. But immigrants to the New World brought Christmas customs from many lands and the old festivities where soon restored.

All of the popular customs and traditions surrounding Christmas actually were celebrated at pagan mid-winter festivals thousands of years before the Messiah was born. Admits this same encyclopedia, "The custom of burning the Yule log began with the ancient Scandinavians, who once a year burned a huge log in honor of their god Thor. After the Scandinavians became Christians [sic], they made the Yule log an important part of their Christmas ceremonies."

So where did some of these more outre and now mundane customs actually come from – well all over the place.

Let''s start with the Christmas tree.

We have the Germanic Druids, the pre-Teutonic pagans, and even the Romans and Egyptians to thank for this one.

In Egypt that tree was the palm tree; in Rome it was the fir; the palm tree denoting a Roman semi-urge designated as Baal-Tamar or more literally Lord Tamar and the fir referring to him as Baal-Berith (Lord Berith). In Norway and Scandinavia it was the Ash. In England and Britain, the Oak. In Some parts of the Mediterranean the Dogwood (Spain) or the Olive.

To give other examples the palm tree also refers to an even earlier Palastinian God, called Palas – an androgynous donkey headed deity slain and resurrected on his world tree.

Further the mother of Adonis, the Sun-God and great mediatorial divinity, was mystically said to have been changed into a tree, and when in that state to have brought forth her divine son. If the mother was a tree, the son must have been recognized as the 'Man the branch.' And this entirely accounts for the putting of the Yule Log into the fire on Christmas Eve, and the appearance of the Christmas tree the next morning.

It is not coincidence that Adonis was also crucified and reborn upon the branches of a tree. An Ash.

Tree worship was very common among the ancients.

Osiris was also crucified upon a tree before being parted out and flung into the Nile.

And Odin attained his Godhood by being crucified on Yggdrasil, the World tree, usually symbolized as an Oak or even a Yew tree,

Another fun tome, Festivals, Holy Days, and Saints' Days, states

"The Christmas tree...recapitulates the idea of tree worship...gilded nuts and balls symbolizing the sun...all the festivities of the [heathen] winter solstice have been absorbed into Christmas Day...the use of holly and mistletoe to the Druidic ceremonies; the Christmas tree to the honours paid to Odin's sacred fir...." (p. 236).

Another long winded reference attributed to Collins in Christmas Folklore reads thusly:

"This idea of decorating homes on holidays is both worldwide and age-old....So the Saturnalian laurel, the Teutonic holly, the Celtic mistletoe, and the Mexican poinsettia have all attached themselves to this polyglot ceremony...”

"Many of the plants used at Christmas are symbols of fertility. Certainly any evergreen (fir, yew, laurel) with its ability to return verdure in the barrens months is appropriate, but by far the most interesting are the holly, the ivy, and the mistletoe. Holly, with its pricking leaves, white flowers, and red berries symbolizes the male reproductive urge. In fact, in the English carols...the holly is the male and the ivy is the female. This use of the plants was most likely borrowed by the Christians along with other customs of the Roman Saturnalia" (p. 22-23).

Ivy, Holly's traditional mate, in ancient Grecian rites took its name from the girl who danced with such abandon and joy before Dionysius that she fell dead at his feet. The pagan god, moved by her dance, turned her into the ivy that she might entwine whatever is near. Dionysius, of course, was the Greek version of the god of wine and revelry, another form of Bacchus, Tammuz, or Nimrod.

Mistletoe, since the earliest of times, has been regarded as mysterious and sacred, the symbol of the sun, bestower of life, an aphrodisiac, and protector against disease and poison. The plant was especially sacred to the Celtic Druids who offered it in prayer to the gods. The mistletoe was referred to by pagans as the "golden bough." A bough that itself was linked to the eternal tree, the semiotic whole tree. The phrase also refers to the whole of encapsulated Druidic occult tradition in the form of their grigmoire by the same name.

The two great holidays when the pagans gathered mistletoe were Midsummer Day, the summer solstice, and December 25, the winter solstice. It was supposed to posses the power of revealing treasures in the earth, and was formed into a "divining rod." It was also looked upon as the "seat of life" of the sacred oak, and as an emanation of the sun's fire. Kissing under the mistletoe is a survival of Saturnalian sexual licentiousness and bawdy immoral behavior, which was commonplace at the Saturnalia.

Mistletoe also had a darker usage when paired with a gold,or at least, ilded sickle it was used during the blood sacrifices of the druids.

Speaking of blood, let's talk a bit about the traditions of Christmas cakes or Christmas puddings.

Traditionally, a Christmas cake or pudding or the far earlier equivalents thereof were baked with a foreign object inside. And while the current British traditions involve several prizes and the American tradition contains none, the original traditional Christmas dessert could contain any one, but only one object from bean to gold ring depending on the household social status.

The person who found this prize was singled out as King (or Queen) of the day and had free reign of their household/city/village/serfdom for the whole of the day. In modern times this person is the winner and usually receives some small extra gift – an extra serving of food, a small gift, the right to chose the evening's games.

And the right to return to normalcy the next day.

Originally, the King of the Day was allowed full license to any and all the luxuries of the town, up to criminal ones, for the full of the day. He or she could have sex with anyone, enter any home, eat or drink, or break or play with anything. He could command others what to do and they would have to obey.

But at the end of that day, to guarantee the return of the sun, and the safety of the future crops and resources of her village, the unfortunate winner was sacrificed in a ritual fashion in front of the whole of the community.

Poison and knives were actually kind deaths...as in the tradition of the wicker man (something emulated in the Burning Man festivals of today) the King or Queen was often burned alive, his pain and screams offered by proxy sun fire to the the real sun above.

And these traditions remained even under Roman rule, with that one day and one sacrifice being felt to emulate the martyrdom of the Christ. It also had it's pagan to Christian ties, although in a less bloody form.

Alexander Hislop in his interesting book, The Two Babylons, points out that the "eating of mass" is something that definitely goes back to ancient pagan rituals. He declares in plain and clear language:

"Therefore we find the women of Judah represented as simply 'burning incense, pouring out drink-offerings, and offering cakes to the queen of heaven' (Jer.  44:19). The cakes were the 'unbloody sacrifice' she required....In the FOURTH CENTURY, when the queen of heaven, under the name of Mary, was beginning to be worshiped in the Christian Church, this 'unbloody sacrifice' also was brought in. Epiphanius states that the practice of offering and eating it began among `women of Arabia; and at that time it was well known to have been adopted from the pagans. The very shape of the unbloody sacrifice of Rome may indicate when it came. It is a small thin, round wafer; and on its roundness the Church of Rome lays so much stress....The importance, however, which Rome attaches to the roundness of the wafer, must have a reason; and that reason will be found, if we look at the altars of Egypt. 'The thin, round cake,' says Wilkinson, 'occurs on all altars.' Almost every jot or tittle in the Egyptian worship had a symbolical meaning. The round disk, so frequent in the sacred emblems of Egypt, symbolized the sun" (The Two Babylons, p. 159-160).

Or how about Santa Claus, eh?
This fat and jolly elf can be traced back to another ancient legends.

Let's return to our friend the Worldbook Encyclopedia,

"Some of Santa Claus's characteristics date back many centuries. For example, the belief that Santa enters the house through the chimney developed from an old Norse legend. The Norse believed that the goddess Hertha appeared in the fireplace and brought good luck to the home."

Let's also deal with the rather idiotic assumption that the original "Santa Claus" was a bishop by the name of St. Nicholas of Asia Minor of the fourth century, this is pretty obviously not really true, and backed by a Papal encyclica.

Although some of this bishop's deeds later came to be associated with "St. Nick," the original "Nicholas" was once again Nimrod, the "mighty one against the Lord." The word "Nicholas" means "mighty one, powerful."

Lets talk a bit more about Nimrod here for the sake of edification since I note I referenced him before and many of his archetypes from other religions.

Nimrod is the prototypical archetype of the dying-and-rising god featured throughout all of ancient mythology: Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis, etc. He is basically the fountainhead of all pagan mythology and, eventually again through Constantine, the Roman Catholic Church.

Some believe, for example, that the name Nimrod (n-m-r-d) may be somehow related to the name of the god, Marduk (m-r-d-k), the patron deity of Babylon. Others point to the Ninurta, another Sumero-Babylonian fertility god.

In both Talmudic and Islamic tradition, Nimrod was the ever popular narrative example of the wicked king, a speculated contemporary of Abraham, who led his people into idolatry.
In the Zohar, Rabbi Eleazar is quoted as saying,

Nimrod used to entice people into idolatrous worship by means of those garments [of Adam, used as a kind of magic talisman—D.P.], which enabled him to conquer the world and proclaim himself its ruler, so that mankind offered him worship.”

The mythical story is not complete, however, without Nimrod’s wife (and sometimes mother), Semiramis. She was the wife of Ninus, the legendary founder of Nineveh, who is sometimes equated with Nimrod (Josephus, for example, draws this connection). She is sometimes conflated and/or identified with Shammuramat, wife of Assyrian king Shamshi-Adad V (9th century BC).

The legends concerning Semiramis portray her as a goddess walking the earth, associated in various ways with the ancient goddess of love and fertility known variously as Atargatis, Ishtar, or Inanna.

Unfortunately, all we have of her are legends, and nothing that would conclusively connect her with Nimrod at all. And frankly, without the Semiramis tie-in, I’m hard-pressed to find any evidence for more than the most general connection between Nimrod and world mythology.

Where Nimrod becomes relevant to us however was that he was a notorious giver of gifts, usually in the service of himself, but definitely to sway the desires and loyalties of others.
So here we have traditions of a "god" who gave gifts under an evergreen tree thousands of years before the Asian Minor Bishop was born.

Among the Scandinavians, Santa Claus was the god Odin or Woden who left special gifts during the Yuletide season under the evergreen tree, the everliving tree.

Tony van Renterghem writes in When Santa Was a Shaman: The Ancient Origins of Santa Claus & the Christmas Tree:

As to the previously mentioned Catholic Saint christianed Nicholas, he also had a seriously entangled history. He was a compilation of two separate saints (one from Myra in Asia Minor, the other from Pinora), both of whom were -- as the Church nowadays admits -- nothing more than Christianized water deities (possibly related to the Greco-Roman god Poseidon/Neptune)"

In the 1970s, the Second Vatican Council after laying waste to any number of dogmas and doctrines also formally stated that no Roman Catholic bishop by the name of Nicholas had ever existed and even went so far as to say that Nicholas as a human being probably had his back stories in pagan canon rather than Catholic canon.

Says van Renterghem, further:

"By absorbing such pagan feasts and traditions, the Christian Church could subtly bring in its own theology: in this case, establishing the good Saint Nicholas, bringer of love and gifts, while grudgingly allowing the presence of the Olde Religion's Herne/Pan, but only as a slave to Saint Nicholas. Thus, in parts of Europe, the Church turned Herne into Saint Nicholas' captive, chained Dark Helper; none other than Satan, the Dark One, symbolic of all evil....”

"In Holland and several other European countries, the Saint Nicholas figure is still highly esteemed. He appears as a tall, dignified, bearded, white-haired old man, dressed as a Catholic bishop, complete with cloak, mitre, and pastoral staff, a seemingly genuine Catholic saint, but with a bizarre, quite unsaintly habit of riding through the skies on a white horse, followed by his Dark Helper. It seems that our Catholic saint inherited some of these customs from the pagan god Wodan, who had also been a bearded, white-haired, old man also dressed in a hat and cloak, carried a staff (or spear), rode a white horse, and dragged along the same dark slave/helper on a chain" (p. 97).

The American version of Santa Claus seems more likely to have been lifted from the Dutch "Sinterklaas" – a winter demi-urge who brings gifts to good children, while bad children are beaten liberally by the "Dark Helper," called Zwarte Pier, or "Black Pete," or Krampus who brandishes a stave with which to bludgeon those deserving punishment.
Krampus, horned, fur-clad, of Pan and Herne, and given to child abuse, is actually not only still a known character but is also gaining in American popularity especially among the younger geek culture segments of the population.

But if you want to dig really deeply in Western Mythos you will come back to Odin, or Woden." He was the chief god of Norse mythology, a fierce fighter who carried a spear as his special weapon. He was renown as a mighty hunter, and for his magical powers.

Odin was also a risen deity, one who in crucifixion gained knowledge and wisdom, and who was tied to all the intellectual aspects of man. He was the All-Father and in this guise the protector of his children: all of mortaldom.

To quote van Renterghem again,

"Wodan/Odin: ...man's friend, the mysterious Schimmel rider. Dragging his dark and devilish slave Eckhart along on a chain, he rides through the stormy skies. He leads the Wild Hunt, eluding, and finally subjugating, the powers of evil. He also wears a broad-brimmed hat, a wide mantel, holds his spear, and rides through the skies (replace his hat with a bishop's mytre and the spear with a crozier, and we have the Dutch Saint Nicholas)" (p. 111).

So Osiris, Nimrod, Sinterklaas, Odin, take your pick but acknowledge that Santa Claus is not “of the Church”.

So what are we left with in summary...

A holy day celebrated by one of the three largest religions on Earth that was largely plagiarized from conquered peoples, which glorifies gift giving and materialism,and was built upon the concept that a blood sacrifice is required to make the sun rise again on the next day.

A day dedicated to ending the long cold dark periods when death holds sway and which has very little to do with Christianity as practiced by the majority of Christians or the majority of people period except in the abstract wherein Christians too seek to hold death at bay.

A day that was often used by the powerful to subjugate and by the ignorant and the afraid to seek surcease from hardship – usually by imposing it upon others.

But also a day dedicated to the light, to knowledge, to protecting the innocent, to fertility, and to life.

And in that final spirit – I can accept it.

Happy holidays.






Sunday, November 22, 2015

Opting out of the Consumer Christmas Cycle : Charity Links

Links to my preferred gift giving charities

Hello, all. I am opting out of the gift giving cycle this year. Those who feel they owe me something for whatever reason are invited to give to the following charities in my name instead.

Here are quick links to my preferred charities.

 UN SYRIAN REFUGEE FUND :  donate.unhcr.org/syria

 DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: https://donate.doctorswithoutborders.org/ccupdate.cfm

 THE WOUNDED WARRIORS PROJECT: https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/default.aspx?tsid=1143&ovr_acv_id=1398&campaignSource=ONLINE&source=BS15152P&gclid=CjwKEAiA7MWyBRDpi5TFqqmm6hMSJAD6GLeAdnNbJVRROZyIk8BYatcr80h34UQ0WL8UdYXhcbzv1xoC1Rjw_wcB

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: http://www.amnestyusa.org/donate-to-amnesty
 
Those wondering why there are no autism or Lyme links here (when I have both) are sadly advised that the reason for that was because I could not find a single charity in those categories that had not been rocked by a financial scandal of some kind this year.

But feel free to donate directly to an autism or Lyme group in your area or directly to a family affected by autism or Lyme. FB and GoFundMe are full of pages for such persons.

Thanks for giving, all, and for remembering the real reason for the season.

Spenser Roberts

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Lazy Person's Workout Guide. Yup, This is Me.

If you are as lazy as I am, then exercise is probably a big issue for you. I know I really really have to cheat to do the bare minimum. And this is very sad as exercise really is as close to a health care "magic bullet" as we are ever going to get - proven to help with ADD, ADHD, Depression, Schizophrenia, Cancer prevention, Cardiac health, addiction and so much more.
So in honor of my battle to just get up out of the chair and move around a bit, here are some tips and tricks for those who'd rather have a body built by Playstation.
But first an important reminder of another important reason to be healthy.
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That said, we will begin with an actual set of tricks for those of you still reading this.
Lazy Exercise Program
  • Don't use elevators or escalators; instead, take the stairs. Start with one such substitution a day, and build up slowly. Don't do 50 floors on your first day. Take the elevator up to 45 on Day one, and 40 on Day 3, and so on.
  • Stop circling parking lots and fighting for the closest spot. Park a little bit farther away from the office or mall, and walk. And if it's rain – d'uh, that's what raincoats and umbrellas are for. And just knot the bags closed on you way out.
  • If you take the bus or subway, get off one or two stops early and walk the rest of the way.
  • Vacuum more often, change the sheets more often, mop the floor more often. These get your heart pumping, which means they are excellent calorie burners.
  • Eliminate one "treat" food from your diet per week. Actually this will help you discover any food allergies you may have as well. If you ditch the corn chips and feel 100% better, then you know to stop with the corn.
  • Walk one mile three days per-week. Sure buy a pedometer...and do not walk a mile o the ice cream shop, okay?
  • Drink plain water in place of your normal soda.
  • Black coffee only. If you are seeking the health benefits of coffee, drink coffee. Not some customized coffee shop beverage that you made up and thinks makes you look cool – while really just annoying the barista and all the people behind you in line.
  • Are you sitting at a computer most of your working hours? Get up every hour to do something. Walk the stairs, do body weight squats, get on the floor for some abs, or walk during your lunch break. Look into resistance band office workouts as well. Many are office chair modified.
  • Vending machines are evil. They are overpriced, too close to your office, and full of stuff that will kill you. Bring your own snacks.
  • When grocery shopping, stay out of the center of the store. Walk the perimeter. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats are all stored against the walls. So you'll both eat healthier and get more exercise.
  • Store your dried cooking stuff in a pantry or a shelf in a room as far from the kitchen as possible. You'll have to walk a bit further for the rice but again you are getting more exercise.
  • Put your running shoes, bike, or gym bag where you'll see it. Better yet put them where you'll trip over them. It's hard to say you forgot about running when you stumble over your shoes on your way into the bathroom.
  • Look into “body weight” or “prison” exercise routines. No gym fees, no equipment, and no excuses.
  • Go outside. Do your pull ups on a tree branch. Get into Parkour. Walk a dog. The fresh air, change in environment and chance to meet new people are all good for you.
So let's get started, I think I need to go to the...crap, who put my bike helmet there?!?