Pain and Suffering.

 

WE ARE ALL ON A PERSONAL JOURNEY WHICH IS UNDERSCORED BY EXPERIENCES OF PAIN, HAPPINESS AND THE CONCOMITANT EMOTIONS WHICH INSPIRE OUR CREATIVITY AND DETERMINE WHAT IT IS TO BE HUMAN.  The journey is never easy. People struggle.  People can be happy,   but people also experience various degrees of mental and physical pain, which can escalate over time and become highly problematic both mentally and physically.  This can have an accumulative effect on families, communities and the world.  Often the smallest pain becomes a long-term suffering and a burden that outweighs any daily routine and the numbers of people experiencing this malady are ever increasing.   Further, all attempts to get rid of the pain and suffering can make it worse. The more we try to eliminate pain the bigger the chasm we create around it.

Pain is the way the body deals with injury, it is a natural phenomenon, but it can also put the human body into a survival mode that has negative consequences.  Pain raises the heart rate, depletes energy and makes for feelings of sickness and hopelessness. Evolution has created a duality where we must feel the intensity of pain in order to know pleasure; but there is not always a guaranteed route to the immediate elimination of pain.  Better, we deal with the causes of the pain and learn how to push through it so the body and mind can heal naturally. There is always an underlying cause to human pain. We live in a biological system of cause and effect. Hence, dealing with causes is the obvious route to solving the human condition of ongoing physical and existential pain.

Understanding Pain.

Removing pain and suffering generally requires a special kind of work because getting rid of an internal problem is not the same as getting rid of something bothersome in the external world.  The mind is very different in the way it processes and stores information and especially emotional data.   A problem in the external world can often be pushed aside.  However, if one tries to push aside a mental problem it becomes repressed and manifests in much bigger problems.  All pain has mental and emotional data. This happens because brains accumulate memories and grow them into complete and often disturbing discourses. These discourses are not the truth of pain. The pain dialogues originate from mythologies and are often events that have been distorted.   Indeed, our ancestors understood the world around them by telling themselves elaborate stories because the capacity to fully understand the world was limited.  This art of storytelling has been called naïve realism.    Ernst Cassirer provides a very good example of the naïve story and how its language has formed the root of the stories we tell ourselves today:

…take the myth of Daphne, who is saved by Apollo’s embraces by the fact that her mother Earth transforms her into a laurel tree… it is only the history of language that can make this myth ‘comprehensible’ and give it any sort of sense. Who was Daphne? In order to answer the question we must resort to etymology, that is to say, we must investigate the history of the word.  ‘Daphne can be traced back to Sanskrit Ahana, and Ahana means in Sanskrit the redness of dawn. As soon as we know this the whole matter becomes clear. The story of Phoebus and Daphne is nothing but a description of what one may observe every day; first the appearance of the dawn light in the eastern sky, then the rising of the sun-god who hastens after his bride, then the gradual fading of the red dawn at the touch of the fiery rays, and finally its death and disappearance in the bosom of the Mother Earth.  So the decisive condition for the development of the myth was not the natural phenomenon itself, but rather the circumstance that the Greek word for laurel and the Sanskrit word for dawn are related; this entails with a sort of logical necessity the identification of the beings denote.[1]

Mythology is inherent in language, rather than having been created by our language as Cassirer makes clear.   As a species we have not always had the benefits of rationality, knowledge has come from observation and primitive explanations of experience.   Without the ability to think rationally, our ancestors created stories out of their experiences, which can never be viewed as a uniformed system for understanding as naïve realism was only a beginning, everything changes over time.  Nonetheless, understanding became a collection of experiential distortions formulated into myths., which have served to influence the language we use today.

After the arrival of language words could never fully define objects or subjective experience so they were coupled together to create new mythologies. Hitherto, all language and thought has its roots in distortions.    Not only have we grown our minds on the memories of experience, we have distorted the memories in our attempts to try to explain them with tools of abstraction.   Humans have very creative minds, which are an integral part of our survival, but they do not always work to our advantage, in fact the human mind can be the essence of self-destruction, the destruction of others and the world around us, which is what we see a lot of in the world today.  When we realize there is no absolute truth in thoughts and words it should not surprise us to find that reality can never be played out in real time; we live with a holographic view of reality and we must contend with explanations based on mythologies, which in modern times tend to be made up as circumstances permit.  It is not all doom and gloom.   The responsibility for healthy, affirmative thought processing is ours. We can take control of our language by way of actions and rituals. There are many ways for creating changes to thought patterns, but in order to reach this point we need to understand how we got here in the first place.  Knowing how we got here is the immediate objective of all human beings, which in turn becomes the core of every human journey.  Many people attempt to explore this journey to the fullest, while others prefer to walk around with their minds and eyes closed, hoping that everything will turn out for the best.   Unfortunately, it is likely that people who close their eyes and minds and who fear the confrontation of life’s journey will suffer the most. The greatest of all suffering comes from ignorance.  Think about it, when you break an arm or a leg, you have a fair idea of what is going on and how to get it fixed.    When the mind is broken, where do you start?   When knowledge is repressed problems do not go away, they surface in other forms that are very often more severe than they might have been if they had been dealt with earlier.

It is not just a few people who experience pain and suffering, everyone does; it is just a fact of life.  Being human does not take place without a struggle.  No other animals suffer mentally the way humans do, we are unique in this respect. Humans experience psychological pain because we rationalize thoughts, emotions, sensations and memories like no other creatures and because we dwell on the rationalization. [2]  Humans, unlike other animals do not simply observe things, they attempt to analyse what is happening and  how they might change it without asking the question, is there a problem in the rationalization  processes in the first place?   In other words,  is    rationalism in and of itself problematic to the equanimity of the human mind?

There has been an abundance of research on what causes suffering and how to alleviate it, but we are only just beginning to understand how pain works at physiological and psychological levels, there is also still much to learn about existential pain and suffering.  Humans suffer because unlike other animals we have a complex language system, which has been cited as having its origins in myth and distortion.  It may seem strange to assert that our minds produce distorted images of reality.  Or, to put it another way, humans have no given reality; they must make it up as they travel through a physical and psychic life.  Indeed,  while language has made humans the dominant species, it may also have been the root cause of all human suffering, this is because we are able to put words to objects and experiences that afford them a false essence.  This essence  extends the objects into seemingly rational explanations that connect to other rational explanations, otherwise called  relational frames.[3]

Since, we construct language and give it meaning based on ancient mythological precepts  it is not surprising to see ourselves living in an environment of fictions and images that are not real, but which stimulate the mind in ways that create the illusion of a solid reality.  When we distance ourselves from this constructed reality we find a mind that is fluid, but one which can also interpret itself thought creativity.  The result is a copious field of art, architecture, literature, music, theatre, dance, film, video, and more.  As it happens, we find ourselves in a reflexive mode creating our own world of mythologies.  This is not to say that real suffering does not exist; only that we need a better understanding of its aetiology, but understanding the mythologies that have given rise to it.

Relational Frames.

The trend has been to understand language and its implications in terms of  relational frames.  A relational frame means to associate one subject, object thought or group of thoughts with another mode of focus. As already indicated the origins of this trait occur in language the evidence of which can be gleaned through the etymology of words.  For example, to put this into a more modern idiom, the word disaster is derived from the Old Italian disastro, itself derived from Greek. The pejorative prefix dis- and aster (star) can be interpreted as bad star, or an ill-starred event. The ancient Greeks were fascinated by astronomy and the cosmos, and believed wholly in the influence of celestial bodies on human life. For the Greeks, a disaster was a particular kind of calamity, the causes of which could be attributed to an unfavourable and uncontrollable alignment of planets. It is therefore interesting to note that the strict, modern English definition of disaster explicitly stipulates that a disaster is human-made, or the consequence of human failure.[4]  Of course we know that disaster in the modern sense of the word is not always the cause of human failure, rather humans also become implicated in natural disasters.

Associated frames and how they work are said to guide human decisions, and they might be seen as a way of  expanding consciousness in order to understand social connections and how they are embedded into language, keeping in mind that the whole of human behaviour is dependent on language.  Relational frames are taken from relational frame theory.  Relational frame theory (RFT) is a psychological theory of human language.  It was developed originally by Steven C. Hayes of University of Nevada. [5]

Relational frame theory describes how the building blocks of human language and higher cognition form relations, otherwise ‘the human ability to create bidirectional links between things’. Relational theory compares with associative learning and how all animals form links between stimuli in the form of individual and group associations that are held in memory.  Relational frame theory argues that natural human language typically specifies not just the strength of a link between stimuli, but also the type of relation as well as the dimension along which they are to be related. For example, a tennis ball is not just ‘associated’ with an orange, but can be said to be the same shape, but a different colour and not edible. In the preceding sentence, ‘same’, ‘different’ and ‘not’ are cues in the environment that specify the type of relation between the stimuli, and ‘shape’, ‘colour’ and ‘edible’ specify the dimension along which each relation is to be made.[6] Relational frame theory suggests that there are an arbitrary number of relations with different types and cognitive dimensions along which stimuli can travel in order to create language and understanding.    This core unit of relating is an essential building block for much of what is commonly referred to as human language or higher cognition, but its origins became lost in its construction.  We might also liken this to the work of Ferdinand Saussure who was one of the founding fathers of semiotics, (which he called semiology). Saussure’s concept of the sign/signifier/signified are the referent forms at the core of the field of semiotics where meaning in language is found along a chain of signifiers (much like relational frames).  This theory has been applied to many forms of communication including art and philosophy, politics and economics and lends itself to the understanding of the way mythologies have distorted the way humans think about the world.  For example, when we buy a product or adopt a belief we do so because it relates to other beliefs, products, phenomena we are not consciously aware of.

Relational frames are discernible associations, but they are rarely made cognitively clear to the individual as they are experienced in daily life. We do not for instance take a moment to ask where the last thought came from along a chain of signifiers.  The analyst might approach the results of an experiment this way, but humans generally do not think in the same idiom.   This is because humans are not very consciously aware either of their own existence or the world around them.    Almost 98% of the human brain is believed to be outside conscious awareness; nonetheless, the data strongly influences consciousness.  The result is this, when we think we have thought something through very often we have not been able to tap into the origins of the thought processes. That said, we can work towards being more consciously aware, which in turn helps us to comprehend and relieve pain and suffering.

Creativity, and in particular the use of the visual senses, are ways of  responding powerfully to stimuli that is outside language.  Art, for example can tap into the unconscious in a manner where day-to-day dialogue often does not work.  The combination of dialogue and video  can serve to distance the sufferer from the pain and suffering he or she is experiencing.  It can  elucidate and minimize the causes of the problem and change the pathways in the brain. However, creativity alone is not enough to solve the entire problem of suffering; first we must examine the motivation.

The transference of pain to an object is common practice in psychotherapy, a practice that has its roots in the processes of association, which now form the fundamental methodologies of the relational frames approach, but the motivation must be towards the compassion and the healing of others, not simply self-healing.  We formulate our being in relation to others and it is only in offering compassion and healing to others that we are able to heal ourselves.  Let us look more deeply at what this means.

First, what do we mean by healing? In modern medicine when we are sick we go to the doctor, s/he examines us, maybe s/he does a few tests then prescribes a remedy. Why is it then that the individual is rarely fully healed?  Maybe they overcome the original diagnosis, then something else happens and a continual cycle of ill health often occurs.  What is missing?     This brings me to the purpose of this thesis.   The connection between the mind and body are usually ignored. Many modern healing techniques regard successful healing as the cure of the presenting physical problem with little or no thought to how the mind is implicated the health or sickness. Modern medicine can often make the situation worse when it holds the individual responsible for the illness, this can lead to depression and a sense of hopelessness.

Let us briefly examine another possibility.  The mind is the creator of all illness. Let us say that the mind and the brain are not necessarily the same thing.  Rather, the mind is an energy, which the brain utilizes, but may not have full control over.  Let us posit that the mind is non-material,   it is formless, shapeless, colourless, genderless and  it has its own consciousness and knowledge.  Could it be that this illusive mind is the creator of all illness when the body is not properly in balance?  Let me go back to an early statement, pain and suffering are the body’s natural mechanisms for healing. Let us assume that the mind itself is pure, limitless and pervasive and that the problems of sickness can be obliterated by the mind (this of course cannot preclude death as a cure for sickness, but unfortunately in western society death is invoked as a medical failure, not a pathway out of pain and suffering). Let us for a moment examine healing from the Buddhist perspective of the mind.

The problems or sickness we experience are like clouds in the sky obscuring the sun. Just as the clouds temporarily block the sun but are not of the same nature as the sun, our problems or sickness are temporary and the causes of them can be removed from the mind. From the Buddhist perspective, the mind is the creator of all sickness and health. In fact, the mind is believed to be the creator of each and every one of our problems. [7]

This is what Buddhist’s believe:  We are the sum total of our mind and its karmic journey. Karma, which literally means action suggest that actions can be positive, negative or neutral. These karmic seeds are never lost. The negative ones can ripen at any time in the form of problems or sickness; the positive ones in the form of happiness, health or success.[8]

To avoid sickness we have to turn our attention away from ourselves and adopt compassion for other sentient beings.  Some people do this consciously, others fall into it through creative means. Either way a purification occurs. According to Buddhism, we have to engage in positive actions and we have to purify or clear the negative karmic imprints that remain in our mind from previous lives and/or actions.  In other words, Karma is the creator of all happiness and suffering. If we don’t have negative karma we will not get sick or receive harm from others. Buddhism asserts that everything that happens to us now is the result of our previous actions, not only in this lifetime but in other lifetimes. What we do now determines what will happen to us in the future.[9]

I know to a lot of people this idea might seem very far-fetched, but there are many ways of looking at this philosophy.  Harking back to the mythologies and their remnants in language we can see a similar pattern taking place.   Science has revealed that when we turn our attention to gratitude and the compassion for others we are very likely to live longer and often we are free of sickness. Buddhism is … a philosophy of total personal responsibility. We have the ability to control our destiny, including the state of our body and mind. Each one of us has unlimited potential – what we have to do is develop that potential.[10]  We do not even have to call it Buddhism, we can call it common sense.  Nonetheless, let us for a moment continue with this theme.

Tibetan Lama, Zopa Rinpoche, says that the most powerful healing methods of all are those based on compassion, that is the wish to free other beings from their suffering. The compassionate mind – calm, peaceful, joyful and stress-free – is the ideal mental environment for healing. A mind of compassion stops us being totally wrapped up in our own suffering situations. By reaching out to others we become aware of not just my pain but the pain (that is, the pain of all beings).[11]

Another way of looking at this is to suggest that by experiencing a disease or pain, all the other beings in the world might be free of the disease or pain. Can we take on pain on behalf of others?  Does this ease the pain?  Well yes!  This is a common belief in the Christian concept of sharing in the suffering of Jesus on the cross and it also lies at the heart of psychotherapy in the role of transference.

Expectations.

One of the main problems associated with pain and suffering is our expectations of life.  We ask ourselves, what is the purpose of our life?   If the purpose is merely self-interest there is never going to be a sense of fulfillment because as individuals we are never satisfied with what we have, we always want more.  A lot of people accumulate material objects around them because they are unsatisfied with their ‘self’.  Even in creativity we must be prepared to create for others, not ourselves.  Giving is receiving. Blessing is being blessed. Living is recognizing the other’s right to live and be fulfilled.

[1] Ernst Cassirer 1946/1953 Language and Myth New York. Dover Publications pp4-5.

[2] Steven Hayes and Spencer Smith (2005) Get Out of your Mind and Into Your Life. Oakland CA New Harbinger  Publications, p1.

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/an-introduction-to-etymology-eight-great-word-origins

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relational_frame_theory

[6] Ibid.

[7] HEALING: A TIBETAN BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE
Compiled by: Ven. Pende Hawterhttp://www.buddhanet.net/tib_heal.htm

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

Mother of all witches.

Astarte (Heb: Ashtoreth), (Bab: Ishtar), was a fertility goddess who also enjoyed regal and matronly aspects. The prominent deity Eshmun of Sidon developed from a chthonic nature for agriculture into a god of health and healing. Associated with the fertility and harvest myth widespread in the region, in this regard Eshmun was linked with Astarte; other like pairings included Ishtar and Tammuz in Babylon, and Isis and Osiris in Egypt.  The name Baal Hammon (BL HMN) has attracted scholarly interest. The more accepted etymology is to “heat” (Sem: HMN). Modern scholars at first associated Baal Hammon with the Egyptian god Ammon of Thebes, both the Punic and the Egyptian being gods of the sun. Both also had the ram as a symbol. The Egyptian Ammon was known to have spread by trade routes to Libyans in the vicinity of modern Tunisia, well before arrival of the Phoenicians. Yet Baal Hammon’s derivation from Ammon no longer may considered the most likely, as Baal Hammon has since been traced also to Syrio-Phoenician origins, confirmed by recent finds at Tyre.  Baal Hammon is also presented as a god of agriculture:  Baal Hammon’s power over the land and its fertility rendered him of great appeal to the inhabitants of Tunisia, a land of fertile wheat- and fruit-bearing plains.  In Semitic religion El, the father of the gods, had gradually been shorn of his power by his sons and relegated to a remote part of his heavenly home; in Carthage, on the other hand, he became, once more, the head of the pantheon, under the enigmatic title of Ba’al Hammon. [1]

Over time the original Phoenician exemplar developed distinctly, becoming the Punic religion at Carthage.  The Carthaginians were notorious in antiquity for the intensity of their religious beliefs.[2]   Besides their reputation as merchants, the Carthaginians were known in the ancient world for their superstition.  They imagined themselves living in a world inhabited by supernatural powers which were mostly malevolent. For protection they carried amulets of various origins and had them buried with them when they died. These traditions would find their expression across England in groups of Wiccan pagans (Witches).Similarly, diaspora Jews also sent material support for the second Temple in Jerusalem until its fall in 70 CE. Cf. [1]

[1]  Allen C. Myers, editor, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans 1987), “Temple” at 989–992, 991.  and Lancel, Serge (1995). Carthage. A History. Oxford: Blackwell (original ed. in French: Carthage. Paris: Librairie Artheme Fayard 1992).

[2] Warmington (1964), p. 155. Warmington, Brian H. (1964). Carthage. Penguin (original ed.:Robert Hale 1960).

Land of Rebels.

    

  Canvey Island has a tradition of attracting rebels, witches, pirates, smugglers and social misfits. The island offered a discrete access to England via the mouth of the river Thames. The waters could be sand banked and treacherous with unpredictable cross currents that swallowed up everything in their path so it also gave protection to witches and Cunning Men (male witches). Many of the witches from further afield settled in the surrounding Essex villages. Some of the mystics came in the form of the Romany people who were itinerant workers that visited the island each year and parked their caravans on vacant lands. The women would sell poesies of flowers on the streets and tell fortunes, they had colourful clothes and gold teeth.   They were also greatly feared because rumour had it that if you didn’t buy a poesy of flowers the seller would bestow upon your person the most deadly of a curses. There were numerous tales of people who had received curses, some had been left with excruciating pain, some just bad lunch and other had died in terrible accidents. Whether the curses worked on not seemed to be a matter of whether the individual believed they would work, hence they would act in ways that brought on their own fate.  The Romany people travelled far and wide and they were very clever at reading the characteristics of people.

       Strangely, I was always given a poesy of violets for free, I never knew why, but it did make me feel special. My mother and grandmother would often given the Romany people money, but without the need for flowers and my grandmother were very good at make her own poesies.   Every Spring when the violets and lavender were in flower she would take a small paper lace doyly and fold it into a cone shape, then the bottom would be torn out so the stalks of the flowers would poke through and be held in place.  The blooms were picked from our garden, there were hundreds of flowers including  the narcissus and primroses that were used for medicines.  Violets were my grandmother’s favourite flowers, she would dry them, eat them, dip them in hot sugar and make sweets of them. She would make her own perfumes and carry them with her to prevent sickness.  Violets grew in abundance on the island along with the salt bush and heather.

I knew very little about the Island when I first moved there and I was too young to take much interest. Later I did gain some curiosity because some of the people living on the Island seemed very different to the city folks I had been familiar with. I stated to take more notice of my surroundings. I would walk a lot and survey the landscape, especially from the height of the sea wall which circled the Island to keep back the rising tides.

Canvey Island consisted of a small landmass at the mouth of the River Thames, it is just four miles long and three miles wide and several feet below sea level. The artist, whose house my family occupied, was one of many Dutch workers who had come to the island to dig ditches as protection against the rising flood waters.  The entire area was marshland and sea water flooded the creeks at high tide. When compounded with bad weather the floods could be disastrous, spreading into neighbouring homes and causing dangerous rapids of mud and stones as the water churned up the compacted dirt roads.  Canvey Island had a peculiar appeal.  The Island was well known for its magical morning mists, its   as well as for its old witches and crones, whose ghosts were said to dance on the graves of the ancestors and on the nights of the Solstice they would gather in the covens set in between the tall pine trees on the corner of the Long Road.

Canvey Island, or the land of Canaan, took its name from Biblical origins. The etymology is uncertain. An early explanation derives the term from the Semitic root knʿ  to be low, humble, subjugated.  Some scholars have suggested that this implies an original meaning of lowlands, in contrast with Aram, which would then mean highlands.[1]   Purple cloth became a renowned Canaanite export commodity which is mentioned in the Exodus.  The land of Cana was the name of a large and prosperous country which corresponds roughly to present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel and was also known as Phoenicia (a word meaning purple). At times Cana was independent, at others a tributary to Egypt.    As child I had an inexplicable connection to the above-mentioned region.  Perhaps it was because my uncles had served there during the Second World War.  Perhaps it was the stories my grandmother told of the Arabian Knights. Western scholars have always argued that the Arabian Nights was a collection of fictional stories and part of an oral history that was largely embellished with myth.    Biblical scholars had also called into question the historical accuracy of the Bible.  I think I first hear of the word Cana at the Baptist Sunday School I went to when my mother decided to become a Christian. Her conversion did not last long enough to gain an extensive history of the Cana people.  I did know the Canaan people were said to have lived in the City of Jerusalem. What was certain is that the Canaan people had something to do with the Crusades a topic that came to my attention through the paintings on the house walls and in particular the round white washed church in the landscape. I read somewhere that in 830 BCE: Hazael of Aram Damascus conquered most of Canaan, which set in motion a key cause of the Crusades.  Was this a battle for religious supremacy or was there more?

The Knights Templar initially arrived in the Holy Land on a mission to reclaim some treasure that they believed was rightfully theirs. According to the modern Templar historians, Tim Wallace-Murphy and Christopher Knight, the knights who banded together as the Knights Templar were part of a wave of European royalty descended from Jewish Elders that had fled the Holy Land around 70 AD when it was invaded by the Romans. Before leaving their homeland, these Elders had hidden their temple treasures and priceless Essene and Kabbalistic scrolls in strategic regions of the Holy Land so that the Roman invader Titus could not plunder them as the spoils of war. The Jewish Elders then immigrated to Europe. There, many of them married into  noble families. Of these Elders, twenty-four would become the patriarchs of a group of European families known by the sobriquet of the Rex Deus or Star families. These names would hold a particular meaning which would later be brought to my attention.

For hundreds of years the secret locations of the Jewish treasure filtered down through the families of the Elders.  The First Crusade included  knighted members of the Rex Deus who joined the procession of holy warriors travelling east with the dual goal of defeating the Moslems and recovering their family treasure.[2]  The original nine Knights Templar were either born into or related to the Rex Deus families, as was Godfrey de Boullion, the French general who led them against the Saracens during the First Crusade. His cousin, King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, assisted the Templars in retrieving the treasure by donating the al-Aqsa Mosque for their use.

Canvey Island was sparse and underwhelming.  As the writer Joseph Conrad commented the estuary of the Thames is not beautiful; it has no noble features, no romantic grandeur of aspect, of smiling geniality; but it is wide open, spacious, inviting, hospitable at first glance, with a strange air of mysteriousness which lingers about it to this very day.[3]  Canvey Island is situated on the northern side of the River Thames and is approximately thirty miles from the City of London. The Island is four miles long and two miles wide and has a circumference of roughly 13 miles. It is separated from the mainland by a narrow creek which could be negotiated on foot at low tide.  While most of Britain advanced commercially the island remained isolated due to its lack of access, but local farmers knew the value of good grazing wetlands and fiercely protected them. Vehicle access consisting of a bridge over the creek was built in 1931 and it changed the nature of the island considerably.  A new railway on the mainland at Benfleet enabled people to commute to London and the population of the island grew, but flooding was a constant threat. For hundreds of years between the Roman occupation and the Anglo-Saxon settlement the island was believed to have been either wholly or partially submerged by the sea. Over time the island re-emerged, probably before the Norman Conquest, which may have appeared to some as if Canvey Island was the New Atlantis.   It was during this was the period that the Anglo-Saxons named the island Cana’s people.

There has been wide dispute over the origins of the name Cana. Among Christians and other students of the New Testament, Cana is best known as the place where Jesus performed his first public miracle, the turning of a large quantity of water into wine at a wedding feast when the wine provided by the bridegroom had run out. [4]   The other biblical references to Cana are also in the Fourth Gospel at John 4:46, which mentions that Jesus is visiting Cana when he is asked to heal the son of a royal official at Capernaum. Another reference appears in John 21:2, where it is mentioned that Nathanael (sometimes identified with the Bartholomew included in the synoptic gospels’ lists of apostles) comes from Cana. The Book of Joshua mentions one city (19:28) and one brook (16:8; 17:9) named Cana.

Archaeological history provides a more reliable thesis where Cana’s People were believed to descendants of both Cantiaci and the Catuvellauni.  The Cantiaci or Cantii were a Neolithic Celtic people living in Britain before the Roman conquest, and they gave their name to a civitas group (civilians) of Roman Britain. They lived in the area now called Kent, in south-eastern England. Their capital was Durovernum Cantiacorum, now Canterbury.[5]  Long before these groups existed it was believed that the Cana people were of Semitic origins and had migrated from Egypt and the surrounding kingdoms.  Undoubtedly, trading ships from the coasts of Egypt and Palestine would have sailed across the Mediterranean as far as the coast of Britain. Shipbuilding was known to the Ancient Egyptians as early as 3000 BCE. The Archaeological Institute of America reported  the earliest ship to be 75 feet long, and it may have possibly belonged to Pharaoh Aha. [6]

Much of the history pertaining to migration and early colonization has come to us through the investigations by language scholars who have discovered the links between the modern English language and the ancient language of the Hebrews of the Old Testament.  The conclusion is that the beginning of the Egyptian captivity (1448 B.C.) and the Assyrian-Babylonian invasions (745-586 B.C.) saw the Biblical Israelites first settled on the shores of Britain.

One of the 19th centuries’ most famous language experts was James Cowles Pritchard, who lived from 1786 to 1848. Pritchard was known as the founder of modern anthropology.   In his Eastern Origin of the Celtic Nations (1857), he tells us that there is an analogy between the Hebrew-Semitic languages and the Celtic (Keltic).[7]  Pritchard traces the Celtic language and finds links between the Indo-European and the Semitic language, which he believes may have been  language in a state of transition.   Pritchard, who spells Celt with a K, tells an interesting story demonstrating the connection between Hebrew and Celtic people.  He states:  From another I have learned that a crew of Bretons (i.e., Kelts) understood the natives of Tunis (in North Africa). How? Because the Kelt tongues were so like the Hebrew, and the Carthaginian was the same.  To be clear, Prichard notes how a ship from the British Isles had stopped in port in North Africa, in modern Libya, and the crew members were surprised to be able to understand the natives who spoke Carthaginian, a Hebrew dialect. [8]

Pritchard summarizes his finding by saying, … even cautious investigators have not only given a list of Semitic elements in the Keltic, but have made the Keltic especially Semitic.  A common language is prima facie evidence in favour of a common lineage Language is one of those signs of community of origin which is slow to be abolished – slower than most others. Pritchard believes that the Celts arrived in Britain from Asia, and suggests two routes were used to travel westward to the isles: First, from Asia across Northern Africa and by sea to Britain; second, west from Asia and the Caucasus to Europe. [9] He goes on to say:  With the Irish … writer upon writer asserted for them an origin from Egypt, Persia, Palestine, or Phoenicia – especially from Phoenicia… The Phoenicians were what the Hebrews were, and the Hebrews were what is called Semitic… the Hebrew language… and the Keltic tongues… practiced the initial permutation of letters in their grammatical formations… Then there were certain habits and superstitions among the Kelts, which put the comparative mythologist in mind of certain things Semitic; the Bel-tane, or midsummer-day fire of the Highlands of Scotland got compared with fire-worship of the Phoenician Baal. Then there were the words Bearla Fena, or language of Fene of the Irish annals… well translated by Lingus Pena, or Linge Punica – the language of Phoenicia.”[10]   

The highly distinguished language scholar, William H. Worrell, Associate Professor of Semitics at the University of Michigan, proved that the Celtic language evolved in some way from both the Hebrew and Egyptian languages. In his 1927 book, A Study of Races in the Ancient Near East[11], he states:  In the British Isles certain syntactic phenomena of insular Celtic speech have led to the inference that in this region languages were spoken which had some relation, however remote, to the Hamitic-Semitic familythe Insular Celtic languages, particularly colloquial Welsh, show certain peculiarities unparalleled in Aryan languages, and these remind one strongly of Hamitic and Semitic.   Dr. Worrell shows that the structure of the Hebrew, Egyptian, and Celtic languages is related. He goes on to say, …we find that the Celtic languages of the British Isles, particularly in their spoken forms, differ from all other Aryan languages, and in a way to suggest the Hamitic or Semitic tongues… 

How could the Celtic people exhibit language characteristics in common with both Hebrew and Egyptian? The eminent scholar theorizes that the ancestors of the Celts, before coming to the British Isles, had dwelt for a time in North Africa near Egypt, where they came into contact through trade with both the Hebrews and Egyptians. However, occasional trading would not change the entire structure of their language! A much greater intimacy with both the Hebrews and Egyptians is indicated. Would it not make more sense that the ancestors of the Celts were themselves Hebrews who escaped from Egyptian bondage westward? The Israelites were in an extended captivity in Egypt and thus would have had a solid mixture of both languages in their vocabulary, exactly as, the Celts had. Dr. Worrell comments on the ancient Hebrews.  We fancy we can almost follow them across into Europe, and imagine them the builders of Stonehenge and the dolmens of Brittany. Perhaps they were the people of Druidism. It may be that Caesar’s soldiers heard in Aquitania (France) the last echoes of European Hamitic speech; and that Goidels and Brythons learned from Pictish mothers the idioms of this pre-Aryan British tongue. And may not this have been, indeed, the language of the whole Mediterranean race?    Many years of scholarship, and many pages of evidence, prove that Dr. Worrell was correct. [12]

The Danish scholar, Dr. Louis Hjelmslev, in his book Language: An Introduction  (1970) pointed out the great influence of the Semitic language upon the Indo-European languages.[13] He states:  Even a language like Greek, which is considered one of the purest Indo-European languages and which plays a greater role than any other in comparative Indo-European studies, contains only a relatively small number of words that can be genetically accounted for on the basis of Indo-European.  Dr. Hjelmslev argued that most European words are borrowings from non-Indo-European languages. In fact, a genetic relationship between Indo-European and Hamito-Semitic (i.e., Egyptian-Hebrew) was demonstrated in detail by the Danish linguist Hermann Möller, using the method of element functions. [14]

Further, the similarity between Hebrew and English goes far beyond the mere resemblance of similar sounding words. The element-functions represent a  genetic relationship  between English and both Hebrew and Egyptian.   These languages are therefore related in their very root structure, showing a common origin. Given these facts, a group of Danish language scholars proposed eliminating the separate language categories of Semitic and Indo-European, combining them into one new category called,  Nostratic, a name proposed by Holger Pedersen for the languages related to our own, namely Hamito (Egyptian) and Semitic (Hebrew).   The word, nostratic, is taken from the Latin word,  nostras,  meaning,  our own countrymen.    In other words, the Semites   are our own countrymen, because both language streams indicate a common origin in their very root structure. [15]

The theory that Indo-European and Semitic sprang from a common origin has often been suggested and rejected. The first scholar equipped with exact knowledge of both fields to undertake its defence was H. Möller (1906). His argument rests upon a series of phonetic laws which describe the variations of the two main branches from the assumed parent language. On the Indo-European side Möller starts with the hypothetical forms that all Indo-European scholars use (though with varying views as to their value).  For the other term of the comparison, however, he has to construct for himself a prehistoric Semitic.[16]

       Dr. Terry Blodgett, chairman of the Southern Utah State College Language Department, received international attention in 1982 as a result of his research, which discovered a major Hebrew influence in the roots of the English language. A newspaper report commented: Recent discoveries concerning the Germanic languages suggest there must have been extensive Hebrew influence in Europe, especially in England, Holland, Scandinavia and Germany during the last seven centuries of the pre-Christian era (700 B.C. to Christ).  These dates take us back to the conquest and the missing ten tribes of Israel, who were moved out of Palestine by Assyria and dispersed to other lands between 845 and 676 B.C.

Dr. Blodgett’s doctoral dissertation was on Similarities in Germanic and Hebrew deals with the latest linguistic discoveries, which he states have traced various tribes of Israel into Europe.  Dr. Blodgett presented his research in seminars in America, Germany, and Switzerland during the 1980’s.

Another scholar, Dr. Isaac Elchanan Mozeson from Yeshiva University completed ten years of research into this subject and gives over 5,000 English words with a Semitic origin.  His conclusion was, that English and Hebrew are profoundly connected.   His findings show that, many more words should be acknowledged as borrowings from the Hebrew. Some of these giant oversights include ogre (from mighty Og, king of Bashan) and colossus (a Greek version of the Hebrew Gollius, familiar to English speakers as Goliath).[17]   Do some words sound alike in Hebrew and English? He says,  There are hundreds of’English and Hebrew words that sound remarkably alike and mean the same but are not cited by linguists. A few of these are abash and boosha, albino and labhan, evil and avel, lick and lakak, regular and rageel, and direction and derech.  Further evidence of a connection exists in word meanings. He tells us that:  Many names of animals only have meanings in Hebrew. Giraffe means ‘neck’and skunk means ‘stink’ in Semitic speech. A few additional examples from Dr. Mozeson’s scholarly encyclopedia of the Hebrew origin of English words was published in 1989.    

The research of other scholars also substantiates this evidence. For example, famed Celtic scholar, John Rhys, in The Welsh People, speaks of convincing evidence of the presence of some element other than CelticWe allude to an important group of Irish names formed much in the same way as Hebrew names are represented in the Old Testament. [18] Many of these scholars further assert that the Celtic ancestors of the modern English people spoke a language with a structure that was strongly influenced by both Hebrew and Egyptian.  Yet, only the ancient Israelites of the Bible, fresh from hundreds of years of Egyptian captivity, would exhibit such a unique language style.

Historians have often written about the Phoenician ships that sailed the Mediterranean Sea to Britain in early times, but few relate the connection between the Hebrew and Phoenician languages. The Bible Handbook by Dr. Joseph Angus, D.D., states:  The Hebrew language was the common tongue of Canaan and Phoenicia.[19]   In Ancient Hebrew Sea Migrations, they show that a significant portion of the so-called Phoenician trade was in reality Israelite. [20]

     The land of Canaan was a similar shape to Canvey Island, the difference was size, Canaan was three hundred miles long and fifty miles wide, making Canvey Island a mere dot on the landscape.  Canaan was the land which Moses and Joshua called the Promised Land, the place where Moses took the Jewish people after they fled Egypt. Canaan ran south of the Dead Sea and up to the southern parts of the country which are now Lebanon. The inhabitants of this land were known as Canaanites and their territory was made up of a series of city states that closely resembled the Greek states. The more prosperous Canaanites who occupied the northerly Mediterranean coast were also known as the Phoenicians which meant land of palm trees, purple country or purple people. In total the area included the coastline of what is now Lebanon, Israel, Gaza, Syria, and south-west Turkey, and some of its colonies later reached the Western Mediterranean, most notably Carthage and even as far as the Atlantic Ocean. The civilization spread across the Mediterranean between 1500 BC and 300 BC.   Phoenicia is an Ancient Greek term used to refer to the major export of the region, cloth dyed Tyrian purple from the Murex mollusc, and referred to the major Canaanite port towns.[21] Around 1050 BC, a Phoenician alphabet was used for the writing. [22] It became one of the most widely used writing systems and was used by the Phoenician merchants across the Mediterranean world, where it evolved and was assimilated by many other cultures.

The Canaanite culture appeared to develop from or beside the earlier Ghassulian chalcolithic culture.  Ghassulian itself developed from the CircumArabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex, which in turn developed from a fusion of their ancestral Natufian and Harifian cultures with PrePottery Neolithic B (PPNB) farming cultures, practicing the domestication of animals, during the 6200 BC climatic crisis which led to the Neolithic Revolution in the Levant. [23] Byblos is revealed as an archaeological site from the Early Bronze Age. The Late Bronze Age state of Ugarit is considered quintessentially Canaanite archaeologically, [24] even though the Ugaritic language does not belong to the Canaanite languages proper. [25] Phoenician societies had three power-bases that consisted of the king, the temples and their priests as well as the councils of elders. Byblos first became the predominant centre from where the Phoenicians dominated the Mediterranean and Erythraean (Red) Sea routes. It was here that the first inscription in the Phoenician alphabet was found, on the sarcophagus of Ahiram (c. 1200 BC).   In The Perspective of the World Fernand Braudel noted that Phoenicia was an early example of a world-economy and it was surrounded by empires. The high point of Phoenician culture was located in its sea power, which is usually placed around c. 1200–800 BC.   A concentration in Phoenicia  silver date between 1200 and 800 BC, however, this also contains hacksilver with lead isotope ratios matching ores in Sardinia and Spain.[26]  This metallic evidence agrees with the biblical memory of a western Mediterranean Tarshish that supplied Solomon with silver via Phoenicia, during the latter’s heyday. [27]

There are numerous Biblical references in Samuel 5:11 state: And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David a house. The building of the temple was a pivotal point in the history of the Canaanites, the Templars and the Freemasons.

Ezra 3:7: They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia. Also in  Chronicles 2:14 we find, The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father [was] a man of Tyre, skilful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which shall be put to him, with thy cunning men, and with the cunning men of my lord David thy father. The term cunning man is the name given to a male witch and was commonly used during the witch hunts of Europe, in particular those areas surrounding Canvey Island.

In 1 Kings 7:14 – He [was] a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father [was] a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work.

The religious practices and beliefs of Phoenicia were cognate generally to their neighbours in Canaan, which in turn shared characteristics common throughout the ancient Semitic world.   Canaanite religion was more of a public institution than of an individual experience.  Its rites were primarily for city-state purposes; payment of taxes by citizens was considered in the category of religious sacrifices.  Unfortunately, much of the Phoenician sacred writings known to the ancients have been lost. [28] The Phoenicians were known for being very religious.   Canaanite religion included temple prostitution  and child sacrifice.   Tophets  built  to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire  are condemned by God in Jeremiah 7:30-32, and in 2nd Kings 23:10 (also 17:17). Notwithstanding these and other important differences, cultural religious similarities between the ancient Hebrews and the Phoenicians persisted.

In Canaan the supreme god was called El, which means god in common Semitic.  The storm god was Baal, meaning master.  Other gods were called by royal titles, as in Melqart meaning  king of the city,  or Adonis for  lord .  On the other hand, the Phoenicians, notorious for being secretive in business, might use these non-descript words as cover for the hidden name of their god,  a name known only to a select few initiated into the inner most circle.   or not even used just as their neighbours the ancient Hebrews used the word Adonai (Heb: Lord ) to place a cover over the name of their God. [29]

That the pagan gods found their role in the healing of body and mind is alluded to clear in the New Testament. Luke 6:17 – And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases.  This was the practice of witches and shaman.

The Semitic Phoenician religious landscape is made of numerous differences between cities whereby urban pantheons also shared some common characteristics especially in the organization of deities as triads. These did not exclude the presence of other less important gods they just elevated the most useful ones.  The collection of gods was diverse, but due to the leading role of the city-state of Tyre, its reigning god Melqart was prominent throughout Phoenicia and overseas. Melqart was often titled Ba’l ṢūrLord of Tyre , and considered to be the ancestor of the Tyrian royal family.  In Greek, by interpretatio graeca he was identified with Heracles and referred to as the Tyrian Herakles.  According to Josephus records (Antiquities 8.5.3), following Menander the historian, concerning King Hiram I of Tyre (c. 965–935 BCE): He also went and cut down materials of timber out of the mountain called Lebanon, for the roof of temples; and when he had pulled down the ancient temples, he both built the temple of Heracles and that of `Ashtart; and he was the first to celebrate the awakening (egersis) of Heracles in the month Peritius.

The gods Baal, Astarte and Melqart symbolized the triad in Tyre. Melqart was the tutelary power of the city, his name means “king of the city”. His cult dates back to the tenth century BC when Hiram, King of Tyre, had established a sanctuary in honour of the god, and spread his veneration. Melqart is considered as the founder of the city and the protector of its economic activities. Due to the presence of a strong component of Tyre with the Phoenician expansion in the Mediterranean, the cult of Melqart was exported all over the known world: from Gibraltar to Cyprus, and through North Africa, the Italian islands, the Aegean islands… He had a pivotal role in relations between metropolis Tyre, and its colony Carthage. Each year, during a festivity (known as the Egeris by Greek authors), Tyrians and Carthaginians celebrated together in Tyre the resurrection of the god Melqart, which was another expression of the “god who dies and reborn”. The Astarte of Tyre has the same qualifiers as its Sidonian neighbour: the goddess of love and fertility. Aside from these two central figures (Melqart and Astarte), the Tyre pantheon is a series of varied divine entities such as: Shamem Baal (Lord of Heaven), Baal Shaphon (master of winds and ocean currents), and Baal Malage (Lord of sailors).[30] Baal means god.

Astarte or Ashtoreth is the Hellenized form of the Middle Eastern goddess Ishtar, worshipped from the Bronze Age through classical antiquity. The name is particularly associated with her worship in the ancient Levant among the Canaanites and Phoenicians. Ishtar   was the Mesopotamian goddess of love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, combat, and political power, the East Semitic (Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian) counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and a cognate of the Northwest Semitic goddess Astarte and the Armenian goddess Astghik. Ishtar was an important deity in Mesopotamian religion from around 3500 BCE, until its gradual decline between the 1st and 5th centuries CE with the spread of Christianity.

Ishtar’s primary symbols were the lion and the eight-pointed star of Ishtar. She was associated with the planet Venus and subsumed many important aspects of her character and her cult from the earlier Sumerian goddess Inanna. Ishtar’s most famous myth is the story of her descent into the underworld, which is largely based on an older, more elaborate Sumerian version involving Inanna.

In the standard Akkadian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ishtar is portrayed as a spoiled and hot-headed femme fatale who demands Gilgamesh become her consort. When he refuses, she unleashes the Bull of Heaven, resulting in the death of Enkidu. This stands in sharp contrast with Inanna’s radically different portrayal in the earlier Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld. Ishtar also appears in the Hittite creation myth and in the Neo-Assyrian Birth Legend of Sargon.

Although various publications have claimed that Ishtar’s name is the root behind the modern English word Easter, this has been rejected by reputable scholars, and such etymologies are not listed in standard reference works.  She is also known as Venus in her role as Roman goddess.  She was the goddess of love, beauty, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity and victory. In Roman mythology, she was the mother of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Julius Caesar claimed her as his ancestor. Venus was central to many religious festivals, and was revered in Roman religion under numerous cult titles.

The Romans adapted the myths and iconography of her Greek counterpart Aphrodite for Roman art and Latin literature. In the later classical tradition of the West, Venus becomes one of the most widely referenced deities of Greco-Roman mythology as the embodiment of love and sexuality.

In myth, Venus-Aphrodite was born of sea-foam. Roman theology presents Venus as the yielding, watery female principle, essential to the generation and balance of life. Her male counterparts in the Roman pantheon, Vulcan and Mars, are active and fiery. Venus absorbs and tempers the male essence, uniting the opposites of male and female in mutual affection. She is essentially assimilative and benign, and embraces several otherwise quite disparate functions. She can give military victory, sexual success, good fortune and prosperity. In one context, she is a goddess of prostitutes; in another, she turns the hearts of men and women from sexual vice to virtue. [31]

[1] Bible Places: The Topography of the Holy Land, Henry Baker Tristram, 1884 and Wikipedia.

[2] The Origin of the Knights Templar – Descendants of Jewish Elders …

www.ancient-origins.net/…/origin-knights-templar-descendants-jewish-elders-005078

[3] Basil E. Cracknell. PhD. Canvey Island. The history of a marshland community University Press Leicester.

[4] The Holy Bible. King James version. John 2:1–11

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantiaci

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_trade

[7] James Cowles Prichard Eastern Origin of the Celtic Nations  (1857),

Kessinger Publishing, and 1 Mar. 2003 p108.

[8] Ibid p108.

[9] Ibid p380.

[10] Ibid p75.

[11]  William H. Worrell, Associate Professor of Semitics at the University of Michigan, proved that the Celtic language evolved in some way from both the Hebrew and Egyptian languages. In his 1927 book, A Study of Races in the Ancient Near East pp 40 -50.

[12] Ibid

[13] Dr. Louis Hjelmslev Language: An Introduction (University of Wisconsin Press, 1970)

[14] Ibid.

[15] Dr. Louis Hjelmslev, in his book Language: An Introduction (University of Wisconsin Press, 1970),pp63-80

[16] H. Möller in his book Semitisch und Indogermanisch, I Konsonanten (Kopenhagen and Leipzig, 1906).

[17] Dr. Isaac Elchanan Mozeson

[18] John Rhys, in The Welsh People, p66

[19] The Bible Handbook by Dr. Joseph Angus, D.D.,p13. and Ancient Hebrew Sea Migrations

[20] http://www.british-israel.ca/Hebrew.htm

[21] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenicia

[22] Naveh, Joseph (1987), “Proto-Canaanite, Archaic Greek, and the Script of the Aramaic Text on the Tell Fakhariyah Statue”, in Miller; et al., Ancient Israelite Religion. Coulmas (1996).

[23] Zarins, Juris (1992), “Pastoral nomadism in Arabia: ethnoarchaeology and the archaeological record—a case study” in O. Bar-Yosef and A. Khazanov, eds. “Pastoralism in the Levant”

[24] Tubb, Jonathan N. (1998), “Canaanites” (British Museum People of the Past)

[25] Woodard, Roger (2008), The Ancient Languages of Syria-Palestine and Arabia

[26] Chamorro, Javier G. (1987). “Survey of Archaeological Research on Tartessos”. American Journal of Archeology. 91 (2). JSTOR 505217.

[27] Thompson, C.; Skaggs, S. (2013). “King Solomon’s Silver? Southern Phoenician Hacksilber Hoards and the Location of Tarshish”. Internet Archaeology. 35 (35). doi:10.11141/ia.35.6.

[28] Gaster, Theodor H. (1965). “The Religion of the Canaanites”. In Ferm, Vergilius. Ancient Religions. New York City: Citadel Pres (original ed.: Philosophical Library 1950).pp13-45.

[29] Brandon (1970), p. 655 (“YHVH“), p. 173 (“Canaanite Religion”). Brandon, S.G.F., ed. (1970). Dictionary of Comparative Religion. New York City: Charles Scribner’s Son.

[30] http://www.pheniciens.com/articles/religion.php?lang=en

[31] Staples, Ariadne, From Good Goddess to vestal virgins: sex and category in Roman religion, Routledge, 1998, pp. 12, 15-16, 24 – 26, 149 – 150: Varro‘s theology identifies Venus with water as an aspect of the female principle. To generate life, the watery matrix of the womb requires the virile warmth of fire. To sustain life, water and fire must be balanced; excess of either one, or their mutual antagonism, are unproductive or destructive.

Tales of witches, gods and goddesses.

 

Sharp thorns produce delicate roses, said the great poet Ovid.  Canvey Island had a rather thorny, lewd and cruel side to its existence, while on the surface it appeared wild in parts and serene in others.  The Lobster Smack Inn built at Holehaven before the eighteenth century was known for its, rum smugglers and ladies of the night.  It became the delight of tourists. The smugglers were said to have built a secret passage from the inn to the old vicarage belonging to St. Katherine’s church, in Vicarage Close. A resident claimed in 1990 to have seen the entrance in the vicarage cellar, with a wood-supported brick-lined tunnel leading to a chamber before emerging at the pub. Other tunnels originating at this spot are rumoured to head for Hadleigh – to either the castle or St. Mary’s church – and for the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet.[1]  Offshore the Mayflower took on provisions pending an historic voyage that would be recorded in the annals of history and read by every school student.   Hidden in more secluded places there were other establishments where tourist would not have dared venture, people called them private clubs and they were alleged to have their roots in an older establishment of dubious activities.   The Scarhouse Farm, Waterside Farm and Kittotts (cold cottage) all date back to the sixteenth century. Little is known about the occupants.   It was alleged that one farmer took a new wife every year when the previous one died from hard labour; the name of the farmer or his residence was never spoken of, but families feared for their daughters and continued to do so for years to come.

The dark past of Essex life rubbed off on the locals of Canvey Island, both ancient and modern.  The county was wrought with violence and rebellion.  Essex was the domain of mediaeval witches and it was commonly known as witch country.

The starting point of the witch hunts of 1644 took place in Essex.  England was very religious and the witch hunts became the worst purge of non-orthodox believers in history.  The search for witches was led by the witch-finder General Matthew Hopkins who subjected the region’s inhabitants to immense suffering and indescribable horrors. Witchcraft was generally a female occupation.  Male witches gained the title of Cunning Men and Essex was the birthplace of one of the most famous Cunning Man, James Murrell.  Mr Murrell was known as the Cunning Man of Hadleigh.  Hadleigh was a small town that overlooks the River Thames estuary and Canvey Island.

Murrell was born the seventh son of a seventh son in Rochford in 1780. The figure seven was said to have mystical qualities and  it recurs in religious texts throughout the world.   It is a prime number and not particularly useful as a factor, the Babylonians, who otherwise adored factorable numbers, divided the weeks into 7 days. This was because it was in simplistic accordance with time intervals between phases of the moon1. As the calendar (and cyclic events) has always been an essential part of organized religion, this division into 7s was something that religious authors felt the need to explain in cosmic and supernatural terms and lunar symbology formed a key part of pagan lore.

The number 7 has been mythologized for a very long time. Modern religions such as Christianity and Islam grew out of Mesopotamia, and some of that region’s most ancient archaeological evidence shows us that the number 7 already had cosmic significance. Their very creation story is alluded to as the Seven Tablets of Creation. The Babylonian Legends of Creation, were translated by E. A. Wallis Budge in 1921.

      In the beginning nothing whatever existed except APSÛ, which may be described as a boundless, confused and disordered mass of watery matter; how it came into being is unknown. Out of this mass there were evolved two orders of beings, namely, demons and gods. The demons had hideous forms, even as Berosus said, which were part animal, part bird, part reptile and part human. The gods had wholly human forms, and they represented the three layers of the comprehensible world, that is to say, heaven or the sky, the atmosphere, and the underworld. The atmosphere and the underworld together formed the earth.  The texts say that the first two gods to be created were LAKHMU and LAKHAMU . Their attributes cannot at present be described, but they seem to represent two forms of primitive matter. They appear to have had no existence in popular religion, and it has been thought that they may be described as theological conceptions containing the notions of matter and some of its attributes.

      After countless aeons had passed the gods ANSHAR and KISHAR came into being; the former represents the “hosts of heaven,” and the latter the “hosts of earth.” After another long and indefinite period the independent gods of the Babylonian pantheon came into being, e.g., ANU , EA , who is here called NUDIMMUD , and others.

As soon as the gods appeared in the universe “order” came into being. When APSÛ, the personification of confusion and disorder of every kind, saw this “order,” he took counsel with his female associate TIÂMAT with the object of finding some means of destroying the “way” (al-ka-at) or “order” of the gods. Fortunately, the Babylonians and Assyrians have supplied us with representations of Tiâmat, and these show us what form ancient tradition assigned to her. She is depicted as a ferocious monster with wings and scales and terrible claws, and her body is sometimes that of a huge serpent, and sometimes that of an animal. In the popular imagination she represented all that was physically terrifying, and foul, and abominable; she was nevertheless the mother of everything, and was the possessor of the DUP SHIMATI or “TABLET OFDESTINIES” . No description of this Tablet or its contents is available, but from its name we may assume that it was a sort of Babylonian Book of Fate.   Theologically, Tiâmat represented to the Babylonians the same state in the development of the universe as did tôhû wâ-bhôhû (Genesis i. 2), i.e., formlessness and voidness, of primeval matter, to the Hebrews She is depicted both on bas-reliefs and on cylinder seals in a form which associates her with LABARTU, a female devil that prowled about the desert at night suckling wild animals but killing men. And it is tolerably certain that she was the type, and symbol, and head of the whole community of fiends, demons and devils.

In the consultation which took place between APSÛ and TIÂMAT, their messenger MU-UM-MU took part; of the history and attributes of this last-named god nothing is known. The result of the consultation was that a long struggle began between the demons and the gods, and it is clear that the object of the powers of darkness was to destroy the light. The whole story of this struggle is the subject of the Seven Tablets of Creation. The gods are deifications of the sun, moon, planets and other stars, and APSÛ, or CHAOS, and his companions the demons, are personifications of darkness, night and evil. The story of the fight between them is nothing more nor less than a picturesque allegory of natural phenomena. Similar descriptions are found in the literatures of other primitive nations, and the story of the great fight between Her-ur, the great god of heaven, and Set, the great captain of the hosts of darkness, may be quoted as an example. Set regarded the “order” which Ḥer-ur was bringing into the universe with the same dislike as that with which APSÛ contemplated the beneficent work of Sin, the Moon-god, Shamash, the Sun-god, and their brother gods. And the hostility of Set and his allies to the gods, like that of Tiâmat and her allies, was everlasting.

At this point a new Text fills a break in the First Tablet, and describes the fight which took place between Nudimmud or Ea, (the representative of the established “order” which the rule of the gods had introduced into the domain of Apsû and Tiâmat) and Apsû and his envoy Mummu. Ea went forth to fight the powers of darkness and he conquered Apsû and Mummu. The victory over Apsû, i.e., the confused and boundless mass of primeval water, represents the setting of impassable boundaries to the waters that are on and under the earth, i.e., the formation of the Ocean. The exact details of the conquest cannot be given, but we know that Ea was the possessor of the “pure (or white, or holy) incantation” and that he overcame Apsû and his envoy by the utterance of a powerful spell. In the Egyptian Legend of Rā and Āapep, the monster is rendered spell-bound by the god Ḥer-Ṭuati, who plays in it exactly the same part as Ea in the Babylonian Legend.

When Tiâmat heard of Ea’s victory over Apsû and Mummu she was filled with fury, and determined to avenge the death of Apsû, her husband.

The first act of TIÂMAT after the death of Apsû was to increase the number of her allies. We know that a certain creature called “UMMU-KHUBUR” at once spawned a brood of devilish monsters to help her in her fight against the gods. Nothing is known of the origin or attributes of UMMU-KHUBUR, but some think she was a form of TIÂMAT. Her brood probably consisted of personifications of mist, fog, cloud, storm, whirlwinds and the blighting and destroying powers which primitive man associated with the desert. An exact parallel of this brood of devils is found in Egyptian mythology where the allies of Set and Āapep are called “Mesu beṭshet” i.e., “spawn of impotent revolt.” They are depicted in the form of serpents, and some of them became the “Nine Worms of Ȧmenti” that are mentioned in the Book of the Dead (Chap. Ia).

Not content with Ummu-Khubur’s brood of devils, Tiâmat called the stars and powers of the air to her aid, for she “set up” (1) the Viper, (2) the Snake, (3) the god Lakhamu, (4) the Whirlwind, (5) the ravening Dog, (6) the Scorpion-man, (7) the mighty Storm-wind, (8) the Fish-man, and (9) the Horned Beast. These bore (10) the “merciless, invincible weapon,” and were under the command of (11) Kingu, whom Tiâmat calls “her husband.” Thus Tiâmat had Eleven mighty Helpers besides the devils spawned by Ummu-Khubur. We may note in passing that some of the above-mentioned Helpers appear among the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac which Marduk “set up” after his conquest of Tiâmat, e.g., the Scorpion-man, the Horned Beast, etc. This fact suggests that the first Zodiac was “set up” by Tiâmat, who with her Eleven Helpers formed the Twelve Signs; the association of evil with certain stars may date from that period. That the Babylonians regarded the primitive gods as powers of evil is clear from the fact that Lakhamu, one of them, is enumerated among the allies of Tiâmat.

The helpers of Tiâmat were placed by her under the command of a god called KINGU who is TAMMUZ. He was the counterpart, or equivalent, of ANU, the Sky-god, in the kingdom of darkness, for it is said in the text “Kingu was exalted and received the power of Anu,” i.e., he possessed the same power and attributes as Anu. When Tiâmat appointed Kingu to be her captain, she recited over him a certain spell or incantation, and then she gave   him the TABLET OF DESTINIES and fastened it to his breast, saying, “Whatsoever goeth forth from thy mouth shall be established.” Armed with all the magical powers conferred upon him by this Tablet, and heartened by all the laudatory epithets which his wife Tiâmat heaped upon him, Kingu went forth at the head of his devils.

When Ea heard that Tiâmat had collected her forces and Was determined to continue the fight against the gods which Apsû and Mummu had begun, and that she had made her husband Kingu her champion, he was “afflicted” and “sat in sorrow.” He felt unable to renew the fight against the powers of darkness, and he therefore went and reported the new happenings to Anshar, representative of the “host of heaven,” and took counsel with him. When Anshar heard the matter he was greatly disturbed in mind and bit his lips, for he saw that the real difficulty was to find a worthy antagonist for Kingu and Tiâmat. A gap in the text here prevents us from knowing exactly what Anshar said and did, but the context suggests that he summoned Anu, the Sky-god, to his assistance. Then, having given him certain instructions, he sent him on an embassy to Tiâmat with the view of conciliating her. When Anu reached the place where she was he found her in a very wrathful state, and she was muttering angrily; Anu was so appalled at the sight of her that he turned and fled. It is impossible at present to explain this interlude, or to find any parallel to it in other ancient Oriental literature.[2]

In Sanskrit’s most ancient holy book, the Rig Vega, there are seven stars, seven concentric continents, and seven streams of soma, the drink of the gods. According to the Jewish and Christian Old Testament, the world was created in seven days and Noah’s dove returned seven days after the Flood. Similarly, the Egyptians mapped seven paths to heaven, Allah created a seven-layered Islamic heaven and earth, and the newborn Buddha took seven strides. […] For numerologists, seven signifies creation, because it is the sum of the spiritual three and the material four; for alchemists, there are clear parallels between the seven steps leading up to King Solomon’s temple and the seven successive stages of chemical and spiritual purification. Iranian cats have seven lives, seven deities bring good luck in Japan, and a traditional Jewish cure for fever entailed taking seven prickles from seven palm trees and seven nails from seven doors. [3]

According to the Freemasons, the mystical ladder, which in Masonry is referred to  as the theological ladder and that which Jacob saw in his vision, reaching from earth to heaven, was widely dispersed among the religions of antiquity.  the ladder was often translated into steps or degrees.  For instance, in the Mysteries of Mithras, in Persia, where there were seven stages, gates or degrees of initiation. Initiation took place in caves where a latter was erected.  [4]

In the Mysteries of Brahma we find the same reference to the ladder of seven steps; but here the names were different… seven steps were emblematical of the seven worlds which constituted the Indian universe. The lowest was the Earth; the second, the World of Re-existence; the third, Heaven; the fourth, the Middle World, or intermediate region between the lower and upper worlds; the fifth, the World of Births, in which souls are again born; the sixth, the Mansion of the Blessed; and the seventh, or topmost round, the Sphere of Truth, the abode of Brahma, he himself being but a symbol of the sun. [5]

The Greek Pythagoreans believed that the number seven pointed symbolically to the union of the Deity within the universe. This association was picked up by the Christian church during the Middle Ages. Seven was regarded as having sacred power, as in the seven cardinal virtues, seven deadly sins, seven sacraments, […], etc. Thus, it was held that there must logically be exactly seven planets resembling Earth.

The pagan definition of seven the number 7 is just one of many numbers that resonates with  superstitious humans who manage to engage successfully in self-fulfilling prophecies. Magic is compelling because it sits in the realms of the unknown and the mystery stimulates the imagination and makes people very creative, which is why it often heals what ails us.  Creativity is the building block of health and well-being.

There are so many stories which feature that importance of the number 7 that it is not sensible to list them all. Many of them are minor coincidences, for example, Noah released a Dove to see if it could find land after God drowned the entire Earth, but it came back. He waited seven days before trying again (Genesis 8:8-11). No other multiples-of-seven surround this Dove, hence, it is probably pointless to draw any mystical inference from this (unless it has something to do with nature’s cycle of life and plant growth following a deluge – but what?). Hopefully some of the following (such as sneezing 7 times) can be seen to be clearly related to superstitions and mythology:

  1. God finishes creation on the 7th day (Genesis 2:2), which is Saturday, the holy day (unlike pagan sun-worshippers, who preferred Sunday).
  2. God will deliver seven sets of vengeance against anyone who murders Cain (Genesis 4:15. Lamech in 4:24) claims that due to this, his own death will be avenged 77 times (Why? Who knows). Although Jesus had the opposite idea. Instead of revenge for sin, Jesus in Luke 17:3-4 says that if someone repents, you have to forgive them even up to seven times in a day. And in case the comparison with Cain and Lamech wasn’t clear, in Matthew 18:21-22 he is asked if you should forgive someone up to seven times. His reply: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven”.
  3. The dreams of the Pharaoh in Genesis 41:1-7 (repeated in Genesis 41:17-24) is full of sevens: Seven well fed fish who are eaten by seven malnourished ones, seven good ears of corn eaten by seven poor ones. Joseph interprets all this as being seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine (41:25-27), which according to the same author, did then actually happen (41:29-31, 53-54).
  4. During the animal sacrifice ritual designed by God to atone for sin, a male bull’s blood was to be sprinkled before God seven times (amongst many other routines), in Leviticus 4:6.
  5. More to do with “plenty”, grown foods and the cycles of nature, Exodus 13:3-10 has the feast of Passover last 7 days, and, likewise the magical food obtained from heaven (manna) is patterned over a 7-day week in Exodus 16:1-5,14-15,22-23 which also instructs people not to gather food on the Sabbath (Saturday) in 16:25-27,29-30.
  6. The ritual Menorah candle has 7 stalks (the central stem and 6 branches) and is designed by God (Exodus 25:31-32,37).
  7. Seven priests with seven trumpets march around Jericho seven times in Joshua 6:3-16,20-21 (with much repetition), and this causes its walls to fall down, so they could kill everyone inside (Joshua 6:21) and loot the gold and silver (Joshua 6:19).
  8. 2 Kings 4:34-35 sees Elisha raise a child from the dead: “And lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his bands; and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he walked to and fro; and went up, and stretched upon him; and the child sneezed seven times, and opened his eyes”.
  9. Proverbs 9:1: Wisdom has seven pillars.
  10. God/Jesus produce basketfulls of bread from seven loaves of bread, and the remnants fill seven baskets, in Matthew 15:32-37.
  11. The Book of Revelation is structured around the number 7 and its continual repetition of the importance of this number is somewhat of an overkill. The Book is purportedly a message to seven Christian churches represented by 7 spirits (Revelation 1:4,11) and starts when Jesus appears to the author amidst 7 candlesticks (1:12-13) and holding 7 stars in his right hand (1:16). 1:20 has seven stars in God’s right hand, and two sets of seven sources of light, all of which represent seven churches. In 3:1 there are seven spirits of God, and seven stars. 4:5 has seven burning lamps before the throne, symbolizing The Seven Tablets of Creation. Description of Their Contents. seven parts of God. In 5:6, these 7 are sent to the Earth, and sacrificed, and are symbolized by a lamb with 7 horns and 7 eyes. Seven seals are opened revealing seven judgements (5:1). The seals are opened one by one and the 7th unleashes seven more judgements, heralded by 7 trumpet blasts and 7 angels (8:1-2). It goes on and on. Interestingly, it is not only all things godly and heavenly that come in sevens; the Beast, the enemy who fights against God, is also surrounded by multiples of 7. There are 22 chapters in Revelation and this was just some items from the first eight.

      The number 7 is used to represent good things and bad things in the Bible, holy things and evil things, such as the Beast in Revelations and the number of heads of the three beats, and the number of heads of the monstrous Hydra. There are also, of course, the Seven Deadly Sins.

          One author puts it like this:

Seven was, among the Hebrews, their perfect number; and hence we see it continually recurring in all their sacred rites. [… some stuff already mentioned above]. Noah received seven days’ notice of the commencement of the deluge, and seven persons accompanied him into the ark, which rested on Mount Ararat on the seventh month; Solomon was seven years in building the temple: and there are hundreds of other instances of the prominence of this talismanic number.”[6]

There are 7 heavens: Qur’an 2:29, 17:44-46, 65:12, 67:3, 71:15 and 78:12.

  1. Hell has 7 gates: 15:43-44 (separate parties of Satan-followers go to each gate) — See Hell in World Religions: 9. Hell in the Koran.
  2. The Tawaf of the Hajj: The Tawaf is the ritualistic walk between two ancient pagan mounds. This is performed 7 times during the Hajj pilgrimage, and is given sanction in Qur’an 2:158. Muhammad himself said that he dislikes this custom because of its pagan nature, however, states that it is not sinful as the Qur’an now endorses it. The reason he gives for it being lawful is that Muslims were only just coming out of paganism, therefore, Muslims should no longer be performing this ritual as Islam is now well-established. From the Hadiths:

“Narrated ‘Asim: I asked Anas bin Malik: “Did you use to dislike to perform Tawaf between Safa and Marwa?” He said, “Yes, as it was of the ceremonies of the days of the Pre-lslamic period of ignorance, till Allah revealed: ‘Verily! (The two mountains) As-Safa and Al-Marwa are among the symbols of Allah. It is therefore no sin for him who performs the pilgrimage to the Ka’ba, or performs ‘Umra, to perform Tawaf between them.’”The number 7 is also a mystical and important number for the Theosophists, to the extent that aspects of the theology/philosophy are infused with it to a nonsensical degree:

          

 

       Theosophists have always taken Atlantis for granted, and to the myth have added a second one – the myth of Lemuria. This name was originally proposed by a nineteenth-century zoologist for a land mass he thought must have existed in the Indian Ocean, and which would account for the geographical distribution of the lemur. Madame Blavatsky, the high priestess of theosophy, adopted the name and wrote in some detail about the ‘Third Root Race’ that she believed flourished on the island.

According to Blavatsky, five root races have so far appeared on the planet, with two more yet to come. Each root race has seven ‘sub-races,’ and each sub-race has seven ‘branch races.’ (Seven is a mystical number for theosophists.) The first root race, which lived somewhere around the North Pole, was a race of ‘fire mist’ people – ethereal and invisible. The Second Root Race inhabited northern Asia. They had astral bodies on the borderline of visibility. At first, they propagated by a kind of fission, but eventually this evolved into sexual reproduction after passing through a stage in which both sexes were united in each individual. The Third Root Race lived on Lemuria. They were ape-like giants with corporeal bodies that slowly developed into forms much like modern man. Lemuria was submerged in a great convulsion, but not before a sub-race had migrated to Atlantis to begin the Fourth Root Race.

The Fifth Root Race, the Aryan, sprang from the fifth sub-race of the Atlanteans. At the present time, according to theosophists, the Sixth Root Race is slowly emerging from the sixth sub-race of Aryans. This is happening in Southern California where, in Annie Besant’s words, the ‘climate approaches most nearly to our ideal of Paradise.’ […] After the Seventh Root Race (which will develop from the seventh sub-race of the sixth root race) has risen and fallen, the earth cycle will have ended and a new one will start on the planet Mercury.”[7]

 

As the writer Martin Gardner (1957) writes: What we do know is that the evolution of life has not gone through any series of species related in any way by the number seven, and, that of course, it never will. Every concept of Theosophy’s idea of Root and Sub races is wrong, but, it still represents yet another attempt to explain reality in terms of stories that encompass the number seven. All such stories turn out to be terrible descriptions of truth, because simply, the number may be loved by many humans but it is not a particularly important number in the physics of the Universe.

All stories that give cosmic and universal significance to the number 7 turn out to be terrible descriptions of truth, because simply, although the number may be loved by many humans, it is not a particularly important number in the physics of the Universe. It all started with our Human attempts to measure time; the Babylonians (and others) divided the phases of the moon into 4 parts, each of 7 days. Although not perfectly accurate, it is a useful division and gave us our week. As all religious and organized ritual systems come to be based on natural events and natural cycles (especially those stemming from agricultural societies), the number 7 became a religious and magical number. As such, those who wrote down our myths and religious beliefs from the very beginnings of our recorded history, have attempted to describe the world according to their own beliefs which have included a prominent number 7. Christianity, Islam and other world religions have used it; occult systems and magical societies have embraced it, and endless superstitions and mythologies give importance to the number 7. It is used by many as a godly and heavenly number, but also in the Christian Bible, Satan is surrounded by the symbolism of the number 7 in the Book of Revelation. All in all, be highly suspicious and sceptical when you see any story that claims to be true and which imbues the number 7 with special significance.

In the middle of the third millennium BC the Sumerians must have noticed that the reciprocal of the number 7, in contrast to the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 could not be expressed by a finite sexagesimal fraction but it recurred every three places. Since the number 7 is the first natural number that has such a property, it stood out and became regarded as magical number in a system in of mysticism.[8] Seven was an important number to the Witches and Cunning Men because they were astrologers who worked their magic around the seven classical planets, which were also said to control the drives of humans.    These planets are the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars. The social or transpersonal (or spiritual) planets are Jupiter and Saturn.

In 1812, before becoming a witch, Murrell moved to Hadleigh in Essex and set up business as a shoe maker. Murrell later met a witch called Neboad from whom he took lessons in the wiccan craft. Murrell then gave up shoe making and became a full-time Cunning Man. Murrell’s fame grew and he was sought out by rich and poor to procure potions for healing. He worked on body and mind intending to bring the character of his clients to its fullest potential by restoring the natural equilibrium of life.    Murrell’s potions contained local herbs and were accompanied by pleas to the supernatural forces, the good and bad spirits of ancient ancestors.  Murrell was an expert in astrology and he was consulted on a wide range of issues including finding lost objects, clairvoyance and his ability to cast and break spells.   Legend has it that Murrell, using a potion sent a burning sensation to a gypsy woman who was believed to have cursed a young girl. The potion when heated exploded and the next day the body of the gypsy was found burnt to death.   The girl was subsequently cured and the curse was gone.   Many stories about Murrell were passed down by word of mouth creating a legend around a man who was said to be the greatest witch in England.[9]  Murrell had a strong connection to Canewdon a place that became synonymous with English witches. Canewdon means the hill of the Cana people and shares this derivative with Canvey Island, also known as the land of the Cana people.

The villages of Hadleigh and Canewdon were about nine miles from each other and there was often fierce competition between them to see who had the best witch. Each village would devise a challenge in order to outdo the neighbouring village.  According to the legend the Canewdon villagers petitioned their vicar, Rev William Atkinson to allow Murrell to use his whistling powers so the witches would dance naked around the churchyard. The vicar refused permission because it was said his own wife was a witch and he didn’t want her witchcraft to be revealed.  Mary Ann Atkinson, the vicar’s wife and her sister Lady Lodwick were believed by many to be part of a coven that existed prior to 1860.   The close friendship between the Vicar Atkinson and Murrell cemented the union between the church and witchcraft as well as Murrell’s position as Master of Witches in the region.[10]

The history of witches in Essex is acknowledged with some pride, but the terms witch and magic  could mean many things, heresy in many forms was rife in tribal life and extended its influence throughout the centuries.   The migration of a people of Semite origins saw a great interest in the Kabbalah, which was better known in England as the School of Hermetic Sciences. It is also known as having stemmed from the early Hermetic and theosophical practices which also filtered down through the classical literature. For example. Scholars have examined the possibility that William Shakespeare constructed his Sonnets with recourse to gematria and numerology as set out by Agrippa in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy (1532). I addition, Kabbalistic evidence is presented by the scholars of Freemasonry supporting the thesis that esoteric, numerical compositions were central to Shakespearean literature.  We know that Shakespeare had links to occultists and to the Freemasons. It was the occultist Alistair Fowler who examined the Sonnets from an occultist and structural viewpoint. He found numerological patterns that dated back to the late sixteenth century which followed the Pythagorian triangle (the triad).[11] The triad represents the number three and the unity of opposites. It is the first born and the eldest number. The equilateral triangle serves as its geometric representation and is the first shape to emerge from the vesica piscis. The triangle contains the smallest area within the greater perimeter.  The triad signifies prudence, wisdom, piety, friendship, peace, and harmony. The triangle represents balance and is a polygon of stability and strength. The number three is the number of harmony.
The fact that Shakespeare’s numerically predicated words are mostly in Greek may be explained by the fact that of the two classical languages traditionally used in literary Kabbalah, Greek and Hebrew, the former would have been better known to Shakespeare. The hermetic alphabet sits at the core of the Wiccan tradition and is present in both the Celtic and Semitic languages. The Kabbalah pre-dates the Runes and the Tarot by approximately 100 years. The Kabbala is a system of Jewish mysticism that is thought to have originated in Southern France and Spain in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but it may in fact be much older. The term Kabbalah was originally used to denote wisdom, inner knowledge or understanding of the hidden mysteries, and it was not until much later that the term was used to refer to Jewish mysticism. The Kabbalah was intended to be a system of thought that allowed people to unravel the mysteries and unknown concepts concerning  God  and his on her creations. Scholars tend to look for its origins in the first century before Christ. The first document is considered to be the forerunner of Kabalism, and the basis of the rest of it is the  Sepher Yetzirah  (Book of Formation), written by an anonymous author (like both the Elderfuthark Runes and the Tarot) most probably around the third century before the birth of Christ. The  Sepher Yetzirah  deals with the creation of the Universe by means of the  ten sephiram, which are archetypal numbers, one through to ten, and the twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet. There are ten  sephiram  in the Kabbalah. Each sephira points to a specific character trait, which helps us identify exactly where we are in our evolutionary path to enlightenment. Each sephira corresponds with a specific planet, and is therefore closely aligned with the celestial art of Astrology. The Kabala represents Tree of Life and the ten sephira are connected to twenty-two lines, or pathways. These focal points are considered separate stages of G-od, or aspects of life. [12] The Tree of Life, did not appear until the Middle Ages, but its sentiments are much older as it reflects an inner world that appears everywhere in history.

[1] ‘The Echo’, online news 10/7/13.

http://beyondthepoint.co.uk/2014/01/

[2] The Seven Tablets of Creation. Description of Their Contents. http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/blc/blc07.htm

[3]  Science: A Four Thousand Year History.  by Patricia Fara (2009)

[4]  The Symbolism of Freemasonry  by Albert G. Mackey (1869)4

[5] Ibid.

[6]  The Symbolism of Freemasonry  by Albert G. Mackey (1869).

[7]  Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science” by Martin Gardner (1957).

[8]Kazuo Muroi The Origin of the Mystical Number Seven in Mesopotamian Culture; Division by Seven in the Sexagesimal Number System https://arxiv.org/abs/1407.6246

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] http://www.masoncode.com/Shakespeare-Sonnets.htm

[12] Joanne Walmsley. http://elderfutharkrunes.blogspot.com.au/2010/11/cabala-kabbalah-and-runes.html

Canvey Island and Essex History.

Canvey Island.

The historian William Camden, writing in the seventeenth century noted that Canvey Island was also called Counos by Ptolemy in 100 AD whereby the Island appear on one of the earliest maps ever made. This idea has been strongly disputed.[1]   The Romans were said to have built a trading route from Canvey Island to the Roman town of Chelmsford, but the existence of the road has also been disputed.[2]  Nonetheless, Canvey Island, although separated from the mainland still had a very close relationship with other small and ancient hamlets and it marks a very early period in history.   Essex has the oldest wooden church in the nation, it was believed to house body of Saint Edmund, King of East Anglia, and England’s first patron saint who was martyred in 869AD (the Normans replaced him later with St. George).  The church was also rumoured to be the burial place of King Harold II who met his death at the battle of Hastings in 1066, or what was known as the Norman Conquest. [3]  The Norman Conquest left a permanent mark on England that was strong in the consciousness of Essex residents  as it was William the Conqueror who built the first Norman castle in Colchester in 1069, sometime after 1215 during the reign of Henry III by Hubert de Burgh built Hadleigh Castle, which overlooks Canvey Island.

William the Conqueror was born circa 1028 in Falaise, Normandy, France, he was an illegitimate child of Robert I, duke of Normandy, who died in 1035 while returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. At only 8 years of age, William became the new duke of Normandy. Violence and corruption plagued his early reign, as the feudal barons fought for control of his fragile dukedom. A few of William’s guards died and his teacher was murdered during a period of severe anarchy. With the help of King Henry I of France, William managed to survive and was knighted while still in his teenage years. William was very ambitious, he gained control of his duchy and conquered two neighouring provinces  Brittany and Maine. In the meantime, the childless king of England—Edward the Confessor, whose mother was a sister of William’s grandfather—promised William succession to the English throne. However, when Edward died in 1066, his brother-in-law and most powerful of the English lords, Harold Godwin, claimed the throne of England for himself (despite an oath he made to William to support his claim). The Witan, a council of English lords that commonly took part in deciding succession, supported Harold. William, angered by the betrayal, decided to invade England and enforce his claim.

William assembled a fleet and an army on the French coast, but due to unrelenting north winds, their advance was delayed for several weeks. In the meantime, the Norwegian army invaded England from the North Sea. Harold, who had been preparing for William’s invasion from the south, rapidly moved his army north to defend England from Norway. After defeating the Norwegians, Harold unwisely marched his troops back down to meet William, without a rest. On October 14, 1066, the two armies met in the famous Battle of Hastings. King Harold and his two brothers were killed in the battle, and since no one of stature remained to raise a new army, William’s path to the throne was clear. He was crowned king of England on Christmas Day.

There were several revolts in the next five years, which William used as an excuse to confiscate English land and declare it his personal property. He then distributed the land to his Norman followers, who imposed their unique feudal system. Eventually, Normans replaced the entire Anglo-Saxon aristocracy. William, however, retained most of England’s institutions and was intensely interested in learning about his new property. He ordered a detailed census to be made of the population and property of England which was compiled in The Doomsday Book  (now an invaluable source of historical information and still in the Public Record Office in London).

William died on September 9th, 1087, in Rouen, France. He had four sons and five daughters, and every monarch of England since has been his direct descendant. Although he never spoke English and was illiterate, he had more influence on the evolution of the English language than anyone before or since adding a slew of French and Latin words to the English dictionary. The introduction of skilled Norman administrators may be largely responsible for eventually making England the most powerful government in Europe.    The house I grew up in sat at number 3 Normans Road. The address was significant. The name Hardrada appeared on the letterbox, but my mother took it down soon after we moved in.  The number 3 could not be changed.  This was the most sacred of numbers and the family chose the residence for its magical significance.

The Rule of Three is sometimes described as karma:  however, this is not strictly accurate. Both concepts describe the process of cause and effect and often encourage the individual to act in an upright way. In Hindu Vedanta literature, there is a comparable idea of 3-fold Karma referred to as Sanchita (accumulated works), Prarabdha  and Kriyamana, Agami, or Vartamana,  which are associated with past, present and future respectively.   The rule of three is not always literal, it does symbolize the belief that our energy returns to us as many times as needed for us to learn the lesson associated with it. Psychology has a similar belief, if issues are not resolved then they return as pain and trauma time and time again until they are resolved. The Law posits a suggestion that there is a reward and punishment system attached to all actions.

The law is not a just a belief of the enlightened. It could be read as a modern innovation based on Christian morality or to other forms of ethics that include reciprocity, such as the concept of karma in Dharmic religions and the Golden Rule.  The Rule of Three has a possible prototype in a piece of Wiccan liturgy which first appeared in print in Gerald Gardner’s 1949 novel High Magic’s Aid: The Threefold Law as an actual law was an interpretation of Wiccan ideas and ritual, made by noted witch Monique Wilson (1923-1982) and further popularized by Raymond Buckland, in his books on Wicca. Prior to this innovation by Wilson and its subsequent inclusion in publications, Wiccan ideas of reciprocal ethics were far less defined and more often interpreted as a kind of general karma. The first published reference to the Rule of Three as a general ethical principle may be from Raymond Buckland, in a 1968 article for Beyond magazine.  The Rule of Three later features within a poem of 26 couplets titled “Rede of the Wiccae”, published by Lady Gwen Thompson in 1975 in Green Egg vol. 8, no. 69  and attributed to her grandmother Adriana Porter. The threefold rule is referenced often by the Wiccans of the Clan Mackenzie in the S.M. Stirling Emberverse novels.[10]  In my family the rule of three was steadfast, but it was never really a topic of conversation, it just happened.

It sounds strange in modern times, but living at 3 Normans Road was always a distinct mark of conquest that was also a reminder of the power of change.  The Norman Conquest changed the face of England forever. It broke England’s links with Denmark and Norway, and connected the country to Normandy and Europe. The change resonated with Islanders because their location was so close to the English Channel.  The Island had always been a strategic location for the artillery of war, itinerants and refugees, as well as smugglers.   Indeed, there were still bunkers and gun pillars around the coast albeit,  disarmed acted a places of illicit storage and unspoken deeds.

The Duke William II of Normandy, later styled as William the Conqueror got rid of all the Saxon nobles and imposed a feudal system on England. William brought his own men from France to be bishops and abbots and installed them in the church. He built great cathedrals and huge monasteries and added to the English culture.

The new Norman landowners built castles to defend their wealth against the Saxon’s counter revolts. This meant the Norman landowners would accumulate great power, being in service of the King enabled them to rebel against the king, a formula that appears to have held fast in England, sometimes referred to as being in and against the state.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essex

[2]  http://www.canveyisland.org/page_id__205_path__0p33p.aspx

. http://www.paranormaldatabase.com/essex/esspages/essedata.php?pageNum_paradata=2&totalRows_paradata=411

. Former webpage: http://www.chad-service.co.uk/horseskeleton.html and https://www.hiddenea.com/essexc.htm

 

[3]Basil  Cracknell  Canvey Island The history of the marshland community  The university Press Leicester.p2

[4] https://www.originalbotanica.com/blog/pentagram-pentacle-meaning-origin/

[5] https://gnosticwarrior.com/the-pentagram.html

[6] Ibid.

[7] Cracknell p3

[8] https://hauntedpalaceblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/canewdon-the-village-where-witchfinders-feared-to-tread/

[9] https://www.biography.com/people/william-the-conqueror-9542227

[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_Three_(Wicca)

The Knights Templar.

The Home Coming.

Knights Templar.

I had the good fortune of growing up in a house that had previously belonged to a Dutch artist.  The man had migrated to the outer regions of the English County of Essex and took up residence in a tiny hamlet called Canvey Island.  The artist built the house out of timber in what was known as the New England style or what looked like a very large bungalow. The style is uncommon in England, but it is well established in places such as Nova Scotia that share the same wet terrain and harsh climate as that on the island.   The building was rendered with cement and stones that were painted with a white lime wash. The result was well weathered exterior that resembled many of the older buildings in the vicinity.   Our dwelling consisted of two levels a downstairs and an attic that had been converted into living quarters for visitors and tourists.   The facade was traditional and it had a heavy red front door painted in bright red.  A red and white rose sat above the architrave with a lion’s head either side.      There was   a pretty flower garden and a pathway that was lined with spring bulbs.  There was also an English cottage garden to one side of the house and a vegetable garden to the other. A weather cock was fixed to the chimney and a sundial sat in the patio near the front doorway.    A small paddock at the back was home to an old horse named Kitty who had been rescued from the knacker’s yard, she had a black cat and an English sheep dog for company.   At the back of the building there was also a chicken run and an orchard. The fence was covered with wisteria and morning glory. In Summer my grandmother collected the flowers, dried them and kept them locked away in her bedroom cupboard for medicinal purposes as she suffered badly from rheumatoid arthritis.  The buildings colours, shape, form and aspect melded with the grey skies and bleak Autumn clouds.  The home was miniscule against the open landscape and I thought it meagre compared to the homes of my relatives, nonetheless, it was quirky, artistic and appropriate. The island was a daunting place to live and the house had survived all forms of adversity, winds, storms and severe floods.   Every morning there was a lowland mist over the escarpment that took many hours to disperse and this gave rise to a host of legends, ghosts that occupied empty houses, the headless man who lived in the mainland castle and visited on winter nights and the mysterious gatherings of pagans in the woodlands, covens of witches that were said to dance naked around a fire on the Solstice.  Some people believed the stories of witchcraft and some thought they were just mischievous whims that emerged with the consumption of local ale, but none would go out into the woodlands at night for fear of a terrible fate.  Inside the house there was a large portrait on the wall of the hallway, it was an image of Saint George killing the dragon, it was meant to demonstrate chivalry.

The interior of the house had been decorated by a master craftsman who had moulded wood into sacred figures and animal replicas with each figure placed on the point of the compass, north, south east and west.  The artist had created a masterpiece in the form of a museum of his own paintings, a superb rendition of traditional Dutch landscapes decorated the walls and were framed by wooden mouldings.   Everything was painted in pale tones of apricot and green to show off the luxuriant works of art. It was the colour scheme of grand palaces and someone with an astute imagination.  There were verdant slopes and canals in the paintings and fully rigged sailing ships perched upon the causeways ready to set sail for a voyage far away. The setting was romantic and it was to fuel the vivid aspirations of childhood.  I wanted to set said on one of those rigged ships to the other side of the world.  On closer inspection the paintings there were highly detailed, tiny people were going about their business, men on horseback could be seen scouring the countryside for unknown treasures, mothers were nursing their babies and animals were lazing on the slopes. The entire house was a magical time warp.

It was the wall paintings that prompted my mother to buy the house; they reminded her of her childhood home, a rambling old Victoria mansion full of clutter and precious colonial memories of previous generations.  My grandfather had served in India and brought home a bounty of exotic furnishings and wares for my grandmother.

The year was 1954, I was six years old when my family moved into the Canvey Island house and I lived there for just under nine years, until my father died and my mother sold the house to a developer.  The house and the great artworks were bulldozed to make way for new modern buildings.

The year is 2018 and I am prompted by a lucid dream to think about my life on Canvey Island and in particular the interior of the house I grew up in.   I began learning Nidra Yoga to help with the recall of memories.  Nidra Yoga is a form of meditation carried out through the imagination, but it has much deeper realms that can be experienced with the appropriate procedures. Nidra Yoga accesses the unconscious, much like psychoanalysis it can tap into what some people call a cellular memory.  There is much discussion needed on the issue of cellular memory; it remains contentious; but all will be revealed.

In my lucid dreaming I remembered the house I called home and the grand paintings. I could ponder the colour schemes, the furnishings, the piano and the family silver. I also recalled my grandmother’s porcelain and the old Victorian black marble clock on the mantlepiece.   One ornament in particular had occupied my thoughts, it was a bronze statue of Saint George pulling on the reigns of his rearing horse. It was a large object, one of a pair, but the other had gone missing some years before.   The replica of St. George had belonged to my grandmother’s grandmother and like everything else it had been handed down through the family over many years until it reached the hands of my mother who prized it above everything else.

Every child of a British family is told the story of Saint George.  It was told to me by my uncle who was named after Saint George.  Uncle George lived on a beautiful country estate and I spent some of the happiest days of my childhood exploring the wooded vales and his enormous ponds full of Koi fish. His wife, my aunt made the best caraway seed cake in the country.  St. George is the patron saint of England and is best-known for the popular tale in which he slays a dragon. Thus, St. George is most commonly depicted as a knight mounted on a horse and in the process of spearing a dragon. This image has inspired many artists over the years, and has been portrayed on various coats of arms. The dragon according to my grandmother was originally the serpent of and the female principle.  When George killed the dragon that was a symbol of absolute power over knowledge, especially the knowledge that had long been womens’ business, such as the events of birth, nature and medicine.

Saint George is believed to have lived during the latter part of the 3rd century AD and served as a soldier in the Roman army. Most sources said that he was born in Cappadocia, an area which is located in modern day Turkey. The parents of Saint George are said to have been Christians, and he inherited his faith from them. It has been claimed that after the death of Saint George’s parents returned to their hometown in Palestine, taking the saint with them.

Saint George then joined the Roman army, but the persecution of Christians by the Emperor Diocletian at the beginning of the 4th century AD troubled   Saint George so he resigned from his military office as a sign of protest. When the emperor’s order against the Christians was torn up by St. George, Diocletian was furious. In an attempt to force St. George to renounce his Christian faith, he was imprisoned and tortured by the emperor’s men. The saint, however, refused to reject his faith. Seeing that their efforts were of no use, St. George’s jailers had him dragged through the streets of Diospolis (known also as Lydda) in Palestine and beheaded.[1]

Through my lucid dreaming I was able to make a number of connections between my old home and a life of some decades. I   learned how to interrupt my dreaming journey and hold onto old memories.   Jerusalem came to mind every time I thought about the Dutch paintings.   I could find no explanation for this connection, I just kept dreaming and hoping something would turn up that would shed light on my quest to understand my childhood environment. Weeks and months passed. While there were many features of my childhood house that became familiar some features escaped me.  I could not remember the details of the landscape paintings on the walls, they were large, they were precious, but their detail remained a mystery.  Nonetheless, something inside caused me to persist in exploring the hidden memory of this intricately detailed art.  I knew the paintings were significant and I needed to know why so I worked for some time on perfecting my lucid dream recall.

Eventually, when I closed my eyes and followed my breathing I could see images of the paintings and two in particular would eventually come closer into my vision. Suddenly, I found I could skirt the surface of the paintings with a keen eye, perhaps more astutely than any regular spectator of great paintings.  There was one moment when I actually found myself in the middle of the painted landscape as if it were so familiar to me I might have just stepped out of a door and onto a gently rolling hillside.  I could almost feel the breeze through the trees and the mild warmth of the sunlight that came with a Spring morning.  The works were signed, but I could not read the signature, this frustrated me and my impatience through a shroud over the scene.   In a later dream I focussed on the perspective and the wonder of the creation, then something dissolved the outside world to the point where a particular object caught my eye.  It was very small, what seemed at first nothing more than a collection of tiny white blobs.  The object was much more than blobs.

In one of the paintings there was a small round, white church perched on a hill in the distance and although small it was the focal point of the work. I honed my mind’s eye in for a closer look. The building glowed amongst the green trees like the sparkle glows from the wands of fairies pictured in childrens’ books.  It reminded me of the light in a Caravaggio painting.  I remembered seeing the   Caravaggio painting of David with the Head of Goliath (1610), into which he painted his own face onto the severed head of the slain giant. I went regularly to the museums and I often had nightmares about severed heads.  Perhaps like the artist I would experience a psychological disconnect, the artist had a troubled life and perhaps too I would have a troubled destiny.  The Caravaggio painting was commissioned by the Knights of Malta, with the tacit assent of the Roman Curia, the governing body of the Holy See.  Caravaggio died at the age of 38 some said from Malaria, but others claimed he died at the hands of the Knights of Malta as revenge for attacking one of their own.   Caravaggio was a pretty wild individual who had a penchant for creating enemies. He was subjected to a violent attack in Naples in 1609 by unidentified assailants which left him grossly disfigured. In contrast his works were objects of great beauty.  Some experts have suggested that the Vatican tried to cover up the truth of Caravaggio’s death. After finding fame in Rome he suddenly had to leave the city in 1606 after he was involved in a brawl in which a man was killed.   He eventually wound up in Malta, the headquarters of the Knights of Malta, where he was made a member of the order. He was expelled by the Knights on the grounds that he had become a foul and rotten member of the order and he was imprisoned in a castle dungeon. He was released under mysterious circumstances and fled to first Sicily and then Naples. He was heading to Rome in the hope of obtaining a papal pardon for the murder he had committed when he died.[2]

The light on the rolling hills of the Dutch paintings spoke to me of a history surrounding the Knights Templar.  I was invited by the voice in my lucid dreaming to pursue the small white church that had caught my attention so on the following day I went to a library to look for documents on small round white churches that resembled the one in a painting.  Oddly, I found the very church I was looking for with unexpected ease.  What surprised me was the church that I had believed was sitting in the English countryside was not English at all, nor was it Dutch.  In fact, it was located on the island of Bornholm in Denmark. The church was built in 1160 to honour Saint Lawrence otherwise known as  Laurentius (Latin) who lived between 31 December AD 225 –10 August 258.  He was one of the seven deacons of the city of Rome, Italy, under Pope St Sixtus II who were martyred in the persecution of the Christians that the Roman Emperor Valerian ordered in 258.[3]   The Church of Saint Lawrence was a main seat of the Knights Templar.   The Danish version of Lawrence is Lars and round churches primarily served as refuge sites in a case of attack. for the Knights Templar churches were more than just churches they were impenetrable to the weapons of hostile armies and the Templars build many of them in strategic places over the course of the Crusades.

What was so special about these Templar churches is written into their design. While searching through library documents I would learn more about the Templar churches.  Before attacking the main Church the intruders had to pass the outer fortification wall around the churchyard. People entered the churchyard through the square gate tower which served as a bell tower.   Journalist and writer Erling Haagensen believed that round churches of Bornholm and their location were specially selected to form a five-pointed star. Haagensen considers that these fortified churches were built as safe storage sites for supplies of crusaders to Eastern Baltics.  Two independently made geophysical studies by Haagensen confirm that under the church is located a large cavity. This would not be something out of the ordinary, many medieval churches have crypts.[4]

I spend days, weeks and months looking at the blueprints of churches said to be built by the Knights Templar hoping to find information with respect to my little round church in the painting.  I learned that the round church was believed to represent eternity. I had heard of the magic circle, but thought it was just a place where magicians did tricks to amuse people.  The magic circle is a space marked out by the practitioners of the arcane and used for many religious and nature based rituals.  The circle is said to contain an energy and thus, once drawn, becomes a sacred space. Circles are used for protection, they can be imagined or drawn out in chalk or dirt or embedded into the architecture of buildings. Sound waves and other vibrations will bounce off the hard edges of a circle as in a dome, of Saint Paul’s Cathedral.  These sounds and vibrations are   said to replicate that of the universe and our own making.  These ideas were not new to me.  In the 1960s, like many other young people I had joined I the Cultural Revolution where the circle’s spiritual significance was based  on the mandala and yantra visible in many Eastern religions.

In order to know why my church was significant I had to relive my own memories of my grandmother casting the magic circle.   In my lucid dreaming  A voice spoke to me and asked if I could remember the day the that my grandmother drew a circle in the dirt, put a spot in the middle and told me to sit there. I did sit there, I sat there for ages not knowing what to expect. Was this a punishment? Had I done something wrong?  My grandmother had strange ways of punishing children if they were naughty, they had to sit in the garden and count the birds or watch the growth of a blade of grass. This was the true knowledge of alchemy.   If they were very naughty they had to take bread to a murder of crows, ask their forgiveness and vow never to do the same again.  My grandmother believed people should not punish people, nature punishes people.  Anyway, I was seated in my circle when a flash of lightening flew across the sky.  I sat transfixed, but unafraid.  I knew my grandmother had created a safe space for me so I trusted my fate.  I sat through a fierce storm and when my grandmother asked me if I was ‘alright’, I told her the circle had protected me.  It was then I learned that circles cannot protect anyone, they merely cause people to be mindful and to protect themselves. Such was the wisdom of a young child.  Sadly, most children lose that wisdom when they grow up.

There are many techniques for casting a circle. The practice is ancient and usually associated with rituals.  The most common feature of these circles is that a boundary is traced around the working area and the four cardinal directions are   marked out, sometimes using four candles.  In ceremonial magic the four directions are commonly related to the four archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel (or Auriel). Uriel  means El/God is my light. The angels mentioned in the older books of the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) are without names. Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish of Tiberias (230–270) even asserted that all of the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon.

Uriel means  God is my Light, whereas Phanuel means Turn to God. Uriel is the third angel listed in the Testament of Solomon, the fourth being Sabrael.[1] Other ceremonial traditions have candles between the quarters, i.e. in the north-east, north-west and so on. Often, an incantation will be recited stating the purpose and nature of the circle, often repeating an assortment of divine and angelic names.

The Knights Templar organization was structure around inner circles. They appear to have consisted of three levels of knights as follows:

  1. The first level consisted of the publicly known Knights Templar who performed Templar duties throughout Europe and elsewhere in the world.
  2. The second level was comprised of the lesser known Knights Templar who were responsible for teaching and maintaining the purity of the organization’s spiritual techniques.
  3. The third level of the Knights Templar was unknown to the public. The third level of knights were members of the legendary Inner Circle of the Knights Templar who safeguarded and used the priceless treasures from the Ark of the Covenant.

The ancient term Priceless Treasure used to describe the benefits one receives from sacred teachings. Priceless is a term used to describe something that is beyond material wealth. Priceless Treasure refers to spiritual wealth. In this case, the term  Priceless Treasure  refers to the sacred teachings and techniques that had been carved into the Stones of the Covenant by Moses and others.

History tells us that in the 12 century the Inner Circle of the Knights Templar,   recovered the Ark of the Covenant that had been buried in 588 BC before Jerusalem was captured by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. All knights who became members of the knighthood, known in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries as the Knights Templar, were taught certain of the spiritual techniques carved upon the Stones, or Tablets, that were carried inside the Ark of the Covenant. As select knights progressed in their spiritual abilities, they were taught higher and higher levels of secret, spiritual techniques.

There are three main levels of spiritual techniques that were used by the original members of the Inner Circle and that are used today by their descendants. Basic Techniques which were taught to all Knights Templar. These techniques were taught in a special knighthood ceremony. Basic Knights Templar Techniques include a sitting prayer/meditation, an activity prayer/mantra and centring, mindfulness, or emotional/mental energy balancing techniques.

Intermediate Techniques include the  activating of one’s Angelic and Archangelic energy levels, or Light Bodies, as well as special Healing Techniques. Intermediate level techniques were taught to those Knights Templar who were ready to advance into levels of Enlightenment.

Advanced Techniques were taught to those few Knights Templar who were selected to become teachers of the Knights Templar Techniques. Masters level Techniques were the special techniques used by the original members of the 12th century’s Knights Templar Inner Circle and they remained highly secret.

According to the Evangelical belief the Knights Templar degrees mock the Christian ceremony of consuming the body and blood of Christ whereby the fourth higher level initiate drinks 5 symbolic libations (or toasts) during his Templar Order initiation ceremony. The first 4 are taken out of a goblet; the libations being to the memory of (1) King Solomon our ancient grand master  (2) Hiram King of Tyre;  our ancient grand master  (3) Hiram Abiff  the widows son, who lost his life in defence of his integrity  (4) Simon of Cyrene,  the friend of our Saviour, who bore his cross, and fell a martyr to his faith.

The fifth, and supreme, Knights Templar libation is made unto the unknown and is performed in the vilest manner imaginable; an actual human skull-cap is placed in the hand of the candidate and he is caused to sup the content of such from this mystic cup. The fluid that is consumed from the top part of this human skull is normally bitter wine. Such is employed to vividly impress important occult teaching to the initiate. The candidate is told, “Pilgrim, the fifth libation is taken in a very solemn way. It is emblematical of the bitter cup of death, of which we must sooner or later, taste.”

Much controversy surrounding the activities of the 12th century Templars. Evidence given in the historic trials after the movement collapsed suggest that the Templars engaged in bizarre sexual rituals that included kissing various parts of each other’s bodies and the worship of the decapitated and preserved head of their leader Hugues de Payens  (c. 1070 – 24 May 1136) who was the co-founder and first Grand Lodge… Later Latin sources call him Hugo de Paganis. In English works he often appears as Hugh de Payns, in Italian sometimes as Ugo de’Pagani. He was sometimes referred to as Baphomet, which may have been a miss spelling of Mohamed.[2] The decapitated head is pictured in the Caravaggio painting David with the Head of Goliath (1610), which affirms the between the artist and the Templars of Malta. A common theory put forward by scholars at the Smithsonian Institute suggested that in the 12th century when the Knights Templar reached Jerusalem they witnessed the advances of the Muslim religion which were far superior to their own in Christianity so they decided to convert to Islam.   As a consequence, rituals carried out by the Knights Templar were said to include the defacing and spitting on the Christian images of Christ.[5]

Between the time of my first inkling to search for the meaning of the Dutch paintings and the many hours spent in the library reading about the Knight Templar I had to consider why I wanted to pursue my search.  After reading about the ritual worship of a decapitated heads and the drinking of wine from skulls, I began to wonder where this journey would take me, especially since some of my own family members were Freemasons, an organization known to stem from the Knights Templar.

When the Templars built their many churches they were a replication of the laying of foundations for a spiritual understanding of themselves. The first stone is laid in the northeast and represents initiation into the First Degree.   It was a practice that would be carried on by the Freemasons to this day, but what did it really mean?  It did not take long to realize that my home was somehow implicated in the Templar beliefs.

I had yet to discover the other similarities between my home and the buildings of the Knights Templar, which also included houses and cottages.  The Knights Templar had immense influence and hundreds of small stone cottages and wooden buildings had the stamp of the movement, the trend would continue when the Templars morphed into the Freemasons.  Templar’s buildings generally had some insignia, but some also had secret passages.  The house at Canvey Island  had two secret passage.   One was behind a cupboard door, which had a hidden stairway leading to  the attic and an external staircase as an escape route.   The other was a trapdoor which led to under the house, a kind of crypt that was packed full of tin trunks, items that had been moved from my grandmother’s old house in the Roman City of Colchester.    While searching through the now mounting number of documents I found that there was a distinct and interesting  connection between the sparsely populated Island and the City of Colchester,   I wasn’t sure what it was.  I would have to go back to my state of lucid dreaming.

 

 


 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uriel “The story of Uriel, the ‘forgotten’ archangel”. www.romereports.com. Rome Reports. 27 November 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2017.

[2] Knights Templar degree exposed – Secret Societies Exposed www.evangelicaltruth.com/knighttemplar-htm

[3] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/videos/category/history/why-the-templar-secret-rituals-were-so-contr/

[4] https://www.google.com.au/search?source=hp&ei=QLAcWvSbKYjc0ATV54HYDQ&q=Saint+Lawrence+did+what&oq=Saint+Lawrence+did+what&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0i22i30k1.2017.19219.0.24284.24.22.0.0.0.0.409.2940.2-3j5j1.9.0….0…1.1.64.psy-ab..15.9.2933.0..0j46j35i39k1j0i131k1j0i46k1j33i22i29i30k1.0.fxiP7mnEEco

[5] In the early 1990s he produced TV series but in 2000 he published a book “The Templars Secret Island”, written together with explorer Henry Lincoln.

[6]  Nick Squires, Rome 4:33PM BST 02 Apr 2012 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-news/9181383/Caravaggio–was-killed-by-the-Knights-of-Malta.html

 

 

 

[1] http://www.ancient-origins.net/history-famous-people/exploring-famous-legend-st-george-and-dragon-005794

 

Contemplation.

The Forward to a book.

Digital Camera

Contemplation.

All experience is subjective. There is no beginning or end to a work we have witnessed a shift in these concepts. One drifts into an existence that becomes an unremitting commitment to the emancipation of the word. When I gather my thoughts to write on what ails us I am taken back on a journey. It is 1968 the Beatles are in Rishikesh, India, learning Transcendental Meditation. I am in Paris playing their music; ‘Back in the USSR’. I am dreaming of how I can be like my heroes; Che Guevara, Angela Davis and Bobby Searle; heroes that would stay with me and frame much of my life in the social movements. Everything has changed now. The old social movements have gone. Today, the Revolution is put down; those movements have died along with the utopian notions of happiness, blissfulness and togetherness.  Today, the factories are bigger; the workers have increased their technological know-how; the products are more sophisticated and the lifestyle more salubrious. Today, we are all encouraged to be physically enterprising while being more politically subdued. But today, many are no better off than they were a hundred years ago. There are new forms of bondage giving rise to new cries for freedom.  Yet now, freedom is a complex order of diversity rather than a dialectics. It spans utilitarianism and the natural systems; but ‘natural’ means something different too.  Today, ‘natural’ is an intricate structure where carbohydrates are replacing hydrocarbons and water is no longer delineated by the cool tranquillity of a flowing stream, but an item on a chemical table marked H20. The biodiversity is being replaced by monocultures while manufactured fertilizers are degrading the nutrients in the soil. The Green Revolution is hailed a success, but higher food yields have not eliminated the world’s hunger.  Nor has the heavy consumption in the west made us content.  There is still social disquiet, disarray and political protest, there are still wars, murders, rapes and voyeurs, but they appear to have little impact and we, the socially mindful, caring, spiritual beings are asking; are we losing the battle for our survival? I turn to my art for solace. (November 2001).

Waking up from the dream.

  The World.

If you fear being alone or not achieving it is because you have not resolved inner pain.  If you suffer from being bored, it is because you have taken life for granted and not for its beauty. Life is an art and art the expression of life. We live moment by moment, but rarely do we saviour the moment so uniquely as we do when creating a piece of art. Art outlives us and it takes meaning to a new level beyond our original thought. Art can help us to better understand ourselves, that is our feelings of aloneness, rejection and alienation, our magnificence. Everything is made clear by art because art is an abstraction from which we can read ourselves; like looking into a talking mirror, art plays back to us who we are.

Art can be both beautiful and disturbing, but it cannot be ignored. Art forces the spectator to confront the fears and emotions that reside in all of us. Art opens up conversations that might otherwise remain dormant, including what is the meaning of art? And;  should art be used as a search for meaning?  Does art have an inherent purpose? Art raises many questions. Some people view art as a window into the soul. Our thoughts are  soul reflections and a window out onto the world, through art thoughts have the power of transformation.

  Reaching for Nirvana.

 

Mind and meditation.

In the 6th century B.C., the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, taught that life was an endless struggle and he showed us a way beyond the pain using mindfulness and meditation. Since then there have been many ways of calming the mind. Christianity uses prayer and contemplation to overcome pain as domany other religions and belief systems, but pain is not always obvious.   Pain can be repressed and manifest in mysterious ways.  Inner pain can affect our behavior and our happiness.  Repressed pain is like a vine slowly climbing the height of a tree, the higher the vine climbs the harder it is for the tree to grow and be healthy. The longer we have pain buried inside us the more it becomes an accepted part of our existence. We can be resilient. We can repress the pain, but what we end up with is anxiety, discontent and sometimes a chaotic journey through life.

Pain is many things. The world we know has been built upon pain. Pain can be felt as excruciating agony or it can be dormant causing a loss of balance and motivation. Pain can elude us and make us feel normal, because pain is normal.  Pain is not our enemy because without pain we would never know pleasure.   How we treat painful experiences will profoundly influence who we are and how we cope in the everyday events of life. All pain has links to the emotions. Latent stress, anxiety, depression, unhappiness, failure and despair are all states generated by the emotions of inner pain. Pain can be like a bad dream that sees us transfixed in a vortex of thoughts and feelings with no conceivable way out. Pain can come to us like a bad dream, but we can wake up from the dream.

 

Letter to the Mirror.

There is a wonderful exhibition of work executed by pupils of the Foster Secondary College  currently showing at the Stockyard Gallery, which I believe has generated many positive responses, but also some negative ones.  While I would normally ignore negative views putting them down to individual taste, I do believe this exhibition has raised some important issues that need to be addressed.

First, when one walks into the art show the senses are overcome by the colour, joy, excitement and a propensity to display youthful enthusiasm in the production of expressionist art.   What is on offer is an intense parody of love, vision, ingenuity, creativity, originality, imagination, inspiration and inclusiveness.  Everything about this exhibition demonstrates a proclivity to focus on all that is good in the world using a cleaver combination of semiotics (language, symbols and forms) to convey hope for the future.

The student exhibition reveals much about the optimism of young people faced with a world that is generally perceived as irretrievably troubled and wrought with pain and despair.  That said, not everyone can rise above the troubles with such enthusiasm and these voices need to be heard.   What impressed me about the show is the clear juxtaposition of an affirmative worldview and a small collection of despairing minds that should not be viewed negatively, but as an opportunity to demonstrate the possibilities of confident and constructive healing.    The honesty and integrity of  students who have had a predilection to suffering and despair is testimony to the healing potentials of creativity.

What disturbs me is the perception amidst some people that the education system is misguided in encouraging freedom of expression when it comes to identifying difference.  It is a view that heralds the all too vocal belief that students should be learning literacy, numeracy and the sciences over social and personal development, togetherness, trust and wellbeing.

Back in 2015 when the Wellington Shire Council along with Mental Health Services and Anglicare conducted their survey of mental health issues in Gippsland it was found that one in four young people experienced some form of mental dysfunction.  The overall statistics show Gippsland to have one of the highest rates of suicide in Victoria, which if ignored can be the fateful outcome of mental disorders, especially when the feeling of being ostracised from the community is not taken seriously.

There has been a consistent effort to improve the public understanding of mental breakdown and what has been gleaned from the research is the earlier a problem is dealt with the better the outcome.  In order to improve the outcome(s) the entire community needs to have a serious conversation, not about other people, not about the education system, not about what anyone might judge as good, bad or inappropriate art, but about ourselves.  In other words, what are we all doing to improve our mental health?  Further, how can we all contribute to a mentally healthy and stable community?

We live in a stressful and unpredictable world and if anyone feels they are not impacted by the uncertainty of worldly dilemmas they are lying to themselves.  It begs the question; how can we avert the consequences of an adverse global environment?  We criticise it, we protest over it, we make judgements, which only make us feel more powerless and poorer about ourselves and others.    We have to live in a global system that is always changing and there are better ways of dealing with the problems, particularly at a local level.

Over my adult lifetime I have given considerable thought to the state of the world and most of my work has been devoted to people who struggle with it.  Allow me to be bold and share with you   what I have learned. Life will always be a struggle, but how we deal with it determines who we are and whether we are happy and confident or bitter, antagonist and miserable.

We are the sum total of our thoughts and all of our thoughts stem from memories. Some recollections we can access, most we have forgotten.  Those issues we don’t want to confront because they are too embarrassing or painful get projected onto the world and they can have an impact on other people; possibly a group, even a state or a nation; or seemingly a local art show.   Whatever it is that triggers the internal discomfort will be vented on the external world unless we  intervene in our personal processes.  Repressed memories cause anxiety, pain and illness, which are often contagious.  There is good news; we have a way out of the negative judgements and it begins by calling it out.

Our brains are structured by the language we learn though our early development and over a lifetime.  To put it simply, this language creates pathways in the brain which we use to project who we are onto the world.  However, what we appear to be thinking; is often an example of not thinking clearly. The brain is often thinking for itself using old and unsuitable data.

Consider this, you are driving a car to work in the morning and navigating the road.  You are on a road you travel along every day so you don’t have think about where you are going or where the turn off might be; you just turn when you have to.    Your brain is on automatic pilot because it has a system of stored memories that guide you. The scary thing is, most of the brain’s responses to  memory data are guesswork. It might get the turnoff right, but it won’t tell you what is three kilometres ahead if you haven’t already experienced it. The same thing happens with opinions and judgements, they are based upon what ‘might be’, not ‘what is’.

We can change the brain’s pathways by mindfully changing the language. Sometimes we need to circumvent the common spoken language and learn another language for our change related purpose, one that works with images not words.

Art is another language, a language of imagery which taps into the more quiescent areas of the brain.  Art brings its own challenges, it requires commitment and focus, but it also brings rewards because it touches the pleasure centres of the brain. When we feel happy the world is a different place, if only for a moment. Suddenly, we can believe in  a good world and our place in it.

Everyone needs something to believe in and art offers an innocuous means of belief that will carry the mind into feelings of confidence and self-worth.   Art helps the individual know they can be valued as an able person because art creates a distance between the creator and the created, possibilities are revealed because the internal  pain is dissipated.

In my working life I have explored a number of different trends and therapies for healing what troubles humanity. Today, I look to my children and grandchildren’s future in the hope that the world will be a better place because we have learned more now than when I was young, but the progress needs to be nurtured.

We have tried almost every known method to bring contentment and happiness to the masses, most have failed.  There is a postmodern consensus amidst some philosophers, sociologists and anthropologists that aesthetics has more influence on mind and behaviour than politics.  Or, to put it differently the cultural image is mightier than the word.  Ancient people have used art for healing for tens of thousands of years and we are only now rediscovering art’s potential.

In my view art is the safest, the most rewarding and the most inclusive form of healing and anyone can share in it.  Art is neutral it can complement a variety of systems and beliefs.

I would encourage everyone to visit the Stockyard Gallery and view the Secondary College student’s exhibition from a position of honesty, openness, integrity and optimism.  Take in the sentiments of what I feel to be a ground-breaking time in history when we can share the pain and healing collectively.

I think the student art show is a panorama of where we are now as a community and where we can be if everyone accepts that a better world is possible, but it can only happen when people see in art what they might be afraid of looking at in themselves and own up to it.   Commit to positive and creative change,  dispense with the negative judgements and feel the calm and contentment that comes with reality, you will not look back.

 

Yours sincerely,

Chris James